Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 8, 2000, Page 11

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

The Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


November 1890


If you want whitefish, mackerel and trout, extra good, by the pound, if you want flour, feed graham, cornmeal, rye flour, buckwheat, or if you want dried apricots, peaches, prunes, prunells, apples, currants, dates, figs, grapes, blackberries, raisins and any other grocery, go to G. J. Hart’s on Third Street, opposite the Reddan House. 


James O’Neill wishes to close-out his cattle, Short Horns, Jerseys and Grades.  All will be sold at very low prices.  Call on Charles Pearson, at his house, in O’Neill’s absence.


Tuesday morning, Judge R. Dewhurst opened the bids he received after advertising 580 acres of pine lands in Clark County.  The John Paul Lumber Co. was the highest bidder and took the property.  The price paid was something over $50,000, the next highest bidder being within $150 of the amount paid.  The land lies in the north end of the county.


Twenty thousand acres of timbered land have just been purchased by a syndicate that includes H. H. Camp and Frank G. Bigelow, of Milwaukee; D. J. Spaulding and Hugh H. Price, of Black River Falls, and C. C. Dunn of Minneapolis.  The sum of $300,000 was paid for the land, which is located in Clark County, Wis.


The deal was consummated this forenoon, when the parties interested gathered at the law offices of Miller, Noyes and Miller for that purpose. After all the details had been arranged, the purchasers met as stockholders of the Midland Lumber and Manufacturing Company, formed with a capital stock of $500,000 and elected a board of directors.  The board consists of the above named men and C. E. Gill of Minneapolis, who will also be general manager of the firm.


The company will have its headquarters at Black River Falls.  The purchased land has some pine on it, but the timber is mostly hardwood.  Oak, basswood and maple are the principal varieties.  The members of the company are firm believers in the future of hardwood timber and they believe they have valuable property. The former land owner was D. J. Spaulding, who decided to retain an interest instead of selling it outright.


C. C. Dunn, the vice president of the company, is a prominent real estate agent of Minneapolis.  He has operated quite extensively in Lake Superior mining enterprises and was a large holder of Buffalo stock at the time that the mine was sold to Ferdinand Schlesinger.


The standpipe is a great place to go fishing, as thousands of small fish are being forced up through the intake pipe.  Having been raised in life, they are on a level with their friends, the birds.  Some trouble is caused due to this and the pipe and screen will have to be cleaned occasionally.  (The standpipe, referred to, was the city’s first water tower.  Some years later, it burst and toppled over, due to frigid weather which froze the water in it. D. Z.)


Neighbor Edgbert took down his front fence the other day.  Promptly a stray cow walked in and broke the only pine tree on his lot. We beg of inquire if the city isn’t liable for damages under the cow ordinance.


Judge Richard Dewhurst has made arrangements to build a fine block on his valuable lot now occupied by the Frank Eyerly store and Sarpless & Smith barber shop.  The lot is 33 feet wide, enough to give and imposing front, besides room for a wide inside stairway to a second story.  The stone for the foundation is already ordered and will be delivered this winter.  This is a splendid addition to the city.


The people of Neillsville are gradually getting over the notion that a block and a half is a long way to go home for dinner.  James Hewett has long dwelt in the western suburb setting the needed example.  Now Judge J. R. Sturdevant, C. A. Youmans, Mrs. B. F. French and others have their delightful homes apart from the busy, noisy town, where they are free from the noise and turmoil. 


The beautiful hills and valleys in the neighborhood of Neillsville offer superb localities for home building as beautiful as the sites of the villas of Italy or Spain.  More and more as time goes on this idea will be adopted.  Also, we advise that an abundant share of the primeval forest be preserved as it presently is.


The best time to buy a lot to build on is in the winter, when things are quiet and stone for building basements can be hauled in on sleds.


The new Schoengarth house is the size of a barn and a good one, at that.


The Clark County courthouse yard is soon to be relieved of its fence, as authorized by the County Board.  Big duffers will be obliged to keep off the grass though and must go around on the sidewalk.


Two weeks hence, the snorting locomotive will wake the astonished echoes at Loyal.  Lord bless us, how changed things are since Neillsville has train service. Now area folks don’t have to tote their groceries and supplies all the way from Sparta.


