Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin

November 25, 2009, Page 14

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News

Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 25, 2009, Page 14

Transcribed by



The Good Old Days


Compiled and Contributed by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


November 1879


The president issued a proclamation Nov. 3rd, appointing Nov. 20th as a day of National Thanksgiving.  Trot out your turkeys.


Choppers for the woods throng the streets of our villages, waiting to be offered a job.  Judging by the energetic measures being taken by our loggers, they will not have to wait long.


Two persons who did not love each other met upon Second Street Saturday night, and got into furious combat, rolling in mud and wrath, but finally got up and skun out, considerably the worse for wear.


Land on the west side of Black River is appreciating in value, on account of the prospect of the railroad depot stopping on that side.


Gustavus Sterns at his planing mill north of O’Neill Creek is about the busiest man in town.  His mill machinery is all first class, and his work is impeccable.


A small six-column folio newspaper, called the Marshfield Times, has been started in Marshfield, Wood County.  We discover no name of editor or proprietor.  The first and second pages are printed in English and the third and fourth in German, and the German side is called the Wood County Herald.  We adjourn a few items from its columns.


Of the town it says:


“Marshfield is a thriving village of about 650 inhabitants situated 32 miles northwest of Stevens Point, in Wood County on the Wisconsin Central railroad and contains some of the best material for business along the line.”


(Now we know the origin of the Marshfield News Herald’s name.  The English portion of the paper, Marshfield, and the German portion, Herald, later combined into one title when it became an only English newspaper. D. Z.)


The news reached town Tuesday that all the buildings on the Poor Farm in the Town of York had been destroyed by fire.  Mr. Albert Lyons, the leasee, was in town and from him it was learned that the fire broke out a little after midnight and had made a great headway before Mr. Lyons awoke as he and his family had retired early, and they barely had time to escape.  But very little property was saved.  An adjoining building, containing grain and other property, was destroyed.  How this will affect the new plan of the county for caring for the poor has not yet developed, but it is probable that the work will go ahead, and that if it is necessary to incur extra expense, the people will readily meet it.


Jones Tompkins was in town Saturday and chewed venison with us.  If you want to see Jones, have venison for dinner.


See Mr. Gotlieb Wischulke’s “take up notice.”  Two calves having strayed from home are with Gotlieb.  He has them in custody for the owner.  At this season of the year, it is necessary to feed calves hay and there will be a charge if the twain is not claimed soon.


It is not many years ago that Neillsville was simply a headquarters for loggers on the Black River.  There was one vast forest surrounding it, and the stumps in its one street indicated that there too had been a forest here for a short time before.  Those who came in here then, twenty or more years ago, saw that the soil was good, and timber and water were abundant.  They invested in the land, and when the noise of the chopper’s axe had receded northward, here and there a small clearing began, and very slowly farms took shape throughout the county, especially in the vicinity of Neillsville.  Eventually the stumps have disappeared and the rich rolling land yields us valuable crops of wheat, oats and hay. The logger’s headquarters has grown into a large village, which is the county seat; a village whose many streets are lined with spacious residences, which do it honor.


We have a fine courthouse overlooking the town from a hill and a magnificent schoolhouse standing on a square on the same street, but one block removed.  It is laid out with beautiful lawns and shade trees.  Board sidewalks are laid throughout the town wherever desired and lumber is so plentiful that boardwalks are a convenience that are easy to be had.  Wood for fuel and building purposes is plenty and cheap, as the best straight, dry corded maple is but $2 a cord and thereabouts.  Water is always attainable in the village without digging deep wells and is pure and good.


We have a remarkably large number of stores that handle fresh goods, and well-assorted merchandise. The hotels are first-class, well-equipped and the principal boarding house, Mrs. Reddan’s is one of which Milwaukee or La Crosse would be proud.  We have Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic Churches, and Episcopalian, and German Lutheran services bi-weekly.  A sawmill, two planing mills, a grist mill and a brewery and beer-bottling establishment, are among our institutions.


Next year the railroad will stretch its strong arm through the wilderness from Merrillan to our young city. The railroad must materially lessen the expense of living here and of travel to and from this town and the outside world.


November 1944


Mr. and Mrs. Paul Volkmann, who came here from Chicago two months ago, are residing for the present at the home of Mrs. Volkmann’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Frantz.  Mr. Volkmann is doing electric work.


Anton R. Vobora, machinist mate 2/c, has been spending two weeks with his family in the Nevins community. He has been in the navy three years and has seen action in several major engagements.  He wears service ribbons and stars for all of them.  He is stationed on a battleship.


S/Sgt Carrol E. Raether of Alma Center has been awarded the Bronze Air Medal for meritorious achievement in the air over France.  He is the pilot of liaison aircraft and did his work under fire from enemy aircraft.


Pvt. Lucian J. Cotter, Lineman, Thorp, and Sgt. Neil D. Green, Lineman, Curtiss, serving with the 53rd Signal Battalion now in its 27th month overseas, are fighting in the Gothic Line on the Fifth Army front in Italy.


Sailing from England with II Army corps, the signalmen fought their way ashore at Arzew, Northern Algeria on D-Day.  Three days later, following capitulation of French forces, which had at first resisted fiercely, the 53rd entered Oran.


During the Tunisian campaign, when the corps was operating as an army, the battalion shouldered the full burden of providing communication for II Corps, which battered its way from Scoglitti to Messina to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion.


Landing in Paestum, the unit began its fourth campaign by enduring three months of heartbreaking mountain fighting in southern Italy.  Later the battalion was relieved at Cassino to participate in the big spring offensive.


