News: Clark Co. - 1897  Jail Museum (Jan Meet - 2015)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Roberts, Bjerke, Erpenbach, Karnitz, Lang, Goebel, Garbisch, Wesenberg, Listeman

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 2/04/2015

The 1897 Clark County Jail Museum (Jan Meeting - 6 January 2015)

The January 6 Board of Directors and Membership Meeting of the 1897 Clark County Jail Museum was held on one of the coldest days of this winter (so far). Secretary and treasurer reports were read and president Steve Roberts updated the group with items since the last meeting.

He reported on the successful 2014 Christmas Open House. Quite a few visitors came to the Museum for the first time and discovered this gem of Neillsville history. Christmas cookies, spiced cider, antique decorations and Christmas carols all added to the warmth of the holiday atmosphere. We were fortunate to have Sharon Bjerke as our guest organist Friday night, as she played our 150-year-old pump organ. Our volunteers were available both days to answer questions and discuss our local history and the activities of the Museum throughout the year. Some visitors expressed interest in returning to work with us on special projects or do family research.

On a side note, Steve related the furnace/electrical situation at the Museum just prior to the Christmas Open House. A few members arrived around noon, Nov. 29 to decorate and prepare for the Open House, only to be greeted by 40-cegree temperatures-inside the house! After calling in Central Burner and Boiler (Marshfield), Xcel Energy (after hours linemen), and Randy Henchen Electric, the situation was resolved about 7:30 p.m. that night. We are so thankful to be in a community where we have such caring, friendly and experienced business and people who are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the problem was fixed and our water pipes didn’t freeze. We ended up having to replace some interior electrical wiring in some very cold weather. While we don’t think the ‘old’ wiring was installed with the residence in 1897, it definitely was ‘Vintage’!

In other business at the meeting, it was reported that the overhang of the west side entry door will be removed this spring as a safety precaution. We have still not found a repairperson to help fix the player piano we received in 2012. If anyone has a contact name or phone number, please contact Steve Roberts or Natalie Erpenbach.

Membership was reminded that it is time, once again, for our area youth to participate in the Wisconsin Historical Society National History Day (NHD) competition, with regional competition held in Eau Claire April 1, state in May and national competition in June 2015. The theme this year is “Leadership and Legacy” and is for students (sixth to 12th grade) to prepare their entries. These student NHD entries are judged locally (school district level) with the possibility of selection for advancement to regional competition. The Museum is available to help any school district or student in Clark County as they create their NHD entries these next few months. Contact Steve Roberts or Natalie Erpenbach to discuss NHD resources available at the Museum.

The Neillsville Winter Carnival is, once again, scheduled for the third weekend in February 2015. The Museum is planning to be open Saturday, Feb. 21 for ‘Old Picture Day.’ We will showcase the many pictures we have in our collection. We look forward to sharing and visiting with people about these photographs. If anyone wishes to share some of their own (personal, family, business, church, etc.) photos, bring them with you. Our volunteers will be happy to scan the photos and return the originals to you.

Natalie Erpenbach, our Administrator/Curator, reported on recent donations to the Museum’s collections, including items from the estate of Virginia (Ken) Karnitz (old softball uniform, vintage clothes and a Centennial County Fair booklet); player piano rolls from the Lang family of Marshfield; and two boxes of scrapbooks created by Edna (Goebel) Garbisch of Granton. According to Edna’s daughter Carol Wesenberg, creating scrapbooks was her mother’s way of traveling. This was probably so true for many people years ago. The Museum is very appreciative of all those who shared their ‘treasures.’ We continue to receive many wonderful items as people realize that the Museum can preserve, archive and display these family items.

Natalie reported that a thank you letter had been sent to the Marguerite Listeman Foundation for the grant they provided to The 1897 Clark County Jail Museum Inc. in 2014. Without the financial support of the Listeman Foundation, the tour income we receive, and the support of other generous donors, the Museum would not be able to operate. The support of the entire Clark County community is most appreciated.

The next meeting will be held at 7p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, at the museum, 215 East Fifth Street in Neillsville. Interested individuals are always welcome to attend monthly meetings or contact us by email at or by calling us 715-743-2150 (Museum) or 715-743-6234 (Natalie Erpenbach).



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