The Old Owen School House

Arts, crafts, antiques, collectibles, food, hand-crafted furniture, music. Downtown Owen along County Highway X, the Historic Yellowstone Trail. Call 715-229-2245 for more information.


Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.


April 19, 2006


Spring has come in with a bang.  Many things are going on at the Old School.  On March 13, Yellowstone Trail Committee was hosted by Chairman June Roohr, in the midst of a snowstorm, but turnout was very good.


Then on March 17, FOS hosted an Open House to celebrate the arrival of spring, and to listen to the MPK Celtic Fiddle Band from Chili.  They are doing an encore performance in concert at the Gym on April 22, beginning at 6 p.m.  There is a $1 admission, with children under 12 free.  The dad is a graduate of the O-W Schools, and the whole family is absolutely wonderful.  The youngest boy plays the piano like a pro, and they do some Irish dancing, and of course, play the fiddle and other musical instruments.  Great entertainment!  Refreshments, too!


On March 25, there was another Red Cross Blood Drive, which will be repeated later this spring.  In the midst of the world’s chaos, there is always a need for blood.


There was another Arneson Auction on April 1.  It’s always a pleasure to work with them.  This time, many FOS members came from far—Eau Claire, Wausau, and Minneapolis—to assist.


The O-W EMS/Ambulance Service annual fund-raiser dance took place on April 8.  We always like to be of service to them.  They are volunteers and we never know when we will need them.


After the MPK Celtic Fiddle Band concert on April 22, we’ll be completing the schedule for May.  We will have an open house for a few hours on Memorial Day, in case anyone is in the area and wants to stop in.  And there will be another Yellowstone Trail stop in Owen in May.  Details will follow later.


Plans are underway for the annual Fair Days and Old School Marketplace on July 8 and 9.  Space is still available inside, and of course, outside is always available.  This year, we’ll be having extra space for the 1st Congregational United Church of Christ in Owen, as they turn 100 years old.


More archives will be coming in soon.  We’ve gone through piles of newspapers to sort by year, and we have other projects to finish before July.


Esther Niedzwiecki, FOS Board



March 15, 2006


The Friends of the Old School in Owen, invites the community to an open house at the gym in Owen on Sunday, March 19, 2006 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  You can celebrate St. Patrick’s and St. Urho’s days and the coming of spring with music, refreshments and displays of historical items.


Woodgrove Workers 4-H members will perform music from the movie Grease at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.  Asa Fields and Anna Nosko will provide fiddle and piano tunes and about 2:15 p.m. the MPK Celtic fiddle band will take the stage.  For more information call: Esther Niedzwiecki—Owen 715-229-2245.


July 20, 2005, Clark County Press (Neillsville, WI)


Owen Days 2005 are now history.  What a weekend it was.  So many people, so much visiting, and some sales, too.


FOS would like to acknowledge some special people who made the weekend so great.  First, the Barager family very nicely allowed the FOS to gather some artifacts from the old Enterprise office. Not so much dollar value, but the historical value is priceless.  We hope many saw our display of our dear friend, Virginia Barager. 


Then Harry and Reva from the Potting Shed Greenhouse decided it was time to close the greenhouse for the season, and donated countless geraniums and baskets.  They do such a nice job and we can’t say enough about them.  Their plants are ‘exquisite’.


Then, in the midst of all the activities, Dr. Gelhaus called to say he had something for us.  It turned out to be a whole wall.  They are remodeling the dental office, and in doing so uncovered a wall with a poster.  It first went into the dumpster, but Dr. Tom rescued it and brought most of it home and called us.  It is now in pieces, while we do some research.  This goes back to the early 1900’s, and advertised the Kit Carson Wild West Show coming to Owen on July 5—but what year?  We’ll be doing some tracking, and also finding out from an archivist how to preserve and display this.  It’s not something you pack in a drawer.


We are thankful there are people who recognize the value of preservation.  Not everything old needs to be trashed.


Another person who donates her time and talents is Anita Schultz.  (She is Bob and Woody Wall’s aunt).  Every year she makes and donates two quilts.  This year she did three.  So, we put two out for the raffle, and will raffle the other one plus the chainsaw carved bear in our September show.  Winners of this year’s quilt raffle are #1, Cindy Smith, Bloomington, CA and #2, Elaine Hansen, Greenwood.


