Museum News | Mclean County

The Ankerman article, continued: Bill Quisenberry was the first to tell me about George, Jr. — whom he noted as being “very eccentric” — as having tinned roofs for many Calhoun homes. Kenny Ward, who wrote Meandering in McLean, said in 1974 that George, Jr., with his “Floating Tinshop Boat,” traveled up and down the river fixing leaky roofs. Per Jerry Abney, “Mr. Ankerman pointed (out) some tin roofs he had put on and said you shouldn’t paint a tin roof until it had some rust on it to hold the paint. I guess he must have roofed about every house and barn around. I don’t guess he had a car or truck, because I would see him around town carrying his ladder on his shoulder.”

Once called the most-traveled building in town, the boat/building, once moved to its final destination on Kentucky Highway 81, was enlarged, and George, Jr. continued to run a tin shop at that location for many years — but it was also a hardware and housewares store.

One ad read “G.W. Ankerman, dealer in stoves, stamped and Japanned ware, heating, plumbing and all kinds of tin work.” (When the Beech Grove school building was being built in 1939, George Ankerman was awarded the contract for the heating and plumbing of the new building.)

Again quoting David Allen Sunn, “Miss Anna operated the store, which was full of household glassware and cooking utensils. As I remember, she had all different kinds of sets of tableware, some with fancy paintings on them and some just very basic plain white plates, cups and saucers. She had all kinds of glass trinkets for decorating a house. As I think back, in our house every table had several little glass figurines sitting on it; they included cut-glass bells, ash trays and every imaginable type of decorative glass items. The reason we had so many was because every time I would go to the store with Mother, Miss Anna would always give me something as a gift, which was something she did to everyone. I don’t think anyone ever went to Ankerman’s without leaving with some kind of gift, whether they bought anything or not.”

George, Jr. was a member of the graduating class of Calhoun College in 1900. Like his father, George, Jr. was both a tinsmith and a mason. In 1903 he became a member of the Vienna Lodge, No. 423, F & AM, Calhoun, and remained a member for over 60 years. Per his obituary, he was a prominent Calhoun businessman.

It also stated, “he was a colorful and interesting character and was a storehouse of information about boats that had traveled on the Green and other rivers.” He was president of the Kentucky Plumbing and Heating Association in 1922. He was an active member of the Green River Valley Citizens League, which worked for improvements on the Green River. In 1969, a trust fund was established to help buy a trophy for the outstanding MCHS FFA member each year. It was established in memory of George Ankerman, who had always supported the FFA and the work it did for the community.

An auction was held Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, 1968. One ad promoting the auction announced: “Hardware, Tin Shop and Antiques” while another said: “This business was operated by the same family for two generations, and nothing was ever thrown away. It is impossible to list sale items; we are not sure what you might find!” They added, “Dress warm — come at noon — and be prepared to spend the rest of the day!” And finally, one announced: “Impossible to describe this sale.” The NEWS had this to say following the first auction: “What makes an interesting Saturday afternoon? Try 200 people, an auctioneer, and the late George Ankerman’s collection of store stock, tools, junk, etc. An indescribable variety of articles was sold with prices ranging from sky high to dirt cheap. Old-fashioned catch-em-alive mousetraps were in great demand, and prices went as high as $7.50. Many of the old hand tools brought good prices as collector’s items. Many boxes were sold without the buyers knowing what the box contained.”

After the first auction day, the Boggess Chevrolet dealership next door to Ankerman’s advertised that they would be closed the second day of the auction. Because of its poor condition, the Ankerman store building was sold at auction for $100 and was razed shortly thereafter — making room for a new building to service vehicles at Boggess Chevrolet.

Jerry Abney wrote in to say this about the Ankerman family: “I became acquainted with them about 1948 when I was their paper boy. I don’t guess either one of them (George, Jr. and Anna) ever married. Ms. Annie was a delicate woman and loved to talk and show her dishes she had for sale. She played in the Calhoun Band in town. She grew peppermint up the sidewalk to keep the mosquitos away from the house.”

My thanks to everyone that contributed in any way to this article. The McLean County History Museum houses a G.W. Ankerman store sign, as well as oars from the Ankerman “Tinshop” riverboat — all donated by Adrian Peak.

Speaking about an earlier article, mentioning hanging out at Point Pleasant Ferry and swinging out into the river, Jerry Abney shared this: “Being one that has swung from ropes at Rumsey, Erwin Landing and others, I could just see the water down below before turning loose of the rope. Lucky for the Calhoun swimmers, we didn’t have to go anywhere because we had the swimming hole in Green River, right across from the Johnson House.”

The Museum and Treasure House are open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — the Museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Treasure House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please call the museum prior to visiting, to ensure we’re open. We are at 540 Main St., Calhoun, and our number is 270-499-5033. I wish everyone a great week.