Velkommen til Westby

Velkommen til Westby

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Once Upon A Time — Westby Baseball Team was the Kickapoo Valley League Campions. The year was 1924.

Monte Larson photo
Back: Oscar Bagstad, Reuben “Rob” Hagen, Palmer ‘Polly’ Larson, Lincoln Neprud, Blaine Johnson, Carroll Pierce, Oscar Villand, Manager.

Front: Helmer Peterson, Roy Running, Ebert Appleman, LaMont Thorson, Severt Gabrielson.

Bat Boy: Morris ‘Happy’ Samb.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Andrew Dahl

From a Westby Times article written by Margaret Gulsvig.

Andrew H. Dahl home built in 1888

The house itself sits unobtrusively on Westby’s Main Street, presently owned by Chris Kilen. It is white frame with an open porch across the front. A second look reveals that it has some unique aspects: interesting design, especially on the second floor facade. Spoked half wheels hint of Mississippi steamboat decor. The house is more than hundred years old having been built in 1888 by Andrew Dahl.

Andrew Dahl was one of Westby’s first entrepreneurs, notably because he sold the first cars. His store on the corner now occupied by Uff-da-Mart housed a variety of merchandise. Actually his Ford garage was on land next to the Dahl home. It was sold to Jules Rudie who in turn sold it to Vernon Telephone who then tore it down to enlarge their parking lot. Supervisor and president of Westby from 1899 to 1902. Andrew Dahl served four terms in the State Assembly and during the 1905 session he was chairman of a committee on assessment and collection of taxes which probably led to his being elected state treasurer in 1906, where he served for the next six years.

The Dahls had six children, four boys and two girls; Victor, Chester, Harry and Aad, Alice and Jane. During a visit to the Rude home, Victor recalled when Governor Bob LaFollette, prominent progressive party governor, visited in their home. The week prior to his coming, Mrs. Dahl cleaned and painted to have the house in good condition for this occasion. Two days before LaFollette arrived, she started preparing the food — baking and cooking good Norwegian fare. When LaFollette arrived he declined to eat, explaining that his ulcers had been making life miserable. During the period of preparation, the excitement trickled down to the Dahl children, who hung over the railing of the stairway when the governor arrived. Of course the inevitable happened — one fell over the railing of the stairway when the governor arrived. Victor also recalled that one Christmas he received a bicycle. While his parents attended church he proceeded to try it out and sailed right through the kitchen window, which took some explaining when his parents returned home.

This interior view of the Dahl store shows the staff then working: store manager
Knute Villand is third from left. Next to him are Harry and Victor Dahl.
The names of the female employees are unknown. Harry Dahl photo

Another son Harry, started Dahl Garage in La Crosse which flourishes today with Harry’s son as owner.

Andrew Dahl died in 1928, and is buried in the Coon Prairie cemetery.

In 1941 the home was sold to Attorney D.M. Langve of Utica, also a politician. From 1917 to 1923 he was Crawford County Clerk of Court. War interrupted part of this time as he served with American forces in France. In 1928 he was elected to the state assembly, serving two more terms before deciding not to run again.

Ray and Conalee Rude bought the house in 1959 and moved in with two children, Brenda and Brian. Chris Kilen now owns the house which is home to his real estate business, Nordic Hills.

Westby Graded School 1907-1910

By M.I.P.

Students in front of the Westby Graded School about 1905

In the fall of 1907 the Westby graded school opened with the following teachers in charge: Miss. Mabel Polley — Principal 7th and 8th grades.
Miss. Gladys Pitts — 5th and 6th grades.
Miss. Rena Buchanan — 4th grade.
Miss. Eva Bailey — 3rd grade.
Miss. Thea Gullord — 1st and 2nd grades.
Owing to the lack of room and the overcrowded grades of the year before, an extra teacher was added to the force and the Temperance hall was fitted for a school room. Here Miss. Eva Bailey presided over the little flock of lively third graders, the majority of whom make up the present freshman class of the Westby High School.

Although the old white school house was pretty well battered up and disfigured, hot water, soap and sand, together with the willing hands of the pupils and teachers soon transformed the frescoed walls of the hallways and entry and the desks. Then fresh sash curtains were put up at all the windows in the building, and the textbooks underwent a thorough cleaning. Thus the road to good hard study and happy school life was laid.

We found the students to be interesting, full of life and eager to learn. The majority of them were talented in music and many days were made brighter when the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades joined in signing part songs from the new set of song books and accompanied by the old organ. Basketball was introduced that fall, an outdoor court was laid by the boys, girls and teachers. An outdoor fire escape was built on the rear of the school house making it safer should the old frame building catch fire. An entertainment was given during the winter and the proceeds were given over to start a fund towards buying the piano which non stands in the High School assembly room.

The latter part of the year was devoted to good hard labor getting ready for the eighth grade diploma examinations, the class day exercises which were held in the Temperance Hall and the commencement exercises. Out of a class of eighteen the following graduated from the eighth grade that spring: Mettie Davidson, Amelia Paulson, Cleo Shannon, Bolman Moen, Hildur Galstad, Ruth Holman, Ella Steenerson, Harold Call, Martha Rudie, George Gulbrandson, Olga Hovland, Cora Galstad, Fred Shannon, Mabel Steenson, Agnes Lien.

No High School graduating class ever looked forward more eagerly toward commencement than did these eighth graders and none were prouder over their High School diplomas than these were over their common school diplomas, nor did they mean so much. Then there were the pretty dresses and new long-trousered suits, flowers pinned on just so, the March to the beautifully decorated stage, sweet music, words of wisdom, diplomas, congratulations, the reception; and, last of all, pictures taken, and all was over — just one brief year, yet how much it meant!

September, 1908 opened another interesting year of work. Two changes were made in the faculty owing to the resignation of the Misses. Pitts and Bailey, Miss. Elise Preus taking the fifth and sixth grade position while Miss. Anna Neprud took charge of the third grade in the Temperance hall. This year the present Senior class of the Westby high school came in as seventh graders to keep the 8th graders from getting lonesome and to help keep the ball of good spirits rolling. Among their number was a sunny-faced girl whom we all welcomed, for it was Grace Eielson who always had a smile for every one and who found a place in all our hearts. But, she was too choice a flower for us to keep and was suddenly take from us after a very short illness. Another death, too, came to sadden this school year. Reverend Gulbrandson, then a member of the school board, died shortly before Christmas. In him we lost a true friend in every way, a man who possessed that grandest of all things, character.

Then came the steady grind toward the diploma examinations and the pleasure and anticipation as well as the hard work in preparing for commencement. This year the class day exercises were held in the opera house. Then came the eventful night when the following thirteen out of a class of fifteen received their diplomas: Selma Paulson, Alice Fremstad, Anna Elverm, Edith Hill, Roy Running, Even Running, Ruth Appleman, Claud Shannon, Arvid Ramsland, Orval Johnson, Leif Schreiner, Leif Evans, Esther Mitby.

After the commencement exercises a reception was tendered the graduates at the beautiful home of Dr. Schreiner.

The school year 1909-1910 marked the last year of the Westby graded school in the old frame building. Two changes were made in the faculty, Miss. Nellie Riege taking the fourth grade and Miss. Vera Cass the third grade. This year the majority of the present Junior and Senior class of the H.S. formed the seventh and eighth grades and a more jolly or congenial roomful of pupils could never be found. In fact, we were like a happy family. What fun it was to prepare for commencement, to decide, like big folks, those weighty problems of class officers, programs, colors, etc., to pass those awful diploma examinations; then have class day exercises and charge admission and present the big Westby banner to the seventh graders to be put up in the assembly room of the new H.S.; and last of all have real commencement exercises and have the seventh grade decorate for you and wait on you and see that you had a reception. The following thirteen, in spite of the unlucky number, actually experience all those things; Otis Holman, Eugene Owen, Blaine Running, Milton Lindvig, Reuben Hagen, Jorgen Justin, Olga Reque, Magna Davidson, Verna Jackson, Esther Neprud, John Hovland, Earl Unseth, Harold Stevlingson.

What an unusual picture the class made that night as they sat on the stage with the four “sweet girl graduates” in the center surrounded by the nine boys, while all about them the school colors were in evidence.

Then we bade farewell to the old white school house and all the happy days we spent there. Even though the grand new high school building looked down at us from the hill top and beckoned to us to come, yet it was with regret we parted with the old frame building. Thus it was that the class of 1910 was the last to graduate from the old graded school and the first to graduate from the new four-year high school.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Early History of the Westby High School

 by A.L.G.

Mr. Tooley says: “The greatest difficulty in writing history lies in the fact that someone else was present when the event occurred.” The difficulty in writing this sketch lies in the fact that the majority of those who will read it passed through the experiences personally.

Architectural Firm of Parkinson & Dockendorff's sketch of Westby School House
At the opening of the school year of nineteen hundred and ten the remains of the old graded school were scattered between the old and the new building. The latter was not completely furnished. Labor conditions upon the railroads had delayed the shipment of the furniture, and it was Wednesday noon before the school could be gathered for preliminary organization. Under the efficient guidance of Miss. Polley, the organization of the first eight grades was quickly reestablished, and by the following Monday these grades were working as efficiently as if they were back in the old building. But, the organization of the ninth grade was not as quickly accomplished. The status of the grade was not clearly defined. No one knew whether Westby would establish a high school the following year, or whether the graduates would be compelled to go elsewhere to complete their education. After a long series of conferences, the course of study was adopted. In so doing, it was assumed that the graduates would form a nucleus around which the high school should be organized the following year. With the end in view, every effort was put forth throughout the year to make the grade one which would help build up a high school which would be a credit to the community.

As the year progressed, the movement for the high school grew. The seemingly popular demand for a township high school lost favor when the state department ruled that the graded school and the high school could not be conducted under the supervision of the same man—and the demand for a local high school increased. The July school meeting pass the resolution to establish such a school by practically an unanimous vote.

The work of organization began at once. This work was greatly hampered by the fact that the district had filed to decide whether the high school eventually should become an Agricultural high school or a regular Free High school The local demand for both made it necessary to consider the course of study with both ends in view. A course was finally adopted which it was hoped would meet both demands. But, such a plan was futile, and in the following May it was definitely decide that the Westby High school should be a Free High school and that the first graduating class should enter the University in full and regular standing.

The unexpected enrollment at the opening of the school year in nineteen hundred and eleven taxed the provisions made for the high school to the utmost. The Freshman class numbered thirty-seven, and the Sophomore class thirteen. Only the rugged strength of Miss. Mossey and her willingness to work made it possible to accomplish the work during the first semester. With the opening of the second semester, relief came when Miss. Howard was added to the faculty and an opportunity was given to gather up some of the ends left loose during the first semester. Other important factors entered in to make the second year’s work a success in spite of the difficulties which presented themselves. The willingness with which the children went about their work, the hearty cooperation of practically the entire community, the loyal and unqualified support of the school board and the generous provisions made by the school district for school supplies lightened the work materially.

The internal growth of the school, together with the organization, had likewise had its beginning. Basketball had been started with great success the first year and less the second. Through the generosity of the business men, the library had been enlarged in a substantial manner. Several pictures of real merit had been hung upon the walls. The boys of the school had set the trees and shrubs upon the campus, and the social activities of the school had been organized through the two successful class functions of the two classes. The piano fund created by Miss, Polley had been increased and the organizations connected with the school had been placed upon a paying basis. But, the big work was left to do, the careful organization and the building up of the school remained untouched. These are the problems which have confronted and which will confront Mr. Weiland and his faithful assistants. The recognition given them by the University is indicative of their success, and there is every reason to believe that their efforts in the future will be crowned likewise.

1905 - 1909 from Cargill Grain Tower

East Second Street and South Main Street
House in the upper left is the Dr. Schreiner home. The vacant lot between the Temperance Hall and Our Savior's is now the current Our Savior's built in 1921.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vernon Telephone Cooperative

Vernon Telephone Cooperative
Vernon Telephone Cooperative was formed in 1950 by a group of local visionaries.

VTC was built using REA financing to serve the rural areas of Vernon County that had been neglected by local commercial companies, who they did not feel were financially viable to serve. The cooperative was formed by building new areas, as well as purchasing smaller areas, to which no phone service was available. The emphasis was placed on offering rural cooperative members the same, or better services, that could be received in urban areas.

As a Cooperative, they maintain one of the most state of the art communication networks in Western Wisconsin. In 1994, VTC partnered with other area telephone companies to form Midwest Telnet, bringing Internet access to all subscribers. In 2001, VTC formed Vernon Communications to provide non-regulated services, such as long distance and television. Also that year, VTC became the home of Midwest Telnet’s IP television headend. This was the first headend of its kind in the United States. VTC had the first commercially deployed IPTV television network in the US, and one of the first two in the world. This technology has since become the standard for telephone companies who are deploying next generation television networks.

Through the years, the workforce went from its first employee, to its present staff of 40 trained and motivated employees. They currently serve over 7000 subscribers and nine exchanges. A 24-hr technical staff was introduced in 2007 to help our members, and other companies serve their customers with backup support. They even have two community television channels, broadcasting community events such as school plays, concerts, local sporting events and church services. They also have a 24/7 weather channel featuring local radar and temperatures.