Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

March 14, 2001, Page 22

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

 The Good Old Days  

Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


March 1886


On Friday evening, about seven o’clock, a fire was discovered in the front room of the little building adjoining Dudley’s harness shop.  The building is occupied by Olive Chapman’s dressmaking business.  The prompt alarm brought a big crowd of people to the scene. The Neillsville Fire Company’s hose cart, hook and ladder outfit responded quickly in a spirited style. The waterworks whistle blew and there was very lively action for a few minutes.  An adjacent water pump and a few pails in willing hands were sufficient to put out the fire.  The carpet in the store was destroyed, however.  Doubtlessly, the fire started from a spark emitted from the heating stove. Town citizens made up a purse for Olive Chapman to replace the carpet.


Fred Davis, a well-known resident of the Town of Grant had a bad accident. Davis’ right arm was broken last Friday while he was hauling logs.  A log rolled from the load, rolling on him. The fracture was at the elbow, of so serious a nature that the arm had to be amputated above the elbow.  Dr. Morley performed the operation.  Davis has the sympathy of his many friends.


The new electric light engine arrived and was put in position Monday.  It is an odd looking machine, but is precisely what is needed for the business.


There are to be three distinct circuits of electricity: one for the street lights, a second for the inside arc lights and a third for the incandescent lights.


The lamps, some of the wire and supplies were sent to Millsville, Wis., by mistake so were slow in arriving.


Norwegian snow shoe skis are the latest craze in the Eidsvold Community near Thorp.  The snow shoes consist of strips of ask or oak, about eight feet long, five and one-half inches wide, by a half-an-inch thick and are tuned up on one end.  The shoes are worked by sliding the feet alternately.  The snow shoes were first introduced by our genial blacksmith, Ole Transted, who said he had seen thousands of those being used in Norway.


G. W. Allen, of hotel fame, left Loyal for a few days.  He has been shipping staves from Spencer to Milwaukee, having sold 16 to 20 car loads of dry staves. Allen has many more dry staves on hand and that in need would do well in purchasing some from him.


Mrs. Caroline O’Neill has rented the first story of the Charley Gates brick building.  She has opened a first class restaurant, where she advertises to give warm meals at all hours and will also take day boarders at reasonable rates.


Dixon & Rossman have a large electric light in their barber shop. They will no longer shave their customers “by-the-light of the moon.”


Last Saturday, Eddie Hutchinson was rolling a barrel of pork down the hatchway to Tom Kerns’ residence.  The barrel got away from his control and jammed his leg against the wall.  The barrel cut a sharp gash below the knee through his pants, bootleg, socks and under-drawers.  It also cut to and past the bone, breaking the bone off with the ends slipping by.


A heavy load of birch beer was hauled from Marshfield to Neillsville this week.  Now the prohibitionist may slake his thirst without a resort to the base expedient of pure water.  (Birch beer was a drink we now know as root beer. D. Z.)


F. X. Sagstetter & Co. has started a pop factory in Neillsville. They will manufacture soda water, ginger ale, seltzer water and other flavors to satisfy the thirst of the Neillsvillites.  Sagstetter also runs such a factory to its full capacity in Colby.


The largest load of logs ever hauled on one pair of sleds, in the Town of Fremont, was landed on a bank of the west branch of the Yellow River.  It was hauled on March 14 by John Myer. The load consisted of 15 logs, scaling 7,990 feet, Scribner’s scale and scaled by J. W. Walsh, a scaler for the Necedah Lumber Co.  The load of logs was pulled by a span of four-year-old colts, weighting 2,600 lbs.


St. Patrick’s famous day was remembered last evening and not forgotten until the wee hours of this morning. A lively dance kept the crowd awake.


Mrs. Flick wishes to inform the people of Neillsville, that she is prepared to do all kinds of washing and ironing on the shortest notice. Anyone wishing laundry done will find it to his interest to give her a trial. Call at her residence on Second Street, opposite Dewitt Hart’s Office.


March 1941


Monday will mark the 50th anniversary of the date on which Len H. Howard, a well known local resident, had only a $10 gold piece to his name.


