Jonas and Bettie Bing

Bing Advertisement, 1861

Advertisement for Bing’s Clothing House published in Champaign County Democrat, April 6 1861. 

Bing's Jewelry Store, 1958

This photograph was taken in October 1958 right before the 3-story building was torn down to make way for a bank parking lot.

Jonas Bing (1837-1913) was born in Germany in 1837, and emigrated in 1844 with family, settling first in Baltimore and then in Cincinnati. He began his business career in Urbana in 1857, starting with a clothing business. In 1858, he married Bettie Meyer (1844-1899) in Cincinnati. The Bing’s had seven children, and their first home was on the site of their store situated at 123 W. Main Street, Urbana. He eventually left the clothing business to start a grocery store with his youngest son, Benjamin Bing (1867-1943). 

Benjamin Bing attended the University of Illinois at a time when many Jewish students tried to conceal their Jewish identity. It is believed that eight men and one woman who attended the university between 1872 and 1894 were probably Jewish. Benjamin Bing, class of 1888, was the only one in the group who publically identified his faith. 

Following Jonas Bing’s death in 1913, Benjamin continued to run the business for another 8 years. The family continued to use the storefront at 123 W. Main for various entrepreneurial efforts including the Bing Sisters Gift Shop run by Adelaide, Arlene, and Bee Bing and Bing’s Jewelry run by Simon Bing.  When Benjamin Bing died in June 1943 his obituary listed him as the last remaining member of his family.

Benjamin Bing’s alumni listing

Benjamin Bing's Alumni Listing at the University of Illinois, 1888