Clark County Press, Neillsville,

November 10, 2004, Page 14

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Compiled by Dee Zimmerman



Clark County News

November 1914


Ignac Cesnik, chairman of the Town of Hendren reports the opening of the road connecting Willard with Neillsville.  When the new road is settled, it will be a great advantage for the people of Hendren.


A surprise reception was given at the assembly room of the Neillsville High School, Saturday night, in honor of Miss Blanche Dickey who has taught in the Neillsville Schools over 28 years.  Most of that time she taught in the South Side primary.  Her work has been done so quietly and modestly that it seemed too many of her friends that some public recognition of appreciation for her labors and good influence in this community would be fitting and proper.  The matter was so quietly arranged that it came as a complete surprise. She was encouraged to accompany Mrs. Rood to the schoolhouse in the evening under the impression that Mrs. Rood was simply going on an errand.  The guests had all assembled and when the ladies approached the schoolhouse, the lights in the assembly room were turned out.  Prof. Rood, who met the ladies in the hall, asked them to come into the assembly room.  As they entered, he turned on the lights.  The guests all arose and the high school orchestra, which was all prepared, began to play.  Anyone knowing Miss Dickey’s retiring disposition and fear of publicity may well imagine her surprise.


After two selections from the orchestra, there was a short program consisting of remarks by Prof. Rood, piano solo by Miss Bradford, reading by Miss Hammond, personal reminiscences of old friends and pupils, son by Mrs. T. E. Brameld and presentation address by Judge O’Neill.  A blank book bound in leather with artistic design and illuminated title page, in which were written the names of all present at the gathering, a fountain pen and a great armful of chrysanthemums were the gifts given to Miss Dickey.


With Judge O’Neill’s appropriate tribute to Miss Dickey’s work and influence in this community; not only all present but all who know her, will fully agree.


After the program, there were informal greetings and social visiting.


(About 1940, when a committee was searching for land as a site for building a new Neillsville School building, heirs of the Dickey family estate were contacted.  Miss Dickey, then living in one of the western states, encouraged other members of the family to sell the property at a reasonable amount for the new school building.  In 1954, the new Neillsville High School building was completed and opened for classes, located on the former Dickey farm site.  Miss Dickey had been a dedicated educator, who remembered her ties, to the Neillsville community.  Let us think of her also, when we see the fine school facility within our city. D.Z.)



Miss Blanche Dickey was a teacher in the Primary Department of Neillsville’s South Side School for 28 years before leaving with her family, to live in a western state.  A committee designated to find a building site for a new school building, contacted the Dickey family, which owned acreage on the city’s east side.  With Miss Dickey’s encouragement, the heirs decided to sell the property, which had been the family farm at one time, for the site of a new school facility.  (Photo courtesy of the Bill Roberts’ family collection)


The First National Bank, Neillsville, has just been decorated by the firm of Demeter & Seitz of Freeport, Ill., under the supervision of their artist Mr. Guy Shurman, who also decorated the German Lutheran Church of this city.  The First National Bank walls were covered with canvass and then given five coats of oil paint and finished with a conventional design with a Tiffany effect, which was especially outlined and drawn by Mr. Shurman and is therefore an exclusive piece of oil work.


The public is cordially invited to call on the bank and view this artistic piece of work painted in beautiful harmonizing colors, which gives the room a bright cheerful appearance. 


Look in the First National Bank window and see something you have never seen before.


There you will see a Five Dollar Government Federal Reserve bill, which is the first one to enter Clark County.  These bills are only distributed to the National Banks, which are members of the Federal Reserve Banks.  It will pay you to do your banking with the National Bank, and receive the additional Government Security offered by the Federal Reserve Banks.


John Putz, of East Hewett Township, has the best gasoline circle saw in the country.  It saws great big logs and stumps, which is a God-send to us.  Now, with such a saw, we can save the stumps, whereas before we had to blast them out to make our land clearings.


The Ford Motor Company of Detroit, Mich. on Wednesday filed a statement in the office of the Secretary of State, authorizing them to do business in Wisconsin.  Of its capital stock of $2,000,000, $15,000 is invested in property in Wisconsin.


