History of Piper City

Agriculture has always been the most important source of income for Piper Cityans, and even 100 years after the beginning of our town, the economy still responds to the pulse of the farm community.

One of the first businesses was the buying and selling of grain and was begun on a very small scale by Dr. William Piper and John A. Montelius, Sr. The grain was stored in a small shed in bags and then carried to the railroad tracks to be sent to market. This was started in 1866.

The Montelius family remained in the grain business until 1924 when Joseph K. Montelius sold out to Bloice W. Cunnington, completing around 60 years in the business.

When the bank building was built in 1895, the grain office was in the southwest corner with the scales on the west side, later used by Jesse Johnson as a cream station.

Since the Monteliuses owned a lot of land, especially north of town, it was nautral that their tenants would bring their corn to the Montelius grain elevator to be sold.

"Corn Days" became a by-word and some time during the winter it would be agreed that a certain day would be "corn day" and all the tenants would bring their corn to the elevator that day.

It was necessary to do this in the winter time, otherwise the roads might be impassable if they were not frozen. Usually the men walked beside their wagons to keep warm and it was often a severe hardship for both man and beast. It was not unusual for the teams and wagons to be lined up from the scales to the north end of town.

Fist fights sometimes broke out between men waiting their turn to dump their corn and return on the long cold trek home.

In 1914 the Monteliuses built the large cement elevator which fronts on Green Street. At the time this was considered the finest and the largest elevator in the state outside of some terminal elevators. This replaced a wood structure.

Mathew Soran, Sr., was another early grain dealer, dealing in grain as well as general merchandise at the site of the present post office. His scales were on the east side of his building.

When Bloice Cunnington bought out J. K. Montelius he leased the brick office on Main Street and the cement elevator, at first from Mr. Montelius, but later from the LaHogue Grain Company who bought Montelius out.

Mr. Cunnington was killed in an automobile accident November 22, 1938, and E. P. Wilson and his sons, John E. and Edwin E. Wilson, effected a purchase from E. H. Houk, executor of his estate, and the Wilson Grain Company formally opened for business December 2, 1938, with Edwin E. (Chub) Wilson as manager. John E. was in the First National Bank at the time.

Wilson Grain Company continued the lease with the LaHogue Grain Company for the facilities of office and elevator. The ground was leased from the railroad company.

Both John and Edwin served in World War II and while away in service the elevator was managed by their uncle, John Elmer Wilson, with E. P. Wilson assisting.

The Wilson Grain Company was one of the earliest grain companies to move into the trucking of grain on a large scale and the initial step was made through necessity. The TP&W Railroad Company was on strike and in order to move the grain to the terminals and sub-terminals it became necessary to move it by truck. This was done prior to Chub's return from service in 1946.

The LaHogue Grain Company decided to sell the office and elevator at public auction April 19, 1946. Both Farmers Grain Company and the Wilson Grain Company were spirited bidders, but Farmers Grain Company was the successful bidder and Wilson Grain Company vacated the premises about July 15, of that year.

Wilsons then moved to 17 East Peoria having contracted with J. W. Hickerson, local carpenter, to build an office and some storage space for feed. They began to go into the trucking business in earnest as they had no elevator in which to store grain. They eventually owned four trucks and sometimes supplemented with others that they hired for larger jobs.

Morris was the main market for the grain for many years, although some of it moved to Kankakee, Chicago and Gibson City as well as other points. During the 1950's Lew Walker of Gilman handled a lot of corn from Piper City. Mr. Walker had prevailed on a Chicago company to build a sub-terminal at Gilman and he did his best to give a good market to his neighbors in the business.

Wilson Grain Company's direct handling of grain from farm to the market was new to Piper City and it created quite a stir, but it was not entirely without precedent in the area. Herb Sterrenberg of Crescent City had operated successfully this way for a time, and his experience was the incentive needed for Wilsons to go ahead.

This all happened back in a day when employees worked hard for their employers and a fine group of men worked long hours and hard to succeed at this new venture in grain merchandising. Sometimes Theron Boma, who operated a corn sheller at that time, would start at midnight if that's what it took to get the job done.

In 1958 Wilson Grain Company sold out to Virgil and Ray Wilkey and it became known as the Wilkey Grain Company and has been in business since with Virgil Wilkey as the manager. This grain company was sold at public auction June 7, 1969 to Farmers Grain Company so for the first time since Piper City was started there is only one grain company in operation.
The Farmers Grain Company has been in operation over 50 years.

