Remember When . . .
The boys and girls of St. Mary’s parish pause at the intersection of Geneva (now
Milwaukee Avenue), McHenry, and Jefferson streets on October 26, 1920, while
participating in a parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the parish’s
founding in the mid-1840s. The parade, which passed through the principal
streets of Burlington on the way to St. Mary’s Church, was headed by the
Burlington Harmony Band and followed by city officials, old settlers, and
visiting priests in autos, the Knights of Columbus drum corps, and the school
children and members of the congregation and its various societies. Rev. Joseph
Van Treeck, St. Mary’s pastor at that time, is seen in the center of the photo
standing between the two lines of marchers. Note also the brick streets and the
Interurban electric train tracks on Geneva Street.
The photograph was taken by Otto Heinemann, who had a photography studio in
downtown Burlington from 1915 through 1920. The photo, one of a series that
Heinemann took of St. Mary’s Diamond Jubilee parade, was donated to the
Burlington Historical Society by Gary Weis.
At the time of the parade, the building shown in the triangle housed Schemmer
and Rossmiller’s Hillside Grocery store. Frank Schemmer had purchased the
property from Henry Cook in 1875 as a site for a cobbling shop and his family’s
living quarters. In the early 1880s, Schemmer built an addition and started a
general store, selling groceries and dry goods. In 1894 Frank took his son,
Charles, into the grocery and dry goods business, with Charles buying the
business from his father in 1908. Following Charles Schemmer’s death in December
1913, his wife, Mary, sold an interest in the store to her brother, George
In 1921 Harry A. Terry, a World War I veteran who had been a city mail carrier
(and would eventually return to that occupation), bought the Hillside Grocery
business from Schemmer and Rossmiller. Terry also moved his family into the
living rooms in the back of the store. In 1925 Terry bought the property from
the Frank Schemmer estate.
In 1927 Terry leased part of the property to the Deep Rock Oil Co., which built
a gasoline filling station on the premises. Terry also razed part of the store
building. The Deep Rock station opened in 1928 with Christ R. Johnson as
manager. Later in 1928 Terry leased his Hillside Grocery store to George
Schumann and Leo Schenk for a 5-year term. Schumann and Schenk dissolved their
partnership in Hillside Grocery in July 1933, with Schumann continuing the
business under the name Schumann's I.G.A. Store. Later in 1933, when the 5-year
lease with Terry expired, Schumann moved his grocery business across the street
to the Yanny building at the corner of Jefferson and McHenry streets.
In 1934 Mr. and Mrs. Francis J. Schiller rented the store portion of the Terry
building and opened a recreation center offering billiards and other games and a
soda fountain. The Schillers’ Dine-a-Mite Club lasted only a few months. In 1935
Henry C. Lang and Marvin Whitton opened a heating, plumbing, and refrigeration
business in the store area. Joseph F. Voelkering also moved his sewing machine,
vacuum cleaner, and washing machine exchange into the building. Whitton moved
his appliance business to a shop on Chestnut Street in 1937 and Lang moved his
plumbing business to his Chestnut Street home in 1938.
Terry then had the frame store and residence building torn down and a brick
filling station erected, with the Terry family moving to a house on Schemmer
Street. The station was leased to the Sinclair Oil Co., which opened the filling
station in December 1938 with Bernard Kempken in charge. Irvin Anderson
succeeded Kempken in 1942 and operated the Sinclair station and service garage
until 1946 when he sold the business to Albert Horter and Ernest Polze.
In 1954 Francis Menheer, who had bought the business from Albert Horter, sold it
to Walter Yonk, Jr., and Robert Martinson. The second photo, taken by Emmett
Raettig, shows the station in 1956. Yonk and Martinson ran the business until
1961 when they sold it to Fred Beck, who ran the business until 1972.
Since that time, businesses in the building have included AWD Tire Sales, AWD
Auto Center, Bob Koehn’s Hillside Auto Center, and Wilson Classic Car center
owned by Errol Wilson and Lance Poltrock. The building is currently occupied by
State Auto Sales.