Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

January 5, 2000, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

Good Old Days     


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


January 1875


Wells & Bros.; the loyal stage line now makes connections at either end of the line with stages connecting with trains on the Central Wisconsin at Unity, and with the West Wisconsin at Humbird, making this the cheapest and best route for travel.


Hon. Richard Dewhurst left for Madison yesterday preparatory to entering upon the duties of his office at the opening of the Legislature on January 13.


C. E. Miller, principal of the Neillsville School, is no longer one of us bachelors.  He has gone and done it, he got married.  May he rest in peace, and may his days be long in the land where we tarry.


James Barber, of Black River Falls, visited people of Neillsville last week.  Once a resident of Clark County, at a time when it was almost an unexplored wilderness, he failed to recognize old landmarks after 20 years absence. Accompanied by his wife, Barber had been spending a few days with their daughter, Mrs. J. C. Gwin, at Loyal.  Barber foresees Clark County as being one of the richest in the state, believing it will one day lead all in agriculture.


Eyerly & Breed are doing a flourishing business at the planing mill.  At present they are engaged in manufacturing milk safes for Potts & Myers and at the rate they are producing them, the firm will have an enormous supply such as to provide every family for miles around.  They also have a contract for building several hundred fanning-mills for the same firm, after which they will return to the manufacture of sash and doors.  (We assume the milk safes were later referred to as ice boxes, a form of refrigeration before electrical refrigerators.  Blocks of ice were placed in a portion of the ice box which kept the food storage portion cool. The ice boxes were built of a fine exterior, often oak, which were designed as an attractive piece of furniture. D.Z.)


The “Typewriter” at the local bank is one of the greatest inventions of the age.  It has been only a short time since Mr. Kirkland received it.  He had never seen anything of its kind previously and was obliged to study into the nature of type write, in order to tell how to operate it.  He now understands the machine perfectly and can write with it as fast as by hand.  The machine is in form very much like the sewing machine, but much smaller than those commonly used.  It is furnished with what is called a key board, each key representing a certain letter, figure, or punctuation mark, which is shown by the character it represents being stamped upon it.  The letters are all capitals.  The whole machine is very simple and will eventually prove a blessing to those with poor penmanship.


Herman Schuster has been appointed Clark County Deputy Clerk.  C. E. Bussell, Clark County Surveyor has appointed Jas. Reddan as his deputy. Reddan is a competent surveyor and has served acceptably in that work.


January 1940


Clark County residents were getting into the swing of another year this week, following one of the safest New Year holidays in several years.


Amusement centers of the county, which hold holiday festivities, reported the largest number of New Year celebrants in years.  Until early morning of New Year’s Day, crowds held forth at dances and private parties.


The year-end festivities started in Neillsville Friday evening with the annual Masonic New Year’s ball.  More than 100 persons attended to make the affair one of the most successful events of its kinds held here.  Also reported as highly successful was the annual New Year’s Eve party of the Moose Lodge, held in the hall on West Fifth and Grand Avenue, during the afternoon and on into the yawning hours.


Mrs. Herman Feldbruegger of Veefkind is reported to be recovering from the fracture of several ribs and head bruises suffered in an unusual New Year’s Day accident.


Feldbruegger had hitched a team of horses onto a stubborn car and started to climb into the car in order to be in position to have it under control if, and when, the motor caught.


However, the horses started out with a rush, and went so fast that she was unable to hold them.  She fell to the ground.  The car wheels passed over her chest causing injuries.  (There are some of us who remember using a team of horses to pull the family car in an effort to get the car motor started during sub-zero weather, just as Feldbruegger attempted to do. D. Z.)  


The first marriage license application made in Clark County in 1940 was that of Frank Arch, of the Town of Eaton, and Rose Jordan, of the Town of Warner, on January 3.  The wedding ceremony is planned to take place January 12 in Green-wood.


The second in a series of parties sponsored by the Parents Musical Association of Neillsville for raising funds with which to send the high school band to the National meet in Minneapolis next summer will be held Friday night.


Friday’s event will be a public card party, which will be held at 14 homes located throughout the city.  Sheepshead, 500, auction, and contract bridge will be played.  Mrs. Louis Kurth, who is in charge of the party, will assign players to homes in which their preference in card games is to be played.


The Neillsville All-Stars basketball team, central Wisconsin champions of last season, returned to the battle scenes in the third game at the Armory Tuesday night and rang up a slip-shod 22 to 11 victory over the Loyal village team. Although the team showed potential strength, it also showed the result of inactivity.  The All-Star lineup included Jack Wagner, Harley Jake, Kenneth Olson and John O’Connell as forwards; Hugh Horswill and David Krutsch sharing the center post; and Bob Harvey and Carl Wagner holding down the guard spots.  The Loyal lineup included Hills and Oestreich as forwards, Trindall at center, and Brussow and Trimberger at the guard positions.


Fred Steeloh (Stelloh), well-known Neillsville businessman and a former Mayor, was elected president of the First National Bank recently to succeed the date A. E. Dudley.


Stelloh was elected at the meeting of the board of directors held after the annual stockholders meeting at which Wendell Crothers, of the town of York, was elected to fill the vacancy in the directorate.


Mrs. Mary Hemphill again was elected president of the Neillsville Bank; with W. J. Marsh as vice-president.  Herman E. North continues as cashier and Carl Juvrud as assistant cashier.  Directors are: Mrs. Hemphill, W. Marsh, W. J. Rush, H. E. North, George Zimmerman, Wm. Kurth and Arthur Imig.


Directors of the First National Bank re-elected James Musil as vice-president and cashier, Willard Allen was named as assistant cashier.  Directors are: V. W. Nehs, W. B. Tufts, Crothers, Stelloh and Musil.


