of Clark, Wisconsin
Contact: Helen Vater Blaha
----Sources: MEMORY TRAILS, printed and bound by John Isaacs Printing, Withee, WI. Mrs. Vieno (Nieminen) Keskimaki collected and edited the articles, 1962.
from Page 4,
CLARK (Amber) or Spur S -315, As I Remember by Fred J. Warns, Jr.
In 1905 we moved from Milwaukee to our new land which Dad had bought in 1900 to the west side of Black River near the present village of Clark. The nearest road was 2 miles away on the east side of the river. We moved into a shack on the east side in November 1905--Mother, Dad, 6 children and another born in February 1906. In March 1906 we moved across to the west side. March 28 the ice broke up and we were trapped on the west side three miles from a road at Maplehurst. It was all woods. We cut a trail and felled big trees over the big creek so we could crawl over.
In 1905 the Soo Line cut a right of way from Owen to Ladysmith. They had a camp across from the present store site. On the Ed Smith or south side of the track Valentine and Frank Wenzels built their home. We three families were early ones on the west side of the river. All was heavy woods--no roads until 1908 when we Warns built one mile of road from the Clark County line north for $1.25 a rod. It was 1910 before we had a road to Maplehurst. Our first school was built in 1908--3/4 mile north of Clark. Mamie Douglas, our first teacher, and the children walked over logging roads to get there.
In 1911 Ed Smith built the present Clark Store for James Sheahan. It is said that the beautiful fall hardwoods gave the community its first name of Amber. James Sheahan sold the store to Matt Ropponen. Others who owned it were: Chas. Very, Ole Peterson, the Zenzels, Orville Thorson, Vander Wegan, Joe Warns, and now Frank Bartosewicz.
Ed Smith of Withee built the first saw mill in 1912. The same year we petitioned the Soo Line for a side track. They approved it if we cut down a hill and filled in a deep ditch. This was done free of charge by the neighbors. By that time settlers came in fast to the south and north of Clark. Roads were built and the Munson's Bridge over Black River went up in 1911. Our town Boomed. Wm. Wredemier lived in the home now Frank Witteks. C. Hamel built the next house. Then Ed. Smith built bunk houses and a cook shack and barns for the mill crews. John Nieminen, a Finnish Blacksmith who farmed south of Clark shod horses for extra money. He also had a smithy at the farm. Farmers brought their horses for shoes, sleighs, chains, and wagon wheels to be fixed. His hand made scyths cut many of stack of wild swamp hay.
Otto Braun built the cheese factory in 1914. Bill Breitlow and many others came about 1909. Thousands of carloads of timber, bolts, ties, lumber and cheese were shipped from the Amber depot. This name was changed in 1922 to Clark. I was caretaker for the Soo Line from 1926 to 1933. Many passengers took advantage of the passenger car on the freight trains to ride to Owen on the "Scoot" Elmer Vent recalls his mother churning butter which he took to Owen on the "Scoot". He exchanged it for groceries.
Our new 2 room school was built in 1919. The old school was bought by Fred Warns Sr., Chas. Very, Wm. Atkin, Ed. Huneyjager and Simon Rhoda and moved to Clark to become the Community Hall. It was the social center for years as home talent plays, socials, wedding dances, and the community club met there. The "Old Settler's Picnic" was started on the Chas. Townsend farm in 1908 with just 6 families. It grew into a fine annual event in August for the next 34 years. The picnic was held in Sam Munson's grove were a dance floor was built. Later on the west bank at Munson's Bridge at Warns' grove, and at Shady Nook south of Maplehurst Bridge. According to the Wallace Woods' records, the last Old Settler's Picnic was held August 24, 1942.
What hardships the fist settlers endured--no money, hard work, little to eat, but there was happiness. Just to show that the hardships were: Mrs. Valentine Wenzel died at her home on the west side of Black River. The ice broke in February in 1905. There was no road. They had to put the coffin in a row boat, a man poled it across a swollen ice floe covered river to the east side (where the railroad bridge now stands) so she could be taken to Riverside for burial. I forget, either Will Atkin or Gust Helms (Mrs. Elmer Venets father) poled the boat across that awful fast, high water.
Some of our neighbors on the east side of Black River were: Louis Breiegger family; on a tote rode south were: Delamators, Atkins, Bob Robertsons, Wm. Woods, Wm. Kaskens and Sam Munsons. Fred Warns, Sr. died at Neenah March 13, 1962 at the age of 93.
Chas. Kangas's are the only ones left of their original farm of the approximately 20 Finnish families who came from Minnesota and Michigan and settled south of Clark. He recalls coming on a trail through the woods from Withee in 1911. John Pelto, a land agent, sold many lands at this time. Chas. Wiljanen and Henry Kangas had arrived in 1910. Otto Santalas in 1912. Chas. Kangas paid $17 an acre for his land. Theirs was one of the farms totally destroyed and five people killed who were attending Sunday School there, by a devastating tornado that passed through Clark and Taylor Co. Sunday afternoon September 21, 1924. Other families who followed were: Ed. Baumans, Ed. Dicks, Wm. Arndt, John Meminens and John Brossows. Milk was hauled to Withee Creamery until cheese factories were built. Kangas's first check was $2.00. Ed Petke and Adolph Softer built the road toward Maki's. E. Vetterkind and C. Kangas built the one past Kangas's for $1.50 per rod.
Finnish steam baths (saunas) were constructed on each farm and the mother tongue spoken in the homes. This made the first months of school difficult for the children who could not speak the English language. The Finnish Church was erected in 1916. Prior to that, services here held in homes with no resident pastor.
============ NOTES ============
A booklet entitled "5th Annual Backroads Tour North Central Clark Co., Oct. 3, 1992" (I think this was organized by the Clark County Historical Society), that Favorite Cheese factory http://www.usgennet.org/usa/wi/county/clark/clark/facts/cheese_factories.htm is shown to have been in Section 21 of HIxon Township on the southeast corner of the intersection of what now are French Town Avenue and Center Road.
The same map shows that there had been another cheese factory just a bit west of that in Section 20 of Hixon Townsphip on the southeast side of the curve where Center Road turns south into Clark Avenue. The booklet says that was an early cheese factory started by Nielson and I believe this business was in the community of Clark.
I was born in Clark in 1925 and can recall most all the names. I have more information is any one is interested. Jack Warns, email@example.com
Where in the County did you grow up? Did you happen to know any of the Schwarze family? Janet
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