Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

January 9, 2002, Page 20

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 

The Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


January 1892


William Wildish and Bert Tolfer traded horses the other day, Wildish giving a buffalo hide overcoat to boot so as to even out the trade.


Vollmer & Kraus, the heaviest general merchandise firm in Marshfield, has dissolved partnership; Kraus has retired so as to enter in the German-American Bank business.  Joseph A. Versen of Marshalltown, Iowa, has taken over Kraus’ interest in the general merchandise firm.


Free & Phillips have been hard at work making the counters and fixtures for the new Dewhurst block.  The building will be ready for occupancy in about one week, when Decate Dickinson will move in.


An old-fashioned watch meeting was held at the Corps Hall on Thursday night to see the new year of ’92 in.  Many good citizens participated in the ceremonies.  When the church bells commenced to “ring out the old and ring in the new,” the wild-eyed stoker at the city pump-house thought it was a fire alarm.  He made a mad, impetuous dash at his machine, pulled the trigger and let the horn toot. All of the commotion gave the city the first excitement of the New Year 1892.


This winter is the last winter that Sawyer & Austin will lumber on the Black River. We have learned by good authority that Jos. Gibson, of Longwood, has purchased their dam and improvements on the Black River.  Gibson has also entered into contract to put in all of their timber, both pine and hemlock.  The report says that he has also contracted to peel all the bark on the hemlock lands and deliver the logs that Sawyer & Austin had contracted.  The orders will be hauled to Shaw’s yards in Medford or to the W. C. Railway Co.  Gibson will enter into possession under his contract when the drive commences in the spring. At that time, he will take by purchase, the entire logging outfit of Sawyer & Austin, together with all their stock that he will need for his business.  Gibson is well known along the Black River, where he has lumbered for years.  His honest business methods and well-known enterprise have made him a general favorite in this lumbering district.


L. G. Merrill of Merrillan, founder of that village, died at his home on January 11th, aged 78 years.  He settled in Jackson County in 1849 and was a member of the legislature in 1866.  Merrill was a logger merchant and real estate man of wealth.


Dr. H. A. Pitcher’s patented quick-firing rifle was sent out East last week to be tested by government experts.  Doc recently fired from the rifle more balls of ammunition in a second than any other gun in a similar time. Doc will now settle down to dentistry and wait to hear the results from the government.  (Pitcher’s repeating rifle was a first.  The U. S. Government apparently wasn’t ready to accept the repeating rifle at that time to be used in their army.  Some of Pitcher’s repeating rifles were sold locally.  Pitcher didn’t live to see or know that a repeating rifle, patented by someone else, was accepted by the U.S. Army about ten years later. D.Z.)



The German-American Bank, of Marshfield, was organized on Monday of last week.  The following officers were elected: R. Dewhurst, president; H. N. Maurer, vice president; R. L. Kraus, cashier; R. Dewhurst, H. N. Maurer, R. L. Kraus, W. D. Connor, Michael Steinmets, F. N. Noll and P. Christensen, directors.  The bank will commence business as soon as their new bank building is completed, probably about Feb. 1st.


Trains carrying flour are a regular feature of local railroad traffic.  Even the passenger train is being used to jog along the flour en route from Minneapolis to Manitowoc.  Those flour trains go pounding through our city at night, making noise enough to wake the dead.


Best Flour on Earth is just $1.15 a sack, or $4.50 a barrel at Sol Jaseph’s store.


The Riplinger Stave and Heading Co. have opened their general store at Loyal.  They have a complete line of merchandise.


Elliot Sturdevant recently, with the assistance of others, did a job of transplanting which deserves special notice.  L. M. Sturdevant, Elliot’s brother, very much wished to have a certain handsome elm tree brought up from the old homestead.  Located three miles from the city, he wanted the tree planted in the yard near his new house built this year in Neillsville.  L. M. had a large hole dug before the freeze-up.  Elliot, waiting until the ground had frozen deep and solid, cut a trench around the tree so as to retain several tons of earth needed to fit the hole with the tree in the middle.  The immense chunk of earth with the tree, the tree being some ten inches in diameter at the base, was placed on timbers formed to act as sled runners.  The big load was then hauled into town with a span of horses and a yoke of oxen.  The load was safely landed in Lafe Sturdevant’s yard, where it will yield its gratifying shade and remind Sturdevant, the county district attorney, of the ancestral home where he grew up.


The process of grafting skin on to the crushed hand of the patient Schilling at Drs. Esch, Lacy & Company’s hospital continues successfully.  Each graft or piece of skin applied has “taken root” and has become part and parcel of the man.  A new piece of skin is put on each alternate day.  Like the Nancy Brig Mariner, Schilling is several people at once and of several occupations with all those different pieces of skin.  He ought to be able to turn that hand to almost anything when he gets well.


January 1952


An interesting sign of the times was the electrification in 1951 of the Taft School, Town of Sherman.  This was the last rural school of Clark County to be electrified.  The other rural schools within the county, 105 in all have been enjoying the benefits provided by electricity.  The Taft School had lagged along in the dark, but the light was already on the way when the district secured the services of Miss Florence Garbush as teacher.  She entered upon a tactful program of promotion, before which all darkness disappeared.


“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” these words, a serenade to a light bulb, printed on a poster, were part of the campaign for electricity waged by the 11 pupils and teacher of the Taft School near Loyal during the 1950-51 school year.


The Taft School, built 15 years ago, was the last school left in the county to be electrified.  The view had prevailed that as long as the school was only held during the day there was no real need for lights. The new teacher, Miss Florence Garbush, of Loyal did not agree.


