Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

September 24, 2003, Page 14

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Compiled by Dee Zimmerman



Clark County News

September 1873


L. L. Ayers has platted off a block of ten very beautiful lots directly west of his dwelling, extending to the crest of the hill.  In our opinion, they are the finest lots for residences in this village.  We propose to build a household there in the midst of the three west lots facing the street, next year.


Eau Claire is getting to be no slouch of a place.  Only a few days ago it had a regular “corner” at a Government land sale.  Now it has organized a board of trade, with J. T. Gilbert, president; G. A. Buffington and O. H. Ingram, vice presidents; C. R. Gleason, secretary and B. J. Churchill, treasurer.


The festival at the O’Neill House, for the benefit of Rev. Bushnell, was a very great success, socially and financially.  The total receipts were in the neighborhood of $175.


James and George Delaine have formed a partnership under the name of James Delaine & Bros.  They propose to do an extensive business in blacksmithing, wagon and carriage making.  They have just completed a good two-story shop next to James’ residence.  The lower part of the building will be devoted to blacksmithing and the upper floor to the wagon & carriage making part of their business.  They both are industrious and good workmen.


A change has been made in the firm of J. C. Lacey & Company, by the sale of Dr. Lacey’s interest to E. J. Rice.  Another sale made by Rice, is a part interest in the drug store to R. J. Sawyer.  Both members, of the firm, left for market on Wednesday.  What cannot be found in their store, upon their return, will not be worth sending to Chicago for.  They are both enterprising gentlemen, who have the means and experience necessary to keep up a complete establishment.


Mr. Furlong has been showing the world what he can do in the shape of desk making.  He has some of the finest office and secretaries desks that range from $30 to $75, the finest for the money.  There is not another establishment, in town, that will awaken half the enthusiasm for their work as Furlong does.


The officers of the county’s Agricultural Society finally came to terms, last Saturday, with Thos. Chadwick and Robert Christie for building a racetrack on the fairgrounds.  The Society will pay them $1,000 for stumping and grading, in the most perfect manner, a track three rods wide and half a mile in length.  The contractors are men who understand their business and have sufficient interest in the work to do it in the best possible manner.  They commenced last Monday, with 20 men and six teams of horses working on the job.


We are directed to announce that next week will be devoted to finishing up the fairgrounds.  Volunteer assistance is solicited from all who feel an interest in the work.  All kinds of work, is needed and will be acceptable.  Come with shovels, saws, hammers, and teams.  There are fences to build, buildings to put up and much other work is still to be done.  Come on Monday and work as long as you can.


In consequence of the continued wet weather, which has prevented the fitting up of the fairgrounds, the fair has been postponed until Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, October 14, 15 and 16.  By that time, the track, buildings and all appearances will be in complete readiness for a successful exhibition.


W. C. Allen, Esq., has gone to Milwaukee to have the Clark County map lithographed.  Mr. Glass did a splendid job on it, so one of the lithographed maps will be worth having.


Cranberries of the finest quality, have been selling here in town, the past week, at $2 a bushel.  This is a very cheap price, considering the havoc played by the frost. There were but a few cranberries gathered in this vicinity, as the frost destroyed most of the crop before the state law, preventing their being picked, had expired.


Mr. James O’Neill, of Cleveland, Ohio, a nephew and namesake of the Hon. James O’Neill, is a graduate of the Albany Law School.  He is about to commence the practice of his profession here in our village.


September 1958


Wm. A. Campman, who celebrated several birthdays when a boy on September 30; celebrated his 80th birthday on August 30, with members of his family and friends.  Born in St. Louis, he came with his parents to Neillsville 79 years ago.  In his early years, he thought September 30 was his birthday until one day, after he learned to read, he was looking at his birth certificate and he noticed the date it gave was August 30, 1878.


“Mama,” said Willie, “there must be some mistake.  I’ve been thinking September 30 was my birthday anniversary and the certificate says August 30.”  He’s been celebrating on August 30 since.


