WHO LOVES YA SCHAUMBURG? A BOWLING ALLEY COMES TO TOWN…

March 22, 2015

It was a big day in Schaumburg on Sunday, September 7, 1975 when Telly Savalas came to town for the grand opening of Schaumburg Lanes, the first bowling alley built in Schaumburg.  He arrived at the invitation of Tony Ceresa, the owner and operator of Frontier Lanes, Inc. of Elgin.  The 40-lane building at 117 N. Roselle Road was Mr. Ceresa’s second project and was just south of–what was then–the Golden Acres Country Club.  It was also state of the art with its Brunswick Astroline gear of automatic pinspotters and “revolutionary two lane Automatic Scorer–the first in the midwest and only the second in the country.”  [Daily Herald; 9/3/1975]

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The photos above are of the site before construction began.  It is obvious that St. Peter Lutheran Church is in the background as well as the low tan brick building that is their elementary school.  Also evident to the right is the Sloan/Kotel house that is now called the Blue House and is on Schaumburg Road.  The groundbreaking for the new bowling alley on the 3.16 acre site was held October 18, 1974 with Mr. Ceresa in attendance as well as Russ Larson, president of the Schaumburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bob Baldwin, president of the Elgin Bowling Association which was a governing body of men’s bowling in the northwest suburbs and Ray LeBeau, a village of Schaumburg trustee.  The building took nearly a year to complete and outfit but when it finally opened, not only was Telly Savalas in attendance but a whole other host of luminaries were there as well.

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The list included bowling champions Dave Soutar and his wife, Judy, Fred “Skee” Foremsky and Vesma Grinfelds who all participated in demonstration bowling for the audience of potential local customers.  These bowling pros were joined by Chicago Bulls’ basketball star Bob Love and a host of Playboy Bunnies who helped introduce the new bowling equipment.  [The photos above show both the building almost fully constructed with its distinctive, arched roof and also, shortly before the grand opening.]

Schaumburg Lanes was on Roselle Road for 20 years and was a popular spot with local bowling leagues.  They offered a snack shop and a nursery for parents who enjoyed a night out. Different events were sponsored including a New Year’s Eve Candlelite Bowling Party in 1979 that offered food, prizes, favors, bowling, open bar and hats.  The cost was $35 a couple and ran from 10:00 until the partying stopped.  [Daily Herald; 12/12/1979]  They also expanded their activities to include junior league bowling teams for children.  In an April 26, 1992 article from the Chicago Tribune, it mentions that Schaumburg Lanes manager, “Rich Klasa has seen an influx of bowling teams made up of kids and their parents in the last few years.”  All in all, it was a busy site, considering their neighbor, the Schaumburg Transportation Company, generously offering their parking lot as a space for the Schaumburg Farmers’ Market for a period of time.Schaumburg Lanes 1

Schaumburg Lanes 2By 1995 though, the developers were knocking and business had tailed off so the bowling alley closed.  “The lanes [were] sold from the bowling alley and [went] to California and North Carolina… [with] the machinery [heading] to Japan.  [Daily Herald; 3/29/1995]   The site, along with Schaumburg Transportation Company’s 15-acres, was purchased and eventually, in 1997, the Olde Schaumburg townhome community was begun by Hoffman Homes.  It’s hard to believe the townhomes have been there now almost as long as the bowling alley was.

Bowling  is a sport almost anyone can do and, in 1975, it had to have been a nice addition to the area.   If you were a regular or played your first game there, please share your memories.  From the interior, to the Automatic Scorers or to the good times you had, it’s always nice to discuss what you remember.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

The photos above were graciously donated to the library by Jay Campbell who had the foresight 40 years ago to take the pictures and preserve them so that we could all share in the memories.  Thank you Jay.

The black matchbook cover, with its ads for both Schaumburg Lanes and Frontier Lanes, was passed on by Johnny Kunzer, an interested reader of the blog.  It’s always nice when one of the blog postings strikes a chord.  Thank you Johnny.

 

 

A PLANE CRASH IN HOFFMAN ESTATES

March 15, 2015

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

plane crash

It’s been more than 50 years since that terrible plane crash occurred on March 8, 1964.  The plane crashed into the Golubski home, 112 Arlington St., just before midnight.  The chartered DC-3 two engine plane was returning from a skiing trip to the Boyne mountain area, Pellston, Michigan when the plane came down in the residential area of Hoffman Estates.  It was trying to land at O’Hare airport.

