F.M. Peterson, high school principal and superintendent

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in October 2014 before the launch of this weblog.

F.M. Peterson, high school principal and superintendent

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Pekin Community High School’s theater is named for and dedicated to F.M. Peterson. Older PCHS alumni will remember that Peterson was a longtime principal of the high school and superintendent of the high school district.

They might not remember, however, that he was also a veteran of both World Wars and a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves. These and other details of his life are mentioned in his Pekin Daily Times obituary.

F. M. Peterson, from the 1947 Pekinian yearbook

Born Franklin M. Peterson on Aug. 7, 1896, in Brownstown, Ill., a small town on Illinois Route 40 between Vandalia and Effingham, he was a son of William F. and Lillian (Starnes) Peterson. He was 20 years old when the United States entered the First World War on April 6, 1917. During the war, Peterson served in the American Expeditionary Force in France. He was 22 when the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918.

After the war, Peterson went into the field of public education, serving as chief administrator of the schools in Tolono, Monticello and Coffeen. Three years after the war’s end, in 1921, he married Olga Clotfelter. His obituary does not mention that they ever had any children, however.

In 1938, he became the principal of Pekin Community High School, a position he would hold until 1954. During World War II, however, he was called away from his duties as principal for the added responsibility of service in the Army Air Corps. After the war, Peterson continued his military service alongside his high school career, serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

In 1954, the District 303 School Board appointed Peterson to the position of District 303 superintendent. Two years later, he retired from the USAF Reserves with the rank of lieutenant colonel. His work as an administrator in public education also brought involvement as well as leadership posts in related professional organizations such as the Illinois Secondary School Principals’ Association, the National High School Principals’ Association, the Illinois Curriculum Committee and the Illinois High School Association.

During his tenure as superintendent, District 303 was faced with a booming student population. The school board originally had planned another expansion project at the high school campus, but in 1959 it was learned that the city planned to widen Eighth Street, which would take land the school board would have needed for an expansion. So the board instead decided to build a second high school campus at the site of the old Pekin Country Club golf course. Construction on the new East Campus began in 1962 and classes started there in the fall of 1963.

Peterson retired in 1965 after a combined 27 years as PCHS principal and superintendent. The high school theater at East Campus was christened in his honor.

After retirement, in 1966 he moved to Belleair, Fla., and remained in that area until his death at age 87. In Florida, Peterson was active in the American Legion as well as the Clearwater, Fla., Military Order of World Wars and the Clearwater retired officers association. He also volunteered for the American Red Cross, serving as treasurer of the Upper Pinellas Chapter of the Red Cross for nine years.

F.M. Peterson died Monday, Sept. 29, 1984, at the Bay-Pines Veterans Administration Center in Belleair, Fla., and his body was cremated. At the time of his death, he and his wife Olga were living in Belleair Bluffs. In addition to his wife, he was survived by his brother Forrest W. Peterson of Belleair.

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#f-m-peterson, #franklin-m-peterson, #pekin-high-school, #pekin-history, #preblog-columns

Bowman and Herman sold shoes

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in June 2015 before the launch of this weblog.

Bowman and Herman sold shoes

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

In Feb. 2015, “From the History Room” first took a look at one of the advertisements in the 1949 Pekin Centenary volume that provided a summary of the history of the old Ehrlicher Brothers pharmacy which was located at 328 Court St. in Pekin. Afterwards we devoted a column to the Centenary’s Central House ad.

This week we’ll review another historically informative advertisement from the Pekin Centenary. Like the pharmacy ad, this one, found on page 130, also offers details on the Ehrlicher family whose members have played important roles in Pekin’s history. It’s a tribute advertisement for B & H Shoe Store, which operated out of 320 Court St., just a few doors down from the Ehrlichers Brothers drug store. The motto of B & H was “A Good Place to Buy Good Shoes.”

These two vintage photographs illustrated the Bowman and Herman shoe store’s tribute advertisement in the 1949 Pekin Centenary.

The shoe store’s proximity to the drug store was probably not a coincidence, because the shoe store was founded by another member of the Ehrlicher family, whose patriarch Johann Georg Ehrlicher had himself been a shoemaker.

“320 Court St. has been a shoe store location for almost sixty-five years,” the ad says. “The original store was known as Ehrlicher’s Shoe Store and in the 1880’s was operated by Fred W. Ehrlicher (an uncle to George and Arthur Ehrlicher of Schipper & Block Co.) and John J. Fink, partners.”

Fred was a brother of the pharmacists Henry and Otto of Ehrlichers Brothers drug store.

Continuing with the history of B & H Shoe Store, the ad says, “It was later sold to John G. Heisel and Wm. J. Lohnes and the name changed to Heisel & Lohnes. It remained under their management for fifteen or twenty years when Mr. Heisel dropped the name Lohnes from the firm name. (Mr. Lohnes subsequently joined with two business men from Peoria and bought the P. Steinmetz Dry Goods Store which became Lohnes, Merkle & Renfer, where he established a shoe department.)

