The Tazewell County Poor Farm

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

The Tazewell County Poor Farm

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Previously, this column told of the means by which the poor of Tazewell County were provided for during the early years of the county’s history, before the establishment of private charitable organizations and public social welfare programs. Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County” devoted several pages to the subject of how Tazewell’s pioneers cared for their “paupers.”

The next chapter in that story may be read in Ben C. Allensworth’s updated 1905 “History of Tazewell County,” pages 739-742, where we find an extended account of the Tazewell County Poor Farm, which was located at the site of the Tazewell County Emergency Managament Agency, the Tazewell County Health Department and other county facilities off Illinois Route 9 near Tremont.

This is how Allensworth tells of how the Poor Farm came to be established:

“Prior to the purchase of the present Poor Farm site and the erection of the buildings thereon, the paupers of the county had been ‘let out’ for their ‘keep’ to the lowest bidder in the respective townships where they resided. It occurred to the authorities that the expense was greater than it would be should the county itself provide a home for its unfortunate poor. The feeling at this time was expressed by a resolution offered at the January term of the Board of Supervisors, in 1864, when Mr. Wenger presented the following preamble which was received, read and adopted:

“‘Whereas, the present system of supporting the poor of the townships of Tazewell county is very expensive and inefficient, and only tends to make pauperism fashionable; therefore,

“‘Resolved, that the chairman of the Board of Supervisors appoint a committee of three, to take into consideration the subject of purchasing a Poor Farm for the use of the county poor, and report to the next meeting of the Board of Supervisors.’

“Whereupon Messrs. Elias Wenger, W. S. Mans and Dillon were appointed said committee.

An initial proposal in August 1866 to purchase Lemuel Allen’s farm for $7,000 for use as a Poor Farm was rejected by the Tazewell County Board. After further investigation and deliberation, by May 1871 the county had agreed to the purchase of the 211 ½-acre farm of James Smith in Elm Grove Township and to prepare it for occupancy for a total price of $4,550.10. Allensworth writes, “There were at that time nineteen paupers in the home in the care of Mrs. E. Hall, who had been engaged as matron, with Dr. Bumstead as physician. . . . Not all the paupers in the County were lodged at the Poor Farm. In 1872, at a May meeting of the Board, it was shown that since the building of the Poor House, the sum of $1,624.07 had been paid out by the county on account of the poor. For the same time — that is, from the August term, 1871, to the February term, 1872 — the county had paid the current expenses of the Poor Farm $5,997.31, and had sold property from the farm to the amount of $1,097.85. The net expense of the Poor Farm was, therefore, $4,899.46, from which cost must be deducted the improvements made, making a net cost of the paupers at the Poor Farm $2,344.56.”

The Poor Farm was operated by a superintendent appointed by the County Board, which originally would let out the superintendency to the lowest bidder. The farm’s first superintendent, appointed in March 1873, was J. B. Cooper of Washington. A few months later, Allensworth writes, the county committee on the Poor Farm reported to the County Board that “they had visited the Poor Farm and, by observation and conversation with the paupers, they found the inmates without exception as happy and well contented as any class of like persons could be expected to be.”

From Allensworth’s account can be gleaned a hint of the social stigma that was attached to poverty, as he writes, “The education of the minor inmates of the Poor Farm has been constantly a source of agitation since the beginning of the institution. Some of the resident patrons of the school district object to the presence of the pauper children in the public school, and it became a matter of some importance to the school district on the ground that the school quite frequently became overcrowded; and it was held by some that a sufficient amount was not paid as tuition for these children, as they were not recognized as being legally entitled to the privileges of the school.” At the time of publication of Allensworth’s 1905 history, the issue of whether or not poor children should be permitted to receive an education in Tazewell County’s public schools, and how the community should pay for their education, was still unresolved.

By the 1890s, the facilities at the Poor Farm were no longer adequate, and the County Board moved to finance the construction of new buildings. To find out how to improve the Poor Farm, a county committee toured poor farms in other Illinois counties that had more modern facilities. The county opted for a plan modeled closely on Ford County’s Poor Farm, and the new buildings were completed on May 18, 1900, at a total cost of $18,377.74.

Shown in this 1954 aerial photograph from “This is Tazewell County, Illinois,” is the former Tazewell County Poor Farm. The site, now the location of the Tazewell County Health Department and Emergency Management Agency, was then the location of a nursing home.

