Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin

February 22, 2012, Page 21

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


February 1937


History of Logging in Clark County

By Fred Draper

Chapter III


After the pine was located and purchased, much more work must yet be done before logging operations began.


Camps to be built logging roads to lay out clear of timber and grade; stuff roads to build and if the timbre was back away from Black River on a tributary the streams had to be cleared of brush and fallen trees or other obstacles, which would hinder the free floating of logs.


Flood dams also had to be constructed to raise a sufficient head of water to float the logs down to the main river.


About the first of September a crew of picked men was sent to the woods under the leadership of an experienced camp foreman.


First there was the location of the campsite; this was selected with reference to its accessibility to the timber. As it was an advantage to occupy the same set of camps for more than one season, they were as centrally located as possible, on high ground on account of the sometimes January thaw and the spring floods and near a creek for convenience to water.


Germs hadn’t been heard of in those days, so everyone drank creek water without any evil effects.  Perhaps the bugs came later.


The camp’s buildings usually consisted of a cook shanty, sleeping shanty, stables, blacksmith shop and in the larger camps a small building for an office.


These were built of long, slim logs usually from 12 to 16 inches at the butt and 8 to 12 inches at the top, spaces between the logs were chinked with three cornered pieces of split logs usually cut from 2 to 4 ft. in length and the hole then plastered with clay.


The buildings were low, not over 6 ft. in height at the eaves and the roof usually made of two thicknesses of one inch lumber; the very early camps when lumber was unobtainable, were covered either with a shake roof or a trough roof, the former was pine split thin similar to shingles about 30 inches and nailed shingle fashion on small logs or poles, the ends of which were laid on the logs which made the bale end of the building.  The trough roof was made of hollow logs split in halves, two troughs up and then one trough down, this made a water tight roof providing there was no knot holes in the roughs and when chinked around the eaves and with a covering of snow over the whole roof it made a more substantial and much warmer roof than one covering with shakes.


In the first camps before lumber was obtainable the floors were eight of clay or puncheon, which was split logs laid the split side up and smoothed with an adz.


The sleeping shanty was a long narrow building the length usually depending upon the number of men in the camp. There were two tiers of bunks and one above the other on each side of the shanty.


A board was nailed upon the projecting cross pieces of the lower tier of bunks forming a seat for the men; this was what was called the “deacon’s seat.” The camp was heated by a huge box stove set near the middle of the shanty, around the stove and on those poles the mean hung their socks and mittens at night to dry. Dry pine and hardwood made a hot fire and I speak from experience, and those who occupied the bunks nearest the stove nearly roasted the forepart of the night and after the fire went down they nearly froze before morning. The bunks were either filled with marsh hay or straw, with a blanket over the straw and usually two blankets for covers.


Few camps furnished pillows, but for the most part the men folded their clothes and used them for pillows.  Not very soft beds you say, no it was not, but the men were used to it and after a hard day’s work, slept as well as we do today on the finest mattress and springs.


The real boss of the camp was the cook, in his domain in the cook shanty he was an autocrat. A good cook was a necessity and he had to be an artist in his line to satisfy the men.


The men were not exacting as to knick-knacks but wanted wholesome food well cooked and plenty of it.


In the early day the food was very simple, the staple articles in its preparation were beans, salt pork, flour and syrup, not corn syrup put in pails, no offense to pails; but old-fashioned cane syrup in fifty gallon barrels, and plenty of corn meal and potatoes, and rutabagas when they could be had. As for fresh meat, deer were plentiful and with no game laws and consequently no game wardens, venison was a staple article of diet. 


For sauce and pie they had dried apples, and with these at hand it was really astonishing the dishes that a camp cook could concoct from the simple ingredients furnished.


I am told that in the first camps the cooking was done over a fireplace, then and even later after stoves were in use, beans were baked from choice in a “bean hole,” a description of which may be of interest.


