Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin

February 2, 2011, Page 9

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News

February 1901


On February 23, 1901, the Northern Wisconsin Live Stock Co., of Stanley, Wis., will dispose at a public auction, 180 head of livestock: consisting of Short Horn and Guernsey cattle, Poland China Swine and Shropshire Sheep.  The sale will be the largest ever held in the state and is a good opportunity for farmers and breeders to secure foundation stock.  For catalogue and full particulars, apply to J. E. Story, Manager.                                  


A special train was run over the Central Wisconsin Railroad Monday, as a vaccination train with a physician on board who vaccinated all the railroad employees who had not been recently vaccinated.  The shots were given at Agent Thompson’s office, at the depot, in Colby.                                                             


Greenwood News:


Logs are being hauled to the various landings and the Jordan’s mill at a gait that would surprise the man who claims that timber is all out of this country.                                                                 


Unity merchants, butchers, saloon keepers and some residents are putting up their season’s supply of ice. The ice is being cut on a little body of water, 1 ¼ miles northwest of town.                 


The spoke factory is accumulating logs and bolts at a rapid rate these days.  Monday’s receipts amounted to something over 65,000 feet.  These are mostly oak and basswood and were hauled down the ice on O’Neill Creek.


W. J. Marsh is having rock hauled for the basement of a new residence to be built next summer on his lot on Clay Street, next to L. M. Sturdevant’s residence. The location is a good one.  A fine addition to Neillsville’s homes may be looked for.


C. S. Stockwell is putting in considerable time lately at camp where he and S. M. Marsh are doing quite a stroke in logging in addition to cord wood business.                                                          


Chas. Cornelius took a drive Sunday up the west road toward Tioga and came back enthusiastic over that part of the County.  It is about eight years since he was last up there and was greatly surprised at the remarkable improvements; especially beyond the Globe post office where the change is most noticeable. The clearings have grown larger, stumps disappeared, large red barns with stone basements have taken the place of the old log ones and fine large houses all along the highway, give the country an aspect of thrift and comfort.               


Ole Reistad came down from Clifford, Saturday, visiting with relatives and friends over Sunday.  Ole is chief cook in a big logging camp near Clifford, and that is a guarantee that the boys in that camp are living high as Ole is one of the best camp cooks in the business.                                                                    


Bob Boullion received several fine pictures of the Eilert Brewery at Fresno, Calif.  One shows the building as a mammoth seven-story structure, with Mr. Eilert and Will at the entrance. Fred Huntzicker is learning against a chimney at the top of the lofty building.  The other views are interior scenes showing the plant is fully equipped and in operation as one of the finest in the U. S.  It has ice machines, and refrigerating apparatus of the latest patterns thereby enabling them to get along without O’Neill Creek’s ice. 


(The Eilert family owned and operated a brewery in Neillsville before moving to California. D. Z.)                                                                   


Mr. L. A. Grow will dress ladies’ hair for the military ball Friday afternoon, commencing at 2 o’clock. Call to get tickets and time.  Latest style, able assistants, reasonable rates



February 1946


When Mrs. Bella French, editor of the American Sketch Book, came to Neillsville in 1875 to give it a write-up she had an opportunity to meet and talk with a few of the men who built themselves into the early history of Clark County.  Of course, she met the senior James O’Neill, the founder, who was then 65 years of age. She met B. F. (Doc) French, who seems to have been a close second to the founder in prominence.  She met Richard Dewhurst, for whom the town of Dewhurst was named; James Hewett who lives in the name of the main business Street of Neillsville; Robert Ross, whose name lives in Ross Eddy down the Black River; F. G. Cawley, for whom Cawley Creek was named.


Mrs. French was unable to meet Jonathon Cunningham, Mormon, for whom Cunningham Creek was named, because he had drowned in that creek some 30 years before. And she was unable to meet Mose (Moses) Clark, for whom some local people who have claimed that Clark County was named, because Mr. Clark had been killed by William Pauley 25 or more years before.


Mrs. French’s contribution about the prominent old-timers follows:


“Clinton and Quail were the first merchants in the place, locating in 1856.  In the same year, Rueben Roik started the first hotel.  The growth of the place since then as been steady until it has reached the dimensions which we see today.