There were 28 skiers, members of the Snow Drifters Club of Aurora, and a crew of two on the plane when it crashed into the Golubski house.  It took two hours before the fire department could reach the pilot and co-pilot and free them from the cockpit that was buried in the garage of the home. Unfortunately, the co-pilot died in the crash.   The passengers were able to quickly leave the plane with just cuts and bruises. Ambulances were sent from Chicago to help take the injured passengers to Northwest Community Hospital for treatment.

Fire Chief Carl Selke said that pilot, Virgil Provonost, told him during the rescue that they “hit some turbulence and we were unable to lift up.  We were able to turn off the engines before hitting.” As the plane came down, it clipped a pole bringing down the wires and setting off the fire alarm at the nearby school.  Fire trucks arrived quickly.  They were concerned that the fuel in the plane would be ignited.  Several of the men disconnected the wiring to the batteries to prevent a spark that could set everything ablaze.  Firemen from Elk Grove, Bloomingdale and Hoffman Estates took part in the rescue.   (The photo below is Parcel A in mid-construction.  Arlington Street is in Parcel B.) 1871

There have been many stories about how the plane crashed.  One story tells of how the pilot mistook the lights on the street as the O’Hara runway.  I’ve heard this story many times.  But the pilot is never quoted as saying this.  Since there were no lights along the highways or on the streets of Hoffman Estates at that time, I never understood how street lights could confuse the pilot.

Ken Rogner, who had the Shell gas station on the corner of Roselle and Higgins told me he was one of the first to arrive at the crash scene.  Because he had a thin build, he was asked to try and work his way into the cockpit to rescue the crew.  Many of the neighbors also came to offer help but where warned to stay back because of the threat of fire.

Miraculously the five members of the Golubski family were unharmed but in shock at how close they came to serious injury or even death due to the plane crash that seriously damaged their home.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

Airplane photo compliments of the Village of Hoffman Estates’ website.

THE TRIAL? DEFENSE BY A FAMOUS ATTORNEY

March 8, 2015

BankLast week the tale was told of Frank Henning, a bank teller at the Farmers Bank of Schaumburg, who confessed in a letter to bank stockholders, that he embezzled $40,000 to speculate in the stock market.  Hoping to earn it back, he escaped to New York City on New Year’s day but, within a couple of weeks, was tracked down by the Burns Detective Agency.  The year was 1914 and Mr. Henning would not stay in New York for long.

In fact, as reported in the Rock Island Argus on January 17, Governor Edward Dunne “issued a requisition for the return from New York city of Cashier Henning.”  By the 22nd, Henning was on his way back to Chicago to await his trial.  And the next time we hear of him?  It is the end of May.  And who has he hired as his attorney?  None other than the most famous defense attorney to ever practice law–Clarence Darrow.

Clarence_Darrow

In his review in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society of the book, In the Clutches of the Law:  Clarence Darrow’s Letters, John Lupton, Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission, states that “Clarence Darrow is arguably the most famous attorney in American history… Darrow classified himself as a general practice attorney who had a substantial criminal caseload.”

And for this particular criminal case, the 57-year-old Darrow ingeniously supported his client by basing his defense on the fact that the Farmers Bank was a private institution and not legally incorporated. This would prove to be the crucial point in the trial.

In a cross examination by Mr. Darrow, one of the stockholders admitted the statement about the legal status of the bank was correct. In a May 28, 1914 article from the Chicago Tribune, it is mentioned that the stockholder also “admitted Henning was a partner and had an interest at the time he left.  Then Darrow made the startling announcement that Henning could not be touched under the law.  A partner cannot be found guilty of embezzling funds from a partner.  The state had ‘not a leg to stand on’ he asserted.”

Realizing Darrow was correct in this statement, W. W. Witty, the Assistant State’s Attorney, then proceeded to make an additional accusation, declaring Henning guilty of embezzlement of $835 in January 1911.  At this point in time,  Henning was a cashier but not yet a partner.  Darrow admitted this was correct, that Henning was not a partner, but there was yet another caveat–by law, the statute of limitations had already expired on such a charge.  The defense then moved that the “court direct a verdict of not guilty.”

In response, Judge McKinley, sustained this contention and took the case away from the jury and the court convened for the day.  On the following day, Thursday, May 28, 1914, Frank Henning walked out of the courtroom a free man.  Mr. Darrow had done his job.

