Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

January 12, 2000, Page 20

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

The Good Old Days      


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


January 1910


The Citizens State Bank of Loyal has opened its doors and the officers report a good business.  The bank is capitalized at $25,000 and the officers are M. F. Doyle, President; C. H. Brown, Vice President; and Harry Haslett, Cashier.


The bank has a neat place of business and the up-to-date fixtures with rooms conveniently arranged.  The rooms consist of the banking room, a room for the directors and a large vault.  They have a Victor burglar proof safe, one of the best steel safes manufactured, besides carrying ample burglar insurance.


Haslett has experience in the banking business and his sterling qualities of honesty and conservatism led the directors of the bank to choose him as its cashier.


As of January 1, 1910, a new law relative to automobiles went into effect.  It will be to the advantage of owners of machines to read this article carefully and govern themselves accordingly.


By its provisions all registrations shall expire December 31 of each year and may be renewed at a cost of $1.  The fee for new registrations has been increased from $1 to $3 per year.


The purchaser of a second hand machine must deposit $1 with the Secretary of State and the person making the sale must within10 days report the transaction to the Secretary of State, stating the name and business of the purchaser, along with the number under which the vehicle is registered.


Numbers will be displayed conspicuously on the front and rear of all cars, the numbers being a shade differing from that of the background to which they are attached in such a manner that they will not swing with the motion of the car.


The law makes it imperative for the driver of a vehicle which is an obstruction on a highway to turn aside in order that an automobile may pass. The driver of a car is required to use every precaution to avoid frightening horses attached to the vehicle passed and it becomes the legal duty of each member of an auto party to render to the owner of such teams as are passed on the highway every assistance in their power to prevent trouble.


While the law recognizes the right of the towns and villages to regulate the speed of autos within their precincts, it distinctly states that in no case must a speed in excess of the state law of 25 miles an hour be allowed, and within the corporate limits shall not be in excess of 10 miles an hour in the business section and 15 miles an hour in the resident section.


The First National Bank is now settled in its new quarters and occupies one of the finest banking buildings in the state.  Indeed, it is hardly probable that there is a bank in the state in a town twice the size of Neillsville that has more up-to-date elegant quarters.  The building, built under the direction of Chas. Cornelius, embodies the better points of scores of banking institutions he has gone through for this purpose.  The building is of white Bedford stone, two stories high, with an excellent basement.  In the basement is the hot water heating plant, together with the barber shop and bath rooms.  The barber shop has a tile floor and marble base boards.  The first floor is occupied by the bank.  The inside finishing of the bank is almost all solid mahogany, some of the woodwork being in red birch stained mahogany.  The lobby into which the bank opens is finished in red birch and has a tiled floor, as does the banking room proper.


The bank fixtures are all of mahogany.  The partition separating the room is of white Italian marble extending half way up, with dark marble baseboards.  The upper part of the fixtures is of metal surmounted by a row of decorative lights.  In the front room is an office for the president and cashier, finished in white marble, with a massive white marble railing.  In the rear of the banking rooms are two rooms, one for the directors and one for the customers. Safety deposit boxes are kept in the vault area.


Three suites of offices are on the building’s second floor. These are also finished in natural red birch. The suites are so arranged with sliding doors so they can be brought together.  S. M. Marsh will occupy the suite at the front of the building, but occupants of the other two suites are yet unknown.


January 1950


For two years in a row Clark County has run off with the national championship in American cheddar cheese.  The factory which has brought this honor to the county is that of the Stewart Cheese Corporation at Greenwood.  The men behind the factory are the three Stewart brothers, their associates and workers.


The personnel of the Stewart Cheese Corp. are Arthur, Robert and Wilbur Stewart, Harlan W. Brux, John H. Lesneski and Nettie E. Miller. The entries which made the national championships were made in the name of Wilbur A. Stewart, who is secretary-treasurer of the organization, but he passes the honors around, not only to his associates in the corporation, but also to the workers in the factory.  It takes a lot of cooperation to produce championship cheese, and that cooperation is given in the Stewart organization.


This accomplishment of the Stewart Cheese Corporation has not only brought the award of victory, as given at the National Dairy Congress at Waterloo, Iowa, but has also won for them the attention of the Milwaukee Journal and of Lewis C. French, feature writer of that newspaper. French wrote the following article:


Wilbert A. Stewart, 42, of Greenwood is the repeat cheddar cheese champion of the Waterloo, Iowa, Dairy Congress.


If there is such a thing as a national cheese championship, this is it. You don’t win by accident, especially two straight years.


Once again, the Wisconsin vat Maestros showed up those upstarts from distant Oregon, the Tillamook craftsmen who sneaked in for a victory two years ago.  Forthwith the west coast cheese makers proclaimed that Oregon had succeeded the noble Badger State as the makers of the finest cheese. They crowed like a fence hopping rooster at dawn.


So a year ago some of the first string cheese makers of the dairyland state sent down some cheddars and galloped off with the top three places, with W. A. Stewart the champion.


Stewart did it again this year, making the cheese from Oregon, Iowa, Ohio and Illinois look like the kind that one puts in traps or uses on a trot line to catch catfish.


Wilbur is one of the three Stewart brothers, all cheese makers, and good ones.


Wilbur is a modest man.  He’s got that clean cut look square jaw, a glint in his eye and a Yankee snap. The day after winning the championship, he was swishing the mop under the vats, wearing rubber boots, spotless white pants and shirt, the rubber apron of the trade and a skull cap, set at a cocky angle.


