Clark County Press, Neillsville,

June 1, 2005, Page 14

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Compiled by Dee Zimmerman



Clark County News

June 1900


Workmen are engaged in tearing away the boardwalk from the Neillsville Bank corner to the south corner of the Commercial Bank. They are making preparations to lay a cement walk. This is only the initial move of the many blocks of that variety that will greet the pedestrian in the near future.


The Paulus farm, consisting of 80 acres located about five miles north of Neillsville was sold.  William Filter, from the southern part of the state is the new owner, buying it for a consideration of $4,000.


The Walk Brothers have a large amount of material on the ground for their new store, which, when built, will be adjoining the same side as the structure they now occupy. The “old barn corner” is to become one of the finest business places in our city.


Here is an account of a new Clark County Industry reported in one of our exchanges: Emmanuel Lewis, of Hemlock, is the first man in the state that conceived the idea of propagating the ginseng root, from a commercial standpoint.  Living in a territory indigenous to the growth of the root, he went into the business.  He has now growing, on his small farm, over 36,000 healthy plants and expects to continue increasing the acreage until he has the best-paying farm in Clark County.  Judging from the marked demand for the root, it will not be long until Lewis’ crop will be ready for market.


At a special school meeting, last Monday evening, it was resolved to adopt a four-year course in the Loyal High School.  Up until now, the high school had been on a three-year course.  A good representation was in attendance and the vote lacked but two of being unanimous.  Thus another step has been taken toward raising the already high standard of the high school.  It will now be necessary to provide more room and this will be attended to at the annual meeting in July.


The town boards of the towns of Aurora, Taylor County and Thorp township, looked over the country along the county line from a point north of Thorp, running three miles west, on Saturday.  They decided to cut out a highway for a distance of one mile, this season, along the proposed route.  Next year, the road ought to be completed the entire distance and a substantial bridge built across the North Fork of the Eau Claire.  This new road would benefit many settlers in that locality and also prove very beneficial to the business interests of Thorp village.


The Thorp Creamery is manufacturing over 1,000 pounds of butter, each day.  The cheese factories of Frank Pritzl, in the Town of Worden and J. B. Daughhestee in the Town of Reseburg are each receiving over 3,000 pounds of milk daily.  These institutions are a success.  Their product commands the highest market price and they are of much benefit to the surrounding country.


One of the neatest creameries, in Clark County, is that of Mr. Andrus, across, on the west side of the Black River.  We recently had the pleasure of watching a morning “round-up” in the creamery and it was an interesting sight.  Andrus takes in about 4,200 pounds of milk daily and ships butter every Tuesday.  He has the machinery on hand for putting in a skimming station at Mr. Geo. Austin’s farm, east, on the Ridge road and will have it in operation in about a week.


The Neillsville Novelty Co. has just received and set up, ready for business, a new Planer and Matcher of the most improved make.  They are prepared to do all kinds of planning (planing), matching and to make shiplap, siding, door and window frames, as well as other kinds of job work.  Satisfaction is guaranteed.


Stop in and see them at the Washboard Factory, near the train depot.


June 1940


Francis Ridste, a native of Fairchild, has climbed the ladder to Hollywood success.  This news came with the release of “One million B. C.,” a movie showing the world at the dawn of time.  Miss Ridste, who henceforth will be known as Carole Landis, has the leading feminine role in the movie.


Judges in the Eau Claire District Musical contests, last weekend, paid high tribute to the Neillsville High School band and its director, Richard A. Becker, on the band’s first venture into class “B,” after years of dominating class “C” organizations.


The band was awarded first in concert and sight-reading, while it won second-place in marching.  Other musical organizations also rated high in the two-day competitions.  The Girls’ Glee Club, directed by Miss Lois Druse, was awarded a first place, and the Boys’ Glee Club and the Mixed Chorus were awarded seconds.


With 41 entries in instrumental and vocal competitions, Neillsville musicians were awarded 34 first places and seven seconds.  It was the most outstanding record of the competition.