Ten years later, in 1924, Mr. Darrow would rivet the world with his 12-hour long closing argument in the Leopold and Loeb trial.  One year later, in 1925, Mr. Darrow’s defense of John Thomas Scopes in the Scopes Monkey trial would truly establish his worldwide fame in a trial that focused on the right to teach evolution in public schools.  Taking on cases such as Frank Henning vs. Farmers Bank of Schaumburg in 1914 was a step in his rise to legal greatness.

Farmers Bank of Schaumburg bounced back from the embezzlement and even survived an attempted robbery in 1921 when Herman Freise, president of the bank, personally thwarted the robbers.  It would not outlast the Great Depression, though, and eventually closed in 1933.  Very few banks were immune during those harrowing years, and private banks and the banking system as a whole struggled.  New regulations and protective practices such as the FDIC were put in place to protect both the institution and the investors.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

I discovered this incident serendipitously as I do with a number of pieces of our history.  I was doing a brief search of the University of Illinois’ Digital Newspaper Collections and stumbled across mentions of the trial in a newspaper called The Day Book.  This was a newspaper that was published between 1911 and 1917 in Chicago–fortuitously for us.  It was designed as an experimental, ad-free daily and begun by E. W. Scripps, founder of both the media conglomerate by the same name and the United Press.  Mentions of the trial were brief but enough to pique my interest.  It wasn’t until I dug deeper into the Chicago Tribune’s database that I discovered the wonderful details about Clarence Darrow.  All of the articles used to write this blog posting are listed below:

 

  • Chicago Daily Tribune.  January 4, 1914
  • Chicago Daily Tribune.  January 5, 1914
  • Cook County Herald.  January 9, 1914
  • Cook County Herald.  January 16, 1914
  • Rock Island Argus.  January 17, 1914
  • Chicago Daily Tribune.  January 22, 1914
  • Chicago Daily Tribune.  May 28, 1914
  • Cook County Herald.  May 29, 1914
  • Chicago Daily Tribune.  May 29, 1914
  • Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society; Volume 107, Number 2, Summer 2014; p. 243.

 

 

THE CRIME? EMBEZZLEMENT

March 1, 2015

On Friday morning, January 2, 1914 the head cashier of the Farmers Bank of Schaumburg, walked through the bank’s front door and was greeted by a letter addressed to the directors.  Written by Frank Henning, the assistant cashier, the letter told the story of how he had embezzled $40,000 from the bank so that he might speculate in the stock market.  He’d lost all of it, every single penny, and begged to please, give him a chance, and he’d repay it.  Then he left, leaving town with only the letter to answer for his crime.Bank

The bank had opened in 1911 on the northeast corner of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads with a first day’s deposit of $21,000.  The bank was a source of pride for the hard working German farmers of Schaumburg Township who were pleased to have their own local institution to hold their savings.

Fast forward three years later and the 22 stockholders were holding a hurried meeting on Saturday, January 3, 1914 to discuss the details of the crime and figure a way to keep the bank solvent.  It seemed that Mr Henning, who had been with the bank since its beginning, left his home on New Year’s Day, telling his wife and 2 year-old daughter that he was going to attend a theatre party in Chicago that evening. Instead, he posted one letter to the bank and one to his wife confessing his crime.

The bank’s letter held a $1000 bond and Mr. Henning’s $1000 certificate of stock in the bank.  It was all that was left of his tenure and he probably would have raised a red flag had he earlier tried to cash in the bond. He also left promissory notes made out to the stockholders that were due over a period of six months to five years in the future with his guarantee that he would return the money.  In addition, he told them he was travelling to Omaha to begin working on that process.

In an immediate response, the stockholders raised the capital stock from $25,000 to $50,000 with each of them putting up close to $1500 to cover the loss.  They also hired a clerk from the First National Bank of Elgin to do an audit of the books.  Lastly, they hired the Burns Detective Agency, led by William J. Burns whose photo is shown below, to find Mr. Henning so that he might be brought to justice.  Warrants for his arrest were placed on the following Monday.  Burns Detective Agency

His wife was just as upset and puzzled as the stockholders.  The family lived on the second floor of the bank and after the embezzlement returned to a nearby town to live with their immediate relatives.