“In its early years, when the repair department was part of the shoe store, Bart Jost, Sr. was the shoe maker and his teenage son Bartlin Jr., who through the span of his life spent over fifty years as a shoe salesman in the 300 block on Court St., was also an employee of Ehrlicher. To this day old customers reminisce about ‘good old Bart’ when they shop at the B & H where he spent the last active years of his life.

“The John G. Heisel Co. continued and after World War I it was remodeled and the present attractive front installed. Quality shoes were featured then as today.

“About 1924 it was sold to Sam Sandler, an old shoe merchant from Peoria, who shortly after sold it to two brothers-in-law, Ed Bowman and Sid Herman, who changed the name to the B & H Shoe Store, the name it has carried for the past twenty-three years.

“Ed Bowman bought out Herman a few years later. A short time after, his son Mort joined the firm and took over active management. The store has tried to establish a reputation for honest dealings in business and a quality line of merchandise at all times, while keeping pace with the times in modern conveniences and methods.”

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One hundred Tremont telegrams

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in October 2013 before the launch of this weblog.

One hundred Tremont telegrams

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Before the invention and the popularity of the telephone, the telegraph was the way to send important (albeit brief) messages quickly over a great distance. Cities and communities both large and small were connected by thousands of miles of telegraph wires that carried the messages from one telegraph office to the next — and almost every community had a telegraph office.

A glimpse into the heyday of the telegram is offered by Donald Nieukirk’s 36-page book, “One Hundred Telegrams Sent or Received at Tremont, Illinois, 1912,” published in 2001 by the Tremont Historical Society and Museum. It’s one of the books in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection.

To prepare his book, Nieukirk collated, edited and annotated a collection of Western Union telegrams from September and October 1912 that had been donated by Keith A. Toepfer of Tremont. The telegrams had come into Toepfer’s possession as a result of his mother Evalyn’s 1965 purchase of the old “Big Four” railway depot on West Pearl Street in Tremont — with the purchase of the building came all of its contents, including a large number of old telegrams. From that collection, Nieukirk selected 100 for his book, adding explanatory comments and notes.

“Now nearly ninety years later,” Nieukirk wrote in 2001, “they make a fascinating reading for local history buffs and afford revealing glimpses of the daily routine in an age gone by.”

Shown is a reproduction of one of the Western Union telegrams featured in Donald Nieukirk’s “One Hundred Telegrams Sent or Received at Tremont, Illinois, 1912.” The telegrams were found in the old “Big Four” railway depot on West Pearl Street in Tremont.

Here are a few of them:

Nieukirk starts off with a business telegram sent at 10 a.m. Sept. 3, 1912, from the G. W. Shemel Grain Co. to the Evans Elevator Co. in Decatur. The text of the telegram is nothing but a string of five words: “Stagger – chest – afforded – affixing – boundless.”

“What a confusing message with which to start!” Nieukirk writes. “Obviously it is a code of some sort. The reply was received in just a few hours.” The reply was, “Acceptance too late — will wire later if have good bids.” A similar encoded exchange is found on pages 33-34.

Another telegram, sent at 5:07 p.m. Sept. 5 by J. W. Lindeburg of Peoria to W. C. McQueen of Tremont, says, “Will call on you in the morning with the Cowell trunk line — new goods.” Nieukirk comments that in 1912 McQueen operated a furniture, carpet, wallpaper and paint business in the City Hotel Building. McQueen was elected mayor of Tremont in 1927 and served in that office for 20 years.

Sometimes the telegrams dealt with news of death or funeral arrangements. A “Night letter” sent at 8:07 p.m. Sept. 5 by Mrs. Martin Robison to the Rev. Lawther of Fairbury says, “Will you preach Martin Robison funeral sermon Sunday at ten A.M. — will take you to Washington to one o’clock train Sunday — answer if you will come to Morton or Allentown on Interurban — if you do not answer by return message – call on telephone.”

An urgent telegram, sent on Sept. 5 by Fred A. Johnson to Mary Phillips of Marblehead, Ind., reads, “Tell your mother that her sister not expected to live — come at once.”

Other telegrams are rather mundane, such as one sent on Oct. 13 from “Harry” to D. C. St. Clair of Pekin, which says, “Left comb and brush at saloon this morning — get it.”

Nieukirk’s telegrams also include a somewhat entertaining series of gossipy messages involving a number of residents of Tremont; Duncan, Miss.; and Memphis, Tenn., who wanted to find out if a young woman named “Maude” had gotten married.

The series begins with an inquiry from a Clara Tibbs on Sept. 21, 1912, and continues over the next two weeks through early October, but, frustratingly, we never get an answer to Clara’s initial question, and neither was Nieukirk able to find out who Maude was.

#big-four-railway-station-in-tremont, #donald-nieukirk, #dunkelberg-telegrams, #preblog-columns, #telegrams, #tremont

‘Leader of the Band’ Lawrence Fogelberg

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in October 2014 before the launch of this weblog.

