Business of DeWitt: Drugs & Medicines, Harness & Saddlery Ware, Tinners, Portrait Artist & Baker

From the end of January, 1880, until June, the Clinton County Advertiser ran a section called “Business of DeWitt” in which they tell quite a bit about the local businesses.

DeWitt has two well appointed Drug Stores as are usually found in towns of double or treble its size, and the fact that they are owned and superintended by careful and experienced chemists, draws a large trade here from the region round about. The pioneer establishment is that of J. B. WEBB, who commenced his career as salesman for his brother, Chas. E. Webb, in 1860, in the store now occupied by E. Christiansen, grocer. Soon after, C. E. W. bought out the drugs of Vary & Hoag, in a “ten-footer,” where Wallace Bros dry goods store now is, and ran the two store for a time. In 1862 J. B. bought out this “branch,” and continued there til 1868, when he moved to the Stevens block on the east side, remaining there till 1870, then moved to Work’s building on the site of his present store, (the building since moved to east of the steam mill.) In 1876 he transferred his stock for a short time to the room one door north – where Mrs. Jacobs’ millinery store now is – and while his present store was building.

Dr. Webb carries a complete stock of fresh drugs, medicines, patent medicines and chemicals, and from his well known carefulness in compounding them, holds a large prescription trade. He does a good business in paints and wall papers, and is well prepared for an increased spring trade. Yearly about Christmas time, Young America flocks to this place in such numbers as to fairly blockade the entrance. He has now a large and varied stock of toys, miscellaneous and school books and such et ceteras as are generally looked for as presents. Anything in this line, from a gold pen to justice’s blanks, can be found here. Mr. Webb is agent for the American and United States Express companies, the business of which is constantly on the increase. He is assisted by John A. Cumming, a careful young man, and one who well understands his business. In the matter of advertising, he proposes to turn over a new leaf, so look out for his advertisement soon.

C. V. BAXTER opened out with an entire new stock of goods a year ago, in the room in Union Block which had been occupied by L. Loewenstein as a clothing store. Realizing that it pays to make a business house attractive, he spared no panes or expense in the fitting up. He at once let the public know through the press where he was and what he was doing, which together with is extensive acquaintance here and well known business ability, brought a good trade to him at once. Dr. Baxter commenced his business career with the reliable house of J. B. Webb, where he proved an apt student and was retained for six years, when he went into the employ of Francis Lee, druggist, of Clinton, where he remained until he returned to DeWitt in February 1879. Everything being new and fresh, his place became a favorite resort for those in want of any goods in his line. In addition to a full stock of drugs and medicines, Dr. Baxter deals extensively in school, blank and miscellaneous books and all kinds of plain and fancy stationery. In the line of paints and oils, everything can be found here that one could as for, and at reasonable prices. If you would enjoy a good smoke, you can find the choicest cigars at this establishment. In short, “Van” is a live business man, keeps himself before our readers, and acknowledges the benefits derived from advertising. He is assisted by Horace J. Roff, who has had four years’ experience as a pharmaceutist in Peoria, Clinton and DeWitt, and is noted as a careful and industrious young man.

JOHN M. DOBLER commenced here as a horse milliner about fifteen years ago. He knows how to fit a horse with a collar or a colt with a collarette, in a style for which for durability would put to shame a regiment of lady artists. He not only gets up a plain heavy harness for all kinds of farm business, but make a specialty of light fancy work for buggies or sulkies. John is a genial gentleman to deal with, makes good work, and if they live to wear it out, always go to him the second time. We noticed some fine work being put up for Barney Langen, now of Vail, and also for Dr. Langan, of this place.

His is assisted by P. S. McCraken, who from long experience, knows all about a harness that is worth knowing. At the time of our visit to this establishment last week, Mr. Dobler had called in additional help in the person of our sharp young friend, Pat. Byrne, who if he had not a Crawford county farm on his hands, might make a good harness maker. As it is Mr. Dobler will have to supply other help. He keeps a full stock of horse toilet goods, and sells low.

J. W. FRALEY, TINNER, was ushered into the world amid the bang whang of tin pans and kettles that would do credit to a first-class charivarl. He was born in a tin shop, and therefore learned his trade as by inspiration. He keeps three teams going through the country, exchanging tinware for rags, iron, pelts, butter, eggs, honey, and so on ad libitum, and we believe was never known to refuse money if offered. He proposes to put another team on the road soon. Anything in the way of tin roofing, spouting, or jobbing of any kind in his line will be attended to with promptness.

His shop is in the Weymouth building, Jefferson street, a place where people in want of tinware have been wont to congregate for the past twenty-two years. He wants our country readers on his beats to save all their old plunder till his teams call for it.

F. E. HALL, PORTRAIT ARTIST, opened a studio in this place last summer and has recently moved to the front room over Wendelborn’s meat market, which he has just fitted up to his liking. He will take a diminutive photo, enlarge it to life size, and make it look so near like the original that you will wonder that it does not speak to you. It was he that got up that picture of our handsome senator which has received so much praise. Mr. Hall delights in taking a faded picture, the outlines of which can with difficulty be traces, and bringing out of it a likeness true to nature. He has a fine lot of picture frames and engravings on sale at low prices. Also colored lithographs, chromos and engravings, together with a full line of Catholic pictures, all of which are noticed in our local columns. Give him a call.

SYLVESTER SMITH, PHOTOGRAPHER, has an elegant suit of rooms in the north end of Union Block, and over David White’s shoe store. During the past few years there has been a great improvement in the art, and Mr. Smith has well kept up with the times. He has had twelve years experience, and of course is well posted. Occasionally an opposition gallery is opened, but only to remain for a short time, so well is Mr. Smith’s work liked. He takes photos of any size, and also country view, residences, live stock, and so on. He also enlarges photos, and colors them in oil, ink or water colors. He sells oil paintings, frames of all sizes, albums and everything in that line. As far as his acquaintance goes he is favorably known, but if he would show up his business to the public more it would increase it.

JOSEPH McCORMICK, BAKER, has given is whole life to the study of his trade, having commenced in the old country when a mere youth. Last year he opened a shop on the east side of Jefferson street, with a new oven and an entire new set of tools throughout. In the summer season he makes large shipments to the neighboring towns, and proposes to increase that branch of business the coming season. He also holds a good trade among the farmers about DeWitt, thus saving the good housewives a deal of hard work. His wagon is a welcome visitor as it drives up to the residences of our townspeople steaming with hot bread, rolls and an endless variety of cakes. He is working up a good business in homemade candies, which he knows so well how to make. His rooms are a favorite resort for farmers and others to get a dish of hot oysters and coffee, or a plain lunch. Mr. McCormick is assisted by John Foley, who learned his trade of Mr. McC., and proves a number one baker.

This house, together with that of MRS. M. J. HEY, written up Feb. 12th, furnish our people with “the staff of life,” which to hungry mortals is worth a dozen two hundred dollar popular canes.