Monee Historical Society

Help us discover, record and preserve the history of the Village of Monee, Illinois.

Walter Erickson, WWII Veteran

Walter Erickson, Pvt. First Class, U.S. Army
Walter Erickson, Pvt. First Class, U.S. Army

Walter E. “Wally” Erickson was born on May 3, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of six children. His parents were Frank Edwin Erickson and Ellen Emily Runquist. Ellen immigrated to the United States in about 1903, and was closely followed by Frank. The couple married just after their arrival in Chicago.

His siblings were Edith (married Bernard Logan), John, (married Myrtle Stolzner), Bill (married Irene Tarry), Einer (died in a a fall from a horse at age 16) and Allen, (married Leona Holl).

The family operated a business out of their home in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, digging basements for residences. A fire that occurred in the 1920’s destroyed their barn and equipment. The family moved to the farm of a friend near Olympia Fields, Illinois and later to a farm outside Monee.

For fun, Wally and his brother Allen would go to the dances held in Monee at the fairgrounds. At one of these dances, the two brothers met friends Ruth and Leona. Wally married Ruth Marie Elizabeth Diercks on 29 Nov 1947. Ruth was born Jun 19, 1921 in Monee to Henry and Adella (Behrens) Diercks. Leona Ethel Holl, the daughter of Christ and Esther Conrad Holl was born in Monee January 10, 1922. She and Allen were married June 4, 1944.

On March 14, 1942, Wally enlisted in the United States Army. He became a signalist, and his job was to man the radio and pass orders. After three months training he left for Europe on the Queen Elizabeth, landing first in Scotland and then travelling to Ireland for more training. He was in the United Kingdom for a year and a half when the orders came in to invade France. He landed on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944, shortly after the first and most brutal wave of D-Day. The first order was to dig trenches for the men already killed on the beach. During an interview in 1993, Walter was asked how many men he saw die. He became quiet, and it took him a moment to answer. Finally, he said “The first evening, I went to bed it was dark. When I awoke in the morning there were three or four dead around me. They were probably there when I went to sleep.” Wally stayed in Europe until October 1945, and was one of the last to leave. Walter is the recipient of multiple ribbons and metals, and was honorably discharged.

After the war, Walter worked as a tool and die maker at Western Electric in Cicero. He and Ruth lived in LaGrange Park but spent the winters in Florida, near his brother Eric in the Sarasota.

He was a member of the Monee American Legion and the LaGrange VFW. Ruth and Walter were members of Grace Lutheran Church of LaGrange.

In 1993, Walter and Ruth traveled to his parents hometown of Uddevalla, Sweden, where Walter was able to see the house where his mother grew up.

Ruth died Aug 26,  2004 in La Grange Memorial Hospital. Walter died Jan 19, 2007, also in La Grange Memorial Hospital.

Monee Historical Society Back From Summer Break

Traveling Monee Exhibit and Donated ItemsThe board of the Monee Historical Society held its first meeting after their annual summer hiatus at the Community Center on Court Street last night. Members shared progress made on assigned projects and finalized plans for the rest of 2017. Also shared were donations of many documents, photos and other artifacts from community members over the summer.

Items included an original deed of the land that became the site of present day St. Paul’s Church on Margaret Street from Darlene Cowen; an afghan featuring Monee buildings from Schoops, an apron and newspaper from the Monee Centennial held in 1974 from Beverly Burmeister; a couple of old ledger books from a Monee store dated 1904 from Marcella Savalles; player piano reels from Lynn Heusmann; a copy of the book by Kathy Krabbe written about Monee Firemen from the Department; and other miscellaneous items from Dennis Erickson.

Board Members Mary Brockmiller and Diane Stacey showed the Traveling Monee Exhibit, a collection of photos, that was recently showcased at the Peotone Library and will next appear at the Crete Library for the month of December. This collection features photos of homes, churches and streets scenes from Monee’s past.

Monee Traveling Exhibit

Also discussed was the program offering for October, which will feature a beginning genealogy workshop given by board members Christi Holston and Rachel White. This workshop will detail how to begin researching your own family tree and will include instructions on how to fill out the basic forms and where to begin your search. This workshop will be held at the Community Building on Thursday, October 12.

We always welcome new members to every meeting, which are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Community Building on Court Street, just west of Village Hall next to the Creamery Building.

Please contact us for more information or to donate items or stories of old Monee to the Society at or on Facebook @MoneeHistory.



Start Researching Your Family Tree

Where do I Start?

