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Town of Neva, Langlade County, Wisconsin

neva hall
Neva Town Hall
N5500 County Highway A

kempster school

Neva Joint District No. 1 (Kempster)
Published in the Daily Journal January 5, 1922
Published in the Farmers Journal, January 10, 1922
By Berwyn Keen

Kempster is a small village in Langlade County, Wisconsin, with a population of about forty inhabitants.

Dr. Kempster, of Milwaukee, after whom the town was named, formerly owned most of the land.

Anton Honzik and Joe Kraus were the first permanent settlers in the vicinity. They came here in 1877.

A branch of the Northwestern Railway was put through here in 1880. A turntable and roundhouse were also located here. A hotel was built for the accommodation of the working men. A general store was built by the Russel and Upham Company in 1880. E.S. Brooks, who became the County Surveyor, was later the general manager of the store.

Mr. Kruger, now deceased, was the first section boss of Kempster. Some of the men who worked on the railroad at that time were Mr. Lenzner, Sr., and John Petarski, Sr.

The first school house was built in 1882. School opened the following season with an enrollment of ten pupils, and Miss Josephine Donohue as teacher.

Antigo was also in its infancy about this time and it is said that there was a rivalry between the two as to which should be the county seat. But the site of Antigo was better for a railroad center and most of the railroad buildings were moved there in 1887.

The school house was moved to Honzik's siding, where school was held until 1914. It was then moved to Little Chicago and became the dwelling house of Mr. Klethka.

Mr. Frank Borth was born in Prussia, Germany, and moved to the United States in 1862. He was married to Miss Amelia Smidt in 1882 and moved with his family to Kempster in 1898. The Korth family moved to their present home in 1903.

Mr. Borth and his brother began logging near here in 1879. Mr. Borth has been interested in the logging business since the first saw mill in Kempster was built by Joseph Hoffman and Julius Schultz in 1899.

A planing mill and an addition to the saw mill were built by the Meyer & Borth Co. The two mills were operated by the Company until they were sold to the Wisconsin Lumber & Bark Co., in 1907.

The lumber yards and boarding house were burned in 1909. After these were destroyed the sawmill was moved to Antigo.

Theodore Lenzner and Charles Tuma owned the first hotel on the west side of the railroad tracks. This building was partly burned in 1908. The remains were moved to the old hotel site and remodeled for use. The building is now owned by the Kempster Grange.

Theodore Lenzner was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1877, and moved to Wisconsin in 1879. He married Miss Alice Campbell in 1901 and moved to Kempster the same year. Mr. Lenzner was owner of the hotel until 1913. He built and moved to his present home in 1915.

The first large store was built by Frank Borth in 1903 and was later burned.

A small store was opened by Frank Ringsmith in 1904. This was later managed by George Linsdau. It was later destroyed by fire.

In 1907 George Magoon opened a store in the old butcher shop which was built by Anton Reif in 1904. This building was burned in 1908.

The present store was opened by Alfred Borth in 1910 and sold to P.S. Anderson in 1914.

Albert Kelly was born in Milton Ontario, Canada, in 1874. He moved to Kempster in 1901 and was married to Miss Lillie Schultz in 1902.

August Klever was born in Chicago, Ill. He married Miss Mary Sinclair in 1898. He bought the mill at Honzik's Siding and moved to Kempster in 1901.

Bert Keen was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1876. He came to Kempster in 1902 and married Miss Sarah Campbell in 1903.

Ernest Anderson was born in Ionia, Michigan in 1876. He was married to Miss Katheryn Robinson in 1899 and moved with his family to Kempster in 1905.

Caleb Moss was born in Oxford, England. He was married to Miss Mary Lavis in 1888. Mr. and Mrs. Moss moved to the United States with their family in 1902 and to Kempster in 1903.

George moss was born in Oxford, England, and moved to Kempster in 1909. He married Ella Wright in 1910. He has since resided on his farm near Kempster.

Frank Vinning was born in Enta Green, Indiana, in 1874. He married Miss Attie Juliace in 1898. In 1904 he moved to Kempster and lived on Mr. Phiester's farm for seven years, then moved to his present home.

Anton Kartz was born in Wisconsin in 1886 and was married to Miss Martha Petarski in 1914. He has since moved to Pennsylvania.

Charles Piper was born in Wisconsin in 1863. He was married to Miss Barbara Decker in 1891. He moved to Kempster in 1901.

George Grossman was born in Europe in 1872. He married Miss Frances Hartel in 1903. The Grossman family moved to Kempster in 1912.

John Glauderman was born in Appleton, Wis., in 1878. He married Miss Mary Pacer. He moved here in 1909.

The Knight family moved here in 1902 and settled on the farm formerly owned by Edward Nutt. Harry Knight was born in Indiana in 1880. He was married to Miss Gertrude Shork in 1909 and moved here in 1914. He has since moved to Antigo.

William Phiester was born in Indiana in 1864. He married Miss Barbara Sinclair in 1907. He moved to Kempster in 1910.

During the fall of 1901 and the spring of 1902 the district composed of section Nos. 5 and 6 of Neva, 5 of Peck and 31, 32, and 36 of Upham were set apart as Jt. Dist. No. 1, with the school house at Kempster.