The excavation for John Hein’s new store building basement on Neillsville’s North Side was started yesterday, just north of the city water works.


November 1940


There have been 3,438 young men between the ages of 21 and 35, living in Clark County, who have registered for the Selective Service draft.


The draft numbers were given to each man by chance. The registration cards bearing no numbers were sent out by the local registration boards to the central draft board at the county seat. The draft board then shuffled the cards and numbered them in whatever order they happened to appear. 


The drawing which will determine the order of call to service began Tuesday noon at Washington D.C.  Three volunteers filled Clark County’s first draft quota Tuesday when they were taken to the Wausau induction center of the United States Army.  The three men forming the county’s first peace time defense program were Everett Cleveland of Loyal and Oscar Hans Walk and Arne Matheson, both of Neillsville.


Armistice Day will be but a name in Neillsville on Monday for all except members of the local American Legion Post.


As far as could be determined, there will be no public ceremony to mark the 22nd anniversary of the World War closing, as there has been almost every year since.


For several years past, it has been the custom to launch the Red Cross roll call drive with public ceremonies at 11 o’clock on Armistice Day.  But local Red Cross officials said that as yet no plans had been made for public ceremonies this year.


The local American Legion and its Auxiliary, however, will quietly observe the anniversary at its annual Armistice dinner, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.  Entertainment is scheduled with Floyd Casher acting as master of ceremonies.


H. P. Ghent, in business in Neillsville for 26 years, has made in that time 3,000 sleighs and 2,500 wagons.  Once employing six or seven men, he is now down to one, namely, H. P. Ghent.  Employing only himself, he is not concerned with the various governmental regulations which require bookkeepers, insurance and what-not.  He does what he can, keeps reasonably busy and lets the rest of the world wag.


Mostly what Ghent does now is repair work.  The day seems to have gone for the making of sleighs and wagons, in any number.  But that day is not so far behind as you might think.  One of the best years in business, Ghent recalls, was 1923, a relative recent year, well after the World War.


The dramatic story of a struggle against a storm which last week took the lives of 15 – and perhaps more – duck hunters on the islands of the Mississippi River, nearby, was told this week by two southern Clark County men who narrowly escaped the fate of the others.


It was a story of intense drama - of a fight against biting cold wind, against rain, snow and ice, against a fatigue that might well have spelled doom for them – that Ed Kutchera, Neillsville sportsman and former sheriff and Lester Steinhilber, Town of Grant tavern keeper, told this week.


Soaked to the skin when the savage surprise November storm suddenly broke loose on Armistice afternoon, they were trapped on a small island with another hunting companion. For 18 hours they held out there, without shelter or fire, afraid to attempt crossing a quarter of a mile of the gale-whipped Mississippi to the safe shelter of the mainland at Trempealeau.


On the isle to the north the frozen bodies of three Eau Claire hunters were later found; and to the south the still frozen bodies of three other hunters, La Crosse men, were carried out in the wake of the storm.


The day had dawned without indication of the approaching storm.  There was light, misty rain, much as residents of Clark County will recall that it fell here.  A mild breeze was blowing from the west – “just the kind of a wind I like for duck hunting,” Kutchera related.


Because the reading of the thermometer registered 64 degrees above, the party dressed comparatively light for the day’s hunting, little suspecting that they would have to withstand a temperature of two degrees above zero in the open before they could return to shelter.


The party numbered five as it left Trempealeau about 6 o’clock in the morning after snatching a hasty cup of coffee.  With Kutchera and Steinhilber were Harry Beardsley, Trempealeau hotel owner, Ben Reed and Jim Christie, also Trempealeau residents.


Throughout the morning and early afternoon they hunted and tramped over the 200-yard by 50 yard island.  At 2 p.m. Reed and Beardsley left for the mainland to prepare a meal in the hotel for the other hunters.


It was just 3 o’clock, as Kutchera and the others prepared to leave in their small boat that the storm broke.


It bore down on the small islands with all the suddenness and fury of a tropical squall.  Rain, which had soaked the hunters to the skin during the day, changed to a lashing snow.


Driven by the gale, the quarter-mile of channel between the island and the mainland swelled with waves from eight to 10 feet high, making passage in the small open boat impossible.  The mercury skidded downward until it landed with a jar at two degrees above zero.


