Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

July 7, 1999, Page 14

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

The Good Old Days   

Compiled by Dee Zimmerman

Clark County News

July 1874

Messrs. Boardman and Palmer have sold their mill, west of Neillsville, to C. Blakeslee of Sparta. Blakeslee has also bought their pine covered lands.

J. F. Cannon, of Washburn, has taken the position formerly held by Geo. L. Gipple in Geo. L. Lloyd’s hardware store. Ferguson has fitted up an ice cream room in the front of part of the post office building. The public is pleased with the delicacies of the season being served there. Ferguson proposes to set a table, on the Fourth of July, in the bower connected to his building. (The bower, as we would call it today, was an arbor. D. Z.)

Jacob Rossman, Wm. Neverman, T. J. LaFlesh and Thos. Chadwick have all arrive at the “lion age” of forty years, this month. On Monday, they met at the Rossman House, with a half dozen other people, upon the invitation of Rossman, to celebrate the four birthdays. An excellent wine dinner was provided, and the host entertained his guests with true German hospitality. At the Rossman House bar, during the entire afternoon, the choicest wines, cigars and the national beverage were available to all who called to extend their congratulations to the 40-year-old proprietor. Few in town failed to stop by the Rossman House.

O. P. Wells, of Neillsville, and R. F. Wells, of Loyal, have purchased the Loyal stage line of Mr. Williams. They have also received the contract carrying the mail between Neillsville and Loyal. The stages will have the same time schedule as before.

The foundation of the new Neillsville school house has been completed. Next week, the laying of the brick will begin.

The annual school meeting of District No. 4 will be held in the school house on Monday evening at half past seven. There is to be elected a Director and Treasurer of the District. These offices have assumed considerable importance through the present large building operations of the District.

The frame of Mr. Hewett’s new house has been raised. It appears to be double the height of the house that burned, and much of an improvement in size.

W. H. Kountz has purchased O’Neill’s grocery and provisions store, opposite the O’Neill House. We expect the corner grocery to grow larger and prosper under the new management.

Robert Schofield has written and sent a letter from the wilds of Montana. He says that some son-of-a-gun has been lying about that country. He does not like it.

Persons visiting the old cemetery, if they have any respect for the dead, should remember to close the gate as they leave. It has too often been wantonly left open lately and, the cattle entering have destroyed several very fine grave stones.

In many places, throughout the county, it is “nip and tuck” between the farmer and the grasshoppers to see which will get the hay crop first.

The people of Humbird are still considerably excited over a saloon row that occurred there on July 4th, in which one man’s nose was bitten off. The proprietors of the saloon have been arrested under the Bogel law, but have so far escaped punishment. The leading citizens of the village are still after the guilty parties.

What is believed to be the oldest Bible in America is owned by a resident of Clark County. The Bible’s owner, John Reidell, of German descent, is a farmer in the Town of Grant, and a leading member of the Lutheran church. In Reidell’s library, rests a huge Bible, 22” by 14” in size, and eight inches in thickness. Its covers are fully half an inch thick, and composed of wood, covered with leather, fastened together by ponderous brass clamps. This wonderful book was printed with wood type, pica size, and on parchment of yellowish hue, and some three times the thickness of legal cap paper. It is in the German language, and was printed about the year 1457, or within the first quarter of the century after the discovery of the printing art. Its age antedates the discovery of America, and this strange relic of the past was read and re-read in the ancestral homes of the Reidell family, long years before Zunigle, Melanchthon and Luther unfurled the banner of reformation. It was in existence more than a century before the Pilgrims landed upon the coast of New England.

Since this venerable book was printed, the Bible has been revised, and the King James translation has been given to the world. Strange and almost bewildering have been the changes that have taken place since this grand old book had a place amid the cherished keepsakes of the Reidell family. The family has handed it down from generation to generation, until it has become a book of priceless value, and could not be bought with the wealth of the Indies.

The Hon. G. W. King, of Humbird, has provided the material facts contained in this statement, which has examined the book, and pronounces it the most wonderful curiosity in the line of books he has ever beheld.

The July issue of the Wisconsin Lumberman publication gives the following description of the three growing villages in Clark County on the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

Unity – contains eight of (or) ten dwellings; a store; Dr. Well’s office; the Unity House by C. Duval; Spaulding & Co’s mill, which is located on the Eau Plain River. The railway company is engaged in clearing off 40 acres, on which to lay out a town plat. The soilid (soil is) good, the timber is of good quality, and farm land is desirable. There are many settlers in the surrounding woods. There is an abundance of white pine.

Five miles beyond, north of Unity, is Colby. It has 35 buildings, mostly in an unfinished state. There are four stores. On one the sign reads, “Booth & Barry, Milwaukee Store,” very conspicuously. Also a good size hotel is being built; it is nearly completed and ready for guests. Ira S. Graves, of Fond du Lac, has a saw mill, one mile south of the village. There is a small shingle factory which is doing well in its business. Pine, basswood, elm, birch and maple are the prevailing kinds of timber, but not as thriving as the timber south of the area. The pine region is fair and the soil should provide fair farming land.

Mr. Thomas owns and operates a clothes pin factory three-fourths of a mile west of Colby, running on birch timber.

