Velkommen til Westby

Velkommen til Westby

Monday, August 24, 2015

Coon Prairie Lutheran Church, the beginning

Even Gullord's Barn
After meeting in Even Gullord’s barn for a number of years, Coon Prairie Lutheran Church was incorporated July 9, 1854, and plans were started to build a church.

It was decided to build a church 60 feet long, 40 feet wide and 20 feet high. Four days later the trustees met with the pastor and it was decided to build a church six feet smaller both in length and width. Earlier that year a freewill subscription had been taken for the congregation’s expenses. This subscription did not bring in a large sum. It was therefore decided to assess all real and personal property belonging to the members of the congregation, whereupon all members were asked to pay 3 1/6 percent of this worth toward the congregation’s expenses. Two percent was set aside for the building and 1 1/6 percent for the pastor’s salary. Gunder Sørum was made the assessor and collector, with a salary of $1 per day.

The following was the measure for assessing which he followed:

Unfenced and uncultivated land per acre...$2.50
Fenced but uncultivated land per acre...$5
Fenced and plowed land per acre...$8
House...$10-$100
Team of horses...$100-$200
Yearling horse...$30
Two-year-old horse...$50
Ox Team...$50-$80
Cattle...$20
Two-year-old heifer...$12
Year-old heifer...$8
Pair of three-year-old steers…$40
Wagon...$15-$50
Sheep and lamb...$2
Pigs...$1

Most pioneers paid their full assessed sum before the year was completed and nearly all the others paid their arrears the following year. This system was in use for five years.

In spite of the self-sacrifice which these settlers showed, not enough money came in to build the church besides paying the congregation’s current bills. On June 8, 1856, it was decided to borrow $1,000 for nine months at 20 percent interest. The congregation was determined to complete the building without delay. Furthermore, Even Gullord was made a one-man committee responsible for completing the church by June 1, 1857. For this work and for necessary materials he was promised $900.

Even Gullord
At the determined date the church stood completely ready, statelly and shinning in its new paint. Boards and planks had been shipped all the way from Black River Falls. They had cost the building master, Even Gullord, much more than the $900 which he had been promised to complete the church, but he said nothing about that, since it was his greatest joy to offer both himself and his means to the congregation’s well-being. In 1857 the value of the new church was $4,200 according to Pastor Halvorsen.

This was the first Norwegian church to be built in western Wisconsin and the first of any kind to be built in Vernon County. This large enterprise among the Northmen at Coon Prairie made a strong and favorable impression on its American neighbors. The year before when the Norwegians had built the first school in the county, the Western Times in Viroqua carried the following appreciative editorial about the Norsemen at Coon Prairie.

“Viroqua has got a few things; many she has not got. In a population of 300 there are 6 foreigners. She has no schoolhouse, no churches, no district school, the voice of the teacher is not heard. Turn to Coon Prairie where the immigrant 5,000 miles from his native land is building up for himself and his children an adopted home. The first good frame schoolhouse built in our county was built by these European Northmen and in it they have a school summer and winter. And what do they teach? Traditions of their native land in their native Tongue? No.

With English teachers and English books they seek to Americanize their children. It seems too, the first church in our county is to be built by these Norwegians. What! Do these white-haired, blue-eyed sons and daughters of Norway, do they have English schools, and do they build meeting houses, and do they worship God? Even so, proud native American, had you not better profit by their example?”

In the publication for August 16, 1856, the editor wrote the following:

“The Norwegians have nearly completed a large substantial church edifice on Coon Prairie. We attended their divine services, We were pleased that every worshipper was in his or her seat on time. There were about 150 persons; there seemed to be an earnest spirit of devotion in the assemblage.”

Foundation stone laying for the second County Coon Prairie Church, Sept. 8, 1875.
In the background is the first Coon Prairie Church, built 1857.
At the time the above photo was taken, the congregation numbered about 1,200 souls and the church built in 1857 was too small so it was decided to build a church large enough to seat everyone. The new church cost $25,000 and much volunteer labor. The congregation kept growing until in 1886 it numbered 1,670. Then following a couple of good years about 50 families withdrew from the congregation over a dispute. On Easter Sunday 1909, the new church was struck by lightning and burned beyond repair. A meeting of the congregation was called and it was decided to build a new church immediately. Because of convenience to the widespread membership it was decided to build one church at the same site and one church in Westby. These two churches were to cost $22,000 each.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dr. Schee house

Standing proud and tall for 113 years


The first medical doctor to call Westby home was Dr. Schreiner who came here in 1883. Dr. John Schee joined him in 1892.

The Schee house was designed by architect A.E. Parkinson of Sparta in 1902. Dr. Schreiner had already built his mansion on Main Street a few years earlier, his house being also designed by A. E. Parkinson. The last owners of the Schreiner house were Martha and Nora Neprud. The house was torn down and is now the location for Premier Cooperative.

Randy Dahlen along his wife Betty helped write this article. They were the past owners buying it in 1988. The current owners are John and Tasha Spears.

After Dr. Schee passed away in 1937, his wife, Ulla, remained in the house until 1951. Between 1951 and 1988 the house had four other owners.
The Schee house is wood frame with a full basement. Outside basement walls are 18-inch thick limestone faced on the outside with ashlar. The inside basement walls are eight inches thick made of red brick. The 1,250 square foot basement includes a wood/coal chute which dumps into the fuel room adjacent to the furnace room. The laundry room was supplied with soft water from a rainwater cistern on the west side of the house. Clothes reached the laundry room via a chute from a second floor room and the first floor kitchen. A vegetable room and the cold storage room which was serviced by a dumb waiter from the first floor pantry complete the basement.

The first floor is 1,350 square feet. The verandah wraps around the front of the house from the south side and alone the east side including the front entrance in the northeast corner. The vestibule opens to the reception hall with an open stairway to the second floor. Off the reception hall is the office which was used by Dr. Schee for afternoon patients. The sitting room has a large colored glass window to the east and a square window bay to the south. The dining room has an angular window bay to the south, right next to the sitting room bay, The dining room has a built-in china cupboard of oak and beveled glass. There was also a floor button which would ring a bell in the kitchen. The kitchen, pantry (now a full bath) and a west porch finish the first floor.

The second floor has three large chambers (as they were called on the blueprint) with closets, a linen closet, full bath and one bedroom that opens to the upper porch. The stairway comes up to a central hall consisting of seven doorways on the 1,015 square foot second floor.
The third floor was designed to include three large chambers with closets, a central hall and sitting area. Three window dormers have been removed from the house. This floor was never completed and now a single 1,015 square-foot room insulated and finished, is used for storage. A standup attic follows the north, south and east ridge lines.

An interesting fact about the house is because of its design and window placement, there are six places (three combinations) that you can look out of he window of one room and look into the window of another room.

