Friday, October 31, 2014

Lee and Arthur Sutton - Railroad Mail Clerks


Lee Sutton was a mail clerk on the New York Central Railroad.  In the front door of the train, pictured is Lee and the rear door is his brother, Arthur.  Both went into the mail service in 1904.  Arthur quit to farm in 1912 and Lee stayed on for 18 years, then transferred to a rural carrier to 12 more years.  This train was going to St. Louis or coming from Indianapolis, IN.  This train also served as the milk train and ran daily from Mattoon, IL to St. Louis, Mo.

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

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 30, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lighting from Lamplighters to Electricity


Photo: Bunker Hill Electric Light Plant, west side of Putnam at Morgan St.

Twenty-five street lamps were purchased in October of 1876.  The first Bunker Hill lamplighter was Thomas Larmer, who was awarded the contract to light and take care of the lights at 70 cents a lamp.  Eddie Carroll was a lamplighter at one time, and John Brandenburger was lighting and caring for street lights in September of 1879.  The lights were on posts and the lamplighter carried a short ladder with him as he made his rounds to light the lamps.  At 11 p.m. each evening he went around again, climbing up the ladder and blowing out each light.

On January 6, 1892, the City Council met to hear an electric light agent talk about installing a lighting system for Bunker Hill.  They discussed the possibility of the city purchasing a light plant or of drawing up a lighting contract with a company.  The system was to be purchased and controlled by the City Council at an estimated cost of about $12, 000 to $15,000.

The business portion of the city was to be lit by electricity by August 19, 1896.  The work was to be done by the Bunker Hill Foundry and Machine Works, under the direction of Mr. John R. Richards.

During the last week of September 1896, the incandescent lamps for the subscribing business houses arrived.  The night the lights were turned on throughout the entire circuit, giving the places illumined a handsome appearance.

An election was held in June of 1898 for the issuing of $7,000 in bonds for the building and operating of an electric light plant to be operated by the city.  The issue carried by a small majority of 116 to 92.  By November 29, 1898, the new electric light plant was ready and the lights were lit at 5 o'clock.  Bunker Hill was now illuminated every night!


By January 1899, the work of stringing the wires for lighting the residences was progressing as rapidly as the weather would permit and it was expected that by the first of the month those who desired to have their homes lit by electricity would have it.  Four hundred lights were estimated to be put in residences in 1899.  It was the cheapest and most convenient light a person could have in his home at the time.  After February 1st, the plant was to run the incandescent current all night.  There was no electricity at night before this time because the plant did not run at night.

The plant was located on Morgan Street on the west side of Putnam street junction behind Baker's feed store.  Ed Marth was the engineer at the electric plant.  Abbie Landon's father, George, was a fireman and Abbie's uncle cleaned ashes out of the boiler room.  A large concrete pond behind the plant supplied water to the steam boiler and generators.   If any malfunction occurred in the system due to lightning, ice on lines, or other causes, the system was maintained by Bill Baker, a local electrical lineman and electrician.  When a large transformer near the plant was blown out by lightning, Bill Baker could be seen in raincoat and boots fixing the transformer.  Many improvements were made as the years progressed.

On January 10, 1952, the Bunker Hill City Council voted unanimously in favor of installing a new street lighting system in the uptown business area.  The proposal was presented by the Illinois Power Company in conjunction with General Electric Company.  The system would provide white incandescent lights with steel, concrete or wooden poles (whichever was available) to be installed to hold the lights.  On streets feeding into the main stem, wooden poles would be used.  

The city street lighting committee placed an order for 46 new street lights on Tuesday, January 24, to be installed in the uptown area by the IPC.  the power company was to secure all materials for the project and would own and maintain the system after installation.  The city was to be billed monthly for the lights.

In order to extend the project considerably from the original plans, a number of lights were paid for by churches and other institutions. The Congregational, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist churches each paid for one light, the school paid for two lights, and the Bunker Hll Vault and Monument Works, the First National Bank, and the Commercial Club each took responsibility for one.  With these organizations standing the cost of extra lights, the system expanded considerably from the 28 considered in the original plans.