Mr. Henning, however, wasn’t on the lam for long before he made a crucial mistake.  He sent a letter to a friend asking about his wife and daughter and must have included his whereabouts in the text.  Either the friend turned it over to his wife or to the Burns Detective Agency, because it didn’t take them long to determine that Mr. Henning was not in Omaha but in New York City.  By January 13 they had tracked him down in the Woolworth building [shown below] and taken him into custody.  Woolworth Building

Shortly after, he spilled the whole story.  In an article from the Cook County Herald dated January 16, 1914, it states, “He talked freely with the detectives who took him—mainly talking about his wife.  He told them how he worked his way through a business college, worked in a country store and saved his money, and during the panic of 1907 speculated with his employer and made $1800.  He dabbled in stocks from then until he left Schaumburg and always lost.  Henning said he had an opportunity in 1910 to purchase stock in the Farmers bank of Schaumburg… He had no money, but borrowed $1000 from his father, an ironworker, and after buying an interest in the bank, became bookkeeper.  The money he had borrowed was all the savings of his father, and in the hope of paying it back he filled out signed drafts on the bank’s correspondents in Chicago.  With the money thus obtained, he resumed speculating in the Chicago stock market.  Henning said he always lost but by skillfully covering up his speculations he managed to avoid suspicion until late in last December.  Then he realized the game was up.”

In the same article he mentions how he arrived in New York with $2500 that he had on account with a Chicago broker.  Thinking he might get a law degree and make the money back more quickly, he talked to a number of law schools—including Fordham—and discovered that none of them “would graduate him in six months.”  Shortly after, the detectives tracked him down.

And this is where the story gets more interesting.  Next week we meet the gentleman who enters the scene and gives Schaumburg Township a small touch of early fame, albeit unasked for…   

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

A HIPPO IN A CORN FIELD

February 22, 2015

Hippos Hotdogs 2

If you grew up or lived in Schaumburg Township anywhere between the 1960s and 1990s—and especially if you were a Conant High School student—you probably have a special place in your heart for Hippo’s Hot Dogs.  I’ve written about them before on this blog but had never seen a photo of the original trailer that started the business.  Well, imagine my surprise when this photo recently appeared in my Inbox, compliments of Larry Rowan.  Isn’t it a great shot?  It’s a thrill to be able to post it here for everyone to see!

The business started in 1963 at the corner of Higgins Road and old Route 53/Rohlwing Road.  It sat in an Airstream trailer next to a vegetable stand on the east side of the road, just north of the site of a former Shell gas station. They sold Chicago-style steamed hot dogs, tamales (!) and cold drinks from this trailer until 1969 when they built their long-time restaurant at the Hippodrome Plaza.  The shopping center was named for them and sat on the northwest corner of the intersection of Higgins and Plum Grove Roads.

Judging by how brown the landscape looks in this photo, it must have been mid-fall on a day when it was still warm enough to be in shirt sleeves.  Maybe the lady customer was taking these young boys (don’t miss the one between her and the little boy in the striped shirt) out for a special lunch while her older children were in school?  Or it was just a way to get out of the house and not have to cook?  There were not that many restaurants in the area between 1964 and 1969 and this probably would have been a reasonably priced lunch or dinner for the four of them.

It’s a wonderful photo with very vivid colors and it totally exudes the remoteness of the location before heavy development hit the area.  One has to think that it closed during the winter.  It would have been a coooold place to be if those steamers full of hotdogs weren’t going full tilt.  Alternatively, it had to have been a hotttt place to be in the summer because it is sure doubtful there was air conditioning in that trailer in the 1960s!

If you have anything to add to this photo, please send in your comments.  We’d love to hear from you.  You may also read the first blog posting about Hippo’s here.  And thank you to Larry for passing on this little piece of history.  What a treasure!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

WINTER IN HOFFMAN ESTATES

February 15, 2015

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

sledding hill

February is usually the month that can be the cruelest as far as snow and cold weather goes.  But although I’m growing old and worry about slippery steps and icy parking lots, I still love winter.  I try not to tell too many people about this since they think I’m a bit crazy.

Why would I love cold, slush and below zero temperatures?  I believe it’s the wonderful memories I have of winter when I was growing up in Chicago.  We had the opportunity to go sledding every day after school and ice skating on weekends. Crack the whip was the kids and my favorite game to play on the ice.  We didn’t have warming houses at all the ponds that I skated on.  Some parks always had a nice warm field house to warm yourself in when your feet felt like, well like nothing, because you couldn’t feel them at all.  Walking to the ice skating pond was ok but walking back home was when you’d try to ask mom for a dime to take the bus home.  Most times she would ask me to walk home or just not go skating if it was that cold.

Whenever it snowed, and it did a lot when I was a girl, I loved how it looked and how quiet it was outside in a snowstorm. Fresh snow would always sparkle at night under the street lights.  I don’t ever remember having snow days back then so that wasn’t one of the reasons that I loved winter.  Snow ball fights, snow forts and snowmen are some of the other reasons I loved it.

