Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

October 18, 2000, Page 12

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

The Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


October 1880


The new O’Neill Creek Bridge will be finished early this month if our weather continues to be favorable.


Louis Rossman left for Milwaukee last Friday to purchase stock for his cigar factory.


Preaching services at the Presbyterian and Methodist churches of this village will begin hereafter at eleven o’clock in the morning and seven o’clock in the evening.  The bell will be rung in accordance with this change of time.  The exercises of Sabbath Schools will begin at ten o’clock in the morning with first bell being rung at half past nine.


Dr. Wm. B. Morley’s new residence is rapidly approaching completion.  It will be an ornament in that part of town.


The German Lutheran Church, in the Town of Grant, was totally destroyed by fire between eleven and twelve o’clock last Saturday night.  There was no insurance on the building.  The dwelling house and contents of John Harris, 1 ½ miles from Humbird, was destroyed by fire Wednesday morning. That loss is estimated at about $1,000; insurance, $600.


Jim Delane, the victim of the Shiloh cannon, pulled another sliver about half an inch long out of his wrist last week.  The arm is entirely healed up, but has never been free from pain since the Shiloh injury.


A driving team of horses, belonging to F. D. Lindsay, took a run around the square last Thursday morning.  They started from the barn in the eastern part of the village, went down Third Street to Main, leaving the buggy at the corner of Main and Second Street, then went east on Second Street to the stable.  The extent of the damages was a broken pole and whiffletree.


M. B. Warner took possession of B. F. Brown’s mercantile establishment recently, having exchanged his large farm property in Dakota for it. Warner and Brown were in Chicago where they purchased the largest and best stock of goods ever brought to Greenwood. For over 20 years, Warner has sojourned on the Black River in the lumber business.  During that time there can not be found a mark of discredit against him so, he comes forth as Brown’s reputation and an assurance that his customers will get a square deal.


Brown then started his drove of 50 cattle for Dakota and had placed them aboard two rail cars at Taylor Station on the Green Bay railroad.  When last heard from, he was snow bound at St. Peters, Minn. with his car-loads of cattle.


Fred Buker, of the Town of Hixon, received back pension through Clerk of Court Parkhurst a few days ago.  The pension amounted to $1,086, being allowed $6 per month.


Our new German paper, the Deutsch-Amerikaner is a seven-column folio and presents a fine appearance.  It has a good supply of reading matter and nearly every business place in town is represented in its advertising columns.


Bright & Withee are building a large store-house on their farm in Longwood.


Justice Armstrong has a great bear suit in his court today.  Two parties of the Greenwood vicinity each claim to have killed the same bear and have resorted to court to find out who really did kill the bear.  The bear certainly is dead, for his hide sold for six dollars.


A bit of wisdom, “If you can say nothing good of anyone say nothing at all, for in friendship as in love, we are often happier in our ignorance than in our knowledge.”


October 1940


A rousing send-off for the Service Company, 128th Infantry, was planned and carried through by the community this morning.  The troop mustered into federal service at 8 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15 for a year of extensive training, was expected to leave Camp Douglas sometime between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. today, October 17.


The send-off was to be informal with residents gathering in front of the armory on Fourth Street with the Neillsville High School band playing a number of military marches.


The trucks of the 120th field artillery, Abbotsford National Guard unit, were to transport the local troops to Camp Douglas. The band was to play a parting salute while the National Guard trucks rolled westward, then south to Highway 95.


The company roster at the end of the physical examinations throughout the day on Tuesday included 91 men and six officers.  Four enlisted men were rejected as a result of the examinations.  The peacetime strength was 69 men, which meant 22 enlisted men who were accepted for service made the total of 91 when added for the authorized strength.


The men are expected to leave Camp Douglas and arrive at Fort Beauregard, six miles from Alexandria, La. on Tuesday.  They will remain there until sometime in December, when the new camp is scheduled to be ready for occupancy.


