The Story of Elaine (Wood) Greene Jenson


Me and my mother 

(Elaine Wood age 18 and Mabel Wood Age 35)

The picture below is Mabel Wood (my mother), Donald Wood (my brother) and Elaine Wood (myself). I grew up in the house with the field rock basement in the background. It was black because it was covered with black tar paper.  My parents were poor and never finished it.  This photo was taken in 1943, when I was 13.




November 15, 1998

Earliest Recollections


Since I was born in Hillsboro, Wisconsin Aug. 10, 1930 and my brother was born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Dec. 25, 1932; I am not able to put some of the things together date wise or where, but one of the first things that I can remember, is my dad putting me in the crib and he sang a song which I can still sing, and the last line said, "and rock my poor baby to sleep." Then he blew out the lamp and left. The thing I remember about this, is the feeling that I had been abandoned and I was unable physically to do anything about it. I thought he had left forever. I have no idea how old I might have been, but the memory is still very vivid.


Another thing that I remember was a dress that was white with what looked like little tic tac toe design. The design was red and the lines that went vertical went beyond the top and bottom, in an uneven pattern and the horizontal lines went right also in an uneven pattern, and there was a little red rose in the corner left by the lines. When I drew a picture of it one time, my mother told me I had outgrown that dress just before I was two.


The next recollection would have been some time after that. We were living with my Aunt Margaret & Uncle Lawrence Wood at Globe, Wisconsin; while my parents were looking for a farm near Neillsville or Willard, Wis. My aunt said we were going to have company for supper. She served canned apricots for supper and I thought that was company. I really don't remember if we had anyone else there or not. I just remember the taste of those apricots and I sure thought company tasted good. To this day when I eat canned apricots, I am reminded of that time.


My next recollection was of a walk through a woods with my dad and we came upon a bird nest on the ground that had about a dozen white with brown speckle eggs in it. My dad let me look at the eggs, but he wouldn't let me touch them. Years later when I mentioned this to my dad his reply was, "You can't remember that you were only two," because that nest was on the property that he was looking at to buy; which later became the farm I grew up on. I had to laugh when he said that, because my reply to him was, "If I'm not supposed to be able to remember that, how can I be telling you about it?" The farm was purchased when I was two years old.


I remember a little about when he built the house. The county made a road for us and when the road was made, the house sat right in the middle of where the road should have gone. My dad had miscalculated as to where the property line was and got the house too far to the North. Of course the second house was built to the Southwest of this house and then they finished putting the road in.


While we lived in the first house my dad worked away from the place as I mentioned in another place. After a time he purchased a cow, and I remember my parents laughing, because they had a halter for a cow and now they had the cow. Sometime later they purchased another cow. So my dad no longer had to carry milk home for us. Since this was wild area and we had no fields cleared yet, my parents would go to a near by swamp and cut the grass by hand, bundle it and then they would pile it in stacks near the barn (shed) that my dad had built for the cows.


Some time later the fellow who my parents were purchasing the farm from (John Seif), came to see us. He told my dad that if he wanted to get the deed for the farm he would take one of the cows for full payment and a clear deed. So my dad told him to go take his pick of the two cows. The fellow didn't take the best one either. So that Christmas my parents hung that deed for eighty acres, on the Christmas tree. The summer while we had those two cows, we had a terrible drought and my parents carried water ½ mile from a spring, to water the garden. We had a beautiful garden and mom canned a lot of vegetables from it. She also picked and canned wild black berries without sugar, as they couldn't afford that much sugar at one time. So we would put sugar on them when we ate them. Also that summer because it was so hot and dry, I remember the cows standing under a shade tree with their tongues actually hanging out. If my recollection serves me right that was the summer of 1935. We would drive or lead them down to the spring three times a day instead of two, just to give them water.


Another memory I have is when we lived in this first house, again I don't know the date, other than we moved out of it when I was six; but my parents had gone out with an ax and a crosscut saw to cut down some big trees. The main part of the tree was used for lumber and the branches for firewood. My brother and I had been left in the house and it was winter. I found a pencil and I decided to stir the fire in the cook stove with this pencil, in the process I dropped the pencil and I couldn't get it back out and I remember watching it burn up. I was afraid to tell my parents and so I put the lid on the stove and decided to go out were my parents were cutting down this tree. There was deep snow on the ground and I was trying so hard to walk in the tracks left by my parents, but their steps were so far apart and the snow was so deep that I had a lot of trouble and fell a lot. I was nearly to the spot where my parents were when my father spotted me. My dad let out a yell, because the tree they were cutting was notched to fall right where I was, and it had already made the cracking sound that trees make just before they fall.


