THE HISTORY OF CLARK COUNTY

Chapter XV, 9 September 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin

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

 

FROM 1870 TO 1880 --ELECTIONS --

GREENBAKES, AND GRANGERISM--

COUNTY DIVISION-- THE NEW

COURT HOUSE.

 

"He that known what to speak

Knows when to be silent"

--Archimidas. 

The years from 1870 to 1880, were ones of great prosperity for Clark county, notwithstanding the panic of 1873.

The county, that in 1870 had a population of 3450, and by the State census of 1875, a population of 7282, and by the United States census of 1880, this was increased to 10,715.

Three presidential elections were had during this decade. In 1872 electors of General Grant received 801 votes in Clark county, and the Horace Greeley electors received 119.

In 1876 the vote for Rutherford B. Hayes was 1, 255 against 660 for Samuel J. Tilden, and in 1880 James A. Garfield had 1, 512 votes for President and Geníl Winfield S. Hancock received 671.

During the same ten years, on two occasions (and the only ones) the voters of Clark county, recorded a majority of their votes, against the regularly nominated candidate of the Republican party for the office of Governor, as well as against the whole Republican State ticket.

The first instance was in 1873 during the Granger excitement, General C. C. Washburn, the Republican candidate for Governor received only 362 bots, his opponent William Taylor, Democrat-Liberal candidate received 429, the balance of the state ticket in about the same proportion.

Again 1877, the question of the demonetizing of silver -- with denunciation of the crime of 1873, was made an issue in State politics, especially in the agricultural counties.

That year William E. Smith an estimable man, and well known merchant of the city of Milwaukee, was the Republican candidate for Governor.

Judge J. A. Mallory also of Milwaukee, a lawyer by profession ran as a Democrat, and Edward P. Allis was the candidate of the Greenback party.

The result in Clark county was for Mallory 153 votes, for Smith 449, and for Allis, Greenbacker, 816, the latter having a handsome majority, over the combined votes of his Democratic and Republican competitors.

At a political meeting held at the present court house, by the Republicans in the fall of 1877, in the interest of Gov. Smith and the Republican ticket, an incident occurred that illustrates the utter uselessness of interrupting a political speaker during his remarks.

The Republican party had imported into Wisconsin a number of bright stump speakers, among them was a gentleman from state of Maine, by the name of Thomas A. Nichol. He had feet on him like ferry boats, and a voice like a fog-horn. He was well versed to his subject however, having made a study of the financial question and was withal an interesting and convincing debater.

During the delivery of his speech at Neillsville, he was interrupted by Merville Mason of Pine Valley, and old resident, and an enthusiastic Greenbacker.

Mason sat well in front, and rising to his feet about the middle of the speech, shouted, Mr. Nichol, "Who was it that demonetized silver?" the speaker stopped his remarks, paused a moment, and then flashed back the answer. "You didnít."

After the cheering was over the speaker went on with his address, completely ignoring the questioner. The answer of course was unfair, and not responsive, but it exemplifies the folly of endeavoring to interrupt a political partisan speaker.

At the general election held in November, 1870, George W. King of Humbird, was elected to the office of member of assembly, the district the previous year being represented by John Morrill of Jackson county.

At the same election the following county officers were elected: S. C. Boardman, county treasurer; Richard Dewhurst, county clerk; F. D. Lindsay, sheriff; E. H. Markey, clerk of the court; Ira B. Pope, district attorney; G. C. Harriman, county surveyor; W. T. Hutchinson, register of deeds; and D. L. Safford, coroner.

During several session of the legislature in the seventies, strong efforts were made to obtain a division of Clark county, for the purpose of creating a new county, of which a part of the county, generally the northern or northeastern portion, was to be included in the boundaries of the proposed new county.

As a rule the county board was opposed to division, and for several years, John S. Dore was employed by the board to attend the sessions of legislature to lobby against any division of Clark county.

The people in the southern part of the county were strongly opposed to division, while in the northern and northeastern part there was considerable sentiment the other way, notably in the vicinity of Colby and some other places that would probably be eligible for the county seat in case a new county was formed.

Dore did his work faithfully and well. He occasionally would send for re-enforcements, and it was not at all unusual for a dozen of fifteen of the citizens of Neillsville to repair to Madison, and remain there for days at their own expense, to assist in defeating the new county bill.

On one occasion the bill dividing the county had passed the assembly, and was recommended by the committee of the senate for concurrence. It was vigorously debated in the senate and when the final vote in that body was taken, it stood sixteen for division and sixteen against.

