THE HISTORY OF CLARK COUNTY
Chapter V, 1 July 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin
Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.
THE YEARS PRIOR TO THE CIVIL WAR.
"The years like planets rise and set. "
Benj. F. Taylor.
We will refer briefly to some of the events occurring in the years preceding the war of the rebellion.
The county then comprised not only territory now included within its boundaries, but embraced also townships 30 and 31 from range one eat of four west inclusive. This included the site of the city of Medford, Taylor county.
The ten townships on the north end of the county were taken from us and made a part of the county of Taylor upon the creation of that county in 1875.
There were no post office in Clark county until an office was early established at Weston Rapids; afterwards one was established at Neillsville; these two offices were the only ones in the county until in the sixties, when a post office was established at Pleasant Ridge, in what is now known as that town of Grant.
By the provisions of Chapter 50 of the Private and Local laws of Wisconsin, for the year 1854, a State road was authorized from Stevens Point to Weston Rapids. The road was duly surveyed and plated by one Aelic Martin, a surveyor, and the survey and plat, was deposited with the secretary of state.
It appears that there was found some informalities in the papers and by Chapter 293 of the P. & L. laws for 1857, the survey and plat so made, was declared by the legislature to be the legal and lawful survey of the State road.
It was quite common in the early days to obtain the legislative authority to survey and locate State roads; thus in 1857, James O’Neill, Robert Nelson, and G. S. McCormick, were appointed Commissioners to lay out and establish a State road from Neillsville, by way of Summer P. O., in Trempealeau county to Abner in Buffalo county; and the same year Harris Searls, Garwood Green, and Melvin Ferris were appointed Commissioners to lay out a State road from Weston Rapids, westerly from through the counties of Clark, Jackson, Eau Claire, Trempealeau and Buffalo, to Alma on the Mississippi river.
In all these old acts there is found the proviso that no part of the expense of laying out the road should be borne by the State.
Efforts to obtain mail facilities are noticeable.
In 1857, among twenty-three different Memorials to congress passed by the legislature that year, the first or No. 1, was a memorial representing ---
"That the interests and convenience of a large number of the inhabitants of the northern and eastern part of the state of Wisconsin require the establishments of a mail route by land from Stevens Point in Portage county via Weston’s Rapids in Clark county, to St. Paul on the Mississippi river."
Minnesota had not yet become a state.
Martin Moran, now living near Tomah, Monroe County, states that he made weekly trips with the mail from Stevens Point to Weston’s Rapids.
It is believed that until the post offices were established at Weston Rapids and Neillsville, that the residents of the county, generally, obtained their mail from the post office at Black River Falls in Jackson county.
In 1856 the county of Clark gave a majority of its votes for President of the United States to the candidate of the Republican party, and it has consistently been doing the same thing every four years, ever since.
The vote of the county was, John C. Fremont, Republican, 73 votes, and James Buchanan, Democrat, 37 votes.
In 1859 the county was in an assembly district composed of Clark, Chippewa, Dunn, and Pierce counties, the member of the assembly was a Clark county man, the late Judge Richard Dewhurst.
It may be said in passing that Judge Dewhurst was the only citizen of the county, (with one exception in later years note necessary to particularize) who has been honored by election to three terms in the State Legislature from this county.
In the days before the war the highways and roads, were such in name only, being for the most part trails and paths through the woods. There were no railroads, and the means of conveyance and transportation was on foot or with oxen.
The subject of roads will hereafter be discussed at length in a separate article.
Previous to 1860, there was one newspaper in the county. It was established in the year 1858, by W. C. Tompkins, and bore the name of the Clark County Advocate.
In continued in existence until the winter of 1866. Its last editors and publishers were, A. J. Manley, and Frank Cooper, the last named gentleman being the veteran Wisconsin Editor, who for many years published the Jackson County Banner at Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and his son today is still publishing it.
For the benefit of those who are curious about "first" events, is may be stated that the first real estate conveyance of record in office of the register of deeds of Clark county in a warranty deed from William E. Cramer of Milwaukee to Lorenzo D. Eastman of Racine; it conveyed the E. 1/3 of the N. W. ¼ of N. W. ¼ of Section 1, Town 25, Range 2 West, the Nw Nw of Section 37, and the NE of the NE of Section 24 in Township 24 north of Range 2 West.
The consideration was two hundred and eighty dollars and eleven cents.
William E. Cramer was the editor or connected with the publication of Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin for a period of more than fifty years. He died a few years ago at his home in Milwaukee.
The first U. S. Land Patent to be recorded was a patent from the United States of America to Samuel Ferguson, for the lot numbered five and the northwest subdivision of the southeast quarter of Section 15, Township number twenty-four, Range two West, containing 86 28-100 acres. It is now a part of the city of Neillsville. The land was entered at the Willow River Land office, the patent is dated the second day of August 1852, and is signed by Millard Fillmore then president of the United States.
The first decree of divorce in Clark County was granted to Mary Conlin, in an action against her husband James Conlin.
Notwithstanding we were without highways and railroads yet it is a pleasure to contemplate that we had a bank in the year 1857.
In was called Clark County Bank and was organized on the 1st day of August 1857.
When we consider that none of the banks in the county today are capitalized in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars, it would appear that for a community that contained about two hundred souls, that a bank with a capital of half a million of dollars would be entirely adequate to do all the business of the county.
However five hundred thousand dollars was the capital of the Clark County Bank.
The articles of incorporation recite the amount of the its capital stock and that is was divided into five thousand shares of one hundred dollars each that C. D. Chase had subscribed for one thousand shares amounting to $100,000.00, And that W. H. Marston had subscribed for four thousand shares amounting to $400,000.00.
Both Marston and Chase were residents of New York City, but they verified and acknowledged the incorporation papers in Dane county, Wisconsin.
The bank, according to the records had its office for its business of discount and deposit located in the "town" of Neillsville in the county of Clark, but where it issued its bank bills for circulation is not stated.
It was in the days of wild-cat banking and under the law, it was author to issue bank notes.
It is needless to say that no deposit or discount business was ever transacted by it, at the "town" of Neillsville, or anywhere else in Clark County.
How many bills they put out is not to be learned at this late day. The panic of 1857 and 1858 came on and they probably failed in company with most of the banks of the state.
Early in 1858, and act of the legislature was passed authorizing the Clark County Bank to reduce its capital stock from half a million to not less than fifty thousand dollars -- and that was probably the last act before the curtain was rung down.
There are a few oddities observable in the olden records of the County Board.
In March, 1858 the board duly entered in their proceedings the following -- Ordered, that S. C. Boardman be allowed forty-five dollars for a bottle of wine for pauper; also for one stove for court house, also for shovel and pipe and for half a quire of paper.
It is inconceivable that wine was forty-five dollars a bottle, especially such as would naturally be furnished to a pauper, and the amount named probably included the bill for all the articles; but why wine for a pauper?
In 1859 the board ordered that Daniel Gates, and B. F. French be each allowed fifty cents, for bounty on wolves. It was only a few months before that Mr. Gates had been made chairman of the county board, and it is quite easy to understand how "Uncle Dan" and "Doc" French as they were familiarly called, could by uniting their forces on their wolf scalp bills, lobby then through, even if they were of the magnitude of half a dollar.
The county really needed an investigating committee in those days.
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