The History of  Shortville Township, Clark Co., WI

by Janet Schwarze 2003


The Short Brothers, Founding Fathers of Shortville, Washburn Twp., Clark Co., WI

Drawings  Courtesy of  Revival Arts.

Steven James George Andrew John

Shortville is a community in Washburn Township, southeast of Neillsville, Wisconsin. A community is a locality where people reside, having a common interest, a common bond in friendship and enjoyment--a description that is very fitting when the history of the Shortville community is known.

When the Scottish born, James and Betsy (Richie) Short, were raising their eleven children in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, they could not have imagined a community would one day be founded by five of their sons.  Shortville is today a relative ghost town in Washburn Township, Clark County, Wisconsin.  But, between the years of 1869 and 1871, it became a fledgling community with every possibility of maturing into a full service town.  Steven, James II and George Short had all been granted land there because they were Union Soldiers during the Civil War and had settled there by 1869.  Desiring to join their brothers in Wisconsin, Andrew and John purchased property in the same vicinity from the Federal Government in 1871, and all five then lived within a five mile perimeter in what became known as Washburn Township, Clark Co. Wisconsin in 1873.  It seems only fitting and proper that the community where the families of the Short brothers lived out their lives would become known as Shortville, Wisconsin. By 1875 the entire population of the newly formed township was only 110; by 1880 it was 153; in 1885 it is probably a little over 200.  Obviously, Shortville was never very populated, but it was always a tight-knit community.

The stage, line from Neillsville to Nevins passed through Washburn east and west. Shortville was the one post office on the line and Mrs. Walker served as postmistress there for several years.

STEVEN SHORT lived on his granted homestead for some years before moving on to the Dakota Territory where he lived out the remainder of his years.

JAMES SHORT II was a successful farmer who owned 120 acres in section 18 of what is now Washburn Township.  The property laid just south of Shortville corner.  He was born July 17, 1836,  in Madrid, NY.  His initial homestead was claimed in 1869, three years after he was discharged from Civil War service.  By the expenditure of much labor he cleared up thirty acres, which were at the time wilderness. He also cleared about eighty acres for other parties. His first wife, Mary Elliott, whom he'd married August 3, 1860, had died in 1864 in Jefferson Co., WI, during the war.  They had one child who died young.  He and his second wife, Martha Shoop, were the parents of two sons and three daughters.  The 1880 census listed: James III (b. 1869), M. Ann (b.1873) & I. Bell (b. 1880).  The Shorts were members of the Presbyterian Church and affiliated with the Republican Party.  He served as the School Treasurer for five years and for one year on the Washburn Township board.

GEORGE SHORT homesteaded one mile east of the Shortville comer. He and his wife had two daughters, Mrs. Fannie Bue and Mrs. Sarah Meddaugh, whose families remained in the area and their children were educated in the Shortville school.

ANDREW SHORT purchased 80 acres of land north of the present Shortville store after arriving in Clark County in 1871. He constructed a two room log cabin with a pantry.  Being 16 by 24 feet, it was considered a big cabin, for the times and when Andrew became the first postmaster, it also served as the area's first post office. There was a post office every few miles along the arteries of stage lines. Most people walked to pick up their mail, so the distance between post offices couldn't be too far.

July 10, 1872, Jennie Scott, of Jefferson County, became Andrew's bride and joined the budding community when she came to live on her husband's homestead. At that time, there were no roads between Shortville and Neillsville. Settlers had to walk five, six or more miles through the woods to Neillsville for supplies and carried their purchases on their back on the return treks. Each settler had to clear the heavy woods from his homestead and each year, more tillable acreage became available for gardens and fields.

Andrew had little cash, and all his tree removal and farm work was done by hand. The huge trees were felled by the blows of an ax, and when he could afford it, the troublesome tree roots were blown apart with dynamite. Otherwise, it was a time consuming process to bring up the roots to expose a tillable soil, a task well suited to his inbred Scottish temperament.  He raised two calves and eventually used them for a team of oxen. His livestock began with just one cow, one pig and a few Plymouth Rock chickens. As he prospered, he replaced his log home with a frame house and purchased more cattle and even some sheep. Jennie's quick fingers spun wool into yarn for knitting caps, mittens and socks for their three children, James, Ralph and May.