James Walsh built or acquired an elevator in 1908 at the west end of Main Street. He later sold to Alvin Wrede.

In 1917 the farmers of this area organized a Farmers Grain Company. Shares of stock totaling $25,000 were sold at $50 each. The first meeting of the shareholders was held February 16, 1918 in the Masonic Hall. On the first board of directors were Frank Reising, William Quick, E. E. Bishop, Baltz Weber, James P. Glass, Hugh Hawthorne, John Klehm, John Shaughnessy and J. A. Berlett.

C. T. Hupp was the first manager of Farmers Grain. In 1921 C. E. Miller was hired as a manager and served until his retirement in 1954.

Claire McClain was another individual who gave years of service to the grain business. He served as bookkeeper for Bloice Cunnington and also for the Wilson Grain Company.
Agribusiness has grown to be a common expression in 1969 although our ancestors would not have the faintest idea what was meant by the term. Businesses related to agriculture have grown fast in the past 10 years and one well known to area farmers is the fertilizer and herbicide business. Farmers have learned how they can boost yield and control weeds and these products are much in demand.

There are two fertilizer plants in Piper City, and both have been built in the past five years. What is now Custom Farm Services, Inc., began in 1964 as Schofield Soil Service. Glenn Mogged started with them as manager and is still their manager. He recently was named top manager of his district.

Monsanto Agricultural Center was built soon after the other fertilizer plant and Lon Ash was their first manager. Howard Myers is now acting as manager. Both plants do a big business and have the confidence of the farmers as both managers are local people and have farmed.
Another business closely aligned with agriculture and one of great importance to Piper City is F/S Services, Inc., Seeds Division. It is the largest business in Piper City. It started back in 1937 when an organization known as the Ford County Corn Growers was carrying on a seed testing and germinating program in various parts of the county. Hybrid seed corn had just begun to catch on and farmers who had for years been saving a few bushels of their best corn for planting were beginning to buy hybrid corn.

Nobody had ever heard of a seed company. If a farmer needed seed, he bought some from his neighbor. The development of hybrid corn changed all that and the pollination and breeding of corn was no longer left to nature and chance.

Seeing the need of area farmers, it was decided at the annual meeting of the Ford County Corn Growers on January 21, 1937 to organize a Ford County Crop Improvement Association and to grow hybrid seed corn.

On May 23, 1937 the Ford County Crop Improvement Association was incorporated and A. B. Schofield was made the first business manager.

In March, 1938, it was decided that the corn processing plant would be built in Piper City. The name of the organization was then changed to Producers Crop Improvement Association and it became an important addition to the business and commercial growth of Piper City.

In April, 1939, the association planned its hybrid seed corn production at approximately 700 acres. This was the first crop processed through the Piper City plant.

L. R. Downs, present manager of the company, came to Producers upon the resignation of Mr. Schofield in January of 1940. In 1947, the Blackhawk Hybrid Seed Corn Association of Polo was merged with Producers and the company was reorganized as Producers Seed Company in April, 1949.

On February 7, 1952, a fire destroyed all the facilities at Piper City except for the office building. There was some talk, at first, about moving to a different site at another place, but local people worked very hard to persuade them to rebuild here and soon plans were being made to build the plant bigger and better than before. The new plant was approximately three times the capacity of the old one when completed a short time later.

In 1966 Producers Seed Company merged with Farm Service and it is now called F/S Services, Inc., Seed Division.

The company employs many Piper City people and it has brought in many well educated, interesting people to live in this community.
The Piper City Locker Plant was organized on a cooperative basis in September of 1943. Two hundred and fifty-six shares of stock were sold at $25 a share. In October of 1943 the land and building on its present site was bought from Walter Opperman. The locker was incorporated under the Agriculture Act on February 22, 1944. Clarence Pearson is the one and only manager the locker plant has ever had.

The first officers of the locker plant were George Ficklin, president; W. R. Crandall, vice president and W. F. Weber, secretary and treasurer.

