Chapter XVIII, 30 September 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin

Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.








"O! Who will stand at my right hand

And guard the bridge with me?"


Horatius at the Bridge.


The population of Clark County in 1885 was by the state census, 15, 423, or nearly 5,000 increase over the population in 1880, when the county had 10,715 enumerated.

The United States census of 1890, gave Clark County a population of 17,708, an increase in the five years of 2,285.

At the general election in November 1880 Thomas R. Scott was re-elected to the state senate and Myron H. McCord of Jenny, (now the city of Merrill) was elected to the assembly.

At the spring election in 1881 John R. Sturdevant of Neillsville was elected county judge, and he was re-elected four years after in April, 1885.

At the election in November, 1881, Robert J. MacBride was elected to the assembly, James G. Parkhurst was elected clerk of the court, C. A. Youmans, district attorney, and L. A. Doolittle, superintendent of schools. The other officers held over until the next election in the fall of 1882.

Prior to 1884, some of the county officers were elected one years, and others the next, but in 1884, the first election under the bi-ennial system, all county officers were ejected at the same time.

At the session of the legislature in 1882 the state was re-apportioned into congressional district, into a senate district composed of Clark, Ashland, Lincoln, Price, Taylor and Wood, and the county for the first time in its history constituted on assembly district. At the general election in November 1882, William T. Price of Jackson county was elected to congress over Judge W. F. Bailey his democratic opponent, R. J. MacBride was re-elected to the assembly, thus serving as the last member under the bi-ennial system, Judge Chas. M. Webb was elected senator.

The county officers serving in 1883 were the same as in the previous term except that Henry Myers succeeded Tom. B. Philpot as sheriff, and Chas. F. Grow defeated J. F. Canon for the office of county clerk.

In 1880 the county board became anxious in regard to the safety of a new iron bridge that had been built over Black River, in the vicinity of the Dells dam in the town of Levis, the previous year.

The Black River Flooding Dam Association had erected the "Dells" dam, and it raised the water in the vicinity of the new bridge, that fears were entertained for its safety in case of a flood, or extremely high water.

The new bridge had been built by the town of Levis, with some aid from the county. A committee had been appointed consisting of S. B. Hewett, and F. D. Lindsay, with authority to negotiate with the Flooding Dam Association for a right of way, over their dam, which they in due time secured, and the committee were ordered to report as to the necessity of taking down the new iron bridge that had just been completed.

They finally reported that the new bridge ought to be taken down, and thereupon the county board on the 29th of April, 1880, passed an order that the bridge be taken down and placed across Wedges Creek in the town of Levis.

The board also appointed a committee of three consisting of F. D. Lindsay, Ezra Tompkins and S. B. Hewett to superintend the removal of the bridge, and the placing of if across Wedges Creek at such pint as in their judgment was most proper.

It would appear from the plain orders of the board that all the power the committee had was to put the bridge across Wedges Creek. How the trouble between town and the county started in involved in mystery, but certain it was, that shortly after the committee was appointed, a majority of them claimed that the county owned the bridge while on the other hand the town of Levis claimed the ownership, law suits were threatened by both sides, finally on the 4th day of July, 1880, (a day it was supposed no injunction could be served) S. H. Hewett and F. D. Lindsay, two of the committee assisted by T. J. La Flesh, Hiram Palmer, David Williams, C. H. Gates, Hiram Hart, Arch Day and Ed Tolford removed the component parts of the bridge, consisting of bolts, girders, ebords, iron rods, timber and plank, and deposited them in the court house square at Neillsville, eight miles away from the mouth of Wedges Creek.

This action led to a suit of replevin by the town of Levis, against the parties named but the case was never tried in court. The whole matter was compromised in September, 1880, but the county giving the town of Levis $325.00 to help build a bridge across Wedges Creek and agreeing for five years to keep in repair the bridge across the flooding dam.

The board then donated the bridge to the towns of Eaton and Warner to be placed across Black River at or near the town line between Eaton and Warner. And thus it came about that the town of Levis was defrauded out of its bridge, and the town of Warner secured one as a gift.

In November 1884 at the general election, the electors of the Republican candidate for president, James G. Blaine, received 1,953 votes, and the Grover Cleveland Democratic electors received 1,244.

