South Side of Square

Sarah Arabella ("Bella") Huntzinger, wife of Fairfield IA grocer Gus Unkrich.

Sarah Arabella (“Bella”) Huntzinger (1850-1927), wife of Fairfield Iowa grocer Gus Unkrich. Captioned “Bella Huntzinger Unkrich” in Huntzinger album. Photograph inscribed on back, “To Frank & Ella, Happy New Year.” No photographer, no date, but taken after 1881, when Bella’s brother Frank married Ella Sheward. Paper blindstamped B. F. K. Rives along upper left margin.

The fourth of Sarah (Rudy) and Franklin B. Huntzinger’s eight children, Bella was born on September 16, 1850 in Pennsylvania. Her parents brought the family in 1856 to Fairfield Iowa, where her father built and operated flour-mills and helped found the local Lutheran Church.

Bella married Fairfield grocer Gustave Adolph Unkrich in about 1870, and over the next 15 years the couple had four children: Maggie Maude, who married Hurse E. Wisecarver; Charles Rudy, who married Sarah E. McKay; Clarence Adolph, and Charlotte Louisa, both of whom died in childhood.

Bella died on April 25, 1927, some eight months after her husband, and was buried with him in the Old Fairfield Cemetery. Visit the Find A Grave Memorial to Sarah Arabella Huntzinger Unkrich.

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Gus and Sarah's daughter.

Charlotte Louise (or Louisa) Unkrich (1885-1889), daughter of Gustave A. and Sarah Arabella (Huntzinger) Unkrich. Captioned “Charlotte Unkrich” in Huntzinger album. No photographer, no date, but ca. 1888.

The youngest of the four children of Fairfield grocer Gus A. Unkrich and his wife Bella, Charlotte was born on March 24, 1885 in Fairfield, Iowa. She died on October 25, 1889. The Fairfield Ledger commented, “A sad affliction has fallen upon the family of Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Unkrich of this city in the death of their youngest daughter, Charlotte Louise, which occurred Friday. She was a bright little child in the fifth year of her age, and her death resulted after an illness of two weeks from diphtheria. The funeral occurred Saturday afternoon, services being conducted by Rev. Chatham, pastor of the Lutheran church. (Fairfield Ledger, Oct. 30, 1889, p. 3, col. 3; in vol. 4 of Jefferson County Records.)

Charlotte was buried in the Old Fairfield City Cemetery; her Find A Grave Memorial is here.

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Sarah and Gus Unkrich's daughter.

Maggie Maude Unkrich (1871-1942), daughter of Gustave A. and Sarah Arabella (Huntzinger) Unkrich. Captioned “Maude Unkrich Wisecarver” in Huntzinger album. Photograph inscribed on back, “[To] Aunt Ella.” No photographer, no date, but ca. 1895.

Maude was born on September 2, 1871 in Fairfield, Iowa, the oldest of the four children of Fairfield grocer Gus A. Unkrich and his wife Bella, On September 6, 1893, four days after her twenty-second birthday, she married Fairfield clothier Hurse (also spelled Hirsh) E. Wisecarver. In about 1903 Hurse partnered with William H. Mohr in the firm of Wisecarver & Mohr, selling clothes on the west side of the Square at 54 North Main St. until about 1916. Hurse then became a real-estate agent upstairs at 60 South Main St., while Mohr continued tailoring at the old location with Harry O. Crow, who later carried on the business there by himself.

Maggie and Hurse had two children: Ruth (born July 1894), who evidently married Walter H. Johnson, and Harold E. (born September 5, 1907), who married Elsie C. Schulz in 1939. Maggie, Hurse and Harold lived at 202 West Madison during the 1920s and 1930s.

Maude died on June 27, 1942, and was buried in the Old Fairfield Cemetery. Her Find A Grave Memorial is here. Hurse died in 1952, and was buried with Maude.

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son of Gua and Sarah Unkrich of Fairfield Iowa.

Charles Rudy Unkrich (1874-1949), son of Gustave A. and Sarah Arabella (Huntzinger) Unkrich. Captioned “Rudy Unkrich” in Huntzinger album. Photograph inscribed on back, “C. R. Unkrich age 15 years.” No photographer, no date, but ca. 1889-1890.

