Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

June 17, 1993, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days   

By Dee Zimmerman


Residents of Clark County started planning a big birthday celebration in the early part of year 1953.  That was the year that Clark County, Wisconsin became 100 years-old.


At a January meeting, the dates for the event were set for July 1st through July 4th.  An advisory committee, “made up of 50 or more members,” was drawn from various communities throughout the county.  Bill Yenni was chosen as general chairman.


Sometime during the latter days of March, the advisory committee and other enthusiastic workers, numbering approx-imately100 persons, gathered at St. Anthony’s Church dining room in Loyal to make celebration plans.


Various duties were assigned to the community leaders, that evening.


Wooden nickels made their first appearance, when each person at the meeting received one.  After that evening the wooden nickels became available all over the county.  They were to be worth five cents each and valid in trade, plus being a souvenir of the celebration.


As with many centennial celebrations, there was a “Brother of the Brush,” a fraternal organization membership vowing to let their beards grow until the centennial celebration.  There were also the “Sister of the Swish,” ladies who wore the long skirts and participated in the style show held at the fairgrounds.


The Centurama was a climax of the celebration – a pageant given on each of the four nights.  The John B. Rogers Producing Company, a professional group, put together episodes based upon the history of Clark County from information gathered by workers of the committee.  A stage was constructed in front of the grandstand at the fairgrounds.  The participants were recruited as groups in each of the various communities, with each group rehearsing in its own community.  Participants were supplied with costumes, working under the direction of a member of the Rogers staff.


A “Booster Night” with emphasis on localizing the celebration in each county community, was outlined to promote the various features.  Entertainers of the county organization visited each community on the Booster Night.  On that night, the stores were open, store windows were decorated with contrasting displays of then and now.  A main purpose of the Centurama was to relay a better understanding of the local history.  The county seal was printed on the wooden nickels, and emphasis upon George Rogers Clark for whom the county was named.  The seal of the county was secured from the old metal seal, originating in the early years of the county and reflecting its relation to stream and trees.  Clark was discovered as a major character of the Revolution, responsible for the middle-west settlement, including Wisconsin, becoming part of the United States.


William H. Yenni was general chairman of the Centennial.  Five vice-presidents were: H. R. Baird of Greenwood, Calvin Mills of Owen, Merle Hales of Loyal-Granton, Don Bersell of Chili, and Lloyd Spry of Granton.  Elmer Georgas was treasurer and John Bergemann was co-chairman and secretary.


With such a celebration, there had to be a contest to choose a queen for the event.  Nearly 100 young women gathered at a meeting in Greenwood announcing their intentions as candidates.  A Centennial Ball was held at the Silver Dome Ballroom the Saturday preceding the July 4th weekend celebration.  Mrs. Norman Meissner, Chili, was chosen as queen and Mrs. Pat Wall was runner-up.


A record crowd turned out for the 4 day celebration.  A parade with various floats and other unique units, depicting the past, held the interest of the viewers.  The parade was held for two showings, on Friday and Saturday afternoons.


The Business and Professional Women with Lanice Schiesel as chairman hosted a style show as well as various skits.


An amateur contest, with about twenty acts, consisted of Clark County youngsters, displayed their talents at a Centennial show in the downtown area of Neillsville.


Another highlight of the celebration was a visit by Governor Kohler, who arrived on Friday of the event.  A luncheon was held in his honor after which he was given a tour of the city.  Howard Sturtz provided his car for the tour.  He then gave the governor a ride in the lead car of the parade, using a 1908 Ford owned by Paul Hemp.


A Time Capsule was buried on Thursday, July 2, in front of the courthouse.  The capsule contained 32 items of the then current interest and value.  Above the capsule (box), a rock of granite was placed, with an inscription indicating what is beneath the stone and that the box is to be opened in 2053.


For those who remember and lived here during the Clark County Centennial, they have to recall the fun in that week of celebration.  After all, it happens only every 100 years and according to reports they did well in making it a commemorative historical event.


The Ed Faber family of Neillsville portrayed the early American dress for this Centennial photo in 1953.

Tim, 7 months, sits in a 75 year-old buggy.  At left Mike 4, and Barbara, 2.  Dorothy stands by her husband, Ed.


The Centennial parade featured many attractions with several old cars.  The Ford Motor Company was also celebrating its 50th Anniversary that year.  The oldest car was a 1910 model Ford loaned for the parade by Arnold Ebert of Neillsville.  A unique feature of the 1910 Ford was the “Mother-in-law seat,” a single upholstered seat in back, cut off from conversation with the occupants of the front seat.  Those riding in the car were M. Linster (in the mother-in-law seat), Ruth Ebert and Arnold Ebert, the driver.  Frank Svetlik was standing by the car.


A style show held at the county fairgrounds was sponsored by the B. P. W.   This scene photo was taken behind the stage as participants lined up, ready for their debut.  Left to right are; E. Rosenberg, Augie Olson, Rosie Kunze, Ruth Ebert and Billie Thompson (Photos courtesy of Ruth Ebert)



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