Emil Moellenkamp

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Address in Mount Prospect:

Birth Date: 1/08/1902

Death Date: 1999


Spouse: Selma Meyer Moellenkamp (b. 1908 d. 3/18/1989)


Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments:

Emil Moellenkamp was born in Mount Prospect to Henry and Alvina Gewecke Moellenkamp. Henry, Emil’s father, was six foot two, which for the time was quite unusual, and considered a very attractive man. Alvina, Emil’s mother, was from a very prominent family in Niles. Both of his parents were born in the U.S. to families that had emigrated to the U.S. from Germany. Emil grew up in a very large family, he had 11 brothers and sisters. They lived on a farm and Emil, like all the children had to help out with the chores. The farm raised: cows, chickens, ducks, geese, potatoes, onions, corn, carrots and other vegetables. Henry was a very ambitious farmer, and through hard work he was able to build up his farm. It eventually grew to be 240 acres and was divided up to the children when they got married.

Emil attended Saint John Lutheran School from 1909 to 1916 and in that time he had only one teacher, Paul Meeske. Every morning he would wake up, feed the horses, chickens and cows, eat a breakfast of pancakes and sausages or eggs and bacon and then walk the three miles to school. He remembered going with his parents to buy a car in 1913. They bought a new Buick from Busse Buick and must have been one of the first people in town to have one. He would go with his parents to shop in Mount Prospect for basics, but one or twice a year, he would go with his mother to downtown Chicago to buy things that could not be found in Mount Prospect. On these trips, he would get his annual suit and shoes, both of which could not be bought in Mount Prospect. Most of the time he wore the clothes that his mother made, and generally he would wear the same clothes for three or four days, since he only owned a couple of outfits

When Emil was young, Mount Prospect had a number of big onion sheds near the train tracks. Farmers sold their onions in the fall and they were stored in the onion sheds through the winter. In the spring the onions were all sold off and the sheds were emptied. When the sheds were empty, the community would hold a big dance in the empty onion sheds. Emil met his wife, Selma Meyer, at one of these dances. The next week he ask her out on a date and soon they were married. Emil lived to be 97.

Oral History

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Date of Interview: February 5, 1992

Interviewer: Unknown

Text of Oral History Interview:

Q: …Moellenkamp, my father-in-law. Today’s date is February 5, 1992, at 6 p.m., and we’re talking in our kitchen at 918 S. Elm St., Mt. Prospect. Dad, on behalf of the historical society, I’m going to thank you for letting us interview you and for signing the release forms. Okay, Dad, now would you please for the record tell me what your full name is.

EMIL MOELLENKAMP: Emil Moellenkamp.

Q: All right. What was the date when you were born?

MOELLENKAMP: January 8, 1902.

Q: What was your address at that time?

MOELLENKAMP: 928 E. Golf Road.

Q: Who were your parents?

MOELLENKAMP: Henry and Olva Wether Moellenkamp.

Q: And your grandparents?

MOELLENKAMP: Joe and Eleheide Moellenkamp

Q: And your other grandparents?

MOELLENKAMP: Mr. and Mrs. Stevethie.

Q: It’s dumb for me to ask you when you moved to Mt. Prospect. We know you were born here. How old are you at this time? What’s your present age?


Q: And what is your present address?


Q: Have you ever lived at any other addresses in Mt. Prospect?


Q: When you first came to town –downtown Mt. Prospect, we’re talking about –what was considered the downtown area at that time?

MOELLENKAMP: Elmhurst Road.

Q: Elmhurst Road? That’s not the 83 Elmhurst Road we see here that we call Elmhurst Road?

MOELLENKAMP: Near Haberkamp’s.

Q: Where Haberkamp’s Florist was? Look at me. At Haberkamp’s Florist?


Q: And Elmhurst Road went straight ahead past St. Raymond’s, over the tracks, over by Haberkamp’s and kept right on going.


Q: Why did they ever change? That was Route 83?

MOELLENKAMP: Busse wanted a business through town.

Q: And they changed the downtown and made it Main Street now.


Q: Do you remember what year that was that Busse changed it? Was that when he became commissioner, or when? Do you have any idea?


Q: Okay, let’s go on to the next question. While we’re talking about the downtown here, what do you remember most about shopping downtown? Do you remember anything about what was downtown –the stores to go to to shop at?

MOELLENKAMP: Meeske’s and Busse’s.

Q: Busse’s what? Grocery store?

MOELLENKAMP: Grocery store.

Q: What about Coal and Willie’s Lumber?


Q: And how about for shoes? There was no shoe store? How about everyday clothing?

MOELLENKAMP: We went to Chicago.

Q: You went to Chicago for everyday clothing or Sunday clothing?

MOELLENKAMP: Sunday clothes.

Q: And your mother made. …

MOELLENKAMP: Mother made the clothes for everyday.

Q: And then for hardware items you went to where?

MOELLENKAMP: Busse-Bierman.

Q: And farm equipment and supplies?

MOELLENKAMP: Busse’s and Willie’s Implement.

Q: Maling: Implement.

MOELLENKAMP: Maling:’s and Busse.

Q: What about cars?

MOELLENKAMP: Albert Busse.

Q: It was all Busse’s, huh? Did you buy a car there?