Dr. John Schee
Dr. John Schee, born in Norway, came to this area in 1880 and Westby in 1892. His education includes philosophy-University of Oslo, obstetrics in France, pharmacy-University of Wisconsin, Medical University of Michigan. He was known as an outstanding baby doctor serving Westby and area for 35 years. He was a city council member, school board member, on the city library board and city health officer.

Mrs. Ulla Schee came to Westby from Norway in 1896 after training in Oslo for nursing, midwifery and music. She grew up in very Northern Norway and was believed to have had the first piano north of the Arctic Circle. After coming to Westby, the first child she delivered was the youngest daughter of Dr. Schreiner, Dr. Shee’s partner.

The Schees raised five very musically and artistically talented children in this house. They are: Harold - A Chicago area businessman who owned the Patsy Ann Cookie Factory. Eric - A violin teacher and orchestra conductor. Laila - An English teacher and piano player. Nana - An art instructor and Dagney - A music teacher and one of the first rosemalers.

Tom Schee, son of Eric, lives in Timber Coulee and hosts yearly family reunions which have brought many family members to visit their ancestral home.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Second Street about 1907

Photo taken sometime between 1905 and 1909 from the Cargill grain elevator shows Second Street at the intersection of today’s Polly Rude Way. La Crosse & Southeastern railroad tracks are on the left. The white church is Our Savior’s church and the white building with six windows is the former grade school. When this photo was taken the Westby Coon Prairie Lutheran church had not been built.
More than 100 years ago Second Street was the fourth most important street in Westby, after Main, State and First streets. It is unknown if the city leaders of the 1890s had plans for a Third Street or not.

Businesses past and present that have been, or are, located on Second Street starting on the top of the hill and continuing west on the south side of the street are the following.

Today in 2015 the creamery warehouse is located where more than 100 years ago Ole Evenson had his Hard and Soft Coals, Ice and Cement Blox business. In 1951 when the business ended it was Evenson Coal & Equipment. Sometime between 1951 and 1957 all Evenson buildings disappeared being replaced by a small building that housed Dahlen & Gabrielson Television Service. Gabrielson only lasted for one year when the business became Dahlen Television and finally until 1965 it was Dahlen’s TV and Gun Shop.

The only house on this side of the street has had numerous owners but the one who most will remember is Cora Ruud, the city librarian for about one-third of the last century.

Ballsrud’s Grocery, built in 1949, is next as we go down the hill toward Main Street. With different owners, the grocery store continued until 1969. Until recently Rudy’s Lawn Care was located in the Ballsrud Grocery building.
 
Located on the corner of Man and Second streets since 1979 is Mark Anderson Insurance. Built as a filling station in the 1920s it was first known as the Perfect Oil Company. Later it was Holte’s Service Station until 1950 and then until 1966 it was Larson Mobil Service.

Crossing Second Street, the first business with a Second Street address was Tri-County Farm Supply followed by Badger Environmental & Earthworks. These businesses were located in a building built in 1978 as a hearse garage for Vosseteig Funeral Home. This was formerly the location of Virginia and Ray Way’s house.

Continuing up the hill, the Westby Times building was built in 1950 and continued as the Times office until 1995 when Ron’s (Rood) Pallet Repair moved in and continued until 1999 when Yesteryear’s Restoration moved there.

Today Old Times Group Home is located where the Times building and Vosseteigs Garage was located.

The last building to discuss is the biggest as well as the one with the longest and most varied history. For about 75 years it was a feed mill. Built in 1905 for H.E. McEachron Company with Cargill painted on the grain elevator. For all of the ‘20s and ‘30s the feed mill was known as the Westby Co-operative exchange with E.C. Ballsrud, Olaf Walby, Melvin Svenson, S.O. Johnson as the different managers. In 1941 Ben Logan bought the mill and renamed it Westby Feed & Seed. Logan sold the business in 1967 to Vernon County Farmco and in 1975 it became Great Rivers FS Cooperative who continued their Westby operation until 1991.

Yesterday’s Restoration moved their business into the old mill in 1997 and stayed there until moving next door to the old Westby Times building in 1999. After numerous and extensive remodeling, starting in 1999, Ocooch Mountain Acres was followed by Ben Logan Mill Lodge, both being owned by Ruth and Ken Rupp.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Westby Standpipe


Original standpipe (water tower) built in 1900
In 1899, when Westby had a population of 524, it was decided that all citizens should have the availability of a village water system for all their water needs as well as be able to fight fires. Before this, there was a village well located close to the stockyard and a wooden windmill located east of Main Street and north of First street. Apparently not everyone was connected to village water, however, and those who were, did not have enough water pressure if a fire emergency should arise.

Andrew H. Dahl, in his first general store, that was made of wood, had his own firefighting equipment. He had a sprinkler system. The sprinklers were either connected to the village water system or he had a water storage tank in the attic or both. In the bigger cities this was common but probably he was the only one in Westby who had such a luxury.

A half acre site for the construction of the water tower and well were bought from Ole Thoreson for $100. The site was described as a solid rock 60 feet hill, located in the center of the village.

Original tower with 15 feet in height
and a roof added in the ‘30s
Construction of the water tower and the new well were completed in 1900. Both were located on the hill behind where the Stabbur is located today. The new water tower was 16 feet in diameter and 50 feet tall and the well was dug a depth of 300 feet as a cost of $313.20. The last well dug in Westby in 1975 cost almost $250,000.

When the water tower was completed in 1900, it did not have roof, so anything flying over, could and sometimes did, fall in. A roof was added sometine in the middle to late 1930s. Also at this time an additional 15 feet of height was added.

For 84 years, with the addition of a water storage tank located north of the ballpark, this water tower served the water needs of Westby until it was replaced in 1984 by what we have today. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Country Collectables

Country Collectibles in the former Hagen Grocery
After Rob Hagen died, Betty and Leonard Lund bought the Hagen Store and opened B & L Antiques. After Leonard died, and before selling the Hagen Store to Country Collectables, Betty rented out the store, first to a shoe store for a short time and later Dulin Electronics.

Country Collectables started life in the Thorsen building in November of 1986 by co-mingling several home based businesses. Getting things out of the house took on new meaning as a building one thought could never be filled became pleasingly stuffed.

After 48 years the void created by the Hagen Store fire that happened in September 1941, was about to come to an end. When progress demanded moving, the decision led the Solbergs to purchase the lot formally occupied by the Hagen Store. Since the storeroom of the Hagen building remained on the property after the main store was destroyed by fire, the Solbergs decision to build their new structure in front of and including the storeroom seemed like a good one. Besides retaining the history of the Hagen Store it provided more useable space always at a premium in the antique business.

Upon completion of the new building all of the occupants organized a mass moving and with the aid of three trucks and a few strong-armed men, who carried a showcase across the road, neither store closed for even a minute.

