Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin

by Mabel Schlender Jonkel

Contributed by Sarah Poertner

transcribed by Crystal Wendt & Michelle Harder.


The Dells Dam Indians traded at our store. When they were going north for hunting, the store would be full with their out-of-state friends.

When Dad had the dance hall the Indians had a dance in full regalia. They had a large drum. About ten sat around drumming while others circled them. Mother was one of their partners.

I wrote many letters from the old timers who could not write English and their children were away to school. They did not forget me. Many years


Erwin Simonds ran the Dells Store for his step father, he is seated near the door wearing a white shirt with the arm bands popular in 1909.

Later when I visited in Columbia they invited me to come to their homes. I had been shown through the tent homes in the early days.

Some names I recall were "Big Nose" Joe Bearhart and family; John and Paul Mike; the Davises; Little Bear; Winnashek; and John Blackdeer. The latter represented the Winnabago tribe in Washington , D.C., on several occasions. Mr. Winnashek gave me quite a large sum of money to hold for him until his marriage - - So it wouldn’t be spent. They were married by a Judge in Neillsville. Later he proved himself two weeks in the woods, proving to his mother-in-law he could care for her daughter. Then there was an Indian ceremony which lasted several days.

When I was born, the Indians had given Dad a pair of moccasins for me which I still have in 1973. I like and enjoyed all the Indians.


There were many real estate promotor! To name a few there were George Chittenden, John Chase, Charles Graves, Boynton and Holoway, who were known as the Wisconsin Farm Land Company. They all had agents in various places including Chicago. Sometimes they had train loads of people come. Someone would meet them at the station with the horse and buggy and show them the prospective farms. Otto Neverman of Neillsville, whose father once homesteaded one mile south of Columbia, was one of the drivers.

Jim Philips and Sam Weld were active in showing the farms to the prospective buyers.





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