Do you know the way to Bean Town?

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

Do you know the way to Bean Town?

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

The city of Pekin has seen vast changes since its birth as a pioneer town in 1830 and its incorporation as a city in 1849. Old maps and atlases show the city’s growth, as it spread out to the east, south and north from the original town (now the old downtown area of Pekin) and new sections and streets were laid out.

The maps give the names of the new subdivisions – Cincinnati Addition, Broadway Addition, Colts Addition, Leonard Addition, Edds Addition, Casey’s Addition, etc. However, there is one part of Pekin that had a unique name which does not appear on the old maps, because it wasn’t an “official” name.

That section was popularly known as “Bean Town.” It was the old northeast quarter of Pekin, bounded on the south by Broadway and on the north by Willow, with George Street (today called Eighth Street) as its western boundary. In the days when “Bean Town” got its name, the neighborhoods north of Willow and east of 14th Street did not yet exist.

Shown is a detail from the map of Pekin found in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.” The northeast quarter of Pekin, indicated by the box, and areas adjacent to it were heavily settled by German immigrants beginning about the mid-1800s. Because the Germans living there usually maintained gardens in which they grew beans, the quarter came to be known as “Bean Town” (“Bohnen Fertel”).

Why was Pekin’s old northeast quarter called “Bean Town”? It got its name as a result of the very great numbers of German immigrants who arrived in Pekin during the middle and latter half of the 1800s. “Bean Town” was Pekin’s German quarter. It was in that quarter, at 1100 Hamilton St., where the parents of U.S Senator Everett M. Dirksen lived, and where Dirsken and his twin brother Thomas lived as children.

An indication of the heavy immigration could be seen when there was an ice jam in the river at Cairo in January of 1854. It held up 14 steam boats loaded with some 2,000 German immigrants,” says the 1949 Pekin Centenary on page 15.

Continuing, the Centenary says, “The Germans built neat homes, and were enthusiastic gardeners. They located in large numbers in the northeast part of Pekin. Their gardens gave that part of the city a character all its own, and it came to be called ‘Bohnen Fertel’ in German, later called ‘Bean Town’, for the same reason; and with the passage of years ‘Bohnen Fertel’ became corrupted into Bonshe-fiddle.

Though the gardens are long since gone, Pekinites still refer to ‘bonshe-fiddle’ and ‘bean town’ in speaking of that part of the city.”

As the Centenary says, “Bohnen” is the German word for “beans.” The word “Fertel” is an old variant form of the German word “viertel,” meaning a fourth or a quarter. (“Fertl” also means “quarter” in Yiddish.) Because the German immigrants liked to plant their gardens with beans, the neighborhood came to be called Bean Town.

For a while in the latter 1800s, the majority of Pekin residents were German, and the German language could be heard here almost as commonly as English. With World War I, however, came a reaction against all things German. As a result, the children of German immigrants hastened to assimilate into American culture, and Pekin businesses began to take down their “Wir sprechen hier Deutsch” signs.

The name “Bohnen Fertel” or “Bean Town” has long since fallen into disuse. The only visible trace of that place-name today is in the name of Bean Town Antiques, a former market at the corner of 14th and Catherine streets.

Bean Town Antiques, a structure that formerly was a market at the corner of 14th and Catherine streets, is shown in this Google Street View image from 2011.

#bean-town, #bean-town-antiques, #bohnen-fertel, #everett-mckinley-dirksen, #germans-in-pekin, #preblog-columns, #thomas-dirksen

Traces of a past nearly forgotten

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Recently local historian Carl Adams brought to my attention the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society’s collection of portrait photographs of World War I soldiers who had lived in Tazewell County. The photographs were donated to the Society by the late L. Sidney Eslinger of East Peoria.

