Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
BAHR, HENRY J. - A half century is indeed a long period to spend in one line of business in one city, and still to be in active service at the end of this length of time denotes an enterprising, energetic spirit, as well as an appreciation of the congeniality of one's profession. Most men, having built up a successful and remunerative business, are content to retire from active pursuits on reaching the age of three score years, but this is not the case with Henry J. Bahr, proprietor of the tonsorial parlors at No. 1327 East Washington street, Springfield, who, while he has not been in business here for quite fifty years, is rapidly approaching that distinction. Mr. Bahr is a native of Germany, having been born near Frankfort-on-the-Oder, December 29, 1845, and is a son of Christian and Wilhelmina (Graber) Bahr, the former born December 17, 1816, and the latter in February, 1810. The family came to the United States in 1853, landing at New York City after a thirty-two days voyage on the sailing vessel Hermon, soon removed to Haverstraw and later to Long Island, where Mr. Bahr carried on gardening. Christian Bahr died at Greenport, L. I., September 7, 1897, at the age of eighty-one years, his wife having passed away many years before, in 1862, when fifty-two years of age. They were parents of five children, as follows: Dora, born March 9, 1844; Henry J.; John, born March 4, 1848; William C., born March 19, 1850; and Minnie born June 19, 1853.
Henry J. Bahr was but eight years of age when he was brought to the United States by his parents. Being the eldest son, he had few chances for securing an education, as the family was in rather humble circumstances and the youth's earnings were needed to help in the support of the family and the proper rearing of his younger brothers and sisters. Consequently, at an early age, he was sent out to work on the farm in the vicinity of his home, and in addition to this he labored at whatever he could find to do, including cutting and hauling wood, and other expressage, and in making toy torpedoes.
In 1857 Mr. Bahr decided to learn a regular trade and in that year started under the tutelage of Bernard Bush to learn the occupation of barber, which he has since followed. He continued on Long Island until the year 1866, when he came to Springfield to assist in opening the barber shop in the Leland Hotel, and in this position he remained for twelve years, becoming intimately acquainted with the guests of that hostelry. Deciding to go into business on his own account, in 1878 he opened parlors at No. 519 East Monroe Street, but later for ten years was engaged at the St. Nicholas barber shop in Springfield. Again opening a business establishment of his own at Monroe Street, Mr. Bahr successfully continued there until 1899, at which time he purchased the building at No. 1327 East Washington Street, opened tonsorial parlors and has conducted a well-paying business to the present time. Mr. Bahr's is an up-to-date establishment, including the latest and most highly improved fixtures and paraphernalia to be found in any barber shop in Springfield, and among his patrons are to be found some of the Capital City's most distinguished guests. His long experience in this line of business has made Mr. Bahr well-known throughout the city, and he has countless friends and acquaintances.
On September 7, 1876, Mr. Bahr was united in marriage with Miss Anna M. Dexheimer, of Dearborn County, Ind., and to them there were born three children: Raymond V., manager of the Pure Ice & Cold Storage Company, of Springfield, who married Annie Brocklesby; Harry E., married Emma Margaret Meyer and is employed at the Illinois Watch Factory; and Elmer L., also employed at the watch factory.
In his political beliefs Mr. Bahr is a Democrat and for the past three years he has served as Judge of Elections of the First Precinct of the First Ward of Springfield.