On Wednesday, September 9, the Village of Monee officially dedicated the new roundabout on Court St. and Egyptian trail to the memory of local painter Andrew Gunderson. Members of the Monee Historical Society were present at the limited-capacity event in which Mayor Popp and Trustee Janet Blue unveiled the signs that will be installed at the roundabout. Members of the society, including president Christi Holston, Nancy and Sheila Langenfeld, Mary Brockmiller, Margaret Horne, Judie Popp, and Ron Arnold attended to gift a painting by the artist to the village for display.
The story of Arthur W. Mall, president of the Mall Tool Company is surely a Horatio Alger type of story. It is a story of a six-year old boy who was selling newspapers on the corner watching with perhaps wistful eyes, his playmates with nothing on their minds but the fun they were having. Surely there were times when Arthur Mall wanted to put down his newspapers and run and play with them. But even at that tender age he realized his responsibility and stayed with the job.
The story of Arthur W. Mall is a story of a youth who worked at odd jobs during his high school days. His friends were playing football and tennis and enjoying themselves, but Arthur Mall, with grim determination to fulfill the responsibility that lay on his shoulders worked after school hours before retiring. After his graduation from high school he didn’t join many of his friends who were going to colleges all over the country. College cost a lot of money, and Arthur Mall didn’t have it, so he went to the serious task of making a living.
The story of Arthur Mall is the truly inspiring story of a man with an idea, a little capital, practically no outside assistance, and a lot of ambition and desire to make his idea a reality. His determination and sincere effort made his dream come true and today he ranks in the upper bracket of the portable power tool industry. Arthur W. Mall is a softspoken, calm man who is truly gracious and kind, however, one feels the presence of a strong-willed man, a man with strength and faith. You look at his trade-mark, “MALL POWER TOOLS” and you think of just the two words: “MALL POWER” and you know that is what has brought him to the position he maintains today.
Arthur Mall was born on August 15, 1895 in Hammond, Indiana. When he was two years old the family moved to the south east side of Chicago where he has lived all of his life. At the age of six years he sold newspapers on the streets of south Chicago until the time he entered high school. Besides his studies in high school he found the time and ambition to work at part time jobs after school. Upon graduation from high school he went to work. Arthur Mall didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, but in the course of his life, he found the time to study and acquire the knowledge he knew he both desired and needed. He attended Steven’s Institute in Hoboken, Armour Institute in Chicago and passed the severe examination for Officer Candidate School in the United States Navy. He has the equivalent of a college degree in Mechanical Engineering.
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In 1916 Arthur Mall answered this country’s call and entered the United States Navy. He served as an officer of the Navy until 1918 when he was discharged as an Ensign.
Arthur W. Mall started the Mall Tool Company on January 1, 1921, in Milwaukee,
Wisc., with a capital of less than $200.00. One year later the company was moved to the south side of Chicago where it stands today.
The first product of the Mall Tool Company was a pneumatic sanding and polishing wheel which requires a portable power tool to revolve, and thus the Mall Tool Company started to make various kinds of portable power tools, the product which they now make and for which they are known throughout the world. From the first product they went to making gas engines, then to electric and then to gas self-contained engines and then to pneumatic power tools of all types.
The Mall Tool Company now employs over 2,000 people, with forty branch warehouse stores on their own property in cities in the U.S. and Canada. The Mall Power Tool product is sold and used throughout the world. The factory and home offices in the South Chicago area cover an area of ten acres.
The story of Arthur W. Mall is truly an inspiring one. A man has an idea, a dream, and a practically no help, indeed with the odds against him, he realized the fulfillment of the dream. The story of Arthur Mall is the story of a man with the courage and faith to make of his life, with its humble beginnings, a great and noble success. He has and is doing much to honor the name of Mall.
The following story concerning Arthur W. Mall by Betty Jane Merrill was taken from the Chicago Daily Tribune of Dec. 11, 1952:
“There are 2,000 acres of farmland in Monee Township, Will county, which have been turned (unexpectedly) into an experiment that may mean the birth of a new community in Chicago’s south suburban area. The land, located 30 miles south of Chicago’s Loop, surrounds the Mall Tool Company’s newest plant at 25000 S. Western Ave., Crete.
