Clark County Press, Neillsville,
February 1, 2006, Page 12
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Clark County News
The establishment of St. Mary’s parish at Neillsville, Wis., dates back to the year 1876, when a little log church was erected. The Catholic population then numbered about a dozen families, who were then attended by missionary priests at regular intervals.
In 1878, the present church was erected and St. Mary’s became a mission attached to St. Joseph’s parish, of Fairview. Until 1885, services were conducted by priests residing at Fairview. Their names are Rev. H. Heiss, Rev. L. Spitzel-berger, Rev. Bergmann and Rev. Jos. Volz.
In the year 1884, the parsonage was erected and Rev. Volz, who had visited Neillsville for the past six years, became the first resident pastor.
Among the notable events of the Rev. J. Volz’s pastorate are to be mentioned, the founding of the parochial school, 1887, the improvement on the church buildings and successful liquidation of the debts incurred by the extensive building and improvement operations. These buildings tell of his enduring zeal. The bricks are no more numerous, the foundations no more firm than were Rev. Volz’s acts of self-sacrifice and deeds of love. He had many friends outside the church as well as among his fellows of faith. After a service of 18 years, he left in 1897 to take charge of St. Joseph’s Church at Menomonie, Wis.
He was succeeded by Rev. A. Joerrers, Rev. A. Biersmer, Rev. C. Youngblut and Rev. J. L. Hauck, the present rector since 1902.
St. Mary’s parish numbers 160 families and the old church is too inadequate to contain all, hence the congregation is planning to erect, in the near future, a larger church.
The Cisna boys and J. C. Dickinson of Bruce Mound, while ice fishing in the Black River this week, had the fortune of pulling up a 14-pound muskellunge, a 7-pound pickerel and others that one need not be ashamed of.
A large dam will be built across the Black River, at a point about fifty feet from the railroad bridge at Hatfield. We have recently been somewhat enlightened on this point. F. Rundle, of Dells Dam, was down at Hatfield last week and “sized up” the situation. He says the dam will be for the purpose of establishing a power plant for an electric railroad to be built from La Crosse to Superior. This power station is to be an immense facility. They have already cleared up a thousand acres for it. There are over 50 men working there now.
The dam will be made of concrete construction across the main river and will be 47 feet high. That should give a fall of 90 feet. A tunnel will be constructed from the dam to the Angles, a point in the river.
This activity has made land values jump in that neighborhood. One man received $3,100 for a tract that Mr. Rundle says is worth about $500. Another man sold for $3,000 cash a piece of land certainly not worth a third of that amount.
The following “rich yarn” is taken from the Loyal Tribune of last week:
“Eva Marsh, the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Marsh of York, has come into possession of a fortune in a most novel way. It was left her by an aged man who was known by the name of James Yarn, who lived in a little tumble-down hut on one corner of her father’s land. Mr. Yarn went there several years ago, apparently poor and friend-less. He was always fond of the little girl, who is so crippled as to be unable to walk. Eva’s parents gave a great deal to Yarn’s care as he became too feeble to earn a living. They furnished his entire support, though they are them-selves people in very moderate circumstances. During his last illness, frequent attempts were made to persuade him to be removed the Marsh home, but all to no avail. He gently and firmly refused, saying that he would rather die in the little hut where he had lived so many years. A few hours before his death, he presented Mr. Marsh with the will; also a chest protector between the folds of which were sewed diamonds valued at $60,000.
Beneath his rough cot was stored no less than sewn broadcloth suits, silk stockings, patent leather shoes, in fact every-thing that goes to make up the paraphernalia of a society man. He was always kind and courageous. His manner was that of a gentleman.
