Good Old Days





Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

September 26, 2001, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman

 Clark County News


September 1921


Last week the big garage of J. J. Cornelius, at Curtiss, was destroyed by fire. Three automobiles owned by Cornelius and four other cars stored in the building were also destroyed.  A nearby saloon and barber shop burned as a result of the blaze as well.


An all-rubber storage battery – is the latest achievement in the development of the electrical system on the modern motor car.


Announcement of this advance was made this week in Cleveland, by T. A. Willard.  He is the inventor and founder of the battery manufacturing company which bears his name.


In this improved battery, everything is of rubber excepting the plates or grids.  The wooden battery box has been done away with and replaced by a hard-rubber case.  Another important change was made possible by using the rubber case.  Previously, separate rubber tubes were needed for each battery cell to fit into with the wooden case, now it will be all in one unit.


Do you want some good cheap lumber?  Frank Hren, who lives a mile and a-half east of the Tioga station, has it.  He has all kinds of hardwood and pine lumber.  Pine siding is $48 per thousand and pine boards, $40 per thousand.


The York Center baseball team played the Heintown nine and won 12-1.  Next Sunday, the 26 Road team will play York Center’s team at the Elmhorst farm.


The assessors’ report turned in to the Clark County Clerk, shows that automobile ownerships are still on the increase in Clark County.  This year’s total is 1.138, which are 318 more than registered in 1920.


On Wednesday evening, the District Governor, John H. Moss of Milwaukee, presented the Neillsville Kiwanis club with their charter.  The club, which was duly organized, has been in operation for several weeks. The occasion was properly celebrated by a banquet at the opera house where a large number of Kiwanians, their ladies and other invited guests were present. Guy C. Youmans acted as toastmaster.


The program was interspersed with speakers, singing and fine selections played by the orchestra present.  The three-course meal served by the ladies of the Congregational Church was excellent. A social hop concluded the evening’s entertainment.


Plans had been made to open the Indian School on Monday, Sept. 12, but a delay in receiving some of the equipment may post-pone the opening.


There are already 64 applicants from pupils for admission.  More students are expected to be asking to come in, maybe more than can be accommodated at the present time.  The school building is a beautiful structure and the surroundings are equally as beautiful.  No better environment could possibly be provided for the children.


The Winnebago Indian Mission School Facility opened in the fall of 1921.  Its appearance about ten years later included landscaping with flowers, lawn, climbing vines, fencing and sidewalk which added to its attractiveness.  It was very noticeable to travelers as they crossed the Black River and approached Neillsville on Highway 10, coming from the west.  (Photo courtesy of Bill Roberts’ family collection)



Emil Arendt, of the local fire department, was tempted by tire-bait holdup men on an auto trip to Chili.  The incident happened one night recently when he had taken some friends along to go visiting.  However, he was wise to the holdup game and did not bite the bait.  A tire was lying in the middle of the road two and a-half miles east of Chili.  There was a cord tied to the tire, which ran into a corn field.  Instead of stopping to pick up the tire, as one is apt to do, Arendt increased his speed and thereby probably saved himself and his guests from an attack by robbers, believed to be holding the other end of the tire’s cord.


Thursday night, someone entered R. Lynch’s garage at his home in the Town of Levis and stole his Ford car.  The car is a1914 model.  The engine number is 278,266 and the license number is 137-208.  A tall stranger was seen along the Black River and he was walking slowly by Lynch’s farm during the day.  It is believed that man, whoever he was, took the car.  Lynch’s fine Lexington car also was stored on the barn floor of Lynch’s farm but was not meddled with.


The Neillsville Canning Co. started cutting cabbage for canning this week.  Anyone having extra cabbage that they would like to sell, the canning company is prepared to buy all that is brought into their plant.


Carl Peterson, who owns a small ginseng farm near here, harvested three beds of ginseng last week.  The harvest of 60 pounds netted Peterson about $275.  The beds were planted four years ago.  In addition to the ginseng roots, he also picked $25 worth of seeds from two of the beds.


