History: Roamdka, "Romadka History" (1883 - 1976)
Transcriber: Michelle

Roamdka, "Romadka History" (1883 - 1976)


----Source: Granton Community Memories 1856-1976

(This was contributed by Eva Bender of Chili. It was found among her mother's things. It was possibly written by George Crothers who was the editor and publisher of the Clark County Press at the time it was written, about 1923)

No region of country in Wisconsin better illustrates the development of a timberland wilderness into fertile farming lands better than the district around what was formerly the village of Romadka. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad which received permission from the Railroad Commission to abandon that part of its line is now taking up the rails and concrete culverts on that section of track - about 5 miles. This brings vividly the stirring scenes of earliest days in that locality. In the fall of 1883 Romadka Bros., trunk manufacturers of Milwaukee, having bought 4500 acres of timber land in York and Fremont, lying several miles north and northeast of the present site of Granton, sent a crew of men from Seymour Wisconsin to locate a site for a saw mill on this tract of land, and there erect a mill. John P. Kintzele, then a bookkeeper for a firm in Seymour was with the crew and was the first man to put an axe into the timber after the site had been chosen. The crew consisting of about 15 men landed with several cars of supplies, tools, machinery and teams at Neillsville. All this was taken over the Ridge Road cut through Maple Works, Windfall Corners and through a rough new road to the spot selected for the mill. Few of the men were used to handling the saw and ax and the clearing was a hard job for them until they enlisted the services of some local settlers. At first they boarded at the home of Wm. Garvin who lived three miles west through the woods. Later they found temporary lodging at the home of Oney Johnson, a settler close by (house now owned by Don Bartsch on the east side of Romadka road) until a barn and boarding house could be built. Eventually the plant became a village of considerable size. The mill was built in two wings - one 50 x 130 feet, the other 60 x 120 feet two stories with 24 foot posts, and employed about 50 men. There were some 15 dwelling houses besides the boarding house two warehouses 36 x 300 feet and immense sheds for storing manufactured products. They made lumber, shingles, hubs, spokes, and all this had to be transported by teams to Neillsville (the nearest railroad station) and loaded on cars at the old depot west of Black River. The Dwyer Brothers John and Frank did all the logging for the Romadkas, beginning in the fall of 1883, all that winter and the following winter until about Christmas in the year 1885 when some disagreement arose in the firm of Romadka Brothers and they stopped operations, buying off Dwyer Brothers who logged the rest of the winter for Hosley. Few actual settlers lived in the community, among them were John Breese, Martin Sweet, John Duffey, Oney Johnson, Joe Sutherland, Frank Converse and Al Holmes. Aug. Pierrelee came in soon with his family and Fred Garbisch owned land on which he later settled. The settlers did little actual farming. The Upham manufacturing Company built a logging road from Marshfield, coming down from near Veefkind on what is now the Soo branch to Greenwood, and striking through the northwest corner of Fremont and into the northwest corner of York. This was about 1889. Along this road were landings at which Uphams loaded logs cut from their own land and from the lands of the Davis and Starr Co. (who owned about 12,000 acres in that region). Considerable of the timber on this was logged and cut into lumber by the contract with Upham Co. The George Hiles Lumber Co. Had built a logging road from Dexterville to Lynn, which later was sold to the Chicago, Milwaukee and the St. Paul Railroad Co. And this company about the year 1889 extended the line to Romadka and later after the Upham logging road was abandoned and the rails taken up the C. M. and St. Paul extended its line to strike the old Upham road and laid new rails for a number of miles upon it. This was used by the Hiles Co. in getting out their logs in that region and later for several years in shipping out cord wood. About 1898 the Romadka lands were sold to the Hiles Lumber Co. Some of the machinery out of the old mill was taken to the Hiles mill at Dexterville and the lumber in the big Romadka mill was sold to farmers in the vicinity with which to build barns. Among the barns built form this material are those on the Truman Davis (now owned by Charles Seefeldt) and the Ernest Lee farms. (The boiler from the old plant served as the pressure tank for the water system at the Kintzele-Crothers farm for over 60 years and is still there). After the logging days were nearly over and for several years later an immense amount of four-foot cord wood was shipped out from this vicinity over the old road. Mr. Kintzele, who remained as a permanent settler after the Romadkas closed out, being the principle cord wood shipper. Some years he bought and shipped as much as 10,000 cords. Max Opelt also shipped from Lynn and later A Reuth who bought a large tract of land in Fremont also shipped considerable cord wood over this road. At Romadka there were yards and chutes for loading cattle and a good many cars of stock were shipped out. In the logging and cord wood days, several trains a day often came up and down the line, frequently even night trains being run. The timber industry gradually growing smaller and smaller and the country developing into a dairy region where the produce is condensed into a small amount the freight business became so small that only two or three trains a week were run and later these were abandoned and now the track is being taken up as far down the line as Lynn. At one time the railroad company had made surveys and laid plans to extend