With spring bursting out all over, take the time to discover the remnants of the JH Redeker Peonies farm located on the grounds of Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary in Schaumburg. The beautiful, fragrant flowers can be approached from both the Vera Meineke Nature Center and the Volkening Heritage Farm on the Spring Valley property. Try to imagine the open fields you see pictured above as you walk through the wooded area today.
In 1927, John Redeker, son of Friedrich and Wilhelmine (Boeger) Redeker, used some of his mother’s Boeger land to start a wholesale peony flower and root business. Unfortunately, John died suddenly on December 29, 1930 at the age of 30 and the business survived for only a short time afterwards. I was told that, not only was it a struggle to keep the business going during the height of the Depression, but peonies grown in the St. Louis area were available one to three weeks earlier and could easily be shipped to the Chicago area by new refrigerated trucks.
By 1932 John’s mother sold the property to Frank Merkle who used it as a getaway for his family. When staying on the farm, they lived in the Adirondack-style log cabin built by John Redeker that still stands on the Spring Valley property. Frank Merkle must have attempted to continue the peony operation for a while because one of our oral historians said his brother, George Engelking, worked for him tending the flowers.
While Schaumburg Township lies next to the original Peony Village, we have some “roots” in the peony business too!