The Wapello Republican
June 18, 1981, Section B, Page 94

Transcribed by Shirley Plumb, July 2, 2018



     Glen Mills came to Wapello on September 3, 1925 from Muscatine, Iowa. He started in the garage business in a building that stood on the corner where Foor’s Fashions cleaning dept. is now.

     His brother-in-law, Paul Louck, was a partner in business with him and the garage was known as the Mills and Louck Garage which operated as such until 1929 when Louck left the firm.

     The was the date that Glen Mills; son, Vernon, became associated with his father and in 1933 they bought the building from Jim Burthrie and it was known as Mills Garage until 1941.

     This date marked the beginning of the Mills DX station which was so well known to the residents of this area.

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     In the building built by attorney L. A. Riley, who had his law office upstairs and rented out the street floor to Tom Murphy for a butcher shop, is where Huddles Grocery was for many years at 222 Van Buren Street.

     About 1930 the business was taken over by Ray Murphy and in 1923 Paul Huddle started working there until 1926 when he went with the S and I Market at Clinton, Iowa.

     Then in May of 1927 Paul Married a teacher by the name of Audrey Brown and the couple moved to Beloit, Wisc. Where he was place in charge of the SAK market of Beloit.

     Horace Baker finally purchased the Murphy meat market that same Fall and persuaded Paul Huddle to run it for him and Paul returned from Wisconsin. Although Mrs. Baker still owned the building, Paul purchased the stock and fixture in 1936 and also added a complete line of groceries, fruit and vegetables.

     In 1951 the store was remodeled into a self-service store. Later they moved to Second Street in a building formerly occupied by Faye Hubert Variety Store where Gladfelders Drug Store now is, and remained there several years until they sold their business to Corner Grocery and Paul continued behind the meat counter, for Don and Burt, until his death in 1968.

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Wife Operated First Beauty Parlor

     Being a barber for many consecutive years in the same town is a record to be proud of. T is what Don Parsons, owner and operator of Parson’s Barber Shop, could boast of. Don was born in Jefferson Township on December 14, 1893, the son of Mary Sillick Parsons and A. H. Parsons, direct descendant of the Parsons family that settled Louisa County in 1836.

     He attended school at the early age of three years as a necessity. Don’s mother taught school and as there were no other homes in the immediate vicinity it was necessary that she take him along with her, so his mother was his first teacher. The rural school which he attended was known to everyone at that time as “The Cornstalk College.”

     After completing his education, which included a business college course, he accepted the position of bookkeeper at the Chittenden and Eastman furniture factory in Burlington for a term.

     Then on March 15, 1916 Don went to Davenport and entered the Tri-City Barber College and after completion of the course he perfected his new trade by working in Rock Island, ILL., Mason City and Burlington before coming back to Wapello to open his own shop on February 1, 1918.

     That same year he bought out George Foor’s barber shop and after five years he moved to 212 Van Buren street.

     Don had the first pair of electric clippers in use west of the Mississippi river and another first was the beauty parlor his wife operated in conjunction with Don’s Barber Shop.

     Needless to say that Don and Lucille made many friends while performing their Herculean task of improving the general appearance of the citizens of Wapello over so long a period of time.

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     Jack Dotson and Dick Sands opened their Minneapolis-Moline dealership in October, 1955 in two large Quonset buildings located three miles south of Wapello on the site of the Wapello airfield.

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     The Wapello Service Shop opened Sept. 22, 1952 with Harold and Bob Fletcher. It was located at the junction of Highway 99 and 61 in Wapello.

     The shop provided all types of body work and repair.

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Originated Line In Wapello

     Kathryn’s Shop had the distinction of originating women’s ready to-wear clothing in Wapello. The owner, Mrs. James J. Johann, who was the former Kathryn Life of Ft. Madison, located the business at 122 North Second Street. The building was first occupied by Keller’s Drug.

     Her first store was located on Van Buren Street, first on the north side and then to the south side, but as her business increased it was necessary to make another move and this time it was into the Johann building on North Second.

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     The Buick and Pontiac cars and the International trucks that were sold in this vicinity were due to the efforts of “Congenial Jimmy” Johann who had the agency in the garage he operated in Wapello.

     The business was started back in 1908 by Jimmy’s father, C. W. Johann, who was one of the first car dealers in the entire United States. He operated the garage and salesroom until 1934 and had the agency for the Cadillac, White, Buick, Reo, International Brisco, Maxwell, Chevrolet, Ford, Paige and Overland cars and trucks.

