Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

December 3, 2003, Page 14

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Compiled by Dee Zimmerman



Clark County News

December 1878


Invitations are out for a Christmas party at Hartford’s Hall, in the village of Loyal. Supper will be served at Raymond’s Hotel.


The firemen have decided to add an addition of 20 feet to their hall, which is to be fitted up permanently for a stage.  The stage will be made an ornament to the building and a blessing to theater people who have complained of the limited stage room here.  The improvement will add the space now occupied by the stage to the seating capacity of the hall.


The firemen are busy in making preparations for their masquerade party on New Year’s Eve.  If their work and determination will do anything, they will have the biggest and liveliest gathering of the kind, ever to be assembled in this county.


Charles Pigeon, a Native American citizen of the Winnebago tribe, with some of his friends, propose to give a dance at the Firemen’s Hall one night this week.


One thing Greenwood was bound to have and long has needed, is a grist flour mill; Mr. Duane Graves, from Loyal, near Schofield & Weston’s Mill. The mill will be ready for business by the first of January.


Elias Peterson, who was burned out recently, has built a nice little shop, in Greenwood.  He is now ready to peg the soles on your shoes in good shape. We also now have two wagon shops, which are both busy.  Mr. H. LeRoy, who is a latecomer from Loyal, is an experienced hand in the wagon business.  B. F. Brown, who was the first mercantile trader who came to Greenwood, has his store full of new goods and is doing a good business.  Cross & Freeman are among the merchants and doing a good business.  A. S. Eaton is a hardware man and a very good one, having tin ware, stoves and other hardware leave his store steadily.  Dr. H. J. Thomas reports business is good in his drug store.


Christmas was a good day for ministers’ wives, in Neillsville.  Mrs. Hendren and Mrs. Chynoweth were each recipients of a very handsome sewing machine, from their respective congregations.  The attention of Mr. Ross is called to these very suggestive incidents.


Mr. Eyerly has been overhauling the upper story of his building, formerly occupied by the Odd Fellows.  He is converting the space into a dancing hall.  The ante rooms have been torn out and their place will be occupied by a stage for the musicians.  With a little addition to the stage, which he proposes making, the hall will also answer well for dramatic purposes.


Several towns, in this county, are considering the question of a re-survey of each town.  They propose having the lines established so plainly that an assessor can make his assessment from actual view by following the quarter-lines; thus, avoiding all trouble arising under the law requiring assessment from an actual view.  The idea is an excellent one, as it will, if carried out, enable assessors to do their whole duty in viewing every forty, in a township, by traveling only 72 miles.


The German settlers, west of Greenwood, have built a nice little church and have also located a German preacher in their midst.  The preacher came here from Sheboygan County.  They are a very industrious class of people and we are glad to see them settle in this section.


Owing to the large amount of cut, skidded and banked logs on the Black River, jobbers have found great difficulty in getting capitalists to advance them supplies and money to log with.  Lower river buyers reason, with a good deal of certainty, that whether the winter is favorable or not, enough logs are banked already to supply the demand for next summer.  Should this season be a successful one, so many logs will be put in that their price will be very low, too little margin being left to allow jobbers to come out whole.  Notwithstanding the reluctance of Mississippi parties to make advances to contractors, we imagine about the usual cut will be made on the Black River.  If the winter and spring prove favorable, the price of logs will be way down, lower than ever. The outlook is certainly not very encouraging for an advance next season in the price of lumber.


December 1938


“Decorating the house and entrance doors has, in the past few years, become popular. Just recently, I read about hanging a string of sleigh bells on your front door and you and your family would be pleased and cheered by the merry jingle of these bells.”


I immediately hunted up our string of bells and got them in shape to hang from our front door.  As I was polishing them, my memories went back to the days when those bells were a part of our daily life.


More than 40 years ago, this string of bells was given to my father by a man whose name is closely connected with the development of Clark County, the late Judge James O’Neill.


Mr. O’Neill came to Neillsville when he was quite young and brought to the then little lumber town, the culture and refinement of life from the older settlement in New York.  He also brought with him a love of land and fine horses.


During the period of the early development of this section of the country, when the settlers were changing from the use of ox teams to horse; Mr. O’Neill brought in several purebred horses.  One of these horses was a trotting strain by the name of Banburg.  To my childish eyes, it was the most beautiful animal I had ever seen.  No modern streamlined automobile has ever awakened in me the admiration as did this spirited horse when he was hitched to a shiny, “swell,” boxed cutter.  The horse had this string of bells hung about his body and was driven at a lively pace down the Main Street of Neillsville.


So when my father came home one wintry day with these bells, they became one of my choice possessions.  All through my girlhood days, these were a part of the pleasant memories I have of the winter seasons with the holiday trips to homes of relatives, sleigh rides, even the farm work from the time of the first snow fall until spring, those bells were a part of the harness of the family team of horses.


But for years, these bells hung neglected and silent on the walls of the horse barn until the young son of the family discovered that by winding the string about his body, he became, in imagination, as fleet of foot as the horse over whose back these bells had hung in those days of long ago.


Hunt up your sting (string) of sleigh bells and hang them on your front door. You will be surprised with the memories of Christmas that they will bring to you.”


(This remembrance of Judge O’Neill was written by a woman who had always lived in the Neillsville area. The reflection may also bring back memories to a few who have ridden in a horse-drawn sleigh decked out with sleigh bells. D. Z.)



There is no formula for a lasting and happy marriage.


This is the conclusion of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Berg, of Granton, who last week observed their 62nd wedding anniversary.


When confronted with the problems in their home, then pondering for a while, they decided that there really is no set rule for getting along.


“We just have been happy,” explained 87-year-old Mr. Berg.  “We raised a large family, worked hard and had no time for troubles.”  Mrs. Berg, who is 82 years old, nodded her head in agreement.