The party, who took two men’s coats and two ladies’ coats out of an auto parked on the street near the Neillsville hotel on Thursday night, is known.  The said party should wrap these garments up in a bundle and place Lawrence VandeBerg’s name on the package, then leave it at the Big Store.  If the party does that, no trouble will be made.  If not, there will be an arrest of the guilty party.


September 1951


(J.A. Leason wrote the following article about his father, Dr. W. A. Leason, after his death, in 1951.  The Leason family members were long-time residents of Neillsville and Clark County. D.Z.)


“Dr. W. A. Leason, at the age of 90, was the most fantastic and greatest man I have ever known.  No son could have had a better, more patient, more understanding, more inspirational example of fatherhood than this continuously good-natured, witty old gentleman.  He came from a grand era that is all too swiftly fading from the American scene, the era of personal and national independence.  Some call it the free enterprise system, but if the old timers knew what it was, they never mentioned it. They were too busy “getting ahead” and preparing for their own old-age security to go into the sociological aspects involved which in late years have brought about the revised belief that one’s own security is not the problem of the individual, but that of his fellow beings.  Whether this new approach is the proper one is another matter.  But in the days of the Vermont Yankee, of whom Dr. Leason was a direct descendant, there was only one way to tackle a problem and that was with one’s own mind and hands.  If one did not tackle his problem himself, he would end up on skid row or at a poor farm.  However, if a person did tackle the problem, the degree of his success was measured exactly by the amount of honest effort and thought expended.”


W. A. Leason was born the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Leason in the Town of Scott, Sheboygan County Nov.10, 1860.  While a boy, still attending school in Hingham, Wis., he tried his hand at trading, doing odd jobs, learning to play the fiddle for square dances, mending tin ware, trapping muskrats, shooting pigeons, or selling lemonade at the area ball games.  From the time he was 12 years old, he bought his own clothes.


Then came young manhood and more mature employment; for a time, he traveled by wagon through the country buying eggs for the Hyde Commission Co., of Milwaukee and later packed eggs for that company.  In those days, cold storage was not used and the eggs were pickled in lime water for keeping.  Then, he worked a winter or two packing shingles in a saw mill at Romeo, near Spencer, and shared lice with the rest of the mill crew in their stuffy bunk-houses.


At about the age of 18, he drifted to Minneapolis and opened a poultry and produce commission store on Washington Ave., near Hennepin Ave.  He bought railroad tickets for scalpers at a discount and visited nearby towns buying poultry and eggs for his store.  While he was out on one such trip, an employee sold all of the stock on hand and disappeared with the money.  That left Leason stranded with only a few dollars in his pocket.


Being unable to continue in business, he hunted up a friend in the area.  Together, they got a rowboat and started down the Mississippi River, taking two weeks to make the trip to La Crosse, from where he returned to see his folks at Hingham.


At that time, his father offered his son a partnership in a pump and windmill business he was planning to start “at an up and coming logging town called Neillsville.”  Young Leason accepted the offer when he heard it was a good place to hunt and fish.  In 1880, the Leason family moved by team and wagon from Sheboygan County.  They brought machinery, a boiler and engine overland via Marshfield.  A pump and windmill factory was erected on the site now known by the address of 12th and Hewett Street.  The business flourished and soon Leason wooden windmills and wooden pumps were a common sight in the town and on the farms of the area.


Shortly after the family came to Neillsville, a dentist, Dr. Pitcher, took an interest in the young Leason.  Dr. Pitcher asked him if he would like to become a dentist, a suggestion which Leason adapted to.  He gave up his partnership with his father and went to work with Dr. Pitcher, at no pay, for the next several years.


Finally, Dr. Pitcher told Leason that he was ready to start out on his own. Then as Dr. Leason, he borrowed a hundred dollars from C. C. Sniteman with which to buy a few dental instruments and got a new suit of clothes on credit.


