Clark County Press, Neillsville,
June 14, 2006, Page 12
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Clark County News
There is much building being done this summer.
The foundation of Gene Webster’s remodeled and brick veneered livery stable, is nearly completed.
The old Wiggins wagon shop buildings on the North Side have been separated and remodeled into three tenement buildings, adding much to the town’s appearance and housing capacity.
The Barton, Wolff & Korman factory will soon be turning out wagons by wholesale. It is approaching completion of its second story.
Work on the Hewett street sewer main was resumed Monday morning. It will be nearly completed to Fourth Street, the present terminus, by the end of the week.
The sewer main has already been laid from the embouchure below the mill to Sixth Street. Some rock was encountered in the course of excavation, which had to be broken up by blasting. The deep dynamic boom of the explosions brought to mind the terrible earthquakes, which Italy has been having this week. A cave-in opposite the Merchants hotel was a feature of Monday’s work; but it was nothing serious.
The Decate Dickinson house job is being rapidly pushed by its builders. As its fine proportions develop, Park Hill residents grow more proud.
C. C. Sniteman’s house, known as the Satterlee house, is receiving a fresh coat of paint, at the hands of Peter Albert.
The ghastly and dangerous hole at the north end of the lower creek bridge has been filled with rubbish by the neighboring residents and is now so full, that a few loads of gravel and dirt on top of the rubbish will bring it up to street level. This is the way in which many under-grade lots in St. Paul are brought up to grade. Old tin cans and all sorts of rubbish are dumped in and finally buried. It is a scheme, which should grow into favor here.
L. M. Sturdevant is having lumber delivered on his fine east-facing Clay Street lot, and a residence worthy of that booming neighborhood is bound to go up.
It is expected that work will begin with a rush in a short time on the new Dewhurst building.
The new basket factory will be in running order by August 1st. The factory will employ a large number of women and children. Korman’s new wagons will be ready to haul the new baskets from the basket factory, across the new bridge to the spoke factory siding, where the basket factory company may have to build a big shed or storage house.
Pine Valley voters have their attention called to the notice of special election, to raise bridge money.
It’s another bridge, and another, and another. Well, gentlemen, iron is better than wood, to be sure; but not half as good as stone. Iron, like wood, has to be renewed once in a while, needs painting, tightening up, and frost is worse on iron than on wood. You must insist that stone bridges, with solid stone arches, which will last as long as the continent, are the cheapest bridges.
Cecil Ackerman is making a break for West Superior with a team of horses, to do jobbing in that city of magical growth. He bought a $350 team on Monday, to ship up there. James Shummel will ship a team also, to the same city.
James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier poet, was once a guest in Neillsville and J. F. Schuster remembers the occasion. Riley came to see his old boyhood friend James McClennahan who was the clerk of the old O’Neill hotel. He visited here just once, and left little to be remembered by, but his friend Jim McClennahan left a lot of laughs with the people who knew him.
Perhaps the most fantastic of Jim McClennahan’s practical jokes was this: He wormed himself into the confidence of a salesman for fire extinguishers. This salesman arranged for a demonstration in Neillsville, and got Jim to help him. He intended to start a bonfire, and then put out quickly with his extinguisher.
He had the bonfire going, all right, with the crowd around to see the demonstration and with Jim right on hand to help. But when the salesman tried to put the fire out, the extinguisher didn’t do it. The more he squirted on the fire from the extinguisher, the hotter the fire burned. Also there was a suspicious smell of kerosene. What had happened was that Jim had dumped the chemicals out of the extinguisher and had filled it with kerosene.
To this story there should be some sequel, but The Press doesn’t know what the sequel was.