A landmark of industry goes down.  A ghostly grey shell, the Seventh Street landmark of Neillsville’s past: was doomed to the wrecker’s bar and hammer this week.  The rambling, weather beaten old structure now being razed is located opposite the Neillsville Milk Products Cooperative plant.  It has been known during the last generation as the old drier plant.  People who had invested in the future of that concern even today speak of it with mixed emotions.


The building which housed the plant is being wrecked by Harris and Anderson, professional wreckers of Winona, Minn.  They purchased the building and land from Joseph Duedenhoefer of Chicago, who was one of the investors in the old dehydrating plant.  The old building is being torn down stick by stick, which is estimated to take about three months to complete.


The center was in existence more than 55 years as an industrial hope of Neillsville.  The dehydrating business was built and killed in almost the same breath by World War I.


The building has been the center for more than one industrial hope of Neillsville during its more than 55 years existence.


History of the building dates back to the early 1880s when the original structure, which formed only a small part of the large building of later years, was constructed for the manufacture of washboards.


Instead of the usual zinc rubbing plate, the washboards were made of glass.  And glass, on which the business was founded, also caused the business’s downfall.


The stock company was formed as the Crystal Glass Washboard factory and manufactured the product of the inventive mind of the late F. A. Balch, father of F. O. Balch, retired merchant.  Among the investors were James Hewett, C. C. Sniteman, George L. Lloyd, F. A. Balch and R. W. Balch, his son.


A bright future was foreseen for the new industry and the company started with a bang.  It purchased a glass factory in La Crosse which was originally built to supply glass bottles for La Crosse breweries; but it had stopped production.


There was a reason for halting production of bottles; but the reason was not discovered by officials of the washboard company until their washboards started cracking, seemingly without a cause.  Then they learned that the beer bottles previously made their also had the habits of literally disintegrating.


Investigation of the matter made by C. C. Sniteman, George Lloyd, Loren Balch (manager of the plant), and others revealed that sand used in the manufacture of the glass did not make a tough enough product.


So the plant started getting its glass from the Mississippi Glass Co. of St. Louis, MO. This glass was tough enough; but the freight to Neillsville proved prohibitive, and the concern which had provided employment for eight to ten men came to an inglorious end after six or seven years of operation.  The Mississippi Glass Co. took over the patent as satisfaction for money due it.  According to Fred Balch, the Mississippi Company still makes the old Crystal Glass Co.’s washboard.


For a short time the building stood empty. Then Morris Horn and Carl Rabenstein, one-time publisher of the Deutscher-Americaner, organized the Neillsville Overall factory and located in the building.  This took place in the early 1890s.


The overall factory prospered for several years and provided constant employment for many Neillsville women during its peak season of production.


After some time Horn moved to Eau Claire with Carl Rabenstein, Jr. taking over management of the plant. The company reached the point where it considered expansion of the factory. But, as older members of the city recall, there was some difficulty with securing the labor necessary for enlarged operations, so the plant was moved to Eau Claire in 1907.


Once more the industrial hopes of the city centered around the grey bulk as World War I progresses.  There was an urgent cry for vegetables and fruits of smaller bulk, but with all their goodness left intact.


The method of dehydrating or removing the water from vegetables and fruit was developed with the people of Neillsville looking forward with enthusiasm toward the prospect of a booming industry.  In 1916, the National Food Preserving Company, a stock concern with local residents and Chicago men as heavy investors, stuffed in its safe a government contract for the majority of its dried vegetables.  Business went ahead merrily. The building was enlarged extensively.


The company even developed to the point of dehydrating such things as mushrooms and packaging them in small bags for household consumption.  However, there were two things wrong: the war didn’t last long enough and the product did not find the anticipated domestic market.


Canned goods were largely responsible for the last mentioned difficulty of market of dehydrated vegetables.  Housewives found that dehydrated edibles, which required considerable soaking in water before they were restored to original size was trouble in preparing.  Canned goods only needed to be opened and heated for meal time.


Thus, when the Treaty of Versailles halted World War I, it also drew the strangling noose about the dehydrating industry, which had been created by the necessities of feeding the soldiers.


Again in 1919, the grey building was empty. Then about four years ago, the building was turned into an egg-packing plant and slaughter house by Otto Ebling and William Schultz but this business lasted only a short time until Ebling and Schultz moved to another city.


This brick house at 302 Grand Avenue was built in 1857 during Neillsville’s infancy as a village.  Brothers, Jesse and Tom Lowe constructed the home for their residency while they, as partners, started a meat market business on Neillsville’s Main Street.


Eventually, the Lowe brothers parted ways over a disagreement and then each started his own meat market business.  One meat market was located at 510 Hewett Street (present site of M&M Meats & Seafood) while the other meat market was at 630 Hewett Street (now locale of Cozy Kitchen).


Jesse remained living in the house at 302 Grand Avenue.  His brother, Tom constructed a new home on an adjacent lot, 222 Grand Avenue, where he took up residency.


The 302 Grand Avenue home displays beautiful maple hardwood floors, 12 inch hardwood mop boards in each room, a beautiful hand crafted railing to assist anyone who walks up the solidly built stairway to the upper floor.  A sleeping porch is a part of the house. Being built in the 1850s, choice lumber sawed from virgin timber harvested in nearby forests went into its construction.


The first real estate tax statement revealed a payment of $121 for one year, a dollar per month on a new home!


A very unique feature about the home is that it has remained in the Lowe family, ownership over 100 years passing down through the generations. Art and Adelaide Drescher have lived there for many years.  Adelaide is a grand-daughter of Jesse Lowe.



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