The school house was built by Albert Kelly. When school opened in the fall of 1902 there was an enrollment of ten pupils, with Miss Josephine Donohue as the teacher. The first school board was composed of Frank Ringsmith, Theodore Lenzner and August Klever.

The teachers from that time on were Miss Williams, Ada Jersey, Ida Nelson, Nellie Toby, Ava Klever, Ruth Toul, Agnes Schmidt, Vernon Churn, Dorothy Borth, Katherine Doucette, Lillian Nelson, Mayme Sargent, Lena Wendorf and Helen Crowley.

In 1913 a new foundation and a heating system were added to the school house.

John Pacer was born in Manitowoc County in 1881. He married Miss Julia Kasa. He moved to Kempster in 1915. He has since moved away.

John Detureller was born in Indiana. He and his family came here in 1909.

William Foreman was born in Indiana. He came to Kempster in 1910 and married Miss Hazel Phiester in 1911.

Mrs. Emma Foreman was born in Indiana and moved here with her family in 1914.

John Petarski was born in Poland in 1866. He came to the United States in 1870. He was married to Miss Frances Platta. He moved to Kempster in 1915 and rented the saloon building. Later the building became a cheese factory now belonging to the Grange.

Clarence Mishler was born in Indiana in 1883. He married Miss Elizabeth Keim in 1905. They moved to Kempster in 1910.

Earl Mishler was born in Indiana in 1887. He came to Kempster in 1910 and married Miss Sadie Detwiller in 1911.

Edward Barnett was born in Indiana in 1880. He married Miss Dora Alexander and moved here in 1917.

John Beyer was born in Sturgeon Bay in 1875. He married Miss Mayme McCrossin in 1907. He moved to Kempster with his family in 1918.

John Hilbert was born in Wisconsin in 1853. He married Miss Katheryne Quick in 1888. He moved from Campbellesport to Kempster in 1919.

John Johnson was born in Wisconsin in 1895. He married Miss Mae Anderson in 1915. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson lived here until 1920 when they moved to Deerbrook.

Kelsey Tucker was born in Dakota in 1901. He married Miss Pearl Anderson in 1919.

Frederick Moss was born in England in 1895. He married Miss Ethel Tucker in 1919. Directly afterward they moved some miles east of Koepenick.

Joseph Westneer was born in Michigan in 1879. He married Miss Emma Harrison in 1908. He was divorced in 1915 and came here with his children in 1915.

William Burkett was born in Indiana in 1871. He married Miss Bessie Gregory in 1906. Mr. and Mrs. Burkett and their daughter moved here in 1920.

L.A. Taylor was born in Michigan in 1854. He married Miss Anna Reynolds in 1884. He moved hee from Monico in 1920 and purchased the store from P.S. Anderson. He is now the postmaster also.

The people of Kempster met at the school house in 1918 and organized the Kempster Grange. At present it is composed of about fifty members. This organization has helped Kempster both socially and financially. They purchased the hotel building and used it as a cheese factory. The first cheese maker was George Lenzner. Many socials and dances are held by the Grange.

In 1924 delegates of the Congregational church met at the school house and organized a Congregational church. It now has twenty-five members.

Neva Joint District No. 1, (Kempster)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

Kempster District No. 1, consists of sections 5 and 6 of Neva township and was organized in 1904. Its chief settlement is Kempster, located in the northeast corner of section 6, and on the border line between Neva and east Upham townships.

Before the Chicago, Milwaukee & Lake Shore railroad pushed up from Aniwa, Shawano County, many settlers had explored and established themselves in District No. 1. Anton Honzik and Joseph Krause established themselves in the immediate vicinity of Kempster in 1877.

Joseph Hoffman and Julius Schultz erected the first saw mill at Kempster in 1899. It was a substantial establishment for the little hamlet and the means of livelihood for many settlers. The plant came into possession of F.C. Meyers and Frank Borth, who moved to Kempster in 1898. The new owners erected a planning mill and made extensive improvements on the saw mill, which they operated until 1907, when the entire institution was taken over by the Wisconsin Bark & Lumber Company, an Antigo firm, now extinct.

In 1880, Russell & Upham, Shawano County land dealers, who controlled much land in Langlade County, erected a small store at Kempster. One year later the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western railroad put in a turn-table and an engine house, both of which meant much to the growth of the district. A hotel was erected to provide lodging for the men employed in laying rail north. Six years before the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western was taken over by the C. & N. W. Ry., Kempster's railroad facilities were torn down. If the business had warranted it the engine house would have stayed. Antigo was near, however and the railroad authorities desired centralization of all shops and elimination of engine houses not needed.

Theodore Lenzner and Charles Tuma conducted the first hotel on the west side of the main track. In 1908 the hotel suffered a loss by fire. The building is now in custody of Kempster Grange No. 650, it having been moved from its original site. In 1909 the lumber yards of the Wisconsin Bark & Lumber Company were burned and the boarding house suffered a loss. The site of the first saw mill is still visible, the ruins serving as a monument to almost forgotten days. The old track bed is slowly decaying. Logs were rolled from this sidetrack into the little lake that lies between a group of rolling hills.

