200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428
Jacob Jung, Sr.

Jacob Jung, Sr.

Author: Hannah E. Johnson, 2016


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Jacob Phillip Jung was born on February 9, 1850 in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois to parents Christian and Elizabeth (Brandenburger) Jung—both natives of Germany. Jung’s parents met in St. Louis, Missouri, but moved to Nauvoo around 1848. Considering that Jung’s father Christian built the first German Lutheran Church in Nauvoo, it is not a complete surprise that he is reported to have engaged in an armed conflict with the Mormons of the town and was subsequently imprisoned by them for a total of six weeks before making his escape. Christian is also credited with bringing the first Lutheran minister to Nauvoo, whom he boarded at his house for a year thereafter.

Jung was one of ten children born to Christian and Elizabeth, six of whom lived to adulthood. At the age of thirteen, he left home to pursue professional prospects in Keokuk, Iowa. There he worked for a banker by the name of H.K. Love for a short time before being “employed to ride horses across the line from Missouri into Illinois” for one summer while the Civil War was being fought. Afterward, Jung returned briefly to Keokuk and then continued his assorted occupational endeavors in Quincy, Illinois as an apprentice in the drug business for Dr. John W. Ritter. After almost two and a half years in Quincy, Jung spent four months in St. Louis before briefly moving back to Nauvoo, from where he left to go to Bloomington in 1869. Once in Bloomington, Jung’s vocation of choice can be said to have finally started paralleling his father’s. Jung’s father was a plasterer and stone worker by trade. And, upon arriving in Bloomington, Jung worked as a stonecutter for a few months’ time before going on to apprentice as a marble cutter at Haldeman’s Marble Works for three years.

As an apprentice, Jung earned $3.50 per week, and received $4.50 per week for board. In order to supplement his income, Jung took on odd jobs like sawing wood for a nearby bakery on West Chestnut Street and carrying luggage for guests at the hotel he was boarding at—the Washington Hotel. Following the completion of his apprenticeship, Jung spent time in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and another two years in Nauvoo. From there he followed work to Alabama, which was cut short by the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, before making his way back to Bloomington for good.

Jung arrived in Bloomington July or August of that same year, having walked all the way from Alabama, without a penny to his name. According to an interview published in the Daily Bulletin in 1900, upon his arrival Jung had “not sat down to a table for a meal nor slept in a bed for more than five weeks.” Soon after he arrived, a former “friend and roommate” of his, Mr. T.W. Stevenson, recognized Jung on the street and offered to advance him money for some new clothing. To his friend’s offer, Jung replied, “No, these rags are mine and paid for. I might not be able to repay you.” To remedy his situation by his own means, Jung first approached a Mrs. Easterly who owned a boarding house on Grove Street. He offered labor in exchange for food and a bed, saying he “wanted to go to bed to satisfy the physical needs with a good rest even before the cravings of the inner man with food.” The next day he “went to work.” After fourteen months of working at “his trade” and taking on small projects, Jung’s fortunes began to improve.

In September 1878 Jung came into partnership with Hamer J. Higgins of the monument making company H.J. Higgins & Co., located on the 200 block of East Front Street. Higgins & Co. was the most recent iteration of the marble works at which Jung began apprenticing almost ten years prior—Haldeman’s. Higgins, also a former apprentice of Haldeman’s, worked there with Jung from 1869 to 1873.

Prior to Jung coming on as partner, Higgins & Co. faced some early financial troubles. After four years in business, however, the company’s cash woes had improved. In 1879, the firm was actively working to complete a series of projects valued at $8,000 and was able to undergo an expansion that allotted space for a new showroom. After the addition of the showroom, the company continued to make improvements to the location throughout their years in business. In 1883, the firm installed a wooden plank sidewalk outside their building, and three years later commenced construction of a new three-floor, marble-fronted building at the East Front Street address. Designed by local architect George Miller, the new building included three upstairs apartments available for rent, as well as a second storefront that was at times leased to other businesses. Miller worked closely with Higgins to personalize the Victorian Romanesque design. The facade of the building, complete with decorative marble pilasters and intricate carvings, was a testament to the owners’ craft.

As for the actual craftsmen who kept H.J. Higgins & Co. operational, it was reported in 1887 that Higgins kept “two men on the road and the whole force of employees range[d] from eighteen to twenty-five men.” In 1889, H.J. Higgins & Co. employed twenty men, paid their stonecutters $3.25 a day, and annually sold $50,000 worth of goods across eight or nine states. In 1890 Charles A. Kleinau, a stonecutter employed at the firm since 1878, joined the partnership with Higgins and Jung.