The town of Medford is located 16 miles north of Colby, and 67 miles northwest of Stevens Point. Semple & McDonald (Dan McDonald) have a large saw mill along the Black River, nearly ready for business. There are two hotels, a large depot, a store, and a dozen or so large dwellings. Many settlers have taken plots surrounding the new community. The soil is not as suitable for farming as the middle part of the county. A considerable amount of hemlock is found there, and we foresee a thriving business in the hemlock bark trade.

The Greenwood Town Board has ordered a re-survey of its road leading through and out of the town. The road has been laid back on the original course. It was found that there was no authority for ever changing it. This course takes the road within a few feet of James Delaine’s residence.

A lot has been purchased west of the old Journal office building, opposite Mrs. Stafford’s boarding house. The Presbyterians are the new owners and have bought the lot for the purpose of erecting a church building upon it. The location is an excellent one, and we hope to see it improved soon by a new edifice. (The church was built on the south side of East Fifth Street, west of what is now Dr. Foster’s office building. The church structure was destroyed by a fire, circa 1930. D. Z.)

E. J. Poole is manufacturing wooden pumps in his shop in back of Lloyd’s Blacksmith Shop. He will repair any pumps made by him, free of charge.

Robert French, proprietor of the Mormon Ripple House, offers excellent accommodations to the public. The boarding house is fitted up in excellent style throughout.

July 1954

The split rail fences were commonly seen on the early farmsteads in Clark County. Clearing trees from their land to make farming possible, logs were readily available to be split and linked together for fencing in livestock.

Of the last such fencing remaining in Clark County, is that on Counsell and Ratsch farms along Pleasant Ridge. Such fencing has disappeared because it is no longer economical. The timber and labor for making the split rails is very expensive, and no loner feasible to make rail fencing.

The last practical rail-splitting in the county was done on the Clarion Counsell farm about 18 years ago. At that time, Counsell had a helper on the farm, and there came a slack time. So, he set the man to work rail splitting. Quite a batch of rails was made, and they were used for fence, but the rails decayed readily.

The experience with the new rail fencing led Counsell to admire the pioneers and the old timber. Just how did the old-timers do it? The rails on the Counsell and Ratsch farms are upwards of 75 years old; part of them may crowd a century. Most of the timber was oak. Many of the rails appear to still have many years of usefulness as fencing. How does it happen that they have lasted so long? Counsell has asked himself whether there might have been some skill in the old method. Did they cut the logs at some particular time of the year?

The weakest spot in the old rail fence is the bottom tier of rails. In pioneer days they were held up by wooden blocks under the fence corners. Those blocks rotted faster than any other part of the fence and had to (be) replaced occasionally. Without the wooden block supports, the bottom row of rails deteriorated quicker.

Rev. Ben Stucki wanted a split rail fence around the lot of his new home. He purchased the fencing rails that had been on the old Jahr farm, north of the Reed school house. The rails are close to a century old. Stucki felt tat the split rail fencing tied in with the pioneer spirit which surrounds the Winnebago Indian School, of which Stucki is superintendent. The Stuckis are among the earliest of the families of the Clark County area. His father, Jacob Stucki, came to the Winnebago mission in its first years of existence, and spent his life serving there.

The hazard of the rail fence rotting has been countered by Stucki by putting stone under the fence corners, and resting the entire fence on roofing paper.

On the farm, the rail fence was not a hazard because of weeds or a serious loss of land. When used for pasture, the rail fence was kept clean in the corners by grazing animals. Otherwise the tendency was for the fence corners to grow up in brush or small trees. Thus, splendid cover was created for birds and small animals. With the coming of straight wire fence, such cover has disappeared.

The rail fence on the Counsell and Ratsch farms is about the oldest man-made thing now in existence in Clark County. Some of the fence dates back to Clarion Counsell’s grandfather, Henry Counsell, who came from England and homesteaded the Suckow farm, across the way from the present Counsell place. The present Counsell farm was the home of Joe Counsell, Clarion’s father, who lived much of his life in a log house across the road from the Reed school. It was there Clarion Counsell was born. Most of the rail fence on the Counsell place is quite a bit older than Clarion; some of it might even antedate his father.

(Along Pleasant Ridge, on Highway 10, east of Neillsville, near the Cardinal Avenue intersection, and across from the old Reed school, a portion of the split rail fence remains. Steve and Carol Short, the present land owners, have left a portion of the rail fencing undisturbed, feeling a bit of the land’s history should remain. During Counsell’s ownership, the entire farm was surrounded by the rail fencing with most of it having deteriorated. The travelers passing by, do appreciate viewing that remnant of the past, at least I do. D. Z.)

A 1905 scene, taken from the O’Neill Creek Bridge depicting Neillsville’s courthouse hill in the background. At the extreme right is the Wisconsin House, a boarding house which partially hides the Clark County Courthouse. Next to the Wisconsin House, was Veterinarian Schweinler’s barn & business; which was on (the) north side of East Sixth Street. To the left of the courthouse, is the 1897 Clark County Jail and Sheriff’s residence. The far left side of the photo shows the Neillsville Brewery and the brewery barns. (Photo courtesy of J. Harrington)



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