Writer unknown. Approx. 1940
The Rock Island railroad depot was south of main street. There were four passenger trains daily, one at 7:30 A. M. going east, one at noon going west, one at 2:30 P. M. going east, and the last one at 8:00 P. M. going west to Fairbury. The two trains going east went to Horton, Kansas. Also had one freight train going each way daily, on Monday and Friday the ”0ld 98” freight train went east at 9:00 P. M. This freight train picked up stock shipped to St. Joseph, Missouri. The Farmers Union was then organized and the farmers brought their hogs in wagons to be shipped. The cattle they drove into the stock yard, along the track east of the depot.
The passenger trains brought in the mail, which was hauled to the post- office by Ed Chandler, the depot agent. Oscar Otten was Steinauer Rock Island depot agent from 1898 to 1903. The freight trains brought in groceries, lumber, coal, etc. These were delivered by Frank Conradt, who owned the dray line, until these commodities were delivered by truck.
On the west side of the street, north of the depot, was the section house where the section foreman lived. North of the section house was the Frey Carpenter Shop. Next was the Jake Grumbacker home. Jake did odd jobs around town and helped some farmers. Next was the pool hall, owned by a Mr. Woodruff, then owned by Henry Orth, who finally closed it. The last building was the post office. Joseph Steinauer was chosen first postmaster, but because of bad years, and leaving of settlers, the post office was discontinued. In 1874, Joseph Steinauer was appointed postmaster–the post office department objected to the settlement name of ”Linden” and named it “Steinauer” hence present name. The original post office was the first bank in town started by the Steinauer brothers. Later they built the brick bank building still in use.
Mr. William Huff was postmaster for many years. The “Steinauer Star”, a weekly paper, was edited in the back room of the post office.
- Steinauer Post Office established – November 19, 1874
- Joseph Steinauer appointed Postmaster November 19, 1874
- Michael Stemper appointed Postmaster March 31, 1890
- William Huff appointed Postmaster April 20, 1897
- Catherine Conradt assumed charge November 18, 1933
- Paul Wenzl assumed charge October 31, 1957
- Charles Obrist assumed charge January 6, 1961
- Agnes Siegel, Officer in Charge August 6, 1976
- Louise Buman appointed Clerk January 20, 1961
- Louise Buman appointed Postmaster November 17, 1979
Across the street east was a blacksmith shop owned by Mr. Stall, later by Ben Neugebauer. South of the blacksmith shop was the engine house for the city well–also the city fireball, which is still in use. South of these buildings was the ball diamond, rented from William Steinauer. There was usually a ball game every Sunday with a 35 cent admission. We had a real good team then and for many years. The 1926 tornado destroyed the ball diamond bleachers, so the diamond was moved to Nick Steinauer’s farm west of town.
The tornado did damage to the store, bank roof and several homes in town.
Nick Steinauer suffered the greatest loss. His barns, sheds and other buildings at the extreme west end of town were demolished.
Across the street, north from the post office, were two buildings, one a frame and the other brick, owned by A. F. Wenzl. The frame building stored furniture, the brick building was a general hardware store. Behind these buildings was a storage shed for implements, buggies, wagons, etc. from Dempsters in Beatrice. These were assembled there. Frank Wenzl did pump and windmill work, also tinning Which Was popular for porches and small buildings for roofs.
Next door north was the butcher shop, built by Ferd Wenzl for H. J.
Ullman. Ullman, a butcher, had just arrived from Germany. He sold the butcher
shop to Pete Wenner. Later Charlie Middleton was the owner. In 1925, Jerry Hoffman moved to Steinauer from Lincoln, bought the butcher shop and put in groceries. He was in business twenty years. The building is still standing.
