Bernhardt (1855 - 1909)
Surnames: Tragsdorf, Wagner
----Source: CLARK COUNTY REPUBLICAN & PRESS (Neillsville, Wis.) 10/21/1909
Tragsdorf, Bernhardt (1 Jun 1855 - 16 Oct 1909)
No event in the history of Neillsville, Clark County has given the community a greater shock than that received Saturday morning when the lifeless body of Bernhardt Tragsdorf was found by the railroad track about sixty feet west of the depot platform by the section men as they went to their work. The head was completely severed from the trunk, and the remains were not identified until after their removal to the undertaking rooms of J.B. Lowe, where the watch and other small articles in the pockets revealed his identity. Mr. Tragsdorf had been about the streets in the afternoon, calling at the electric light works after supper and remaining for some time. After the store closed he took some mail there, sorted it, and left it lying in its proper place and went to the depot before the midnight train came in, and there talked with several acquaintances, but did not state whether or not he expected to take the train. Just before its arrival he stepped out and was not seen again until his dead body was found the next morning.
By direction of District Attorney Crosby, Justice G.E. Crothers issued a precept for a coroner’s jury, and subpoenaed al the witnesses who were reported to have any knowledge of the matter. The jury consisted of C.M. Bradford, Jesse Lowe, Vet Marsh, L.B. Ring, Sol Jaseph and Aug. Snyder. Beside the injury which caused his death, a long bruise was found on the left shoulder and arm, indicating that he had probably been struck by the train before falling beneath the cars. All the evidence possible was drawn out by questions from the District Attorney, the justice and jurors; and on this evidence was found a verdict of accidental death by being struck and run over by a railroad train.
Bernhardt Tragsdorf was born June 1, 1855, in Saxony, Germany. He worked on a farm and learned the blacksmith trade while young. He came to America at the age of fifteen and settled in Washington Co., Wis., where he hired out to a farmer and worked two years on a far, attending school in the winter. He then went into a general store as clerk, at Batavia, and in 1873 went to Newburgh to clerk for B. Dangers. Later he went to Plymouth and spent three years and then came to Neillsville to visit his brother Julius in 1876. This was at the time called the "Al Brown Winter" and it was hard times. In the spring after next year he went to gardening for Mr. Kirkland, and in the fall, Mr. Blakes staring a store, he accepted a position as clerk and sayed with him until 1880, when he went back to Germany and spent six months visiting his old home. He was married to Miss Bertha Wagner, Mar. 22, 1880. Returning to Neillsville he went to work again for Mr. Blakeslee and when that gentleman sold out to Hammel and Co., he remained with them. When B. Dangers came to Neillsville and bought out Fred Klopf he went to work for Mr. Dangers, and stayed with him until 1888, when he went into partnership with R. W. Balch in the building now occupied by Denis Tourigny. He remained in that firm until 1899, when they started the department store. In 1901, Mr. Balch sold his interest in the firm to Messrs. Zimmerman and Kolar and the business has since been styled Tragsdorf, Zimmerman and Co.
Mr. Tragsdorf leaves besides his wife, six children, Will, Clara, Elsie, Lillian, Walter and Edna. Will, who is married, is in the government service at Panama; the others are all at home. He also leaves one brother, Julius, living in Neillsville.
Mr. Tragsdorf's death loses one of its foremost citizens and an excellent businessman. His long training in mercantile lines was not only valuable in building up a successful business, but was of great worth to the public in many ways. In addition to his technical knowledge, he possesses also quite a wide acquaintance with the best German and English literature, his memory being stored with the great poems of Goethe, Schiller, and other noted authors. He was a kind and provident husband and father, a man who sought always to deal honestly and squarely with his fellow men, and give to all their just dues.
The funeral was held on Tuesday afternoon at the house and was conducted by the Modern Woodmen, of which he has been a member for many years. Rev. Thomas Hill preached the funeral sermon. All of the business houses of the city were closed in honor of his emmory, during the funeral which was largely attended by people of Neillsville and farmers from many miles around.
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