In 1969 the future of the locker plant looks a bit dubious. Almost all the locker plants in the area have closed due to stricter regulations by state and national government.
Piper City's only factory, The Henald Manufacturing Company, was begun September 27, 1954. Previously it had been located at St. Anne. The factory was begun in the back room of what was then the David's Economy grocery store and is now the Overacker Show Room. The employment rose from eight to 50 before it was moved to its present site in February, 1956. At the present time about 100 are employed. Sometimes employment has reached almost 250. Transformers for radio and television are produced here. Chester Kraft, Watseka, is the present manager.
The Piper City Journal is the oldest Piper City business to have remained in continous operation under the same name. At its beginning in 1897, it had competition in another newspaper called the Pan-Handle Advocate which was edited by Judge H. P. Beach.

The Journal was founded in 1897 by B. W. Kinsey and continued under his management until May 14, 1900, when it was bought by E. S. Pike of Chenoa. Charles E. Gilpin moved to Piper City from Windsor and was in charge of business and editorial management under Mr. Pike. Later that same year, Mr. Gilpin bought the Journal and co n- „.„ tinued as its editor until his death in 19e*r~when'" his daughter, Mrs. George Perry, took over and was editor until May 1, 1966. The Journal was then purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Johnston who still publish it once a week on Thursdays.

Another early newspaper was the Piper City Advertiser edited by Richard Alnutt and begun in 1876. The Advertiser went out of existence some time between 1885 and 1900.
Emory Harford and Sons is a business of long standing in Piper City. It still carries on business under this name even though Mr. Harford died in 1967.

Emory Harford came to this area from West Virginia in 1912. He engaged in blacksmithing at the Dannewitz blacksmith shop in South Brenton. When he was married in 1916, he built a shop at the west end of Main Street which is still the site of the business, although needless to say, there is no more blacksmithing done there.

In 1931, Mr. Harford added an implement line and after World War II his sons, Merle, Donald and Wayne came in with him to run the implement company and Harford's Oil Co.
Piper City Lanes is the only business in Piper City to offer recreation or diversion. There have been movie theaters and pool halls, but at the present time the bowling alley is the only business of its kind. It is a nice modern center used by young and old.

In 1947 when the old Opera House was to be torn down, six men formed a board of directors in order to build a bowling alley on the site with Piper Lodge 608 A. F. & A. M. using the second floor for its lodge hall.

The directors were Jesse McKee, P. L. Kelly, Dr. C. E. Branch, Fred Weakman, Dr. W. G. Raudabaugh, J. J. Lyons and R. R. Roberts. Officers elected were Dr. Branch, president; Kelly, vice president; Lyons, secretary and Dr. Raudabaugh, treasurer.

In 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Myers, who had been managing the alleys for the past 11 years, bought out the business from the board of directors.
Mr. and Mrs. Reynard L. (Foxy) Hayslette were for many years associated with the restaurant business in Piper City and ran Foxy's Corner Cafe on the north side.

In the 1950's, Mr. Hayslette began to branch out by working at repairing television and radio sets and in 1961 they sold their restaurant and he concentrated on selling and repairing television sets.

Mr. and Mrs. Hayslette have been very generous in catering for churches and organizations as well as individual parties and dinners since retiring from the restaurant business. They do much of this without charge whether they are affiliated with the church or organization, or not. This has been an appreciated and worthwhile service to the community.
The Piper City Home Guaranty Savings Association began business in 1956 with a state charter and occupied the building the State Bank is now in.

On March 9, 1959, the Federal Home Loan Board granted federal insurance which was an important step in the growth of the Association.

They had offices in the Eugene E. Doran building for a time and in January, 1963, they moved into their new building at 116 South Pine Street.

The original board of directors was made up of Howard Stuckey, Samuel Martin, C. E. Miller, L. E. Overacker, Harald Hemb, Karl Kielsmeier and R. F. Goodyear. The first officers were Stuckey, president; Martin, vice president and Miller, secretary.

Stuckey and Martin are present president and vice president of the Association. J. H. Francis is the present secretary and treasurer.

Mrs. Howard Stuckey was the office secretary from 1956 until April of 1969, when Drell Stuckey became office manager upon her retirement.
L. E. Overacker has been a Piper City businessman for about 40 years. He started as a mechanic at the age of 18, working for D. B. O'Donnell at the Central Motor Co. He also worked for Gus Zarbuck, Carl Lemons and others.

Mr. Overacker bought out Aloise (Alley) Reising at the present site of Overacker, Inc. in 1930. J. W. Holmes is now the president and manager of this enterprise.

