HISTORY OF WILLARD
By Steve Plautz to Jim Bayuk
December 23, 1976
(Recopied and Edited by Jean Govek from Original)
Joe Justin didn't have any children. Steve Legatt and J. J. had a store here. They came in 1911. I remember they kept store in the depot for a couple of days before they bought the store from Gus Sandberg and he moved out. I bought gallon of kerosene there. He pumped it out of a barrel. Joe was a great hunter and trapper. He didn't stay in the store very much. He was a likeable guy. Steve ran the store, then left about 1915. Then Joe's brother-in-law, George Kocancic came to work in the store. He was Mrs. Justin's brother.
Joe was always trapping, fishing and hunting. He was a great one to drink whiskey and wine. Everyone made wine in those days. My folks always had plenty of wine - also our neighbors. He liked to drink and he could carry a lot before showing any effects of alcohol. He liked the kids, the young boys. He always had a group of boys around him.
He and I were good friends. I had to cut poles for him one time, cordwood. Some guy left him holding a store bill, which he couldn't pay; but said he'd give Joe some cordwood. The wood was on land down south of where Mike Krultz lives now. I was out of the eighth grade (March, 1916). George got a team somewhere in Willard to haul the wood back to Willard. It was about four miles one-way. Soon after, they left Willard closing the store. I haven't seen them since.
Soon Ig Cesnik bought the store when he was the land agent for N. C. Foster Lumber Company. He used to live where Leo Gregorich lives.
N. C. Foster built a railroad from Fairchild to Owen. Before he went to Greenwood, he built a spur down to the Eau Claire River. He owned all the land here, which was covered with virgin pine and some white oak timber. He logged the timber and used the railroad to haul the logs out. When we came here in 1908, that railroad was abandoned. He had the rails pulled up. We used that railbed for a roadway. It was the only road we had in those days.
Dad came to Willard on September 9, 1908. He built a log cabin East of the Lucas property. Darwin Kokaly bought our land after my mother died.
(Jim had a picture here of Zallar's store and land office) Ig Cesnik and Mr. Zallar in front of store.
John Routar (Happy) came in 1910.
Father Kolan, first resident priest, picture taken in 1912 or 1913.
Another picture of the schoolhouse, used for church; now the SE portion of the school.
Mr. Lucas, John Routar, Frank Kokaly, Tony Trunkel, Father Boeckman, Mary Lesar's grandmother and Mr. Lesar. This school was built in 1909.
Another picture of Justin-Legatt store. This should be beside first paragraph. Ig Cesnik, Mrs. John Petkovsek and Mr. Zallar. Store was built in 1910.
Picture of Willard Depot and Pickle Station - built in 1910.
Mr. Cesnik came to Willard every day to meet the train. He picked up any newcomer that was interested in buying land. Trains came here about 7:30 A.M.; they had left Fairchild about 6:30 A.M.
We came to Willard on October 16th. Our uncle John Popovich lived with us in Calumet, Michigan. He worked in the mines and boarded with us ever since he came from Europe in 1902. We left Calumet October 12, Columbus Day, in the evening at 10:00 P.M. We rode most of the night. We changed trains in Astoria, Michigan and in Bibben, Wisconsin, Southeast of Ashland. The train was called "Little South Shore and Atlantic R.R.", it's the Soo Line now. My uncle came with us and John. Joe was just a baby so mother carried him. We sat up in the train all night. That morning we got to Bibben and had to wait for the Northwestern to take us to Eau Claire. Had to climb a long flight of steps. Bibben isn't on the map now. It was a junction for the above two trains. There is a tavern now, where Bibben was. We got to Eau Claire at 3:00 o'clock and waited until 9:00 for a train to come from St. Paul to take us to Fairchild. When the train came, I was so sleepy, I barely remember getting on the train. I don't remember anything until my Uncle was shaking me when we arrived in Fairchild. We walked up from the depot to the Gladstone Hotel. That's a nursing home now. It's near where the old Omaha Depot used to be. We stayed there that night. My Uncle went up on the Foster train early the next morning, before I woke up. He went to tell my Dad we were in Fairchild. He returned on the noon train to meet us and take us to another hotel called Stearns Hotel, a less expensive hotel. We stayed there two nights while they were buying furniture. When we came, we had no furniture and had to buy everything. On October 16th, we loaded it all on a boxcar and went to Willard. My Dad went to see Mr. Trunkel to get a team to haul the furniture in for us. My mother and I walked down to the Cesnik place. There was an old log camp where Foster had a logging camp (by Leo Gregorich's house). It was on an old railroad grade. It goes past Happy's, back of the parish house, along the trees. You can see signs of it yet, there is a ditch on each side. It went straight North through a field with a big fill (Ludwig Artac owns it now) West of Gabrovic's old place. Mrs. Cesnik showed us how to get to our place. We had to walk back towards Willard, then took a path through the woods that my Dad had made. It went through Cesnik's land, then to ours. We hit an old logging road there. It went past our land and West into Lucas'; an old tote road for many years.
