July 15, 2020  Page 9

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Extracted by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Clark County News


June 11, 1953



July 16, 1953 Posda Awaits Uncle Sam’s Verdict on the Charred Remains of $29,444


Savings of Thorp Farmer now Ashes and Molten Metal


For $29,444, George Posda and his family, town of Thorp, are hanging upon the skill of 26 smart women in the treasury department of the United States at Washington. These women have before them two bundles, weighing a total of 52 pounds, the remains of coins and paper money which went through the fire at the Posda home on May 20.


These packages contain most of the liquid assets of Mr. Posda, Mrs. Posda and several of their children. The remains of the money, molten masses and black ashes, were carried to Washington by a messenger of the First Wisconsin Bank of Milwaukee. He traveled by air. The personal messenger was used because of the hazard of entrusting the remains to mail or express.


The handling of this remnant has been expensive. First step of the Posdas was to make a thorough search of the basement, into which all the debris of the fire had fallen. The money had been kept in cans. The cans had dropped from the first and second floors to the basement. The Posdas kept careful guard day and night, while their search was on. They finally located what they believed to be all of the remains of the money.


Two Heavy Packages


The first step in salvage was to seek the service of the Thorp Exchange Bank. To that bank, they took the remnants in two packages, tied with rope. The bank received the packages for safe keeping and then presented the problem to the bank’s Milwaukee correspondent, the First Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bank sent a man up to get the packages. He took them to Milwaukee. Having seen the condition of the remnants, the personnel of the bank recommended the air trip and asked for acceptance of the expense involved. Mr. Posda gave the acceptance.


The Posdas have not been led to expect quick action. Months are likely to pass, they have been told, before the word can come of the amount of the salvage. They know that meanwhile the 26 skilled women, one or more of them, will be examining the remnants with magnifying glasses and picking apart the paper money with sharp instruments. What the women have for their work is no strange gadget; it is just skill, based upon years of experience. On the average they salvage a surprising proportion of the money submitted to them.


Fought to Get it


The greater part of the money, $25,120, belong to Mr. Posda personally. It was contained in two tin cans and was in a cupboard in his bedroom on the first floor. With the house ablaze, he made an extreme effort to get to the money and to save it. Driven back the first time by heavy clouds of smoke, he opened a window to give the smoke an outward draught, and then tried it again.


Against this second attempt, the neighbors who had gathered warned him. If he tried it, one or more shouted to him, he must not expect an effort to save him if he were to be overcome. To them it seemed that the heat and flames were beyond human endurance.


Flames Hit Him


But to George Posda the challenge was irresistible. The money in the cans was the greater part of the savings of a lifetime. So, he opened a window at the front of the house to give the smoke a chance to escape. Then he went into the door and groped his way toward the vital cupboard. He actually managed to get within two or three feet of his goal, when the flames leaped out at him. They licked at his face and his right hand. Their deathly threat was beyond human endurance. To George Posda there was an instant choice between the life savings and life itself. He chose life and ran from there while he could.


Masses of Metal


The fire did a complete job on the large brick veneered house. When the blaze had done its work, everything was in the basement. When the salvage cooled, the Posdas learned the intensity of the heat. Practically all metal was twisted or fused. One of the married daughters had a silver set, which she had left at home. The silver became just a mass of metal. The daughter Louise, now Mrs. Louis Skwierczynski of Chicago, had $10 in pennies. They came out a fused mass of metal, as did $150 of silver and other coins. The silver of the daughter Agnes, $125, came out as a metal mass. In addition to the metal, Louise had $250 in bills, according to her reckoning, while Agnes had $200 in bills. The daughter Agnes is now Mrs. Nick Skwierczynski, the two sisters having married brothers.


Home was a Bank


The children of the family, brought up to work and save, had used the family home as a sort of bank. Departing for service in Korea, the son Leonard, 24 and unmarried, had locked his possessions in a metal container about 18 inches long and shaped something like an electric oven. Upon this he had put a heavy padlock. He left it in his room upstairs. When found in the basement, this container had holes in it, where the heat had melted the metal away. Inside were visible charred remains of papers, and other blackened items, the nature of which could not be discerned. In addition to whatever was in this metal box, Leonard had in the house $549 which he had sent to his mother, and which she had tucked away. Leonard had also sent to his brother Florian, 20, who graduated from Thorp High with the class of 1953, a lot of Japanese shirts and jackets. They all went up in smoke, along with $23 in money.


Theresa, 16, had as a younger girl made a business of saving the pennies which came her way. Members of the family had helped her. She had a can full of them. They came out a molten mass. Their son Walter, 20 and single, kept his money in a can in his room. The estimate is that he had $3,000. Mrs. Posda (Rose) lost $100 or more of her own money.


George had Counted


The heavy loser was George, the head of the family. He has $25,120. He says that he is sure of the amount because he had recently been counting his money with the purpose of buying a farm for Leonard, against his return from the war. But the farm deal fell through, and George had continued to keep his money in the tin cans.


