Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Schaeferville

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among the communities described in John Drury’s “This is Tazewell County, Illinois” (1954), we find the following brief comment on page 97:

“Another hamlet in Elm Grove Township is Shaferville. It is located just south of Pekin city and near it is Meyer’s Lake. A highway, State 9, runs through the community.”

Remarkably, most of what Drury says here is wrong. “Shaferville” is Drury’s misspelling of “Schaeferville,” an unincorporated community right outside the Pekin city limits. “Meyer’s Lake” was originally named Bailey’s Lake and is more commonly known as Lake Arlann – the community of Schaeferville is situated between Lake Arlann on the east and South 14th Street on the west. It is puzzling, however, why Drury thought Schaeferville was in Elm Grove Township, for it has always been in Cincinnati Township — and in fact a map in Drury’s book shows Schaeferville in Cincinnati Township, albeit on East Court Street rather than South 14th Street. It’s less of a puzzle why he thought Illinois Route 9 ran through Schaeferville – a 1945 Tazewell County plat book shows South 14th Street was then designated as Route 98, and Drury apparently confused Route 98 with Route 9.

Judge Charles Schaefer’s land on the west side of Bailey’s Lake, shown in this detail of a 1945 Cincinnati Township plat map, was soon to become the community of Schaeferville.

At the time Drury wrote, Schaeferville had only existed for a few years, having been platted out on land to the south of Pekin’s Fisher Addition — the land having been owned by the Schaefer family. The two most notable members of that family were Charles Schaefer (1875-1953), a former Tazewell County judge and Mayor of Pekin, and Judge Schaefer’s brother Fred Schaefer (1860-1948), who had been a partner in the Jansen & Zoeller Brick Company, later shifting to coal mining in 1939, when he bought one of the old Grant mines. Known at first as the Schaefer Mining Company, then as the Pekin Mining Company, the Schaefers’ mine closed around 1951, the last of Pekin’s coal mines.

This detail of the map of Cincinnati Township from the 1929 Tazewell County plat atlas shows the land of Judge Charles Schaefer on the west side of Bailey Lake (Lake Arlann or Meyer’s Lake) that later became Schaeferville.

By 1955 the new unincorporated community of Schaeferville was nestled snugly between Meyer’s Lake (Lake Arlann) and the Pekin city limits. Schaeferville is not, however, marked in this detail from the 1955 plat map of Cincinnati Township.

The detail of a map of Pekin from circa 1960 shows the unincorporated community of Schaeferville just outside of the Pekin city limits. The community was named for the Schaefer family who formerly owned much of the land on which Schaeferville’s residences were built.

The “hamlet” of Schaeferville is made up of 10 streets: South 14th, Norman, Hillview, Everett, Stout, Hazel, Gehrs, Mitchell, Martin, and Fredrick. The southern segment of West Shore Drive ending in Beachcomber Place is also outside of the Pekin city limits, but Schaeferville’s streets do not connect with West Shore or Beachcomber.

Schaeferville is also the home of Gethsemane Church, a non-denominational church located at 1601 Fredrick Drive. Formerly known as the Schaeferville General Baptist Church, the church was organized around 1960 at 901 Fredrick Drive (the lots on Fredrick later being renumbered, so that 901 is now 1601). The church’s long-time pastor, Rev. Frank G. Noyes, died at the age of 74 a little over a year ago after serving the church for more than 40 years.

As an unincorporated community of Tazewell County, Schaeferville is served by the governments of Cincinnati Township and Tazewell County, as well as the Schaeferville Fire Protection District under which the community operates its own 18-man volunteer fire department. The Schaeferville Fire Department’s station is at 1501 Hillview Drive.

Gethsemane Church, formerly Schaeferville General Baptist Church, is located at 1601 Fredrick Drive in Schaeferville, rural Pekin.

The Schaeferville Fire Protection District’s station is at 1501 Hillview Drive in Schaeferville, rural Pekin.

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Bricks, paved roads, and coal mines

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

Bricks, paved roads, and coal mines

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among the most prominent industries in Pekin’s past were coal mining and brick manufacturing, and one company had a hand in both: the Jansen & Company.

Jansen & Zoeller was located on Pekin’s East Bluff by Reservoir Road, the area where Sunset Hills is located today. “Millions of bricks used for building many of Pekin’s early businesses and residences were supplied from that location, which was chosen because of the type of clay found in the area,” according to “Pekin: A Pictorial History,” pp. 96-97.

The senior partner in the company was John D. Jansen, who emigrated from Germany to Peoria when he was only 22. It was in Peoria where Jansen learned brick masonry. After a time, he moved to Pekin, where he partnered in a brick-making company with Thomas Snyder. Soon after that, in 1894, he joined with Henry Jost and Charles Zoeller to form the Jansen, Jost & Zoeller Company. Jost later left the partnership, but Jansen and Zoeller continued the business, which incorporated in 1899 and was located at 212 N. Capitol St.

“Zoeller had left Germany, at age 16, arriving in Philadelphia, in 1868, with his brother where he learned the trade of a brick mason,” says “Pekin: A Pictorial History. “Seeking greater opportunity, Zoeller set out for Pekin where he enjoyed a 21-year prosperous career with fellow bricklayer, John Jansen. Zoeller left the firm in 1915 and died in 1935.”

In addition to brick-making, the firm’s owners also were involved in brick paving of streets. They also were building contractors, and among their projects were Pekin’s old Carnegie Library, St. John’s Lutheran Church and the old Peoria & Pekin Terminal railroad bridge that crossed the Illinois River.

According to “Pekin: A Pictorial History,” “In 1891 Jansen’s son, Dietrich, the Pekin City engineer, was admitted as a partner. Dietrich Jansen later partnered with Fred Schaefer to organize one of the most prominent road-paving companies in the state” ¬— the business known as the Jansen & Zoeller Brick Company.

Shown is some Jansen & Schaefer road paving equipment from about 1920.

Dietrich Jansen and Fred Schaefer took the reins of the company in 1915, with Schaefer serving as “outdoor supervisor” and Jansen taking care of inside equipment. They “built their first state highway in 1919 as well as many similar projects in every part of Illinois,” says “Pekin: A Pictorial History,” which goes on to say, “Beside building the roads in the north end of Pekin, Jansen and Schaefer also constructed the Pekin Park Swimming Pool in 1937 (which was razed in 1998); Pekin High School Memorial Stadium and the Kriegsman Transfer Co. Warehouse.”

In 1946 Jansen & Schaefer built a ready-mix concrete plant on Broadway at 15th Street, which is today the location of Kroger and a strip mall.

Jansen & Schaefer also built the very first paved load road — a work path that stretched from the Ubben Coal Mine on the East Bluff to what is today Court Street. Horse-drawn wagons would carry coal from the mine to the Big Four sidetrack, where a crew would shovel the coal into the waiting train cars.

Schaefer shifted to coal mining in May 1939, when he bought one of the old Grant coal mines. It was one year after the dismantling of the Ubben Mine’s tipple structure. The Ubben Mine formerly had been one of the largest businesses in the area, generating more than a million tons of coal from the time it was first opened in 1880 until it closed in 1930. Schaefer’s coal company was known as the Schaefer’s Mining Company or the Pekin Mining Company, and the mine’s entrance was located just off Broadway Road, where the Herget Bank Parkway-Broadway branch was located for many years.

Schaefer’s was the last mine in Pekin, closing around 1951. After the death of Fred Schaefer, his daughter Anna and son-in-law Harold McNally, with Jansen’s sons Norman and James, inherited the business. Soon after, an inspection of the mine determined it to be unsafe. So ended the days of coal mining in Pekin.

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