November 22, 2015

thistle 2


See that purple ball in the middle of the photo?  It’s on the edge of a corn field and is really a beautiful little plant.  But, then, most weeds are.  It’s a thistle and is one of many varieties in the United States.  Thistles are considered a problem plant and can be difficult to control.  In fact, they were so rampant in Illinois in the early 1900s that many counties–including Cook–created a post in their township governments for Thistle Commissioner.

It was the job of the commissioner to make sure the farmers and landowners kept their thistles and other “noxious weeds” under control.  When one farmer let the situation get out of hand, the weeds could wreak havoc on neighboring farms.  Thus, the Thistle Commissioner would tour the township’s roads, take note of large infestations and notify the offending landowner.  If they failed to comply, a crew would be hired to take care of the problem and the bill would be handed over to the landowner.  Obviously, it would be in the farmer’s best interest to stay on top of the situation and keep his fields clean.

According to Schaumburg Township Officials 1850 to Present, compiled by L.S. Valentine, the first mention of a Thistle Commissioner for Schaumburg Township was in 1915 when Fred Springinsguth took on the job.  By 1924, August Geistfeld had the job and was being paid $5 a day to make sure the fields, pastures and roadsides were tidy.  Others followed in their footsteps over the years.

Walter Fraas, who lived in the south side of the Township served in the 1940s and, according to his son, Donald, took the job very seriously.  Below is a letter he would send out to offending landowners.

Fraas letter


The task of actually controlling the thistles often fell to the farmer’s children and they did NOT like the job.  In her oral history on the library’s Local History Digital Archive, Esther Mensching spoke of how her father would send them out to the field, clad in leather gloves, and they would pull the plants by hand.  The thick, impermeable gloves prevented them from being stuck by the thistle’s spines.

It was necessary to do the job before the plants flowered and after a rain when pulling the taproot was easier.  As the thistles were yanked, they were thrown on the field.  The children moved through the fields, row by row, from 8:00 to noon, taking an hour or so for lunch and then returning until 4:30 when it was time to come back in for the milking.  This was not a job for the faint of heart!

The Thiemanns spoke in their oral history about each person taking 2-4 rows in the corn and oat fields and tackling the thistles with a hoe.  The intent was to get to the thistles by the time the corn was 3-4 feet high and the oats were around a foot high.  They, too, disliked the hot, sweaty, boring job.  Their job, however, didn’t end with the fields because they would also use a scythe to cut down the thistles and all other weeds in the fence rows.

In yet another oral history, Mary Lou (Link) Reynolds, daughter of Adolph and Estelle Link, talked about how her father lost his job as a commercial artist in Chicago during the Depression.  Through a friend, he obtained free housing on Minna Redeker’s farm (now Spring Valley) in exchange for keeping the thistles under control on the property.  It was obviously a win/win situation for both landlord and tenant at a difficult time, but it is also clear that thistles were a difficult issue for the farmers of Schaumburg Township.

Due to continuing infestations, the office of Thistle Commissioner remained in effect until the early 1970s.   Around 1972 Cook County eliminated the position and turned the job’s responsibility over to the Highway Department.  By that time development in the township was beginning to overtake the farm fields that were left and the job became obsolete.  Thistles, though, are still considered “noxious weeds” and if you come across any in your yard, just take your leather gloves or hoe to them.  It’s a lesson learned from yesterday’s farmers!


Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library





November 15, 2015

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

Hoffman Estates homeIt’s been 56 years since the Village of Hoffman Estates was incorporated on September 23, 1959.  The struggle that went on in our community back then was not only fierce but at times down and dirty.  Those who opposed incorporation sent out flyers with inaccurate information about the high cost of taxes if incorporation succeeded.  They held meetings to try and convince the Hoffman Estates residents to reject incorporation.

The Hoffman Estates Homeowners Association was just as intent on winning over as many voters as possible with newsletters filled with facts and figures as to why incorporation was so important for the new village.  They gave statistics on how insurance rates would fall when the village would be able to establish its own police force rather than relying on the Cook County Sheriff’s Police force for help when crimes occurred.  Being responsible for crimes in distant communities kept them from quick responses to calls for help in Hoffman Estates.

Incorporating and setting up their own government was imperative if the community was to grow and prosper.  Construction was booming.  F & S Construction was building more and more homes.  Order and authority over the development of the future Hoffman Estates could only happen if the community voted to incorporate and then be able to determine its own destiny.

Annexation of property to expand the community wasn’t possible until incorporation occurred.  Schaumburg had incorporated in 1956 and began to annex land to successfully encircle and stop the growth of Hoffman Estates.  The checkerboard map of the two communities is a result of those efforts.

