Writing on the Wall
S. Hill, our volunteer photographer and researcher, took this photo of a chalk signature on one of the remaining walls of the buildings, still standing on the square after the site was cleaned. She was intrigued with who Albert Goetz was and researched him. The following article was written by her and submitted to the Blog. Good job, Stephanie!
Albert L. Goetz was born in Terre Haute, IN in approximately 1857. He came to Lawrence County sometime around 1882 shortly before marrying Margaret Dining of Denison and moving into a house on 406 Eighteenth street in Lawrenceville. “Al” and “Maggie” had two daughters, Ada and Clara Goetz, and a son named Herman who would die in 1905 at 19 years old due to “softening of the brain.” Ada became an elementary school teacher and Clara became a nurse like her mother. Albert was the vice president of the Lawrenceville Union No. 157 of Labors International Protective Union in 1904 and was a candidate for town clerk in 1914 on the democratic ticket but withdrew a couple weeks later.
Mr. Goetz advertised himself as being a landscape painter, a carriage painter in Vincennes, a wallpaper hanger, a “practical painter”, and an interior decorator in newspapers around Lawrence County and Vincennes. He did just about as much as a person could do when it comes to his trade. He even got into some trouble in February 1899 when he was arrested for soliciting his wallpaper, but was let off by the court. Albert rented out the Busse building on State Street in 1905 and renovated it for an athletic club and lunch counter to be formed in Lawrenceville but it didn’t work out, possibly because of his son’s death, and the athletic club wasn’t officially started until 1912 in the Fitch building shortly after the Elks built their new building. Goetz is documented as having painted road signs, the jail, and the J.W. Fitch building as well as wallpapering the courthouse and the different schools during the late 19th and early 20th century in Lawrenceville. The town’s downtown area, during the time of its rapid oil boom expansion in the 1910’s and 20’s, would not have been so aesthetically pleasing to its patrons without him.
Albert ran his business from his home on Eighteenth street but he also had a store in the John Rosborough building called the Chicago Wall Paper Store in 1903, calling on customers at their earliest convenience with a book of wallpaper and paint samples. Ads for this store do not run past 1903. Essentially, Albert had little to no competition to build his name and reputation up and marketed himself well over the decades. His paintings were displayed in many prominent places in Lawrenceville including the Courthouse and many well- established family homes.
He was a serviceman under the Russell Paint Company, the Inland White Lead Co., the Pan-American Wallpaper & Paint Co., Great Western Paint Co., and he also sold coats for a while. Most of his products were made in Chicago. The photo of his name in chalk that was found on the east wall of the old Yosowitz building after it came down was written before he put fresh wallpaper up for the opening of the Yosowitz Young Men’s Shop, whose housewarming event was on October 9, 1920.
Albert Goetz would pass away on November 2, 1938 from “uremic poisoning” which is probably from long exposure to all of the lead in the paints and varnishes he used in the nearly 63 years he had been a painter.
How many Lawrence County houses and businesses have had Albert Goetz’s name chalked on their walls over the decades? How many still do? Chances are higher than you might think if the structure was here before 1938. It is amazing to think that one man devoted his time and energy into putting so much beauty into the county and made people believe they deserved the beauty of a nice home in times when those luxuries were something not everyone valued as important.