March 29, 2020

I first wrote this post in 1911. It seemed an appropriate time to repost it. Additional details have been added. 

This beautiful, little girl died at the age of 8 on December 25, 1918. Her name was Lanora Troyke and she contracted the influenza that was sweeping the nation. Not even the rural hamlet of Schaumburg Township could escape the pandemic that would inevitably kill up to 675,000 people.

With its beginnings in January 1918, the pandemic didn’t really erupt until June of the same year. It was accelerated by troop movements in the declining days of World War I. In fact, in her book, A Schaumburg Farm, 1935-1964, LaVonne Presley talks about her father, William Thies, being “inducted in the midst of a flu epidemic, but [he] did not contract the flu. On the troop train carrying the recruits to Georgia for training, many young men became ill and died. William felt lucky to have survived the trip.”

By late summer, the pandemic was in its second wave and was more deadly than the first. Louise Bremer died on October 1, 1918. On October 17, Dr. Theobald, a local veterinarian, sent a letter to William Thies telling him, “The Spanish Influenza is raising havoc around this neighborhood, quite a few people having died and hundreds of them being sick with it. The Doctors are on the jump all the time, schools and churches are closed and picnics prohibited.”

He could have easily been referring to William and Wihelmina Dohl. Like the swine flu epidemic of  2009, this pandemic seemed to hit young, seemingly healthy people more severely. Mr. Dohl became very ill, very fast and was taken to Oak Park Hospital almost immediately on Wednesday, October 2. Despite being ill herself, Mrs. Dohl visited him on Thursday. According to the Cook County Herald, “Upon her return home, she went to bed at once… They both died at the same hour Saturday noon. The double funeral was held Tuesday. They leave a son 11 years [Elmer], daughter 7 years [Malinda] who were also very dangerously ill with the malady, but hopes are entertained for their speedy recovery.” Mr. and Mrs. Dohl were 34 years old and buried at St. John Lutheran Church on Rodenburg Road. In an oral history that is on the library’s Local History Digital Archive, Erna (Lichthardt) Hunerberg recalled that after the caskets were pushed out of the house, they closed the house as a method of quarantine.

It continued to be a scary month. The October 18, 1918 issue of the Cook County Herald said, “Fred Botterman and family are ill of influenza.” That very day, five year old Paul Krentz died.

On October 23, Pastor Gottlob Theiss of St. Peter Lutheran Church sent William Thies a letter bringing him up to date on these tragedies and others. “I just got it today from your cousin Tillie when I called there to see how they were getting on there. You know they all had the influenza except August and Edwin. They are all over it but Martha, and she is almost well. We have a great deal of the plague around here, so far there have been two deaths, Alma Bahe and Karl Schroeder her brother in law. Alma was buried a week ago today and Karl Schroeder yesterday. We could not have the funerals in church because church and schools have been closed for two weeks already. I wonder how conditions are down there in your camp.  Have you any cases of influenza? They are not sending any boys to the camps from here just now on account of the plague.”

The influenza affected those who were unaffected–or who had recovered. The November 1 paper mentioned that “F.W. Botterman and son Alfred are at Dundee on the Henry Nerge farm as the entire Nerge family are laid up with the influenza.”

The chores had to be done and it was truly a time of neighbor helping neighbor as displayed in this letter of October 26th to William from Wanda Boergener. “Isn’t it awful with the sickness? Panzers are sick except Hubert and Ella. Henry has to go there night and morning to milk and do chores. Eddy Stein is sick too. Isn’t it too bad with Tilly Biesterfield? The old Folks are there all alone now.”

By late October some of the worst must have been over. In a November 1, article from the Cook County Herald, it was stated that “Schaumburg schools opened Tuesday. Church services will be resumed Sunday. Anyone who has the influenza in their family is requested to stay home.” And they must have because the same column reported that there was “slim attendance owing to the flu epidemic.”

December, though, still found the flu in the township. In her personal account, Erna (Licthardt) Hunerberg recalled its impact on her family. Calling it the Spanish flu, she remembered getting sick on December 6 at the age of 12. The rest of her family was not immune either. Having told them that Santa was sick too, Erna’s parents postponed Christmas until the 29th when everyone was feeling better.

In fact, the December 13, 1918 Cook County Herald reported that “The Flu seems to be on the increase. Several new cases where entire families are down with it were reported last week.”

The Troyke family, however, did not fare as well over the holidays. Young Lanora died on Christmas Day and was buried in St. Peter Lutheran Church Cemetery. She left her parents, two sisters and three brothers to mourn the loss of a young, adorable girl who simply could not escape the nasty illness that swept our country.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

This posting was written with the assistance of letters saved by the William Thies family, Cemetery Walk scripts on Lanora Troyke and Wilhelmina Dohl researched and written by Nancy Lyons of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society, an oral history of  Erna (Lichthardt) Hunerberg conducted by FPSAH and articles from the Cook County Herald.

Credit for the photos of the tombstones of William and Wilhelmine Dohl and Lenora Troyke is given to Karen on findagrave.com



March 22, 2020

This is the fourth in a series of items taken from select issues of The Record which was published every Wednesday at 5 Hoffman Plaza in Hoffman Estates. The newspaper covered all of Schaumburg Township. Copies were lent to me by Jack Netter, whose mother wrote for the paper. Unique, interesting articles, ads and press releases will be shared below. This issue is dated October 27, 1965.

