Does MPHS have photographs: Yes
Address in MP: 21 S. Emerson
Birth Date: January 1, 1896
Death Date: August 24, 1971
Spouse: Elsie Meyn
Children: Edward J, Wallace E.
Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments:
If you look carefully at the building on the eastern corner of Northwest Highway and Emerson Street, you can still see Edwin Busse’s name carved into downtown Mount Prospect. Edwin Busse was both a business man and a local leader. For many years he ran Busse Market out of the building at the corner of Northwest Highway and Emerson. Later that building became the home of Annen and Busse Realty, which his sons helped run. He also served as the village Clerk from 1824 through 1941, he was a member of the Mount Prospect Volunteer Fire Department for 43 years and served on the School District 57 board.
Date of Interview: November 21, 1969
Interviewer: Meta Bitner, Edith Wilson, Doris Weber
Text of Oral History Interview:
Q: …Friday afternoon, November 21, Maida Bittner, Edith Wilson, Doris Weber from the Mount Prospect Historical Society interviewing Mr. Edwin Busse who lives at 21 South Emerson, Mount Prospect.
EDWIN BUSSE: …went to school in ________ …doctor, and he pronounced her dead before she got in the hospital. I had a housekeeper first, and now I’ve got a housekeeper. She was born in Germany.
Q: Were you born in Germany?
Q: And your father was which Busse?
BUSSE: Edward Busse.
Q: He never lived in Mount Prospect.
BUSSE: Oh, yes, sure.
Q: Did he?
BUSSE: He lived across from –first we lived about the grocery store, and that was 1902, and then he built a house by where Beigle’s Restaurant was –that restaurant in there. He built a house there, and they moved that house over to –I think it’s the second or third house from the corner there. Then he built that house. He also built this house.
Q: Oh, that house right across the street.
BUSSE: Yes. Then when I got married this fellow living in here was getting sick and tired of Mount Prospect so my dad bought this house then I moved in here. Of course, I had to pay him out.
Q: Oh, sure. That always comes into it.
BUSSE: Then my dad built that one, and then he moved in there, and now my sister is living there.
Q: And his sister is quite ill, too, and it’s hard for him to go across the street to visit her.
BUSSE: And my sister can’t come over here.
Q: I saw you going across the street with your cane one day…
BUSSE: Yes, some days.
Q: …and I wondered whether you should.
BUSSE: Well, maybe I shouldn’t but I did anyhow.
Q: Now, you were born in 1896.
BUSSE: 1896, January 1.
BUSSE: In Elk Grove, Algonquin Road.
Q: And his father was Mr. and Mrs. Edward Busse.
Q: Where did you go to school?
BUSSE: At St. John’s in Elk Grove.
Q: And he married the Meyn girl.
BUSSE: They lived across the street, so all I had to do was jump across the road there and I was…
Q: Do you mean right over here where Christian Busse –over in that area?
Q: Right across the street here.
BUSSE: The house is still there where my wife was born.
Q: After school what was your first job?
BUSSE: My first job was –well, from school I went to Metropolitan Business College for fourteen months, and I graduated there with a ninety-five-and-two-thirds percent average.
Q: Oh, that’s great.
Q: …said they put siding on it.
Q: Yes, well, now I think everything is working fine.
Q: You say there were how many children in your class in St. John’s?
Q: Ninety-six children. That’s a lot of children, isn’t it, for one teacher? And your teacher was Fred Meeske?
BUSSE: No, Paul Meeske.
Q: Who was Paul Meeske? Is that Fred Meeske’s father?
BUSSE: Fred Meeske’s father, yes.
Q: There were various grades in the one room?
BUSSE: Four classes.
Q: And he was able to teach all four classes at the same time.
BUSSE: Yes. He lined us up from one end of the school to the other.
Q: I don’t think we got the part about you pumping the organ.
BUSSE: Oh, in church Sunday mornings we had to pump the organ so we could get air to run it.
Q: Yes, and you did the pumping.
BUSSE: Well, we took our turns.
Q: Would you forget to pump once in a while?
BUSSE: I’ll say.
Q: That was a hard job to pump, wasn’t it?
BUSSE: Oh, no, it wasn’t hard. It was a tedious job, you know.
Q: You had to keep after it continuously. I suppose some of those long pieces lasted forever.
