Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

February 19, 2003, Page 23

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Compiled by Dee Zimmerman



Clark County News


February 1948


William E. Tragsdorf, 66, a brother of Mrs. A. E. Russell of Neillsville and the man who built and operated the present theater in Neillsville, died February 14, in the Panama Canal Zone.


Although he had been connected with the Canal Zone for most of his adult life, “Trag” continued his contacts in Neillsville throughout the years with frequent extended visits.  Consequently, he is well known here.


Tragsdorf’s death came in Gorgas hospital, at Cocoli, where he had made his home for the last two years. He had been ill most of the time since his retirement from government service in 1944.


Tragsdorf was one of the early civil service employees connected with the Panama Canal Zone.  He went there first in 1905, shortly after the United States took up the job of digging the big ditch after malaria had licked the French in their effort.


He remained there in various capacities until 1918, when he returned to the United States to stay for 14 years.  It was in the early part of this 14-year visit home that he built the present theater building and operated the theater here.


The son of a prominent old-time family of Neillsville, Tragsdorf was born here January 11, 1882.  His father was Bernhard Tragsdorf, who was a partner in the firm of Tragsdorf & Zimmerman on the present location of the Farmers Store.  His mother was Bertha Wegner Tragsdorf.


Young Bill had the conventional schooling of his time, attending the grades and high school in Neillsville.  In the last half of his senior year, he quit school to work in his father’s store.


In the fall of 1903, he enrolled in the Minneapolis Business College and completed the course in nine months.  In 1904, he wrote a civil service examination for stenographic work, afterwards being accepted to work in the wheat and grain pit in St. Paul.


A short time later, he received a civil service appointment, leaving in August of 1905.  He became one of the early civil service employees to be stationed in the Isthmus of Panama.


After one and one-half years of being in Panama, Tragsdorf was married to Mayme Fladstol of Harmony, Minn.  To this union two children were born: William B. and Lillian Mae.


His first job on the Panama project was that of a stenographer with the animal transport division, soon afterward being promoted to clerk.  In 1909, he was placed in charge of personnel and he was transferred to the Panama Railroad Company, in 1913 as a baggage agent.  He remained with the railroad until October 1918, when he returned to the United States.


After selling the theater in Neillsville, in the 1920’s, Tragsdorf was employed by the DuPont Company and remained with that business until Panama beckoned again in January 1932.


Back in the Panama Canal Zone, he returned to the employ of the railroad as a clerk in the records bureau working at the Madden Dam for two years.  In July of 1935, he transferred to the office engineering division as a clerk and was named principal clerk in 1941.


Tragsdorf retired in January of 1944, but ws pressed into service there for several weeks longer, his final retirement coming in May of that year.


After his retirement, he made his last visit to Neillsville and the haunts of his youth.  He was here from May until October of 1944, leaving to have a short visit on the West Coast.  Soon after, he returned to the Canal Zone, establishing residence in Cocoli.


Tragsdorf is survived by his wife; his son William B.; a brother, Walter B. Tragsdorf, who is employed in the Canal Zone and lives at Cristobal and by four sisters: Mrs. Roy (Clara) Fitch and Mrs. Joe M. J. (Elsie) Grinde, both of Madison; Mrs. J. H. (Lillian) Martin of Rushton, La. and Mrs. A. E. (Edna) Russell, of Neillsville.


Plans are being made to return his ashes to his old hometown.  Burial will be made here in April following a Masonic funeral.



A family portrait including: (back row, from left to right) Elsie, Lillian, Clara and William Tragsdorf; (Front row, from left) Bertha (Wegner) Tragsdorf, Edna, Walter and Bernhard “Benny” Tragsdorf.  (Photo courtesy of the Bill Roberts’ collection)


Fire destroyed two farmhouses in the vicinity of Greenwood Monday afternoon.  The total loss has not, as yet, been computed, but replacement value of one of the two houses was estimated at about $10,000.


One of the destroyed houses was on the Frank Ilobshek farm, occupied by the Bernard Buss family at Braun Settlement and a tenant house on the Barr Brothers mink farm, seven miles southwest of Greenwood.


The house fire, on the Ilobshek farm, was discovered about 3 p.m. by James Metcalf, who was driving past the farm.  Many neighbors were hastily summoned to fight the blaze with buckets of water; but they were unable to prevent the building from burning to the ground.  Some furniture was saved.


Mrs. Buss and two children were visiting her parents in the Town of Reseburg when the fire broke out.  Mr. Buss was cleaning the barn at the time.  Mrs. Buss and the children will remain with her parents for the present time.  Mr. Buss will stay with neighbors.


The fire apparently started in one of the house gables.  It is believed to have been caused by defective electric wiring.  The loss was partially covered by insurance.


The house was a large two-story brick veneer structure, built in 1917 by Herman Damerow.  It contained nine rooms and the main portion was 30 x 30 feet.  The kitchen addition was 16 x 18 feet.  The Damerows lived there until 1945, when they retired and moved to Greenwood.  At that time, the farm was sold to Mr. Ilobshek, who lives in Milwaukee.


Fire that destroyed a tenant house on the Barr Brothers farm was discovered about 3:30 p.m. Monday, by Mrs. Fred Barr, Jr.  At that time flames had made such headway that nothing could be saved.


An overheated stove was thought to have caused the blaze.


Barr’s tenant house had been occupied by four men who are employed on their farm.  It was a frame building, 14 x 30 feet.  The loss was partially covered by insurance.