The first school house in the district was erected in 1902 with an enrollment of ten pupils. Miss Josephine Donohue was the first instructor. Frank Ringsmith, Theodore Lenzner and August Klever were members of the school board then. Improvements have been made at the school, which is situated on the west side of Highway No. 39, north of Kempster hotel, in 1919.

The school district is a joint unit with sections in Peck and Upham townships.

Other industries that have flourished are a cheese factory, a garage, now operating, a saloon and dance hall. The principal store is that of L.A. Taylor, who purchased from P.S. Anderson, in 1920. Mr. Anderson came to Kempster in 1914 from Amherst Junction, Wisconsin. The store was previously erected by Frank Borth, who opened the place in 1903.

Kempster Grange No. 650 was organized at the school house on November 4, 1917. First officers were: Master - Mrs. Emma Foreman; Overseer - Cleve Nelson; Steward - Emil Carlson; assistant Steward - Frank Long; Chaplain - Frank Vining; Treasurer - T.R. Fowler; Secretary - Russell Knight; Gatekeeper - Oscar Larson; Lecturer - Ethel Tucker; Lady Assistant Steward - Mrs. Wm. Pheister; Ceres - Mrs. S. Tucker; Pomona - Mrs. E.G. Carlson; Flora - Mrs. Wm. Foreman. Present officers are: Master - Mrs. Anna Hess; Overseer - John Byers; Steward - Carl Foreman; Assistant Steward - Wm. Foreman; Chaplain - Noah Yoder; Treasurer - George Grossman; Secretary - Carl Mishler; Gatekeeper - Frank Knight; Lecturer - Mrs. A. Kelly; Lady Assistant Steward - Miss Wyomonia Lenzner. Meetings are held at Kempster hall. Twenty-five progressive people are members.

Postmasters of Kempster, District No. 1 (Jt.) have been E.S. Brooks, Frank Borth, P.S. Anderson, L.A. Taylor, )present incumbent).

The village received its name from Dr. J. Kempster, milwaukee, who owned tracts of land in the vicinity.

prominent settlers now are: Theodore Lenzner, Frank Borth, L.A. Taylor, Frank Grossman, J. Lavis, R. Knight, George Magoon, August Klever, Bert Keen, Ernest Anderson, Caleb Moss, George Moss, Frank Vining, Anton Kartz, Charles Piper, Mrs. Jno. Clauderman, John Young, John Petarski, Clarence Mishler, John Beyer, John Hilbert, Edward Barnett, K. Tucker, L.A. Taylor, F. Moss, J. Westneer, Wm. Burkatt.

A Congregational church was organized in the district in 1921.

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gillis school

Neva District No. 2 (Gillis)
Published in the Daily Journal, August 29, 1917
By Emma Stasek

In 1880 the land which is now known as District No. 2 of Neva, was a wilderness. It was owned by Joe Duchac. Some of the first settlers who bought the land were Joe Plzak, John Cherf, Joe Mattek, John Sipek and James Rine. The first think they had to do was to build log homes, clear the land and build roads. The nearest city at that time was Wausau. It was very difficult for the farmers to get there for the roads were poor. Some used horses while others walked to Wausau. Then Antigo became a village and the settlers found it much easier to go to Antigo. The next improvement was the railroad which passed through Deerbrook.

In 1882 the farmers decided to have a school. Although the first attendance was small it finally grew up to about ninety pupils. In 1906 they decided to build another part. Two teachers were now employed. Then it was a second class which is now called a state graded school.

About in 1880 a mill was built by Joe Duchac and later sold to Mr. Miller and then to Dan Gillis. A few years later it was destroyed by fire. Then it was rebuilt by Dan and Jim Gillis. A track was built from the mill to Deerbrook, and cars drawn by horses brought the lumber to Deerbrook. A boarding house was built for men who worked at the mill, also a store which was owned by the Gillis's. The farmers were very progressive and at the present time their land is nearly all cleared and very good roads are built. Mr. Bolle has a stave silo. Some of the farmers have pure bred cattle. A cheese factory has been built and many of the farmers bring the milk to the factory while others ship the cream. A store has also been built. Many of the old settlers are dead but others just as progressive are taking their places.

Neva District No. 2 (Gillis)
Published in the Daily Journal, September 21, 1921
By Joseph Kirch

Forty years ago Joseph Duchac, the first settler, came here and found this district covered with good timber land so he built a mill where the best timber stood. A branch of the Eau Claire runs through this district and he used it to ship the logs on. He then operated the mill and also built a little store.

Mr. J. Chef came a little later than Mr. Duchac. He came in the year 1880. He did not like the lumber business and when he found the land was fertile he engaged in farming. He was very friendly with the Indians and they came to his farm to trade beads, baskets and skins for meat, flour and potatoes.

In 1883 a school district was organized and it contains a little more than six square miles. Mr. J. Rine and Mr. F. Behm built the frame building which was used for the school.

The first school officers were Jim Rine, clerk, for ten years; Mr. Fred Behm was elected director, and Mr. Jim Gillis treasurer. The first teacher who was hired for this district was Miss Eva Woodard. She taught some of the fathers and mothers who still live in this district.