Q: After you left business college and you got your first job, when did you get the store?
BUSSE: Then I went to work for the Continental and Commercial National Bank.
Q: How long were you with them?
BUSSE: I worked there for about five years or something like that.
Q: You didn’t work there with Mr. Biermann, Frank Biermann?
BUSSE: I’ll come to that.
BUSSE: I worked there, and then the boss said to me, “Say, have you got any more guys like you out there?”
Q: A good worker.
BUSSE: You know, I always –he was a lot of times a funny guy.
Q: If you knew a friend, huh?
BUSSE: I said, “I’ll see once what I can do.” He said, “Yes, tell him to corne in,” and then I took Frank along.
Q: That’s Frank Biermann.
BUSSE: Yes. He started to work there, and then pretty soon William Busse said to me –I was about ready to get married. I was getting about seventy dollars a month over by the bank, and he said, “We need somebody to take care of the store. I don’t want my wife to work all her life. You can keep the books and take care of the store. We’ll find plenty to do for you.” So I worked over there for five years. Of course, they gave me a raise. I was getting seventy-five dollars a month…
Q: That was good money in those days.
BUSSE: …and I saved six dollars and forty cents, which was the carfare a month then. See, I saved that.
Q: How much were you able to put away in the bank?
Q: He’s not saying.
Q: It was a laugh in those days, too?
BUSSE: Getting married and putting away in the bank? A lot of that old stuff I threw out. We’d have electric bills, oh, a dollar or a little more than a dollar. We could live cheaper then.
Q: You probably could save, couldn’t you, on that. When did you go into business for yourself?
BUSSE: And then I went in with my dad. He said, “Come on. I can get you in the union now” –a big deal. “I can get you in the union now.” He was organizing the union, and he said, “You can work in the bottling plant.” So I went over there until 1925, then my dad started to –oh, and by the way, I was getting seventy –nineteen dollars a week with the union in the bottling plant.
Q: Where was the bottling plant?
BUSSE: Where Schimming’s is now. And then in 1925 my dad put the building up. That’s where Van Oriel is in now. And he said, “You know, I want one of my boys in business in the building here,” and then I became a butcher.
Q: And he had a nice store.
Q: Oh, yes. Your pot roasts were so delicious.
BUSSE: And then I became a butcher. I hired a union butcher, and I opened up in August, and the rest.
Q: August of what year?
BUSSE: 1925. Then my butcher goes and dies. I don’t know whether he died in the back room or whether he got home yet. Anyhow, he died, and there I was sitting. Now what are you going to do? Make an attempt at it yourself. So from then on I …
Q: You learned how to do the business.
BUSSE: I learned how to do the business with the help of salesman. They would tell me what to do and I would do it. But I didn’t make much money the first year.
Q: Where was your first home after you were married?
BUSSE: Right here.
Q: Right here at 21 South Emerson.
BUSSE: Then I plugged along. My sister worked for me, and we got along all right. Then I’d hire boys, you know. Some of the boys that I turned out over there that worked for me in the beginning were Sandy Falkinzer. I don’t know whether you know him.
Q: I know Sandy Falkinzer. I know them. I don’t think they live in town anymore, the Falkinzers.
BUSSE: No, they live in Palatine.
Q: Oh, I remember them, yes.
Q: He was a nice boy.
BUSSE: And he was a good boy. Richard Carlson, he married an Anderson girl –the real estate man. And Koesters.
Q: Lawrence Koester’s son.
BUSSE: Lawrence Koester’s son. He had two of them, didn’t he?
Q: Yes, and a girl.
BUSSE: I think the boys both worked for me. Some are doctors, some are dentists, and that’s the way I needed them. High school, and then when they graduated from there then they went.
Q: What was Christmas like in the Busse household?
BUSSE: Well, very lean in the beginning.
Q: Did the family come here?
BUSSE: We went around –one Christmas here, one Christmas by my brother, and one Christmas by my mother. That’s the way we treated New Year’s, too –well, New Year’s we most generally landed here, see, because I had my birthday and we always celebrated it.
Q: He was born January 1. He’s a New Year’s baby.
BUSSE: That’s the way we went around, with my mother, all holidays.
Q: Did you celebrate the two days together or separate?
BUSSE: No, together.
Q: What was the favorite food? Was turkey usually the Christmas meal or goose?
