The Kuchenbuch Grocery
In 1921, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that 106 W. Elder—initially numbered 42 Elder—was built in 1856 and occupied at that time by Charles Kuchenbuch (1843-1928). City directories, however, did not list the address until 1860. Its first inhabitant, according to Williams’ directories, was Louis Grothaus who ran a grocery there from 1860 until 1866 (at which point he moved next door to 40 Elder, or 104 W. Elder).
After the Grothaus grocery, according to city directories, Augustus Sick had a chinaware shop inside 42 Elder. Then, in 1869, Charles Kuchebuch and his family moved from 41 Elder to 42 Elder where he used the first floor for his bakery until the turn of the 20th century. The family lived upstairs, with two to four other families.
Born on May 5, 1843 in Werkhausen in Rheinland-Pflaz, in what is now western Germany near Bonn, Charles immigrated to the U.S. in 1854 sources also listed 1852 with his father, Johan Kuchenbuch (1815-unknown), his mother Theresa Maria (Rust) (1817-1884) and his younger siblings, Frank (1845-1913), Herman (1848-1924) and Veronica (Fey) (1855-1881). Here in Cincinnati, Charles married his wife Margareth “Maggie” (Brandfass) (1839-1924) at St. Francis Seraph Church in 1865, signaling that they were Catholic.
As the Kuchenbuch children were growing up inside 42 Elder, Charles’ mother Theresa lived with them until her death from heart disease in 1884. Charles’ younger brother Herman also lived with the Kuchenbuchs briefly in the 1890s. Herman was a candy maker who had worked for a Cincinnati candy company, Austin & Smith, in 1864 and later for Mitchell & Whitelaw Manufacturing Confectioners. He eventually became the president of the Cincinnati Confectioners’ Union.
In 1888, he moved to Richmond, Indiana, to start his own confectionary; he invented the Ferre Stick candy (stick candy) that became popular. He then moved back to Cincinnati, according to directories, and lived with Charles’ family at 42 Elder. As a baker in Cincinnati, Charles belonged to the General German Baker’s Society. It was a social club that met at the Workingmen’s Hall on Walnut Street, the epicenter of most Over-the-Rhine labor union organizing. The Society also operated as a benevolent organization, providing benefits for ill members.
As a German and early settler in Over-the-Rhine, Charles was a member of the Pioneer Society, or the Deutsche Pionier Verein, the largest and most influential German immigrant organization in Cincinnati. Members had to be male immigrants over forty years old and residents of Cincinnati for at least twenty-five years. Founded in 1868, its goal was to create a community for Germans and German-Americans and to preserve the history of that community which it did in part through its journal Der Deutsche Pionier.
As an affluent and well-connected man, Charles was involved in a few local banks: he was the president of the Grand National Building Association after its formation in 1887. He was also on the Findlay Market Building and Loan Company (No. 2)’s board of directors and became its president by the early 1900s. (It was later called the Mutual Building and Loan Association). Philanthropically minded, he was also involved in St. Aloysius’ Orphan Society, a German Catholic orphanage.
Frank, Charles’ eldest son, apprenticed under his father and became a baker for the family business. Charles retired in the first years of the 20th century. Yet, even after he no longer ran the bakery at 42 Elder—updated to 106 W. Elder in the 1890s—he and his family continued to reside there and own the building. In fact, he owned the building until 1921. In his last years, his wife passed away in 1924 and then he, while living at 22 Green Street, died in 1928. He was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
106 W. Elder in the 20th Century
After the Kuchenbuch bakery, the storefront transitioned to a bank—Unity Banking & Saving Company. The bank had another branch at the southeast corner of Vine and McMillan Streets. It remained at 106 W. Elder until World War I. Charles Kuchenbuch retained ownership in these years and remained living there with his wife Maggie.
From 1918-1920, the Wallingford Company—a coffee business—then used the first floor in 106 W. Elder. The company was run by Thomas E. Wallingford (1891-1967), born in 1891 in Kentucky to John (1857-1926), a doctor, and Rosa (Williams) (1861-1938). After working as a railroad clerk, Thomas founded his coffee company in 1909. He and his wife Bernice (1896-1985) married in 1917; they lived in northern Kentucky thereafter where they raised their daughters, Marjory and Janet.
Wallingford Coffee continues to be in operation to this day. In 1921, Charles Kuchenbuch sold the building. B. Lande, a dry goods merchant, purchased it for $10,000.
In 1922, though, Henry Posner (1889-1977) and his younger brother Boris (1897-1971) began to operate a dry goods shop at 106 W. Elder. Henry became the owner of the building. Henry Posner had previously worked at Findlay Market. He teamed up with Adolph Saphir (1890-1979) in the 1920s to run a dry goods shop at 103 W. Elder.
Like his business partner, Henry and his brother were Jewish immigrants as well. Henry was born in 1889 and Boris in 1897; records indicate that they lived in Odessa (in what is now the Ukraine). They immigrated in 1905 (records also listed 1906) like many other Eastern European Jews fleeing worsening conditions in the Russian Empire. When they first arrived in Cincinnati, the extended Posner family, including Henry and Boris’ father Simon, their mother Meriam and their five siblings, lived on W. Court Street.
After their father, also a dry goods merchant, died in 1916, Henry and several of his siblings continued to live with widowed Meriam. They then lived on Burdette Avenue in East Walnut Hills which was where Henry and Boris resided when they started their shop at 106 W. Elder. Not long after his arrival to the U.S., Boris joined the U.S. Army and fought in World War I. He was honorably discharged in July 1919.
In 1935, Louis Bennor leased the storefront from Henry Posner and ran his own dry goods shop there until 1938. Born in 1878, Louis was a German-speaking immigrant from Alsace-Lorraine who immigrated in 1887. He and his wife Eugenia (Levy) lived down on River Road while he worked at Findlay Market. They had two children, Charlotte and Marion.
Heist Poultry and Fish
In 1938, Elmer Heist (1886-1964) purchased the building from Henry Posner and started Heist Fish & Poultry (also called Economy Poultry) there. The Heist family had been at Findlay Market since 1926 (when they were listed at 124 W. Elder). Elmer Heist was born in 1886 in Kentucky to Adam (1858-1917) and Margaret (Helm) Heist (1862-1937). He learned his trade from his father who sold poultry from a horse-drawn wagon in Covington beginning in 1880. Elmer and his wife Hanora (1887-1946) raised their children, Joseph (1910-1975), Dorothy (1912-1979), Warren (1914-1925), George Raymond (1916-2002) and Carl Adam (1918-1987), in northern Kentucky. Elmer—as a longtime Findlay Market vendor—was on the Findlay Market Association.
Elmer’s son Raymond eventually took over the family business. Raymond’s son Tim and his wife Barbara now run Heist Poultry & Fish. Raymond transferred ownership to Tim—Raymond’s eleventh child—in 1982 and retired in 1997.