In a telegram to the commanding officers of Wisconsin National Guard units on mobilization day, Gov. Julius P. Heil made particular reference to the “32nd service division.”  His telegram said:


“Wisconsin is proud of the accomplishments of its soldiers.  We recall the Civil War and Spanish War heroes.  The 32nd service division has been named ‘Les Terribles’ because of its fighting ability.  You are embarking on a course of duty in the service of your country.  Wisconsin wishes you God speed.”


[As many of us will remember, what was to be only one year’s absence from their home-towns, many of the young men who left to participate in those extensive training exercises were gone from five to six years.  A little over a year after the National Guard units left, Pearl Harbor  was bombed on December 7, 1941, which triggered the declaration of World War II. D. Z.)


The Rev. Joseph A. Biegler of St. Mary’s Catholic Church came back from Bayfield last week with a tall tale about fishing.


In spite of his cloth, a few who heard the story listened skeptically; half wondering whether it might not be just another faith story.


But they were “eating crow” this week; for Rev. Fr. Biegler produced a newspaper clipping and pictures telling of and showing the catch.


There were 16 lake trout weighing a total of 218 pounds.  Then of the day’s catch weighed 17 pounds each and the largest caught was a 23-pounder.


Co-partner in the fishing excursion was the Rev. Joseph Graff of Marshfield.


The Mayflower, several generations removed, came to Granton, Chili and Neillsville last week.


In a recent issue of “Wisconsin Families” magazine of the Wisconsin Genealogical Society, the ancestry of several residents of the three communities were traced back 11 or more generations to Priscilla Mullins, she was of the Miles Standish courtship and the John Alden wooing.


Specifically, the magazine traces the ancestry of Mrs. L. G. Morris of Delafield.  But Mrs. Morris, a former Granton resident, is a full sister of Price Lee, who lives in Granton.  Among others in the three communities who are included in the direct line of descent are Frank Davis of Neillsville and his two daughters, Stella and Mrs. George Prochazka; Dr. Ell L. Lee and Vinton Lee.


In Chili, those in the direct line of descendants of Priscilla are Ernest Lee and his children.


The article states that Mrs. Morris is 11 generations removed from William Mullins, the father of Priscilla. With his now famous daughter, William Mullins landed in America from the Mayflower in 1620.  After a romance with dashing Capt. Miles Standish, Priscilla wed John Alden in 1621, according to the article.


One thing stated as fact by the article which was omitted by Longfellow in his famous poem was that Standish’s son, Alexander later married Sarah, the daughter of Priscilla and John Alden.


John Marincic, of Willard, punched a big gnarled hand into a trouser pocket and jingled a few loose coins.


To the broadly smiling Marincic as to many other early settlers of the countryside reaching out from here, this is significant; for his experience has been so much like that of nearly every one of the original band who pioneered this area just 30 years ago.


They came here broke-or, at least badly bent. They found fields covered with rocks, stumps and brush. They came with nothing; they found nothing – and now Marincic jingles coins together in his pocket. 


For a few years he worked catch-as-catch-can in the flour and steel mills of South Chicago. Twelve hours of back-breaking labor brought just $1.25.  Then his health gave out and through Ignac Cesnik, a schoolmate in old Austria, he learned of Willard.  Cesnik was the land agent for the Willard territory and succeeded L. W. Claire to this position on the death of Claire.


The doctor had ordered country air and outside work.  Willard offered these; but Marincic did not expect the quantity of each that he got.  Leaving his family behind, he recalled last week, “I found a depot and …brush.”


He had just three dollars – three of the big, green bills used at that time.  But there was no place to spend money; so Marincic didn’t have to worry about it. As it happened, this was fortunate.  For three months he carried the three bills loose in his overall pocket.  When he tramped over the N.C. Foster Lumber company’s railway tracks to Greenwood for the first time, he carried in his pocket the remains of those three bills, each worthlessly worn to pulp.


When he recalled this to mind, Marincic stopped a moment.  Then he sized up the situation:


“It was easy to come here; but it was next to impossible to scrape together enough to get back.  It was probably a good thing, though, for now we (and he indicated others of the early settlers as well as himself) have nice farms, good homes, and we’re making a living.”