Press coverage in 1900 suggests that business for Higgins & Co. remained strong leading into the twentieth century. In July of that year, an advertisement taken out by the company lauded that “large cash contracts” closed in the previous year put the company in a position to offer customers the “greatest value that can be obtained anywhere.” The ad encouraged the customers in question to view the “three car-loads of stock monuments—more than our show rooms will contain,” before committing to a purchase elsewhere. And in an interview with Madame Annette for the Daily Bulletin that same year, Higgins claimed that Higgins & Co. had “in stock three times as much as the entire marble representation of all the businesses combined in 1877.”

In 1902, however, the firm lost a partner in Higgins, who passed away after succumbing to an abrupt illness. Following Higgins’s death, H.J. Higgins & Co. was renamed Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau, and reorganized as a stock company, with Jung as president, Kleinau as vice president, and former bookkeeper Ada Maxwell as secretary-treasurer. A company ledger from 1902 to 1903 indicates that ownership of the stock shifted slightly following Higgins’s death. At that time, the Higgins family held approximately 55 percent of the stock (down from 60), Jung maintained his 35 percent, and Kleinau owned 10 percent (up from five). At the time of his death, Higgins’s share was valued at $20,000.

Despite the founding owner’s demise, reports indicate that the firm was left in good hands. An article printed soon after the company’s reorganization pays special attention to the talents of Jung, stating, “Mr. Jung, under whose immediate direction all of the firm’s work is done, has made a life study of granite and marble cutting and has the true artist’s eye and delicacy of touch which give that indescribable effect of harmonious and beautiful outline and which distinguishes the work of art—the masterpiece from the ordinary patterned block.”

Jung and Kleinau continued to own and operate the business until each of their respective deaths in 1933; at which time, descendants of the three original partners continued in the same fashion until dissolving the company in 1956. An advertisement printed eight days after the death of Kleinau in August, 1933 states, “Higgins-Jung-Kleinau Co. will continue in business under the same policies in which they have operated during the past sixty years.”

In addition to Higgins’s eight children who were all stockholders in the company after 1902—with Higgins’s second wife Mary and son Frank serving as board members—Jung’s relations were also directly involved with the operations of the business before ownership changed hands. In June 1900, one of Jung’s stepsons by marriage to Mary Cannon, William Cannon, was employed as a stonecutter for the firm; and Jung’s biological son Jacob Phillip “Phil” Jung, Jr. worked for the firm in some capacity for almost thirty years from 1907 to 1936. In June 1940, Phil returned to the firm in the position of Director and President of the company.

As evidenced by the firm’s employment history, this company loyalty was not simply limited to familial relations. Ada Maxwell was employed with the firm for over forty-four years. Having been hired on as bookkeeper in September 1895, Maxwell came to serve as a director, secretary-treasurer, and was a stockholder. When Jung died in 1933, he left Maxwell with the rights and dividends from twelve shares of his stock in Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau. Maxwell retired from the firm in 1938-39. It is possible that Maxwell is to thank for much of the record keeping that prompted the Pantagraph to refer to the firm upon its closing as a “storehouse of local history.” According to S.P. Boozell, the manager at the time, as many as three generations of names were recorded on monuments created by the firm.

Considering that Higgins & Co. was in business for more than eight decades and enjoyed the demonstrable success that it did, the probability that the company would be commissioned to create a variety of noteworthy monuments throughout the region was relatively high. After all, “Higgins [was] one of the leaders in his line of business not alone in Bloomington but the central part of Illinois.” Though the creations of H.J. Higgins & Co. can to be traced to locales as far as Los Angeles, New York City, and Winnipeg, Canada, a selection of their more notable local works include: the Marie Litta (1884-85) and Joseph H. Melluish (1884) monuments, and the Bloomington Cemetery Vault (1888) at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery; the McLean County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (1912) at Miller Park in Bloomington; and the John Jackson Kemp Mausoleum (1892) at Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Illinois.

Commissioned by a group of Bloomington residents following the premature death of the locally renowned, internationally featured opera star in 1883, the monument for Marie Litta stands seventeen feet, five inches high and is composed of five separate pieces—all crafted from Barre, Vermont granite. The monument is embellished with a songbook and musical notes representing the career of the deceased, and is topped with a four-foot draped urn symbolizing eternal life. Higgins & Co. was prepared to install the monument in December 1884. However, residents elected not to erect the monument until July 4, 1885, so that weather conditions would better allow for a public ceremony.

