Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

April 10, 2002, Page 8

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman




Clark County News


April 1882


On Tuesday, March 28, 1881, there passed away from our midst, the first settler of Clark County and the founder of the City of Neillsville.  The honorable James O’Neill was 71 years, 10 months and 24 days of age.


O’Neill was born in the town of Lisbon, St. Lawrence County, New York, May 4th, 1810.  He was the third of nine children of whom only one survives, Andrew O’Neill, who resides on the old family homestead where the deceased was born.


O’Neill resided at home until he reached the age of 17, receiving an ordinary district school education.  He then spent two years as a clerk in his brother, Thomas’ store at Edwardsburg, Canada.  When (he was) 20 years old he engaged in lumbering on the St. Lawrence River.  During the year of 1832, he was a clerk in the store of his brother John O’Neill, at Ogdensburg, NY.  At the close of the year, he went to Canada and engaged in lumbering on his own for four years.  He hauled out square timber in the winter and ran it down the Nation and St. Lawrence Rivers to Quebec during the summer.  For two years this business venture proved profitable, but during the last year, he lost $1,200, all of the money he had.


In the winter of 1835-36, James O’Neill, he and his brothers, Henry and Alexander lumbered in Lisbon, NY, running their lumber down the St. Lawrence to Quebec.  Upon their return in 1836, James took a steamer at Ogdensburg for the West, bidding his father and mother good bye for the last time.  He did not see his home again for 29 years.  O’Neill proceeded West via Lewiston, Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Cleveland.  After having worked with harvesting in Knox County, Ohio, he left in October by wagon and went to Cincinnati.  He then traveled by steamer down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Grand Gulf, La., where he remained until the next year.  In June of 1837, he came to St. Louis where he was attacked with bilious fever from which he did not recover for over two months. 


In April of 1838, O’Neill and his brother, Alexander, went to Galena, Ill. During the summer of that year, he was engaged as steersman on a steamboat on the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. The next winter, he stayed in Louisiana, returning to work on a steamboat the following summer.  In the fall of 1839, O’Neill and his brother Alexander obtained a large canoe, filled it with provisions at Prairie du Chien, and made their way up the Mississippi and Black Rivers to a place three miles below Black River Falls, Wis., where they built a saw mill.


In 1844, he moved to what is now Neillsville, where he has ever since resided.  He started the first settlement in Neillsville and Clark County, unless the temporary timber-cutting done by the Mormons could have been considered a settlement.


During O’Neill’s 38 year residence in Neillsville, he has been engaged in lumbering, farming, hotel keeping and for a short time he was in the mercantile business.  He owned a large part of the present site of the town and laid it out into village lots which he sold to actual settlers.  He always took great pride in the growth and prosperity of the city which bears his name.  He donated sites for our schoolhouse, for the Methodist Church and for the Clark County Courthouse.  He built the handsome hotel called the O’Neill House and was for many years its proprietor.


In 1846, O’Neill married Jane Douglas, sister of the Hon. Mark Douglas, of Melrose.  All the old settlers speak of her as a most excellent lady.  She was sympathetic to the suffering, generous toward religious and charitable undertakings, hospitable to both strangers and friends, kind to all.  To the issue of this marriage was Isabella, now Mrs. W. S. Covill; Maria, now Mrs. F. E. Darling and Thomas, who died in 1872, at the age of 20 years.  After the decease of his first wife, O’Neill married Mrs. Caroline Teller in 1873, who survives him.  To the issue of this marriage is one son, James, who is now seven years old.


O’Neill was a member of the first Legislature of Wisconsin in 1849 and served again in 1868.


From 1861 to 1865, O’Neill was Clark County Treasurer.  For about 15 years, he was Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.  At different times through the years, he also held several other offices of trust in both the town and country.  In all of these positions he performed his duty to the public in a manner to insure the confidence of the people. As a citizen he had won the respect of all who knew him.