Mr. Overacker has been a Pontiac dealer since .1935 and has a large show room on Main Street. He also has had the agency for the Chicago Motor Club for 35 years.

He has lived during an era when selling cars and servicing them was one of the biggest businesses in a small town, and each town had several car dealers and garages, not to mention gas stations.
Since 1867 there has been a lumber company on the corner where Peoples Coal and Lumber Company now stands.

The business was started by John A. Montelius, Sr. and Dr. Piper and employed John McKinney. In a year or two, Mr. McKinney bought out his employers and for over 60 years the lumber business was in the hands of the McKinney family. The first business under their ownership was John McKinney and Brothers. In the beginning the company handled lumber and a little hardware. Later furniture and undertaking were added.

The business later passed into the management of Mr. McKinney's son, W. O. McKinney, and became known as W. O. McKinney & Company. Besides lumber, they stocked tile, gravel, sand, concrete building blocks, fence posts and other items reflecting the needs of the times.

H. G. Flessner was the manager for the McKinneys for many years and later for the Miller Lumber Company. The business was owned for a short time by "Red" Hubert of Bondville and in 1945 was sold to Peoples Coal and Lumber Company. They have branch offices in Watseka, Kentland, Indiana and Grant Park. Ray Martin, who worked for the company for the past 14 years, has been manager for the past three years. Managers before him were Ersle Quick and Ray Wilkey.
R. E. Bradbury, now retired, was a farmer between Piper City and Roberts who began plumbing around 1918, as a side line to his farming, one of the earliest farmers to do this. He had always been inventive and ingenious about fixing and repairing things. He had kept the country telephone lines in working order and had also patented an umbrella holder for tractors.

His son Herb started with him in 1925 and worked for just 25 cents an hour. They built the modern brick shop on Main Street in 1946 and Mrs. Madge Ristow has worked in their office since 1947.

Herb's son, Ronald Bradbury, has been an apprentice for the past four years and since getting out of service has been actively engaged in the work with his father for the past year.
Harold Rhode came to Piper City November 1, 1945, and opened an implement store in the bank building. He moved to the north side in the shop now occupied by L. A. Reynolds in January of 1947.

In May, 1953, he bought out the Joe Holmes car agency and for a time ran both places. In March, 1954, he sold the implement agency and has since been in business at 27 W. Main, where he sells aid services cars. His son, Floyd, is associated with him.
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Hanna became affiliated with the Triple "H" Company in 1958 as wholesale distributors of allied farm equipment with a warehouse in Piper City.

Mrs. Hanna has been carrying on the business since Mr. Hanna's death in 1968 and employs Mrs. Andrew Froelich Jr. in the office. She has three salesmen who visit dealers in the three states of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

Triple "H" has been at its present location of 222 South Green since the early 60's. They incorporated in 1964.
M. J. (Jim) and Vera Soran have operated Soran's Cafe for about 25 years. The combination of Mrs. Soran as the "perfect cook" and Mr. Soran as the "perfect host" has been hard to beat and they have a large clientele of local and out of town diners who look forward to dining at Soran's. ThenHarvest Room is much in demand for wedding receptions, luncheons and meetings.

The Sorans also combine two pioneer families. She was Vera Bishop before her marriage and is a granddaughter of the L. T. Bishops, one of the earliest farm families to settle here. Mr. Bishop arrived here from New York in 1858. Mr. Soran is a grandson of M. J. Soran, Sr., who arrived here in 1870.
Piper City was "dry" for many years and the only way you could buy liquor in town was at the Drug Store with a doctor's prescription. There are now two taverns in operation. Citizens voted to go "wet" shortly after prohibition was repealed.

Pat's Tap on the north side is owned and operated by Malcolm (Pat) Lionberger. The Office is owned and managed by Mrs. Ruth Fagan, who has been running the business by herself since the death of her husband, Jack Fagan, in 1966.

There are a few stories that have been passed down about the good old days when Piper was dry and Chatsworth wet. It is told that many Piper City men got on the evening train to go to Chatsworth and then came back on a late evening one, and almost all of the returning townsmen would be carrying a shoe box. Of course, it was pointed out that they could not be buying a pair of shoes every night.

