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Rietbrock centennial
(1880-1980)

Biographies - Halsey, Chesak, Braun, Nowicki,   pp. 25-30


Page 25

Biographies-Halsey, Chesak, Braun, Nowicki
Pierson L. Halsey
Pierson L. Halsey, who was a Justice of the Peace
in the Town of Rietbrock, was the owner of 600 acres
of valuable land here. For a number of years he was
well-known in the County as an able attorney,
practicing in the state and federal courts and in the
United States Supreme Court. He was born February
5, 1871, at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and is a son of
Lawrence and Mary I. (Loveridge) Halsey. On June
10, 1908, Mr. Halsey married Miss Grace L. (Love-
ridge) Greenwood, who was the daughter of Rev. John
W. & Gertrude (Loveridge) Greenwood, the former
being rector of the Episcopal church at Oshkosh. Mr.
& Mrs. Pierson Halsey had one daughter, Mary
Gertrude.
He bought land two and one-half miles south of
Athens for his stock and dairy farm of 135 acres, and
here he made a specialty of raising Berkshire hogs,
Guernsey cattle and chickens. The land is now owned
by Bronowicz Bros.
When Pierson and wife Grace moved on this 135
acre farm, he knew very little about farming. He
wouldn't let the cook use any of the eggs the hen
laid, but wanted to keep a record of how many
they laid daily; so he dated each egg and stored them
in the pantry. Mary, the maid, finally had to dispose of
them because of the strong odor of rotten eggs. Pierson
would buy eggs in town for domestic use. He couldn't
understand why the hens weren't laying in winter,
when the hen-house was so cold the hens' feet and
combs were almost frozen.
To his wife's Grace discomfort and problems, their
frame house burned to the ground, with all their
possessions. Her wealthy father-in-law soon built them
a spacious brick mansion, with all modem con-
veniences available to farmers at that time, including a
lovely marble fireplace in the living room. There was
indoor plumbing and carbide lights, with a lovely pond
nearby.
Grace's life was very lonely. She spent most of her
time sewing. Not having the opportunity to go
shopping for new clothing, she remodeled her own
gowns. She could rip apart an old dress and have it
re-styled in a few days. When her little daughter was
born, Grace spent many hours sewing for Mary
Gertrude and her dolls. Grace, her husband, and little
Mary Gertrude always dressed for dinner and ate in
the dining room. The maid and hired help ate in the
kitchen. Occasionally Grace drove a horse and buggy
into Athens to shop or visit friends.
One of Grace's problems was finding furnishings
for her new home. She decided to furnish the bed-
rooms for the maid and hired men with used beds and
dressers. She didn't know that the beds she bought
were infested with bed-bugs, until the hired men came
downstairs one morning with lumps. The pests moved
into the master bedroom also. However, at that time
the only way to deal with them was to spray gasoline
in the cracks of the bed, which was dangerous because
it could ignite and bum the house down. They tried
this, and almost did set the house on fire. Mary, the
maid, found that Pierson had been sticking pins into
them on a board. This was quite an achievement, be-
cause the pests vanished as soon as a light was turned
on. Mary and Grace used quarts of kerosene, sprayed
in cracks of the bed and comers of the mattresses, to
get rid of the bugs.
Pierson did make use of his legal ability. He served
as Justice of the Peace in the Town of Rietbrock,
where he lived. His father owned more than six
hundred acres of woodland, which he sold to settlers
coming into the community.
Though Halsey did pioneer in Rietbrock and con-
tribute a part to our township, our adjoining township
is named for this pioneer.
Chesak Families
Martin Chesak and wife Mary (Sigmond) Chesak
were born, reared, and married in Austria; and from
that country they came with their children to the
United States in 1857 and settled in the town of
Trenton, Washington County, Wisconsin. For three
years after coming to Wisconsin he followed his
trade of brickmaker. Then when he moved to
Marathon County in 1880, and for a number of years
afterward, he was in partnership with his son Joseph
in the merchantile business, and also, worked with all
his sons in lumbering.
Mary and Martin had the following children: Joseph,
Barbara (Herman Schreiber), John H., Mary (Joseph
Masak), Frank F., a prominent business man and
politician in Marathon County, and Josephine (John
A. Blecha).
Son Joseph who was born in Pilsen, Bohemia,
Austria on December 8, 1854 was three years of age


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