Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

March 22, 2000, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


The Good Old Days 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


The Daily Journal


A custom of the earlier years which seems to have disappeared is the practice of keeping a daily journal or diary.


Finding a well-kept journal, in the family archives, is like finding a treasure of the past. At the time the journal is written, some news of that time, years later, becomes of historical significance to the family or others who may read it.


Another discovery, in reading a journal, is learning the interests of the writer and what was of importance to his or her life.


An example of such a journal was recently brought to us by a family member of its former owner, William Wilsmann, who will be remembered by long-time Neillsville residents.  Wilsmann had written yearly journals for much of his life, recording various events and activities of that time.


Born in Two Rivers, in 1896, Wilsmann was the son of Harry and Elizabeth Wilsmann. He later worked in the Ashland-Glidden area and while there, was called to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I, training at Camp Shelby, Harrisburg, Miss., on October 21, 1918.  He was discharged from the army on March 1, 1919, returning to the Glidden area where he had worked as a rural mail carrier. A short time later, Wilsmann moved to Neillsville to assist his parents in the operation of the Merchants Hotel.


On December 27, 1921, William H. Wilsmann and Minnie Heibel were married at the Merchants Hotel.  Minnie had been an assistant in Dr. Brook’s dental office which was located in the 500 block of Hewett Street.  Their wedding reception and supper was held in the hotel’s dining room with family members present as guests. The Wilsmanns had three children, Evelyn, Bill and Bob.


The Wilsmann family later lived in Milwaukee and Two Rivers. During World War II, Wilsmann was an ordinance inspector.  After that they moved back to Neillsville.


A new journal was started each year, by Wilsmann, written in very neat penmanship.  Various size, bound planner books were used. The journal of 1953 was of particular interest in reading with a variety of entries. Wilsmann was superintendent of the Neillsville City Water Department during that time, so recorded daily notes pertaining to the progress on a new building.


The 1953 journal had been from Georgas Funeral Home, probably a Christmas gift, as in that era, it was a practice to give such items to friends during the holiday season. The black, leather covered, spiral bound book, with 5 1/2” x 8 ½” pages, had a page for each day of the year with the date printed at the top of each page. 


The family activities were included in the entries, such as:


“Ev, Armin, Bill, Lucille, Bob and Bette were here for dinner today. In the evening, Bill, Lucille, Mom and I played a card game, Hearts. / Bob is working at Nasonville cheese factory; he stopped to pick up more clothes. / Bill and Lucille came for dinner today then took Mom and me for a car ride. / Evelyn and Belle Mazola bowled 1211 in the doubles bowling tournament today. / Bob bought a 1951 Ford. / Bill brought Lucille and new baby girl home from the hospital, I saw baby Patsy for the first time, today. / Bill brought a Humbird Garage salesman over to show us a 1949 Plymouth $1,075. / Mom and I made a trip to Wabasha, Minn., today.  From there, we drove south to La Crosse, back through Galesville, Blair and Black River Falls, total of 261 miles.”


Through the reading, you learn that Wilsmann enjoyed bowling.


“Lost two games to Coast-to-Coast, 972 to 937; the next week, kwon three games from Wall’s Service Station, I got a 542 series and the following week: a better night with a 596 series.”


Another sport Wilsmann enjoyed was being a spectator at baseball games.  At one time, in the mid 20’s, he had been manager of the Neillsville City baseball team. Baseball game entries started in May:


“Neillsville City baseball team, 2 and Greenwood’s City team, 1, played in 13 innings.  Merle Lindow vs. Bob Gregorich; Bob Urban had a home run. / Neillsville baseball team played Little Rose.  Jackie Lenhardt pitched 8 innings; Neillsville won 8 to 7, 4 runs in 10th inning to win. / Ham and I had gotten tickets, $1.50 each, for the Braves vs. Eau Claire Bears game, score 12 to 10. / Ham was able to get tickets for the Cubs – Braves double header on August 23, upper deck.”


Activities about the City of Neillsville were occasionally written down.  The daily work projects at the water treatment plant were recorded, including the accomplishments of the day.  The water treatment plant went through a remodeling phase during the year of 1953, making it a busy year for those involved in the project.  Reading through the journal, one comes to realize Wilsmann was very precise and conscientious in his responsibilities as the manager of the city water department.  He also enjoyed the company of friends who would stop in to check on the remodeling project. 