After Andrew's son, James, reached adulthood, he purchased 80 acres of land nearby and later added another 40 acres to his property. He served as treasurer of the community owned Shortville Creamery.  Being good with figures, he also served thirteen years as the Washburn Township treasurer.

The second son, Ralph, farmed his entire life in Shortville. He served as chairman of Washburn township from 1917 to 1920 and for 21 years as the town clerk. March 26, 1919, he married Edith Kegley, of Hillsboro. They had one daughter, Doreen, who settled in Madison, WI.  At the age of 97, Edith was still working as the Washburn correspondent for the Clark County Press at the age 97 while living in Neillsville.


John Short, the fifth and youngest of the five brothers, purchased land two miles east of Shortville, May 6, 1869 where he developed 80 acres.  His farm was known as the "Lone Pine Tree Farm", after a fire swept the area, leaving only on tree unscathed on his property.  John married Jennie, the daughter of the McGinnis family which had located in the town of Sherwood. John and Jennie Short had three sons, Ed, Arthur and William, as well as two daughters, Inez and Elizabeth.  Arthur, married Elsie Neitzel and moved to a farm one and one-quarter miles east of Granton.  William, became a teacher and settled west of Granton, and later worked as a cheesemaker. William and his wife had a daughter, Helen (Vine) and a son Eugene. His children were very young when William died. Eugene farmed land near the Pray and Highway 10 intersection then along with three sons, Dale, Glenn and Floyd.  They developed the well known "Short's Fur Farm".


Frank Short was born Dec. 11, 1884 to James and Martha (Shoop) Short.  He attended the Shortville school as a youngster and worked with his parents on the family farm. January 30, 1907, he married Miss Dessa Payne, the daughter of R. S. Payne. She was born Sept. 6, 1885 and attended school in both Shortville and Gays Mills because the family spent sometime in Gays Mills before returning to Shortville when Dessa was twenty years old.

Frank and Dessa resided on the home farm, having purchased it from the Short family estate, for most of their wedded life. However,
they did spend nine years in Baraboo and Rochester, Minnesota. They were the parents of two daughters, Marie (Raynor) Vaughn, of
Washington D. C.; and Helen (Louis) Matousek, of West Allis, Wisconsin.  They also had two sons, Kenneth of Neillsville and Roger of West Allis.

Frank died in 1958 and  Dessa died in 1983.  They were both laid to rest in the Neillsville City Cemetery.


Andrew Shoop was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Clark County, Wisconsin about 1873.  He purchased a parcel of land at the northeast corner of Section 8, township twenty-three North, Range (1) West of the Fourth Principal Meridian, Clark County from the U. S. Government. Andrew was a member of the Presbyterian Church, The Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.), and the W. R. C.  In 1886, Shoop and his wife, Susan, built a country store on the property, located along the stage line road, at the intersection of what became Highway 73 and Miller Avenue. This was just south of Andrew Short's farm where the first Shortville post office in Short's home had been and it became locally known as "The Shortville Corner Store".  The Shoops owned the store for twenty years and sold it in 1897 to Kittie Shaffer.  Andrew retired in Neillsville where he died Feb. 25, 1903 at the age of seventy-three. 


Kitty Shaffer only ran the Shortville Store for six months, and by November of that year, sold it to O. G. and Matilda Barnes. After leaving the Shortville store, Kittie and John Shaffer built a two story building one mile east of Shortville on the Pray Avenue comer. The main floor provided space for a general store business and the second floor was used as a dance hall. About ten years after the Shaffer store building was erected it w as destroyed by fire. Barnes and wife sold the Shortville store to Edward and Nettie Ward in 1899. They continued the general store for four years, then sold.

THOMAS MERRILL WINTERS, a leading citizen of Washburn Township, and many years chairman of the township board, and a farmer by occupation, was born in Farmington, Waupaca County, Wis., Sept. 14,1867.  He was the son of John M. and Sarah (Hitchcock) Winters. John, the father, was a native of New York State who had been born on a farm, and become a millwright by trade. He served three years as a soldier in the Civil War and, subsequently, moved to Waupaca County, Wis., married and followed his occupation. In November, 1867, just six weeks after the birth of his son, he and his extended family made a two week journey in a covered wagon, drawn by a team of oxen, to relocate in Clark County, Wisconsin. The party included himself and wife, little Thomas M., Mrs. John M. Winters' mother, an uncle, Thomas Hitchcock, and two sisters of Mrs. J. M. Winters, Jennie and Marie Hitchcock.  At that time, the Washburn area was so wild they had to cut a road for part of the passage, and when moving down steep hills had to tie trees to the rear of the wagon to act as a brake. At the age of 16, Thomas Winters' took his first job driving logs on the Black River. For many years, he worked in logging camps and sawmills on the Black River and its tributaries.

Winters' wife, Jennie, was born in Cresco, Iowa, March 3, 1869. After her mother died in Iowa, her father moved to Clark County.  Jennie spent most of her childhood living with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. James Short, Sr., in Jefferson Co., Wisconsin, but attended the Washburn School for one term. During that period she met Thomas Winters, who later became her husband.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Winters were married June 28, 1893,  in the Presbyterian parsonage on the corner of Fifth and Court Street, Neillsville. Rev. R. Everett, the Presbyterian pastor in Neillsville and Shortville at that time, preformed the ceremony. The day of their wedding, they drove to Neillsville in a one-horse, top buggy. Their honeymoon was the buggy ride from the parsonage back to Shortville where a wedding dinner was served. Their wedding attendants were Mrs. George Bue and William Winters. As was the custom then, friends and neighbors from miles around came to their home on that wedding night to have a charivari. They came carrying whatever loud noise makers they could find, such as guns, metal items.

Thomas M. and his brother, William J. Winters, obtained the Shortville store in 1903, continuing the partnership for ten years, when Thomas bought out his brother's share, operating the Shortville store until 1933. Between the years 1924 and 1932, Edward and Dora Bowen leased the business and Winter's took it over again when the Bowens left.

The Winters farmed on land which was later purchased by Clarence Reinart. They had three daughters, Anita (Wall), Gladys (Stevens) and Merille (Vincent). When Anita began school, she was very shy and became upset about having to leave her parents and  travel a considerable distance to the Shortville school. To comfort and ease Anita's fears, the Winters leased out their farm and purchased the Shortville store, so they could live right across the road from it.

Merchandise for the store was shipped by railroad to the Neillsville station.  The Winters picked up the orders with a team of horses and a wagon. Flour, sugar and other staples were packed in wooden kegs or barrels. When their daughters were old enough to help in the store, they filled bags, weighing out 5-10 pound amounts of bulk foods to stock the shelves.

Mrs. Winters worked in the store and performed her household duties as well. Throughout the school term, teachers of the Shortville School boarded at their home.

Thomas Winters served on the Washburn town board and was school treasurer for many years.  He was also the director of Lynn Mutual Insurance Company. The first concrete culvert built in Shortville, was installed with his assistance in 1909, but was removed in 1942 when Hwy. 73 was relocated.

Through the years, Thomas & Sarah other obtained farms.  One, north of the store, was later owned by Adolph Mazourek. They also purchased a farm on Pleasant Ridge which was later owned by Gehrt family. Their daughter, Gladys, married Irving Stevens and the couple farmed one Thomas and Sarah's farms.

The Winters retired in 1923 and moved to Neillsville to the house on the corner of Court and Division. It later became the office building of Greater Insurance Services. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary before Thomas died at the age of 97 and Sarah at the age of 96.

JOHN M. WINTERS located first in Section 2, Washington Township and homesteaded 160 acres of land. There he built a shanty with a sloping roof, 18 by 20 feet in size.  From there, he moved to a tract of eighty acres in Section 4, one mile north of where the Shortville store was located, settling on wild land. On this latter claim he built a log house the same as his first, but with shake roof.  It consisted of two rooms and a pantry.  The floor was made of rough boards which gradually smoothed with use. His log barn, with a shanty roof, was 16 by 30 feet.  His brother-in-law, Thomas Hitchcock, owned the team that had brought them all to Clark County.  Mr. Winters had nothing but his hands with which to begin work, and it was eight years before he also owned a team of oxen. He might have accomplished this sooner, perhaps, but for the fact that for most of his time he was employed as a timber locator, not being able to devote much attention to his farm. At the end of the period mentioned he put up a sawmill on Cunningham Creek in Section 4, Washburn Township. The mill was run by waterpower, and he conducted it for about ten years. He also dammed up the creek that the loggers might be able to float down their logs, and for this water privilege they paid him a rental. Quite frequently, also, he worked for the camps. Later, he gave more attention to his farm, doing carpenter work at intervals, and in time succeeded in clearing thirty acres, also erecting good buildings.

