Skokie Historical Society

Excerpt from the book "History of Cook County, Illinois : from the earliest period to the present time"

by Andreas, A. T. (Alfred Theodore), dated 1839 - 1900

Table of Contents:

Niles Centre      |      St. Peter Evangelical Church      |      St. Paul Lutheran Church      |      St. Peter Catholic Church


Biographical Sketches:

Peter Blameuser      |      John W. Brown      |      Rev. Frederick Detzer      |      Henry Harms      |     
Albert J. Harms      |      Henry Harrer      |      Michael Harrer      |      Theodore Hoffman, M.D.      |      George C. Klehm      |     
Samuel Meyer      |      Ivan Paroubek     |      Gustave Schraeder     |      Fredrick Stielow


NILES CENTRE

This village lies near the center of the township. The first house built within its present limits was, as has been already stated in the history of the township, a small log one where now stands the fine brick residence of Peter Blameuser but whatever the design of Mr. OíBrien, its builder, it was not, in fact, the foundation of the village. This was made by Henry Harms in December, 1854, by building a small frame house about sixty rods south of his present residence at the corner of Millerís Mill road, which runs north and south, and Harms Avenue, which runs east and west through the village. The second house was a log one built by Peter Bergmann in 1857, and during this same year A. J. Snell built a log house on the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 28. George Kay built a two-story brick house 24x24 feet in size. During this year Carl Breitzmann built a blacksmith shop, though this was not the first blacksmith shop in the vicinity, as one was started some years earlier in a village attempted to be started one-half mile north of the present village, by Samuel E. Ferris. In 1858, Henry Harms commenced the business of merchandising, keeping hardware and provisions until 1862, when he opened a general store in the front of his house which he had built in 1860. Peter Bergmann opened a general store and kept it six or eight months in his old house, when he built a frame house in which he kept it until 1867, when he sold it to Peter Blameuser, who disposed of the dry goods portion of the business and retained only the saloon. A school-house was built one-half mile south of the village in 1858, which besides being used for school purposes, was also used for religious purposes by the Evangelical Lutherans for a short time, commencing in 1867. The post-office was established in 1864, Henry Harms being appointed Postmaster, and retaining the position until 1874. George C. Klehm then was appointed and retained the office two years. He was succeeded in 1876 by M.C.Conrad, who was Postmaster three years. Henry Harrer was made Postmaster in 1879, and retained the office until 1881, when John W. Brown, the present incumbent, was appointed.

A green-house was started in 1874 by Stilo & Kusky. Mr. Kusky accidentally shot himself in 1880. His widow then continued the business in partnership with Mr. Stilo for two years, when she bought his interest and Schiller & Stilo started a new establishment in 1881. There are now these two green-houses in the village, and one other started in 1883 by A. J. Harms.

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The German Evangelical Lutheran St. Peterís Church was organized May 5, 1867, by the Rev. E. Reucher, Northfield. Meetings were held for some time in the school-house one-half mile south of the village. The number of original members was thirty-five, a part of whom were the following: John Jarmuth, Henry Harms, George C. Klehm, Gust. Schraeder, Andrew Ross, John Ross, John Eggert, Fred Lumpp, Rudolf Wagner, John Schaefer, John Tess, Charles Scherer, Charles Isherman, Jacob Scherer, Joachim Mueller, John Ahrens, Joachim Ruesch, William Ruesch, Fred Kunstmann, Joachim Ludwig, Joachim Kindt, Jacob Franz, and John Marquardt. The Rev. Emile Reucher continued to preach for this Church until the fall of 1868. The Rev. F. W. E. Werner then became pastor and remained until January, 1881. He was succeeded by the present pastor, the Rev. Henry Wolf in June, 1881. The church building which stands on Harms Avenue, a little west of the center of the village, was erected in the summer of 1868. It is a two-story brick, 32 x 50 feet. The basement is used for a school-room, and residence for the minister, the upper story for audience room. The building is surmounted by a low tower, and cost, including pipe organ and furniture, about $4,000. The school was started about the time of the beginning of the Rev. Mr. Wernerís pastorate, and while he remained had about eighty scholars, but when the Church became divided into two parts in 1880, the school was also divided, and now the school has about forty scholars.

