Centennial Book (1874 - 1974)
MARATHON COUNTY, WISCONSIN
History of Spencer, Wisconsin
Transcribed by Marla
The transcription of the Spencer
Centennial Booklet is completed; individual
bios contained within are found in the
pages, as well as marriages mentioned are in the
and the school history is found on the
School pages, and
the church histories for
are on the church pages.
History of Spencer (Page 4)
According to old
records, the first settlers in the area were Reuben Ring of New York state
accompanied by his brother, Isaac, his sister, Mrs. Saunders and their mother,
Susannah. On January 3, 1871 Reuben had entered a claim in the U.S. Land Office
to the following land: N ½ of NW 1/4, Section 7, Township 26 North, Range 2
East: now partly occupied by Land O’Lakes, The Farmer’s Co-op, The Breeze Inn,
Spencer Park, and Soo Line right-of-way. The Rings later owned a farm west of
town, now the property of David Ingham. Susannah Ring died there in 1899 and is
buried in the West Spencer Cemetery.
The settlement of
Spencer began with the completion of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, the first
division from Menasha to Stevens Point having been completed in November of
1871. The town was first known as “Section 40” and then Waltham. Four blocks in
the northwestern part of town, owned and plotted by James L. Robinson were named
“Irene,” in honor of his wife. Finally the name of the station and post office
was changed to Spencer, probably after a town in Massachusetts, several other
towns to the north of us having been named for towns in that state.
There was money in
the lumber business and now with a railroad on which to transport the products
of the forest. Enterprising mill owners came in, set up their mills and built
boarding houses and small stores. Mill hands, homesteaders and businessmen
followed. The women and children joined them, coming on the train, and their
household goods were transported on ox-carts. The Damon, Heath, Crowell, and
Richardson families from Adams County all came in on the same train in 1874. The
influx of families resulted in the building of more houses, stores, blacksmith
and harness shops, and other places of business, the establishment of schools
and churches and a form of government. The town grew and prospered to such a
degree that by the time half of it was destroyed by the fire of 1886, it had all
the appearance of a prosperous and up-to-date village of that day with well
established places of business, doctors, lawyers, a newspaper, places for
entertainment, civic organizations, clubs, lodges, and churches.
in and filed claims to wooded acres even before the railroad was built,
traveling with their families and household goods by means of ox-drawn vehicles
through trails in the woods. They put up log buildings and began to clear their
land and to dream of herds of cattle, pastures, fields, and frame houses and
barns. These were followed by other pioneer farmers, with the same dreams and
ambitions, who bought cut-over land left by the mill owners who had moved
northward. They were of various nationalities, German, Scandinavian, Bohemian,
British, and French, the largest percentage being German.
It is to the
railroad and the lumber mills that Spencer owes its beginning, but it is to
these sturdy, hard working, thrifty farm folk that Spencer owes its continuance
and growth after the mills had left. With a prosperous surrounding farm area,
Spencer passed from a mill town to a rural village, whereas in some instances
after the mills left a town, it passed out of existence. Spencer merchants of
that day were wont to say, “If it’s a good year for the farmers, it will be a
good year for us.”
The building of
the Spencer-Owen cut-off and the moving of the railroad division point to
Spencer marked another year of growth. New railroad facilities were built or old
ones enlarged and railroad workers and their families moved to town. Local mail
and dray services increased as well as an increased shipment at the stock yards,
all affording more employment.
By the time the
railroad activity began to decrease, industry began to increase, and Spencer
continued to grow until its phenomenal industrial growth in the year of 1970 won
for it the Governor’s Award of Merit, in recognition of outstanding industrial
development, Spencer being one of three communities honored on May 20, 1971, in
the State of Wisconsin for Industrial Development.
To our pioneer
settlers who came here and created a town and then fought so valiantly to save
part of it from fire, to their courage and determination to remain and rebuild,
to our pioneer farmers who created for themselves and their posterity fine and
prosperous dairy farms, to their children and grandchildren who give evidence of
their good stewardship by the many beautiful, modern and well kept farms that
now dot our surrounding countryside, to our public spirited citizens and
councilmen who have promoted our industrial growth and provided for our
protection and safety, to all these we owe an immeasurable.
Spencer Pioneer Farms (page 12)
Many of our rural settlers homesteaded their land, others bought
either wooded acres or cut-over lands. In any case, the one
thought uppermost in their minds was to own a home of their own
and develop a good farm on which to rear their children. The
first thing on the agenda was to fell trees and erect a log
house, and a shelter for their animals, then to work up a plot
of land for a garden which would provide an important part of
their living for the next winter. It took many years of hard
work, perseverance and sacrifice on the part of the farmer and
his wife to convert their acreage into fields, replace the log
buildings with larger and better frame ones and produce a herd
of dairy cattle.
