Area Information - History of the Chili Post Office
CHILI-CLARK COUNTY, WISCONSIN is located about the center of Wisconsin; it is 12 miles West of Marshfield, Wi. And 18 miles east of Neillsville, Wisconsin, our county seat.
About 1880 the North-Western Railroad built through this area to take care of the saw mills. There was a small mill about a mile east of where the railroad put in a siding called Cedarhurst. Another saw mill was built at the present site of Chili, and grew to be a large operation.
One cold day the railroad officials came for the purpose of selecting a name. It was so cold they did not want to get out of the train, so one of them said, “Let’s call this stop Chili, because it’s really chilly here.”
The village was platted Nov. 13, 1891 on land owned by Ira Fike, F.C. Fike, S.E. Fike and the Neillsville Manufacturing Company. The Fikes had come to the area from Michigan a generation or so before and were logging for a Necedah firm. Whiston Davis was one of the early settlers as was P.N. Christenson, prominent Wood County pioneer whose business interests branched into Clark County, operated a saw mill here many year.
The railroad, like others hastened depletion of area's timber resources, but it helped to bring in settlers who paved the way for agricultural pursuits that followed in the path of the wood choppers. Agriculture is of greatest importance to the economy of Chili.
Other community enterprises include two grocery stores, three taverns, two hardware stores, a butcher shop, a hotel, a doctor, a dentist, a barber shop, and Art Siefert who made beer kegs for a firm in Medford. The Royal Neighbors and Modern Woodmen used to meet in the Opera House. This building was used for a Town Hall, and entertained 4-H, dances and other community affairs. A feed mill and elevator, a dairy products plant, a branch bank, religious organizations in the village were a Methodist Church, Christ Lutheran Congregation and St. Stephen's Catholic Parish. The community also had a district elementary school.
As the settlement grew, a petition, signed by 43 heads of family was signed for the establishment of Rural Free Delivery Route. This was accepted by the government as was ordered to go into effect July 15th, 1905. The Postmaster was authorized to establish R.F.D. Service from the office to commence on a Thurs. June 15th, 1905 with one carrier at a salary of $720.00 per annum, including horse for hire. The route was laid down by Rural Agent John J. Esch. Charley H. Lindow was appointed rural letter carrier on Route No. 1, which was 25 miles long.
In the year July 1, 1907 a change in salary to $900.00 per year. Edwin A. Happe was appointed substitute carrier. Ethel Hogenson was Postmaster from 1906-1948.
Carriers during the twentieth century were Herbert L. McNaul 1916-1939. Lyle Zimmerman 1943-1970. Irwin Rusch 1970-1987. Darwin Schlinsog 1987 and present (1989).
Sub. Carriers were Fred Selk, Orville Dankemeyer, Burdett McNaul, Glen Hill, Jo Hildebradt, Barbara Weatherworth, and Dale Rollins.
From the time of Dec. 15, 1930 to about 1965 a Star route was established to carrier mail on the route to Railroad stations. The route at Chili was Marshfield, by Chili, Granton, Neillsville, Black River Falls to Merrillan Railroad station. Contractors and carriers were Michael E. Wellner, Henry E. Lotzer, Harold Bauer, Marvin Menger, Franklin Stump, and Wenzel Lee.
In 1948 Donald Bersell became Postmaster of Chili and served for 27 yrs. - till 1975. He had as assistant clerks, Leone Bersell from 1953-1975 and Jo Hidebrandt from Nov. 1970 to 1980.
In June 1975 Benjamin Urlaub was appointed Officer in Charge at the Chili office on retirement of Donald Bersell. Ben Urlaub then was appointed Postmaster at Chili Jan. 3, 1976 to Oct. 6, 1976 when he went to Neillsville. Clerk Jo Hildebrandt became Officer in Charge Oct. 6, 1976 to Oct. of 1977 when Randy Klemp too over as Officer in Charge. In the year of Feb. 10, 1978 Thomas Volkman became Postmaster and served until March 23, 1979, when Carl Wendt became Officer in Charge. He served until Feb. 22, 1980 when Jo Hildebrandt was sworn in as Postmaster, and is Postmaster at the present time. (Feb. 1989).
Chili started digging for a new Post Office in Oct. 1988 and soon hope to have it finished. It is located at the corner of Chili Road and Oak St. At present the office has 300 customers and the R.F.D. Is 79 miles long.
We the people of Chili are happy and proud to have our Post-Office and little community which as of this day has prospects of growing and still consists of three churches, the Lutheran, Catholic and Methodist. Two garages, a feed mill, a beauty parlor, a tavern, a nice grocery store, a factory that produces dry cheese products and has several shifts. A large implement Corp. that services all the farmers around the community, a branch bank, and a car body repair shop, and a district elementary school.
Written by Virginia McNaul
March 4, 1989