Also constructed in 1884, the Joseph H. Melluish monument—fashioned in the sarcophagus style out of Quincy granite and erected on a spacious lot edged with granite coping—was described as “one of the handsomest and neatest stones in the cemetery.” Melluish was a well-known watchmaker and jeweler in Bloomington.

On April 20, 1912, the Pantagraph printed a photo depicting a single piece of grey granite destined to become the central column of the McLean County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Miller Park. The block of stone, weighing 65 tons and measuring just over four feet by thirty-two feet, was the largest piece of granite to be quarried by Woodbury Granite Company of Hardwick, Vermont. As can be inferred by the Pantagraph’s jocular mention that the “action of the committee may be said to be unique. Customary it is for committees to spend as much as they are allowed and then a little more,” the winning bid for construction of the monument surprisingly came in $8,000 under the city’s budgeted funds, at a total of $42,000. Woodbury Granite Co. beat out five other bids, including one by Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau. The latter estimated the cost of their work at $43,075—a price that may reflect the firm’s preference for Montello granite. Woodbury’s winning bid of $42,000 included the cost of eight bronze tablets, valued at $5,000, that include the names of 6,053 McLean County residents who fought in the American Revolution, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Mexican War, Civil War, and Spanish-American War. Though Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau did not win the bid, the company acted as the local representative for Woodbury Granite Co. throughout the completion of the project. The monument was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1913.

The bid for the Soldiers’ monument is not the only bid that the firm lost in its 80-year history. One other such example is when the firm, then still operating as H.J. Higgins & Co., lost the bid for construction of the Ella Martin monument in Minonk, Illinois. The question of who would design and construct the Martin monument was of particular interest owing to the gruesome details of the young girl’s death. Martin, age 17, was murdered by “Hannes” De Boer, also 17. Martin’s body was found in a cornfield, with cuts across her windpipe, a stab above her left eye, and bruising on her face. Despite her condition, Martin was able to provide testimony against her attacker before her death. Several monument companies from Peoria, Lacon, Bloomington, Pekin, Mendota, and Minonk bid for the design and construction of the Martin monument, including J.R. Haldeman—Jung and Higgins’s former boss. Higgins & Co. was awarded the design of the monument, but lost the bid for construction of the monument to Martin O’Connell of Minonk, who was able to underbid construction of Higgins & Co.’s design by more than $200. As reported, “the monument will be fourteen feet high in all; the shaft to be surmounted by a female figure two feet in hight [sic], and the whole to be executed in a very complete, elaborate and artistic, though simple, manner.” This description of the monument was later corrected in a letter to the editor of the Pantagraph by W.B. Moore, who had also travelled to Minonk to make a bid for construction of the monument. Moore was writing to correct the Pantagraph’s earlier report that Higgins & Co. was awarded both the design and construction of the monument, but also added:

“I wish here to correct a statement made by you as to the design, that would tend to mar the artistic and requisite proportions of the monument, and perhaps injure the reputation of the designers, unless corrected. You say that the monument is fourteen feet high, and the shaft is to be surmounted by a female figure two feet high. (Imagine a two-foot female figure on top of a fourteen foot monument.) Mr. Higgins made the specifications, and they demanded a female figure three feet high.

Respectfully, W.B. Moore”

The Ella Martin monument stands in Minonk Township Cemetery.

Of all the monuments created by Higgins & Co., Higgins was quoted as saying, “That is my masterpiece,” when referring to the John Jackson Kemp Mausoleum in Lexington. Built out of Indiana limestone, the face of the mausoleum stands twenty-two feet high, and covers a plot of land thirty-five by thirty-eight feet. Though the scale of the monument is significant in itself, the monument is especially noteworthy for its prominent placement atop a hill and for the unique statuary that adorns it—including a central marble angel placing flowers on a cross flanked on either side by two life-sized stone dogs. The design is complete with two large curved wings and four marble columns that enhance the gated entrance, above which Kemp’s name is engraved.

Not every monument created by Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau stood to memorialize a notable figure or to romanticize the act of passing from one life to the next, however. Considering most anecdotes in the monument making business have a tendency toward the macabre, it should be noted that an incident related to the purchase of a gravestone from Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau in 1910 made a particular impression on the press at the time. On November 17, the Pantagraph reported that the dead body of Chris G. Friedrich was found at the entrance to Bloomington Cemetery around 6:30 a.m. the morning before with a bullet hole in the head and a 32-caliber revolver “grasped tightly in the right hand.” The report indicates that prior to his confirmed suicide, Friedrich had purchased a grave plot from the cemetery and a monument from Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau in preparation of the act. Jung’s testimony at the inquest revealed that, “on October 25 last, Friedrich came into the marble shop. [Jung] asked him what he wanted and received the reply that it was none of his business.” Friedrich then left, only to return to purchase a monument for $75, asking that it be erected on October 29 in the position that he specified. “The stone was placed as he directed.”