     The first carload of cars that ever came into Wapello were ordered by C. W. Johann. It was a load of single cylinder Cadillac touring cars. There were six cars in the load. The price of each was $ 1049.00; times haven’t changed much at that, because that price was without headlights or top-those were considered accessories and cost extra.

     When Dr. J. H. Chittum saw this load of beautiful new Cadillacs, it was love at first sight and he purchased the very first one in this area.

     The salesroom was originally a livery stable, the tire salesroom has quite a history to it. That building was the first fine school building in Wapello and was located near the hotel Johann, Sr. attended school there with some of these other men who attained fame in later life such as Judge hale, Ed Hicklin, Aner Nearhood and Oscar (Prunes) Bird.

     When the school building was no longer in use, C. W. Johann purchased it and moved the entire structure to Van Buren Street.

     James J. Johann purchased the business from his father in 1934. His biggest interest was in horses. He always had one fine horse in his stable. But Jimmy thought the automobile was here to stay.

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     Speedee Cleaners in Wapello was originated in 1950 by George Smith, operated by Levi Winfrey. Mr. Winfrey leased the business in the Fall of 1950 and purchased it in the Spring of 1952.

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     Joe Price had been in the drug business for the past 43 years. Joe purchased the building on Aug. 5, 1950 from Carl Hedges and the building was erected by H. J. Plett in 1887.

     When the business expanded to the point where more room was necessary, the sales room was remodeled in April of 1955 and new fixtures were installed.

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     Carl McChesney operated the DX service station on highway 61 since November of 1951. However, he has worked in and with various filling stations for 21 years before going into business for himself.

     Carl was known to his many intimate friends by the nickname of Sucker.

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     Ray had his first experience in the private bank established in 1848 by his grandfather. This was the old Commercial bank and Ray started there in 1903 when he graduated from the Wapello schools. In 1908, another private bank,

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the Citizens Bank, was started by Ray’s father, H. B. Davison, so Ray and his brother, H. L. Davison, both went with their Dad in the new Citizens Bank.

     This bank sold out to the Wapello State Savings Bank in 1924.

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     Ernest R. Winter had been a resident of Wapello all of his life. The roots of the Winter family do deep in Louisa county history, as Mr. and Mrs. Winter are of the third and fourth generation settled in this county. Mrs. Winter, nee Millicent Hicklin, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Hicklin, who were identified all their lives with the educational and political development of Wapello. Her paternal great-grandfather, Robert Williams, built the first cabin in 1836 in the Indian Reserve beside Long Creek. Mr. Winter is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis C. Winter, and his grandmother, Wilhelmina Winter, who was educated in medicine in Germany, was welcomed by many a home in Louisa county and attended at many births during her active years prior to her death in 1896. Mr. Winter’s maternal grandfather was Henry Bothe who was the first harness maker in Wapello, having built his shop and home at the corner of North 2nd and Merchant. This building is still standing and is now the Springer Apartments. Mr. and Mrs. Winter had four children: Ernest H., Mary Jean, Millicent Lou and David H.

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     Virgil T. Fish came here originally from Victor, Iowa and opened a complete shoe store in February, 1951. He had a fine line of men’s ladies’ and children’s shoes, socks, boots and everything that is usually found in a modern shoe store. Virgil also owned and operated a shoe repair business in the same building.

     The only business of its kind in Wapello was also operated by Virgil and that was the weaving of rugs. There were several looms of different sizes for custom weaving from the small throw rugs to large rag carpets of beautiful designs and color combinations. The fact that they were carefully hand woven gave the rugs exceptionally long wearing qualities.

     Virgil married Gertrude Robertson of Morning Sun and they have one daughter.

     Although known as Gertrude to her many friends, correctly speaking it is Dr. Gertrude Fish, D. C. Dr. Fish has the distinction of being the only Chiropractor in Wapello. She is a graduate of the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.

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     Carl Lofgren – the name immediately brings to mind fine jewelry.

     He opened up his jewelry store here in November of 1908. After graduating from the Bradley School of Horology in 1906 he attended a school for engravers in Chicago before opening up his own store.

     It is interesting to note that there were four brothers – Gus, Carl, Albert and Oscar – and each one became a professional jeweler. First Gus went to school and learned the jeweler’s trade and opened a store of his own and helped Carl through school. Then when Carl finished his trade school he opened up his business and both brothers helped Oscar through the same schooling and he also opened his own business.

     The store which he occupied was built for one of Wapello’s first newspaper and later on was the home of the first theatre here, being the real old movie nickleodium.