Jim could also be the victim of a joke, as for instance:
Jim was in the sign business, in a day when it was common to plaster signs all over barns and fences. Jim used to go out to arrange for the sign paintings that were then done by his friend Lemon. Upon completing a sign, Lemon usually signed it by painting a lemon in the lower right corner. On one occasion, Jim had arranged for a barn sign, and sent Lemon out to paint it. Jim gave Lemon the advertising, which was to go upon the sign, but Lemon had an idea of his own. Later, he reported to Jim that the sign was done, and asked Jim to come out with him and see what a nice sign it was. So Jim went out with him, and found that Lemon had substituted his own copy, like this: “Go to the post office for your mail.”
Mr. Schuster is the one businessman, still active in business in Neillsville, whose life laps that of the early pioneers and who has a boyhood recollection of the old-timers. He knew James O’Neill, the founder; remembers him as a kindly, elderly man of gentlemanly manners, of medium height, broad shoulders and somewhat stooped.
Mr. Schuster attended his first dance at the O’Neill homes. The dance was held in the ballroom, which was on the second floor, right above the dining room. This particular room was known as the “Bull Pen.” It was a large room, which had originally served as a dormitory for the lumberjacks. They all bunked together in the one large room. But presently the lumberjacks thinned out and the room was converted into a ballroom. The girl with whom Schuster first danced was Sophronia Walker.
Mr. O’Neill recalls that the O’Neill house was a typical old-style hostelry, with a bar, outside toilets, and, of course, no bath. After a time it acquired the dignity of electric lights, being one of the early hotels of the country to have electricity. But the electricity went off at midnight, and after that hour the people in the hotel were out of luck, if they wanted light.
Mr. Schuster has a lively recollection of B. F. French, commonly called “Doc” French. Mr. French was the family doctor of the Schuster family, as he was of many other families. He was a smart man, who learned medicine and law the hard way. He did not hold himself out as a professional doctor, and did not make formal charges for his services. But if he was called, he went, and his patients gave him what they wished, if anything.
“Doc” French went around with a long meerschaum pipe, which hung down over his beard on his chest. In the winter, he wore an Afghan around his shoulders. With him, as Mr. Schuster remembers, were usually two large dogs. For years he lived on his original homestead in the Town of Levis; the present French-Beeckler farm. Then he moved to town and had a home where the library now is. He was fond of horses; kept them in a barn across Fourth Street, where the Sniteman home was later built.
Mr. Schuster has a vivid recollection of Richard Dewhurst, and recalls an experience of himself and “Doc” Butler. The two of them went out timber cruising, and were lost. They had gone long without eating, and at night, hungry and cold; they tried to make themselves comfortable in an abandoned lumber camp, which was pretty much open to the weather. In the middle of the night, Judge Dewhurst awakened by a scrambling noise. The noise was made by his companion who, as he slept, received a visit from a stray rabbit. When the rabbit landed on his chest, “Doc” threw his arms around the rabbit, caught and killed it. Thus the two had a partial answer to their hunger, because “Doc” Butler’s arms had, in effect, been a trap. But one little rabbit wasn’t much for two hungry men, so, when they settled down to sleep again, Judge Dewhurst said, “Set yourself again, Doc.”
Mr. Schuster also recalls an incident in which Robert Schofield played a part. Mr. Schofield then resided in the tavern at Weston Rapids. He was a lumberman; subsequently went to Greenwood and built a large home. Mr. Schofield was known for his good heart and rough talk. On one occasion, he had a violent altercation with a man who was working for him. This man beat him up and almost killed him. When he dragged his way into the house, his wife demanded whether he would not fire the man who had licked him. “Hell no!” said Schofield. “I’ll raise his wages.” And he did.
(Six months after the above news article was printed, on June 1, 1946, Jeff F. Schuster passed away. D.Z.)
Jeff F. Schuster became a resident of Neillsville in 1876, when Neillsville was a village, mainly devoted to lumbering.
Mr. Schuster’s final rites will be unostentatious, as was his life. His body was taken soon after death, to the Twin Cities, where it was cremated. His ashes were presently brought back to Neillsville. At a later time to be appointed, there will be a small and quiet gathering of his friends at the cemetery, and the ashes will be interred. All of this will be done in accordance with his desire, as expressed some months ago to his old friend and partner, William A. Campman.