Farms were much smaller in those days – 40, 80, or 120 acres.
The farmer of today has extended the home farm by buying farms
adjacent to or quite near and now farms are on a much larger
scale, with large herds of dairy cattle, large, well-equipped
barns, and modern, up-to-date machinery.
It is interesting to note that parts of the pioneer farms
nearest to Spencer are now part of the village. To the west, the
Bodle farm, site of the Thayer lumber mill, whose owner built
the large frame house there with the turret. The Spencer State
Bank has recently razed this landmark to provide space for
another needed building and a parking lot.
Also to the west, the Graves farm, now owned by David Ingham. To
the east, the John Gardiner farm, a portion of which is now
school property. To the north, the Heath farm, known as the
“farm on the hill.” On the south slope of which is located the
new United Methodist Church. The balance of the farm, with the
exception of land on the south slope, is now owned by Raymond
Gripentrog. On the south of town the Wendell farm.
Spencer & the
Wisconsin Central Railroad (page 18)
A Narrative of Spencer and the Wisconsin Central By John C.
Bergene, Publications Manager of Soo Line Railroad
The history of Spencer and development of the area are much a
part of the history of the Wisconsin Central Railway. The
Wisconsin Central initially laid track through the area in 1873
and development of the town began. At that time, the sole
intention of the Wisconsin Central was to press northward to
complete a line from Menasha to Ashland, thus being the only
railroad with a Lake Superior to Menasha connection.
The importance of Spencer as a junction point for lines
traversing Wisconsin was to come later.
When the rails were laid into Spencer, work had already
commenced on the right-of-way north toward Ashland. Rails were
laid a few miles north to Colby, then further north into the
woodlands. In 1886 the route connecting Menasha with Ashland was
The railroad operated for the next few years with further
construction concentrated on completing a line south from
Menasha into Chicago. Then in 1880, Abbotsford was chosen as the
site from which the Central would expand westward to the Twin
Cities. Construction on the line was begun and the route opened
in 1884 to the Twin Cities. Spencer again missed out when
Abbotsford was chosen as the Division Headquarters for Central
operations in the northern part of Wisconsin.
Spencer gained more prominence after the turn of the century
when the Central began construction on a new line to the Twin
Ports of Duluth-Superior. The new route was to follow a line
from Owen to Superior. Construction on the line was opened in
1907, however trains from Chicago had to travel extra miles
through Abbotsford to complete the route.
Planners later shortened the route from the Twin Cities and Twin
Ports with a direct cut-off between Owen and Spencer, reducing
route miles by nine miles and was completed in 1910.
Today’s Soo Line – the product of a 1961 merger of the Old Soo,
Wisconsin Central and Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic railroads
– operates over the same right-of-ways as the Old Central.
Spencer serves as a mainline station and as the intersection of
the branch line which runs north to Ashland.
The trains that run through Spencer each day have taken on a
much different purpose than the trains of the Central, which
carried passengers and cargo into the north woods and brought
resources out for points in Chicago and beyond. They now link
the agricultural areas of the Dakotas with the east and carry
products to and from the Pacific Northwest.
Railroads - Spencer Area
In May 1864 Congress approved an Act for the building of a
railroad in Wisconsin. February 4, 1871, the Wisconsin Central,
which was a consolidation of three companies, (Winnebago & Lake
Superior, The Portage and and Superior and the Portage and
Stevens Point), was formed and headquartered at Menasha. The
first division from Menasha to Stevens Point was completed in
November of that year.
Records show that Reuben Ring, the first Spencer settler,
conveyed to the Wisconsin Central Railroad Corporation, for one
dollar, a strip of land 200 feet wide through the center of
which the railroad extended. On the same date of the Phillips
and Colby Construction Co. bought a tract of land for $222.75
and then sold it to the railroad company.
John K. Hayward, the second white settler to come to Section 40,
was superintendent for the building of the road bed for the
Wisconsin Central. In 1872 he brought his wife and six daughters
from Waupaca County to a place just north of the intersection of
the “26 Road,” and Highway 13, south of what is now Spencer.
John’s parents had arrived in Royalton township, Waupaca County,
in 1848, coming from St. Lawrence County, New York. Mr. Hayward
had built a shanty with a “scoop roof,” and then began brushing
six miles of railroad right-of-way, northward from Section 35
(later named Mannville). The oldest son, Marathon (called Mert)
was the first white boy born in the settlement. Mr. Hayward had
taken up a homestead east of the railroad and also took over a
homesteader’s 40 acres west of the track where he built a good
sized frame house in time for the arrival of his son, Frank, the
second of his five sons. Near his shanty he erected a depot made
of ties and the place was called Waltham. His son, George, in
his later years, created miniature replicas of the shanty and
the house, together with his famous replica of a logging camp.
