Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin

April 4, 2012 Page 12

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News

 April 1937


History of Logging in Clark County

By Fred Draper

Continuing Chapter VIII


A greater part of the logs were made into lumber at La Crosse, but not all, as there were mills located at Clinton, Davenport, Rock Island, Burlington and other cities as far south as Quincy and logs were hauled in rafts by tugs down the Mississippi to the mills located in these cities.


In an article written by Geo. L. Jacques, for a prospectus of Clark County published in 1890 by Satterlee, Tift and Marsh on the timber resources of Clark County, I found this statement: “The cut of the pine on Black River and its tributaries for the last ten years has been nearly 200,000,000 feet annually and of this probably 140,000,000 feet annually has been cut in Clark County, the cut per annum during this same period has been 20,000,000 and on the Yellow River 50,000,000 per annum.”


In addition to these figures saw mills during this period, 1880 – 1890, were operated in many parts of the country and much pine as well as the hardwood was being manufactured and shipped by railroad to market.


Chapter IX


The History of the logging industry can hardly be written without giving more than a passing glance at the men who made the industry possible.


As has been stated in former chapters the woodsmen were naturally divided into about three classes: (a) The professional lumberjack who followed the woods and the drive year after year, spending his life from youth to old age in the woods.  (b) The men who came here to either homestead or buy a small tract of land, 40, 80 or at most 160 acres of land for the purpose of establishing a home, and worked in the woods for a few winters and perhaps on the drive in the spring, for the purpose of obtaining ready money to aid in clearing his land and for the support of his family. (c) Immigrants from Northern Europe who came here for the purpose of working in the woods, many of whom in a few years bought a tract of cut over land from their employers, with their savings and established a home of their own.


The genuine lumberjack would work all winter at the hardest kind of manual labor and accumulate perhaps from $125 to $150 before the spring drive was over and then – “Hot Money” was the cry and “Jack” straight-way made tracks for the nearest town or city to spend his hard earned money.


In droves they made way to the towns or cities and plunged into the wildest kinds of dissipation, the saloons were full, gambling houses did a rushing business, and naturally when a man is looking for a chance to spend money there is a crew of “sharpers” on hand to find out who gets it, and in a few weeks Jack was broke and ready to go back into the woods to make another stake to repeat the performance.


However, there was another side to his character. Let an accident happen to one of his fellow workers so there was a doctor bill to pay, or if he was killed and funeral expenses had to be met or a family was left without a husband and father, no class of people in the world responded more quickly to a call for aid than the lumberjack did, a subscription paper was started to which they all gave liberally of their hard earnings.


After their days work was done there was always something going on for amusement, usually there was some one in camp who had a fiddle or an accordion and aside from listening to the music they would often have a ‘stag dance’ to whittle away the time.


Checkers and ‘nine men Morise’ were also popular among the men and many games were played on a homemade board.


Then there were lively games such as “shuffle the brogan” and “hot back” that occupied their attention at times especially if there were some new men in camp.


In most camps there were usually some good singers who could sing the popular songs of the day as well as the regular camp songs such as “Breaking the Jam at Gerry’s Rock” and another that was popular in camps, which begins as follows:


“I am a jolly shanty boy, as you will discover, to all the dodges I fly; a hustling pinewoods rover,” of which there were eight or ten verses.  There were other songs, the names of which as well as the words I have forgotten.


I have often wondered while listening to the Cowboy songs over the radio, why some broadcaster didn‘t get some lumberjack with a good voice to sing a group of camp songs, it would at least be a change.


Then there were the story tellers in every camp and I suspect that was the way that the story of Paul Bunyan originated together with such mythical animals as the hodag, the snow snake, and the rac-a-re-bob to catch the unwary tenderfoot.


