Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin

by Mabel Schlender Jonkel

Contributed by Sarah Poertner

transcribed by Crystal Wendt & Michelle Harder.


*Charles Christofferson and family of three children came form Lily Lake, Illinois in 1906. They had bought eighty acres of brush land from the Wisconsin Farm Land Company two miles west of Columbia. Tthere were no buildings. Mr. Christofferson then bought the forty acres with buildings from John Apfel which was across from his acreage. Mr. Christofferson was active in town offices of Dewhurst. The young people were active in social affairs. Another daughter, Hilda, lived with an aunt in Iowa. She came often to visit with her father, sister, and brothers. Mr. Christofferson passed on in 1926. His son, Conrad, then took the farm for two years when he went of Mantana to work for Anaconda Copper Company and later at a hospital in Warm Springs, Montana. Here he married and they moved to California where they lived for many years. The home farm had tenants until it was sold to Clifford Winter of Columbia in 1945.

Ivar, Olga and Conrad Christofferson

Olga married Ernest Rouse of Columbia in 1921. They moved to Montana where both worked in a hospital in Warm Springs, he as an intern and she as a nurse. Finally they located in Missoula, Montana. There were two children, Velma and Ernest, Jr.

Ivar took a short course at the Wisconsin University and became a cheese maker in various towns for several years. He married Ruth Iverson Gregory of Columbia. After being a cheesemaker for several more years, they located in Chisholm, Minnesota, where they were in a dairy business of their own for many years. There was one son, Leonard. Two daughters, Ruby and Thelma, were from Ruth's previous marriage.


* Attorney William Lowell of Elgin, Illinois, built a nice home four miles northwest of Columbia back in the boom days of early 1900. It was a summer home. *Bill Ambelang was the caretaker. About 1909, *C. Givens also of Illinois bought the place. They had one son, Carter, and a niece Delilah Peterson living with them. They farmed a few years and returned to Illinois. In later years they always attended the annual picnic of former Columbia folks in Chicago and Rockford. Several more owners followed: Howard Chase of Beloit and Chester Klatt among others.

* August Langusch was born in Germany. He came to Chicago, married and had a large family. His wife and six youngest children came to Columbia in 1909. They farmed one and one-half miles north of Columbia. In 1911 tregedy came. Mr. Langusch was a school bus driver. The bus was hit by a freight train killing Mr. Langusch and his two cihldren, Edward and Margaret. The other four children, August, Lillian, Fred and William returned to Chicago with their mother.

* William Ambelang was born in Milwaukee but lived in Nebraska and Iowa for a time. As a single man he came to Columbia about 1908 as caretaker of Attorney Lowell's home for a short period. He bought acreage four miles west of Columbia, staying with Erwin Simonds while clearing land. Later he returned to Nebraska where he worked in railroad shops. There he married in 1910, returning to Columbia in 1917 with his wife, Ida. They built a home and enlarged the clearing to a very fine farm. He served as Town Chairman for twenty-nine years; clerk of school for twelve years and also on the County Board of Supervisors for twenty-three years. He lived to the ripe old age of 92 years, passing on in 1969. His wife passed on in 1971. Their son, Harry, attended Columbia school and Neillsville high school. He married Ruby Mohr of Pine Valley and carried on with the farm.

*Mr. and Mrs. Herman Rutleff came from Illinois in the early 1900's constructing nice farm buildings and had a nice orchard three miles west of Columbia. They had one son, Grant. After several years they moved to Chicago.

*Joe Bachman of Columbia farmed the Rutleff farm for several years. The family moved to Alma Center where they had a very profitable strawberry farm. There were two children.

*Mr. and Mrs. Sam Cook bought the Elliott Bliss farm two miles east of Columbia in 1910. Both were bakers by trade and had owned and operated a bakery in Indiana before coming here. They had six chidren.

Mattie and Alice were married and lived elsewhere. Helen lived at home a short time and then went to Harvard, Illinois, to work. There she married and lived for many years. Orin was in World War I. He became a postal employee in St. Paul for many years. He had married a St. Paul girl, Elsie. Ruth was killed in the school bus tragedy in 1911.

When the parents retired from farming the son, Leslie, took over. He had married a girl from South Dakota. There were several children. Mr. and Mrs. Cook passed on at the home farm, he in 1932 and she in 1943.

*Mr. And Mrs. Dan Dormandy and family came to Columbia in 1915, first as tnents on the William Helling place, then bought acreage sever years later on U.S. Highway No. 10 on Wedges Creek. Here they built a home. They had come from Spring Valley, Minnesota, where they married in 1886. Ten chidren were born to this union.

Gladys was active witht he Columbia young people. She was later employed it Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where she married. Within a few years they moved to California. Tracy was a milk hauler in the town of Hewett. He married Dorothy Von Grunt of Columbia. In 1920 they moved to Chicago. Anna married Fred Finder and had a home near her folks. The other children were scattered throughout the U.S.A. They are Lyle, Frank, Verna, Frances, Dan Jr., Margaret and Viola. Mr. Dormandy passed on in 1946 and she in 1959.





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