Siedler the cigar maker known as a jolly fellow


This photo, taken from the east side of South Main Street, circa 1903, reveals a thriving business district, despite the flood-swollen street. The street at the time was known as Third Street, South Side. Siedler & Vollmar’s Bar was housed in the building with the large Anheuser Busch sign, 116 Third, South Side. Note the wooden sidewalks prominent on the east side of the street. PHOTO FROM THE HULL, ILL., HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTION

MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

In 1917, automobiles were such a rarity in Marion County, that the Palmyra Spectator published a list of registered car owners, and included what brand of car they owned.

Gus A. Siedler, a cigar maker, active in the Democratic party of the county, and an alderman for Hannibal’s Fourth Ward, was included on the list. As of December 1915, he owned a modern, seven-passenger Moon touring car, which he stored at E.C. Long’s garage, located in the 900 block of Broadway, for safe keeping when not in use.

Just before Christmas, 1915, a well-dressed man entered the garage after hours, telling the night caretaker that Mr. Siedler had sent him to pick up the car. The trusting worker complied, giving the car and keys to the stranger.

When the owner of the garage arrived, he became suspicious. He telephoned Siedler, and found that Mr. Siedler had not asked for the vehicle.

The Quincy Daily Journal described the incident in its Dec. 21, 1915 edition: “Mr. Long at once called all the surrounding towns and gave a description of the car and its license number, 6187. The factory number of the car is 70016. A car answering the description had passed Seehorn, Ill. This is the only trace he could get.”

The car was found a week later, abandoned in a garage at La Porte, Ind., and returned to its rightful owner.

But that wasn’t the end of Mr. Siedler’s problems with his car.

In May 1916, his vehicle was hit by a big Hudson car driven by a reckless driver. The incident occurred on Palmyra-Hannibal rock road near Mt. Zion. Two vehicles, one owned by Siedler and the other by Otto Schulten, a Hannibal fireman, were damaged. Minutes later, as the wild ride continued, and the out-of-control vehicle hit a Ford automobile driving in the opposite direction. Two women were thrown from the Ford, and were badly bruised.

There were no local arrests, because the accidents occurred outside of the Hannibal and Palmyra city limits. The only regress would be if the state were to issue a ticket.

A jolly fellow

The Palmyra Spectator described Gus Siedler as “the jolly cigar manufacturer of Hannibal,” when he visited the community during June 1900. “He was shaking hands with his many Palmyra friends today,” the newspaper reported

His outgoing and friendly persona no doubt contributed to Mr. Siedler’s success in local politics, cigar sales and in the saloon business.

Illinois roots

Gus. A. Siedler was born Aug. 24, 1862, at Highland, Ill., the son of Savoid and Elizabeth Sieldler.

Living in Hannibal by 1885, he at first worked as a cigar maker for P.J. Roten. Three years later, he was in the employ of The Holmes-Dakin Cigar Co., and in 1892 he was manufacturing his own cigars, and selling them at a shop on Main Street, at the northwest corner of Bear Creek.

He married Sarah Collins, and their first child – a daughter they named Viola – was born in 1894. The following year, he was elected alterman for Hannibal’s Fourth Ward. He served in that capacity for two terms.

Sons Warren and Vincent were born in 1899 and 1902. By 1903, Gus Siedler had partnered with Albert Vollmar in the operation of a saloon at 116 South Main. The pair advertised their establishment as the last stop at an establishment of this type for going by rail to the Atlas Cement Co.

By 1906, Gus Siedler was in the saloon business on his own. On Feb. 9, 1906, a fire broke out in an apartment above Sielder’s Saloon, causing substantial damage to both the apartment, the bar and all the contents. The apartments were occupied by James O’Donnell and his daughter, Mrs. Ogle.

After the fire, Siedler relocated his saloon to 126 S. Main.

By 1920, the Siedler family has settled into a home at 815 Birch Street, across Fulton Avenue from the Southside Christian Church.

It was in that house that his two sons experienced a very close call. The Quincy Daily Whig reported in its March 26, 1920 edition, that while Vincent and Warren Siedler were handling a 22-caliber revolver, it discharged, striking Vincent in the stomach. “Dr. J.F. Cooper was summoned and had the injured youth removed to Levering Hospital when an X-ray photograph was taken, revealing that the bullet lodged in the back. It is not believed that the wound is serious although it barely missed penetrating vital parts of the stomach. The bullet was afterward removed.”

Eleven years later, Gus Siedler – for many years prominent in political circles in Hannibal – died. His funeral took place on July 8, 1931, at the Immaculate Conception Church, and burial followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

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