Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin

by Mabel Schlender Jonkel

Contributed by Sarah Poertner

transcribed by Crystal Wendt & Michelle Harder.

Albert McLain was an interesting character in the early days. He was a young colored man from southern Illinois. In addition to the small farm he worked in the sawmill. He was a very pleasant man and helpful to those in need.

Albert McLain was a colorful figure in Columbia

When Dad had broken ribs, McLain went out into the woods with snow waist deep, to get the pine knots for fire wood. Every morning he came to thaw out the frozen pump. He had also done many good deeds for others too. When he left Columbia he married and settled in the state of Idaho.


*Pete and Ole Frisley were brothers of Mrs. Farning. In 1884 they operated a sawmill two miles north of Columbia on Wedges Creek. With the Columbia boom they discontinued their mill. Ole ran one of the boarding houses, a two story structure. Pete's wife at that time had a millinery store. Ole bought a farm four miles south of Columbia. After several years he moved to North Dakota where he homesteaded returning to Columbia in winter. Eventually he sold the Columbia farm and located west. Pete became a miner in Colorado. Mrs. Frisley returned with her two children to their native Green County.

*Bill Neverman was a Civil War Veteran in Neillsville. He homesteaded a farm one and a half miles south of Columbia in 1895. There he built a home and cleared quite a lot of acreage. When Bruno Schwendland came from Germany he stayed with Mr. Neverman several years. Otto Neverman of Neillsville was his son. He drove with his horses and buggy, taking many promoters and salesmen to farm sites they wanted to sell. After Mr. Neverman returned to Neillsville, Ed Everson of Viroqua, Ed Thorne of Whitewater and Fred Masterson of Janesville lived in the house several years. After they married other tenants lived there.


*Mr. Lesly (Richard Lesler) homesteaded and built a home two miles east of Columbia in 1897, there was one daughter, Jessica, who was active in social affairs. After several years of farming they moved away. *Bert Christmas and family rented the farm.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Christmas


Later *Paul Sednek bought the farm and lived there for several years. It was sold to Mr. Deal who moved the house across the road and added the farm to his section.

In the early 1900's Mr. Johnson built a home across from the depot and worked in the mill. When it closed they moved away. There were several tenants. Then *Mrs. Marie Bleisner, the mother of Mrs. Sindelar and Charles Tykac, bought the home and lived there until her passing.

*William Marten of Chicago, Illinois, came to Colombia in 1896, clearing land and building a home two and a half miles east of the village. There were four children: Stella, Louisa, Augusta and John. After the mother passed on in 1897, Mr. Marten left the farm. In 1899 he remarried and returned to the farm where three more children were added to this union. They were Julius, Helenda and Elwin. Glen D. Smith bought the farm when Mr. Marten passed on in 1932.

Four families moved in three miles southeast of Columbia in the late 1890's. Andrew Lindner, John Levi, and Frank Aichinger were from Chicago, Illinois, and Charles Varney was from Preston, Minnesota. On joining farms they cleared the land and built homes. The Levi's stayed a few years before buying the Ole Frisley farm four miles south of Columbia. Intermittently they lived in Chicago.

The Aichingers stayed a few years before returning to Chicago. I recall Mrs. Aichinger coming to do her shopping in the store. She returned carrying a fifty pound sack of flour on her head and a basket of groceries in each hand.

The Varneys stayed on the farm until his death. There were seven children: Roy, Bertha, Ethel, John, Earl and Lillian, all who attended the Dewhusrt and Columbia schools. They were active socially. Roy, the oldest, was an enthusiastic and active Modern Woodman. After Mr. Verney's passing, Mrs. Varney and the children moved to Rhame, North Dakota, where she took out a claim on a homestead.

Bertha Varney married a Levis boy, Bill Struebing and they settled in Montana. Lillian's whereabouts was unknown. John had a large ranch in North Dakota. Several times he returned to Columbia for the annual Old Timers Picnic. He liked to reminisce about his days spent in Columbia. He passed on in 1970.

The Lindners stayed on the farm for many years until Mr. Lindner passed on. There were five children: Otto, Jack, Louisa, Edith and Clara. The oldest son, Otto, took over the farm and still uses the land. When he married Barbara Neidameyer of Columbia they moved to a farm not far away in Levis. There were four children. After Mr. Lindner's death, Mrs. Andrew Lindner and the four children moved to Milwaukee.

*Leopold Moravec come to the states from his native Czechoslovakia at the age of eighteen. He had married at the age of twenty-one and they lived in Minnesota. In 1896 they moved two miles north of Columbia where they built a home and cleared a large acreage.


Two of their daughters passed on when young. Of the six living in Columbia, Bill married a Minnesota girl and went into the undertaking business. Both were a very good violinist. Josie married a Columbia man, Ed Everson, who lived on the Neverman place. Soon after they moved to Montana. Bob married a Friedland girl from five miles west of Columbia and later moved to California. Della married a Columbia boy, Arthur Brossard. As a carpenter, he followed the building of the dams throughout the U.S.A.. They had six children. Finally they located in California. Mar. and Moravec and two children, Frank and Helen moved to Portland in a923. After several years they moved to California where Frank married. Helen stayed single. The parents passed on in California.

*Mr. and Mrs. Nemitz came to Columbia about 1895. On their farm one and a half miles southwest of here Mr. Nemitz was killed by lightening. He was buried in Columbia's first cemetery. There was one son, Ted. Later the widow married *Bohumel Tykac of Chicago. They built a new home and developed a fine farm and raised two sons, Frank and Emil. Mr. Tykac was very active in town affairs. After taking an examination for rural mail carrier at Granton in 1912 the family moved there and he served for many years, Mr. and Mrs. Tykac passed on here.

*Mr. Soucek of Chicago bought the Tycak farm. After living there several years he sold to Sketa of Chicago. Their one son, Gust, was a good musician and attended Neillsville High School. After several years they sold to Hoffman. Several years later George Mashin of Columbia located permanently on the place, doing both farming and working for the county.

*John, Tom and Emma Mercer were brothers and sister coming from Boscobel in 1897 and homesteading a farm four miles south near the Inversion home. After several years they moved to a farm near Merrillan.

*Dr, Fred Scherman, Sr., bought lots at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago moving here in 1897. He built a nice home in Columbia where he also had a dentist chair and practiced evenings. Each day he commuted to his office in Neillsville. At that time there were three children: Fred, Elizabeth and Arthur. Mrs. Scherman's sister, Martha, also lived with them. They were Baptists and were very active in church work. In 1905 the family returned to Chicago where two more children, Esther and Robert, were born. Later Robert bought forty acres a half mile north of Columbia where they would spend their summers. He was an attorney and after his marriage gave up the acreage. Dr. Scherman sold the home to L.B. Varney.




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