The above photo was taken in the original storeroom of the Hagen Grocery Store that became part of Country Collectables. Some of the articles for sale in this 2000 photo are the same items that were sold 125 years ago when Johan Michelet had his store at this location. And many of the items are the articles that were sold by Hagen & Preuss, Hagen Mercantile Company, Hagen Dry Goods, Hagen’s Clover Farm and Hagen’s Grocery Store in the 69 years that Otto or Reuben Hagen were located at 105 South Main Street.

For more information on the Hagen & Preus, Hagen Mercantile Company, Hagen Dry Goods, Hagen’s Clover Farm Store and Hagen Grocery Store,  click  HERE.

Adams Eye Clinic is now located at this address and the original storeroom from the Hagen Grocery is still being used as part of the eye clinic.
Adams Eye Clinic


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hagen Grocery

Left to right: Clerk, Joseph Borgen, Chester Olson and Phillip Hagen.
In the Hagen Dry Goods taken about 1910 and 1915


Hagen & Preus, Hagen Mercantile Company, Hagen Dry Goods, Hagen’s Clover Farm Store and Hagen Grocery Store are the five names that Otto Hagen and his son Reuben Hagen (Rob) used in the 69 years that they were in business.

Johan Michelet established his Blue Front Store in 1891 and continued it until 1905. The details of how and why Otto Hagen became the new owner is unknown. Blue Front Store

For many years until 1972 when Westby combined the offices of treasurer and city clerk, Rob was the treasurer of Westby and anybody who had taxes to pay would make at least one visit a year to his store. And, as hard as it is to believe today, he really did keep our tax money in a cigar box. At least until the end of the day when the money went in his safe. 

For those of you who do not remember Otto, one of his distinguishing features was his very thick white hair.

Left to right: Chester Olson, Blaine Running, Ole Paulsrud and Phillip Hagen in about 1920

In 1905, when Otto Hagen and George Preus first opened their dry goods store it was only one half of the size it would later become as sometime before 1925 tow adjoining building on Main Street became one. Preus was partner for a very short time, later showing up living in la Crosse. He must have kept Westby ties as obituary was listed in The Westby Times as a former prominent citizen.

Like so many other early buildings built of wood, the Hagen Grocery became another victim of fire. In September of 1941 the main part of the Hagen Grocery was destroyed by fire. Instead of rebuilding the damaged part of the store, the storage room behind the store became the new store. This newer addition was made of a fireproof material so it was able to survive the fire without any damage. For almost 20 years, the floor of the old burned down building was left so anyone going into the store had to walk across the boardwalk-like decking surrounded by bushes and a few blooming plants.

First, Otto Hagen, and later his son Reuben (Rob) ran the Hagen Grocery from 1905 until 1974 when Rob died.

For a time, Hagen Mercantile sold gasoline. Two pumps show up on a few photographs and were located about where the curb is today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Michelet, a familiar name in early Westby

Blue Front Store ad from the Westby Times
Jacob Post Michelet was born in Moland district, Nedeness Balliwick July 20, 1796. He attended the military academy in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1809-1815. He also attended the military academy in Oslo, Norway. Jacob Michelet Married Gregine Olsen July 6, 1829, and they emigrated to America in 1851 and came to Coon Prairie the same year. Three of their seven children were William E.J., Johan and Charles.

Jacob Post Michelet settled in Section 35, town of Christiana and was one of the first to be buried in Coon Prairie Cemetery November 19. 1866. 

Dr. William E.J. was born in Lillehammer, Norway, January 9, 1846 and came with his parents to Coon Prairie. After his preparatory education in Sparta, he studied at Northwestern University and Rush Medical College, Chicago, and became a doctor in medicine in 1879. He worked in his profession in Chicago until his death in 1921.

Lawyer Charles J. Michelet was born in Lillehammer, Norway, March 24, 1849 and came to Coon Prairie with his parents. After preparatory schooling in Sparta, he became a student at Northwestern University, Chicago. After a full course in law he became a lawyer in 1879 and joined his brother William, in Chicago.

Johan Michelet was born in Lillehammer, Norway, December 12, 1830 and along with his brothers came with his parents to Coon Prairie. Johan was married to Johanne Kvaernstuen on June 4, 1861. Two of his six children were Josephine and Charles.

Johan Michelet held the following Christiana township offices: Chairman, Assessor and Treasurer. He also served as member of the Vernon County Board.

Sometime in the 1860s Johan built a warehouse in Westby and was the first local grain buyer. From 1884 until 1888 he was the Postmaster of Westby and from 1891 until 1905 operated the Blue Front store selling general merchandise.

Josephine Michelet in the 1880s and ‘90s had a millinery shop in Westby, location unknown.

Lawyer Charles Jacob Michelet was born in Westby June 18, 1881 and graduated from Viroqua High School in 1900 and from Michigan University, Ann Arbor in 1905 with B.A. degree and from the same university’s law school in 1908. Portland, Oregon is where he went to Practice law.

In 1905 Johan Michelet sold the Blue Front Store.  Hagen Dry Goods

While Johan Michelet owned and operated the Blue Front Store, Mrs. A. Rice operated the Red Front Store specializing in women’s clothing. The location of the Red Front Store is unknown. Both the Red and Blue Front stores were part of a nationwide chain.

Besides the Michelet offspring who became lawyers and a doctor, many other Westby descendants and others who lived here for only a short time have gone on to greatness. Two examples are: The student center of Oklahoma University is named after a Westby descendant and in Chicago there is a skyscraper named after a former Westby resident. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Leif Erikson Day — October 9 & 10, 2015 schedule

Nordic Fest
Decorah, Iowa
July 25

Jim Aniol and his daughter Betsy, carrying Leif Erikson Day banner in the Syttende Mai parade 














October 10, Jay Vosseteig leading Leif Erikson in his Viking Ship to a Viking Breakfast

 

Kathy Anderson and Blaine Hedberg
Carrying Leif Erikson banner
Decorah, Iowa
Nordic Fest, July 25



 

Events planned for 

Leif Erikson Day 2015


October

Leif Erikson display
Bekkum Memorial Library

Friday, October 9

At the VFW Hall

205 North Main

Scandinavian salg (sales)

noon-8 p.m.

❖ Books, Jewelry, hats and Nordic gifts

Evening Fish Dinners

❖ Bleachers, Borgen’s, Central Express, Nordic Lanes, Old Town, and Rod & Gun Club

At the Library, free Movies & popcorn

6-9 p.m.

Westby Community Center

206 North Main

Sponsored by Bekkum Memorial Library

Viking Double Feature

❖ Vikings Journey To New Worlds - Documentary

❖ The Vikings, starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Ernest Borgnine


Saturday, October 10

At Central Express

411 North Main

❖ Viking Ship with Leif Erikson Arrives

7:30 a.m.

Scandinavian Plate Specials

7-11 a.m.

❖ Viking Breakfast

Swedish Pancakes

7 a.m.-4 p.m.

❖ Open-faced breakfast Sandwich

11 a.m.-4 p.m.