On the day of the incident, Friedrich left a letter for Arthur J. Graves, the superintendent of the Bloomington Cemetery Association, requesting:

“Dear Sir:—Please arrange to put me in my grave. You will find me on my lot. Check enclosed is for the expenses to put me in my grave and take care of the grave. Check for $25 please hand to the Salvation Army. Yours truly, Chris O. Friedrich.”

The monument for Friedrich created by Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau was fashioned out of Indiana limestone in the style of a tree trunk, and can be found in Section 14, Lot 120 of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

As just evidenced, eighty years in business was not without minor hardships. In November 1879, the company suffered a small fire in its stable after a box of sulphur spontaneously combusted. Fortunately, the fire was extinguished before any damage was done. In April 1880, a marble monument situated on the sidewalk outside of the marble works was overturned and smashed by a “low-lived scoundrel.” The grave marker was valued at $22; and the bill was presented to the assailants—who were apprehended by Officer William G. Boyce, and who “promptly agreed to pay for it.” A call was put out to anyone in the market for a cheap tombstone, and a journalist reporting for the Pantagraph recommended that, “it would be well for lively young bums desirous of raising Hades generally to keep out of earshot of Officer Boyce’s bailiwick.” Then in June 1881, the firm found itself at the center of a lawsuit when a marble cutter by the name of Daniel Butler sued H.J. Higgins & Co. for failing to fulfill a contract of employment. Higgins & Co. denied the existence of such an agreement. The later outcome of the suit is unknown. In April 1913, stonecutter Fred C. Ebert, an immigrant from Germany and an employee of the firm for twenty-five years, met a mysterious end. After Ebert failed to arrive home one Friday evening, his wife and daughter went looking for him along his usual route. They found his body lying next to the I.E. & W. Railroad tracks between Lincoln and Lafayette Streets with a bullet hole in his left eye, and without any change in his pockets or a watch on his wrist. Due to lack of evidence and motive, the murder was never solved. Ebert’s son, Fred C. Ebert, Jr., became a stonecutter and worked at Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau until it closed.

Another challenge for any business is the threat of competition within the industry. In addition to Higgins & Co., Bloomington boasted two to three other monument making companies throughout the time that the firm was in business—the earliest of these being Haldeman’s. In 1889, it was reported that there were “several other marble shops in the city, employing from five to ten hands each.” That said, remarks such as, “this firm has met with remarkable success, all of which we are glad to note, for they are exemplary business men,” and the “reputation of Higgins & Co. as men who thoroughly understand their profession and turn out monuments of the most exquisite finish and design, has made them celebrated all over the State,” more than subtly allude to Higgins & Co.’s dominance in their field.

In 1882, H.J. Higgins & Co. was still receiving blocks of granite and marble from which their workers would carve grave markers. By 1900, however, the company was ordering more stock monuments on which their workers then only had to carve names and decoration. The firm regularly purchased granite from Jones Brothers Company in Barre, Vermont beginning in 1882. In October 1887, Higgins & Co. purchased an interest in the Wetmore and Morse Granite Company in Barry, New York.

Marble statuary of various styles and themes may grace a number of Higgins & Co. monuments, but the company did not carve these statues onsite. Rather, the company ordered all marble statuary from Vermont, or other eastern states, and had it transported to Bloomington via the railroad. Included in the sketchbooks are drafts of monuments that reflect this arrangement, as well as a shade of personality of at least one of the monument makers. That is to say, the pencil drawings of monument designs meant to be crowned with a statue are finished with a cutout catalogue or magazine image of the statue and pasted to the page in the appropriate place. In some cases, the catalogue images extend beyond the page and are folded over in the book. Despite the fact that the monument company did not carve statues of marble, the monument makers at Higgins & Co. did exercise their creative inclinations by occasionally carving small “whimsies” of various shapes out of spare scraps of granite or marble in their down time.