He still has that $10 gold piece, although the last time it was weighed, about five or six years ago, it was worth only slightly more than $6.  Now one would scarcely recognize the piece as a coin of worth, for it has no “heads” or “tails.”  It has been worn almost to paper thinness through his constant carrying it around in the last half century.


A memento of his first pay check from the John Paul Lumber Company, for which he worked the first two months in the 1890-91 winter season.  It represents all the money he had left a few hours after the check was cashed.


To get his job as a logger, Howard had bought a team of horses with the savings of five years of “hiring out.”  His savings were not quite sufficient to make the capital purchase, so he borrowed $100 from his father to complete the purchase of a second horse for his team.


Two months later, when he had finished the season with the lumber company, he cashed his check, receiving $100 in paper, a $10 gold piece and the balance of a few dollars in silver. But he did not have it long.


No sooner had he stepped from the bank, he saw his father on the street and Howard felt the urge to be free of debt. Together, they walked into C. C. Sniteman’s drug store, figured the interest on the loan and Howard cleared himself of debt.  The loan payment cleaned him of all money except for a few pieces of silver and the gold piece.


The silver did not last long – only until that night, as a matter of fact; but the gold piece lasted considerably longer. It was a circumstance of good fortune that the following morning Howard’s uncle needed a few days’ work done requiring a team of horses; which saved the gold piece from entering a strange cash drawer or till, for the for the first time.


Twice in the intervening years, however, Howard has had some trouble keeping the gold piece in his possession.  Once, years ago, it passed through a hole in his trouser pocket as he ran an errand.  He marked the spot in his mind and returned in the gloom of the night to search for it.  Striking a match he bent slowly over the spot where he believed the coin to be resting with the flame’s light squarely upon the coin.


Another time, the coin dropped from his pocket and nestled in the upholstering of a wicker chair, unbeknown to Howard.  Only a thorough house cleaning given by Howard’s wife and mother-in-law a few days later revealed the hiding place of the coin.


In the early 1930s when the United States called in all gold, Howard made an effort to turn the coin in; but it was so worn that its value was not readily apparent.  Today, the United States has approximately eight-tenths of the world’s gold buried beneath the ground at Fort Knox, KY.  So apparently Howard’s gold piece is a part of the two-tenths of the world’s supply still “at large.”


Stop in at Whaley Service in Neillsville to see the big beautiful new Nash Slipstream sedan being sold for only $745. See what you get: up to 30 miles on a gallon of gas; savings of $1.50 to $2.00 on every tank full of gasoline; greatest seating width of any low-price car; coil springs on all four wheels; new two-way roller steering; Weather eye conditioned Air with convertible bed also available.


A memorable event in the history of Clark County took place this past Monday.  The largest single group of young men, 22 in all, left Clark County since the passing of the Selective Service Act.  They were the first men in the four groups who were selected in the county to serve under the national defense program.


The men making up the contingent were; Sigman J. Bartosiak, 24, route one, Withee, an electroplater; Edward Zdun, 22, of route three, Granton, a truck driver; Edward L. Bowman, 23, of Loyal, a farm laborer, Ruben M. Loos, 29, of route one, Greenwood, a time-keeper in a logging camp; Donald L. Drescher, 25, of route four, Neillsville, a railway laborer; William H. Leskinen, 27, of Greenwood, a grocery clerk; Bernard T. Evenson, 21, of route two, Stanley, a cheesemaker; Clifford D. Karl, 25, of route two, Neillsville, a farm laborer; Elmer C. Hofmann, 28, of route one, Dorchester, an electrician and farm laborer; Peter Bogdonovich, 21, of route one, Willard, a farm laborer; Edwin O. Gaulke, 24, of route one, Chili, a farm laborer; Henry F. Schmidt, 21, of Greenwood, a farm laborer; John Stebak, 25, of route one, Thorp, a carpenter; William Jeffery, 25, of Humbird a furnace and range repairman; Walter L. Petke, 29, of route two, Withee, a truck driver; Palmer C. Shumway, 22, of Neillsville, a truck driver; John F. Trunkel, 27, of route one, Willard, a painter and electrician; Melvin E. Putman, 24, of Humbird, former employee of the United States engineering department; Elroy A. Augustine, 21, of route two, Colby, a farm laborer; Donald G. Lydiksen, 23, of Unity, a painter and elevator clerk; and Joseph F. Sokolowski, 25, of route three, Thorp, a farm laborer.