Several Neillsville High School musicians have been entered in the National Soloist and Ensemble competitions in St. Paul, Minn., Friday and Saturday.  Those entered were selected on recommendations of judges at the district contests.


The Clark County Board of Supervisors, last week, moved to strike at a predicted “alarming increase” in farm tenancy in the county.


The matter was brought before the board through a resolution by the Agricultural Committee, urging that the board go on record favoring the extension of provisions of the Bankhead-Jones Act of 1937.


It was pointed out that farm tenancy has been steadily increasing in Clark County, since 1910.  The resolution stated that approximately 21 percent of the farms in the county, or more than 1,200 farms, presently are occupied by tenants.  “The trend of farm indebtedness and mortgages,” it was stated, “indicates an alarming increase in tenancy unless remedial action is instituted.”


Leland L. Jens, of the Farm Resettlement Administration, sketched briefly, the provisions of the act.  Loans, he said, would be available on a 25 to 20-year basis, bearing interest at the rate of three percent.  The applicant is expected to own his own personal property and young men are preferred for such loans, he said.


Greenwood High School will graduate a class of 40 seniors in commencement exercises May 31.  The class includes 17 girls and 23 boys.  Home addresses of the students include, besides Greenwood, Willard, Chili and Owen.


Those students are: Gretchen Acker, Ted Acker, Ernest Arch, Harry Behrens, Elaine Buker, Helen Brezic, Grace Calibe, Dorothy Drake, LeRoy Fravert, Owen Haigh, Verona Humke, Jane Huntizicker, Harold Jackson, Esther Kippenhan, Marcus Kreuser, Verle Krogness, Betty Limprecht, Kenneth Luther, Harold Lyon, Bob Mason, Vernon Mech, Harry Meinhardt, Alice Moldenhauer, Donald Moore, Gerald Neuenfeldt, Velma Rohde, Robert, Scheuring, Lester Schmidt, Frank Sladich, Martha Sonderegger, Charles Stout and Auralia Wetzel.


Willard members of the class include: Jeanne Campbell, Nellie Cohara, Charles Devecic, Alfred Kaltinger, Avis Kokaly and Caroline Kokaly.


Merlyn Horn gives Chili as his address and Robert Jackson lives on an Owen route.


A story of John Marincic could well be a saga of Willard.


John Marincic punched a big, gnarled hand into a trouser pocket and jingled a few loose coins.


To the broad smiling John, as to many other early settlers of the countryside reaching out from here, this is significant; for his experience has been so much like that of nearly every one of the original band who pioneered this area just 30 years ago.


They came here broke or, at least badly bent.  They found fields covered with rocks, stumps and brush. They came with nothing; they found nothing and now John jingles coins together in this pocket.


For a few years John worked catch-as-catch-can in the flour and steel mills of South Chicago.  Twelve hours of back-breaking labor brought just $1.25.  Then his health gave out and through Ignac Cesnik, a schoolmate in old Austria, he learned of Willard.  Mr. Cesnik was the land agent for the Willard territory, having succeeded L. E. Claire to this position on the death of Mr. Claire.


The doctor had ordered country air and outside work.  Willard offered these; but John did not expect the quantity of each that he got.  Leaving his family behind, he struck out for the new land.


“And when I got there,” he recalled, “I found a depot and….brush.”


He had just three dollars; three of the big, green bills used at that time. But there was no place to spend money; so John didn’t have to worry about it.  As it happened, this was fortunate.  For three months, he carried the three bills loose in his overall pocket.  When he tramped over the N. C. Foster Lumber Company’s railway tracks to Greenwood for the first time, he carried in his pocket the remains of those three bills, each worthlessly worn to pulp.


When he recalled this to mind, John stopped a moment.  Then, he sized up the situation:


“It was easy to come here; but it was next to impossible to scrape together enough to get back.  It was probably a good thing, though, for now we, (and he indicated others of the early settlers, as well as himself) have nice farms, good homes and we’re making a living.”


