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The Landers and Sons General Store in Utica, Illinois

[Landers & Sheehy. William Landers, Sr. on the left and Mr. Sheehy on the right.]

One of the great things about this site is receiving email from fans of Leo Edwards. Sometimes I get really lucky and receive letters like the following:

Dear Gentlemen,

My name is Rick Coleman and I live in Utica, Illinois.

Many years ago my uncle gave me two of your grandfather's books, "The Andy Blake Series" which I read and loved as a child. I recently decided to try and find the other books in the series and purchase them. Looking on the internet I found your web site on Mr. Edwards and decided to write to you.

My uncle was Edward Landers and my grandfather Wm. Landers Jr. of the "Landers and Sons General Store in Utica". In the books, Andy is employed in a general store in Utica, it's the Lander's Store. I have a copy of the Tutter Bugle dated October 1, 1973 where the cover story is about the Lander's store. The info on the front page was given by my great uncle Edward Landers which the author thanked for his input. ... The author of the article in the Bugle wrote about how Leo used the local people as the characters in his books but changed the names slightly. He says that a "William Landers might become a Denny Landers and acquire red hair which the original did not have." ... If this is true then my great grandfather William Landers is the Denny Landers in the book!

We still have family in Utica, all three of William Lander's Sr. granddaughter's still are alive and two of them still live one block from the original store.
I was just looking at some pictures from approximately 1890 of the Landers store and thought you might be interested.

Last year Utica celebrated its 150th anniversary and had a paperback book written on the towns history. The book just became available and there is a story about Leo in it. There are also two pictures of the Lander's store and my great-grandfather in the book. [See related article on the Utica sesquicentennial booklet. -ed.]

Sincerely,
Rick Coleman

Utica, Illinois

Leo and his mother lived in Utica, Illinois from 1888 to 1897. The Landers' store was of course there and to be sure, his mother and Leo would have shopped there many times. The Denny Landers, owner of the geneal store in the Andy Blake series of books, would be William Lenders, Sr.

[Interior of Landers & Sheehy. Mr. and Mrs. William Landers, Sr. on the right and Mr. and Mrs. Sheehy on the left.]

The Landers store dealt in baled hay, grain, coal, clothing, shoes, groceries, hardware, and a miscellany of other items. It was started as a partnership about 1885, and was first knows and Landers & Shannon.

After the death of Mr. Shannon, the firm was known as Landers & Edgecob, then Landers & Giblin, and Landers & Sheehy, as the partnership underwent successive changes. In 1923, after his sons William, Edward and Raymond had reached an age to enter the business, William Landers, Sr. bought out the Sheehy interest and from then until it went out of business. I in 1942 the firm was known as Wm. Landers & Sons.

The original home of William Landers, Sr. "The Landers' House" is now a very popular bed and breakfast (www.landershouse.com). After the death of William, his son Edward lived there until his death in 1983. The house was left to his brother Raymond and his three nieces. They sold the house the the buyers opened the bed and breakfast and kept the name.

 

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