Clark County Press, Neillsville,
November 16, 2005, Page 17
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Clark County News
Everett Bacon is raising the roof of his dwelling and making other improvements thereon.
Henry Myhers’ new house, now completed, is not only one of the finest looking buildings in the place, but is through-out one of the best. The plan is of the most convenient, the rooms large and well lighted. The workmanship is the very best. The inside finish, excepting the doors, is oak throughout, nicely oiled and polished, making it very rich looking as well as substantial. The woodwork was done by Sanford Coggins, George Miller and “Wick” Lynch and they have reason to be proud of their work.
The cold weather of the past week instead of stopping work on the Black River railroad, as predicted, has proved a decided benefit. The ground now has snow and it’s been frozen just enough to do away with mud. Better work is now being done than at any time since the work was commenced. At the present rate it is expected that the grading will be finished within two weeks, and the road completed in running order by the middle or last of next month.
Several of the crews at work on the railroad between this place and Merrillan have tents for sleeping quarters. Though they stick to the job with a determination to see it through, the boys all appear to be of the opinion that the quarters furnished are a trifle airy for a record of eleven degrees below zero.
James Furlong has opened up with a complete stock of family groceries in his building north of O’Neill Creek, formerly occupied by him as a furniture store. Mr. Furlong’s stock is new and fresh. Known as an upright dealer, together with the convenience it affords people living on that side of town, ensure Furlong a good trade.
A portion of the steel cells for the new jail has been received. The prospects are that we will soon be prepared to furnish the lawless members of the community with safe, as well as, comfortable quarters.
Frank Immell, one of the old, old Black River boys, passed through town the first of the week on his way to the woods, for a deer hunt. In an early day, Frank was one of the mighty hunters in these parts. As he expressed it, he had “a hankering to kill a deer once more, and he was going to, no matter what it cost or how long it took.”
“Show me the man that dare step on the tail of me coat,” was the attitude assumed by a veteran representative of the “Emerald Isle,” at the O’Neill House last Wednesday. It was a rare picnic for the boys, and afforded another illustration of the ridiculous as well as the disgusting effects of whisky.
Two hundred and three persons, many of them being men on their way to work in the lumbering camps on the upper river, registered at the O’Neill House during the weekend.
The town pump, near Dudley’s harness shop, is used up. The parties interested should contribute funds sufficient to put in a new one. A few cents each, from those who have depended upon the old well for their supply of water would do it.
The Halstead House at Humbird came near getting a warming last Monday morning. The fire originated from a stovepipe passing through a partition between the dining room and kitchen. The fire was discovered soon enough to prevent serious damage.
Thorp is the name of a new town being built up at a rapid rate on the line of the new railroad in northern Clark County.
We have been shown the plans and drawings for a new church to be built by the German Lutheran Society on the site of the one recently destroyed by fire in the Town of Grant, about eight miles east of here. The new church will be considerably larger and an improvement in every respect over the one destroyed. It will be built early next season. A considerable portion of the lumber and timber to be used in its construction has already been procured. The church will be a credit to the county and furnish abundant evident of the enterprise of the community by which it is to be erected.
Clark County rolled up a record vote of over 15,050 at the polls Tuesday and returned all incumbent county officers seeking re-election to their posts.
The vote was far in excess of the highest predictions and came in spite of a cold rain which fell intermittently. While the unofficial tabulations placed the county’s presidential vote at exactly 15,050, a few scattering returns of the minor party candidates were not recorded. It was 1,918 votes more than was ever cast in the county before. The previous record was 13,132, recorded in the presidential election of 1936.
The election of Melvin R. Laird of Marshfield as state senator from the 24th district was certain early today, although three precincts in Taylor and Wood counties were missing.
The 126 precincts reporting gave Laird a lead of 6,757 over his Progressive opponent, Max Leopold of Wisconsin Rapids. The total vote reported was: Laird, 20,043; Leopold 13, 286.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s electoral vote will be 472 and Wilkie’s 50, according to the latest compilation, made by The Clark County Press at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Farmers in the Town of Seif and that vicinity are constructing an earthen dam across Wedges Creek, about a quarter mile south of the Worchel schoolhouse. They intend to create an artificial lake of about four acres, having an average depth of six feet and an extreme depth of 12 feet. They secured a permit for the work, and already have a good start on the grading.
The purpose is to create a pleasure spot, with picnic grounds, and opportunity for swimming, boating and fishing. Game Warden Alvin A. Clumpner has promised them that the lake will be stocked with German Brown trout.
Land, for the lake and picnic grounds, has been donated by John Poppe and Mr. Olson, the Chicago man who now owns the old Henry Churkey place. The dam is on the Olson land, and Mr. Olson has promised more for this purpose, if it is needed.
Paul Klauer has circulated a subscription list, and has 57 or more signatures of farmers who will contribute work and money. And of others who will give money. The subscriptions secured will probably be adequate to get the grading done, but some cash is needed for culverts. The purpose is to buy some large concrete piping, by means of which the dam can be emptied, if necessary.
Mr. Klauer knows something about ponds and fish, for he has two ponds and on his place, located a short distance from the proposed artificial lake, and in the same section. He grows lilies in his ponds, and has bullheads having had German Brown trout at one time.
H. P. Ghent, in business in Neillsville 26 years, has made in that time 3,000 sleighs and 2,500 wagons. Once employing six or seven men, he is now down to one, namely H. P. Ghent. Employing only himself, he is not concerned with the various governmental regulations, which require bookkeepers, insurance and what-not. He does what he can, keeps reasonably busy and lets the rest of the world wag.