Some of the parents who attended school were Mr. Runstik, Mrs. Jacobus, Mr. Johns, Mrs. Morrison, Mrs. Kramer, Mrs. Benishek, Mr. Mattek, Mary Cherf, Mr. Cherf, Mrs. J. Stasek, Mrs. Stengle, Mrs. Shimon, Mrs. J. Kirch and Mrs. S. Kirch.

Some later settlers were Mr. and Mrs. Benson, who came in 1891, Mr. and Mrs. Stasek in 1898, Mr. Runstick in 1897, Mr. and Mrs. William Behm in 1888, Mr. Johns, in 1879, Mr. Kasa in 1880, Mr. Strasser in 1885, Mr. Koutnik in 1888, Mr. J. Plzak and Mr. Frank Mattek in 1879.

The farmers' nearest trading place was Antigo, nine miles away. The farmers carried flour from there many times. In 1881 a railroad was built from Aniwa to Summit Lake. The settlers then took the train when they went to town.

Mr. Duchac was here for about five years operating the mill and running the store. After some time he sold them both to Hocksey and Miller. They were again sold to J. Gillis, who operated it for a number of years. Many who worked in the mill are still in this district. The home of Joe Kirch was used for a boarding house. Neva at that time was a busy place. Mr. Gillis then sold the mill and store to Jim Cherf who had charge of the mill and store for a few years. As there was not as much logging any more he tore the mill and sheds down and sold the lumber. He then rented the store to Shimon Brothers. After a few years Mr. Chadek bought it from Mr. Cherf. He was a carpenter and remodeled it and used it for a garage. He owned it for two years and had a fine business. He then sold it to Nonnemacher and Hale, who own it at the present time. They have the agency for automobiles. The garage helps the farmers a great deal for they solder tinware and also mend things made of iron.

In a few years Mr. Jache, formerly a teacher of Neva school built a store which later was sold to Albert Boubltz. Mr. Boubltz had charge of it for a few years and then sold it to Henry Jacobus. Mr. Kaplanek is running it for him, for Mr. Jacobus has a store in Deerbrook also.

There is also a cheese factory in this district that was built by Mr. J. Cherf. In one part he had a store where he sold groceries. Later he sold it to Frank Mattek. After a time Mr. Mattek bought a farm and sold the cheese factory to James Mattek, his son. Mr. Mattek operated it for fourteen years and still owns it at the present time and makes fine cheese.

In 1896 a church was also built in the town of Neva. It is a German church. The first pastor of the German church was Mr. Grimm, who was later pastor of the German church in Antigo.

More settlers came every year and the school house was getting too small so an addition was built on and made a State Graded school. The teacher in the primary room was Miss Yindra and the Principal was Miss Monico Riley, now Mrs. Charles Novotny of Antigo.

Other new buildings put up lately are a barn owned by Joe Kirch, another owned by Mr. mattek. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Stengle also own barns that were built recently. Mr. Chadek and Mr. Shimon own new houses. Mr. Prosser built a new silo and the main thing that is new is the new school house.

One cold day in winter just before nine o'clock when we were all in the primary room, one of the girls saw through a crack in the wall, the blaze of a fire. She cried, "Fire," and we all looked and saw it. Some of the boys were sent for help and the others were carrying out books. Everyone was crying, "Fire." All the seats that were not screwed on the floor were saved and nearly all the things that were easily handled. All the snow for about a rod around the school was melted by the heat. The woodshed was saved by men who kept pouring water on it.

The new school building that we are going to now is right up-to-date. It has cloak rooms, indoor toilets, and a play room. There is a moveable partition between the two recitation rooms that can be raised up and the two rooms made into one. The room is well lighted and well ventilated.

Some of the eighth grade graduates who distinguished themselves are Jim Gillis, who is practicing as a doctor in Polar, John Gillis, who is practicing medicine in California. Joe Gillis, who is a dentist in Antigo, James Plzak, who's a cheesemaker. Mr. Chadek, who has the agency for selling cars. Jake Koutnik, a mason, Miss Wendorf, principal of the Neva school at the present time. Frank Plzak, who is a clerk in Dulth, and Ruth Weber, who is a nurse. The members of the present graduating class are Leonard Mattek, Joe Stasek, Roy Kramer and Joe Kirch.

Neva District No. 2, (Gillis)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

Gillis District can rightfully be considered the heart of Neva township, historically and geographically. The history of Neva township is constructed from the early deeds and achievements of pioneers of District No. 2. It is essentially an agricultural and dairying district.

District No. 2 consists of 1/2 of section 12, 1/2 of section 11, 1/2 of section 10, 1/2 of section 16, sections 15, 14, 1/2 of section 13, 3/4 of section 23, sections 22, 21 and 1/2 of section 27.