William R. Price was re-elected to congress, and Charles M. Webb, of Grand Rapids, to the state senate. James O’Neill jr. was elected to the assembly and the following county officers were chosen: county treasurer, Hiram N. Withee; sheriff, J. W. Tolford; register, Herman Schuster, district attorney, L. M. Sturdevant; county clerk, Chas. F. Grow; clerk of the court, O. G. Tripp; surveyor, Charles M. Breed; and county Supt. Of schools, Addie Neff.

At the general election in November 1886 the question of women suffrage in school matters was by the legislature, submitted to the voters of the state for their approval or rejection. The state voted for woman suffrage by a very small majority; the voters of Clark county were ungallant enough to vote against final suffrage, seven hundred and ninety-eight votes were cast against it, and six hundred and fifty-eight voters favored it.

At the same election Nils P. Haugen was elected to congress from the district of which Clark county formed a part, M. C. Ring was elected to the state senate, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Charles M. Webb, and Richard Dewhurst was elected to the assembly. All of the county officers chosen at the election with the exception of county treasurer and the school superintendent (who was a woman) were Democrats, although Mr. Grow elected clerk by seven majority over Ed. S. McConnell was a candidate on the Republican ticket. The full list of the successful candidates for the various county offices was as follows: county treasurer, Hiram N. Withee; county superintendent of schools, Addie Neff; county clerk, Chas. F. Grow; sheriff, John Dwyer; district attorney, J. E. Campbell; register of deeds, Henry Schildhauer; clerk of the court, Rella W. Balch; county surveyor, Allie Lee.

For a few years previous to 1880, although owing the poor farm, the county had been supporting its poor, under the town system, when in November, 1880, the county board again passed an ordinance, going back to the system of county support for paupers and abolishing the distinction between town and county poor.

The board elected three superintendents of the poor, M. B. Warner for one year, N. C. Ransom, for two years, and Wm. Campbell for three years.

Subsequently Mr. Ransom was succeeded by Ambrose Steinwand, and he in turn by John McCarty. William Campbell served for several years, when he resigned and J. W. Tolford was elected in his place.

On being elected sheriff, Mr. Tolford resigned as poor farm, superintendent and George Huntzicker was elected, but on Mr. Huntzicker’s refusal to serve, Henry Myers was chosen to fill the vacancy.

In 1880 R. C. Evans was superintendent of the poor farm, and continued as such until he was succeeded in that position by Ira Fike in the year 1882. Mr. Fike continued as such superintendent until April 1, 1885, when Lyman H. Morse was made superintendent, holding the office until 1887 when C. H. Ebbe was elected in his place. Mr. Ebbe had the position continuously from April, 1887, to April 1903, a term of fifteen years.

He was succeeded by A. F. Frantz, who held the position until April 1906, when he in turn was succeeded by B. F. Frazier, who holds the position of superintendent at the present time. The valuation of the poor farm, buildings and other property connected with it, was appraised some years ago at $15,000.00 and is worth today in the neighborhood of $17,000. The farm embraces 160 acres, and buildings, are in good repair.

In November 1888, at the general election the electors for President Benjamin F. Harrison received 2,260 votes and the Cleveland Democratic electors received 1,297.

Nils P. Haugen was elected to congress and M. C. Ring was elected assemblyman. At this election all of the candidates of the Republican ticket for county office were successful, thus reversing the action of the voters two years before.

The officers elected to serve the county were Hiram N. Withee, county treasurer; J. W. Page, sheriff, Homer M. Root, county clerk; William Zassenhaus, register of deeds; James O’Neill, district attorney; C. S. Stockwell, clerk of the court; William Welch, county surveyor; George E. Crothers, superintendent of schools, and J. D. Wicker, coroner.

At the judicial election in the spring 1889 Richard B. Salter of Colby, was elected Judge of the county court, William T. Price, who was elected to congress in the fall of 1884, died on the 7th day of December, 1886, and his son, Hugh H. Price, was elected to fill the vacancy, at a special election, held on the 18th day of January, 1887.

During the month of August, 1886, destructive forest fires took place, in the pineries of Clark county, and in northern Wisconsin. The village of Hewetville, six miles west of Neillsville, was completely destroyed, and large amounts of pine, and other standing timber was consumed.

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