History: Town of Washburn, Clark Co., Wis. - Edith Short, Clark Co.
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Town of Washburn - Edith Short, Clark County

Press Correspondent - Historian


Tragedy, Pathos, Progress Punctuate 43 Years of "Country" Correspondent

by Jess W. Scott

Tragedy, community development and progress are knit together into a fabric which tells the story of nearly a half-century of news-writing by Mrs. Ralph (Edith) Short of the town of Washburn. Fires, tornadoes, a death in a blizzard, a little girl killed by a car, road improvements, school consolidation, closing of the community church, development of the homemaker program were stories covered by the pen of this news-writer. Mrs. Short told of some of the stories which she had covered as a "country" correspondent for the Washburn area in an interview recently. The tragic death of Bill Schultz, a brother of Paul Schultz, ion February, 1917, was a troy that shocked the community. Mr. Schultz was walking from York Center to his home near Shortville, she related. Caught in a blinding blizzard, he fell exhausted in the road as he was nearing his home. His body was found the next day, face down in the snow. All highways to Neillsville were blocked by snow and the body was kept in the Kissling granary four days before the late H. H. Eberhardt, a Neillsville mortician, could reach Shortville to get the body and prepare it for burial. He made the trip in a sleigh, pulled by four horses, Mrs. Short recalled recently for the Clark County Press. The death of Helen Wilding, eight-year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jess Wilding, who was hit by an auto in 1921, occurred when she started across Highway 73 near the Ed Short home. "There were very few cars in those days," said Mrs. Short, "and Helen dashed into the path of the auto without realizing the dangers."

Two Tornadoes

The stories of two tornadoes which brought destruction to the farms in Shortville area brought unusual reporting opportunities. The first hit at 4 a.m. March 22, 1938, and the second at 1 a.m., June 15, 1941. both arrived when residents were asleep.

Lightning Hits

One of her most surprising stories told of a bolt of lightning which, she said, knocked Ernest Kissling unconscious. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kissling, did not know he had been struck. The bolt hit the windmill June 13, 1948, traveled along the water pipes into the basement of the house, where Ernest, then 21, was knocked to the floor. In the excitement over the bolt, his parents did not know of their son's fate until he had regained consciousness and dragged himself to the top of the stairs. He collapsed again in shock on the kitchen floor. A doctor revived the youth by artificial respiration, and he recovered after a week's illness. The Kissling residence again was struck by lightning in 1959. Mrs. Short has written stories of fires which wiped out several homes and farm buildings in the area. She remembers especially the fire that destroyed the Bernard Kuhn home, and the one that destroyed a large dairy barn on the Jim Short farm. She views with much satisfaction the modern fire protection of the area by the united township fire-fighting unit, housed in Granton.

Recalls Improvements

"The changes and improvements in our community schools," said Mrs. Short, "are probably our milestones of greatest community progress. From the one-room poorly equipped schools of the World War I era, we now have consolidated six area schools into a modern well equipped three-room at Shortville school "Better roads and snow removal have brought the school bus into use to transport children to grade and high school. "The auto has also changed our church program. The Presbyterian church at Shortville, which had a regular pastor for many years, is now removed from the community. Services have been held from time to time at Cannonville, but today most of the residents attend church in either Neillsville or Granton."

Wrote of Tour

One of Mrs. Short's most interesting stories was in the adult education field when her assignment was to write of the first tour of Clark county homemakers. She also wrote the story of the homemakers' first county chorus and of their visit to the state convention in Green Lake, where they sang. As a girl of 13, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kegley, Edith started writing for the Hillsboro Sentry-Enterprise, which is still in operation. Upon her arrival in Clark County, 44 years ago, she met the late George E. Crothers, editor of the Republican Press, and started writing the Washburn column, which she has written down to the present. Born in Hillsboro March 9, 1898, she came with her parents to Clark County, locating on the farm now owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Dave Krutsch, east of Shortville. On March 26, 1919, she was married to Ralph Short, the marriage being performed at the home of her parents. "The wedding had been planned for high-noon," says Mrs. Short, "but because of the spring break-up, roads were almost impassable and the Rev. Harold M. Roberts, Presbyterian minister of Neillsville, arrived more than an hour late." The couple was attended by Gladys (Winters) Stevens, now Mrs. Irving Stevens of Shortvillle, and by her brother, the Rev. Verne Kegley, who died in 1931 while serving as pastor of a church in Loyal. In marrying Ralph Short, Mrs. Short associated herself with the pioneer family which gave Shortville it's name. Ralph's father, Shortville's first postmaster, was one of five brothers to migrate to Clark county from southern Wisconsin in 1873. Mr. and Mrs. Short reside in the oldest Shortville residence, erected in 1884, and the only home Mr. Short has ever known. He has lived there throughout his entire 72 years. He is the person of longest residence in the Washburn-Shortville area. As she looks back on 43 years of news writing, Mrs. Short feels mixed emotions. "Although there have been occasional disappointments and discouragements, there also has come the satisfaction of community service, of friendliness and cooperation in writing the Washburn news column week after week. "Today," says Mrs. Short, "most of the residents of 40 years ago are gone, some by death, and others have moved away. Some of their children and grandchildren remain to carry on their farms and join in community service." Mrs. Short's friendliness and pleasing personality have won her the respect, confidence and gratitude of her community. Mr. and Mrs. Short have a daughter, Mrs. Doreen Stewart of Verona and three grandchildren: Jovey, Jeffrey and Jan Stewart

----Source: Undated article from the Clark County Press c. 1960



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