Joseph Duchac, first settler, contracted for land from F.A. Deleglise, representing the Favinger Land Agency of Appleton, Wis., in 1878. Prior to then this was a vast wilderness. Joseph Duchac erected a little home for his family on section 21. He began at once to encourage other settlers to come to the district. The district while originally organized in 1883 has experienced many changes in boundary, the last of which was recorded in May, 1905. In the wake of the trail blazed by Mr. Duchac came other sturdy pioneers: James Rine, Sr., James Rine, Jr., Robert Rine, Wencel Krinek, Wencel Vanatatko, W.J. Karbon, Sr., Dan and James Gillis, Fred Behm, Wencel Shipek, Frank Kakes, Jos. Plzak, Jas. Fairchild, John Kramer, Jos. Cherf, Jas. Cherf, Frank mattek, John Kasa, August Shaller, Jos. Stacek, Anton Stacek, Jake Doutnik, George Chadek, Wm. And Chris. Behm, Jas. Eckstein, Jos. Runstick, Abe Thompson, the Wendorf family, Novotnys, Nels Johnson, August Weber, Simon Brenner and Frank Metcalaf were early settlers.

The settlers came principally from Manitowoc and Kewaunee Counties, Wisconsin.

The first community was Melnik, where Joseph Duchac erected the first saw mill on the south bank of the Eau Claire river on section 21. This afforded the settlers a means of sawing logs and using the lumber to erect houses, barns and other buildings.

A school was erected the first year of organization, 1883. James Rine, Fred Behm and Joseph Duchac contributed to the erection of the building in several worthy ways. James Rine, Jas. Gillis and Fred Behm were Clerk, Treasurer and Directory respectively of the first district school board. Miss Eva Woodward was the first teacher in the district.

Thirteen pupils attended the first school session. The school was a small frame building. The first teacher received $30.00 per month for her services. The school was remolded and additions were made in 1910. In January, 1920, the old school burned. The villagers made frantic efforts to save some of the school furniture and books. School was commenced in the modern brick school house completed at a cost of $14,000 in 1920. Members of the school board then were: Frank Chadek, Clerk; James Mattek, Director and Jos. Rustick, Treasurer. The school is a credit to the district, being one of the best in Langlade County.

Manufacture of lumber and agriculture were the principal occupations of the first settlers. Joseph Duchac operated his saw mill and a general store at Melnik until 1885. He permitted Hoxie & Mellor to cut logs at his Melnik mill, and then the plant was sold to Dan and James Gillis, who came to Neva township from Menominee, Michigan. The Gillis Brothers operated the mill and general store until 1890, when James Cherf, associated with his brother, Louis Cherf, purchased it. They dismantled the mill in 1900.

The old boilers still rest on the banks of the Eau Claire river and remnants of the old track of Fraker & Graves, loggers and lumber operators, is still visible. This track connected the Melnik mill with Deerbrook. Cars of lumber were hauled by horses to the main track of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western railroad.

The old general store opened first by Joseph Duchac was taken over by Joseph Shimon and John Shimon, who operated a saloon and a store. Charles Steinfest then came into possession of the store and he was followed by Frank Chadek, who converted it into a garage, in 1916. In 1920 Arthur Nonnemacher and Dan Hale purchased the property from Frank Chadek. They now use the building for garage purposes.

The Henry Jacobus store in this district was first used as a store by Frank Jachl, who came to District No. 2 from the south. After operating a year he sold to James Rine, Jr., who in turn sold to Albert Bubholtz, who then after a short while sold to Henry Jacobus. A store was operated by James Cherf, where the Northern Cheese Factory, J.W. Mattek, prop., is now located. Mr. Mattek bought the factory site from Frank Mattek, who had purchased from Mr. Cherf. The store was operated about two years.

In 1914 the blacksmith shop, conducted by the late Joseph Chadek was burned. He was the first blacksmith in the district.

The saloon in the district was erected by James White and is now run by Joseph Diska. The Northern Cheese factory is the only one in the district, located on section 21.

The town hall is no located in District No. 2 on section 2. (Webmaster Note: I think this is a mistake? Probably should be section twenty something>)

There are a few log cabins still used in the district. A cemetery is located on section 22 in the district. This is the property of the Bohemian Cemetery Association organized December 8, 1892. The cemetery is located on the SE 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of section 22. First officers were Wencel Rine, Valcav Rine and Wencel Krainik.

The early settlers can recall the proposed route of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western road through the district in 1881.

Many of the pioneer settlers came to this district in ox carts or in railroad box cars.

Chippewa Indian Village

Before the white settlers came into District No. 2 a tribe of Chippewa Indians were settled on the east side of Bass Lake on section 10. Another band were settled on the west bank of the Eau Claire river in the northeast quarter of section 15. They lived in rude log huts and cabins. After the white settlers came the Indians traded at their stores, sold blue berries, birch b ark baskets and evergreen to the people. They also worked in the saw mill at Melnik. On the Nels Johnson farm in District No. 2, many old implements such as knives, bone needles, arrow heads and crude utensils have been found by Nels Johnson, owner of the property. The Indians on section 10 hunted game and also fished in the Eau Claire river, which connects with Sucker Creek. These tribes were very aggressive. On section 15, Joseph Duchac, first town chairman, recalls an old fortress. The logs of which it was constructed were ten feet high. An earthworks was thrown against the logs to aid in defensive operations of the Indians. The Indians here would canoe the Eau Claire river or follow the trails on its banks to Schofield, Marathon County from where they could go down the Wisconsin river. This is the same route used by early fur trades in Langlade County, who canoed to St. Louis, Mo.

