As a Chicago resident, baptized by the bounteous snow, I naturally seek out information on the bell scene in my town. On the agenda for today is the bell founder Henry Rincker.*
What I know: Henry Rincker was born in Germany in 1818 to a family of bell founders who had been casting bells since the 1590s. He emigrated to Chicago, IL in 1846 and promptly set up his own bell foundry. Some of the bells he cast included the alarm bell for the second court house in Chicago (where the current court house is located) and the bell for Saint Peter’s Church (I assume the church known as St. Peter’s Church in the Loop?). He had two locations for his foundry, one on Randolph Street and one on Canal Street between Monroe and Adams streets (both of these locations are downtown). In 1856 he moved out of Chicago to Fort Wayne, Indiana to attend the Lutheran seminary. After he became a preacher, he set up a bell foundry in Sigel, IL and cast bells for his church there and for several Lutheran churches in St. Louis, MO.
What I don’t know: Well, certainly a lot of questions remain. What are the specifics of the bells he cast in Chicago? And down state at his second bell foundry? What has happened to the bell of St. Peter’s Church and the Chicago court house bell? Detective work needs to be done!
Henry Rincker is known to us today primarily because of his house that stood at 6366 North Milwaukee Avenue. It was the second-oldest residence in Chicago dating from 1851, until it was demolished in 1980. The property owner was mistakenly granted a demolition permit, even though the house was designated a Chicago landmark one year earlier.