111 and 113 W. Elder: Their Beginnings in Findlay Market
Prior to Cincinnati’s renumbering and renaming of streets in the 1890s, 111 W. Elder was 47 Elder and 113 W. Elder was 49 Elder.
Bernard Hintereck and His Family at 111 W. Elder
Bernard Hintereck and his family were the first owners and occupants of 111 W. Elder. From 1866 until 1905, members of the family lived there. Bernard, and then his widow Rosa upon his death, owned the building. Once the Hinterecks lived at 111 W. Elder, Bernard most likely peddled his produce in front of 111 W. Elder in an established stall as was the custom of many hucksters, peddlers and butchers. The Hinterecks’ residence in the Findlay Market area makes sense since the Northern Liberties were solidly German by 1850.
Behind closed doors, perhaps everyone got along in the Hintereck family—but the local newspapers reported otherwise. In the mid-1880s, for instance, Bernard’s wife Rosa accused her daughter Rosina (1850-1888) of trying to poison Rosina’s first husband, Herman Ficke. Only a few years later, in 1888, Rosina—then thirty-eight years old—died. Then, following Bernard’s death in 1893 due to stomach cancer, more family drama ensued. Bernard’s son Gottlieb—and only living child—contested Bernard’s will. Bernard left all of his wealth to his widow Rosa, much to the chagrin of Gottlieb. Given that his father had accumulated close to $1 million in present-day money in real estate and personal possessions, Gottlieb sued for his share of this inheritance. He alleged that Bernard was not of sound mind in the last months of his life and that his mother and her friend—a George Guckenberger—forced Bernard into making a will that excluded Gottlieb. Mother and son went to court over the issue. The papers did not report who won. The 1900 Federal Census reported Rosa, and not Gottlieb, as the owner of 111 W. Elder, signaling that maybe Rosa retained the wealth promised to her in Bernard’s will. A few years later, in 1898, Gottlieb married a woman named Amanda “Emma” Josephine Fleischmann, and together they had Bernard Jr., George and William, born at 111 W. Elder with the help of midwives.
Widowed Rosa lived with the family, perhaps suggesting old conflicts had died down. While the Hinterecks owned and resided at 111 W. Elder throughout the last decades of the 1800s, for much of their tenure there, they took on additional renters. This was true for 113 W. Elder as well, in that city directories from the late 1800s through the mid-20th century show multiple tenants at both buildings renting a room or apartment. Members of the Barthold family, for example, lived at 111 W. Elder alongside the Hinterecks in the late 1860s and through much of the 1870s. Additionally, the Hinterecks rented the storefront to various businesses over their years of ownership.
The Businesses at 111 W. Elder in the Last Years of the 19th Century
From 1875 until 1879, Julius Brodengeyer ran his boots and shoes store at 111. W. Elder. He did not stay long in Cincinnati for his boots business. In 1880, he moved to Pittsburgh to work as a molder and later as a bridge worker. After Julius moved to Pittsburgh, Leonard K. Baehr’s coffee and tea company sold its products out of 111 W. Elder until the mid-1880s. Born in 1855 in Bavaria, Leonard arrived in the States in 1870. Even after Leonard moved his business from 111 W. Elder in 1885, he continued to sell his tea products near Findlay Market on Elm Street. By the early 1900s, he called his company the Hong Kong Tea Company.
After the Baehr family, George Johannigman sold eggs, butter and other goods out of his storefront grocery at 111 W. Elder from 1885 until 1890. A young man at this point in his life—born in 1857— George was from Indiana originally, though born to German parents. His father, a well-to-do Prussian immigrant, made a living as a farmer near Marion, Indiana. After staying at Findlay Market for around five years, George left 111 W. Elder, marrying and moving to Kentucky. He wed Rosa Schoeer, born in 1860 in Ohio, on June 1st, 1892 in Newport, Kentucky.
