You won’t find this house anywhere in Schaumburg Township.  It was number ML108 in a series of postcard photos that were taken around 1913 near Schaumburg Centre.  Like a number of the buildings in the series (see the number on the bottom right), it was torn down for the sake of progress.  Sadly so, given its uniqueness in this area.    If it were still standing, you would find this home on the southwest side of the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads, close to where the Applebee’s is.

The story of the house begins with Heinrich “Henry” Nerge.   Heinrich came to this country from Germany and met Marie “Mary” Schuette who was also a German immigrant.  Eventually they married in 1854 in St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schaumburg and had a family of seven children.  Mary died after 26 years of marriage on November 7, 1880.  Less than a year later, Henry married Marie “Charlotte” (Brandes) Gummer on November 3, 1881.  At some point, Henry and Charlotte built the south or left portion of the house.  The north or right portion of the house was added on at a later date.

By the time Henry and Charlotte reached retirement, they were ready to sign an altentiel—an agreement that arranges for the care and maintenance of an older farmer on his own farm once he is past the age of farming. The agreement is usually arranged between the farmer and a son and not only secures the care of the farmer and his wife, but also keeps the farm in the family.

Henry and Charlotte signed this agreement on February 1, 1894 with Friedrich “Fred” and Augusta (Guemmer) Nerge.  Fred was the son of Henry and his first wife Mary.  It is unknown whether Augusta was related to Henry’s second wife, Charlotte, and her first husband but it certainly seems likely–even though the spelling of their last names is slightly different.

The altentiel stated that the two families would live in the house together.  Henry and Charlotte would live in the north part of the house and Fred and Augusta would live in the south part.  Three years later, on June 26, 1897, Henry passed away.  It is unknown if Charlotte continued to live in the house until she died on August 2, 1904.  Given the fact that she was a co-signer of the altentiel which guaranteed her care, it can be assumed that she probably did stay there until her death.

This was a good arrangement for Fred and Augusta.  Fred Nerge owned and ran a blacksmith shop that was to the north of the house.   The commute was negligible and it would have been easy to call on him in an emergency.   Mr. Nerge was also busy in township politics, serving as the township tax collector.  Fred and Augusta eventually sold both the house and the business and moved to Elgin.  Getting older could have been a factor in the move as well as the use of tractors that probably negated a good part of the blacksmith business.  Fred died on April 13, 1946 and Augusta died December 18, 1960.

It is possible that the Nerges sold their property to the John Bageanes family because they are listed at this address in the 1928 Roselle telephone directory.  They were a Greek truck farming family who farmed the 30 to 35 acres of property directly to the west of the house.

According to Alice Wochnick who grew up in the area, the house was later used for apartments.  At one point the Martinovich family lived in the upstairs apartment.  According to Ann (Martinovich) Dieke, her mother, two sisters and brother lived in the two-bedroom apartment during the 1940s.  Mrs. Martinovich worked as a housekeeper for Wayne King, the famous bandleader who owned a farm south on Roselle Road.  They rented from the Kulas family who were the owners and lived downstairs.  The Vermillions are also remembered as another renting family.

Eventually the house was sold in the late 1940s or early 1950s to Antonio (Anthoni) and Valeria Wilk—a Polish family.  According to their granddaughter, Stephanie, the property was 31.101 acres and came with a barn and various outbuildings.  While living there they kept goats, ducks and chickens.  The property that extended to the west of the house was leased to an area farmer.  Because it was built before indoor plumbing, Stephanie recalls the house had a bathroom that had been added on to the outside of the house.  It was not well insulated because when it was very cold the pipes froze.3331

Antonio and Valeria left the house and farm by 1963.  Before they moved, the Wilks sold off the farm acreage but kept the house and its immediate surroundings which was about 2 ¾ acres.  The house was rented out at this time.  Valeria died in 1964 and Antonio in 1967.

After Antonio passed away, their four children inherited the remaining property.  They subdivided it into 3 plots.  Stephen, one of the sons, bought his other siblings out.   Stephanie and her husband moved in on the first floor in May 1966 while the second floor continued to be rented out to Ilse Wolter.  Ilse’s  daughter’s family had been living on the first floor prior to this.  Following the death of her husband, Stephanie continued to live there until December 1972.

Eventually Stephen’s family sold two of the plots and the house and its outbuildings were torn down.  The last remaining plot was sold to Blockbuster Video around 1997/1998.  That spot is now occupied by Coldwell Banker.

The house may be gone but a visit to Applebee’s is still reassuring to Stephanie.  As she said, “When I eat there, I feel like I’m in the dining room of my grandmother’s house, looking across the street at the Easy Street Pub.”

This blog posting was written with the assistance of Stephanie Wilk, Larry Nerge and Pete Noll.  Thank you! 

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

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