A Brief History of the House and Property Known as J.Fires’ Market Bistro
The history of the property begins in 1816— the very same year Monroe County was approved to become the 10th county in Illinois. Land owner Benjamin Marney, aged 47, was listed as the first taxpayer in 1816. In 1818, the same year Waterloo was named and surveyed, Marney made “First Improvements” on this property, which began as a single story cabin. By 1822, Benjamin Marney died of yellow fever in New Orleans leaving behind a wife who was 6 months pregnant.
Twenty years later Mahala Marney, Benjamin’s only child, married George Ditch, had 10 children, and moved back to the family farm. By the 1870s, Benjamin Marney’s “First Improvements” became the two story structure that stands today. George died in 1874 from pulmonary disease.
George H. Ditch, son of George and Mahala, continued farming the land until the 1880’s when he sold the house and property to the Kolmer family. The well known Kolmer family owned the property for many years. By the 1990s, the farmhouse was transformed into the Waterloo Winery by Mark and Susan Hendershot.
Finally, in 2008, the Pensoneau Family purchased the property from the Hendershots. The house underwent yet another transformation and became the local landmark it is today, J.Fires’ Market Bistro.
Cheers to 200 years!