Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The paper is filled with religious news this week: Rev. Jim Redfield has been installed as pastor of the Merrill and Tomahawk Seventh Day Adventist Churches. His wife Liona is a nurse at Holy Cross. The couple recently moved to Merrill from Milwaukee with their three children. Wilburn Weber, a member of St. Stephen’s UCC, has been elected to the Corporate Board for World Ministries; the World Ministries concerns itself with food and supplies for victims of floods, famines and other catastrophes. Rev. Conrad Thompson will speak this Sunday at all services at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. He is the well-known voice of “Lutheran Vespers” on the radio whose program reaches 22 states. Rev. Leonard Thaemert will lead a four-day Open House Mission at St. John’s Lutheran Church this weekend. And a centennial open house at St. Paul’s Church found several former pastors in attendance with Rev. Ervin Lemke, Rev. Harold Krenz, and current minister Rev. Laurence Carlson greeting congregants at the service.
In news briefs: The Merrill Jaycees have donated a pediatric bed to Holy Cross Hospital. The bed is specially set up for the treatment of adolescent patients according to Carol Hoge, President of the Jaycettes. Bids are being accepted for the purchase and removal of the St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, Town of Corning. The successful bidder must have the structure removed by May 20, 1978, and bidders may contact Carlos Berndt with any questions. George Russell has announced the association of Michael E. Ravn with him in the practice of law. The firm title will now be changed to Russell & Ravn.
The contest between the two unbeaten teams in the Valley ended Friday evening when the Stevens Point Panthers handed the Merrill Blue Jays a 34-0 loss. Merrill hoped to get their offense going but the Panthers had already put 21 points on the board by the opening of the second quarter. Merrill now faces Shawano this Saturday at Jay Stadium. According to Merrill Coach Ira Rebella, the Indians have dropped their first three games of the season.
To celebrate the historic moment when the Constitution of the United States was signed, the Merrill Historical Society will be coordinating a “Bells Across America – A Ringing Tribute to the Constitution” starting at 3 p.m. tomorrow. All church bells will ring for 200 second to acknowledge the signing of the Constitution 200 years ago. The Constitution is acknowledged as the oldest written instrument of national government in the world today. Eight churches have agreed to take part in the bell ringing. They include St. Francis, Emmanuel Covenant, Bethlehem Lutheran, Our Saviour’s, St. John Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran, Christ United Methodist, and St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ. Rural churches who wish to join in are welcome. Student volunteers from St. John’s and Lincoln Schools will join with representatives from the Historical Society and the Lincoln County Bar Association in a balloon release on the museum grounds at 3 p.m. as well. Students throughout the city also recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the same time today at noon. In a live telecast, President Ronald Reagan led the nation’s students as they recited the pledge.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating a shooting Saturday at a Gleason tavern. According to the reports, the operator of the Old Time Tavern got into a disagreement with some patrons at his Town of Russell establishment before he was shot in the stomach. The victim is at Good Samaritan Health Center in Merrill where he is listed in serious but stable condition.
The bus ride home from Stevens Point was rather quiet on Friday as the local boys didn’t have much to celebrate after their 35-6 loss to the Panthers. A record setting performance by the SPASH offense went from a 7-0 halftime lead to a 29-point romp. Junior quarterback Pete Clark completed 23 passed for 337 yards, both new conference records. Mike Jones tied a Valley record as he caught three touchdown passes. Clark for the day was 23 of 31 with four TD passes. The only bright spot for the Jays was when Kevin Blake rambled for 85 yards on a kick-off for a score in the final seconds of the game. SPASH is now 2-1 in the Valley while Merrill falls to 1-2; they host Escanaba this Friday night.
The Holy Cross Sisters have returned home by taking back their original home, the T.B. Scott mansion. When the Sister of Mercy came to Merrill they were given what some call the “haunted hill” with hopes that their presence would dispel the curse of Jenny. Now, in reality, despite her admission of it being a romantic yarn, the tale spun by Delores Chilsen Mielke of the Indian maiden wronged by a white lover is what has always stuck with the beautiful home which sits with one of the best views of Merrill. This week’s paper provides a detailed description of all of the occupants of the home, starting with T.B. Scott who was never able to call it home, dying in his home on Third Street before his mansion could be completed in 1886. His wife Ann was dead by the next year and his son Walter who now owned the home was killed in 1887 when he got into a heated argument and was stabbed with a letter opener. In 1893 Chicago millionaires Edward and Gertrude Kuechle bought the house as a summer home and furnished it with chandeliers, imported mirrors and tiled fireplaces. But Kuechle soon lost his fortune in a failed Northern Pacific railroad deal and a bogus land trade deal. He then mortgaged the property to a Chicago saloonkeeper, John Barsanti who foreclosed on Kuechle in 1900; Kuechle went insane and died in an asylum. Barsanti was waiting for a train at Chicago’s Union Station heading to Merrill to see his new house when he was stabbed to death. Peter and Pauline Plisch Loysen rented the home for a few years. The home was in disrepair as men doing work for the previous owners had walked off the job when the money dried up. The Loysens made the most of the home, they entertained, took in roomers, and had an immigrant to cook and clean. Their daughter Laura married Champier Hein of Tomahawk in the drawing room. Eventually Mary Plisch bought the home, she was a midwife and wanted to start a boarding house and a “lying-in” hospital, something popular in Europe. But before she could take occupancy of the home she collapsed and died in her buggy while going out to help deliver a baby. A man named Dan Coxin, or “Popcorn Dan” was the caretaker for a few years. Coxin had lost one arm and made his living selling popcorn as a street vendor. Coxin was doing well in the mansion and in Merrill and even returned to see his family in Ireland in 1911. Unfortunately he booked his return trip on the new boat they called the Titanic. Another caretaker took over after that; he died of alcoholism. In 1911 the property was sold to the City of Merrill. Numerous families came and went as the city used it as a rental property. In 1923 the Sisters of the Holy Cross moved to town and took over the property which will soon be home to the administrative offices and as a private residence for the sisters. (I would like to contend the true haunted property was the original Scott home on Third Street. I am working on a story which I hope finds its way into the very paper come this winter.)