Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bunker Hill Military Academy


Among the institutions which Bunker Hill once boasted was the Military Academy (in the very early days called the Seminary) and stood on grounds, which is today the American Legion Park.  It opened in 1859.

Its history dates back to December 22, 1857.  On that date, a meeting was held "to take measures looking forward to the establishment of an academic school."  E. Harlan was chairman and W. Hutchinson was secretary.  The following committee was appointed: A. Ellet, P. Huggins, J. Weller, T. Van Dorn.  On the building committee was E. Howell, G. Mack, G. Parmenter, J. Delano, and E. Davis.  Later, Dr. Delano withdrew and H. Hopper was substituted.  On January 26, a constitution was adopted.  The amount of capital stock was fixed at $25,000.  P. Huggins offered to donate a four-acre lot for the building.

The building was brick, three stories high, and considered substantial in every way.  In its original state, it had three rooms on the first floor, five on the second, and the third floor was a large hall.  It was said to have cost about $19,000.

At the first call for volunteers in the Civil War, Professor Smith and 39 of the pupils entered the army.  Others soon followed and it became necessary to close the school.  The building was then loaned to the school district and used a public school for several years, or until the new public school was opened in 1869.


Samuel Stiver became the owner and proprietor of the academy in 1887.  Under his guidance, the institution attracted many young men from other states as well as several foreign countries, who for the most part, lived on the grounds.  Many Bunker Hill young men and women also attended the school.  Much of the success was attributed to a well-organized advertising program.




Cadets at the academy also engaged in the popular sports of the time including baseball, football, gymnastics, tennis and track.  They also had drills and competition in handling of firearms.

Mr. Stiver passed away in 1910 and the academy was taken over by Mr. Marburger.  After failure to operate the school successfully as far as finances were concerned, it was decided to close the school in 1913.

After being threatened with foreclosure, the association decided to sell the property at auction.  James Jencks purchased the academy grounds, the H. Meyer property, T. Mulligan's, and the ballpark ground on October 18, 1916.  He sold some of the buildings and finally tore down the main building.

Jencks later sold the grounds to the Civic League of Bunker Hill and they built a park there, which they maintained until 1948, when all the buildings were destroyed by the tornado.  The grounds were then taken over they the American Legion and they maintain a park there.



...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 24, 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jacoby Brothers



On October 23, 1883, Casper J. Jacoby moved to Bunker Hill and embarked in the furniture and undertaking business, several years later adding carpets, wallpaper, pianos, organs, and sewing machines, a business which was destined to grow until it established for him a reputation known and respected throughout the surrounding country.  Starting with little capital and practically a stranger, young Jacoby, by that honesty and fair dealing which has always characterized the business methods of the firm, soon established himself as a successful businessman.


In March of 1891, Casper, in order to get suitable employment for the two younger brothers, William C. and Louis C., founded a corporation name of Jacoby Brothers.  The corporation consisted of Phillip W., Henry C., Casper J., and William C. Jacoby.  Rev. Phillip W. Jacoby, the oldest brother, died in St. Louis in 1899.

On April 10, 1899, Casper J. purchased the furniture and undertaking business of Bauer & Co., and August Miller, located in Alton.  Business then conducted in Alton was carried on under the name of C. J. Jacoby & Co.   On Casper J.'s removal to Alton, he sold the Bunker Hill store to Jacoby Bros., Jerseyville, as a branch of same and William C. was made manager of the Bunker Hill store and Louis C., the manager of the Jerseyville store.


The Bunker Hill store was erected in 1893, and was destroyed by fire March 15, 1899, but was rebuilt at once.  The building was 30x100 feet, two story, and basement, with a total floor space of 9,000 feet.  The store was located on the east side of Washington Street.

 ...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 18, 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rigby Horse RaceTrack


Mr. Thomas S. Rigsby came to Bunker Hill after he served in the Civil War.  He began his business as a dealer in and trainer of horses.  On the outskirts of the city were large barns and a half mile race track.  This track was supposed to be one of the best in the State of Illinois.

From all over Illinois, he received horses which he trained to race.  Many of these horses won premiums at fairs in Illinois and Missouri.

Gazette News June 25, 1885: A trotting match is to take place on the Davis Track next Saturday for a purse of $50.  The entries are: Jencks' "Pacer Boy" and Rigsby's "Jesse James."

Gazette News July 10, 1889: Among the horses entered in the Fourth of July trot at Alton was "Billy Logan" entered and driven by its trainer, Tom Rigby, of Bunker Hill.

Gazette News January 8, 1890: Thomas Rigby has bought from D. E. Pettingill the 20-acre tract west of the Nutter place, and will convert it into one of the best speeding tracks of its size which can be found in the state.

Gazette News August 6, 1890: Encouraged by the success of a fort-night age, our local horsemen have announced a series of trotting and running races on the really excellent Rigsby track west of town on Saturday next.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 11, 2012.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Old Huber Opera House

Photo: Huber Opera House
    Andrew Huber had the grand opening of his Clothier and Dry Good Store on Saturday, November 11, 1882 in the Huber Opera House.  He carried clothing, boots and shoes, groceries, glassware, carpet, and many other items.

    As early as 1891, the Bunker hill High School graduation exercises were held there and continued on through the 1930's.

    In 1921, William Fahrenkrog bought the Huber Opera House and renamed it to the Bunker Hill Opera House.  It was remodeled and used as a movie theater, being called the Lincoln Theater.  Upstairs was a gymnasium and it was called Lincoln Hall.  Helen (Fahrenkrog) Teakert played the piano for the Lincoln Theater.  There were other businesses in the Opera House such as a drug store, pool hall, barber shop, and a jewelry store.

    During the 1948 tornado, the second story was blown off.  This building was occupied by Behrens Drug Store for many years.  Today it is the home of Thru a Lens Photography.
Photo: March 19, 1948 Tornado damage.

 ...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 4, 2012.