If any readers are ever aware of something old, being in danger of demolition, please find one of the FOS members.  Local history needs to be kept and treasured here at home. 


Finally, if there are any old car buffs out there, one of our members had an old postcard showing the Owen Enterprise in very early days.  Along the street are old cars.  This picture was blown up to poster size, and shows many cars as well as early businesses some time in the 1915 (?) time slot.


More news later as this is a busy time.


Esther Niedzwiecki, FOS Board, (715) 229-2245


P.S. Sept. 4, noon potluck, North Bright, South Bright and Elmwood Grade School reunion at the Old School Gym.

Pass the word. 

August 17, 2005, Clark County Press (Neillsville, WI)

FOS is catching up with plans after a very successful MARKETPLACE and all-class reunion in July. Owen Days over-all was a success. As we ready ourselves for the 1st Arts Fest/Marketplace in September, we realize the gym is twice the size of my barn, where I had the Art in the Barn shows. So, we welcome readers to apply for this new show. Antiques, original artwork, carvings, etc. This show is juried, so we won’t accept just anything.

The roof problem is being addressed in August. Then another Tool Show is scheduled for Sept. 1. They are always popular.

After the North Bright/South Bright/Elmwood Grade school reunion on Sept. 4, we’ll be setting up for the Arts Fest on Sept. 17-18. If any reader has an hour or so a week, we can use extra hands. I will probably be in the gym most days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s going to be fun—several members (and some strangers) have donated linen tablecloths so we can really play ‘dress-up.’

Farmers’ market stands are also welcome then—no charge for setting up with your produce or flowers for the weekend.

That’s all for now. There are always many irons in the fire—it’s a matter of picking one project at a time.

Until next time, Esther Niedzaiecki, FOS Board

August 24, 2005, Clark County Press (Neillsville, WI) 

Summer came with quite a vengeance—some days were sure hot. And suddenly, it feels like fall. And hayfever time. Oh well, soon the fields will be white. But wait, not yet!

The Old School will be busy in September. To begin the month, another TAP Enterprises tool show comes in on Sept. 1st at 11 a.m. They are always popular.

Then, on Sept. 2, Tim Schindler will be setting up for another antique and household auction scheduled for Sept. 3.

Then, on Sept. 4, beginning at noon, a potluck dinner will start for a reunion of North Bright/South Bright/Elmwood Grad schools. We’ll try to have much of our grade school memorabilia out.

On Sept. 17-18, many local and state artisans will display their work at the 1st annual Old School Arts Fest & Marketplace. Besides the juried artworks, we will also have a Kid’s dress-up corner, and a raffle. So far, raffle items include a very large chainsaw carved bear, a handmade quilt, and a few other surprises. There will be a $1 admission charge, which will benefit the Old School Roofing fund. There is also a free-of-charge farmer’s market on the grounds. Vendors will need to register, but spaces are free.

Plans are underway to feature more musical events this winter, and possibly some classes—arts, crafts, personal wellness, etc. Beginning Oct. 1, the gym will be once again available for walkers.

That’s all I have for now.

Esther Niedzwiecki, FOS Board

August 2, 2006, Clark County Press (Neillsville, WI)


News from Friends of the Old School (Owen)


Yikes! Here comes August.  Time has just rushed right by, so I’ll try to update readers on what has happened since early June.


Starting with Memorial Day, the Gym was open after the ceremonies at the Cemetery and lunch at the Vet’s club.  Many people came in to view our growing number of military articles and clothing.


Following the open house, the stage floor got a nice coat of paint.  Right about that time, some very able guys (and one girl) from the Fire Department came in, put up the scaffolding, and changed some light bulbs on the stage, fixed some unruly curtains, and hung the now permanent letter “O.”  We certainly appreciate their help.  Such good people!


Then, cement work began.  There was another auction in mid-June, and Fair Days looming, so we hoped we could squeeze the project in sometime between.  And it happened!


The City of Owen helped with the removal of the old stuff, and was that a job.  No more cracked front slab, or crooked step.  For a few days, we had a big hole.  Then, Jake Adams and his crew came.  It was interesting to watch.  They first dealt with the new handicap ramp in back, and then started on the front; sidewalk first, then the slab and section near the street, and finally the new front step.  Just in time for Fair Days and Marketplace. 


After our big weekend, the gym was busy with Girl Scouts.  They camped outside under the trees, and had their workshops in the gym.


