The Hamlet of Spokeville
Loyal Township, Clark County, Wisconsin
Contributed by Janet Schwarze.
The crossroads village of Spokeville, one of the oldest hamlets in the county, was situated on the east line of Loyal township, about four miles from the village of Loyal. A stage line from Spencer through Spokeville to Loyal passed through the Town, but this was discontinued soon after a branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad ran their line. In its earliest days, it was a prosperous community containing a new mill built by Joseph C. Marsh, a shingle and a lath mill; an excelsior factory and a spoke mill (the namesake of the hamlet); a general store run by John Buck Gerdes and later by his son, Carl C. (WWI Veteran) and Walbey C. Gerdes; Albert Olson's Blacksmith Shop, Fred Mick's Tavern; Gustave Voight's Creamery and Cheese Factory (according to the 1926 business directory, this was later owned by Otto G. Rhode); a church; and a about fifty residences. The New Lisbon, Necedah & Northern, a branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad lines (mentioned above) went through the village. Also the Wisconsin Central line, from Marshfield to Chippewa Falls included the villages of Spokeville on its route. Today the area has been effectively converted to thriving dairy farms.
Gerdes' General Store: "Work has commenced on John Gerdes’ store in Spokeville. The building is being rushed to completion. Mr. Gerdes will handle a line of general merchandise in the store." Clark Co. Press, March, 1909.
Fred Mick, of Neillsville, has opened a saloon in Spokeville, the first that town ever had.
Marshfield News June 23, 1892 p. 4
Spokeville Cheese Factory
The Spokeville Cheese Factory as it appeared in the 1920s when it was owned and operated by Gus Voigt. Voigt, as many cheese makers of that time, had taken a short course class offered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, graduating as a licensed cheese and butter maker. (Photos courtesy of Alan and Jim Voigt)
Gus Voigt and brother-in-law, Ernest Fisher at the Spokeville Cheese Factory: Voigt later worked as a cheese maker at the Pelsdorf Cheese Factory (later Schlinsog’s) and Catlin Corner’s Cheese Factory. Two of his brothers, Adolph and Carl, were also licensed cheese makers. Adolph owned and operated the Globe Factory on County “G”, now the building of Hoppa’s Corner Bar; the Day Corners Factory, south of Neillsville on Hwy 95 and now Jeff’s Roadside; the Star Factory, now Lynn Cheese Factory.
My mother remembered the milk strike quite well. Granddad used the Fischer cheese factory in Spokeville. Whether by choice or lack of transportation to the factory, he had no outlet for his milk. He was sympathetic to the farmer cause so I suspect he just didn't send any milk. Grandma skimmed all the cream and made butter, sweet cream butter, and packed it in salt in stone crocks and put in the basement. Mom said they had butter for a year down there. Also she made whipped cream which was used on anything which would accommodate it. Granddad had a small herd of hogs which got skimmed milk instead of whey in their slop. The hens got mash with skimmed milk. Even one of the mules learned to drink skim milk. Mom said that very little was poured in the gutter. She said she remembered the hard feelings engendered by the strike and some never did heal. Submitted by Carl Hollister.
Rev. Leo Chapman served the Spokeville Chapel in 1940. Source: "Good Old Days", September 28, 2005, page 28
At the spoke factory there was quite a sawdust pile from the sawmill at the factory. My mother told me that nearly very year it would get set on fire, intentionally or unintentionally, she couldn't remember but she did remember the smoke that pervaded the area for sometimes weeks at a time happening every year for several years. Submitted by Carl Hollister.
The first five school districts, which seem to have been formed in the town of Loyal were District No. 1, Town of Loyal, (Lyons School); District No. 2, Town of Loyal, (Loyal School); District No. 3, Town of Loyal, (Dodgeville School); District No. 4, Town of Loyal, which became Joint District Number 1, Town of Sherman and Loyal, when the Town of Sherman was created in 1873, (Spokeville School); and District No. 5, Town of Loyal (Mack School). Source: LOYAL CENTENNIAL BOOK (Loyal, Clark County, Wis.) 1870 - 1970
My mom has lots of memories of Spokeville. She went to the school just
south of Spokeville and north of the farm. One incident is quite funny.
