Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

July 12, 1995, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


Shortville as a Community


Carol Hansen, as a youngster moved to the Shortville community with her parents, Harry and Christine, and several siblings in the late 30’s.  The Hansen family farmed down the road from the Shortville corner.


Bob Mortenson and Carol Hansen were married in 1948.  After their marriage they lived at the Shortville Store apartment, helping Bob’s parents with the store business.  Bob did the bookkeeping and Carol helped Em with the various store chores.  In 1951, they rented the vacated Hagie house, living there three years.  They built and moved into a new house between the Hagie house and store.


Shortville is considered “home” by Carol who lived there from early childhood until recent years.  She has many fond memories of the great community spirit that prevailed in the neighborhood.


One or two evenings a week, year around, neighbors went to the store, parents and kids for some socializing.  The men played sheephead and exchanged reports on their farming operations.  The guys became “fine tuned” in the card game; any guest sitting down to join them soon realized that.


The women brought along their fancy work projects to work on.  Farm wives were accustomed to being busy every waking moment, it seemed they couldn’t just sit so they kept their minds and hands working with knitting, crocheting or embroidery.  They could visit while doing the needlework, often making items for gifts.  When some young couple in the neighborhood was planning to be married, there would be a wedding shower that everyone was invited to and an embroidered set of pillowcases or dish towels made a nice gift.  A new baby in the community was given a present by each family that came to see the family addition, so hand-knit booties, caps or sweaters were made in readiness for such occasions.


Newly married women, such as Carol learned the needlework arts from other ladies at the store’s evening gatherings.  No one needed a pattern; they shared copying one another’s needlework productions, especially if someone came up with a new design.


The children enjoyed getting together to play various games outdoors, during the summer.  The school, across the road, had a softball field where the older kids played ball games the younger ones thought of games to their liking.  As the evenings became dusk, too dark for ballgames, the game of hide-and-seek was always fun.


The hot summer days, called for “going swimming.”  The Cunningham Creek ran east to west, about one-half mile north of Shortville corners.  There was a nice swimming hole in the creek on the Oscar and Millie Schlegel property.  Neighbors who wanted to go swimming were welcome to drive through Schlegel’s farm yard to get to the creek just behind the buildings.  A pump house in the yard was used for changing into swimwear.  The elderly couple, visited with their guests who came to swim in the evenings.


Work could be combined with pleasure, such as corn husking-bee.  In the fall, the corn stalks were cut with a binding machine and the bundles shocked in the fields after the cobs of corn were dried the bundles were hauled to the farm yard.  The cobs of corn had to be husked out of the bundles.  Often that chore was done in the evenings and neighbors came to help.  A husking hook mounted on a leather backing was strapped on hand to make the job easier in pulling off the corn husks.  Every one visited as they worked and there would be a lunch served before everyone left to go home.


There were other “neighbors-helping-neighbors” work projects; grain threshing, silo filling, sawing wood, to name a few.


The Shortville Presbyterian church and the Shortville rural school were nucleuses for community gatherings.


A Ladies Aid Society made up of several women, members of the church, met monthly.  The meetings started with a noon meal, followed by their business meeting in the afternoon.  They brought along their pre-schoolers which made a large gathering.


The church remained active until the 30’s.  One minister served both the Shortville and Neillsville Presbyterian congregations.  A fire destroyed the Neillsville church in January 1930, after which the minister left.  Eventually, the Shortville church closed due to not being able to find a minister for their congregation.


Every spring, an end of the school term picnic was held in May.  The entire school district was invited, any and everyone living within the district, whether they did or didn’t have children enrolled in the school, were to be part of the day’s events.


A large potluck dinner was served at noon.  Some place on the school yard, a bon fire was kindled.  The kids were sent on a mission to find just the right twigs from a small tree or willow to serve as skewers in roasting wieners and marshmallows.


The afternoon featured various contests in running races, sack races, broad jumping, etc. and softball games.  The elderly guests watched the events and visited.