As I read more and learn more about the early struggle that the residents of Hoffman Estates went through, I realize how important the Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association was in educating and relentlessly pursuing their quest for incorporation.

It certainly didn’t come easy.  It took many mailings and meetings to convince the residents of the importance of incorporation.  Three votes were taken in 1959.  Finally, on September 23, 1959, we were incorporated as the Village of Hoffman Estates.    Success at last.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian


November 8, 2015

Join the Volkening Heritage Farm as they guide you through demonstrations on what it meant to preserve meat on an 1880s working farm.

Staff will smoke hams, show salt-cured meat and explain how every part of a pig was used (except the squeal!).  Children’s activities will be available throughout the day.

The program will be held on Sunday, November 15, 2015 from Noon to 4:00 p.m .

Admission is $3/person or $12/per family of six or fewer–additional members are $3 each.  Free for children 3 and under.

Parking will be available at Spring Valley Nature Center at 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg . A free wagon shuttle will take visitors to the farm.



November 1, 2015

When it was first built on the northeast corner of Meacham and Golf Roads, the modern building rested in solitary splendor on a great expanse of lawn surrounded by fields and more fields.  Home of the Pure Oil Company that was later named Unocal, the two story corporate office building came to Schaumburg Township in 1960.

Pure Oil

(Photo acknowledgement to the Daily Herald.)

Pure Oil incorporated as Columbus Production Company on April 19, 1914 in Columbus, Ohio. Two days later on April 21 the name was changed to Ohio Cities Gas Company. This name lasted for six years until it was changed once again on July 1, 1920 to Pure Oil Company.  By September of 1926, the company moved their headquarters from Columbus to what was known as the Jeweler’s building at 35 E. Wacker Drive in Chicago.  As the main tenant in this new skyscraper, the structure soon became known as the Pure Oil Building.Pure Oil building(Photo acknowledgement to

  • They remained in this location until October 31, 1960 when they moved to their own home in what was then known as Palatine.  The offices later were annexed as part of Schaumburg in the mid-1970’s with the address being 1650 and 1700 E. Golf Road at various times.

Their new building, according to an undated Daily Herald newspaper account, was mostly a one-story structure with a red brick and limestone exterior. At the main entrance, in the center, was a two-story section housing the executive offices on its second floor. The building contained 250,000 square feet of floor space and was designed by the architectural firm of Perkins & Will, according to the Village of Schaumburg’s Woodfield Regional Concept Plan.  The newspaper account says that the building was constructed by the George A. Fuller Company.

The 700-foot-long front of the building faced south toward Golf Road and was on a 240-acre parcel. The one-story office areas surrounded four landscaped courts of varying sizes. The 69-foot-wide interior sections of the building were free of columns and allowed for flexible office partitions and layouts. The building also contained an employees’ lounge, a cafeteria, an auditorium, a two-story map room and a specially designed area housing “an electronic computer and other data processing equipment.  It is also noted in the article that the building was air-conditioned–obviously an improvement for the time!

The circular parking lots occupied nine acres at the east and west end of the buildings and provided space for 1000 cars. Entrances were on both Golf and Meacham Roads.

Approximately 1500 employees worked in the building when it opened.  Many had lived in the city but subsequently moved out to the suburbs to be closer to work.  Robert L. Milligan, President of Pure Oil said, “We have found few inconveniences in being 26 miles from the Loop.  The Northwest Tollway and Northwest Expressway put us within little over half and hour from downtown.”  Shortly after the move, employees in the Arlington Heights office were also moved to the Palatine location.

On July 16, 1965, almost five years after they moved in, Pure Oil merged with Union Oil Company of California and the name was changed to Union Oil Co.  On April 25, 1983 the company officially became known as Unocal.  In 1992 it was announced that Unocal would be leaving the Schaumburg area and, by 1993, their National Auto/Truckstop system was phased out of the property.

The property was subsequently purchased by Roosevelt University and the buildings renovated to accomodate classrooms and offices. The campus was opened to the public in 1996.  It stands directly behind the far east end of the Woodfield Village Green shopping center.  It is bordered on the east by Roosevelt Boulevard and on the west by McConnor Parkway which Unocal built on its own in the 1980’s.  (The Parkway is named for W.S. McConnor, a Vice-President of Refining and Marketing for Union Oil in the 1970s.)

Below are some photos of what it looks like today.

