Josephine Emily Ladendorff was born March 18, 1857 at Hillsboro, Missouri to Veronica and Joseph Frank Kuehn who had immigrated from Austria. She was two years old when her parents moved to Bunker Hill. Most of her life was spent in the Bunker Hill area. Grandma met Ferdinand Ladendorff and they were married in St. Louis, Missouri on December 15, 1879. He was born in Hamburg, Germany and joined the German Navy at the age of nine. He was a seaman who spliced ropes, but was not happy as a seaman and jumped ship a few times before finally emigrating to America in 1874. Grandma and Grandpa were the parents of seven sons; Frank, Charles, Ferdinand, Edward, Otto, Harry and William, and two daughters, Sophia and Crissie Mae.
Grandpa Ladendorff had a grocery business in Bunker Hill for over 60 years. He started out making deliveries by wagon from house to house. He had established his trade over a long period. The business was maintained in the same building for over fifty years. They received a buggy from Leur’s Packing House as a reward for their meat sales. Naturally the buggy had a Leur’s advertising sign on the side. After Grandpa’s death, Grandma continued with the store, but did not sell in as large quantities as before. Most of their sales were “meats.”
At one time Grandma had a small cooler and she sold summer sausage and crackers. She also sold candy, bread and tobacco (both pouch and plug). Her son Charles always chewed Beechnut tobacco and he would buy it from his mother, and he would buy three packages at a time, and he made sure that he paid her for it, as he didn’t want to cheat his mother. She raised very truthful and trustworthy sons. And she bragged about them, and if anyone bragged about their families she just kind of let it slide, as she was interested in her family.
One day her son, Ferdinand, ran out of tobacco and one of his sons, Roy, was to get him some. Well, like a kid will do sometime, he came home without it. His dad was so mad that finally Ferdy went to town to get him some, rather than listen to him “growl.”
Grandma could manipulate people, for example she would give someone a little piece of candy to go get her mail, so she didn’t have to leave the store. She had Bill Baker do a few things for her. He would read her electric meter and kid her about using the curling iron too much. At one time there was a well with a hand pump out in front of the store, almost in the street. Lots of people would stop by and get water from the pump. Marie Kampwerth , her granddaughter, had a picture of this well. Marie also remembers Grandma having Marshmallows with a marble inside the Marshmallow. That would not go over today.
Grandma was totally confused when she had to start paying sales tax at the store. Sometimes she would just not do it, or sometimes would just guess at the tax, but she didn’t ever get into trouble over it. One day Ferdy came in to buy bread and Grandma didn’t have any. Ferdy was going to go down and buy a loaf from Fahrenkrog’s Grocery, but Grandma wouldn’t let him. She went down and bought it so she wouldn’t have to pay the tax.
Grandma had many friends who would come to the store and sit with her. Some were Mrs. Anna Baker, Mrs. Grovo, Mrs. Mamie, Mrs. Truesdale and Mrs. Cruikshank. Sometimes there was no talking going on as they would be sitting in their chairs, their heads nodded down, and all of them asleep. Grandma never left the store very much as she was afraid she would miss a sale.
Grandma was Lutheran, but didn’t go to church very often as she couldn’t leave the store, so the preacher would come by and talk with her. They would talk in German. In later years she became “rusty” with her German as not many people spoke it anymore.
Grandma was a very good seamstress, and made many a wedding dress for the new brides in Bunker Hill. She could crochet and one Christmas she made each of her sons a crocheted rug, with a wooden crochet hook. She had a tub in the back of the store where she did her wash. She also had a little garden behind the store and several people came by to help her with it. Jerry O’Brien was one who came in and helped with the chores. Mr. Ed Baker came in once with a chew of tobacco in his mouth looking for a place to spit. He tried to spit it in one of the cracks in the floor behind the counter. Well, she told him where he could spit his tobacco and it wasn’t in her store.
Raymond Wadsworth came into the store once a week and he would buy two “Whiz” candy bars to share with his girlfriend after going to the show. Otto Wieseman lived south of Prairietown, and each Saturday he and Harold would have bring Walter in for school at the Zion Lutheran Church. Otto had been blessed with a “sweet tooth” all of his life. So they would have to stop by and get some candy. But not every Saturday, as sometimes they couldn’t afford it. Fred Roberts said he went in and bought a pack of gum from Grandma for five cents. He then went out and being with other boys, gave it all away. He then went back to buy another pack, but she wouldn’t let him have it as he already had bought some that day. I guess she thought that he had had enough for one day. Mary Corneilson Rhoads says she can remember the candy that looked like bacon. It had coconut in it and came in brown, pink and white stripes. You could buy a small bag of hard candy for five cents and if you ate it all, it would probably make you sick.
The big summer pleasure in town was Saturday nights when the bands played and the merchants had their stores open late. Grandma’s friends and relatives all came to have a seat in front of her store, where they listened to the music and visited. She always had plenty of chairs for all who came. Grandma had a sister who married John B. Daschley, who was a shoe maker. She died in childbirth in 1873, leaving four little children. Their names were Emma, Josephine, Francis and Maria.
As Grandma grew older, the family usually gathered for her birthday on every March 19th. At first it was at her store and then later at some relatives home for a pot-luck meal. Grandma retired from the store when she was 90, and went to live with her daughter, Mrs. Sophia Brummer, in East Alton. Grandma passed away on May 2, 1949.
My thanks to Grandma’s grand children, Marie Kampwerth and Ferdy Ladendorff for their help and permission in writing this story about a lady who had a lot to do with "Bunker Hill History."