Q. I am a lifelong Belleville resident. While I clearly remember Feickert's Bakery, I had not heard of Feickert's Pharmacy. But I have an antique bottle with Feickert's Pharmacy, Public Square, Belleville, etched in the glass. What can you tell me about the pharmacy? Was the owner related to the family from Feickert's Bakery?
-- Mary Smith Belleville, IL
A. It had to be one of the saddest -- and oddest -- deaths that Belleville residents had read about in some time.
On Sept. 1, 1923, William E. Feickert was rummaging around his son-in-law's pharmacy, looking for his favorite potion to ease the pain of his rheumatism.
The 88-year-old was the oldest druggist in the city. He had dispensed prescriptions for more than 50 years at his store at 23 Public Square, where the Belleville Bank and Trust building stood by the time of his death. (It's now the plaza on the west side of the Bank of America building.)
After Feickert retired at age 70, he moved in with his daughter and son-in-law, Otto and Emma Neuhaus, at the pharmacy Neuhaus ran at 11th and West Main. So, it was not unusual to find Feickert making himself at home behind the counter this particular Saturday afternoon.
On this fateful day, however, his common custom had deadly consequences. According to a News-Democrat story, he was looking for his favorite remedy, chlorine. Unfortunately, he grabbed a bottle of strychnine instead.
Two hours later, his son-in-law found him on the floor, still conscious but deathly ill, saying that he had made an error. About 90 minutes later, he was gone, which led to a Labor Day burial at Walnut Hill Cemetery.
Still, his was only part of a Feickert pharmacy dynasty that stretched nearly a century in Belleville. Born in Germany in 1835, William E. Feickert wound up in Belleville and opened his store by the late 1850s.
He passed the pestle to his son William L., who worked with his dad for many years until their old store gave way to the bank in about 1920. The young Feickert opened his own shop at 25 E. Main, before finally moving to 121 E. Main St. in 1925. After 52 years in the business, he retired in 1948 and died in 1960 at age 81.
But wait: The story also involves the Feickert family you're more familiar with. In 1819, Christian Arthur Feickert was born in Meisenheim, Prussia. By the 1840s, he made his way to Belleville, married, and opened that long-standing bakery on what is now the northwest corner of Illinois and A streets.
One of his sons, Christian Arthur Jr., took over the family bakery. But his brother Julius helped incorporate the Hartnagel-Harrison Drug Store at 31 E. Main and, later, 116 E. Main. There, he worked as a pharmacist for 45 years before retiring and joining his brother at the bakery for another five.
He died in 1939 at age 77, and, when William L. closed up shop nine years later, the name Feickert was no longer synonymous with drugs in Belleville. Final note: I have found nothing to indicate whether the bakery and drug store founders were related in the old country.
Q. We have a cookie jar that is a boy holding a bat. He has a 9 1/2 on the back and a slingshot. Is it old or new? Who made it?
-- Evelyn Gregg, of Waterloo
A. What you have is a sweet creation of California Originals, which turned out quality cookie jars for about 35 years, according to Norman Vitez, who once staged cookie jar shows in Belleville before retiring to Cape Coral, Fla.
William Bailey founded the company as Heirlooms of Tomorrow in the 1940s in Manhattan Beach, Calif., before moving to Torrance a few years later and renaming it. In addition to cookie jars ranging from puppies to Elvis, the company turned out a wide variety of vases, trays, bowls and TV lamps known for their bright colors accented with gold decoration.
Your particular jar is just a sort of cute, Norman Rockwellian slice of life with a little boy sporting the offbeat uniform number and a slingshot. Vitez figures it dates from about 1960, but Sherry's Antiques in Los Molinos, Calif., told me it definitely is from the 1970s.
In any case, it is not terribly old; I have seen three sell from $25 to $100. The company made its last jar in 1982.
What was strange about the late Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's middle name?
Answer to Tuesday's trivia: It's too bad the Titanic couldn't have hit a growler that fateful April night in 1912. In the classification of icebergs used by the International Ice Patrol, a growler is the smallest chunk of ice on the list: It's any iceberg less than a yard high and less than 16 feet long. From there, they grow to "bergy bits" (3-16 feet high and 16-49 feet long) followed by small, medium, large and, finally, very large -- more than 246 feet tall and 660 feet long.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com.