During some improvements made by Wisconsin Central about 1900,
divisions were enlarged, resulting in the closing of many former
division points, among them Stevens Point and Waukesha. Fond du
Lac, Abbotsford and St. Paul then became the main division
points along the road, with Abbotsford handling as many as
twelve passenger trains daily.
On April 1, 1909, the Wisconsin Central, valued at fifty-two
million dollars, was sold to the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and
Saulte Ste. Marie, also known as the Soo Line Railroad Company.
The division point was moved from Abbotsford to Spencer after
the building of the Spencer-Owen cut off in 1910. This proved to
be a boon for Spencer, resulting in an increase of railroad
activity and employment for more men as facilities were either
enlarged or new ones built.
The completion of the new coal shed brought to town two families
from Abbotsford, Jack Fritsch who had been transferred here to
be foreman and Mike Orgish to be his assistant. A son from each
of these two families still resides here, both retired railroad
employees. Larry Fritsch was a passenger train baggage man and
John Orgish serviced the engines in the round house.
John Orgish served his country in three military engagements –
the first time with an army contingent that went to Mexico with
General Pershing on a mission to capture the bandit, Villa, who
had been making raids into U.S. Territory; then overseas to
serve in World War I and again when he left home to serve as a
SeaBee in World War II.
The depot made of ties was replaced by a larger wooden structure
located to the north. After it burned down another was built
east of the tracks and in 1901 was moved west of the tracks
directly opposite the hotel building recently known as Ann’s
Place and now occupied by Archie Vanderhoof.
Because of the many passenger and freight trains daily passing
through, a flag man was stationed at the crossing on Clark
Street and a house was put up for his shelter. Henry Fenhouse
was the flagman and he continued his work until June 1949 when
the automatic signals were installed and that ended the need for
a flag man.
A favorite Sunday afternoon diversion on those days was to go to
the depot and watch the trains come in. Sweethearts, newlyweds
and groups of youth wended their way there in time for the
arrival of the first passenger train, to witness the glad
homecomings or the sometimes tearful farewells and to hear the
stirring call “All Aboard.” The depot was a busy place, the
waiting room often filled to capacity as passengers waited to
change trains. Ladies from town and country went shopping to
Marshfield via train. They could go about 9:00 A.M. and return
about 2:00 P.M. or go down at 2:00 P.M. and return at 6:00 P.M.,
or spend the day there.
Some of our first depot agents were T. L. Case, Dave Van Hecke,
A. H. Blaisdell, N. W. Artman and S. E. Fowler. Others who
served in the later and busier years were Roy Crawshaw, E. C.
Utter, Harry Crosby, John Mais, Walter Wollenben, Herman
Metzger, Jay Youmans, Art Lindner, and Jack Staege.
Mrs. Henry (Minnie) Hilson became second trick operator in
August of 1936 and continued until her retirement in 1960. She
still resides in Spencer.
With the advent of the automobile, the trucks, and the buses,
much of this railroad activity gradually decreased until now
only a few trains pass through, and a quiet depot sits on the
southern edge of town. The Soo Line Railroad closed our depot on
December 3, 1973, as part of an expanding program of traveling
agents. Service at the depot is now being handled by traveling
agent, Robert Goldamer, of Abbotsford, who also handles the
business at Abbotsford, Colby, and Unity.
John Burke was our last depot agent, coming here from Loyal in
The depot and loading dock have now been slated for removal.
Spencer Industries (Pages 57-59)
The foundation of modern day industry in the village began in
1913 when a corporation named the Spencer Lumber & Supply
Company was formed by T. A. Tack, Mrs. Helen Tack, and H. A.
Martin. The business was located west of the railroad tracks on
Clark Street, the original building being on the site presently
occupied by the United Building Center.
The purpose of the Lumber & Supply Company was to manufacture
and deal in lumber and timber of all kinds, and also to buy,
sell and deal in pine and hardwood timber land and other real
estate. The Company operated until November, 1927, when they
changed the name to Dairy Belt Cheese & Butter Co. It was during
this time that they established Cheese Assembling warehouses at
Spencer, Fremont, Thorp, Boyd, Ashland, Ladysmith and Cameron,
purchasing the cheese from factories in those areas. The
warehouses were later sold, with the exception of the Spencer
location, to the Wheeler Cheese Co., Green Bay, Wisconsin. Prior
to this period the Spencer Milk Co., a cooperative, was formed
by local farmers to manufacture evaporated milk. It was sold to
T. A. Tack, Emil Marten, and Louis Hartle. The depression took
its toll and they discontinued its operation.
Ray Tack joined the Dairy Belt in 1928 and in 1931 became
Secretary. After joining the firm he purchased for the Dairy
Belt, the Spencer Milk Products Co., to be operated as a
subsidiary. In 1940 Ray became President of Dairy Belt and later
started the remodeling of the plant for a sweetened condensed
A Dairy Belt subsidiary at Junction City made evaporated milk
and was known as one of the largest, most modern milk plants in
Central Wisconsin. At the height of its operation, it processed
200,000 pounds of milk daily. Some of that milk was trucked in
from the Spencer area. In 1944 that plant, managed by Waldo
Albert, was sold to the Borden Company. Mr. Albert was then
moved to Spencer where he took over the management of the
Sweetened Milk operation. After the war, this operation was
discontinued and the plant was converted to the manufacture of
During World War II, in 1944, the company began making process
cheese in the John Holzschuh Cheese Factory, which was located
south of Graves Store on LaSalle Street. It was a small
operation employing people on three shifts.
Ken D. Graves joined the firm in 1943 as a stockholder and as
Vice President. The Dairy Belt moved into a new building in 1945
which was adjacent to the Milk Products Plant. In this plant,
with new modern equipment, they increased their production of
Processed Cheese to over 20,000,000 pounds per year, employing
over 100 people.
More growth was experienced in 1951 when the Milk Products
building was razed and new quarters were built to accommodate
the Hawley & Hoops Corporation, who leased the facilities to
made dried milk for the M&M Candy Company. Frank Waskow, Curt
Barfknecht, and Rudy Schweiss were brought here to manage the
operation. This arrangement continued until September of 1959.
In November of 1961, K. D. Graves became President of the
company and continued the business until July, 1963, when it was
purchased by Land O’Lakes Creameries of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Facilities at this plant have more than doubled in floor space
since 1963. In the mid-sixties, a supply warehouse and two
storage buildings containing 35,000 square feet of floor space
were added. Two coolers and a warehouse, 20,000 square feet,
were added to the plant in the summer of 1972. A 15,000 foot
refrigeration area and a 20,000 square foot production area was
completed in September of 1973. Two production crews and one
clean-up crew work three shifts in a round-the-clock operation
at the present day Land O’Lakes plant, with a work force of
approximately 400 people.
Showing a continued interest in the village, R. J. Tack and K.
D. Graves erected a building across from the old water tower in
1947 and rented it to Luke Riepel. The building was to house the
Pup Motor Car Co., manufacturing postwar metal and plywood golf
This venture proved to be unsuccessful as the carts never got
off the assembly line. The building was used for awhile as scale
boards for cheese boxes were manufactured there, and wood
mouldings were also produced.
In April of 1953, the building was leased to a small group of
progressive businessmen who formed a corporation under the name
of Northland Coach, Inc. The company started production of
recreational vehicles and during the first year sold 110 units.
First officers of the company were Vic Carpenter, president; Leo
Van Ert, vice president; Porter Greenwood, secretary-treasurer;
William Jensen, Ray Parette, and Dan Hosek, directors; and John
Carpenter, purchasing agent.
By 1954 Edward O. Dickman had been appointed General Manager and
the company changed their name to Pathfinder Mobilehome Inc.,
and purchased the building from Tack and Graves. Sales and
public demand grew, and by 1956 the company began building five
models ranging from 16 feet to 35 feet in length. In July of
1958 Pathfinder built their first ten foot wide unit which was
41 feet long. The first 12 wide was built in February of 1961,
and four years later the first double wide home was built.
Production space rose from the original 4,800 feet in 1953 to
approximately 82,000 square feet by 1967. In 1969 Pathfinder
moved into a new building on the south side of Willow Drive, on
land annexed from the Town of Spencer. Production continued on
the new site until Pathfinder discontinued their Spencer
operation in July of 1973.
During 1957 another industry was started in Spencer that would
prove to be a boon in the area employment market in just a few
years. Spencer Sports Products Co., Inc. began in the old
bowling alley next to Graves Store on Clark Street. The company
was started by Ed Dickman for the purpose of building ice
fishing shelters. Shortly after the plant began manufacturing
tent camper recreational vehicles, and Robert Keyes and Leon
Mondloch joined the company.
In Nov. of 1958 the plant was completely destroyed by fire,
which led to the company operations being moved to a 24’ x 36’
garage owned by Bob Keyes on the north side of the village.
During 1959 the first addition was made to the garage when a 40’
x 60’ building was constructed. It was at this time that
production of the more sophisticated Trailblazer Travel Trailer
began at the plant.
Another addition, 40’ x 32’ was made to the existing building in
1960 which increased the production of travel trailers and tent
campers to about 200 units per year. During this period, total
employment reached 18 employees.
On April 1, 1962, the corporation was sold to Wick Building
Systems of Mazomanie, Wisconsin. In the spring of 1963 the final
additions were made to the old North Plant, and a new 50’ x 120’
cabinet shop and final finishing building was erected. In the
fall of 1963 land was purchased on the south side of the
village, and ground work was started for the present plant. Five
buildings with 60,000 square feet of area were completed in
March of 1964 and production of Artcraft mobile homes was begun.
In the fall of 1969 the company built the Trailblazer plant
south of Willow Drive. Production of the recreational vehicles
was moved from the old North Plant to the new site and continued
there until Trailblazer closed their Spencer plant in December
The most recent mobile home industry to begin in Spencer was
formed in June of 1970 when Dickman Homes, Inc., broke ground.
The corporation is headed by Ed. Dickman, who had been
associated with Pathfinder Mobilehome Inc. from September of
1953 until April of 1970. Dickman was also with Spencer Sports
Products from its inception until 1963.
The plant on the south side of Spencer produces the Dickman
Mobile Home line and employs approximately 75 persons.
The growth of the mobile home industry in the village through
the fifties and sixties led to an unprecedented increase in the
number of related firms in the early seventies. Statewide
recognition of the growth occurred when the community was
presented with the Governor’s Award for Industrial Development
in 1971. Bock Industries began construction of mobile home roofs
in August of 1970. The company built a plant on the south side
of the village during the spring of that year. They also began
to build frames for mobile homes, and by the fall of 1972
started construction of an addition to the roof plant and added
a paint shop. The firm employs sixteen people.
Distribution Center, Inc., a subsidiary of New Ulm Freight
Lines, leased one of the old Pathfinder buildings in June of
1969. During January of 1973 they purchased their original
building as an adjacent building from Pathfinder. The company
supplies Wisconsin and four adjoining states with various
household goods, employing five people.
Northland Homes broke ground for a warehouse during the latter
part of 1970 on property south of Willow Drive. The company
supplies any item needed to build or furnish homes, selling to
manufacturers, dealers or retailers. Seven people are employed
I.L.C. Conroth, with the main plant located in Indiana, began in
the spring of 1971 with the construction of a building south of
Dickman Homes. The company, which employs approximately 100 area
people, builds windows and produces molding trims for mobile
homes and travel trailers.
Beck Welding and Manufacturing, located a few miles south of the
village, began building mobile home frames in January of 1970.
The company supplies much of Wisconsin with frames, employing
about ten people on a year-round basis.
When the Trailblazer division of Wick Building Systems moved
from the Keyes building on the north side of the village, Crest
Flooring moved into the vacant building during March of 1970.
They are a wholesale dealer of carpeting and padding for the
manufactured housing industry.
Another facet of mobile home related business began during April
of 1970 when United Draperies Inc. started making drapes for
area manufacturers. The company was located in the old Graves
Store until the summer of 1972 when they stopped production in
Spencer, Milo Draperies operated in the old bank building next
to the Post Office for a short period of time in 1973 but then
transferred the business to Marshfield.
Liberia Manufacturing Inc. moved into the old Pathfinder cabinet
shop in February of 1971 and began making draperies for the
mobile home industry. The company employs approximately
With the concentration of mobile home building industries in the
village, it became inevitable that a mobile home retail sales
lot would locate in the village. The sales lot became a reality
when Forest Damon opened Forest Homes in June of 1972. The lot
is located on the south side of the village, and contains homes
from four area manufacturers.
The construction of new buildings and homes in the village
required digging and scraping of the land and McNeely
Construction was started in 1956 by Keith McNeely. He began
digging basements with a backhoe and by 1970 the corporation had
twelve major pieces of equipment and eight full-time employees.
In December of 1970 Mr. McNeely was killed in a tragic accident
at the Clark Street rail crossing and in July of 1974 the
general construction company was purchased by Richard O’Brien.
The four year-around employees of O’Brien Construction Co. Inc.
do many types of general contracting, including trucking and
During an eight year period beginning in 1960, Ray Neumann also
was involved in general construction. He did various trucking
and earth moving jobs in the area under the name of Neumann’s
Home building was started by Ervin and Rollis Weister in 1961,
and since that time Weister Construction has built more than 40
homes in Spencer and the surrounding area.
Kobs Construction was started by Merlin Kobs in 1964 and he
remodels and builds homes in the area.
Supplying roofs and heating, Maurer Roofing Inc. started their
business in July of 1972. The corporation was built on the south
side of the village and employs about fourteen people.
The surrounding agricultural area also contributes to the
industrial scene in the village. Kenz Lime was built on the
south side in the summer of 1961. The plant was leased by
Richard O’Brien in the fall of 1971, and summer help distributes
lime to area farmers.
In the fall of 1962 Armour built a fertilizer plant north of the
lime plant. The firm changed hands and is now known as U S S
Agri-Chemicals, and has become a retail outlet for fertilizer,
pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Three full-time
employees service farmers in a twelve mile radius of Spencer.
The latest farmer orientated business to come upon the local
scene was the 20th Century Chemical Co., which was built south
of Forest Homes in October of 1973. The function of the plant is
the mixing, packaging and distribution to dealers of vitamin
supplements for cattle and swine.
Mobile Home Courts (pages 88 –
Much of Spencer's industry has been the building of mobile homes
and, in 1966, John Haslow built the first mobile home court in
Spencer on the southeast side of the village. In 1971 it was
purchased by John Maurer, named Maurer's Acres and he has added
a number of lots.
James Genett broke ground on the south side of Willow Drive in
1972 and opened a 24 unit lot called "The Willows" in 1973.
Since that time Russell Freeman has added a subdivision for
mobile homes and a section of lots for permanent home sites.
Professions - Doctors (pages 95-96)
The first mention made of a doctor in town is a reference to a
In 1881 Dr. J. M. Adams had an office over the Heath Drug Store.
He married Mary Thayer, a mill owner's daughter, and they moved
into a home on Main Street, the former Schofield residence, now
occupied by Verland Schneider.
In an advertisement in the Spencer Tribune Dr. Adams refers to
himself as "Physician, Surgeon and Accoucheur." Often called the
"boss surgeon," he was considered a skilled surgeon and made
out-of-town calls as far away as Medford and Fond du Lac.
In 1882 Dr. D. H. Waldron had an office in the Blackstone Hotel
and his advertisement reads: "Women's and Children's Diseases.
Specialty - Surgery and Chronic Disease."
Dr. Hawkins had an office in the back of Heath's Drug Store.
Dr. G. H. Haddy had an office in Whipple's Drug Store and later
moved into a residence next door, on the east. He then ran this
ad: "Orders may be left at Whipple's Store as before. Obstetrics
practice. All calls promptly attended to--strictly cash."
Dr. S. W. Doolittle, who was here in 1884, married a local girl,
Cora Wendell, in 1897. A few years later, after leaving Spencer,
they and Cora's sister, Lila, spent a year in Europe where Lila
took advanced work in the education of the deaf.
At times Dr. Clark of Unity attended patients in Spencer but his
transportation had to be provided. Spence Graves used to recall
the trip he made via field and road to "fetch" Dr. Clark to the
John Graves home to deliver their son, Harley.
Dr. F. G. Strayer's first office was on West Main Street next to
the railroad tracks and then east of the tracks. He practiced
here for a number of years, was health officer and was elected
trustee on the village board at the time of the incorporation of
the village in 1902. Mrs. Strayer was active in the cultural and
social affairs of the town.
Dr. D. C. Miller, who was here but a short time, had an office
in his home located on the site of the present Trinity Lutheran
Church. He moved to
Marshfield in 1915.
In 1905 Dr. F. A. Soles, who had practiced one year at Granton,
bought Dr. Strayer's practice and moved to town with his wife,
Elizabeth, and small daughter, Bernice. He had studied one year
each at Ripon College and Oshkosh Normal before entering
Hahnenam Medical School of Chicago where he graduated in 1901.
This young, vigorous and energetic doctor did not confine
himself solely to the practice of medicine but
became actively involved in anything which would promote the
welfare of his c6mmunity. As will be recorded elsewhere in the
book, he was instrumental in getting a telephone exchange in
town, in the organization of the bank, and getting the Spencer
Record back in circulation. Having come up the hard way by
working his way through school, he had a compassion for the
needy, often donating his services to them. He was interested in
the cultural life, too, and sang tenor in a men's quartet which
was often in demand for Literary Societies and Musicals. When a
guest speaker was late for some public occasion, he had been
known to speak extemporaneously to a restless audience until the
belated speaker arrived.
In 1923 he sold his practice to Dr. H. T. Callahan and went to
Chicago for further study, specializing in ear, eye, nose, and
throat. He later located in Platteville where he remained in
practice until the time of his retirement.
The familiar bit of verse doctors were wont to post in their
waiting rooms in those early days hardly applied to Dr. Soles:
"God and the doctor we alike adore
Just on the brink of danger, not before.
The danger past, both are requited
God is forgotten and the doctor slighted."
He would be well remembered and appreciated in the community
which he had served so faithfully and well. There would be
memories of a village doctor singing in the Methodist Church
Choir, who upon receiving a signal from the usher, would leave
his place in the choir to answer a sick call. There would be
memories of a young doctor riding along a country road with his
redheaded daughter beside him. He would make a follow-up call to
a farm home where he had recently delivered a newcomer. The
little girl would be permitted to go in and see the new baby, a
day for the farm family and one for the doctor's daughter who
would later become a registered nurse.