Though not strictly creative in terms of artistry of design, one inventive tactic utilized by the company—and evidenced in the sketchbooks—pertained to prices. In order to keep the competition at bay, Higgins & Co. did not advertise their prices. Instead, the company created a secret code by which they could document the prices of their designs without risking the price becoming public. According to family lore, sketches of the monuments were coded with letters that stood for a number that indicated the price. For example, one of the company’s codes was based on the phrase “HOPEANDTRY.” In this case, the numbers one through nine, plus zero, represented each of the ten letters in the phrase. “H” equaled one, “O” equaled two, “T” equaled eight, and so on. Therefore, if the code “HED” appeared next to sketch, the cost of the monument equaled $147.

As for getting the word out about their services, the partners of Higgins & Co. were active in promoting their business outside of Bloomington. In addition to the use of traveling salesmen to advertise the company’s wares, Jung was known to travel substantial distances for business related matters—such as a meeting of the Illinois Retail Monument Dealers’ Association in Springfield and a meeting of the stockholders of Montello Granite Company in Wisconsin. Most of the monuments made for use in Bloomington were not marked with a company logo, though the firm’s craftsmanship was often discernible by admirers. And, as evidenced by the following review, admirers were in no short supply:

“In a review of the business interests of our community, there is no one firm more worthy of special mentions that this concern; here the public has at its disposal the services of men who possess the knowledge and who obtained their manufacturing and business education from the school of experience. …Their name stands for quality, reliability and fair prices in the monument line. As the advances of the period have marked the improvements in the monument maker’s art, this concern has adopted these late scientific methods as rapidly as they have been approved by the trade. …The unusual symmetry and beauty of design stands as example of their expert designing and workmanship and are the admiration of all who see them.”

Though Jung took a circuitous route toward his eventual career, he once told the Daily Bulletin’s Madame Annette, ‘I assure you I did not regret my early rough experiences, for I appreciate all the more the success that has come to me through an indomitable will and courage.’ It was this courageous attitude in business that Jung appears to have applied to his personal life as well.

On July 4, 1881, Jung married Mary Cannon, a widow with two sons, William and John. Following their union, Jung and Mary bore two daughters and a son of their own—Grace, J. Phillip Jr. (Phil), and Hazel. The family resided at 713 E. Front Street in Bloomington until Mary’s death in March 1901. Following his wife’s passing, Jung built a home for himself and his two daughters at 103 S. Clinton Street. Jung lived there with his daughters, neither of whom ever married, until his death in 1933. The house was a “foursquare” structure composed of blocks that Jung made himself using sand harvested from the Mississippi River and a block-making machine he purchased from Sears and Roebuck. A newsletter published by the Dimmitt’s Grove Neighborhood Association once described the home as, “the most house for the lowest cost with a dignified appearance. Conventional, yet contemporary. Substantial, not flashy. A monument of a house.” In his will, Jung bequeathed the house and its contents to his daughters. His daughter Hazel lived in the house until 1988. Jung’s will also included provisions for a house for his son, Phil. The will stipulated that Phil could have use of the house during his lifetime, but that it would be held in trust for Phil’s children. Also included in the will was Jung’s sister Henrietta, who was to receive a $50 annual stipend and a grave marker to match her family’s in the Nauvoo City Cemetery. To longtime employee of the firm Ada Maxwell, Jung left the rights to twelve shares of Higgins, Jung, and Kleinau stock. Were she to still possess the shares at the time of her death, the stock was to be divided equally between Jung’s three children. The rest of Jung’s estate was left in trust to the First Trust and Savings Bank of Bloomington to manage any other affairs and to pay any remaining earnings to the children. Jung’s stepsons John and William are not mentioned in the will.

Jung died on June 27, 1933 at the age of 83, after being admitted to Brokaw Hospital two weeks earlier. His funeral was held at the John A. Beck company chapel at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 29. Jung, like his father, was a Democrat in politics. In 1882 Jung represented the Fourth Ward at the City Convention of Democrats and acted as an election judge for polling place number four in the Democratic primary of 1900. He was also a charter member of the Knights of Pythias organization in Bloomington. Fellow members of the Knights of Pythias officiated the ceremony at his gravesite in Bloomington Cemetery. Jung was survived by his three children, one stepson, and three sisters.

A favorer of Montello granite, Jung constructed his own monument out of the stone, as well as the grave markers he fashioned for his mother and father in Nauvoo. For his own family plot in Bloomington Cemetery, Jung chose Lot 20 in Section D. There stands a central surname stone in the shape of a gothic window, with the name “JUNG” inscribed in a thematic font. The individual burials of Jung, his wife, and his two daughters are marked with small rectangular granite markers. Jung’s son Phil and his family are buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bloomington.