Then there was the man who got in the barber chair to be shaved. When the barber was just half done, the train, bound for Chatsworth, tooted into town. The man jumped out of the chair, wiped off his face and said he'd be back in the morning for the rest of his shave.
Justin K. Reilly is the present funeral director in Piper City, having bought out the business in 1951 following the death of Ernest H. Houk. He and Mrs. Reilly and their three children lived in Piper City until his father retired as funeral director in Gilman. The Reillys then moved to Gilman, but continued to operate the Reilly Funeral Home in Piper City. Mr. and Mrs. James Gilvin are the occupants of the home at the present time.

Mr. Houk had been Piper City's funeral director for 41 years. In 1910 he began his mercantile career by working for W. O. McKinney and Daniel Kewley. Mr. McKinney was the funeral director and was also in the lumber business. In 1915 Mr. Houk bought out his employers and was launched on a long and successful career in the furniture business. He also was a dignified and efficient funeral director, kind and sympathetic.

He kept pace with the times and in 1929 was operating a Studebaker DeLuxe Motor Funeral Coach and Ambulance.

In the early days, perhaps a bit before Mr. Houk's time, Fred Ristow had a team of matched black horses that he used to pull the hearse to the cemetery. They were trained to walk very slow and when he drove by the men would remove their hats and stand bare headed in respect to the dead, a contrast to our modern motorized corteges that are hardly noticed unless they interrupt the flow of traffic.
The City Grocery has perhaps the longest history of any Piper City business. Certainly the building is the oldest and most colorful. It was built in about 1867 and housed a general store operated by John A. Montelius, St., who took grain and farm products in exchange for items in his store.

When the dress patterns came in, the women would first lay the pattern on the material to see how much "goods" it would take. They often cut the pattern out right in the store and by this simple little routine savored the pleasure of the new garment for several minutes where others might see and perhaps envy them a bit.

Mrs. Montelius worked in her husband's store and made millinery for the ladies.

In 1876 John Clark, from the very interesting Clark family that had come here from Patterson, New Jersey in 1867, purchased the store from Mr. Montelius.

The Clarks were strong believers in education and their children attended Wabash College at Crawfordsville, Indiana. One son, Alexander, was a railway attorney and worked out of Chicago until his tragic death, of a heart attack, in an Evanston station; another son, William J. Clark, worked with a Grain Company in Chicago, but came back to Piper City at the death of John in 1885, after which he ran the general store, sometimes with the help of others.

A daughter, Maggie, a teacher in the local high school, married Ammon Coomes, a high school principal, who stayed here for several terms in about 1880. The Coomes moved to Paxton, where they established Coomes Drug Store.

It was during the time that the Clarks were the proprietors of the store that Clark's Hall became the meeting place for all kinds of functions and gatherings. The churches met here and this was where the dinners and socials were held. It was the forerunner of the Opera House.

Early history is sprinkled with many references to Clark's Hall which was on the second story of what is now the City Grocery.

The three Opperman brothers, Charles, August and Ernest bought the store in 1897. In 1907 they traded the store for some land in Mississippi. From that time until 1915 when Charles Opperman returned, the store was operated by Perry Brothers, the Walrich Brothers and others.

David or "Jerry" Opperman came into the business as a young man and operated it until he sold out to Mr. and Mrs. James Shaughnessy in 1956. Mrs. Shaughnessy is a granddaughter of Charles Opperman, one of the original owners, which makes the Opperman family in ownership of the store for 64 years of its long and interesting history.
The Cook family is another family that has been in the merchandising business in Piper City for many, many years. Ronald Cook owns and operates the modern supermarket of Cook's IGA on the corner of Peoria and Pine Streets.

His father, George D. Cook, worked in the grocery department of a hardware and grocery store operated by Henry and Ed Strasma in a building which was located where the Piper Hardware and Variety is now. In 1920, Mr. Cook bought the grocery stock and Joe Lundy bought the hardware stock. Dudley Moore worked for Mr. Lundy and Jack Rice worked for Mr. Cook.

After a short time Mr. Cook moved the grocery store into a separate building where the Legion Hall now is located, and later moved to about the middle of the block where Soran's Restaurant stands today.

Some who worked in the store over the years are: Fred Kemnetz, Ira Still, Frank Bouhl, Glen Christian and Claude Hogan. Mrs. Cook, the former Helen Bishop, also assisted her husband. The store gave credit and also delivered groceries in the early days before the streamlined cash and carry of today.

