Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin

June 27, 2012, Page 9

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News



1918 History of Clark County

By Franklin Curtiss Wedge




Owen, though one of the newer villages in Clark County, is one of the most thriving and the center of extensive logging operations that is being carried on amongst the counties of the north, having wonderful possibilities of future development and prosperity.  It is an important railroad junction point, as the Fairchild & Northeastern has its terminal there and the “Soo” line extends in four different directions.  Three or four hundred square miles of the richest farming country are tributary to the village and it is noted as a shipping point for stock and farm produce, as well as for its lumbering interests.


There has been a steady and conservative growth, the demand of houses always exceeding the supply, although the company and private individuals have kept busy building ever since the town was started. The village has an electric light plant, which is operated by J. S. Owen Lumber Company; and water works and a sewer system. Besides the saw mill and box factory, which employs about 300 men, there is a large pea canning factory, with a capacity of 30,000 cases, a potato warehouse and elevator with feed mill, four hotels, four general stores, a bakery, butcher shop, tailor shop, jewelry store, two hardware stores, three barber shops, a shoe store and harness shop, one moving picture theatre, a bottling works, a thriving bank and a newspaper, besides several saloons, and a local telephone company. The Woodland Hotel, owned by the Owen Company, is probably one of the best hotels in Wisconsin for a town the size of Owen, being built of stone and brick, with 24 transient rooms and all modern equipment. A Commercial Club, officered by some of the leading citizens, is active in advancing the general interests of the community.


Owen was named after the family of that name, which first, as a part of the Rust-Owen Lumber Company, and later as the J. S. Owen Lumber Co., has operated extensively as loggers and lumbermen throughout the West and in Wisconsin.  The site was selected on account of the wealth of timber, the Popple River, the unusual favorable lay of the land and the extremely rich fertile soil.  The intention of the promoters has been not to strip the timber from the ground and leave nothing but piles of slashings as a menace to the future as the early loggers had done a generation before.  But they chose rather to cut what they could use each season and bring in settlers to clear this newly cutover land, developing fertile farms where the timber had stood only a few years ago.  In this they have been very successful, an average of 200 families a year locating around Owen and taking up small tracts to make farms.  They are a hard working, thrift lot and their success with which changes the aspect of the country from that of a stumpy wilderness to attractive farmsteads, the evidence of prosperity, which follows almost immediately after they start in, is a revelation even to those who know this country best.


In 1893 W. F. Royer came to what is now the village of Owen in the interests of the Owen Lumber Co., and started the J. S. Owen Mill.  There was at the time no village, though the main line of the Wisconsin Railway, now known as the “Soo”, had been built through in 1880.  There were, however, a warehouse and a boarding-house, which had been erected by D. J. Spaulding, and five log buildings used by an old logging contractor. The first store building was put up and operated by the J. S. Owen Lumber Co., and was started on account of the lumber industry.  J. S. Owen, after whom the village was named, purchased of D. J. Spaulding, in 1893, 30,000 acres of land, and when the mill was started, two mills, one in Unity and one located a mile and a half west of Withee, were united within the Owen plant.  The company conducted its early logging operations with sleds.  Now they own and operate, for logging purposes, 25 miles of railroad in Clark and Taylor counties and employ about 300 men.  They are extensively engaged in the manufacture of lumber and box hooks, the timber, which is hardwood, being secured in Taylor and Rusk counties.  The capacity of the plant has been increased from 5,000 to 15,000,000 feet.  That this great development was unexpected even by the members of the company is shown by a little incident, which occurred soon after Mr. Royer’ arrival.  When Mr. Royer began logging operations he found so little cleared space that a log sled could hardly turn around, so he decided one day to pull out a lot of stumps to make more room.  He accordingly put ten or twelve men at this work and was thus engaged when Mr. Owen came along and asked him what he was doing. On being informed Mr. Owen said: “Don’t put any more time on that, for we will not be here more than five or six years and I don’t want to leave any croquet grounds when we go away.”  That was fifteen years ago, but the company is still engaged in logging and lumbering operations and has enough timber in sight to last twelve years. The company also does an extensive land business. The present officers are: John S. Owen, president and treasurer; Aloney R. Owen, vice president and manager; Edward A Owen, second vice president; John G. Owen, secretary and Gunder E. Anderson, assistant secretary and treasurer.