We saw our new home, a cabin! We didn't have a well and had to carry our water from Cesnik's through the brush.
Fires! My gosh! Awful dry and hot that year in the woods. We had great big maples around our house and my Dad raked the leaves away, into the woods, so the fire wouldn't get up to the house. There was only 150 feet clearance between the house and the woods. You could see the fires light up the sky West of the middle mound at night. Mrs. Peroshek's brother came to sleep with us a couple of nights in case of a fire. We didn't have any water, just what we had carried from Cesnik's. We were afraid of the wolves at night.
I went to school at the logging camp building. Harvey Long was our teacher. Sam Long was his brother, who lived where Dan Boh lives now. Sam taught school in Gorman later on. Harvey taught here in 1908, '09, '10 and finished up in 1911. He sold out in 1912 and went back to Illinois.
Picture of logging camp school taken 1908. Mrs. Clair, Mr. Clair - he was killed in a sawmill, sons - Arnold and Allen, daughters: Ada, Alma and Betty.
Mr. Will Demeir had a post office in this same building. They had the place Gabby Lamovec has now. They moved the post office over there. He lived here from the first part of 1908.
A storekeeper came in and had a store in the logging camp for 1908, '09 and part of '10. Then he moved into Suda's store.
The logging camp store school was back of Mary Lesar's store, where Mrs. Gregorich has her house - East of the spur that went to the Eau Claire River.
Railroad spur went past Leo Gregorich's, then through Frank Perovsek's land, past Bill Petkovsek's and Jelercic's down to a landing by the river. Robert Herrick knows where it was.
John and Balbina Bayuk came here in 1910. I remember when my Dad and I came to see them. We brought some rutabagas and potatoes one Sunday to them (on the farm). We had a homemade sled and the road wound around. I thought we were never going to get there. Joe and Genevieve went to school with me.
The school was built in 1909, and we started in November. Harvey Long was a very good teacher.
In the summer of 1913, Anton J. Trabovic came here, visiting everyone and taking their pictures. He took one of our family.
My Mother and Dad sawed cordwood all day. I went to school. John started in 1909. We went until 1913. Then the pupil load got so heavy that another school was built called North Willard, on one acre of land on the Northeast corner of Kokaly's land. The school was later closed for lack of pupils and the building was sold to Jake Barr. The North Mound School was moved to North of Frank Artac's on "O" when the Benjamin School burned down. Gorman School was also closed and sold to Pete Bogdonovich.
A small van was purchased for a school bus. John Zagozen made seats for it. Martin Kirn was the bus driver. He had two separate routes - one North and one South of Willard. Blackberry is the only school left, down where Frank Morgal lives. (Story - teacher at Blackberry School - Ingell's brother-in-law - Cisco.)
If no one knew how to swear, they sure knew how when they got through with school. She could swear like a trooper, and do it without vengeance; it was just a habit. Tioga was in existence before Willard. The depot was built there in the 1880's or 1890's. Harold Stabnow remembers coming from Hecla, South Dakota in the late 1880's.
Willard Depot was built in 1910. Before that, the old logging camp was used for a post office, depot and store. People lived there in nothing but an old shack. There were a couple of barns. Pine stumps were everywhere. I looked up that morning, as we were getting off the train, up the railroad grade to the Northeast, there was nothing but pine stumps. Happy's land was nothing but pine stumps, and kind of swampy. There was a barn that Mr. Claire had a bull in, right across from where the parish house is now. I used to go by there every morning on my way to school. Claire lived in a frame house with a steel chimney. I used to get a quart of milk after school and it was froze by the time I got home.