(1918 Clark Co. Biographies by Curtis Wedge)

HEINRICH FRIEDRICH WILHELM MAROHN was born August 5, 1859 in Parpat, Germany, County Greifenberg, Pommern, Germany. He married Bertha Augusta Maria Ehlke in 1882 - the same year he and his wife immigrated to the United States and settled in Ottawa, Illinois. (Note: According to passenger listing, page 254 - they traveled on the ship Nuernberg from Bremen to Baltimore - arrived: April 30, 1882). In 1895 he moved with his family to (?), WI in the vicinity of NEILLSVILLE, WI. (Note: They lived near the present intersection of Sherwood Road and Owen Road - Washburn Township - Section 19.) His wife died in 1896. Some years later he moved with his family to Winneconne. On June 19, 1905 his son, Herman died. He suffered years from rheumatism and later also had groth-Neuralgie. He died August 30, 1914, shortly after 7:00 in the morning at the age of 55 years and 25 days. Surviving are four sons, two daughters and two sisters in this country. September 1, 1914 was his funeral and internment at the town cemetery.

(The above obituary was translated from a local German language newspaper and contributed by Jean (Marohn) Spiegelberg.)


By 1905, 28 year old F. McPherson and his 56 year old mother, Rockzana, were living in section 4 of Washburn Township, Clark Co., Wisconsin. She was born in New York, and gave birth to her son in Wisconsin. Their land abutted that of Thomas & Jennie Winter to east, Thomas Hitchkock to the north, George Bue to the west, and Susan Shoop to the south.  In later years, this same land was owned by Otis Slocumb.


Married, at Shortville, Clark County, Wis., March 25th, 1885, by Rev. W.T. Hendren, Mr. Lewis A. Hayes, of Dane Co., Wis., to Miss Della Maryetta Richmond of Shortville.

--------Source: CLARK COUNTY REPUBLICAN PRESS (Neillsville, Wis.) 04/02/1885

Shortville, Wisconsin General Store

(Contributed by MariAnne Walker)

MARTHA SHORT (1853 - 14 DEC 1919)

Mrs. Martha Short died at her home in Shortville, Clark County, Wis. early Sunday morning, Dec. 14, 1919. The end came quite suddenly due to apoplexy, but she had not been well since about Sept. 1st. Martha Jane Shoop was born in Ohio in 1853. She came to Clark County with her parents when 18 years old. She was married to James short in 1871 and has lived all the remainder of her life in the town of Washburn. Her husband died eight years ago. She is survived by three children: Ida, Mrs. Aaron Crye of Muscoda; Frank Short of Merrimac; May, Mrs. C. A. Irish of Shortville; also two stepchildren, Mrs. T. M. Winters of Shortville, and James B. Short of Rochester, Minn. She leaves also her stepmother, Mrs. Andrew Shoop, who lives at Spokane, Wash., and ten sisters and one brother.

Aunt Martha, as she was familiarly known to the whole neighborhood, was one of the fine pioneer women of this county. She was a good mother, a kind and helpful neighbor, ready and willing at all times to be of service to those around her. She was a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church, lived up to the faith she professed.


Marrey Hickock was born in England in 1813 and resided in the Shortville area of Washburn township along with her two sons, Thomas (b. 1868)
and James (b. 1873), who were also born in England.  The 1893 plat map shows their property abutted that of E. S. Newton & F. McPherson to the east, H. Walker, N. P. Nelson & J. W. Fuller to the south and J. Kunish to the west. This property was eventually owned by Otis Slocom and B. O. Slagel.

The funeral was held at the home Wednesday forenoon, rev. L. B. Colman officiating. Burial took place in Neillsville Cemetery.

---------Source: CLARK COUNTY REPUBLICAN & PRESS (Neillsville, Wis.) 12/18/1919


In 1893, John W. Fuller (b. 1844) who was born in Vermont and Scottish born E. Jame Fuller (b. 1842).  According to the 1880 census, these two were not married.  John was a farmer and E. Jame kept the house.  They lived just south of Thomas & Rockzana Hickock with N. P. Nelson to the east and A. McMillian to the west. The Shortville School and the Presbyterian Church were right across the road and Cunningham Creek ran through the north
edge of their property. By 1905, north part of this land belonged to Herman Wagner and the south portion was owned by W. Stevens.  By 1926, the south end was owned by E. & M. Hagie.


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