Basket Socials were held in the winter months, at least once a year, usually as a fund-raiser to buy some needed school item.  An empty shoe box was the perfect size for a basket.  Two or three colors of crepe paper were wrapped around the box and cover, arranged with decorative touches giving it an attractive appearance.  Lunch for two was neatly packed inside.  A program of entertainment usually proceeded once everyone had arrived at the school.  After the program, someone acted as auctioneer, calling for bids as he held up a basket.  Each basket was sold to the highest bidder.  The purchaser would share the lunch with who ever had made up the basket and lunch.  Any young, single men in the crowd would have fun outbidding one another for the teacher’s basket.


The community took care of one another in a number of ways.  Grandpa and grandma Ottow lived one-fourth mile west of the Shortville corner.  Not many can recall their first names; most knew them only as “Grandpa” and “Grandma.”  Grandma was a surrogate grandma to all – fitting the roll as a kind, caring person.  She became lonely after Grandpa died, but chose to remain in the country home.   The evening hors were the lonely time, so neighbors such as Mortensons would take her to their house after the supper hour for awhile, taking her back home at bedtime.


Shortville businesses, the church and school have disappeared but the memories in the minds of those who lived during their day, live on… fond remembrances. 


Some family names of the area were Trachte, Stevens, Kuhn, West, Matouzak, Shromek, Horehled, Rizner, Karstenson, Hoeser, Schultz, Holub, Krutch, Wagner, Wilding, Allbaugh, Voltz, Galbreath, Short, Halle, Reinart, Hagie, Doushak, Junchen, Spaete, Ottow, Theil, Kosmosky and Hall.


Shortville School, 1912-1913.

Teacher: Sayde E. Crawley.  Some of the students: Irvin Stevens, Wm. Wesenberg, Arthur Carlson, Willie Carstensen, Alpha Hagie, Lee Meddaugh, August Wesenberg, Frank Hall, Leonard Carlson, Elmer Wesenberg, Marvin Hall, R. Frantz, Wm. Shona, Edward Shona, Dimples Wesenberg, Beatrice Hall, Nigna Moldenhauer, Mary Kosmoski, Eva Stevens, Vera Stevens, Veronica Kosmoski, Evelyn Moldenhauer, Cara Hagie, Elsie Webster, Lula Carlson, Olive Hall, Vila N., and Anne Kosmoski.


Shortville Presbyterian Church

Back row: Don’t know, Ralph Short, Doreen Short, Mrs. Albert Zank & baby, Edith Short, Ruth Allbaugh, George Allbaugh, & Bob Spiegel.  Front Row: Lila Hansen, Janice (Hansen) Opelt, Carol (Hansen) Mortenson, Alberta Zank, Mary Lou (Hagie) Meredith, Amelia Hagie. 


Summer Bible School Class

Back Row: Byron Trachte, Janice (West) Voigt, Lila Hansen, Jim Krutch, Don’t know.  Middle Row: (?) Volz, Joanne (Stevens) Krause, Jerry Hanson, don’t know, Arnold Trachte, Iva Volz.  Front Row: Sylvia West, Mary Lou (Hagie) Meredith, Alberta Zank, Marilyn Florence, Billy Hansen, Janice Hanson, Jean Williams.


1952-1953 Shortville School

From left, First row of seats: Karen Trachte, Vera Lincoln, Jerry Pretsch, Ilene Holub, Judy Kuhn,  Second Row: Roger Rizner, Shirley Holub, Patsy Kuhn, Sandra Hanson, Wayne Schnabel.  Third Row: Bernice Trachte, Earl Pretsch, Jim Kuhn, Evonne Hanson, Leonard Holub.  Fourth Row: Arlene Trachte, Janice Hanson, Sylvia Kuhn, Ronald Holub, Roger Phillips.  Teacher: Mrs. Smith.


(Thanks to everyone who provided information, Carol Mortenson, Mary Lou Meredith, Edith Short, Irma Rizner, Ione Urban, Jan Opelt, and Mildred Kissling)




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