Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

October 23, 2019, Page 10 

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled and Contributed by Dee Zimmerman

Clark County News

October 1929



The La Crosse Tribune carries a story that the Black River, one of Wisconsin’s small streams, floated 4,664,779,550 feet of logs and lumber to the sawmills of Onalaska and La Crosse during the 30-year period from the end of the Civil War to the decline of the logging industry in 1897.


The lumbering industry on the Black River reached its peak in 1881 when 250,609,720 feet of logs and lumber came down.


There is some controversy as to the first lumbermen on the Black River. A Frenchman named Rolette is supposed to have built a sawmill near the site of Black River Falls, on Town Creek, in 1819. This mill is to have been burned by the Indians and the whites driven off. There must have been some sort of establishment built on the location, for timbers were found buried in the ground.


Another authority gives Col. John Shaw of Green Bay credit for being the first to establish a sawmill at Black River Falls. This was also destroyed in 1819, and Colonel Shaw rafted his logs down to Prairie du Chien.


The Indian title to the Black River country was extinguished by a treaty on November 1, 1837, in which the Winnebago tribe ceded all its territory on the east side of the river and also certain interests on the west bank. They were to remove their western reserve within eight months but did not actually leave until 1840.


In early summer of 1839, an expedition was organized by Jacob Spaulding, for the purpose of settling the Black River country. This party left from La Crosse, going up the Black River by keelboat to Black River Falls, where they began to get out materials for a sawmill, built at the mouth of Town Creek. This mill was put into operation in the spring of 1840, and work began on another and larger sawmill on the main river at the Falls, completed the following year. The Indians made an attempt to drive them off, but Spaulding succeeded by a ruse in driving them off without a clash.


In 1841, a band of Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, appeared at the Falls and jumped a claim belonging to Spaulding. He drove them off by arming his employees. They returned the following spring and bought his property for $20,000, payable in lumber. They finished up the mill at the Falls and spent about two years getting out lumber and rafting it down the river for use in constructing the temple at Nauvoo.


After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, they left the country, turning the property back to Spaulding. They burned their house, stole some flatboats, and attempted to escape without settling with creditors in La Crosse, but were finally overtaken and forced to settle.


During the time, the Mormons were here, they got provisions by Nathan Myrick, who had a trading post at La Crosse. He took in payment for these provisions, logs, which he rafted to St. Louis, and these log-rafts were the first to be taken out of the Black River Country by permanent settlers.


From that time on, arrivals At the Falls were fairly numerous, with most of them entering the logging business.


In June 1845, James and Henry O’Neill and E.L. Brockway, and Samuel and William Ferguson moved up the river and settled at the site of Neillsville. There  they built a log cabin on the bank of O’Neill Creek and later a sawmill with a capacity of 3,000 feet of lumber per day. This lumber was rafted down the River to Burlington, Ia., where O’Neill started a lumberyard.


By 1845, there were from 175 to 200 men on the river. These people were scattered all up and down the river, with little settlements at Black River Falls, North Bend, Nichol’s Mill, Sheppard’s Mill, Perry’s Creek and other places.


From then until 1849, the population increased quite rapidly, and in the latter years, there were between 560 and 600 persons on the river.


At this time, all the wants of the Black River region were supplied from Prairie du Chien. Goods were brought up the river from La Crosse in keelboats in summer and sleighs in winter. The keelboats used were from 75 to 85 feet long and of 8 to 9 feet beam. They had a carrying capacity from ten to fifteen tons.


During the winter, sleigh parties of four to fifteen sleighs sent to Dubuque or Galena for supplies, traveling on the ice, under the guidance of a pilot who knew the river and could tell when and where the ice was likely to be unsafe. The trip was made in stages, one day to La Crosse, one to Prairie du Chien, and one to Dubuque, a week being taken up that included the return trip.


The first wagon road to the Falls followed an old Indian trail from Black River Falls to Douglas’ Mill, now Melrose, across Fleming’s Creek, near its mouth, and across Hall’s Creek near Midway, then crossed the La Crosse River near Minnesota Junction, now Medary, and thence among the bluffs of La Crosse.


Black River Falls was the headquarters for the lumbermen and loggers when they came out of the woods in the spring, ready to celebrate their release by spending their wages. A common practice for the men was for thirty or forty of them to hitch themselves by a logging cable to a breaking plow and “plow Main Street” from curb to curb, then transfer their “team of men” to a harrow and smooth the street down in better shape than before, Mr. Cameron relates. On one occasion they plowed the street as usual, then broke into a feed store, and proceeded to sow the street to oats.


Card playing and dancing were the chief amusements of these early pioneers. There, were half a dozen good fiddlers among the settlers. Frequently, dances were held on successive nights in different settlements, the loggers and the settlers attending almost in a body. The “Shanghai House,” a boarding house owned by Jacob Spaulding was to have been dedicated by a dance that lasted for fifty hours without interruption.


In the early days, the labor element in the lumber camps was largely recruited from the ranks of the settlers. Norwegians and Swedes who settled in a new country were most likely to spend their winters in the pineries. Such work served as a source of ready money, always a scarce article among the settlers. The labor was also supplemented by French-Canadians. Later when the large lumber companies arose, the foreman or superintendent picked up their crews to a large extent in the lumberjack hangouts of certain cities in which the men congregated.


La Crosse in the boom times of 1871 was a city of about 5,000 persons and furnished most of the men for the Black River pineries. A dollar a day and board was a very usual wage for ordinary labor. It rose higher in case of the foremen, and wages in the mills were also higher.


