Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 August 10, 1994, Page 32

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days     

By Dee Zimmerman


In 1886, the “True Republican” (one of the names carried by the Clark County Newspaper of Neillsville) had L. R. Ring as its editor and proprietor.


Front page news on August 12 of that year was two-thirds advertising with remainder having various new items.


Hotels advertised were the Webster House, Humbird, listed as the “only first class hotel in the village.”  Hotel and stable accommodations all of the best, and livery accommodations furnished upon request.  Tables supplied with the best to be obtained (we assume it meant food).


Begley House, Greenwood, W. H. Begley, Proprietor, Largest and best equipped hotel in the village, with terms very moderate.  The traveling public will find at this hotel every convenience.  Rooms commodious; table unexceptionably provided.


Smith’s Hotel, Longwood, is one of the best in the county.  Best accommodations, good stabling.  Hotel first class, Ed Smith, proprietor.


Loyal House, G. W. Allen, proprietor, fitted up in the best style of accommodations of the traveling public.  Good table, fine rooms and stables available.  Charges reasonable


Judge Dewhurst has purchased the Emery Bruley residence on south East Street.  (It is now Tuft’s Museum on re-named Hewett Street).


The extraordinary dry weather of the past few weeks has produced great damage by fire all over this region of the country and millions of dollars worth of property has fallen prey to the flames.  The railroad from here to Merrillan was lined with fire on both sides, most of the distance; the village of Hewettville, with its mill, dam, hotel, residences, barns, lumber yard and other property was wiped out of existence Sunday.


The Village of Spencer was three-fourths destroyed, and Colby set on fire; farmers south of Neillsville have lost fences, hay and other property.  The dense smoke which hung over this city Sunday and Monday kept the citizens on alert, barrels and tanks of water were hauled to various points, ladders put up, and a close watch kept upon the roofs, in the fear that cinders would set them on fire.  Burned leaves fell in the city all day Monday, and a high wind prevailed, rendering the danger from fire very great.  The waterworks kept busy part of the day, wetting the central section of the city.  In the after-noon the wind veered to the south, so the smoke and firebrands were carried north, then the city breathed easier.  Monday night a light rain fell and did much to kill down the fire.


Mrs. Bullard’s house, which was near the Hewett mill, became nearly surrounded by fire.  She sent two of her children ahead towards Dick Hubbard’s farm and soon afterward with another lad, of 11 years, with a bundle of clothes, left to overtake them.  She and the boy found themselves surrounded by fire, concluding that the other two little ones had perished, ran to the Haymeadow Creek.  From the high bank she, in throwing her bundle, fell into the water and was nearly drowned, the boy succeeded in saving her after she had gone to the bottom the second time.  The two remained, part of the time in the water and part of the time on the bank, for four or five hours, hiding from the fire.  They supposed the two children had perished and everyone else thought the mother and son had died in the fire.  Mr. Bullard was fighting fire when the family left the house and had no means of learning their whereabouts until the emerged from the creek.  The two smaller children had made their way safely to Hubbard’s home.


Let the waterworks pipe extension be expedited, to save the town in case the fire threatens us again.  If the piping is received soon, the danger from forest fires continues, we suggest that the pipe be laid temporarily on top of the ground, protected at the crossings by temporary plank crossings for teams.  It could be laid in two hours.


Jim Sturdevant, who had finished haying, had 40 tons of marsh hay burned early this week.


The utter, unutterable, diabolical desolation caused by fire at Wedges Creek and points in the badlands between here and Merrillan give a very good idea of purgatory.  (After the pinery was cut off, in that area, the land looked like a prairie, especially after a forest fire or two which is why it was referred to as the ‘badlands.”)  That is hard to imagine now when we drive through the wooded area on Highway “B” to Humbird or Highway 95 to Merrillan.


How insignificant the strongest of us seem in the presence of a great danger like the fire which threatened the city Sunday and Monday.


“Mules and jackasses are as apt to kick at saints as they are to kick at sinners.”


The frame of Mr. North’s new house is up.



Cullen Ayer came to Wisconsin with his parents before it became a state, settling in Iowa County.  He lived there until he was seventeen years old, and then traveled to Clark County in 1858 working in the pineries along Black River.  In 1871, he started farming in the Town of Unity.  Ayer served on the county board in the late 1880’s, representing the Town of Unity.


The Cullen Ayer farm, in the Town of Unity, consisted of two hundred acres in 1889.  Ayers owned an additional six hundred forty acres of hardwood land adjacent to the farm land which was located a short distance west of the village of Unity and on the Wis. Central Railway Line.  The farm was stocked with fifty cattle, fifty-five sheep and thirteen horses, considered a large operation for that time.


N. P. Peterson, a native of Denmark, was born there in 1840.  He served in the marine artillery and navy of Denmark during the war of 1863 and 1864, coming to Wisconsin in 1867.  He moved to Colby in 1873, started a business as a blacksmith and wagon maker, which he was by trade.  Being an inventor, he obtained a patent in 1888, on a sleigh of new designs that attained a boost in his business.

The blacksmith and wagon shop of N. P. Peterson located in Colby during the late 1800’s.  They manufactured and repaired wagons, carriages and sleighs as well as horse shoeing and general blacksmithing.  The factory provided employment for eight to twelve men.



A. A. Graves was born at Wautoma, WI in 1857.  His father was a Methodist minister and the family moved to Loyal in 1865.  In 1876, he became the junior member of the firm of Graves & Son, who had a mercantile and milling business in Loyal.  In 1887, he became sole proprietor and manager of the saw mills, flour mills and large general store.


The Graves mills located in the Village of Loyal, owned by A. A. Graves & Sons.  In 1882, the flour mill and saw mill were destroyed by fire, but rebuilt immediately.  The saw mill required employing several men.  A capacity of one hundred barrels a day was put out at the flouring mill.


W. S. Tufts came to Clark County in 1876, settling in Withee and began in the lumbering business.  Soon after, he started a mercantile business and developed a farm.  Later, he owned the Withee Hotel, some village lots and 1360 acres of timberland in Clark and 400 acres in Taylor County.


The General Store of W. S. Tufts, Withee;  The building was 70 feet wide and 100 feet long, large enough to contain the stock of merchandise of a growing retail business.



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