Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

July 19, 2000, Page

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

The Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


July 1910


Just when its prospects seemed so bright, the Neillsville Furniture Factory was completely destroyed by an early morning fire.


The fire was thought to have originated on the third floor in the northwest corner off (of) the building.  At five minutes before 4 a.m., while getting fires going in the engine room, Con Gorman saw a blaze in the window.  He immediately sounded the alarm with whistles.  The factory fire-pump was put in action with four streams of water being poured into the blaze.  The city fire company soon arrived and had another stream of water going into the blaze, but to no avail.


The fire raged fiercely in the varnish and finishing rooms on the third and fourth floors. The oil-soaked finishing rooms burned like gun powder.  About all the firemen could do is save the lumber yards and four cars of furniture near the factory building, as well as the office books and supplies.


Spontaneous combustion is probably the origin of the fire.  Every evening, employees swept the floors clean and carried out all waste rags in fire-proof cans.  It is possible with the intensely hot night; the fire may have originated in the oil-soaked floors.  The heat of the blaze was intent, especially when the fire got into the varnishing room, when flames leaped 100 feet into the sky.  The heat drove spectators back as far as the railroad water tank.  Had there been a northwest wind, Neillsville would have been swept away by the fire.


As has been said at other times and in other places, now that the furniture factory is gone it is missed.  Especially those who set their clocks by the factory whistle.  When the whistle blew at 12 noon and at 6 p.m.; suppertime, everybody knew that it was time to quit work. 


Now things have changed, even to such an extremity; that some people work right through the noon hour.  But to those who kept track of the whistle, especially on the north side, there is an aching void.  Many have suggested that the water pumping station blow its whistle at the usual hours.


For sale, cheap – a nice little house and lot, barn for two cows, hay shed, chicken coop and woodshed, all for $350, if sold this week.  See Paul Walk


This hot weather makes you think of ice cream.  Hobbs restaurant keeps Vander Bie’s delicious ice cream on hand; quarts are 30 cents and pints 15 cents.


At a meeting of the Neillsville Electric Co., it was decided to postpone the building of the dam until next spring.  This decision was reached after considerable discussion.  It was thought advisable owing to the lateness of the season and is feared that equinoctial storms might interfere with the work.  It is the intention of the company to take up the project early in the spring.


On Monday J. C. Zimmerman purchased the interest of J.A. Kolar in the Big Store, which is known by the name of Tragsdorf, Zimmerman & Co.  Kolar retires from the business and the firm will now be Tragsdorf & Zimmerman for the present, although it is understood that a stock company will be formed later to conduct the business.  The Tragsdorf and Zimmerman interests, however, are predominant.


There will be a dime social Friday night at John Raine’s home on Pleasant Ridge.  Everybody is cordially invited.


Hay Creek Ranch, at Tioga, is now running 290 sheep and 85 horned cattle on their acreage.


There will be a farewell dance for Claude Westphal and Emily Manthey at the Tioga bowery on Saturday night.  They will be leaving to go west, where they will work in the Dakota grain fields.


July 1950


Three proposals will be brought before the annual meeting of the Neillsville School District on Monday evening. Those projects are: 1 – To continue the custom of the past six years by raising $10,000 for a building fund, to be used in constructing a new high school structure. 2 – To purchase a third school bus. 3 – To provide an Ag shop, at least on a temporary basis.


The building fund now amounts to $60,000, plus the accumulation of interest.  The accumulation of these funds will put this district in a highly favorable position, whenever conditions are right for construction.


The school district now has two buses.  Each of them makes two trips each day.  The second trip brings pupils to school at 9:20 a.m. with the high school required by the state to conduct 50-minute class periods, rather than 40-minute class periods and 8 periods instead 7, it will now be necessary to have all the high school students in school at 8:30 a.m.  The three buses cannot quite carry all pupils, but one of the three would make an extra trip to bring in only grade school pupils.


The operating cost for the school looks about the same as last year.  The overall figure is $103,440.  The anticipated income from aids and tuition is about $54,300.  The balance, $9,140, is to be raised by local taxation for school operation.


Work was started this week on laying out an archery course near the Stables Nite Club, six miles west of Neillsville on Highway 10.


Behind the project is the newly formed archery club, which was formally organized here last week.  About 30 archery enthusiasts who turned out for the meeting elected the following officers: Dan Brewer, president; Ray Tesmer, vice president; Mrs. Dan Brewer, secretary-treasurer; Matt Gassen and James Hauge, directors.


The liquor store projected for Neillsville will be located in the Town of Pine Valley, just east of the city line on U. S. Highway 10, on what in the city would be Division Street.  The location is across the highway from the root beer stand.


