Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

July 26, 2006 Page 12

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 


The Good Old Days

July 1881


The cellar and foundation of John Currier’s residence is nearly completed and the frame will be put up next week.  The main building will be 26x34 ft, with an L, 18x24 ft.  There will be a bay window on the north end and a conservatory on the east side.  When completed, it will rank among our best residences.


Newt Wiggins has purchased an acre lot north of Leason’s pump factory, on the North Side, and will build a blacksmith shop thereon shortly.


J. Trumble, clerk in the drug store, at Merrillan, met with quite a serious accident while preparing some nitric acid and quick silver for a silver wash, last Monday.  While compounding the two ingredients, there was an explosion, burning his face quite badly, but luckily did not injure his eyesight.  He had he presence of mind to apply olive oil to the burns, which somewhat alleviated the pain.


Holverson & Tolford received their bus from Milwaukee last Saturday and it is now making regular trips to and from trains.  Neillsville now presents quite a metropolitan appearance with two first-class omnibuses plying between the village and depot upon the arrival of two daily passenger trains.


If you want to see a model stack of hay, just look at the one recently built on Bruley’s place, on Church Street.  The hay is of a variety grown especially for fast horses.


There was quite a crowd assembled on the Humbird streets, Friday evening, to witness Jimmie Thomas, a lad seven years of age, walk a rope, put up in front of Andrew’s Hall.  Afterwards there was entertainment.  Music was under the management of Prof. Owen, the celebrated violinist.


Sitting Bull and the last of his followers, 200 in number, surrendered to the army officers at Fort Buford, last week, Wednesday.


Work on the Canon Brothers’ new saw mill, in the Town of Washburn is progressing and with favorable weather, they think they will be ready to saw lumber in three weeks.


“Don’t have any leisure time?  Human life is too short to be dawdled away in idleness.  If you have but a moment to improve it by study, one can never know too much.  The greatest scholars have mourned over their ignorance.”


The first accident on the Black River Railroad took place last Sunday morning.  The train, consisting of engine, tender, two boxcars and a passenger coach, started out for Neillsville on its regular time, and when about four miles this side of Merrillan, the engine, tender and two box cars jumped the track.  The engineer reversed the engine and jumped from the window, the fireman wisely followed his example, thus saving their lives.  The engine was being backed up, and when it was reversed, the boxcar struck it with such force that the car was partially telescoped.  The engine was turned over on its side immediately after the engineer and fireman jumped, and no one was hurt.  At once, a telegraph was sent to Eau Claire asking for a wrecking train, which was able to put the wrecked engine upon the track, sending it to Eau Claire for repairs. Another train took its place and arrived in Neillsville on the regular time, Monday morning.


The mill hands and river men at Eau Claire have been on a strike during the past week, for ten hours to constitute a day’s work, instead of twelve.  They would not listen to the expostulations of the Governor, so he at once ordered several Militia companies from the remotest part of the state to preserve order.  The strikers have created unnecessary expense for transportation, salary, supplies, etc., for 200 Militia and 300 special police, while two companies of Militia living within a few miles of Eau Claire would have been sufficient.


A recent traveler, passing through Clark County, was surprised on reaching Heathville to find so thriving a village, and so many fine farms opened up in the dense woods.  Andrew Heath, proprietor of the hotel, and from whom the village takes its name, is doing a fine business.


O.G. Tripp, of Neillsville, and D. H. Haner, of Humbird, started on Monday morning to explore the Northern Wisconsin country.  They went to Cable, the terminus of the North Wisconsin Railroad, from where they will proceed on foot, over the surveyed route to Bayfield.  There, they will take a boat for Ashland and return via the Abbotsford railroad junction.


July 1951

Block numbering will go ahead, this summer in Neillsville.  This was the decision Tuesday evening of the city council.  The green light was given when the Badger State Telephone Company informed the council that a new directory will be issued in November and that street numbers will be available. 


This notice gave occasion to revive the numbering project, which has been lying dormant.  The project involves the renumbering of all dwelling and business places in the city.


An increase of five cents per hour was recommended, Tuesday evening, for the Neillsville city crew.  The recommendation was made by a council committee, and was turned over to Ray Noll, spokesman for the employees.  The proposed rate would be 95 cents per hour for labor; $1.00 for truck drivers; $1.05 for patrol drivers.  The men had asked for an increase of 10 cents per hour.


“One of the quietest Fourth of July’s we’ve ever had in years,” was the comment of Neillsville Police Chief Lawrence Drescher.  Sharing the opinion was County Sheriff Frank Dobes.


Traffic officer Harry Frantz said there was little traffic on the highways and what there was, came in “spurts.”


One of the reasons for the quietness may be found in the weather.  The temperature didn’t get above 68 degrees all day and in the morning, a drizzling rain fell, dampening picnic plans.


The one big event of the day was the annual fireworks display at the Neillsville County (Country) Club, which followed a chicken dinner served to over 100 people at the club.  The fireworks were free, with William Whaley and Elmer Georgas in charge of firing them.  About $50 was allotted from the club’s treasury to pay for the fireworks.  Almost 200 cars were parked along highway 10 and the city park, filled with people watching the displays.  City police had to be summoned to handle the traffic.  The show started at nine-fifteen and finished at 10.


Aside from the celebration at the Country Club, Neillsville spent a very quiet Fourth.


Dance, Saturday, July 14 at the Silver Dome with music by Jerry Opelt and his orchestra, for former Bob Lipka Band.


Dance at the Inwood Ballroom, Thursday, July 12 with the Blue Denim Boys band.


Moeller’s Accordion Band will make its first appearance, this year, at Merry-Ol’-Gardens ballroom at Longwood on Wednesday, July 18.  Be sure to hear this fine band.