BUSSE: Turkey, goose. Ducks –they weren’t big enough.
Q: It helped to have a store in those days, to bring home all the goodies.
Q: How large a family would collect at a place on a holiday? Would there be a dozen or more together?
BUSSE: Oh, sometimes more. It all depends. When my wife’s relatives all come, why, then, that would be quite a collection.
Q: She was the daughter of Mr. Meyn.
Q: And a sister of the Meyn who lives on the corner down here, right? Mr. Meyn, you know –Mr. and Mrs. Meyn.
Q: No, I don’t.
Q: He was the blacksmith. Mr. Meyn had the blacksmith shop in town.
Q: And was it his son who was the village president years ago?
BUSSE: No, he was.
Q: The village blacksmith.
Q: Well, I shouldn’t say that. A blacksmith shop he had.
BUSSE: Blacksmith and machinery.
Q: Yes, he could do all sorts of things. First it was down- the street here –isn’t that right, Mr. Busse? –on Northwest Highway and Busse Avenue.
BUSSE: John Meyn, my wife’s father, he had a blacksmith shop over here on this corner where that house is standing now — where the gas station is. He had a shop there, and that’s where I met my wife, right across the street.
Q: Well, courting was easy then.
Q: Did you flirt?
Q: Sure, he flirted. What are you asking?
BUSSE: What did you do?
Q: She’s blushing.
BUSSE: I suppose we did the same thing you did.
Q: Look at her blush.
BUSSE: She didn’t expect that.
Q: No, we kidded her.
Q: Shall we go back to the grocery store?
Q: Yes, let’s go back to the grocery store.
Q: Well, then, Mr. Meyn, his father –he took over his father’s business then, is that it?
BUSSE: No. They were competitors for a while.
Q: Oh, is that so?
BUSSE: Why don’t you girls sit down?
Q: Okay, we will.
BUSSE: Pull up the chairs if they aren’t close enough.
Q: This is fine. I’ll just put my stuff on the floor.
BUSSE: But there was a blacksmith shop there, and it was for sale. Then the bought that man out, see. That’s how he got in the business. And he had another son home that could do blacksmith work that worked for his father, but he turned out to be a grocery man, too. That was on the south –who is in there now? J&B.
Q: J & B Market.
Q: Where was your market?
BUSSE: Where Annen & Busse is in.
Q: And, now, this house that was built across from the Mehling Store, wasn’t that a Meyn?
BUSSE: That way?
Q: Yes, Main Street. That was a blacksmith.
BUSSE: That was the only one that was there.
Q: That was the blacksmith shop.
BUSSE: And the blacksmith.
Q: You mean that is the original building that’s still standing?
Q: No, that’s gone.
Q: It isn’t there, I don’t think, anymore, that original.
BUSSE: No. that’s there ~et.
Q: Is this that original Meyn …?
BUSSE: Not the first one, but this one, all the kids were raised in there.
Q: The one on the corner of Route 83 and Main?
BUSSE: No, across from Route 83 and Main.
Q: Across the street from _________.
BUSSE: There is a bunch of stores in there.
Q: Yes, and then there’s the big house.
BUSSE: There is a big house. That’s the one that the Meyns raised.
Q: Oh, that is. I often wondered who lived in that house. That’s quite a beautiful house, isn’t it.
BUSSE: It must have been. They’ve got pictures of the house when it was built. Mrs. Herman Meyn has pictures of that. But then I started that meat market, and then I was elected village clerk about 1924. I became village clerk, and I was village clerk until 1945.
Q: What was one of the most important matters that came up while you were village clerk?
Q: Everything was important.
Q: Anyone particular thing that impressed you _______ that you worked harder on?
BUSSE: Paving. Paving the streets.
Q: Widening the streets?
Q: The streets were gravel before?
BUSSE: It was mud and gravel, yes.
Q: Wooden sidewalks?
BUSSE: We had wooden sidewalks when we first moved here. Street paving, all the underground work, sewers stubs, water –that was all put in while I was clerk. Then we’d have meetings until twelve, one o’clock –you know how the meetings go –and then they’d pass some bonds for Milburn Brothers. Milburn did all the paving here.
Q: Where did you meet?
BUSSE: Under the water tower, that little room, and that was I so full of smoke all the time. When I got home, three days later I’d smell of smoke yet.
