All Those Years Ago – January 2018

by Eleonore Hebal

Using past issues of the Amherst Advocate, Tomorrow River Times, and Our Community Spirit for research, here’s a look at what was happening in the Amherst area 100, 75, 50, 25, and 10 years ago this month. At times, the language and grammar may seem odd, but we have left it the way it was originally printed, to retain the flavor of the era.

January 1918
Here are the headlines from the Amherst Advocate dated 100 years ago.

Band Dance Largely Attended
The dancing party that was given in the opera house, last Friday evening, by the Amherst Concert band, was a huge success in every way. The crowd was one of the largest ever attending a dance in this village and all seemed to have a very enjoyable time,

Young people were present from all the towns in this vicinity and the hall was packed to it’s utmost capacity. In fact the floor was so crowded in the early part of the evening that it was impossible to dance without receiving a few jolts, but all took this good-naturedly and it did not in the least mar the pleasure of the party.

At midnight an oyster supper was served at Roy Solverud’s restaurant, after which the dancers returned to the hall and continued to enjoy themselves until 2 o’clock.

The members of the band are very thankful for the excellent support they received and wish to thank all for their patronage. They were greatly pleased by the large out of town attendance they received and hope, when they give another dance, to have the same people present when they will again do all in their power to show them a good time.


May Have Salting Plant Here
G.A. Metzger of the Squire Dingee Co., of Chicago was in the village Friday in the interest of that company looking into the prospects for a salting station.

Mr. Metzger conferred with a number of business men and farmers and thinks the prospects for starting a station are exceptionally bright. He has looked over the ground on the Soo Line site and states that there will be plenty of room for a station.

In order to locate this station here and make it a paying investment, it will be necessary for the company to secure the promise of one hundred acres of cucumbers for which they will contract to pay the following prices before the seed is planted.

One dollar per hundred pounds for pickles measuring from one and one quarter to four inches in length. Thirty five cents for those measuring from four to five and one half inches and twenty cents for all nubs and crooks.

The company will furnish seed to all growers with whom they contract and will pay cash for all cucumbers upon delivery, through the bank.

The location of a salting Station here is a matter that should be encouraged by merchants and farmers alike for wherever tried it has proven very profitable.


Business Men Organize
Last Monday evening, at a meeting of the business men of the village, it was decided to form an association known as the Amherst Advancement Club, a constitution and by-laws, were adopted and officers elected for the following year.

The purpose of the club will be to promote the growth of the village and to assist in any and all matters and works that will be of material benefit to Amherst and the vicinity. It is hoped that every businessman and progressive citizen will join the organization and do all in their power to stimulate enthusiasm along this line.

In many places these organizations have been of great benefit, in building up and improving conditions, and it is to be hoped that such will be the result in Amherst. This can be brought about by taking an interest and all pulling together.

January 1943
These are the headlines from the Amherst Advocate from 75 years ago.

Portage County Soon to Have Practice Blackout
A practice black-out is being planned for Portage County, and the tentative date is Thursday, January 14th, with the blackout to occur from 8:30 to 8:40 p.m.

Practice blackouts have already been held in many of the state’s counties, and plans are being made to make this one on par with the best. The local defense council workers will have everything under control in this village, and all residents are requested to follow the directions minutely and to comply in every way possible to make the blackout a complete one in every respect.

Following in a directive for the blackout procedure:

  1. A First-stage blackout will include:
  2. Homes
  3. Stores and buildings
  4. Advertising signs
  5. The following services will remain in operation as usual
  6. Street light, including Stop and Go signs
  7. Industrial plants
  8. Railroad lights necessary for operation.
  9. Railroad signal lights on the right-of-way.E. Highway barricade lights and flares
  10. All traffic will be stopped for the blackout period, including street cars and buses within city and village limits
  11. Railroads will continue service
  12. Automobiles within cities and villages will park at the curb on main thoroughfares. All lights will be turned off when parked.
  13. Automobiles in rural districts will draw completely off the roadway and turn off all lights.
  14. Building skylights will be shielded so as to prevent the disclosure of interior lights.
  15. Control Centers should operate under full emergency conditions for the purpose of staff training and to receive reports from the Air Raid Wardens, Fire Watchers, and others.
  16. Medical detachments units should be on duty, equipped and ready to function in case of need.