Allensworth concluded his account with a list of the Poor Farm’s superintendents. “The present Superintendent of the Farm is J. l. Hollingsworth, who has had charge since February, 1898. The first Superintendent was Sarah C. Hall, who was succeeded by a Mr. Brown, who had charge from March, 1873, when J. B. Cooper was elected Superintendent, and remained until March, 1882. Following him was Jefferson Ireland, who was succeeded in 1885 by Milton Kinsey. Mr. Kinsey died suddenly, after nearly two years at the farm, when S. H. Puterbaugh, of Mackinaw, was elected Superintendent, and held the position until February 13, 1898. This institution has, in the main, been well managed from the very start, and owes its prosperity almost altogether to Superintendents Cooper, Puterbaugh and Hollingsworth.”

Eventually changes in how society provides for the underprivileged led to the closing of the Poor Farm, which was turned into a children’s home and a later a nursing home before the old structures were replaced with the current county facilities. The Poor Farm cemetery still exists, however, in a grove about a half-mile behind the TCEMA and TCHD facilities, where one may find a monument erected in 1910 “In Memory of the Unfortunate of Tazewell County.”

This photograph of the Tazewell County Poor Farm Cemetery was taken by Linda T. and uploaded to the Find-A-Grave website.

#paupers, #preblog-columns, #tazewell-county-ema, #tazewell-county-health-department, #tazewell-county-history, #tazewell-county-poor-farm, #tcema, #tchd

Peter Weyhrich, Pekin’s pioneer German settler

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

Peter Weyhrich, Pekin’s pioneer German settler

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

As mentioned before in this column, the first Pekin city directory was published in 1861. One of the Pekin Public Library’s copies of the 1861 directory is a precious and fragile edition that was formerly owned by none other than Pekin’s own pioneer historian William H. Bates, who prepared the first formal history of Pekin for inclusion in the 1870-71 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory.

The pages of Bates’ copy of the 1861 directory are amply annotated in Bates’ own hand. These notes were probably added while Bates was working on later editions of the city directory. One of the notes, on page 70 of the 1861 directory, has to do with an early Pekin city official named Peter Weyhrich Sr.

On that page is a list of the directors of the Pekin and Cincinnati Union District Schools, who were elected to three-year terms. In 1861, the school directors were “Peter Weyhrich, sr.,” whose term of office was to expire in August 1861; William Stanbery, who term was to expire in August 1862; and John Haas, whose term was to expire in August 1863. A handwritten note in Bates’ copy of this directory at bottom of this page says, “Peter Weyhrich, sr., was the pioneer German settler of Pekin.”

Thus, we see that Weyhrich, who arrived in Pekin in 1831 or 1832, held the special place in Pekin’s history as the first of a great wave of German immigrants who would choose Pekin as their new home in America during the 1800s. To be sure, Weyhrich was not the only person of ethnic German descent to arrive during those earliest years of Pekin’s history, but he was the first of them who had been born in Germany. By the latter half of the 1800s, the number of German settlers in Pekin was so large that the city had more than one German-language newspaper and many businesses had signs in their windows telling people that German was spoken there.

Peter Weyhrich Sr. was born in 1806 in Hesse-Darmstadt. A biographical sketch of the life of Peter’s nephew Adam is included in the 1894 “Portrait and Biographical Record of Tazewell and Mason Counties,” on pages 565-566. The sketch says Adam’s grandfather (identified in Weyhrich family histories as Peter’s father) Jacob Weyhrich, a native of Hesse-Darmstadt, settled in Tazewell County in 1828 and was later followed by other members of his family. Peter had arrived in Pekin by 1832, but Adam didn’t emigrate until the 1850s, at or around the same time that his father Philip Weyhrich, Peter’s brother, decided to join Jacob and Peter in America.

Beginning his new life in America in Pekin, the early city directories indicate that Peter was active in the community’s life and commerce. He served as Pekin’s mayor in 1858 and 1859. Peter also took part in the formation of Pekin’s first railroad companies, according to Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County.” Most of the Weyhrich family, however, acquired land in Sand Prairie Township to the south of Pekin. Peter died Jan. 2, 1879, and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Pekin.