One of the things, that stands out in my mind is the first fire we had in January of 1910. Harvey Long, our teacher, was pacing up and down the aisle just before we were to have a class. He was deep in thought it seemed to me. I was on the West side of the building. All of a sudden he got up and tore out of there, like a streak of lightning. We looked and saw Claire's house afire. Mrs. Clair was coming up the road with Allen and carrying Elizabeth. Arnold, Alma and Ada were all in school. He ran down to meet Mrs. Clair and help her with the children. He came back to dismiss school, so we went home. He couldn't save the building. We could hear the bullets exploding that were stored in the house. People were afraid to go near the house for fear that some of the bullets might strike them. We didn't go near the fire. Clair's had a wood shed so they fixed it up to live in. Mr. Claire was gone at the time. He used to be a land agent for Foster; the same as Cesnik. He had his affairs divided. Where we lived, our South line was the dividing line. North of that - Cesnik, South of that - Claire. Mr. Claire was gone much of the time. He was an auditor with a good education. He was a professor at a college at Mt. Morris, Illinois. (Betty has pictures and information on him.) He was an older man, so when he died, Cesnik took the whole thing over.
Another thing that stands out in my mind is the first tragedy that happened in Willard. The first place South of Lucas' was Joseph Bukovec, on the hill. In April of 1913, they were burning brush. They would cut the trees in the wintertime, piling up the brush from the maples, then burn them when they were clearing the land in the spring. Mr. and Mrs. Bukovec were burning brush on a windy day. The girls went to catechism that morning. (Father Kolan was here then, our first Slovenian priest.) They had no matches in the house: forgot to buy them. They sent their seven year-old, girl, Louise (third oldest girl) to get some coals from the brush fire with a small ash shovel. She was about an eighth of a mile from home, when the wind blew her dress onto the coals. The dress caught fire. Mr. Bukovec heard her screams, told her not to run; but she ran away from him. By the time he caught up to her, all that was left was a small folded piece of cloth around her wrist. She was burned all over her body. They called Dr. Beckman from Greenwood. Julius Kleinshmidt brought him there with either Beckman's team or one he obtained from the livery. All the horses were lathered up with sweat because it was such hard going with two horses pulling a buggy with bad footing from so much mud on the roads.
Dr. Beckman bandaged her up and put on salve, etc. He said he'd come back by train the next Tuesday or Wednesday. She never lasted the night and was dead by 3:00 A.M., Sunday morning. This happened on Saturday towards evening.
I, and my Mother were down there for awhile. We had to take her to Greenwood to bury her because there was no cemetery here. The train left at 7:20 in the morning, so my Dad went to Bukovec's with his horse and spring wagon to load her casket to take her to Willard. Mrs. Bukovec rode with him and the rest of us walked behind. We took her to church. My brother John and I were pallbearers along with John Cesnik and Frank Slonik. As we picked up the casket: it was made so cheap, the handles broke off. We carried it without handholds. A short service was held in the vestibule of the new church. She was taken to Greenwood by train and buried in the cemetery. They lost track of her grave; they have a monument up, but it's not where she is buried. I know that, because she was buried near the middle of the cemetery and the monument is near the North side.
The next tragedy that happened was in June of 1913, the oldest son of Frank Kokaly. There was a man here by the name of Mike. He died in the late 40's or early 50's. He was married and had a family in Europe. He liked to drink. He had a partner named Matecic. They lived in a log cabin that was abandoned by Joe Kowsa, where he started a farm. (Hannah Kokaly used to live there. It's a brick house on the Rock Dam road - first place on the right-hand side, going west.) These two men lived there when they didn't have work. They worked for Cesnik. When Cesnik had the farm, they would cut cordwood in the wintertime. They would be sawing away, working like Sam Hill, for two weeks. Cesnik would pay them and they'd go on a drunk till the money was gone. They'd sober up and repeat the cycle just as regular as a clock. Later, Matecic went to Oregon and was killed in the woods, according to Mike. Mike was a card. He used to talk and tell about what he had in the old country. How he had snaka (pine forests). He showed us a letter from his wife. He said she was always asking him for money. One time, he had a ten dollar gold piece. My Dad said, "You'd better send it to her and not spend it for booze." Dad saw him later and asked if he had sent her the ten dollars. He said "Yah", but I know he didn't. Gosh, he was a corker! This old Mike and Mr. Frank Kokaly were turnpiking a road from the corner, South of Bill Petkovsek's (it went past our school), where the road goes North from where Snedic's live now.