Mr. Schuster was the last member of the Schuster family to live and work in Neillsville. It was once a clan, which held a large place in Clark County. The head of it, Herman Schuster, was register of deeds for 22 years. He had brought his family to this county in 1873 and had settled on a farm in the Town of Washburn. He gave to his neighborhood the name of Cannonville, honoring his wife, whose family name was Cannon. That name sticks in the name of the school and of the somewhat indefinite countryside thereabouts.
When the Schusters came to Clark County, Jefferson Franklin Schuster was eight years of age, having been born in New York State in 1865. After three years, he came with his parents to Neillsville, for the father had first gone to work in Neillsville for the firm of Dewhurst & Hutchinson and later became register of deeds. Jeff Schuster, as he was called then and throughout his life, went to the small school then available and presently was looking for jobs. One of the first jobs was to take charge of the very rudimentary telephone system then available to Neillsville. When Jeff started, there were supposed to be 46 subscribers, but most of them did not pay, and Jeff’s boss told him to make them pay or discontinue their service. So young Jeff did as he was told, and when he finished the exchange had six subscribers, all of the good, paying subscribers.
It was obvious to young Jeff and to all others in interest that a telephone exchange of six subscribers would not provide sufficient scope for the labors of an up-and-coming young man, and so he went to work in the abstract office of his brother, Lewis. He was then about 16 years of age, and he remained in that business continuously from that day forward. It was not many years before he had acquired a substantial interest in the business, and with the passing of time he formed the association with Mr. Campman, which ran many years.
The Schuster family was of the old-fashioned sort; eight children, of whom Jeff was the third. The old family home was what the Kleckner residence is now; on Fifth Street and in the early days there was nothing on the corner where the Bear residence now stands. The Schusters had a clear view across to what was then Unitarian Church and what is now the Zion Reformed Church. There, Jeff Schuster and other members of his family attended religious services and it was to the house just southeast of his father’s place, now the Grover Huntley home that Jeff Schuster took his bride when he was married to Edith Moulton.
It was not the Schusters’ good fortune to have children of their own, but they furnished a home for two years to Charles Moulton, her grand nephew, who was thus able to graduate from the Neillsville High School. Also, to Frances Moulton, her grand niece, who went to school here one year. A member of their household, also, has been Mrs. Schuster’s niece, Edna Nesbit Newell, daughter of the old-time master of the Black River Association. The Schusters accepted these as members of their family, and thought of them as their own.
Though Jeff Schuster was the last of his line to walk the streets of Neillsville, the name will not perish from the local scene. A monument to the family is Schuster Park, which was created by the careful management of Jeff Schuster and at his expense, and dedicated by him as a memorial to his father, Herman. It was characteristic of Jeff Schuster that in offering a park to the city, he should specify, as condition, that certain improvements should be made, intending to make the park useful and enjoyable to the public. The park is as he intended it to be, a place of happy recreation, with spots for picnicking and with apparatus upon which children may play. And if there be no formal music to mark Jeff Schuster’s passing, there will be the music of children’s shouts and laughter as they play in the park, which he gave them. This is as he intended it to be.
This gift of a park to his home city was a continuing satisfaction to Mr. Schuster. He was once asked whether the city’s handling of his gift, and the attention given it were wholly satisfactory to him. He applied affirmatively, and with emphasis. The park was given in 1921, and the gift was followed by the creation of a park commission, of which Mr. Schuster was always a member. He had the help of congenial friends in seeing to it that his purpose was realized. Not many years ago, the entrance of the park was given dignity by solid pillars of masonry, upon which the name “Schuster” appears.
This overhead trestle bridge on Hewett Street spanned O’Neill Creek in the early 1900s. The Wagon-Buggy Shop visible in the background was built in 1886. Operating under various owners, Korman and Sommerfeld were owners at the time of the photo. The business closed in 1943, under the ownership of H. P. Ghent. (Photo courtesy of Bill Roberts’ Collection)
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