Herrmann’s Shoe and Harness Shops

-by Greg Hoots-

Ferdinand and Christine Herrmann were a young German couple, married for five years when they immigrated to America in 1874, settling in Alma, Kansas, a rural Wabaunsee County town with a significant German immigrant community. Ferdinand was a cobbler by trade and opened a shoe shop and a harness shop in Alma shortly after arriving in town. The couple had five children.


Ferdinand Herrmnn, right, and his son, Fred, stand in front of their shoe shop West Main Street in Alma, Kansas. Notice the boot hanging on the building by the door. To the west of the shoe shop one can see Herrmann’s Harness Shop, August Falk’s Alma Marble Works, a tailor shop, and Falk’s Opera House.

Herrmann’s shops were located on the north side of West Main Street in Alma (a street renamed West 3rd in about 1920). Herrmann’s two buildings were located on the lots at 115 West 3rd, where the library is located in Alma today.


The Volland Brass Band poses in front of the Kratzer Bros. store at Volland in this Otto Kratzer photo from 1905. Bandleader Ferdinand Herrmann is seen at the far left with his clarinet. Photo courtesy Karen Durso.

Ferdinand Herrmann was an accomplished musician and bandleader. In an era when brass bands were common in rural Kansas, Herrmann was out of the ordinary, being proficient at the clarinet and as a music conductor. In fact, Ferdinand was the bandleader for several Wabaunsee County musical groups.


Ferdinand Herrmann, Christine Herrmann, and Fred Herrmann are seen in this Gus Meier interior view of their shoe shop in Alma, dated 1912.

One of the Herrmann’s children, Fred, followed his father in the trade of leatherworking, assuming ownership of the shops upon his father’s death in 1919. Fred married Mary Ann Schubert, daughter of Alma machinist and gunsmith, Carl Schubert and his wife, Barbara.


Seigfried “Fred” Herrmann is seen inside his Alma, Kansas shoe repair shop in this Gus Meier view from 1920.

Fred and Mary Ann Herrmann had eight children. Fred operated his harness and shoe repair shops and was also the custodian of the Wabaunsee County Courthouse for many years. One of their sons, Charles Herman, was a lifelong resident of Alma and an accomplished Flint Hills photographer.

Click on any of the photos below to view in a gallery format and as a full-screen image.

Categories: Biographies, Gallery, Museum Blog

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