My parents stopped sawing my dad came running, and my visual recollection of this, was my mother standing on that side of the tree, trying to hold that big tree up. Well, as you can tell I made it and I wasn't hurt in any way, but I'm sure my parents must have about had a heart attack. As for the pencil, my parents found the metal that held the eraser and did a lot quizzing as to how that pencil top got into the ashes. Back then we didn't have pencils lying all over like we do today and so they had missed it, and looked for it. My dad thought maybe it had gotten in with the wood somehow and I just let him think that it had. As I look back it was lucky I didn't set the house on fire. My brother and I probably wouldn't be here today, had that happened.

Below is the pattern I described earlier of the design in my dress that my mother said I out grew before I was two years old.


School Days and School Trips


I attended a one-room country school. In the township of Seif, in Clark County, Wisconsin. We never had more than 14 students in grades one through eight. Some grades had only one student. I happen to have three in my grade until seventh grade when one moved away.

Our school day began at 9:00 am with the pledge of allegiance to the flag. We then had singing acappella, since the school didn’t have any instruments. Most of our songs were from The Golden Book of Favorite Songs. Which were mostly religious and patriotic songs; plus songs like Old Folks at Home, Flow Gently Sweet Afton, and Way Down Upon De Sewanee River, to name a few.


After our singing we would have reading for the little people. The teacher would ask the first grade students to stand. They (if there was more than one) would stand beside their desk and wait until the teacher said ’pass.’ They would go to the front of the room near to the teacher’s desk and be seated in chairs. They would then read out loud and many times another student in the next grade up would assist with the hard words; after the student had tried to sound it out by himself. After the first grade students were finished they would ‘stand pass’ back to their seat and the next class would be called upon in the same manner.


After the third grade finished the first three grades were dismissed for recess. On most days recess meant going out to the playground to swing or play tag. No, they weren’t supervised. In inclement weather we would play in the entry to the school or in the basement. We happen to have a walk out basement.


Next came arithmetic. Again the students were called upon in the same manner with ‘stand pass’ to go to the front of the room. The black boards were behind the teacher’s desk, where they would do problems on the board after handing in their assignments for the day. When finished they again would ’stand, pass’ to their seats and the next class would be called upon in the same way until all remaining classes were done. The remaining student were given a fifteen minute recess also, then the bell would ring.


Following recess was spelling time. The classes were allowed to stay in their seats and write their spelling words, as the teacher would pronounce them and use them in a sentence. Usually classes were combined such, as 5th and 6th grades would be together. We then exchanged spelling books with another student unless you were the only one, and the usually the teacher or student would spell the word aloud and we would correct each other’s work. I might say at that time it was not my best subject. After spelling, we had geography and then it was lunchtime. Everyone carried his/her own lunch usually in a tin Karoä syrup pail. Only rich ones had regular dinner pails as they were called. Yes, dinner was at noon.

We had an hour at noon and as soon as we were finished we could go out and play. We played ‘work up baseball’ a lot of the time, we played ‘Pump, Pump Pull Away’ ‘Red Rover’ ‘Prisoner’s Goal’ and in the winter ‘Fox & Goose’ in the snow, plus a lot more.


After lunch, we had art, and a lot of times we would have a radio, which was tuned to Wisconsin School of the Air. There would be a story, and then we were to draw pictures about the story told on the radio. Some times we studied painting and the life of the artist that painted them. Some I still remember studying were, ‘Pinky’ ‘Blue Boy’ ‘Boy With The Torn Hat’ ‘The Gleaners’ ‘Mona Lisa’ to name a few. Some of these were done via the radio and some the teacher would read about. The lower grades would then have coloring and they would have to color pictures in the colors it called for, which was a hand, eye, and reading Skills. While the little ones were coloring, the upper grades would then ‘stand pass’ by grade for their reading and history classes. We also had a subject called agriculture. We lived in a strictly farming area, so it was to taught to boys and girls alike.


We had a mid-afternoon recess like in the morning, depending on which classes were taught first. The classes in the afternoon were sometimes switched around. At 4:00 pm we were dismissed to walk home. Everyone walked home except the Oldhams and Weisners as they lived too far, so the parents would take them to and from school each day. We had no buses and I believe the State or County reimbursed the Oldhams for transporting the children.


