As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let’s remember a local Lithuanian-American-owned business that touched many of our homes and lives: Tisckos Furniture Barn, which operated on N. 4th St. from the 1940s to the early 1990s. I recently found out that the Tisckos store was where my mom and dad bought our family’s first couch and living room rug.
Coal miner’s sons who made good, Martin and Charles Tisckos (pronounced TISH-kus) opened their store at 522 N. 4th just after World War II–right in time for the post-War Baby Boom. Brother Charlie, a lawyer, was a silent partner. In the late 1950s, Martin purchased the old McCoy Laundry building at 322 N. 4th and moved the store to this much larger four-story building.
Chuck Tisckos, Charlie’s son, recalls that Tisckos Furniture carried quality home furnishings, bedding, appliances and carpeting: brands like Heywood-Wakefield, Flexsteel and Hotpoint appliances. The store was also an exclusive Broyhill distributor. I recently learned I have another personal connection with the store: My father-in-law Ray Gietl laid carpet that customers purchased there.
Martin and Charlie’s father was Lithuanian immigrant John Tisckos, born in 1888, who came to Springfield via Scotland, where he was an apprentice tailor. In Springfield, John Tisckos was a career coal miner, retiring from the New North Mine in 1952, around the same time the mine closed. Martin and Charlie’s mother was Lithuanian immigrant Alice Urbas. John and Alice (Urbas) Tisckos belonged to St. Vincent de Paul Church, which John probably helped excavate and build. Martin and Charles had siblings Adolph, Ann (Wisnosky), and William (Vance).
Tisckos son Charlie graduated from the now-defunct University of Illinois and Lincoln College of Law. He married Della, the daughter of Lithuanian immigrant John Grenowage (pronounced GREN-a-vitch), born in 1888, and German immigrant Mina Schiller, born in 1891. John Grenowage, later Green, was a coal miner who came to Springfield via Pennsylvania and worked the mines here until the 1930s, when mass layoffs prompted strikes and the local “Mine Wars.” While their dad John was mining, Della and her siblings John, William, and Edward, lived next to the Springfield circus grounds at 11th St. and Black Ave. Later, the family farmed southwest of Taylorville, on Scrapeford Road.
Tisckos son Martin and wife Marinella (Marni) had three children, Leslie Candace, Marty and Scott. Martin died in 1996; Charlie in 1998. Their descendants did not carry on the store. Thinking about it, I’m amazed that it stayed open until just a few years before the Tisckos brothers died.
Tisckos son Charlie’s son Chuck married Beryl Jean (Parish) and has one son, Ben. Ben and wife Kathy have a daughter, Chelsea, who is a senior at Missouri State Univeristy. Charlie and Della’s daughter Nancy married Richard Vicars and has a daughter, Lisa, and sons Richard, Jr. and Patrick. Many thanks to Chuck Tisckos for the photos and information in this post.