The lights were to extend on Washington Street from Fensterman's Garage to the Condensary corner.  On Warren street, the light extended east to the Lutheran Church and three lights on West Warren; and on Fayette Street east to the Masonic Temple and three lights on West Fayette.  There were two additional lights on the street past the Baptist Church and two on the north and south street past the Congregational Church.

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

--Cite this story:  Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 23-24. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 27, 2012.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ham Radio Operator W9KQL Assists in 1948 Tornado Aftermath


March 19, 1948 - Tornado Devastates City of Bunker Hill, IL

80% of Bunker Hill was destroyed causing 19 deaths and approximately 165 injured.  Reported damage of 1 1/2 million dollars was left in the tornado's wake at 6:45 a.m. H. F. Lund of Springfield set up a ham radio in the middle of Bunker Hill IL and relayed information to radio stations around the state.  H. F. "Buzz" Lund was FCC licensed as Amateur Radio operator W9KQL. He was a member of the Springfield, IL  Amateur Radio Club and also an active member of the Red Cross.  His son, Thomas "TJ" Lund is also FCC licensed as N9PFC and now lives in Champaign, IL.


The following is a reprint of the March 25, 1948 Bunker Hill Gazette News article...

Terrific disaster descended on Bunker Hill at 6:45 am Friday morning when a tornado ripped through this 112-year old city, taking a toll of 19 dead and 126 injured, and left a tumbled mass of wreckage in its wake.  The storm rolled over the business and residential area like a giant steamroller smashing brick and frame structures like paper boxes, laying 80 percent of the city waste and caused damages estimated at 1 1/2 million dollars...read entire article reprint at  http://www.bunkerhillhistory.org/Tornado.html

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

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Societey

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Bunker Hill Drum Corps - 1900


Bunker Hill IL residents took their politics seriously at the turn of the century with "torch" parades, speeches, and tirades in the rival newspaper columns and the election of 1900 was no exception.


Republicans formed a "Drum Corps" which paraded and played in Bunker Hill and surrounding communities.  They are pictured here in front of one of the hotels, probably the "Monument House".  Note the placard with McKinley's picture.



During that same campaign, Theodore Roosevelt, Republican candidate for Vice-President, made a ten minute stop in Bunker Hill and spoke from his special railroad car....


see posting at http://bunkerhillhistory.blogspot.com/2014/10/governor-t-roosevelt-visits-bunker-hill.html

From Bunker Hill Revisited
Volume 3
Sept. 12, 1900
A republican drum corps has been organized.  Much practicing has been in vogue of late and as a consequence the boys are getting into shape to head the procession.  Several new drums have been ordered and when they arrive will add to the efficiency of the corps.

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

---Cite this story: Stanton, Carl, ed. Bunker Hill Revisited: From the Files of The Bunker Hill Gazette and The Bunker Hill News. 1892-1900 ed. Vol. 3. Bunker Hill: Stanton, 2000. 324. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society

The Bunker Hill Band - 1905


Photo: Bunker Hill Band

In 1904, Mr. Jansen took the Bunker Hill Band to the St. Louis Worlds Fair to play on "Bunker Hill Day"

The Bunker Hill Band around 1905.
Left to right:
Back row: Henry Cardell, Honas Fahrenkrog, Sam Lee, Pete Neil, Charles Hendricks, William Cardell, Joe Lee, Lute Jansen.
Front Row: L. Pates, W. Wood, Albert Goodwin, Lemuel B. Smith.

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

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society

1901-Civil War Veterans - Bunker Hill IL GAR Chapter


This group of Civil War Veterans was part of the Bunker Hill IL GAR Chapter and was photographed September 27, 1901.  There are two sets of identification where the picture appeared in newspapers at different dates, however we believe the first listed here is correct.  The names were for the most part prominent in Bunker Hill in the post-war period.  They were photographed in front of Jenck's Livery Stable.  