In most cases the identity of the soldiers is known. However, according to Connie Perkins, one group of portraits were scanned from smaller glass negatives that were in bad condition, and of that group only a few of the soldiers were identified. Perkins says it is not known where Eslinger had salvaged these negatives, but it is likely that all the soldiers had lived in either Tazewell or Peoria counties – of the unidentified photos, Charles Dancey was able to identify one soldier as an East Peoria man.

Among these unidentified portraits is one of an African-American Army soldier. Considering the black population in Tazewell and Peoria counties during World War I, most likely this man was from Peoria or East Peoria. He may even have come from Pekin, for Pekin in those days – before the advent of the Ku Klux Klan – had a small population of black families, most of whom lived in downtown Pekin or in the area of South Second Street. As we’ve noted before, a few African-American Civil War soldiers came from Pekin. Later, in Oct. 1902 large crowds filled the Tazewell County Courthouse square during the Pekin Street Fair to witness the public wedding ceremony of a notable African-American couple: a Spanish-American War hero named Lloyd J. Oliver and his bride, Cora Foy.

This portrait of an unidentified World War I soldier comes from a collection of glass negatives salvaged by the late L. Sidney Eslinger of East Peoria, who donated the negatives to the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society. The soldier most likely was from Tazewell or Peoria counties. PHOTO REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF THE TAZEWELL COUNTY GENEALOGICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Although this World War I soldier may not have come from Pekin, a review of the known black families who lived in Pekin around that time could help identify him, or can help rule out some candidates. Another benefit of such a review is that it would uncover the traces of a past nearly forgotten: a time when African-Americans made homes and found jobs in Pekin despite the common racism of that period – before racist animus stoked by the KKK in the early 1920s drove almost all of them away.

To begin, we see that the 1910 U.S. Census for Pekin shows two black men, Edward Reaves, 49, and William Gaines, 33, rooming together at the Tazewell Hotel on Elizabeth Street. The Kentucky-born Reaves was the hotel’s head chef, while the Georgia-born Gaines was a porter and worked in the hotel’s barbershop. Reaves does not appear as a Pekin resident in any records after 1910, but Gaines appears as a Pekin resident and Tazewell Hotel porter in both the U.S. Census and Pekin city directories until 1932.

On Sept. 12, 1918, Gaines registered for the World War I draft. His draft card says he was then 40, being born April 3, 1878, and that his “nearest relative” was his mother, Mary T. Gaines of Washington, Ga. Gaines could not sign his name on his card, so he instead made his mark, which was witnessed by the draft registrar W. G. Fair.

A July 24, 1933 Pekin Daily Times story refers to Gaines as “William Gaines, one of our two black men, who is porter at the Tazewell hotel and who has been here for 30 years . . .” Gaines, who was 55 in 1933, is not listed in the Pekin city directories after 1932, so he may have moved from Pekin, but probably died here later in 1933. He does not appear in the 1940 U.S. Census.

Besides Reaves and Gaines, the 1910 U.S. Census lists another African-American porter working at the Tazewell Hotel – Joseph Roach, 60, who was born in Tennessee. Given his age, it is clear that Roach could not be the World War I soldier in the photograph.

Pekin city directories and the U.S. Census show an African-American family who were named McElroy, living in a house at 201 Sabella St., at the northeast corner of Second Street and Sabella. (The author of this column and his family lived in the same house from 1985 to 1994.) Tazewell County marriage records show that George E. McElroy, 35, son of James and Ann McElroy, married Ellen Clark on Jan. 5, 1879. The 1908 Pekin city directory shows Mrs. Ellen McElroy, her husband George McElroy, laborer, and their daughter “Mrs.” Emma McElroy all living at that address. In the 1910 U.S. Census, we find at that address Ellen McElroy, 69, widow, born in Michigan, house mortgaged, with her daughter Emma Jones, 22, widow, born in Illinois, and granddaughter Della Jones, 1, born in Illinois.