When the Fox River land in the Town of York was being logged some of the old camp men got to telling, in camp one evening, about seeing the tracks of a rac-a-re-bob when they came from work that night and as they hoped, one of the boys “bit” and of course the rest of the crew filled him full of what a terrible animal it was and according to their story it was something of a combination of a panther, Grizzly bear and timber wolf, having the worst qualities of all three animals.  Bill, as we will call the young man because that wasn’t his name, was thoroughly frightened and plainly showed that he was, so the next morning one of the men started ahead of the others going to work, taking with him a fur coat, with Bill and his friends coming down the logging road a little later.


As they were passing the brush heap near the logging road, there was a crashing of brush behind the heap followed by the most unearthly screams, growls, shrieks and moans, then out from behind the bush heap in the semi-darkness of early morning came hopping out an animal that looked to Bill about twice as large as a rhinoceros and ten times as savage, and away the men all went down the road,  Bill well in the lead and of course as soon as he got in the lead the rest of the men stopped and waited for their comrade in the fur coat to catch up with them, but Bill kept running until he met the tote teamster coming with supplies from Spokeville.  Of course the teamster stopped and asked Bill what the trouble was as he was covered with sweat and out of breath.  On being told what had happened he tried to persuade Bill to return to camp with him, putting up a little job on him.  Bill said, “Oh, no”, telling him what the boys had just said. Bill said, “If you had seen what I’ve heard and seen, you would be scared too.” So that ended Bill’s experience in logging camp.


Another favorite gag on the part of the men was to send one of their numbers to another camp or mill after some mythical tool, such as a cross all, a straight hook or a lumber-stretcher trusting the boys where he was sent to load him down with something or send him to another camp.


I remember the boys working in a mill near where I was teaching school, sending one of their men after the mill shut down at night, over to another mill about two miles away for a straight hook and the son of the owner of the other mill loading the man down with an old mill shaft weighing about 150 pounds.  Poor Julius soon got tired out and set his straight hook against a tree and came in about 9 p.m. and reported that the straight hook was so heavy he could not carry it back.


April 1942


The Clark County Maple Syrup producers met at the Clark County Courthouse last Thursday afternoon for their annual meeting. After much discussion, it was decided that the price of maple syrup would be $2.00 per gallon this year.  Although there isn’t much syrup so far this year, some producers still hope that weather conditions may give an additional run.


(The price of $2 for a gallon of maple syrup isn’t much for all the work that went into making it. But at that time the price of gasoline was under 20 cents per gallon too. D. Z.)                          


This year’s March snowstorm brought back memories of another March 29th snowstorm, 52 years ago, to R. B. French, pioneer Levis resident. 


Mr. French recalled that on March 29, 1891, he and Mrs. French drove to Merrillan with horses and sleigh and brought home a ton of feed in addition to flour and other supplies for a mill crew.


The sleighing was good, he said, except on the Black River Bridge and its approaches.  At that time the bridge went over Dells Dam and was owned by the Black River Improvement Company.


Next Tuesday night at 7:45 p.m. and not one minute before – We will have Open House when our Prom Formals will arrive!  Come in and see the New Prom Frocks at McCain’s in Neillsville.


No sandwiches served.  A small deposit will reserve your selection!  Prices are Reasonable!


Tornadoes are most peculiar things!


That was proven once more in the Town of Worden last Saturday, April 4, when a sudden twister leveled 15 barns in that area of Clark County, damaged three houses and numerous out-buildings and killed several head of livestock.


The Charles Anderson, Albert Sandvig and G. W. Dodge houses were damaged considerably, the storm passed very close to a score of others without so much as scratching their paint.


The black funnel of the twister first dipped down in the Town of Edson, Chippewa County, at a point a few miles from the Clark County line. That was at approximately 4:30 p.m.  It traveled east northeast, cutting a swathe about 100 feet wide and six miles long. As a mater of fact, the last real damage it caused before lifting was at the Frank Schmid farm, just over the town line road in the Town of Reseburg.                                                                               


A permanent home has been purchased for the Clark County Press. The building is known locally as the new Zbinden building, located on the southwest corner of Seventh Street and Grand Avenue. The building is really not new, but it bears that designation in contrast with the “old” Zbinden building, which was on that corner and which has been wrecked.