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St. Paulís Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1881, with thirty-five members, three-fourths of them having withdrawn from the St. Peterís Church. Among those who withdrew were Ernest Galitz, William Eggert, Henry Rohr, Christian Langfeld, Charles Langfeld, William Schroeder, Charles Ode, Charles Esch, Charles Witte, William Erickson, Fred Roehl and Joachim Groth. A number of reasons are assigned for the division of St. Peterís Church into two parts. One is that the members who withdrew were in the first place refused permission to vote on questions of finance, and then logically refused permission to vote on the returning of the Rev. Mr. Werner in the pastorate, they desiring to dismiss him. St. Peterís Church belongs to the German Evangelical Synod of North America, and tries to put in practice the policy of the United Evangelical Church, rather than that of the Lutheran or of the Reformed Church. Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri and other States were desirous that St. Peterís Church at Niles Centre should unite with their Synod, and many of the members of the Church itself were desirous of being so united. This was one of the causes of the separation. St. Paulís Church thus was organized as a Lutheran Church. The Rev. Adam Detzer, Sr., preached the first sermon for this Church on January 1, 1881, and remained three weeks. The first service was held in Peter Blameuserís Hall, and continued so to be held until the first Sunday in August. A church building was then erected two stories high, 32x50 feet in size, with a comparatively massive tower and spire. The front room of the basement is fitted up for a school-room, the rear part for a residence for the minister. The total cost of the building was about $4,500, including bell and furniture. The Rev. Adam Detzer was succeeded, August 1, 1881, by his son, the Rev. Frederick Detzer, the present pastor. The number of active members of the Church is now 104.

The school was started by the Rev. Frederick Detzer in October, 1881, and there have been in attendance at the school an average of eighty scholars during the past three years.

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St. Peterís Catholic Church of Niles Centre was established in 1868, with thirty-five members. A frame building was erected 40x60 feet in size, costing $3,536. At present the membership of the Church is 100 families. The first priest was Rev. Joseph Beineke, who remained until 1871. He was succeeded by Rev. A. J. Thiele, who remained from 1871 to 1878. The Rev. Dennis Thiele then succeeded and remained until 1882. The Rev. W. J. Revis then was pastor from July, 1882, to January, 1883. The present pastor, the Rev. Clement Duerr became pastor in June, 1883.

A school-house was erected in 1873, by the Rev. A. J. Thiele. The first teacher was a man whose name could not be ascertained. He remained until 1875, when the school passed into the hands of the Sisters of St. Dominic. At present there are ninety-five scholars and two teachers. The school-house has been enlarged since first erected, and is now a two-story frame in the form of a Roman cross. Niles Centre now contains two blacksmith shops, two meat markets, five stores, six saloons, one school, three churches, and a population of about 250 people.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF NILES

PETER BLAMEUSER is a native of Prussia. He came to the United States in 1852. After remaining for some time in Chicago, he went West, and spent six years in the Rocky Mountains, principally in Colorado and Montana. He built the second house in Virginia City. He was an enforced assistant of a vigilance committee that hung thirty-three men for various crimes. By industry and perseverance he accumulated $10,000, with which he returned in 1865. He then bought 185 acres in Niles Township, upon part of which the present village of Niles Centre is built. He laid out the village in lots, some of which realized $800 and $1,000, and built a large block. In January, 1865, he married Magdelena Heinz. They have four sons and two daughters. He conducted a clothing store for two years, and commenced the saloon business in 1876. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and treasurer of the Niles Centre Fire Engine Company.

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JOHN W. BROWN, of the firm of Meyer & Brown, dealers in dry goods and groceries, was born in Bavaria in 1852. Coming to Chicago in 1867, he then farmed and attended school alternately till he was able to teach. He taught the Niles Centre school for three years. In 1881, he entered into partnership with Samuel Meyer, forming the firm of Meyer & Brown, successors to G. C. Klehm, one of the principal dry goods and grocery stores in Niles Centre. He was married in 1883 to Augusta Siegle.