The trustees of the Granton Community hall and officers of the WSCS met Tuesday at the home of Mrs. Hugh Berg to discuss business matters of concern to both organizations. One of the items discussed was the sale of the Community hall, which is owned by a group of women under the name, “Ladies Aid Society.” Since acquiring ownership of the former Union Church building the ladies feel they would like to dispose of the Community hall and pay more attention to the church building, which needs several repairs. The ladies on these two committees are: Mrs. Ora Beeckler, Mrs. L. L. Spry, Mrs. Henry Steinke, Mrs. Hugh Berg, Mrs. William Schmidtke and Mrs. R. Quicker.
The road to success is not found on any map. Each of us must build his own.
The word “success” can be defined in a number of ways. We often think of it in financial terms, but the only goal set by the person in this story was that of finding peace of mind. That was accomplished by being a good neighbor.
Such a person was Lafe Galland, one of our most respected citizens.
Born of parents of a large family, Ottumwa, Iowa, Lafe learned to accept responsibility as a child, and thus gained the first step on the ladder to success. The farm chores were distributed among the five boys. Each learned that he was responsible for his own share of the work. The parents taught them the rudiments of true Christianity. These early teachings laid the foundation of his outlook all through life. It came natural for him to accept responsible positions.
As a small boy, he remembers how his brothers made a cart, with rounds sawed from a large log for wheels. For axle grease, they snitched some of their mother’s soft soap, which served the purpose very well.
The boys would hitch a young colt to the cart, then they would drive the few miles to the Des Moines River and spend the day picking nuts, paw paws, and whatever else was available. Before they could start for home, they must soak their lines in the river water, for the hickory bark from which they were made, would dry out to the point of becoming use-less. These children found great enjoyment in the simple things of life, Nature was their playhouse. They learned the ways of birds and animals by watching them for hours at a time. Lafe was 13 years of age when he went to work picking corn for his sister and her husband. At this time he made another step up the ladder by establishing his credit.
It was cold and he needed a cap. He asked the keeper of the general store to trust him for the price of a cap, until he could collect his wages. It was agreed. The price of the cap was about 25 cents. As soon as he collected his wages, he hastened to pay his debt and thus fulfilled his obligation.
The balance of his wages, he loaned to his father to buy corn for hog feed. The following spring the loan was paid with interest in the form of a heifer and a sow, which later had a litter of pigs. At that time, the father also informed his son that now that he had acquired property, he must also pay taxes.
At 14 years old, Lafe appeared alone at the treasurer’s office to pay his taxes. Surprised at the youthful age of the boy, the man looked at the record and informed him that his taxes amounted to 17 cents.
At the ripe old age of 15, Lafe with his brother, who was 17, decided to make a start for themselves. Their father had advised them to buy land farther west in new territory where land was cheap. He had been over the trail driving oxen to California, in 1850, in gold rush days. So the boys started out. Their capital amounted to $180 between them, with a pair of two-year-old colts and a rickety wagon, besides bedding, a few slabs of bacon and a coffee pot and frying pan, which their mother had given them.
As their father stood, hat in hand, bidding the boys good-by, he said, “Boys, there are only two things you can be sure of, that is taxes and death.” With this admonition as a parting thought, the boys drove away starting on their new adventure. Thus, at so tender an age, they broke the bonds of home and childhood life to enter into the serious business of providing a livelihood for themselves in a strange country.
Their destination was 300 miles away and it took them about 30 days to make the trip. Travel was slow, as there were no roads nor bridges, and what few settlers lived there, were in colonies.
The boys settled on 90 acres of virgin prairie land, near the Missouri River. From small logs gathered near the river, they built a house 10x12 feet, then covered it over with earth to keep out the cold, as Iowa winters then were very cold, sometimes the temperature remaining at 40 below zero for days at a time.
After struggling along, having to sell their corn at 13 to 15 cents per bushel, corn was their only crop. Seeing settlers burning good ear corn for fuel, and others gathering driftwood from the river to burn, Lafe became discouraged. Leaving his brother alone on the farm, he worked here and there for wages of about $18 per month. About this time, he was summoned to his father’s bedside, where he remained until his father’s death a few weeks later.