When he arrived in Willard in 1911, Anton Trunkel, Anton Zupancic, John (Happy) Routar and one of two others formed the entire settlement.  Marincic took an acre of land, located near the present site of the Willard State Graded School and adjoining the home of Mrs. L. E. Claire, widow of the first land agent.  She remains there today.


Although the old-timers of Willard mutter in their whiskers about the brush that covered the land, it offered many of them their first chance of a livelihood in the new country. The land had to be cleared to make it tillable and many turned to clearing – at $8 an acre.


Brush fires set up a glow in the heavens as they worked, or the firing was done at night.  “We cut in the day and we burned at night,” he said.  “And by working day and night we cold come out even at a dollar a day.”


Somehow, between clearing jobs, Marincic was able to build a house and a small barn on his Willard acre.  He was given credit for the lumber and when he had erected the frame buildings he owed exactly $244.  It took three years of clearing to wipe out that debt and to have his home really his own.


After a year Mrs. Marincic and the three children, Albina, Donnie and Rudolph, arrived in Willard.  They lived there for the next two years and the community already as perking up its ears, showing signs of becoming a community center.


Roads were unknown in that section, though, and the closest food supply was at Greenwood – eight miles away through brush or over railroad ties.  Many were the time that the early settlers walked the ties or struck out through the brush for Greenwood. And many were the time they had returned at night with a 100-pound pack of provisions on their backs.


With five mouths to feed, Marincic began to see where he would have a tough wrestle with the wolf, at $8 a day clearing.  So, in 1914, when he was offered an opportunity to trade his Willard home for 40 acres three miles north and west, he jumped at the chance.


The 40 acres offered was the property of the Catholic Church and was given to it by N. C. Foster, the lumberman whose woodsmen had gone over the land with axe, saw and log trains. The church had wanted to raffle the land; but the state jumped in solidly with both feet and prevented such action on grounds that it was a lottery.


So there Marincic was, with a family of five and 40 acres with nothing on it except brush and stone. And with not a single farm tool to work with, how could the land be quickly cleared? 


Those were dark days, to be sure.  But the family made out, as most families of the area have, by working hard and long, and by making what money they could get together go as far as possible.  The lack of tools did not mean a great deal at that time, for the Slovenian farmer and his family had not learned to depend on them.  Everything was done by hand, even to spinning and hand-weaving the cloth, and the mowing in the fields.


It cost nearly $100 an acre to clear the land and after that was done the rocks remained in the fields.  “We plowed with a single ox then,” he continued, “and we would plow a day or two – and spend the next week picking stones.”


During those early years while the rough land was being slowly subdued and before roads were built, those children who went to school, attended first at Willard.  In the case of the Marincic family, the children cut cross-country through he (the) brush for the school house.  “And many were the time,” Marincic recalled, “that I had gone out at night looking for the children, afraid that they had become lost.”


Through twists of fickle fortune, Marincic lost heavily in his early years with the farm; and at one time he owed $4,400.  but today that debt has been wiped out; he owns 120 acres’, concluding that original 40; he has 32 head of cattle and is milking 21 of them; he is 65 years old and has his health; he has a sense of humor which has helped him through the difficult years and he can jingle coins in his pocket, where once no coin could long remain.


This is the story of John Marincic, but it could be a saga of the Willard community, as well.


The annual Ludefisk (Lutefisk) supper and L. D. R. entertainment will be held at the United Lutheran Church in Greenwood, on Friday Nov. 1.


The menu includes ludefisk (lutefisk), Lefse, flot brod, fried chicken, sea-hoped corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry salad, apple and pumpkin pie, cookies, rolls and coffee.  Serving begins at 5 p.m.  Adults 40c; children, under 12, 20c


(The Ludefisk [Lutefisk] supper tradition has carried on.  Next week, 60 years later, the Ludefisk [Lutefisk] supper will again be served at the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Greenwood. D. Z.)   

The “surrey with a fringe on top” was undoubtedly a familiar means of conveyance on the roads and streets within Clark County in the late 1800s.



© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel