GOT MILK? NEBEL’S CORNERS DID

The name of the game in early Schaumburg Township was milk, milk and more milk. It was obvious  to the 1800s German farming contingent  that the area was a perfect one-two  punch for the production of milk.  Not only was the prairie-like nature of the township a  prime growing environment but the nearby, ready market for the valuable commodity was just too good to pass up.  But, where to take the milk and cream once it was produced by your faithful herd?

This is where a few industrious entrepreneurs stepped up and started their own, local creameries.  One of these gentlemen was Fred Nebel who began a creamery/country store business called Nebel’s Corners that was located on the northwest corner of Higgins and Roselle Roads.

Born in 1867 in Arlington Heights, Fred married Mary Scharringhausen of Schaumburg Township in 1889.  Around 1898 Mr. Nebel purchased  property that, essentially, ran between Golf and Higgins Road along Roselle Road and west towards where Golf and Higgins now cross.   He began farming and then constructed the building that housed the creamery and store. 

Because this was one of a few creameries in the township, it was necessary to solicit the business of nearby farmers who would not have far to go to haul their milk.   In a rather unique business arrangement that was essentially barter-based, Mr. Nebel accepted the milk brought in by the farmers and allowed them to shop in his store as payment.  At the end of the month, the balance would be totaled and if money was owed to the farmer, a check was written by Mr. Nebel.  If the farmer owed Mr. Nebel they just kept the milk coming until the account was settled.

In its heyday Nebel’s Corners accepted as much as 10,000 pounds (not gallons) of milk every morning.  Just as there was no weekend for the  farmers who milked the cows, Mr. Nebel worked a seven day week with the intake and processing of the milk.  It was processed into mainly butter and, to a lesser extent, cheese, and sent off to be sold in the area markets.

Over the years, according to Mr. Nebel’s grandson, he added other methods of  garnering business.  Gas pumps and a tavern that became part of the store were included on the property.  Mr. Nebel and his sons continued to run the business after his wife passed away in the 1920s.  It wasn’t until October 1931 when Mr. Nebel was killed in a car accident at the age of 64 that things changed.  According to the grandson, the farmland was sold and the creamery part of the business was halted.  Mr. Nebel’s only son-in-law, William Heide, continued to operate the country store portion of the  business until 1938.

This pivotal year saw the State of Illinois’ Highway Department begin the process of buying property beginning at Route 53 and moving west along Higgins Road.  The Mount Prospect Herald reported that Higgins Road was being converted into a “super highway.”  Most property was purchased for $200 an acre but it was noted in the July 8, 1938 article that for the Nebel’s Corners property “a considerable higher price” was paid.  Only the farmhouse was saved by moving it to the Fred Wille farm.

Nebel’s Corners survived a lightning fire in1904, the death of  its owner in 1931 and the demise of its creamery business, but it couldn’t stop the roads from coming.  That northwest corner seemed to be destined, though, for a convenience store.  It is where Walgreens sits today.  

The photo displayed in this article is from the Milk Delivery Book of Fred Nebel that covers the time of October 1891 to July 1892.

Research for this article came from the Mount Prospect Herald, DuPage County Register,  Genesis of a Township by Marilyn Lind and an oral history with Mr. Nebel’s grandson available on the library’s Local History Digital Archive.

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One Response to “GOT MILK? NEBEL’S CORNERS DID”

  1. Bob Dohn Says:

    I really enjoy these historical notes and look forward to them every week. Thanks, Jane!

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