Behind this was the ice house–the men in the area made ice in Turkey Creek and stored it in this building with sawdust. The ice was used in the meat market, and sold to patrons who owned ice boxes. North of the butcher shop was the first saloon. Anton Sacher was the owner. In 1904, he built the new brick buildings which is now in use as the Steinauer Tavern. After Mr. Sacher’s death, Chris Albers and Van Biscup were owners. Then prohibition became the law, the parlor was used for soft drinks, and owned for a short time by Ira Kinkade. After prohibition was repealed, the owner, Frank Norris had a variety of liquors. Later Charles Obrist was the owner; then in 1961 he was appointed Postmaster. (Joe Burger owned the tavern a short time before selling to Frank Morris.) Charles Obrist sold the tavern to Frank Davis, who moved here from Omaha. Davis died after a gas explosion in his home–his wife, Maude, kept the tavern a short time, and then sold it to Keith Bridges. Bridges sold it to Terry Wenzl. North of the saloon was a storage building–later used as a restaurant run by Hogans. When they left, the building was torn down. The next building was first a tin shop operated by William Gettle. He did all sorts of repair work. This building was sold to Nick Steinauer and he made it into a garage. After several years, and other owners, Maurice Wenzl bought it and extended it for a show room for new cars. Now this building is property of the Steinauer Fire department where the fire truck is stored. Also, the room north adjoining it is used for down meetings and where annual elections are held.
The next building north was the drug store, owned by Pete Uri. He sold it to Herman Vistuba. At one time, there was a pharmacist in the drug store, a John Gilstorf, who married Agnes Wenzl. Dr. Hollister was doctor– later Dr. Latimer was in the drug store and provided medicine for this area.
Dr. Lathier married Ida Frey. Another pharmacist was a Mr. Linderman. Then Dr. Prendergast came, Layle Steinauer was pharmacist. After Dr. Prendergast’s death in 1935, the drug department was discontinued. Hr. Vistuba sold only ”over the counter” drugs, and had soft drinks and ice cream. When he retired, Henry Borcher bought the store. Later Herman Kathe bought it and started a cafe. When this failed, Kathe sold the building and it was moved out of town.
The next building was a general merchandise store built by Emil Strahl.
He sold it to Albert Hinder who was in business for a number of years. It was then sold to the White Brothers of Lewiston and Joe Ullman. The White Bros. sold their interest to Henry Rucker. Merchandise in the store was all sorts of dry goods, shoes, overshoes, hats, overalls, piece goods, blankets, hardware and groceries. They also bought chickens and eggs, which was payment for goods bought. Edna Wenzl worked part time if 1912, then full time in the 20’s. Finally, the merchandise was sold to traders and the building was vacant a long time. The owner, Bill Ulrich’s father used it for a storage building. After the building deteriorated, Bill Ulrich had it torn down.
The next building on the corner a brick structure was built by Anton J. Rucker for a general store. After his death, Art Bentzinger bought the store. Matt Maser was the next owner, then it was discontinued until Ray Olberding bought the building in 1946. He sold it to Kenneth Kroll. The last owner was Kenneth Bellows, who finally wrecked the building.
Across the street east, the new brick bank was built and is still in use. South of the bank was the Kehmeier harness shop. He made and repaired harness–later he fixed shoes. The building is still standing. The next building was a small barber shop. Ben Johnson, barber, was in business for years. Shaves were 10 cents, haircuts 25 cents. Later Fred Davis owned it. Besides his barber work/he papered and painted. Ed Buman was the next barber then Halter (Hap) Klein bought the shop. He was barber a long time. Next south a frame building, built by Mike Stepper. There were living quarters in back, a restaurant up front; later groceries were stocked. When Farmers Union bought the building, it was used for a meeting place, and the first cream station run by A. F. Wenzl. The cert brick building was a hardware store owned by Mr. Reckaway, then a Mr. Pursel. The next owner was Henry Rocker, an Overland car salesman. He used it for a mortuary, and kept the glass hearse there. The building was torn down later.
Next was a family dwelling. Pete Klein repaired shoes when he lived there. At one time, Bill Ulrich had a cream station there. It was also the Fournell home. To the south was the large frame hotel. The John Hilbert family ran it for years, when a Mrs. Rice came and built onto the north side.
