A BUSY COUPLE: THE WILEYS OF SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

In 1943 Frank and Loie Wiley were living in Oak Park with their young boys, Robert and Donald.  Mr. Wiley was president and owner of Reproduction Products, a blueprint manufacturing plant on Damen Avenue in Chicago.  Having grown up in rural Earlville, IL, Mr. Wiley was eager to move away from the big city life and look for something rural.  That same year a real estate agent introduced them to a farm in Schaumburg Township.

Located off of Plum Grove Road in northern Schaumburg Township, the 80-acres was across from today’s Motorola campus.  When the Wileys moved there in 1944 they named the farm Spring Creek for the creek that runs through the property.  They continued farming with the help of a farm manager.  (According to a Paddock Publications article of February 4, 1954, the manager was Melvis Mossman.)  Most of the acreage was used to grow soybeans, corn and wheat or oats.  Their boys, with the help of the farm manager, raised purebred Yorkshire hogs and enjoyed showing them at fairs and other exhibitions.   Later they switched to the breeding and raising of sheep instead of hogs.  In addition, the boys had a pony and a few horses.  They were able to run the horses on a small racetrack that was on the farm when they purchased it.

The farmhouse was nearly 100 years old when they moved in, except for the large living room addition that had been added on by the prior owner.  They began planting fruit trees on the property so that the bounty could be canned and frozen by Mrs. Wiley.  She also kept a large rose garden and English-style garden where she grew a mixture of annuals and perennials.  And, unlike many of the gentleman farmers of the period, the Wileys lived there year round and sent their sons to elementary and high school in Palatine.

The Wileys were socially active in the township and blended well with both longtime German farmers like their neighbors, the Freises, and other newcomers to the area like the Atchers.  Mrs. Wiley became active in the Palatine Woman’s Club and served in many capacities, including president.  Countless mentions in editions of the Herald talk of the dinners, get togethers and functions that the Wileys attended.  (The photo to the right shows the NE corner of the Wiley property at Plum Grove and Wiley Road.  Notice Motorola in the background.  That was the farm and property of their good friends, the John Freise’s.)

In the words of Mrs. Wiley, in a Chicago Tribune article of October 6, 1974, “It was a good place to bring up our two boys.  We had 10 good years here before it [development] came.”  Not ones to sit idly by and wait for things to happen,  the Wileys jumped right in when the development started and became part of the movement that built up both the village and the township of Schaumburg.

Mr. Wiley began his public service when he became a board member of the newly formed Schaumburg Township School District 54 in 1952.  Following the detachment from District 250, Mr. Wiley, along with other members, Albert Straub, William Greve, Herbert Buesching, Palmer S. Carlson and Paul Engler, oversaw the 1953 construction of a much needed, modern school on Schaumburg Road, east of St. Peter Lutheran Church.  Simply called Schaumburg School, this building now serves as the technology offices of District 54.  (Pictured below are school board members and trustees standing at the site of the new school.  Mr. Wiley is second from left.)

As it became increasingly clear that the formation of a village would be necessary to handle the development that was beginning, Mr. Wiley put his hat in the ring in 1956 to run as board member for the new village of Schaumburg.  With President Louis Redeker, Clerk Sara Meginnis and other board members, William Frank, Ellsworth Meineke, Phillip Mueller, Walter Slingerland Jr. and Herman Winkelhake, Jr., the first village board was elected.  Three years later in 1959, Robert Atcher took the place of Louis Redeker and the village board began, in earnest, the busy process of creating their local government and village.  As Mr. Wiley said in a Sept. 8, 1968 article in the Chicago Tribune, “I didn’t want development, but now I find myself outselling Schaumburg just like Bob.”

Whether fortuitous or not, it was also this year that Mr. Wiley sold his plant in Franklin Park.  Having looked for property to start another business, Mrs. Wiley said in a July 29, 1965 article from the Herald, “We looked all over for space.  In Elk Grove Village, in Palatine, in Rolling Meadows.”  The solution eventually became obvious.  In a special meeting of the village board, the zoning of a small portion of their property was changed from agricultural to industrial.  Following this move, the Wileys began construction of a small, cinder block building that would house the first industrial plant in the township—the Frank Wiley Co.

(In the aerial photo to the right, you can spot the Wiley farm in the lower part of the photo.  The small concrete building that housed their business appears to be white with a darker roof and sits next to I-90.  The two dark strips in the middle of the property are two rows of over 150 Dutch elms that bordered both sides of the lane.   The Wileys sadly lost the trees to Dutch elm disease shortly after this photo was taken in 1965.   The racetrack oval that was used for horseback riding is also visible.  It is directly to the left of the left strip of Dutch elms.)

Next to the recently opened Interstate 90, the company was perfectly positioned to attract business–for themselves and for Schaumburg Township.  It was strictly a family-run company that employed his two sons and his wife.   They were part of the paper supply industry that transparentized paper by saturating it with a plastic resin.  As a sideline, he also synthesized cloth.  The company served as the only industry in Schaumburg Township until 1963 when Schmidt Iron Works opened just down the road to the east.

Mrs. Wiley was also busy in the early years of the village.  She acted as the Schaumburg correspondent for the Schaumburg Party Line column for the Hoffman Herald.   In 1960 Mayor Atcher asked her to serve on both the Schaumburg Planning Commission and as chairman of the village’s library committee.  This committee was successful in bringing library service in the form of a traveling bookmobile, sponsored by the Regional Library Association for the Fox Valley, to the village of Schaumburg.    Later, on January 15, 1964, an organizational meeting led by Mrs. Wiley formed the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.   She worked with Sara Meginnis, Dru Linnel, Carolyn Smith and Mrs. Rev. F.A. Hertwig of St. Peter Lutheran Church on this project.  Then, in 1965  she was appointed once again to head a three-person village committee to look into a possible merger of the villages of Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg–an idea that clearly never came to fruition.

Around 1966/67, the Wileys closed their business and in 1969 Mr. Wiley decided not to run again for the village board.  The couple  continued living in Schaumburg Township but, by 1971, the taxes had gotten too far out of reach to continue farming their acreage.  Mr. Wiley tried but could not find anyone to “custom-farm just 80 acres.”  (Chicago Tribune, October 6, 1974)  As a result it became necessary to sell the property.  By the late 1970s, the Wileys had sold their property to the Ridge Development Co. of Schaumburg and had retired to Florida.  Mr. Wiley passed away in 1990 and Mrs. Wiley, two years later, in 1992.

Who knows what the formation of the village of Schaumburg would have been without the strong participation and dedication of Frank and Loie Wiley?  Their time and energy spent on the variety of boards and committees in the village and township was invaluable–and unmeasurable.  Heaven knows, our the Schaumburg Township District Library certainly has much to thank for Mrs. Wiley’s service!

This posting was written with the assistance of the articles mentioned in the text as well as those from the April 7, 1966 and April 13, 1961 issues of the Daily Herald and from the January 17, 1960 and October 17, 1965 issues of the Chicago Tribune.  The Genesis of a Township by Marilyn Lind also proved useful in writing this posting.

The photo of the District 54 board is used compliments of William Engler and the photo of the sign of the Schaumburg Industrial District is used compliments of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.  Ironic that we can publish a photo of the Industrial District on Wiley Road thanks to the formation of an organization that Mrs. Wiley helped to found!

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