Bonus Thompson (center), circa 1914. Courtesy of Linda Varnado
Bonus Thompson (center), circa 1914. Courtesy of Linda Varnado

Bonus Thompson, from Bcauedan (Greenville), South Carolina and his wife, Leithe, from Georgia, migrated from the south to Evanston and lived at 2242 Dewey Avenue from about 1909 to 1910. Mr. Thompson was employed as a “tinner” at that time. A tinner generally shaped and molded with tin. It was used in a variety of applications. A common usage was in ceiling tile–some of which you can see as original or as reproductions in store fronts today.

1910 U.S. Federal Census, Evanston, Illinois
1910 U.S. Federal Census, Evanston, Illinois

By 1914, Mr. Thompson ventured into his own business and opened Bonus Thompson Hardware, located at 1910 W. Railroad Avenue, now Green Bay Road in Evanston. It was approximately one half block north of Emerson Street before its reconfiguration. The hardware store offered stove and furnace repairs, parts, tin and metal work.

His wife, Leithe operated the business after her husband’s death in 1929 for an additional six years. After it closed, a grocery store opened in its place.

There are two interesting observations to make about this photograph unrelated to the hardware store. The first is a hard-to-read banner in the window advertising the “101 Ranch Wild West” rodeo show that came to town August 24, 1914. The other is the reflection of a railway engine that appears to be on ground level across from the hardware store. In looking closely at photographs, it is an extra bonus to find information that might lead to new research efforts such as the 101 Ranch Wild West rodeo. . .

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