News: Columbia (Book by Mabel Jonkel - 1974)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Jonkel, Pierce,

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 7/11/1974

Columbia (Book by Mabel Jonkel - 1974)

By Florence Garbush

The Clark County Historical Society annual picnic marked a special event Sunday at Snyder Park, six miles west of Neillsville. Mrs. Mabel Jonkel, a former Columbia resident now of Baraboo, had her book just off the press for a special conversation piece.

A native of Clark County, Mrs. Jonkel had more than just memories of her days in Columbia which she wanted to share with others. She had been a photographer during those years and also collected clippings of the Columbia paper. These furnished the start of her search for verification, which she said had begun about three years ago.

The men of the Columbia Improvement Company probably worked just as hard at their project as those setting up the Columbian Exposition in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus. It was shrewd planning to go where adventurous people were coming to the first world’s fair in the United States. Some of the books on display pointed out the fact. To present the plan of an entirely new village named for the Exposition to only one percent of the people meant far more than 200 thousand.

Mrs. Vahla Pierce had brought her collection of articles dating back to those days. The farms east of Neillsville had 30 to 40 years of development to present a rosy future for Columbia. Tax receipts showed one lot in the early 1900s had a total of one cent, to the highest of ten cents, and others no doubt rated much like it. The same for the farm land. In spite of that, all too many of the lots went for back taxes and became forest crop land.

Where there are people, there are customers, and Mrs. Jonkel had moved, at the age of three, to Columbia from Neillsville with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. August Schlender. Her father promoted many new endeavors to make the growth of the village a success. There were many joys and sorrows but the community was like one big family. This is proven when the annual picnic is held the third Sunday each September.

Mrs. Jonkel had articles from those great days in Colombia when the Fourth of July was celebrated in a patriotic way. She also had the silver crumb tray her patents received on their silver wedding anniversary, which is included in the story.

Her own silver set, which she received when voted the Belle of Columbia, was on display, too. Not wanting to make her too important in the book, this was omitted.

More than 60 enjoyed a potluck picnic dinner and more came to spend the afternoon visiting and looking at the displays.

Although Mrs. Jonkel has been a member of the Historical Society for a number of years, she cannot travel the distance for the regular meetings but now has shown that she has more than a casual interest in preserving history. Copies of her book, “Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin” may be obtained from Mrs. Ruby Yndogliato, Rt. 3 Neillsville.



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