When he arrived in Willard in 1911, Anton Trunkel, Anton Zupancic, John (Happy) Routar and one or two others, formed the entire settlement.  John took an acre of land, located near the present site of the Willard State Graded School and adjoining the home of Mrs. L. E. Claire, widow of the first land agent.  She remains there today.


Although the old-timers of Willard mutter in their whiskers about the brush that covered the land, it offered many of them their first chance for a livelihood in the new country.  The land had to be cleared to make it tillable and many turned to clearing, at $8 an acre.


Brush fires set up a glow in the heavens as they worked, for the firing was done at night.  “We cut in the day and we burned at night,” John said. “And by working day and night, we could come out even at a dollar a day.”


Somehow, between clearing jobs, John was able to build a home and a small barn on his Willard acre.  He was given credit for the lumber and when he had erected the frame buildings, he owed exactly $244.  It took three years of clearing to wipe out that debt and to have his home, really his own.


After a year, Mrs. Marincic and the three children, Albina, Donnie and Rudolph, arrived in Willard.  They lived there for the next two years.  The community already was perking up its ears, showing signs of becoming a community center.


Roads were unknown in that section, though, and the closest food supply was at Greenwood; eight miles away through brush or over railroad ties.  Many were the time that the early settlers walked the ties or struck out through the brush, toward Greenwood.  And many were the time they had returned, at night, with a 100-pound pack of provisions on their backs.


With five mouths to feed, John began to see where he would have a tough wrestle with the world, earning $8 an acre, for clearing.  So, in 1914, when he was offered an opportunity to trade his Willard home for 40 acres of land, three miles north and west, he jumped at the chance.


The offered 40 acres was the property of the Catholic Church, which had been originally given to the church by N. C. Foster, the lumberman whose woodsmen had gone over the land with axe, saw and log trains.  The church had wanted to raffle the land; but the state jumped in solidly with both feet and prevented such action on grounds that it was a lottery.


So there John was, with a family of five and 40 acres with nothing on it except brush and stone, with which to work, what land could be quickly cleared.


Those were the dark days, to be sure.  But the family made out, as most families of the area have, by working hard and long; by making what money they could get together go as far as possible.  The lack of tools did not mean a great deal at the time, for the Slovenian farmer and his family had not learned to depend on them.  Everything was done by hand, even to spinning and hand weaving of cloth, and the mowing in the fields. 


“It cost nearly $100 an acre to clear the land,” John said, “and after that was done, there were many rocks in the fields, which had to be removed.  We plowed with a single ox then,” he continued, “and we would plow a day or two then spend the next week picking stones.”


During those early years, while the rough land was being slowly subdued, and before roads were built, the children who went to school, attended first at Willard.  In the case of the Marincic family, the children cut cross-country through the brush for the schoolhouse.  “And many were the time,” John recalled, “that I had gone out at night looking for the children, afraid that they had become lost.”


Through twists of fickle fortune, John lost heavily in his early years with the farm; and at one time he owed $4,400.  But today that debt has been wiped out; he owns 120 acres, including the original 40; he has 32 head of cattle and is milking 21 of them; he is 65 years old and has his health; he has a sense of humor, which has helped him through the difficult years; and he can jingle coins in his pocket, where once no coin could long remain.


This is the story of John Marincic; but it could well be a saga of Willard.


(The early settlers all experienced the same circumstances as the Marincic family.  There is a saying, “Tough times makes tough people.”  The early pioneering families exemplify that. D. Z.)


Quote 50 Years Ago

“The drive-through restaurant is convenient, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.” D. Z.




The Willard depot building stands yet today on its original site, the same spot where the daily trains arrived until 1929 when the railroad ceased operation.  In later years, it was used as a storage building for Suda’s feed mill.  “Zelenziska Postajs” is Slovenian for railroad station.   A pickle station was conveniently located behind the depot, where cucumbers were collected and shipped to market via the railroad.  The railroad depot and pickle station were built on land provided by N. C. Foster, owner of the railroad.  (Photo courtesy of Slovenska Druzba lodge and the N. C. Foster Enterprises)



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