Mostly what Mr. Ghent does now is repair work. The day seems to have gone for the making of sleighs and wagons, in any number. But that day is not so far behind as you might think. One of the best years in the business, Mr. Ghent recalls, was 1923.
The dramatic story of a struggle against a storm which last week took the lives of 15 and perhaps more duck hunters on the islands of the Mississippi River, nearby, was told this week by two southern Clark County men who narrowly escaped the fate of the others.
It was a story of intense drama, of a fight against biting cold wind, against rain and snow and ice; against a fatigue that might well have spelled doom for them, told by Ed Kutchera, Neillsville sportsman and former sheriff and Lester Steinhilber, Town of Grant tavern keeper.
Soaked to the skin, when the savage November storm suddenly broke loose on Armistice Day afternoon, they were trapped on a small island with a companion. For 18 hours, they held out there, without a shelter or fire, afraid to attempt crossing a quarter of a mile of the gale-whipped Mississippi to the safe shelter of the mainland at Trempealeau.
On the isle to the north, the frozen bodies of three Eau Claire hunters were later found; and to the south, the still, frozen bodies of three other hunters, La Crosse men, were carried out in the wake of the storm.
The day had dawned without indication of the approaching storm. There was a light, misty rain, much as residents of Clark County will recall that the rain fell here. A mild breeze was blowing from the west; “just the kind of a wind I like for duck hunting,” Mr. Kutchera related.
Because the thermometer registered 64 degrees above, the party dressed comparatively lightly for the day’s hunting, little suspecting that they would have to withstand a temperature of two degrees above zero in the open before they could return to shelter.
The party numbered five as it left Trempealeau about 6 a.m., after snatching a hasty cup of coffee. With Mr. Kutchera and Mr. Steinhilber were Harry Beardsley, Trempealeau hotel owner, Ben Reed and Jim Christie, also Trempealeau residents.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon, they hunted and tramped over the 200-yard by 50-yard island. At 2 p.m., Mr. Reed and Mr. Beardsly left for the mainland to prepare a meal in the hotel for the other hunters.
It was just at 3 p.m., as Mr. Kutchera and the others prepared to leave in their small boat that the storm broke.
It bore down on the small islands with all the suddenness and fury of a tropical squall. Rain, which had soaked the hunters to the skin during the day changed to a lashing snow.
Driven by the gale, the quarter-mile of channel between the island and the mainland swelled with waves from eight to 10 feet high, making passage in the small open boat impossible. The mercury skidded downward until it landed with a jar at two degrees above zero.
“There was nothing to do but to wait and try to keep warm,” Mr. Kutchera said. He told how the next morning, after the worst of the storm had abated, the boat of a Milwaukee hunting party was found near shore, its stern sunk and is ice coated prow angling skyward above the surface.
“They had tried to cross the channel,” Mr. Kutchera said, “but their boat was swamped almost before they shoved off from shore. They had been able to jump out and return to shore as their boat foundered.
As the coldness swiftly set in Mr. Kutchera, Mr. Steinhilber and Mr. Christie attempted to start a fire. But water soaked wood and wet matches would not respond. Then, they attempted to build a windbreak between trees standing about three feet apart. This was partly successful.
“But the wind blew down the break almost as fast as we could put it up,” Mr. Kutchera related.
Darkness came, and with it the worry of fatigue. To sit for a moment, and perhaps be overcome by sleepiness, would have been the end. Such is what happened to the several hunters who were found frozen. A few of them were frozen, yet standing, in island marshes. Mostly, Mr. Kutchera said, they had stopped to rest against a tree and had fallen asleep.
Although the Clark County hunters and their companion were wet and cold, their greatest fight was against this fatigue, against the desire to sit and sleep.
Throughout the night, they walked and trotted to keep the blood circulating. Several times, one or another, was about to give up, but was kept going by the insistent prodding of the others.
Time crawled like a snail through the night, and there were many times during the darkness that the three men wished they had not a watch; for the passing of half an hour on its dial seemed like the passing of all eternity.
As their spirits reached the ebb about 1 a.m., one of the parties succeeded in drying a match. Mr. Kutchera lighted a cigar, which somehow had remained dry enough to burn, and from the cigar the other two men lighted a cigarette after cigarette. Somehow, that gave them more courage to go on. They knew that, with the other two men who had returned to the city knowing where they were, help would come as soon as possible.
For some reason, not explained, their spirits came back strongly about 4 a.m., and they kept going with relative ease until about 8:30 a.m. when the storm had abated sufficiently to allow perilous crossing of the channel.
It was then that the prow of a boat bearing Dee Huttenhaugh, Trempealeau fisherman, touched the icy shore of their island. By that time their own small boat had been coated three inches thick with ice. Their guns, too, were caked with ice.
Mr. Kutchera returned to the mainland with Mr. Huttenhaugh, where they secured a larger boat, returning for the other men.
In spite of the harrowing experience, they remembered the ducks that had bagged the day before, 12 to 14 of them, and loaded them into the boat.
And, to top the whole experience off in grand style, Mr. Kutchera and Mr. Steinhilber returned to the hunt after two hours of rest, and in another two hours they had bagged their limit.
100 Years Ago
The American flag had 45 stars; Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.
A view of downtown Neillsville’s Fifth Street businesses in 1917, (left to right): Woeller’s Drug Store (on bench in front); D. Matheson’s Store; Shoe Shop; W. F. Woodward Real Estate & Rentals w/Auction Sales & Collecting Attended to; at the Corner of Fifth & Hewett Streets, First National Bank; Ratch’s Barber Shop in Bank’s basement; Harness Shop; Lauson Engines, w/Gale Farm Tools, DeLaval Separators, at the southwest corner of 5th & West Streets. (Photo courtesy of Bill Roberts’ Family Collection)
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