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
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.”
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.”