❖ Scandinavian Meatball Meal

At the VFW Hall
205 North Main
Scandinavian salg (sales)
8 a.m.-4 p.m.
❖ Books, Jewelry, Hats and Nordic Gifts
10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sons of Norway
❖ Kaffe Stua, Including Rømmegrøt

At Westby Area Historical Society
Thoreson House Museum
101 Black River Avenue
❖ Lefse/Pølse  House
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
❖ Kubb Clinic
10 a.m. noon, 2 p.m.
❖ Kubb practice and play
10 a.m.-4 p.m.


At the Stabbur 

Black River Avenue

❖ Tourist Center open with attendant

❖ Viking Ship on display

At United Methodist Church
202 East State Street
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
❖ Lion’s Chili Cook-off

At the Westby Community Center
206 North Main
2 p.m.
❖ Speaker: Owen Christianson
Leif Erikson and his Expedition to Vinland
Sponsored by Bekkum Memorial Library

Leif Erikson Tee Shirts and Limited Edition Buttons are being sold at Leif Erikson locations:

Alex Aakre and Christian Strauss carry the Leif Erikson Banner
in the La Crosse Oktoberfest Parade



Westby Mayor, Dan Helgerson, meets world explorer and discoverer of
North America, Leif Erikson, during Leif Erikson Days celebration.



Next meeting is 5:30 p.m.
October 27, 2015
Logan Mill Lodge
Everyone is welcome

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Westby in 1972


Downtown Westby in 1972 
In little more than one generation, many changes have taken place in downtown Westby but at the same time many buildings have had very little change and look about the same as they did when this 1972 photo was taken.

Starting top center and proceeding clockwise, the buildings that have been torn down or drastically changed are the following:

The cupola topped building was built as the carriage house for the Martin Bekkedal residence. Torn down to make parking space for Community Action Program (Couleecap). To the right of the carriage house is another building CAP had taken down, also for parking space.

Hardly visible to the left of the white building with three upstairs windows is Goettels Meat Market. Torn down to make green space for Weber’s Jewelry.

Right of center is the entrance to Vosseteig Funeral Chapel. The Norwegian-styled entrance was converted to a garage door when the Funeral Chapel was moved to the Main Street side of the building.

In the bottom right-hand corner is the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroad. For more than 100 years the Milwaukee Road made stops in Westby. First, four stops a day, two going north and two going south, then one trip a day each way. By the 60s, the train went south one day and north the next day after spending the night in Viroqua. Finally it was one trip a week and some weeks none at all.

The elevator, bottom left, was first seen in photos in 1907 and was torn down in the early 70s for safety reasons.

Immediately to the right of the elevator is what remains of the barn, later garage, for the Hotel Vernon. Time Hotel in 1972. Torn down for the expansion of Old Times - Assisted Living.

Directly above the garage and behind the tree is Westby DX service station. Closed in 1970, it first became part of Erickson’s Department Store and now is the Connelly Law Office.

Center left are three buildings that are also not with us anymore. Walt’s Grocery, Westby Theater and when this photo was taken, Roehl’s Clothing. Today in their place is the building and parking lot rented by the Westby Co-op Creamery for the production of their bottled coffee syrup.

The final part of this photo to discuss is all the semitrailers parked to the left of top center. Sloane Brothers Trucking and later Sloane Foods was headquartered in Westby and distributed dairy products nationwide. Shortly after this photo was taken, Sloane Brothers moved to Viroqua and today, Couleecap is located where Sloane Foods once was.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Destructive Tornado hits Westby

M.E. Neprud Warehouse


The following was printed in the Westby Times May 7, 1930. In parentheses are today’s locations of places listed in 1930.

The city of Westby went through an experience last Thursday evening (May 1) at about 8:05 o’clock that will long be remembered and it is to be hoped that it will not be repeated at least for generations to come. This community has, indeed, been fortunate in the past to escape ravages of destructive storms, and the tornado that hit us last week only proves that we are not immune to the weather elements that leave only destruction in their path.

The heaviest loss, of course was suffered by Mr. And Mrs. James Funk, whose 12-year-old son, Arthur, lost his life in the storm while on his way home from play.

Thursday was sultry, marked by light showers with threatening electrical disturbances throughout the day. At supper time it was generally predicted that a good rain was in store. At 7:30, however, signs of a heavy storm began to loom up, but on one entertained fear that it would be one out of the ordinary.

At eight o’clock the lights were all off and the entire city was in darkness. Those who watched the skies state that two funnel-shaped clouds came, one from the northwest and the other from the southwest, both coming up at a terrific speed toward the city. The two clouds came together when over Westby, dipped down upon the business section on the west side of Main Street, coming low enough to take roofs and top parts of buildings, hurling bricks, lumber and whatever debris happened in its path, across the street through the windows and wall of the buildings on the opposite side of the street.

Had it not been for the fact that the city was in darkness and people were off the street, we believe that the storm’s toll of human life would have been far greater than it was. And had the storm come in the day time we shudder to think what the results might have been.

Aurthur Funk, was killed in front of the Borgen restaurant (Connelly Law Office front yard) by the top front of the restaurant building falling into the street and  upon the boy.

The total damage done  to building is conservatively estimated at about $20,000, the heaviest losers being the Oium Garage (203 A-Z Antiques), Neprud warehouse (vacant area east of First Street and Polly Rude Way), Holman Store (parking lot north of Subway), the Commercial Hotel (CBC Building), Borgen Restaurant, the Westby Telephone Company building (Borgen’s Dining Room). Anderson Furniture Store (Treasures on Main), the Villand building (Uff Da Mart), Hagen Store (Adam’s Eye Clinic), the Jernander Harness Shop (building east of VMH Pharmacy).

Aside from these damages numerous chimneys on residences were destroyed and the roof of Mrs. Hilda Bergum’s barn was torn off and placed in C.W. Jaeger’s back yard.

From here the storm seems to have cut across the street, landing on the southwest corner of the Jernander Harness Shop, where it took the brick off from a space about eight feet square. From here the storm must have taken a higher altitude, as several lower old buildings were intact , and it must have taken another dip by the time it reached the Commercial Hotel, as here it swept the roof and brick off two to three feet from the top.

The Thorson Building (parking lot north of Subway), was damaged considerably on the roof. The upper story is occupied by the Davidson Photograph Studio and Mr. Davidson sustained considerable damage to his paraphernalia, the skylight having been broken.

The Holmen store, however, suffered heavy damage, the south front window being smashed and the entire upper front being torn off and in a heap in the street.

A heavy downpour of rain set in following the tornado and it was with the greatest of difficulty that carpenters and workmen were able to make temporary reparations of the open fronts throughout the business section for the night.

By far the heaviest loser was Martin Oium, whose Ford garage building was so badly wrecked that for a time it seemed as if it were beyond reparation. The entire roof and the top half of the front wall were a heap of ruins, tons of brick, the ceiling and other material landing on top of cars stored on the ground floor. Victor Olson, bookkeeper, was standing in the front window of the show room when the crash came. Two brand new Fords must be given credit for saving his life. The cars held the terrific weight up, giving him space enough to crawl from under neath to safety. Norvin Dahl, mechanic, was in the adjoining room and when brick and debris came hurling through the front barely missing him, he crawled under a big truck. Mr. Oium was at the Kiwanis luncheon which was on at the time the storm came and played its havoc, the Kiwanians remaining in the hotel until after the storm had abated. The wrecking storm did not tarry long, however, —only about half a minute and it was all done.

Mrs. Palmer Jefson (Una), telephone operator, was hit on the leg by a brick that came through the window of Central, making a deep cut and which incapacitated her for a few days. Another brick barely missed hitting Mrs. George Byer as it came through the window past her head while she, too was, was at the switch

The roof on the Ender Hotel was badly damaged and nearly all the windows on the west side from the ground up were broken by the debris hurled through the air by the storm.

The old tobacco warehouse building owned by Mrs. M.E. Neprud and in which over 600 cases of leaf tobacco belonging to M.H. Bekkedal & Sons were stored was toppled over sideways toward the Milwaukee station, blockading the railroad track and part of the depot platform. A large crew of men was at work all day Friday clearing the wreckage and removing the tobacco. Three hundred cases of the tobacco were damaged, many being soaked by the rain and others having been broken in the destruction of the building. The tobacco was covered by insurance, but no tornado insurance was carried on the building, a total wreck, by Mrs. Neprud.

The Taylor Lumber Company did not escape the fury of the storm, either. Several window lights on the west side of the big lumber shed were broken and debris including heavy joists from the Commercial Hotel roof made its way through the wall of the shed. An opening about four feet square was made through the west wall.

The final capers of the storm before leaving our city appear to have been the taking down of the tobacco sheds on the Galstad and Martinson places, no damage having been done beyond their places that we have any knowledge of.

There were a few trees uprooted here and there around town, but we have attempted in the writeup to cover the major part of the damage wrought by the storm.

Heroic work is being done by carpenters and other workmen in getting the storm’s results righted and cleared up again and great progress is being made. The buildings are fast being repaired and everything will be back to normalcy before many days.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Sales

Southside Grocery about 1951.
The car belonged to Clinton (Kink) Gronland.
The woman pumping gas was Lila Skundberg Erlandson.
Do you remember when you needed some gas for your car or a loaf of bread, but it was Sunday and the stores and filing stations were closed? What did you do? It’s hard to imagine that not the many years ago almost everything was closed on Sunday.

In the early fifties, the two places that were open for buying groceries on Sunday were the South Side Grocery and Ballsrud’s Grocery. The only places for buying gas were Transport Oil Company and for a short time, South Side Grocery.

South Side Grocery had the following Sunday hours: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. The South Side Grocery had numerous owners until it closed in 1964. Midwest Cablevision was the last business to be located in the old South Side Grocery building.

Ballsrud’s Grocery became Rude & Volden for a few years and was Borgen’s Grocery in 1969, the last year of operation. Rudy’s Lawn & Garden Service was last business to be located in the building on Second Street that once occupied by Ballsrud’s Grocery.

Clayton Chambers



Transport Oil Company started out as Glen’s Royal Service in 1960, became Walt’s Spur Station in 1963 and then Transport Oil Company in 1965 and staying in business until 1977. Erlandson Clinic Of Chiropractic is now at the location of the former Transport Oil Company.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Car Dealers

For about 15 years, there was not a problem of buying a new car in the city of Westby. Starting in the middle to late teens of the Twentieth Century and continuing into the early 30s, there were numerous businesses catering to the new car buyer. The following directory, probably not complete, lists the dealers and the automobiles sold by them and one of the years they were selling such autos.

1913. Anderson & Torkelson, Overland.
1915. Johnson Brothers, Buick & Hupmobile.
1916. A.H. Dahl, Ford
1917. Nustad & Johnson, Dodge.
1921. Bennie Johnson, Dodge.
1922. Haakenson & Hanson, Chevrolet.
1922. Ernest Johnson, Overland & Willys-Knight.
1922. C.G. Tostrud, Reo & Maxwell.
1922. Oium & Tostrud, Overland.
1923. The Melodeon, Reo & Maxwell
1924. Oium Garage, Chevrolet, Ford & Willys-Knight.
1925. Oium Brothers, Maxwell, Overland & Chalmers.
1927. S & S (Silbaugh & Silbaugh), Ford & Chevrolet
1927. Bennie Johnson, Chevrolet & Chrysler.
1928. Benny Johnson, Pontiac & Oakland
1929. R.A. Silbaugh, Chevrolet.
1930. Myton Appleman, Willys-Knight & Whippet.
1930. Lind Chevrolet, Chevrolet.
1930. Oium Garage, Overland.
1931. G.C. Rank, Chevrolet.
1936. Westby (Nelson) Service Garage, Plymouth & DeSoto.
1950. Oium Motors, DeSota & Plymouth.
1960. Jules Rudie, Rambler & Ford.


A.H. Dahl was the first to sell Fords and Jules Rudie was the last to sell Fords both in basically the same place as where Dahl had started 50 years earlier. Vernon Communications is today located where both Dahl and Rudie had their car lots. S. & S. sold Fords in the same location between Dahl and Rudie.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Two Trains and a Mill — 1905

In 2005, Evelyn Larson was commission by Ruth Rupp to draw Two Trains and a Mill for the 100 year celebration of the Logan Mill and La Crosse and Southeastern railroad. Pictured is the Southeastern headed south and the Milwaukee headed north. Logan Mill (many owners
and name changes over the years) was the only business in Westby that was served
by both railroad companies each having their own railroad tracks,
Milwaukee on the east and Southeastern on the west.


In November 1860, The Milwaukee Sentinel stated that a railroad was proposed to be built from Viroqua south to join the Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific at or near Muscoda. As we all know, this never happened.

Later, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific (C. M. St. P & P.) Railroad was planning railroads from Sparta south to Viroqua and from Wauzeka north to Bloomingdale. Construction was started on both but only the line from Sparta to Viroqua developed. Today, County Highway S in Bloomingdale is evidence of the early railroad excavation.

From 1848 until 1879 Westby was called Coon Prairie,with the Coon Prairie General Store and post office located in the town of Viroqua just south of the Accelerated Genetics.

Between the early 1860s and August 13, 1879, the day the first train arrived, many business were located further north of Coon Prairie at today’s State and Main streets. The railroad originally wanted to locate its new station about one mile further north at the intersection of Today’s County P and State Highway 27. The reason for this was that this was a major crossroad: Sparta to Viroqua and La Crosse to Bloomingdale. This attempt was defeated however by two La Crosse merchants Mons Andersen and C. B. Soleberg, who urged that the station be built in the vicinity of their good client, Ole T. Westby, and to honor Westby, the new business district was named Westby Station and replaced Coon Prairie as the post office.

The 1904 timetable for the C.M. St. P. & P. At Westby was: Trains Going South, 7:57 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. Trains Going North, 11:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The La Crosse & Southeastern Railroad arrived in Westby in 1905 and continued until 1933 when it was bought by the C.M. St. P. & P. The Southeastern as it was commonly called, traveled from La Crosse to Viroqua and had a round house in Viroqua that today would be in the vicinity of the Vernon County Highway Shop at the intersection of Main and Broadway streets. The depot was located where the Nelson Agra-Center parking lot is today.

In 1922, the Interstate Commerce Commission valued the La Crosse and Southeastern Railroad at $640,581.

While Bloomingdale and Avalanche never did get a railroad, the Kickapoo Vaålley & Northern Railroad was established between La Farge and Wauzeka with the first train traveling between the two in June 1892.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lumber Business in Westby


James Lyttle was one of the first lumber dealers in Westby more than 135 years ago. Today the whereabouts of his lumber business is unknown.

Miner Brothers > E.T. Saugstad > Spellum > Colman > Taylor > Nuzum Lumber Company

In 1881, Evan T. Saugstad started in the lumber business and in 1899, E.T. Saugstad bought out Miner Brothers Lumber and for the early part of the 20th Century, Spellum was a partner with Saugstad. 

Colman Lumber bought out Saugstad Lumber about 1918 and Taylor Lumber bought out Colman in 1927 staying in business until 1981. In 1993 Nuzum Lumber added another lumber yard to their Kickapoo Valley yards by opening a yard in the Original Evan T. Saugstad Lumber Yard facilities.

About 1885 after selling furniture for a few years. Theodore Thoreson went into the lumber business and Thoreson Lumber continued in the family until 1950 when Theodore Erickson bought the business. In 1953 the name changed to Westby Lumber and Carroll Olson owned the business in 1967 naming it Carroll’s Lumber.

Thoreson Lumber > Carroll Olson Lumber

Today JGS Computer & Satellite Service is located where Thoreson had his lumber yard.

Martin Bekkedal was also in the lumber business in Westby but in a different capacity. In 1883 he immigrated to Vernon County with his cousin Lars Lium as his sponson In return for transporting him to America, Martin was obligated to help his cousin clear and work land. Working on the farm and cutting ties for the Milwaukee Railroad, he paid off his debt in eight months. During that winter Bekkedal hired out to a lumber mill near Sparta.

Couderay, Wisconsin
September 4, 1922
Martin returned to Westby and started clerking in a local store. Three years later he had saved $1,000 and decided to invest $700 in a timber stand in Bloomingdale. He spent over half the investment in equipping a lumbering and logging crew and in two years had a return of $1,700 from the operation.

About 10 years later, after making considerable money from tobacco and some from lumber, he hadn’t started in banking at this time, Martin bought standing timber and a lumber company the Couderay Indian Reservation north of Rice Lake. By 1925 Martin practically owned all of the village of Couderay and in 1929, the Bekkedal Lumber Company was offered $1 million in cash for their Counderay holdings and they said no, “We’ll wait for a higher offer”.

The higher offer did not come, but the depression did.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Syttende Mai celebration in Westby, May 17, 1914

by Madeline Anderson
Westby Area Historical Society

One of the early Syttende Mai celebrations in Westby was in 1914. It marked the hundredth year of Norwegian independence. The following articles were in the Vernon County Censor. There are no Westby Times articles available as those years were destroyed in a fire.

From the Vernon County Censor for May 13, 1914, under the headline of Centennial Anniversary, we find the following article:

Syttende Mai parade participants lining up in front of the new public school
on West Avenue South.

"Next Sunday, in song and praise, in speech and impressive service Westby citizens will observe the one hundredth anniversary of the independence of Norway. A morning program is arranged at the church, where religious services will be held. At Davidson's grove, in the afternoon, following a parade to the place, fitting exercises will be carried through. People generally are invited to join. The speaking will be in English and Norwegian.”

In a follow-up article from the Censor, dated May 20, 1914, the Censor reported the following: 

"Westby citizens did themselves proud on Sunday last in giving vent to love for the mother country and its institutions and history. The hundredth anniversary of the event was duly and appropriately celebrated throughout the country, but nowhere more in keeping with the times than in our neighboring village of Westby. And there assembled people from all directions making it one of the memorable days in the history of that place.

"The morning hours were given over to religious services in the new Lutheran church. At two o'clock an imposing procession march through the principal streets to Davidson's grove. The cornet band lead the way, blending of stars and striped and the Norwegian flag borne aloft, girls dressed in native costumes, Boy Scouts on bicycles, Sons of Norway, school children, each carrying a flag, making a procession that was both creditable and inspiring.

"The program consisted of addresses by Revs. Eijkarud and Green in Norwegian and Hon. A. H. Dahl in English, singing of American, the Norse national song "Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet," band music, etc., making a full afternoon. Rev. H. Halverson presided and Dr. Schreiner was marshal of the day. Mr. Dahl's talk in English combined the historic and patriotic , breathing a spirit of love for the mother and adopted country. He paid a high tribute to Norsemen as statesmen, educators, proficiency as soldiers on land and sea, their earnestness as Christians, thrift as citizens. He said the Norwegians made good Americans because they were peace-lovers, industrious and patriotic.”

The photo of A.H. Dahl addressing the crowd is from a photo album that was donated to Westby Area Historical Society. 

A.H. Dahl addressing the crowd.
Contributed by Westby Area Historical Society
A few historical notes:

Davidson's grove is now Davidson Park. Jens Davidson would often grant permission for special events to be held on his property, prior to donating the land to the city of Westby in 1922 for the park.

Rev. Anders Halvorsen Eijkarud was assistant pastor at Country Coon Prairies church from 1890-1893. He served as pastor at North Coon Prairie church from 1893-1921 when he returned to Norway.

Rev. Joseph Marius Green was a pastor at Perry, Wisconsin and in charge of the Madison circuit for the church at that time.

Hon. A.H. Dahl was Andrew H. Dahl, merchant and influential Westby citizen. He represented Vernon County in the Wisconsin State Assembly, acted as State Treasurer, and also served as a supervisor for the village of Westby among other prestigious offices.

To see the bigger photo, click  HERE.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dr. Johan Kristian Schreiner

by Madeline Anderson
Westby Area Historical Society

Probably one of Westby's most beloved and colorful first doctors, Johan Kristian Schreiner, was born in Oslo, Norway on Sept. 4, 1857. His parents were Christian Emil Schreiner and Bethye Gerhardine Bødker. Well educated, he attend Aars and Voss school, where he received his B. A. degree in 1874. 
Dr. Johan K. Schreiner
He began the study of medicine at Royal Frederick University (today the University of Oslo) in 1875 at the age of 18 and received his medical degree in 1881. At the time of his studies at the university, a letter came into his hands from Pastor Halvor Halvorsen of Coon Prairie who had written to the University requesting that a young doctor "of high scholarship and temperate habits" was needed at Coon Prairie.  