In the mid-1890s, Gus Loewenstein Jr.’s Great China Tea Company utilized the first floor of 111 W. Elder through the end of the century. With multiple locations in addition to the Findlay Market address—the northeast corner of 6th and Mound, 75 Court near Vine Street, 117 Wade near Cutter and at 528 McMillan—the Great China Tea Company was one of Gus’ many business ventures throughout his life. An affable, patriotic man noted for sobriety—he never gambled, it was said—Gus married Rachel Bloch (sometimes listed as Black) (1859-1918), a woman also of German descent. They had a daughter, Clara (Meiss) (1879-1957) and a son Milton (1881-1960). In 1905, Kroger acquired the Great China Tea Co. Thereafter, Gus—free of that business venture—continued to sell tea and grocery goods under his own name. While he did not utilize 111 W. Elder’s storefront anymore, he continued to work downtown and in Walnut Hills, like he had for the Great China Tea Company. He passed away in 1928, ten years after his wife. Both were buried at the Clifton United Jewish Cemetery.
The last person to use 111 W. Elder’s storefront under Hintereck ownership was Max Aronovitz who sold glass and chinaware from the space until 1905. In 1901, Bernard Hintereck’s son Gottlieb passed away, leaving Gottlieb’s mother Rosa, his wife Amanda and their adolescent children. On January 31st, 1908, after suffering from “acute gastritis”—severe inflammation of the stomach—Rosa passed away at home at 111 W. Elder. That year, the remaining Hinterecks left 111 W. Elder and moved to 1720 Main. Amanda reared her children there until her death in 1917. By his early adulthood, one of her sons Bernard Jr. was paralyzed. On his World War I draft exemption, he explained that he could not fight for this reason.
Next Door: The Early Bakeries at 113 W. Elder
From 1867 until 1900, numerous bakers ran their businesses out of 113 W. Elder, then called 49 Elder. From 1867 until 1874, Frederick Weimann located his bakery at 113 W. Elder. He had previously baked out of 57 Elder and prior to that worked for a coffee company. Frederick survived the war, and in 1867, as he and his wife moved to 113 W. Elder, they had a son whom they named Frederick Jr. after his father. By 1875, Frederick relocated his business outside of Findlay Market. City directories listed his bakery on Spring Grove Avenue in Camp Washington thereafter. Frederick passed away in 1893 and was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. In his will, he left all his personal and real estate property to his “beloved” wife. Catherine then owned 2509 Spring Grove and managed that building’s tenants after her husband’s death. She died in 1912 and was buried with her husband. The family’s property was then passed down to Frederick and Catharine’s grandchildren, Philip, Lottie and Cora.
During the rest of the 1870s, 113 W. Elder housed Friedrich Roeder’s bakery. Born in 1833 in Württemberg, Friedrich was married to a woman of the same birthplace, Maria Elisabeth Amalie Wagner (1829-1894). After their wedding in the summer of 1858 in Lettin (near Leipzig), they had a son named Albert, born in 1860. When Albert was a young boy, the small family immigrated to America, arriving in Cincinnati in 1870. Friedrich died in 1888 and was buried at Vine Street Hill Cemetery. Ten years later, his wife passed away and was buried next to him. After his parents passed away, Albert and his wife Ida (Griese) carried on. They had seven children together, mostly daughters, including: Ida, Alma, Albert, Irene, Marie and Ruth. Albert owned his own flour business. Most of these Roeders are buried in Spring Grove; Albert passed away in 1933, a few years after his wife.
Theobald Felss’ Baked Goods at 113 W. Elder
Theobald immigrated to America in 1873 via Liverpool. In 1878, then in Cincinnati, he launched his bakery business. Married in 1880 to Sophia Staubach, Theobald moved his baking business into the storefront at 113 W. Elder in the same year. Busy, entrepreneurial years for Theobald, he stayed up all night baking. He delivered his goods in the morning and then slept in the afternoon before beginning the cycle all over. In this time in his life, his knowledge of English was very limited. Theobald ran his bakery on Elder for only a few years. He had larger aspirations: by 1884, broadening his scope of work, he launched his own flour business, the Felss Flour Milling Company. This business had various locations: first, downtown on Central Avenue in the 1880s and, by the last years of the century, on West 6th Street downtown. Into the 1900s, it was at 3rd and Baymiller (now Queensgate). His sons assisted him with the business. His milling company was sadly the cause of his son Albert’s young death. In 1899, as a twenty-year-old, he accidentally fell into the grain elevator and suffocated from the rye flowing in. The other company men found his body. Theobald’s passport application lists his physical qualities in detail.