the lines on through Clark County to the northwest. The right of way was secured as far as Section 10 in the Town of York and 10 acres of land there was secured as a depot site. The right of way was cleared back across the Kintzele farm and frames erected for bridges across the creeks. This right of way is now all grown up to young timber and the frames of the bridges still stand concealed in the woods. Adverse legislation discouraged railroad extension at this time and the railroad went no further in fact as before stated, it is now being taken up and dismantled. The country has developed into one of the finest farming and dairy regions in the state. North from Windfall Corners where some fine farms were opened early, a good road now extends through the Romadka neighborhood and far beyond. The highway is in fine condition, and a portion of it has been surfaced with gravel. No doubt in time it will all be surfaced from Romadka to Granton. The lands owned by the Hiles Company and Davis and Starr were gradually sold out to settlers, J. P. Kintzele acting as agent for many years. Nast Brothers who operated a big lime works in the east part of the state (Fond du Lac County - Adell) bought a tract of 34 forties of fine hardwood, using some of the wood for burning lime at their kilns. Elmer Anderson, a son-in-law of August Nast is developing a fine farm on a portion of this tract, which includes the old mill site of Romadka. All around the neighborhood are modern farm houses, up-to-date dairy barns, silos, and other evidences of thrift and enterprise. From time to time farms have changed hands, new settlers have come in and young men grown up. There is practically no waste land in all that community. Among those who are now successful farmers within a short radius from the old Romadka mill, besides those already named, are James Baker, Justin Johnson, Neal Downer, Adam Albaugh, Wendell Crothers on the Kintzele farm, Howard Canfield , Martin Gebauer, Fred Garbisch, Fred Scholtz, Arnold Garbisch, Carl Retta, Gustav Reich, Fred Jakobi and sons, Frank Downer, Frank Lavey, George Smith, Bert Hayden, Geo. Phipps, Alfred Bartz, Wm. Anthony, W. J. Spry, Wm. Kubat, W. Dozel, Herman Schlinsog, Ernest Schlinsog, Fred Schlinsog, Herman Bealer, Nathan Dubes, Rob Strey, Paul Handtke, V. Sladek, G. Bertchinger, Emil Korth and perhaps others. The old log school house back of Joe Sutherland's was later replaced by a frame building out on the highway and more recently a modern two-room school house was erected with basement and up-to-date equipment. One of the best state graded schools in the county is maintained, the work completing the eighth grade and includes manual training and domestic science. This year the school is reported making excellent progress under the management of Miss Gudrun Skar, principal and Miss Nelda Drescher, primary teacher. While life in the community is lees thrilling and spectacular that in the old days, it is on the whole very comfortable. The rural routes, the telephones, automobiles, cheese factories and highways give the people all the facilities of civilization to be found anywhere and yet with the coming of the new and fine times it is not best entirely to forget the past nor fail to bring to mind now and then the men who made all these things possible by their energy and enterprise in the years that are gone by. (1923) Cows now graze contentedly where the sawmill and wood yards of Romadka once stood. The old depot was moved to the farm now owned by Fred Winkler and is a small garage or woodshed. Jim Baker moved what was his father's house from the Village of Romadka to his land east of Romadka Road. The house is now the residence of Rueben Andregg. Much of the old sand fill that formed the railroad bed lies under Romadka Road providing as much as three feet of fill over the swamp and mud where a horse went down to his neck one spring. Where thousands of cords of wood were stacked each winter for shipment to the lime kilns near Fond du Lac, the Crothers boys now make hay each summer. Nothing now remains of the village. Only the railroad embankment east of the road is clearly visible. Trees outline the edge of what was once a railroad bed. The Panic of 1893 and Depression of 1907 and a changing mode of travel (the first model T Ford had been bought by John P. Kintzele in 1908) ended the dream of the railroad promoters to build it through to Lake Superior, or even as far as Chippewa Falls. The only houses near that of the old village is the Lee Reich farm to the south and to the north, is now the Crothers farm on which is located the Greenhouse and Nursery business, and in part of the only house still standing that was there before the village began, the Kitchen Corner Antique Shop.


History: Romadka, "Romadka History" (1883 - 1976)
Contact:  Susan Sloan

I have a Romadka trunk model 1909-1904. My great aunt and my grandmother used this trunk when they attended Wellsley College in the early 1900's. Their father, Levi Silliman, owned the lumber mill in Toulon, IL, at the time. I would really like to unlock the trunk but do not want to break it open. Any ideas? It's green with leather straps and I was the only family member that wanted it. Thank you!

History: Romadka, "Romadka History" (1883 - 1976)
Contact:  Carol(Purkis)Mitte

With the older locks a locksmith usually can open them pretty easy without leaveing a lot of marks ect.LOL. Carol


History: Romadka, "Romadka History" (1883 - 19
Contact: Karen Cordova

I, too, have a trunk with the Romadka Brothers, Ready Access, pat. 1904 plate. It sat in a great-uncle's attic in Pelkie, Michigan for many years. I am the second relative to have inherited it. Family had always said that it had been brought from Finland when they immigrated. Does anyone know if Romadka Bros. had an international business? It seems unlikely. Has there ever been any response to the trunks' value?



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