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REV. FREDERICK DETZER, pastor of St. Paulís Lutheran Church, at Niles Centre, was born at Defiance, Ohio, October 12, 1856. He was the fifth child in a family of ten children, three girls and seven boys. In 1870 he entered Concordia College, Fort Wayne, Ind., where he remained until 1875, having passed the junior course. From March, 1876, to January, 1877, he served as clerk in a store at Desplaines, Ill. In this latter month he entered the Theological Seminary at Springfield, Ill., and in April, 1878, was sent to Vandalia, Mo., as an assistant preacher, and in May 1879, to Rockford, Ill., in the same capacity. In June, 1880, he graduated at the Seminary, and was then a German Lutheran missionary in Minnesota, Dakota, Montana and along the Northern Pacific Railroad from August, 1880, to July, 1881. In July, 1881, he received a call from St. Paulís Lutheran Church, then recently organized in Niles Centre, was installed August 1, 1881, and still remains in charge of the Church. He was married to Miss Anna Fromhold, of Chicago, December 6, 1881.

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HENRY HARMS, builder and contractor, popularly known as ďFather Harms,Ē was born at Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in 1832. Immigrating to the United States in 1851, he worked at farming, near Chicago, for the first three years, and succeeded in getting the rest of the family, with the exception of an elder brother, to this country in 1856. He purchased a farm in 1854 and was married in 1855, to Louisa Nicholas, of Mecklenburg, by whom he had eleven children, four boys and five girls of whom are still living. He has held many important offices, first as Constable, in 1855, next as Commissioner of Highways. In 1860 he was elected Supervisor, which office he held till the Board of Commissioners was established, in 1871. He was nominated for the office of County Treasurer in 1871, but the fire defeated his election. He was appointed by Gov. Beveridge as Cook County Drainage Commissioner, which office he held till that body passed out of existence. He is at present Commissioner of Highways. In the fall of 1875 he took the contract for building the foundation and sub-basement of the Chicago Court House, which he finished in a highly satisfactory manner in 1876. Owing to a change of plans the work was largely increased, and the Commissioners refused to pay Mr. Harmsís just claim. An appeal to the law followed, and after extensive litigation, his full claim was allowed, although not until 1883. In addition to the above, Mr. Harms was the originator of the Lincoln Avenue and Niles Centre gravel road, was Postmaster at Niles Centre for about twelve years, and the founder of three school districts east of the river. He kept a store in Niles Centre for six years, and was a stockholder in the C. M & St. P. R.R. The drainage of Niles Township was conducted under his supervision, as was the construction of nearly all the public roads.

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ALBERT J. HARMS, gardener and florist, was born in 1863 at Niles Centre. Receiving a good practical education at Niles Centre, he afterwards took a course in Bryant & Strattonís Business College, Chicago. He went into the greenhouse business in 1882, and has a splendidly sheltered location in a fine oak grove. He already has three large greenhouses, containing 7,500 square feet of glass, heated by hot water pipes, and intends to increase its capacity this year. Mr. Harms is a member of the Lutheran Church.

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HENRY HARRER, store-keeper, was born in Bavaria in 1829. He came to the United States in 1845, and settled in the township of Niles, where he farmed until 1878, at which time he started a store and saloon in Niles Centre. In 1853 he married Kathrina Neep, of Bavaria. Their family consists of four sons and three daughters. Mr. Harrer has held various town offices. He was one of the first school directors, which office he held for fifteen years. He was Overseer of Highways for seven years, and Commissioner of same for eighteen years. Assessor two years, and Justice of the Peace for nineteen years. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

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MICHAEL HARRER, butcher, is a native of Bavaria, being born there is 1825. Leaving his native country, he came to the United States in 1845, and farmed for seven years in Niles Township. In 1852, he went to California, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and spent three years there, mining and farming. In 1855, he returned to Niles Township, where he farmed till 1874, when he started the meat market in Niles Centre which he still carries on. In 1855, he married Margaret Scherer, by whom he has seven sons and five daughters. He has one son in the meat-market business, and another a blacksmith in Chicago. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