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     The Optometric clinic served the Wapello area for two years, providing service in 1954 for complete eye examinations with the most up-to-date equipment available. Located in Wapello across from the theater, the clinic also provided modern frames and sunglasses according to the patient’s prescription.’ Dr. Jack Thatcher and Dr. Phil Swanson, both optometric graduates of Pennsylvania with doctor’s degrees, provided exact eye examinations.

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     The D and L Café was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald (Jake) Jacobsen. They purchased the business from Mr. and Mrs. “Pinky” Lamb in June 1952.

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     Many, many years in business in Wapello is the record of the Schwob family here. Henry B. Hunt and Emanuel Schwob started in a building at the foot of Van Buren Street in 1890.

     They dissolved the partnership in 1898 and in 1800 a building was built by Schwob. N. E. Stevens of Wapello was the contractor and the finest brick to be obtained were shipped down here from Chicago to be used in the construction.

     E. Schwob died in 1937 and the business was operated for a year by Theodore Schwob. Then in 1938 Henry Schwob took over until 1954 when his youngest son Richard followed the family line of general smithing and “Dick” was the village blacksmith.

     Henry began work in the garage business in 1909 in the old Gauss Building. He was there until 1932 and it was while there that he did a bit of inventing such as having the first patent on an electric hammer which he had patented. He also developed much of the machinery in use in the blacksmith shop where general machine and repair work was done.

     Henry and his wife, the former Hazel Humphrey of Wapello, were blessed with eight children.

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     The McNeil Brothers implement store had its beginning when Burns McNeil started an independent automotive repair shop in 1926. He specialized in Chevrolet repair work, having had experience in that line with C. W. Johann when he had the agency up to 1926.

     In 1927, W. P. McNeil joined his brother and then the garage did all types of Automotive repair work, having more equipment and help.

     The first contract was signed with the HIS in 1933 and was a good move as the McNeil brothers “sold hundreds of tractors with lugs on.” Their salesroom was located in the Marshall building. Then they moved to the building on Van Buren Street next to the Iowa River, this building having been erected by Howard Patrick in 1917 for a garage and repair shop. In 1944 a parts department was added to the rear of the original building.

     McNeil Brothers had the Studebaker dealership from 1941 to 1948, and besides the IHC line, Pittsburg Paints, the Kewanee Implements. Twin-draulic sprays and loaders, wagon boxes and posthole differs. They were completely equipped with a parts department and were capable of doing all type of tractor repair and service work.

     W. P. McNeil married Dorothy Schneider and they have four children, Jane, Burns, Carolyn and Kay.

     Burns McNeil married Gladys Hammond and they too have four children, Mary Ellen, Barbara, Gladys Ruth and Patty.

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     The Corner Grocery started in July of 1952 when they bought Carter’s Market from Doc and Agnes Carter, located where the Smart Shop now is. The fine line of meats, groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables and friendly service paid off to the extent that in 1955 they bought out the Benteco Store directly across the street from them, bought the building and relocated there where they remained until August 1960 when they closed the store having sold their business to Jack and Jill and the building to the State Bank of Wapello.

     Don Brown and Burt Mathews, owners of the Corner Grocery, always made I a pint to personally greet each customer, which meant so mc to everyone who entered the store.

     Burt is retired and Don at employed at Pine motor.

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     The Barker Poultry Equipment Company started here in Wapello as the Wapello Machinery Company and was located in the old button factory building back in September of 1944.

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     The firs service offered by the Iowa Farm Mutual Insurance Company was automobile and farm liability to Farm Bureau members in the state of Iowa in the year 1938.

     In May of 1948, C. E. Colglazer joined the agency as a special agent in Louisa County and in January of 1950 he was appointed as general agent of the entire county.

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     The B & M Jewelry Store was owned and operated by Robert Dircks. The shop was located on Van Buren Street.

     The Jewelry Store was later owned by M. F. Deam who operated the store until 1972 when he died suddenly.

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     Dearmin Transfer was started in Yarmouth by Vern Dearmin and his father Lester in 1927. In 1948 the firm located in Wapello.

     Clay Belzer purchased the business in 1969. The firm is now owned by Nelson Trucking of Mediapolis.

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    The Louisa County Agricultural Society is believed to have been the first such society of this kind to hold a fair and The Wapello newspaper of August 23, 1853 states, “That the first agricultural fair ever to be held in the state of Iowa will be held soon in Louisa County.”

    And in October of 1853 this Fair was held in Wapello and quoting from the paper again, “First premium was awarded to George Key for the best acre of corn – 120 bushels to the acre. Second premium was awarded to Soloman Fishthorn – 111 bushels to the acre.

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