Hendren Township

Clark County, Wisconsin


Yesterday & Today

Compiled by M. Urban

With photos by

Helen Vater Blaha, Diane Klinke & Mary Urban 



Bits of Trivia about Willard:

Willard's Railroad, the Fairchild & Northeastern Railroad was in existence from 1881-1931.  The depot was closed in 1929.

The first settler in Willard was Ed Slaughter who arrived in 1905.

In 1907 Aaron L. Clair arrived.  Along with Joseph Capp he sold land for Foster and helped at the depot.

The Willard Post Office was established June 15, 1908.

The first baby born in Willard was Slaughter's daughter on July 8, 1908.

The families of Josef Tomsic and Ignac Cesnik were the 1st Slovenian settlers in 1908.  Following them in 1908 were the families of Frank Perovsek and Anton Trunkel.  In 1909 came the families of Frank Kokaly and Louis Koscak.  The Joseph Perme family were also among these first settlers.

In 1908 the first priest was brought to Willard by hand cart traveling on railroad tracks.

Between 1909-1912 Sunday mass was celebrated in the school building.

October 21, 1910 the Catholics of Willard met at the public school of Willard to organize and incorporate a Catholic Congregation to be known as "The Holy Family Catholic Congregation of the Town of Eaton, Clark County, Wisconsin".

The Town of Hendren was organized in 1911.  It was created as the Town of Wilcox and renamed 24 hours later.

Mr. Cesnik, the land agent, acquired from the Foster Lumbering Company the necessary land for the church and for the cemetery, gratis.

In August 1912 they began building the wood framed church.  The first mass was Holy Night of Christmas December 1912.  The church remained as a mission of St. Mary's German Catholic Church in Greenwood.

The first bell of the Holy Family Catholic Church came from one of the F. & N.E. Railroad engines that was scrapped.

The first wedding was Mary Cesnik (daughter of Ignac & Jera Cesnik) and Anton Sain on September 18, 1915.  They resided in Willard until 1922.

The Willard Grade School was built in 1917.

Holy Family Catholic Church Cemetery was started in 1918, but not completely divided until 1926. 

The first burials in Holy Family Cemetery was Valentine Platisa on December 13 and his wife on December 16, in 1918.

The Church Rectory was built in 1918.

Father Novak came in the fall of 1918 as the permanent pastor and remained for 15 years.

Willard had a shoemaker or cobbler, in the middle teens.

North Hendren Cheese Factory Co-op was organized in 1923.

New bells donated by the 1908 immigrants, were purchased and blessed in October of 1924.  (They are still being used in the new church.)

1924 Holy Family Church bought 1 block of land in front of the church.

August 17, 1924 the SNPJ held their first meeting of the National Cemetery.

In November 1924, Members of the SNPJ Lodge bought one acre of land from the Clair Estate for the Willard National Cemetery.

1926 the SNPJ Slovenian National Home (east side hall) was built.

1927 the KSKJ Catholic parish hall (west side hall) was built on this block.

Plautz Brothers first bill to the Township was dated November 29, 1929.

In 1933 Father Novak left Willard.  The Franciscan Fathers of Lemont Illinois (Slovene Franciscan Commissariat of the Holy Cross) accepted care of the parish.

1935 the church was enlarged and the interior remodeled.

Clark Electric Co-op came to Willard December 1937.

1942 the attached garage was built on the KSKJ church hall.

Badger State Telephone and Telegraph came in February 1943.

In 1948 the 40th Anniversary that the 1st Slovenian Settler came to Willard was celebrated.

In December 1948 these farm families moved into town to be closer to church: Frank Perovsek, Mr. & Mrs. John Dolenc, Mr. & Mrs. Anton Trunkel, Mrs. Catherine Morgal, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Govek, Mr. & Mrs. Martin Matkovich, Mrs. Balbina Bayuk, Mr. & Mrs. John Gregorich, Mrs. Margaret Lukas.

In 1948 the following business advertised in the Holy Family Church report: Plautz Bros, Mary's Store, Lunka Store, Frank Debevec General Repair, Eddie Pekol's Radio Repairs, Volovsek Builders

In 1949 the following business advertised in the Holy Family Church report: Joseph F. Lunka General Merchandise, Perko Brothers General Merchandise, Matt's Tavern Gas & Oil, Edward Pekol Radio Repair, Frank Debevec General Repairs, Mary's Store General Merchandise, Plautz Brothers Reinforced Concrete Culvert Pipe

Frank Artac built the two tier imitation canopies overhanging the two side altars in 1949.

The Town Garage was built in 1959.

1960 the cry-room was added to the church, on the opposite side of the sacristy.

