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The Pickard Family

The following article was written by Historian Jari Lynn Oncken
Let us become acquainted with one of our earliest Minonk families, the Pickard family, and the business they founded in 1867 on 214-? E. 5th Street. Many Minonk citizens still refer to this block of four buildings by the Pickard name. p> Alfred and Sophia Pickard and their eleven children came to America from Southwick, Wiltshire, England in 1865 and settled in Minonk. On February 8, 1867 Alfred, Sophia and their daughter Jane joined the First Baptist Church. All of the children except for Job, who went back to England, and Anne were baptized and joined the church. The stained glass window above the choir loft is in memory of Alfred and Sophia. Altogether there were five Pickard sisters: Jane Pickard Lockwood, Anne Pickard Vilven, Ellen Pickard Gaisford, Alma Pickard Ridge and Louisa Pickard Rucker. Each sister had a brother plus one more and that makes six Pickard brothers: George, James, Job, Edward, Tom and Joseph. Their mother passed away in 1873 and three years later their father married Rebecca Lambert who also became a loyal church member.

When going through the contents of the metal box that was removed from the cornerstone of Fieldcrest South, the grade school in Minonk, on January 11, 2002, the year the addition was added, one comes upon the letter written in 1901 by Tom Pickard. (These contents may be viewed at the Minonk History Museum in Dave Uphoff’s building on 168 W. 5th Street, just west of the post office.) Tom’s letter dated May 29, 1901 was hand written on his company’s paper with the letterhead-Tom Pickard & Co. Minonk, Illinois. ***(successors to Pickard Bros.)*** Manufacturers of Carriages, Buggies and Spring Wagons. Dealers in Stoves, Hardware, Farm Machinery, Harness, Wind Mills, Pianos, Organs, Sewing Machines, Etc. Tom wrote, “Tom Pickard commenced business in Minonk, Ill. in 1867 as a blacksmith, and in 1900 the Pickard Block was built and a department store started”. It was signed Tom Pickard Co. At the top left corner is an 1890 picture of this block. Tom and his brothers ran the Pickard Bros. business from 1867 until it dissolved in 1895 when he took over the business.

Someone related to the Pickard family sent information and family pictures to the Baptist church about the time of its sesquicentennial in 2008. The pictures were of Alfred, four of his daughters and one of his six sons that was originally on an 1894 calendar that the brothers had printed and given out to their customers. There were also pictures of the Pickard Block as it looked back in the 1870s, 1890s and 1900 when the three buildings to the east were rebuilt and the front was covered with textured tin painted white. Since that time the two buildings to the west have been covered with siding. Originally the one to the far west was a three story brick building. In the early 1900s the Minonk News was located in the building to the east by the alley. Also about that time there were rental apartments upstairs and later the hall was home to various groups and activities such as the Modern Woodmen, Knights of Columbus, Minonk Fire Department’s bazaars and also dances.

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Other businesses that were located in the Pickard Block were Ella Jeter Porch’s millinery store, Goodwin Bros. Ford dealership, Ben Meils and Waite Uphoff’s hardware stores, Ray Park’s auto service, Frank Cannon’s feed and poultry equipment store, Frank Grampp & Sons egg grading and candling business (they also had a poultry business in Minonk), Turley’s Farm Supply (J. I. Case dealer), Justice Furniture (2nd floor), Petri Brothers Construction, Marshall Drywall and Insulation, Spire’s Electric, Joe’s Pizza and the Milashoski Video Store. The Woodford County Journal, Minonk office moved from the block in the spring of this year, 2010, leaving the block without a business. Roger Spires, a retired business man, is the current owner.

After the Pickard Bros. business dissolved in 1895 most of the family moved away. Only Tom, Joseph and their sister Louisa Rucker and her husband Martin continued to live in Minonk. Martin was a dealer in Groceries, Flour, Provisions, Fine Cigars and Tobaccos. From 1895 to 1905 Joseph and T. P. Clarke were partners in the Clarke and Pickard’s Brick and Tile Works business on South Chestnut. Its location was on the site of the present day Sportsmen’s Club. This brickyard was established on April 1, 1889 by Joseph Stonier and Thomas Willey as the Eagle Brick and Tile Works. During that year 16 men were employed and made 1,500,000 bricks. Around 1905 Bert, Arthur and John Goodwin moved their brick making business from the brickyard their dad Edwin Goodwin started in 1869 next to his house on 617 E. 4th Street to the former Clarke and Pickard brickyard. The Goodwin business closed around 1911 when the clay ran out. Then in 1912 Bert and Arthur opened their Goodwin Bros. Ford dealership in Minonk.

The Thomas Pickard house was located at the southwest corner of Thomas and Sixth streets.

Joseph was a director of the First State Bank of Benson. He also was a stockholder and director of the Toluca Bank until 1911 when Toluca’s two banks consolidated. After that he was a director of the First National Bank of Minonk. In the 1907 Minonk Directory he is listed as being an insurance agent.

Tom and Joseph were charter members of the Minonk Fire Department which was organized on October 3, 1877 in the original City Hall on W. 5th Street. Tom was the first fire chief. At that time the department’s equipment consisted of a chemical tank on wheels which was horse drawn usually by the first teamster to arrive after the clanging of the fire bell.

The two brothers were faithful members of their church. Tom was a trustee and Joseph was the church treasurer for six years, a deacon for fourteen years, church clerk for twenty years and Sunday school superintendent for more than thirty five years. On July 18, 1916 Joseph passed away at the age of 70 and one year later Tom passed away at the age of 76 on December 14, 1917.