Pictured from left to right:
Top row: A. H. Bastian, Wm. Neil, W.W. Goodall, G. R. Sutton, P. J. Marks, E. W. Hayes, R. O. Wood, John Brandenberger, Samuel Smith, Joseph Ward, P. Wiegand, Jacob Scheldt, Peter Jacobi, Phillip Simmermaker, J. P. Dove, Henry Schoeneman, Fred Haman, George Morrison.
Bottom Row: John C. Hayes, Fred Dabel, John P. Mcpherson, August Kardell, W. O. Jencks, John Gillies, Abraham Scherfy, E. S. Williams, Pete Thielen.

The other version:
Top row: Bastian (the barber), William Neil, William Goodall, Dr. Milton, E. W. Hayes, Sam Smith, Brandenberger, John Ward, William Hill, Zimmermaker, Charles Apple, and Tom Woods.
 Bottom row: Capt. Wheeler, Mr. Dabel, John Mcpherson, Tom Sanders, Squire Jencks, Papy Ellis, John Sherfey, Capt. West, and Buck Pete.

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

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Woodburn Mutual Telephone Company - 1908



Woodburn Mutual Telephone Company
John Newton Barnes was President and Director of the Woodburn Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, a cooperative venture which he organized and installed.  The Woodburn Mutual Phone Company was formed in 1908.  In its earliest days, only one or two phone lines were strung on hedge poles along the main roads.

At first, one customer could phone and talk to another by ringing from their home directly to the other.  This could be done so long as no one else was on the line.  With this system, a switchboard operator was not required, however, one existed at the central office for directing calls to more populated areas.

The central office of the Woodburn Telephone Company was in the Welch Store located on the north side of the Public Square (Block 2, Lot 6).  When, on July 1, 1920, the store was destroyed by fire, the telephone system was moved to a private home.  This was in the southeast room in the Charles Stockwell home.  Charles and his daughter, Grace Stockwell Payne, ran the office.  They carried on home activities but were there to answer calls on the large, old switchboard.  John Newton Barnes cared for the lines at $60 per month. 



The office was later moved to the east room of the Froebel House (Lot 3, Block 10), property now owned by Frank Scroggins.  The room was furnished with a coal stove and bucket, coal oil lamp, a washstand with a wash pan, a single bed, the switchboard and chair, and a chair for the customer.  At a later date the office was moved to the present site and a new, smaller switchboard was added.  This office provided a wall telephone on the south wall for customers.

The wages were $30 for the day and night operators in the summer and $35 in the winter.  The extra $5 was for coal.  The work shift was from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. andd from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

By 1940, the coal was furnished and the wages started at 15 cents an hour for the night operator.  The day operator got more because part of the night shift, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. was considered the sleeping hours and the operator would hve little workd.  Later the wages were raised to 50 cents an hour.



The first telephone was a Kinloch phone.  The switchboard looked like an upright piano with plug jacks in the front.  The operator would plug into the party line that the customer asked for.  The signals were longs and shorts and each customer had a different signal.  there were eight people to each party line.  An example of the numbers or rings was (S was a short ring, L was a long ring): SSS - LSL - LLSS - LS - LSSSS.  The operator rang or "cranked" these combinations.  Each customer knew their number, as well as the number of everyone on his line.  You would listen for "your ring" and answer the phone.  Because the phone rang at everyone's house, this provided a means of listening to other phone conversations simply by lifting the receiver.  This was called "piking".  Some never missed a conversation.

Shortly after the Midland Telephone Company bought the company in 1960, a severe storm came through and knocked down many of the phone lines.  The new lines were laid underground and there were again two lines to Bunker Hill.  The large party lines were gradually changed to smaller party lines until on March 1, 1976, everyone had a one-party line.