“The Mall company began to purchase the acreage during World War II and completed the project thru 50 real estate transactions. The land was placed in trust for company employees who were called into service.
“Arthur W. Mall, president, had intended the land to be divided among the 50 men and women who he hoped would become homesteaders. However, after the war the employees elected to take their shares of the gift in cash settlements. The trust was dissolved. The company took over the land and turned it into ten experimental farms which now produce grain, cattle, and swine, and serve as the proving ground for Mall power tools.
“The farmers are hired by Mall to cultivate the land and raise the animals, which include pure bred registered Hampshire hogs, registered dairy cattle, and prize winning beef cattle. An average of 1,000 gallons of milk is sold daily to Chicago area dairies. During their daily routines the farmers test the power tools, such as hand saws and small carpentry implements. The entire operation is under direction of H.P. Seltenright, farm manger.
“The acreage includes 800 acres of woods and pasture land, dotted with
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small lakes. In this area Mall has built an airport and hangar for his three private planes, and an adjoining picnic grove which accommodates 3,000 at a time, The recreation area, which is used by the employees includes a dance platform, modern restrooms, outdoor grills, water fountains, children’s playground, target range, and refrigeration units and serving kitchen in the airplane hangar.
“Thru the woods, Mall has built four miles of gravel roads, More than 40,000 evergreen trees have been planted in a carefully planned landscaping scheme. At least 60,000 more trees, including walnut, butternut, chestnut, blue spruce, and Douglas fir, will be planted within the next few years.
“With his employees in mind, Mall is building big plans for the future. He expects to stock the woods with game and the lakes with fish to provide sporting opportunities for those on his payroll.
“The Plan also includes building a hunting lodge and the development of an arboretum. Eventually the area may be opened to the public.
“Mall, a gentle, jovial man who seems happiest when he is tramping thru the woods or looking over herds of fine cattle, was born in Hammond, Ind., and learned farm life first hand in Rolfe, Ia. He started to manufacture power tools in a small wooden building in Milwaukee in 1921, turning out the implements himself with only a small circle of workers.”
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(Page 123 continued with Emigrants To New York, New Jersey)
The 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.
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 email@example.com or on Facebook @MoneeHistory.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
Albertina, married Thomas Frazier, had Albert and Bruce. Later married Peter Rahn
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.
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.
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.
Magdelena and Phillip Sr. had 2 children; Phillip Jr. and Magdelena.
Philip Jr. married Antonetta Pauling, the daughter of H.F. and Johanna (Heitschmidt) Pauling and had one daughter, Flora. Flora married Albert Kannberg.
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.
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:
William Phillip Friedrich (1899-1918)
Edgar Richard (1906-1993) who married Mildred Wolke. They had three children:
Leroy John (1909-1996) married Esther Lydia Bartels (1913-1991). The couple had two children:
Ruby Maude Ida Flora (1913-2007) married William Podratz (1901-1992). They had one daughter:
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.
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.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
In our last blog post, we mentioned the photo of Waldemar Wehrli that was kindly sent to the Monee Historical Society by Andy Gappa. We will focus on the Wehrli family in Monee in this post.
“Jacob Wehrli was born Feb. 7, 1830, in Switzerland and came to Monee in 1858. On Feb. 10, 1862, he married Cathrina Heisner, born July 20, 1833, in Germany. He was an early blacksmith in the village.
He died Feb. 19, 1901; his wife, Apr. 19, 1914.
Andrew, son of the Jacob Wehrlis, was born July 23, 1864, in Monee. He married Bertha Engelke, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Friedrich Engelke, on Dec. 26, 1892. She came with her parents from Chicago to Monee at an early age and resided in the village until her death Aug. 9, 1946.
Andrew Wehrli followed the trade of his father. In May, 1911, he purchased the John Rampke dwelling and lots on Chestnut street. The blacksmith shop stood south of his home and for years the ring of Wehrli’s anvil was a familiar sound in Monee and was heard many hours each day. No doubt Longfellow pictured a man such as Wehrli standing beside a flaming forge when he wrote his famous poem “The Village Blacksmith.” Wehrli may not have stood “under a spreading chestnut tree,” but his shop was located on Chestnut street and many a young boy stopped on his way past to watch a horse being shod. Wehrli spent his entire lifetime in Monee except for the last year and a half when he resided with a son, Waldemar, in St. Louis, Mo. He died Apr. 5, 1948.
Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wehrli: Allen, Waldemar, Andrew and Erma.”
The above was published in the book “Our Roots are Deep”, written by Muriel Mueller Milne. Ms. Milne published the book in 1974, just in time for Monee’s centennial celebration. Tragically, she died less than a year later but her research left an incredible legacy for those of us interested in the lives of our Monee ancestors.
In that spirit, and given the time and advanced methods of genealogical research today, we can add the following about the Wehrli family.
In addition to Andrew, Jacob and Catharina (Heisner) Wehrli had another son, Karl, who died at 5 months and 23 days on May 20, 1863. Also born to them were 3 daughters; Anna, Wilhelmina and Marie.
Anna was born on April 17, 1866 and died December 8, 1963. In 1890, she married Jacob Bircher and the couple had 2 sons; Louis and Leroy. Louis married Mathilda and the couple had two daughters, Helen and Marjorie.
Wilhelmina was born February 2, 1868 and died October 8, 1915. She married William Rincker who was born in April 1870 and died in 1944, the son of Johann and Helena (Puscheck) Rincker of Crete. The couple had 2 sons; Leroy and Norbert, and a daughter, Ruth, who died at 10 months, 14 days on December 19, 1900. Leroy (1896-1953) attended Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis Missouri and became a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He served as missionary to Canada in 1919-1920 and to the Isle of Pines, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand in 1920. In 1923 he became a professor at Concordia University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin receiving his doctorate degree in 1952. In 1936 he was named president of the University and served in that capacity until his death. In 1923 he was united in marriage with Edna Huetman. His brother Norbert (1903-1976) married Elsia Beilstein (1906-2006), and they had two children; Ruth and Billy.
Marie was born September 3, 1871 and died January 27, 1953. She was employed as a schoolteacher in Missouri.
As mentioned in Our Roots are Deep, Andrew and Bertha (Engelke) Wehrli’s had four children; Allen, Waldemar, Andrew and Irma.
Allen Wehrli, like his cousin Leroy, became a minister. He was born May 5, 1894 and married Cornelia Hees. The couple had one son, Eugene (1923-2000). He was a Professor at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri and was the guest speaker at countless churches all over the Midwest. He died in November 1970 in St. Louis, Missouri. His son Eugene also became a minister. Gene was raised on the Eden Seminary campus. He received his A.B. Degree from Oberlin college in 1943 and returned to Eden Seminary to obtain his Bachelor of Divinity in 1948. He was ordained a minister in the United Church of Christ in 1947 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1951. After serving as a religion instructor at Cedar Crest college and Elmhurst College, he was called to join the Eden Faculty in 1960. He served as academic dean and dean of student affairs before becoming president. He was the author of numerous books and was extremely highly regarding by his colleagues and students. He married Clara Fluke in 1947, and the couple were also the parents of 5 children.
Andrew Wehrli was born July 4, 1895 and died at age 17, on April 4, 1913.
Irma (referred to in Our Roots are Deep as “Erma”) was born Feb. 25, 1897 and died on March 26, 1949.
Waldemar, the subject of the original photo was born June 29, 1902. There just might be something genetic in the Waldemar family line, for as his father and grandfather were both blacksmiths, Waldemar chose a slightly different path, and became superintendent of Hiertz Steel Company in St. Louis. He married the Isabel Hiertz, the daughter of the plant owner, Edmund Hiertz in about 1930. Isabel was born September 22, 1899. The couple had one daughter, Margaret, in 1931. Incredibly, Waldemar lived to see his 101st birthday, before dying on May 5, 2004. Isabel died October 18, 1966.
Their daughter Margaret married Harold Beasley and the couple had 3 daughters Ann, Mary and Kathryn, and one son, John.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief biography of the Monee Wehrli family. We plan on writing more biographies in the future of the families that helped shape Monee.