Son of Civil War doctor launched pharmacy in IM
Menominee Range Memories
IRON MOUNTAIN –The 48th installment of Menominee Range Memories, a series of articles by William J. Cummings, Menominee Range Historical Foundation historian, now available on the Dickinson County Library’s website, is titled “Downtown Iron – 333 South Stephenson Avenue.”
Iron Mountain’s first drug store, located at the northeast corner of South Stephenson Avenue and East Brown Street, opened in early 1881.
In the Feb. 5, 1881, edition of Escanaba’s The Iron Port, under “Range Items”, the following was noted: “Schaller & Co., druggists, of Quinnesec, have opened a branch store at Iron Mountain with Doc. Beaudette as physic compounder.”
At about the same time, another Quinnesec firm was apparently building a competing drug store in Iron Mountain.
An item in the “IRON MOUNTAIN” column in the Jan. 29, 1881, edition of The Florence Mining News, published in nearby Florence, Wisconsin, reported: “Steller [sic] & Frederick are building a first-class drug store, which they will have ready for occupancy in a few days.”
Interestingly, in the Feb. 12, 1881, edition of The Iron Port, the following item appeared under “Range Items”: “Johnny Friedrich, of the firm of Schaller [sic] & Co., Quinnesec, has opened out with drugs ‘and sich’ [and such] at Iron Mountain.”
Joseph Schaller, born in Wisconsin on Dec. 26, 1856, arrived in the Lake Superior country in infancy, where he was educated. He began teaching school in Marquette County, Michigan, when he was 15, teaching for two terms. He then worked as a clerk in a drug store in Marquette County for five years and opened his own drug store there in 1876.
Schaller settled in Quinnesec in 1879, locating his drug store in one of the storefronts in the newly erected Buell’s Opera House on the northeast corner of Quinnesec Avenue and Paint Street. Charles E. Steller’s jewelry shop was also located in the same storefront.
In the April 24, 1880, edition of The Iron Port, under “Range Items”, the following item appeared: “JOS. SCHALLER, druggist, succeeds Brown as postmaster at Quinnesec.”
George Frederick Seibert was born Dec. 21, 1853, in Marshalltown, Louisiana, according to his biographical sketch in the “History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” published in 1883. His birthplace was given as New Orleans, Louisiana, in his obituary. An account by George S. Fisher, his grandson, published by the Mid-Peninsula Library Cooperative in 1976 in the “Journal of George Frederick Seibert 1879,” states he was born in St. Louis, Missouri.
George’s father, George Seibert, Sr., was a doctor and his mother died when George was 3 years old.
Dr. Seibert served as a physician in the Union army during the Civil War, stationed outside of St. Louis, Missouri. He married again in 1863, feeling George Jr., and his sister, Molly, needed someone to care for them.
Dr. Seibert died sometime shortly after the Civil War ended. His second wife proved to be the “proverbial stepmother.” Although Dr. Seibert left a substantial estate, his widow ended up giving most of the money to foreign charities.
By the age of 13, George Jr. began working in the St. Louis area to help support the family.
In 1868, when George reached 15, he put his sister in a private school and set out for Chicago, walking much of the way.
After searching for work without much success, George was hired by Mr. Star to work as a general chore boy around the house. By going to night school and by studying all the books to which he had access, he finally passed the state examinations for pharmacy.
George was employed in Chicago’s Buck & Rayner’s Drug Store, where he worked for several years.
Due to the symptoms of tuberculosis resulting in failing health in 1875, he went to Tuscarora, Nevada, a gold mining boomtown.
During his second winter in Nevada, an epidemic of pneumonia occurred. George was very sick and remembered hearing the rickety old carts coming from the mountains bearing the bodies of those who had died from the disease.
In 1878 he returned to Chicago, since he had partially recovered his health.
The doctors said that the effects of pneumonia did not leave him fit to stay in the city, so he went to Clarksburg, in Marquette County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, situated between Ishpeming and Humboldt.
Seibert kept a journal of a trip he made on foot between Menominee, Michigan, and Vulcan, Michigan, in 1879 and it was published as the “Journal of George Frederick Seibert 1879” by the Mid-Peninsula Library Federation in Iron Mountain in 1976.
George Frederick Seibert and Margaret Heyems were married on March 9, 1881, in Chicago. The newlyweds came to Iron Mountain in 1882.
George worked as the junior member of Schaller & Company, druggists. The main branch of Joseph Schaller’s drug store was in Quinnesec. George was in charge of the Iron Mountain branch.
A fire in the early 1880s destroyed the building at the northeast corner of South Stephenson Avenue and East Brown Street. A new drug store was built at the northeast corner of South Stephenson Avenue and East Hughitt Street. In mid-March 1884, George Seibert took over as sole manager of the Schaller & Co. Drug Store.
Under the headline “Iron Mountain Melange” in the March 7, 1885, edition of Norway’s weekly newspaper The Current, the following amusing item appeared, verifying Seibert’s Drug Store existed by that time: “There is a good deal of truth in the saying that ‘men are only boys grown old.’ Three or four professional men, who happened to be in Seibert’s drug store when a lot of marbles were opened, started to tell what experts they were at playing marbles in the days gone by; and before they were aware of the fact were down on their hands and knees, while the game that was soon in progress put the young boys, who were present, to shame.”
In 1886, George Seibert considered moving to Alaska, having been offered a drug store there, but decided to remain in Iron Mountain.
In the May 2, 1889, edition of Iron Mountain’s The Menominee Range, the following item appeared: “Geo. Seibert is having his store thoroughly renovated, and when the painters and carpenters get through he will have one of the handsomest drug stores on the upper peninsula.”
In “Bunn & Simmons’ Iron Mountain City Directory 1892-1894,” Margaret Seibert, George’s wife, was listed as a “Dealer in Pure Drugs and Medicines, Books, Stationery, Fishing Tackle, Fancy Goods, Notions, Cigars and Druggists’ Sundries” at 333 S. Stephenson Ave. Louis Stoekley also worked as a druggist for Margaret Seibert at this time. Her husband, George Frederick Seibert, was listed as the drug store’s manager, and also served as Iron Mountain’s postmaster from 1890 to 1898. As postmaster, he established the first mail carrier route in the city.
End of Part I