Lieut. Gov. Charles D. Parker of St. Croix county was presiding and he, by casting his vote, broke the tie, and defeated the bill by voting for no division.


This was the last serious effort made to dismember the county, but by reason of these attempts at division , and also from the fact that the northern part of the county was so rapidly increasing in population that fears were entertained that the county seat might be removed to Greenwood or some central part of the county, the residents of the southern portion of the county began agitating the question of the desirability of building a large new court house.

It was considered that if a new court house was built at Neillsville, that the county seat question would be settled at once and for all time.


The proposition did not at, first meet with much favor, north of the twenty-six line, which in those days was a Mason and Dixonís line.

Every effort was made by the Neillsville people to have the candidates for chairman the several towns, men who would favor the building of a new court house.

In the month of November 1874, the county board of supervisors, consisted of the following members -- John S. Dore of Grant (chairman) Alonzo Brooks of Lynn, William Darton of Beaver, Mr. Eastman of Fremont, James Hewett of Sherwood Forest, A. Muir of Washburn, S. H. Pickett of Unity, R. J. Horr of Colby, H. W. Renne of York, John Salisbury of Sherman, H. Saterless of Levis, A. F. Sands of Mayville, John Sufficool of Weston, M. B. Warner of Warner, William Welch of Loyal, N. H. Withee of Hixon and Orin Willson of Mentor.

At the annual meeting in the month and year referred to, a committee was appointed to report a plan in relation to the building of a new court house.

On the 16th of November at the same meeting the committee reported and a vote was taken upon the question of appropriating the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for that purpose this was lost by a vote of nine to nine. Those voting for the new building were Brooks, Dore, Eastman, Hewett, La Flesh, Muir, Saterless, Sufficool and Wilson.

Those members voting against building the new court house were Darton, Hoar, Pickett, Renne, Sands, Salisbury, Warner, Welch, and Withee.

It was complete dead lock--nine to nice --the solid north against the solid south.

Numerous votes were taken on that day on the same question, varied only by changing the amount of appropriation, but the result was always a tie, the several members voting the same, as upon the first roll call.

The dead lock continued from day to day with precisely the same vote until the 28th day of November, 1874, when a motion was made of appropriate the sum of $15,000.00 for the building a new court house and also to appropriate the sum of $1,000 to the town of Mayville.

When the vote was taken on this proposition, A. F. Sands, supervisor from Mayville who for nearly two weeks, on every roll call had been voting against the building a new court house, changed his vote and cast it in favor of the appropriation for the court house, and $1,000,00 for the town of Mayville, and the long drawn out fight was settled by a vote of 10 for, to 8 against. On the final vote, the supervisors all voted as they previously had except Sands, thus it was that the new court house became a certainly in the then near future.

The board appointed a building committee to have charge and supervision of the erection of the new building, and adjourned until January 6th, 1875, at which meeting the sum of ten thousand dollars in tax sales certificates was appropriated for the new court house in addition to the amount appropriated in November previous.

The building of the court house was commence in 1875 and was finally completed in the year 1876.

The plans of the building and the specifications were made by C. J. Ross, an architect then living at La Crosse, for which the county paid him the sum of four hundred dollars. Mr. Ross had been the architect of the La Crosse court house (not the present one) and the Clark county court house was modeled after that building. It was built also, much in the same style as the Columbia county court house, although that building is not quite so large.

The construction of the building was necessarily let by contract. C. B. Bradshaw, a contractor carpenter and builder, then living at Neillsville, but who afterwards removed to California was given the contract to erect the building (materials furnished by the county for the sum of $12400.00.


David Wood of Pine Valley had the contract to furnish 100 or more cords of rock at the agreed price of $5.80 per cord.

King and Vine furnished 400,000 of brick for $7.00 per thousand.

The terra cotta trimmings on the windows and the other terra cotta ornaments were furnished by Phileo L. Sprague & Co. of Red Wing, Minn. For the sum of $450.00.

The first "Goddess of Justice," was carved out of a saw log; on the ground at close quarters she was a most disreputable looking goddess, bur perched up on the dome of the building, with her scales and sword she made a rather attractive appearance.

However, a saw log seventy-five feet up in the air was out of its element, it became decayed and dangerous, and a number of years afterward was taken down and replaced by a goddess made of metal.

At the time of the completion of the court house, it was stated that the building cost $25,000.00, but it is believed that with extra work and other matters that involved expense, that the actual cost of the building was approximately $30,000.00.

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