Then came the Clark County Historical Society’s summer meeting:  It was attended by most of the separate groups in the county, and a pleasant time was had.  Following that came a private wedding and reception.  They enjoyed having the gym during the hottest weekend this year.


We are now getting things in order for the September Arts Fest and Marketplace.  We already have two items for our raffle, with yet a quilt and cement items to be added.  Quilt winners from the July raffle were Elaine Hansen and Janice Bottorff.


That’s all for now.  We’re busy sorting through more archives brought in during the Fair, and anticipating the increase in heating bills this winter.  It sure is a worry.


Esther Niedzwiecki

FOS Board


August 2, 2006, Clark County Press (Neillsville, WI)


Friends of the Old School host Historical Society


Friends of the Old School, Owen, hosted Clark County Historical Society’s summer meeting on July 23.  After a delicious potluck lunch, followed by strawberry shortcake, the business meeting followed. 


Janet Dykema, Field Service Rep. for the State Historical Society with offices in Eau Claire, came by to speak about what is taking place around the state and how she can be of help with our local efforts.  She commented that Clark County has one of the highest numbers of individual museums or historical societies within the County inside her area.  She was impressed.


Members of each group reported on their progress.  Dave Jankoski spoke of their many events planned in Stanley, and Janet Rogalski gave the Thorp report.  Shari Fournier spoke of Colby’s progress, followed by Neillsville’s Jail Museum account by Suzanne Krueger.  Missing were Greenwood and Loyal, while Willard and Dorchester are still in the planning stages.  FOS Chairman June Roohr gave a rundown on events and progress, including the newly completed front sidewalk project and rear handicap ramp.  The gym will house a wedding and reception soon, and will be getting ready for another Arts Fest in September.


There was a long discussion on how to help keep Clark County Historical Society alive.  With so many individual groups, less people are involved in the “umbrella” group, so we all need to encourage new memberships with CCHS.  They have worked so hard for years, and have a wealth of information for all of us to enjoy.  We just do not want them to fade away after so many dedicated years.


Following the meeting, guests walked down to the United Church of Christ for a tour, as they celebrate 100 years.  Then they went on to St. Katherine’s Church for another tour.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the afternoon, and went home committed to finding new members for CCHS.


Esther Niedzwiecki


August 16, 2006, Clark County Press (Neillsville, WI)


As days shorten, and fall approaches, FOS has several activities planned for the next few weeks.  Volunteers are needed for some, and baked goods for one or two.


August 26—Arneson Household/antique auction.  Kitchen help and bars needed.


August 31—Cummins tool Show.  Buyers needed


September 16-17—2nd annual Old School Marketplace/Arts Fest. 10 to 5.  Arts, crafts, antiques, baked goods, demonstrations.  Bring a friend, and bars or cookies.  Farmer’s Market will be added this year—out on the lawn.  Please register by 9 on Saturday.  And consider setting up to sell—well-made arts, crafts, unique creative work.  Antiques will be sold, too.  Donations are also welcome if you do not have enough for vendor space.


September 30—Red Cross Blood Drive.


October 28—FOS Annual Meeting


More news will follow as details are finalized.


FOS has been brain-storming for ideas to create interest and funds for the buildings.  Readers are welcome to share idea, and to become members.  This winter, we hope to begin work on a 2008 calendar featuring many of our old photographs from earlier days.  Volunteers welcome to help on this project.


Hope to see you all soon



Esther Niedzwiecki


October 4, 2006, Clark Co. Press, Page 8


Our second annual ARTS FEST is in the history books now.  While the weather was not good, and only one brave vendor stayed outdoors for the weekend, it was still ok.  Not great, but still ok.  As some of us were chatting, we have decided next year we will add ETHNIC crafts and baked goods.  Our Amish friends could not be here due to having to can a newly butchered cow.  No time to bake pies.  So, FOS took over.  But next time, look for Swedish, Danish, German, maybe some Polish and Finnish cookies, cakes and breads.  We’ll start with a bake sale toward Christmas.  So, everyone, get out Grandma’s old recipes.  Lefse, Kringles, kropsua, etc.  Oh, and Kolacki.


The gym is such a great place to set up the mini-store for the weekend.  Compared to the Art in the Barn, it’s just great.  The bleachers work so well as a wall for quilts and art-work.  And the floor is so easy on the feet.