A post office was once established at Melnik.

Present Industries

Present industries are: Northern Cheese factory;, Neva Garage, Star Soft Drink parlors and a store owned by Henry Jacobus.

The Eau Claire river runs through sections 14, 15, 21 and 22 in this district.

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school before const
Corner School before restoration.
school after const
Corner School after restoration.
brick structure
Brick Structure built 1904.

Neva Joint District No. 3 (Deerbrook Graded)
Published in the Daily Journal, June 16, 1921
Published in the Farmers Journal, June 21, 1921
By Frederick Mattka

About fifty years ago this district was but a swampy wooded portion of Langlade County. The only people here then were the Indians.

The first white settlers were John Novak, Wendel Smetana, and William Mosher. The settlers came from Manitowoc with oxen for a distance of one hundred and thirty miles to settle on homesteads which they got from the government. They did not have any horses so they did their work with oxen.

The principal trading center was Wausau, a distance of about forty-five miles from here, which the settlers reached by ox teams and by foot. Often as night overtook them they had to climb up a tree and there pass the night. The settlers had to carry flour, groceries, and other necessities on their backs and endure great hardships that we never think of doing now.

Antigo was then an Indian village and Deerbrook a small place situated at the present Lucas building.

The first school was a little shanty on John Novak's farm, a mile south of Neva Corners, taught by Miss Jenny Mosher.

Then as more settlers came they thought they ought to make it easier for themselves. An old mill run by water power was then built about one-half a mile west of Deerbrook, which was afterwards destroyed by fire. When the old mill was built a store and saloon were built in Deerbrook.

A school was then built at Kempster and that made two schools in operation at the same time. Then a railroad was put through Deerbrook and a branch of it went to Neva.

A school was then built on top of the hill in Deerbrook and the school on John Novak's farm was abandoned. The school at Deerbrook was later destroyed by fire. A grist mill and another sawmill were built in Deerbrook. The grist mill was built by the farmers and now the sawmill is greatly remodeled by Hirt Brothers. Then another saloon was built in Deerbrook and the old saloon was made into a store.

When the school at Deerbrook burned down a school at Neva Corners was built which later was enlarged and used for a granary. Then in 1904 a school was built about one-fourth of a mile west of Neva Corners and one mile from Deerbrook. It is the last school built by the district thus far and also the best. It is constructed of brick and is a first class state graded school, having four rooms, nine grades and four teachers. Mr. Zavitovsky was a teacher in one of the schools and he brought it about that this school should be built.

The Neva Farmers State Bank was built at Neva Corners. A few years ago the depot in Deerbrook burned down and a better and larger one was again built. A garage was built in Deerbrook about a year ago.

War Record
During the World War our district received honor for its donations to the Red Cross and Liberty Bonds, War Savings Stamps and other donations, and also for the soldiers and sailors that came forth to meet their country's cause. The following are veterans of the World War from our district: Mike Sensenbrenner, an aviation instructor at Pensacola, Florida, and after twenty-two months of service returned to his home at Deerbrook, October 11, 1819. He now owns a garage at Wittenberg. Anton Pinkner served as seaman in the war zone. Frank Pinkner was a naval musician. Frank Schleis, a cavalry messenger, served nine months overseas. Norbert Schleis served twelve months overseas as a musician in the band of the 7th company of Engineers. He was in the battle of the Meuse-Argonne Forest. Dan Plzak, a second class fireman, served thirty-nine months on U.S.S. Montana and after making seventeen trips overseas he was accidentally killed on his last trip. Frank Schwartz served three months as a private of Company F. Emil Vitous served as boom manager of the Spruce Division. Albert Dobbs made four trips overseas as a sailor on the U.S.S. Swanee and after eighteen months' service returned home. Emil Gleich died for his county's cause in France. Mr. Wenz and Mr. Krentz, who were two teachers of our district, were called to serve their country and died of influenza while in service. Joe Kaplanek served six months overseas and ten months in this country. He was in the battle of Puvenelle Sector. Alexander Dobbs served his country for thirteen months. Victor Plzak enlisted October 3, 1919. He is now on board the U.S.S. North Dakota and a few weeks ago left Panama on a trip around the world. Frank Fischer served eleven months as first class private. Kurt Wiegert, an assistant engineer in United States Navy, served fifteen months. Erwin Bently served fifteen months. Theodore Meinert was a private in the Aircraft production, Spruce Division, and served ten months. Albert Hansen and Edward Wenzel, who enlisted in the United States Navy as sailors after the war, are enlisted for a term of two years, but Edward Wenzel got a discharge and Albert Hansen is still serving his country. Our district served well in its country's cause.

Attained Distinction
Those of our district that achieved greatness are: Mr. Zavitovsky, who had taught school here, is now a lawyer in Milwaukee; Mr. Bert Rynders, who was a teacher in this district, was once the mayor of Antigo and now he is in the assembly at Madison.

