Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

February 1, 1995, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


The Republican Press, August 31, 1870, ran a news article about Humbird, as follows:


This is a beautiful village on the West Wisconsin railway, 17 miles west of Neillsville.  Located in the heart of a rich agricultural country, it’s surrounded by farmers well-to-do in the world, and invested by a shrewd and enterprising set of business men.  The businesses are those of merchants, traders, hotel keepers and railroaders, making it a beautiful town for prosperity.


There are two hotels, both good and magnificently managed.  John Green is co-partner with Len Stafford and Zeno Smith, giving ample accommodations to man and beast at reasonable rates.  Hod Styles continues to run the Rocky Mound House and never fails to please his customers.


The merchants are Whitcomb and Carter and Ad Randall, both firms, dealing in dry goods and general merchandise.  Mr. Hurst does up the iron and hardware business.  The railroad business for the station is in the hands of Fred Whitcomb and another gentleman as assistant.


The people of Humbird are alive to fun!  The ball at Whitcomb and Carter’s hall on last Thursday evening was a fine affair.  Zeno Smith was in his happiest mood and did the agreeable to all whose company he courted.  Our young friend Elliott runs a restaurant, in the heart of the city, halfway between Styles and Green and has many friends.


Stafford’s line of stages leaves Stafford and Neillsville for Humbird and returns the same day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.” 


“Humbird is a good town.  But its day of glory is in the future.”


Sept. 10, 1870: By a letter from Mr. Whitcomb, our valued correspondent at Humbird, we learn that on Friday afternoon the brewery belonging to Messrs. Gondrecock & Andrews was totally destroyed by fire.  The loss will amount to $5,000, insured for $3,000 in the Home of New Haven.


The Structure will be immediately rebuilt.  The fire is supposed to have originated in the dry kiln.  By almost superhuman exertions of Mr. E. A. Thomas and other gentlemen, a dwelling but 40 feet from the brewery was saved.”


Neillsville News of 1870: The Masonic fraternity of Neillsville and vicinity has recently filled up an elegant hall, where they will in future hold the meetings of that order which “represents a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.”  The hall is forty feet long by twenty-four feet wide, is magnificently finished off, tastily carpeted, neatly curtained, and appropriately decorated with all the necessary implements out of order.  We are glad to know that the fraternity here is composed of as good and stable an element of society as any body of men to be found anywhere, and from the grandeur of their new quarters we would suppose they are on the high road to prosperity.”  (It is assumed the hall being referred to was on the second floor of the Hewett & Woods building, corner of 5th & Hewett).


1870 I.O.O.F. Officers have been elected to the Hercules Lodge #181:

N. G. – Edwin J. Rice, V. G. – A. W. Clark, R. S. – J. B. Jones; Secretary – Leonard Breld; Treasurer – E. H. Macintosh.


Regular meetings are held Monday evenings of each week at a hall in Staffordville.  (Staffordville was located one mile north of Neillsville on the right side4 of the road now Hwy. 73).


Sept. 1870: Leicester Allen, of Loyal, last spring, cut a Shaker Russet potato into eight pieces and planted in three hills.  This fall, he dug the potato hills, getting a half bushel, there from, many of which weighed a pound and over, there is no better farming country in the state than this same Loyal.


Edward Smith, of Loyal, has shown us a bunch of Mexican Ever-bearing Strawberries, which for this season of the year, are remarkably fresh and vigorous.  The family of Mr. Smith have been using from this collection constantly since May 1st, and will have berries until October.


The key to Dr. Crandall’s whiskey barrel was a necessity from the fact that several mongrels in close proximity to his rear entrance became habituated to turn the faucet at leisure without making proper obeisance to the proprietor or clerk.  It is a pity Doc’s back door looks out upon such fallen creatures – but it does. 


July 1870: If anyone sees a dun colored Thomas cat with a strawberry mark on its left ear, please remit.  We raised that cat and now that it is big enough to bring us some return for vast labor and considerable grub, somebody walks off with it.


Croquet is the prevailing pastime for ladies and gentlemen in Neillsville now.  Two lawns, at the residences of Mrs. Blakeslee and Mrs. Dewhurst are in constant request.


Aug. 1870: The following are the officers of the clumsy baseball club at Maple Works (later named Granton):


President: F. Osgood, Vice Pres: Joseph Marshall, Secretary: Frank J. Russell, Treasurer: J. E. Breed, 1st Director: John Hoover, 2nd Director: Thomas Wage, 3rd: Chas. Renne.


Practice game each Saturday afternoon at Maple Works.


Dr. Stimson of Sparta will spend a few days in Neillsville and is located at the O’Neill House parlors, where he will be pleased to see all who are afflicted with aching, decayed or unsound teeth, and those who want fillings, new teeth, etc.  He extracts teeth in a new way, by producing local anesthesia.  By its use teeth can be extracted without pain and without the use of gas or chloroform, a complete anesthesia being produced and the tooth itself, and not upon the patient.  Sensitive teeth are filled without pain.  People having troublesome or decayed teeth should have them attended to now.  Charges reasonable.  Remember, the doctor’s stay is short.


Bro. Palmer has done up right smart marrying lately.  May he never have cause to exclaim that it “were better not done.”


We believe there are a few more seats for sale at the village church.  Our people are not remarkably pewny just at this writing.


The bridge near Blakeslee’s Mills is now in good condition, and those who have to haul at night can cross without visions of broken bones or watery graves.


The order passed by the County Board at its last session will prove the best thing for Clark County ever known in its much abused financial corporasity.  The speculators, to the great detriment of the county, in tax-sale certificates will cease; and town, road and school taxes will be paid in money.  By this it means towns will hold money to meet the debts that may accumulate, and the schools will not be compelled to sacrifice from 26 to 40 per cent of their allowance to get ready money.  And in two or three years the county will have money to pay off the judgments and accrued state tax that hangs over it like an incubus, paralyzing every industry of which it boasts.  Had the old Board acted on this matter as it was advised to do by Treasurer Boardman 18 months since, Clark County would today have been better off by several thousand dollars.  It is unnecessary to say there is a different board sitting in Clark County now.


….Such was the Republican Press news of Clark County, year 1870.


It is wisdom to believe the heart. – George Santayana


An early scene of Main Street Humbird soon after having been built up with stores and shops: Hitching posts were placed here and there in front of the stores as convenience for their customers.


A 1915 view of Humbird’s Main Street: Every car in the village must have been lined up along the street so the families could be seated in comfort while being photographed for whatever event.


The beautiful home of B. J. Stallard was located in Humbird.  Stallard was cashier of the First State Bank incorporated in 1905 and re-organized in 1909.  Other officers in 1915 were: C. D. Fowler, Pres.; M. Kretschmer, Vice Pres.; and W. E. Waters, Ass’t Cashier.


Grist Mill, Electric Light Plant, and Hewitt St. Bridge, Neillsville, Wis.

Photo contributed by Steve Roberts (2021)


Neillsville’s first power and light was established in the early 1880’s.  In 1882, a small private electric light plant was put in with four or five arc lights being used.  Soon after, the Neillsville Electric and Water Supply Co. was organized and a complete system of arc and incandescent lights established.


A dam was constructed across O’Neill Creek in 1885 to provide a reservoir of water and powerful pump purchased for fire protection.  A solid brick building was erected on the north bank of the creek and along Hewett Street, adjoining the water works, housing the electric plant.


The above photo was taken during the razing of the old power and light plant, years later – making way for the Northern State Power Station.



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