He’s a bit bored about the fuss and feathers, pats on the back and interruptions when he should be helping with the curd.


Two of the Stewart brothers, Arthur and Robert, had more experience than Wilbur.


The family was reared on a Wisconsin farm and spent some time in South Dakota. The brothers agree that it was their mother, Hannah Stewart, who really laid the foundation for winning championships. She was a Dane and had been trained by Danish standards on dairying.


Until her death the mother made the finest butter and kitchen cheese.


“Everything had to be just right,” said the brothers.  “If we youngsters slighted the milking or were careless in feeding the cows, we heard about it from mother.  She took pride in even the prints in her butter.  We wanted to hurry along the churning or making the cottage cheese.  Not mother.


“’Do it right,’ she would say.”


None of the brothers attended a dairy school. They learned vat cheese making from the old-timers through experience and observations.


There is nothing spectacular about the Stewart’s plant. It has four vats and intake of around 50,000 pounds of local milk a day.  About a million pounds of cheese a year are sold in New York.  They have proved that you do not have to have super duper equipment to turn out a championship product.  Look over the records of the winners of the state fair sweepstakes championship, those at the cheese makers’ convention – where the vat boys really pitch in at the interstate shows. Almost without exception, the winner is from one of those snug crossroads or village plants where there is determination plus skill to produce cheese just a little better than the top-notchers of the trade.  Seldom does a championship come out of a costly flexible plant handling up to 300,000 to 500,000 pounds a day.


The better crossroads plants take their time watching the milk, the action of the rennet, the curing and salting.  They strive for perfection or close to it. The Stewart brothers never forgot the training their mother gave them.  There’s true taste in the golden cheddar cheese.


Funny, how Yanks can produce something from the old world better than the natives if they set their mind to it.


The Stewarts produce cheddar only two months of the year.  When the June grass is lush and the milk full of carotene and color, the milk goes into cheddar for that golden yellow natural color from new grass.  But when the farmers switch their cattle to silage and dried forage when the pastures brown up the factory makes Italian types.


“The Italians do not like yellow cheese, preferring white paste color,” say the brothers.


Just to prove that the cheddar championship is no accident, this moderate sized Clark County factory won the Italian type championships at the state fair, the centennial year competition at the Fond du Lac makers’ convention show, at the Chippewa fair and in 1949 at the Central Wisconsin Cheese Makers’ Association in Marshfield.


Cheese scoring around 96 is generally good enough to be in the prize winning class at Waterloo. That is strictly bush league, as compared to the scores made when the Wisconsin cheese makers stage their own “dog fight” competition.  You had better be above 97 ½ if you want any blue ribbons in that competition. The Stewarts have won both at home and abroad.


Stewart says there are 14 men working in the factory, each with an important job and all share in the winner’s award.  Two of the employees, Craig Asplin and Fred Wilhelm are the other vat craftsmen.


Three years ago the Stewarts were rankled a bit reading the puffs from Oregon.  When the entry tags came in the mail the next year Wilbur, grinning a bit, went back to the shelves where the June grass cheese was curing, picked out a cheddar and shipped it down to Iowa.


A week later Clarence Gorsenger, Greenwood city attorney and Clark County District Attorney, whacked Wilbur on the back and said he had won the national championship.  That was the first he knew of the contest results until he received the certificate and cash prize.


The year he did the same thing, maybe using a little more care in selecting the cheddar, and won again.


(The Stewart Cheese Factory was located in Greenwood, west of Main Street, on Cannery Street. D.Z.)


The Clark County Forestry nursery continues to climb toward self-support this year.  Aiming for the day when Clark County forests will not only be self-supporting, but an actual income producer for the county, the seven man nursery crew under the direction of Forester Al Covell planted 239,000 young white and Norway pine in 1949.


The new plantings bring the total of forest plantations in the county to 5, 539 acres of growing young trees that will, it is hoped, help supply the nation’s pulp and lumber mills in years to come.


Waiting the transportation to the forest are another 245,000 young trees located now in the six acre planting beds of the county nursery.   Plans already have been made for the spring plantings of 1951.  At that time another 180,000 little trees will go into the county growing forests.


Seedling white pine, Norway pine, and white spruce trees are brought into the nursery as two-year-olds.  Trucks from large state-owned nurseries at Hayward, Wisconsin Rapids, Trout Lake and Gordon haul the two-year-olds to the county nursery, eight miles west of Neillsville.  There the trees are placed in transplant beds of specially mulched earth and begin another two-year growing period.  The great demand for trees from the state owned nurseries allows them to supply trees no older than two years to the various county governments.  Clark County, by giving the trees another two year growing period, during which they receive special care, can put strong four year old trees into its county forests and as a result have a minimal loss with dead trees.


That the Clark County nursery program is a success is indicated in the fact that other counties in the state are considering a similar program.


The forestry crew of five or seven men must plant and protect 129,000 acres of former waste land that has been entered under the state forest crop law. As the forests mature, what was once burned over and valueless second growth will become a valuable crop of timber.  With the rate of cutting adjusted to the rate of growth, the supply is virtually endless.  (Now, 50 years later, our Clark County forests are healthy ad thriving as the early plans projected.  Those of us living here can fully appreciate the area’s woodlands. D.Z.)


A circa 1940 view of the Hewett and Fifth Street intersection in the background; (Left to right), part of the west side 400 block in Neillsville was occupied by Unger’s Shoe Store, Clover Farms Food Store and the First National Bank.  (And all that snow! Dmk)



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