All honor should be due the men who turn the ideal into the practical,
inaugurate such conditions and crystalize into the probable and actual what
appear to be wild flights of fancy and imagination. It is of such a man that
the biographer here essays to write.
F. H. Bauer, the well known proprietor of the Centralia Steam Laundry, one of the busiest places in the city, was born in Marion county, Illinois, September n, 1866, the son of Fred and Amelia (Ruple) Bauer, in whose family there were two sons, our subject being the older.
Mr. Bauer was educated in the Centralia public schools and the high school. Being ambitious to receive a business education he attended the night schools in St. Louis, Missouri, where he made a splendid record. He began his life work when eighteen years old by entering the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad. He worked for some time as fireman and was later promoted to locomotive engineer, and for a period of twelve years gave entire satisfaction in whatever capacity he served, and being regarded by the company as one of the most trusted and valuable employes.
After his railroad experience he turned his attention to mining in the Joplin (Missouri) zinc and lead mine district, where he remained one year, after which he returned to Centralia, Illinois, and took the occupation of tonsorial artist, which he pursued with marked success for a period of four years, at the expiration of which time he purchased the laundry plant originally known as Ormsby & Ormsby laundry, having been started in 1880. H. C. Watts bought the Ormsby plant and run it for several years, when his interests were purchased by the enterprising and hustling subject of this sketch. Mr. Bauer at once proceeded to remodel the plant throughout, replacing the old worn-out machinery with latest models and most up-to-date equipment in every respect. He also rebuilt the engine in every part. Outside of the large cities this is one of the oldest laundries in the state and none turns out better work, for the plant is equipped with the best machinery obtainable and only expert employes are to be found here. Useless to say that with such an enterprising man at the head of this old established institution that it at once assumed new life and his success was instantaneous, his patronage having steadily increased from the first. When he first assumed charge the total income of the plant was only sixty-five dollars per week. Mr. Bauer has increased this to two hundred dollars per week. In 1901 this plant employed only three girls; now thirteen are constantly employed. The main room of this plant is one hundred and forty feet long by twenty-four feet wide and the capacity is now over-crowded. Work is done in this laundry for all surrounding towns as far east as Wayne City and as far north as Kinmundy, west to Evansville, Illinois, and south to Herrin. They do hotel, barber shop and family washings for more than one hundred and fifty patrons per week.
The domestic life of Mr. Bauer dates from October 30, 1891, when he was united in the bonds of wedlock with Louise Jones, the daughter of a well known family, and to this union one child has been born, Wendell A., whose date of birth occurred February 20, 1901.
Our subject was reared a German Lutheran. He is an ardent Democrat in his political beliefs. He holds membership in the following orders in Centralia: Masons, Blue Lodge No. 201; Chapter No. 93; Council No. 28; Knights Templar No. 26; Knights of Pythias No. 26; Pythian Sisters, Lotus Temple No. 8; Odd Fellows No. 179; Encampment No. 75. He is also a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engineers No. 37. Mr. Bauer takes a great interest in lodge work.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 598-599.