When I had my own children, I loved to go out and pull them on the sled.  Of course I was the reindeer and I had sleigh bells that I hung from my neck.  It was fun and my neighbors thought I was crazy.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy this winter.  The Hoffman Estates Park District has outdoor ice skating at South Ridge Park, Highpoint Park and Evergreen Park.  When the flag is green, it’s a go for skating.  The red flag means the ice is not thick enough to walk or skate on. You can go sledding at Pine Park and don’t forget the Cook County Forest Preserve tails that offer more winter recreation opportunities.  Winter in Hoffman Estates can be a lot of fun.  Over the years the Park District has added so many beautiful parks to our village. Go to HEParks.org to locate them on their map.  Get outdoors and enjoy the winter season.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

FOOTBALL AND BUSINESS: SUPPORTING THE KIDS OF HOFFMAN ESTATES

February 8, 2015

Recognize any of these businesses from the early suburban days of Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg?  This week Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian shared a publication with me from 1964.  It was the Hoffman Estates Athletic Association 1964 Football Program.  

While most of the program was centered around the teams of the Hoffman Raiders and Commandos, as well as their cheerleading squads, the Raiderettes and Commandettes, a fair portion of the book was devoted to the sponsors of the two teams.  Take a look at some of the business ads that were included…

Tony's Marathon ServiceNotice that even though Tony’s was in Hoffman Estates proper–and certainly Schaumburg Township–the address was listed as Palatine.  This was quite common in the early days of development due to the fact that Schaumburg Township did not have its own post office.  In the instance of this business, their mail was probably being routed through the Palatine Post Office.

Schaumburg Transportation Co

 

Schaumburg Transportation Company was the bus service for many years for our school districts.  You can find a writeup about their history here.

Buggy Whip

This is a very cute ad for The Buggy Whip which, by this point, was in its second location.  You can read about it here.  Notice the TW4 prefix for the phone number.  TW stood for Twinbrook which was under early consideration as the name for Hoffman Estates.  The name was used in the naming of Twinbrook School, Twinbrook YMCA and Twinbrook Hardware.

Hoffman Estates StandardThere were quite a few gas stations on the main intersection corners of the early suburbs.  Maybe someone can tell me if this was on the SW or NW corner of Golf and Roselle?

Stompanato SonsThis plumbing business had, not only TW as a prefix for one of their phone numbers but also had another number with the prefix of LA which stood for Lawrence.  Notice that that portion of Illinois Boulevard was also not listed as Hoffman Estates but, rather, as Roselle.   This area’s mail was probably being routed through Roselle.

Higgins and Golf Food Mart 1Higgins and Golf Food Mart 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

This business looks like it may have been an early grocery store or even a small convenience store.  The pink listing above is from the program guide whereas the ad to the right was one Pat Barch had in her collection.  Clearly the “Higgens and Golf” ad was from an earlier time.  Note that it has the TW4 prefix whereas the one above has the standard 894 prefix by this time.  (89 correlates to the letters TW on a telephone.)    Does this store ring a bell with anyone and does anyone know what part of the intersection of Higgins and Golf it was on?

Hoffman Estates Realty CoThis is the first business mentioned in Golf Rose plaza.  They probably had their fair share of traffic with all of the new construction going up.

 

Hoffman Lanes 2Hoffman Lanes was already in operation by 1964 and you can read all about this long-lasting bowling alley here.  What a run they’re on!

 

Neff ElectronicsNeff Electronics was in the same shopping center as the Rainbow Inn and later the Fireside Roller Rink.  Here are some memories of the Neff business as well as others that were on that same SW corner of Higgins and Roselle.

Dog n SudsAnd, then there was this early fast-food favorite.  Good thing the owner of the brochure didn’t like root beer!  You can also read in more detail about Dog “N” Suds here.  Like most of the businesses mentioned here, it was family run.

Ralston Electronics

This business looks like it was service-oriented and run out of the owner’s home.  Flagstaff Lane is in Parcel C of Hoffman Estates and is strictly a residential street.

Dern's Dairy ServiceThere were actually a number of dairy services in the area at this time.  Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg were booming with young children and families who may have had only one car so a dairy service that delivered milk, cheese and butter to the door was a godsend.  Maybe your family used another one?

