Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

October 16, 1996, Page 32

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


The Neillsville Press


Memories of the Late 1800’s in Neillsville


C. C. Sniteman perfected the Zeta fly-chaser.  Max Herman made trips with is old horse he called Zeta (thus the name) and introduced the drug to dealers and farmers.  It was a concoction that warded off the flies.  Conrad Krumrey fitted out all of his dray horses with straw hats during the hot weather.  Krumrey operated a dray line within the City of Neillsville.


Dr. Pitcher, as well as being a dentist, played the role of a Clark County conservationist after he came here to set up his dental practice.  He became a game warden and was the first to plant trout fry in Wedges, Hay, Mound and other creeks around Humbird and Neillsville.  W. G. Klopf and Chas. Gates assisted him on many of those trips.  The fish were brought by train to Merrillan from the state fish hatchery where they were loaded into wagons and taken in cans with chunks of ice on top, transported to the streams.  A later warden, Geo. Redmond, planted large numbers of fish.


Emery Bruley built a big saw mill up the O’Neill Creek, farther upstream, east of the Hewett street Bridge.  At one time, there was a swinging bridge built on cables anchored to trees on each bank below the Pennock Mill.  A brush and rock dam raised the creek water, making a pond.  After the mill closed down, a Farnsworth lived in the small office building.


Neillsville area was noted for having outstanding musicians.  Nearly every home had some member who was musically inclined.  Not enough emphasis can be made about those pioneers who recognized the importance of music in making the city a pleasanter place to live, who helped create the love of music appreciation.


Musicians to be remembered were: Fred Whitcomb and his famous orchestra; Frank Darling and the Silver Cornet Band; John Judge of Augusta led many bands to success to be followed by Prof. Adams of the Neillsville High School who taught music to later generations of students.  Vocal music was taught at the G. A. R. Hall and the Unitarian Church.  Flossie McKimey conducted a musical kindergarten in the Brule building next to the Major Hommel home on Grand Avenue.


Scores of homes were enlightened by music of piano, voice, violin or even cigar box fiddle or Jew’s harp.  Mayme Hewett was noted for her talent of whistling.  Music of Clyde Sturdevant on the piccolo in his rendition of Rain Water to the soft cadences by Geo. Grow on his flute or the descending crescendo and dulcet tones of Spencer M. Marsh on his tuba.  (The reporter was reminiscing; and wrote the article for a 1936 Press publication.)


October 1876 


Several hunting parties have gone out from here of late.  Deer is the object of their search, and dearly do they pay for all the venison they get. 


The finder of a buffalo robe, lost Wednesday last, between Cowley Creek Bridge and Neillsville, will be suitably rewarded by leaving the same at the Neillsville Mills.


John Thayer has a gun that cost him three dollars and it isn’t worth half the money.  In appearance it somewhat resembles an old fashioned funnel, but it is less attractive.  His motives in making the purchase are not generally known, that “with fine shots, it shoots first rate, but with a single ball it will scatter a little.”  The stories in circulation to the effect that it belonged to his ancestors and that it had been laying in the archives of that ancient house at Pigeon Creek, for ages past, are absurd.  It was a recent purchase, and curious and meddlesome people may yet to learn what use he intends it. 


Pursuant to calls, the soldiers and sailors of Clark County held their eleventh Annual Re-union in this village on Monday, Oct. 9, 1876.


The procession formed on Main Street, headed by the Neillsville Cornet Band with the Clark County Zouaves acting as an escort, and attended by the Neillsville Fire Department, marched through the principal streets and to the Court House, where an organization was effected by the election of Capt. J. W. Tolford, chairman, and Lieut. J.B. Jones, secretary.  Speeches were made by several of the comrades present.


A dance was held at the Fireman’s Hall with good music in attendance.  Supper was furnished by Mrs. Crossett at fifty cents each.


Our country was developed by adventurous people. Len Ferguson and two friends, Lynn Feutz and Richard Qualley, former residents of the Cannonville area, young men with little money, rode west on motorcycles.  Taken from a book of Len’s memoirs, is this humorous account of their trip west.


“In the spring of 1935, Roy and I worked for an old by named Fred Day.  He came from Chicago and bought a section of land.  He had big plans of farming it.  He was quite a character.  I don’t know if he had a lot of money, but he pretended he did, that was alright.  We did get some of his money.  I believe Richard helped us make a thousand fence posts, which we sold to him, that’s probably what financed our trip west.


In July of 1935, Lynn Feutz, Richard and I planned a trip to Yellow Stone Park.  Richard and Lynn rode together on Rich’s 1927 Harley.  I rode my 1931 H.D.  They would go as far as Yellowstone Park.  There we would separate and I would go on to the state of Washington.  Richard had ground up some parched corn, and had a good supply of venison jerky.  When you were hungry you took a piece of jerky, a few spoons of powdered parched corn, mix it with some water and that quick meal was ready.  I don’t believe Lynn was too fond of it, but it served us well.  When we parted company at Yellowstone Park, I took my share of corn with me.  My bed roll was a canvas bag with a wool quilt inside.  We didn’t have a tent—just the open sky to sleep under. 


In South Dakota, one evening, we were enjoying riding in the moonlight.  We came to a place where hay was being made.  It had been raked into bunches.  Richard and I thought the hay would be a good place to spend the night.  Lynn had other thoughts.  He didn’t want a rattler for a bed partner.  Reluctantly he crawled in the hay pile, and sat on a big cactus.  With rattlers on his mind, as he stuck that cactus in his behind he went into high orbit thinking for sure a rattler had bit him.  No way could we get him back in the bag.  When morning came and he was still alive, only then would he believe maybe it was a cactus he had met up with.  In the Black Hills of South Dakota we saw the man as he was carving the Mt. Rushmore memorial.  Mr. Gutson Borglum, a Norwegian, was the designer of the master piece.


The motorcycle club at Rapid City showed us an out of the way place we could ride our bikes and make camp.  A nice little creek ran by the spot.  We were thirsty for milk.  We had bought a quart of milk to be divided three ways.  Lynn saved part of his milk, putting it in the creek to keep cool, planning to have a bit of milk with his parched corn breakfast.  I couldn’t resist getting up in the night and drank his milk leaving just enough milk to color the water, making it to appear it had just kind of spilled.  The next morning, when Lynn saw his watered milk he really cried, something happened to his milk.  Listening to all his wailing I knew he wouldn’t take too kindly to my little prank.  I waited for forty-five years before I told him what really happened to his can of milk.


Not having a wind shield on the bikes, the wind really burned our faces.  It didn’t help when I ran into a swarm of bees.  We really enjoyed the park.  Everything was new and exciting to us, especially, the bear and the large elk.  After seeing their horns I knew I had to hunt elk.  Then the time came for us to part.”



A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring. – Ambrose Bierce


The brighter you are, the more you have to learn. – Don Herold


Shipping calves from the local stockyard was a common practice for farmers in the early 1900’s.  Each town’s stockyard was located along the railroad track, not far from the depot.  A weekly specified time was “shipping day,” when livestock was sold and shipped to the packing plants in larger cities.  In 1909, Fred Garvin, of the Loyal area, chose to have this day remembered when he was photographed on the intersection of what is now Hwy 98 and Cty Trunk “K” on the Methodist Church corner in Loyal.  It was the days of the boardwalk, visible at the street crossing.  The water tower, in the background, stood as a familiar landmark, for many years, verifying the location.  The horse-drawn, well-built wagon, served as a livestock carrier, the days before the motor driven trucks and trailer.  (Photo courtesy of Ardyth Braiser Rossow)




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