In Snedic's house, at that time, lived a man named Joe Tomsic. He worked for Cesnik as his hired man. Cesnik always had a hired man in those days. Selling land for Foster, you didn't work on the farm. You hired all the work done. Joe had a boy the same age as me. He and I used to go to school together. One day in January of 1911, he didn't come to school. He said he was sick. We knew what was wrong with him. He had a big head; it was awful large, I thought, but he was a nice bright boy. Shortly after we heard he went blind. He went to the Marshfield Hospital. We heard he was going to Milwaukee because he had a brain tumor and needed an operation. We all wrote letters to him from school. The Sister read them to him because he couldn't see. He knew who wrote. We went to see him the night before he went to Milwaukee. He had the surgery but, when they cut into his skull; the pressure was so great, his brain burst right out. He died right there on the operating table. He was not brought home but was buried there. Folks were so doggone poor. They had built the log cabin where Snedic's live. It's been sided now and has an addition to the North to make the building "T-shaped."
Mike was living in this house in June of 1913, when he was turnpiking this road. Mike had a revolver in his trunk. The brothers, Frank and Tony Kokaly (Tony was younger) (sons of Frank) would stop there once in awhile when Mike was home and take things out of his trunk. They saw the revolver in the trunk. Mike locked the trunk; they watched where he put the key. Mike locked the door but he didn't carry the key with him. He put it up somewhere where it couldn't be found, but they knew where to get it. They used to carry dinner up to Frank Kokaly, Sr. and Mike that their mother prepared. The men didn't come home to eat but ate on the job. On the way back, the boys stopped at Mike's house. They took the key, opened the door, got inside, found the key to the trunk and opened it. Frank took out the revolver and shot himself right through the abdomen. I heard the screaming. I was working in the garden hoeing corn. It was young Tony running home. Pretty soon word came that Frank had shot himself accidentally. He didn't know any better, he just bumped the trigger. Frank was just seven years old. He walked out of the door, collapsed on the doorstep and died. Later, Mr. Kokaly stopped over at our house. He wanted me to go to Willard to meet the train and order some whiskey and a veil for his wife. I took it to them a couple of days later on the morning of the funeral. When I went in, I saw Frank was laid out on a table of some kind (he didn't have the casket yet). Mrs. Kokaly had a glass on his abdomen (like a magnifying glass). She took it off and showed me his wound. That afternoon we had the funeral. Old Andrew Korenchan (he built and lived in the house that Frank Debevec lives in) was a carpenter and built a casket for the boy. Frank was put in the casket, loaded on a springboard, hauled to Greenwood and buried in the Catholic cemetery. Everyone that lived here was Slovenian, except for the people that lived right around Willard. George Hintz lived across the road from R. R. Thomas (where Pakiz later farmed). Claire lived where John Scharenbrock lives now. Harvey Long lived about half a mile North of Willard, next to the old railroad grade. Sam Long lived where Frank Boh is now. Also, Mr. Demice. Where Louie Matkovich lives, was a family named, Daughenbaugh. Across the road was Crotzer. Gerald married a Hribar girl. They were all German Baptist Brethren (also known as Dunkards). They held church services in the schoolhouse. The women wore black caps. This was called Dunkards Settlement. Clair was head of it. Slaughter lived in back of Sylvia Boh's, next to the railroad tracks and later moved to where Eva Severson lives now. He took over after Claire died but then he moved to Fairchild. Mr. Altenberg sold out to Musich, moving to Greenwood, to become a store clerk in the Big Store. He died in the 1918 influenza epidemic. Claire and Hintz were the only ones left. Most of these people came from Mt. Morris, Illinois.
Zagozen was an original settler.
Bergants' farm was originally owned by Val Platisha. They all died in the 1918 epidemic, except Val Krainz and Antonia (Mrs. John Kaltinger), who were adopted by Krainz.