Hoffman Estates LiquorIt’s interesting that this business was listed as being in the Golf Rose Shopping Center yet Hoffman Estates Realty was in the Golf Rose Plaza.  I’m fairly certain these were the same strip mall.  Does anyone think differently?

Golf Rose BakeryThis was THE bakery for Schaumburg Township for many years.  Was anyone else aware it had operated under a different name before it became Golf Rose?  And, as far as a closing date, the last time I see it mentioned as Golf Rose is in the 1997 phone book.

Ace Hardware

Just as Golf Rose Bakery was THE bakery for the residents of Schaumburg Township, this Ace Hardware was THE hardware store for many years.  It fortuitously opened in 1954 just as the building boom was beginning.  It was also a place where you could pay your Citizens Utility bill and even pick up light bulbs from the utility.

 

M'Gonigle and Sloan

Where there are young homeowners, there’s a need for insurance.  This was yet another Golf Rose business and it was still operating under the old LA9 prefix.

Rainbow InnThe Rainbow Inn had been a long-standing tavern by 1964.  It opened as the Rainbo Tavern in the mid-1920s and became the Rainbow Inn in 1936 under new management.  Food was served there but the main focus was the saloon side of things.  For a more complete look at the Rainbow’s interesting history, take a look here.

F and S ConstructionAnd, last but not least, were the developers of Hoffman Estates.  Not only did F & S develop and build the village but they were also heavily involved with the community–and their participation in the football program was just a touch of it.

If you have any comments or tidbits to add about any of these businesses, please share.  Your history is our history!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

WHEN OUR TOWNSHIPS WERE BORN…

February 1, 2015

On January 4 we should have had a birthday party.  It was 173 years ago in 1842 that Schaumburg Township was born.  Papers were filed in St. Louis with Jos. C. Brown, Surveyor of the public lands for the District of Illinois & Missouri, laying out the 36 sections of our township.  At the time the township was known as “Township 41, North of the base line, Range 10 East of the 3° principal Meridian.”  The official name, Schaumburg Township, had yet to be adopted.  That would happen at the first annual town meeting on April 2, 1850 when Frederick Nerge pounded on the table and insisted that the township be named “Schaumburg” after his homeland in Germany.

Thanks to local resident, Linn Beyer, who graciously lent me a variety of old, township maps, you can take  a look at the hand drawn townships of Schaumburg, Elk Grove (1842), Hanover (1842), Palatine (1840) and Barrington (1839).  The maps are quite a marvel, given their age and the number of physical geography elements that were there in the 1800s that are still evident today.

Each township is made up of 36 sections that are one square mile in area.  The sections were then divided into quarters.  Because it is impossible to make each township perfectly square in the entire state of Illinois due to the curvature of the earth and the uneven boundaries of the state and therefore, the counties, adjustments had to be made to the township lines.  In the townships shown here, the adjustments were made on the north and west boundaries of the township, often resulting in smaller sections on those edges.  Perfect section lines always began on the south and east sides and expanded to the north and west sides where the adjustments were made.  The township system is what the legal description of your property is based on today.

Let’s take a look at what Schaumburg Township was like in 1842…

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The first noticeable thing on the map is Sarah’s Grove, smack dab in the middle of the township–and parts of it certainly exist today.  Other than that, the only distinguishing characteristics drawn in  by the surveyors were a series of marshes, sloughs, a few fields on the northern, southern and eastern borders  and a portion of Salt Creek flowing into Elk Grove Township.  Maybe you recognize some of the lower spots today in the township that were marshes and sloughs back then?   In the upper right corner, you can even note the “Road from Missionary on Fox river to Chicago.”  This road came out of Palatine Township and is essentially Algonquin Road today.

4279

Moving on to Elk Grove Township, one of the most prominent, distinquishing characteristics is the large light bulb-shaped area noted as “Timber.” This would later come to be known as Busse Woods.  The next thing your eye goes to are the fields in the shape of a “t.”  It’s amazing that this acreage was already planted on such a large scale at such an early time in the history of the county.  Salt Creek is also distinct and already named as it runs north to south through the western side of the township.

A couple of written notations also mention “witness points” in both the lake at the top of the map and Salt Creek at the bottom.  “Witness points” were survey marks set in place by the surveyor to note part of the section lines.  It would have been impossible for the surveyor to establish such a point in bodies of water; hence, it was written on the map.

4281

Moving west from Schaumburg Township to Hanover Township, fields, sloughs and marshes are very evident.  This is the first indication of Poplar Creek which is also already named.  It runs east to west through a good portion of the central part of the township.  There is even a saw mill near noted hills along the banks of the creek.  The sawmill also had a dam on the creek that must have been built to power the mill.  Clearly this township was on its way to being settled.

