Compiled by Dee Zimmerman

Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

February 3, 1999, Page 32

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 










Clark County News


February 1869


Up to June 30, 1868, the U. S. Government had given away 186,000,000 acres of land, as land grants, in the aid of rail-roads.  Of late, there is a mania for further grants.  Some eighty bills are now pending. 


Of the eight bills for grants of land on railroads introduced by members from Wisconsin, and now pending, is one in the Clark-Wood County area, C. C. Washburn – West Wisconsin Railway Company.


The people in the northern part of Clark County will be pleased to know that a mail route, long and urgently needed will be established in their area.  The Post Office Department has requested proposals to carry mail, starting July 1st, from Neillsville to “Town Twenty-Six”.


The route and time schedule is as follows:


Leave Neillsville, by Huntzicker’s to John Graves’, 20 miles and back, once a week. 


Leave Neillsville, Friday at 7 a.m. arrive at Graves’ Mills by 5 p.m.


Leave Graves’ Mills at 7 a.m. arrive in Neillsville at 5 p.m.


There is no other village in the State, the size of Neillsville that has as much business to do as Neillsville does.  It is a depot for supplies needed by the Black River Lumbermen.  The business generated here requires the transmission of money through the mail.  The demands for money orders have been very frequent, and it has been a great inconvenience when the local Post Office can’t issue any money orders.


Hewett & Woods & Co. have commenced building a saw mill on Wedges Creek near the mouth of Hay Meadow Creek, about seven miles west of Neillsville.


A man in Bemis’ logging camp was severely injured yesterday morning when a loaded sleigh ran over one of his legs.


William Yorkston, in the Town of Lynn, has converted his residence into “a house of merchandise”.  He will be keeping a general assortment of dry goods, groceries, etc.  The farmers of that area find the store a great convenience.


An amusing scene was witnessed in the Neillsville streets the other day.  Hans Johnson, of the O’Neill House, had some choice venison hanging up behind the hotel.  A large, hungry four-legged cur dexterously managed to bring down a hind-quarter of venison, then started off on a “dog-trot”.  Passing in front of the hotel office, the dog was espied by the hotel owner who took off in hot pursuit.  Johnson hollered, “Drop that!” which scared the dog so that he did drop the booty, and the property was regained.  It seems the dog was determined not to give up, for soon after, he was once again seen going across the street carrying a chunk of venison. 


A communication was presented by Timothy Atkinson, lumber inspector of the Second District, showing that 60,646,360 feet of logs had been through to the boom at the mouth of the Black River.  Of that total, 10,500,000 feet of lumber and 1,500,000 shingles had been manufactured on the Black River.


The Annual Meeting of the Black River Logging Association was held at the Clark County Court House recently.  W. T. Price was chosen chairman, and D. D. McMillan, Secretary.  Members present were: G.C. Hixon, Robert Ross, Alex McMillan, W. W. Crosy, L. L. Nevins, H. A. Bright, A. Gile, Levi Withee, M. B. Holway, W. T. Price, D. D. McMillan, R. McDonald, N. H. Withee, James Hewett, O. S. Woods, C. L. Colman, D. J. Spaulding, G. M. Bowman, Timothy Atkinson, J. S. Keator, and C. C. Washburn.


A motion was made and resolved that the members present would list the amount of logs they own or expect to drive to the mouth of the Black River.


The immigration of people to Clark County next summer is promising to be large.  A gentleman who arrived here, with his family from Dodge County recently, says about twenty families living there plan to settle here next spring.  Many people are still coming here and taking possession of land under the Homestead Act.  Some very valuable farm land has been secured in that manner.


Nelson Metcalf, who lives six miles west of Neillsville, has a good pair of mules which he will trade for a yoke of oxen, or will sell the mules for cash.


February 1939


Franklin Lyman Nehs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor W. Nehs, of Neillsville, was one of 16 freshmen entering the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, at the age of 16.  The freshman class this year numbers 3,094 students.


Glen White, well known in the Neillsville area, will be taking over the management of Chapman’s Café on Fifth Street, this Monday.  The kitchen will be under the supervision of his mother, Mr. W. H. White.  White and his mother have had considerable experience in the restaurant work.  Chapman plans to continue operating the bar.


Mr. and Mrs. Jake Schiller, Clark County residents for the last 47 years, celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary on Monday.  Mr. Schiller is 84 years old and Mrs. Schiller is 80.


