McDoel History


Our name was made official in 1910, when the Monon formally named their rail yards in Bloomington after W.H. McDoel, influential president of the company from 1899-1909. It seems that this action was merely putting an official endorsement on what was common practice, calling not just the yards but the little community around them by the name of McDoel.

W.H. McDoel
Photo from the book Monon Route by George W. Hilton, published by Howell-North Books, p. 116.

Facsimile of article in the Bloomington Telephone, September 12, 1910, p.1.
For more information about the Monon's history in McDoel and Bloomington, see the Monon Railroad Historical and Technical Society's website at

The 1910 census shows that 274 people lived in the area, in 63 houses. The jobs held by members of these families included carpenter, painter, bookkeeper, salesman, teamster, farmer, washwoman, butcher, nurse, and private servant, and there were five public school teachers living in the neighborhood. By far the largest number worked for the railroad or the stone mills, though; fully three quarters of the workers in the neighborhood were employed by one or the other of these two industries.

The Gentry Brothers sold their circus in 1916, at the time estimated to be worth over $100,000 a small fortune for the era.

The First World War took the life of at least one son of the neighborhood, Horace Hay, a young man who grew up on First Street. No doubt the influenza epidemic that followed the war was also felt in the neighborhood, as it was all over the city. Another item on the medical front: a new, limestone hospital building was constructed at First and Rogers in 1919.

The most significant development for the neighborhood also occurred in 1919, when the Showers Brothers Company chose to build its new kitchen cabinet factory on the Dodds farm west of Rogers. This huge, modern facility was a model for the time, predicted to employ as many as 400 workers, and led to new house construction and street improvements in our neighborhood.

Construction at the new kitchen cabinet factory. This 1919 photo was taken facing northeast, with Rogers Street in the background. From the Showers Brothers Company newsletter, Shop Notes, Vol. 3, No. 7, June 28, 1919, p. 3.

Photo of Corliss engine being moved into the engine room at the kitchen cabinet factory. From Shop Notes, Vol. 3, No. 14, October 14, 1919, cover.

All written material and illustrations not otherwise noted copyright 2000-2001 E. Sieber.
Please do not reproduce without permission.