On Aug. 18, 1904, a census of the village of Owen was taken by G. E. Anderson and showed a population of 315.  A survey having been made by C. S. Stockwell, application was made Aug. 19, 1904, for the fight of incorporation, the petition being signed by C. M. Hall, F. C. Griffin, Florence B. Owen, Edward A. Owen, G. E. Anderson and Peter Buhl. The petition was granted Oct. 8, the same year and on Nov. 9, at the K. O. T. M. Hall an election was held to decide the question, the judges and inspectors being J. T. Hughes, G. F. Bolman and F. C. Griffin.  The vote of 67 was unanimous and the village was duly organized.


The first school was built in Owen in 1894, and had two grades, another grade being added in 1895. The original building was in use until 1907, when the new high school building was built, consisting of two stories and basement, containing eight rooms, with gymnasium.  It is heated with steam, hot and cold water being convenient and there is also a library.  There are six grades, together with full high school courses.  Mrs. D. H. Barber was the first teacher.  There are now seven teachers and the principal, Carl Johnson.


An important addition to the educational facilities of Owen is a public library now containing 1,441 volumes, which was established June 15, 1915, by the Women’s Community Club and is now supported by the village. The president of the library board is P. J. Abler, his associates being Mrs. Stella Kyes, vice president; L. B. Chabot, secretary; W. G. Royer, treasurer and Mrs. B. R. Anderson, librarian.


For several years after Owen was started, mail and supplies were hauled from Withee. The Owen post office was established in 1895 or 1896.  He served until about 1905 or 1906, when Thomas H. Wylie was appointed to succeed him.  Mr. Wylie served until Nov. 1, 1913, when he was succeeded by Franklin C. Watson, the present incumbent of the office.  Mr. Wylie was the first postmaster appointed by the President, the date of his appointment being May 5, 1909.  Mr. Watson, his successor, received his first presidential appointment Oct. 4, 1913, being reappointed Jan. 24, 1918.  The post office was removed from the office of the lumber company on the West Side to the East Side in 1905.  It has since been removed from one building to another several times, always however, remaining on the East Side.  Owen became a money order office, Aug. 25, 1909; the first rural route was established, with Fay E. McCray carrier, who is still serving. The second rural route was established May 1, 1916, Albert Gilman being the first temporary carrier. Red L. Earl was appointed first regular carrier June 19, 1916 and is still serving. The office of Bright, on route 1, has been discontinued.


The Owen Canning Factory was started in 1913 and now has an output of 40,000 cases a season of peas, beets, beet greens and sauerkraut.  The company employs 100 hands and has two vinery stations, one at Longwood and another at Bright. The officers are: G. E. Anderson, president; W. C. Tufts, vice president; P. F. Crawley, secretary and E. A. Owen, treasurer.


The village of Withee was first platted on Aug. 27, 1881, which also was the year that the first store was built by E. A. Eaton.  Eaton operated the store for two months and then sold out to W. S. Tufts.  In 1890, the Tufts store was the largest in the county.


June 1937


Harve Fuller, who was in a reminiscent mood Tuesday recalled early days in Merrillan.  Mr. Fuller says he landed in Merrillan in 1874 and helped chop out the stumps in Main Street.  At that time he says there were 12 hotels in Merrillan and there was plenty of work for everybody.  Mr. Fuller, who was laid up for some time last winter, reports he is “feeling as good as I ever did.”                                                                                


An announcement from Dr. J. Rollin French, Los Angeles, states that E. E. Early, M. D. has purchased from Dr. French the Golden State Hospital with its branches and the Medical and Surgical Injury Service, effective June 1.  Dr. French returns to private practice with a suite of offices in the Pacific Mutual Building, 523 West Sixth Street, Los Angeles.