Start with yourself. There is no one in the world who will EVER know as much about you as You! Start by recording your birthdate and birthplace, your educational info, including dates and locations, your address and as many former addresses as you can remember. Next, list your spouse and children. Record all the same information as you did for yourself. Then move on to your parents. If they are still living, bring the recorded information to them to have them verify what you’ve written.

Once you have your immediate family recorded to the best of your ability, it’s time to go searching for proof! Find your birth certificate and those of your children, your marriage license, any death certificates, school yearbooks — basically anything that proves what you’ve recorded.

After you’ve documented your immediate family, you can move backwards in time, recording grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. You use the same methodology, but the records will change and disappear the further you move back. Eventually, you will reach a point where birth certificates, death certificates and marriage records were not required. This is when you will rely on census records, city directories, church records, and other documents to help discover the lives of your ancestors.

I’m stuck! Where do I go for Help?

–           Internet. There are countless genealogy learning opportunities all over the internet. There’s something for every learning style: YouTube videos for visual learners, blogs and articles for readers, podcasts for audio learners.
–           Local genealogical and historical societies. Search for state or county resources in the area you live or are researching. If they don’t have the answers you seek, they will be able to point you in the right direction.
–           Local LDS family history library. Family History centers, run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints operate family history centers all over the world. They are open to all researchers, but have very limited hours, so check before going. To find one click Locate a Family History Library
–           Even the pros hit brick walls, where you can find no other information about the relative you are seeking. At that point, you can hire a genealogical professional who specializes in the area or focuses on the type of problem you are having. You can search for a professional by specialty at the Association of Professional Genealogists website at Find a Pro

Helpful Websites

–           E-mailing lists dedicated to your area, your ethnicity, your surnames

Common Mistakes

– Not recording Maiden Names for females
– Not contacting relatives for assistance. Once a relative has passed on, all the valuable knowledge goes with them. Make sure you take advantage of this valuable research source before they’re gone.
– Not citing your sources, including recording the results of negative searches; that is, when you search a record group and do not find the evidence you seek. It is important to log these searches so you don’t accidentally repeat the same search and waste valuable time.
– Not using common sense when reading family histories written by others. If a source for information is not listed, be cautious about accepting it. Some information may be hearsay.
– Assuming that your surname is never spelled a different way. Learn to use soundex and wildcards in your searches. Searching Tips Many documents were handwritten, and they didn’t always have the most legible writing.

Helpful Documents to download and print: Forms

Founding Families of Monee: Jacob (1834-1908) and Mary Ann (Mammoser) Vatter (1838-1928)

Jacob Vatter cir. 1907
Jacob Vatter cir. 1907

Jacob Vatter was born on November 5, 1834 in Geiselberg, Germany as the first child of Adam Vatter and Eva Roschy. He had five siblings: Eva, Frank, Magdalena “Lena”, Katharina W., and Adam Jr.  Jacob was 20 when he arrived in New York aboard the ship “Robert L. Lane” on November 16, 1855 with his mother and younger siblings Frank and Adam. It is believed that father Adam and his sisters immigrated to the U.S. prior to 1855, but no confirmation has been found.Ship - Robert L. Lane

When he was 21, Jacob married Maria Anna Mammoser, daughter of Christian Mammoser and Maria Anna Weisshaar, on March 24, 1856. Maria was born in Strassbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, near the France-Germany border. She immigrated to the United States with her parents in about 1851.

Mary Ann Mammoser cir. 1907
Mary Ann Mammoser cir. 1907

Jacob Vatter was a carpenter and built his home in Monee at 10 Locust Place. The house was sold at administrator’s sale at the Joliet courthouse on Aug 31, 1945 to Emmert Mueller.

In addition to being a carpenter, Jacob also was a salesman, dealing in hay. An 1872 city directory stated:

“There is also one large hay press in the village, owned and run by the enterprising firm of Westermann & Vatter, who press over three thousand tons of hay annually.”

Jacob was also employed as a Justice of the Peace in Monee between 1894–1908.

