Who are these guys? Authors of new book on Belleville need your help

News-DemocratApril 20, 2013 

Bob Arndt, Judy Belleville and Bob Brunkow are hard at work on the next installment of a pictorial history of the city of Belleville, which will celebrate its bicentennial next year.

The successor to "Belleville 1814-1914," from the Images of America Series by Arcadia Publishing probably will be called "Belleville 1914 and Beyond," Brunkow said. "We can't go all the way to 2014 because it has to be published before then."

They hope the next book will replicate the success of the first, which is still selling well.

"We hope to have it ready for sale by the Christmas holidays this year," Brunkow said.

He said there will be 250 pictures in the new book and they easily have twice that number that could qualify.

"The selection process is tough," he said. "Plus gathering information can be very hard. People don't think about what they might be doing, or how they are living, as history."

"We need help," Belleville said. "The more eyes we can get looking at these pictures, the more someone might know."

She sent along three pictures which have them stumped.

The first shows what they think was the Hoeffken Bros. Construction Co. building something in what is now the Schumacher Auction Service building at 1436 E. Main St., Belleville.

The building was constructed as part of the Harrison Machine Works to make steam engines and was purchased by the Prindable family in 1988 and converted for auctions.

The picture is one of a series of eight pictures donated by Hoeffken family relatives. They didn't know what it was either.

Another picture in the series shows a truck delivering what might be the finished product in a large crate, maybe in St. Louis.

The truck carries the name Dan Hamm trucking. Interestingly, a little research shows that he was the father of Jon Hamm, the actor.

Another picture the group is interesting in knowing about features 11 men lined up in two rows. One of them, second from the left in the back row, is Fred J. Kern, former mayor, former owner and publisher of the News-Democrat and a prominent figure in city history.

Another man, in the middle of the front row, is John Bedel, a businessman, author and former city treasurer.

Belleville said they don't know who the others are and what the group of men represent.

"Maybe it's the City Council," Belleville said. "We're hoping someone might recognize their grandfather or uncle or somebody in there."

Back when the museum was preparing its first book for publishing, they also had the newspaper publish some photos they couldn't explain. It helped immensely, she said.

"We hit pay dirt," Belleville said. "A man from called to tell us we had a picture of a glass blowers kiln."

If you can help Belleville again, call her at 234-7862.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 618-239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com.

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