Thoughts for The New Year
By Rev. Geo H. Willett
On a recent train-ride, I observed an example of human piggishness often seen on trains. The train was very crowded: but one man with much baggage insisted on occupying two seats, until the conductor made him surrender one of them. Then he sprawled on the seat with his back to the aisle, in such a way that he could not see anyone who he might want to share the seat with him.

Here is a parable of life: we are all fellow-passengers on a train bound for eternity. All are entitled to a seat; but some insist on occupying two seats, while others stand up; and many are so absorbed in their own comfort that they fail to see others that are uncomfortable.

And this is what has led to so much trouble in this world-train of ours some have too much; others have too little; so there is always poverty, revolution, hatred and war. In our southern states, negroes are not permitted to ride in cars in which white men ride. So, in this great world-train, the negro often stands up while the white man has two seats.

If things ever get straightened out in this weary world, it will be when men are willing to share the seats of the train. The high tariff walls must come down, so that goods may flow freely from producer to consumer everywhere. There must be no “superior races;” no “great empires;” and there must be no “"Jim-Crow cars.” Then there may be peace. This is an evil war; all ears are evil. But perhaps the Great Conductor on our Celestial train is just making the piggish passengers give up their extra seats.

Portage County Board of Supervisors in 1956 in front of the old Portage County Court House

January 1968
Headlines from the Amherst Advocate 50 years ago.

Fisheree at Lake Emily Next Sunday, Jan. 28
The Amherst Post No. 22, of the American Legion will hold its annual fishing contest on Lake Emily on Sunday, January 28, beginning at 1:00 p.m. and continuing until 4:00 p.m.First prize will be a Trade Winds fishing shanty and there will be many other prizes. Holes will be drilled for contestants and fishing licenses will be sold. Lunch and coffee will be available.


A Heritage For The Worthy
Above all else, 1967 appeared to be a year when the verities were questioned - in politics, in economics, in religion and in virtually every other element of the structure of present-day society. What does it all mean? No one really seems to know. Some claim that the tearing down of old standards reflects might be called a healthy renaissance of advanced thought. Others view with foreboding a trend they feel is leading to a moral breakdown and anarchy. The experts are the most confused lot of all. Sometimes their judgments of coming events are ludicrous. Typical of their inability to access the future was the recent statement of one of this country’s financial authorities that devaluation of the British pound was unlikely because the English program of austerity was so fundamentally reassuring as to make a crisis improbable. By the time this particular forecast was in print, the British pound had been devalued, and no one knows what the future holds for monetary systems of the world.


Wrestlers Whip Marion, Take Second in Tournament; Cagers Bow To Marion
In a Central Wisconsin Conference meet held at Amherst last Friday, January 11, the Falcons won their 4th conference victory of the season overpowering the Marion Mustangs. The Mustangs managed to win only one match, while tieing another.Amherst now stands 10-0 for the season (4-0 for the conference).

The Central Hotel that stood on the north east corner of Main & Mill streets in Amherst, 1912

January 1993
Headlines from the Tomorrow River Times from 25 years ago.

Historical Pomeroy residence on register
The L.A. Pomeroy House, 203 Laconia St., Amherst, was recently listed as a new entry in the State Register of Historic Places ad the National Register of Historic Places.

Currently operated as Journey’s End Bed and Breakfast by Jim and Genny Jewell, the L.A. Pomeroy House is one of the largest houses in Amherst and is the best example of Queen Anne characteristics, including an assymetrical facade, steep roof with large gables, wrap-around veranda, extensive latticework, and narrow clapboard siding.

The Pomeroy House is named for L.A. Pomeroy (1866-1930), president of the International Bank of Amherst and important community leader in church, fraternal organizations, performing arts, education, and commerce in the village of Amherst.


Co-op boards nod to possible merger
The Board of Directors of the Portage County Farmers Union Co-op in Plover and the Board of Directors of the Tomorrow Valley Cooperative in Manawa unanimously voted that a merger would benefit both cooperatives on Dec. 22, 1992.

Both Boards agreed to submit the question of a merger to their voting memberships and to recommend a “yes” vote based on four major advantages.

A merger between the two boards of directors provides the opportunity to deal with a shrinking market. As farming producers become fewer, the number of suppliers remains constant and the competition to maintain a customer base becomes fiercer.

