Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 13, 2019  Page 9 

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled and Contributed by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


World War I – Veteran’s Life Story


( In observance of Veterans Day this week, the following story relates to a World War I veteran’s survival and journey. Later he became a citizen of the United States. Family members shared what they remembered about veteran Henry’s military life. D.Z.)


Nicholas II was the last tsar of Russia under Romanov rule. Nicholas was born on May 6, 1868 in Pushkin, Russia. He inherited the throne when his father, Alexander III, died in 1894.


Although Nicholas II believed in autocracy, he was eventually forced to create an elected legislature. Nicholas II’s handling of Bloody Sunday and World War I incensed his subjects and led to his abdication.


Over the course of World War I, Russia endured major losses and was subject to extreme poverty and high inflation. The Russian public blamed Nicholas II for his poor military decisions, and Empress Alexandra for her ill-advised role in government. Because Alexandra was originally from Germany, the suspicions spread that she might have even deliberately sabotaged Russia, ensuring its defeat in the war. Bolshevik members executed Nicholas II and his family on the night of July 16, 1918 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.


The Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia was a first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II who served as commander-in-chief and general of the Russian Imperial Army units. The general owned a large estate in Russia. He was known to be a religious man, who prayed in the morning, as well as before each meal and in the evening at bedtime. His relaxation was spent by hunting on his estate, while riding on one of his fine horses, accompanied by his hunting dogs.


Henry Buzay was a first cousin of my grandmother Maria (Mach) Stach. They both grew up on a little village, near Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, located 30 miles from Vienna, Austria.


Henry was called to serve his country during World War I, by becoming a soldier of the Slovakian army. Soon after their training, as he and some members of his unit entered the war zone, they were captured by enemy troops. They then were taken to a Siberian prison. A few days after imprisonment, the Russian General Grand Duke Nicholas went to the Siberian prison asking to have three men released into his custody, to work on his estate. The general wanted a baker and Henry’s occupation being listed on the prison records as a baker, qualified him to be given to the general’s custody. The other two men chosen were a groundskeeper and caretaker of the livestock.



Those three men’s lives were no doubt saved by the general’s actions, because most of the other prisoners kept in the Siberian prison would eventually die of cholera.


Henry said, “The general was a kind man, who treated us well.”


Each day, when their assigned duties were completed, they were free to read, play cards or participate in ways of relaxation as long as they stayed on the premises. As Henry said, “We had no desire to escape.”


Two days before Christmas 1917, the general called together Henry and the other two men held in his custody.


He told them they were free to leave, saying, “If I am asked of your whereabouts, I will say I don’t know when you left, or where you have gone.”


On that Christmas Eve, the three men dressed warmly, packed provisions they could carry on their backs and left in the darkness. They walked during the night, stopping to hide during the daytime as they made their way across Ukraine to Chernobyl, then across the border into Poland, where they chose to walk through the swamplands still in fear of being recognized as prison escapes.


They continued walking, finding ways for self-support as they traveled homeward. It took a full year before they reached their homeland, arriving in time for Christmas of 1918. Henry’s family was shocked, but pleasantly surprised to see him, as they had heard no word of him since the day he left with the Slovakian army. They thought he had been killed while in battle.


The Russian general had saved Henry and the other two men’s lives twice, the first time when he took them from the Siberian prison and again the day he told them they were free to leave his custody.


I believe it was due to the general’s Christian values that he made the decision to release the three men from his custody to freedom. The general apparently, at that point, knew it was only a matter to time before the Bolsheviks would take over the government in Russia, along with his estate and property. He also knew that then he and his wife’s lives would be threatened, due to being a cousin of Nicholas II.


Early in 1918, the general and his wife fled ahead of the Russian army, going into exile at a little chateau about 20 miles from Paris, France, where they lived out their lives. The general died there in 1929.


Sometime after Cousin Henry’s return home and back to civilian life, he and his two brothers decided they would like to immigrate to the United States. At that time, the only Slovakian immigrants being accepted were those wanting to farm, which required passing a written test. The three brothers took the test, with only Henry passing. The next requirement was for a citizen of the United States sign a written agreement that they would sponsor the immigrant until he or she could become self-supporting. Henry knew my grandparents, Joseph and  Maria Stach, had become American citizens three years after immigrating to the United States in 1904-05.


Through the years, my grandmother had continued writing to her relatives in Slovakia. The necessary sponsorship papers were sent to Grandpa and Grandma who then signed and returned the document.


