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Town of Frankfort centennial
(1890-1990)

Pioneer memories,   pp. 77-110


Page 78

Roads of Marathon county today are of special interest to
this member of the pioneer family. He remembers when he, as
a youngster, hitched up a team of oxen to a makeshift cart and
started with a load of wheat to the grist mill at Colby. The trip,
one of about 12 miles, over eight of which there was no road to
speak of, was quite a task to make. The settlement of
Cherokee, about 4 miles from Colby, broke the monotony and
hard travel throughout the entire journey and, too, from this
point to Colby, the road was better. With the oxen team and
the homemade cart, Mr. Eggebrecht also made trips to
Marathon City which was even a harder journey because of
the greater distance.
FORESTS WERE DENSE
Mr. Eggebrecht, in a reminiscent manner, explained the
denseness of the virgin timber surrounding his early home, as
follows:
"A fellow could get lost ightly easily, and one of our
neighbors, William Garbrecht, did once. He started out in
search of his cattle which had escaped and with no trail to
guide him, was lost. After wandering aimlessly through the
woods for nine days, he finally came to a clearing near what
was the Frank Halkowitz place in a severely famished condi-
tion."
Of his early neighbors, Mr. Eggebrecht recalls Fred
Hamann, who lived a mile north and a mile east of the old
home place; Fred Barr who lived one-half mile south and then,
of course, the Marquardts. The post office of the town of Wien
which was first conducted by Charles Marquardt, received
mail by carrier once a week from Colby.
Money was scarce, Mr. Eggebrecht recalls, and from crops
like wheat, besides furnishing flour for family use, the balance,
if there was any, was traded for household or other necessities.
Roads or no roads - the young folks had to have their good
times. Mr. Eggebrecht recalls one dance in particular, which
he claims was indicative of the moods and stick-to-it-iveness
which was a part of the make-up of each of the lads and lassies
of his time. The particular spring night, a dance was to be
given by a neighbor two miles away. A group of ten of the
younger set gathered at the Eggebrecht home to go in a body
to the place of the party. The roads at that time were little
better than paths; logs and debris often making it even dif-
ficult to travel by foot. Added to this were spring rains, a dark
night, and the determination of a party of youngsters to get to
the place agreed upon - and something was liable to happen.
It didl
"By the time we reached our destination," Mr. Eggebrecht
recalled, "all but two of us had received a bath in cold running
water. It was necessary that we cross the creek, but to walk a
slippery log on a night such as this was an impossibility. Of
those who did not fall into the creek, only their ability to hang
on prevented them from getting the same medicine that the
rest of us had to take. We made it, and no one took time to
change into dry garments. The dance started and the fiddlers,
George Wescott and his brother Fred, who usually were the
ones to furnish the music, played so inspiringly that the
actions in response to their harmonious chords dispelled all
thoughts of dampness, either in clothing or spirit."
The following stories are from an article in
the Wausau Daily Herald, March 10, 1932.
The article was printed to commemorate
the 50th wedding anniversary of Carl &
Amelia Hoernke.
A Bear Story
"The next July, after we were married, (they were married in
March) Amelia became homesick to see her parents who lived
five miles west of us," Mr. Hoernke resumed, after telling of
events incidental to the establishment of their first home. 'I had
been busy in the woods all week, and because I felt that a rest
that Sunday was needed, I decided not to accompany my wife on
this walk. I did, however, decide to go as far as the Quarter's
farm, a mile and a half from our place where I and others occa-
sionally placed salt to tempt deer. The abandoned farm was a
favorite spot for obtaining table meat and it was not an uncom-
mon thing for some of us to replenish the salt supply. About a
quarter of a mile away from home, we saw something ahead of
us run across a ditch. My wife was about a rod behind me - we
were both sure it was a young deer. Cautiously following the
wave of the tall grass, I prepared to snare the animal when it
came again into the clear. I noosed my arms ready for the catch
- when it seemed it was too late -we were confronted with the
yellow nose of a large black bear. We had heard of such animals,
but this was the first time either of us had seen one. I thought
my hat flew off as the bear approached with its front paws high
in the air. Unarmed, I grabbed for a stick as my only defense.
The branch Ilaid myhands on was mired in the ground- we were
helpless. All at once the bear turned around and galloped for all
he was worth along the road in the direction of Colby. In its
hasty departure it was joined by three or four half grown cubs,
which made us more thankful than ever that a speedy exit was
the solution to the problem. My wife forgot her homesick
feeling. She went back to the cabin with me."
First Cheese Factory
Money was scarce in those days - roasted peas were substi-
tuted for coffee beans; sugar was ten cents a pound; flour eight
to ten dollars per barrel and eggs were worth eight cents a dozen
in trade. Milk was unsaleable until the establishment of the
Fred Michler cheese factory in 1885. This factory, Mr. Hoernke
believes, was the first one established in Marathon County.
Against advice of people at the county seat where Mr. Michler
intended to sell his product, he organized his patrons and began
making cheese. It was arranged that those people who supplied
him milk were to take turns in hauling the cheese to Wausau,
where it was sold direct to consumers.
An Exciting Trip
"My time to haul came in the fall of the year," Mr. Hoernke
stated. "I started loading at 12 o'clock that night but by the time
we were ready to start, one ofmy horses had taken sick and I bor-
rowed a pony from my brother, Ernest. From the outset, the
little animal was hard to control. He was insistent upon setting
a pace which was hard for my own horse to follow. I held him
back as much as I could until we got to Marathon where
weexamined him for injured feet or bad fitting harness. We
couldn't find a thing wrong. At daylight we reached Wausau.
After distributing cheese to customers in various parts of the
city, getting our own dinner and caring for the horses, we were


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