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Shopping in Buffalo Grove 100 Years Ago

Buffalo Grove C. 1909

History of the Weidner General Store

What was it like shopping in Buffalo Grove 100 years ago?  Well, you had one option: The Weidner General Store. It was originally owned by John Weidner and was established in the1860s.  Most families in Buffalo Grove were farmers which meant that they didn’t have cash until crops were sold.  The store accepted other forms of payment, including eggs and butter.  It was well stocked for a rural town, with a wide range of items like buttons, soap, chocolate, and lemons.  The store also served many other purposes in town – it was the post office, train ticket office, and even polling place.  In 1901, the store installed a telephone. It was the first phone in town so residents had to stop in the store to make a call.


Reading An Old Receipt

Receipt, 1890

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Weidner Store went through some changes. As the Weidner family grew, the sons of John Weidner expanded the business and built another store in Arlington Heights.  The Weidner General Store became Weidner and Sons, Weidner Brothers, and then in the early 1900s it was sold to the Firnbach family and named Firnbach and Raupp General Store.  As the owners changed, so did the receipt designs.  At the Raupp Museum, we have a few different receipt designs from different time periods of the Weidner Store.  One of our earliest receipts is featured above. While the receipts are different, some features will look similar across all of them.

  • Name of Store
  • Name of Customer
  • Date
  • Credit Or Items Purchased
  • Total Cost of Items

 

Take a look at the receipt above and see if you can find this information. 

  • Store Name: J.G. Weidner
  • Customer: J.G. Spoerlein
  • Date: June 17th, 1895
  • Cost of Items: $26.05 – Credit of $18.55 = $7.50 owed
  • Items: Coffee, Cloth, Spices, Herring, Spool, Brush, Groceries, Mustard, Paint
    • Credit: For eggs. The repeated “Cr” near the bottom was short for “credit”.

Click a receipt below to try deciphering the items bought, or explore the entire gallery of receipts we have digitized.

Weidner Receipt 1916 Weidner Receipt 1916 Weidner Receipt 1897
Weidner Receipt 1895 Weidner Receipt 189? Weidner Receipt 1897

Who Were the General Store Customers?

Buffalo Grove was a small town from the first settlers in the 1830s until the 1960s, when it slowly began to grow.  The census in 1958 in Buffalo Grove recorded only 164 individuals.  For over 100 years, there were a few families that continued to make Buffalo Grove their home.  These families included the Raupps, Weidners, Spoerleins, Popps, Nickols, and Horchers.  All these families shopped at the General Store. Learn more about 3 customers below.

John George Spoerlein

J.G. Spoerlein and Ursula Weidner Wedding Portrait, C. 1881J.G. Spoerlein was a frequent customer to the Weidner General Store.  John was a farmer in Buffalo Grove with his wife Ursula Spoerlein (br. Weidner).  He was born in Illinois on December 13th, 1856, to parents George and Anna Maria.  John was a first generation immigrant – his parents both came from Germany to the United States in the mid-1800s.

John and Ursula had 8 children, 6 daughters and 2 sons.  He was Catholic, and attended St. Mary Parish in Buffalo Grove along with all other residents of the town after the church was built in 1852.  John died on September 29th, 1919 at the age of 63.  One of his receipts from 1897 is featured above.

Image: J.G. Spoerlein and Ursula Weidner Wedding Portrait, C. 1881.

 

William Firnbach

Image: William Firnbach and Anna Dietz Wedding Portrait, C. 1910William Firnbach, also known as Wilhelm Frank Firnbach, was born in Illinois on September 13th, 1890.  His parents were Michael Firnbach and Minna Tekampe.  William owned his own Saloon, which was started by his father.  The Saloon was the first and only restaurant & bar in Buffalo Grove for many years.  William lived in Arlington Heights, just around the corner from Buffalo Grove.  He married Anna Dietz on April 29th, 1913 and they had three children, 2 sons and 1 daughter.

William frequently shopped at the Firnbach and Raupp General Store in the 1910s.  The store had switched owners from the Weidners to the Firnbach and Raupps in the early 1900s. William’s brother, Andrew J. Firnbach, and his wife Mary Raupp, owned the store from 1913 to 1945.

Image: William Firnbach and Anna Dietz Wedding Portrait, C. 1910

 

John Simon Nickol

Adam Nickol (left) and <yoastmark class=John Simon Nickol was born on March 24th, 1865 in Buffalo Grove, to parents John George Nickol and Rosina Heubner.  He was Catholic and a member of St. Mary Parish.  John married Elizabeth Hennemann on May 20th, 1890 at St. Mary Church. They had five children, three daughters and two sons.  John died on April 22nd, 1924 at the age of 59.

John was also a dairy farmer in Buffalo Grove, like most of his neighbors. What do you think John was buying at the General Store? Explore one of John’s receipts in our “How to Read An Old Receipt Page”.

Image: Adam Nickol (left) and John Simon Nickol (right), C. 1870s.

 


The Products Up Close

Now that you have explored the receipts of early Buffalo Grove shoppers, did you ever wonder what some of that stuff actually looked like? The Raupp Museum has a recreated Weidner General Store from 100 years ago in our gallery – Come check it out! If you can’t make it to the Museum, below are examples of what you might have seen from the receipts. Click an object to learn more about it’s history.

Catchers Mitt, C. 1915 Gloves, C. 1890s Hat, C. 1910 Sugar Bowl, Date unknown

Union Suit

Ankle Boots, C. 1910

Introductory Fourth Reader, 1885

Watkins Pepper Tin


Receipt Gallery

The Raupp Museum has thousands of receipts from the Weidner General Store, primarily between 1916 and 1919.  Explore part of this collection in our digital database:  Receipt Database Raupp Museum.

Do you have any questions about our archives or Buffalo Grove history? Contact the Museum Registrar, Marina Mayne, by emailing mmayne@bgparks.org or call 847.850.2135.

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