History: Neillsville, WI (Fall 1866)
Contact: Dee Zimmerman
----Source: McBride History of Clark County and included in
the July 2, 1953 Press, in recognition of Clark County's 100th
anniversary by Dee Zimmerman
EARLY DAYS OF NEILLSVILLE, CLARK COUNTY, WISCONSIN
In the fall of early 1866, Neillsville was a village of a few dozen buildings scattered around within a limit- ed area. There was an old sawmill on the north side of O'Neill Creek, near where the present electric light plant stands. The mill was an old fashioned one, with an up and down saw, run by waterpower, but at the time mentioned it was out of commission. A year after, it was either rebuilt or else repaired by Marville Mason, then of the town of Pine Valley, a good man and a good millwright, who long since has gone to his reward.
On the north side of O'Neill Creek, in what is known as the first ward. of the city of Neillsville, there was a blacksmith shop along with three or four houses. One of those houses was that of James Furlong, which then stood on the same land and near the site of the fine brick dwelling built by Gus D. Hosely a few years ago. On the south side of the creek, on the same location as the present Merchants Hotel was a dilapidated frame hotel called the Hubbard House, then kept by L.K. Hubbard. He was the father of Richard Hubbard, now a prominent citizen of Hayward, in Sawyer County.
Across the main street, or Hewett Street, as it is now called and a little south of Carl Rabenstein's brick block, was a small two-story frame building. The building's upper story was occupied by Tom Roberts who made logging sleds, or at least made the wooden parts for sleds. Below, on the first floor, was the store of Hewett, Woods & Co. The small room store, then had no clerks' nor window trimmers. The one front window was of the two-sash 8x10 glass variety and incapable of being decorated very elaborately. The books, such as they were, lay upon the top of an empty kerosene barrel, which did duty as a desk, when such an article of furniture was required. About November 1866, the store was vacated and the goods moved to a building that stood on the corner where the Neillsville Bank now stands. This building was a store and dwelling house combined, occupied by Chauncey Blakeslee and his family and it was only a short time until a very large stock of goods were on the shelves.
Back of and to the north of the original store of Hewett, Woods & Co., facing the north and the creek, was the old frame dwelling house of James O'Neill, then occupied by James Hewett and his family. The Hewett family then consisted of James, his wife and one-year-old son, named Sherman F. Hewett. S.F. Hewett is the present Clark County Surveyor and more familiarly know as "Frank" Hewett.
All of the land on the east side of Main Street, including the store building first mentioned and the house occupied by James Hewett, were the property of James O'Neill. There were no more buildings on the east, side of the street from O'Neill Creek to the site of the present O'Neill House.
On the corner, O'Neill had built a two-story frame building for a residence, which he then occupied. Afterward, he ran a hotel there for a short time.
On the west side of the street, across Hubbard House, was a drug store, the proprietor being George O. Adams. He was a full-fledged Yankee from Nashua, N. H. He generally wore a long pair of rubber boots and always wore a silk high hat. He was a keen businessman, but somewhat odd in his manner. He generally walked in the middle of the road peering from one side to the other. One of his common expressions in conversations was, "I want to know." He died at Waukegan, Ill., years ago at a very advanced age.
South of the drug store was a general store kept by Chas. E. Adams, son of the druggist. It occupied the site where the elder John G. Klopf for many years afterwards resided and had a saloon.
On the comer where the Neillsville Bank now stands was the dwelling house of Chauncey Blakeslee, the lower part being used as a store for Hewett, Woods & Co. From that comer south, clear to the end of the block, to the site of W. J. Marsh's dry goods store, was an apple orchard and garden.
Across the street, on the cast side, was a printing office and a post office, both one-story frame buildings. To the south of these buildings was the wagon shop of W. K. Dickey.
Dr. B.F. French had p house on the corner of 4th and Hewett Streets, and south of that was the house of Lambert Miller. West of Miller's was a house on the old Ross place, with the Samuel Ferguson and L.L. Ayers residences across the way. The W. K. Dickey house was at the extreme east.
The first sidewalk in Neillsville was built on a Sunday morning in the spring of 1867. The side- walk was constructed by B.F. French, James Hewett and two or three other men. It extended from where the Neillsville. Bank is located to the corner at Marsh's dry goods store. It was made of plank, laid lengthways and did good service for many years.
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