Having heard there was an opening for a dentist in Ashland, he started traveling in that general direction.  He stopped at Thorp and other towns on the way northward, going from house to house as dentists often did in those days, looking for business.  He pulled teeth for 50 cents and said it was surprising how many people, at the homes he visited, wanted teeth extracted.  As local anesthetics were not in use at that time, the ordeal of having a tooth out was anything but a laughing matter.


By the time Dr. Leason reached Ashland, he had enough money to rent an office and hang out a dentist sign. A year later, he moved to Plymouth, Wis., and opened an office.  It was while at Plymouth, he was married to Anna Griesch on July 3, 1890.  At Plymouth, he organized a baseball team, played shortstop and the team won 16 out of 17 games that season.  It was considered one of the best teams of that section of the state for a number-of-years.  He also became interested in trotting horses and drove in many county fair races.


In 1893, he was not feeling well and decided to give up dentistry, trying to regain his health as a farmer, a business about which he knew nothing.  He sold his dentist practice and family home in Plymouth; purchasing a 160-acre farm west of Neillsville where he built a home and other farm buildings.  However, he ran head on into the financial panic of the early ‘90s and had to save his property.  He had to return to dentistry, so he opened an office in Neillsville. For more than ten years, he also maintained a branch office at Merrillan, driving down there with a horse and buggy or cutter one day a week.  He carried a rifle on those trips and frequently shot at deer, wolves, foxes and such wild game.


By 1900, the country was coming out from under the economic panic and a market for Clark County farms was developing.  His health also had improved.  When an opportunity arose to sell the farm, Dr. Leason decided to return to town and the family moved to the residence at 143 North Hewett Street which he was occupying at the time of his death.


Throughout the years of living here, Dr. Leason spent all of his spare time in the out-of-doors.  He was a familiar figure to many who, like himself, enjoy the fishing and hunting facilities of this community.  He particularly like the company of fellow sportsmen and would spend any length of time listening to and telling of, hunting and fishing exploits.


It was not entirely the attraction of hunting and fishing that lured him to the steams and woods, but a sort of Henry Thoreau life of nature.  He never looked at a twig, or leaf, a frog or a fish and saw only the twig, leaf, frog or fish.  He saw in them the deathless mystery of all nature and live and a long, long story about each.  He could look up at the Mounds around Neillsville and tell you how the face of the shrinking world puckered up one day and got all wrinkled and how the ice of the glacial age came scooping along and beautifully landscaped Neillsville’s countryside.


As a father, Dr. Leason was fun yesterday and always, leaving great memories for his family in the days ahead.


Two big days and two big nights will feature a Fall Festival celebration to be held in Granton Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 29, 1951. These days are being sponsored by the Granton Future Farmers of America, the Granton Rotary and business men.


Activities will begin Friday morning with a free school fair at the Granton High School.  Over 40 animals, including calves, pigs, sheep and steers will be on display. These animals will be judged for prizes starting at 10 a.m.  At 11:00 a.m., a man from the University of Wisconsin is scheduled to speak. Activities in the afternoon include a tractor rodeo in which FFA boys will be maneuvering tractors and competing for prizes.  In the evening, an amateur talent show, open to all, will be held in the Community hall.


On Saturday, festivities get under way with a band concert at 1:30 p.m., which will be followed by a parade through the streets of Granton.  The parade will include pets, bicycles, dolls, an FFA queen and lots of floats. At 3:30 p.m., bandstand attractions will be offered.  As a climax to the celebration, a dance will be held at 9 p.m., featuring music by Jerry Opelt and his orchestra.


All rural school students, 4-H clubs, business places and interested children or adults on the amateur talent show should contact Francis Steiner at the high school or Durward Schwarze at Schwarze Drug Store at once. 


After the ordinance 704 goes into effect, there will be no 13th or 16th streets in Neillsville.  The council has approved an ordinance to change the name of East 13th Street to East 12th Street, and East 16th Street to East 15th, thus eliminating the confusion caused by the two short streets.



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