Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 5, 2003, Page 14

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Compiled by Dee Zimmerman



Clark County News

November 1868


Our lumbermen have been blessed with another short raise of water in different streams. The rains during the latter part of October were sufficient to send out a few more logs to market.  The driving on Wedge’s Creek was very successful for a day or two.  A good share of Gile and Holloway’s logs, lying the farthest up the creek, passed down into the Black River.  Log driving was also good on the East Fork.  Jack’s Creek, a small stream tributary to the Cunningham Creek, has held for two years nearly all the logs that have been put into it.  We regret that B. F. French, who has been logging that area for two winters, failed this time, as he has repeatedly, in getting his logs out of Jack Creek.  Dams have been built but they have not proved strong enough to resist the current.


We have learned that a great many logs were put into the boom at the mouth of the Black River.  If so, business here will be somewhat stimulated.  The raise of water was of short duration but its good effects are apparent.


Preparations for logging this coming winter is getting very brisk.  Men are arriving in town every day, alone and in squads wanting to get work in the woods.  They seem to have no trouble in getting work as they are leaving for camps soon after arriving with other men coming into town behind them. The demand for labor is good enough to give work to all who come.  The hotels are kept full by this continual travel, which will probably hold out for some time ahead.  Coming and going a person can hardly realize that so many men find employment in the woods around us.  But when the logs go down the river and the streams are filled with almost countless numbers of logs in the spring, we know a great amount of labor has been performed.


Recently, 40 acres of unimproved hardwood land, situated about nine miles northeast of town, was sold for seven dollars an acre. That was a big price to pay for such land.


The amount of building done in Neillsville during the past summer has exceeded that of any previous three years.  Though the figures appear small, it is nevertheless large for Neillsville. The past summer may virtually be considered the first season of our growth.  This was done with no immediate prospects of any railroad, not even as near as Black River Falls.  The number of residences erected since last spring is 17 and the number of barns, five, making a total of 22 new buildings.  This includes only those buildings, erected in the immediate vicinity of our village.  Besides this, there has been a great many new additions built on to old buildings and other extensive and desirable improvements made.


Our woods are becoming filled with sportsmen and hunters, a large share of who are from the “lower regions.”  At this rate, game in the county will soon become scarce.  La Crosse has a small delegation of bear killers and deer hunters roaming though (through) our forests.  Last Monday, a party of hunters came up from Sparta.  It is not so much the “killing” these valiant strangers will do among the wild beasts, that some of our old and experienced hunters take exceptions to, but the great amount of “scaring” they will accomplish.  A score or more of these would-be “deer-slayers” would frighten all of our game nearer towards the shores of Lake Superior.  Of course, we have no objections to their coming here.  But we hope, instead of purchasing deer, wolf scalps and bear skins to take home with them as trophies of their hunting expedition, thereby encouraging other hunters; they would substitute their long stories of remarkable adventure, for truthful statements of who actually did the shooting.


Thanksgiving Day was duly observed in Neillsville, in an appropriate manner.  Rev. J. J. Walker preached at the court-house in the morning and his sermon was pertinent to the occasion. Rev. James Mair preached in the evening and though the subject of his discourse, “proper amusements and pastimes” was not exactly befitting the hour of its delivery, it was of particular interest to a large number who attended.  The day was a very beautiful one.  The sun shone out clear and bright.  God in His infinite wisdom seemed grateful toward a Nation bowed in humble and prayerful acknowledgement of His manifold blessings.


Being in the Lumbermen’s Hotel, a mile north of here at Staffordville the other day, Mr. Stafford kindly invited us to take dinner with him.  His tables were well supplied with a tempting variety of wholesome and dainty dishes.  The house still holds the reputation it has justly earned.


November 1958


The 100th anniversary of Methodism in Neillsville will be marked in special centennial services here Sunday, November 9.


Assisting in the program will be Bishop H. Clifford Northcott, of Madison and Dist. Supt. Raymond J. Fleming.