November 1939


An intimate picture of life in Clark County during the Civil War is drawn in the diaries of Mrs. Rozilla King, which have come into the possession her daughter, Mrs. Carl Stange.  Mrs. King lived in wartime on a new farm, just east of Neillsville, having settled here with her family only a few years before her husband departed for the war.  Mr. King enlisted in January 1864.  During his absence, Mrs. King not only ran the place and cared for her children, but she found time to make a continuous record.  Mrs. King, prior to her death, gave the diaries to Mrs. G. W. Longenecker, who after keeping them 12 years or more, this summer gave them to Mrs. Stange, now of Baldwin Park, Calif.  Mrs. Stange, with her husband has been visiting friends in Neillsville and vicinity.


Mrs. King came here as a bride in 1860, from her home in Loraine County, Ohio.  The Kings came by rail as far as Sparta, the balance of the journey being made by stage.  While Mr. King was looking for land upon which to build a home, he did carpenter work and Mrs. King taught school, the first school ever held in Neillsville.


When Mr. King enlisted in January, 1864 Mrs. King was left with the entire responsibility of the farm and the care of their two little sons.  A neighbor girl, Helen Rodman, assisted her with the work and “minded the children,” while cutting the wood and the clearing of land.  One entry stated that she got dinner and supper for 50 men who had a working bee for her while they cleared five acres of land. 


Neighbors found time to be sociable.  According to the diary, they often visited one another and occasionally the neighbors left their children with Mrs. King when they went to town.  When Mrs. King went visiting, she took the children on a sled, which she made herself.  January 12th, the entry states that she had molded 12 dozen candles since New Years day.  All clothing was made at home.


When there was illness or sorrow in the community, friends and neighbors were deeply sympathetic.  Mrs. King records, with feeling, the death of Mr. Carpenter’s youngest child, as well as other troubles among her neighbors.  She writes of the serious illness of her baby and the older child, Ernest, and her appreciation of friends and neighbors through those anxious weeks.  She mentioned among those who watched with her, over the little cribs: Dr. French, Mrs. James King, Mr. Rodman and Mrs. Sturdevant.  The children took sick on the 13th of February and did not pass the danger point until the end of the month.  After the children were out of danger, the weary mother wrote, “I am so tired, almost worn out.”  This is the only mention of her physical condition during the entire two years, though the phrase could have been repeated daily.  Often the day’s work included a large washing, baking, knitting, butter churning, making cheese and sewing, in addition to the regular housework and other chores. 


The summer of 1864 was a dry year, a summer when buildings were endangered by fires.  Clearings were small and a number of farm buildings burned.  Among those were the barns on the George King and George Frantz places and C. Dietrich’s house and barn.  The spring and cistern on the King settlement went dry, so water had to be carried from the Rodman farm.


Mrs. King picked gallons of wild strawberries, preserving them in jugs.  In spite of the dryness, berries were plentiful.  One day, on the 28th of June, Mrs. King picked berries, “look them over” and preserved them, carried out the day’s regular routine and in the evening, she walked to town, carrying the baby and a five-pound crock of butter for Mrs. Dore.  Afterwards, she mailed a letter to John, which contained a “likeness” of the children.  Another entry states that she carried a pork ham to town that weighed 23 pounds and took home other pork in exchange.  A full day, indeed, is one mentioned under date of March 26th, when she washed four bed quilts, took up carpets and cleaned bedsteads, in addition to the regular duties of the day.  The following day, she worked at Rodmans’ all day, because Mr. Rodman was sick.


Frequent mention is made of “going to meeting,” which indicates that this busy woman did not neglect her religious duties. The minister was the Rev. Mr. Palmer.  Often, on a Sabbath afternoon, she took the children for a walk in the woods.


Soap making was one of the regular duties in the home.  There was hard soap and soft soap making that required tedious days to prepare.  The soap ingredients included gathering tallow, pork rind or any fat waste scraps and lye. The lye was also made at home. Wood ashes were deposited in a leach during the winter and when spring came, water was poured over the ashes, which produced lye that dripped into a container.


