Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

June 7, 2000, Page 32

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


June 1880


There will be offered at public sale, 37,000 acres of good agriculture lands in northern Clark County, in the State Land Office on June 15th.  These lands had not been previously placed on the market.


Ezra Peet was in town Monday and carried home a surveyor’s chain.  Authorities of the Town of Washburn had purchased the surveyor’s chain from a firm in New York.


For some time past, it has been known to our capitalists that Thos. McPherson, residing on a farm southeast of here, had found gold upon his place.  In large quantities, he had shipped ore to Chicago several times, to have an assay on it. The result of these experiments is gratifying in the extreme.  We need not be astonished if we see miners at work with a full set of machinery in the near future, as they develop a new industry in Clark County.


McPherson owns a well-cultivated farm and states that the 40 acres of woodland in which the gold vein touches the surface is considered more valuable than his homestead.


Besides gold, silver and copper fields in our town county, we trust that the Ashland gold fever will not induce our people to go off on a wild goose chase. Ashland is a region where icicles hang from the corn silks and snow drifts over-lap into summer.


There will be a dance at Graves’ Hall at Loyal, on the evening of July 5th.  The honorary committee is made up of: A. A. Graves and J. C. Gwin of Loyal, Virgil Snyder and Chas. Redmond of York, B. F. Brown and Fred Eaton of Greenwood, and A. W. Raymond and Dr. Adams of Spencer.  Tickets to the hall, $1.00; supper at Loyal House, $1.00; there will be good music to make the stepping lively.  The ball will celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, in tradition of the founding fathers who began the dance for independence.


Last Saturday, a heavy rain began to fall in this locality and it soon grew into a torrent, pouring rain such as was never before experienced.


The large body of water that fell upon this hilly country rapidly flowed into the streams.  Soon after, the hollows, creeks and roads were filled with the flood, which rushing along in irresistible strength, carried almost everything before it.


O’Neill Creek swelled beyond former bounds, carrying away logs, stumps and rubbish.  The rushing water tore out the sluiceway at the Main Street dam, hurled huge logs, parts of trees, etc., over and against the dam.  The fast current washed away the banks near the Main Street Bridge and around Blakeslee’s grist mill, finally tearing away the entire bridge in the evening.


A portion of the old disused saw mill at the O’Neill Creek dam lost its balance and disappeared leaving only a portion which stands in a dangerous shape.


Town authorities have written, making inquiries on the cost of an iron bridge about 40 feet long to be rested upon rock abutments extending twenty feet, on each side form the old abutments.


Early in the storm, the lower bridge, near Fred Reitz’s residence, was partly swept away.  Subsequently, another section of it floated off down-stream. 


Since the storm, the Greenwood stage stops north of the creek.  The mail and packages are carried across the stream by the mail carrier.


The gulch, or hollow, lying south of the schoolhouse, presented an animated appearance.  The flood carried off all loose wood and lumber, tore down fences, dashing by with outhouses bobbing upon its water’s surface.  Piles of rails in the brickyard, stumps, boxes, washboards, boilers, and swill troughs all poured over the turnpike road giving it an appearance of a dam.  The water rose to such height in the gulch that it raised around Montgomery’s house until neighbors feared the family’s safety.  The water was nearly up to the floor of the cheese factory which adjoins the Montgomery house.  Sundry pigs found themselves in an element they were not created to inhabit. They squealed loudly and stuck up their noses in a vain search for air.


Farther down the gulch, logs and lumber near Gallager’s mill was swept away by the water.


The Hubbard and Sherit families, who were living in a building on Third Street, waded away to higher ground as the water flooded them out.


All bridges on Cunningham Creek were washed away as well as the Dells Dam and bridge. 


(The “gulch” referred to was later named Goose Creek. D.Z.)


Bernard Tragsdorf, the efficient and agreeable German clerk in Blakeslee’s store here, will start on a journey to Saxony, German Empire, in a week or so.  Benny will visit relatives and see old familiar faces and placed in that grand German Stadt.


Diphtheria is raging in the western part of the Town of Longwood.  The C. C. Clarks lost all of their children, of which three were carried to their resting place at one time and the fourth followed soon after.  Two of B. J. Brown’s children were taken with the same disease a short time after, but under the care of Dr. Thomas, both are reported being better.  The funeral services of Miss Eliza Oldham, who died at Merrillan on June 3rd, were held Sunday at the school house near Hutching’s corners.  Rev. W. T. Hendren gave the sermon.


The building of the Lynn Town Hall has been let to Daniel Riedel, for the sum of $128.  The building will be 46 x 28 feet.  Muldenham, a stone mason, will lay the stone foundation for the hall.


June 1960


Two neighborhood grocery stores on Neillsville’s Northside (Southside) have been sold to Mr. and Mrs. Dick Garson of Eau Claire.  They took possession of the former Pen-Pat Market on Division Street on Sunday and took over the stock of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Gustman’s store on Tuesday. 


Garson said that the Gustman store is closed and all business will now be transacted at the former Pen-Pat Market.  The Garson’s are remodeling the store, preparing for a grand opening soon.