Bishop Northcott will deliver the centennial sermon during the 11 a.m. service.  His subject will be, “A Day for the Church.”


In the afternoon, a concert and homecoming service will be conducted at 2 p.m. by Layman A. L. Devos, who will present the welcome.  The service will include an address by the Rev. Mr. Fleming on “Grace for the New Day,” a reading of the church history and greetings from former pastors.


In their historical publication compiled for the 100th anniversary celebration, the Methodists claim to have been the first to hold religious services in Clark County.  Worship services were occasionally held, at intervals prior to 1850, by Methodist clergymen.  However, before the Civil War these services were being held with greater frequency, averaging about one a month and the followers in the city were served by the old-time circuit riders.


These services were held in the building now occupied by the Kleckner elevator, then, as now, a gristmill.  The circuit riders, who visited the city, conducted services, giving comfort and solace of religion to the members.  In return, they were provided with the hospitality of the homes of members.


As it was generally in Wisconsin, so it was in Clark County that the Methodists were not only the first to hold services in the county, but they also erected the first church building in the county.  That first church was built in Neillsville in 1869, on a lot given by Mrs. James O’Neill.  The present church building stands on this lot.


For many years, this building served not only as a public meeting place for concerts, political speeches and holiday celebrations.  When the present church was built in 1895, the original building was moved to a lot adjoining on the north and is still in use for public meetings.  It is known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall and is the meeting place of the Assembly of God Church.


The Rev. R. R. Ward, a Methodist minister from Black River Falls, preached the first sermon in Neillsville, in 1847.  He was a guest at the James O’Neill home and conducted the services there.  In 1858, Neillsville as made a regular stopping point for the circuit rider and at that time the Rev. James Cady visited here once every three weeks.  Rev. Cady was succeeded in April 1859, by Rev. John Holt, who stayed but a short time.  In the fall of 1861, the Rev. William H. Brooksome came to remain three years.  Following this, it became a custom to assign ministers for longer periods.


In 1868, the records show the first efforts were made to raise money, other than regular offerings.  The congregation accepted flour, groceries and various other articles, as well as coins.  Like many other churches and institutions in the community, the early 1930s found the church in a financial struggle.  By 1940, members realized that need for improvements and began raising a fund for them.  The Ladies Aid Society, always a moneymaking organization, saw to it that the kitchen was improved with new stoves.


The men of the church, with Burton Wells in particular, built an addition to the right side of the church to accommodate the every (ever)-growing choir.  “A Key at a Time” method was used to finance the new organ during the ‘40s.


It became evident in the 1940s and early 1950s that extensive improvements were in need.  The Rev. Virgil Nulton was pastor at that time.  The kitchen was completely modernized and the main sanctuary was remodeled.


During the last year, a new plan has been voted upon for further improvement and expansion of the church school education system and for better parsonage facilities.  A new church entry was completed in 1958 and more space in the sanctuary has been incorporated by the elimination of folding doors.


The first church parsonage, that any of the members recall, was the house just west of the Neillsville armory, now occupied by the Donald Schiesel family.  After that the parsonage for many years was at 214 S. Grand Avenue, now owned by Walter Borde.  In 1933, the property east of the church and now the present parsonage was a gift from Hays Lambert.


With the opening of deer hunting season this past weekend, 1,006 deer were tagged during the first four days of hunting in Clark County.


While the deer kill registrations here were nearly double in the first four days of the nine-day season, it was believed the total for the season will be less than that of last year.


The mild and damp weather has made almost immediate care of the deer necessary in order to preserve the meat.  Every deer that was bagged on the weekend had to be brought in immediately for tagging.


Henry Braatz, who will be 81 on Christmas Day, is sitting out his first deer season since he was 14.  On Thursday, he told his wife it would not be safe for him to go downtown, as he feared some friend would talk him into going out deer hunting again this year.


