Feature Photo: Shopkeeper Jacob Lierman bears deep connection to the Peers Store
By Karen Cernich
Some days when he’s working at Peers Store, Jacob Lierman tries to imagine what it was like for his great-grandparents, the late Linus and Loretta Glosemeyer, who ran the iconic general store for more than 50 years, or his ancestor, George Glosemeyer, who built the store in 1890s after the railroad came through town. He appreciates the fact that, as one of the current storekeepers, he sweeps the same floors and washes the same windows that they did all those years.
An 18-year-old senior at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, Jacob, the son of Robert and Jamie Lierman, Marthasville, and grandson of Kenneth and Diane Lierman, admits he wasn’t always interested in history. In fact, he credits getting the job at Peers Store two years ago with sparking his interest, first with his family history and then with local history.
“I got really interested in how my family was connected to the store,” Jacob said. “I started studying that more, and I realized how closely it’s related to my parish (St. Ignatius of Loyola) up the hill. So that got me interested in area history as well.”
Jacob likes to talk history with customers and trail users who stop into Peers Store when it’s open Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m., May through October. Some come in looking for a drink, restroom or even just a place to take cover from the heat, but a few are specifically wanting to get a peek inside the 125-year-old building that they remember from decades ago.
“A lot of the customers comment on the details in the building. Many people ask about the little door upstairs, so he tells them how there used to be a walk-out porch. Some ask if he lives at the store, which gives him an opportunity to talk about his family connection to the store. The “Glosemeyer’s General Store,” as it was known, prospered for much of the 20th century, despite being inundated by floods at least half a dozen times between 1941 and 1995.
Jacob also shares the history of the Katy Trail, how before it was a flat and scenic pathway for cyclists and runners it was the route of the MKT (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) Railroad, dubbed the “K.T.” or the “Katy.” After the railroad ceased operations in 1986, the Department of Natural Resources acquired the right-of-way through an amendment to the National Trails System Act. “The amendment allows railroad corridors no longer needed for active rail service to be banked for future transportation needs and used in the interim as recreational trails,”
according to Missouri State Parks.
A donation by the late Edward D. “Ted” Jones, Jr. and his wife, Pat, provided funds to acquire the right-of-way and construction of the Katy Trail began in 1987. The first section of trail opened in 1990 at Rocheport and last year the Katy Trail, which is part of Missouri State Parks, celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Jacob feels proud to continue the Glosemeyer connection to the Katy railroad/trail through Peers Store, and he thinks his great-grandparents would feel the same.
Listed on National Register
Once the railroad stopped running through town in 1986, Peers Store naturally suffered a decline in business and, in 2012, it was closed. However, just two years later it was purchased by Dan and Connie Burkhardt, founders of the Katy Land Trust and Magnificent Missouri who wanted to continue the Joneses’ vision of the Katy Trail State Park. The Burkhardts, who live in the area, gave the building a fresh coat of paint and installed a new wood floor to replace the original that had been damaged over the years by floodwater. The Burkhardts had long admired the iconic store building and saw its potential as both a place where trail users could stop in for a drink or use the rest room and a place to promote and educate people about conservation.
The Burkhardts reopened Peers Store in the summer of 2015, and once again it has become a popular stop for trail users and locals alike. Live music is played on the front porch Saturdays and Sundays May through October, and there’s a freezer full of ice cream inside for anyone who needs a cool treat on a hot day.
Peers Store, which is located at 16011 Concord Hill Road, Marthasville, was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
This summer may be Jacob’s last as a shopkeeper at Peers Store. He will head off to college in the fall to begin his studies to become an elementary school teacher. His dream job would be to return to his parish school, St. Ignatius of Loyola, located just up the hill from Peers Store and the Katy Trail. He already volunteers considerable time there (working with students, managing social media accounts and even serving as secretary of the home and school group), and last month he was one of 29 students honored by the St. Louis Archdiocese with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Model of Justice Award in large part because of his volunteer work at St. Ignatius. Jacob is hopeful he’ll still be able to find time to work at Peers Store during his summer breaks or at least stop by for visits.