By Jerry Johnson & the Sutton Historical Society
In the whole town of Sutton there was only one mechanic in 1920, Elmer Scherer, according to the census. He must have been busy, unless the eleven fellows who identified as “machinist” were taking some of the auto repair work.
A couple years ago at the time the 1940 census became public, we did an article using that census to describe what Sutton was like in the year 1940. Now we go back two decades and examine the 1920 census in Sutton and take a look at Sutton that year.
|Oscar Dalgren had one of the two dairies in Sutton in 1920.|
He advertised regularly in The Sutton News.
Before delving into the actual census, let’s remind ourselves of the “big picture.” The World War had ended barely a year earlier. Serviceman had recently returned. The mood in the country and in Sutton must have been riding an upward slope. War spending boosts the economy and when production capacity is redirected from war material to civilian products and people have money to make a market, the standard of living will rise. Good Times.
George Barnell was the census enumerator in January, 1920. He visited both the first and second wards in Sutton plus that portion of School Creek Township which was within the city limits of Sutton. The enumerator identified the trade and industry of each employed individual. About 300 of the 1600 people counted in Sutton listed their job (trade) and business (industry); the rest were the young, the old and housewives. There were years when “keeping house” or blanks were used to identify non-employed women. The 1920’s “None” seems cold.
A couple things jump out at us from the beginning of this examination. The railroad was important for the development of the town but probably more importantly it provided employment for lots of townspeople. There were many teachers, merchants and salespersons, but perhaps the largest industry in Sutton in 1920 was listed on the census was in the “House” industry. That included plasterers, painters, brick masons and at least 18 carpenters. House construction in 1920 must have been in full swing.
House building means folks in real estate: A. W. Clark, Adolph Eckhardt, Fred Grosshans, W. F. Hoerger, C. J. Hughes, Chas Hultman, Peter Nuss, Henry Grosshans and H. M. Hanson. There were plumbers: C. R. Neuman, Clarence Conkin, the Untersehers, Fred and L. G and a fellow named Art Kessler.
J. W. Thompson, H. H Schultz and James Stone were Sutton’s Medical Doctors in 1920. Practical or
trained nurses included Lydia Horst, Marie Schwarz and Selma
Schwarz. Dentists were D. W. Dulaugh, G. M. Griess, Ferdinand Griess, D. J.
Pope and M. P. Yocum. The dentists needed assistants. Annie Anderson and Leah
Ochsner called themselves Office Girls in dental offices. There were two office
girls in doctor’s offices too, Selma Ebert and Hildegard Griess.
|Dr. Stone was a new doc in town with offices over the City|
State Bank, today's Cornerstone Bank corner.
Carl Held and the Lillidoll’s, Lee and Nels were the town druggists.
Barbers? Yes, Roy Cain, Hugo Ochsner, Frank Ryan and George Strayer. Alex Reifschneider and Fred and C. E. Nicolai were blacksmiths. Milo Brown was a sand dealer at the sand pit.
Oscar Dahlgren and J. F. Anthes lived within the city limits and called themselves dairymen. Hauling things around town generated enough business for four “draymen:” Walter Athey, Robert Beattie, John and Emil Stover. Julius Heinz also did local hauling but he identified as a “truck driver” apparently having sold his team, perhaps to George Beattie, horse buyer.
Horse-based operations still supported harness makers J. J. Bauer and William Reuter. But the times, they were a-changing. Ray Van Patten, Ralph George, Carl Griess, Otto Kohler, Earl Russell, C. A. Swann, George and Jacob Wahl, R. B. Weird, Olen Whitlock and L. D. Yost were all machinists in the “garage” industry reflecting advances in transportation technology. Garage owners included Lewis Esch, WW. George and Ed Griess. E. S. Majors was “Agent” with “Standard Oil.”
Communications technology shows up with nine telephone company employees. F. W. Kennedy was the manager of telephone operators Emma Brown, Opal Foster, Gladys Foster, Hilda Nuss, Mary Scheidemann and Lulu Sheehy. William Glanz was the only telephone lineman listed – suspect there were more. Nathan Tyler was the janitor in the telephone office. Mr. Tyler’s claim to fame is that he is one of two Confederate soldiers who made their homes in Sutton. The other, Leonard Jarrett age 74 in 1920 listed his occupation as “None.” Leonard’s daughter Sibyl was the city librarian in 1920 and for many more years. Another city employee was Philip Green, policeman.
Edmund Ochsner, Henry Grosshans, Thomas Purcell and Harry Stevens were “grain buyers.” Benders and Grosshans had “Implement Houses” with several employees each. Albert Griess and Richard Grosshans had lumberyards again, with employees.
C. M. Brown had his Sutton Register newspaper; Merton Conn managed the theater; Harry Anderson was a photographer and E. E. Trabert was the veterinarian.
L. P. Sornson was a bank president, Henry and W. F. Griess were bank VP’s. J. W. Knox, J. F. Burke, Ed Kirchhefer, Laura Bauer and R. M. Mecham were cashiers and bookkeepers. Jacob Steinbrecher was the janitor in one of the bank buildings.
