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of them. Blanche Derby may have contracted one of the many illnesses of the day, as her school attendance record showed 111 days present and 44 absent. Alfred Kreiser may have had to stay home and help with the chores, as he missed 31 days and was tardy another 22.
Loyal finally incorporated into a village in 1893, two years behind its neighbor to the west, Greenwood. Greenwood had been so named for the lushness of the area forests when the first settlers arrived there, and thousands of those virgin growth logs were floated southward down the Black River to the growing mills of the region. The Loyal-area was also logged bare of its virgin growth, and its logs also taken to the Black for transport in high water.
Loyal did not derive its name from any natural resource or distinctive physical feature, but from the patriotism of its young men. As popular folklore goes, Loyal was so-named because so many of its men marched east and south during the Civil War to fight for the Union cause. Such loyalty has been a distinction of the community since, the museum preserving this status with such objects as the old “in memoriam” ribbon for Col. C.R. Gill of Post #206 displayed a few feet from a plaque commemorating the sacrifice of National Guardsman Todd Olson, lost in the Middle East in 2004.
Through World War I and the Great Depression Loyal persevered. The community settled on agriculture as its main industry, the hundreds of families who settled on the fertile lands plowing up thousands of acres on which to graze cattle and grow crops to carry them through the winter. Loyal’s museum tells those stories, too, with pieces of old equipment, the first milking machines, a blacksmith forge, an oats cleaner, a corn sheller, yokes, scythes and so forth.
As the rural area around the village (which then became a city in 1943) grew, so did the small town. Businesses serving the farmers were numerous and varied. First those that catered to the horse teams prospered, then those disappeared as gas engine tractors took over the land. More stores were needed to supply the population in a day when Neillsville or Marshfield were just too far away to visit often.
The collection of business memorabilia in the museum tells of the variety of businesses that Loyal’s downtown hosted through the years. Each of those businesses traditionally gave patrons a gift at holiday time, like the pen holder offered by North Star Cheese. Hill Funeral Home & Furniture gave out yardsticks, Braun’s Bar and Bowling a coin purse. There was a cup from Ditter Well Drilling, a piggy bank from Witt’s Meat Market, an ash tray from Seeman Gas & Oil, a spatula from the Loyal Skogmos Store, a deck of cards from Bob’s Electric, a calendar plate from the Loyal State Bank, a thermometer from Beaver Dry Goods, and a tape measure from Jeanette’s Fashions.