Next year, we look forward to helping the Owen Fair celebrate its 60th year, and the Fire Department celebrating 100.  (Gee, they don’t look that old).  This year, we still have the UCC Church celebration soon, as they celebrate 100.  I believe the Woodland Hotel is also in that category.


A lot of people gripe about our small towns here, but you know, I find it amazing that they are still here to celebrate these big numbers.  When we travel to and fro, across the country down to Texas and Missouri, we see many towns that “used to be.”  So, in spite of nay-sayers, we’re still here.  And changes are made out of necessity, and life continues.  So quit crabbing and get involved.


In closing, look ahead to celebrating your ethnic background.  FOS has talked about it for some time, and is finally going to do something about it.  I would also like to invite story-tellers to come.  And maybe have a “funniest ethnic joke” (family-friendly, of course) and an ugliest troll and cutest gnome contest.  And even get other organizations involved.  The Wheels are turning!  If we start now, we can do it up right by next year’s Fair Days and for September.  (Included will be ethnic crafts and crafters).



October 18, 2006, Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI, page 12.


By Esther Niedzwiecki


Just last week I commented that with the cold weather we had a couple of weeks ago, maybe we won’t be bothered with lady bugs.  Oops, I should bite my tongue.


The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Old School is scheduled for Saturday, October 28, (2006) at 1 p.m.  We hope to discuss the old High School restoration.  We have been gathering some information, and are working on a committee to study this, and start planning.  We thought we had a very nice man who did the Phillips High School, turning the ‘old girl’ into Senior apartments.  But, sadly, he has had some serious health problems, so now we start over.


We welcome all to come to this.  We’ve been asked several times about doing apartments, and senior housing, even assisted living.  So, we hope everyone who is interested will come to add to the discussion.


The Old School was built in 1921, with classes beginning the following year.  The building is still sound, according to the architect who works with old buildings.  It is now listed along with the Gym on the National Register of Historic Places.


Now, getting back to the Ethnic additions for next year!  What about a cookbook??  Something like: “From Grandma’s Table.”  Way back when, many immigrants settled here.  The Danes, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, and Germans, Poles, Irish.  They all set up small neighborhoods, either in town, or out in the country, contributing to the community, and raising families.  Since Christmas is soon here, we’ll all have some old recipes out, so why not copy up to 5 and send them to us.  I’M hoping to have something done by Fair Days next year.  Owen’s Fair will celebrate its 60th year.


Until next time….


February 28, 2006, Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI. 


After a busy auction season, FOS is now planning the 2007 Calendar year.  Lots of events in the works.


First, we’ll be working with the Owen Fair Board as they plan on the 60th Annual Fair Days.  Volunteers are welcome for both groups to help with extra events.  Dates for the Fair are July 13-15.


Then, another St. Urho (Finnish) and St. Patrick (Irish) Day celebration is being planned – probably on March 18, beginning at 2 p.m.  Music, refreshments, stories.  Last year’s was fun.


In April, the Owen-Withee EMS annual fund-raiser is scheduled for April 21.  These people do great work.  Please support them.


Someday in May, we’re hoping to do another plant sale, with rummage sale and baked goods.  Donations will be accepted, but people can also rent table or floor space reasonably.


FOS has recently received donations to honor living people.  For instance, one gave a memorial gift to honor a 50th anniversary couple (invitation specified NO GIFTS).  Then, a member made a gift to honor her brother who had done some work for her but did not want any money.  So, while FOS gets donations to honor deceased loved ones, there are other creative ways to make donations.


A separate High School Renovation Committee has formed.  They are consulting with developers and gathering ideas on the future of the Old High School.  Something positive should be happening soon.


More news will follow as plans are finalized.  I am slowing getting back some of my energy and my live following the untimely death of my partner, my friend, and my husband.  He was one of the good guys, and I sure miss him.


Until next time,

Esther Niedzwiecki

FOS Board


(Condolences are sent Esther’s way.)


April 25, 2007, Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI. 


Spring is finally here, I think.  Lots is happening at the Old School for 2007.  As the old Dime Store (Ray’s Variety) is being emptied, FOS is receiving some memorabilia.  And Denny is gathering artifacts from the Mill Pond.  Come Fair Days in July, we will have some interesting displays.


