News: Spencer History - Saloons


Surnames: Frothinger, Bresnahan, Langdon, Vanderhoof, Johnston, Jogbaum, Ducate, Oetell, Stoltenow, Seefeld, Tonn, Seitz, Ayers, Reas, Klatt, Picus, Baker, Seimer, Fenhouse, Holterman, Dittner, Schmitt, Flink, Will, Bodle, Scherer, Schultz, Krohn

Source: Spencer Centennial Book (1874 – 1974)

Spencer's earliest settlers were Baptist and Methodist people who by church precept and upbringing were firm believers in total abstinence. They would have this new town a dry one, and did succeed in preventing the brewery from being built within the village limits. However, as more and more European immigrants, who had no misgivings about enjoying a glass of beer, moved into the village and surrounding area, they soon found themselves in a minority. Along with the newcomers came the saloons and they were here to stay.

The saloon filled a certain social need; it provided a place where men could meet and enjoy good fellowship, drink a toast to one another's good health, exchange local news and discuss the current events of the day. If arguments became heated, the opponents sometimes retired to the street to settle the matter in a quicker and more effective manner. Tables were provided for card playing; the music was their own singing. "Those were the days," and the old time saloon of those days has passed out of the picture to give way to the modern, well equipped tavern with its juke box, radio, T.V. and more elegant furnishings.
Here are the names of some of those early saloons and their proprietors:

The Star, owned by John Frothinger, located a few feet west of the Pioneer House, was operated by P. J. Bresnahan. It burned July 27, 1883, and in so doing set fire to the Pioneer House which was also destroyed. The Northwestern Saloon was owned by M. Langdon and The Phoenix by C. Vanderhoof. Ed Johnston had a saloon on East Main Street. William Jogbaum operated the "William Tell Saloon." In an 1882 newspaper he advertised that he had thoroughly refitted the vacated Ducate building, was putting in a No. 1 stock of good, and proposed to do business on the square. Ralph Oetell’s saloon burned in the first of 1886 and he listed his loss at $800.00.

Charles Stoltenow built the Farmer's Home located on the east corner of LaSalle & Main. There was a side entrance on LaSalle Street to a room for ladies to sit and wait for their husbands. Mr. Stoltenow also provided a billiard table. About 1914 Fred Seefeld bought the business, and he and Max Stoltenow (the next door merchant) built a shed to the rear of the property as shelter for horses and vehicles. Due to failing health, Mr. Seefeld rented his business to Frank Tonn of Riplinger who kept it for only a short time. Herman Seitz purchased the saloon in 1918 or 1919 and his sons, Art and George, were associated with him. George Seitz later purchased the business and operated it until his death in 1956. His wife, Amanda, still carries on the business.

Jonas Ayers and Fred Reas operated the South Side Sample Room in what used to be the Klatt building, now part of the Picus I.G.A. Mr. Reas retired in 1944.

In later years many of the taverns served lunches. Baker's Buffet, owned by Art Baker, was located on the north side of Clark Street next to the tracks and was a convenient place for train men to run in for a snack. Later Herman Seimer's brother bought the building for rental purposes and there was a frequent change in operators, namely Art and George Seitz, Gary Fenhouse, Roger Holterman, Ernest Dittner, Carl Schmitt of Marshfield and Wally Flink.

Wally Flink later purchased the Dairy Belt office building, now the Carpenter building, and remodeled and modernized it for a bar. For a time he kept a cute little monkey on display in a cage there. About 1960 he remodeled his "Cozy Corner" interior, providing a modern bar, and moving his business there, naming it the Breeze-Inn. Leland Will is the present owner.

Gary Fenhouse, who had operated a saloon in Baker's Buffet, purchased the Bodle building, converted one portion of it into a tavern and rented the other part to restaurant operators. The upstairs was used for family living quarters. He remained in business until his death in 1963. His widow, Bessie Fenhouse, still owns the building and the tavern is operated by Mrs. Minerva Scherer.

Many hotels provided bar rooms such as National House and the Railroad House. In late years Mayme Suprey Schultz opened a bar in the front part of her hotel which has been maintained by succeeding owners, Art Krohn and Ann Fenhouse.

The Plaza Cocktail Lounge at the Village Plaza is a very modern, attractive place with live music furnished on certain evenings.



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