There will be a wedding dance at the American Legion Memorial Hall Saturday, July 14, in honor of Elaine Metcalf and Louis Stephan.


Men of the local service company, Wisconsin National Guard, will be at home again next Monday, they have been spending 15 days of annual encampment at Camp Ripley, Minn.


The work of the local guardsmen was observed for several days by their old friend and officer, Lieut. Col. Herbert Smith, who was picked up at Neillsville by a military plane and flown to camp.  He saw the boys practicing with live ammunition; was happy in that six local men qualified as sharp-shooters out of 68 in the entire regiment.


The men have been operating the regimental motor pool, hauling ammunition, weapons, and moving troops on range.


If you see a number of cars parked outside a home in the Withee-Owen area any Saturday night, the chances are that the visitors haven’t come to celebrate a wedding, watch television.  They have come to take a bath.


To a real Finnlander a bath is almost a ritual, and to be done right it has to be taken in a genuine sauna, or bathhouse, with steam sizzling hot stones until it drives the occupants out the door.


The Finns brought the sauna with them from the old country where the custom evidently originated some time before historians began to set such things down for posterity. 


The original sauna is nothing more than a small house that in many instances might be mistaken for a small chimney protruding from the roof.  When the Withee section was first settled by large numbers of people of Finnish extraction, these little houses were found on almost every farm.


These days, they are often being put to uses other than the one for which they were originally constructed.  However, many of the old farmers, as they retired and moved to Withee and Owen, brought the sauna with them. 


Not all persons who are sauna advocates have the space or money to construct one, however, so it’s common to find “bath guests” at the homes so equipped on the traditional Saturday night.


Just what is it like in a sauna and what happens inside them on Saturday night?  We wondered.  So recently the Press went to Withee to find out. 


One of the finest saunas in the Withee area is owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Rosenquist, a retired farm couple.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Rosenquist came originally from Finland.  They settled in Michigan for a time after coming to this country and then moved on a farm just north of Owen, where they lived for 36 years.  They have lived in retirement for about two and a half years.  Never, they say smilingly, have they lived anywhere without their sauna handy.


The sauna that Mr. Rosenquist built, when he retired to Withee, has the typical two rooms, one to undress in and one to bathe in with the usual three tiers of benches on which the bathers sit in the steam room.


The new house has a refinement often found in Finnish settlements these days.  The heat for the stones comes from a cast-iron, pot-bellied stove with a chimney to conduct the smoke out of the room.


Stones are piled in a tub built around the top of the stove.  A wood fire is built in the stove on late Saturday afternoon.  When the stones are completely heated, the bathers enter the steam room to take their places on the benches.


Once the bathers are inside, someone takes a dipper and splashes water from a pail or drum over the heated stones.  This procedure is repeated until the occupants are unable to bear any more heat.


It occurred to us that Dr. Sarah Rosekrans was something of an authority on Scandinavian customs and she told us how the sauna was still being practiced in Finland on her recent visit to that country.


“It’s a wonderful custom,” she says.  “In Finland, even the poorest have a sauna, and everyone who can afford it has theirs near the water.”  In Finland that’s not too difficult because so much of the surface of the country is water.  When the water is splashed on the stones, it just takes your breath away.  Switches are cut from birch trees, soaked in water and then bathers switch each other to stimulate the circulation and aid in cleansing.


And what do the Finns do when the lakes are frozen over?  “Well, they run out and roll in the snow!” says Dr. Sarah.  “Or at least some of them do.”


“The sauna parties there are followed by ‘sauna coffee and pastries.’  They’re delicious.  It’s really a wonderful experience.  I wrote home and told my husband to start building one immediately, that I’d send him the plans.”  (Note: Dr. Milton Rosekrans said, “No!”)


(A variety of customs, such as that of “sauna bathing” were brought to America by its immigrants, in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Through the melding of nationalities and changing of times, most of those customs have disappeared. D.Z.)


The jail of Clark County is empty as of July 25.  On that morning, the two remaining prisoners went their ways.  One of the prisoners was finally able to raise the $447 necessary to square him on his payments under the divorce decree.  He shook the dust of the jail from his feet, and went his own way.  To get the money, he had sold his home, a down payment having been made Tuesday evening.


A less pleasant departure was that of a marine, who had been picked up AWOL.  He was sent for, and departed in close relation to the military police.  He was not a local man.


The Clark County Conservation League will hold its annual jamboree, next Sunday, at the Tourist Park, north of Greenwood.  The program will include an auction, trap shooting, bow and arrow shooting, target shooting and many games.  There will be a lunch and refreshment stand.  Proceeds will be used by the League for its program of pheasant-raising.


Wilfred Loertscher and his wife, Margaret, of Taylor County have figured in one of the larger farm deals of recent record.  They have acquired the Ed Jankowski property in Section 9, Town of Beaver.  The consideration was about $14,000.  The property consists of 160 acres.


The Neillsville Tire Shop, operated by Albert (Pete) Smith, is located on the corner of Division Street & Grand Avenue.  He sells Quaker State & Webb oils.  You can purchase Webb Gasoline at only 4 gallons for $1.


McCains, at Neillsville, has 2 Lots of Dresses Specially Priced!  Pinafore Dresses, without jackets, $1.98.  Sun-back Dresses with jackets, prints, chambray or waffle cloth, $2.98 each.


Lewerenz Locker Plant, at the rear of Sweet Shop, the House of Quality Meats has Home-Cured, Hickory Smoked Ham & Bacon.  Rent a locker and buy Pork & Beef at wholesale: Half or Whole Hog, 37¢ lb., Beef quarters, 54¢ lb.



A 1950 photo of the First National Bank’s interior when the business was located in its building on the southwest corner of Hewett and Fifth streets.  (Photo courtesy of Bill Roberts collection.)



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