Mr. Wiler was the third generation owner of Wiler’s Diner along the road in the heart of Elizabeth, and his name was John –John Jr. for a while but then just John. His dad was, of course, John Sr. but he was just John most of his life because he didn’t father John Jr. until he was in his forties.
The senior John was a confirmed bachelor, a devout Baptist deacon in town and held the closest thing to a claim to the founding fathers of Elizabeth. John Sr.’s own father was also named John but had a different middle name, but John Sr.’s grandfather had the same middle name as John Jr. and it was all so confusing that no one cared to care very much. Anyway, Wiler’s was a good diner and that’s all that mattered to most.
John Jr. often wondered about his name’s legacy, and even spent some time as a young man researching his family’s history at the Galena and Jo Daviess County historical society.
It’s in the Barrows Mansion right in downtown Galena, a big old building just like every larger town had in its early days –a rich family builds the biggest house just because they can, even though they don’t have any more kids than the other families and most times one less, but they have a servant or two that might live in the house (if they were white).
Dubuque has the Ryan Mansion, Freeport had the Taylor mansion but it burned down and that became infamous in itself, and Galena has a couple more mansions that are now antique shops, and Elizabeth had the Green Mansion and Wishon Manor.
Right in the middle of the nineteenth century made lead made mine owners rich and they built their mansions because they could.
Merchants and merchandisers moved to the area and set-up shop where they could make the most money, like Hezekiah Gear, and Amos Trumbler, and Daniel Barrows the merchant who made his fame and fortune by selling things to other people who were working hard digging dirt and lead ore out of the earth.