The site has been bought from Frank Kelley by Alfred S. Rake.  The frontage is 120 feet with a lot depth of 153 feet.  The consideration for the property was $500.


Desirable spots for the liquor store were few.  The decision to locate outside the city was reached after Joseph H. Rake and Alfred S. Rake had made a considerable survey of the city to determine what locations might be available.


Accordingly the rakes went to the Town board of Pine Valley and found a disposition to grant the needed license.  For the license in Pine Valley, they are paying $100.  In the city they would have paid $200, which rake said they would have willingly paid if they could get into the city.


There are 238 members on the roll of the Haugen-Richmond Post #73 of the American Legion, the local Neillsville post.  The membership is the largest in the history of the post.


The Loyal Blackhawks baseball team nears winning the pennant as they defeated the Neillsville Athletics, 3 to 1.  The victory gives the Blackhawks a full two-game lead over the Chili team.


After three tight innings, the Blackhawks broke loose in the fourth, capitalizing on three hits off Jackie Leonhardt and a Neillsville error to score two runs.  Heinie Zimmerman, center fielder had a short left field hit which skidded away from Magnuson, Bremer and Urban, all of whom chased it.  Zimmerman went on to second and was brought home by H. Meyer’s hit to short center field. Then Magnuson dropped Vern Mech’s drive into left field, sending Meyer to third. Then Harold Kollmansberger singled to send Meyer home with the winning run.


It was in the ninth with one down when Gene Christie, patrolling his old third base spot, lined a hard ground ball through second for a triple.  Gus Lazotte’s single brought him in; but the rally ended there when Crissinger and Magnuson whiffed.


It was a tight ball game throughout with Arnie Steines, Loyal mound ace, and Neillsville’s Jackie Leonhardt put up one of the finest pitching duels of the season on the local diamond. Each allowed six hits; Steines fanned 14 and Leonhardt set six down swinging.


Three elderly Neillsville berry pickers became lost while searching for blue berries.  Mr. and Mrs. Frank A. Viergutz and Mrs. Albert Lichte became lost in the Clark County forest, west of Neillsville, two miles southwest of the Stables Nite Club.


The trio wandered around for nine hours, getting deeper and deeper into the woods.  They became wet after a rain shower, getting cold and wet from walking through the rain-soaked bushes.


A search was organized about 9:30 p.m., after Ray Moen, whose wife is a relative of Mrs. Lichte, reported the trio missing.  County officers and conservation wardens, driving radio-equipped cars, scoured the roads between Neillsville and Columbia, for it was believed that this was the area in which the party intended to pick berries.


The car was located about midnight by Traffic Officer Harry Frantz, who radioed the news to other searchers.  Among them were Sheriff Ray Kutsche, Glenn Carlson, Under-sheriff Frank Dobes, Tony Wieting, Wardens Russell and Kenneth Coyle of Stanley.


These searchers were joined by another group composed of H. H. Quicker, Mervin Voight, Harry and John Flitter, Elliot Warlum, Lawrence Helwig and Mike J. Hopkins.


They set out through the brush, fanning out and shouting.  As they neared a spot about a mile south of the Viergutz’ parked car, they heard a response from the lost party.


It took about an hour and a half for the searchers and the berry-picking trio to make their way back to the car.  They all became lost in a clump of pine trees momentarily until they were able to straighten themselves out. Frank Dobes, standing on the road, beamed a spot-light into the sky which helped give the group direction to the road.


The next morning the Viergutz couple was contacted to see how they felt after the ordeal.  Mr. Viergutz remained in bed as his health has not been very rugged lately.  Mrs. Viergutz said she felt tired and ached all over.


The party hung on to their berries throughout the experience, returning to the city with their entire picking.


The Southern Clark County baseball league will have a contest for second place standing on Sunday when Lynn and Grand View teams will meet on the Grand View diamond.


Both teams have a second half record of one and one, the winner of Sunday’s game will run into undisputed possession of second place.


Globe, at present is leading the parade.  They are scheduled to meet the Stables nine on the Stables diamond in the league’s only other game.  A loss for Globe could move it into a tie for first with the winner of the Grand View-Lynn tilt.



To understand everything makes one tolerant. –Germaine de Stael


It is never too late to give up our prejudices. –Henry David Thoreau



 The Neillsville Furniture Factory of the late 1800s (pictured above) was sold shortly after the turn of the century and was re-named the Wisconsin Furniture Factory. Located at the end of West Eighth Street, it was destroyed by a fire in 1910, not to be replaced with another building.  During the factory’s existence, it was the major employer within the city of Neillsville.


The above photo was not originally part of this article.  It was submitted by the family of Peggy L. Walter

and was taken from a postcard booklet titled, "Souvenir Letter", Neillsville, Wis.





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