The company switched to dial service on November 2, 1967.  Because everything was automatic, the need for operators was eliminated.  Some people who served as operators at varous times were Grace (Stockwell) Payne, Mayme Smith, Dorothy (Welch) Fite, Winifred Partridge, Lola (Payne) Zarges Hallows, Dorothy (Payne) Jarden, Cleda Johnson Gray, Edna Chadwich, Lucille Partridge Fensterman, Anita Partridge, Nellie Jo Walter, Ros (Show) Callahan, Ruth and Cleda Bouillon, Irene Lawton, and Cecile Sweet.

There were two lines to Bunker Hill.  A record of the long distance calls was kept on little pads so that tickets could be given to the customers.  When Bunker Hill Mutual took over, there was only one line to Bunker Hill.  You could talk three minutes and then you would be disconnecdted.  If it were an emergency, you could dial through to the operator for three minutes free.  Because there was just one line, it was difficult to get calls through.



In December 1989, Midland Telephone Company, along with the Inland, Lakeside, and Prairie companies, became a subsidiary of Rochester Telephone Company out of Rochester, New York.  In 1991, all of the equipment was changed for more up to date equipment and new lines were installed at Woodburn in September.

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

--Cite this story:  Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Woodburn History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 16-17. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill Telephone Company - 1898

Photo: Switchboard Operator - Loretta Bartels

The Bunker Hill Telephone Company 
The Bunker Hill Telephone Co. was organized by Charles Drew and James Jencks on April 13, 1898, with eleven stockholders and a capital of $2,500.00.  Later the capital stock was increased to $15,000.00.

Some of the eleven stockholder in the Bunker Hill Telephone Co. were: James Jencks, C. E. Drew, S. N. Sanford, Wm. Dickie, C. J. Jacoby, Max Sessel John Neil, Adolph Bumann, and Mrs. Wm. Dickie.


Over the next few month there was a large increase in the number of subscribers.  In August, 1900, the phone company put in a new switchboard, which brought the capacity of the new exchange up to 100 phones.

About December 1, 1928, the Bunker Hill Telephone Co., including the property was sold to the Community Telephone Co. of Chicago for $18,000.00.  This company also owned the Carlinville, Gillespie, Virden, and Girard exchanges as well as 49 other telephone properties in the state.  They also had interest in a number of waterworks systems.



The telephone operators in 1955 were: Doris Miller, Loretta Bartels, Melba Allen, Etta Goodhaus, Jeanette Thorpe, Gertrude Emery and Barbara Girth.


The local telephone office was located where Sally's Cafe is now.  It closed in 1955 when General Telephone switched to the dial system.

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

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 24. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 28, 2012.

Governor T. Roosevelt Visits Bunker Hill - 1900



Governor T. Roosevelt Visits Bunker Hill
October 12, 1900

A goodly number of people came to town last Monday evening in response to advertising that Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States, would be in Bunker Hill that evening.  The largest number present at any time during the evening was 450 or 500.

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

--Cite this story:  Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 35. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

President Andrew Johnson Hooted During Train Stop in Bunker Hill - 1866

Photo: Big Four Depot

President Andrew Johnson Hooted During Train Stop in Bunker Hill
 Bunker Hill Gazette - Sept. 14, 1866

Quite a large collection of people were at the depot on the arrival of the special train at 9:40 on Monday morning.  Bunker Hill, true to her instincts and past record, offered no insult to Mr. Johnson, and only showed their abhorrence of him by their prolonged cheers for Grant and Farragut.

The President of the United States was introduced by John Hogan; three cheers were given, which Johnson acknowledged by taking off his hat, and he was about to give us a speech when a gentleman proposed three cheers for Admiral Farragut, and three cheers for Congress.  They were given separately, and with a will.  Mr. Johnson again attempted to speak, but the cries for Grant compelled him to forego.

Capt. Carlysle presented Mr. Johnson with a basket of fruit, and also a very neat bouquet.

Mr. Hogan proposed three cheers for the Thirty-Six States, which were given, and then someone fired a pistol in the crowd, which disturbed the nerves of the party.