The second of the four children of Fairfield grocer Gus A. Unkrich and his wife Bella, Rudy was born on May 1, 1874 in Fairfield, Iowa. He spent three years at the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Hahnemannian Literary Society, and became a homeopathic doctor after graduating from the Hering Medical College in Chicago in 1899.

Rudy then moved to Delavan in Walworth County, Wisconsin, where he practiced medicine and boarded with Harriet M. Folts, her son William, and her granddaughter Sarah Elizabeth McKay, a dry-goods saleswoman whom Rudy married on October 10, 1900. “The happy couple will be at home after November 1st, 1900, Delavan, where the doctor has a splendid practice….” (Wilson A. Smith, ed., “The Medical Visitor,” Chicago: Halsey Bros., 1900, Vol. 16, p. 684.) Rudy and Sarah’s son Donald McKay Unkrich was born in Iowa around October of 1905.

By January 1906, Rudy and his family had moved to Monmouth, Warren Co., Illinois, where Rudy specialized in diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat, treating patients at his office at No. 87, south side of the public square, and living at 317 N. 3rd St. Their daughter Sarah E. was born in Illinois about 1910.

Around 1919 Rudy and his family moved to Whitewater, Walworth Co., Wisconsin, where Rudy remained for the rest of his life. He died in the Lakeland Hospital in Elkhorn on Nov. 29, 1949, aged 75, of uremia, fracture of the left hip due to a fall and arteriosclerosis.

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son of Gus and Sarah Unkrich of Fairfield IA.

Clarence Adolph Unkrich (1877-1896), son of Gustave A. and Sarah Arabella (Huntzinger) Unkrich. Captioned “Clarence Unkrich” in Huntzinger album. Photograph inscribed on back, “[To?] Ralph.” Photographed by J. B. Myers, Fairfield. No date, but Jesse B. Myers was active in Fairfield 1892-1896; photo taken ca. 1894.

The third of the four children of Fairfield grocer Gus A. Unkrich and his wife Bella, Clarence was born on April 17, 1877 in Fairfield, Iowa. He died on February 2, 1896, evidently of “La Grippe,” now known as influenza or the flu. Clarence was buried in the Old Fairfield Cemetery; his Find A Grave Memorial is here.

Gustave Adolph Unkrich, prominent Fairfield Iowa grocer.

Gustave Adolph Unkrich (1845-1926), prominent Fairfield grocer. Captioned “G. A. Unkrich” in Huntzinger album. No photographer, no date.

Born in Germany on April 21, 1845 to John H. and Fredericka L. (Gerson) Unkrich, Gus immigrated with his parents to the U.S. in 1859. His father was a government officer in Europe who came to America for his health, but died in Round Prairie Township the following year. Gus was living in Albia, Iowa in 1864 when he enlisted in the Civil War and served for 100 days in Co. G of the 46th Iowa Infantry. After the war he moved to Fairfield and opened a grocery store on the west side of the Park. His stock of “Family Groceries” included coffee, tea, sugar, molasses, candies, cheese, crackers, spices, soaps, tobacco, cigars, pipes, oysters, sardines and other fish, and fruit both canned and dried.

Gus moved his assortment of groceries, wooden and earthen ware, tobacco and fruit into J. W. Gilchrist’s new store at 56 S. Main in 1867; two years later he bought the property on the south side of the Square at 54 W. Burlington, where he remained for some 20 years.

Around 1870 Gus married Sarah Arabella (“Bella”) Huntzinger, a daughter of Sarah and Franklin B. Huntzinger, and Gus sold his miller father-in-law’s flour at his store. Over the next 15 years Gus and Bella had four children: Maggie Maude, Charles Rudy, Clarence Adolph, and Charlotte Louisa. Maggie Maude married Hurse E. Wisecarver and Charles Rudy married Sarah E. McKay; the younger two children died in childhood.

The 1870s were evidently creative years for Gus, who played Festus in the cantata “Belshazzar” when it premiered in 1875 at Semon’s beautiful new Opera House, built that year at 50-52 W. Burlington, right next door to Gus’s grocery. The inventive grocer also patented an oil-cabinet in 1876 and an improved ventilator in 1877.