After graduating from Marquette University School of Medicine
with B.S. and M.D. degrees and a year of internship spent at St.
Joseph's Hospital, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Dr. H. T. Callahan
went to Lewiston, Minnesota, where he was in private practice
for one and a half years.
On May 17, 1923, he moved with his wife and seven months old son
to Spencer where he engaged in the practice of medicine for
nearly forty years. (38 years to be exact.)
For a number of years Dr. Callahan and his wife operated a small
hospital, above what at that time was the Spencer Bank building.
He served as President of the Village for a short time and, in
1942, enlisted in the U. S. Military forces. In 1944 he was
honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. Returning to
Spencer he continued to serve the community as its only doctor
until his unexpected death on February 1, 1961.
These are the brief facts regarding Dr.Callahan’s medical career
but those who lived here throughout his years of practice
remember well his service among us. Our first doctors traveled
on horseback or in a buggy or sleigh and sometimes part way on
foot. Our last two had cars, but country roads were not at first
maintained for year around travel by auto as they now are. Dr.
Callahan often drove on a main highway to a cross
roads, there to be met by a farmer with team and sled to drive
him to the bedside of a patient. He worked closely with the
Marshfield Clinic and St. Joseph's Hospital and will be
remembered for his skill in diagnosis. His patients were
confident that whatever he pronounced their ailments to be, it
was 100% correct. He delivered scores of babies at the hospital,
many more in homes, in which case he was accompanied by his
registered nurse. He loved children; loved to take care of them
and watch them grow up into maturity. Being a family doctor for
nearly forty years, he had the added pleasure of ushering into
the world some of their children. Because of his concern for our
youth, he was very much interested in their school, especially
their athletic teams and their bands. He was a staunch
Republican and, being an Irishman, he was a witty and articulate
A doctor holds a very special place in the life of his community
and the hearts of his people. Thirteen years after his death,
Dr. Callahan is still greatly missed and Spencer is still
without a doctor, all efforts to obtain one having failed.
Lawyers (page 97)
In the 1880's A. B. Barney and J. F. Cole, both
attorneys-at-law, had offices over Gardiner's Store. Attorney
Cole also acted as an collection agent. He moved to Marshfield
after the fire of 1886 and practiced there for years.
G. E. Follette was also an early Spencer lawyer. A Mr. Upson
(called Judge Upson), while not a qualified lawyer, took care of
many legal matters for farmers.
For a long interval Spencer was without an attorney until John
Day came here in 1957 and set up an office in the Spencer State
Bank building. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law
School, he began practice with Ken Benson of Marshfield. Later
he joined the firm of Hoerl, Day and Kamps.
Attorney Day's office is now in a newly remodeled building on
LaSalle Street across from the Post Office. His employee, Ron
Fischer, divides his time between Loyal and Spencer.
Dentists (page 97)
Spencer had no permanent dentist until 1931. Prior to that time
traveling dentists came from time to time and during the interim
a badly aching tooth was extracted by one of the local doctors.
In the early 1880's a Dr. Tully came to town every Saturday. A
newspaper of 1884 noted that Dr. W. A. Leason would spend a week
at a time here. He also worked at Loyal, Colby, Unity, and
Marshfield, and was listed as a dental surgeon.
In the 1900's, about 1914 or 1915, Dr. D. L. Rose came to town
each Friday and had an office on Main Street. By 1920 Dr. Melvin
Eiche of Marshfield spent one day each week here and had his
office in the back room of the bank at Clark and LaSalle.
Dr. H. W. Krueger came here from Loyal in 1931 and opened an
office above the bank, adjacent to Dr. Callahan's office. Later
he and Dr. Callahan both occupied office suites on the second
floor of Wally Flink's "Cozy Corner" building on Clark Street.
After a short time he built a residence with an office suite on
Pacific Street where he remained until his death October 10,
1941. He had married a local girl, Hilda
Dr. F. H. Koehler conducted his practice in an office on the
second floor of the bank building from 1947 to about 1958. While
a resident of Spencer he served on the school board and
participated in numerous other community activities.
Music and Arts (page 98)
In 1904 a Professor C. Klahn of Marshfield had a class of piano
students, among them Mrs. F. G. Strayer, Mrs. Pearl Follette
Landaal and Verna
Richardson. The latter two had degrees in music from Ripon
College and taught piano in Spencer.
In later years the following had classes of piano students: Mae
Reas, who studied music at Ripon College; Lucille Tack Bennett,
who studied at St.
