Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

January 1, 2020  Page 10 

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled and Contributed by Dee Zimmerman

January 1880


The Odd Fellows and their Rebecca’s’ held a watch meeting at their hall Wednesday night, and to a man down below, seemed to be having a very lively and pleasant time.


(The “watch meeting” was thus because the party attendees were “watching” the clock to see when the New Year arrived. DZ)                                                                            


Deputy Sheriff Philpot last Monday arrested John Clark of Loyal on the charge of larceny, the alleged offense being the stealing of a hive of bees from D.J. Kinnery sometime last fall. He pled guilty before Justice Kountz of this place and was fined ten dollars and costs.


The arrest grew out of the Grim forgery matter mentioned elsewhere. Out of revenge for Clark’s information against him, Grim preached the matter of the theft of the bee hive, in which he was the leader, and which seems Clark and several other fellows participated in through boyish spirit of mischief, and not of any gain, as watermelons are sometimes stolen by those who have more than they want at home. In pleading guilty he disclaimed any criminal intent.                                                           


The undersigned give notice that they wish to make contracts for 500,000 staves, to be delivered at Neillsville or at some place on the line from Neillsville to Hatfield. Also wish to purchase a lot of white oak stumpage for all of which cash will be paid.


Cole & Pashelles, Neillsville, Wis.


(A stave is a narrow length of wood with a slightly beveled edge to form the sides of barrels, tanks, tubs and vats, originally handmade by coopers. In earlier times, there were a few men living in Neillsville who were cooper craftsmen in the business of making kegs and barrels.


In January of 1880, Sterns planing mill was turned into a stave factory. The factory was ale to put out a much faster production of staves. DZ)                                                         


Quite a number of Indians have put in appearances here during the past week, and as usual they were “heap hungry,” and ready to carry away all that ‘begging’ provided them.


Little Bessie Crandall has said that while she was away from home on a visit last week, an Indian squaw gave her mama a little baby girl. There have been a good many squaws about lately, and there are some more families that can expect visits from them soon.


A few days ago, an old squaw favored Hi Hart’s household with a call, leaving a little boy.


The recent late thaw has served as a warning to ice dealers and those who design in packing away some for their own use, and they are now preparing to take advantage of good enough instead of waiting for thicker and better.


(I remember in the late 1930s, a neighbor who lived by the James River would saw blocks of ice on the frozen-over river. He would then haul the ice blocks to be stored in a cave near the river’s bank. There were layers of sawdust at the bottom of the cave and after the ice blocks were in place, buckets of sawdust were strewn over the ice, which served as an insulation that kept it from thawing during warm weather. My dad would help him with the ice harvest project. Our family would get ice from that cave so as to occasionally have homemade ice cream. DZ)                                                                                        


Parties from Colby were present at the opening of the legislature with that little bill for the division of Clark County in hand. Better take it back boys. We love you too well to allow a divorce with such immodest alimony as you ask.                                                                                             


The boys in the woods have gotten to show their generosity very frequently. Last week, Wm. Palmer’s logging camp, lost a horse. His camp fellows at once chipped in and raised the sum of $80 for him, with which he was enabled to replace the lost horse and continue to work.                            


Robert W. Canfield, of Levis, met with a very serious accident on the East Fork, on Wednesday. An axe in the hands of a fellow worker caught in the twig of a tree, changed its course without stopping its force, striking Canfield a full blow near the knee. We understand there is a danger of amputation being necessary.


The latter part of this week, Hans Hanson, a Norwegian blacksmith engaged by F.D. Lindsay in Dave Mason’s camp, came to town and got onto one of his old-fashioned benders. After trying every other way to get him back to camp, he was tied onto a wagon on Monday and they started off with Hans swearing till everything was blue. At Hewettville, he was released upon his promise that he would proceed with the team and wagon back to camp.


January 1940


The above photo was taken some time after construction of the 1940 O’Neill Creek bridge had been completed. The Oatman Milk Products plant is shown in the background.


Construction of a new concrete bridge over O’Neill Creek on South Hewett Street was started Wednesday morning. Contractors expected to have their work in full swing today.


Most of the first day on the job was taken up with the laying of grades for the bridge and approaches, being done by the state highway department engineers. However, it was expected that excavating for the footings of the new bridge might be started late in the afternoon.


According to Clifford Nelson, engineer in charge for the Swenson & Christianson Construction Co. contractors, the work is expected to move relatively slow during the extreme cold weather. The contract allows 180 days for completion, which is a comfortable allowance under ordinary conditions.


About 20 men will make up the crew when the heaviest construction work is being done, C.E. Christianson, of Black River Falls, member of the firm, said. The contract provides for the securing of day labor through the county relief program.                                                                        


The first marriage license application made in Clark County in 1940 was that of Frank Arch, 30, of the Town of Eaton, and Rose Jordan, 27, of the Town of Warner, on the third day of the New Year. The ceremony is planned to take place January 13 in Greenwood.                                 


A notice, clarifying the revision of the resident rod and reel fishing license law, was received this week by County Clerk Calvin Mills from Barney Devine, the state’s chief conservation warden. Mr. Devine states that the law now provides that all residents, regardless of age, must have a license, if they are fishing with more than one line; and that all persons 18 year of age or older who fish with rod and reel must purchase a resident fishing license.