(Patrich) Peter Kopec had a blacksmith shop here and later moved to North Dakota 76 years ago. There were no taverns in those days. The township was dry. Justin and Legatt tried to get a referendum passed to get the town wet so they could have a tavern in the back of the store. It lost by three or more votes every time: only the men voted. The Slovenian people voted for it but the Dunkards voted it down. A lot of the Slovenians were not citizens in those days so they couldn't vote on the issue anyway.
Town of Hendren came into existence from the Town of Eaton in 1911. Ig Cesnik was the first chairman, then George Hintz, Joe Pekol, Matt Dergance till 1932-33.
I used to go looking for Christmas trees, couldn't find anything but big pines growing. I'd eye up a pine and see a nice top. I'd take my time and cut the tree down with my axe - taking off the top for a Christmas tree. Out West, there towards middle mound, there was a grove of pine trees. Mr. Lucas and I went down there with a crosscut saw and sawed some down. Cesnik surmised this, since it was Foster's land, he wanted to know if I was the one that had sawed down those trees. I wouldn't dare admit it, but I think he knew. I always had a Christmas tree. I'd look for them all summer. One time I saw one growing down on what is now Artac's land - a nice looking pine. I went to look at it at Christmas time but it was all out of shape. I had to chop down another big pine for the top. They had a spruce swamp down along the town line road (Highway M). Frank Ramosh owned it.
The first cheese factory was built here in 1914. It burned down in 1920 on the site of the second factory. It was a frame building. The second factory was built which was Willard Dairy Cooperative Co. The farmers couldn't get along so it was sold to Emil Mech in 1930 or '31. He ran it until 1935 when he sold it to Laabs Dairy. They remodeled the whole thing, but some 25 years later they went broke. I remember when Willard had 86 patrons before they had other factories. There would be horse rigs lined up to the South halfway to Matkovich's; and North almost to Gabby's, waiting in line for the cheese maker to weigh their milk and give them whey. They brought the milk in and took the whey home in the same cans.
The first Mass in the new church was on Christmas Eve, 1912. Father Kolan was the priest. The church wasn't even plastered so the lathes were in view. We had nail kegs with 2 x 12's over them for seats. I sang in the choir and Joe Trost served Mass. I took in the first and last Mass said in the old church. The first Mass in the present church was Christmas Eve, 1967.
After Justin and Legatt sold out, Zallar had the store. He built Perko's store in 1912. Altenberg and Ingham, who came from Durand, started a store by the railroad track where Mary Lesar is now. They built there in 1916 or '17. The post office was in Zallar's and A. T. Altenberg was postmaster. The Southwest corner was the entrance to the post office. Ray Ingham also had a store in Tioga. W. E. Palms had a store, but he died in the 1918 influenza epidemic. Frank Van Horn bought it. After Altenberg went to work in the Big Store in Greenwood (Farmers' Store), Ray joined in partnership with his father and called it E. J. Ingham & Son. They had a store and post office. E. J. was manager of the O & N Lumber Co. yard in 1916 or 1917, close to where Rose Pekol lives now. The present post office did not exist and the main railroad line went through there.
After the post office was moved across the tracks to the other store where E. J. Ingham was postmaster, Quast & Co. bought out E. J. Ingham & Co. and had a store there for a while. In 1924, he bought out Zallar and moved his store into that building. Harley Thompson, Ingham's son-in-law, was postmaster for a while. He sold soft drinks for a while until prohibition was repealed. In 1933, he started a tavern. Later he moved the building to its present site as the Batters' Box across from the softball field. In 1939, Mary Lesar began a store on its present site. Previously, she worked for Quast & Co. while Ig Cesnik was manager. Later it was sold to Charley Perko. She clerked for him for a while; then decided to go on her own. Her store is the house they previously had, Southwest of the pickle station, where they lived upstairs and had a garage downstairs. Frank Lesar was the mail carrier.
The lumberyard went out of business here in the 1940's. Frank Klancher was the manager there after Mr. Ingham died in the 1930's. Frank went with the yard to Greenwood. Later UBC bought them out.
The church rectory was built in 1918 or 1919. Before that, the priests lived just South of the school (Felix Perko's place). N. C. Foster gave the church 40 acres of land where Paul Klancher lives now. John Marincic built this building and lived there when he was working for I. J. Cesnik.