Grandpa did not approve of gambling and the store run by Carl Gerdes in
Spokeville had a modified slot machine that always gave a pack of gum for
the nickel put in it, but when the handle was pulled sometimes gave a
jackpot. Mom went there on lunch break and put a nickel in and got not only
gum but about $3 in the jackpot which came up. Knowing how grandpa felt
about such things she didn't dare come home with the money, so she bought as
much candy as she could get for the money and gave it to all the kids in the
school. She said that she was on pins and needles for about a week fearing
that one of the kids would say something and grandpa would find out and
she'd be in trouble. I guess no one "squealed" because grandpa never found
out. Submitted by
1889--Death Came to Spokeville
On April 2, 1889, two young men, John Garvin and Arnold Free, had done a little target shooting before 8:00 a.m. They returned to the store of Joseph Marsh in Spokeville, Clark County, Wis. to clean their pistols.
This building must have been a catch-all-combination of buildings.
While they were so cleaning the pistols, Judson Canfield was sitting by the stove mending his wampus. Justice Johnson told that one was at one end of the shanty and the other at the other end, when they were fooling around and ran toward each other. One had run toward the bunks first.
Roy Marsh testified he never heard any remarks to indicate they were not friends, it it happened Garvin's pistol went off and Arnold Free was short. As Garvin cradled him in his arms, Free said, "Jack, what have you done: "He also told them not to call a doctor as he would die anyhow. Garvin wept as he comforted his companion.
The authorities were called and six good and lawful men were subpoenaed to view the body of Arnold Free lying dead at the store of Joseph Marsh, Spokeville.
All the witnesses testified as to the fact they went out to "Shoot off their revolvers." They all heard Free say, "Jack, what have you done!" They all knew the two were good friends.
Even Free's brother, William, testified that it was a "pure" accident, and "He never knew of their having any trouble."
Dr. J. L. Bradfield had been called and sworn in after making the examination and gave this statement, "The person Arnold Free came to his death by a bullet from a revolver in the hands of John Garvin, he having full knowledge of the fact of said revolver being loaded. The cause of death was gross carelessness on the part of said John Garvin."
It was a swift case of justice, all in one day. The jurors fees, $11; Just fees, $5 ; constable fees. $6.55; and the doctors fee, $10. The entire cost was taxed up to the County of Clark. This seemed to have dismissed the case.
Source: LOYAL CENTENNIAL BOOK (Loyal, Clark County, Wis.) 1870 - 1970
Fred Mick, of Neillsville, has opened a saloon in Spokeville, the first that town ever had. Source: Marshfield News June 23, 1892 p. 4
1912-Typhoid Fever Victim
Twenty-Year-Old Dies (Mamie Gerdes)
SPOKEVILLE NEWS-Greenwood Gleaner, Greenwood, Wis., 5 May 1904.
The old sawmill has been torn down the past week, so nothing remains of the once prosperous mill except the sawdust pile.
There will be a creamery meeting of farmers at John Wehling's next Saturday evening.
Spokeville got awakened last Tuesday morning by the creamery man refusing to take any of the milk from the farmers that had anything to do with the starting of another factory. The consequence was that part came out and said they had shares and the others did not, so they are still hauling their milk.
My mother is Hazel Arlie Fisher-Saveland.........born in Spokeville, WI in
1918. She is the daughter of George and Stella Fisher (niece of J.R. Thomas
who resided in Loyal, WI and was the school principal).
I am very much enjoying finding information of Clark Co. on the internet. My mother has always told amazing stories of growing up in Spokeville and Spencer. ...and of the cheese factory. Her favorite is of having a bear as a pet!
When I went to Spokeville last, we drove right through it with out realizing
that it was there! The railroad track that my cousin and I used to walk
along was still there and the brick chimney of the factory home was still
standing. Also, two huge stone markers that used to be on either side of the
sidewalk to the house from the road were still there. Dierdra and I used to
jump from one to the other and have great secret talks out there. And the
Gerdes General Store was across the street. My mom was great friends
with the Gerdes family. Bucky Gerdes was one of her
Thank you for your wonderful research.
Sincerely, Linda Saveland
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