Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

February 8, 1995, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


The weekly newspapers were the main news source for local, national and international news for Clark County residents, circa 1890.  There were 13 such publications, within the county, 12 American and one German.  They were: The Abbotsford Clarion, of Abbotsford; the Dorchester Herald, of Dorchester; the Granton News, of Granton; the Greenwood Gleaner, of Greenwood; the Humbird Enterprises, of Humbird; The Colby Phonograph, of Colby; the Loyal Tribune, of Loyal; the Deutsch-Amerikaner; the Neillsville Times and the Republican Press, of Neillsville; the Owen Enterprise of Owen; the Thorp Courier, of Thorp; and the Clark County Journal of Withee.  The Unity Register of Unity was located over the line in Marathon County. 


Clark County’s first newspaper was the Clark County Advocate, beginning in March 1857, edited by Wm. C. Thompkins.  After a while, he sold the business to J. S. Dore and S. N. Dickinson, but continued to be editor for them.  The publication discontinued in 1867, in existence for ten years.


The Union and Flag, the second county newspaper, established at Neillsville in October 1861 by J. S. Dore and S. N. Dickinson.  They purchased printing equipment from a Trempealeau printing plant.  The Union and Flag ceased operation in February, 1864.


The Clark County Journal, third paper in the county, was established by John S. Dore.  Dore swerved as the editor, assisted by Edward E. Merritt as his associate editor.  Soon after its existence, the Advocate discontinued, leaving the Journal alone in Neillsville.  About that time Merritt left the Journal, moving to St. Louis.  In 1867, Merritt returned to Neillsville and started the Clark County Republican, the predecessor of the present Press.


The Clark County Republican starting in October 1867, once again began a spirited rivalry between the two newspapers in the same town.  A bitter fight ensued before the 1872 election.  The friends of the Republican were successful in the election and the Advocate was suspended, leaving the Republican alone in the field.  Within the next four years, the ownership changed three or four times.


The Clark County Press, fifth paper, beginning in 1873 was consolidated with the Republican, By H. J. Hoffman in April, 1876.


Der Deutsch-Amerikaner started at Neillsville on Oct. 7, 1880, by H. J. Hoffman, of the Republican-Press.  In 1885, he sold to Herman Schuster, who, in 1889, sold to Carl Rabenstein, the editor and proprietor for many years.  It was ninth paper in the county and it was published in the German language.  Many of its papers were sent to Germany and it was credited with luring the settlers of German descendants to Clark County.


The true Republican newspaper was a Clark County-publication developed by L. B. Ring in July 1879, conducted by him until Dec. 18, 1887, when it was merged in the Neillsville Times.


L. B. Ring, whose first name was Albe, eventually used the initials of L. and B. which can be found in all historical data about him.


A native of Rock County, he resided with his parents at Sparta for several years.  He learned the printer’s trade in the office of the Sparta Eagle, working there until May.  1875, he left after accepting a government appointment to Shang-hai, China.


In making the journey to his future work, he crossed the continent to the Pacific coast, sailing from the port at San Francisco to China by way of Japan.  He worked there until 1877, when he returned to the United States.  His return trip’s route was by way of the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Mediterranean, France, England and the Atlantic, making a complete circuit of the globe.  Along the way, he spent time at each port or country, learning about the area.  Not many had such experiences at that time in history.


Upon returning to this country, Ring was employed at the La Crosse Republican and Leader.  The winter of 1878-79, he was called to serve as a witness in the Seward investigation at Washington, D. C.  After that, March 1879, he traveled through the southern states coming to Neillsville in July of the same year where he started the True Republican which he owned and edited until December 1888.  At that time the Republican and Times were consolidated, and Ring retired.  In March 1889, he bought an interest in the business and assumed the editor position.


Francis Langford, Madison, an accomplished teacher, became Ring’s wife in 1886.  They later left Neillsville, traveling and (it) is believed to (have) settled in Indiana. 


Ring owned some farm land south of Neillsville, along the Black River, in the area which is now the Struble addition, the site of some new homes.  For many years, the entrance to the farm driveway, near Ross’ Eddy, could be seen as you traveled down Hwy 95-73.  It had been owned by the Grottke’s in later years, also.


Another Ring, known to the area, was Merrit Clarke Ring, a brother to L. B. Educated at Sparta, he went on to become a graduate of the U. of Wisconsin – Madison, with a degree in law, 1873.


In Nov. 1874 Ring settled in Neillsville, then a village of 500 residents, where he started his law practice.  Identified with Neillsville’s beginning, he was instrumental in its growth and development as a city as well as the county’s government.


Ring served in the State Senate as of 1885, assemblyman in 1889.  He was on the judicial committee, served as chairman of the commission on corporations.  Also, he was the representative of Clark County at the Republican state convention.  In 1892, he was a special agent for the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture for Europe with headquarters at London, England.  Ring received an honorary appointment of deputy consul-general in London. 


1896, was the year he was elected delegate for the 9th Congressional district, to National Republican Convention in St. Louis.  He was Wisconsin’s attorney for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Co., Madison in 1895.


Ring married Ida M. Austin on Sept. 13, 1877, at Neillsville.  They had three daughter’s Blanche, Ethel and Alice.  Their family home was on the corner of Hewett and 4th, where the Masonic Temple was built.


Being interested in agriculture Ring purchased farm land east of Neillsville along the Ridge Road. 


The abstract of the land’s first entry records it being purchased from the United States in Sept. 1, 1854, by Andrew Sheppard and John Valentine.  Merritt and Ida Ring purchased it in the 1890s for the purpose of raising hackney horses.  That venture was affiliated with the National Shire & Hackney Horse Co., (Limited) of London, England.


With a capital of $250,000, with C. I. Douglas, the noted breeder of England, the search started for a location in the United States for a breeding establishment.  Clark County was selected as best adapted as the business site.  Ring’s previous connections while living in England had to have been influential in the decision for the farm site.


The hackney horse is a breed originating from a cross between the race horse and the cart horse, originally employed solely for riding, was later bred for driving also.  From the practice of hiring out hackney horses, the word acquired is common application to vehicles plying for hire, as hackney coach or hackney cab.


In August 1890, a cargo of fine stallions and mares arrived from England, with more to be brought the following year.


In preparing the horse farm, Ring ordered the finest finished lumber to be used in building the horse barn.  The Chicago and North Western railroad track ran along the farm’s property and with Ring being the attorney for the railway, the lumber was delivered by train, unloading along the track at the farm.


M. C. Ring, his wife and family never lived on the farm.  He hired people to care for the horses and farmland.  The Rings lived out their lives here and are buried in the Neillsville Cemetery.


The former Ring farm if presently owned by Lloyd and Jean Meyer.  Lloyd and Jean took over the farm in 1955 when his dad, Fred, retired.  Fred had bought it in 1931.


Entrance to the L. B. Ring farm near Ross’ Eddy of the Black River, three-quarter mile south of Neillsville along Highway 95 and 73 and now property of the Struble addition.  (Photo courtesy of the Clark County Historical Society Jail Museum)


 M. C. Ring’s hackney horse farm, of the 1890s which was located east of Neillsville along Ridge Road.  The farm is now owned by Lloyd and Jean Meyer.  (Photo courtesy of the Meyers)



Love, though proverbially blind, is often very prone to see something which has no existence whatever. E. F. Benson


Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long. – W. Somerset Maugham



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