‘Leader of the Band’ Lawrence Fogelberg

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

The Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection naturally focuses on Pekin’s history, but the collection also encompasses a wider geographical circle of subjects having a direct or indirect connection to Pekin.

That’s why the Local History Room has a file on the late popular musician Dan Fogelberg (1951-2007). Although Dan Fogelberg and his family were from Peoria, his father Lawrence P. Fogelberg had a connection to Pekin for more than 20 years, as many a current or former resident of Pekin will recall.

Dan Fogelberg’s song “Leader of the Band” is a touching tribute to his father Lawrence, who was a band leader and composer. His career as a band leader included conducting the bands and teaching music at Woodruff High School in Peoria (1945-1955) and at Pekin Community High School (1955-1976). He also directed the Bradley University band at football and basketball games (1951-1959).

For the first few years after Lawrence Fogelberg started as Pekin Community High School’s band director in the 1950s, he would only appear in formal group photos of the band. The 1960 Pekinian was the first time a “stand-alone” photo of the Leader of the Band appeared in the Pekin yearbook.

As band director at PCHS, Fogelberg founded the Stage Band as well as the Marching 100 football bands. Besides his work with the Pekin high school bands, Fogelberg also was the director of the Pekin Municipal Band (predecessor of the Pekin Park Concert Band), which played “Sunday in the Park” concerts every summer near the Mineral Springs Park Pavilion. He also would play the piano for song leader Logan Unland at weekly Rotary meetings in Pekin.

Unsurprisingly, then, his obituary was the top story on the front page of the Aug. 6, 1982 Pekin Daily Times. The obituary mentions that, besides his musicial talent, Lawrence Fogelberg also excelled at swimming when he was young.

“A world-class swimmer in his youth, Fogelberg swam second to Johnny Weissmuller’s first in the 1928 Olympics. He joked to his friends that ‘If Johnny Weismuller hadn’t beat me out, I might have been Tarzan.’”

Lawrence P. Fogelberg’s career as a band leader included 21 years as band director at Pekin Community High School (1955-1976). At PCHS, Fogelberg founded the Stage Band as well as the Marching 100 football bands. Besides his work with the Pekin high school bands, Fogelberg also was the director of the Pekin Municipal Band (predecessor of the Pekin Park Concert Band).

Born in Chicago on March 11, 1911, Fogelberg graduated from DeKalb High School and Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, earning his master’s degree at Northwestern University in Evanston. During the World War II era, he played in a military orchestra while serving in the U.S. Army.

One of the articles in the Local History Room “Dan Fogelberg” file is a March 1982 interview of Lawrence Fogelberg with Peoria Journal Star writer Michael Miller. The article tells how Fogelberg came to Peoria from Detroit.

“While stationed at an Army base in Detroit, Mich.,” the article says, “he’d got a call telling him there was an opening in the music department at Woodruff High.

″‘Listen, I’m in the Army,’ he said. ‘I don’t just change jobs.’

“Eventually, though, he made it to Peoria to interview for the job, after being director of a military battalion band in Detroit (‘. . . his music wouldn’t wait’). ‘Back then, I was still the leader of the band, I guess.’”

It was while interviewing for the job at Woodruff that he first met his wife, Margaret Irvine, who was a music instructor for Peoria’s public schools. They were married April 20, 1946, in Peoria, and had three sons, Marc, Peter and Daniel.

Larry Vogelberg’s last appearance in the Pekinian before his retirement was in the 1976 high school yearbook,

The interview also says that Fogelberg first heard his son’s tribute song at home in 1981. “Dan was home and played a tape of it,” he said. “I wasn’t supposed to hear it. I’ve been breaking up ever since.”

“The most gratifying thing for Larry about the success of ‘Leader of the Band,’” the interview article says, “are the letters he had received from former students. Another pleasing thing for the Fogelbergs is how the song has touched so many people.

″‘Dan says it’s amazing how many people say they wish they had the foresight’ to tell their fathers of their love for them while they still could, his mother, Margaret, said.”

Lawrence Fogelberg died Thursday, Aug. 5, 1982. He was to have been honored that month at the Aug. 15 Sunday concert of the Pekin Municipal Band. Instead, that concert was a tribute to him and his widow.

More recently, the Sunday performance of the Pekin Park Concert Band on July 22, 2012, was a tribute to Fogelberg’s memory. At that concert, a bench near the Mineral Springs Park Pavilion with a memorial plaque to ”‘Leader of the Band’ Lawrence P. Fogelberg, Pekin Municipal Band” was dedicated.

#dan-fogelberg, #larry-fogelberg, #lawrence-fogelberg, #lawrence-p-fogelberg, #leader-of-the-band, #margaret-irvine, #margaret-irvine-fogelberg, #pekin-high-school-band, #pekin-municipal-band, #pekin-park-concert-band, #preblog-columns