This detail of the map of Sand Prairie Township south of Pekin from the 1873 Atlas Map of Tazewell shows land owned by the Weyhrich family, a pioneer Pekin family that included Pekin’s first German-born settler, Peter Weyhrich.

Early Tazewell County history tells of another Peter Weyhrich, but that Peter – apparently another nephew of the elder Peter – is only mentioned due to the sensational circumstances surrounding and following his death. Chapman tells the story briefly in two paragraphs on pages 298-299 of his Tazewell County history:

“Peter Weyhrich, an old resident of Sand Prairie, died very suddenly Wednesday night, June 20, 1877. The sudden death and incidents attending it caused grave suspicion of foul play. A jury was impanelled and a post-mortem examination made of the deceased, and the stomach sent to Chicago for examination, where it was decided that he came to his death by poison. Mrs. [Anna E.] Weyhrich, wife of the deceased, was arrested and tried for the murder. The case was taken from this to Logan county and tried the last week in March, 1878. States Attorney [William L.] Prettyman and J. B. Cohrs prosecuted, and Messrs. Roberts & Green defended.

“The trial was a long and tedious one, and the prisoner was found guilty and sentenced to fourteen years in the penitentiary. A motion for a new trial was made and denied, when an appeal to the Supreme Court was taken. This tribunal reversed the decision and remanded the case for a new trial, which took place in July, 1878, and resulted in her acquittal.”

As an aside, the prosecutor J. B. Cohrs is none of than Illinois State Sen. John B. Cohrs, a Pekin attorney whose life was previously treated in this space, and whose wife was active in the founding of the Ladies’ Library Assocation, predecessor of the Pekin Public Library.

#adam-weyhrich, #germans-in-pekin, #john-b-cohrs, #pekin-history, #peter-weyhrich, #preblog-columns, #william-h-bates

Ehrlicher Brothers’ first prescription

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

Ehrlicher Brothers’ first prescription

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

When Pekin celebrated its centennial as an incorporated city in 1949, the Pekin Association of Commerce’s Centenary Committee assigned the task of compiling and publishing a souvenir book of Pekin’s history to a group of eight men and women.

The result was the 1949 “Pekin Centenary 1849-1949.” Chief among those who produced this book were Thomas H. Harris, chairman, Charles Dancey, who wrote the history, Bea Falkin and Charlotte Rau, who wrote other articles, and Marge Brenneman and June Wieburg, who were in charge of selling advertisements for the book.

While the Centenary’s historical narrative is naturally the heart and core of the book, the advertisements also in their own way help to tell of Pekin’s history. Often the ads take the form of tributes and congratulations to the community from its various businesses or social organizations, and many times the tribute ads include summaries of the history of the city’s businesses or utilities.

The tribute ad of Ehrlicher Brothers, on page 29 of the Centenary, is a perfect example of one of those historically informative ads. Not only did this long-established pharmacy take the opportunity to brag about their work — “All prescriptions entrusted to our care are filled as written — no substitution — which has gained us the confidence of the physicians who wrote them. All ingredients used are pure and fresh . . .” — but the ad also includes some fascinating historical details, making it of interest even today, long after Ehrlicher Brothers went out of business.

“We have just completed 85 years of continuous drug business in the same room. We feel we have a right to be proud of our record,” the ad says. Ehrlicher Brothers Co., Druggists, 328 Court St., was founded in 1864 by Henry M. and Otto D. Ehrlicher, sons of the German immigrant Johann Georg Ehrlicher (1824-1876) whom this column featured in October 2014. As we’ve noted before, Henry and Otto are recognized as Pekin’s first druggists, and along with their brother George and their wives they donated the land where the original Pekin Hospital was built in 1918.

The most fascinating detail of the Ehrlicher Brothers tribute ad, however, was that it includes “an exact reproduction of PRESCRIPTION No. ONE filled July 7, 1865, one year after the founding of our establishment. It was written by Dr. Samuel T. Maus for Mrs. James Haines Sr., two of Pekin’s earliest pioneers.” (In fact the prescription is clearly dated July 18, 1865, not July 7.)

Shown is a reproduction of Ehrlicher Brothers’ first prescription, from July 1865.

Regular readers of this column will recall that the Haines and Maus families were among the first settlers of Pekin. The life of Dr. William Maus, son of Samuel, was featured in Sept. 2013, while the life of pioneer settler William Haines, older brother of James Haines, was featured in May 2014. “Mrs. James Haines Sr.” was Annie, daughter of Dr. William Maus.