Q: There was a little lean-to between the well and the water tower.
BUSSE: No, that was just a building.
Q: That building where you used to go to pay your water rent and things. It was the police station, too.
Q: It was just a little twelve-by-twelve …
Q: It’s still there.
Q: Yes, but it’s bricked-up now. It looks different, doesn’t it’?
Q: Isn’t it just as it was?
BUSSE: I think so.
Q: I think so, yes.
Q: It’s brick?
BUSSE: No. Wooden, I’m pretty sure.
Q: It looks like an old shed.
BUSSE: You know, imagine the guys sitting around there, and around on the outside yet there were some more smoking. Everybody was smoking, and I never smoked in my life.
Q: You never did.
BUSSE: Never did.
Q: And I’d inhale all that smoke, and that’s where I got my emphysema from now, I guess.
Q: They say that it’s worse to inhale someone else’s smoke than to smoke yourself. I heard that.
BUSSE: Well, that’s where I got mine from.
Q: And your clothes all smelled of smoke, and your wife didn’t like it.
Q: She probably thought you were smoking.
BUSSE: Two days later the house smelled of smoke yet.
Q: Who else was on the village board that helped to make decisions at the same time that you were clerk?
BUSSE: Well, William Busse.
Q: Shall I go and get the picture out there on the porch?
Q: I think it lists those names.
Q: Here there are a .lot of names. There is one Henjes.
Q: Who was he? Only in the history of Mount Prospect did I run across that.
BUSSE: He married into the Busse family.
Q: Where did he come from, Germany?
BUSSE: Well, they all came from Germany.
Q: These papers that you’re weeding through out on the back porch now, does this have to do just with your store? Any Busse family…?
Q: Here, Maida. Here’s the picture of the whole group that was on his village board.
Q: Isn’t this wonderful he saved all this.
BUSSE: At different times.
Q: Oh, save these papers, Mr. Busse, please. They have so much valuable information on them. It’s good your wife permitted you to keep all these, you know. A lot of wives throw out everything.
Q: We’d appreciate it if you didn’t throw any newspapers away because we’re saving and compiling some of these clippings in the old newspapers.
BUSSE: There is Bittner. Do you remember this quilt?
Q: That’s one that everybody did some embroidery on, isn’t it?
Q: Oh, look at that quilt. Isn’t that beautiful. Everyone’s name.
Q: Oh, Marie Moehling.
Q: Isn’t that beautiful. Red and white.
Q: Isn’t that pretty. Let’s see some of these names.
Q: How many signatures are on there? Is this sort of a family quilt?
BUSSE: No, anybody could get in there.
Q: That resided in Mount Prospect.
Q: Who made this, your wife?
Q: The Ladies’ Aid.
Q: When? What year? Do you remember about when?
Q: Jessie Miller, Anna Olson.
Q: Olga Luckner, Ethel Wille, Elvina Albert.
BUSSE: Ethel Wille was my brother’s wife, or is my brother’s wife.
Q: Elizabeth Bussert.
Q: Elvina William Wilke.
BUSSE: Look here.
Q: Do you want to read some of those and tell us who they are?
Q: Emma Busse.
Q: There is Emma Busse, Edwin Busse –that’s you.
Q: Marjorie Earhart.
Q: Isn’t this marvelous.
Q: Yes, she’s married now.
Q: Christina Behren –Christina Busse.
BUSSE: My uncle, my aunt.
Q: Emma Busse. Elsie Meyn, Christine Meyn, John Meyn, here.
Q: Jeannie Busse.
Q: Tillie Ehard. She’s gone a long time.
BUSSE: Look here.
Q: Edwin, yes.
Q: Elsie Meyn. Was that before you were married that you got…?
BUSSE: That was before we were married.
Q: Christina Meyn.
Q: Before you were married. How about that.
BUSSE: We kind of figured it out. That would be about. ..
Q: You’ve had your fiftieth anniversary.
BUSSE: Yes, that was two years ago. That might be about, oh, a little less than fifty-five years.
Q: Henry Clousing.
Q: Remember, Henry Clousing, the house that we’re so interested in. Anna Clousing, Anna Muenching.
BUSSE: And that would be a good house for that.
Q: Yes, it would.
BUSSE: I’ve been thinking about that.
Q: Did you hear about that house?
BUSSE: I heard it was sold.
