Growing up in the historic Lloyd-Meier Home
Neillsville, Clark Co., WI
By: Judy Hansen
As a child, I lived in parts of the Lloyd home from 1943-1944 to 1952.
We were told that the last surviving Lloyd, a woman, lived alone in the house with a large number of cats and chickens, and that she burned the newel posts from the many porches in the two fireplaces.
For many years after her death, this home, built in 1895, sat vacant and neglected. Perhaps it’s then isolated proximity to the cemetery helped to create the rumor that it was haunted.
My family moved into a portion of the downstairs as renters shortly after LeRoy and Martha Allen purchased it. We later moved into a part of the upstairs while LeRoy and Martha moved into part of the downstairs.
The Allens installed electricity in our part of the downstairs and later in the upstairs area that we occupied, but there was no working inside plumbing, so we used an outhouse, and pumped and carried water from the hand pump that was located at the back right corner of the house, near the kitchen. When we moved in, there were no posts on any of the porches and there was evidence of the earlier chickens and cats everywhere. At that time, the house was surrounded by huge, and very old pine trees. I remember that at one time, we had a very bad ice storm. The whole world seemed to be covered by ice and most of the branches of the pines were hanging toward or laying on the ground covered by ice. We wrapped our shoes in the rubbers from Mason canning jars and managed to get to our classes at the North Side Grammar School, with my Brother carrying my little Sister. These giant trees were our playground. There were three in a triangle just outside the bay window at the left corner of the front of the house that became our pretend house or a school. My students were my younger Sister, our dolls and whatever other neighborhood children I could persuade to play.
Even as a small child, I knew this house, even in it’s deterioration, was something really special. The front door was a double one off a two tier porch. You entered a foyer in which, almost hidden by lumber the Allens’ had stored there, were two sets of double pocket doors that opened into what most likely was originally a music room and parlor. To the right was maybe 10 steps that then turned to the left and climbed the wall another 19 or twenty steps past a huge beveled glass window, then turned left again, to reach the balcony that hung over the foyer and lead to the French doors to the upper level porch and the upstairs bedrooms. The wood of the doors, their framework, the floors and the stairway, was absolutely beautiful, however scarred, wood. There was also a winding stairway from the upstairs that ended in the kitchen area. This most likely was intended for use by the help when the Lloyds were entertaining.
With LeRoy’s farming, the area around the creek wasn’t as overgrown as it is today, so we had a beautiful view of it from the window in the stairwell as well as from the windows in the area to the right of the upstairs that we later occupied. There was a wonderful place to swim at the bottom of the hill and a big rock to jump from. There was an island, reachable by children’s’ short wading legs. All the stories we dreamed up and pretended on that island!
One day my Brother and I went “down to the creek” to gather flowers for May baskets. We became bored with that and begin throwing rocks into the water. I got the “bright” idea of gathering a lot of rocks in my skirt and dumping them in all at once. What a wonderful splash that made! But then I slipped and fell face first into the water. Terrified, I splashed around flailing my arms trying to keep from drowning. Finally, I heard my Brother yell for me to stand up. I really did feel a little foolish when I stood up and the water splashed against my ankles! We trudged back to the house with me sloshing in my shoes and dripping wet. Keith told me to wait on the balcony while he told Mom what had happened. When Mom heard “Judy fell in the creek!” she ran right past me and ran thundering down the stairs, yelling my name, with my Brother right behind her trying to tell her I was OK and was above them watching , in wonder, over the railing.
As a child I listened each night after I had gone to bed, for the Chug, Chug, TOOOOOOOT......TOOOOOOT of the old trains that road the rails on the other side of the Creek. In the Winter, I remember listening as the Chug........Chug.......became more and more labored as the Engineer struggled to push the snow aside and climb a hill.
When we lived there, there were no homes, as there are now, on the road from the top of the hill down through what we called the “Frog Pond” to the house and nothing from there to the Cemetery. For some time, when my Dad was walking home at night, some Skunks would come out of the Frog Pond and follow him faithfully to the beginning of the pine trees. You can bet he walked very carefully! Eventually, he found out that some pet skunks had escaped their owners and that they had been altered. The “Frog Pond” was fed by a spring, so in the winter, ice formed and then reformed on the surface of the small pond. I remember sailing my sled across the yellow, lumpy ice and often ending up head first in the snow banks surrounding it.
The house has a huge attic. Each of it’s many dormers has an assortment of separate little rooms. They became pretend homes for the two little girls that played there, hours on end. We wrote our names on one of the fireplace chimneys in chalk. They are still there today.
LeRoy Allen predeceased Martha. When she died, the home passed to another owner who in an attempt to remodel, and maybe with no recognition as to the value of the home in it’s antiquity, caused further damage to it. The wonderful railings in the foyer stair well were lost, and many of the sliding doors, one of the two fireplaces and the beveled glass windows, et.
Meanwhile, there was a young girl, "Mary Jo", who also appreciated the house and as she walked past it day after day, she dreamed one day of owning it. When it became available for sale, Ray and "Mary Jo" Meiers’ purchased it.
I don’t think any of us can appreciate fully what they did to renovate this beautiful home. It was truly a labor of love and what we see today is the results of that Herculean effort. Unfortunately, they have no way of knowing just what the railings in the stairwell or the pocket doors looked like, so when last we visited, they had not yet been successful in totally replicating the originals. Mary Jo and Ray are very gracious people who are most eager to gain any information about this house, so if any reader has information or memories about it, I know they would love to hear from you!
I earlier mentioned the lack of inside plumbing when we lived in the house. On one of our visits with Mary Jo and Ray, I noticed an old outhouse sitting in the field. When I asked if this was “our” old one, Mary Jo said she didn’t know. Ours was rather unique in that it was a “two holer” and for some reason had a little door that closed on one. So I creaked the door open and looked. It was “OURS!”. Mary Jo said knowing that, they would return it to nearer the house and restore it too! I don’t know if this was done, or if the Meiers were successful in having the Lloyd home listed on the National Registry of Historical Monuments, but if so, I think it is rather unique to have used an outhouse that is on the Registry!
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