Many friends and relatives of the grand old couple stopped in at their home on South Grand Avenue to congratulate them.


The Schiller’s were married on February 6, 1876, in St. Joseph’s, Fond du Lac County. They said they grew up together as children, living in the same community.


Soon after their marriage, the Schiller’s moved to Marion County, where they planned to settle down in farming.


However, life on a farm did not last long.  In 1892, they moved to Clark County.  Schiller, an old-time logger, started working for John Hein.  Hein was a well known lumberman of this section, during that time.  The first house, in which they lived, in Clark County, was a log cabin near Hein’s sawmill, located on Wedges Creek.


A few years later, the saw mill was moved to the Town of York, and the Schiller’s moved with it. Frequently, Schiller was sent out in search of new timberlands.  His searches carried him into many parts of Wisconsin, and on one occasion, into Michigan.


For 14 years Schiller was an employee of the Hein Mill, then he and his family moved to Neillsville.  He was employed with the Neillsville City Water Department of several years.


The advice Mr. and Mrs. Schiller would give to any young couple seeking to learn the secret of a long and happy married life is: learn to give and take.  “And you have to give a lot more than you take sometimes,” Mrs. Schiller commented.


John O. VanKoert, youthful University of Wisconsin Art Instructor, who has been awarded the commission to paint a mural for Neillsville’s new $60,000 Post Office, was in the city last weekend.  He was filling his ears and eyes, as well as arms, with historical data concerning Neillsville.


The data was being gathered for the purpose of selecting a suitable theme for the mural painting, which is to be finished and hung on the Post Office lobby wall by Sept. 1st.  VanKoert will do the work on canvas in Madison, and will transport the competed painting here.


After spending a few minutes in the Post Office measuring the wall space over the entrance to Postmaster Louis W. Kurth’s office, VanKoert went about the city searching for information.  He inquired about the legends and history of the city from long time residents, and gathered historical records from the Neillsville Public Library with the assistance of Jean Elizabeth Spray, librarian.


Among the subjects suggested, VanKoert expressed keen interest in the potential subject matter of the mural, as to be the story of the election which brought the county seat to Neillsville.  Staffordville, located on the north side of O’Neill Creek, was an intense rival for the court house, and was the only other sizable settlement in Clark County at that time.


The interesting and amusing story as told in “Stage Coach and Tavern Tales of the Old Northwest,” was penned by Harry Ellsworth Cole, late president of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


Henry Ellsworth Cole’s version was as follows: “Neillsville claims to have won its place in the Commonwealth as the result of an unusual occurrence.  Neillsville and Staffordville were rivals for the honor of the county seat.  Joseph Smith was the first to visit the area to obtain lumber for the Mormon Settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois.  Shortly after, some other settlers located in Neillsville; giving the settlement little importance.


A ballot was to decide which of the two places was to be the seat of government.  When the election came, there was a general holiday.


Each hamlet possessed a bar where firewater was sold and each proprietor ordered a liberal supply of the beverage from La Crosse.


The two hamlets were only a mile apart, a stream flowing between them.  Unfortunately, for Staffordville, the whiskey failed to arrive at its tavern.  There was no bridge across the creek (O’Neill Creek) – just a fallen tree which spanned the creek.  Even a sober person would have had difficulty walking on the fallen log, trying to make his way across the creek.


With a burning desire for refreshment, Staffordville voters filtered into Neillsville and before the day were over, were able to navigate on indifferently.  Not one with unstable feet was able (to) negotiate the wobbly log across the stream.  As a result, Staffordville lost the election and Neillsville became the county seat.”


(There are two legends about the Clark County seat vote.  The other story claims that Weston Rapids, a hamlet two miles north of Neillsville, and located along the Black River, was the rival for the county seat.  Knowing the legend which VanKoert copied, explains the Post Office mural picture’s setting.  Many residents have said, “The scene is turned around according to the story.”  Perhaps, the conflicting stories tend to influence one’s thoughts about the scene on the mural. D.Z.)


Wisconsin’s virgin white pine grew tall, blocking out the sun’s rays.  The man standing near the trees depicts the enormity of the pine growth.  The scene was captured circa 1910 in Sawyer or Washburn County, the last area to be cleared of its virgin timber in Wisconsin. Western Clark County had similar stands of timber, losing their virgin white pine in 1860 to 1880’s.  (Photo courtesy of George H. Crothers whose mother obtained the photo while teaching school in Drummond, Wis., circa 1910-1920)



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