The Red Rose and the Peg Leg
"The Book of The Years", Clark County Centennial (1853-1953)
Frank B. Wing, retired druggist of Abbotsford and old-time resident there, recalls how, many years ago, an elderly farmer came to town, all dolled up, and with a red rose in his lapel. It was not usual to behold him quite so ornamental, and one of the boys asked him for the reason.
He was in town, he said, to meet a woman whom he expected to marry. He had made contact with her through a matrimonial advertisement, and she was coming on the train that day to become his wife.
They had not seen one another, it came out. "How will she know who you are?" was the natural question.
"By this red rose," he answered.
Lots of Red Roses
Then the expectant gentleman and his red rose went on about their business, and the boys about town became busy, too. It was the season of roses, and, at train time there was an extended line of the men of Abbotsford, all dolled up, awaiting the lady. Each had a red rose in the lapel of his coat.
The boys thought they had a great joke on the would, be benedict, and they continued to think so until one lone woman appeared on the car platform and stiffly began the descent. She had not gone far before the boys learned the sad truth:- she had a peg leg. The boys with the red roses silently faded, away.
Now there ought to be a sequel to this story. What happened to this woman, coming on her mission of marriage to this strange town? What was done about it by the expectant benedict who rightfully wore the red rose?
Probably some person about Abbotsford knows the answer. Perhaps Mr. Wing does. But if he knows, he did not tell the editor of this Centennial Book.
Gathering at the Station
This was only one of many things that happened in the early years at the Abbotsford station. The station was the community center, a meeting place for the people of the town. At train time they flocked down to the station to see who came and went. With a dozen trains a day, the station gave the gathering clan quite a whiff of the wide world beyond.
In its early years, as Mr. Wing recalls, Abbotsford was a real railroad town. It came to life right after the first railroad came through in 1873. In six or seven years a branch line was built, running through to Chippewa Falls, and it was then that the old Abbott House was built, located in the Wye of the tracks running to the north and west. In 1880 Fred, K. Abbott filed an official plat, and toward the end of that decade the Abbotsford and Northeastern was completed from Abbotsford to Athens.
Abbotsford was Proud!
Thus Abbotsford had exceptional railroad facilities, which justified the large Abbott House, with its 21 rooms and dining room accommodating 136 persons at a single sitting;
So the people of Abbotsford, with justifiable pride, voted in 1894 to incorporate, the vote being 59 for and one against. In that year the census showed a population of 362.
In 1900 Abbotsford, was made a division point for the railroad, and the town expanded. But in 1910 the division headquarters moved a w a y. Eventually the old Abbott House burned. The railroad itself had turned out to be a disappointing dame.
Forced to depend upon its own resources an its countryside, Abbotsford has made out very well. Year by year it adds modern homes. It is a substantial dairy and industrial center, and Mr. Wing testifies that it is a good community in which to live.
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