Earlier Graduates
Some of the earlier graduates of our district are: Mr. Henry Jacobus, who is the owner of two grocery stores, one at Neva and one at Deerbrook; Mr. Alex Dobbs, now the post master in Deerbrook; Mr. William Hirt, the manager of the Deerbrook mill; Mr. Mike Sensenbrenner, now a garage owner in Wittenberg; Mr. Ray Sensenbrenner, the owner of the Deerbrook Service garage; Miss Bertha Hirt, now a teacher in the Antigo High School.

Some of the latter graduates are Anna Schwartz, Bennie Shultz, Bennie Mattek, Marie Rice, and Eleanor Novak, who are now attending school in the Antigo High School as Sophomores. The rest of that class are working home or out in the world. They are Erick Dobbs, Ella Yohanek, Clarence McDougall, John Kopero and Anton Augustine. This group of ten composed the class of 1919. The of 1920 was composed of fourteen graduates. Those that are attending the ninth grade at Deerbrook are Wenzel Mattek, Leona Rice, Anton Barta, Libbie Frichek, Joseph Cherf, Emanuel Greisinger, Pauline Cherf, Martha Lukas and Lydia Schacher. Grace Wiegert is attending the ninth grade in Antigo; Stella Hansen is working in Milwaukee; Frank Cral is working on his parents' farm; Aldrich Denk and Charles Vopicha are attending the ninth grade in Chicago.

Our district prospered rapidly, although it was but first a swampy woody stretch of land. It had a good past and the people are trying to make the future better and they will.

Neva Joint District No. 3 (Deerbrook Graded)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

Deerbrok District consists of sections 19, 20, 3/4 of 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 1/2 of 34. Most of the pioneer settlers of this district emigrated to America from Bohemia, settled at Manitowoc and then purchased land in Neva township, Langlade County. The first settlers in this district were: Wencel Smetana, John Novak and Charles Mosher. They came in 1879. It took the first two pioneers seven days to come from Manitowoc to Neva township with a pair of oxen. All of their worldly belongings were hauled in the rough wagon that trudged over the poor roads. In the night these sturdy settlers camped by the wayside as there were no hotels or taverns as convenient as today. Other early settlers were: Albert Chadek, Fred Schwartz, John Barta, Albert Barta, W.J. Mattek, Joseph Cherf, Jr., James Mattek, James Cherne, and Fred Jacobus.

The chief settlements in the district are Neva Corners and Deerbrook. Neva Corners is at the meeting point of five well traveled highways. The first general store was erected at Neva Corners by W.J. Mattek. He still operates the store. There is also a state bank at Neva corners (for more data refer to Banks and Finance). Germanson Brothers and the farmers as a cooperative body conduct cheese factories in the district. The Germanson Brothers are also in the creamery business. There is a saloon at Neva Corners also. The first saloon was erected by James Cherf, Jr. Jos. Benishek conducted the first cheese factory in the township on the NE 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of section 32. W.J. Mattek, Wencel Smetana and Andrew Kaplanek operate soft drink parlors.

Albert Smetana and Giles Rynders operated meat markets in the district, but Henry Jacobus is the only proprietor of meat market at present. W.J. Mattek and Wencel Smetana are proprietors of two large dance halls.

Ed. Masek and Adolph Novak are the two blacksmiths in the district. In 1896 a German Lutheran church was erected on section 28. The late Rev. A. Grimm of Antigo was first Pastor.

Deerbrook, situated on the main line of the Chicago & North Western railway, was named by Edward Dawson, timber cruiser and prospector, who while camping near the Eau Claire river watched the deer "drink his fill" each morning just as the sun peeped over the hills proclaiming a new day. Thus he called it "Deerbrook," by which it has since been known.

In 1898 a number of farmers of Neva township organized a cooperative corporation and erected a grist mill and saw mill at Deerbrook. They operated until 1910 when they went into bankruptcy. The entire plant and property was then purchased by Hirt Brothers, present owners.

Present industries are: Hirt's saw and grist mill, Fred Weigert store, post office, Henry Jacobus store, Deerbrook Hotel, Service Garage, all at Deerbrook.

The first school was erected in 1883 on the John Novak farm, and after many years of service burned down. The next school was built at what is not the Deerbrook sand pit in the old platted village of Reeves. The school burned and the school children attended school at Neva Corners school in the same district (there were then two schools in the district). In 1904 the present commodious school was erected on section 29. It is a first class state graded school of brick construction, two stories, and one of the finest in the county. The old school at Neva Corners is still standing. The progress of the district can be noted by comparing it with the present school.

Thomas Chadek for years prior to 1885 conducted a general store and blacksmith shop on section 29 in this district. The town board met for many sessions in "Chadeks Hall."

This district has a Catholic church and a German Lutheran church. Rev. A. Grimm, deceased, was the first Pastor of the Lutheran church. The Catholic church was organized by the then Pastor of St. Mary's church of Antigo. A Catholic and Lutheran cemetery are located in the district.

In 1886, J. Harlow and H.B. Luce of Wausau erected a saw mill in the district on section 30. It operated successfully for a number of years and was sold to Frank Dexter, who in 1898 sold to John Randall, Louis Novotny and Anton Jichi. The mill burned down in 1900. It was never rebuilt.

