Gumbert. Reitz. Koch. Igleheart. Evansville, both past and present, is marked by family names that have impacted our schools, government, roads, and our city’s history. Inspired by “What’s in a Name?” in Evansville Living’s 2014 City View issue, this series will examine names you recognize and the stories behind them that you don’t.
Born in 1865 in Scott Township, Indiana, John William Boehne moved to Evansville in 1872 to start his career as an accountant. A graduate of Evansville Business College, Boehne also dabbled in manufacturing with a focus on stoves and ranges.
In 1897 — and again in 1899 upon reelection — he began serving the River City as councilman at large. Though he would go on to be elected mayor from 1905-1908 and serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1908, his first run for mayor as a Democratic candidate in 1901 was unsuccessful.
His first political race wouldn’t be his only failed campaign. Boehne served as an Indiana State Representative to the 61st and 66nd Congresses from 1909 to 1913, but was not a candidate for renomination in 1912. From there, he served as director of the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis, Missouri, until retiring from business and returning to Evansville, where he died on Dec. 27, 1946.
His burial in the Lutheran Cemetery — as well as the preservation of his Colonial Revival home built by architecture firm Clifford Shopbell & Co. in 1912 — is a testament to his legacy in Evansville, which reached well beyond his political pursuits.
The two-and-a-half story home at 1119 Lincoln Ave. was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and housed the University of Evansville’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity for several years starting in 1965. As a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Boehne bought the sanctuary’s original altar. He also helped fund the Boehne Camp Hospital, a treatment center for Tuberculosis patients that closed in 1967. The hospital was later renamed the Boehne Tuberculosis Hospital. The remodel of its administration building was profiled in the story “West Side Wonder” in the September/October 2021 issue of Evansville Living magazine.
His son, John W. Boehne Jr. also served in Congress starting in 1931 and was reelected five times until 1943. Following in his father’s footsteps, he was also the secretary and treasurer of Evansville’s Indiana Stove Works from 1920 to 1931. Boehne Jr. spent the rest of his business career in Maryland, passing away in the Irvington neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1973.
In 2022, the Boehne family’s mark is most noticeably left on Evansville in the form of Boehne Camp Road on the West Side, where the tuberculosis hospital once sat.