After Father Kolan, we had Father Pollak, who was a missionary. He had one Mass here each Sunday. He would travel from Greenwood and back. He would come down Saturday afternoon on the train and have catechism class. Early Sunday he said Mass after which he traveled by handcar to Greenwood for late Mass. The next Sunday, he would have early Mass in Greenwood, then come by handcar for 11:00 A.M. Mass in Willard. 1914, '15, '16 was like this. In 1916, Father Kastiger came here. The church's 40 acres of land was traded for the above house which became the first parish in Willard.
The blacksmith shop used to be where the trailer house is now (back of Mrs. Lunka). George Campbell had it first. Blaz Cohara then bought it. They had living quarters upstairs and a blacksmith shop down below. He died in his 80's. Before that, there was a blacksmith shop on what is now "G", just South of where the Slovenian Hall is now and along the creek. The road was low then with quite a grade up to the North, which was cut and filled when the County took it over in 1920. On July 5, 1935 or '36, there was a flash flood that washed out the road.
Slovenian Hall was built in 1926. It was built as a lodge hall for SNPJ. Both Catholic and non-Catholics belonged to it. Slovenian National Benefit Society - they put out a weekly paper and a daily called "Prosveta." It was published in Chicago. There was a corporation - they sold stock to its members. They had dances and it was also used as a town hall for a number of years. It was decided they wanted $75.00 a year for rent. The Town decided that was too much. So they made a place in the basement of the schoolhouse. Then membership started dwindling with the disinterest of the young people. Martin Kirn was the only one left. The hall was sold to Pat Plautz for $3,500.00. They had dances that were really rough - lots of booze and fights. Whoopee John came twice before he died. The second time they were here, somebody vandalized their buses and he said he wouldn't come back here any more. His son carries on now. Later they had dances in the West Side Hall.
In the first years, there were no sports. As kids grew up, they later had a ball team. The school district was going to build a high school in Willard. They bought an acre of land where the ball diamond is now (early '20's). The people of North Willard School opposed building the school but they were not in the majority. So they petitioned the school superintendent to be set aside as a separate district. They got it through and seceded. Now the district was too small to build a high school - but the land had already been purchased. The Town used it for a ball diamond. In 1933-40, they voted to sell the land to John Zagozen to build a garage. Then he and his brother-in-law bought the Chevrolet Garage in Greenwood, L & Z Garage for Luzovec and Zagozen. They sold it to Hemple and it then burned down. Mr. Trunkel said some of the boys wanted the land for baseball, so the Town bought it back, for $175.00 (difference - cost of abstract).
Once in a while, they would have a picnic in the maple grove, where Frank Boh lives on the Rock Dam Road. The Slovenians would get together there once a year in August for a picnic. One year they had it by Tony Trunkel's, where John Trunkel now lives. That was wild land then. Town of Hendren was dry but they had beer. Nobody ever reported us. Everybody brought their own picnic lunch. Ice cream and beer was provided. Each man paid $1.25 whether he was alone or with his family. They could drink all they wanted. The price was felt to be justified, since a single man could outdrink any two married men. They'd dance in Boh's house in one small room. Happy Routar played accordion - he played by ear.
My brother Joe, and a Bukovec boy went swimming down by the old logging dam on the Eau Claire River on a hot Sunday afternoon. I saw John Fait and Chet Shields who had gone fishing back there. They had come from the north, whereas Joe and his friends had followed the old railroad grade down there. The Bukovec boy apparently got cramps and drowned despite attempts by Joe to save him. The story was related by, John and Chet. This was in 1923, another tragedy for the same family - their only son at the time. John, Albert and Eddie were born later.
Farmers buying land from Foster would pay $160.00 for a 40-acre section. They would then build, settle, and clear enough land so that they could borrow money from the bank and mortgage the place. Dad mortgaged the farm for $750.00 from the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank in 1914. Six years later, they paid Foster what was owed him. Then they borrowed for something else. We used to raise a steer every year to pay the interest. The steer brought $45.00 - that was the interest at 6%.
Nathan Foster never bothered anybody; in fact, he only came around once. He died in 1921 or '22 when he was over 90 years old. He built the railroad from Fairchild to Mondovi first. He sold that to Northwestern. Then he built this railroad from Fairchild to Owen. He built that in installments. First he came to Willard, then to the Eau Claire River, then he went to Greenwood, and to Owen later on.
