Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

December 31, 2003, Page 10

Transcribed by Sharon Schulte

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



The Good Old Days


Edwin Bast and Nick Linster announced this week that they had taken over the Neillsville Garage and will operate the business together.  The garage will continue its repair department and storage space.  It is planned to take on a line of well-known automobiles within a short time.  The new proprietors are planning a number of improvements in service and will maintain an update garage in every way.


The “boom days” of Clark County’s Civil Works Administration rampage, at the peak of which more than three times the allotted quota was on the payrolls, has reached the end of the trail.  For the present time, at least, all projects will have to coast along under a greatly reduced head of steam.


A telegram received by Robert Kurth, Clark County Director, on Wednesday morning, from CWA Headquarters, ordered Mr. Kurth to “hold payrolls down this week and prepare for further cuts next week.”  Last week, 2,760 men drew $54,197.13.  The quota for Clark County is 1,083 men.  Clark County at one time held second place in the state in the matter of exceeding its quota.  Wood County was first with three and a half times its quota.


Under the latest order, Mr. Kurth is directed to continue acting as county director.  The message stated that because of “technical difficulties” the state office has not been able to get successors to the directors as rapidly as they had planned.  Mr. Kurth, however, has been reappointed by the CWA Committee as comptroller and was acting as such here.


The latest word is that 150 CWA projects in Clark County, which have either been started or approved, are “up in the air” with no assurance that they will ever be completed.  This is as a result of orders received this week by Purchasing Agent Lyons, who is clamping the lid on all purchases for materials.  Only goods already ordered will be paid for.


The instructions banning purchases was followed by reports emanating from Madison and Chicago which indicated that Wisconsin is going to be punished by the super chiefs of CWA for exceeding its job quotas at the beginning of the relief work program.  Reports said to be well founded and attributed to Howard Hunter, Chicago, head of the Civil Works in the Middle West, declared that Wisconsin’s 24 regional directors were ordered out of office this week in a general house cleaning.  At the same time, it was stated that the 71 county comptrollers appointed by Robert C. Johnson, state administrator, would be removed.  Apparently Mr. Johnson’s office is being blamed for the tangle in Wisconsin’s situation.


There was a hint that Wisconsin’s Civil Works Program is definitely tied up in the announcement that Wisconsin already has spent the full amount of the allotment of funds, which were intended to last until the CWA program ended February 15.  Where additional funds are coming from at this time is not explained.  Apparently Wisconsin’s efforts to “grab while the grabbing was good” has resulted in great harm to those who were down and out, needing the CWA jobs.  Many who were not in actual want were put on the band wagon in the grand employment spree.  In Clark County, the work quota was exceeded 300 per cent.  Wood County went over the top with 350 per cent in excess of its quota. 


Among the projects, which may lie as an uncompleted monument to CWA, is the swimming pool at Loyal that has been hit by the order forbidding further purchases for material.  While the work of excavating and preparing the ground for the pool has gone on, no material purchases were made.  However, in the hopes that such purchases may be authorized at a future date, the preliminary work will go ahead under present plans.


The project on Neillsville’s Black River hill, west of the city, which proposed the removal of the rock ledge in front of the Indian School, was worked on a few days and abandoned.  This leaves the premises in an unsightly condition with an ugly appearance to the travelers coming from the west.


December 1953


December 20, 1933, marked the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Winnebago Indian Mission School, east of Black River Falls, from which the Indian School at Neillsville gained its roots.


There, the Rev. Jacob Hauser opened his mission school in a log school house built several years before, but unused for some time because of the lack of teachers who would donate their time and talent, plus the lack of funds with which to hire a teacher.


Among his students on that first day was John Stacy, then a lad of 10 and now an 85 year old Winnebago patriarch and a long-time resident of Clark County.  The Stacys have lived on a farm in the Town of Mead, northwest of Greenwood, for about 39 years.


In his office in the Indian School, here last week, the Rev. Benjamin Stucki, who has devoted his adult life to the welfare and education of the Winnebagos, related the history of education among the Indian children.