The train moved off, and as far as the eye could reach, the humble individual with hat in hand, was bowing to the right and left.  Poor Johnson!  We sympathize with Grant and Farragut in their forced company.

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

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 35. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Weishaupt's Cafe


Photo: Weishaupt's Cafe

Ask anyone who lived in Bunker Hill in the 30's and 40's about Weishaupt's Cafe and you will hear nothing but good comments about the delicious meals served there.  Clara and Ed (Cappy) Weishaupt were the proprietors.  They lived on a small farm at the southwest edge of Bunker Hill where Vollmars had lived for many years.

The restaurant business had began in the Warner Rull building around 1926, then was moved across the alley where Dia's beauty shop is now.  The property was two story with rooms for boarders and other rooms downstairs besides the restaurant.  Mrs. Freeman, who taught Latin, and her daughter Shirley, roomed there and many others through the years.  Mrs. Weishaupt was a hard worker.  Cappy usually sat in a rocking chair by the front window.  Someone said he and Warner Rull liked to go to the races.

Weishaupt's was a favorite place for the working man to eat and generous helpings were common.  Marie Kampworth remembers her husband took a silo filling crew to town to eat in September '46 when she wasn't up to cooking for the gang.  The men and the cooks lined up across the street in front of the former Gazette News building for a picture.

The Sunday chicken dinners were popular with the townspeople.  Even in the '30's it was reported that "people drove many miles regularly to partake of Clara Weishaupt's sumptuous chicken dinners."  During the week when school was in session, hamburgers were fried ahead of time and kept warm in a very large dishpan lined and covered with towels.  I wonder how many hamburgers could fit in a very large dishpan.  Some referred to them as greasy but everyone says they were good.  We used to like grease, remember?

Ralph Gerdt remembers the Commercial Club met for supper in her dining room which was followed by their regular meeting.  She also served family groups there.  She catered large groups such as alumni banquets in Lincoln Hall over the drug store.  Ralph remembers men telling about the strong coffee Mrs. Weishaupt made in her large coffee pot, but she also had a smaller pot that wasn't so strong which Bill Behrens preferred.

There was a well in front of the cafe about 10 feet from the sidewalk.  Grandma Ladendorff used the well water in her store and living quarters, but we don't know if Clara did.  Marie has pictures showing the pump and a drinking cup.

Lillie Welch (Brueggeman) and Clara Weishaupt were good friends.  Clara was almost like a second mother.  Lillie rode in early every morning with her brother, Ross, who worked at Ed Bruckerts Garage.  She stayed at Weishaupts until time to go to school, then after school she stayed there until Ross got off of work.  She remembers Clara was such a good cook.  She made delicious pumpkin pie by using her hand packed ice cream which made it rich.  Her dressing, made with currants, was delicious.

Thelma Roberts remembers when she was in grade school, Angie Bertagnolli took the kids money for hamburgers.  Bob Wood's mother, Lula, worked in 1929 and '30 and again in 1937 and '38.  He said she and others worked very hard.  His mother killed and dressed chickens, and she did the boarder's laundry and other people in town brought laundry at times.  Mrs. Weishaupt had a gasoline powered washing machine.

Delores (Kehr) Davis who began work there in '46 said when you were hired, it wasn't just to be a waitress, but included many household chores.  Most people that I've talked with seem to think that the restaurant closed following the tornado, but Delores said it was open into the early to mid '50's.  The tornado took the top story, so her business wasn't the same.  No doubt her health was the cause of the closing.  Thelma remembers Mrs. Weishaupt lived with the Gerhardt's in her latter years.

Marie Kampworth says the weekday menu always included roast beef, roast pork, and baked ham and meals were ready to be served by 10:00 a.m.  The Nolls bread man always ate his noon meal at Weishaupt's at 10:00 a.m after he'd finished his town delivery.  The Sunday specialty was delicious fried chicken dinner including dessert.

