DRIVING THROUGH BUTTERMILK CORNERS

When Higgins Road became a divided highway in 1938, the Cook County Herald referred to it as “a super highway.”  And, for the time and the age, it was.  As part of the construction though, the Highway Department made one small change.

If you look at the map above (click on it for a larger view), you will see current day Higgins Road angling northwest out of the township.  Below it is Old Higgins Road which ran roughly from Moon Lake Blvd along the St. Alexian Brothers Hospital property and crossed Barrington Road at the entrance to Cook County Forest Preserve’s Barrington Road Pond.  After it crossed Barrington Road, it made a rather sharp 45 degree turn to the north, veering towards where it intersects with new Higgins Road near the tollway.  In fact, the Poplar Creek Trail in the Forest Preserve essentially follows the path of Old Higgins Road.   When that 45 degree turn was eliminated in 1938, the small intersection known as Buttermilk Corners–marked in red–began its slow fade into history.

Buttermilk Corners was aptly named because of the creamery that was established there some time in the 1880s or 1890s.  According to the Bierman’s who lived on the site, the creamery was built on the NE corner of the intersection.  [For years afterwards, the Steinmeyers and Biermans continued to turn up white, sandy bricks from the building and, in fact, used some of them for the floor of the smokehouse and chicken house on the Steinmeyer farm.]  It is unknown who started the business but we are able to track the operation of it through the local newspapers.  In November 1904, the DuPage County Register notes that A.H. Bochwers “has closed his cheese factory for the winter; but he is running his other one at Buttermilk Corners to a success.”  This is followed by a notation in the September 6, 1907 issue of the Cook County Herald stating “born to Wm. Schroeder and wife at Buttermilk Corners Creamery, a baby boy.”

We even have a notion of how much the farmers were paid for the milk they brought in.  An April 24, 1908 issue of the DuPage County Register says that “Buttermilk Corners creamery pays within 8 cents a 100 lbs. of condensed price.”

Unfortunately, business must not have been good because it wasn’t but a year later that the Cook County Herald reported in March that “the creamery at Buttermilk Corners is being torn down by the owner.  Neighbors bought the brick and lumber which was of some use.  H.V. Harz bought the wagon shed and lumber of the entire building.”  This was an excellent bargain for Mr. Harz because his blacksmith shop was on the northwest corner of the intersection along Barrington Road.

Despite the absence of the creamery, the name stuck until development began in earnest.  The Harz blacksmith shop ensured the name as a reference point because of its longevity as well as when Bierman Implement opened across the road in the Quonset hut in the late 1930s.

Farmers in the area used it in some of their classified ads in the Daily Herald of the 1950s when selling canning apples or Jerusalem artichokes!  It was even given a bit of notoriety in the 1960s when an article in the September 5, 1967 issue of the Chicago Tribune entitled “Buttermilk Corners Life Sweet for Actor” discussed the residency of Clarence Hartzell, the voice of Uncle Fletcher and Constable Ben Withers of the Lum ‘n Abner radio show, on the farm of the current hospital property.

Today, only those interested in the history of the area are familiar with Buttermilk Corners but it’s one of those neat country names that should have stuck—or been used by one of the local developers.  555 Buttermilk Corners has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

If you’d like to see portions of Old Higgins Road, you can do so near Barrington Road, just south of TGI Fridays.  If you look to the east, you will see the road and bridge that ran through the Steinmeyer property.  Also, if you cross Barrington Road and follow the Poplar Creek Trail you can see the old roadbed where the Trail makes a curve and angles away from the Tollway.

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5 Responses to “DRIVING THROUGH BUTTERMILK CORNERS”

  1. Bonnie Cernosek Says:

    Jane, Pat should be able to look for a picture of the blacksmith shop. We had it blown up for the anniversary. It is most likely hanging in village hall someplace.

    Bonnie

  2. Vernon Frost Says:

    I have some pictures that relate to Herman Harz blacksmith shop at Buttermilk Corners. Herman Harz was married to Matilda Heine (second marriage for Herman.) Some may be from the Hanover Harvester book. I will e-mail you what I have. Vern Frost

  3. Tammy (Biermann) Wood Says:

    In the below excerpt from your article you mention the Bierman’s (see below).

    Buttermilk Corners was aptly named because of the creamery that was established there some time in the 1880s or 1890s. According to the Bierman’s who lived on the site, the creamery was built on the NE corner of the intersection. [For years afterwards, the Steinmeyers and Biermans continued to turn up white, sandy bricks from the building and, in fact, used some of them for the floor of the smokehouse and chicken house on the Steinmeyer farm.] It is unknown who started the business but we are able to track the operation of it through the local newspapers.

    What are the names of the Biermans that you are referring to? Thank you for your help with this question 🙂

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