Jacob Vatter and Maria Anna Mammoser had ten children, and the following seven survived infancy:

  1. Mary A. Vatter was born in Nov 1857 in Illinois, USA. She died on March 13, 1927 in Joliet, Will County, Illinois, USA. She married Henry F. Luehrs on July 21 1883 in Cook County, Illinois. Henry was the son of Theile and Christine (Lange) Luehrs. The Luehrs had the following children:
    Mamie, married Abraham S. Nahin
    Walter, married Josephine Bissel. Children: Ruth, Walter, Frederick, Margaret
    Emma, married Alexander R. Keir Jr.
  2. Caroline Vatter was born in 1859 in Monee. She died on October 17, 1901. She married Albert R. Lehmann on December 27, 1877 in Will County, Illinois. Albert was the son of Henry and Sophia (Pragst) Lehmann. They had the following children:
    1. Albertina, married Thomas Frazier, had Albert and Bruce. Later married Peter Rahn
    2. Alexander
    3. Elmer
  3. Bertha Vatter was born on July 28, 1861 in Monee. She died on July 9, 1950 in Steger, Cook County, Illinois. She married Wilhelm F. Bohlander on September 7, 1882 in Will County. William was the son of Peter and Henrietta (Schroeder) Bohlander. The had the following children:
    – Lydia (1883-1976), married Herman Zirzow, had Dorothy, Wilma (m. Elmer Stolzenbach), Lorraine and Evelyn (m. John Gilkison)
    – Bertha (1886-1973), married Henry Rosenbrock.
    – Laura (1887-1889)
    – Esther (1898-1989), married Henry Wolf, had Jerome (m. Anges Clausing), Virgil (m. Belle Joyce Wasson), Wandalee (m. Marvin Haseman) and Lorabelle (m. Thomas Morgan).

4. Pauline Vatter was born on May 30, 1866 in Monee. She died on December 25, 1948 in Garrett, De Kalb County, Indiana. She married Frank Heinlen October 30, 1887. They had five children; Frances, Jerome, Richard, Margaret, Leo

5. Ernst Vatter was born about 1871 in Illinois, USA. He died on July 20, 1921 in Illinois.
6. August Vatter was born about 1873 in Illinois.
7. Rosa Vatter was born on January 19, 1879 in Monee. She died on April 10, 1944 in Chicago at the Hays Hotel.

Jacob Vatter died September 3, 1908 in Monee. His wife Mary Ann lived with her daughter Rosa for fourteen years following his death, and spent the remaining 6 years at the St. Anne’s Home for the aged in Northfield, Illinois. At the time of her death, four of her children were still living, in addition to eighteen grandchildren, twenty-nine great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Founding Families of Monee: Magdelena Klein Bischmann

Klein, Magdalena
Photo taken about 1907

Magdelena Helene Klein Bischmann (1848-1908)

Magdelena Helene Klein was the first white child born in Monee township, then known as Carey. She was the daughter of August (1811-1887) and Madeline (Boehl) (1816-1860) Klein. 

In addition to Magdelena, August and Madeline Klein had seven other children. The first 5, Lucinda, Christina, Heinrich, Wilhelmina and Louisa were born in Dodenau, Hessen, Germany and the youngest two, Carl and Maria were born in the United States. The family emigrated from Germany, landing in New York in 1850. They settled in Monee and began a farming legacy in the area. 


Bischmann, Philip Sr.
Phillip Bischmann Sr.Abt 1907

Magdelena Klein married Phillip Bischmann Sr. (1842-1925) on 26 Jul 1869. Phillip was the son of Ludwig (1795-1878) and Christina (Schick) (1803-1867) Bischmann.

Phillip Sr. was born April 19, 1842 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany and died September 6, 1925 in Monee.

Returning from the Monee Fair – 1908


Magdelena and Phillip Sr. had 2 children; Phillip Jr. and Magdelena.

  1.   Philip Jr. married Antonetta Pauling, the daughter of H.F. and Johanna (Heitschmidt) Pauling and had one daughter, Flora. Flora married Albert Kannberg.
Bischmann, Philip Jr and Pauling, Antonetta
Antonetta (Pauling) Bischmann and Phillip Bischmann, Jr..

2.  Magdelena was born February 24, 1864. Magdelena was baptized in St. Paul’s Church on April 3, 1876 and confirmed there in 1890. On March 18, 1896, she married  William Deutsche in the groom’s home. They lived at 25911 S. Linden Lane, in a house that still exists today. William was the son of William and Elisa (Hinze) Deutsche.