The McElroys – George, laborer, and Miss Emma – appear in the Pekin city directories at the same address in 1913 and 1914 (though George presumably died before 1910). It would seem that Emma reverted to her maiden name a few years after the death of her husband, whose name is unknown. There was an African-American man named Henry Jones, born Aug. 16, 1882, who lived at 227 Sabella St. and worked at Keystone Steel & Wire – Henry registered for the draft in 1918. He may have been Emma’s husband, but Henry’s draft card says his “nearest relative” was his wife “Eva Jones.”

Another black family who lived in Pekin in the 1910s was headed by William M. Young, born Oct. 11, 1889, in Du Quoin, Ill. William registered for the World War I draft on June 5, 1917, and his draft card says he lived in the Rosenburg Flats at 200 Court St. with his wife and two children. The 1920 U.S. Census shows William, 30, a steel mill laborer, with his wife Anna, 21, a hotel maid, renting an apartment on Court Street, but does not list any children with them. Their children may have died by then, or perhaps were living with relatives elsewhere.

The same census shows another African-American family living in the Rosenburg Flats next door to the Youngs: the family of Philon Strong, born June 14, 1882, in Mississippi, who is listed (his name misspelled as “Thealon”) with his wife Henrietta, 22, born in Tennessee, and their daughters Orene, 5, and Cathelene, 2. About two years earlier Philon had registered for the World War I draft, at which time he and Henrietta were living at 227 Sabella St. Like several other black men in Pekin in that period, Philon worked at Keystone Steel & Wire.

The 1920 U.S. Census shows an African-American extended family living at 611 Second St. in Pekin, headed by two brothers, Douglass Keys, born Feb. 12, 1890, in Franklin County, Miss., and Norman Keys, born Aug. 10, 1892, in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, Miss. Living with Douglass was his wife May, 22, and children Fanny May, 4, and Troy R., 2, as well as Norman and his wife Elva, 24, and their son Elisha, 11. Also boarding with them was a 4-year-old boy named Floyd Tilmon.

Douglass registered for the World War I draft on June 5, 1917, while he and his wife were farming in Mississippi. Douglass and Norman and their families moved from Pekin during the 1920s, probably during the heyday of the Pekin KKK. Norman is later found living in Peoria. Since the Keys family was still living in Mississippi during World War I, neither Douglass nor Norman are likely to be the soldier in the mystery photograph.

Another African-American extended family living in Pekin at this time were the Robisons, who lived at 227 Sabella St. Jessie Robison, born Aug. 1, 1882, in Mississippi, registered for the World War I draft on Sept. 12, 1918. On the same day, Cammie Robison, born April 1, 1878, probably Jessie’s older brother, also registered for the draft. Both Jessie and Cammie worked at Keystone Steel & Wire. Cammie lived in Peoria in the early 1920s. The 1920 U.S. Census for Pekin spells the surname “Robinson,” and shows Jessie, 35, with his wife New Orleans, 26, their children Teaja, 10, Myrtle M., 7, Ora Nell, 5, Anna Lee, 3, and Mable, 1, and Jessie’s nephew Albert Robinson, 17, and Albert’s wife May W. Robinson, 17.

A black man named Walter Lee, born July 10, 1884, in Greenville, Ill., the son of Jim Lee and Jane Merifield, registered for the World War I draft on Sept. 12, 1918. His draft card says Lee’s employment was “Dr & Turkish Bath” working for the Pekin Park Board at Mineral Springs Park. Lee was disqualified from military service due to a spinal injury. The 1920 U.S. Census says Lee, then 35 and unmarried, lived on Park Avenue and was a masseur working at a bath house (i.e. the park’s bath house). His death record gives his date of birth as July 4, 1895 (contradicting his draft card), identifies his employment as “Turkish Bath Owner,” and says he died at the Peoria State Hospital on 1 Oct. 1947. Lee was probably the other “one of our two black men” mentioned in the Pekin Daily Times on July 24, 1933.