The new Zbinden building, though intended as a milk plant, is well suited to the needs of a county newspaper. It is of brick, with a concrete floor and is of a single story.


The building will be used with very few changes, but considerable reconditioning was necessary, and is now going on. A new roof is being put on, along with new ceilings. A furnace will be installed, for hot air heat. The business office will be entered from Seventh Street.


The purchase, which was made by The Press from the American Stores Dairy Co., included the vacant site upon which the old Zbinden building once stood. This site still had upon it the basement walls, considerable concrete work and the old boiler room. These are being wrecked, with the debris thrown into the old basement. The purpose is to make a fill and eventually to landscape the land to the east of The Press building.


(The Clark County Press business was located at that site for about 40 years. D. Z.)


Sixth and eighth grade tests have been tentatively scheduled for April 16-18, inclusive, in a number of centers throughout the county, according to Clark County School Superintendent Louis E. Slock. Approximately 460 children are expected to take the eighth grade tests and about 550 children will take the sixth grade tests.


The Neillsville Milk Products Cooperative has purchased property to the west of its present location, and is about to develop a cheese factory of importance.  The purchase includes the tile building formerly occupied by the Degener hardware, with its site measuring 25 x 96 feet, running from Seventh Street to the alley. The Cooperative has also completed its parcel by the purchase from Harry Roehrborn, of a strip in the back measuring 10 x 56 feet.


The purpose is to construct a new building, to the rear of the present structure, which will be of one story and will measure about 32 x 54 feet. This will be a cheese making room, which will be connected with the older building to the front. The older building will be used for curing and storage.


The construction of the new building and its equipment will put the Neillsville Milk Products Cooperative among the top cheese producers in this section of Wisconsin. The cooperative already has three vats and is securing a fourth, having a capacity of 14,000 pounds of milk. The total capacity of the four vats will be 46,000 pounds of milk, which will give the cooperative a cheese capacity averaging upwards of two tons of a single shift.  The prospect is that the production will be at least of that size, which will mean about 1,500,000 pounds of cheese per year.  This is substantially ahead of any cheese factory heretofore operating in Clark County; approximately double the production of any known to The Press.


(At that time there were two large diary plants within the city, Neillsville Milk Products and American Stores Dairy, both later ceased operating. D. Z.)                                                              


A Free Movie, “Food for Freedom” will be presented by your Massey-Harris Dealer, Ray Paulson on Monday, April 13, 8 p.m. at the Moose hall in Neillsville.  See Art Dixon’s Band and Esmereldy!  Mr. Farmer: “Can we raise the Food to Make America Secure?”                                                                              


Silver Dome Dances:


Saturday, Apr. 11 – Free Wedding Dance in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Volovsek; Tuesday, Apr. 14 – Free Wedding Dance in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Buddinger; Wednesday, April 15 – Free Wedding Dance – Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Drescher; Saturday, Apr. 25 – Free Wedding Dance in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Denk


In patriotic surroundings exemplifying the colors of their class and their nation, 75 members of the 1942 senior class of the Neillsville High School will be graduating in commencement exercises next Tuesday, May 5, starting – 8 p.m. in the Armory.


One diploma will be presented in absentia. It will go to Darwin Graves, former high school athlete who enlisted in the United States Navy in mid-winter.                                                         


Under war production order there will be a ban of cuffs on trousers. We never did see the need of cuffs, but how far will the government go in this matter of rationing.



In mid-summer, after the high water of spring thaw had subsided in the Black River, remnants of the spring logging drive could be seen here and there along the riverbanks. The above photo was taken near the former railroad trestle, one-fourth mile north of what is now County Road B on Neillsville’s west side.





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