Campman served in the Spanish American War, with American troops in Puerto Rico, making the trip with Col. Hommell and other Neillsville men.  He is one of Neillsville’s authorities on early history of Neillsville and Clark County.


The first all-new rural schoolhouse constructed in Clark County in more than a quarter-century, opened its door near the Shortville corner, southeast of Neillsville on Highway 73, this past week.


The opening was delayed two weeks to permit the finishing of construction of the new $40,000 plant which, unlike its counterpart of yesteryear, contains three classrooms and modern facilities from the front door to the back.


Opening day found about 75 children registering for classes under three teachers.  They came from all parts of the combined district, which for the last few years has operated the Cannonville, Shortville and Carlyle schools.  The district owns another building, the old South Washburn School, which has not been operating.


Thus, one enlarged country district has moved to counter the consolidation trend, resisting pressures of travel and finance, which have forced consolidation of rural areas with those of urban communities throughout the state.


Mrs. Merle Reams will be the principal and will teach seventh and eighth grades; Miss Nancy Kuehn is the teacher of the fourth, fifth and sixth grades and Mrs. Alvin Ziegler, is to have first, second and third grades.


An unusual auction, which is a guide-post in the changing educational scene in Clark County, will be held Saturday, September 27.


Then, the four school buildings owned by the Joint School District No. 1, towns of Washburn, Levis and Sherwood, will go under the auctioneer’s hammer.  At the same time, other equipment in each school will be sold separately.  This includes such things as the school bell, for which older residents, who may have a sentimental attachment, will be interested; pipe-less furnaces and other items.


In conducting the auction, the district school board seeks to divest itself of property, which has been replaced by the new and modern three-classroom school building at Shortville that recently opened its doors.


The South Washburn School will be one of the four properties to be sold.  By coincidence, it is the last one-room school building to be built in Clark County.  It was built about 25 years ago. The new and modern school now in the same district at Shortville becomes the first modern rural school to be built in Clark County in the last quarter-century.


This property, like those of the Carlyle and Cannonville school buildings, is of one-story, frame construction.  It is 30x40 feet, while the other two are slightly smaller.  It, like the Carlyle School, is situated on land that will revert to the original property, and therefore must be moved, according to Charles Bright, clerk of the joint school district.


Dismantling of the Howard building, one of the old structures on West 5th Street is rapidly nearing the end.


The demolition work is being done by Rudy and Kenneth Opelt, for the property owner, Fred R. Wall.  The three-story south end of the building, which once served as a farm equipment warehouse and showroom, is being torn down.  The two-story portion, at the corner of West 5th Street and West Street, is being left; but plans call for it being reduced to a one-story building.


Wall said that he has not definitely determined the use that will be made of the building.


The property first belonged to James O’Neill, the founder of Neillsville.  In the early 1870s, possibly 1872, the corner lot, that extends 132 feet along West Street, was acquired by an early pioneer family, the Eyerlys.  In 1882, Harry Eyerly acquired the property from the Eyerly estate and on July 14, 1902, Frank D. Eyerly sold the property to Len Howard.  In 1957, the property was sold to Fred Wall.


The north 63 ½ feet portion of the building was erected in the early 1870s by the Eyerlys, a family which took an active part in the early life of Neillsville, business, fraternal and community-wise.


The two-story front section was used for many purposes.  Eyerlys operated it as a general store; Adolph Radke, the father of Mrs. Albert Dahnert, carried a complete line of hardware merchandise for many years before the turn of the century.  The upper floor of the front section was used for lodge purposes for a number of years.  Mrs. Jesse Sturdevant said that her husband, Claude, said, “he used to go to dances there when a boy.”


Fred Vine, an 89-year-old Town of Grant pioneer, stated “the Workmen’s lodge held regular meetings there.”  There is some indication that the Odd Fellows, which was organized here in 1871, held meetings there prior to building the Odd Fellows hall in 1878.


