GENTLEMAN FARMERS 3: PAUL HASSELL, CHICAGO ATTORNEY

When land was starting to turn over in the 1930s from the German farm families, Paul and Marguerite Hassell purchased their first 147 acres on land  south of the present day Hassell Road.  Having once upon a time been owned by the Fred Lamke family, it was initially purchased by a group of Chicago businessmen in 1936.  Their intent had been to make it a golf course.  During the Depression the mortgage was foreclosed and the Hassells acquired it as an investment.   Within the family, this farm was known as the East Farm. 

In 1946 he bought an additional 140 acres north of Hassell Road that was previously owned by the Plonsky family.  This plot ran north with the only entrance being off of Central Road.  This farm (called the West Farm) included a barn of pegged timbers and a 14 room house.  When the the tollway was built in 1950, the property’s access to Central Road was cut off.  The present day Hassell Road was then surveyed and put through the adjoining properties.  Together, the farm properties were known as Rolling Acres Farm.

During the week Mr. Hassell was a partner in the Chicago Loop law firm of Eckhart, McSwain, Hassell & Silliman but on weekends, Mr. Hassell and family retreated to their property to help with the farming and gardening activities.  Mr. Hassell hired a series of farm managers to help him with the day to day operations of raising steers and the grain that it took to fatten them.  Paul’s daughter Paula recalls Hans Bergman was one of the managers who served around the years 1948 to 1951.  She also recalls Donald Glaser whose parents managed the neighboring farm for the Bushes and later on Marshall Fields, also served as a farm manager. 

Mr. Hassell also developed a picnic grove on the land and it was used for community group functions.  As a member of the Masonic Hesperia Lodge No. 411, he sponsored the annual picnic on his farm.  According to the Hesperia Lodge’s website, this picnic would have up to 500 in attendance.  Imagine the cars lining the road!

In addition, the Chicago Tribune’s obituary speaks of him being known as the “Pied Piper of Ravenswood Manor.”   He and his family were from that Chicago neighborhood and routinely brought carloads of city kids to the farm for weekend trips.

In the 1960s, the Hassells began selling off their farmland to Sam and Jack Hoffman of F & S Construction, making their final sale in 1967.  The area south of Hassell Road abuts the Hilldale Country Club and is part of the subdivisions that surround High Point and MacArthur Parks.  The area north of Hassell Road is part of the Highlands West subdivision that surrounds Cottonwood Park.  The property north of the tollway is part of the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve.

Mr. Hassell continued to use the 90 year old farmhouse on weekends until the house was razed in November 1966.  According to the Daily Herald, before the teardown took place, evergreens were removed and replanted.  Unfortunately, a rare black walnut tree that had yielded several bushels of nuts every year caught fire when the farmhouse was burned.

While it’s impossible to replace that old black walnut and 90 year-old farmhouse, it is nice to know that Mr. Hassell’s beloved weekend farm yielded not only residences and greenspace for the Hoffman Estates Park District but is also the sight of our Hoffman Estates Branch Library!

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3 Responses to “GENTLEMAN FARMERS 3: PAUL HASSELL, CHICAGO ATTORNEY”

  1. Bonnie Cernosek Says:

    There is a commerative Black walnut tree with plaque on the grounds of the Hoffman Estates Village Hall. Paul’s mother died during childbirth and Paul and his bother were given up for adoption. Paul was adopted by a family in IL. Hence he became a Hassel. He and his older brothers kept in contact all their lives. There is a picture of a bus that brought the brothers and their families from Ind. to the Hassel farm for a reunion.

    • jrozek Says:

      Thank you for the added info on Paul. What a neat touch to make the commemorative tree a black walnut! That couldn’t have been more perfect for the village of Hoffman Estates.

  2. kerryann hassell oconnor Says:

    HI, My name is Kerry-ann Hassell OConnor. I loved my Grandfather so very much, I think about him every day! Any person that will let me, I tell them about him. He was not JUST a GREAT man… but an honest, and kind person. He left his family better off then he could ever imagine. Paul Hassell will live in my heart for EVER!!! kerryann

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