(That was a period of time when those fishing with a cane pole and line weren’t required to have a fishing license. DZ)                                                                                        


Two Willard youths recently joined the United States Navy, according to word received here from P.J. Cass, Navy recruiting officer stationed at Eau Claire. They are Edward W. Bayuk and Ludwig B. Koschak. They will receive eight weeks of training at the Great Lakes Naval training station in Illinois, and then will be transferred to ships of the fleet.                                                                              


The official thermometer here was going through a number of gyrations this week, after touching 23 degrees below zero last Thursday night, January 18. It was the coldest weather recorded here since the prolonged cold spell of 1936, when the mercury descended to 31 below.


For six consecutive days, the mercury went into the sub-strata, reaching its lowest depth at sunup Friday. The preceding below was recorded on the day following.


Thirty-two telephone calls inquiring about the temperature were received Friday morning at the Henry Markwardt farm where the official weather instruments are located.


A ghostly grey shell, Seventh Street landmark of thriving, and not-so-thriving, industrial enterprises of Neillsville’s past, was doomed to the wrecker’s bar and hammer this week.


The rambling, weather-beaten old structure now being razed is located opposite the Neillsville Milk Products cooperative plant and has been known during the last generation as “the old drier plant.” People who had invested in the future of that concern even today speak of it with mixed emotions.


This building which housed the plant was being wrecked this week by Harris and Anderson, professional wreckers of Winona, Minn. They purchased the building and land from Joseph Duedenhoefer of Chicago, who was one of the investors in the old dehydrating plant. And in about three months from now the building will have been torn down, stick by stick.


Although the building is associated more closely with the dehydrating plant, a business built and killed in almost the same breath by World War I, it has been the center of more than one industrial hope of Neillsville during its more-than-55-year existence,


History of the building dates back to the early 1880s when the original structure, which formed only a small part  of the large building of later years, was constructed for the manufacture of washboards.


Instead of the usual zinc rubbing plate, the washboards made there were of glass. And glass, on which the business was founded, also caused its downfall.


The stock company was formed as the Crystal Glass Washboard factory and manufactured the product of the inventive mind of the late G. A. Balch, father of F.O. Balch, retired merchant. Among the investors were James Hewett, George L. Lloyd, F.A. Balch and R.W. Balch, his son.


A bright future was foreseen for the new industry, and the company started with a bang. It purchased a glass factory in La Crosse, which originally was built to supply glass bottles for La Crosse breweries, but it had stopped production.


There was a reason for halting the production of the bottles, however that reason was not discovered by officials of the washboard company until those washboards started cracking, seemingly without cause. Then they learned that the beer bottles previously made there also had the habit of literally disintegrating. Investigation of the matter by Mr. Sniteman, George Lloyd, Loren Balch, manager of the plant for some time, and the others revealed that the sand used in the manufacture of the glass did not make a tough enough product.


So, the plant started getting glass from the Mississippi Glass Co. of St. Louis, Mo. This glass was tough enough but the freight to Neillsville proved prohibitive, and the concern, which had provided employment for eight or ten Neillsville men came to an inglorious end after six or seven years of operation. The Mississippi Glass Co. took over the patent and according to Fred Balch, still makes the old Crystal Glass Company’s washboard.


For a short time, the building stood idle. Then Morris Horn and Carl Rabinstein, one-time publisher of the Deutscher-Amerikaner organized the Neillsville Overall factory and located in the building. Theis took place in the early 1890s.


The overall factory prospered for several years and provided constant employment for many Neillsville women during its peak sessions of production. After some time, Mr. Horn moved on to Eau Claire, and Carl Rabinstein, Jr., took over the management of the plant. The company reached the point where it considered expansion of the factory. But, as older members of the city recall, there was some difficulty about securing the labor necessary for the enlargement operations, so the plant moved to Eau Claire in about 1907.


Once more the industrial hopes of the city entered around its grey hulk as the first World War progressed. There was an urgent cry for vegetables and fruits of smaller bulk, but with all their goodness left intact.


This method of dehydration, or removing of water from vegetables was developed, and people of Neillsville looked forward with enthusiasm toward the prospect of a booming industry. In 1916, the National Food Preserving Company, a stock concern with local residents and Chicago men as heavy investors, stuffed in its safe a government contract for the majority of its dried vegetables. Business went ahead merrily. Then the building was enlarged extensively.


The business even developed to the point of dehydrating such things as mushrooms and packaging them in small bags for household consumption. However, there were  two things wrong; the war didn’t last long enough, and the product did not find the anticipated domestic market.


Thus, when the Treaty of Versailles halted the World War it also drew the strangling noose about the dehydrating industry, which had been created by the necessities of the war.


Again, in 1919, the grey building was turned into an egg-packing plant and slaughterhouse by Otto Ebling and William Schultz; but this business lasted only a short time until Ebling and Schultz moved to another city.


(The photo on the “Good old Days” page of the Dec.18 issue of the Clark County Press had an error as to the year it was taken. It should have stated that the photo was taken in the 1950s. After the paper was published, two gentleman called our office with the correction, saying the car shown in the center of the photo was that of a 1956  Ford, and one of the men also said: “Best car ever made!” DZ) 




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