To complete our review of Pekin’s African-American residents during this early period, we note that Illinois death records mention an African-American named Joseph Howaloway, born in Tennessee, son of James Howaloway, a laborer who died in Pekin on May 27, 1938 and was buried in Lakeside Cemetery. He does not appear to have lived in Pekin during World War I, however.

Anyone with information that could help identify the unidentified soldier may contact the Pekin Public Library at (309) 347-7111 or the TCGHS at (309) 477-3044, or leave a comment here below.

#albert-robison, #anna-lee-robison, #anna-young, #cammie-robison, #carl-adams, #cathelene-strong, #charles-dancey, #cora-foy, #della-jones, #douglass-keys, #edward-reaves, #elisha-keys, #ellen-clark-mcelroy, #elva-keys, #emma-mcelroy-jones, #fanny-may-keys, #floyd-tilmon, #george-e-mcelroy, #henrietta-strong, #henry-jones, #jessie-robison, #joseph-howaloway, #joseph-roach, #keystone-steel-wire, #kkk, #ku-klux-klan, #l-sidney-eslinger, #lloyd-j-oliver, #mable-robison, #mary-t-gaines, #may-keys, #may-w-robison, #mineral-springs-park-bath-house, #myrtle-m-robison, #new-orleans-robison, #norman-keys, #ora-nell-robison, #orene-strong, #pekins-racist-reputation, #philon-strong, #racism-in-pekins-past, #tazewell-hotel, #teaja-robison, #troy-r-keys, #w-g-fair, #walter-lee, #william-gaines, #william-m-young, #world-war-i

The legend of the Lost Forty

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

The legend of the Lost Forty

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

In the lore handed down from the days of the pioneer settlers of Tazewell County is a curious tale of a tract of land that came to be known by the colorful name of “the Lost Forty.”

A “forty” is land surveyor’s term that refers to 40 acres of land. Under the Public Land Survey System, the location and boundaries of a tract of land is identified by state, county, township, range, section and section portion. A “forty” is a quarter-quarter section. In 1832, when large areas of Illinois were opened to white settlers, a forty was the smallest tract of land that could be acquired.

How, then, did Tazewell County “lose” one of its forties? The story is told in Ben C. Allensworth’s 1905 “History of Tazewell County,” page 893.

“There is a tract of land in Tazewell County, lying along the Mackinaw River, which consists of a continuous series of abrupt and deep ravines. Not a foot of the tract could be cultivated. The ridges are full of fox dens, wolves are occasionally found, and turkey-buzzards hover over it in large flocks. Even people familiar with the territory have been lost in the dense forest. Except for a few giant oaks the wood has no commercial value.

“The tract is known as the ‘Lost Forty,’ because no one knows who owns it. For years it has been used for trading purposes, and many unwary persons from a distance have advanced money upon it and taken mortgages in various sums, only to receive a questionable title to a worthless piece of land. On the Tazewell County tax-books the ‘Forty’ appears with the ‘owner unknown.’ The land is watered by innumerable springs and the Mackinaw River, which winds its way through the tract.”

This brief account had previously been published in local newspapers, and, as was common newspaper practice in those days, ended up being republished in papers far and wide as “filler,” including the Gloversville, N.Y., Daily Leader in 1903, the Minneapolis Journal of June 7, 1902, the Oregonian of Portland of Nov. 11, 1901, Uhrichsville, Ohio, News Democrat of Dec. 24, 1901, the Bedford, Pa., Gazette of Dec. 27, 1901, and the Anadarko, Okla., Daily Democrat of Dec. 23, 1901.

For some reason, Allensworth did not trouble himself to specify where the Lost Forty was located, but the Anadarko Daily Democrat’s version (which was itself reprinted from the Springfield, Ill., State Journal) expands a little on Allensworth’s words, introducing the tale of the Lost Forty with these words:

“An African jungle transplanted to Central Illinois would be the best description that could be given to a remarkable tract of land in Tazewell county, lying along the Mackinaw river, near the village of Lilly. . . .”