Mr. and Mrs. Frank Blumenthaler, who have been residents of Neillsville since 1944, will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving Day.  The celebration will begin with a mass at St. Mary’s Church at 9 a.m. and an open house for neighbors and friends from 3 to 5 p.m. at their residence at 516 West Street.


Frank Blumenthaler and Rose Houdushek were married in Pecs, Hungary, November 21, 1908.  They were born and raised in Hungary.  His father was a coal miner and her father was a bricklayer.


Mr. Blumenthaler had just completed two years in the Hungarian army when he was called back for 35 days in 1908 when the Turks started trouble in the Balkans.


In 1913, a year before Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungary throne, was murdered at Sarajevo, the event that triggered World War I.  Mr. and Mrs. Blumenthaler with their two children, Frank, Jr. and Mary, took passage for America.  Sailing from Breman, Germany, they landed at Ellis Island, N. Y.


The fare for the Atlantic trip, including meals for nine days on board, was $45 for each adult, or a total of $90.  The children, two and four years old, traveled free.  In contrast to this rate, Mrs. Herman Hediger said it cost her $200 to come to America in 1926.  The present rate by plane or ship is approximately $275, one way.


One requirement in coming to America, in 1913, was that the head of the family should have at least $25 in his pocket.  Mr. Blumenthaler said he had only $23, but was allowed to land and make America his home.


The Blumenthalers spent the first two years at McKeesport, Pa., and then moved to Gladwin, Mich.  In 1914, they moved to Merrillan, where they lived until 1932, when they went to Cadott.  Twelve years later they came to Neillsville.


Six children were born to them; Frank, Jr., now of Barerton, Ohio and Mary now Mrs. H. R. Ziehr, of Augusta, were born in Hungary.  Catherine, now Mrs. Frank Svetlik, and Anna, Mrs. Tony Svetlik, live in Neillsville.  George, a member of the U. S. Air Force in World War II, was killed while serving in England; Irene, now Mrs. Robert Goodman, lives in Milwaukee.  There are 20 grandchildren.


Mr. Blumenthaler’s family remained in Hungary.  Two nieces there have sent greetings on the 50th anniversary.  Mrs. Blumenthaler’s family came to America and located in Michigan.


Walter Moldenhauer, now in his 82nd year, near Granton, might be referred to as Clark County’s “Magnificent Dreamer.”


It was he who, back in 1907, thrilled audiences at the Clark and Wood County fairs with a demonstration of a homemade “flying machine.”


But, to his keen disappointment and that of the crowds, it wouldn’t fly.  It traveled 30 miles per hour, five faster than the speed which launched the famous Wright Brothers’ plane at Kittyhawk.  But it would not go off the ground.


Today, looking back on this event which is spoken of among the old-timers as though a legend; Mr. Moldenhauer is philosophical.


“It probably was a good thing it didn’t fly,” he mused, “If it had, I wouldn’t’ be here today to talk about it.”


His motor-propeller speed ratio, he told a Press reporter the other day, was not correct.  Thus the 700 pounds of bamboo and oiled-muslin material in the machine was too much.


The flying machine was not in Mr. Moldenhauer’s mind, an important contribution to engineering or science; but it fulfilled a dream that he had while working as a young man in a logging camp near Longwood.  He just did not have the proper equipment or money at that time to build a machine that would fly.


While the successful Wright Brothers’ plane was a bi-plane, the Moldenhauer model had more of the modern look, for it was a single-wing monoplane, with a 28-foot spread.


Flying then was a dream with Walter Moldenhauer.  It was but one of many dreams he has had in his lifetime.  Blessed with natural talent for mechanics, he has studied, worked and experimented with many, many ideas.



Some old barns still remain within the city of Neillsville, many being unnoticed due to their backyard locations.  Occasionally, one disappears due to deteriorating.  The above 1880s batten board sided barn, with its touch of class is the Victorian artwork at the peak of its roof stands regally on its solid foundation along the 200 block of Grand Avenue.  It is a nostalgic emblem of our city’s history.




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