A second benefit of a merger is to provide and maintain adequate facilities and equipment to satisfy the needs of the modern producer.

Another benefit is to attract and maintain a competent staff of employees to satisfy those same modern producer needs.

The fourth benefit is to provide a large enough business base to keep pace with ever-increasing costs.

Portage County Cooperative will hold an informational meeting to provide members with an in-depth evaluation of potential benefits of the merger on Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Blue Top Supper Club.


Village looks at new sewer plant options
On May 20, 1992, the Village of Amherst was ordered by the Department of Natural Resources to make improvements to their waste-water treatment facility after the results from their Compliance Maintenance Annual Report were tallied.

The DNR proceeded to give the Village a Jan. 31, 1993 deadline to retain a consulting engineer and have a facility plan updated. Final plans and speculations should be submitted by June 31, 1993.

According to the facilities plan update, drafted Dec. 15, 1992, the Village of Amherst has provided sewer service since 1948. The estimated life span of a sewer plant is 20-25 years. Recognizing the need to upgrade the WWFT over a decade ago, the Village prepared a WWFT planning report in 1981. This planning report suggested that the Village build a lagoon treatment facility with a land disposal field at a new site as the most cost-efficient and environmentally-sound alternative. Since the original WWFT was producing effluent that complied with the Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) Permit limits, the Village was unable to receive any grant money to help fund the upgrade.

Old Amherst feed mill that was destroyed in 2008.

January 2008
Our Community Spirit's headlines from 10 years ago.

Old Mill is a big part of Amherst’s History
By Steve Ellingboe
The Village of Amherst will be losing a big piece of its history in the coming weeks when the old feed mill next to the dam on Mill Street is torn down. The property was sold recently, and the building will be removed to make way for possible future development.

A truly historic landmark, the mill has been at the center of Amherst for 150 years. The mill was built in 1857, and the rest of the village literally grew up around it. The original mill was owned by Asa H. Bancroft and Peter Grover, a pair of early entrepreneurs who built it and operated it as a flour mill.

In 1884, the mill was sold to the Jackson Milling Company of Grand Rapids, which added a dynamo to the facility in 1897 to operate some new four bleachers. It’s believed at the same time, electric lights were added to the mill, making it the first place in the village to have electricity. Additional improvements made by the Jackson Milling Co. Included the installation of a water wheel and flume in 1919.

In 1923, the mill was rented to the Wausau Milling Co., which ran the mill for two years; and then in 1925, it was rented to the Pagel Milling Co. of Stevens Point, which operated it until 1943.

The modern era of the mill began in 1953, when it was sold to John E. Johnson of Wisconsin Rapids. Two years later, his son, Bob, returned from an army tour of duty in Korea to take over management of the mill.

Johnson operated he mill for more than two decades, and in the late 1970s went into the towing business full-time and sold the mill to the Tomorrow Valley Co-op, which in recent years became the Larson Cooperative.

Now that the historic building is about to be torn down, Bob Johnson and his wife, Joan, who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, have mixed feelings about the mill. Bob’s memories are dominated by years of hard work and  investment, but according to Joan, they both remember “a lot of wonderful characters who populated the mill over the years.”

“It will be sad to see it torn down,” Joan said, “because it is really why the village is here. The mill was one of the things that started the village.”


Plans revealed for new bridge in downtown Amherst
By Steve Ellingboe
The 100-year-old Mill Street bridge over the Tomorrow River in Amherst will be replaced in the summer of 2009. Details of the proposed project, along with a planned timetable, were unveiled to village officials and other interested parties at a public meeting held Dec. 11 at the Jensen Center.

About a dozen people attended the session, which was led by Quirin Klink, a project manager for MSA Professional Services, the Baraboo firm hired to design the new bridge. Assisting in the presentation was Dale Peterson, assistant commissioner of the Portage County Highway Department, who is in charge of all bridge projects in the county.

According to the timeline outlined by Klink, the bridge project would be done during the summer of 2009, and would be completed between mid-June and September 1st so that construction would not interfere with neighborhood children who cross the bridge on their way to and from school. Klink said that the timetable is also affected by the DNR regulations because the bridge crosses a trout stream.

After the bridge plans are approved by village officials they will be submitted to the DNR and Wisconsin Department of Transportation for final approval.


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