A hole was dug outside of the camp in the ground before the ground froze in the fall. When the beans were baked, this hole was first filled with hardwood, maple wood if it was to be had, this was set afire and reduced to coals then the coals were partly raked out. The beans were properly seasoned with plenty of salt pork, a dash of syrup being place in a large iron kettle, well covered and put in the bean hole on top of some of the hot coals that were left, as some had been raked out, to be raked back into the hole, around the iron kettle; then a layer of dirt was thrown over the top and all left for about four hours.  When the beans were taken out of the kettle, hot and with all the flavorings of the pork, and other seasonings mixed in, there was no comparison of the beans cooked in the coals and those cooked the usual way in a stove oven.


In later years, the camps furnished nearly everything in the way of food that is found in a first class boarding house.


Many of the camps were furnished with mattresses and springs in the bunks in place of hay or straw, the tin dishes, iron spoons and iron handled knives and forks of the earlier camps were replace by crockery dishes and plated knives, forks and spoons.


February 1947


Dale Elliott, a former Neillsville boy, driver of a milk truck at Owen, froze his hands one day early last week while backing his truck about a quarter of a mile to get out of a snow blocked road. On account of poor visibility, he was forced to drive with the truck door open.  Norman Gosse, also an Owen milk driver, froze one of his feet in a similar experience.


Last Two Dances Before Lent at Merry Ol’ Gardens, on Saturday, February 15th Valentine’s Dance with Sturtz’ Swing Kings, and Sunday, Feb. 16th, Good Old Time with Dale Simons & His Blue Denim Boys’ Band, in Honor of Earl Caliebe and Shirley Syth.                                                                                   


For Your Valentine – R.C.A. Victor Records, No Finer Gift than a recording of his or her favorite song. We have a complete line of popular and classical records.  Including such popular hits as: “Ole Buttermilk Sky”, “Zip A Dee Doo Dah” and “A Huggin’ and a Chalkin’,” Available at Bollom’s Appliances.


Marriage Licenses:

Shirley Syth and Earl Caliebe, both of Greenwood

Virginia R. Glasby, Curtiss, and Gerald M. Herbert, Colby

Laura M. Wallmuth and John H. Subke, both of Neillsville

Viola Gall and LeRoy Marshall of Neillsville                                       


The problem of finding a schoolhouse for the 24 pupils of the Benjamin School, in the Town of Warner, has been solved at least for the remainder of this year.


Russell Drake, county school superintendent, said that the Benjamin School now is in operation in the old German Church School about a mile south of the site upon which the Benjamin School stood before it was razed by fire recently.


The present building was used many years ago as a parochial school, but had not been in use for quite some time. The seats and blackboards still were in place, and ready for use.


Text books largely were secured from the old West Eaton School, which has been closed and a few new books were bought to fill in, Mr. Drake said.


The parochial school building has been leased for the remainder of the year, Mr. Drake said; but there is uncertainty as to the method of handling the school in that district next year.  The Greenwood schools are filled, Mr. Drake said, so it will not be possible for the pupils from the Benjamin School to be transported to Greenwood. Building being as it is, there is a question whether a new schoolhouse can or will be built.


(The Benjamin School was located along County Road; then after the school building was destroyed by a fire, students were moved to a nearby vacant building that had previously been used by the German Immanuel Church for their parochial school.  That church is located on Century Road, one-fourth mile west of County Road O, presently known as the Immanuel United Church of Christ. D. Z.)                                                             


The district attorney and the game warden have thrown up their hands and beaten a strategic retreat.


They had tried to winter 100 adult pheasant hens in the pens in Neillsville’s Schuster Park. The intention of Bruce F. Beilfuss, the district attorney and Alva A. Clumpner, the game warden, had been to get about 15 cocks in the spring, keep them in the pens during the breeding season and then release them in a marsh in the Town of Levis.


The two men donated their time, work and some money in carrying out the project. Some others had donated cash for feed.  But since the arrival of the hens last November they have been finding the birds mysteriously dying off.  Sometimes they found one or two dead; sometimes as many as eight.


