Bio: Marsh, William J (1954)
Contact: Dolores Mohr Kenyon
Surnames: Marsh, Cole, Bruley, Wells, North,
Devos, Unger, Naedler, Hoesly, Thomsen, Smith, Brown, Press, Jones,
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville,
Clark Co., WI.) December 30, 1954
Marsh, William J. (? - 22 December
William J. Marsh, whose early experiences in
merchandising in Neillsville carried him back into the days when
lumbering was the flourishing industry here, was laid at rest in
the Neillsville City Cemetery Monday afternoon.
died last Wednesday, December 22, at his home on East Fourth
Street, where he had been in semi-confinement since an extended
illness earlier in the year. Death was due to the
complications brought on by old age.
Although 93 at the time of his death, Mr. Marsh
was youthful in step and outlook until the end. His was a
familiar, spritely step as he walked the distance between his home
and the downtown business district, where he spent more than 50
years of his business life. In late years his eyesight had
failed, and he was able only to make out outlines of shadows and
light; but this fact, while lamentable to him, did not affect his
cheerful outlook. Nothing pleased him more than for friends
to stop him to pass the time of day, or to talk about memories of
the olden days gone by.
respected and highly successful merchant and businessman, Mr. Marsh
had operated a retail dry goods store in Neillsville for 51
years. During that time he had watched much of the change in
the business face of Neillsville, as well as the development of the
great dairy farming industry. And with these developments
came changes in business methods, which found Mr. Marsh in hearty
accord, for he was a meticulous businessman.
the least of these was the change in credit business. In the
day when Mr. Marsh gained his start as a dry goods merchant here,
the custom was for an annual settlement. It was the custom in
those days for a customer to charge purchases throughout the
year. On January 1, then, an annual statement was called for
and settlement was made. With this loose method of doing
business, it was possible for a man to be "broke" a year without
knowing it. It also was possible for a merchant - even the
most careful and selective one - to be caught with a few bad
accounts. Mr. Marsh was careful and selective; and he also
store in which Mr. Marsh spent most of his business life in
Neillsville is that which now houses the J. C. Penney Company at
the corner of Hewett and West Fifth. It is the first brick
store building erected in Neillsville and was purchased by Mr.
Marsh and his brother and partner, Lute Marsh, in
Before making this purchase Mr. Marsh had been
engaged in retailing in Neillsville for several years. He
came here from Black River Falls as a lad of 16, being sent here to
look after the interests of Jerome Cole, Black River Falls
druggist, and creator of the remedy "Cole’s Carbolic
Salve." For two years young Will Marsh worked from early
‘til late and received the great sum of $200 per
That relationship was broken, however, one
Saturday night when his pay envelope did not disclose a raise which
Mr. Marsh believed he had coming. The following Monday
morning he went to work across the street for Emery Bruley, pioneer
clothier, for $600 per year.
two years he remained with Mr. Bruley then he went to Eau Clarie,
where he worked and where he missed his Neillsville friends.
He returned to work briefly for Thayer & Manes in a general
store on the present site of McCain’s.
1887 Mr. Marsh had saved $1,500, which was a tidy sum for a young
man to have in those days. And, with $4,000 borrowed from a
brother at 10 percent interest, he launched his partnership with
his brother Lute. They set up their business in the old Gates
building, which was on the site of the building now occupied by the
F. E. Brown Jewelry Store. The venture was successful, and
when Hewett & Woods put their brick building up for sale, the
Marsh brothers bought it. Not long afterward, Lute Marsh was
bitten by the bug to go west, and Mr. Marsh bought out his
brother’s interest in the store.
Retiring from the merchandising business 16 years
ago last August, Mr. Marsh has kept his mind occupied and has kept
busy with the management of his financial affairs and a
considerable amount of real estate in which he is interested, both
in Neillsville and elsewhere. He also has long been a
director of the Neillsville Bank, and has taken considerable
interest in the affairs of the bank.
the time of his death Mr. Marsh was the oldest member of the
Masonic Blue Lodge, No. 163, F. & A. M., which honored him
several years ago by presenting him with a 50-years
certificate. He also was a member of the Neillsville Chapter,
No. 66, R. A. M. and of Neillsville Commandery No. 36, K. T.
Marsh was married in 1882 in St. Paul, Minn. to Bertie Wells, who
died in 1929.
Surviving are his daughter, Mrs. Herman North;
two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Masonic services were held at 2 p.m. Monday from
the Temple, with A. L. Devos reading the Masonic rites. The
Georgas Funeral Home was in charge of
Pallbearers were Adolph Unger, Henry Naedler,
Jake Hoesly, Henry Thomsen, William Smith and Herbert Brown.
Close relatives from out-of-town attending the rites were: Mr. and Mrs. Walter Pree and daughter, Karen, and Miss Ruth Jones, all of Minneapolis; Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bigger, Mr. and Mrs. Don Bigger, Black River Falls; Col. Leo M. Jackson, King, Wis.
© 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.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs