Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
A few events happening around town are noted on page two. The city wide retail promotion known as Jenny Days begins tomorrow. The event will honor 130 years of retail development in the Merrill area. Don Leander of the retail council is organizing the event. Several area retailers will offer “old fashioned bargains” to their customers bringing back the prices of years gone by as the retailers themselves compete in a dress up costume contest. Don’t worry about bringing pennies for the meters, free parking will be found in downtown all through the weekend. This Sunday the VFW Post 1638 Schmitt-Manecke-Donner Post will host their annual Loyalty Day parade. Line up for the event will be on West Main at State Street and the parade will make its way through town to the court house. Five area high school bands, the National Guard, and the Pages Drum and Bugle Corps from Wausau will march along with representatives from VFW and Auxiliaries from Wausau, Plover, Mosinee, Marshfield, Athens, Shawano, Adams, Wisconsin Rapids who will join the Merrill group. Following the parade there will be an open house at the VFW Hall. (This year marks the 75th anniversary of our VFW Post, watch for more come August on that subject). Law Day will be held in Merrill and Tomahawk next week. Featured speakers for that are local attorneys Mike Nolan, Harry Hertel, John Cleary, Ron Priebe and Bill Wulf. Due process will be covered by attorneys Mark Alberg, Tom Sazama and Glenn Hartley. Judge Donald Schnabel will speak at the high school in Merrill on Thursday.
Sharon Thatcher has an article on page 15 explaining the legend of William Underdown, founder and property owner of the Underdown Recreation area. Underdown was born in DeKalb, Ill., and eventually settled down near Mt. Edna, Iowa. Most of the life that Underdown led in Iowa is a mystery, but he and his wife Louise Tatge owned and operated a sheep and Angora goat farm. A ribbon found in his possessions shows he placed high at least once in the competition at the Iowa State Fair. How he ended up in Lincoln County is not known, but after being a farmer in Iowa the now widower Underdown suddenly became the owner of 170 acres of prime real estate in Lincoln County at the age of 35. He farmed his acres, worked in the woods as a lumberman, had a large garden for his own food, and eventually became a cook in a neighborhood lumber camp. His most spirited adventure was selling home brewed whiskey known as Underdown moonshine to a growing list of customers. Numerous stories are still told about Underdown from the lumber camps to his neighborhood in the Horn and Ackerman Lake areas. Underdown died in 1943; he is buried in the county pauper section of the Merrill Cemetery. (My Uncle Dan was the sexton at Merrill Memorial Park and could never understand how a man who was once the owner of what was considered some of the finest land in Lincoln County was buried in a pauper’s grave)
It’s official, Faith Lutheran Church just over the border into the Marathon County Town of Maine has broken ground on their new church. Rev. Allen Behnke presided at the ceremony which was attended by 200 people. The new church will have seating for 200 and will feature stain glass windows depicting the Parable of the Sower. Portions of the church will also contain red granite taken from local quarries. This will be the fifth church built by the Faith Lutheran Congregation. The original founding of the church was in 1864 and represents the oldest Lutheran Church north of Milwaukee. The building is hoped to be completed by October.
In a ceremony that marked the culmination of health care provided by the Sisters of Mercy of Holy Cross, dignitaries stated this is not the end of quality health care but instead it is the passing of the baton to the next provider in health care to the Merrill community. Catholic Health Corporation has officially taken over ownership of Holy Cross Hospital in Merrill. The Holy Cross Sisters have been preparing for this transition since announcing the intent to sell the facility last year. In pictures chronicling the ceremonies this past Saturday, A. Diane Moeller, president of Catholic Health Corp, is presenting a plaque to Sister Catherine Addy, provincial superior of the Catholic Sisters of Holy Cross that tells of their promise to continue the mission that the sisters began 60 years ago. The Most Reverend Rafael M. Fliss, Bishop of Superior, is shown during a private ceremony re-dedicating the building to mark the transfer of ownership. The Rev. Paul Nulton of Christ United Methodist Church in Merrill is pictured as he leads the musical portion of the ceremonies. His rendition of the song “An Einem Schwarzen Bonde” was in German, the theme song of the Sisters over the years. Dr. Walter Lewinnek also gave a speech representing the medical staff. He has practiced medicine in Merrill for 40 of the Sisters’ 60 years. In his weekly column, Norm Heideman also marks the transition in care. He writes about how in the 1930s different flu and other outbreaks found the Sisters working day and night often with patients who could not pay while usually as sick as or worse than the patients they were treating.
A three-day search in the Underdown recreation area ended this morning after searchers discovered the body of a missing 29-year-old Wausau woman. Lincoln County Sheriff’s officials started searching for the woman after finding her car parked in the parking lot of the Underdown on Saturday; they had been asked to be on the lookout for her on Friday when she left her Wausau home. Eventually search dogs from the Headwaters Search and Rescue Unit became involved in the search, and a dog found the woman in the Town of Birch, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The DNR also assisted with the search. The victim, Nancy Johnson, is originally from the Baraboo area.
Merrill Area Public Schools has made an offer to Lincoln County to swap land between the two entities. MAPS wants the Jack Pines area in order to add practice fields along with soccer and football fields. They would clear cut the land and pay for half of the construction of 8th Street on the south side of the pines as 10th Street would be closed for school use. School Board President Bruce Severt also sees this as an opportunity to control the area which seems to attract students up to no good during school hours.
Mark Weix is now on duty at River Valley State Bank in Merrill. The Medford native and longtime local banker is in charge of the new branch of River Valley inside of Dave’s County Market. Weix stated that the bank has night and weekend hours and offers complete customer service for all needs.
The Town of Harding is searching for answers after Wisconsin Public Service has announced their intention to sell tracts of land alongside of the Wisconsin River. Paul Gilk states that he is very concerned with the plan and states that he is working to get the town’s ordinance for subdivisions in place before any of the property is sold. WPS says they don’t plan on selling the property as lots so the new ordinance should not affect the sale. WPS also stated they made an offer to the DNR for them to purchase the land but they declined the offer.