In 1876 Bella’s next-younger sister Elizabeth Katherine married Frank A. Jones, who then went into business with Gus until 1880. Jones succeeded Robert Rudy Huntzinger, Sarah and Elizabeth’s younger brother, who had partnered with Gus until June 1876. His health ever precarious. R. R. Huntzinger died in January 1884 at the age of 29.

Here is a photo of Gus Unrich’s grocery store on the south side of the Square in 1876, together with an advertisement of his from 1888.

Gus was a prominent member of Jefferson Lodge No. 4, I.O.O.F., and was on the Odd Fellows’ building committee which in 1882 planned to build a three-story brick block and lodge at 51 E. Broadway. Finally deciding that the block would be too expensive, they purchased Semon’s Opera House at 50-52 W. Burlington the following year and rebuilt it for their lodge upstairs, next door east of Gus’s grocery.

Gus, his wife Belle, and their children Maud, Rudy and Clarence were living at the west end of “2nd South St,” now Washington St., in the 1885 Iowa State Census. In 1886, Gus circulated a subscription paper to raise money for a new bandstand in the Park. Octagonal in shape and measuring 16 x 20 feet, the new bandstand was dedicated that August with a memorable concert by the C. B. & Q. Band.

On November 20, 1888 the Fairfield Ledger praised Gus thus: “To successfully conduct a first-class grocery establishment requires not only ability and energy, and a knowledge of the varying influences that affect the trade, but also the faculty of anticipating the ever changing tastes in food products in the community… Mr. Unkrich’s stock is … one of the most complete and extensive in the city, and his business methods are such as to entice trade from less liberal dealers. Personally Mr. Unkrich is an affable and pleasant gentleman, with whom it is a pleasure to do business…[He enjoys] wide popularity and yearly increasing prosperity[, is] prominent alike in business and social circles, and highly esteemed by all classes of citizens.”

Sometime between 1900 and 1910 Gus and his wife moved to Des Moines, where Gus again sold groceries, but by 1920 they had returned to Fairfield, where they resided at 204 S. Main St. Gus died on August 17, 1926; Bella died eight months later. The couple are buried together in the Old Cemetery in Fairfield.

Find A Grave Memorial to Gustave A. Unkrich…

Gus Unkrich's Grocery at 54 W. Burlington Ave., Fairfield, IA.

Gus Unkrich’s Grocery at 54 W. Burlington in 1876, with advertisement from the Fairfield Weekly Journal, 1888 (advertisement courtesy of Janet Roberts). For about 20 years Gus sold groceries, including his father-in-law’s flour, at this spot. Select here for a photo and brief bio of Gus Unkrich.
Select here to meet Gus Unkrich’s brother-in-law, Frank Huntzinger and family and see a video of the south side.

Picture courtesy of Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Iowa.

Just left of center, the brick double block of 54-56 West Burlington was built in 1872 and 1873 by pioneer Fairfield miller Franklin B.Huntzinger and his wife Sarah (Rudy).

At 54 West Burlington behind the pump-handle in the street, the sign “G. A. Unrich, Groceries” advertises the store of Gustave A. Unkrich (1845-1926), who immigrated from Germany and did business at this spot for over 20 years. Just beneath, a sign informs us that German is spoken here. Gus married Sarah Arabella Huntzinger, the fourth of eight children of Franklin B. and Sarah Huntzinger, and Gus sold his father-in-law’s flour at his store.

Another sign jutting out below advertises “Unkrich & Jones, Glass & Queensware.” (Queensware was a creamy-white pottery made by Wedgewood.) In 1876 Frank A. Jones married Sarah’s next-younger sister, Elizabeth Katherine Huntzinger, and went into business with Gus until 1880. Jones succeeded Robert Rudy Huntzinger, Sarah and Elizabeth’s younger brother, who had partnered with Gus until June 1876. His health ever precarious. R. R. Huntzinger died in January 1884 at the age of 29.

In the rooms above Unkrich & Jones’s store, Prof. R. M. Fish taught the pupils of his Fairfield High School in 1876-77.

Great details! Notice the dog running across Burlington avenue towards the horse, the colorful barber pole on the sidewalk, and one of three water pumps at the corners of the park, located here in the middle of Burlington and Main.

Select here for the still photo from the Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Iowa.