Later the lodge hall was made into an apartment in which Miss Elizabeth Kennedy, a Clark County Superintendent of Schools, lived with her mother.  Mr. and Mrs. Victor Nehs lived in the apartment after Mr. Nehs returned from World War I.  The late Fred Rossman, a Neillsville chief of police, made his home in the apartment for many years with his wife.  The Henry Herian family also resided there for several years.


When Len Howard purchased the property from Frank Eyerly, in 1902, he erected a small office building at the rear of the original building.  Before his marriage, he made his home in this office.  Mr. Howard erected the three-story addition at the rear of the original building, including in the construction, a large elevator, probably the first elevator to be seen in Neillsville.


As there was no additional land for the display of wagons, buggies and grain binders, which were then coming in use, along with other farm equipment, the three-story structure with the elevator allowed space for assembling and displaying the merchandise.  At that time, pumps, windmills, well-drilling equipment and other items were stored, or put on display there.


Mrs. James (Nettie) Hughes, a pioneer leader in the Town of Grant, wrote: “I worked for Howard & Seif, then later for partners Stelloh & Seif as secretary and bookkeeper for four years.  An exciting thing happened while I was there.  Looking out of the office window one day, July 3, 1907, I noticed people running here and there.  Mr. Howard came in and said a tornado was passing north of the city.  The three-story addition was then being built.  It was not finished, but we worked our way up to the roof and stood on some boards that were laid across the studdings so we could see the damage the storm was doing. 


The tornado roared terrifically as it traveled eastward, destroying much property, including all the farm buildings but the chicken coop on the Charles farm, now the farm owned by Claude Paulson, north of Neillsville.  That was my first sight of a tornado.  Later, I saw the two injured Charles children who were brought into the doctor’s office.”


Len Howard and his brother, John who was a well driller; added car sales to the farm equipment line.  Over a period of years, the business sold Ford, EMF, Reo, Mitchell and Krit.  Mr. Howard interviewed Leinenkugel Brewery, of Chippewa Falls, about using trucks for transporting beer.  They laughed at him and said nothing would ever replace the horse for that purpose.


Fred Seif, Sr., the father of Fred and Charles Seif, was a partner of Mr. Howard from 1908 to 1910; Mr. Seif and Fred Stelloh, from 1910 to 1912.  Peter Paulson, father of Art Paulson, operated a garage there.  Mechanics who worked in well-drilling, car and farm machinery repair and assembling included Otis Beardsley, Ernest Dixon, brother-in-law of Mrs. Alta Devos, Harley Wall, father of Fred Wall and Hubert Carter.


Fred Bullard had an electric shop at this location during the period of World War I.  For a time after, Paul Blum operated a tire shop there starting in 1926.  Albert “Pete” Smith came into the business in 1927, Blum retired in 1941 and Smith remained there until 1945.


The south three-story section was used as storage for many years. Svirnoff Brothers stored rags and rubber in the basement of the rear section for 30 years.  “Pete” Smith said the rats were “as big as Shetland ponies.”  They have since been eliminated.


“Pete” also says that the storage space on the second and third floors of the building was used for many years to store bankrupt goods.


“In order to deaden the sound for those working below,” says Smith, “dry dirt was used between the ceiling and the floor of the dance hall and lodge room above.  The idea was an early attempt at insulation to deaden sound.”


“Perhaps the ‘Old Goat’ used in the lodge program was more rambunctious and noisier in those days and they did not want the folks below to learn the lodge secrets.”


Wm. A. Campman, a brother-in-law of Len Howard and a well-informed resident on early Neillsville history, provided much of this information and verified items from other sources.


(The old Howard building was on the southwest corner of West Fifth and West Street intersection. D.Z.)




A Studebaker touring car was parked by Lenny Howard’s Tire Shop, at 440 West Street, when this photo was taken.  After the building was taken down in 1958, a new one-story structure was built and Joan’s Hair Hut now occupies that location.  The house in the background, on the left, remains on its lot.  (Photo courtesy of Clark Co. Historical Society)



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