O’Neill was a member of no church, but he always contributed toward the maintenance of religious services.  The funeral service was held on March 30, at 2 p.m., at the courthouse.  Rev. H. W. Bushnell, of New Richmond, conducted the services.  The pallbearers were Chauncey Blakeslee, James Hewett, Orson Bacon, Anson Green, Daniel Gates and B. F. French, all early settlers of Neillsville and old friends of the deceased.


An excellent crayon portrait of the deceased, executed by the artist, Samuel Hoffman, was draped in mourning and hung upon the wall in the rear of the minister’s desk.  The large courtroom was filled with those who came to perform the last sad rites for their neighbor and friend.


April 1932


George E. Rude, as vice chairman of the Clark County Red Cross, on Monday received a notice from Earl Kidd of Owen, Clark County Red Cross chairman, in regard to help for the needy. The Clark County area has been allotted 1,866 sacks of government flour to be distributed to needy families.  This flour is made from some of the wheat bought by the Federal Farm Board.  It is being milled free by the government and is to be distributed through the Red Cross.  The freight to ship the flour will be paid by the Red Cross.


Nine hundred forty-two sacks of flour for the south half of the county will be shipped to Neillsville and 924 sacks will be sent to Owen for the north half of the county.  Kidd and Rude will notify the chairman of each town, city and village in his district of the arrival of the flour.  Someone in each of those designated areas will be responsible for distributing the flour to those entitled to it.  It is estimated that this will be a 90-day supply for each needy family.


State highway officials were here in Neillsville last Thursday to consider a new concrete bridge over O’Neill Creek on Hewett Street.  They decided it would be impossible to construct a cement arch bridge at that point because of the dam below that would interfere with such a design.  It was, however, decided that a concrete bridge with steel girder construction could be built to replace the present structure.


John Moen, while remodeling the Lowe building, found a number of papers and letters, between the walls.  It is believed they were placed there about 20 years ago.


One letter is from “Clara” of St. Charles, Minn., to her “Dear Friend, Lena.”  A postcard from the Fred Miller Brewing Co. of Milwaukee asks the proprietor of the saloon to “return the empty bottles as we fear a shortage owing to the enormous increase in the sales of our bottled beer.”  A list of new Victor records for that period of time featured “I Want to Love You While the Music’s Playing” and “Mary Was My Mother’s Name.”


Traffic on many roads in this vicinity has been virtually at a standstill for the past week due to sinkholes and mud.  The cutoff west of Neillsville, on Highway 10, is closed and many cars were hauled out of the mud north of Greenwood.


On the Columbia milk route, operated by Fred and Christ Moore (Mohr) and Lester (Leslie) Cook, a four-horse team and wagon loaded with 20 milk cans were stalled on Saturday.


Milk from Fairchild and Humbird is brought by truck via Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and around by Marshfield.


The chicken thieves have been busy in our area.  Sunday morning, Undersheriff Leo Miller was called to the home of Mr. Flint who has charge of the transformer on the Northern States Power Line west on Highway 10.  Flint relayed information that thieves had entered his henhouse and had stolen six purebred Plymouth Rock hens.  The robbery was made at about daylight.  Some parties whose car was stuck in the mud and neighbors, who were pulling them out, saw the men when they were making off with the hens and said they could identify the thieves.


Miller also learned that on the same night, the same gang had made several raids in Eau Claire County.  They had broken into a soft drink place in Augusta and had evidently made a night of it.  The Eau Claire police are familiar with the gang and Miller decided to turn the pursuit over to them.


On the same night someone entered the hen house of Charles Owens in the Town of York and stole 35 hens.  Miller visited the premises but so far no clues of the thieves have been found.


I. E. Svirnoff reports a growing scarcity of horses for farm work.  Last week Svirnoff traveled more than 1,000 miles in Minnesota before being able to buy enough horses for a carload.  Prices of horses are swinging upward and a shortage of horses is the outlook, according to Svirnoff.