Orland Snedeker said his mother, Laura Dingerson, worked at Weishaupt's Cafe and that is where she met Orville Snedeker whom she later married.  Through the years, Laura used Clara's recipe for cole slaw dressing which included a bit of mustard and it was quite tasty.  Orland remembers that patrol boys were feted to a chicken dinner in 1955.

Last week I mentioned that family dinners could be held in Clara's dining room.  Mary Vaughn said the story brought memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when the Hess family and grandmother gathered in the Weishaupt's dining room.

In March 1956, Joe and Dorothy Blevins moved to Bunker Hill.  They remember eating at Weishaupt's.  She recalls how the counter defined the edge of the kitchen and you could watch the cooking and serving.  She remembers the large block tile floors, the metal top tables, and ice cream chairs.  Joe thinks the cafe was possibly open as late as '57.

Speaking of the Blevins makes me think of the Wisch's who made ice cream and sold it from their home in the next block south of the Dairy Queen.  Dorothy and I don't remember whether Russell Rigg started making ice cream or Wisch.  The Blevins bought the home and ice cream making equipment and for a couple of years tried their hand at the business.  Dorothy remembers making cups of ice cream for the Baptist Sunday School picnic at Simmermaker's Grove.  They made a cherry garden flavor with cherries and nuts which was the favorite of many.

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

--Original Author, Carolyn Scroggins (now deceased)
Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society 

Bunker Hill's First Combine - 1930



The first combine in the Bunker Hill area belonged to Bill Benjey, father of Harold, Leon, Grant, Charles, and Jack.  The date was 1930 when this Rumley was in operation and photographed.  Pictured are Harold and Bill Benjey and Gene Sawyer.  On the wagon are Frank Keirle and an unidentified man.

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

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Big Four Station



Trains Made and Brought the News
One hundred years ago, trains were not only the source of travel, but of new as well.  Who arrived and departed from the local depot made news, and the editor made it a point to be at the depot at train time.



The train time of the St. Louis, Alton, & Terre Haute Railroad was listed in the first issue of the Gazette, Jan. 19, 1866.  Time of arrival of both passenger and freight trains, going both east and west, were listed.  



Passenger trains going east arrived at 8:50 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 6:05 p.m; and going west at 7:00 a.m., 6:52 p.m., and 11:10 p.m.  Eastbound freight trains arrived at 9:20 a.m., 3:50 p.m., and 10:25 p.m and westbound at 8:20 p.m., 12:15 a.m., and 5:00 a.m.


Much was said of late schedules and waiting room facilities in later issues.



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

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 34. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The J. Gosch Boots and Shoes Store - 1859


John Gosch immigrated from Mundor Province-Schleswig Holstein, Germany, to Davenport, Iowa in 1857.  In 1859 he moved to Bunker Hill and opened a repair and shoe store at a building on East Warren Street, now the City Hall.  Besides repairing shoes, he made a specialty of hand-made shoes and at one time employed seven workmen.

In 1880 his son, Herman P. Gosch (age 16) joined him in business.  With the advent of factory made shoes, more space was needed and the business was moved to a larger building next to the Jacoby Furniture Store on the east sided of Washington Street.


John Gosch was a member of charter Oak Lodge I.O.O.F., and alderman, treasurer, and mayor of Bunker Hill, a volunteer fireman, and a school director.  After his death in 1927, his son, Herman P. Gosch, continued the business until his death in 1945 at which time his daughter Helen and her husband, Roscoe Myers, assumed ownership, rebuilt after the tornado in 1948 and sold in 1957.

Herman P. Gosch was born in 1864, educated in city schools and finished at Bunker Hill Military Academy.  He was a member of Charter Oak Lodge I.O.O.F.


Helen Gosch Myers has a pair of boots made for George Frost of Woodburn which he wore for 49 years and are still in fair condition.

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

--Cite this story: Myers, Helen, Carol Redford, and Betty Triplett. "Businesses." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 136. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society