“There are eight rows of coping left to lay on the building front. / The front brick is off one inch, east-to-west, west end is one inch lower art purloins. / We had to check the hydrant on Grand Avenue and Fourth Street corner. Paul Ehler’s son hit it with his car about 1 p.m. / We cut the roof down on the east end of old building. / Received new 1200 R. P. M. motor for sludge pump. / Donald Lipsy set first glass block window in the office, 1 ½ hours, good job! / Industrial Commission fellow looked over construction of new plant. / Walter Beyer was in car accident last night, didn’t come to work until 10:30 a.m. / Fire at Joe Cardarelle home, West Seventh Street, 12:15 p.m. / Al Boone is removing long boom from power shovel to load ties at train depot. / Last night, City Council voted the Street Commissioner’s salary to be $2,700 per year. / Sent water samples to State Board of Health. / We made forms and poured cement footing between the furnace room and filter room. / George didn’t stop at the plant today, he always stops by. / Bob Kunze came to the plant, gave cigars to celebrate new baby boy. / Got check from Village of Taylor for piping, $16.68. / Black River is up two feet, ice is up with it. / Work started on Hauge Station, being remodeled into a custard stand. / George Tibbett stopped by plant twice today, once with the Mayor of Bloomer. / Finished reading meters for Book $1, started reading for Book #2 in the afternoon. / The Clark County Highway Commissioner examined the Grand Avenue Bridge this afternoon. / Max Feuerstein cut holes in beams for the pump room stairs. / Two city trucks had to be pulled from the excavation of water and sewer lines on West Fourth Street.  The men were hauling shale for the hospital site. / Rev. Nolton (Nulton) visited at the plant today. / I cut off my centennial beard today. / We expect to have accelerator floor ready for concrete tonight. / Giz cut holes for ventilator slab supports. / Frei hit a finger when working, has infection in it so had to go to the doctor. / The Grand Avenue Bridge was given a coat of blacktop today. – Woodzick, Blum, Charles and I checked elevations and degrees on the completed accelerator, working from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. / Jake Hoesly and Mayor Foster came to the plant at 2 p.m.  George Tibbett stopped in five times today. / Bill Koziac started work at the plant. / Zille picked up his and Tresemer’s checks. / Ordered stone and sand from Marquardt. / Scaffold broke; Emil must have loaded too many brick on it. / Leo Frei and Lucas didn’t show for work today. / Finished pouring north side of sludge pit at 7:45 p.m. / Hired Gus DeMert today. / Mowed lawn at water tower grounds, used new rotary mower from Russell’s, worked good. – Art Norman cut his scalp on accelerator plate, he went to Dr. Rosekranz. / We started making new high school water survey. / Stripped forms from operating floor, silica feed room and entrance on west side. / Armin picked up 19 planks for centennial float to be used in the parade. / Elliott Warlum and Bob Shaw are doing electrical work for plant lighting. / Centurama parade was held from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m.  We went to the fair grounds for the evening program, got home at 11:20 p.m., took over an hour to get out of the fair grounds. / Finished working on chemical feeder bases. / Snowball, Jr. caught 7 ½ pound catfish by the Grand Avenue Bridge today.  The Water Commission will purchase land for a new city water tower, land is east of Trewarthea’s. / Neillsville City bought a new police car, Pontiac, $650, with trade-in of the old car, and also purchased a new International truck. / Started chlorinating the water supply at the fair grounds, both wells is in need of it. / Canopy is installed over the front entrance, temporary roof in place, removed scaffolding and forms from the front landing. / Birdie roofed the hatch covers, low-lift pump house and front canopy. / We have stared the fluoridation. / Visitors of the plant today were L. Schoengarth, L. Meinholdt, Mr. and Mrs. P. Jacobs, Jake Hoesly, Geo. Tibbett, Ray Burr, Ray Noll, Bob Lynch, L. Wachholz and J. Moen. / Pilot sewage plant was shipped back to Tuscon (Tucson), the engineer called before it left. / Justice of Peace, Wm. Seltrect’s funeral was today. / Bob is able to start work now that the infection in his arm has healed. / Three classes from Neillsville High School visited the plant, over 100 pupils in all.”


Evidently, the water plant was a busy place during the time Wilsmann worked there.

The Neillsville City Water Plant, as it appeared after remodeling changes in 1953.  Bob Wilsmann is standing in the doorway.


Some employees of the Neillsville City Water Plant took time out for a photo: left to right: Emil Tresemer, Oldham, Donald Lipsy, unidentified man, and Wm. Wilsmann.


 Observation of the new equipment within the Neillsville Water Treatment Plant, 1953, was being made by left to right: Mayor Leo Foster; an installation worker; Wm. Wilsmann (at top); Jake Hoesly, city alderman; and another installation worker.  (Photos courtesy of Bob Wilsmann)



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