Bischmann, Phillip Jr., Miller, Mathilde and Bischmann, Magdelena
L-R: Phillip Bischmann, Jr., Mathilde Miller Holden (a cousin) and Magdelena Bischmann Deutsche

Grandson W. Lee Deutsche says that since his grandma was hard of hearing, his parents would constantly tell him to “speak up” when talking to her.  To this day, Lee says that’s the reason he speaks so loudly. The couple had 6 children:

  • Maude Magdalena Doretta (1896-1991) married Harold Ruder (1900-1975) and the couple had two children:
    • Lois Maude
    • Ralph Harold
  • William Phillip Friedrich (1899-1918)
  • Infant (1904-1904)
  • Edgar Richard (1906-1993) who married Mildred Wolke. They had three children:
    • Richard Arden
    • Diane
    • Donald
  • Leroy John (1909-1996) married Esther Lydia Bartels (1913-1991). The couple had two children: 
    • William Lee
    • David Edgar
  • Ruby Maude Ida Flora (1913-2007) married William Podratz (1901-1992). They had one daughter:
    • Rose

Magdelena Klein Bischmann died 31 Mar 1908 at age 60 and in Blue Island and was buried in St. Paul’s cemetery April 4, 1908.

Bischmann Gravestone at St. Paul’s Cemetery

Leola (Sonneborn) Emde

Leola (Sonneborn) Emde
St. Paul’s Church Directory, @1970

By: Christina (Diercks) Holston

Mrs. Emde gave piano lessons to countless children in the village. I took piano and so did all three of my sisters. We walked uptown to Mrs. Emde’s house, which is still standing next to the post office on Main Street. Piano lessons were .15 per child per week (I think we got a discount because there were 4 of us!)

We each had a little spiral notebook and Mrs. Emde would write down our lessons for the week. When we came back the following week, if we did well on our assignments, we got a gold star. Once we had 5 gold stars, we got a double star and when you had 5 double stars you could pick out a composer card from the box she kept on a table near the piano. We really worked hard for those gold stars!

Mrs. Emde was not young when I started lessons in the 1960s and her hands were so crippled with arthritis that she could only move the first two fingers of her right hand and the others were frozen in a semi-fist position. Somehow she still managed to play the piano wonderfully and I always marveled at the talent she must have had in her youth.

Transcription of Leona Sonneborn Emde’s cassette tape
Bob Hurst was pastor at St Paul’s. We believe it was probably he that must have spoken with Leola and made a cassette tape recording of her thoughts and memories. Rachel White of the historical committee came across the tape a couple of years ago when she was doing genealogy research at the church, and transcribed the conversation.

Leola Emde:
I was confirmed in 1903.  I’ll try to relate what confirmation was like 77 years ago.

1903 Confirmation Class of St. Paul's Church
L-R: Back row: Flossie Laura Louise BARTELS, Louise Marie KNIPPEL, Clara Emma Wilhelmina SCHUBBE, Lilly WACHSMUTH (BUSCH?), Edmund Heinrich Christian RAMPKE, Zipporah Emma Elisabeth MAURER, Georg Ludwig Ferdinand LANGE, Louise Emma Bertha JAHN, Albert Robert Heinrich DRALLE Front row: Frieda Maria Anna LUEHRS, Bertha Augusta FONDREI, Leola Magdalena SONNEBORN, Harry Emil Ludwig EGDORF, Otto Paul Reinhart MUENCH, Wilhelmine Anna WOLF, Ethelda Catharina Sophia Henrietta HOMAN

At that time, our church was called Deutsche Evangeliche Kirche: St. Paul’s Kirche, and was located in the northwest part of our cemetery.  Right across the street, where our present church now stands was a small schoolhouse known as The German School.  At the age 11 or 12, the children of our congregation would leave public school and attend the German School from October to Easter to prepare for their confirmation.
Most of us went for two terms.

Rev Dorjahn was our minister at that time and he also served as our school teacher.  It really was a German school.  Everything was in the German language.  We started by learning to write the alphabet.  We had a German speller and a German arithmetic book.  Of course, we had the German catechism, which we learned and had to commit from cover to cover.  We also had the Bibleschichten? Which meant our Bible study and of course then, our bible.

We also had to do translations. Rev. Dorjahn would read a story in English and we would write it in German. Or, he would read it in German and we would write it in English.

The minister expected us to be in church every Sunday morning or bring an excuse, and it had better be a good one.  We sat in the front benches; the boys on one side and the girls on the other.  Monday morning he would question us about his sermon.  Now remember, everything was in German.  He wanted to see if we were really listening.  We received credits for the things we remembered, and then at the end of month, the one who had the most credits would receive a pretty card.  It really helped us to concentrate and remember what was said.

Confirmation was always on Palm Sunday.  On Saturday, the class would decorate the church.  We went to the people in town to ask for potted plants.  Then we made wreaths from the leaves and were very happy and proud of our church on Palm Sunday morning.  A few years previous to my confirmation the girls had to wear black dresses.  But we were allowed to wear a white dress and the boys had to have black suits.