The 53rd was still with II Corps when it charged across the lower Garigliano River northwest of Minturno, reached the beleaguered Fifth Army forces of the beachhead around Anzio a fortnight later and 10 days after that moved into Rome. In recognition of its services in maintaining corps communications despite swiftly changing tactical situations, the unit received the Fifth Army plaque and clasp.


The signalmen are now engaged in maintaining communications beyond Futa Pass, which fell to the men of II Corps.


The Laabs Cheese Factory at Willard is being greatly enlarged.  This was necessitated by the increased amount of milk now coming to the factory.  The increase is due in part to the closing of the Woodland View Factory in the Town of Seif.


The war boom, which has brought high prosperity to many American localities, promises to deliver the knockout blow to Columbia, once the prospective gem of Centarl Wisconsin.  The boom has attracted people away from Columbia. Thereby the school attendance has been reduced to a point, which threatens the closing of the village school, sole remnant of Columbia’s one-time glory.  The order has gone out from the state department of education, in effect condemning the school building and ordering the suspension of the school in that location.  If school is continued there, according to the effect of the order, all state aid will be withdrawn.


The order of the state is specific.  It refers definitely to the Sunnynook School at Columbia.  It contemplates the closing of that school and the continuance of the Hewettville School, the only other school in the district.  The people near Columbia have sought a hearing from the state authority, in an effort to secure reconsideration and revision, but a letter from John Callahan, superintendent of public instruction, refuses further consideration and indicates that he is adamant in his position.  So far as he is concerned, the matter is settled and the school at Columbia must close.  The date set is November 15.  Beyond that date the school district will receive no aid whatever, not even for one school, unless the school at Columbia is closed.


Now this school is the last link, which connects Columbia with its one-time glory.  The building was built in the 1890s, in the first flush of Columbia’s boom.  Then hundreds of persons, arriving on the wave of a land company’s promotion, were full of the prospects of a splendid metropolis.  For them no one-room school would do.  They must have a building up to the prospects of the community.  So they built a real one, with three rooms for the grades on the ground floor, one or two ante-rooms thrown in and a very large room for the high school on the second floor.  That high school room was sheer optimism.  The high school never did eventuate.  The room has been there, beckoning for a high school, all these 50 years.  The most it could get was an occasional show or festivity in the long ago; in recent years nothing but the ghosts of opportunities, which never did arrive.


Back in those days Columbia was a busy place, although it turned out not to have been built on an economic rock.  There was a church, of course, and several stores, a sawmill and a cheese factory.  There was even a millinery shop, where the milliner trimmed hats according to local tastes and her devices. To some extent these local business places were sustained by the agriculture, which the more realistic members of the community sought to build, but mostly they were based upon the hopes held out by the large language of the land salesmen, who found a ready hearing among Chicago persons afflicted by the deep depression of the early 1890s. Included in the language were indefinite hints of oil; hints which have been repeated in more recent years, when a strangers arrived in those parts with strange instruments, making inquiries among the old-timers there.  This stranger did some wandering around and presumably some prodding, but nothing came of it, nothing to revive the drooping hopes of Columbia.


And so they went, one after the other.  The stores went with the books containing the accounts, which must be crossed off as hopeless.  The saw mill went because the timber was gone.  The cheese factory left because the women had left.  Finally the old church building went, with interest flickering up over the disposition of the old church organ.


And now it is the school, the very last building of the village.  The school is threatened because the boom has invited people away from Columbia and has cut the attendance from 30 or more to nine.  It was 10 students last year, with one less now.  Two years ago, it was more than 20 and not long before that more than 30.


Just as the depression years of the 1890s had given Columbia its birth, so the depression of the 1930s has given it a new lease on life.  In Columbia and there abouts, were half-cleared farms and vacant buildings, spots, which could be secured for very little.  There families could live for as little, perhaps, as anywhere on earth. And so they tried it.


But with the war boom prosperity beckoned to larger opportunities.  Frank Hnetkovsky heard the call and went to Chicago.  He took three children with him out of the Sunnybrook (Sunnynook) School.  He was on what is now the George Mashin farm, one of the better places of Columbia.


Carl Ehlert heard the call and went to do war work in Wausau.  He took two children out of the school when he left.  He had lived on the old Ehlert place up on Humbird Road.  He left the old home vacant.  Rumor has it that he expects to return when the war boom subsides.


Other families to move away were those of Jacob Leiser, Leo Sischo, Joe Bachman, Michael Potucek, Larson and Papenfuss.


But let no one imagine that the closing of the school at Columbia, if it actually happens, will be brought without heartaches and without a determined effort to prevent.  The old-timers are loyal to their community and the people down that way are objecting for reasons, which seem to them to be very practical.  Therefore up to date, no action has been taken upon the state’s closing order.


A serious interruption took place Sunday in one of the major lines of telephone communication between Chicago and the Twin Cities.  The difficulty was located in Clark County a little west of Lindsey.  It resulted from the impact of a rifle bullet with one of the large cables of the Bell long distance lines.  The interruption to service over this portion of the system lasted about seven hours, full service being resumed at 9:20 Sunday evening.


The assumption is that such damage to the telephone lines is accidental, but the loss of communications is so serious under the present war conditions that the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is offering a reward for conviction, in case such damage was due to negligence or malice.


Neillsville now has a school bus in regular operation. The first trip was made Tuesday, with 27 passengers.  The area covered is south and east of Neillsville.  Ray Strebing is driving the new school bus.




In the early 1890s George Heyndericks established the first Columbia post office.  Charles Graves bought the store in the early 1900s when his daughter Bessie became the postmaster.  In 1905, August Schlender took over as postmaster and developed a rural delivery route with Fred Bohnoff as the mail carrier.  Leo Schwedland drove the mail express picture above.




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