Plans to move the bar to the basement of the Neillsville Country Club building and to convert the present bar room into a lounge were presented at the annual meeting of the stockholders on Monday night.


This is expected to be one of the major improvements for the club this year.  Women of the club will furnish the lounge.  The move is expected to make the clubhouse more attractive to those who do not wish to mix lounging and liquor.


The stockholders re-elected all directors: George Zimmerman, R. P. Munger, Harry Wasserberger, Hugh G. Haight and William F. Whaley.


Loyal’s Ice Carnival, suspended during the last four years, will be revived Saturday afternoon under the sponsorship of the Loyal Rotary Club.  Events will include races for the following age groups: 9 to 12, 13 to 15, 16 to 18 and a free-for-all event.  Entries must be in by Friday evening.  They may be sent to: Leo Meyer, Rev. Lee H. Holmes, Henry F. Ott, Ray Schultz or E. Lavern Dahlby.


Eleven girls are vieing (vying) for title of Queen of the Ice Carnival: Eunice Bassett, Carole Bartz, Jean Christenson, Gail Colby, Darlene Degenhardt, Wilma Deuermeyer, Grace Fenner, Darlene Hales, Mary Ann Hecker, Joan Meyer and Evelyn Shefchik.


A series of 17 hearings concerning the reorganization of school districts in Clark County has been announced this week by Clark County School Superintendent Russell R. Drake.  He is acting as secretary of the newly formed, powerful county school committee.


More hearings affecting other districts will be held on dates to be announced later, the notice stated.


Affected at these hearings will be 51 school districts, out of more than 120 school districts within Clark County.  They are located in virtually every section of the county.


The hearings will be pointed at the consolidation of school districts in which the schools are closed and districts whose aid is in jeopardy because of small enrollments.  The purpose of the committee is to band weaker school districts together into stronger units, from the dual standpoint of good for the children and economic outlook of the district; or to combine them with already stronger districts to achieve the same end.


The hearings are scheduled to be held over a period of a month, starting Thursday morning, February 26, at the Colby State Graded School.  School districts of interest in this hearing are the Plainview, Dill Creek, Little Grove and Colby Grades.


Following these open, public hearings, the school committee will make its final determination on consolidation moves affecting the school districts involved.


The urgency of settling the question of consolidation moves is forced upon the school committee at this time, Drake pointed out, by the necessity of concluding the work before teachers may be hired for the next school year.


The adjoining table gives the schedule of public hearings on the consolidation problem, telling the school districts involved in each, as well as the time, place and date of the hearings.


Four town boards were presented with the problem of what to do about the application of the Hillside School District, to move the Charles Oldham property in Seif into the Wildwood District.


This was the result of a public hearing conducted by the county school committee in the courtroom here. Eighteen persons attended the hearing.


The Oldhams, while their property is located at present in the Hillside district, are sending their four children to the Wild-wood School.  The Hillside School is nine miles in distance, while the Wildwood School is but 3 and ½ miles away.  Hill-side pays tuition to the Wildwood district for the children; but would like very much to get out from under this burden.


The county school committee heard Frank Knoop, clerk of the Hillside district, Art Wegner, chairman of the Town of Seif, Arthur Klarich, of the Town of Hendren and others interested in the matter, then, retired to reach their decision.


The result was that the committee tossed the problem back into the laps of the towns of Hendren, Seif, Pine Valley and Weston – where it had rested uneasily a time or two before.  The committee said it would act in the event the town boards were unable to come to a decision.


The county committee is now facing a complex problem of attempting to reach decisions on the consolidation of whole school districts in the county.  It is in the interest of the economy and the betterment of the county educational system, they explained.


“The feeling of the county committee is that the rural districts will certainly all be tied together into high school districts, sooner or later,” Drake commented.  “Therefore, whatever action is taken regarding the Oldham problem of the Hillside and Wildwood school districts will not affect the over-all picture after a year or two, or four years.”


Six Neillsville women’s bowling teams, numbering 30 bowlers will compete in the state tournament this weekend, in Appleton on Saturday and return Sunday.  Team events are to be scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday with doubles and individual events being on Sunday.


Teams and their members entered in the tournament are:


Schwann’s: Neta Haack, Florence Weisjahn, Leola Hall, Ida Nelson and Bertha Grottke


Deep Rock: Laura Wall, Virginia Rahn, Orvilla Zille, Nellie Quicker and Evelyn Walk


Zilk Villa: Rose Weiting, Rose Schiller, Sadie Haight, Julie Dux and Leona Blau


Sweet Shop: Florence Carl, Frances Brewer, Agnes Keller, Dorene Harvey and Eileen Carl


Silver Dome: Mary Lee, Gertrude Keller, Marion Epding, Marie Hiles and Ione Bruhn


Sweet Shop: Lila Gluck, Mary Becker, Lucy Steinhilber, Carol Hopkins and Susie Tresemer.


One or more deep test wells will be drilled in the Whitetail, Montana oil field this coming season by the Boundary Oil and Gas Company, in which many Clark County people are interested.


The decision to contract for the drilling was reached at a meeting of company directors last week, in Withee.  Present for the meeting was J. H. Haubrick of Whitetail, Mont. a director in the company.


Other directors include G. H. Lowe of Neillsville, Emil Niemi of Withee, Hal Voight and Dan Castner, both of Loyal and J. J. Goehring of Whitetail.




© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel