TRACKING DOWN THE HISTORY OF OAK HOLLOW FARM

At the beginning of May, Bob Vinnedge, president of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society, passed on an email that he had recently received.  A former resident of Schaumburg had a 50 pound sign made of oak that was square in shape and 43 ½ inches wide, 37 ½ inches tall and 3 ½ inches thick—and it was heavy.  Written on the sign were the words OAK HOLLOW FARM.

According to the former resident, the sign had originally hung on a white metal pole along Schaumburg Road, approximately 300 yards east of Salem.  It was at the entrance of what used to be Oak Hollow Farm.  This was before Campanelli developed the property and built what is now platted as Weathersfield Unit 20.  According to the ex-resident, the lane of the farm was gravel and went through current-day Squanto Court.  Another former resident of the area confirmed that a brick house was on the property and the farm itself was a grain farm.

This farm/plat is bordered by Schaumburg Road on the north, Salem Drive on the west, Kemah Lane on the south and a combination of Timbercrest, the Woods and an unincorporated parcel on the east.  The sign was given to the resident around 1973 after the development of that portion of Weathersfield was already well under way.  Mr. Vinnedge was happy to accept the sign and asked me to look into the history of Oak Hollow Farm.

This is not one of those properties that was owned by the same German farm family for generations.  Based on Schaumburg Township Land Patents by Bonnie Cernosek, the parcel was originally purchased as a land grant by George Green.  It passed through many hands over the years and was broken up into parcels and then put back together again.  In 1926 it was owned by the Bajeanes family who lived in a house at the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads and ran a truck farm on a few parcels in the vicinity.

On a 1959 map by Paul Baldwin & Son, the property is broken up with the portion that borders Salem Drive being owned by H. Scherholz [sic] and a smaller portion to the east simply stipulated as “Small Tracts.”  In the 1958 and 1959 Cook County Personal Property Assessment lists, the taxpayers are listed as Robert E. Lovett and Mrs. Gordon Lovett.  According to Bob and Pat Lovett, the son and daughter-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Lovett, the elder Lovetts moved to the area in 1948 or 1949 and managed the farm for Mr. Harry G. Schierholz, a gentleman farmer from Chicago.  The farm raised registered Guernsey cows.  The crops raised on the farm sustained the Guernseys.

[Bob and Pat Lovett said there was a small portion of property notched out from the Schierholz property that bordered Schaumburg Road.  It was owned by Tom Borthwick.  The Lovetts and I suspect it is the same small parcel of property that is listed on the tax rolls as "Small Tracts" and is across from the Schaumburg Township building.  At this writing it is unincorporated and undeveloped.]

The Robert and Patricia Lovett family (including Brian and daughter, Kim) also lived there after Robert returned from his service in the Air Force.  Interestingly enough, Brian’s parents met because his maternal grandfather managed the poultry operation of another farm in the area.  It was the large Odlum Farm called Rosewood Farm on Central Road in DuPage County.  [The other local Odlum Farm, Rolling Acres, was at the corner of Schaumburg and Barrington Roads in Schaumburg.]

By 1964, the name Oak Hollow Farm is actually used in the Personal Property Assessment list and it had obviously been sold because the owner is listed as Rowmen Co Inc. They were a developer and were based in Northbrook.  They were active in the area, building Hillcrest School in Hoffman Estates.  [Brian Lovett confirmed that when the farm was sold to Rowmen, the Schierholz farming operations moved to Genoa City, WI where that farm was also called Oak Hollow and where his grandparents continued to be the farm managers.]

In a contradiction to the Rowmen Co. info, a 1963 plat map stipulates that the Clerics of St. Viator owned the west 80 acres and the east acreage continued to be listed as “Small Tracts.”  Somewhere around that time, though, the Catholic Church did obtain the property.  The signholder said it was donated to the Catholic Church and they held the acreage, obviously renting it out to be farmed.  Mayor Al Larson confirmed for me that it was owned by the Viatorian Brothers, a Catholic order out of Arlington Heights.  He said when his family moved to Schaumburg, Oak Hollow Farm “had one last crop before it turned into just a field with an occasional stray corn plant left over from last year’s crop.”

Turning to our aerial photos, it was obvious in 1970 that the property was still farmland.  The Catholic Church sold it to the Campanelli Brothers about this time.  A classified ad from the October 14, 1971 issue of the Daily Herald, says, “October 15, 16, 9 to dark, garage—antique sale, housewares, clothing, antiques, ½ mile west of Roselle Road on Schaumburg Rd., Oak Hollow Farm.  Unfortunately, the next article from the Daily Herald on March 12, 1973 has a picture with a caption that reads, “Schaumburg firemen Friday fought a blaze that destroyed an abandoned farmhouse and shed at the Oak Hollow Farm on Schaumburg Road near Washington Boulevard.  Firemen had to return to the scene Saturday to fight several reburns.  Cause of the fire is unknown.”

By December, 1974, the property was mostly built up.  It was on the 16th of that month that a Daily Herald article mentions that the Schaumburg Park District board “voted to accept a nearby Campanelli donation known as Oak Hollow Farm.”

Looking at the property today, it’s obvious where the name Oak Hollow Farm comes from.  Farming the entire property would have been a bit of a challenge.  According to one of the former residents, there was always an unusable, low, marshy area at the back that was abutted by an oak savanna.  It was impossible acreage even for Campanelli.  But their loss is our gain because today it is a beautiful, peaceful park known  as the Kay Wojcik Conservation Area at Oak Hollow.  You wouldn’t even know it is in Schaumburg if you didn’t live near it or go looking for it like I did.  

According to the Schaumburg Park District’s website, it consists of “a 17 ½ acre remnant of the original oak grove that first attracted settlers to the area.  One of Schaumburg’s finest natural areas, the site contains 100+ year old oak and hickory trees, many rare and beautiful native wildflowers, wetlands, a restored prairie, and a ½ mile trail system that is accessible via Spruce Drive, Samoset Lane or Juniper Lane.”

So, take a walk and explore a part of Schaumburg you may not realize existed.  The email I received from Bob Vinnedge definitely evolved into a treasure hunt—in more ways than one.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

(My thanks to Brian Lovett and his parents, Bob and Pat, for filling in some of the details of the farm during the late 1950′s and early 1960′s time period.  Contributing to our local history is exactly what this blog is for and, as a result, this posting has been updated.)

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2 Responses to “TRACKING DOWN THE HISTORY OF OAK HOLLOW FARM”

  1. Nancy Lyons Says:

    I used link from S-T-H-S.org to read the Oak Hollow story. Great job.

  2. Kim Says:

    I also remember this sign! We passed it almost daily. I lived on Cabot Ln. In Weathersfield from 1966 to 1969 when we moved to Pleasant St. In Hoffman Estates. I do remember there was an earlier fire at the farm circa 1966/67 because we could see the smoke from our house on Cabot. My grandpa drove me in the car to see it and we parked alongside Schaumburg Rd. just across from Washington. It was an incredible sight for a 3/4 year old to see and has stayed with me for many years!

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