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Posted on August 28, 2023 at 2:20 PM by Ken Kocher
John Claus Bohlen, originally from Stadt Bremerhaven, Germany, arrived in Madison via Augusta to ply his skills as a baker less than a decade after his service during the Civil War. Possibly arriving as early as 1872, Bohlen built the building at 173 S. Main in 1876. Described in the Augusta Constitutionalist as “a fine brick store, handsomely furnished with every convenience for carrying on the baking and confectionery business.” Behind the main body of the store was a bake house and behind that an oven. While the oven has been removed, the bake house remains in place.Bohlen was popular, known for his kind heart and gentle spirit. This may have led to a miscalculation on the part of a young man choosing Bohlen’s store to play a prank – riding a horse into the store. The story goes that when one of the boys started riding into Bohlen’s store, he reached for a big cheese knife and meeting the rider at the door lost no time in showing him exactly what would happen to him if he rode “that damn mule” in his store. The ride ended at the door.In 1893, a new bakery opened in the building, that of I.D. Comstock. Like Bohlen, Comstock also dealt in confectionaries, fruits, and fine groceries. He also made “the nicest Saratoga Chips you have ever eaten.” What’s that you say? We call them potato chips now. Five years later Comstock closed up shop and moved to Michigan, his home state. W.L. “Will” Walker opened a Hat and Shoe Store here around 1905. He went out of business September 1, 1913, and it was reported that “a man from South Carolina” would conduct a bakery in the place. The rumor was unfounded as the Madison Shoe Store, run by Mell Richardson and Ed Prince, opened instead. The business lasted a year.Mrs. Bohlen, her husband having passed in 1911, advertised the building for rent noting in the ad that Madison needed a bakery. A few months later, the Madisonian echoed this sentiment stating, “Madison needs a bakery, and Mrs. Bohlen has the place for it.” The call was answered by G.L. Moore who opened the Model Bakery in this space in December of 1915. Moore employed Paul Lex as his baker who, like the original baker in this building, brought his skill “from far away Germany.” Despite an August 9, 1918, report that Moore was doing a splendid business, the building came available for rent December 1. This would not be the end of baked goods produced at this location, but it is the end of this post. We will pick up the thread later.
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