The pupils and teacher started their campaign in October.  The pupils made a poster for the bulletin board. On the poster was a chart to keep track of the sunny and cloudy days. The poster was headed, “These are the Dark Ages of Our Day.”  Each day one of the pupils would step up to the poster and mark it with a crayon.


A total of 87 cloudy days and 47 sunny days were recorded between October 23 and May 11.


The Taft School building is itself new and modern.  The latest in seating equipment, tables and desks are found in it. It is located off Highway 98, six miles east of Loyal.


The campaign was successful.  During the summer months the wiring project was carried out. The school is now with electric lights.


Mr. and Mrs. Edward Miller of Milladore have purchased the William Seeman cheese factory in the Town of Loyal.  The purchase piece (price) includes 10 square rods of land, the truck fleet and the contents of the cheese factory, which is located a mile and a half north of Loyal on county trunk K.


Miller, who operated an American Cheddar cheese factory at Milladore for five years, took over the Seeman plant on December 16.  He plans to continue making American Cheddar cheese at the Seeman factory.


The bottled milk plant was discontinued following the sale.


William Seeman, who operated the plant for 23 years, will retire.


Over 300 people were present for the Ice Skating rodeo held on O’Neill Creek on Sunday afternoon.  Sponsored by the E&R Club of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the rodeo featured both speed and figure skating contests for contestants of all age groups.


In the open race, Patsy Bollom placed first and Ardythe Epding placed second in the girls contest and Charles Thompson and Harold Schewe placed first and second in the boys contest.


Jerry Opelt won the long distance race for men or 20 and John Kleckner was second.


In the figure skating contests, Paul Manz won first and Tommy Overman second in the boys 11 and 12 contests.  Kay Overman won first and Gladys Smith, second in the girls 12-14 contest.


In the boys and girls tag race, the winners were: Kay Overman and Paul Manz, first; Alice Gall and Donald Horswill, second. 


In the all-ages waltzing contest, Mrs. Henry Stucki and Jake Hoesly placed first and Jeannie Northup and Sonja Schlimme, second. 


Herbert Grottke, of Neillsville, will be giving lessons in figure skating at the municipal rink after supper on Fridays, beginning this week.  He is a widely known skater.  The lessons will be free.


Two Neillsville boys have been entered in the Golden Gloves boxing eliminations to be held at Neillsville next Saturday.  They are Hans Harder, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Harder and Fred Seelow, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Seelow.


Approximately 20 boys have been trying out for the competition, boxing and sparring at the semi-equipped gym located above Becker’s café.  LaVerne Gaier of Neillsville has been in charge of training the youths, who range in age from 13 to 22 and older.


Several local truckers are waiting at Hudson for the settlement of a St. Paul strike.  At the same time, seven Milwaukee truckers are waiting at Neillsville for the return of their trucks.


The seven, stranded in Hudson include: Leo Staffon, Al Harrington, Wayne Bush, Gene Thiede, Maurice May, Louis Seif and Lee Buddenhagen.


The strike of St. Paul city freight handlers was called Tuesday morning.  Expecting a quick settlement, the seven local truckers started out.  A picket line has been placed on the Hudson Bridge so the men cannot cross.  Until there is a settlement, the 14 truckers will continue to wait and traffic will continue to pile up.


John (Hans) Walk, 72, one of the first rural mail carriers in Clark County and a man who endeared himself to many, many children over the last 30 years is dead.


He died last Friday morning at his home in Neillsville after a lingering illness.  Burial was made Tuesday afternoon in the Neillsville cemetery.


The second rural mail carrier to work out of the Neillsville post office, Walk carried route one mail from Neillsville to Shortville, Kurth’s Corners and back to Neillsville along Pleasant Ridge.  The 20-mile mail route was covered by horse and buggy.


He believed in the old-time slogan of the post office department that “The mail must go through.”  Mrs. Henry Braatz of Neillsville, a former patron on his route, recalls that “Hans” never failed.  Come blizzard and deep snow, he tethered his horse to a fence post and broke his way on foot through deep drifts to make his deliveries.


Walk entered the post office service in 1905 and carried until his retirement on June 30, 1935.  When, finally, the horse and buggy was on its way out, Walk was the first to retire his team of horses during the open season.  He delivered then by motorcycle.  On his retirement, Albert Kuehling took over the route, which has been gradually expanded to cover a 50-mile circle east and south of the city.


Although old-timers remember Hans mostly for his mail service, there are hundreds of others who remember him more vividly, particularly in his role of Santa’s helper, a role he filled here for the last 30 years of his life.  Hans always had a deep love of children and he delighted in them wearing his Santa’s suit or his blue overalls.  The neighborhood children found in him a man who sympathetically repaired their toys and helped them over rough spots in their lives.


Born in Jefferson on May 29, 1879, Walk came to Clark County with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Walk, in 1889.  He attended the Neillsville Public Schools and then went to work for Albert Degner at his hardware store in Chili.  He later was affiliated with his brothers in the Walk Bros. store in Neillsville – a popular mercantile establishment at the turn of the century.


He was married to the former Emma Tragsdorf, in Neillsville, on February 16, 1905.


Survivors include his five children: Harold Walk, Milwaukee; Oscar Walk, Neillsville; Marie, Mrs. Alfred Zillmer, Greenwood; Gertrude, Mrs. Durward Olds, Lexington, Ky., and Leona, Mrs. William Lemke of Wausau; nine grand-children and one great-grandchild.


His wife died August 27, 1947.


An early 1900s winter scene of Hewett Street, Neillsville; taken at the Fourth and Fifth Streets intersection, looking northward.  New street lamps illuminated the main street during evening hours.



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