In 1947 the Central Hotel was sold to the Cooks and the building razed to make room for the new IGA Foodliner. Ronald had come home from service in the Navy and went in as a partner with his father. In 1960 he bought out his father and is now the owner and operator.
Piper Hardware and Variety now operated by Mr. and Mrs. Duane White is from the business begun in 1927 by W. L. (Bill) Quick. After the disastrous fire in 1926 that destroyed the Tayar Dry Goods Store, the Overacker Restaurant and the Berghouse Meat Market, Mr. Quick built the modern brick building that is there today, and opened an outstanding store in this area.

One of the innovations that Mr. Quick adopted was to display all merchandise on open waist-high counters. There were no high shelves and everything was in easy reach of customer and clerk. This was an entirely new departure in stores of that day and there was no similar store anywhere in this section of Illinois, none even in Kankakee or Danville.

Mr. Quick was a life-long resident of Piper City and had engaged in farming up until he went in the store. Besides the thousand-and-one articles of cutlery, gifts, housewares, electrical appliances, crockery, toys, hosiery and notions, he also stocked bigger items of hardware, farm implements and stoves.

The business was later sold to Bernard Hitchens and Frank White. Hitchens sold out to White and now it is operated by Frank's son, Duane and his wife, Betty.
Each business in Piper City is important to it and none should be slighted, but space does not permit a long history of each one.

The Corner Cafe on the north side of Piper City's square is operated by Mrs. Marion Butler, who serves fine food and is well patronized.

Allen Day writes insurance and his company is called familiarly Daisy's Insurance.

Robert Zorn is the local barber and is also the town clerk.

Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dornfield operate the Western Auto Associate Store and keep a nice modern line of goods on hand.

Sauerbier Drug Store has been operated by Mrs. Helen Sauerbier since the death of her husband, John, in 1967. The Drug Store was run for many years by F. A. Thomas and Mr. Sauerbier was the druggist.

L. A. (Jack) Reynolds operates a Standard Oil gas truck and also a farm store on the north side where he sells tires, batteries and other farm needs.

There are several beauty parlors in operation. Mrs. G. L. Switzer operates one in her home, as does Mrs. Donald Jackson, Mrs. Ellis Martin, Mrs. Charles Shoemaker and Mrs. Andie Evans. Mrs. Ogreda Tammen and her daughter, Mrs. Bea LaVoie, operate Bea's Beauty Shoppe on the north side.

Duane Cloos came here shortly after World War II and established Cloos Body Shop where the bodies of cars and trucks are straightened and painted.

The Pirate's Den, an antique and used furniture shop, is owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Opperman. They also own Montelius Manor, the home built in 1871 by John A. Montelius, Sr., which is filled with many of the ancestral possessions of the Montelius family and of that era. The Oppermans open the Manor each Sunday afternoon through the summer for touring.

Eugene E. Doran runs a general insurance agency and is an auctioneer and realtor. At one time he worked for D. A. Klothe in his grocery store.

George Kemnetz owns and operates the Standard Service Station which has been mentioned elsewhere in this history.

Marvin Hitchens operates the Sinclair Station and also drives a Sinclair gas truck hauling gas to the area farmers and also supplies them with various other agricultural needs.

Dan Rogers is owner of the Phillips Service Center. This is on the corner of Main Street and 111. 115, where the old theater used to be in the days of the silent movies.

C. E. (Patsy) Rice has long been associated with movies both inside and outside a theater. He and iiis brother, John (Jack) Rice, operated the Ace Theater in the 1930's where Pat's Tap is now located.

They also went from town to town showing "free movies" in the railroad park or some other central location. These movies were free to the viewers as they were paid for by the merchants, who contributed as a token of good will to their customers, or in the hope that those who came in to see the movies would also "trade" in their stores.

Jack has not been affiliated with the movies for many years, but Patsy is still showing free movies on Saturday nights in the summer time in Piper City, following a custom that must have been started over 40 years ago. Each one brings a folding chair or a blanket on which to sit and the park is soon converted into an outdoor theater.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Delap are agents for the Lyons Insurance Agency.

Floyd Donley is a dealer in scrap metal and also is bus driver for the school.

W. D. Miller and Son are sanitary engineers and clean septic tanks and drains. W. D., or Durell as he is called, was injured in a truck accident in 1966 and his son Allen carries on the business. They are descended from William Miller, one of the earliest settlers.