Lilly is located about 3 miles east of Mackinaw, in Sections 14 and 13 of Mackinaw Township. But there is a serious problem with the words, “lying along the Mackinaw river, near the village of Lilly” – the Mackinaw River wends its way through Mackinaw Township a few miles to the north and northwest of Lilly, not really very “near the village of Lilly” at all.

Another clue that may help us find the Lost Forty is the location of one of Tazewell County’s old cemeteries, which, as it happens, is named “Lost Forty Cemetery.” Volume Five of the Tazewell County Cemetery Indexes, prepared in 1982 by Betty Weghorst Murphy for the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society, lists “Lost 40” cemetery as one of the burial grounds of Mackinaw Township – but the index says that this cemetery at that time was “unlocated.”

The TCGHS website’s current cemetery index, however, says Lost Forty Cemetery is, or was, located in Section 12 of Mackinaw Township, which borders Section 13 on the north. Section 12 is near Lilly, and is closer to the Mackinaw River than Section 13. Even so, the Mackinaw River does not “wind its way through” any part of Section 12. The only waterway that flows through Section 12 is Hollands Creek, which is a tributary of the Mackinaw River.

Part of the Mackinaw River and Section 12 of Mackinaw Township are shown in this detail from a map in an 1891 atlas of Tazewell County.

Presumably Lost Forty Cemetery is located in, or at least very close to, the Lost Forty. If so, the Lost Forty must have been in Section 12 of Mackinaw Township, and perhaps Hollands Creek flowed through it, the tributary creek being confused with the actual river.

On the other hand, the county atlas maps of 1864, 1873 and 1891 do not indicate any unknown or disputed ownership of land in Section 12.

To help solve the mystery, one of our readers, Vivien White of Tremont contacted us in the summer of 2013 and shared some of her childhood memories. White, then 88 years old, said that when she was a child, she lived on a farm in or near Section 12 of Mackinaw Township. Her father, Charles White, rented the farm from an owner whom Vivien believed was from the Washington or Eureka area – but she did not recall the owner’s name or the exact location of the farm, and she didn’t remember exactly where the farm was.

What she remembered, though, is that the farm bordered on the Lost Forty, and that she used to play in that area as a child. White agrees that Allensworth’s old description of the tract – “a continuous series of abrupt and deep ravines . . . The ridges are full of fox dens . . . dense forest” – is accurate. (White remembers a time when she crawled into one of the fox dens. When her father found out, he scolded her because she could have been attacked or bitten by a fox.) However, she said that, contrary to Allensworth, the Mackinaw River did not “wind its way through the tract,” but touched on it or came near it.

So, although we don’t know precisely where the Lost Forty was, White’s recollections at least appear to confirm our initial investigations.

#charles-white, #hollands-creek, #lilly, #lost-forty-cemetery, #mackinaw-river, #mackinaw-township, #preblog-columns, #public-land-survey-system, #the-lost-forty, #vivien-white

Nance Legins-Costley and her historian recognized by African-American Hall of Fame Museum

On Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at the culmination of African-American History Month, the African-American Hall of Fame Museum held a ball at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Among the highlights of the evening was an award and recognition ceremony, and among those honored as inductees into the Hall of Fame were Nance Legins-Costley of Pekin (formerly of Peoria) and her historian Carl Adams, who has published a book on Costley as well as several papers on Costley and her family.

The stories of Costley and her family, and Carl Adams’ work, have previously been featured here at “From the History Room” several times. Brought to Pekin as an indentured servant (a virtual slave) by Nathan Cromwell, one of Pekin’s co-founders, Costley was steadfast in her efforts to secure legal recognition that she and her children were free. With the aid of an attorney named Abraham Lincoln, that legal recognition finally was obtained for Costley and her three eldest children through the 1841 case of Bailey vs. Cromwell, in which the Illinois Supreme Court handed down a verdict declaring that Costley had never been an indentured servant. In effect, Costley and her three eldest children were the first slaves freed by Lincoln.

