ROANOKE - Nearly six weeks ago, B.J. Fehr's, a blacksmith and welding shop, celebrated its 100th year in business. It opened its doors on the south side of town on Oct. 18, 1917. Over the years,. the shop has witnessed two World Wars, the Great Depression, Korean, Vietnam and Middle East conflicts, recessions and floods. Through it all, a member of the Fehr family has always been there to welcome customers with a smile.
The shop was built and founded by Benjamin John Fehr, who purchased it from Hillen & Full. In 1971, B.J's son, Walt Fehr, took over the business. Recently, Walt Fehr turn over the day-to-day operations to his sons, Tom, Curt and Mike Fehr. Before purchasing the shop, B.J., who was born and raised in central Illinois, went and worked in Louisiana, dredging the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the shop was flooded four years ago, they found a 1917 letter from the company that oversaw the work B.J. did in Louisiana as they were going through papers in the office, trying to salvage what they could.
“If things would not have changed and he had not come up here, we could have been down there going through Katrina,” Tom Fehr said.
B.J. Fehr passed away in 1964. His brother, Carl Fehr, worked in the industry for 55 years. He died in 1982.
According to Curt Fehr, longtime friends who stop by the shop say the place is exactly as they remember it. There are many mementos of days gone by, including a quarter-inch scale model of a Big K Stream Engine, built by B.J. Fehr and his two sons back in the early 1950s.
See article on Dec. 7 Woodford County Journal newsstands