The founder of this place, and the one whom has done more than anyone else to make Neillsville what it is today, is James O’Neill, Sr.  Mr. O’Neill has done much to increase prosperity of this place by gifts of grounds for the courthouse, school house and Methodist Church, and by building a large and commodious hotel, which bears his name.  O’Neill built the first frame house here.


“Richard Dewhurst and G. W. King came to Neillsville together, in 1856.  Dewhurst had read law at Ohio, at Illyria, with Philoem Bliss, afterward Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri.  They started a law office soon after their arrival, their office being situated in a building, which stood near the gate in front of the present residence of James O’Neill.  Dewhurst taught the first winter school term to be taught in Weston, during the winter of 1856-57.  King was elected Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, in the fall of 1858, and at the same election Dewhurst was elected Register of Deeds and member of Assembly.  He had previously been chosen County Judge, in which capacity the most important act he ever preformed was to walk from Neillsville to Loyal, a distance of 20 miles, to unite two loving hearts in the bonds of matrimony.  Dewhurst was again elected to the Assembly in 1874.  He has been extensively engaged in lumbering and owns much valuable pine and agricultural lands in Clark County.  All who know him regard him as an honest and excellent gentleman, and all though from the prominent position he holds in politics, he has naturally incurred some enmity, yet his political enemies concede his many sterling qualities.  Mr. King removed some years since to Humbird, where he now lives.  He is extensively engaged in lumbering, owning what is known as King’s Mills, on the direct road between Neillsville and Humbird, also having an interest in a large mill on the Mississippi River.


“Robert Ross came to Neillsville in November 1848, from Canada.  He brought with him two and a half sovereigns, lending them to a Baker and never got them back. The first three years he made shingles, which was then a good business, as shingles were legal tender. Since then he has been extensively engaged in lumbering. Some years since, he has removed to La Crosse, but in the autumn of 1874, returned to his farm, about one mile south of Neillsville.  He is now considered one of the wealthy men of this place, owning much valuable pineland.


“James Hewett came to Clark County in 1856 from Essex County, New York.  He worked by the day on the Black River Bridge opposite what is now known as Arch Day’s Hotel, during the winter of 1856-57 and during the winter of 1857-58 he worked on Wedge’s Creek for Major Wedge, for $30 per month. The next summer he had to go to Black River Falls, saw lumber and run to Galena to get his pay.  Upon his return from this trip he was taken down with fever and ague, which continued three months.  Upon recovering, he had not a dollar left, but he had something more valuable than money, indomitable pluck and perseverance.  On the eighth day of January 1859, he joined a partnership with Chauncey Blakeslee and O. S. Woods, under the firm name of Hewett, Woods & Co.  This firm continued about ten years. Woods went to La Crosse in 1867 and attended to the business of the firm in that place, and in 1869 Blakeslee withdrew and went to Sparta to reside.  The firm bought a steam tug in 1870 and another in 1872 for the purpose of towing rafts on the Mississippi River.  The magnitude of this business will be seen when it is stated that from the year of 1868 to 1873, they put into Black River from 18 to 25 millions of pine logs per annum, averaging in value at the mouth of the Black River, about 12 dollars per thousand feet. During the summer of 1872, they built a handsome brick store in Neillsville, which cost about 10 thousand dollars.  Mr. Hewett built an elegant residence here in the summer of 1874, costing about the same amount as the brick store. The firm of Hewett & Woods is regarded as one of the most stable businesses in the Northwest.  Mr. Woods is a pleasant gentleman and his friends are many where ever he is known.


“William T. Hutchinson came to Neillsville, October 15, 1857, from Waukesha County, but was formerly from Delaware.  At an early day he was appointed postmaster at Pleasant Ridge and afterward was postmaster at Neillsville, from 1865 to 1871.  He was elected Register of Deeds to which office he has been three times re-elected.  He fills every position he holds with credit to himself and satisfaction to the people. For many years he has been in partnership with Judge Dewhurst in the real estate business.


