Excerpt from Lloyd D. Pickering's Family History (pg. 28 - 58)

(This is a copyrighted work and the following is presented with the author's permission, given prior to death)


Part [1]  [2]  [3]  [4]


St. Germain Home

Sherwood Twp., Clark Co., Wisconsin


Hannah Pickering’s father, James F. Sparks, lived at Nevins before Byron moved there from Plainfield.  James was the only one of the grandparents that the children knew.  James’ wife had passed away and he lived with his daughter, Elizabeth (Mrs. David St. Germain), most of the time.  It was the custom for the elder members of the family, who were alone, to live at the homes of the younger members of the family.  When James felt that he had stayed long enough with any one of the families, he would return to Elizabeth’s home.  She and her husband were kindly generous people, very much given to hospitality either within or without the family circle.


Grandpa James usually carried a musket about six feet long wherever he went.  He used a lot of powder and killed just about everything he shot at.  There was a big buck around Nevins that the community called “Old Golden”.  Though the families relied on

wild game for much of their meat, “Old Golden” enjoyed a degree of immunity.  The buck was also very wary and intelligent.  He finally disappeared, but he was never shot by James or any of his people. 


Byron Pickering & James Sparks


Dave remembered one occasion when his Grandfather James brought with him a box of fishhooks.  He gave Dave three of them.  Dave was elated.  Eventually he sold two of the hooks, as one was sufficient for him.  It was such a small gift, but it brought great happiness to a young lad. 


Byron began logging operations on his homestead as soon as he arrived.  This was his livelihood, together with some seasonable outside work.  At one time the Township of Sherwood had been completely forested in white pine.  As the logging companies moved on, the areas left were made available for sale to the settlers.  This is how Byron was presented with the opportunity to purchase a place called “The Ranch” from T. J. LaFlesh.  It has been operation headquarters for the lumber company and not only had cleared land, but numerous other buildings.  There was also a large two-storied house.  Byron bought “The Ranch” for $1,000.00.  This was sometime in 1886.  The house was on Section 3 in Sherwood Forest.  He borrowed the money to pay for it from Mr. Dangers, a businessman at Neillsville.  Myron referred to this house in his memoirs: “When I was 13, my Dad bought buildings and farm land that had belonged to a logging firm and was sold at auction for one thousand dollars.  Our home became the stopping place for friends passing by.  There was a long table in our kitchen that would seat a dozen or more people and it wasn’t uncommon to have the table full.  One of the features of my Mother’s table was strawberry shortcake, two layers, covered nicely with butter and topped with berries. ”Life improved immensely for Byron’s family when they moved to The Ranch.  There were fields for crops and pastureland for a small herd of dairy cattle.  They also acquired a few sheep for mutton and wool and hogs for the family meat.  Hannah also had a large flock of chickens.


Helen & Edith Pickering


 Byron contracted for a logging camp in Sherwood Forest during the winter of 1886-87.  The operator was paid on the basis of board feet cut and delivered to the mill site.  He had to keep a close check and fight for every penny because the mill owners would swindle you if they could.  The lumber obtained was sold to the settlers, transported to nearby towns, or to the rail head about seven miles away where it was shipped.  His daughter, Edith, cooked for the camp and Byron gave her a $20.00 gold piece at the end of the season


Sherwood Township Town Hall


 Byron occasionally contracted for the construction of the buildings in the community.  Sherwood Forest Town Meeting Highlights: June 24, 1891.  “The town board decided to let the building of the town hall to Byron Pickering in conformity to specifications thereof for the sum of $525.00.” The building was finished and inspected on December 15, 1891.  The frame and woodwork were of oak.  The town hall is still standing (2013) and serves as a community center for the area.  It was used as a church for a long time and Byron taught Sunday school here for years.


Byron continued to farm during the summer and made firewood and logged during the winter.  There was good quality hardwood on the forested portion of the farm and this could be taken to the mill.  Byron also supplemented his livelihood with millwork.  Hannah lived in dread that Mr. Dangers would foreclose on their mortgage and they would lose The Ranch.  She churned butter and sold eggs to help pay off the debt.  Dave told of the time that he needed a coat badly.  His mother kept after Byron until he sold one of the sheep and bought a coat for Dave.


The Byron Pickering Family at their "Ranch"


In 1894, Byron did a considerable of amount of work on the house.  He covered it with siding and added an impressive cupola at the top.  Edith’s son, Ward, wrote about his grandparent’s home: “There were five large rooms downstairs and seven or eight bedrooms upstairs and a full basement with a hot air furnace.  The house was well finished inside and even boasted a bathroom.  Though there was no running water, there were washing facilities and it was always comfortably warm in the winter.  Ona used the cupola as a place to weave rugs on her loom.  The windows on all four sides looked out over the countryside. It was the most modern farmhouse in the vicinity.  Their home was the ‘haven’ for many traveling horse and buggy salesmen in those days. No one was ever turned away.  The teacher for the nearby district school stayed there and four of them became daughters-in-law.  The ministers who came at stated intervals were welcome and at times, when there were revival meetings, they stayed several days with free lodging for themselves and their horses.”