Roosevelt UniversityRoosevelt UniversityRoosevelt University

Roosevelt UniversityRoosevelt UniversityJane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


October 25, 2015

In looking through a 1982 Community Profile of a now defunct local chamber of commerce, I came across the following photos of homes and apartments in Schaumburg Township.  I’m wondering if the collective brain could help identify the neigborhoods the residences are in?  If you can, please leave a comment below.  And, if you can identify them as Numbers 1 through 6, that would be very helpful too!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

1.)  6



2.)  5




3.)  4




4.)  3




5.) 2







October 18, 2015

Quinlan and Tyson


This photo came to me courtesy of Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian.   The back of the photo says, “Old brown house on Schaumburg Road, June 1980”.

I recognized the brown house as the Al and Marilyn Glade house.  It was immediately west of the Ace Hardware at Roselle and Schaumburg Roads in later years and west of the Fenz store in earlier years.  A number of families called it home, including Delbert Bullamore who ran the Lake-Cook Farm Supply that was in the small building next to what is now Lou Malnatis.  It was a short commute home.

After a bit of research on Quinlan and Tyson, I discovered that they expanded into Chicago’s Northwest suburbs in May 1969 “with offices in Arlington Heights, Palatine and Schaumburg.”  [Dreams, Money, and Ambition:  A History of Real Estate in Chicago.  Betsy Pegg, 1983]  Their address was 7 W. Schaumburg Road, which was on the south side of the road.  According to their sign this was the Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates office.  An ad (gratefully used from the Daily Herald) from that time shows a very similar looking house and sign.

Quinlan and Tyson 2


I found newspaper ads for the agency through 1979 and then switched to our collection of phone books to follow their existence, tracking them through 1984 at the same address.    The 1984 date makes sense because, in January 1985, the Quinlan and Tyson name ceased to exist when they were bought by Merrill Lynch.

In Dreams, Money and Ambition, it is noted that, on September 3, 1980, “the new Schaumburg institute is officially opened.”  This meshes with the teardown date of June 1980 on the back of the photo.  The problem was trying to figure out what building took its place, since there is a gap between 1980 and the dissolution of the company in 1985.  Plus, there is the fact that the phone books continued to list the real estate office at the same address.

To give me a little perspective, I began exploring the Town Square aerial photos on the library’s Local History Digital Archive.  The only building that seemed to be in the proper location was the two-story, brown office building that sat immediately adjacent to the Ace Hardware on the SW corner of Schaumburg and Roselle.  With a little more digging through the Digital Archive, I confirmed the connection through the photo below contributed by L.S. Valentine.

The building was known as the Quinlan and Tyson building when it was first built in 1980.  It housed various businesses at different times, including Quinlan & Tyson Real Estate, Merrill Lynch Real Estate, Prudential Real Estate, William M. Dumich, C.P.A, and Donald Frostholm. In 1995 the Village of Schaumburg purchased the office building and demolished it in order to begin the redevelopment of a new Town Square.



Case closed.  Mystery solved.  If you have any details on Quinlan and Tyson though that you’d like to share, please do.  Adding to the history is always appreciated!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library




October 11, 2015



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

The first residents of Hoffman Estates had the usual problems that come with moving to a newly developed community.  They dealt with the muddy streets, problems with minor construction flaws and delays in getting things done.

They didn’t have any governing body to turn to.  Everyone realized that they needed to help themselves to organize and manage their community.  In April, 1956 the residents received a letter addressed to: “Dear Neighbor”.  The letter invited all the residents to a meeting to be held at the Rainbow Inn.  Everyone was to be there for the start of the meeting at 8:30 p.m.  “Put a circle around this date on your calendar, Wednesday, May 2.”

That night they had the first opportunity to read the Constitution and By Laws for the proposed Hoffman Estates Homeowners Association.  Earlier that year the newly built homes of Parcel A were sectioned off into districts and everyone was asked to pay dues of $2 per year.  There were 8 districts that were further divided into blocks.  Only those who’d paid their dues would be able to vote for their district representatives.  The men who wrote the first Constitution and By-Laws were Mark Dick, Don Openheimer and Fred Hill.  In time there would be changes and amendments to this first document but it was the beginning of the community’s commitment to self- government.

The newly elected officials would be; President, Harry Martin, Vice President Robert Smuda, Secretary Mark Dick and Treasurer, Betty Johnson.  The Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association formed the following committees; Legal, Civic Affairs, Membership, Ways & Means, Public Safety & Health, Public Relations, School Affairs and Community Center Management and Planning.

F & S Construction had turned over the Hammerstein Farm to the Home Owners Association and now they had the responsibility of maintaining the barns and house.  The community was excited to plan for a new kindergarten in the barn as well as space for dances and special activities during the holidays.