Clares College, Sinsinawa, Wisconsin; Bernice Soles Graves, who
studied at Milwaukee Normal; and Sylvia Tesmer Nielsen, who
studied at Stevens Point State Teachers College. Mrs. Vivian
Pederson was our last piano teacher. She was a graduate of Iowa
State Teacher's College and did post graduate work at Wesleyan
College and taught music in high schools. Mrs. Pederson now
lives in Colby and Spencer pupils still go to her home for
Mrs. Charles (Hannah) Hall gave vocal lessons in the early days
and was noted for her beautiful alto voice. An announcement in
the Spencer Tribune of June 25, 1900, states that Miss Verna
Richardson is conducting singing lessons at school each Friday
Mrs. Frank Whipple, one of our early settlers, was a painter in
oils and would be artists took advantage of studying with her.
Mrs. C. K. Richardson painted in oils and decorated china and
gave help to those wishing to learn the art.
Moving up to the present, there is Mrs. David (June) Ingham (who
insists she is only an amateur) who has exhibited some of her
work at the Marshfield University and at art shows; Mrs. Walter
(Anna) Luepke, who has exhibited her work at art shows and at
the Marshfield University Center where she won honorable
mention; Mrs. Marvin (Nina) Engel, who paints abstract pictures
in oil; Mrs. Michael (Alicia) Cantlon, of Route 1, Spencer, who
is an art major at the Wisconsin University of La Crosse and
paints and sells pictures at her home.
Glen Rose, who resides in the former Gardiner house at 502 East
Clark, is a sign painter and artist. He painted a large scenic
mural on the wall of a recreation room in the home of Phillip
See and the picture of the Lord's Supper which hangs in the
Trinity Lutheran Church. Pictures which he has painted are for
sale at his home.
Tom Schiro, our postmaster, also paints pictures, one of which
may be seen in the Sanctuary of the new United Methodist Church.
Mrs. Alice Johnson (formerly Alice Oelrich) one of our rural
residents, is a sign painter and has painted signs for our
Parades (page 101)
Our early Fourth of July celebrations were really an occasion,
with parades, speeches, picnics, etc. Men would cut trees and
line Clark Street with them and put up flags and buntings. Then
there was always the sham battle put on by Charles Stoltenow,
mounted on his horse, Topsy, shouting commands to other former
members of the German Army, all in uniform and with the flag of
Germany flying. The American flag was printed in the upper
corner of their flag. Their area of combat was either Miller's
or Matter's woods, where they also had their beer stands and
Woman’s Relief Corps (page 103)
The Woman’s Relief
Corps, one of the oldest patriotic organizations in the United States, voted in
July of 1883 to become the official auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic
and was headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. The aim of the corps was to
assist the G.A.R. and perpetuate the memory of its dead, to assist Union
veterans in need of help and to aid their widows and orphans.
On January 17,
1896, a meeting was held to organize the Spencer Woman’s Relief Corps with 23
women attending the charter meeting. Officers elected were Mrs. Mary Andrews,
President; Mrs. Leah Graves, Treasurer; Miss Rizpah Crowell, Secretary. Some
others attending that meeting were Mrs. H. P. Crowell, Mrs. Joe Whitmore, Mrs.
S. D. Graves, Mrs. Adolph Wendell, Mrs. Edith Graves, Mrs. Rose Reas, Mrs.
celebrated its 50th Anniversary March 7, 1946 at the Methodist Church with a
dinner and program with the husbands as their guests. The centerpiece was a gold
decorated cake baked by Mrs. Essie Engel, the president; the invocation was
given by Mrs. Edith Graves, Chaplain. During the program Mrs. Eva McIlhattan
gave a history of the organization. Badges for 25 years or more of membership
were awarded to Mrs. Edith Graves, Mrs. Eva McIlhattan, Mrs. Essie Engel, Mrs.
Lillian Corbett, Mrs. Ella Adams, Mrs. Ora Schaefer, and Mrs. May Hayward. Essie
Engel presented Eva McIlhattan with a corsage for her service as treasurer for
25 years. Membership of the Corps at this time was 38. Lt. Rita Goeler, the only
Spencer nurse in war service, had been made an honorary member in December.
For years the
Spencer Woman’s Relief Corps was a strong, active group. They made arrangements
with the public school teachers for a Memorial Day program by students and
provided the children with flowers to place on soldiers’ graves. They also made
arrangements for a memorial service to be held in the Methodist Church each
Sunday preceding Memorial Day. They were faithful and loyal in taking care of
the hall left them by the G.A.R. until finally, with but a few members left,
they turned it over to the Lee F. Pickett American Legion Post. Some time in the
1950’s they decided to disband.
Mrs. Merti Jossi,
the last president of the W.R.C., presided over the last district convention
held in Spencer.