History: Badger Postal History

Contact: Chris Barney


Surnames: Hederer, Schmutzler, Halverson

----Source: Official Publication of the Wisconsin Postal History Society Organized 1942, Volume 41; Number 1; August 2001



Preserving Our Postal Past (Part 2)

Page 4

Another, more dramatic, discovery came to light in the summer of 1999. On another one of our “DPO” Trips, Pam and I happened upon an antique store in Abbotsford, about 20 miles north of Marshfield in central Wisconsin. It was Wednesday afternoon, July 14th. Upon my inquiry, the proprietor told us which road to take off State Highway 13 to reach the unincorporated hamlet of Riplinger, since directional road signs to the village had been taken down some time ago.  

When we arrived there, about two hours before sunset, we came upon the remains of yet another boom town gone bust, near the intersection of Clark County Highway Q and an abandoned passenger rail line, now used for freight only. The only signs of life among the aging, abandoned buildings were a church, small engine repair business, and an establishment known as Ripp’s Bar – the only sign of activity in the village. While Pam waited in the truck, I stepped inside and inquired of the proprietor, Larry Hederer, as to the existence and last location of the Riplinger Post Office. “Sure,” he replied, “follow me.”  

We went outside and walked north, past an abandoned hardware store (which I found out later housed the Riplinger CPO – post office box service only), to the intersection of County Q and a village street, where a small, weathered, one-store frame building stood on the northeast corner. “This is it,” Hederer volunteered; “It’s not much to look at anymore.” As we walked through the front door, I asked Larry if it was alright to enter the building. “It’s okay with me, “he replied, “I own the property.” He then pointed to the cut-out area of wall where he was told the service window had been, and the adjoining wall, long since filled in, where, he had also been told, the bank of post office boxes had been. Hederer then consented to my request to take photos of the building’s exterior, and followed that with an eye-opening comment. “It’s lucky for you that your trip wasn’t a week from now,” he volunteered. “Why would that be?” I responded. Larry replied, “Next Tuesday, the fire department is coming to burn this building down as part of a training exercise.”  

As we walked back to Ripp’s Bar, Hederer offered to look up the phone number of Woodrow “Woody” Schmutzler, Jr., a lifelong Riplinger resident and former husband of Diane Schmutzler Halverson, Riplinger’s last postmaster. Through contact with Woody, I was able to get in touch with Diane, who lived in nearby Abbotsford. Between the two of them, I managed to obtained copies of a brief history of Riplinger, two Polaroid photos of Diane at the Riplinger Post Office on the last day of service in August 1967, and four photos (taken by Woody) of the final minutes of the old P. O. building on Tuesday, July 20, 1999 – just six days after Larry Hederer and I had walked through the former post office, cheese factory storage facility and snowmobile club meeting place one final time, and I had clicked off what were probably the last pictures taken of it before the structure’s planned, yet spectacular, flaming demise.

Riplinger, Clark County, Wisconsin – which boomed late and busted far too early, along with the Soo Line Passenger railroad line which once served it – would still be remembered in photo and story, thanks to a stroke of good timing and just plain luck. Riplinger’s fifty-two current residents (according to Larry Hederer’s informal head count) have told him since our visit how much they appreciate being remembered in that way; Diane Halverson echoed that sentiment.  

In a small way, the Riplinger Post Office lives on. Its Zip Code of 54472, retired in 1976, was re-assigned in about 1978 as a Unique Zip Code of the Marshfield-based Figi’s mail-order company. More recently, Publisher’s Clearing House, a nationwide magazine subscription wholesaler, which has a regional mailing center based also in Marshfield, began using the 54472 Unique Zip Code in addition to Figi’s.  

There are many homes and other structures that once served as post offices still standing, silently waiting to be re-discovered, throughout Wisconsin’s rural and urban areas. As postal historians in our respective areas of the state, we would do well to seek out these former postal places – and people, if possible – and identify, locate, verify, photograph and report our findings to our postal history society. The opportunities to do so may well be disappearing as you are reading this; too many already have.

Riplinger, Clark County, Wisconsin


(click to enlarge.)

To: Wishing use all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  From Mr. and Mrs. Aug Stecker.
From: Mr. and Mrs. John Mahlstedt Curtiss, Wisconsin


Location: Sec. 6, T27N R1E, Unity Township.  

Established January 24, 1916 as a 4th Class Office. Discontinued April 30, 1976, with mail to Spencer 54479. Place name and Zip Code were retired, but Zip Code was later reassigned. Riplinger was a non-postmarking Community Post Office and non-personnel unit of Spencer from August, 12, 1967 to discontinuance in 1976. 

Postmasters and Appointment Dates:                                                                         

Fred Riplinger 24 Jan. 1916; retired 30 Nov. 1946

Miss Hazel M. Riplinger 1 Dec. 1946; resigned

William Charles Domer 19 Aug. 1948; retired 30 Dec. 1966

Mrs. Diane Clara Schmutzler 30 Dec. 1966 to term


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