Vernon County History logo

100 Years Ago

Life in Viroqua from the Vernon County Censor:


JULY 30, 1919

Outlook for potatoes, tobacco and some other crops is not the best at this minute. This locality has had no rain for consequence since the Fourth of July, and conditions are becoming anything but favorable. Fruits, garden truck and pastures are brown and injured. Coupled with the lack of moisture, the insect pests seem to be especially numerous and destructive...

There are a few jam-up tobacco crops, but as a whole it is a very uneven and small showing... The weather had been so hot and the ground parched that slow growth has been the order; in fact some fields show the ground more than tobacco plant growth.

Two business places and dwelling house north of C.M. Clark’s garage are being removed and the 66 feet of ground they cover prepared for an addition to the Buick headquarters. The new place will cover 95 feet of frontage, 120 feet deep, and will be the largest business place in the city under one roof. A uniform plate front will be put in and the big place divided into suitable apartments to accommodate Mr. Clark’s growing trade.

Plans have been submitted for the city hospital. The council and committee have not given them much consideration yet.

About the most extensive piece of road construction ever undertaken in the county is now well under way between Readstown and Sugar Grove. A big crew of men and teams have been at work for weeks. They are using a steam shovel for removing dirt and gravel. When this undertaking is completed it will be worth the while of everybody to take a trip over the big job.


JULY 25, 1919

Town is extremely quiet.

The old general store at Liberty Pole has changed hands, Martin Fortney having purchased the stock, building, and dwelling house from Carl B. Fortney, who conducted the business for 19 years, with scarcely a lapse or day’s vacation. Mr. Fortney and family will soon come to Viroqua. The new proprietor is a gentleman with several years’ clerking experience and ought to do a good trade at the Pole.

Clamming by our neighbors over on the Mississippi ought to be brisk this season. Shells are bringing $40 per ton, river run, including all varieties. That is the highest price ever paid on the upper Mississippi for shells just as they come.

We are prepared to furnish the public with strawberry, chocolate, New York and Grape Nut ice cream (the new popular novelty) at all times. GEO. PENNELL.

In the handsome, shady city park, Friday evening, the new band gave a dozen-number concert. The pavilion, well-lighted, proved a fitting place. And that to listen attentively one would scarcely recognize that he was not being greeted by the famous Third Regiment band in its palmist days. The public will appreciate frequent concerts from our rapidly developing, rejuvenated musical organization.

Haying is well near completion, the past week being a remarkable time for the housing. Now we will be thankful for good refreshing rains. Crops generally need soaking showers, especially tobacco.

Get your order in early for blackberries; if weather continues dry, crop will be short. Can furnish crate lots by July 28. Telephone G.B. Fisher, 3794 or call at the Egg Market and leave orders.


JULY 16, 1919

July half gone.

Wonderful time for hay harvest.

Remember LaFarge soldier welcome July 24.

“Lay in your coal,” they tell us. But that’s no suggestion to help you keep cool on a hot day.

Building operations in the city are going forward well. Scarcity of mechanics is the drawback. Like conditions are reported throughout the country districts.

Workmen are engaged in removing the residence from the new hospital location to a position on the extreme adjoining lot. Those in authority fear that it will be impossible to make greater headway the present season than to put the foundation walls in place.

Last week and last Saturday were unusually quiet periods for town. Farm work – haying, tobacco and corn cultivation kept people away from the hub. But what a stampede for the city on Saturday evening! The streets were so congested with automobiles that it was difficult to get about. The stores and movie houses were active buyers and picture seeing till close to midnight.

Captain C.E. Butters has purchased from Mrs. H.D. Williams three lots in the extreme west end of her residence acreage, on which he is preparing to found a home. The location is a good one when Rock avenue is opened and extended south.

A horse blanket and coat was placed in the wrong buggy, Saturday night and have been left at Keegan’s restaurant, where owner can secure the same.

After nearly two years of suspension – war saving – the government director of railroads gave orders for re-establishment of service for Sunday mail and passenger train on the Viroqua-Sparta branch.


JULY 9, 1919

The most conspicuous event of which present citizens of Vernon county have knowledge is now a matter of new history... the great county welcome to the soldier boys in khaki – staged and executed last Friday... the nation’s natal day.

In attendance, it was certainly a record crowd, the largest ever assembled within the county for any purpose – estimated at 15,000 to 20,000.

At the foot of Main street, the parade halted... the whistle sounded, and throughout the city the church bells tolled while the khaki-clad heroes stood at attention and the civilians solemnly bared their heads in mute and eloquent tribute to the memory of those who gave up their lives... Between the measured tones of the bells floated out the beautiful silvery notes of taps... played by G.G. Brown. It was a simple ceremony... Then the flanking school children deluged the soldiers with flowers, and march was resumed to the Eckhart Park were the exercises were held.

The slow auto races held on Main street in the afternoon, were an intensely interesting feature of the day, viewed by large and enthusiastic crowds. Killing of engines was a common and mirthful feature. The course was a hard one, up grade from the Ford garage, then a slight down grade to the First National Bank, and three crossings to negotiate. It took the most skillful engine handling. Average time was two and a half to three minutes. E.B. Knutson made the slowest time of the course... An official accompanied each car to see that no clutches were slipped and other rules observed.

A veritable mountain of ice cream was consumed on Friday – 990 gallons of the cooling delicacy.


JULY 2, 1919

July. Celebrate.

Beastly hot.


County Soldier Welcome to be Fine Affair

The stage is all set for the Vernon County soldier welcome to be held here Friday. The merry-go-round is up, bowery and vaudeville platforms being built, base ball diamond made, tables built in the park, program, decorations, etc., all arranged for, and only two factors remain to assure the complete success of the day – attendance of all our county soldiers, and good weather. The general committee would like to have all soldiers report promptly at 10 o’clock at their assembling places... They also ask all county and city school children to be at the high school grounds at 10... Each bring a bouquet of flowers.

Thursday is official clean-up day in Viroqua. All windows on Main street will be washed, business fronts decorated, sidewalks and streets swept, and everything placed in order for reception of the thousands of visitors and hundreds of cars that are sure to be here.

A place of honor in the parade is reserved for the “gold star” fathers and mothers of Vernon county... An auto will be assigned to them.

Auto Owners Attention

Your attention is called to the state law, which specifies that you must not drive faster than 15 miles an hour within city limits, must keep to the right side of the street, must keep cutouts closed within city limits, and keep lights burning while running. These laws will be very strictly enforced hereafter, and all offenders will be severely dealt with. W.E. GARRETT, Mayor.

The Optimo is now open for business. Come in and get acquainted.


June, 1919