Work of the Reformed Church among the Winnebago Indians had its start in a Wisconsin blizzard in Sheboygan County.  For it was there that Professor H. Kurtz, D.D., had walked one Sunday, 12 miles to conduct services for a new settlement of German immigrants.  On his return to the Mission College at Plymouth, he was caught in a snowstorm.  He became exhausted and sat down to rest.  Dr. Kurtz went to sleep and he was partially covered by snow when two Indians found him and carried him the rest of the way to the college.


Because of this act which doubtless saved his life, Dr. Kurtz vowed that he would do all he could to bring the gospel to the Indians.  As a result, the Sheboygan Classis, in 1876, determined to send a missionary to work among the Indians.


As money was raised, the Rev. Jacob Hauser, who had returned shortly before, after considerable missionary work in India, was commissioned to survey the field.  He found the Winnebago Indians of central Wisconsin – a tribe that had been moved about until they had moved on five reservations in 36 years – the only tribe that was not, in some measure, provided for.


Rev. Hauser was then officially commissioned, by the Sheboygan Classis, as missionary to the Winnebago Indians.


It was on December 20, 1878, that Rev. Hauser met first with Chief Blackhawk and told the head of the Winnebago of his purpose to bring education to their children and the gospel to the Winnebagos.


Chief Blackhawk agreed to gather the leaders of these people, who had fled from the Nebraska reservation, to meet on December 23.  On that day, Rev. Hauser walked the seven miles east from Black River Falls with an interpreter to meet with the Indian leaders.


At that meeting, Chief Blackhawk told the missionary:  “We are glad that you have come.  We love our children and would like to have them well taught and well trained.”


“We also believe in Manna (Earthmaker) and we would like to hear great, good words from Him.  We are glad you have come.”


The Chief took Rev. Hauser into the woods and showed him a log school house which the Winnebago Indians had built some time before.  There in succession, a blacksmith’s apprentice, then a young farm boy, had made brief efforts to teach the children.  They had met with little success, largely because of the lack of equipment and the fact that theirs were donated services.


Chief Blackhawk also showed Rev. Hauser through the camps where, the Rev. Stucki related, the situation was sad:  much sickness, lack of clothing and little food.


It was on December 30, 1878, then, that Rev. Hauser opened school in that old log house.  There were 10 children in attendance on that first day, including Mr. Stacy.  Attendance after that day fluctuated greatly.


Shortly after Rev. Hauser’s arrival, a church chapel was built.  Then the old log school was burned to the ground as a forest fire swept the area.  The chapel was pressed into service, also as a school.


It was in 1882 that the Rev. Jacob Stucki went to the Indian Mission School at Black River Falls as the assistant to Rev. Hauser.  When he arrived there, Rev. Stucki was yet a student at Mission College, but he made the move under special dispensation of authorities.  It was not until later, that he graduated and was ordained.


The school continued to operate until 1917, when it was operated as a boarding school in the Stucki home.  In 1919, Rev. Benjamin Stucki was assigned to the school, relieving his father of that burden and allowing him to concentrate on the evangelistic work among the Winnebago Indians.


“Enrollment increased to 48”, Rev. Stucki recalled.  “The children were boarded in our own home and in out-buildings.”


At that time, Rev. Stucki started 11 fires each morning in addition to his teaching.  The operation of the school presented a difficult problem and was conducted under most trying conditions.  There was no sewage system, for instance, and no central heating.


It was about this time that the State Board of Health took recognizance of the situation at the Indian Mission School and said “No.”


It was then that the Tri-Synodic Board of Home Missions decided to build a boarding school and asked Rev. Stucki to draw plans.


The Winnebago School in Neillsville resulted.  The west wing of the present structure is the original school here.  Construction was started in 1920 and was finished in 1921 in time for the opening of school that fall with 78 children enrolled.


The newer east wing was built in 1928. 


Top enrollment at the school was about 115 Indian children.  The purpose the last few years has been to cut down, Rev. Stucki said, and enrollment this year is 67.  Usually Indian children attending come from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin.  However, this year they are from only Wisconsin and Illinois.  They include not only Winnebago Indians, but members of the Menomonee, Chippewa and Potawatomi tribes.


At the bottom of this week's column, the following article appeared.

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