“David H. Robinson, a native of Maine, immigrated to Wisconsin in 1844, locating in Washara County, from which place he came to Neillsville in 1852.  Up to 1859 he was engaged in logging. He also kept a hotel at Weston from 1863 to 1868.  Since then he has turned his attention to farming.  Having received a good education when young, he has been well fitted for the numerous and important positions of public Trust to which he has been called.


“F. G. Cawley came to this place in 1853, when a boy.  For the last 15 years he has filled the position of constable, in which capacity he is said to be expert.  His experience in running off cows, picking blackberries Saturday afternoons, until the small hours of midnight and the like, would fill a volume.  His father, Samuel Cawley, settled here some years before his son and from him Cawley Creek has been named. Samuel Cawley still lives at Weston.


“W. W. Lemon arrived here from Canada, October 13, 1856.  His residence since has been in the Town of Levis, and he is well known by other old settlers.  He has been Town Treasurer for six years. Still living in the Town of Levis, he is now proprietor of the Wedges’ Creek House.


“Samuel F. Ferguson located in Neillsville in the fall of 1845.  He had lived two years previous in Black River Falls and along Black River.  He was born in Ohio, and thence removed to Pennsylvania.  He had gone down in the summer of 1845, with James O’Neill, on a raft to Burlington, Iowa, where he purchased blacksmith tools. These were conveyed up the Black River to Neillsville, where Mr. Ferguson started a Blacksmith shop.  He made irons for the first saw mill.  He built the first log shanty 12 feet wide by 16 feet long that could sleep 12 to 16 men. Ferguson bored two holes in a log, stuck two pins in and laid boards across, which constituted his bed for the winter.  From that day to this, he has had a blacksmith shop in or about Neillsville.  He is a man of 66 years, still quite vigorous and healthy.


“William Ferguson, or better known as Uncle Billy Ferguson, was a brother to Samuel F., who came to Neillsville the same time as his brother.  He was known as a hunter, of which he spent most of his time.  He died in 1871.


James W. Ferguson, a nephew of the two brothers mentioned, came to this place April 23, 1854.  His uncle Samuel could not find a wife to suit him in Clark County, so visited Pennsylvania in search of one, in which pursuit he succeeded. James W. then accompanied his uncle on his return.  Since then, he has resided here excepting four years, November 1861 to October 1965, when he served in the army.  He has held the position of postmaster in Neillsville since 1871.


“Daniel Gates, from Essex County, New York, removed to Clark County in 1856, locating at the mouth of Wedge’s Creek, where he kept a hotel for five years.  In 1861, he came to Neillsville where he leased a building from C. Blakeslee, which is now occupied by Gates & Head as a meat market.  He also opened a hotel, which he kept one year.  In 1862 to 1868, he was engaged in logging.  He has been sheriff two years, Justice of Peace four years, chairman of the board of supervisor’s one term and now president of the Agriculture Society.  His partner in the meat business, James Head, Esq., came here from Monroe County in 1867.


“James W. Sturdevant came here in the fall of 1848, from Lee County, Iowa.  His birthplace was Pennsylvania.  On his arrival, he did not intend to stay, but returned in 1854.  He was married and had four children when he came to Neillsville, viz: Robert, James, Rufus and Marshall.  Robert studied law with his uncle, B. F. French, and afterwards held the position of District Attorney of Clark County, moving in the fall of 1873 to Washington Territory, where he is engaged in the practice of his profession. Rufus now holds the office vacated by his brother, engaged in the practice of his profession and lumbering.  Their father has generally devoted his time to agriculture pursuits.  He lives on his farm, one mile south of here.


“James French, a brother of B. F. French and brother-in-law of J. W. Sturdevant, came here in 1848, settling on his farm five miles south of Neillsville, engaged in farming and lumbering.  He now lives in Neillsville.



The James O’Neill residence was built in 1846 south of O’Neill Creek set back from Hewett Street, the lot now being occupied by O’Neill Terrace Apartments.  The frame housed consisted of thee sections.  Loggers and travelers in the very early days could find room and board there with the central portion being an inn. The north section was a tavern, and the south wing, built on later, was the O’Neill family’s living quarters.  The house was razed about 140 years after it was built.






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