How satisfying it was to leave the house in the morning and look upon the acquisitions that had come with The Ranch.  To the south was the road.  To the west was the creek.  To the north and east were broad fields.  Several barns bordered the lawn to the east and there was plenty of room for the livestock.


1902 Nevin's Wis. Post Mark


Byron was postmaster of the Nevins Post Office, which served Sherwood Township.  There was a room built on the corner of the house for the Post Office.  Mail was transported tri-weekly from Neillsville.  The “stage,” as it was called, consisted in summer of a single-seat light wagon and in winter a similar type sleigh, drawn by a very nice team of horses.  Joe Janes was the driver for many years.   The next day, Ona delivered the mail that was left for the Dewhurst Post Office, which was about four miles south.


When Dave was about nine years old, he and a neighbor boy put a rope around the necks of two of his Dad’s pigs.  When the pigs felt the rope tighten, they tried to escape, pulling harder and harder.  Dave wasn’t expecting that kind of a response.  He was afraid his mother would hear the pigs squealing, so he ran to take the rope off one of them and caught his finger under the knot just as the pig took off again.  The finger was so badly mutilated that it left a lifelong scar.  There was no doctor to give it proper care and his mother, appreciating the escapades of her large family, was simply thankful that Dave didn’t lose his finger.


Byron Pickering's Barn


One spring morning, Dave and Myron were sitting on the back steps when they heard agonizing calls for help coming from the big barn. They jumped up and rushed to the rescue as the cries of “Help me! Help me!” continued to come from the inner recesses of the barn.  They were frightened at what they might find, expecting some tragedy.  The boys peeked around the barn door and there in the middle of the drive through was Earl, who was little more than ten years old.  He had each hand clasped firmly around the ram’s horns.  The ram had all four feet dug firmly against the floor. With his head down, he was holding Earl at bay so that he could not move out of the way without being trampled.  Dave and Myron shouted loudly in unison, “Let go, Earl! Let go!”  Earl responded, “I can’t let go!”  He was afraid the ram would back up and belt him a good one.  By now the older boys had reached the struggling pair and they jumped one on either side of the ram and grasped a horn.  Then they told Earl to jump.  Breathless by now, Earl jumped to the side and the ram bounded out the door with a bleat.  Dave and Myron sat down to laugh.  Earl, nursing his chagrin, didn’t really think it was any laughing matter.


Jessie, the youngest of the children, was born on April 7, 1889, at Nevins.  Ona was still at home and she did the housework.  Hannah had become somewhat frail, but she baked the bread.  Their home became an oasis for all who passed through the community, whether they were evangelists, politicians or vendors.  Church services were sometimes held in the large living room.


Edith, Marcus, Ward & Blanche Wilson


The house was gaily decorated on March 5, 1890, because the oldest daughter, Edith, was going to be married.  She had chosen Marcus Wilson as her husband-to-be.  He was born in Plainfield in 1865 and now owned a very nice farm near Granton.  The couple went to live there for a short while before Marcus’ job as engineer on the railroad took him and the family to Ashland, where their first son, Ward, was born May 4, 1891.  Blanche was born in the home of her grandparents at Nevins on July 4, 1893.  Irene was born in Ashland on November 26, 1895, and James Byron in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, on November 28, 1898.


Cy & Helen Stockwell


Helen was teaching school in her home district when she met and married Cyrus Stockwell on June 18, 1892.  He started to work for the Chicago and Northwest Railway as a young man and he was now the station agent at Granton, so that is where they lived.  Little George was born to them on June 29, 1896, and Bernice was born on November 20, 1898.


Myron & Bessie (Borgers) Pickering 


During the years at The Ranch, the boys became young men.  Slowly, they absorbed the work and shared the responsibilities of the farm.  Myron married Elizabeth Jane Borgers on April 27, 1897 at her parents’ home in Neillsville. She had taught school at Nevins.  After marrying, they lived on Edith and Marcus’ farm.  Myron did very little farming and lived there more for custodial purposes until it could be sold.  The farm was just outside Granton and he worked in the village.


 Besides serving as postmaster, Byron was clerk of the town of Sherwood, Clark County.  He was also interested in politics and later on he edited a community paper and sent out circulars to inform everyone about civic affairs.  These were happy and productive years.


Byron Pickering


 Byron was a large man, tall with broad shoulders.  He was very powerful in strength, without an extra ounce of weight.  His eyes were blue and direct.  He had a beard and no sign of baldness.  Hannah was a small chubby woman with a pleasant countenance.  She was the essence of patience and gentleness.  For these two patriarchs life was full and rewarding with their family around them.  The gentleness and kindness Hannah and Byron displayed at home was passed on to their children.  Each of them grew up with Godliness as a part of their standard of life.  They forged out their lives with the same generosity that was part of the life of their parents



The Family in Front of the Ranch House

Back row: Ona, Earl, James Sparks, Allie, David, Myron

Front row: Helen, Hannah, Byron, Jessie, Edith









© 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