The cash crop of this area to start with was cutting cordwood. The farmers would go out to cut the trees down, saw them to the proper length and size, load them on their wagon to haul them to the depot in Willard. My Dad would throw the wood into the boxcar. My brother John, and I would start stacking it in the boxcar. The boxcar was about 8 feet wide and 8 1/2 feet high. We would pile them up as high as we could reach. Then we'd carry the sticks to my Dad and he would finish it off. We got two cords in each rank. One cord was 4 feet high, 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. We got $3.75 or $4.00 at the most for all that. It was shipped; then we had to wait for our money. The Foster Co. was only logging pine and white oak.
Our land had hard maple, ironwood, red birch and basswood. We made basswood bolts out of that. It was very heavy to handle. We made cordwood out of birch, but that was #2 wood. That paid $3.00 at the most. Some of the farmers would cut dry maple into 16" pieces and haul it to Greenwood to sell to the Farmers' Store.
Dr. Schofield was our doctor in those days. He brought Angie into the world, 65 years ago tonight. He came with a horse and cutter. My brother John, and I came home from cutting wood. My Dad came out and said we had a baby sister. We went to a Christmas program that night in Willard. Dr. Schofield gave us a ride in his cutter to the railroad grade. We had a nice fir tree with candles on it. Three or four men were watching in case of fire. We had a Christmas program. That was the year Harvey Long quit school (1911). Then Grace Arquette came to teach. Her father was a logger, down where Plautz Bros. had their pipe plant. That used to be called ____?____ Lumber Camp. They had a sawmill there.
The pickle factory was built in 1910, '11 or '12. They had great big vats that they put the pickles in to salt them down. In the winter, a boxcar would come to haul them all away - six big vats. The vats were about 8 feet deep and 12 to 14 feet in diameter. The pickle manager bought the pickles, weighed them, and sorted them into separate vats, #1, #2, or #3. They had a well there to run water into the vats. They added salt as the vats were filled with pickles. These were hauled to Chicago to sell to Libby-McNeil & Libby, the same company as now. They were here until 1920 or '21 when they quit.
That was quite a thing - a good cash crop. You could make over $200.00 in one summer, especially if you were making only $400.00 a year. The first year we didn't plow the land. We used a spring tooth drag. We sure broke a lot of teeth on those roots. We would loosen the ground, plant the cucumbers, and even have the vines draping over the stumps we had planted around. We would pick cucumbers all day - then argue about who would go to Willard because we all wanted to go. So we took turns.
Road building was put out on bids. Ig Cesnik was the auctioneer. Most sections of road would start at $1.00 a rod. Albert Susa took our road going north from the Rock Dam Road about ¾ of a mile. He took it for 75 cents a rod - to grade it, to stump it, and to clear it. The original settler on the Matt Dergance farm was a guy by the name of Gabrosek (?). He moved away in 1911. My Dad worked on the road for $1.75 a day, for a ten-hour day. He had one horse, so he would join it up with Bukovec's then, they would get $1.75 for the team. The team pulled stumps, skidded logs, and pulled them on piles to burn them up. A rock that was too big to split or move was buried by putting dynamite under the rock, and sinking it, and by moving the dirt from under it. They had four horses working together to pull the grader. Sometimes, the road would wind just like a snake back and forth. John Abel took one job for 49 cents a rod; but then decided not to do it for that amount.
Before the church was built in Willard, Mass was held once a month in the school. The Protestants also held services there on a different Sunday. Father Beckman would come down on the train to teach catechism. Our First Communion was on November 12, 1911.
Deer hunting season was 20 days long in those days. There was a foot of snow on the ground the day of Communion. We walked through that to go to Willard. The cuts were full of snow so Father had to wait for the train instead of going back by handcar. The train cost 35 cents a mile - the handcar was free. Cesnik had the key. One night they wanted it for something, so they chiseled the chain because it was too far to go to get Cesnik. They wanted to get the doctor from Greenwood. I don't know if Cesnik owned the handcar or Foster.
The roads at this time only went as far as Abel's crossing where Stanley Volovsek has his cabinet shop.
