When she was just a 10 year old girl, Mary Lou Link moved with her parents, Adolph and Estelle, and brother, Robert, from the busy suburb of Maywood to the rural reaches of Schaumburg Township. Her father had lost his job as a commercial artist and, as a result, they were forced to give up the family home.  Mr. Link made arrangements for them to move to the Redeker farm near the intersection of Schaumburg and Plum Grove Roads.  In exchange for farm work, taking care of the peonies that were being grown and keeping the invasive thistles at bay on the farm, the family could live rent free.

Life wasn’t quite the same as it had been in Maywood. With no electricity or indoor plumbing, and cooking that had to be done on a woodstove, the Links went through some adjusting. (The house where they lived is now the Volkening Heritage Farm Visitor Center at the Spring Valley Nature Center.) They maintained the farm and, like other farmers in the area, even raised tomatoes for the Campbell Soup Company.

It was very quiet on the narrow, two-lane roads of Schaumburg Township and the Links eventually adapted. School meant a one-room public schoolhouse at the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads. And, with no high school in the township, it meant Mary Lou and her brother Robert had to get a ride to school. Robert attended Arlington Heights High School while Mary Lou attended Palatine Township High School, paying a neighbor $1 a week to transport her.

In 1939, the year that Mary Lou graduated as valedictorian of her class, her father, having saved enough money, bought 5 acres of land about 1/4 mile south of the southeast corner of the intersection of Plum Grove and Schaumburg Roads.  According to In The Valley of the Springs by Heidi Keran, parts of  the  home were built using wood that was salvaged from a barn that was damaged as a result of the tornado of 1933.  Adolph and Estelle had obviously decided to stay.

Mary Lou went on to Northern Illinois University where she met her future husband, Bill.   Shortly before World War II, they married.  Bill served in the Merchant Marines and when he came home they built a house next to her parents.  Her brother, Robert, who had served in the Air Corps brought his wife, Blanche, to Schaumburg and they built their own house on the other side of their parents’.

Adolph passed away in 1971 after having become a local fixture in the community.  He had become more involved in his art, working with both pen & ink as well as oils.  His works were shown locally—including at the Schaumburg Township Library.  One of my favorites is this picture he created of St. Peter Lutheran Church.  If you look closely, you will see the entire drawing is made up of the last names of the church’s parishioners.  Very clever!

In 1972, a year after he passed away, the District 54 School Board took note of Mr. Link’s contributions to the community and gave his name to their new school in Elk Grove Village that was close to the Link acreage.  Following Estelle’s death in 1975, Robert and Mary Lou’s families continued to live on the property.  Mary Lou was a charter member of the Spring Valley Nature Club and served on their board.  Robert served as a member of the District 54 School Board and the Schaumburg Planning Commission.   He also had a fondness for trees and planted over 300 in the area.  This is why Spring Valley’s arboretum is named for him.

Robert and his family eventually left the area and, a few years after his death in 2004, Mary Lou moved as well.  The 5 acre parcel that the Link family bought and developed was then turned over to the Schaumburg Park District and is now a permanent part of the Spring Valley Nature Center.  Sadly, Mary Lou passed away last month at the age of 88.  The Link family name–along with their many contributions–continues to live on in Schaumburg Township.  For proof, take a drive by the Adolph Link Elementary School at 900 S. West Glenn Trail in Elk Grove Village or a walk through the Bob Link Arboretum at Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary in Schaumburg.  It truly was a fortuitous move the Links made back in 1932.

The book, In the Valley of the Springs by Heidi Keran, obituaries of Mary Lou Reynolds and her brother Robert Link, as well as a writeup in the Natural Enquirer by Susan Findling were most helpful in the writing of this posting.  Thank you to those writers. 


  1. Tom Helsper Says:

    I enjoyed the story of the Link family. Having been neighbors of theirs, it was interesting to find out the history of the group. The only clarification that I would add is that their property was not at the southeast corner of Schaumburg and Plum Grove but rather about 1/4 mile south of there. That corner was owned by Paul and Sarah Meginnis. Thanks for the info. Tom Helsper

  2. Betty Helsper Says:

    Mary Lou Reynolds and her family were “best friends” with my family. We found out about land for sale (SW corner of Plum Grove and Schaumburg Roads) from Mary Lou and also Bee Link, who were members of a “girls club” that is still in existence! Our kids grew up together.

    There is one thing I am particularly proud of. I was secretary to the Board of Education in Schaumburg for 22 years, and it was as a result of an anonymous letter I sent to them that the Adolph Link School got that name!! A fine tribute to a very find man!

  3. Betty Helsper Says:

    This secretary (me) should be ashamed. The final sentence in my comment should say “A fine tribute to a very fine man!”

  4. Gary Link Says:

    I accidently found this site. Robert and Bee Link were my parents. This is a very nice tribute to the Link family. We have a print of the name drawing of St. Peters Church, along with other name drawing prints, various church stationary and art work created by Adolph Link, hanging in our livingroom. I was directly involved with helping to plant and care of many of the trees originally found in The Bob Link Arboretum. I am very proud of the role that the Link family played in the history of Schaumburg Township. Thank you for the post. Gary W. Link, Grand Junction, Colorado

    • jrozek Says:

      Thank you so much for responding Gary. I appreciate your comments and would be happy to add anything to the posting that you think would enhance it.

      The library, too, has the drawing of St. Peter’s. I recently had it framed and am looking for possible ways to display the print.

      The little corner of Schaumburg Township where the Link family lived (the Plum Grove Road side of the Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary) is a wonderful place to be. Thank you to the Link family for their contributions to our area.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  5. Gary Link Says:

    There are lots of great stories about what is now Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary. One night, during the winter that Robert Link was attending Arlington Heights High School, there was a snow storm which left the long lane drifted shut. Robert didn`t go to school the next day. The following day, he returned to class. He was questioned why he had missed school. His reply of snow drifts blocking the road were met with laughter. All roads had been open, the only lane drifted shut happened to be theirs.

  6. Scott Link Says:

    My father pointed this site out to me today, and I appreciate the research that was put into this post. I am grateful that our family influenced Schaumburg enough to preserve their memories in its history. I grew up with paintings and prints hanging on the walls that my great grandfather created, but reading this story that includes Adolph’s life and legacy makes me appreciate those works of art so much more. I heard some of these stories growing up, but it was nice to read it in this neatly organized manner. I am thankful that I was able to personally know both my grandfarther Bob and his siter Mary Lou and to be able to remember them for the many wonderful things they did during their lives to bennefit your community.

    • jrozek Says:

      I’m delighted that multiple members of the family have found this posting. One of the reasons for starting this blog was to, not only bring awareness of the area’s history to the public, but also to encourage responses and comments from those who are more familiar with the story than me.

      It’s good to see the Links are well represented on this posting.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  7. Bruce Laird Says:

    Yes, it has been almost 5 years since this post first appeared, but I wanted to add what a distinct pleasure it was to work with Mary Lou (Link) Reynolds in the 1970s when I a teacher at Conant High School and she was a staff member in the school’s library. If I remember correctly, most days she walked to Conant from her home south of the school on Plum Grove Road. Coincidentally, both of my children attended Adolph Link Elementary School beginning in the mid-1980s. It was just two blocks from our home. Mary Lou joyfully had shared with me soon after my oldest enrolled there that the school was named after her father. Small world.

  8. Heidi Kerans Says:

    Thanks for keeping the history alive. Heidi Kerans former resident of Schaumburg and Spring Valley Volunteer for 18 years.

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