Our big events for trips were held in the spring. Early in the spring we would all go to Neillsville for ‘Grain Judging’, which consisted of many different seeds in little containers and we had to judge whether or not the seed was Grade A B C etc. We had to look for weed seeds mixed in, cracked seeds, color of the seed etc. There would be about 5 dishes each, of 7 or 8 grains. All the schools in the county did this. While one school was judging, the other schools got to tour the Court House, the Bank, the Creamery, News Paper Office, and various stores. This was really exciting for us, we even got to hold a hundred dollar bill at the bank, we got to see fossils at the courthouse and at each place, and someone explained the operation of the place. We were then given a lunch, after that we attended a movie. After the movie the county winners of the grain judging were announced. They received war stamps good toward war bonds.


Another outing we had was also early in the spring, at Vic Counsel’s place right next to our school. He tapped Maple trees and made maple syrup. He had a long roof over the vats. The vats had fire under them and the Maple sap was being boiled to get the moister out until it turned into syrup. Those vats looked awfully big to me and almost scary with all that syrup boiling. We got to taste the sap and watch them collect the sap, from the pails hanging on the trees. The sap was put into a bigger container on a sled, pulled by horses. Some of the trees would have as many as 4 pails hanging on them.


There were a lot of other interesting things we did in school, which I have explained in another story.


Some time ago, I had a good hit when searching for some info for someone else.  I thought I would tell you about it.  I'm sure some of this info is old, and you had mentioned that it might work into the Clark Co. history since my mother lived most of her married life there.  So if you can use any of this go ahead, and if you wish to reword it to fit better go ahead.


My Mother, Mabel (Braunsdorf) Wood

My mother’s father, Albert Braunsdorf was a captain on a ship on the Great Lakes.  I often heard my mother tell of her experiences on that ship.  Her mother was the cook on the ship and my mother often told of sitting on the deck and throwing rock over the side into the water.


When my mother was 7 years old, a circus train pulled into the town where they were docked.  Someone tried to kidnap my mother at that time.  So the gangway was pulled in due to the scare.  My grandfather had allowed the rest of the crew to go ashore that evening.  In the night the ship caught fire and no one could get on board to wake the family.  So they threw stones on to alert them.  My grandfather being very near sighted, grabbed his glasses in one hand and his shoes in the other.  He didn’t remember that he had sent the crew ashore the night before and was on his way to the other end of the ship to save the crew.  He sat down under the burning boom to put his shoes on, not seeing the danger.  The boom burned through and fell on him. It crushed his skull and broke his leg.  He also had numerous internal injuries.  He was taken to a hospital and his leg was amputated.  He lived six weeks with his brain exposed. 


My grandmother had asked him where he wanted his leg buried, and his reply was Clay Banks Cemetery, which is where he also is buried.


As I was going over this information in my mind, I began to wonder about all of this I decided to do a search to see if I could find the name of the ship and where it may have been docked at the time of the fire.  I struck out the first few tries and then I decided to enter “Great Lakes Ship Braunsdorf” and I got a hit.  Someone told me the ship’s name was ‘The Adriatic’ and is preserved in Bowling Green, Ohio and even gave me the site so I could get a picture of the ship.


I wrote to the site at Bowling Green, trying to find out more of the details about it.  They in turn sent my query to Madison, WI.  Madison in turn sent my query to a person called Ship Nerd.  He in turn sent it to a fellow in Sturgeon Bay, who is presently under contract with Amazon to write a book about the Adriatic.  I have exchanged many e-mails with this fellow and he has called me on land line numerous times.  He has sent me news clipping of the event and has requested pictures for his book.  He is a writer and a reporter and has a column in the Sturgeon Bay paper.  He put one of my letters in the Sturgeon Bay paper and I have received mail from a relative. 


My great grandfather had a lot of property up in the area of Sturgeon Bay, WI and this fellow sent me plat maps of all the property.  There is even a beach called ‘The Braunsdorf Beach’ and is still called that today.


After Clark County, Wisconsin


This isn't really a Clark County picture; but I decided to include it anyway.



This is the OPA ceiling prices that was posted in our cafe, at New Auburn, WI. 

My parents purchased this cafe when they left Withee, in 1946.  Just enjoy the prices and moan a little.


Elaine (Wood) Greene/Jenson





© 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.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel