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Old Rat Hole Woodstock Ilinois circa 1877-1885

Old Rat Hole  Woodstock Ilinois circa 1877-1885

The "Rat Hole" 101 S. Benton
Building Date: 1847-April 15, 1893 (destroyed by fire)
Photograph date: circa 1877-1885

The building that became known as the "Rat Hole" was constructed in 1847 to provide space for additional offices for the original county court house (1844-1857) needed due to the rapid growth of the county. Henry M. Wait got the bid to build an "eight-foot [high] brick building" but determining that this was too small, convinced the county commissioners to allow him to add a second story at his own expense. Because it was to be used to house county records, the thick brick walls were topped by a tin roof to reduce the chance of fire.

According to the 1885 History of McHenry County, in 1848 a strong wind lifted the tin roof and carried it some distance away. The county officials, in the building at the time, ran out of the building "in all possible haste. As they ran they were greeted with a derisive shout and laughter from Henry Petrie, a merchant who exclaimed in great glee ‘See the D–d rats crawl out of their holes!’

Petrie was a Whig of very pronounced opinions and had no sympathy with the Democratic Party to which the county officers belonged. The building became known as the Rat Hole from then on, even in official court records. When the new brick Court House was finished in 1857 the Rat Hole became a saloon.

Businesses and people identified by handwritten writing on the back of an original print of the glass negative:

D. T. Ring standing at the top of the stairs by his business, D. T. Ring Boots & Shoes. The 1877 Directory of McHenry County residients lists D. T. Ring as a shoemaker with a residence on Chemung Street.

F. Marcus, Agt. is shown standing in front by barrels wearing an apron: "Mr. and Mrs. Fred Markus were Germans who came to Woodstock in the years following the Civil war. Mr. Markus was in the saloon business in the building called the "Rathole," on the corner where the State Bank is now located. One of his best known products, which had a wide favorable reputation, was the famous ‘Markus’ Bitters." (Source: Woodstock Sentinel 3-13-1937 Sec. 8 p2)

Henry Schneider (Schreider?) is the bearded gentleman with apron.

Phil. Best’s Milwaukee Wis. Brewing Co.: dates between 1859 and March 12, 1889 when the company became Pabst Brewing Company

Old Settler’s Headquarters: The Old Settler’s Association was started in 1868 and there is a listing for the Old Settlers Parade in June, 1878 in the Notes for Sesquicentennial History.

Bordwell’s Meat Market: G. W. Bordwell is listed in the 1885 McHenry County history. Bordwell’s Market was taken over by C. F. Gaulke June, 1891. In 1881 the Woodstock Sentinel notes that Bordwell was renovating his building in including new "French plate glass" windows and raising the first floor to be level with sidewalk. Because of shadows on the windows it is difficult to say for certain but the photograph appears to show these improvements.

The spire visible behind Bordwell’s belongs to the German Lutheran Church on Jefferson St. built in 1858 and was destoyed in the same fire as the Rat Hole on April 15, 1893.

D. Tripp Harness Shop was owned by Daniel Tripp. An 1869 advertisement listed his location as "Old Rat Hole Manufacturer and Dealer-Harness, collars, bridles."

Posted by WoodstockPublicLibrary on 2008-10-15 20:08:44

Tagged: , woodstock public library Woodstock Illinois , rathole , old , historic , 1800s , 1884 , buildings , square

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