Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Indiana Condensed Milk Company

Photo: The Indiana Condensed Milk Company

The Indiana Condensed Milk Company of Indianapolis, IN, purchased the Bunker Hill Condensing company in March 1924.  Bunker Hill was Plant No. 6 according to the sign on the building, which was on North Washington Street.  This is where the new duplex apartments are located now.  Benezette N. Wilson, whose father and uncle founded the company, was the manager of the Bunker Hill plant for a number of years.

Arthur "Babe" Welch began working at the Condensery for thirty cents an hour in 1933 and worked there until 1952.  John Heuer began working there in 1937 and was there when it closed in 1953.

During the spring of the year, some 100,000 pounds of milk a day was received.  Long lines of wagons and trucks were on the highway waiting to unload.  Farmers took turns taking their milk and their neighbor's milk to town .  During this busy time, the Condensery operated seven days a week.

After going through several stages, the evaporated milk was canned and the royal blue label, Wilson Evaporated Milk, was attached.  It was packed 48 cans to a case and loaded on freight cars.  If a chain of stores ordered the evaporated milk, their label would be put on the can in place of the Wilson label.

The water used in the plant was piped across town from the dammed up portion of the creek on the northeast part of town.  The waste was dumped back into the creek on the southeast part of town.  This caused quite an odor.

During World War II, the plant was under military supervision.  The milk was put in khaki colored cans and sent to the troops.  A Corporal did duty here and once a month, and an inspector from the Army would come also for inspection.

A lot of women worked during the war because of the shortage of men.  Some of the work was hard and hot, especially when freight cars of coal had to be unloaded in the summer.  Men were paid bonuses to unload coal cars after working hours.  The supply of cans from railroad cars was unloaded into the second story by the women, which also was a very hot job.

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 6, 2012. 

Newspaper Article - Feb. 6, 1931

February 6, 1931: Three members of the Commercial Club of Bunker Hill would confer with officials of the Indiana Condensed Milk Co. of Indianapolis on the closing of its "condensery".  The members were club President Carl Williams, Charles E. Drew and R. H. Hayes.  The trio would make every effort to keep it from closing.  The local operation had 25 employees.

Newspaper Article: July 23, 1953 - Indiana Condensed Milk Closes Plant
July 23, 1953: The local plant of the Indiana Condensed Milk Company will cease operations here on August 1, according to a notice to all employees and patrons which was posted this (Thursday) morning at the plant.  The notice reads as follows: After several years of a low milk supply at Bunker Hill, we reached a conclusion the fore part of this month that there is not now and is not likely to be in the future a milk supply adequate to permit the efficient operation of an Evaporated Milk Plant at this location...

...Twenty three men are presently employed by the Indiana Condensed Milk Company since 1924.  Most of the men are long time employees average being 48 with only four men being under 40.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Provided by The Bunker Hill Historical Society

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Company F, 7th Illinois Infantry

Photo: Company F, 7th Illinois Infantry on Point Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN, June 17, 1864

The Seventh Regiment, Co. F, was from Bunker Hill and vicinity.  The regiment went into winter quarters at Fort Holt, Kentucky.

Hermann Smolinski was with the 7th infantry and wrote a letter to his wife here in Bunker Hill.  The letter was written in German and was translated into English just this past summer.

The letter reads in part:

Dearest most beloved wife,
  I hope that this letter will find you in the best of health.  As to me, I am, praise the Lord, in the best of spirits.  My dear and only Tarina, it is with great joy that I grab the pen so I can send you a few words of encouragement to set your mind at ease.  I'm sure you must have worried a lot in the the last few weeks.

My dear, dear Tarina, we have arrived safe and sound at our new encampment.  We had been on a march for six days where things were not under the best conditions.  During the first few days, it was cold, then it started to rain, which did not do much for our progress.  Despite it all, we are here now all hale and hearty.  We arrived here at Fort Holt on Sunday, January 19 in the afternoon at 3 o'clock.  That is all I can tell you though.  I believe that is enough to put your mind at ease, my dear beloved wife.  You can be at ease because your dear Hermann is well taken care of.

The letter goes on with some personal matters, but can be read in its entirety at the Bunker Hill Museum.
Hermann Smolinski's daughter was Barbara and she married Herman Oldenettle.  Bertha and Herman's granddaughter, Glenna Irwin, has given many things to the Museum, this letter was with a group of things from her great-grandfather, Hermann Smolinski.
After the battle of Lookout Mountain was fought, the mountain became a popular tourist attraction.  Many soldiers and civilians had their photograph taken specifically on the rock in the photo, known as "Point Lookout". 

In late 1863, Robert "Royan" Linn established a photo studio at Lookout Mountain and began taking photos of soldiers and civilians on Point Lookout.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 18, 2014.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Bunker Hill Masonic Lodge

Masonic Lodge #151

The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternal organization in the world.  The Bunker Hill Lodge, No. 151, was chartered January 17, 1856.

 Dr. Albert Rodney Sawyer*
1st Master Mason
Lodge 151

Master Mason 1864, 1865, 1866
  • Initiated: April 5, 1860
  • Passed: April 12, 1860
  • Raised: April 19, 1860
  • Died: May 21, 1868 
*May 28, 1868 - On Thursday afternoon last, at One o'clock and five minutes, Dr. Albert Rodney Sawyer (former editor of the Gazette) calmly wrapped around him the robes of blessed immortality. (Stanton, Carl, ed. Bunker Hill Revisited: From the Files of The Bunker Hill Gazette and The Bunker Hill News. 1866-1881 ed. Vol. 1. Bunker Hill: Stanton, 2000. 43.)

In the 1920's, the Masons met in the second story rooms above the building on the northeast corner of Warren and Washington Streets.  During the 1930's the meeting site was changed to a room above the former Louie's Barber Shop on West Warren Street.  When this second story was destroyed in the 1948 tornado, the owner, Mr. Mercer, did not replace it.  By 1950, the Masons were able to buy the Drew property on the northeast corner of Franklin and Fayette Streets and build their own lodge.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, p. 151. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 20, 2014.

The Old Grain Elevator

The old grain elevator was located near the railroad track.  In the late 1800's, this was known as the Globe Mills owned and operated by Wise, Mercer and Co.  Today it is known as the M&M Service Co. or the Bunker hill Elevator.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 4, 2014.

1901-Bunker Hill Civil War Veterans

Members of the Hubbard Post No. 721 G.A.R.
Photo taken September 27, 1901

Top Row, (L-R): A. H. Bastian, Wm Neil, W. W. Goodall, G. R. Sutton, P. J. Marks, E. W. Hayes, R. Wood, John Brandenberger, Samuel Smith, Joseph Ward, P. Wiegand (deceased), Jacob Scheldt, Peter Jacobi, ??lip Simmermaker, J. P. Dove, Henry Schoeneman, Fred Haman, George Morrison. 

Bottom Row, (L-R): John C. Hayes, Fred Dabel, John B. McPherson, August Kardell, W. O. Jencks, ? Gillies, Abraham Scherfy, E. S. Williams, Peter Thielen.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at