  • Voters approved a $675,000 bond referendum on Saturday, October 23 to construct a second junior high school in the district on Bode Road. (It would become Helen Keller Junior High, as pictured above.) The cost of the school was $975,000. The remaining $300,000 would be borrowed interest-free from the Illinois School Building Commission. Approximately $885,000 would be spent for the building, $52,000 for the site to be purchased from F&S Construction Company and $38,000 for contingencies. The largest turnout was at Hoffman School and the smallest at Schaumburg School.
  • Schaumburg Police Chief Martin Conroy received a letter from Seymour Simon, president of the Cook County Board, stating that Conroy’s request for a sidewalk on Schaumburg Road near Blackhawk School would be considered in 1966.
  • Construction bids for MacArthur and Dooley Schools were awarded to Egyptian Construction Company which was in the process of building Churchill School in Hoffman Estates. The two new schools would consist of 13 rooms plus a multi-purpose room. The architect for MacArthur was Frazier, Rafferty, Orr and Fairbanks and A.J. Del Bianco and Associates designed Dooley.
  • In the wake of a tragic fire that took the lives of all three members of the Leo F. Nichols family in Weathersfield, a group of Schaumburg residents formed a committee to investigate the establishment of a village fire department. The spokesman for the committee was Vincent Carsello of Kingston Lane.
  • The decision to put a water tower on a small village parcel near the future MacArthur School was being rethought. Fred Downey, President of the District 54 board, said that it would be difficult to squeeze in the tower and enough parking spaces at the school. Another parking lot would have to be built, using a portion of future playground space.
  • Roy S. Carlson, O.D., an optometrist was advertising his services of eyes exams, glasses fitting and prescriptions filled at his office in the Weathersfield Medical Center in the Weathersfield Commons.
  • Groundbreaking for the national headquarters of Bowling Proprietors Association of America to be built on Higgins Road across from the Higgins-Golf shopping center occurred at at the site with James L. Sloan, a village trustee, Robert Haag of F & S Construction and Howard Seehausen of BPAA.
  • Tony’s Pizza at Higgins-Golf Shopping Center was advertising a sale of 2 1/2 White Fence Farm Chicken Dinners for $1.20 plus tax. This included french fries and cole slaw too!
  • The first ever music department concert at Conant High School was scheduled for Sunday, October 31 in the school gymnasium. Performances by the A Cappella choir and both women’s choruses were scheduled. The two female choruses would combine their forces to perform a medley based on the music from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
  • Walgreens in the Higgins-Golf Shopping Center was advertising 6 12 oz. bottles of Old Style Beer, a bottle of 100 Bayer aspirin tablets for .59 and children’s scary “Nite-Brite” Monster Costumes for 1.59.
  • A special ad was taken out by Cub Pack 194 to salute and honor Roy J. Schepp, their former leader “whose dedicated leadership and integrity were unsurpassed.”
  • The Roselle Airport  was offering a first flying lesson in exchange for $5 and the ad in the paper. “You can sit at the controls, while a government licensed instructor explains and demonstrates  the basic principles and procedures of flying. He’ll turn the controls over to you while you climb, bank and actually learn many of the techniques for controlling an airplane in flight.”
  • Grants was offering a ladies’ pile-lined laminated corduroy coat with bleached raccoon collars for only $29.99, low heeled ankle boots for $2.99 and a men’s Pennleigh reversible quilt-lined ski parka for $9.88. Your payment could be charged with no money down and up to 2 years to pay.
  • Dog bite accounts abounded in this issue of the paper. Children were bitten on the face, the hand and on the back. All of the dogs were impounded.
  • The Highlands West subdivision was in full swing. William E. Griffin of F & S Construction said, “Our goal is to preserve the rolling contours of the land while putting in the necessary improvements for the 4000 to 5000 people who will live here.” The company would spend $5 million–approximately $5000 per house–in the next four years for just the groundwork. The work would be done in sections so that as soon as the initial section of 150 houses was completed, actual construction could begin. Plans also called for a 10-acre man-made lake to serve as a storm retention basin. “Lakeview and Highland ponds in Hoffman Estates were built for this purpose and they’re working perfectly.”
  • The Downtown Hoffman Estates Merchants Association was offering the opportunity to win one of 21 Thanksgiving turkeys from their cooperating stores that consisted of: Grants, National Foods, Snyders Hoffman Drugs, Golf Paint, Glass and Wallpaper, M’Gonigle and Sloan Insurance, Golf-Rose Barber Shop, Hoffman Currency Exchange, Bert’s Plantation, Notes and Quotes Music Store, Hoffman Estates Liquors, Hoffman Estates Organ and Piano, Jewel-Osco, Ben Franklin, Jupiter Cleaners, 31 Flavors, Balas Rug and Furniture, Golf-Rose Bakery, Orchid Cleaners, Frank of Hoffman Plaza Beauty Salon, Bob’s Barber Shop and Hoffman Bowling Lanes.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Credit for the following photos is gratefully given to:

Helen Keller Junior High (Google)

Blackhawk Grade School (Cornfields to Community by the Village of Hoffman Estates)



March 15, 2020

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” We know this as the unofficial motto of the United States Post Office. Those words still apply today but, in 1905, Theodore Vaas of Schaumburg Township, who delivered mail by horse and post wagon, would have definitely said the motto rang true.

According to Etched In Time, a history of Roselle, Illinois, Mr. Vaas (pictured above) was appointed on January 2, 1905 by the General Post Office Department to be Roselle’s first rural free mail carrier. At the time, the post office was located in the general store owned by J.C. Hattendorf in Roselle. It was not easy work, given the conditions of the rural roads of the area and the distance he had to travel. Nevertheless, Mr. Vaas did the job for eight years.

He and his small family came to Schaumburg Township shortly after the 1900 census. He and his wife, Marie Colling, had married in Chicago in 1895 and had their first daughter, Catherine, in 1899. In the 1900 census they were listed in Des Plaines in Maine Township where Mr. Vaas was farming.

By 1902 they had moved to Schaumburg Township where their second daughter, Amalia, was born. Three years later, at the beginning of 1905, Mr. Vaas began his job as an R.F.D mail carrier. It is unknown where they lived up to this point but, shortly after, a line appears in the March 24, 1905 Cook County Herald that states “Theo Vaas has moved his family to the flat above Mrs. Thiemann.”

We know there was only one Thiemann family in Schaumburg Township at the time. They lived in this house in the southern part of the township, on the north side of Irving Park Road, across from St. John Lutheran Church. Fred Thiemann and his wife Louise lived on the farm, along with their children and Fred’s mother, Mary. The Vaas family must have rented a portion or all of the upstairs from Mary Thiemann.

Or, possibly, there were two houses on the property, with Fred’s family living in one and Mary living by herself in another with the Vaas family. Quite often it happened where a family that moved to Schaumburg Township in the 1850s or 1860s would build a rudimentary house. Then, as they became more prosperous, they would build a newer, larger home. The 1910 census does state that Mary Thiemann had her own income so it is possible that she owned her own residence which would have been the older home. In a conversation with Mrs. Thiemann’s great grandson, though, he does not remember any mention of two houses on the property.

This Thiemann location would have been ideal for Mr. Vaas because of the close proximity to the village of Roselle. According to his daughter Catherine’s account in Etched in Time, “mail in those days was delivered by horse and wagon in the summer, and horse and sleigh in the winter… The mail route was so large that a fresh horse had to be used halfway through the deliveries. His route went west on Irving park Road to Rodenberg Road where he lived, stopped for lunch, continued west to Bartel’s Corners [the intersection of Wise and Irving Park Roads] and Wise Road, then proceeded east to Homeyer’s corner of Roselle Road, north to Schaumburg Center Road, and east to Meacham and Nerge Roads.” Keep in mind, this was just Schaumburg Township!

From Meacham and Nerge, he journeyed south into Bloomingdale Township where he changed horses, and then traveled all the way to Lake Street and up Roselle/Bloomingdale Road which took him back to Hattendorf’s store in Roselle.

He was obviously exposed to all types of weather and probably took some breaks at the dinner tables of a few friendly farmers. In fact, the entry in the book continues, “When Mr. Vaas was ill, his wife or William Ewald took over as substitute carriers. There were no paved roads, just dirt roads which were very muddy from spring thaws and summer rains. Travel was difficult because of the deep holes, ruts and wash-outs. Winter travel was worse. There were no plows and everyone had to make their way through the snow the best they could, shoveling through the high drifts.”

In 1907, after Mr. Vaas had been working as a postal carrier for two years, he and his wife had a son they named Theodore G. Clearly the family was getting too big for their quarters on the second floor of Mrs. Thiemann’s house because, in the Cook County Herald issue of October 9, 1908, it states that “Theo Vaas has bought the Kueneka place at Rodenburg; 18 acres, house and barn for $2300.” According to the 1886 plat map, this farm was across Irving Park Road from the Thiemanns, just south of St. John Lutheran Church at Rodenberg.

By the 1910 census, the household included four children–adding George P. who was born in 1909–and Peter Colling, who was the father of Mrs. Vaas.

Later that year, Theodore suffered a broken ankle, caused by a runaway horse while delivering mail. He was laid up for six weeks and finally returned to work in the latter part of September.

It wasn’t all bad weather and runaway horses though. The year 1911 was a big year for the Vaas family. In the March 31, 1911 issue of the Cook County Herald, it states that “Theo. Vaas and wife went to Chicago, Saturday evening to attend the Mail Carrier’s Banquet at the King Hotel.” Then, in July, another line in the newspaper mentioned that “Theo Vaas and Henry Rickert of Rodenburg are having silos built this week.” Farm improvements were definitely being made.

And, not to outdo himself, he also bought a Stanley Steamer car at a local sale. As the December 8, 1911 issue of the Cook County Herald said, “He can now take the neighbors out joy riding and serve Uncle Sam much faster.” It wasn’t until the following year that he actually began making the rounds with this new mode of transportation.

In 1912, Theodore and Marie had their last child, a son named Carl. The following year, Mr. Vaas resigned his position as a carrier “to take effect Sept. 1 and has taken a position as superintendent of the Stratford Farm in Schaumburg.” (Cook County Herald; August 29, 1913) He spent the next few years managing the farm (shown below) that grew produce, poultry and livestock for use at the Stratford Hotel in Chicago.

Then, in 1916, Mr. Vaas decided to sell his own, small farm. He advertised it in the January 28, 1916 issue of the Cook County Herald. “For Sale: My 19 acre farm, one mile west of Roselle. Barn, house, well, silo, orchard. Write or call Phone 31-R-1. Roselle, Ill. Theo Vaas, owner.”

In the spring of 1917, Theodore and Marie moved their family from the Stratford Farm to Chicago. The March 2 issue says, “He has been manager, several years of the Stratford farm here which is renowned for thoro-bred Guernsey cattle (shown below) & poultry.” A month later he reversed course and “moved his family to his farm at Rodenberg to stay with us this summer.”

By these small statements, it is presumed Mr. Vaas had either quit his job at Stratford Farm or was planning to because, in the August 10, 1917 paper, this big piece of news appeared. “Theo Vaas has purchased a farm at New Woodstock, NY where he expects to move his family shortly. The farm will now be known as the New Hope Stock Farm. Mr. Vaas is a live wire and will be a credit to Madison County.”

It took a while to exit the area and, unfortunately, 1918 saw two momentous events occur. World War I was in full swing and the third draft of the war took place. Even though Mr. Vaas was now in his mid 40’s, he was still required to register because his birthday, April 16, 1873, was just barely after the cutoff of September 11, 1872.

His draft registration card listed him as unemployed and living at Route 1, Roselle. He registered on September 12. A little less than a month later, on October 5, true tragedy struck the family. Their second daughter, Amalia, died of the Spanish influenza that was sweeping the country and attacking young, healthy people. It was virulent in Schaumburg Township at the time as can be noted in this earlier blog post.


The family buried her in St. Paul Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomingdale. They must have been devastated and her passing must have given them additional reason to leave the area.

It wasn’t, however, until after 1920 that they departed for New York. In an ad in the March 19, 1920 paper, Mr. Vaas stated, “As I am going to move to New York state to run a farm, I will sell the following at private sale: 16-inch Disc Harrow, Riding Cultivator with 2 sets of shovels, Stubble Plow, 5-shovel cultivator, Mower, Spike-Tooth Harrow. These tools are all new or nearly new. Also Flemish Giant Rabbits–3 does with young. All high grade stock eligible to register. Apply to Theo Vaas, Owner, Bensenville, Illinois.”

The 1920 census saw the family still in Illinois, living in a rented house on Green Street in Addison. By this time, Mr. Vaas was listed as a stock man on the railroad.

In the 1925 New York state census they appeared with their three boys in West Monroe, Oswego County, New York. Their daughter, Catherine, did not come east with them and, instead, married Irwynn Kimball and stayed in Chicago. In fact, Theodore and Marie appeared to have returned to the area and were living with them in the 1930 census.

Life went on and, when Marie died in 1952, she was buried with her daughter, Amalia, in the cemetery in Bloomingdale. Theodore remarried and died in New York in 1956. The family clearly thought a lot of our local area and remembered it fondly because, even though they had been gone nearly 36 years, they placed an obituary for our first R.F.D. postal carrier in the local newspaper. It mentioned that he was survived by his second wife, his three sons and his remaining daughter, Catherine. Both Theodore and Carl eventually returned to the Chicago area and passed away here. George is the only one who stayed in New York and is buried in the New Woodstock Cemetery.

It was Catherine, though, who brings the family’s story full circle in Schaumburg Township. In her later years, she returned to this area, the place of her youth, to live in Friendship Village in Schaumburg. She died there and is buried with her husband, sister and mother at St. Paul Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomingdale. One has to think it felt good to come back home.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Many thanks and credit for the photos (from top to bottom) is given to the following entitites:

Theodore Vaas and his mail wagon:  Etched in Time: A History of the Village of Roselle, Illinois by Jill Gross, the Roselle Historical Foundation and the Roselle History Museum.

Thiemann Farm and St. John Lutheran Church:  The Thiemann family

Stanley Steamer:  Pinterest

Stratford Farm:  Florence (Bell) Randall family

Guernsey cow:  The Livestock Conservancy

Gravestone of Amalia Vaas:  Doug Williams on findagrave.com

Gravestones of Catherine and Irwynn Kimball:  Doug Williams on findagrave.com





March 14, 2020

Stop by for an open house of the Sunderlage Farmhouse in Hoffman Estates! Visitors will have an opportunity to see the house’s interior and learn about its history.

When:  Saturday, March 21, 2020

Where: 1775 Vista Lane, Hoffman Estates

Who:  Hoffman Estates Historic Sites Commission

What: This free event will examine the history of the 1856 farmhouse, including the layout of its rooms, floors, staircase and basement. The smokehouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its mid-19th century Greek Revival style, will also be open. Photos, blueprints and maps will be on display.

For more information, call 847-781-2606.


March 8, 2020

About three months ago, we received a unique phone call at the Reference Desk. Maurice Huffman was calling from his father’s residence in Florida. He had discovered that his father had a number of Chicago phone books and wondered if we were interested in adding them to our collection.

His father was born in Chicago and eventually moved to Florida but he never forgot his hometown. He was a reader and had a deep interest in history. As a result, he collected a large amount of memorabilia–like these phone books–that spoke to his Chicago connection.

Over the past few years the library has obtained a few Chicago phone books from three different decades. To help make people aware of these additions, both the genealogy librarian and I wrote blog posts about this small collection. As a result, we have begun to see a response from the public who have called, emailed and stopped in to make use of these books. It was because of these blog posts that Mr. Huffman tracked us down.

