Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin

by Mabel Schlender Jonkel

Contributed by Sarah Poertner

transcribed by Crystal Wendt & Michelle Harder.


Columbia Pioneer Folk

*Indicated family names

*Horace Wright was also a Civil War Veteran. He was born in Greenwich, New York in 1838. Until 1864 when he enlisted in the 25th New York


Battery, he had lived on his parent’s farm. In 1865 he was married to Emma Fuller. She too was a native of New York State. After farming 180 acres in New York for ten years, they sold and came to Rock County where they rented for another ten years.

In 1885 they came to Columbia. Here he was employed in the Graves and Boynton Lumber Company. He and his wife conducted a hotel for the Company. Mrs. Wright came with twenty-seven prospective homesteaders. The night she arrived she prepared supper for all in the Columbia Railroad Station.

Because of the logging trains, the passenger trains were held up until logging supplies were unloaded. The farmers brought their produce to the passengers, receiving five cents a dozen for eggs and eight cents a pound for butter.

After living in town about a year, the Wrights homesteaded a 160 acre farm two miles West of Columbia where they built farm buildings and cleared land. He became the town assessor. In 1903 he passes on.

They were parents of five children: Fred, Louise, Esther, Alfred and Glen.

Otto Becoar, Emma Moser, and Mabel Schlender at the scenic Devil’s Bridge at Long Mound in Columbia country.

Glen farmed with his mother until her death when he sold out and went to Orfordville to work in his nephew’s, Otis Gooch Service Station. He had married the widow of Lloyd Shumway who lived four miles East of Columbia. The oldest son, Fred had married the Columbia teacher, Inez Short, of Neillsville. They moved to Texas and raised two children. The oldest daughter, Louise, married A. L. Gooch of Rock County. She recalled the fire of 1893 in Columbia. Her father had put them all in a wagon. Then whipped the horses through the flames to Wedges Creek where they stood in the Creek until the flames had subsided. The Gooches raised five children; Otis, Elsie, Emma, Glen and Howard. Alfred became a railroad engineer and lived in Fond du Lac. He raised four children: May, George, Ruth and Gladys.


Ester married John Apful of Rock County. They moved to Columbia in 1899 and farmed about a half mile from her folks. The one son, Legare, married Josephine Rouse of Columbia and they farmed in Levis.

Mr. And Mrs. H. D. Lockman

*H.D. Lockman was another Civil War Veteran. The Lockmans moved from the Town of Hale in Trempleau County in 1887. Two miles southeast of Columbia they homesteaded 80 acres. After cleaning the land they built up a nice dairy farm and replaced the log cabin with a modern bungalow.

Being active in town affairs Mr. Lockman had become the Town Chairman. In addition to holding this office for many years, he was a staunch Republican and was a great booster of Teddy Roosevelt. He considered voting a very great privilege and never missed casting his ballot to the very last. I still have a song he gave me of T. R.

Mrs. Lockman was a very friendly, helpful neighbor. Her beautiful fancy work included crocheting and knitting with ordinary sewing thread.

There were nine children born to this union: Warren, Lottie, Fred, Harry, Meda, Frank, Ida, Will and Ward. During the black diptheria epidemic, Meda, Ida and Will, all young people, passed on. Warren passed at birth.

Lottie married Charles Primmer, He with his son, Chauncy, by his first wife, had come to Columbia from Viroqua. Their farm was on the banks of Wedges Creek about one and a half miles from the railroad bridge. In 1902 they moved to the state of Washington with their several children. Fred


Married Alice Head of Neillsville. She had taught in Dewhurst. They moved to Washington also. Harry had farm five miles West of Columbia. For a few years he had lived in North Dakota where he married. Later he returned to Columbia where he passed on. Frank stayed on the home farm. He married Fred Bohnhoff’s widow, the former Viola Barnes. He too was active in town affairs. Among his firsts he drove on of the first school buses and was first baseman for the ball club. He took part in club work and social affairs.

Ward, the youngest, was the first child born in Columbia. Until his marriage to Ella Baumel of Columbia he had helped on the home farm. They had four boys: Harold, Loren, Ward, Jr., and Glen, all living in the state of Washington. Fred Moser farm in Columbia in 1919. They still live there in 1971. Ward was active in town affairs, as well as school and socially.




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