In submitting their claim to the treasury department, the Posdas made the customary affidavit, stating the amount of their loss and such details as they could give. This affidavit went to Washington with the remains of the money.


The use of their home as a depository had been taught to George Posda by his late father, Martin Posda.


Martin had Lost


Prior to the Depression Martin had done business with a bank which is not located in Clark County. When the Depression closed down, he suffered in that relation a loss of about $2,400. That made him distrustful of banks, and he began to be his own custodian. He taught George the same way, and George’s children took it up. They were not changed by the fact that bank deposits are now protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


This insured protection, The Press is told, is not being fully considered by various other persons of Clark County, more especially those of old world background. There are said to be many tin cans serving as repositories in Clark County, especially in the northwesterly part of the county.


Bent But Not Broken


As for George Posda, he has had a hard setback, but he is not licked. In his sixties, he feels the inevitable discouragement consequent upon possible loss of so much money. He has worked hard, has denied himself and has saved. He wonders whether it has paid out. But he has health, cheeks of good color, a kindly outlook, two splendid farms in the so-called Junction section of the Town of Thorp and 35 cows giving the good rich milk.


Mr. Posda can recall when he and his father were much worse off. That was back at the turn of the century, when the Posda family shook from its feet the dust of Chicago and tried to settle down in the wilds of northwest Clark County. Leaving Chicago’s dust, they landed in the wet of the virgin land. They sheltered themselves in a shack and did their cooking under a hemlock tree. They had something like $123 to go upon, and it did not take an excess of brain power to tell them that this was not enough. They could not make money fast enough in Clark County. So, Martin and George left Rose with the smaller children, and went back to Chicago. There they worked and saved until they could accumulate a nest egg and bring it back to Clark County.


Regardless of the discouragement, George Posda and his family are plowing ahead. The family has moved into the little house on the old Martin Posda place, now owned by George Posda. George himself, with an eye on the property, is sleeping in the barn not far from the ruins. Already he is at work upon foundations for a new and better home, to be erected upon the same site as the burned house and to use in part the same foundation walls.


George Posda and Son with Molten Remains

Shown here, in pail and kettle, are molten pieces of the courser metals, with some of a daughter’s silverware mixed up in it. Between the two is the box of Leonard Posda, son who is in Korea. He got most of his valuables in this box and locked it before departing for his work as a soldier. Clearly visible are the holes in the box, where the metal burned off. Behind the two is what is left of a new deep-freeze and which had just cost the Posdas more than $400. This picture was taken in the basement of the burned home. The Clark County Press Photo.



Tax Valuation of City is Up $36,210


The board of review of the city of Neillsville started its work Monday with a relatively calm session. Complaints were not in evidence. After spending a day on the roll, the board adjourned to Friday evening, when a session will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The total assessed valuation of the city, as the roll was turned in, was $5,106,630, up $36,210 from the roll last year. The increase was in the valuation placed upon realty, which for 1953 is $4,204,450, up $50,740 from the previous year. The valuation of personal is $902,180, down $14,530 from last year.



Dr. Noetzel Brings Bride for a Visit - Other news of Greenwood By Miss Louise Keiner


Dr. and Mrs. Grover A.J. Noetzel of Coral Gables, Fla., arrived here Sunday for a visit with his mother, Mrs. A.H. Noetzel. Dr. Noetzel and the former Miss Anna Nancy Dobbins, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. R.B. Dobbins of Warren, Ohio, were married June 11 and will reside at “The Venetia” 2800 Toledo Road. Dr. Noetzel is associated with the University of Miami as the school of business administration.


Leaves for Overseas


Staff Sgt. and Mrs. LeRoy Plunkett are spending several days here with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Plunkett, before leaving for Minneapolis. Sgt. Plunkett expects to leave soon for overseas duty. Miss Alice Ann Plunkett and niece Beth Plunkett of Madison spent the weekend here with their parents and grandparents.



$32,000 Voted as Loyal School Levy


The school meeting Monday evening voted to transfer the $6,201.88 in the sinking fund to the building fund. It was also voted to transfer an additional $18,000 from the general fund to the building fund that the new grade addition may be completed according to the original plans. A levy of $32,000 for next year’s expenses was recommended by the board and accepted. Celen Gotter was elected to succeed himself as treasurer for a term of three years. It was again voted to furnish free text books. V.O. Kauffman, Clyde Grambsch and M.G. Hales were appointed as auditing committee.



David A. Miller is Wounded in Korea – other Granton News By Mrs. F.E. Winn


Mr. and Mrs. Ira Miller, Route 1, have received word that their son, Sgt. David A. Miller, of the 14th infantry had been wounded in action in Korea to such an extent that he is being returned to the United States. His wife and daughter are living in North Dakota.


Heart Attack for Mr. Lee


Price Lee suffered a light heart attack last Friday. His sister, Mrs. Levi Morris, Washington D.C., and his daughter, Mrs. Wally Olson, Milwaukee, are here visiting at his home for several days.


Daughter for Hillerts   


Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hillert received word Monday morning that a daughter has been born to their son and daughter-in- law, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Hillert.  






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