B. N. Stephens and Sons are painters and have been in business for many years.

McKee Home Service is headed by Forrest McKee and they sell and service gas furnaces.

John R. Keefe has a welding shop a mile west of town.

McMillan Fertilizer has offices in the home of Howard McMillan, Jr.

Ron Weibers is the agent for F/S Petroleum.

Robert Van Antwerp is a contractor and carpenter.

Robert Mogged and Thees Sterrenberg are cement contractors.

Walt Miller is chief of Miller Electric and they wire homes and businesses and do other electrical work.

Floyd Stumph has an apiary.

Ivan Weber and Robert Hewerdine operate a car wash.

Raymond Mylcraine is postmaster.
Piper City, from the early days, has been blessed with a high caliber of professional men. Dr. R. J. Piper was one of the earliest physicians. Dr. S. D. Culbertson was another early doctor and druggist and was active in civic affairs. He was reportedly the first doctor at the scene of the tragic train wreck west of Piper City in 1887.

In later years Dr. Tieken was a faithful caretaker of the health of the citizenry. He called on the sick, driving a horse and buggy that became familiar, and sometimes, a most welcome sight.

Dr. L. C. Diddy was another physician who served the community in the early part of the 20th century.

Piper City has also had some fine dentists, including Dr. Frederick Erhardt shortly after 1900 and Dr. R. E. Squires until his retirement in the 1950's. Dr. W. P. Mabry is the present fine dentist, having come here 15 years ago.

Many present day "old timers" can recall the colorful and highly respected veterinarian, Dr. P. C. Ballou, who always seemed to be in a hurry, hustling about with a big chew of tobacco in his mouth.

He was one of the first men in town to own an automobile, and if you saw a cloud of dust on a country road you might guess that it was "Doc" hastening to the stable-side of one of his patients.

He was a connoisseur of fine horseflesh and kept a stable of spirited and gaited thoroughbreds. He also had a Negro trainer, Leslie Carpentier, who came from Kentucky. In accord with the custom of the day, Les ate and slept in the fine stable, and was cordially accepted by Piper City town folks because of his dignified and courteous manners.

Sometimes Doc and his step daughter, Effie Miller, would go out riding in the evening and Les would usually ride with them, keeping a discreet distance behind and people would murmur how well he knew his place.

Piper City is now served by a veterinary clinic with Dr. W. G. Raudabaugh, Dr. W. L. Hay and Dr. James Finnell caring for the animal population. Because of the changes in agriculture and the sparsity of farm animals their practice is now much concerned with pets and small animals.

Dr. Raudabaugh came here in 1938 and Dr. W. L. Hay in 1950. Dr. Finnell, who resides in Gilman, was the last to join the clinic staff.

Dr. Raudabaugh has been a Ford County Supervisor for many years and it is interesting to note that all have served on a school board, Dr. Raudabaugh and Dr. Hay in Piper City and Dr. Finnell in Gilman.

Dr. C. E. Branch came in 1934, buying the practice from Dr. H. C. Sauer. Dr. H. A. Mcintosh joined him in 1947 and their practice includes many people from the outlying towns, as many small towns do not have a doctor in 1969. Piper City is unusually fortunate in having two fine doctors.

Until the death of John Sauerbier in 1967, Piper City also had a druggist, which made a full complement of professional men.

Marmion Scott was a native son who returned to his home town as a lawyer and was acclaimed one of the finest lawyers in the area. He was well known for his accuracy and precision. He served this community's legal needs for many years. His death occurred August 13, 1959, at the age of 88. He was the son of pioneer John A. Scott.

After his death Piper City was served by another native son, Durwood Hummel, who made his home in Paxton but had office hours in Piper City once a week. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Hummel.

For several years Faraday Strock has been coming to Piper City from Pontiac one day a week, with his office in the State Bank.
Three men have gone from here to represent their district in the state legislature. John A. Montelius, Sr., served in three General Assemblies, being elected first in 1900.

A. C. (Abe) Thompson was another Piper Cityan who had enough of the confidence and support of his fellow citizens to send him to the Illinois House of Representatives.

More recently Joseph W. Russell served several terms as a state representative, retiring in 1968.

Extracted 12 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass

Templates in Time