Nance Legins-Costley was well-known to Pekin’s pioneer families, and was so highly esteemed that Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates devoted a long paragraph just to her in his original 1870 sketch of Pekin’s history. The paragraph, headed, “A Relic of a Past Age,” says:

“With the arrival of Maj. Cromwell, the head of the company that afterwards purchased the land upon which Pekin is built, came a slave. That slave still lives in Pekin and is now known, as she has been known for nearly half a century, by the citizens of Pekin, as ‘Black Nancy.’ She came here a chattle (sic), with ‘no rights that a white man was bound to respect.’ For more than forty years she has been known here as a ‘negro’ upon whom there was no discount, and her presence and services have been indispensible (sic) on many a select occasion. But she has outlived the era of barbarism, and now, in her still vigorous old age, she sees her race disenthralled; the chains that bound them forever broken, their equality before the law everywhere recognized and her own children enjoying the elective franchise. A chapter in the history of a slave and in the progress of a nation.”

Plaque presented in memory of Nance Legins-Costley of Pekin (later of Peoria) during the African American Hall of Fame Museum Ball at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Costley had been an “indentured servant” (de facto slave) in Illinois. The African American Hall of Fame Museum chose to honor her memory for her repeated efforts to secure legal recognition of her freedom which culminated in the 1841 case of Bailey vs. Cromwell, which Abraham Lincoln successful argued before the Illinois Supreme Court. The verdict in the case established that Costley and her three eldest children had never been indentured servants and were therefore free.

Plaque presented Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, to local historian Carl Adams during the African American Hall of Fame Museum Ball at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The plaque recognizes Adams’ contribution to civil rights, which include his book and articles on the family of Nance Legins-Costley of Pekin (later of Peoria), who is remembered as the first slave freed by Abraham Lincoln.

#abraham-lincoln, #african-american-hall-of-fame-museum, #bailey-v-cromwell, #black-nance, #carl-adams, #first-slave-freed-by-abraham-lincoln, #nance-legins-costley, #nathan-cromwell, #william-h-bates

Before West Campus: the Menheusen Prairie

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

Before West Campus: the Menheusen Prairie

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

It has been about eight years since the former Pekin Community High School West Campus has been demolished, and even now it’s natural that the land on which it stood is still referred to as “West Campus.” For those who went to school there, it will probably always be “West Campus.”

However, before it was the location of Pekin’s high school, the land had another name, as is seen in the minutes of the meetings of the old Pekin School District School Board.

The November 2013 issue of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Monthly reprinted the “Proceeedings of the Board of School Inspectors of the City of Pekin” from the years 1912 and 1913. During those years, the school board made plans to build a new high school – what eventually would come to be known as West Campus.

At the meeting of March 29, 1912, the school board passed an important resolution:

“Inspector Aydelott offered the following resolution: Be it resolved … that for the purpose of building a new Lincoln School building on the present Lincoln School grounds at a cost of ($40,000.00) Forty Thousand Dollars; for the purpose of making an addition to the Garfield School at a cost of Ten Thousand ($10,000.00) Dollars and for the purpose of building a new High School Building on what is known as Menheusen Prairie, corner of Broadway and Eighth streets at a cost of Fifty five Thousand ($55,000.00) Dollars, we call an election to be held on the 15th day of April A.D. 1912 to vote on issuing bonds in the sum of One Hundred five Thousand ($105,000.00) Dollars.”

A few months after the bond issue was approved by Pekin’s voters, at the meeting of Nov. 12, 1912, “On motion of Inspector Aydelott the Committee on School Site were authorized and instructed to petition His Honor the Mayor and Board of Commissioners to vacate the street on what is known as Menhuesen (sic) Prairie for school purposes.

