Parker Unveils Granton History Book
 "A Stop on the Stage Route"


Jay Parker 2016



Author Jay Parker, a 1982 graduate of Granton High School, sells a copy of his new book “Granton: A Stop on the Stage Route” to an appreciative customer at the Granton all-school reunion held Aug. 6 at the Neillsville American Legion Club. (Photo by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)   


By Todd Schmidt

Practically anything you want to know about the history of the village of Granton is contained in a wonderful new book authored by Jay Parker, a 1982 graduate of Granton High School.

The compilation, entitled “Granton: A stop on the Stage Route,” was unveiled hot off the press at the Granton Multi-Year Reunion held Aug. 6 at the Neillsville American Legion Club.  One after another, Granton alumni stopped by a display table to chat with Parker.  Many of them had provided Parker with photos and information included in the 196-page book; quite a few people purchased a copy singed by the author.

Parker began his literary journey six years ago at the Granton Fall Festival.  He handed out flyers introducing the project and asking for an input available.

In the foreword section of the book, Parker explains why he put forth the effort to design and publish the book.  He decided to assemble the material in chronological order.

“In my search for old things, I began to find items related to my hometown of Granton,” he wrote.  “Maybe a photograph or postcard, perhaps a pen or calendar given by a business o a customer, sometimes the name of a business of which I’d never heard.  These I salted away and looked for more.”

Parker said his book does not touch on the lies of every person who lived in Granton.  He focused primarily on the people and events within the village’s boundaries, noting that the accomplishments of everyone beyond those borders had as much to do with Granton’s growth and success as anyone else’s.

Through his research, Parker was amazed at how any buildings have come and gone and the number of businesses that have changed location over time.

“I hope this book encourages the preservation of the very few remaining original buildings from the 1900-1910 eras,” Parker said.

During the collection phase, parker said he worked with people who provided valuable photos, documents and other material that shed new light on old puzzles, while raising new questions as well.

“I became fascinated by the idea that photos from 100 years ago or more are still safely secreted away, but attainable, while most of the literally millions of digital photos taken today are deleted a short time later, the information they contain gone forever, as well,” he said.

Parker said he wished he could have started the project 10 years earlier, because some of the information and people have been lost over time.

“But then I also realized that, even if I would have started 10 years earlier, I would have thought that I should have started 10 years before that,” he said.

Parker started a website that gave people an idea what he was looking for.  He had to change platforms of design once because the manufacturer no longer supported his software.

As he experimented with technology, Parker was blown away by the quality of some of the photos taken in the early 1900s.

“They used large negatives, which captured great detail,” he said.  “You can’t experience that with digital photos today.”

One particular photo stood out for parker.

“We worked with a picture, making a positive out of a negative,” he said.  “On a large screen, the photo just jumped out at me.  I thought I was standing in the woods with the people.  The detail was outstanding, right down to the wrinkles on the faces of the people.

“I just tried to find the right niche to get people talking,” he added.  “Some people lived in the country and never went to town.  There was really no information available on their stories and experiences.”

Parker sent a mailing to each Granton graduate listed in the Multi-Year Reunion book seeking information.  He also gathered a lot of information poring through file issues of The Clark County Press and its predecessors, plus online newspapers archives.  He obtained some photographs and information from Clark County 1897 Jail Museum records and Marathon County Historical Society archives.

“Sometimes it was easier to get information from 100 years ago than 40 years ago,” he noted.

 Postcards made by James Colby of the former Northern Photo Company proved to be invaluable.

“There were at least 10 of them I had never seen before,” Parker said.

He solved the mystery of where the bandstand was located in Granton.  He discovered it was shown in one of the old postcard photos of Maple Street.

“It was across the street from today’s city hall, in an area where the Amish now hitch their horses, he said.  “At first, I was unsure what the building was, because I didn’t know what I was looking for.”

Overall, Parker said he was satisfied with his finished project.

“There was one time when I was laying in bed and remembered a picture I forgot to place with the text after it was sent to the printer,” Parker said.  “Originally I thought the process might take three to five years.  Life gets in the way and slows things down.  I was concerned that some people who contributed wouldn’t be able to see the finished product.”

Parker said his book includes 430 photos, advertisements and illustrations.  One page contains the architectural drawing of the existing water tower.

Currently, Parker’s book is available at the Granton Municipal Office, the Granton Community Library and the 1897 Clark County Jail Museum.  The book will also be a prominent feature at the upcoming Granton Fall Festival Sept. 9-11.

The link to the Granton book webpage is

  Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 24, 2016

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon, August 25, 2016

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, August 27, 2016

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