In 1961 Laabs Cheese & Dairy Co. advertised in the Holy Family Church report.

In 1962 the following business advertised in the Holy Family Church 50th Anniversary book: Pete Panek Livestock Dealer, Plautz Brothers, Ed Perko's Store, Stanley Suda's Store, Mary Lesar's Store, White House Tavern (Cletus & Joan Susa), Wobbly's Tavern (John Jr. & Betty Trunkel), Shorty's North Mound Tavern & Grocery (Frances & Frank Luzovec), F & M Garage (Frank Debevec & Mike Klapatauskas), Laabs Dairy Co., Lakeside Lodge (Mickey & Mary Crotzer), North Hendren Cheese Factory (Bud & Eleanor Musich), Laufenberg Brothers Livestock, Krejci's Tavern (Tom & Alice Kejci)

In October 1967 the cornerstone was laid the new Holy Family Catholic Church.

The first mass in the new church was said at Christmas Midnight 1967, 55 years after the 1st mass was said in the old church.

In the Spring of 1968 the old Holy Family Catholic Church was burned down.

In 1968 the Parish Center was built on the site of the old church.

The Willard Grade School was closed in 1970.

Willard Ball Park was built in 1972; the stadium in 1975.

The business's in Willard in 1976 were: Stanley Suda General Merchandise, Tower Hill Construction (Pat Plautz), North Hendren Coop since 1923, Plautz Bros. Inc

The Willard school building housed the Development Center of Clark County from 1973-1979.

The Willard Athletic Club was built in 1980-81.

Willard Grade School building was torn down in 1981.


Timeline of business and their owners:

Suda Store & Feed Mill:  Sandburg's Store (1910), Joe Justin & Steve Legal (1911), George Kocancic till (1916), Ignac Cesnik land office, Mr. & Mrs. Steve Plautz (1924-26), Joseph Lunka (1926), Avis & Stanley Suda (1958)

Perko Store & Feed Mill:  John Zallar (1912), Hugo Quast & Linus Prock (1924), Ignac Cesnik Jr (1933-38), Charles Perko (1938), Eddie & Freddie Perko (1946-1952), Murphy (1962), Avis & Stanley Suda (1976)

Mary Lesar's Store:  E. J. Ingham's General Store & Post Office (1916-1917), Mary's store (1939) Lot was empty and they moved in a building from the old pickle factory for Mary.     

Matt Malner's Tavern:  Shoe store on the first floor, tavern in the basement, Matt Malnar (1936), John & Betty Trunkel (1962), Rick Kuester, Jim Christie & Bob Kohlnhofer (1978), Oops

White House Tavern:  Frank & Alice Prebil (1935-1949), Andrew Kaucnik, Karl Metelka named it White House Tavern, Anne & Louis Silc, Cletus Susa (14 years), Marlene & Archie Hendrickson

F & M Garage:  Frank Debevec & Mike Klapatauskas formed F&M Service & Welding (1950), Vic Halbrader Vic's Garage (1964), Robert Debevec & Neal Tytor Willard Agri-Motive (1976), Archie Hendrickson & Sons (1980)


Fairchild & Northeastern

Railroad Depot and

Pickle Factory

Streets of Willard

Willard Grade School

Holy Family Church

Church Rectory 

Holy Family

Church July 1946

Holy Family Church


Holy Family Church

& Rectory 1949

Holy Family 75th

Jubilee 1987

Holy Family Church


Holy Family Church


Church Rectory


Church Rectory



Side Hall

June 24, 1994

KSKJ West Side

Hall 2005


view from north


Church Shelter


Willard Community

Center 2005

Happy Rotar's barn


Relocated Foster

Land Office 2005

Foster Land Office

Memorial Sign 2005

Mary Lesar's Store

June 24, 1994

Veteran's parade

passing Mary's Store

and Post Office

Post Office

June 4, 1994

Suda Feed Mill

previously Perko's

June 4, 1994

former site of Perko's

Feed Mill 2005

Railroad Car


Suda Store


Suda Store


Suda Feed Mill


Willard Auto


June 24, 1994

Willard Farm &

Auto 2005

State Bank of Withee


Town of Hendren

Garage 2005

SNPJ Hall east

Malner Tavern west


Ball Diamond


Oops Tavern

2005 former

Malner, Trunkel


SNPJ East Side

Hall 2003

SNPJ East Side

Hall 2005

White House Inn

Marlene's 2005

Laabs Cheese Factory

Now a garage 2005

former Laufenburg

Livestock Yard


North Hendren

Cheese Factory


Holy Family

Cemetery 2001

Holy Family

Cemetery 2001



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