SCHAUMBURG OF MY ANCESTORS

LaVonne's bookIt doesn’t happen very often that new books are written about the history of Schaumburg Township.   When it does, it is necessary to relay the good news.

Local resident, LaVonne Thies Presley has written a detailed account called Schaumburg Of My Ancestors in which she explores the history of the farm where her father grew up and lived during the early part of the twentieth century.  As a descendant of this German family who homesteaded and farmed our rural township, LaVonne’s devotion to our history is constant and passionate–a gift she received from her parents.

The 281-page book begins with the arrival of her paternal great grandparents, Friedrich and Maria (Pollworth) Thies, to Schaumburg Township around 1870.  The land they purchased and farmed was along Meacham Road, directly to the west of today’s Route 53 where the WGN tower now stands.  Heinrich, one of their five children, married Sophie Fedderke and they eventually purchased half of the family farm and began their own family.  It is this family and their farm upon which this book is based.

With the births of their five children–Henry, Clara, William, Emma and Alvina–the young parents worked hard to not only sustain themselves but to create additional income as well.  Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Heinrich died of heart failure after nearly 10 years of marriage at the age of 45.   Until her sons were old enough, the farm was worked by others while Sophie and her children lived nearby.  Around 1908, the family moved back and went about the business of making the farm a success.   Thus begins a fascinating account of the myriad details that were involved in running a farm and household and what it was to live in rural Schaumburg Township during the first half of the twentieth century.

We are introduced to the crops and foods that were grown, the animals that were raised, and the styles of farming used.  Water, wells, wood, shopping, banking, fire protection, roads, mail, newspapers, magazines and radio are just some of the topics that are covered.  In addition, we are treated to very complete chapters on attending St. Peter Lutheran Church as well as a history of the five original public schools of Schaumburg Township.  These details are enhanced by a wonderful array of photos and papers saved  by the family over the years.  It is truly a wonderfully complete look at life in our township long before suburban life moved in.

In 2002 LaVonne wrote her first book, A Schaumburg Farm, 1935-1964, which was an account of the Wiese (Wise) Road farm her parents owned for nearly three decades.  It is where LaVonne grew up and where every memory remains acute.  As the only child of her parents, William and Clara Thies (she also had an older, half-brother named Ray), she was the focus of a devoted couple who were sustained by the land they farmed and loved.   According to LaVonne, her father was a true conversationalist whose stories and memories provide many of the details for Schaumburg of My Ancestors.   His life on the Meacham Road farm and then on Wiese Road gave him and his daughter a lifelong zeal for farming, family and the land that was the constant in their lives.   This book is dedicated in his honor.

Copies of the book are available in the Schaumburg Township District Library’s Local History Collection.  You may either reserve it online through our catalog or call the Reference Desk at 847-923-3322.  Copies are also available for purchase at the Schaumburg Village Hall, Prairie Center for the Arts and the Volkening Heritage Farm Visitor’s Center.  The price is $20. 

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