Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

July 5, 1995

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


Shortville Corners continued from last week:


The Shortville Corners had two other businesses near the general store, a cheese factory and blacksmith shop.


First as a creamery, making butter, then remodeled into a cheese factory in 1903, the business operated approximately 60 years.  A house next to the factory building was part of the factory property, providing residence for its manager or owner.


In its beginning, it was cooperatively owned by area farmers who hired a manager to run the business.  It was closed for a short time in 1917-1918.


It went to private ownership when sold to Rudolph and Elsbeth Wahlen in 1924.  One of their employees was Herman Hediger who worked in the cheese factory when he first came from Switzerland.  Many remember Hediger for the cheese factory and business he established in Christie.  Wahlen produced cheddar cheese, selling the finished product to a distributor in Marshfield.


Wahlens operated the cheese factory for approximately 20 years.  Their daughter Irma (Wm.) Rizner resides near Neillsville.  A Sandmeyer owned or operated the cheese factory for a short time.


In 1944, Earl and Elsie Hanson bought the cheese factory business making cheese until they closed the business in 1951.  A daughter, Jan (Bill) Opelt attended the rural school near the factory.


The Shortville Cheese factory went the way of many more throughout Clark County during the 50ís, 60ís ďout of business,Ē now in the 90ís very few remain.


The Shortville cheese factory was in business for nearly 60 years, closing its door and ceasing operation in 1951. 


A house next to the cheese factory was owned by the business, serving as residence for the owner or manager.


Another business was located on the west side of the general store, a blacksmith shop.


The first blacksmith shop in the Shortville community was located one fourth mile north of the Shortville corners.  The shop was established by Eugene Hagie in the 1890ís.


Hagieís had two sons, Floyd and Ed, who followed in their dadís footsteps, both taking up the blacksmith trade.


Floyd Hagie set up a blacksmith shop in the Dells Dam area.  It was located on the highway 95 curve, one half mile east of the Black River.


Another son, Ed married Amelia Cardarelle in 1918 or 1919 after which they went to live in the Dakotas.  Returning to Shortville about 1921, Hagie built a blacksmith shop west of the general store building.


Hagieís Blacksmith Shop and home along highway 73 and the Shortville corner.  Ed Hagie established the business and worked with it for 30 years.


Every rural community welcomed a blacksmith during that time.  The farm machinery was built of simple design such as the two bottom plow, hay mower, grain binder, disk and drag.  When any one of those broke, often by hitting a hidden rock, it could be repaired by welding the broken parts together.  The local blacksmith would do the repair work, quickly, for his customer.


Horses were used to pull the farm machinery until tractors became more available after World War II.  Hagie shoed horses at his shop for area farmers.


Rural electric started reaching the Shortville area as it followed the main roads or highways first, in the late 30ís.  Having electricity to power welding equipment, saw planer, etc. in Hagieís shop was a great asset to his business.


Hagie was very talented as a machinist.  He built and welded together a saw mill that was set-up in back of his shop, to use in sawing lumber.  After designing his own portable mill, he built several to order for customers through the years.


Ed Hagie built a portable saw mill which he set-up in back of his blacksmith shop.  It was used to saw lumber for a number of years.


Several portable saw mills were custom-made by Hagie after he designed his own.  He was welding on one of those rigs when this photo was taken. 


Ed and his brother, Floyd owned and operated a threshing machine and steam engine, doing custom threshing, when they were young men.  During the time of the blacksmith shop, he had a Rumley Oyl Pull tractor and threshing machine.  The Rumley powered the threshing machine in the threshing season and the saw mill at other times of the year.


The Rumley Oyl Pull and threshing machine owned by Ed Hagie and used for custom threshing jobs in the Shortville area.


The Rumley was a reliable source of power but definitely not a machine to enter any races, as it moved from job site to job site at a max of three miles an hour.  After highway 73, in front of Hagieís shop, was paved with a hard surface, highway officials advised Ed not to run his lugged steel wheeled Rumley Oyl Pull on the highway.  A man of incentive ideas, he replaced the steel wheels with army surplus rubber airplane tires enabling the tractor to be driven down the highway.


Ed and Amelia had three sons: Douglas, a retired Air Force Colonel residing in Atlanta, Ga.; Jack, retired, who lives in Prairie du Sac and Gorden, who is deceased.  They had one daughter, Mary Lou (Meredith), owner/operator of Mary Louís restaurant on Division Street, Neillsville.


Retiring from the life of a blacksmith in 1951 Ed and Amelia Hagie moved to Neillsville.  Ed passed away at the age of 60.


The blacksmith shop closed when Hagie retired, the same year that the Cheese factory ceased operation.


The general store was operated by the Moennig family for a brief time after Mortensons.


The corner lot where the store stands is now owned by third generation of the Mortenson family.  Having been vacant for some years, the store has deteriorated and plans are that it will soon be razed.  After 109 years, a landmark will disappear.  A family member has suggested a Historical marker be placed at the store site, where Shortville was located, not to be for-gotten.


(Photos courtesy of Mary Lou [Hagie] Meredith and Irma Rizner)




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