 Officers of the local Selective Service Board are anticipating heavier monthly quotas to be filled in spring and summer months, larger than the March quota.


Flat feet, once the headache of army men, seem to have become a minor matter. Only one to date has been rejected by the Clark County Board because of flat feet and, as a member of the office force put it, “a man has to stand on the bottom of the whole foot before they’ll turn him down.”  Thus the mechanized progresses mechanized warfare.


As a matter of fact, the single factor bringing about the largest number of rejections in Clark County –as elsewhere – is teeth.  One must have three incisors and three molars on the upper jaw. Thirty-five percent of the rejections on men otherwise acceptable as class 1-A men result from teeth.


On Friday, February 14, the Holstein Breeders Association of Clark County honored Henry E. Williams of Granton as one of the pioneers who had led the way to fine Holstein cattle in Central Wisconsin.  Williams was then ill, unable to personally receive the token of honor.  Last week he passed away. The Press presents herewith a sketch of his life and services.


The death of Henry E. Williams at the age of 71 years has taken from the Granton community a native son who throughout his lifetime carried on the pioneering traditions of his family.


The youngest of nine children, Williams was born on February 3, 1870, in the log house of his parents, the late George and Mary Williams, erected from trees slashed out of the forest to make room for cultivation on one of the first homesteads in this section of Wisconsin.


The log house has long since disappeared, but the home farm remained as Williams’ most treasured possession until his death.


The farm also enabled him to continue the pioneering work that his father had begun; because it was there he launched his efforts to improve the dairy cattle of Wisconsin by developing a better strain of Holstein cows.   


This was accomplished by the importation of registered cows, outstanding sires and by careful breeding and culling.


The results of his work are still indelibly stamped in many Wisconsin herds – but he was well repaid for all of his farsighted efforts when one of his calves was adjudged the grand champion at the National Dairy Show.


Prior to his teachings, scrub cows, of little milk and less value, roamed most Central Wisconsin pasture lands.  Probably more than any one man, he was responsible for the new and vastly superior era of scientific dairying.


That is one of the many reasons so many substantial citizens of this community today are bowing their heads in silent tribute to his memory.


But the pioneering blood that Henry Williams had inherited led him into other fields of endeavor as the country grew and expanded.


After receiving his education in Granton and Milwaukee, he turned to the West and worked in Washington when it was but a territory.  Returning to Wisconsin in 1889, he cast his lot with the lumberjacks of the North Woods until he returned home to take charge of the home farm in 1893 – which was nearly a half-century ago.


But once again – for a short period – he turned his face westward, taking up a 160-acre homestead near Billings, Mont., in 1910 and then adding to his property until it contained nearly 1,000 acres before he disposed of it in 1916.


His Holstein development work followed, although he moved to the village of Granton in 1918 and directed his work on the farm from the home he had purchased in the village.


He always felt that every citizen should be proud of his home town and should bear a measure of the responsibilities of his community.  Very few local or township activities were undertaken without the advice and counsel of Williams.  Undoubtedly, that was the reason he had served as president of the Granton Village Board and had served for 14 years as director of the board of education before refusing re-election.


In fact, he was the first director of the school board and was one of the stockholders of the Granton State Bank when it incorporated.


His marriage to Miss Myrtle Nelson of Des Moines, Ia., took place in 1894.  They had three children: George V. Williams of Sandy, Ore.; Mabel E. Williams, a teacher at Barron and Vance A. Williams, a member of the high school faculty at Kirkland, Ill.   Mrs. Williams died in 1908. 


He married Mrs. Frances Brown MacBride in 1910.  She survives, with his stepsons, Douglas and LaMont.


Fraternally, he was affiliated with the Neillsville Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Modern Woodmen of America for a number of years.


Main Street of Granton, circa 1920, when the W. J. Thayer Hardware & Implements Shop and Hart’s General Store were thriving businesses in the village.  Some merchandise was displayed on the sidewalk, such as the foot-pedal-powered grindstone and a new baby stroller.  (Photo courtesy of Webster Family collection)



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