In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at the woman-owned businesses that were listed in the 1886 Holland’s Directory. At least seven are identified with a “Mrs.” proprietor and two shared an ad page, Mary Lindemann and Eva Blake.
Holland’s says Lindemann’s general “store may be found on the south-side of Jefferson avenue west of Main street,” which would put it approximately where Everdine’s Grilled Cheese now operates. “Dry goods, groceries, confectionery and a fine assortment of cigars and tobacco are the chief articles in which she deals, and in each, standard goods are the rule,” the directory continues, and notes that she has been in business since 1872.
According to Illinois marriage records, a Mary Auguste Dehnike wed John F. Lindemann on November 23, 1974. If this is the same Mary Lindemann, she was already working the counter years before her marriage. Unfortunately, no other information has been found about her, neither census, burial, nor birth records.
More details are available for Eva Blake. She married Anthony (“Andrew” in some records) in 1866. Anthony had been wounded twice during the Civil War and became ill with “chronic diarrhea.” Regardless, the young couple became the parents of daughters Annie, Mary, Emma, Marie, Maria, Matilda, Christina, and Marguerite.
Unfortunately, Anthony Blake died in 1882, leaving Eva with their eight children to support. How she started her millinery business is unknown, but Holland’s notes that “being left a widow several years ago with only eight daughters [Their italics!] dependent on her efforts for support, she went to work with a will and constancy that has been admirable and commendable.”