The large  fields are scattered and one in section 20 even has a house built in the middle.  Other houses can be found in Section 8 at the top of the map and Section 34/35 at the bottom.  Based on the same type of lines on other maps, the squiggly lines are drawn to make note of a wooded area of the township.  As with the future Busse Woods, this area is unnamed unlike similar groves on the next map.

4282

Compared to the other maps, Palatine Township is simply littered with groves of trees.  Missionary Grove and Plum Grove are in the southern part of the township near its boundary with Schaumburg Township, English Grove is in the center and Deer Grove takes up much of the northern part of the map.  Parts of Plum Grove are still in existence today–as well as the similarly named road.  Missionary Grove is now the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve.  English Grove is part of Inverness and, well, Deer Grove, is still very much a large part of Palatine Township.

There are a number of fields scattered throughout the township with a couple of houses noted too, including one that is mentioned as a “frame house.”  Given that the year was 1840 and it was very much an unsettled area, a frame house must have seemed so unusual that the surveyor felt it was worthy enough to note it on the map.  In addition, the “Road from Fox River to Chicago” can also be seen traversing the southern part of the township.  This is the early version of Algonquin Road.

The other distinctive notations on the map are the water patterns in the township.  The North Fork of the Salt Creek, along with its “over flown bottom,” drains in a fairly north to south line along the eastern boundary.  The West Fork of the Salt Creek flows through Plum Grove and converges with the North Fork in the very southeast corner of the township.  In addition to the fairly large swamps in the center and in the northwest corner, there are also two large “grass lakes” shown on both the west and north boundaries.  The one on the west boundary with Barrington Township is now known as Baker Lake and is now part of the Baker’s Lake Forest Preserve.  The one on the north boundary with Lake County is known today as Deerpath Lake.

4280

When we move to Barrington Township, it is clear that what isn’t identified as “Prairie” consists of three substantial “Timber” patches on the west and northern boundaries.  All of it is now part of the Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve and parts of Barrington Hills.  Goose Lake is identified in the middle of it and still exists as that name.  Two roads move through the township.  One comes in from the northwest and traverses through to the southeast border.  Again, this is Algonquin Road.  The other road moves north to south and crosses Algonquin Road on the eastern side of the map.  It looks like it could be the early vestiges of Barrington Road.  The interesting thing is there is an “Indian trace” on the southern border.  This is another name for a trail.  There are also a few fields and marshes but the area appears to be unsettled.

After exploring these maps, it’s fairly easy to see why Schaumburg Township remained a quiet enclave for such a long period of time.  It was perfect for farming but, due to the lack of waterways or early roads where communities often form, it was destined to be a perfect location for the German farmers who found it in the late 1840s and 1850s.  They quickly established St. Peter Lutheran Church in 1847 and created a tight community within the boundaries of the township.  It wasn’t until after World War II that the township moved from rural to suburban but, even so, many of the identifiable spots on these old maps remain to this day.  It’s hard to fool with Mother Nature!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

THE FAMOUS MERKLE CABIN AT SPRING VALLEY

January 25, 2015

Merkle Cabin 2

Schaumburg and what it has to offer has definitely been in the news in the past couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago the blog took you to a Chicago Tribune article about the upcoming renovation at Woodfield.  This week it’s taking you to a Daily Herald article about part of an episode of “Empire” being filmed at the Merkle cabin at Spring Valley.  The cabin is being incorporated into the show as a weekend hideaway for two of its characters.  Judging by the photo above, it’s a perfect idea.  Thumbs up to the location scouts on pursuing the unusual!

The Adirondack-style Merkle cabin was built in 1927 by John Redeker, the great grandson of Johann Boeger, the original land grant owner of the Spring Valley property.  Around the same time, Redeker began propagating parts of the property into large peony fields with the intent of starting a wholesale flower and root business.  Unfortunately Redeker died in 1930 and the business lasted for only a couple more years.

Merkle Farm

In 1942 the Redeker family then decided to sell portions of the property to Frank Merkle and family.  This included the cabin which the Merkle family used as a weekend getaway for many years.  Frank’s son, Bill, describes the cabin in his book, Frank and Leona, as “the magnificent log cabin with matched cypress logs and a huge fieldstone fireplace.  With the cattails and rushes, the view of the cabin from across the pond was stunning.”

