THE AUTOGRAPH BOOK OF BEN MEYER

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Jane Rozek, who is the Schaumburg Township District Library’s local history librarian, posted a wonderful blog on the library’s history website detailing the entries in young Marie Quindel’s autograph book that dated back to 1899.  It only seems fitting that I should share our Hoffman Estates Museum’s autograph book with you also.  After reading Jane’s blog, I knew I wanted to tell you about young Bennie Meyer’s book.  You see Bennie Meyer grew up to become Marie Quindel’s husband and their farm was on Higgins Rd. just west of Gannon Dr.  His little book was dated 1901. Bennie Meyer’s autograph book was filled with school chums, neighbors, relatives and friend’s greetings and best wishes.Meyer album

Page after page reads like a who’s who of the young children who grew up to become the well know farmers of the area.   Greve, Volkening, Gieseke, Fasse, Fenz, Nerge, Springinsguth, Hattendorf, Lichthardt, Hartman and Kastening are some of the more than 41 autographs in Ben Meyer’s elaborately imposed ivory covered book that’s still protected by the original box stamped “Made in Germany”.  The children dated their sometimes humorous or serious saying, ranging from 1901 through 1912 beginning with Ben signing “Bennie Meyer, 1901” on the first page.  His sisters, Martha and Matilda were the first to sign his book. The last autographs were written on February 3, 1912 by his nephew and nieces, Bennie, Emma and Amelia Volkening.

Meyer album 2The penmanship was absolutely beautiful.  The little book was filled with added decorative stickers of flowers and one cute little black and white dog that Willie Volkening added to his page.  He wrote “Remember me dear Bennie, when on this line you look, remember it was Willie who wrote this in your book, Your friend and schoolmate, Willie Volkening.”

Hermine Fenz wrote “Dear Bennie, May your virtues ever spread like butter on hot ginger bread.  I’ve looked these pages o’er and o’er to see what others wrote before and in this little lonely spot, I’ll here inscribe forget me not.  Remember your friend, Hermine Fenz.”  It was dated Jan. 27, 1902.

The 112 year old autograph book came to our museum from Marie and Bennie Meyer’s son Roger.  It’s an irreplaceable treasure of sentiments from the children who grew up on our local farms.  They became local leaders in the Schaumburg Township community. As you drive through the area, you’ll see many of their names on our road signs. Meyer album 3

Roger Meyer moved away to a new farm.  He lets others do the farming and now enjoys the peace and quiet of the countryside. His donations to our museum include the beautiful spinning wheel used by his grandma Greve and a photo of her sitting at the spinning wheel.  But what I love the most is his dad’s (Bennie’s) autograph book.  It gives a look into these happy childrens’ lives more than 100 years ago.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
eagle2064@comcast.net

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