“There was nothing to do but to wait and try to keep warm,” Kutchera said.  He told how the next morning, after the worst of the storm had abated, the boar of a Milwaukee hunting party was found near shore, its stern sunk and its ice-coated prow angling skyward above the surface.


“They had tried to cross the channel,” Kutchera said, “but their boat was swamped almost before they shoved off from shore.


They had been able to jump out and return to shore as their boat foundered.


As the coldness swiftly set in, Kutchera, Steinhilber and Christie attempted to start a fire; but water-soaked wood and wet matches would not respond. Then they attempted to build a windbreak between trees standing about three feet apart.  This was partly successful.


“But the wind blew down the break almost as fast as we could put it up,” Kutchera related.


Darkness came and with it the worry of fatigue. To sit for a moment and perhaps be overcome by sleepiness would have been the end.  Such is what happened to the several hunters who were found frozen.  A few of them were frozen, yet standing, in island marshes.  Mostly, Kutchera said, they had stopped to rest against a tree and had fallen asleep.


Although the Clark County hunters and their companion were wet and cold, their greatest fight was against the fatigue, against the desire to sit and sleep.


Throughout the night they walked and trotted to keep the blood circulating. Several times one or another was about to give up, but was kept going by the insistent prodding of the others.


Time crawled like a snail through the night and there was many times during the darkness that the three men wished they had no watch; for the passing of a half hour on its dial seemed like the passing of all eternity.


As their spirits reached the ebb about 1 a.m., one of the parties succeeded in drying a match.  Kutchera lighted a cigar which somehow had remained dry enough to burn and from the cigar the other two lighted cigarette after cigarette.  Somehow that gave them more courage to go on. They knew that, with the other two men who had returned to the city knowing where they were, help would come as soon as possible. 


For some reason not explained, the spirits came back strongly about 4 a.m. and kept going with relative ease until about 8:30 a.m., when the storm had abated sufficiently to allow perilous crossing of the channel.


It was then that the prow of a boat bearing Dee Huttenhaugh, Trempealeau fisherman, touched the icy shore of their island.  By that time their own small boat had been coated three inches thick with ice.  Their guns, too, were caked with ice.


Kutchera returned to the mainland with Huttenhaugh where they secured a larger boat and returned for the others.


In spite of their harrowing experience, they remembered the ducks they had bagged the day before – 12 or 14 of them – and loaded them into the boat.


And, to top the whole experience off in grand style, Kutchera and Steinhilber returned to the hunt after two hours of rest and in another two hours they were able to bag their limit.


Venetian blinds – those little lath-like curtains which can be opened or closed – became a problem, for the city fathers at their last meeting.


The matter was brought to their attention by Paul Skroch, vice president of the Neillsville Tavern association, who asked for a council ruling on the legality of the use of such blinds in the windows of local taverns.


While Venetian blinds are acceptable under the statutes, the city ordinance passed in May of 1933 restricts more closely the obstructing of sight into city taverns from the street.  Apparently the newer types of blinds were not contemplated by the ordinance.


Skroch, who recently installed the blinds in his tavern only to be told by the police that he could not use them, declared that several other tavern keepers were withholding the purchase of similar blinds until a ruling could be made. 


The city council instructed the city attorney to draw up a new section to the old ordinance providing for the use of Venetian blinds.


Real butter and cranberries topped off Thanksgiving dinner for the Service Company members and their many officers and guests at Camp Beauregard last Thursday.


With the company cooks, Pvt. Myron Zielke and Pvt. Delbert C. Struble, practicing their art with the deftness of mother at home, the dinner became one admittedly “almost as good” as Thanksgiving dinner at home.


The cranberries were a gift of the Otto Haugen Post No. 73 of the local American Legion and the butter was sent by the Northern States Power Co.  Both were greatly appreciated, but the butter was found a special favor, for, after about 30 days of eating the 80-score butter used in the South, the Northern troops have dubbed it “cheese”.


The Thanksgiving dinner was held in formal attire, with officer dignitaries present.


A circa 1940 photo of the North Side Store at the “V” split of Hewett Street and Black River Road  (Photo courtesy of the Strebing Family collection)



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