“Originally, the cabin, which measured about twenty feet square, was partitioned into three rooms, with a tiny sleeping room at the northeast corner containing the trap door to the basement, a kitchen, and a living room.  These partitions were removed separately after we took over the farm.  The cabin had been built in 1928 [Merkle’s date], and the brick addition was constructed in 1946.  The first year or two, there was no electric power or phone, and water was run by gravity from the well across the small pond into the basement (summer only).  An outhouse was located in the apple orchard just west of the cabin.  It was all very charming and rustic and we began by going out there weekends during the summer, and ‘camping’ in the cabin.  We cleared the brush and weed trees from around the cabin and the grass leading down to the water of the two nearby ponds.  We kept it mowed down with a gas powered hand pushed mower, and in a few years with a John Deere tractor with a lifting sickle bar on the side.  The grass became a very credible lawn.”

The Merkle family held the property for 35 years, making countless trips from Evanston to their personal, family retreat enjoying all the rural countryside had to offer.   After Frank Merkle’s death, the property was eventually acquired by the Schaumburg Park District in 1979.

One year later in 1980, the cabin was vandalized and a fire destroyed the guest house/hunting lodge behind the cabin.  The Schaumburg Jaycees donated time and many of the building materials used in the renovation of the Merkle Cabin. The Spring Valley Nature Club also took it on as a project as well as the
Schaumburg Professional Firefighters Association.

In 1983 Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary opened and programs were held in the Merkle Cabin which operated as a temporary nature center and administrative office.  Park District programs continue to be held in the Cabin to this day.  The uniqueness of this structure lends itself nicely to the enclave that is Spring Valley.  It’s wonderful that others outside of our area appreciate what it has to offer too!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

THE POLICE DEPARTMENT OF HOFFMAN ESTATES

January 18, 2015

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

As I drive around town or back and forth to work, I notice that the police cars keep changing.  Some are the 4 door sedans, but many are SUV’s of all types.  It’s nice for our officers to have enough room in their squads to pick up a bike that’s been abandoned on the roadside after being stolen or damaged.  They probably like having the extra room for other everyday work.  Over the years the colors have changed along with the newer makes and models.

he-village-hall

I began to do some research into how our police force has changed over the years.  My first memory of the police department dates back to 1965 when I first moved to Hoffman Estates. The police department had a small area on the north end of the old Gieseke/Hammerstein farmhouse (now the Children’s Advocacy Center) that served as the first sales office for F & S Construction but later became home to our first village hall, public works and police departments. The north end of the upper floor was used for police offices.  The slanted ceiling always required walking about in a slightly stooped position for police chief Mark Orlick who had his office upstairs.  A small addition was added to the back of the farmhouse to serve as a small jail.  Our population in the 1960 census was 8,296.HE Police

The Daily Record newspaper had a 1962 story about the police department.  At that time, the force consisted of the Chief Orlick, Lt. John O’Connell, Sgt. Willard Anderson and six patrolmen; Norm Kalovsky, Robert Manning, Ray Schneider, George Eckart, Rod Schwartz and Richard Hecker. The training for the officers was given at the Chicago Police Academy.

There were only 3 squad cars to patrol the neighborhoods.  Two squads were on duty at all times with all three on duty during the “rush hour”. Other duties of the police officers were to take accident victims to area hospitals (Arlington Heights or Elgin) when they didn’t need an ambulance.  They served as armed guards for large monetary deposits from businesses or large organizations to Roselle or Palatine banks since there was no bank in town. They also served as marriage counselors for domestic disputes.  During 1961 they handled 2,662 calls from residents. The most common were dog bites, prowlers and suspicious persons or vehicles.

Since the early 60s, our village has grown from a population of 8,500 to 53,000 in 2014.  Our village borders now reach west to Elgin and north to Inverness. There are 22 square miles for our police force to cover in their efforts to keep us safe.

We now have 93 sworn officers, 31 marked cars, with 8 patrol cars on the streets at all times.  Our police department took 19,339 calls from the community in 2013.  Their 12 weeks of training is done with the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at College of Du Page.   They continue with 14 weeks of on–the-job training.

The present day police force still helps us deal with domestic disputes, dog bites; traffic accidents, prowlers and suspicious persons, but they do it on a much larger scale.  With modern communication tools, we dial 911 and they arrive on the scene or at our doors in a matter of minutes.  It’s reassuring to know someone is there to help us.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

(Photo of the Hoffman Estates police force is compliments of the Village of Hoffman Estates’ website.)


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