Palm Sunday morning, we came down the aisle with Rev. Dorjahn.  We were very nervous as we took our seats in the front row, and the church was filled with people.  We didn’t know when he would call on us or what we would have to say.

He began with the catechism, and I think he went from cover to cover. Then questions from the old and the New Testament. Finally, the ordeal was over and we gave a great sigh of relief when he closed the book. We sang our class song and then knelt at the altar for the blessing.

We went back to German school during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter to prepare for our first communion on Easter Sunday.  The girls were not allowed to wear their white dresses.  We had to have a black dress for our communion, and the boys, of course, had their black suits.  It was such a sad and solemn occasion, that most of us cried through the whole service.

I was fourteen when I was confirmed and there were 16 in my class.  Four are still living. Albert Dralle and myself are still members of the same church as 77 years ago, which is now called St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.

Bio of Leola Emde
By: Rachel (Duguid) White

Leola Magdalena Sonneborn Emde was born February 9, 1889 in Monee to John and Emma (Kolstedt) Sonneborn. She was baptized at St. Paul’s Church on March 10, 1889, and confirmed there April 5, 1903. On June 30, 1912 before witnesses Ruby Kolstedt and Harry Hanson, she married Fred H. Emde, the son of William Emde and Sophia Sonneman. The couple had one daughter, Audrey (1916-2014), wife of Wilmer “Butch” Jarmuth (1915-2006). In addition to playing and teaching piano lessons to dozens of Monee children, Leola was a teacher in the Monee public school and served St. Paul’s Church in many other ways. She was a member of the Women’s Guild, Tabea Society and the Salt and Pepper Band. Leola died September 13, 1981 and was buried in St. Paul’s cemetery.

Monee Intermediate Public School 1909
St. Paul's Salt Pepper Band
L-R: Back row – Hazel (Lilley) Ruder, Nettie (Diercks) Pauling, Elsie (Stassen) Brockman, Martha (Grassmeier) Mueller, Maude (Deutsche) Ruder, Mildred (Stonerock) Illgen Middle row – Leola (Sonneborn) Emde, Marie (Wilke) Vollrath, Lillian (Seeman) Buchmeier, Clara (Friederick) Mueller, Mrs. Werner, Front row: Romeo Illgen, Herman Kannberg, Albert Frahm, Henry Mueller.

Monee Creamery Granted Landmark Status

After five years of hard work, the Monee Creamery was granted landmark status by the Will County Historic Preservation Commission in 2016.

The Commission’s report and the research done by staff into its history is a fascinating read. To read the report, please click on the link below.

Monee Creamery Landmark Nomination Packet 2016

Will County, Illinois Record of Burials (1942-2004)

Recently, the Monee Historical Society was loaned a newly discovered register of burials by St. Paul’s Church in Monee. Most of the people listed were buried in the cemetery at St. Paul’s, but some were buried in other cemeteries in Will County. Efforts to update and proofread the document will continue, as this is a rough draft. For further inquiries, please contact the society at our email address, Thank you very much to Pastor Peggy Johnson at St. Paul’s for the loan of this precious record of burials. You can find out more information about the church at their website: St. Paul’s Church or Facebook Page: St. Paul’s on Facebook

Link to document: Will County, IL Record of Burials (1942-2004)

MONEE HISTORICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS: “In Memory of the First Pioneer Settlers along Sauk Trail 1833-1839”


Thursday May 11th, 2017 at 7.15pm


Monee Community Building in Firemen’s Park

5162 W Court Street, Monee, IL 60449

Kevin Mather

Local historian Kevin Mather will present of a commemorative plaque which is being donated to the Monee Historical Society.

“In Memory of the First Pioneer Settlers along Sauk Trail 1833-1839”

Kevin Mather is a lifelong Monee Community Resident

Followed by……..

An Evening with Abraham Lincoln, by Dr. Mark Zumhagen

Mark’s interest in Abraham Lincoln began eight years ago when he grew a beard and gave the Gettysburg Address at his children’s school. Since then he has shared the stage with Oliver North, Michael Medved, David Barton and Dr. Benjamin Carson. He considers it a great honor to have opportunities to present the wisdom and eloquence of our 16th president.

Mark Zumhagen has been a part of the Monee community since 2005,

and practices as a Family Physician in Orland Park with an emphasis on nutrition.

Light refreshments will be served.

Please ‘like’ us on Facebook (Monee Historical Society)

or contact Christi Holston, President, Monee Historical Society at 708-288-5756.

Do you want to be a volunteer with the Monee Historical Society at the Monee Fall Fest – let us know, we would appreciate the help!

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