Dr. French was born in Neillsville and grew to manhood here and his relatives and many friends will be interested in his new setup.                                                                                           


Art Kunze, First ward alderman likes a good apple.  In fact his whole family likes good apples. So it was not strange that he should buy a case of them last week when a peddler appeared at his home and offered him a bargain in swell eating apples. After the family had indulged their appetite for apples, Mr. Kunze carried the remainder down cellar where they would keep better.


A few days layer, one of his children brought up a large mail order catalog from the cellar and reported that is had been found in the apple box.  Mr. Kunze went down to investigate and was surprised to find that the entire lower half of the box was filled with old catalogs and paper.


Mr. Kunze would like very much to meet the peddler again.  He says the catalogs are of good quality paper, but he has more use at this time for apples than paper.  At any rate he doesn’t like to buy catalogs at “Delicious prices.”  As a friendly tip to the peddler it is suggested that he do no return to the Kunze residence for a repeat order.  It is more than likely he would be in no shape to participate in a “sit-down” strike after the visit.


Excavating for the new Ed Hauge house on South Grand Avenue was begun last Friday.  The house will be typical of a colonial structure; the interior will also conform to the colonial style. Oak will be used for the wood finish throughout the first floor.  The contract was let to the O&N Lumber Co., and Art Carl.


Depletion of federal funds will bring to a close July 1, the WPA liming program in Clark County, which during the past three years has been responsible for the liming of more than 6,000 acres of land on approximately 500 farms, according to William Creed, Unity, chairman of the agricultural committee, under whose supervision the program has been handled.


Earl Zille and Miss Orvilla Selves were united in marriage at the Congregational parsonage, on June 20, Rev. G. W. Longenecker, officiating.                                                                  


The marriage of Emil Potocnik and Miss Elsie Laako of the Town of Hoard took place June 19.  Judge O. W. Schoengarth performed the ceremony in his office. Witnesses were Miss Gertrude Puro and Elmer Laako.


Oil is going out from here and is being distributed on State Highway 95 south of Day Corners.


Highway 73, east of the corners to beyond Shortville, has been graveled and is being extended eastward.


The Kearns Drug store has installed an air conditioning outfit, which will keep the store cool in hot weather. The cooled air is circulated through the regular furnace pipes.                                


J. C. Davis of Shortville had a narrow escape from death Saturday when he was attacked by a four-year old bull.  The animal had stub horns and knocked Mr. Davis down, breaking some of his ribs.  He was armed with a pitchfork, which proved of some service in the battle and the farm dog came to the rescue enabling Mr. Davis to get away.


On last Tuesday at a special election, the citizens of Loyal voted on the question of building a new municipal hall to serve as the village hall, library and American Legion headquarters.


The vote was light but carried favorable by a margin of 174 to 46.  G. A. Krasin, Marshfield architect, has drawn the plans of the new building and bids will be asked immediately.  It is expected that operations will be commenced about July 15.  It is reported that the American Legion has already completed excavation of the basement, as the organization had planned on its own building had the vote been unfavorable.                             


Hauge Floral Co. has late cabbage plants for sale, 50 cents per dozen.


Walter and Wayne Brown drove to Lake Arbutus Thursday to fish. The walleyed pike were biting so well that the boys were too busy hauling them in to take stock of their catch. After sweating over the job for three hours, they quit, deciding that 24 fish would supply the Brown household for quite a spell. Their predicament was much like that of the Irish maid who was too busy mopping up the water to turn off the faucet.       


Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Frantz are building an addition to the “House by the Side of the Road” at the end of Hewett Street.  A basement is being dug for the addition and a heating plant will be put in.


(The “House by the Side of the Road” was later known as the “White Horse Inn.” DZ)


Notice to the Public!  Starting July 1st, 1937, the following prices will go into effect: Bottle Beer 15¢ and 20¢; G Bottles 50¢; Beer, per case, $2 & up; Neillsville Tavern Keepers’ Assoc.




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