Kenneth Kirn, Chairman of the Town of Hendren announced the planning of a celebration to honor the Centennial of the Village of Willard, called Slovenian Heritage Days. The village of Willard is named after Willard Foster, the founder of the Foster Lumber Company, which owned the land encompassing the region. Progress was measured by the introduction of a railroad founded to transport logs from the region to other parts of the United States. The railroad, named the Fairchild and Northeastern Railroad, ran between Fairchild, then the headquarters for the logging enterprise and Greenwood, Wisconsin. Willard became a stop in the middle of the line. Ignace Cesnik working for Mr. Foster sold lots in the service area. He advertised that the land was somewhat like that in Slovenia to the workers and miners who immigrated to the Iron Range, Copper Country, and Waukegan, Illinois. The news was spread by the newspapers and publications in which Mr. Cesnik advertised the sale of the land. The people responded to his advertisements in the local Slovenian language newspapers and by the 1930's, Willard was the largest Slovenian farming community in the United States. Ignace's grandson, Jim Cesnik, will speak at the dedication of Settler's Park. A Centennial Committee has been formed. For more information contact Ken Kirn by email or call (715) 533-1715, mailing address is N8285 Bachelors Avenue, Willard, WI 54493..
To celebrate the centennial, stones will be set in the floor of the kozolec (a Slovenian hay rack), located in Settler's Park in Willard. Stones contain the date that pioneers settled in the Willard area along with their names. Willard, a small village containing a church, stores, and houses served the Hendren, Mead and Foster Townships in Clark County. The village was originally located in the west half of the Town of Eaton, but was merged into the new Town of Hendren in 1911.
Each stone costs $50. They can be ordered from Larry Pakiz, treasurer of the Centennial Committee. Draft the check to "Centennial Committee" and mail to Larry Pakiz, W 6398 Sladich Road, Greenwood, WI 54437, along with the name of the pioneer you wish to honor.
Purchase of a button provides the wearer attendance at special events. The price is $3.
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