Q: A Buick?


Q: Where were the stores located at downtown? What was the local area today?

MOELLENKAMP: Right in the heart of the town.

Q: Did you know any of the owners that owned any of the stores? Who were some of the owners?

MOELLENKAMP: Busse –the grocery store.

Q: Yes. Did you known anybody that worked there?

MOELLENKAMP: Arthur Grimm.

Q: Were there any other stores in town that you knew the owners of?

MOELLENKAMP: Busse’s Creamery.

Q: Do you remember what some of the earliest factories in Mt. Prospect were? What were some of the factories?

MOELLENKAMP: A pickle factory.

Q: Do you know who owned the pickle factory, by chance?


Q: Where did those pickles come from?

MOELLENKAMP: The local farmers. The farmers raised the pickles and they delivered them.

Q: And then the creamery you were talking about, the milk came from where?

MOELLENKAMP: The farms –from the farmers.

Q: They were all dairy farmers at that time?

MOELLENKAMP: Dairy farms.

Q: Oh, really? I remember when I was a kid there were no dairy farms. It was all garden farming.


Q: Where were these businesses located? The pickle factory, where was that located?

MOELLENKAMP: Northwest Highway and Central.

Q: And the onion warehouse, at the same place?


Q: The creamery factory was on where?

MOELLENKAMP: Northwest Highway.

Q: Do you remember any particular interesting stories about the early factories, like the onion warehouse, per se? Do you remember any interesting stories about that?

MOELLENKAMP: Well, they were stored in there in the winter, and in the spring they were sold and the warehouse was empty. In the fall they had dances.

Q: You had dances there?


Q: Was there anything interesting about those dances?

MOELLENKAMP: No. We went there and had dances. I danced with Selma Meyer, and the following week I made a date to pick her up.

Q: Yes, and then what?

MOELLENKAMP: We went out to barn dances.

Q: You and Selma?


Q: And that’s the woman you married, right?


Q: That’s wonderful. Other than stores and businesses, which were buildings that were downtown, is there anything different downtown that we had?

MOELLENKAMP: Dr. Wolfarth.

Q: Where was he located? Prospect Avenue, if I can remember.

MOELLENKAMP: Prospect Avenue.

Q: Yes, I remember him very well. He put a few stitches in my head. He was a great doctor. He was a volunteer fireman. I can’t say enough about him. Now, back to the days of transportation, Dad. How did the people at first get to go downtown? How did they arrive? What was their transportation?

MOELLENKAMP: Horse and buggy.

Q: Was there a particular night you would go down, or during the day?

MOELLENKAMP: During the day.

Q: To bring milk to the. ..

MOELLENKAMP: Creamery, and to go grocery shopping, right in town.

Q: There were no special events, like dances or anything like that.


Q: Do you remember the first train station? Do you remember it being built, or anything about the first train station in Mt. Prospect?

MOELLENKAMP: Well, the only thing I know is John Coleman was the .

Q: Do you remember how often trains would come through town a day?

MOELLENKAMP: Well, at certain hours.

Q: Were they steam or diesel?


Q: Do you remember riding on the trains?


Q: Where did you go?

MOELLENKAMP: Chicago, shopping for clothes. Suits, I bought suits.

Q: How often would you do that?

MOELLENKAMP: Once or twice a year.

Q: That was a big event for you. Did the whole family go then?

MOELLENKAMP: No, at certain times, with Mother, if we needed suits.

Q: Whoever needed a suit went with Ma, huh?


Q: So if you wore out your suit more often than anybody else, then you got to ride on the trains more often than anybody else, was that it?


Q: They were shipping freight into Mt. Prospect. What kind of freight were they bringing into here?

MOELLENKAMP: Sugar beets.

Q: They were shipping sugar beets out of Mt. Prospect.

MOELLENKAMP: Out of Mt. Prospect, yes.

Q: What were they shipping into Mt. Prospect?

MOELLENKAMP: Coal, lumber, to Willie’s.

Q: Oh, to Willie’s?


Q: Let me ask you a question, and I’m going to let you think about this for a minute: Is there anything special that you’d like to add about living in Mt. Prospect all these years? Is there anything, like highlights, that you enjoyed the most?

MOELLENKAMP: We went grocery shopping, and Fourth of July picnics in the grove, right in town.

Q: Tell us something about the picnics. What did you do at the picnics?

MOELLENKAMP: Sang –the children sang, and they had programs.

Q: Any sporting events?

MOELLENKAMP: I don’t know what else they did –they had the ice cream.

Q: That was a big treat?

MOELLENKAMP: Yes, all they could eat. It was jump-the-rope.

Q: Jump rope, you mean when a girl would each hold the rope and a guy, or somebody, would jump in the middle?

MOELLENKAMP: Yes, that’s right.

Q: I even remember doing that. Is there anything else you’d like to comment [on since] you’ve lived in Mt. Prospect here ninety years? Let’s see, you just turned ninety, what was it, January what?


Q: Ninety years old. You’re looking in great health, and I’m sure you’re going to be around for a long time, God willing.


Q: Well, Emil –or Dad, I should say –thank you very much for participating in this interview. I’m sure future generations will be enlightened to hear what you had to say. Thank you.

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