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The Stein House--A Local Landmark

Elora Johnson, loaned the museum a beautiful tin scoop, made by Jacob Stein, for a special exhibit about cooking through various decades.  At the time she told of the cooper shop, near the Stein home, on the corner of 3rd and Walnut streets in the big brick house which has recently been razed.  The cooper shop apparently was located west of the house and included a pond where materials were soaked or cooled during the manufacturing process.  At that time the barrels were made of wood and bound together with hickory hoops.  The nearby forests and woodlands were wonderful places to cut the materials needed.  Also Mr. Stein operated the spoke and stave factory which was to the southeast of his home, approximately at 1st and Cedar Street (114 Cedar Street) or possibly below the bluff near there. Elora was the Great granddaughter of Jacob Stein, descendant of his daughter Caroline Henrietta “Cassie” Stein who married Jacob S. Seibert.  The Seibert line of the family still live in Mt. Carmel.  They include Seibert, Liddle, Johnson and Ewald families.  (Elsie Elora Seibert married Ernest Seibert, the son of Cassie.)  Among the businessmen of that family was Ivan Seibert who ran a dry-cleaning business for several years.  His siblings were Caroline E. Black, Clifton, Eugene, Elora Johnson, Gertrude Liddle and Mary Frances.

Jacob Stein married Julia Groff, daughter of John Friedrich Groff and Anna Mary Baum.  They married in 1851 and started their life on the corner of 3rd and Walnut Streets in a single room house where they later built the large brick home recently removed.  They lived in that home over 50 years and raised 10 children there:  John Fred (called J. Fred), Ludwig (Lewis), Clara Louise, Jacob Jr., John Jacob, Erla (Allie), George B., Lydia, Ann Margarethe (Maggie), and Caroline Henrietta (Cassie).

Cassie, as already mentioned, married J. O. Seibert, Maggie married Jessie O. Tucker.  Clara Louise married John Geiger.  Allie Stein married her brother-in-law Joseph Frederick Geiger.  Julia Stein Greene (known as Judy) was a descendant of George B. Stein.  She was born in the brick house in 1936.  She remembers Sager’s Grocery Store ¼ block to the west and 3 of grandfather’s (Jacob) sisters living in the 3 houses in between.  These were aunt Allie Stein-Geiger, aunt Caroline (Cassie) Seibert and aunt Rosie (wife of Jacob Jr.).    Perhaps the location of the 3 houses was earlier the site of the pond for the cooperage business.  This might have been a story passed down to Elora Johnson.

Jacob Stein also built 2 other houses on Walnut Street between 3rd and 4th in 1888 and 1891, according to newspaper accounts.

Several of the Stein men worked in business in Mt. Carmel.  J. F. was the Mt. Carmel city treasurer and partner in a hardware store.  Louis/Ludwig was a farmer in White County.  Jacob was a farmer 2 miles north of Mt. Carmel.  George Bernard was the manager of The Fair in Mt. Carmel.  (No reference could be found for a business by this name.)  George Bernard was also an associate of Snider Packing Company for 22 years (on the riverfront in Mt. Carmel about where Chestnut Street ends) and was superintendent of the plant.  George Bernard lived at 302 W. Third after his father and mother passed.  Maggie Stansfield Youngren wrote columns for the DRR and mentioned the Snider Catsup factory.  Maggie lived on the bluff as a teen-ager.  Many local farmers sent tomatoes there for cooking and making into catsup. 

When George Stein died in 1936 he made his son Bernard Jacob Stein promise to stay in Mt. Carmel to take care of the family.  Bernard was an electrical engineer with an opportunity in Chicago.  Judy Greene says they did stay and lived in the house at 302 W. Third.  Bernard operated the Gulf service station which was catty-corner from the Stein house.  It was located on Walnut, on what is now the east portion of the Mt. Carmel Express service station.  He helped many high school boys with their calculus and trigonometry homework.  The household included Bernard’s mother Ella, wife of George Bernard; Dorothy (unmarried?), sister of Bernard.  Bernard’s other siblings were Maurice Harris Stein, and Frank B. Stein (married Catherine Tanquary and worked at Tanquary Jewelry and taught science classes at Mt. Carmel and Allendale High Schools).   

Maggie Stein married J.B. Tucker.  At one time Tucker and Stein owned the O.K. Grocery Store.  It was in operation in 1909 according to a newspaper ad.  It was located at 428 North Market in 1928.

There is a Stein subdivision located east of 1st Street and south of Illinois Route 1.

The Stein family were staunch members of Zion Lutheran Church.  Their names can be found in many newspaper reports about the services and missions of the church.

Jacob Stein’s son, Jacob Jr., farmed.  His son, Chester Earl (Earl) Stein owned the farm just north of Mt. Carmel near the Poor Farm road.  (Could this be the same farm, passed down through the family?)  This became the site for the WVMC radio station in 1948 when his son-in-law Charles F. Rodgers obtained his FCC license and began broadcasting.  At first only the radio tower was placed there and then later was the location (across the highway) for the radio station.  Both now are gone.  These locations are near the intersection of old IL Route 1 and the new IL Route 1.  Incidentally, Charles Rodgers son Ron remembers walking with his grandfather Earl on the property now owned by Mt. Carmel Stabilization which was an orchard at that time.  That was the burial place for many people who died at Palmyra, the first county seat of Wabash County. 

Chester Earl married Hazel Stoltz.  He farmed as mentioned above north of Mt. Carmel.  He died in 1954 and was the father of 11 children:  Viola Graves, Gladys Rodgers, Eva Majors, Rosemary Kieffer and Thelma Richardson, Omar Jacob, Gilbert Estace, Earl Jr., Mozella, Roberta and Doris Etta.

J. Fred Stein was the oldest of Jacob and Julia’s children.  He opened a hardware store called J. Fred Stein & Sons as early as 1880.  His sons, Clarence and Claude were his partners.  The store was built at 425-427 Market, 2 stories tall.  It lasted at least until 1941.  It was said to be the finest hardware store around.  There were many interesting advertisements for the store in the Daily Republican Register.  J. Fred was married to Mary Alice Harvey.  They had 3 sons.  Their youngest, Roy died in 1904 of typhoid.  Clarence F. was born in 1875 and died in 1953.  His wife was Eva Fogerty.  They had 3 sons, Robert F., Richard Clarence, and Frances L.  Robert married Norma Friend and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters.  Richard had one son Clark.  Frances was married but no children were found in the search. J. Fred also had one daughter Mary who died without marrying.  Claude Stein, the other partner with his father and brother in the hardware store was born in 1880 and died in 1953.  He and his wife Lulu Florence Lester married in 1904.  Claude died as a result of burns from an explosion at his home at 126 W. 2nd Street in Mt. Carmel.  He and Lulu had 2 sons and one daughter; Dr. Ben F. Stein, Harvey and Gretchen who married Robert Edgar Berry.  Dr. Ben Stein lived for some time on Cherry Street in a wonderful white brick home, served his residency in the Chicago area, entered WWII, practiced in Mt. Carmel until 1953 then began a practice in anesthesiology in the Sarasota, FL area.  His wife Margaret was well educated also and worked as a dietitian. They had 2 children. 

The house is long gone, a few people got bricks as it was being torn down, but it willalways be the site of the Stein House.


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