The land on which the high school was built – the Menheusen Prairie – was bounded on the north by Ann Eliza Street, on the east by North Ninth Street, on the south by Broadway, and on the west by North Eighth Street. It was bisected from west to east by Margaret Street, which is the street that the school board asked the city to vacate so the new high school could be built there.

Menheusen Prairie, located in the Campbell Durley and Newhall’s Addition of Pekin, is shown in this detail from the Dec. 1909 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Pekin. A few years later, Pekin’s new high school — later to become West Campus — was built on Menheusen Prairie.

At the time that the December 1909 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Pekin were drawn, this property had only three structures: a small “Voting House” at 18 N. Eighth St, the corner of Eighth and Margaret; a residence at 110 N. Eighth St., the corner of Eight and Ann Eliza; and a small outbuilding on the same lot as the residence. According to David Perkins of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society, the residence at 110 N. Eighth St. reportedly was moved to Washington Street to make way for the new high school.

How did this property come to be known as “the Menheusen Prairie”? It got its name because it was a stretch of meadow and farmland owned by a family of 19th century German immigrants from Ostfriesland, in what was then the German kingdom of Hanover. In old records, this family’s surname is spelled variously “Menhusen,” “Manhusen” and “Menheusen.” The Menheusen Prairie was located in the old German ethnic district of Pekin popularly known as “Beantown” from the great number of gardens grown by the German newcomers to Pekin who had settled there.

The Menhusen name first appears in the 1870 Pekin City Directory, on page 48, which lists “Menhusen B., laborer, bds ne cor Third and Ann Eliza.” There are no Menhusens in the 1876 Pekin City Directory, but the 1887 directory, page 53, shows “Menhusen Albert, grinder Pekin Plow Co. res. 400 N. 8,” and “Menhusen Barthold, teamster, res. 400 N. 8.”

Albert and Barthold were brothers, sons of Meinert “Barney” Jannsen Menhusen and his wife Fentje “Fannie” Bartels Strunk, who had come to Tazewell County from Hamswehrum, Ostfriesland. Meinert died in 1904 and is buried in San Jose.

Like his father Meinert, Barthold Menhusen (whose name also appears in old records as “Bertold” and “Bardelt”) was commonly known in Pekin as “Barney.” He married Catrina Rickelfs in 1871 in Tazewell County and had four children with her. Catrina apparently died prior to 1880, however, because that year he remarried to Fulka Schipper, also a German immigrant from Ostfriesland. The 1880 U.S. Census shows “B. Manhusen,” age 28, a farmer, with his wife “Fulka,” age 34, with Barney’s children Anna, age 10, twins John and Fanny, age 8, and Jeana, age 7. At the time of the 1880 census, Barney and his family were living on Margaret Street – apparently on the land that came to be called the Menheusen Prairie.

The 1887-88 Pekin City Directory, page 172, shows “Barney Menhusen” operating a saloon at 220 Court St., while page 86 lists his residence at 110 N. Eighth St. That is also where he was living at the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, which lists “Barney Menhusen,” a “constabler” (sic), born February 1852 in Germany, with his wife “Fulka,” born May 1848 in Germany (her death record says she was born Oct. 7, 1846), and an adopted son, “Barney,” born August 1889 in Illinois.

Barney had died by 1903, however, because the 1903-04 Pekin City Directory, page 111, shows “Menheusen, Mrs., wid Barney, r 110 N. 8th.” The 1905 Pekin City Directory, page 114, shows “Menheusen, Foelkers (sic), M., wid Barney, r 110 N. 8th.” However, the 1908 Pekin City Directory, page 152, shows “Menhusen, Mrs. Folke, r 1308 Somerset,” while page 153 lists her adopted son Barney A. Menhusen at the same address, indicating that Barney’s widow and adopted son had moved a few years prior to the construction of the new high school. Folka apparently remained at 1308 Somerset until her death on Sept. 12, 1931.

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