These early-20th-century years were ones in which Europeans and other immigrants were under heightened physical and political scrutiny by U.S. public officials—especially immigrants from central, eastern and southern Europe. After his initial trip pre-World War I, Theobald returned to Germany—along with Austria and Switzerland—in the late 1920s to conduct business there, specifically assessing business conditions in lieu of these countries’ recoveries from World War I. A tough parent, Theobald disciplined his son William for stealing the family car by forcing his son to enlist in the Navy—that, or go to the Cincinnati Workhouse. Sophia died at home in the summer of 1934 due to a heart attack. Theobald continued on. He and his daughter Freida continued to live together in Clifton. He was then still working as a flour merchant despite the fact that he was in his eighties. He passed away on September 5th, 1951. The entire family is buried together at Vine Hill Street Cemetery.
The Bakeries of Jacob Mueller and Otto Sauer
In the mid-1880s, baker Jacob Mueller worked from 113 W. Elder until his death in 1887 from pneumonia. In the wake of Jacob’s death, baker Otto Sauer moved his business into 113 W. Elder. Born in 1856 in Bavaria, Otto immigrated to the U.S. in 1872. His wife Gertrude Manning—also a German immigrant—was born in 1851. She arrived in the States in 1867. They wed in 1880 and had twelve children, three of whom were living by 1910. His son Edward was born in 1884. Gertrude died on February 1st, 1920 and her husband followed her on July 14th, 1930. They were buried at Vine Street Hill Cemetery together.
Fredrick Frey’s Bakery at 113 W. Elder
From 1900 until just before World War I, Fredrick Frey operated his bakery out of 113 W. Elder. (The Freys lived at 111 W. Elder in the late 1800s before moving the business and family into 113 W. Elder in 1900.) Born in what is now Germany in 1856, Fredrick immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1870s. As he ran his bakery, Frederick watched as his surviving children aged inside 113 W. Elder and eventually left to marry and start their own lives. His daughter Katherine, at the age of twenty-three, still living at home then, married Michael Reuss in September of 1902. Then, in the summer of 1911, Frederick’s son John—who had become a lithographer—wed his sweetheart Elenor Lehn.
Joseph F. Boehnlein’s Butter and Eggs at 113 W. Elder
From 1915 until 1945, Joseph Frank Boehnlein ran his eggs and butter shop at 113 W. Elder. Born on September 21st, 1876 in Germany, Joseph came to the States in 1880. A stout man of medium height with brown hair and grey eyes, he became a U.S. citizen as a young child with the help of his father. While he ran his business by Findlay Market, Joseph and his family resided elsewhere: first on Dayton Street in the West End, then in Westwood.
In 1921, Joseph and his friend Clarence Stegner—of Stegner Meats at the Market and later Stegner Food Distributing Company—initiated the Reds Opening Day tradition for the Findlay Market Association, one that still echoes in today’s Opening Day festivities. From the 1920s until the early 1970s, the tradition went as follows: at noon, Smittie’s Band would start playing at Elm and Elder in the Market (Smittie’s—led by “Smitty” Smith—was the official band of the Cincinnati Reds when the team played at Crosley Field; the group also played at presidential inaugurations and with famous stars like Bob Hope). An hour later, the Findlay Market Association and happy fans walked the three miles to get to Crosley Field for the Reds opening game. At 2pm, Smittie’s Band would march on the field followed by the Association. Around the field and down to the third base, the Association and fans of Findlay Market marched to home base. There they presented a floral tribute to the manager. They then moved to the flag pole in the center field where they raised the flag. All the while, the Star Spangled Banner played in the background.
Such a tradition began with Joseph and Clarence who, in 1921, took out some of their own money to buy fifty Reds tickets and get Findlay customers enthused about the Reds. Clearly a man who worked hard but also appreciated fun, in 1929, Joseph was a part of the Outing Committee of the Findlay Market Improvement Association that created Findlay Market Day at Coney Island. During his time running his poultry shop at 113 W. Elder, Joseph also owned the neighboring building at 115 W. Elder. Unfortunately, this building was severely damaged just before Christmas in 1940 when a gas explosion wrecked 115-117 W. Elder. Thirteen people died in this disaster; their deaths prompted the victims’ families to sue both the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company and Joseph since he was the owner of one of the buildings. After his death, in 1958, Joseph’s building at 113 W. Elder was sold from the Boehnlein family to William and Sarah Mallin.