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little chicago school

Neva District No. 3, (Little Chicago)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

Neva township was re-organized May 21, 1915. It comprises section 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 1/2 of section 10, 1/2 of section 11, 1/2 of section 12, 18. 17 and 1/2 of section 16. It is familiarly known as Little Chicago District because of the many settlers who moved to it from Chicago.

Joseph Krause, Anton Honzik, Martin Schacher, E.R. Whitmore, Joseph Honzik, R. Olmsted, Frank Borth, James Nelson, were among the very early settlers. Others early but more recent than the first were: Frank Kletzka, Paul Masek, James Masek, Jonas Gleich, James Nelson, and W. Tesarek.

The Little Chicago district was first created in 1912. The first frame school was moved to the school site, southeast quarter of section 8 in 1886. The frame school served the little citizens, eager to acquire knowledge, for many years until 1912. A new school house was then erected of brick at a cost of $2,250.00. A.O. Sherwood of Antigo was the contractor. James Nelson, Frank Schacher, and Emil Honzik were then school officers.

The district is a little stony and rolling, but productivity is very good. It was once heavily timbered with pine.

Teachers since 1912 have been: Eva Schultz, Alice Doucette, Rose Stacek, Ernestine Kopeschka, Alvina Dvorak, Ione Preston, Irene McCormick, Marie Robinson.

The C. & N. W. Ry. Serves the district with a spur track from Kempster. Loggers use the track for loading purposes. Loggers in the district are Theodore Lenzner, Frank Schacher, Frad Honzik, Frank Keller, Frank Kletzka, and James Masek.

Five Young men went from the district to serve this county in the World War.

Kempster and Neva are the nearest trading posts. It is a new community that has fair chances for development.

There are 150 people residents or 27 families in the community. The Little Chicago Grange was for many years a force for good in the community.

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springbrook school

Neva District No. 5 (Springbrook)
Published in the Daily Journal, August 30, 1917
By Hilda Lukas

In the year of 1904 B. Lukas, a member of the town board demanded a school district to be organized in the southeast corner of the town of Neva, the schools in the town of Neva being too far for the children to attend. The town board in the same year, organized a district from parts of districts number 1, 2, and 3. John Karlen personally distributed the notices for the first school meeting which was held early in the spring of 1905. At the meeting school officers were elected, site for the building was located and bought, and a committee for the erecting of the building was appointed. The committee at once set about building the school house which was finished for the fall term.

the first officers were B. Lukas, Director; W.J. Kramer, Clerk; and John Wenzel, Treasurer.

The school was built during the summer of 1905 and named "Springbrook School" because the sources of the stream is nearby.

School started in the fall of 1905 and Miss Frances Schooley was the first teacher who taught for two terms. The second teacher was Miss Pear Davis and she taught for three terms. Third, Miss Jessie Truesdell who taught for one month. Fourth, Miss Irene Day taught two weeks. Sixth, Miss Lottie Brassard completed the term. Seventh, Miss Mae Van Vleet taught one term. Miss Erna Below was the eighth teacher and taught one term. Miss Jennie Marie Lade who taught for two terms, was the ninth teacher and last of all, the teacher we have now is Miss Harriet Congleton.

The largest enrollment was about fifty pupils when Miss Jennie Marie Lade was teaching and the smallest was about thirty-eight pupils for this year.

Neva District No. 5, (Spring Brook)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

Spring Book District is not as old as other districts discussed, yet it is equally as progressive. It was organized in 1904 after discussion, pro and con, was heard at the home of Frank Kakes, section 25. Portions of Districts No. 1, 2 and 3 were detached to make District No. 5. Thus the district includes sections 36, 35, 1/2 of section 34, 1/2 of section 27, 26, 25, 24, 1/2 of 13, 1/4 of section 23. The area of the district is 6 3/4 miles.

In the spring of 1905 after due notice was presented to the electorate land was purchased from J. Klapste and in the fall of the same year a modern school house was erected on the SE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of section 26. Accordingly the school district was named Spring Brook because of that stream meandering through sections 25, 35 and 3 near the school house and in the district. The first school officers were: B. Lukas, Director; W.J. Kramer, Clerk and J. Wenzel, Treasurer. Present school officers are: Mrs. J. Wenzel, Clerk; Frank Plzak, Jr., Clerk and Jos. F. Klapste, Treasurer.

Teachers thus far have been: Frances Schooly, Pearl Davis, Jessie Trusdell, Irene Day, Lottie Brazzard, Mae Van Vleet, Erna Below, Jennie Lade, Harriet Congleton, Miss Melbrecht, Rose Friebel and Alvina Dvorak.

The cheese factory is operated by Mr. Plzak, section 25.

Early settlers are: Frank Plzak, John Cherf, Frank Kakes, Jas. Pavlicek, George Gallenberg, Jos. Klapste, Harry Klapste, J. Klapste, Robert Rine, Jas. Pacer, J.A. Wenzel, E. Nickels, John Behm. Many settlers are interested in the Neva Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

The district has splendid roads and modern farms, is well equipped and progressive.

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