O. W. Lewerenz began construction of a brick addition on the north side of his filling station.  Located at the Fifth and Hewett Street intersection, the new addition will house a restaurant.  Booths will be set in the wing facing Fifth Street and a long counter will be located in the structure formerly used as a light testing station.  The opening date will be announced later.


Greenwood and Loyal have united to support a band, the organization to be known as the Twin City Band.  Practice will be held one night a week.  The band is to play at both the Greenwood and Loyal Memorial Day programs.  Plans are being made to hold concerts throughout the summer.  There are a number of good musicians in the two towns and a fine band is assured as a result of the combined efforts.


The past week has seen the trout fishermen sharpening the barbs on their hooks, varnishing their poles and oiling reels in preparation for the first offensive when the season opens on May 1st.  From the interest bring displayed by the fly rod artists it is evident that greater numbers than ever before will be out on the opening day.


Stores handling sporting goods, report more than usual activity in the sale of all kinds of fishing tackle this year.


Two streams in Clark County are closed to trout fishermen.  They are Sniteman’s Creek from its headwaters in Section 30, Town 23, Range 2 West, downstream to where it empties into the Black River and that part of Indian Creek from its head-waters in Section 30, Town 23, Range 2 West, to where it flows into the Black River.  (That area would have been in the southwestern corner of Levis Township. D.Z.)


There were 24 new trout refuges established in all counties this year and seven old ones were rescinded.


The limits on trout are not more than 15 in one day, per person and no trout under seven inches in length.  (Those were the days, 15 trout limit! D. Z.)


Mrs. W. J. Thayer, aged 63, died suddenly of heart failure Tuesday morning at her home on a farm near Curtiss.


The deceased was born at Loyal, her maiden name being Alice Dutcher.  She was a successful teacher for several years before her marriage to W. J. Thayer, which took place August 25, 1889.  For a number of years, Mr. and Mrs. Thayer had charge of the County Farm and were very successful in its operation and in the care of the poor people.  Later, they moved to Granton where they were engaged in the hardware business.  In 1925, they sold out and moved to Abbotsford and later to the farm near Curtiss.


Mrs. Thayer was a lady of fine qualities and had many friends.  Besides her husband, she leaves four children: Edward of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Perry of Winona, Minn.; Mrs. Josie Thiede of Granton and Mrs. Alva Muhlenhaupt of Curtiss.  One son died in infancy.


The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Friday in Abbotsford; the Eastern Star of which she was a member will take part in the ceremonies.  Burial will take place at Colby.


R. H. Welsh Chevrolet in Neillsville has some deals.  Prices have been reduced on the new Chevrolet Six automobile.


New prices effective on April 1st, 1932, are: Roadster, $445; standard coupe, $490; 5-window coupe, $490; Phaeton, $495; sport coupe, $535; 5-passenger coupe $575, the Cabriolet, $595 and 7 more models are at reduced prices.


The merchants of Neillsville will offer the famous Gold Medal “Kitchen Tested” Flour on a very special sale.  This will be a 3-Day Sale; Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


There are 15 Betty Crocker famous Kitchen-Tested recipes in every sack of Gold Medal Flour.


The flour is on sale at all Neillsville grocery stores and at S. H. Van Gorden & Son distributors.


Klemp Produce Co., of Neillsville, will buy poultry and eggs.  They are paying 10c per dozen, this week, to farmers only.  They will buy eggs by the case or carload.  Klemp’s is located at 110 East 6th street.


Lewerenz Super Service is having a war on washing and greasing cars.  Give them a call.  They will grease your auto for as little as 50c and offer car washing for 50c and up.  They offer this special on any car called for and delivered within any part of the city.



A circa 1930’s view of Granton’s Main Street shows the intersection crosswalk of either cement or boardwalk.  The Phaeton cloth-top car helps depict the era.  (Photo courtesy of the Webster Family Collection)




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