#annie-haines, #charles-dancey, #dr-samuel-t-maus, #dr-william-s-maus, #ehrlicher-brothers, #henry-ehrlicher, #james-haines, #johann-george-ehrlicher, #otto-d-ehrlicher, #pekin-centenary, #pekin-hospital, #pekin-pharmacies, #preblog-columns, #william-haines

Tazewell County Old Settler Joshua Wagenseller

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

Tazewell County Old Settler Joshua Wagenseller

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among the biographies of the Old Settlers of Tazewell County featured in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” is an extended account of the life of a Tazewell pioneer named Joshua Wagenseller. Joshua’s family is commemorated today in the name of Wagonseller Road south of Pekin. Following are excerpts of Joshua’s biographical essay — omitting most of the remarkably florid prose in which this and the other biographies in the 1873 “Atlas Map” were written.

“Joshua Wagenseller is a native of Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, born July 5, 1813. He is the fifth child of Peter and Susanna (Longaker) Wagenseller. Mr. W., father of Joshua, was a native of Montgomery county, Pa., and his parents were of German descent. He followed farming as the vocation of his life. He emigrated to Ohio about the year 1832, and settled in Columbus, Franklin county, where he resided until his death, which occurred about two years after. His wife, mother of Joshua, subsequently removed to Pekin, Ill., terminating a useful life in 1866, while residing with her son Joshua. . . .

“The subject of this biography acquired his early culture mostly at Green Tree Seminary, in his native country, where he acquired a knowledge of the rudiments of a good, practical, business education. His first business engagement after completing his course was in a wholesale dry goods house in the city of Philadelphia, where he obtained a position as bookkeeper and accountant. The next business engagement was with his brother in Union county, Pa., where he remained about two years. We would remark that these experiences of his early life laid the foundation for that successful business career which in after life distinguished him in his subsequent mercantile transactions.

“He was now of age, and, looking westward for a richer field in which to enlarge and develop his energies, he went to Columbus, Ohio, and erected a saw mill on Elm creek, and was engaged in the manufacture of lumber about three years, or until the spring of 1837, when he removed to Illinois, and settled in Pekin, Tazewell county. . . .

“Mr. Wagenseller formed a partnership with his brother Benjamin, and, under the firm name of ‘B. & J. Wagenseller,’ he began, in Pekin, a course of mercantile life, which business he has since followed. This original firm ceased in 1844, by the death of his brother. They went through the financial crash of 1840 unscathed. . . . Since the dissolution of this firm, Mr. Wagenseller has been at the head of subsequent business houses, and although he has been identified with other business largely in life, merchandising has been his leading vocation. He has been engaged in milling covering an aggregate of nearly ten years. He rebuilt and owned the first good grist mill propelled by water in Tazewell county. . . .

This drawing of the downtown Pekin store of J. Wagenseller & Son was printed in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

“Mr. Wagenseller was married May 7, 1840, to Miss Harriet, daughter of Henry and Naomi Rupert, of Pekin, — formerly of Virginia. As the fruits of this union, they have had a family of six children. Two of his sons are now engaged with him in his present mercantile operations. Two of his sons are married, and all of his family are at this time (1873) residents of Pekin. Mr. Wagenseller and wife are both members of the Congregational Church of Pekin, and are among the original members of that church.

“Mr. W., in addition to his mercantile business, owns and carries on a farm near Pekin. He also owns a large area of land located in Iowa. . . . Politically, in early life, Mr. Wagenseller became a whig. His first vote for president was cast for Gen. Wm. H. Harrison, in 1836. He was anti-slavery in his sentiments, and the following circumstance, as related by himself, opened his eyes to the inhumanity of the slave traffic. While on a trip to New Orleans, on a steamboat, a slave owner came on board with a woman and six children. He witnessed the revolting spectacle of a slave girl sold on the block. ‘The scene,’ said Mr. W., ‘made me ever afterward an abolitionist.’ On the disorganization of the whig party, in 1856, he became identified with the republican party, to which he has since been strongly attached. He voted twice for the immortal Lincoln and twice for the valiant Grant, who so ably assisted in firmly planting the stars and stripes on the bulwark of American freedom. . . .