How many of these folks have you heard of? How about J. L. Lohmeier, M. R. Foster, Edward Sheehy and C. N. Ochsner who were proprietors of billiard parlors? Not pool halls, billiard parlors as we learned that distinction in a song by Robert Preston: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_Oe-jtgdI
|This has to be on the short list for best business logos, ever. His name|
was Wm. B. Baehr and he worked the "W" and two "B's" into the log
along with the bear. Genius. It doesn't have anything to do with
jewelry, but who cares?
Retail businesses? A bunch: Melchoir Figi, George Rauscher, Henry Wiedenbach, Carl Wieland and Henry Willard claimed “general merchandise.” Samuel Carney, Frank Weston and Albert Wenzlaff had hardware stores. Edward Stoner and W. D. Patterson were tinsmiths in hardware stores. Eva Gell had a millinery shop; Frieda Redinger, Catherine Mueller, Pauline Fraley and Edith Cunningham were dressmakers; Harvey Stenson and Fred Hanke were tailors; and though there was no laundry mentioned, the enumerator identified Katherine Klein and Nina Courtright as “wash women” to mark their place in Sutton’s history. May not be a term we’d use today, but I’ll bet they each had a good business in their Maltby and Saunders Avenue homes.
R. H. Melhlaf and August Ochsner identified their businesses as “Gent’s Furnishings” which seems better than “Men’s Warehouse” or “over there to the left of the DVD’s at Wal-Mart.”
Les Bauer had a confectionery store; Albert Lewis, William Baehr and J. R. Easley were jewelers; Jacob Serr had his restaurant and George Honey and Carl Spielman had a furniture store though they listed their trade as undertaker. Carl Eichler was a waiter and Marie Kahm a waitress.
The eight clergy in Sutton were listed with a trade of “minister” and an industry of “gospel.” Those were Reinhold Birk, Laurence Dunphy, John Goemmel, Albert Hild, Michael Hofer, R. Kirchhefer, Chas McCorkie and William Norenberg. Who can match them up with their churches?
|A collection of business locations that are relative to other|
businesses lets us develop the pieces to a jigsaw puzzle to
locate more and more of the long-gone and forgotten places.
Theresa Bender, Clara Huber, Emma Lissman, Susie Nelson, Elsie and Freida Perlenfein and Mary Waters were housekeepers. Lillie Reichert was a cook in a private home.
There were teachers, a lot of them and they need to be mentioned: Thelma Bernhardt, Hattie Henderson, Helen Huppert, Minnie Kleinsmith, Edna Sharkey, Hazel Wilson, Evra Garrison, Hazel Catteson, Margaret McCall, Calvin Miller, Madge Miller, Opal Nuss, Gladys Brown, Hazel Chambers, Louise Elfring, Lulu Hines, Hilda Hofmann, Eva Oakley, Eliza Rath, Gertrude Rath, Olga Rath, Elizabeth Vance and Minetta Unterseher. F. M. Marchek was the superintendent at the high school.
E. P. Griess was the Postmaster, Wesley Brown his assistant and James Catterson was the postal clerk.
There were 22 people in the “railroad” industry category. Another 15 were categorized in “steam railroad.” Engineer Louis Hogan and brakemen Rheuben Herzon and H. C. Ochsner led to the guess that the “railroad” folks were trackmen and “steam railroad” indicated train people. However, brakemen Roy Irvin and Russell Swearingen and conductors Thomas Lang and William Pscherer were “misplaced” under “railroad.” Dunno.
F. T. Pumphrey was “agent” likely the Depot Agent. Every railroad town needed a telegraph operator or three: Harry Todt, Charles Schwarz and Reon Silver.
The section foremen were Henry Heinz and Adam Kern with laborers Henry J. Bender, Reinhold Heinz, Carl Heinz, Amo Krueger, John Reger, George Schleiger, Edward and William Steinhauer, and John Yeager. Riley Huddleston and W. F. McCall were the bridge foreman and carpenter.
J. H. Fleming was called the “roadmaster” on the steam railroad. Laborers in that category were Alex Bauer, Henry Haberman, August Heinz, Jacob Kahm, George and Conrad Krass, Edward McCall, George Metzger, George Ross and Albert Rubach.
|When harness sales slowed down, Bauer needed to diversify|
Peter Steinhauer was listed as the Motorman with the Street Railroad. What was that about?
A. W. Clark was the mayor of Sutton in 1920. He was the son of early developer I. N. Clark and the husband of the former Mayme Wieden. His given name was Albert but you often see him called “Bertie.” His other business that was not mentioned in the 1920 census was Ice Man drawing his raw material from the pond down the hill to the east of his house.
The City Councilmen were John Roth, O. W. Challburg, Carl Held and Jacob Weber. Charles Brown was the city clerk.
How many names did you recognize? Were any of those occupations a surprise?
We can learn a lot from casual reading of census records. We’ve now extracted scraps of information from the 1940 and 1920 versions. Perhaps we’ll step back someday to look at 1900 and 1880. Stay tuned.
This article first appeared in the October, 2014 issue of Sutton Life Magazine. Contact Jarod Griess at 402-984-4203 for further information about the publication.