Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

April 17, 1996, Page 36

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days 

Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

April 17, 1996, Page 36


Neillsville Early Houses


By Dee Zimmerman


The first structure to be built, in what is now Neillsville, was a log cabin set up along the creek which would later bear the name of the cabin痴 owner, O誰eill.  The 18 x 24 feet cabin was put up in 1844 and served as shelter for O誰eill and his small band of rugged lumbermen who worked at the saw mill conveniently located nearby.


Two years later, in 1846, O誰eill built a new frame house on the other side of the creek, made of lumber sawed with the up and down saw mill owned by O誰eill.


Eventually, O誰eill obtained a total of 160 acres in what would become the center of the village of Neillsville.  As more settlers came to the village, those who wanted to set up stores or shops had to deal with James O誰eill about procuring lots.  Records reveal that O誰eill was a generous man and wanting to see the village progress, he was helpful in getting new-comers started in the community.


As the new settlers came to make their livelihood in the new village, they also needed a place to live.  Temporarily, they could room and board at O誰eill痴 house or a hotel until houses could be built. 


One of the first streets to have houses built along it was Court Street.  An early hand drawn map of the Neillsville village reveals three houses in the area of the now 200 block of Court Street.


Lambert Miller purchased lots from James O誰eill in 1865, to be known as 鏑ambert Miller痴 Addition.  O誰eill had originally obtained the property from the United States in 1851.  Eight years after Miller purchased the lots, one lot was sold to William W. King who held it for a short time and then sold to Cornelia E. Glass.


The house built upon this specific lot has been restored within the last two years.  Setting vacant for ten years, deteriorating, it was bought a couple of years ago by Joe and Barbara Pyka, who with their daughter, Nadine, have completely restored the house believed to have been built in about 1865.


Removing the old siding and interior wall plaster various articles from the past were discovered, hidden in between the studding, etc.  There were items such as old shoes, magazines, clothes pins, small brass bell, 1860痴 coins, spool from thread, flute, harmonica, medicine bottles, mortar and pestle, and more.


Often, remodelers of old houses, find newspapers that were placed between walls, apparently used as insulation.  A recent phone call was made to our office, the caller telling me that she and her husband found newspapers dated in the 1860痴, a Neillsville paper of 1865, the newspapers were between walls.  The dates of the papers revealed a time frame that their house had been built within. 


Sometimes, as we drive past an old farmstead or a village/city residence, we can wonder what stories those dwellings could tell the historical events that took place during their existence.  Articles found, that have fallen through spaces, or have become hidden in some way, do reveal some of the structure痴 past.


A doctor had lived in the house on the 200 block of Court Street.  The empty medicine bottles and mortar/pestle reaffirmed his residing there.


A large wooden bowl was made from the big butternut tree that stood by the house.  Pykas had to remove the tree from the yard and wanted a memento of the butternut tree which had graced the lot for so many years.


Several old houses, large and small, have been saved within our county and its towns/cities.  Saved by those who appreciate old homes and as the clique holds true, 澱eauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Those who do restoration, see something worth saving when they look at a specific building.  As Pykas worked on the Court Street house, they found fine quality red and white pine lumber had been used in the basic construction, reason for the building having endured one hundred years on its foundation. 


As time goes on, the old homes that have been kept and restored will be appreciated more and more, as it will be a link with the area痴 heritage.


Our future generations will have those who have an interest in the county痴 history, too.


Pykas found an assortment of articles when they removed old plaster and lath, things hidden between the walls.  Children痴 high-top shoes, an ink bottle, small brass bell, flute, medicine bottles, etc., were remnants of another era.


An old leather saddle bag, shell casings, 1860痴 coins, vases and more items are among the collectibles gathered while Pykas have been restoring old houses.


After weathered siding was removed from the Court Street home, the original exterior was exposed.  The house built in 1865, remained straight and squared due to fine lumber in its construction.


Although the Court Street house remained vacant for ten years, the original unique designed woodwork was restorable.  After much work, a beautiful wood grain appeared under layers of old finish around the windows and baseboard.



The brighter you are, the more you have to learn. Don Herold



Love is blind, but marriage restores its sight. Lichtenberg



If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Derek Bok



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