For the heavier work such as chopping wood, splitting rails and “laying up fence,” Mrs. King hired her neighbors.  The “going” wage was $1.25 per day.  When there was such work to be done, she herself went about “asking hands.”


Mrs. King read the Dollar paper, Harper’s Magazine and the Wisconsin State Journal for current news, watching eagerly the progress of the war.  She recorded the successful battles of the North and various points as well as the number of prisoners taken.  She speaks little of loneliness, except for her husband and only once does she mention fear in her neighborhood.  Mrs. John Green and children were scare from their home by Indians and came to Mrs. King’s home to stay over night.


On an afternoon in November, she went to Rodman’s to see the 39 deer, which Mr. Rodman and Mr. Davis had killed.


The children were sick a great deal during the winter of 1865.  The youngest child was ill for weeks with mumps and complications.  She speaks of an unsuccessful operation on the baby, Herschel, for an abscess.  The operation was performed by one of the neighbors who used a penknife in opening the abscess.  Mrs. King later opened the abscess with a buckskin needle and then the baby recovered.


Prices of farm produce and groceries were very high and taxes were comparatively low.  The wholesale price of butter was 85 cents a pound.  Tea sold at $2.00 per pound.  Glass fruit jars had not come into general use and Mrs. King speaks of buying a quart glass fruit jar for 25 cents.  Taxes on the King farm of 80 acres were $19.75.


Under the date of Wednesday, April 19, 1865, the entry reads: “I heard of the sad and terrible news of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln today; Also the good news that all recruiting and drafting has stopped.”  The following day, April 20, almost a foot and a-half of snow fell and the writer was deeply concerned over a shortage of feed for the livestock.


In addition to the names mentioned in the foregoing lines, Mrs. King mentions James Kirkland, Mrs. James Short, Mrs. Jane Brooks, Mrs. James Lynch, Thomas Huckstead, Mrs. Dickey, Everett Bacon, Margaret Yorkston, the Morgans, Mrs. William Berry, James Young, Richard Dewhurst, Daniel Gates, Ed Hubbard, Fernando Wage, Mrs. Curtis, Mrs. Slocomb, Mrs. Snider, T. Burns, Mrs. Burlington, Mrs. Dowse, Mrs. Blakeslee and Ezra Tompkins.


The summer of 1865 was a hard and busy one at the King farm.  The baby was sick again for many weeks, a heavy hail storm almost ruined the corn crop and Mrs. King and the children were thrown from a hay rack when Mr. Rodman’s ox team ran away. The record was closed that fall when Mr. King returned from Civil War duty, in October.


Five daughters, is the contribution of Mrs. Alfred Bartz, of the Town of York, to Clark County’s staff of rural school-teachers.


This year, for the first time all five of the daughters are directing educational efforts in Clark County schools; for the return to active teaching was made this fall by the eldest of the sisters, Mrs. Irma West, of the Town of Washburn.


For several years past, the daughters of Mrs. Bartz have been taking up their work, one by one, in rural schools of the county.  In doing so, they have followed in the footsteps of their mother, herself a teacher in Clark County’s school system of several years ago.  First there was Irma, now at the Audubon School; then came Gertrude, now in her second year at the Reseburg State Graded School, as is Mildred, the fourth of the family to take up teaching as a profession.  Third in line is Lenore, who is serving her second year in the Greenwood School system; while the last to enter the profession is Evelyn, who now is serving in the Oak Vale School, Town of Withee.


The educational life of each of the five teachers has followed the same pattern. All five received their start to reading, writing and arithmetic in the Romadka State Graded School, in the Town of York.  Strangely enough, it was in the Romadka School, which was then known as the Garbisch School, that Mrs. Bartz served her last years as a teacher before turning to the duties of raising a family of future teachers.


From the Romadka School each of the girls, in turn, entered the Granton High School, from which each, in turn, was graduated.  The next step was to the Neillsville Teachers Training School.  Evelyn, the last of the five to take up teaching, was graduated from the school in 1937, its last year of operation.


Lawrence, the lone boy in the family, has remained a son of the soil.  The youngest daughter, Kathryn, when asked if she will some day be a teacher, said, “No! Just because!”





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