LIFE ON A HOFFMAN ESTATES FARM

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Hoffman Estates is one of the suburbs that seemed to spring up overnight.  Its history began in the mid 1950s when F & S Construction felt that the area would be the right location for a new housing development.   The corn fields and farms would be the home of a new town, Hoffman Estates.

Most of us live on what was once a farm with sprawling corn and bean fields.  Perhaps there were herds of dairy cows also.  One of those farms was the Jahn Farm located on the east side of Jones Rd. near the intersection of Hillcrest Blvd in Hoffman Estates.  It was owned by Art and his brothers William and August.  The brothers came from Germany with their parents in 1877.

Art married Elsie Heine who grew up on her parents farm on Barrington Rd. across from today’s St. Alexius Hospital.  She wrote a wonderful autobiography about her live on her farm as a young girl and as the wife of Art on their Jones Road Farm.  Elsie and her daughters have always said that Jones Road was always Jahn Road years ago but no evidence of this can be found on maps. 

Elsie and Art Jahn moved to the farm to help Art’s father and uncle plant and run the farming operation. Her story tells of a farm house without electric, a bathroom or a furnace.  She had to cook, clean and wash for the 4 men in their home; husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle.  She had three children, a boy and two girls, but here young baby boy only lived a few days. 

Without electricity, they had to milk the cows by hand, but later when electricity came in 1940 they purchased milking machines.  She talked of the large fruit orchards and her large garden and the hours of canning that was done all summer long.

 Elsie raised chickens and geese the second year she lived on the farm.  They had Leghorns and White Rocks and when the roosters reached 3 ½ lbs. they were sold.  She purchased her chicks for .35 cents each. 

Threshing was done in July or August and a “gang of 12 – 14 men came to help.  Before electricity, she had to cook all the food on  wood burning and  kerosene stoves.  She also mentions using a flat iron that was heated on the wood stove, and kerosene lamps whose chimneys had to be cleaned once a week. 

Winter was especially difficult.  The house was cold and they “packed manure around the kitchen foundation and later straw bales” to help keep the house warm.  Mice always seemed to make their way into the farm house.  Once they had electricity, there was a bathroom, running water and oil burning stoves in the living room and dining room. 

Elsie’s daughters loved riding horses and they would ride with their neighbor Paul Hassell’s daughter up to the intersection of Higgins and Meacham Rds.  The girls both hated the fact that their parents had to sell the farm in 1960 when F & S Construction bought the land to build the Highlands development in Hoffman Estates. 

I live in the Highlands and can understand why they loved the farm so.  The hilly landscape with the farm house perched on top of the rise at Hillcrest and Jones (Jahn) Rd. most have been the perfect place for a farm.

Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Village Historian- eagle2064@comcast.net

It should be noted that the photos seen in the post are not from the Jahn farm.  They are from the Fraas farm that was in another part of the township.

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One Response to “LIFE ON A HOFFMAN ESTATES FARM”

  1. Mike Says:

    Interesting. I live in Churchill and often run down Jones road. Those rolling hills are a pain to run, but I imagine they did look nice when they were only grass or crops.

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