Peter Svegl was seven years old. His family lived where Mike Klapatauskas lived on "G" curve. One day, he came to church with the Zupancic kids. They lived where McFarlane lives. In March of 1914, after catechism, he was instructed to come home with the Zupancic kids; but he was so bashful that he didn't go with them at all. Instead of going left up the railroad tracks to the North, he turned South going in the wrong direction to Dechman's road. He turned East at the Catholic cemetery road and continued to Gregor Celesnik's place (where Kenny Horn lives). The family became alarmed when the child did not come home. They sent for a fellow from Richland Center to come up with his bloodhound. Foster's Railroad made a special trip to Willard just to bring the dog up here. Pete's father and mother came to the Justin-Legatt store. There was a whole group of men there - they just stood around. Pete, Sr. had some rubbers and old clothes of young Pete's. The bloodhound sniffed that and he started out. First, he went to the storage shed next to the store. Opened it and nothing. Then he took off up the railroad tracks, then off that. He couldn't find young Pete. This was Sunday afternoon. It turned out Pete was sleeping in Gregor Celesnik's hay shed. He was so shy he wouldn't go to the house to tell them he was lost. They found him on Wednesday afternoon. The Abel boys and somebody else figured that he must have gone east. They came down there and saw a small patch of snow still on the ground with footsteps in it, which they followed and found him laying down. He just had on shoes with no rubbers. He would have died that night if they hadn't found him. The nights were cold, he had nothing to eat and he had walked through the woods. They brought him to Willard. He stayed overnight at the store. The next day, Dr. Beckman came from Greenwood to treat him. He lost his toes. Dr. Beckman took him back to Greenwood to tend to him there for a while. Later on, he came to school barefoot and we all saw that he had no toes.
Original settlers: Tony Trunkel, Sr., Frank Peroshek, Sr., Ignac Cesnik, Joe Pestor, Jacob Plute, Frank Mihovich, Tony Zupancic, Steven Plautz, Sr. Later, John Lucas on May 4, 1909.
Sam Long brought Lucas in on a sled. They stayed with us in a two-room log house. They lived with us for two weeks until they got their own cabin built. In June of the same year, Bukovec's came and did the same thing while they built their log cabin. People started going to Rock Dam when John Blaine was Governor. Matt Dergance was Town Chairman at the time. He received nomination papers to circulate for him. Frank Baldwin, who lived on Louis Horvat's old farm, was the end of the road at that time. Frank Baldwin, an old railroad man from Peoria, Illinois, said we should have some money to cut roads west and north of there. Baldwin sent a letter along with the petitions. When Blaine got elected, the money was authorized and the roads were built. That was in 1922. He remained Governor until 1932.
Baraga Point - about 1935 - there was a movement to change the name of Willard. L. S. Butcher was in the KKK. Hugo Quast went around to ask everyone. Most people wanted it left the way it was. The church actually sponsored the idea.
The original Willard School is now what was used as the primary room. The West room was added in 1917. In 1922, the third room was added and went to tenth grade. We would take a handcar beyond Gorman, where we had a picnic in 1910. On the way back, we climbed the South Mound barefoot. Brook's Readers were used in school in a series - they were green books. When the school was built, a lot of labor was donated.
John Bayuk was assessor when I was town clerk. He was fair and honest.
In 1911 to 1916, there were a lot of blackberries. Foster train would bring two coaches at a time filled with people who came to pick blackberries. Some people came all the way from Augusta. They would pick berries all day and sell them at the store for 7 cents a quart. The store would ship them to Fairchild and get 10 cents a quart for them.
There were a lot of partridge in the early days. They would land in the pine trees at sunset to eat buds (bugs?). You could shoot three or four before they would even fly away.
PLAUTZ, STEPHEN AND MARY
Mr. Plautz was born in the village of Doblice near Crnomelj, area of Belokranjskem. He came to America in 1891. His wife, Mary Popovich, was born in Krasnji vrh, Parish of Radovica area Belokranjskem. She came to America in 1899. They were married in 1900 at Calumet, Michigan. Born to them were seven sons and six daughters. Mr. Plautz first came to Calumet, Michigan where he worked in a copper mine. In 1908, he purchased land in Willard and started developing a farm with the rest of the pioneers.
© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs