Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin

June 6, 2012, Page 11

Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Clark County News


1918 History of Clark County

By Franklin Curtiss Wedge




Greenwood, situated not far from the geographical center of Clark County, is platted on a rise of ground, at the junction of the Black River and Rock Creek.  Its sightly business houses and residences, it s high water tower, its gently undulating adjacent farm lands, and its miles of good roads radiating in many directions, all tend to add to its beauty and charm, while its two railroads; the Fairchild & Northwestern and the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie, better known as the “Soo”, add to its importance as a trading and shipping center. Its principal shipments are dairy products.


The population is about 700 persons.  In 1895 it was 559, in 1900 it was 708, and in 1910 it was 665.


The first settlement, at what is now Greenwood, was made in 1848, when Van Dusen & Waterman erected a mill west of the Black River. A little later Albert Lambert built a mill not far away, and the locality became one of the pioneer milling centers of the county.  In 1954, Charles W. Carpenter arrived, in June 10, 1857 they took up a large tract of land, and erected a log cabin, which, sided over, is still standing. In 1859 he sold out to S. C. Honeywell, who engaged in farming and lumbering.  From time to time others came in.


Homer M. Root arrived in December 1869. At that time S. C. Honeywell and Collett Durham had frame houses there.  John Bowerman, William H. Begley and Stephen Andres had log houses and there was also a log schoolhouse, all on the east side of the river, while west of the river stood the mill of Elijah Eaton. The first merchant was S. C. Honeywell, who had a small stock of goods in his house.


In 1870, Chandler and Brown, from Black River Falls, opened the first regular store, and the same year, W. H. Begley opened a hotel. Begley operated the stagecoach from Black River Falls, and employed Jesse Crane as his first driver.  On this stage line, two and a half miles south of Greenwood, Henry Huntzicker had a log tavern. A half-mile further south, George H. Huntzicker had his home. In 1875, George H. Huntzicker built a larger tavern, which he operated until the late 1880’s.


The village of Greenwood was platted June 6, 1871, by William Welsch. He was assisted by Charles Hogue, Oscar Nutting and Frank Brown. The village name was given by Mary Honeywell, later Mrs. Smith Honeywell, as befitting the beauty of its natural surroundings.  It was re-platted Aug. 16, 1895, by William B. Agnew for some sixty owners.


The first birth after the village was laid out was that of Maude Brown, daughter of B. F. Brown. The first marriage was that of John Honeywell and Rachael Hodges in the fall of 1871. The first death was that of Elijah Eaton, Dec. 4, 1872.


Settlers at first came in slowly.  In 1890, the year before it was incorporated, the village contained three general stores, two hardware stores, two meat markets, two blacksmith shops, two millinery and dressmaking establishments, one wagon shop, one grocery store, one confectionary store, one flour and agricultural implement store, one harness shop, one shoe shop, one furniture store and factory, one hotel, one barber shop, one public hall, an Odd Fellows Hall, a Methodist Episcopal Church, a photograph gallery, creamery and a saw mill.


Greenwood has since then enjoyed a steady growth in importance and prosperity.  Its three greatest disasters have been the fire of 1885, which destroyed eight buildings and left a blackened gap in the village; the fire of 1900, which destroyed the Kippenhan & Palms heading mill and the flood of 1914, which took out the dike dam, the dam and mill at Hemlock and the bridge across the Black River, in addition to other damage done in this region up and down the valley.


In 1900 Kippenhan and Palms built the Heading Mill, pictured above, which was put into operation in June of that year. The mill, which was located on Greenwood’s south side along Main Street, was a thriving business in the 1900-1910 era, employing a number of workers.


Greenwood was incorporated as a city by act of the legislature and approved April 2, 1891. The first city mayor was David Justice; aldermen, Robert Schofield, B. F. Thompson, L. W. Larson and David Shanks; treasurer, S. M. Anders; clerk, Elias Peterson; assessor.


The principal improvements consist of the waterworks and fire protection, the electric light system with its magnificent dam and the public library. The library is supported by the city and contains some 1,500 volumes.  It is housed in rooms over the post office, in charge of Mrs. Ida E. Thompson.


The waterworks system was installed by Richard S. Kountz of Neillsville and operated as a private concern until taken over by the city.  In 1911, the city added to the system a 40,000 gallon standpipe at a cost of $3,300, and the mains have been extended at various times.


The fire department equipment consists of two hose carts, hand-drawn. The department, which is entirely volunteer, is headed by Albert Schwarze, chief, William Schwarze, assistant chief, and C. C. Hoehne, foreman.


The dam across the Black River at this point was started in October 1905 and accepted by the city council Aug. 6, 1906. Constructed with a twelve-foot head on a solid rock foundation, the dam proper is 253 feet long, of concrete, fifteen feet wide at the bottom, with an apron of thirty-four feet. The spillways, six feet lower than the bulkheads on either side, is about 166 feet long, with six gates, 4 by 5 feet. The fish-way is also 4 by 5 feet. The crib, under the powerhouse, is 24 feet.  In constructing this dam, fourteen carloads of cement were used, three times as much sand and five times as much gravel, making 126 loads in all.


The powerhouse is 16 by 34 feet, with an eleven foot ceiling. The wheel is a 33-inch turbine, 106 horsepower, with 175 revolutions per minute, under a 12-foot head of water. The dynamo is of the 60-killowatt, 60-cycle, with alternating current type, runs 900 revolutions per minute and requires 75-horsepower with full load. The system covers nearly four miles of poles, with seven street arc lights of 1,200 candlepower, twenty-nine side street lights with thirty-two candle power and fourteen transformers.


The new school building, started in 1913 and opened in 1914, is of vitrified brick, 61 by 100 feet, three stories high with a complete gymnasium, in addition to the usual recitation, assembly, cloak and office rooms. The equipment is modern throughout, with steam heat, fan ventilation, hot and cold water throughout, and both tub and shower baths. The cost of the completed building was about $35,000. The force consists of nine teachers. There are four graded rooms, two grades to a room and a full high school course, with special instruction in Domestic Science, Manual Training and Agriculture. The first school in the vicinity was taught by David Hoseley in a log cabin located on the present site of the La Crosse Brewery building. It was wartime, and for a time, the school roster was limited to the children of Elijah Eaton, S. C. Honeywell and John Dwyer.  The next school was kept at the cabin of Robert Schofield.  After the village was surveyed, a location was selected on the village site at the present location of the Greenwood State Bank Building. That building was used until the present structure was put up.


The railroads have contributed materially to the prosperity of the city, the Wisconsin Central, now a part of the “Soo” system, having been built from Marshfield in 1891, and the Fairchild & Northwestern, the “Foster Road,” having been built from Fairchild in 1895.


A shipping station furnishes an outlet for the dairy products of the region and principal business industries are the Greenwood Roller Mills. The American Society of Equity buys and ships stock for the benefit of its members.


The Eau Claire Creamery Co., with headquarters at Eau Claire, has operated a branch at Greenwood since 1906.  The creamery was built by Carl Glasshorn, who sold to the present company. Some cheese and butter was made as late as 1917, but the establishment is now entirely devoted to pasteurizing and shipping milk to outside points.


The Greenwood Roller Mills business was built in 1916 by N. C. Foster of Fairchild. The capital stock is $20,000, mostly owned in Greenwood.  The mill has a daily capacity of fifty barrels of flour and also turns out considerable feed.  It is operated by steam power and equipped with five sets of double rollers. The elevator, which is operated in connection, has a capacity of 25,000 bushels.  H. H. Hartson is the manager.


June 1942


Farmers of Clark County already have pledged to purchase $97,345.25 worth of war bonds and war savings stamps during 1942.  The pledge campaign in rural areas is being conducted under the direction of the USDA war board, of which Axel Sorenson is chairman.                                                                            


They will not be needed immediately, but when the sun bakes the country forests to tinder-dry and forest fires again figure as a threat, 190 Clark County residents will be available for fire fighting service.


This was the report of James Churchill, forest ranger at the Pray observation station, made to the county civilian defense council. These 190 people have received instruction and training in fighting forest fires and have volunteered to help if they are called. They include 110 who recently completed training and 45 men who were previously trained.


In perhaps the first ceremony of its kind in this area since the start of this World War, a plaque with the names inscribed of 53 men from Willard who have entered the armed service of this nation was dedicated at the Holy Family Catholic Church Sunday.


The plaque, along with an American Flag, was dedicated formally in the afternoon, following a morning mass spoken for the men from this neighborhood that are in the service of our country. Four youths enrolled in the army were present as the plaque bearing their names was dedicated. They were: Sgt. Victor Trost, Corp. John Volk, Corp. Alfons Hemersbach, Jr., and Pvt. Robert Debevec.


The morning service was celebrated by the Rev. Fr. Raphael Stragisher.  The Rev. Fr. J. J. Novak of Greenwood assisted in the afternoon. Following the dedicator service in the afternoon, the congregation marched in a body to the West Side Hall, striding to the tempo furnished by the nine-piece Volovsek family band.  There, Frank Perovsek acted as chairman, introducing Fr. Raphael and Ludwig Perushek, Sr., father of two boys in the service. 


A church choir of nine boys and four girls led in the singing of “America,” and other patriotic songs with organ accompaniment played by Mrs. Ivan Ruzic.                                         


When the U. S. S. Marblehead, light cruiser of the Asiatic fleet limped into an eastern port recently, she brought a Clark County boy back from the war.


He is Rex Pickett, son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl N. Pickett of Spencer, Rt. 1; a nephew of George Beeckler, Levis Town chairman, and Miss Daphne Beeckler, Neillsville public School teacher.  He is a grandson of E. A. Beeckler of Granton.


Rex, home on furlough, carries the marks of the sea-air battle in the Java Sea, in which the Marblehead came within an ace of going to the bottom.  She suffered two direct bomb hits and a damaging “near miss;” survived the “death whirl,” the only ship that has remained afloat to tell about it; proceeded 5,000 miles with her main engines as her only means of steering. Three times the Japanese reported her sunk.


Red patches on Rex’s arms show where he was burned as the Marblehead burst into flames after a bomb hit. His hair is growing in curlier than before.  It seems that hair sometimes does so when it is singed off, and his was burned off by a blasting bomb that pierced the forward deck.


It was shortly after the battle in the Macassar Strait, the one in which some 30 of the Japanese transport and supply shops were surprised and sent to the bottom, that the Marblehead was knocked out of action.


“We were probably lucky, at that,” says Rex; “otherwise we probably would have been with the Houston when she went down in the Java Sea.”


The Marblehead was in the Java Sea a few days after she had given protection and support to the destroyers which, surprised Japanese convoys in Macassar Strait. The great naval battle for Java was impending.


The air suddenly seemed filled with Japanese planes, high flying above, out of reach of the Marblehead’s anti-aircraft defenses; dive bombers that roared almost straight downward to unload their eggs.


The Marblehead was a marked ship, Rex said, “The Japs hated her and were out to get her.”  She had done “plenty of damage;” had earned the nickname of the “Galloping Ghost of the China Coast.”


Rex was at his battle station on deck when the bombers launched their attack.


“Scared?” “No,” he said.  “You’re too busy in battle to be scared. Each man has his job to do, and he doesn’t have much time to worry about what is going on.”


So Rex was too busy to worry when a bomb crashed through the main deck and exploded.  He saw a sailor next to him drop as shrapnel tore his flesh.


It was another bomb, a “near miss” that did the greatest material damage to the Marblehead.  Striking the water close by, its explosion tore a hole in the ship’s side below the water line.


“The hole was almost large enough to drive a truck-tractor through,” Rex said. 


Although the ship was in sinking condition, water-tight bulkheads kept out the sea while pumps and men turned to bailing.


Still another bomb, a second direct hit, damaged the engines that operate the rudder. When this happened, the rudder was locked at a 45-degree angle.  The Marblehead started in a “death whirl.”


Its steering apparatus locked, the great ship moved in swift circles. Usually, they go like that, until they capsize, roll over with their topside under water.  Then finis.  The 45,000-ton German battleship Bismarck was in a death whirl before she went down. No ship ever before has come out of one. But the Marblehead was a ghost ship. She somehow came out of it, the only ship known to do so.




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