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THEODORE HOFFMAN, M. D., was born at Herford, Westphalia, Prussia in 1820. He received a liberal education, and studied for the medical profession in the universities of Munster and Berlin. After passing his examination, he was appointed assistant staff surgeon in the Prussian Army, in which position he remained four years. He left Prussia and came to the United States in 1848, settling first at Schaumburg, Cook County, where he remained one year, removing thence to Niles, where he remained, practicing medicine, until 1868, when he removed to Chicago. The fire of 1871 burned the Doctorís office and four houses belonging to him. He then returned to Niles, where he has practiced ever since. In 1850, he married Engel Hintze. They have three sons Ė Julius, Emil and Otto, the youngest of whom is one of the proprietors of the large pottery work at Niles. His first wife dying in 1873, he married Christina Fowler, of Canada. Besides holding laudatory testimonies from several celebrated German colleges, the Doctor has the honorary degree from the Rush Medical College of Chicago. As a medical practitioner, the Doctor has been successful, having practiced for thirty-five years in Cook County, where he is still engaged in active work.

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GEORGE C. KLEHM, Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner, was born in Duedelsheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, July 29, 1839. He came to the United States in 1851, with his mother and brother, John. His mother still lives with him, and his brother is occupied in the nursery business at Arlington Heights, Cook County. He located first at Buffalo, N.Y., whence he removed to Jefferson, Cook County, in the spring of 1855. He learned the trade of a brick-layer, in which occupation he was engaged in Chicago and Jefferson till 1863. During the winter months, he attended school, improving his education, till, in 1860, he obtained a teacherís certificate from the County Superintendent of Schools, J. F. Eberhart, and taught school during the winter, for a number of years, in the townships of Jefferson, Niles and Northfield. In 1864, he married Eliza Harms, by whom he had six children, all of whom are living. Mrs. Klehm dies of heart disease in 1878, and in1881 he married Miss Eliza Ruesch, by whom he has one daughter. Mr. Klehm has held many important public offices. In 1860, he was Town Clerk of Jefferson, and subsequently, for a number of years, held the same position in Niles. He was Commission of Highways for six years in Niles, and has been Treasurer of the same township since 1875. Besides these minor offices, Mr. Klehm was Representative in the Illinois Legislature, from the Seventh District, during the session of the Thirtieth General Assembly, and was elected County Commissioner from the Second District of Cook County in the fall of 1881. He is also Justice of the Peace for the township of Niles.

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SAMUEL MEYER, store-keeper, was born in Niles Centre in 1849. His father, Nicholas Meyer, was one of the early settlers, having located in Niles as early as 1844, where he followed the occupation of farmer until his death. Mr. Meyer obtained a situation as clerk in a Chicago grocery and feed store, in which business he remained till the Chicago fire, after which he returned to the farm, where he worked until 1880. Then, in company with John W. Brown, he bought the large dry goods and grocery business of G. C. Klehm, of Niles Centre, forming the firm of Meyer & Brown. Mr. Meyer married, in 1881, Miss Julia Zimmerman of Chicago, and has one son. He is a member of the Lutheran Church.

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IVAN PAROUBEK, harness-maker, was born in Bohemia, Austria, in 1847, and immigrated to the United States in 1867. He followed his trade of harness-maker in Chicago for one year, then removed to Jefferson, where he remained six months, and finally located in Niles Centre, in 1869. He married Kune Bellert of Baden, in 1870, by whom he has two sons and two daughters. He does a good business and keeps two men at work. He belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and has filled the position of school director for eight years.

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GUSTAVE SCHRAEDER, farmer, P.O. Niles Centre, was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, in the year 1827. He immigrated to America in 1854 and settled in Niles Township, close to Niles Centre, where he owns fifty-four acres of good land. A log house, inhabited by Peter Bergmann, was the only one there at the time. In 1850 he was married to Sophia Burg. They have two daughters living. Mr. Schraeder is a prominent member of the Evangelical Church, which numbers nearly a hundred members here. A very fine church was built by this society a few years ago.

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FREDRICK STIELOW, gardener and florist, is a native of Prussia, and came to the United States in 1869. He was engaged in the green-house business in Boston for about seven years. He then removed to Niles Centre, and is now proprietor of one of the largest green-houses there. This house covers a large area of ground and is heated by a system of hot-water pipes. He ships large quantities of potted and cut flowers to Chicago, the receipts for which last year amounted to about $8,000. He is a member of the Lutheran Church.

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Skokie Historical Society