The Bergs have found marriage a wonderful experience and they heartily recommended it for all.  With a sly twinkle in his eyes, Mr. Berg commented: “It certainly is the best thing one can do.”


The Bergs were married in Black River Falls on November 30, 1876.  In those days, Clark County was practically a wilderness, they recalled. There were but very few roads.  Travel was done mostly on blazed trails, which wove a network through the woodland.


It was not until three or four years later that logging was carried on to any great extent in the county. It was still later when more sawmills made their appearance, Mr. Berg said.


At the time of his marriage, Mr. Berg worked in a lumber camp owned by the late W. T. Price, once a congressman from this district. He had been courting Mrs. Berg, then Amelia Anderson, for three or four years.


Mr. Berg tells an interesting story about taking the step to the altar.


“I burned my right arm when I removed a flaming pot of grease from the top of a stove in the bunk house, throwing the grease outside,” he related.  “I couldn’t work because of the burns, so a couple of days later, I decided to get married.”


So he did.  He went to Black River Falls, where Miss Anderson was working for H. A. Bright, a well known lumberman of that time, and popped the question.  Miss Anderson quickly consented to change her name.


I review, Mr. Berg said, “Fortunes come and fortunes go, kingdoms come and kingdoms go; but the world and Mrs. Berg and I, go on forever.”


The couple observed their wedding anniversary, last week in the home of one of their eight living children, Mrs. Charles Fenske, in Chili.  Many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were present.


The children include: Mrs. Lottie Tasuched of Marshfield, Arthur O. Berg of the Town of Fremont, Mrs. Fenske, Mrs. Nettie Heils of Los Angeles, Price Berg of Sullivan, Ind., Mrs. Pearl Cole of Granton, Vernon Berg of Los Angeles and Hugh Berg of Granton.


On September 8, 1881, the people of Neillsville were interested in street lighting and they put up at least one oil lamp.


Following the first venture into street lighting, a 12 horsepower steam engine and a Sperry dynamo were installed in a feed mill owned by James Hewett on the south bank of the O’Neill Creek, on September 30, 1883.  This plant was rated as a seven arc light machine, each arc being considered 2,000 c.p.  The first test of the plant was made at 5 p.m. on October 11, 1883.  The newspaper comment at that time was to the effect that this was “a great addition to our city.”  A newspaper article, a few days later, states that Charles Sniteman made a trip from Neillsville to Milwaukee and upon his return stated that the only electric lights he saw on that trip were a few arc lights in the Plankinton Hotel. 


This early plant continued to operate until late 1885, at which time it was replaced by a new plant. The new plant was located in a brick building constructed for it on the opposite side of the creek from where the first plant was built.  The new plant consisted of a 125 horsepower Corliss steam engine and two new dynamos, described as “Edison Direct Current, Bi-Polars.”


The city water plant occupied the same building.  It is interesting to note that the city furnished fuel for the boilers and in turn they were given electricity to do their water pumping.


A news item, dated October 25, 1887, is very interesting; because it refers to the fact than (that) an amount of $200 was spent for an additional armature to be kept on hand for replacement purposes.


The city of Neillsville is now supplied with electric service by the Northern States Power Co., and has a modern type out-door substation, connected to a 66,000 volt loop transmission line.  The substation is modern in every particular, including oil curcuit (circuit) breakers and voltage regulators.  The transmission line service is protected by automatic circuit breakers located in opposite directions from the Neillsville substation so that interruptions may be at a minimum.  This substation is located on the identical site of the old Neillsville plant that is, on the north bank of O’Neill Creek on Hewett Street.


The Northern States Power Company of Wisconsin operates electric power and light properties furnishing retail service to La Crosse, Eau Claire, Red Wing, Minnesota, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Sparta, Neillsville, Greenwood, Loyal, Stanley, Thorp, Owen, Abbotsford and many other communities and adjacent rural territory in western Wisconsin.  In addition to the electrical properties the Northern State Power Company owns and operates gas properties, furnishing manufactured gas at retail in the cities of Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wis., as well as Red Wing and Winona, Minn.  The company also furnishes bus service in and between Eau Claire and Altoona and supplies heating service to 317 customers at La Crosse, Wis.  The company also sells electrical energy to the Northern State Power Company of Minnesota, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and the Mississippi Valley Public Service Corporation.


In order to provide the above services, the Northern States Power Company owns and operates steam-generating plants at La Crosse and Viroqua.  They also have hydro electric plants, located as follows: Wissota, Chippewa Falls, Jim Falls, Cedar Falls, Cornell, Menomonie, Dells, Rice Lake, Angelo and Sparta.


The Wissota hydro plant is the largest and is located on the Chippewa River, just east of Chippewa Falls. The lake, created by the dam at Wissota, contains seven billion cubic feet of water.  This lake covers an area of 7,000 acres, or about 10 square miles.  The crest of the dam at Wissota is 898 feet above sea level and creates an operating head of 58 feet.


The Wissota dam provides a major control of the flow of the Chippewa River during its flood season.  For instance; in 1934 when Duncan Creek rose quickly, it caused high water to flow through Chippewa Falls into the Chippewa River.  The Wissota Lake had been lowered to provide a “cushion” and then was able to hold back the steam flow until after the flood water in Chippewa Falls had subsided.



Neillsville’s first electric plant, made up of a 12 horsepower steam engine and Sperry dynamo was financed by J. L. Gates and C. C. Sniteman, in 1881.  In 1885, it was replaced by a new plant consisting of a 125 horsepower Corliss steam engine and two new dynamos, placed on the north side of O’Neill Creek along Hewett Street.  The above photo was taken of the second plant.



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