Answering that call was Dr. J. K. Schreiner. Having said his goodbyes to his family and his future bride, Ragnhild Christine Gjerdrum, whom he would send for if this place on the prairie in Wisconsin was to his liking, he prepared to leave Norway. On July 1, 1881, credentials in hand, he left Norway for America to begin his medical practice.  

He arrived at Coon Prairie sometime in mid-July of 1881and wasted no time setting up a practice. Dr. Schreiner placed an advertisement in the Vernon County Censor for July 27, 1881 that stated: "Dr. Schreiner, Norwegian physician and surgeon. Office at Rev. Halvorsen's residence on Coon Prairie. Office hours from 7 to 9 p.m., every day. Will be at T. Jerman's drugstore, Viroqua, every Friday, 2 to 5 p.m."  

A quote from Westby native son, Dr. Ludvig Hektoen tells of Hektoen's impressions of Schreiner when he first arrived at Coon Prairie. "One bright day in the summer of 1881 I visited the Coon Prairie parsonage. Old and young were gathered about the croquet ground to the west and south of the house. It was a lively and pleasant scene. Rev. Halvorsen himself was one of the players, and then there was a rather tall, slender young man of a distinctly foreign cast whose remarks and antics kept the company in a steady uproar of laughter. This colorful person was "den nye doktor'n fra Norge" - Dr. Johan K. Schreiner."  

In 1882, satisfied that Coon Prairie was a good place to live and practice medicine, Dr. Schreiner sent for his bride-to-be, Ragnhild Christine Gjerdrum, to join him. She left Christiania, Norway on July 8, 1882, for Coon Prairie. 

On August 15, 1882, Dr. Schreiner and Ragnhild Christine were married at Country Coon Prairie church with his good friend, Rev. Halvor Halvorsen performing the wedding. Witnesses at the wedding were Peder. P. Hektoen (Ludvig Hektoen's father) and Erling Ramsland (Westby pharmacist). 

In a news item about the wedding, the Vernon County Censor, August 16, 1882, states "Dr. Schreiner, during his residence on the Prairie, has proved himself to be a gentleman of fine attainments in his profession and has a brilliant future before him. Miss Gjerdrum is an accomplished young lady, who recently arrived from Christiana, Norway."

Dr. Schreiner lived with Pastor Halvor Halvorsen at first and had his office at the Coon Prairie parsonage. He also lived with the Peder Hektoen family on the farm near the Coon Prairie church and in Viroqua. Later, he and Christine, as she preferred to be called, would live in Westby.  

It was while living on the Peder Hekoten farm that Dr. Schreiner had a profound influence on the future career of young Ludvig Hektoen. Quoting from a pamphlet on Dr. Hektoen by Morris Fishbein, "Young Hektoen was much in his (Schreiner's) company during the vacation period. Perhaps this example and the encouragement from Dr. Schreiner were the determining factors in his choice of medicine as a career. The keen interest shown by Dr. Schreiner in daily work with his patients and his influence on those with whom he came in contact did much to make the career of a physician irresistibly attractive."

In June of 1884, Dr. Schreiner bought a two acre parcel of land located on Lot 16 in the village of Westby from Anton and Ella Syverson. There was either a house on this property or one was moved there. There is photographic evidence that shows this house with Christine and the Schreiner children in the photo, circa about 1898.

The Schreiner's were active socially and very involved in the community. There were numerous announcements in the Vernon County newspapers concerning visitors and entertaining. They also traveled to Madison several times as guests of Gov. Jeremiah Rusk and his wife in Madison. It was also reported that they were guests of Gov. James Ole Davidson and his wife Helen. 

Residence for Dr. J.K. Schreiner, Westby, Wis.

In 1885, Dr. Schreiner spearheaded efforts for a Syttende Mai celebration in Westby and was the president of this event. 

The Schreiner's would welcome their first child, Hildur Bethy Helene, on April 12, 1887. Two years later, their second child, Alf, was born on May 10, 1889. Their third child, Leif Gjerdrum, was born June 3, 1894. The fourth child was a fair haired daughter named Sigrid Alette. She was born on Dec. 12, 1896. 

Always seeking to improve his knowledge of new medical and surgical practices, Dr. Schreiner left Westby in June 1899 to study at the college of medicine and surgery in Berlin, Germany, making that the second time in 10 years that he had gone for further studies there. He also returned to Norway several times for more medical training.

When the Hotel Evans, billed as Westby's pride and glory, held a banquet jubilee event on New Year's Eve, 1901, the Hon. Andrew. H. Dahl was chairman of the event. The list of speakers read like a who's who of early Westby history. The toastmaster for the event was Dr. Schreiner. To quote the Vernon County Censor for January 8, 1902, "As toastmaster, Dr. Schreiner was a revelation - a discovery in fact. On introduction, neither speaker or toast were spared. The speaker's foible, hobby or fad were riddled with kindly sarcasm and the wittiest comment and similes. The doctor has discovered his vocation. Westby's most valuable and effective advertisement would be to found the office of 'traveling toastmaster', at a liberal salary and to place Dr. Schreiner's services as such." A. H. Dahl brought down the house by his comparison of Dr. Schreiner with George Washington stating that "The latter shed his blood for our country and Dr. Schreiner his hair "from excessive mental effort."

In the late 1890s, another beloved Norwegian doctor came to Westby. Dr. Johan (John) Bjorn Schee and his bride, Ulla Klerck, were married at the Schreiner home in 1898. Ulla Klerck's sister, Alette, was married to Dr. Schreiner's brother, Pastor Fredrick Schreiner. Pastor Schreiner arranged for Ulla to leave Norway and come to Westby. Ulla was trained as a midwife in Norway and  would begin practicing in Vernon County. It is said that the first child delivered by Ulla was the Schreiner's youngest daughter, Sigrid Alette in 1896. 

Drs. Schee and Schreiner would form a lasting friendship and partnership in 1902 when Dr. and Mrs. Schee moved from Blanchardville, to Westby. The partnership would last until Dr. Schreiner left Westby for La Crosse in 1919.

Christine Schreiner was a good match for her husband. She was well educated in Norway and seemed to have countless interests, musical and literary talents, many that coincided with those of her husband. Their four children were very well educated. Many trips were made back and forth to Norway to visit relatives and the children would accompany their parents on these trips.  

Christine was involved in the temperance efforts in Westby speaking out against the consumption of too much alcohol. In 1903, Andrew. H. Dahl appointed Mrs. Schreiner to a committee to make plans for a new Westby library to be housed in the old Temperance Hall on Main Street. She was well-read and often gave presentations to the Women's Literary Club of Viroqua.  

One of the papers that she presented to this club was reprinted in the newspaper in the 1890s and very eloquently relates a journey back to Norway that she and her husband took. While they loved their new home in Westby, the longing for times in Norway is evident in her writing. "Coming near Christiana, we know every bay and island, having rowed and sailed there from childhood till we were twenty-four years old. It was with tears in our eyes that we passed our childhood homes, Blegoen and Karlsborg."

Having seen Dr. Schee's lovely home being built in 1902, Dr. and Mrs. Schreiner hired the same young English architect, Albert E. Parkinson, to build their home. It was a beautiful 3-story home situated on nearly 2 acres of land surrounded by trees and a two level lawn. There was an architect's image of the home in the Sept 20, 1904 Sparta Herald that shows the house and states that it is "probably the finest residence in Vernon County." In the same newspaper is a drawing of Parkinson's design for the new Bekkedal-Unseth building in Westby.

Dr. Johan K. Schreiner
Courtesy of the Norwegian-American Historical Assoc., Northfield, Minn.
A man of strong beliefs, Dr. Schreiner also tried his hand at politics, running for the State Assembly in 1906 on the Democratic ticket. Vernon County was very Republican and he lost to his Republican opponent, D. Frank Main.

On August 15, 1907, the Schreiner's hosted a reception for their 25th wedding anniversary from 3 to 11 p.m. in their new home. Many invitations were sent out. A notice in the Sparta newspaper said it was one of the largest and most elaborate receptions Westby had ever seen with about 600 people from all parts of the area attending this reception.   

There are several often-quoted colorful stories about Dr. Schreiner. He apparently seemed to delight in injecting a bit of profanity in order to irritate his good friend, Pastor Halvorsen. It seems both Schreiner and Halvorsen were lovers of good horses, "but the Bishop (refers to Pastor Halvorsen) drove conservatively while Schreiner tore like mad. On one combination trip in the winter time when Schreiner was putting on an especial burst of speed, Rev Halvorsen anxiously inquired: "But, Doc, what would happen if we were to have an accident at this speed?" "We'd all go to hell," he replied. To which the Bishop rejoined: "Then I am not going along with you," and rolled out of the sled into a convenient snow drift." This was from the Vernon County Censor from May 31, 1951.

A Westby Times article from April 29, 1999 by Ellen Pederson relates the following: "It is well known fact that a large majority of old-time Scandinavians in Westby chewed snuff or 'snoose'. One of Dr. Schreiner's patients, anxious about his health and particularly worried about continued pains in his head, asked, "Doctor, do you suppose chewing snoose would cause injury to the brain?" The Doctor's classic sarcastic reply was, "Certainly not, no one with brains would chew it."

Mid-year 1919, Dr. Schreiner sold his beautiful home in Westby and moved his family to La Crosse. In La Crosse he continued to practice medicine, associating himself for the next two years with two other Norwegian born doctors who were good friends and colleagues of his, Dr. Christian Christiansen and Dr. Adolph Gundersen.

Mrs. Schreiner had been in ill-health for awhile and a year after leaving Westby she passed away at her home in La Crosse at the age of 63 on August 2, 1920. Ragnhild Christine Gjerdrum Schreiner was born March 18, 1857 in Christiania, Norway. Her parents were Jorgen Herman Gjerdrum and Helene Margrethe Lange. The following is a quote from her obituary. "Hundreds who loved her living, mourn her dead. Among us all in Westby she ranked always a woman of culture, refinement, sympathy, a kind neighbor, devoted mother and a true friend." Her funeral was held at Coon Prairie church in Westby, with Pastor Halvorsen officiating. She is buried in Coon Prairie cemetery.

In the fall of 1922, Dr. Schreiner went to Norway to visit family and friends. Most of his time in Norway was spent working as a supply physician in various districts in the Telemark region. When he returned to Wisconsin very briefly in 1924 he paid a visit to friends in Westby.

In late fall 1924, in failing health, he would return to his beloved Norway for the last time. He was in the hospital in Oslo from Christmas 1924 until March 1925.

A telegram was sent to his son, Leif, who lived in Two Rivers, to come to his father's bedside in Norway. Leif got there two days before his father died at Rikshospital in Oslo on March 16, 1925. The sad news of Dr. Schreiner's death was sent back to his former practice partners and friends, Dr. John Schee in Westby and Dr. A. Gundersen in La Crosse.  

A funeral service for Dr. Schreiner was held in Oslo at Oslo Domkirke on March 21, 1925, the same church where he had been baptized sixty-seven years earlier. Dr. Schreiner was cremated and his remains were brought back to Westby for burial beside his wife, Ragnhild Christine, in Coon Prairie cemetery. A private family burial was held at Coon Prairie cemetery on April 26, 1925.  

His obituary reads in part: "For 38 years this tall, splendid, stalwart, honest Viking rode over the hills and valleys of Vernon and other counties ministering to the sick and dying and comforting them by his splendid, honest personality as well as by his advanced knowledge of therapeutics."

Dr. Schreiner in his Westby front yard
A year after his death, a memorial service for Dr. Schreiner was held on Sept 6, 1926 at Coon Prairie with the Rev. J. O. Holum officiating. Rev. Holum read a sketch of Dr. Schreiner's life. Rev. Christian Brandt Bestul (Pastor and Mrs. Halvorsen's son-in-law) spoke, along with a colleague of Dr. Schreiner's, Dr. Henry Jackson Suttle of Viroqua, among many others.

The following telegram from his friend, Prof. Julius E. Olson of the University of Wisconsin in Madison was read: "I am pleased to be told that there was commemoration held in Westby today in honor of the deceased Dr. Schreiner. I knew him as a proud Norwegian and a dutiful citizen of Leif Erikson's Vinland. He could sometimes be gruff, but in reality was a warm hearted, helpful and thoroughly honest man. He rose high among our Norwegian pioneer doctors. All honor to his memory."

Dr. Schreiner was survived by his children, Hildur Molitor, Leif, Alf, and Alette Trainer and his brothers in Norway, Kristian Schreiner, professor at the University of Oslo; Frederick Schreiner, pastor at Ringebu; Karl Schreiner, pastor at Vestre Aker church in Oslo; Anderas Schreiner, wholesaler and importer in Oslo; and Aksel Schreiner, chief of the telegraph system of the Bergen railroad in Trondheim. 

While Dr. Ludvig Hektoen could not attend the memorial service, he sent a tribute to be read at the service. It reads in part: "I never think of him without a feeling of gratefulness to him. He favored me with his friendship ever from the first time I met him and it was his example that aroused in me the wish to study medicine. If I could take part in the exercises next Sunday I would emphasize again his long, hard and faithful service as a physician, his ideals of conduct, his kindness of heart, and his distinctive personality. And I would pay tribute to Mrs. Schreiner. Together Doctor and Mrs. Schreiner contributed much of permanent value to the advancement of the Westby community."