Editor's note: One of Mount Prospect's four founding families was the Meyns. Many members of the extended family returned to Mount Prospect recently for a reunion. This is their story.
Descendants of John Meyn, one of Mount Prospect's founders, gathered to celebrate their heritage and exchange historic documents and photos over the Memorial Day weekend.
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Meyn emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1882. He opened the first blacksmith and wagon repair shop in the village in 1883, having been persuaded by the first postmaster and general store owner, John Moehling, to relocate from Arlington Heights.
Moehling agreed to let Meyn live in the second story of the building that now houses Capannari's Ice Cream shop on Pine Street until he could establish his business, which boomed after the Chicago North Western railroad established a new depot in the village.
In 1886, John married Christine Henningsmeier. They made their home in the downtown triangle area bordered by Northwest Highway, Main Street and Busse Avenue. In 1906, the Cook County Herald reported that "John Meyn, our popular blacksmith, may well feel proud of his healthy, happy family, a worthy wife and six good children, 3 sons and 3 daughters."
Also in the triangle stood the historic blacksmith shop. It was "a busy place and he often worked from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. shoeing horses in the busy fall season," according to the Herald. In fact, a 1902 article explained that "John Meyn, our popular blacksmith, is rushed with work. Monday he was pounding iron so fast that he raised his hammer too high and struck himself in the face; as a result he goes around with a black eye."
Eventually, eight children were born to John and Christine. The descendants of six of them, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the founding family were represented at the recent reunion, including the 95-year-old matriarch, Ruth Busse, who married Elsie Meyn's son.
The event took place at the historic home built in 1912 by John's son, Herman, who succeeded his father as the village blacksmith in addition to holding the position of fourth fire chief and second mayor of Mount Prospect.
The home is now owned by Pamela Grotheer Dammen, Herman's granddaughter, and her husband, Donald. The couple, in conjunction with the family historian, Betty Hodges Wooten, organized the reunion with the idea that the family history should be preserved, shared and celebrated.
Twenty-two guests were invited for brats and beer (the Midwestern Meyns claim that those from California don't know how to barbecue), and asked to bring historic photos, documents, and recipes to share, a request that kept two scanners and a computer buzzing throughout the afternoon.
The reunion included tours of the 102-year-old house. The younger generation marveled at the beveled, oak woodwork, heavy pocket doors and high ceilings. The carriage house, complete with a chicken coop, hayloft and grain chute that drops into a horse trough, was a highlight. The older generation had fond memories of having partied in one room and slept in another.
The Meyn descendants, who came from as far away as Alabama, California and Florida, agreed that the reunion should be an annual event in the village. Next year's invitations will include another generation, the great-great-grandchildren, and a photographer with a wide-angle lens.