There were several owners until 1920. Thomas Ryan was the next owner and a telegraph line was installed there by the depot. The next owner, a Mrs. Johnson had a little business, so the hotel gas empty a long time. Walter Klein took over, lived there and had his barber business there. East of the hotel was two big livery barns. Operators were Gottlieb Steiner, Lou Wehrbein, John McClure, John Buman, John Spier and finally, Frank Conradt. Besides hauling freight, coal, etc., they would rent out horses for any use. There was a hitching rack on the south side of the street to tie the horses while in town. Also, there was a hitching rack west of the post office.
In later years, Leonard Pettinger bought the property and built a carpenter shop and room for living quarters. Across the street from the hotel was the city jail which still stands.
A lumber yard was on the corner northwest of the post office–it was built by one of the Sommerhalders, then a Mont Lum owned it and Will Clema finally bought it. He sold the yard to Landy Clark and Frank Morris was the manager. Another blacksmith shop in that area was owned by Frank Reuter, then Frank Wrench and finally it was sold to Chris Albers for a storage place.
The Steinauer mill was started by a corporation consisting of Jos. Steinauer, President, N. G. Steinauer, Vice President, and Charles Schroff, Sec.-Treas. It was managed by a Mr. Gieger. Charles Schroff bought the mill and operated it for many years. After he retired, his sons, Charles, Jr. and Clifford, ran the business. Charles Schroff, Sr.’s “Steinauer Best” flour sold for $1.75 for a 50 lb. bag. The ”Queen of the Valley” flour sold for $1.50 for a 50 lb. bag. After the milling machinery was worn out and not equal to making the enriched flour, the mill was torn down. South of the mill was a huge water tank where the trains were supplied. They all ran on steam.
East of the bank was Dr. Hollister’s office. Later it was used by Dr.
Prendergast. Now, it is the telephone office. East of the doctor’s office was Mary Hines dress making and hat shop. Later the Wherry Bros. used it for a mortuary. Later the girl scouts used it for meetings.
The first school was built on the lot where Christine Jasa lives. It was used until the first big two-story school building was built on the hill northeast of town in 1900. At that time, the school we: also used as a church for people who did not attend the Catholic Church.
The first telephone office was located in the back room of the bank.
There, Mrs. Maggie Bacus lived and took charge of the switchboard. In the twenties, the bank wanted the room for their own use, so the telephone office was moved to a building on the west edge of town. The building is now long gone. For some time, Ruth Middleton and Edna Wenzl were the telephone operators, and John Kinkade was manager and did night duty. He also lived there.
The next operator was Nora Dillworth, and later, Hrs. Fred Davis took over until the Telephone Company discontinued the office switchboard and went to the present system. This was in 1940.
- First post office in 1874 in the Joseph Steinauer home.
- First Church on Cemetery Hill in 1882–cost of $300.
- First train through Steinauer in September, 1887.
- First bank in Steinauer in 1888.
- Second Church in Steinauer in 1889.
- First mill in Steinauer in 1892.
- Town of Steinauer Incorporated in 1893.
- First doctor, Dr. Albers, in Steinauer in 1894.
- First saloon in Steinauer in 1896.
- First gas street lights in 1899.
- First school in Steinauer in 1900.
- First grocery store in Steinauer in 1903.
- First electric street lights in 1913.
- Present Church in Steinauer in 1927.
- Doctors who followed Dr. Albers were Dr. Holister, Dr. Stone, Br. Johnson, Dr. Prendergast, and Dr. Homan.
List of business places of the past:
- Rock Island depot and Stock Yards
- Pool Hall
- Post office–still standing (in business).
- Elevator Restaurant
- Lumber Yard
- Butcher Shop
- 2 blacksmiths Dress & Hat Shop
- Public School
- 2 Hardware Stores
- Parochial School
- Furniture Store
- Implement Dealers
- Barber Shop
- Harness Shop
- 2 General Stores
- Tin Shop
- Filling Station
- Carpenter Shops
- Garage (in business)
- Bank–still standing (in business)
- Drug Store
- Saloon–still standing (in business)