“Fred Stocker started Stocker Gravel & Artificial Stone in the early 1900s as he established himself in the gravel business in Highland.”
The gravel pit was located just north of Highland on the road we now call, Cally Lane. The pit is still in operation. The original pit is now the fourth lake, starting with Silver Lake, Highland City Reservoir Lake, then Bargetzi Lake, followed by the gravel pit lake, called Stocker Lake, with another new lake in the making, forming in the present gravel pit.
“Fred Stocker was born in the Highland area in November 1861, the son of John J. Stocker and Mrs. Elizabeth Iberg Stocker.
“Elizabeth had three daughters with her first husband, Christian Gilomen. They were: Eliza, widow of Marcel Wilhauk; Mary, the widow of Rudolph Zobrist; and Anna, the widow of John Jacob Bircher of Saline Township.
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“John and Elizabeth Stocker had four sons: August, Robert, Fred and Joseph J. Stocker. Their father, John J. Stocker, enlisted in the Civil War in its outbreak. He served in the 27th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and he fought bravely until the close of the war. After the war, he returned home and resumed his farming, again.
“Fred Stocker, at the age of 13, quit school and worked on a farm. Then at 19, he went to Missouri with his brother, Robert, to farm but only stayed a year, as their mother became ill. So they returned home, resuming farming here.
“In 1886, their son, Fred Stocker, married Ida Zobrist, the daughter of Henry Zobrist and his wife. They had seven children, Nellie, Harry, Helen, Florence, Clarence, Bernice and Jennie, later called Jane. Fred and Ida farmed until 1898 or 1899, when they moved to Highland and Fred embarked in the well-drilling business, which he continued until 1904.
“Fred Stocker, in 1903, started the Stocker Gravel and Artificial Stone Co., along with Eugene Schott and John Wildi. The first action of the new company was to buy 40 acres of land from Helvetia Milk Condensing Co. and the Highland Brewing Co. for $3,000. They then established the gravel business in rural Highland, east of Silver Creek, now Silver Lake.”
(This land had been a part of the James Reynolds farm in 1830 and by 1903 was known as the Bargetzi Farm. That area became known as simply, “The Gravel Pit.”)
“For the first two years, the company sold various grades of gravel extracted from the gravel pit.
“Then, Fred was the inventor and manufacturer of the Stocker Gravel Washer. They needed additional finances, so besides the original owners, Albert Schott, Louis Latzer, Fritz Kaeser and Martin J. Schott invested in the new company.
“In 1905, the company bought lots on Main and Chestnut to manufacture the gravel washer. This washer was patented and sold throughout the United States, also Canada, Cuba and South America, by 1915.
“Besides the gravel washer, they then opened their cement business and factory, making concrete blocks with a ‘rock-looking’ face.
“Fred Stocker was the founder of the first cement products factory in this part of the state. Fred Krenzer joined the company in 1905 as the bookkeeper and later purchased an interest in the company and still later became the secretary and treasurer of both companies.”
(After Krenzer’s retirement, Reuben Hebrank replaced him and remained with the company, until it was closed by “Tabby.”)
“In 1906, the company began buying and selling lots in Highland, which they sold with the stipulation, that the buyer would build a concrete block home on the lot.
“In 1916, the company reorganized, increased capital stock to $50,000 and changed the name to Stocker Gravel & Construction Co., with sons Harry and Clarence joining the company. They also started pouring concrete roads and sidewalks. The first road job was the original concrete one-lane road to St. Rose.”
(In 1987, you could still see the old road to St. Rose if you drove east on the Klaus Lake Road.)
“The first sidewalk was in front of Fred’s home at 1316 Washington, which was also one of the early Stocker concrete block homes.
“Fred Stocker died in 1930, and his son, Harry, died in 1939, with the youngest son, Clarence ‘Tabby’ running the business until the 1950s, when he closed the concrete plant, but he continued to run the gravel pit. Clarence died in 1971 and by 1987 the gravel pit was operated by the Munie.”
(Quotes from pages 993 and 994 of the 1912 Centennial History of Madison County, Edwardsville Intelligencer Centennial Edition, Highland News Leader 1915 and 1935 Good Old Days columns, my files, Mrs. Elva Beck’s Beck-Reinemer family tree book, which contained the Stocker, Gilomen and Iberg information, and 1987 Highland Sesquicentennial book.)