George Wahl, a shoemaker by trade, was born in Niegel Baden, Germany on June 2, 1824. He traveled to America in 1852, first settling in a German colony in Amana, Iowa. From there he moved to Burlington, Iowa in 1854 where he was married to Elizabeth Cook. He became a naturalized citizen on February 7, 1859. In 1862 he traveled down the Mississippi River with his family and made Louisiana his home. George Wahl and Henry Naber formed a partnership for a shoe store in 1864 which was the Wahl and Naber Store.1,2
Early 1869 the paper prints notice of George and his brother Charles intentions “Mr. Chas. Wahl is preparing to erect a two story brick business building house on the corner of Fourth and Georgia streets”.3 July of 1870 a further update is seen in the paper, “The masons commenced laying brick on Wahl’s new building on the corner of Georgia and 4th streets last Wednesday. The corner and front columns will be dressed stone.” 4
August 19, 1874 George’s brother Charles is found dead in his stateroom aboard the steamer Northwestern whilst on his way from St. Louis to Louisiana.5
George marries Elizabeth Koch (Cook) January 29, 1859 in Burlington, Iowa. They have four sons together: Charles L. (1860-1940), Edward J. (1862-1912), Augustus G. (1864-1896), and Julius J. (1866-1902). Elizabeth dies between the 1870 & 1880 census. George then marries Elizabeth’s much younger sister Louisa. They have one son together George (1880-1882). George dies April 7, 1892 leaving his son Charles L. to run the families interest in the shoe business.
Charles L. Wahl was born in Burlington, Iowa, December 10, 1859 and died June 9, 1940. He married Emma Soellinger, who was born in Keokuk, Iowa, April 5, 1860 and died February 11, 1947. He spent his life operating the Wahl and Naber shoe store. He was active in Evening Star Lodge #28 IOOF and received a 50-year pin. He was an elder in the First Presbyterian Church. He served on the Louisiana City Council. Charles and Emma were the parents of Arnold Charles George Wahl, Lula Matilda Wahl, and Clarence G. Wahl.6
Arnold Charles George Wahl was born in Louisiana, Missouri April 4, 1886 and died November 20, 1966. In 1941 he married Lena Ruth Bramblet of Frankford.
His first business venture in 1913 was a railroad restaurant at Booth, a terminal for the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He moved back to Louisiana in 1917 and operated a pool room in the Benning building on South Third Street. Later, he opened a small restaurant at the rear of the building. In a moderation program, the pool hall was moved upstairs and he set up a modern restaurant downstairs. Shortly thereafter, he expanded his operation into the Grand Central Hotel at Third and South Carolina. The hotel name was changed to the Wahl Hotel and in 1945 he bought the building from the McCune heirs.
He was active during these years in a great many church, lodge, and civic affairs. A member of the First Christian Church, he served both as an elder and as a deacon. He was a member of the Perseverance Lodge #92 A.F.&A.M., also a 32nd Degree Mason and a Shriner. He was a member of the Eastern Star Lodge. He belonged to Evening Star Lodge #28 1.O.O.F. and received a 50-year pin from that organization. He was a past president of the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and of the Pike County Country Club. He held membership in B.P.O.E. #91 and the Rotary Club. 6