At their meeting on October 5, 1956 they had a balance of $528 to work with and volunteers were needed for organizing a Civil Defense team.  Table and chairs were needed for the barn and playground equipment for the school.  A dance was being planned and the profits would help with the playground equipment.  Hoffman Estates was moving ahead with plans for its community.

On October 24, 1956 the Hoffman Estates Homeowners Association said “we represent approximately 600 families at present and will according to the first plans, eventually be the speaking voice for at least 1500 homes.  In spite of the fact that we are still in the early formative stages, this association is laying the foundation for future incorporation of the area.”

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian


October 8, 2015

On Sunday, October 18 the Hoffman Estates Historical Sites Commission will conduct small group-guided tours of the Greve Cemetery on Abbey Wood Drive.

Groups will be shown the interrelated Greve, Meyer, Ottman and Sunderlage pioneer families buried at the cemetery which is also known as Wildcat Grove Cemetery or Evangelical and Reformed Cemetery.

The event is free.  Tours will start at 1:00, weather permitting.  Call 847-781-2600  for reservations before Oct. 16.


October 4, 2015


Champps 1


What happens when a Green Bay Packer starts a Mexican restaurant chain and it eventually grows to 210 locations?  The answer:  one of those locations finds its way to Schaumburg.

In 1975 former Packers great, Max McGee, started the restaurant chain, Chi Chi’s, in Richfield, Minnesota with restaurateur, Marno McDermott.  The popularity of the eatery grew to the point that the chain decided to open a spot at 955 E. Golf Road in Schaumburg in 1984.  [Classified ads began appearing in the Daily Herald in the summer of 1984 advertising for help wanted.  This is also the first year Chi-Chi’s is listed in the local phone book.]

The building, as I recall, was a light tan stucco and served up standard Mexican fare of enchiladas, tacos and chimichangas.  They had banquet facilities and offered carry-out service.  Unfortunately, the restaurant that advertised itself in the 1986 phone book as “When You Feel A Little Mexican,” closed three years later in 1987.

The building and the spot did not languish for long.  By November of the same year, an Italian chain by the name of Grisanti’s had remodeled and opened in the same building.  According to a review in the December 18, 1987 issue of the Daily Herald, “the exterior has been totally redone with a Mediterranean accent.”  The interior had a “an airy main room” that was terraced “with canopies and plants in large terra-cotta pots.”

It was a popular spot for many years with the highlights being the salad that was tossed tableside with fresh ground Romano cheese and the “warm, soft loaf of Tuscan bread brushed with garlic butter.”  They served lunch and dinner every day as well as a brunch on Sunday.  It was reasonably priced and endured a nine year run, closing in late 1996.

The following year, on November 17, 1997, Champps’ Restaurant & Bar opened in the newly renovated building that featured additional outdoor seating.  [Daily Herald; November 5, 1997]  They were part of the Champps Entertainment chain based in Minneapolis that caught the early curve of sports-themed restaurants and bars.  Champps 2

This restaurant too proved to be a hit, serving up a varied American-style menu and providing plenty of large screen TVs for lots of sports viewing.  They lasted for nearly 18 years and recently closed their doors.

The building was scheduled to be demolished in August 2015 to prepare the site for another restaurant.  This time it’s a brand new McDonalds.  So, get ready for a new place to stop in or drive thru for your Big Mac and fries because this spot was obviously destined for restaurants!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library



September 27, 2015

In the village of Schaumburg there, is only one building on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is a hidden gem that, for many years was a private residence.  Known as the Paul Schweikher House, this home was built in 1938 by Mr. Schweikher, a renowned architect who lived on the 7 acre site until 1953 when he moved to Connecticut to head Yale University’s architecture school.

You now have an opportunity to view this local architectural wonder.  The Schweikher House Preservation Trust, in conjunction with Docomomo Tour Day 2015, is pleased to offer tours of this Prairie-styled home.

The house will be open to the public for pre-scheduled, 40-minute tours on Saturday, October 10 2015 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The cost of the tours is $25 per person, paid in advance of the event with a maximum of 12 persons per tour. For registration, visit, call Executive Director Todd Wenger at (847) 923-3866 or email

Tours of the house will feature Schweikher’s masterful integration of brick, glass, and wood, including an iconic brick fireplace, passive solar room, cantilevered construction, exposed wood beams, built-in furniture, a Japanese soaking tub, raked gravel courtyard, and gardens designed by the noted Midwestern landscape architect Franz Lipp.

This event is being sponsored by the Schweikher House Preservation Trust   For information about the house, please visit


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