“Mr. Wagenseller has been required to represent the interests of his ward for several years in the common council of the city, and was vice president of the Peoria, Pekin, & Jacksonville Railroad Company. He has been one of the active, public-spirited citizens of Pekin for thirty-six years.”

#abolitionism, #joshua-wagenseller, #pekin-history, #preblog-columns, #slavery, #tazewell-county-history, #wagonseller-road

Trolley cars on Pekin’s streets

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

Trolley cars on Pekin’s streets

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

In terms of public transportation in Pekin today, we have the Peoria-based CityLink bus system. But in the past, Pekin was served by its own bus lines — and before that, by street cars. Pekin’s trolley system began as an abortive private venture which was taken over and run by the city.

Here are excerpts from the 1974 Pekin Sesquicentennial volume’s account of Pekin’s old trolley system, on pages 24-26:

“A familiar song of many years ago begins ‘Clang, clang, clang went the trolley; ding, ding, ding went the bell . . .,’ and so it was in 1912 when the first street railway began in Pekin. Initially a private business, the line consisted of one battery-operated car that ran on track from Capitol Street near Court to the ‘Distillery Road.’ Each night the car batteries were charged to get ready for the next day’s run. The ill-fated line lasted but two years before financial problems forced it out of business.

“But all was not lost for trolley enthusiasts. The City of Pekin entered the public transportation field in July of 1914 with the passage of Ordinance Number 38: The Purchase, Rehabilitation, and Construction of a Municipal Street Railway. Voters passed a referendum which allowed the city to issue $48,000 in street railway bonds. . . .

“The city purchased the bankrupt line, including all track and equipment, for $8,500. The balance of the money was used to expand services and purchase new equipment. Very specific and demanding requirements were set forth in the law, for example: cars were required to be constructed of red cypress or cedar, 32 feet long, with one longitudinal seat on each side; gauge of the track had to be four feet, eight and one-half inches; steel poles along Court Street to Seventh Street, had to be in two sections totaling 27 feet in length, with the tops 22 feet above the pavement; the trolley wire had to be grooved, hard-drawn copper, with a minimum tensile strength of 51,000 pounds per square inch.

A trolley car heads up Court Street in downtown Pekin in the 1920s.

“Besides the route previously described, the street railway expanded from the corner of Court and Capitol Streets as far east on Court as the GM&O Railroad tracks (just west of the present hospital). The usual scheduled involved two cars, one leaving the east end of the line on Court Street, while the other would leave the west end of the line on South Second and Industry. The two cars would meet at the business district close to the Court House. There was a double track at this point, and one car would side-track until the other car passed, then proceed to its destination at the other end of the line. This operation ran seven days a week from early morning until late evening.

“Many Pekinites remember the trolley cars and the friendships which developed while riding to and from work or uptown to shop — all for a nickel fare. The street railway continued until 1935, when it was replaced by our present bus service . . . .

“The street cars went out fighting, though, with much City Council debate. C. F. Gehrig, one-time City Commissioner, appeared before the Council and urged that Court Street not be paved down the center so that the tracks could remain undisturbed because ‘we might want the street cars back.’ Many did, but the coming of the automobile was making travel too hazardous, with many auto/street car collisions. No more ‘clang, clang, clang’ — just some fond memories for many residents and a slice of nostalgia for the younger set.”

This following added detail is mentioned in “Pekin: A Pictorial History” (1998, 2004), page 17: “Also for 5 cents a day, local youth Roy Williams was paid to push the wooden seats back when the train reached the park so the passengers could face forward on the return trip.”

Roy Williams died just a year ago last month – but the old Pekin Municipal Street Railway garage is still there on South Second Street, the location of Walt’s Garage.

The old ‘home base’ of Pekin’s trolley cars at 1420 S. Second Street is today the home of Walt’s Garage — the building still sports the inscription “Pekin Municipal Street Railway.” Trolley rails are still visible in the garage floor.

#c-f-gehrig, #pekin-history, #pekin-municipal-street-railway, #preblog-columns, #roy-williams, #street-cars, #trolleys

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.

#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.”

#b-h-shoe-store, #bowman-and-herman, #ed-bowman, #ehrlicher-brothers, #ehrlichers-shoe-store, #fred-w-ehrlicher, #heisel-lohnes, #johann-george-ehrlicher, #john-g-heisel-co, #pekin-history, #preblog-columns, #sid-herman