Bristol and Yorkville as a Business Point In 1870
Originally published in the Kendall County Record, March 31, 1870.
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
On the right and left banks of the Fox River are situated the villages of Bristol and Yorkville. They are both handsome and thrifty villages connected by bridges. They are two separate villages. We feel that they should be but one. That both places should be incorporated under one name and in one general interest. Half the people that do business in Yorkville live in Bristol and there is no valid reason for their being divided. We wish to be understood then, in writing this article that we speak of these two places as one. We clip them together in our remarks on the business of the place.
To begin, these places have a population of about 1200 inhabitants. They are situated on the Fox River, about 51 miles west of Chicago. Yorkville is the county seat of Kendall County. It is on the south side of the river. It has a fine courthouse, built of brick with stone corners and cost in the neighborhood of $39,000?. The river here is dammed, and a paper mill, gristmill and sawmill, is run by waterpower. The branches of business in the two places are enumerated as follows:
Seven dry goods, grocery and general stores;
Five boot and shoe shops;
Two drug stores;
Two hardware stores with tinsmiths attached;
One furniture store;
Five blacksmith shops;
Two meat markets;
Three wagon shops;
One millinery shop;
Three merchant tailors;
Two clothing stores;
Two harness shops;
One paper mill;
Two grist mills;
Two paint shops; and
This is one of the best points to establish business in Northern Illinois. A splendid farming country surrounds it. The Fox River Valley Railroad will probably be completed from the Vermilion coal fields in LaSalle County to the Wisconsin timber regions by next fall. There is a good prospect of having the ____ & Chicago Railroad through in two or three years. The waterpower is excellent, and the present dam will afford power enough to run large factories.
On the Bristol side, the Blackberry Creek empties into the river. The creek is dammed and the power runs a fine gristmill owned by Arnold and Lane. This establishment has a large run of custom work, besides making flour for the Chicago market. There is also a stone quarry above the dam, which furnishes good stone for cellars.
Mr. Joseph Tarbox has a brickyard on this side, and burns a large kiln of brick regularly. He has been in the business for some time, and gives general satisfaction.
Crooker and Hobbs do the largest business in the town. They are situated on the corner of Bridge Street and Hydraulic Avenue. They commenced business in 1856, building and moving to their present location in 1858. They are largely engaged in general merchandizing, doing a business of $50,000 annually. Their stock of goods comprises a very large assortment of dry goods of the best kind, In the grocery line they have everything that customers can desire. They keep a store second to none west of Chicago on our railroad.
John McOmber has been in business here about eight years, commencing in the grocery trade in Bristol. He sold out there and opened a general stock in Union Block in December 1868. John is a well-known dealer and does and excellent business. His sales amount to about $20,000 a year, which is a good return for the capital, he has invested.
C. Gillis keeps a dry goods and grocery store in Bristol and does a good business for the capital employed.
Charles Vogel combines the dry goods and grocery trade with a large business buying hogs and cattle. He has a large share of the German trade. His store is in Bristol.
Bridgens and Bonsall commenced business in Bristol in 1868. In the spring of last year they moved into the large brick store built by Springer and Morley. These gentlemen command a large country trade and keep an excellent stock of dry goods, groceries, boots, shoes, etc. They commenced here as strangers and have worked their way into the good opinion of the people. Their trade amounts to about $25,000 a year.
Sinclair and Miller are also general dealers, keeping a good stock and doing a large German trade. They do a business of about $15,000 a year.
Charles W. Sleeper in training a while with Mr. Boutwell bought him out. He has been doing a good trade for a year on his own account. His store is in Bristol and he does a good village trade. His stock is good and his business is about $15,000 a year. He is the Bristol postmaster.
George E. Lee keeps a neat and well-filled drugstore in a handsome two-story brick building. He has one of the finest, rooms for this purpose out of Aurora. He deals also in stationery, periodicals, and fancy goods.
A.T. Seely, who comes from a well-known family in these parts, dispenses medicines in this town. He also has a good stock of dyestuffs, paints, oils and stationery. He keeps the post office and is an energetic young man.
Blacksmiths are well represented by most excellent workmen. William Graham has a fine brick shop near the bridge in Yorkville. Mr. Riddell does first class work at his shop on the hill near the courthouse. Mr. Robert McMurtrie, an old settler, continues to ply the trade at the old shop in Bristol. Mr. Boutwell finds his share of business at the Bristol wagon shop. Mr. Ellis has a shop in the south part of town. He is an excellent horse shoer.
Mr. E. K. Green, is a wagon maker in Yorkville. He is a man of ability and does good work. His shop is on the flat. Mr. Riddell has a large wagon making shop on the hill and is doing a thriving business. Augustus Boutwell is constantly employed in the manufacturer of first-class wagons, which please all who buy them.
The paper mill owned and run by J. P. and E. A. Black is one of our business institutions. It turns our some of the best "print" in the country. None of your straw or husk abominations but pure rag paper. The mill is run night and day, and employs a large number of hands. This concern consumes a large amount of coal, which is brought to Bristol Station from Kewanee, and then hauled to Yorkville by wagon. The rags used are also brought from the Station. This is a great labor and expense, which a railroad down the river will save. There is ample room near this mill for factories, and ample waterpower.
Wellington Mason owns the tannery in Yorkville. He does a large business and makes excellent leather.
