Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

March 5, 1997, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


Village of Humbird in 1875


Humbird is a small village, situated in the southwest of Clark County, on the line of the West Wisconsin Railroad.  It took its name from Jacob Humbird, the famous railroad builder.


The village started in 1869, and was a thriving place, until the fall and winter of 1873 when small pox struck its residents.  It nearly destroyed all businesses and curtailed its growth for a season.  Another year and it once again became active and thriving, as before.


In 1869, the undeveloped area was covered with heavy timber, which included the large white pine trees. Six years later, there were graded streets, bordered by fine buildings.  Businesses included mills, hotels, stores, shops, storehouses and commission houses, all neatly maintained. 


Humbird was situated, on one side, with the largest pineries in the state, and on the other, rich farming country, extending westward.  Large amounts of produce were hauled by farmers to the village, exchanged for lumber manufactured nearby.  To the north and east, saw mills and shingle mills were in the midst of some extensive groves of pine timber.  The material manufactured there was either shipped to Humbird or much was sent to Southern Minnesota.


New businesses included a merchant flouring mill and a large brewery.  Wm. Schmidt was proprietor of the flouring mill.  The extraordinary length of the dam, on such a sandy foundation, required the best engineering and material.  Schmidt contributed largely to its success.


There were 44 professional men and business men in the village.


Greenwood Village’s Beginning


The first person to settle in the vicinity, of what would become Greenwood, was Elijah Eaton.  Eaton built a saw mill on the main Black River, about a mile west of the village.


Some time in 1861 or 1862, Stephen C. Honeywell located on the present site of Greenwood, and cleared a good farm, making it the headquarters of his lumbering business which became a successful venture. 


About 1867, the people doing business on the river began to look for a place that would be adjacent to their lumbering operations.  The number of farms growing in the area opened up neighborhoods.  Those needing supplies, which had been obtained at Neillsville or Black River Falls, were wanting closer shops.


Finally such men as S. C. Honeywell, W. H. Begley, Eaton & Brown and others took the matter in hand; a little village was built up with a population of two hundred or more by 1875.  Shops and stores made-up of tradesmen, schools, church organizations, the Good Templar and Odd Fellow’s Societies, its professional men, and manufacturing establishments, a total of 26, had the village off to a good start.


Some fine water-powers near Greenwood, Black River and Rock Creek, with a water and steam saw mill nearby, made plenty of lumber for building at a lower price.


March 1932


Basketball fans of Neillsville will have their last chance to see four high school players in action on the home floor, Thursday night.  They will play their farewell game against Dorchester at the armory.  This last game of the season brings to a close the high school basketball careers of Adelbert Eberhardt, Kenneth Olson, Bruce Beilfuss and Johnny Wagner.  These men have made remarkable sports records that will long be remembered.


Monday, Coach Claflin received word that the Neillsville team had won a place at the tournament in Wausau on March 10, 11, and 12.


Early post office closing announced by the postal department at Washington has caused some indignation.  Beginning mid-March, the Neillsville post office will close at 6 p.m., instead of 8 p.m.  This news brought about petitions signed by residents and businessmen demanding that the order be rescinded.


Charging that Neillsville now has very little mail service during the day and the fact is much mail must go out at night, the petition points out it is “extremely inconvenient for business people and others to get their mail ready by 6 p.m.”  Consequently, the mail would be delayed in reaching its destination by 24 hours.


Ben Brown, postmaster, stated the action has been taken due to the large increase in the number of money orders handled locally. 


Neillsville Masonic bowlers lost to Loyal, this week, by 10 pins.  Loyal’s team players were: Zugie, Volk, Shupe, Nelson and Voight who totaled 2,432 points.  Neillsville keglers were Quinlan, Peters, Gustman, Crow, and Bruhn with 2,422 points.


Dry agents smashed a still in a raid on the edge of Neillsville this past week.


The federal agents appeared at the premises and after exploring, smashed the still and poured kerosene over the mash.


News that federal agents were in the community was soon spread among the dealers in liquor in the city and within a short time the various places had “cleaned-up” and were prepared for any raids that might take place.  It is said the city was a “desert” Wednesday and no liquor was being sold except to trusted customers.


M. M. Debow, deputy Forest Ranger came from Merrillan on Saturday, made out a map of fire lanes to be cut and cleared within townships constituting the fire district in Clark County.  A total of 70 miles of lane will be cleared in nine townships.


A new fire watch-tower will be built in the town of Mentor on section eight.  The southeast section of the county is covered by a tower on Saddle Mound.


Clark County funds are low and the State is withholding aid.  Payment in taxes in the county has been slow this year, according to Mary Rude, treasurer.  Saturday, Rude was visited by 20 town treasurers who turned in a total of $7,000.  In ordinary years, Rude stated, she would have received that amount from each of the treasurers.  For the year she has collected not quite $12,000 out of the $232,631 county budget.


County officials view the situation with alarm and assert that Clark County is facing an extremely grave problem.  It has also been learned that state funds are running low to pay the fire lane cutters so work may have to be suspended.  In a few weeks the county won’t be able to meet payroll and bills.  (This was the time of the “Great Depression”).


The National Forest Reservation Commission at a recent meeting made a decision to purchase 115,000 acres of land in Taylor County as an addition to the Mondeau forest reserve.  The government will develop recreational tracts in the area wherever suitable places can be found.  It suitable, some pieces will be reserved for farming – the rest will be forested.  Settlers within the tracts purchased are not required to sell if they prefer to remain.  The prices paid for the cut-over land are from $1.50 to $2.50 per acre.


Weston Rapids


There is some additional information on the Weston Rapids article.  Henry Bieneck who purchased the town-site acreage in 1907 was the great-grandfather of Roy Bieneck.  The Weston Rapids logger’s boarding house was renovated into a one-story home and is now owned by Roy and Sandy Bieneck.


Another building, saved from the Weston Rapids village, was the horse and oxen barn on the west side of the river.


Charles Appleyard employed the Art Gress Movers to move the barn from the river bank site to his farmstead along Grand Avenue.  Stone-masonry walls were placed under the jacked-up barn, completing an extension to the main barn.


(If anyone has photos of the Weston Rapids village or buildings that were in the village, we would like to copy those.  Once copied, the photos are returned.)


Neillsville’s Fifth Street looking east the block between West and Hewett Streets 

Notice the bell and tower on the City Hall’s roof. 

Also, the style of fire hydrant during the late 1800’s


A turn of the Century view of O’Neill Creek and Black River over the banks; taking on the appearance of a large lake.  At the far left, the Neillsville Furniture Factory was partially flooded, as well as the railroad tracks going west of the city.  The houses on the far right are along North Grand Avenue.



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