In the nineteen forties and fifties, if East Peoria residents needed any type of clothing including East Peoria High School paraphernalia, letter jackets and sweaters, Propp’s Dry Goods, Clothing and Shoe Store was the place to go. It set at 104 East Washington Street, next to the Nighthawk Tavern and a stone’s through from Four Corners. It was opened Friday September 2, 1938 by Julius Propp and his son Leo. Julius “Yudi” (his name in Yiddish was Yehuda ben Duv Ber) Propps immigrated to the United States in 1890 from Kovna, Russia where he was born on October 18, 1872. After spending several years in Chicago, he relocated to Farmington, Illinois and opened a clothing store. Here he met and married Wanda Dobriner on June 19, 1909. Wanda had immigrated a year earlier from Germany. Julius became a naturalized citizen and fathered three sons in Farmington before moving to Peoria in the late 1920s. Here he was employed as an insurance agent until opening Propp’s Dpartment Store at 2105-07 South Adams in 1930. Though he continued to reside in Peoria, he moved his business to East Peoria in 1938 with his eldest son Leo. When Leo joined the military in 1942, Julius’ third son, Ray, joined the family business. Leo was very active in civic activities, serving as president of both East Peoria Businessmen’s Association (now the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce) and the East Peoria Rotary Club. When Julius retired, his sons continued to operate the business until January of 1960. Julius third son never entered into the business but owned a liquor store in Peoria. Competition from larger stores, Caterpillar traffic and family illness contributed to the closing of the small family business.
Propp’s was a complete family store carrying wearing apparel, shoes for children and adults and specializing in Lee overalls and Caterpillar work shoes. They carried a complete line of yard goods for house dresses and aprons, outing flannel and sheeting. It was always stocked with Simplicity Patterns.
Julius died in 1956 and is interred in Peoria Hebrew Cemetery, West Peoria, with his wife Wanda.
Compiled December 2018 by Frank Borror