While at the tannery we must not forget the provider of our villages. W. Thomas, the well-known butcher, has his slaughterhouse and stockyards near the tannery. He has the reputation of always selling the best meat in the state. Thomas hardly ever fails in furnishing you with choice and tender beef. He is also a large dealer in hogs, and is a man to be depended on when he makes a bargain. There is only one fault about him. He works too hard, and will deprive us of his valuable services if he doesn't hold up a little. Charley Vogel also furnishes meat in the winter season. William Cloud has a meat market near the bridge, which is much more convenient than to go to Thomas'.
John McMurtrie opened a fine clothing store last year. He put in an excellent stock of cloths and ready made clothing. He has done a good business and is daily adding to the number of his friends. He employs Mr. Henry Moore, who has been in the tailoring business for years. John keeps the latest patterns on hand and can give you a fashionable cut as well as the city tailor.
Thomas C. Morley is the oldest clothing merchant here, having commenced business in this village some ten years ago. He keeps a fine stock of goods, and makes up nearly all the clothing he sells, buying but little ready-made in Chicago.
W. F. Thomson has a tailor shop over Crooker and Hobb's store. He came from Pennsylvania a little over a year ago. He is a first-rate cutter, and an excellent workman. He does only custom work, and can give satisfaction to the most fastidious.
Yorkville has first class house and sign painters. John A. Beebe has his shop in Yorkville, and is constantly employed. He can be depended upon as regards his work, using the best material and working cheaply. He is also good at painting carriages and buggies. Dow Shibley an excellent workman assists him.
Harvey Skinner has a shop over Riddell's wagon shop, and is prepared to fill orders for painting of any kind.
John Crum has as good a livery stable as can be found in any small village in the west. The proprietor does his best to accommodate his patrons. From here we get out twice daily connections with the railroad. The stage from here promptly meets all the passenger trains at Bristol Station, except the night trains. It is a great accommodation to travelers and the businessmen of these villages. It also brings us the mail daily.
Nelson Hubbard keeps a first-class furniture store, and has built up a paying business in his short sojourn with us.
James A. Godard in Union Block is our oldest dealer in hardware, agricultural implements, stoves, etc. Without his establishment our farmers and villagers would be lost. He has also in connection a fine tin shop, where he manufactures the best ware of that kind to be found out of Chicago. The reputation of this store is well established.
Haight brothers opened a hardware store next door to the Record office last fall, and have done an excellent business since then. They have a general stock, and deal also in agricultural tools. Sam is one of the best tinners in this district, and customers keep him busy. They take great pains to please all and have many friends.
We couldn't live without harness shops. It is necessary for business and pleasure. In Yorkville, Wellington Mason has a shop, with John Souder as foreman. He has a nice shop with all the tools, and keeps good workmen. J. Smith (not John) has a shop over Bridgens and Bonsall's, and has his share of work. He goes it along from seven in the morning until midnight.
The Fox River House, Silas Dyer, proprietor, is the leading hotel, and is a first-rate tavern. The landlord has cleaned and refurbished it during the past month, and has good accommodations. He sets a good table and takes excellent care of travelers. A restaurant is connected with the hotel. George Beck has a hotel on the hill that is well patronized.
The ladies must be attended to, and for this purpose, Miss Hay has a good millinery shop.
The people of these villages have no need to be without shoes, as we have several boot and shoe shops in our midst. Willis Atkins, Mr. Stolp, William A Puterbaugh and William Remmers, in Yorkville, do good work. Mr. Cooper, in Bristol, maintains his old reputation of being the best boot maker in the county. Mr. Cooper is an old resident, and an old workman. What he sells or makes a man can be relied on as the best to be had.
Messrs. Atkinson and Dearborn and the Eldred Brothers do our work in the brick and mortar line. They are good workmen.
Carpenters are plentiful at this time, and we do not know that we can name all of them. F. L. Wickham, who now lives in Pavilion, will move here this spring. Hank Chappell is a good workman. Mr. Fairchild, lately coming among us, has tools ready for any work that may be offered. Mr. Aldrich and sons find plenty to do. Andrew Cornell, who did the woodwork on our office, is a first-rate hand. Mr. Joseph Gale, we believe is a carpenter, has come with in the past year. They are all willing to work, and can shove the plane as well as any man.
D. A. Stebbins runs the Yorkville Mills, and from the amount of bags we see going to and from the mill, should think he did more business and gave better satisfaction than the old mill has done before for years.
The Blackberry Mills run by Arnold and Lane are too well known to need a word from us. The reputation of its product is first class, and farmers from every town in the county pay toll to its good qualities.
No village is complete without houses for the worship of Almighty God, and in this regard we are well supplied. Three denominations are represented, and the membership and congregations of each are good. On the north side of the river is the Baptist Church, Reverend Jonas Woodward pastor. This is a fine building, and an ornament to the town. It contains a fine pipe organ worth $1,000. The Congregational Church, on the same side, has no pastor at present, but we believe have one about engaged. It is a pleasant house. The Methodist Church on the south side, under the pastorate of Rev. J. B. McGuffin, is a very neat edifice.
Our schools are not such as we could wish in a place the size of this, but what facilities we have are used to the uttermost. On this side there is a good house, very well furnished. E. J. Quigley, assisted by Miss Emma Wood, has been teaching here for the past four years and is much loved by his scholars and friends. He is an excellent teacher. On the other side, E. A. Doolittle, assisted by Miss Lizzie Shepard, has been holding forth for the past six months. He is a fine teacher and has a large school. Graded schools are needed here.