In addition to the store, they have also purchased the adjoining residence of Mr. and Mrs. Pennow.


(The Pen-Pat market was in the building presently occupied by Olympic Restaurant.  Gustman’s store was located on the northwest corner of the Division and Hewett Street intersection.)


The two-week Bible School for children of the Methodist and United Church of Christ started Tuesday.  Most of the classes will be held at the Winnebago Children’s Home and a few are at the Methodist Church.


The Loyal American Legion Post and Principal Warner Berry of Loyal High School cooperated in sponsoring the Memorial Day program at Loyal on Monday.  A program was held in the Loyal gym, with the high school band furnishing several numbers.  Rev. Crandall delivered the invocation and Jess W. Scott of Neillsville delivered the address.  A unique part of the service was the passing of a very old veteran’s flag from the Loyal High School graduating class to the incoming Senior Class of 1960-61, which will act as custodian for a year.


Twenty-five Neillsville residents attended the opening of the new headquarters building of the Nelson Muffler Corporation. The new building is located on a five acre tract along Highway 51 at the west side of Stoughton.


The old blacksmith shop at Greenwood is on the way out.  In a little time the historic old building will disappear and its place will be taken by a modern city garage.  Of the old blacksmith shop there will be nothing left but the memories.


If the old building could talk, it would have quite a story.  The most romantic would be that of Albert Huber, who labored there for a half a century or more.  With lack of business, Huber struck out for Montana and homesteaded there.


But if the financial situation was tight while he was in Greenwood, it was to be much tighter in Montana.  He had left an unpaid note in the bank in Greenwood and couldn’t pay it when due.  But being an honest man, Huber secured an extension and ultimately paid it.  It was tough going: drought, crop failures and finally a plague which caused the death of two children.


With determination, Huber was able to climb out from under the bad times.  The World War II times brought better prices for wheat and with increased acreages; he struck it rich with the grain harvests.  Prosperous in wheat, Huber extended his business interests in the quest of oil before others were awake to the newly discovered resource.  The first oil well was a gusher with three more wells being developed which added to his resources.


Huber’s wife was the former Katie Neis who grew up on a Christie area farm.  After her husband’s death in the early ‘50s, she remained living in Wolf Point, Montana.  Last winter, she returned to visit family and friends in this area.  She marked her interest in her old home area by giving the chimes to the new St. Mary’s Church in Greenwood.


The blacksmith shop came into the possession of Tom Barr, with many of the old-timers referring to it as the “Barr Shop.”


Barr owned the shop from 1909 to 1937, when he died. For the first half of his ownership, the business was very much old-style, with much horseshoeing, wagon and buggy work.  But he continued through the period of transition, when there were fewer and fewer horses, as there became more and more autos and machinery.


Tom was the father of Charles Barr, Neillsville manager of the Northern States Power Co.


Barr sold the business in 1937 to Irvin Carl, who had grown up in Neillsville.  Carl was one of seven brothers and there was a sister, Mrs. Walter Borde.


Irvin Carl learned the blacksmithing trade in Neillsville, in the old Korman and Sommerfeldt Shop.  He was paid 50 cents a week the first year and $1.50 per week the second year.  At the end of the first year, he had earned enough to buy a $14 suit.  At the close of the second year, he bought a bike and thereafter rode to work instead of walking 3 ½ miles.


Carl built a home in Neillsville and married Ida Weiting after the house was completed. The Carl’s left this home when Carl bought the shop in Greenwood.


In Carl’s time with the business, it went definitely modern with little horseshoeing and much repairing of the mechanical equipment which was found increasingly necessary on the farms.


The Carl’s, as a family, were also definitely modern in their activities and outlook.  Their son, Robert, oldest and married has gone to the new era, being employed at the Pines service station in Greenwood, working with cars.  Their son, Harland, married, made a reputation as a football star at the U. W. of Madison and is now on the coaching staff at Neenah.  Their son, DuWayne, is a senior in the State College at Eau Claire.  Their daughter Marjorie lives in Boston, wife to Dr. R. B. Fahim.


Shortly after Carl’s death, the shop was sold to Glen Johnson who operated the business for awhile.  He then sold the old shop to the City of Greenwood and moved his business to a modern structure located west of the old shop.


Why did we call them “blacksmiths?”  Webster says, “A blacksmith is a smith who works on iron with a forge.”  Iron is black; therefore, we called them “blacksmiths.”


(The very name “blacksmith” has become a historical remnant, a carry-over from earlier days.  The modern mechanic works with steel and other metals of lighter color.  So, not only has the word “blacksmith” disappeared from our every-day vocabulary, but so has the blacksmith vanished from our towns and neighborhoods. D. Z.)



The little I know, I owe to my ignorance. – Sacha Guitry


The Black River flooded well beyond its banks in 1911, appearing to be much wider than it actually is.  This camera’s view was taken on the north side of Highway 10, now County Road B, looking toward Neillsville.  (Photo courtesy of George H. Crothers)



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