Q: For taxes, and nobody knew anything about it. That’s what the village said.
Q: Here we’ve been after it for so long.
BUSSE: Well, Wallace had it for sale. Wallace had it for sale when Mrs. Clousing finally died.
Q: Clara Koch.
Q: Mary _________.
BUSSE: And he had it sold. He sold it for twenty-eight thousand dollars. Then the deal couldn’t go through because –what did _________ say –the attorney said there was fifty-four errors to it and they couldn’t get the signatures.
Q: And that’s about six years ago, or something like that?
Q: Caroline Zingfel.
Q: We have her signature on the checks that we got from the library.
BUSSE: That’s since he’s been in that business there. He left me, oh, I don’t know what it was, about 1960 or 1959.
Q: Gertie Busse.
Q: Did he work for you?
BUSSE: Wallace? Oh, sure.
Q: Wallace Clousing?
BUSSE: No, Wallace Busse. He’s in real estate. He’s manager here now.
Q: Which Scharinghausen was this, I wonder, M?
BUSSE: That might be Walter.
Q: Walter’s wife or mother?
BUSSE: No, they’re much younger than I am.
Q: Mrs. Spoerlater’s sister.
BUSSE: Gertie Busse.
Q: Christian D. Busse. He was the first…
Q: He lived across the street.
Q: Bertha Ehart.
Q: Oh, no.
Q: Bertha Engel.
Q: Yes, Bertha Ehart, Bertha Engleking. That was her mother, wasn’t it?
BUSSE: That was her mother, yes.
Q: And Joseph.
Q: Joseph Ehart lived down here on Maple.
Q: Well, this certainly is a choice thing.
BUSSE: We had it at the fiftieth golden anniversary when the village was fifty years old.
Q: You must treasure this.
Q: I don’t remember seeing it there.
BUSSE: Oh, they say it was –everybody was looking at it. The only thing that they were looking at.
Q: You must treasure this.
Q: He should.
BUSSE: Well, yes. When my father-in-law…
Q: You know who Rohlwings are. That was George L. Busse’s mother-in-law. Pfingsten, that’s his brother-in-law.
Q: You mean Jardell?
BUSSE: Jardell’s brother.
BUSSE: That’s another relationship of the Willes, the Oldendorfs.
Q: Stella Woerfel.
Q: That’s a long time. When is it?
BUSSE: Yes. They used to live in the house across the street here. There was a house.
Q: Herman Noll.
BUSSE: Yes, you know who Herman Noll is.
Q: I know Herman.
BUSSE: He’s a preacher in Prospect Heights now.
Q: I know Herman Noll.
BUSSE: We had a fellow staying here for a while. He begged to be able to move in here. He wanted to get away from the old peoples’ home, so he came in here and Herman Noll was his pastor.
Q: Is that so.
BUSSE: Yes. He didn’t belong to any church at all, and so he Herman Noll got acquainted with him somehow, and Herman Noll confirmed him, mind you. He confirmed him, and then he came over here and Herman Noll visited him over at the house here. He came in, and he said, “Hello, Edwin,” and I said, “Hello, Pastor.” He said, “Ach, ‘Pastor.’ What’s the matter with you, Edwin? I was raised in your backyard.” “I know that, but I still call you ‘Pastor.’ You’re a pastor and you deserve that title, to have us call you pastor.” He said, “Don’t do that. Just call me Herman.”
Q: Who were your brothers and sisters?
BUSSE: Just Christina Busse and Richard Busse. He’s dead now.
Q: He lived in the house right across the street here, remember?
BUSSE: Yes, when they put a parking lot there.
Q: We’re repeating some of these things, I guess.
Q: We missed part of the tape in the beginning, and I don’t know what part.
Q: What else would you like to tell us?
BUSSE: Forty-two years a fireman.
Q: At the time of Mr. Biermann?
Q: You should have heard Mr. Biermann last Monday night.
BUSSE: I was a fireman before Mr. Biermann was a fireman. Mr. Biermann was twenty-one years old in October, and I was twenty-one years old in January. That much older I am than Frank Biermann.
Q: And you had the opportunity to use the old fire equipment –the one-and-only original piece?
BUSSE: I drove the old fire truck for years.
Q: How did it ride?
BUSSE: For years I drove the first American of France fire truck that we had.
Q: What was the first fire, do you remember?