Our phone books help searchers to confirm the location of a person or a business. But, most of all they work as a way for genealogists to place a family member’s residence between the years of the census. Ten years can be a long time to expect that people will stay in one place. So, if, for instance, their ancestor is listed in the 1930 census in Chicago but not the 1940 census, a phone book from 1944 might give the searcher a better idea when they left the city.

With these additions from James Huffman, compliments of his son, we have added additional years–and decades–to our collection. Plus, they sent a small collection of yellow pages too. The years we have now include:

Chicago White Pages

Chicago Classified Yellow Pages

Many of these phone books are fragile so they are not able to be photocopied or scanned. However, we can provide photos, compliments of the tablet at the Reference Desk. These photos can be emailed to you.

In addition, you might be interested to know that we also have:

Chicago Suburban

And, to keep it more local:

Chicago Suburban North/Northwest

Bartlett, Roselle and Bloomingdale

Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates

So, if you’re tracking down a person or a business in the Chicago area, don’t hesitate to contact me at jrozek@stdl.org or the Reference Desk at refdesk@stdl.org.

We are thrilled to have these new additions and thank the Huffmans for recognizing what they had and reaching out to our library. What a wonderful way to preserve history!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

*The library has a large gap in local phone books. We are missing the years 1960-1981 for Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates. If you, like James Huffman, are cleaning out family archives and come across ANY phone book that fall in that time period, please contact me. We would love to rescue it!


March 1, 2020

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Another year begins. So many resolutions are made by us all. Some of us never bother anymore because it’s so hard to keep them. Many of us think, where has all the time gone? The beginning of a new year makes us look back on what we did in 2019. As one who loves history, I still have questions about what my family did in the years gone by. Some questions will never be answered because I never took the time to ask my questions when my parents were still with me.

If you make one resolution this year, I hope it’s to begin asking those questions now. Take time to make a list of all the things you’ve wondered about. Ask your family members while they’re still with you.

Don’t forget about the pictures. Do you have some of the family from years ago, but don’t have a clue as to who some of those faces are? Ask about them. Write the info on the back of the photo very lightly with a soft pencil. If someone looked at your pictures in a few years, would they know who was in them?

Some of the most treasured items in our Hoffman Estates Village history are our photos. They really represent all the wonderful residents who’ve donated them. They tell the story of how our village has grown over the years and how it used to be.

The photos show their children playing on a dirt hill during the construction of their home. Some photos tell the complete story of the construction of their home from foundation to completing the interior. Others show some of them as children playing on the front lawn as their parents begin the process of moving in.

The farmers who’ve moved away and some who have passed away also shared their old photos from their farming years. The equipment in the pictures was their pride and joy. New technology that helped them plant and harvest their crops. Some of them date back to 1906 and 1912 when photography was just beginning to tell their story and preserve their history.

On the snowy winter days ahead, sort through those old photos. Ask questions about who’s in them and mark them for coming generations. Ask family members to share their photos and to scan them or digitize them for the future. Keep your originals in special boxes made for that purpose. Ask your parents and grandparents for their old photos and organize them, marking names on the photos and asking those important question, “Who is that?”

Time slips by so quickly. Here we are at 2020. Begin writing your own biography. You don’t have to be a famous person to do that. Those stories you have to tell will compliment the photos you have. Some people keep a daily diary, others have no desire to do so. Take a little time every now and then to write about YOU. Other family members can be encouraged to do the same. Don’t wait until you have to ask the question, “Who is that?” and the person with the answer is gone. Have fun saving your history and remember to share photos with me so that you become part of the villages’ history. After all, isn’t that what you are?

Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Village Historian


February 23, 2020

This is the third in a series of items taken from select issues of The Record which was published every Wednesday at 5 Hoffman Plaza in Hoffman Estates. The newspaper covered all of Schaumburg Township. Copies were lent to me by Jack Netter, whose mother wrote for the paper. Unique, interesting articles, ads and press releases will be shared below.

  • Woodfield may have opened in 1971, but the first stages of planning were taking place in 1965. The Schaumburg Plans Commission approved the zoning for a massive regional shopping center on Golf Road at Route 53. It was expected to be larger than the Oak Brook shopping center and Sears Roebuck & Co. was already slated to be part of the development.
  • The entire month of October was chosen by the Hoffman Estates Jaycees as the time frame for residents to participate in a contest that would produce a village flag and motto. Entries had to include a drawing of the flag, a statement of the motto and a written description of the design, motto and the symbolization of both.
  • The scheduled date of October 23 was the voting day for Schaumburg Township residents to say yea or nay for a second junior high to be built on Bode Road. The cost would total $975,000.
  • Hoffman Lanes was taking reservations for the fall bowling leagues which included mixed, men’s handicap, women’s handicap and the Saturday Jr. program. Special features of the bowling alley included: supervised nursery, free instruction, open bowling, cocktail lounge, restaurant and snack bar, meeting and banquet room, automatic pinsetters, pin finders, telescores, free parking, air conditioning, billiard room and pro shop.
  • The board of education for Junior College District 301 that included Wheeling, Elk Grove, Palatine and Schaumburg announced the selection of Robert E. Lahti as the first president of the community college.
  • The firm of Ciorba, Spies, Gustafson and Co. were hired by the village of Hoffman Estates to serve as the village engineers. They served as replacements for Harold Olson and Associates. This was done in anticipation of the Hoffman Estates’ Leisure World development that was being planned.
  • Two public hearings were expected to be the two final steps in approval by the village of Hoffman Estates of the Leisure World adult retirement community that would be on 3000 acres west of Barrington Road.
  • Dru Linnell reported that the Schaumburg Township Historical Society would kick off its new season of activities by holding a potluck supper at St. Peter Lutheran School. Following the supper, a slide show featuring the oldest farms and buildings in the area would be provided by Ellsworth Meineke as seen in the photo below.
  • The Professional Academy of Music in the Higgins-Golf Shopping Center was offering music lessons for $1, including use of an instrument in your home. Interestingly, they also offered dancing lessons that included toe, ballet, acrobatic, modern jazz and character.
  • The Golf Paint, Glass and Wallpaper in the Golf-Rose Shopping Center offered mirrors, windows, glass tops and replacements. The customer could shop at home or in the shop.
  • The Hoffman Estates village board approved the purchase of a $400 snowplow in preparation for the upcoming winter.
  • Walgreens at the Higgins-Golf Shopping Center was selling a spare bed with foam mattress for $9.59, Aerowax floor wax for .69, family size Macleans tooth paste for .59, a shaker tin of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder for .63 and a 19” boudoir lamp for $1.69.
  • V&G Mower & Bicycle Sales & Service, which was located 1/4 mile north of Golf Road on Roselle Road, was selling the Ranger bicycle in all shapes, sizes and colors for the price of $34.95.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


February 16, 2020


These photos are part of a larger group of unidentified photos that were recently given to the library and were listed as coming from the Kastning family of Schaumburg Township. It is my hope that, in posting them here, someone will recognize the family members or provide additional clues that will help with an identification.

This is a marvelous wedding photo of a very young couple who hail from one of our local German families. We can date the photo to the 1910s because the bride’s dress is of the Edwardian wedding dress style.

The bride has her long hair arranged in a pompadour, with a very elegant veil perched on top and held in place by a ring of flowers. Her dress appears to be made of linen with many layers of lace on the skirt, bodice, neck and sleeves. She is wearing a necklace and has a pin on the bodice. Her full bouquet is made up of roses and, rather than holding the bouquet up, she gently points the flowers towards the ground.

Her groom is attired in a dark suit with a very neatly tied bow tie and highly polished shoes. He has a boutonniere in his lapel that incorporates a rose that matches the bride’s bouquet. His  naturally curly hair is parted down the middle and, rather uniquely for that time, he clearly has a wedding ring on his finger. Her left hand is hidden by the flowers so we cannot tell if she is wearing a wedding band, too.

We have one clue regarding this photo. The mat surrounding the photo has the name of the photographer (Kramer) and his studio location (Palatine) embossed on the front of the photo. Clearly, they are a local couple.

This next wedding photo is also supposedly linked to the Kastning family. It was clearly taken in the 1920s because the length of the bridesmaid dresses have risen above the ankle and the bodices are loose and unsculpted. Also, all of them are sporting the bobbed hair that was famous in that decade.

It is difficult to determine the style of the bride’s dress because of the large bouquet of flowers she is holding. It obviously has a simple scooped neck and a skirt that has an outer layer of lace and, maybe, tulle? Her veil is long and covers most of her head with some type of large net cap.

The bridesmaids are wearing matching gowns but, because the shading of the dresses seem to be different, we have to wonder if they are different colors. They all appear to be carrying bouquets of pompom dahlias.

The groom is in a pin-striped suit while his groomsmen are in solid-colored, double-breasted suits. Notice, too, that the groom is wearing a tie while his groomsmen are wearing bow ties. They all have a spray of flowers on their lapels.

To finish off the photo, we see a flower girl and a ring bearer at the foot of the bride. The little girl is wearing a beautiful dress with short sleeves, white tights and white shoes. She also has a necklace around her neck and a large white bow in her bobbed hair. Her basket of flowers sits to her right.

Not to be outdone, the little boy has on a fine white shirt, white tights and white shoes. He carries a beautiful pillow for the rings and his blonde hair is combed to a shine.

Because bridal parties of the time were often comprised of family members, we can see some resemblances among the people gathered here.

First, the groom might be a sibling to the bridesmaid on the far left and the two on the right. They are all around the same height and seem to have the same eyes. The bridesmaid that is seated most resembles the groom.

Second, the gentleman to the far left appears to be an older version of the groom in the photo at the top of this blog post. He has shorter hair and his expression is more austere but his hair is still full and curly, his ears stick out in the same manner and he has the same long straight nose. Also, could he be a brother to the bride?

Third, is the woman seated in front of him, a short-haired version of his wife from the first photo? Is that why they are posed together in this second photo?

The two outliers are the groomsmen to the right. They do not seem to resemble any of the others.

When I removed the photo from the mat, I could see that the embossed name of the photographer is in the lower right. The name seems to be Johnson and the location is Des Plaines. Unfortunately, there is no writing anywhere on the photo. The only other clue we have is that the person who made the donation said that the groom was a Kastning.

This funerary photo is completely different. These photos were often put together as a way to remember and honor the deceased. This particular picture had a sheet of paper attached to it that says, “We think this is Christofer Fasse. Grandma Amanda (Fasse) Nerge’s father.”  In doing a bit of research, it was discovered that Christofer was born August 12, 1857 in Schaumburg and died of a heart attack on September 24, 1907 at the age of 50. The gentleman in the photo definitely looks as if he were in his 40s or 50s.

It is very possible that this photo is with the Kastning photos because Christofer was the grandfather of Adelia (Nerge) Kastning.  Amanda, mentioned in the attached sheet of paper, was Adelia’s mother.

This lovely little photo has no identification on it but it does have an address label for A.W. Kastning of Roselle on the back of the photo. A.W. Kastning was Al Kastning, husband of Adelia (Nerge) Kastning. We have to presume, then, that this young lady was a descendant of either the Nerge or Kastning family.

She is in a white dress and appears to be around the age of 13, which is when most of the German Lutheran children of the area were confirmed. It was a big event in their lives and, in almost every case, no expense was spared for this important date.

By dating the dress, it appears the photo was taken sometime around the turn of the twentieth century. Maybe 1905 or so? Another clue tells us that the photo was taken by Mosser of Palatine. His name is also tracked on another unidentified photo that I wrote about. It, too, has an unidentified young woman in her confirmation dress–only the time period looks a bit later. You can find it here.

We are fortunate that this photo had a possible description written on the mat. It stated this is the “Elcie Sharlow and John Hattendorf wedding.”

Taking advantage of Elcie’s rather unique name, it seemed that it would be easier to track the two of them down through her. Unfortunately, there was not any listing for the Sharlow family in the Local History Digital Archive or any of the usual sources that are checked. In tracing John Hattendorf though, a John and Elsie (with an “s”) Hattendorf were found in the 1930 census.

At the time of that census, John was 32 years old and Elsie was 17. They had been married a year and already had a daughter named Florence who was two months old at the time the census was taken on April 10, 1930. John’s sister, Martha, also lived with them. It appears we have the right couple given the visual discrepancy in their ages in the photo.

But, was Elsie’s maiden name truly Sharlow? To track down this information, it was necessary to turn to Ancestry and get their death dates. Once those were in place it was a short hop to the obituaries of John and Elsie in the Daily Herald. Elise died on March 27, 1961 and the obituary states that they married March 15, 1928. Her given name is also listed as “Elsie.” Her maiden name is nowhere to be found but it does list her step-brother, Ernest Scharlau of Roselle. This seems to confirm that the person who wrote the description on the photo made an error in the spellings of both her first name and her last name.

It was then time to check out Mr. Hattendorf’s obituary. He died five years later on December 6, 1966. It is here, though, that we find Elsie’s maiden name of Westfal and that she was born in Chicago–not Schaumburg Township. So, the person who wrote the description on the photo must have known her brother who lived in Roselle but didn’t know that he was a step-brother, thereby failing to list her true maiden name.

The wedding year, however, is listed as 1929 in the obituary, which is one year off from the date mentioned in Elsie’s obituary. In turning to the marriage records of St. Peter Lutheran Church it was easy to find them listed as the first couple to have married in 1929. The date, March 15, is the same.

And, who is listed as an attendant at the wedding? Helena Kastning. Which further explains how this photo might have found its way into this collection of Kastning photos.

This particular photo actually had identifications on it–along with those handy arrows. It is listed as Grampa Kastning’s family.

Written on the photo are the following identifications. In the front row, from left to right are Wm. Kastning and Louis Kastning. In the middle are Grandma Kastning and Grandpa Gottlieb Kastning. In the back row, from left to right are: Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wilkening (Bertha and Henry), Margaret or Matilde Kastning, Mr. and Mrs. G. Thies (G. and Marie.)

It turns out that the library already had a photocopy of this exact picture–including the arrows! The photocopy was donated in 2007 and the research on the photo was done at that time–thanks to some wonderful contributions from Larry Nerge.

This is actually the Christoph (or Christopher) and Justine (Lohmann) Kastning family. They lived on a farm on the southeast corner of Higgins and Roselle Roads. Christoph was born in 1835 in Schaumburg-Lippe Germany. He married Justine at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in 1862 and they had the following children: Marie (1863), Bertha (1865), Margaret (1867), Sophie (1869), August (1871), Mathilde (1872), Alvine (1877), Louis (1879) and William (1882).

Because we know William was born in 1882, we can guess that he is around the age of 10–which puts this photo at ca. 1891 or 1892. By this time, the Kastnings had lost two of their nine children. Sophie died of diptheria at the age of 10 in 1879 while August lived only a week.

Clearly, one of the daughters–Margaret or Mathilde–is not in the photo. Margaret married Albert Sporleder in 1891 and Mathilde married Herman Scharringhausen in 1900, so they would have both, very likely, been unmarried at the time. Unfortunately, those details don’t put us any closer to guessing who it is.

This photo might help a bit. It was taken of Margaret Sporleder for the occasion of her 50th wedding anniversary. She closely resembles the young lady in the middle of this photo but, without a picture of her sister, we still can’t say for sure that it is Margaret.

If you can help with any of the identifications or recognize these family members in your genealogy tree, please comment here or send me an email. Hopefully, someone out there can provide additional clues!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library




February 9, 2020

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The early years of what would become Hoffman Estates saw a small development at the intersection of old Higgins Road and Barrington Road. It’s believed that this area was settled in the mid to late 1800s. It was called Buttermilk Corners by the locals who used the businesses that were established at this rural crossroads. (The photo below shows the only portion of Old Higgins Road that still exists.)

The small cluster of businesses and homes is gone. Very few of us who live in Hoffman Estates have heard of it. Us old timers will remember the last of the businesses that survived. It was the Harvey Bierman/Jon Bierman Quonset Hut that housed the salesroom for John Deere equipment, blacksmithing and a repair shop.

What was in Buttermilk Corners? If you drove there with your horse drawn wagon loaded with milk, you’d stop at the milk depot that was located on the west side of Barrington Road, just north of old Higgins Road. You would unload the milk and stop next door at Herman Hartz’s Blacksmith Shop to have the horse shod with new shoes. Perhaps you’d talk to Herman about some repairs you needed for your plow. Herman’s two story home was just to the north of his shop. Across Barrington Road, at the northeast corner, you’d find the creamery where some of your milk may have been headed.

Buttermilk Corners must have been a bustling crossroads. The Krumfuss Farm on Shoefactory Road, the Steinmeyer Farm (shown above), the Sunderlage Farm and the Meyer Farm all located on Higgins Road and the Heine Farm on Barrington Road were neighboring farms with dairy herds that must have kept the creamery and milk depot busy. It was convenient for all of the surrounding farms.

Harvey Bierman’s farm was north of Higgins Road and he hung out at Herman Hartz’s Blacksmith Shop learning as much as he could between his chores on the farm and school. Eventually, when he grew older, he’d buy Herman Hartz’s Shop and become the new blacksmith.

Harvey Bierman’s son, Jon Bierman, told me the story of Buttermilk Corners as told to him by his mother, Ester Steinmeyer Bierman. It wasn’t until 1951 that his house, the old Evangelical Church school located on Old Church Road, was purchased and moved to the northeast corner of Old Higgins Road and Barrington Road to become his new home. Mr. Krumfuss dug out the basement for the schoolhouse, Harvey built up a second floor and the family was ready to move in.

By this time Buttermilk Corners was all but gone. Most of the milk was being shipped to Chicago. The creamery and milk depot were no longer needed and they were torn down. The most necessary building, the Hartz’ Blacksmith & Ferrier Shop, remained. With the purchase of the business by Harvey, the location of the blacksmith shop moved across the street next to his home. In 1950 Harvey purchased an army salvage Quonset Hut for $3,000. All the farmers helped. They put the pieces together and the vitally needed blacksmith shop was open for business.

The Bierman home and business was all that remained of the earlier crossroads that was called Buttermilk Corners. They also fell to the wrecking ball as new development was planned by St. Alexius Hospital. Only a short stretch of Old Higgins Road remains east of Barrington Road to remind you of what is gone.

Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian


February 2, 2020

Take a look for yourself. The renovation of the Easy Street is complete and the building has reopened as Phat Phat. Wonderfully, the integrity of the building was maintained through extensive brick work, new windows and doors and a new main entrance. Let’s take a look at how the building has evolved into the unique structure it is today.

When the building first opened it was called the Schaumburg Inn. This 1913 postcard shows the structure shortly after it was built by H. E. Quindel in 1911 for a cost of $15,000. On August 1 of that year, according to an article in the July 28, 1911 issue of the Cook County Herald, Charles Krueger began leasing it as a hotel, hall and saloon. The fact that it served as a hotel explains all of the windows on every side of the building.

Notice the large windows on the first floor in the front and the multiple doors on both sides of the building. In fact, there are a total of four doors. Not only can we see the set of double doors on the diagonal, but there is another door in the shade on the far left of the front facade and two doors on the south side.

Frank Lengl purchased the restaurant April 28, 1924, maintaining the above appearance for a number of years. Later, he enclosed some of the front facade and added a vestibule for the front door, creating this look.In addition, he added his name to the front of the building, renamed it the Schaumburg Inn and painted the large sign in the upper corner that advertised the chicken and steak dinners that were served in the restaurant.

This rendition was used to create the village’s 2019 Christmas ornament.

When the recent renovation began, the building looked like this. Ken Koy and Jerry Trofholz, owners of the Easy Street, had maintained the boarded front facade that gave the establishment a more snug, tavern-like feel. They removed the vestibule and front door that jutted out onto the sidewalk and installed awnings over the tops of the windows. Somewhere along the way they also added a satellite dish on the roof to provide access to multiple sports channels.

Today, the building has largely reverted to its original appearance. Most details that are viewable from Roselle Road have been maintained, save for the two doors on the south side of the building that have been converted to windows, and the diagonal door that is now a single door rather than double doors. The door on the left side of the front facade remains intact and in shadow in this photo too. Interestingly, neither door serves as the main entrance. That is on the north side of the building.

Notice, too, that a smaller rendition of the historic Lengl sign has also been added to the building. You can get a closer look here.

The north and east views of the restaurant below, show the main entrance on the north side of the building, complete with stairs and a ramp. In addition, the Chicago common brick that was originally used has also been reworked and freshened up.

Like the front, the back of the building was changed quite a bit from the Easy Street era to today’s Phat Phat restaurant. In comparing both photos, it appears that most of the doors and windows have been moved and the red paint that covered the Chicago common brick was blasted off.


It is wonderful that the building still maintains its look of an early twentieth century hotel with its large number of doors and windows. Comparing a restaurant from the 1900s to anything built today, we would never see so many entrances, exits and multi-shaped windows. It is part of what makes this amazing historic building a contributing structure in the village’s Olde Schaumburg Centre District.

What a pleasure to see that it has been renovated to rival its original appearance. Mr. H.E. Quindel, who commissioned the building in 1911, would be oh so impressed. As are we!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library