Wauzeka Township clerk gives up post after 48 years

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Carol Mullikin became clerk for the Wauzeka Township in February 1974. She is not running for re-election in April and instead retiring after nearly five decades of service. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin


To dedicate 48 years to being town clerk, one must be a people person and be able to roll with changes. Knowing bookkeeping, and being organized and flexible is also important.

This April, Carol Mullikin will retire from the position she’s held since February 1974 as Wauzeka Township clerk. Instead of her name on the ballot for the spring election, this time, it will be Shawna Walz running uncontested. 

The election will be April 6, and the township’s annual meeting will be April 20—Carol’s last day.

“I hope the town continues [in the same direction] it is,” Carol said modestly. 

Initially being appointed to the town clerk job in the middle of Tom Sprosty’s two-year term, Carol, then 28, was appointed to finish out his last year. In 1975, she ended up on the ballot for the first time.

She was a young mom of four little children (eventually five), married to Bob and living next door to her home Cipra family farm, on Highway 60, between Bridgeport and Wauzeka. She had a bookkeeping background, having worked at Prairie City Bank. She also had a small cafe in Wauzeka for awhile. 

Carol said she is grateful for the help she got early on from the Prairie du Chien and Bridgeport Township clerks at the time.  

Carol’s commitment to the town of Wauzeka involves attending meetings alongside the town chairman, two supervisors and a treasurer, and recording minutes once a month, unless there is a special meeting. Otherwise, behind-the-scenes work involves issuing various licenses and permits, doing the tax roll, writing reports to the state, sorting mail, paying bills,handling elections and participating in training.

“We have the budget meeting, annual meeting, board of review meetings and the caucus every other year,” she noted. “For elections, I used to have to print the ballots. Everything was on paper (as opposed to digital today). We didn’t even have a town hall at the time.”

Meetings in the early days were in the ag building at the school. Today, they’re held in a rented room on Front Street in Wauzeka.

Carol said her work has certainly evolved over the years. She remembers using a typewriter to create records and documents. 

“When the ribbon started wearing out, you had to clunk harder. You used it as much as you could before replacing the ribbon.”

Somewhere along the line, Carol said the advent of the copy machine came along, alleviating overuse of the typewriter ribbon. 

Her minutes were handwritten in a notebook.

“When I wrote them, I always came home and rewrote them,” she recalled.

In 2000, the township purchased a computer, which streamlined those duties. Although, after meetings, Carol would stay and type out the minutes from her handwritten copy. 

At election time, votes were cast in booths at the town’s poll site. When the last ballot was cast, she and her poll workers endured some late nights counting all the ballots by hand too. Eventually, electronic voting machines came along in the early 2000s. However, the old voting booths are around yet today, and Carol said some people still prefer to fill their ballots that way.

Acting as town clerk can be time consuming on occasion, and other times it can be rather quiet, depending upon activity. 

Carol has enjoyed her local role greatly and is proud of the effort she’s given for 48 years. 

“I like being around people and talking to people. You meet all kinds,” she said. “That will be the hard part (about retiring), not seeing people as much.”

She knows it may take time to adjust to retirement and not feel like she still has town clerk responsibilities. 

“I guess it’s just kind of become part of my daily and weekly life,” she added. 

The 60-mile Wauzeka township is spread out and basically encircles the village—extending toward Steuben and sharing boundaries with Marietta, Eastman and Prairie du Chien townships. The only business currently in the town of Wauzeka is the Horseshoe Bar. Formerly, there was also Kickapoo Indian Caverns permanently closed to public tourism in 2011.

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