In 1890, Lafe started a small butcher shop at Sargent Bluffs, Iowa. There, he sold beef steak at 10 cents per pound and all other meats accordingly. He was satisfied with a small profit. It was honestly earned.
In October 1906, he set up a meat market in Thurston County, Nebraska, on the Winnebago Indian reservation. He mastered the Winnebago language and made many friends among the Indians. It was there that he came to be called “Four Quarts.”
Somewhere during this time, he found himself in charge of driving several hundred head of cattle when a terrible blizzard came up. He got lost, but by his own sense of direction, he came out at a little town after several hours. Most of his cattle were frozen to the point where they had to be shot.
In March 1918, Lafe came to Clark County where he acquired 80 acres of land in Mead Township. So at the age of 51, he made a new start. Here, he lived alone for six years, doing his own cooking and housekeeping besides putting in long hours in the field. He had plenty of good fresh eggs, meat, milk and vegetables. He made his own butter and maple syrup. His favorite joke is about his home-baked loaves of bread, which he said, weighed 11 pounds each.
He married in 1924. Now he had companionship to help ease the load of the following years. These two were a great comfort to each other. They worked hard, side-by-side, satisfied with what little they had, always glad to share with others when the opportunity presented itself.
Lafe saw two Depression periods, each of which took a toll on his possessions. There were forest fires and droughts that would all tend to discourage an ordinary person. However, he still had the strength and courage to pick up the threads and begin all over.
During the drought of the 1930s, he lost most of his flock of sheep, selling them at whatever he could get, rather than let them starve. He pastured his cows on the river bottom, where they picked only enough to keep alive. Wherever he found patches of wild hay, he mowed it by hand and, in that way provided feed for his stock for the following winter.
The little cabin, which was home to them, would remind one of the stories of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The cabin was ivy-covered so very little of the bare walls shown through the foliage when the ivy is leafed out. One would understand Uncle Tom’s reluctance to leave his little cabin home, which was no greater than that of this couple.
However in December 1948, Mr. and Mrs. Galland went to spend the winter with Mr. and Mrs. John Stasko, in Thorp Township. There they had a large room of their own, where they kept house. Lafe would entertain the children for hours at a time, relating stories of happenings in his own life. They returned to their home in March 1949.
That summer, Lafe split and piled wood for the winter and built new fences on his farm.
As they were both getting well along in years and nearly blind, they arranged for a young neighbor, George Kippenham (Kippenhan?), to live with them and use the land.
In the fall of 1949, Mrs. Galland fell and broke a hip. Upon her return home, from the hospital, Lafe undertook caring for her, but found he was unable to do it alone.
After much moving around to find a suitable place for Mrs. Galland, they finally made their home with the Ed Kippenham family at Greenwood. Here they stayed until Mrs. Galland passed away, two years from the date of her accident.
Since then, Lafe has lived with friends, coming and going as he pleased, between the Kippenham home and the Stasko home. At intervals he has spent some time at rest homes.
Through the years, Mr. Galland has built up a large circle of friends. He has a natural gift of friendliness and under-standing. He also has a remarkable memory of historical events and dates. He has served at various times as assessor, and as school and town treasurer. He paid taxes for 72 years, a longer period than most of us.
He believes in the first and greatest commandment of God, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart – and thy neighbor as thyself.” He has spent his lifetime doing good deeds for others, and still does, as his very presence is a comfort to someone who needs to talk over their troubles with someone who has had so many of his own.
Q. Where in Wisconsin does Jimmy, the Groundhog come out to look for his shadow every Feb. 2nd?
A. Sun Prairie
Neillsville’s “North Side,” as often referred to, was the city’s area north of O’Neill Creek. The creek is partially visible in the center of the photo with a row of trees following the shoreline, as well as the railroad track, which was on the south side of the creek. The “Wisconsin House,” a boarding house, is visible at the far left, which was along Sixth Street. A block to the east was the Neillsville Brewery and its horse barn. (Photo courtesy of Bill Roberts’ family collection)
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