Morris Blossom and Nathan Schaen’s Businesses at 111 W. Elder
Right around 1910, Blossom, Blusinsky & Co. set up a glassware store at 111 W. Elder. It was managed by Morris Blossom who also lived at the building. By the time the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, Nathan L. Schaen—born in 1872—had his dry goods store at 111 W. Elder. Like his business predecessor, Nathan was not a German immigrant like so many others in Over-the-Rhine but rather a Russian Jewish immigrant. He and his wife came to the States from what is now Poland around 1900 (most likely for the same reasons that had pushed out Morris Blossom; particularly bad pogroms broke out in Russia in the early 1900s).
Fred Hartmann’s Men’s Shop
From the 1930s until the mid-1950s, there was a men’s clothing store—Hartmann’s Men’s Shop—in the storefront of 111 W. Elder, managed by Fred Hartmann. Born in 1900 to German-speaking immigrants, Fred grew up in the Northern Liberties of Over-the-Rhine. Fred passed away in 1956 of lung cancer and was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery; Dorothy lived until 1985.
The Paul Witte Poultry Company
From the early 1950s until the early 1990s, Paul Witte’s poultry business was in the storefront of 113 W. Elder. Paul Witte Sr. was the owner and president of this poultry company. Heavily involved in Findlay Market, he was president of the Findlay Market Association at one point and a member of the Association’s board of directors for twenty years. In 1977, Paul and a few other Findlay Market merchants got in trouble for misusing federal food stamps. He was given a three-year jail sentence but only sixty days were actually served in prison. Despite this mark on his record, he was still considered a community leader. His obituary in 1985 gave him the title of “Findlay Market Leader.” In 1971, as customers came to buy chicken from Paul Witte, widow Marie Cianciolo (1910-2004) purchased 113 W. Elder. Marie (Tedesco) was born in Ohio to an Italian immigrant father. In 1929, she married John Cianciolo, also of Italian heritage, and lived in Norwood with him where he worked as a fruit merchant
The More Recent Years of Findlay Market
As was the case for many buildings in Over-the-Rhine by the late 20th century, 111 W. Elder sat vacant by 1975 and was later used for Findlay Market storage. Paul Witte’s company continued to animate the storefront of 113 W. Elder until the early 1990s. Over-the-Rhine, once home to tens of thousands of individuals (around 40,000), supported only a population of 15,000 by the 1960s—and it continued to decline. Both buildings went unlisted in city directories for most of the 1990s and early 2000s, suggesting total vacancy. The City of Cincinnati took possession of them in the early 2000s. Through these years of urban decline, Findlay Market lost customers but nonetheless survived. In fact, in the late 1960s—in the heart of the “urban crisis”—Findlay Market received funding from the Federal Model Cities Program for renovation and upkeep work which was complete by 1974. Nonetheless, that buildings right on the market square went unused by the 1990s underlined serious, interlinking urban problems, both financial and social. Underpopulation—and thus a hurting tax base—alongside white flight, poverty, drugs and crime meant that, by the early 2000s, Over-the-Rhine only had 6,000 residents.
In 2004, the City handled over Findlay Market to the newly formed Corporation for Findlay Market, a nonprofit who manages the vendors, their rents, and making sure the market sustains itself (through the Corporation’s fundraising, grant-writing and contributions campaigns). Buildings like 111-113 W. Elder are considered “rim” buildings—not owned and managed by the Corporation. Through multiple factors—including the efforts of the Corporation, now under President Joe Hansbauer, dedicated customers, enduring vendors, outside development forces renovating buildings near the Market and the Cincinnati Streetcar—the Market is slowly coming back to life, apparent by recently revitalized weekday traffic. For 111-113 W. Elder, the effects of these changes meant that by 2015, their storefronts had bakery businesses in them again.