The logging camps were naturally located as centrally as possible. The buildings were of logs, usually roofed with shakes, plastered with mortar or mud. The usual set of buildings consisted of a store and office, cook and eating shanty, one or more bunkhouse, the stables, blacksmith shop, and a storehouse.


Logging did not go further back than a mile from the steam’s bank, as a rule. The cutting and hauling generally began around Christmas or New Year’s Day.


The above photo, submitted by Audrey (Schmidt) Fox of Granton, was taken on Oct. 4, 1919, 100 years ago in Milwaukee, of a group celebrating her mother Ella Feine’s birthday. All appear to be men, but the only man is standing in the back row, second from the left, Lawrence Feine, Ella’s bother; and to his left is Clara, Adena and Ella Feine. The young ladies all dressed up like men to add a little humor to the event. Later, Ella (Feine) Schmidt and family moved to Marshfield and then to the Neillsville area.


October 1954


Questions involved in the important state referendum on non-commercial tax-supported television November 2 will be discussed at a conference of taxpayers associations to be held at the American legion Hall on the evening of October 14, it was announced this week by officers of the Clark County Taxpayers Association.


Fred Stelloh, Neillsville, who is assisting with local arrangements, said that Clark County would obtain first-hand information on the television question at this meeting.                                       


Wedding Dance Saturday Oct. 9

In Honor of Jean Harrington and Morry N. Johnson

Music by Sturtz Orchestra


Carl Lawrenz, agriculture instructor in the Loyal High School, and three boys, John Stumpner and Richard Oestreich, high school graduates last spring, and George Stumpner, a high school senior, left Monday morning for Kansas Coty, Mo., to attend the National F.F.A. judging contest and convention being held there this week.


These boys earned the privilege of entering this national contest by winning at the state poultry-judging contest in Madison in April.


Jerome Schmidt had been the third member of the winning team in April, but, as he is now in the U.S. Armed services, George Stumpner, who has been very successful in recent tryouts, was chosen to replace him.


The following Clark County men left by chartered bus October 5 for Minneapolis and were inducted into the army: Elroy Gottschalk, Colby; Gerald W. Uhlig, Colby; John Denk, Greenwood; Richard A. Catlin, Loyal; Allen Schoonover, Loyal; George Albrecht, Neillsville; Walter J. Grabon, Thorp; Richard J. Szymanski, Thorp; Dennis G. Ewald, Unity.                                                                                    


A meeting of the new Homemakers Club of Loyal was held in the municipal building Thursday evening, October 14. Hostesses were Mrs. Edward Brown and Mrs. Clarence Brecht. At this meeting, the name, “Live and Learn” was chosen for the club, and the hostesses and project chairman were chosen for the year. The club will meet at the municipal building the second Thursday of each month. Mrs. Edward Brown, health chairman, presented the topic, “Blood,” and the coming of the Blood Mobile to Loyal, December 1, was discussed. Mrs. John Olsen and Mrs. Bob Bredlau demonstrated the project “Winter Bouquets.”


The new club has 22 members, Miss Sarah Steele, Clark County home agent, attended the meeting. Mrs. Dale Young and Mrs. Sherman L. Mack will be project leaders for the next meeting, November 1.


(The homemakers clubs were initiated through the University of Wisconsin-Extension program, with Clark County’s first club starting in 1939. It was during the time when most housewives weren’t working outside of the home. They had time to learn additional homemaking skills such as menu planning, home décor and craft ideas, the home-related projects that were presented at the homemakers clubs monthly meetings. It also was a means of socializing with homemaker friends.


In 1967, there were 66 homemakers clubs in Clark County. There are now only seven that remain with one in the Owen area; two in the Greenwood area; two in Loyal, Live & Learn and Town and Country; and two in Neillsville, Hilltop and Candlelight.


The Candlelight Homemakers Club has been active for 78 years, having started in 1941 with the following members: Velda Kalsow, Mary Heimstead, Esther Dankemeyer, Ruth Van Gorden, Macil Swenson, Edna Georgas, Mrs. Bruss and Edna Beyer. DZ)                                


Four youths of Clark County have won places on the state honor roll for outstanding 4-H work. They are Linda Suckow of Neillsville, Janice E. West of Neillsville, Lois Gerber of Chili and Alma Hautamaki of Owen. In making the awards, Robert Clark, state 4-H club leader, states that the honor has been won by “topnotch work in farm and home projects and in community leadership.”


Only 29 such awards gave have been for the entire state, with Clark County capturing four of them, significant proof of the interest taken in 4-H work in this area. The 29 have been chosen as the best of 43,000 members.


Those chosen for the honor roll are in position to compete for further state and national awards.


Linda Suckow was recognized to clothing; Janice west for food preservation; Lois Gerber for foods; Alma Hautamaki for junior leadership.                                                      


The cranberry crop of Edlen marsh, Town of Hewett, is in the last stage of preparation for the market. The berries have been raked from the beds. The last of them are going through the operation of sorting and packing at Humbird. Soon the end will come of the 1954 season in an enterprise about which little is known.


The marsh is 18 acres of beauty in the season of bloom. The flowering time falls usually in the first 10 days of July. Then the beds, 18 acres of them, are covered with white bell-shaped blossoms, with the beds appearing almost solid white.


The ordinary crop, such as that of this year, runs about 100 barrels per acre, about 300 bushels, 100 pounds to the bushel. This means that each acre yields about 30,000 pounds.





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