By Crystal Burns
Over the last several days, Dyer community members have watched – some in awe, others in sorrow – as historic Main Street businesses were demolished.
The Dyer Industrial Board owned the buildings, which were deemed safety hazards. The board hired Scott Zimmerman to carefully take down the buildings, a meticulous process that even involved Zimmerman and his crew removing some sections brick by brick by hand.
While small town residents hate to see pieces of their community torn down, thanks to the prodding of current and former downtown business owners, the majority of citizens have used the opportunity to remember the people who made the buildings, particularly Gladhill’s Drug Store, so special.
Doug Duncan, former owner of Gladhill’s, who developed a love for his future trade at an early age by sitting at the feet of several Gibson County pharmacists, reached out on the popular “If You Grew Up in Dyer” Facebook page to ask Gladhill’s customers from near and far to share their cherished memories of the old drug store. As the thread took off, Duncan asked users to make those memories part of the permanent record by sending brief comments to the Tri-City Reporter.
Duncan and Tony Goad wrote anchor pieces for the Tri-City’s retrospective, which also includes historic photos and information provided by Danny Gathings.
E.W. Gladhill, who established the drug store, left his home in Abingdon, Ill. for Dyer in the late 1890s after the Dyer Reporter newspaper ran a special section that proclaimed Dyer as “the garden spot of the world.” Gladhill corresponded with the late R.H. Hearn, a prominent Dyer Citizen, who verified the report. Gladhill’s sister-in-law was living on a farm six miles east of Dyer when Gladhill visited to check up on the Reporter’s claim. He was impressed with the town and the surrounding country so much that he moved his family and located his business in Dyer.
Gladhill entered the jewelry business in 1899, steadily growing his Gladhill’s store until it became one of the most up to date and largest of its kind in any town its size. He carried a complete line of drugs and drug sundries, jewelry, books and school supplies, toilet preparations, holiday goods and novelties, and dispensed cold drinks from his modern soda fountain.
Gathings’ newspaper clippings also show that E.W. Gladhill was an expert watchmaker and inventor. Gladhill reportedly invented the spring mouse trap, a pencil clip, and a rolling churn, which replaced the old hand dasher method of churning butter.
The only invention he ever marketed was his Gladhill’s Healing Oil, a formula he made in his drug store that was said to be good for man or beast and which some Dyer residents still swear by. The healing liniment treats barb wire cuts, scratches, galls, burns, sores, wounds, and all other diseases requiring external application, as well as sore shoulders, neck and back.
Gladhill died in 1913, and his wife Rose took over the store. The couple’s sons, Claude and Glenn, worked for her until her death in 1942 when they purchased the store. In 1949, the family celebrated Gladhill’s 50th year in business.
Editor’s Note: The Tri-City Reporter staff offers sincerest thanks to Doug Duncan, Danny Gathings, Tony Goad and everyone that submitted their memories of Gladhill’s Drug Store to us for this special retrospective. We hope the memories of bygone days warm you and encourage you to share our communities’ rich history with your children and grandchildren.
Read the rest of the stories that were submitted, in this weeks edition!