Once, Mr. Beilfuss and Lowell Schoengarth found three boys with “B-B” guns and three dead pheasant hens in the park.  The hens were confiscated and the guns were taken from the boys by the game warden.


Things quieted down for a while; then the mysterious deaths started again.


When from 25 to 30 of the birds had been killed, all of them apparently by “B-B” shot, the game warden and the district attorney threw up their hands.  “It’s like shooting clay pigeons in a shooting gallery,” they decided.


So, to make it a little more of a sporting proposition, they released the hens and gave up their pheasant program.


Now those boys who would take pot-shots at pheasants will have to look for them.


Incidentally, they’d better look out for the game warden at the same time.  The season is closed on pheasants, and the warden is in no mood for trifling.                                                              


In the largest business deal of recent local history, Joseph J. Urban and his two sons have purchased the Schultz Garage business, including the garage realty, the adjacent corner lot, the parts and equipment and the automotive agency rights.  The consideration is understood to have been in excess of $30,000 making it the most important transaction of the county, thus far reported in 1947.


The purchasers, Mr. Urban and his two sons, come from Door County.  There, the Urban family owned and conducted a deluxe night club and resort, known as the Ivanhoe.  This was located at Jacksonport, not far from Sturgeon Bay. The business sold by the Urbans only two or three weeks ago.


In divesting themselves of their Ivanhoe property, the Urbans sacrificed their homes, for they resided there.  Intent upon a business location, they gave first consideration to the purchase of a garage and automobile agency. But now they are impressed that they must have places to live, and to them the housing problem is pressing. There are three families to provide for: Mr. and Mrs. Joseph J. Urban, the parents; their two sons, Charles Robert and Joseph J. Urban, Jr., each of whom as a family.


In connection with this transaction the local business center has commented upon the increase in value of the old Neillsville garage, which passed into the hands of the Schultz Bros., three years ago. That was an expensive building, which went through the wringer in the depression, was in no demand for several years, and was finally picked up by the Schultz Bros., three years ago.  At the same time they bought the corner lot from the county, which had taken it in for taxes.


The state of Neillsville realty in the ‘30s is indicated by the fact that this fine garage building, with its central site, is known to have been offered as low as $7,500, with no takers.  At that time there was actually no market for the local realty. This was in great contrast with normal values.  It is understood that the garage building, with the site, represented an original investment of about $33,000.


From the figures here mentioned no clear inference may properly be drawn as to the precise value of the garage property, because this deal includes a heavy inventory representing an important part of the transaction. Also Schultz Bros. had made substantial improvements in the property, and included in the deal the desirable corner lot. Nevertheless it is evident that the transaction reflects an emphatic increase in values over those of the depression years, an increase which is shared by all realty located in Neillsville.                                                                    


Former President George Washington died in 1799.  Among his contemporaries were the parents of Neillsville’s pioneers.  The father and mother of James O’Neill, the founder, lived close to Revolutionary War scenes and events.  Mr. O’Neill was born in New York State in 1810. The parents of Richard Dewhurst witnessed the events of Washington’s life from England, where Judge Dewhurst was born in 1826. The parents of B. F. French lived not far from Valley Forge, and there “Doc” French was born in 1831.                                                          


First steps toward the reorganization of the Service Company of Neillsville will be taken at a meeting to be called at the city hall at 8 p.m. next Friday evening, being arranged by Lieut. Col. Herbert M. Smith, upon the request of Col. Oscar Moldenhauer, commanding officer of the old Service Company of the 128th and of Lieut. Col. Marvin Wang, the executive officer.


North Grand Avenue Concrete Bridge


The above North Grand Avenue concrete bridge that spanned the Black River was built to replace a former steel overhead trestle bridge, which collapsed on August 2, 1920, resulting in the death of one man while he was driving a county highway truck over the structure at that time. That concrete bridge was in service for about 75 years before being replaced by the present structure.  The lower picture was added in 2020.  (Both photos courtesy of Steve Roberts)





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