Cousin Henry arrived at Ellis Island, where he stayed briefly with Grandma’s uncle in Schenectady, NY. From there he traveled by train to southeastern South Dakota, where he would live with my grandparents on their farm. Soon he was referred to a job as a baker in an ethnic German bakery in Chicago, considered as one of the immigrants’ “melting pot” cities in America. Having learned the German language while working in Vienna, Austria, Henry adjusted well to working there.


Living frugally and saving as much money as possible, Henry later returned to South Dakota.


At the age of 40, he married. Then, he and his wife Mary purchased equipment to start a bakery business in a small town.


After two years, they moved their business to Woonsocket, the county seat and larger town where their business thrived. Our family occasionally stopped to visit Henry and Mary while they were working and baking. We were always offered a treat of fresh bakery and I would always choose to have a jelly-filled bismark.


Upon one of those visits, my mother asked for a cinnamon roll recipe as she watched Henry working, rolling out the dough. That recipe has been passed down through the generations and is a recipe that I use to make cinnamon rolls.


Henry and Mary had a son and daughter. After they retired from the bakery business, they bought a farm where they crop-farmed and raised some beef cattle.


One Sunday, after the end of World War II, a young man who was a family member came to visit Henry and Mary. That young man had recently been released from federal prison, imprisoned due to having refused to honor the call to serve in the United States Navy at the beginning of World War II.


When Henry answered the knock at the house door that day and saw who was there, he said, “Any man who refuses to protect his country’s freedom in a time of war, is not welcome in my home,” and then closed the door.


When other members of our family heard of the incident, they understood and respected Henry’s response.


Henry and Mary lived to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Henry died a year later at the age of 91. After his death, Mary wrote me a long letter telling of Henry’s life experiences during World War I.



The above photo was of a freight train as it passed through on the Neillsville railroad tr4ack during World War II and as it made a stop by the station depot.


November 1944


Many stores and offices will be closed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, Armistice Day, and will remain closed for the rest of the day. Retail stores will be open generally on Friday evening, Nov. 10.


At 11 a.m. the city siren will sound, and it is expected that there will be a ringing of church bells and blowing of factory whistles.


This arrangement is being made in accordance with a request from the Neillsville American Legion and Auxiliary.                                                                                     


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 Cheese Factory in the Town of Seif.                                                                


The most basic aspect of the big Wisconsin conservation job, most conservationists agree, is reforestation and forestry promotion in general.


Now comes the revelation that the Wisconsin conservation commission has far advanced a plan that would, if put into execution, more than double the normal reforestation efforts of the state.


Up to 100,000,000 trees planted annually, that is the goal of the state’s postwar reforestation plan, according to commission members. Not only will the state continue and give new emphasis to reforestation in the northern Wisconsin forest zone, but it has also prepared a plan in collaboration with the federal AAA that would popularize forestry as a sideline for thousands of farmers in the agricultural counties of Wisconsin.


State tree nurseries are now being readied for the tremendous production that will be expected of them in the future, and the state has leased the federal nursery at Hayward to augment its own facilities.


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 Central 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 to the Sunnybrook School at Columbia. It contemplates the closing of that school and the continuance of the school is 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. The school at Columbia must close on November 15.


The Hill Top Homemakers Club met Wednesday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Martha Eberhardt. Mrs. Albert Meihack assisted with the lunch. Mrs. Elsie Gress and Mrs. Herbert Miller gave a demonstration on fitting a pattern.


(During that era, most women sewed clothing for their family, such as dresses, blouses, shirts and aprons. Fitting a pattern was knowledge helpful in sewing projects.


We now know that the Hill Top Homemakers Club has been in existence for at least 75 years and probably longer. DZ)                                                                                  


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 Bells long 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 communication is so serious under the present war conditions that the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. are offering a reward for conviction in case such damage was due to negligence or malice.       


The school children of Clark County demonstrated their ability to collect milkweed pods this past fall, by bringing in a total of 3,095 sacks. A total of $781.30 was paid to the children on the basis of 20 cents per sack.


This milkweed floss goes to making up flight jackets. Two sacks of milkweed pods will yield enough milkweed floss to make up one flight jacket. Therefore, in Clark County the school children will know they have collected enough milkweed pods to fill 1,982 flight jackets for army pilots almost enough to supply one jacket for every army pilot in the armed forces.


(That means there was a lot of milkweed growing withing the ditches and along the fence lines in Clark County that year. There wasn’t a doubt that less milkweed plants grew the following year with so many having been picked by the children. The milkweed pods also contained little brown seeds within the pods, which were later separated from the floss and discarded. That resulted in less pods to fall from the plants into the  ditches so as to reseed for the next year. DZ)





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