Coming up in May, FOS will hold another Spring Rummage, Bake and Plant sale.  Hours were decided: On Friday, May 11, sale will start at noon, and continue on till 6 p.m.  On Saturday, May 12, hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Interested sellers can rent tables from (for) a small fee, or donations will be accepted.  We do not accept TV’s, appliances or basically junk.  Only good, clean saleable items, please.  Please call 229-2245 for time schedule to drop off items.  Or to rent tables. 


The Old School Marketplace dates are July 14-15.  Volunteers are welcome to help with setting up artifacts and displays the week before.  The Mill Pond items will probably take up quite a large space.  The Heritage Room will be dismantled and rearranged with new items.  Included will be more from the Barager Estate.  But before we do that, our old displays have to be carefully removed and put into storage. That’s where a few extra hands can help.  (Fair Days are July 13 – 15)


Applications have already gone out for vendor space at the Marketplace.  New vendors are always welcome.  The All-Class reunion is held on Saturday, July 14, so many people are in town for the weekend. The Gym is the central meeting place now, being air-conditioned.


Another thing FOS is working on with the High School is a possible cemetery tour.  What we all need is some history of Civil War Veterans.  If anyone out there has any knowledge of Veterans buried in Riverside, please contact me at 229-2245, or June, whenever she’s in town. (229-4531)


Did anyone happen to see an NBC segment the other night on an up-and-coming sport venture?  Called Grandma Basket-ball, it featured 60 and 70-yr. olds out on the court.  Their attire was a hoot: Black bloomers below the knees, and white cotton blouses with ruffles.  There is no running, or physical contact.  It looks like so much fun.  Is anyone up for it???


Until next time,

Esther Niedzwiecki


Dec. 26, 2007, Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI. 


I’ve been away for a while, recharging my batteries and visiting with old friends and relatives far away.  So I need to update readers on what’s happening at FOS.


Winter will bring more events.  Starting with a Blood Drive, the Red Cross will be at the Gym on Dec. 31 from 10 a.m.  – 2 p.m.


Then, two more auctions are scheduled.  (Jan. 5 and Feb. 2) from what I hear, the last one in December was a success, in spite of the weather.


Meantime, walkers are enjoying the safe floor and nice environment in the Gym every day. The after-school program started in October, and the basketball practice is underway.


FOS is studying other programs to introduce this year, some having to do with alternate fuels and conserving energy.  We’re looking to insulate the stage area ceiling and change some lighting.


Looking ahead to spring, on May 17 (?) plans are underway to have “sale-ing” along the Yellowstone Trail. The Trail is Highway X which runs right in front of the Old School.  The idea is to hold a rummage, craft, plant or anything else-sale along the trail, from Curtiss to Stanley, or beyond on either end, with hopes of someday doing the whole Trail throughout Wisconsin (and who knows, maybe across the whole country).  We’ll have more details later on.


FOS has lost some great supporters in 2007. We miss them.  In the meantime, we’ve gained more new friends.  I guess that’s how life goes.


We all wish our friends, near and far, a Happy Holiday season and a very healthy 2008.  As I go through another year myself, I realize that without good health, life really doesn’t have much to offer. So, we wish you well.


Esther Niedzwiecki


Jan. 30, 2007, Thorp Courier, Thorp, WI, pg. 3.


Friends of the Old School


Meeting to Include Raptor Presentation


The Friends of the Old School, Inc. in Owen will hold a social membership and information gathering on Sunday, February 10, 2008 in their old school gym beginning with a potluck lunch at 12:30 p.m.  A very brief business meeting will follow.  At 2:00 p.m., Steve Fisher of the Raptor Education Group in Antigo will give a one-hour presentation complete with three or four live raptors.


REGI has rehabilitated hundreds of birds of prey including eagles, hawks and even trumpeter swans.  The group’s mission is to promote awareness of and respect for native bird species, and to develop the best procedures for bird rehabilitation and their successful transition back into the wild.  Fisher’s program is appropriate for all ages.


The Friends of the Old School Heritage Room will be open for browsing the array of local history memorabilia.  Every-one is invited to attend all or part of the afternoon’s events.  The gym is located in downtown Owen at the intersection of 3rd Street (County X) and Central Avenue.  Ample parking is available behind the gym with a handicap accessible entryway.


The Community Bank of Central Wisconsin with branches in Abbotsford and Thorp and the Schiferl Family Charitable Foundation are providing financial support for this program.  More information on the Raptor Education Group, Inc. can be found at www.raptoreducationgroup.org.







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