the railroad depot in
O'Fallon, area farmers were able to bring goods into town to be shipped
to market. As a natural offshoot of their
prosperity, stores sprang up along Main Street, providing the farmers
with the goods they needed.
Gentemann's Mercantile Company
The brick building known as Gentemann Mercantile was built in 1906 and though the business had had previous owners, it opened as Gentemann-Keithly Mercantile Co. on Jan. 28, 1907. In 1909, Ed Keithly sold his interest in the store and it was named Gentemann Mercantile. With its tin ceilings and wood floors it was a true general store supplying the town with groceries, dry goods, clothing and miscellaneous merchandise until it was destroyed by fire in 1958.
Westhoff Mercantile Company
Frederick Westhoff, an emigrant tailor from Neuenkirchen, Germany, came to O'Fallon in 1862 and set up shop next door to the Denker & Brinkman General Store on Main St. In 1871, Mr. Anton Mispagel, Sr., and Mr. Westhoff bought Mr. Brinkman's share and the store took the name of Westhoff-Denker & Co. In 1873 when Mr. Denker withdrew, the firm became Westhoff & Mispagel, the latter leaving the firm in 1878. F. Westhoff Co. remained the firm's name for a number of years. In May, 1897, the firm was incorporated as the Westhoff Grain & Mercantile Co. when a grain elevator was built adjacent to the store and though his five sons (Alex, William, Anton, Adam and Frank) joined him in the business, Frederick Westhoff remained the active head of the firm until his death in 1898.
William F. Westhoff became manager in 1898 holding that position for 35 years. He printed and published, on the premises, the "Leader," a monthly news and ad sheet and also printed the "O'Fallon Hausfreund," a community newspaper. Wilfred Westhoff, son of Frank, began work in the store in 1923 at the age of 17 and he and his wife, Virginia operated Westhoff Mercantile Co. until their retirement. The building, just south of the railroad tracks on Main Street, was built around 1860 with two expansions; first in the 1890's and again in 1905. It now houses McGurk's Public House restaurant.
Goldkamps' Meat Market
The O'Fallon Meat Market owned by Frank A. Goldkamp, was originally located on the site of the former Westhoff Light and Power Co. Mr. Goldkamp moved it to the corner of Main and Elm Streets.
The Goldkamps had the first motor truck in town, a two-cylinder International. Goldkamp built an artificial ice plant in 1908. The water was taken from the old mill pond and distilled before usage. Goldkamp sold the business to Fred Dickherber in 1922 who sold it to Albinus Griesenauer in 1927.
Between 1928 and 1946 it was owned and operated by Leo Fierling who brought in the first refrigerated display case. He dismantled the ice house but the concrete bins used to shape the blocks of ice were still present when Mr. Fierling sold the business to William Orf and Ivan Phillips. In 1951 they built the present building and opened an IGA, O'Fallon's first supermarket. Later the IGA was moved to the corner of Main and Pitman and operated there until it closed.
Keithly's Funeral Home
The business of funeral service was established in O'Fallon in the late 1800's by Jacob Keithly. Located on East Elm Street, his business was known as Jacob Keithly Furniture and Undertaking. At the time of his death in 1904, his son, Elroy A. Keithly, assumed the operations of the business. In the earliest days of his business, the process of embalming and the funeral services themselves were usually performed in the home of the deceased.
In 1908 he built a new building on Main Street and operated there until 1970. The building housed a furniture business, a sick room supply rental and an ambulance service as well as the funeral business. The ownership of the business has changed several times and is now the Baue Funeral Home on Wood Street, just a few blocks from where it had its beginnings.
Farmers Co-operative Elevator Association of O'Fallon
In 1875, land was given to a Mr. Anton Mispagel on the condition that he erect a flour mill on the property. The brick and stone building was erected on the ground behind the railroad depot. At the same time, a cooper shop was built to make barrels used to ship the flour. The brick mill and adjoining frame elevator were destroyed by fire about 1908. A new frame elevator building was constructed shortly after the fire for the handling of grain and feed.
Mr. Mispagel had sold his business in 1879 and it had been renamed Woods and Dunlap Milling Company. Then in 1914, Woods and Dunlap sold the elevator and business to a group of local farmers who incorporated under the name Farmers Elevator Company. In 1921, the business expanded to the Farmers Co-operative Elevator Association of O'Fallon. In 1955 the frame elevator was destroyed by fire and was replaced by a concrete and steel building.
The Bank of O'Fallon
The Bank of O'Fallon was organized in 1903 with capitol reserves of $10,000. The bank had its humble beginnings in one small room of the building that later housed Goldkamp's Meat Market where it remained until 1906 when the new building was built at the corner of Main and West Elm Streets. During the Depression another bank in O'Fallon, the Commercial Bank, failed but in 1933 the depositors stated their confidence in the Bank of O'Fallon at a public meeting and it reopened, thus surviving a forced moratorium in 1933.
In 1960, the bank opened its new facility at 311 South Main. In the early 1970's the Bank of O'Fallon was bought up by Boatmen's Bank which has since built an entirely new and expanded bank on the same location and changed ownership and names several times. Currently it is a Bank of America.
Jacoby Drug Store
In 1847, Franz Joseph Jacoby came from Germany and bought a farm near O'Fallon. His son, Fred Jacoby, was born the following year and built his own home in O'Fallon in 1878 on the west side of Main Street just south of the railroad tracks. His living quarters were on the second floor and the drug store was on the first floor. One of the signers of O'Fallon's charter in 1912, Fred Jacoby was a man of "firsts." Jacoby's was O'Fallon's first real pharmacy. Besides medicines and sundries, the store sold machinery, jewelry, watches, eyeglasses and repaired guns. People could even mail their letters at the drug store since Mr. Jacoby served as O'Fallon's postmaster from 1897 to 1914. Fred also organized the O'Fallon Cornet Band and had one of the first automobiles in O'Fallon, a Pierce Arrow.
He also established the first telephone service in O'Fallon. In 1900 some equipment that had been severely damaged by an ice storm was sold at auction to Dr. Marion Currier of Cottleville and the two men became partners of the Jacoby-Currier Telephone Company. The switchboard was in the drug store and as the town grew, Fred Jacoby added a room to the building over the adjacent driveway with steps to the outside so folks could use the phone at night after the drugstore closed.
Fred Jacoby also served as O'Fallon's first Mayor serving from 1912 until 1917 when he became ill. He died in 1918. Jacoby's Drug Store continued to operate until it burned down in the 1940's.