Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 June 29, 1994, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days    


By Dee Zimmerman


July 4th in Our County



Two weeks prior to the July 4th celebration a meeting was held at Dewhurst and Hutchinson’s office to make arrangements for a union celebration.  A committee was appointed to make up a programme.  Committee members were Jacob Rossman, Wm. Neverman, Hans Johnson, O. P. Wells and H. J. Hoffman.


The finance committee succeeded in raising $250 to be sued (used) for celebration expenses.


The unanimous decision was to have the meeting at Eyerly’s Hall, with large bowers (canopies) built about it at the expense of Messrs. Rossman, Neverman and Johnson, in accordance with their proposal.  Eyerly’s Hall, it is assumed was on the corner of 5th and Hewett where the band shell now sets.


Eyerly’s Store and Hall on corner of 5th and Hewett, now site of band shell and park.

The building was also the Frank Hemp Grocery Store in the early 1900s



The Honorable F. O. Thorpe, of Fond du Lac, consented to be the orator.  However, a week before the 4th, he informed the committee, with regrets that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill the engagement.  Jas. O’Neill, Esq. (Esquire, a courtesy title given to O’Neill as founder of the city).  He spoke at Eyerly’s Hall in the forenoon and at Parker’s Grove picnic in the afternoon.


James O’Neill, Neillsville founder, gave the Independence speech at the July 4, 1874, events, Eyerly’s Hall and Parker’s Grove


A large assortment of fireworks had been ordered for the day, with Dr. Crandall as supervisor of the grand display.  Johnson and Rossman provided elegant dinners at their hotels, as well as refreshments at the grounds.  Dances were held in the evening at Eyerly’s hall and at the O’Neill House.  Eyerly’s Hall had a grocery-merchandise store on the main floor with the dancing hall on the second floor with an outdoor stair leading up to it.  The O’Neill House’s dance floor was also on the second floor and located where the post office is now.  Being only one block apart, both dances were well attended.


The day was celebrated in various ways throughout the county.  At Loyal, a picnic celebration was held and very largely attended.  The picnic at Parker’s Grove, in Neillsville, was a success.  The residents of Levis held a picnic celebration at the corners near Goss’ which was greatly attended. 



July 4th was observed with the then usual parade down the main street in most county towns.  Abbotsford had a celebration at Seltrecht’s Barn and Grove starting at 10 a.m.  Prizes were given for motorcycle, foot and fat man’s race and sack race.  Contests were in nail driving, cracker eating, etc.  There was afternoon dancing 2 to 4 p.m. with admission for men at 15 cents each, ladies free.  The evening program was a carnival dance, with hats, horns, confetti and noisemakers.  Music was provided by the Six Badger Aces of Abbotsford.  Evening admission was 35 cents for gentlemen, ladies free.


The Orchard Tavern at Granton, on Hwy 10, advertised “Boston, Fried Chicken Special” for the 4th and every Saturday night.


Keller’s Silver Dome Ballroom featured two bands with continuous dancing from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. the Kay Bruce Band and her California Girls from Po-Peek, Calif.  The other band was the Wisconsin Ho-Bo’s Band.


There were also dances at Hake’s Barn west of Neillsville, music by “Doc & His Girls.”


The big sports event was when the Neillsville Baseball team beat Wisconsin Rapids in a 10th inning rally at the fairgrounds field.  Ted Frank, the pitcher, hit a three bagger in the last of the 10th which touched off a “free-for-all fight,” momentarily, when a disagreement arose between the umpires.  Frank struck out eleven batters.


Thunderstorms, during that week, made front page news, when 4.78 inches of rain fell in a short period of time.  It transformed city streets into rivers and lowlands into lakes.  Goose Creek flooded State, Court, Hewett Streets and Grand Ave. in Neillsville, cutting off traffic temporarily.


There was hail damage at the Wm. Bohnsack farm as well as Alvin and Paul Jacob farms.  Forty-seven panes of glass were broken in the Hurlburt home.



Fireworks and Baseball Game – a big fireworks display and baseball – a happy old-fashioned Fourth of July combination – held in Neillsville Saturday night.


Under sponsorship of the Athletic association the fireworks display was exhibited on the fairgrounds following an exhibition game between the Neillsville Athletics and Greenwood.


The Greenwood team was at the top of the heap with an 8-1 record.  Neillsville’s record on July 1st was 4-4.  Neillsville achieved an even break in their season’s Cloverbelt record the Sunday before, by defeating Loyal, 12 to 2.  Tom Meier, Neillsville High School mounds-man who threw a no-hitter in high school ball, struck out six in gaining the victory.  Fire-balling Jim Bauer is scheduled to pitch during the July 4th game, with Greenwood. 


As we review the history in our country, we realize how times change.  July 4th is remembered for the Declaration of Independence of the United States, the steps taken by the colonies to form the first Congress, independent of foreign rule, signed and enacted on July 4, 1776.


Throughout the years and generations we tend to lose sight of what that independence really means.  Never, can we imagine how the colonists must have felt with their new found independence which was reason of fireworks and gala celebration.


Now, in 1994, July 4th means a three-day weekend, going to the beach, boating, fishing, watching a stock car race, maybe attending a family reunion, overeating with cook-outs… the list goes on.


Not many even bother to put up the stars and stripes flag or take a moment to reflect on what all went into establishing our freedom and government.


A 4th of July float, sponsored by Marsh Bros. Store, participated in the parade that made its way up Hewett Street during a late 1800’s celebration.  The float was photographed in front of the Marsh Store, on the northwest corner of 5th Street intersection.


The Marsh float, at ease, on the intersection of Oak and 5th Streets; Notice the boardwalks and un-surfaced streets.  A couple sections of drain tile are visible at the right near the utility pole.



Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work!  Mark Twain


I am an idealist.  I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way!  Carl Sandburg





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