A TALE OF TWO GAS STATIONS (Part 1)

It was the best of times for two small gas stations that sat at the crossroads of Higgins and Evanston-Elgin (Golf) Roads in Schaumburg Township. And, fortunately, the worst of times never happened because both owners did not leave until they retired. Their stations survived at the junction of these two major roads in Schaumburg Township for over 30 years. They were Kosnik’s Service Station and the Sunderlage Service Station. Because of their close proximity, the two station owners were obviously competitors but they were also good friends.

[The location of the Kosnik station is denoted by the blue box on the map. The Sunderlage station is denoted by the red box.]

Service Stations 2

 

The first station to open was Kosnik’s. According to a Daily Herald article from July 14, 1960, Anton Kosnik opened his station in 1928. It was located on the west side of the point of the intersection. The building faced east towards the point and was accessible from either Higgins or Evanston-Elgin roads. It was closest to Evanston-Elgin; thus, the largest entrance was off of that road with a U-shaped entrance giving access to Higgins.

Mr. Kosnik began selling gas shortly after he married his wife Hermina around 1927. Making it easy on themselves, the Kosniks built a house to the west of the station, directly across Higgins from the Vogelei House. There they raised their three children and ran the station into the 1960s. (It may have BEEN 1960 because the Daily Herald article recognized Mr. Kosnik’s 25 years of service and there is no further mention of him after this date.)

By 1935 Mr. Kosnik was a Standard Oil dealer. Not only did he sell gas and provide basic automotive services but he also shared his home and business with travellers during a blizzard in December 1950.

Snow began falling early on Thursday, December 14, 1950 and by 4:30 the roads began drifting shut due to high winds. The Kosniks began taking in people who had abandoned their cars on the roadside and were still doing it at 2:00 in the morning.

According to a Daily Herald article from December 15, 1950, “the Kosnik’s home and station overflowed with 45 people. The Kosniks gave up their beds and distributed blankets and pillows as far as they would go. Hot soup and coffee were served all night [with] the Kosniks staying up and checking to see that everyone was comfortable. In the morning they prepared breakfast for everyone, the last of the refugees leaving for their respective homes Friday afternoon.” Such was the nature of life in rural Schaumburg Township. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Maybe you remember the Kosnik Service Station and Mr. Kosnik? Or your parents might have bought gas or had their car serviced there? Maybe you have a good recollection of when his station closed? If so, please feel free to leave a comment.

Next week, it’s the tale of the other gas station!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

Use of the map was graciously granted by the Cook County Highway Department.  Recollections of the Kosnik Service Station, house and family were graciously shared by the Sunderlage family and Larry Nerge.

 

 

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5 Responses to “A TALE OF TWO GAS STATIONS (Part 1)”

  1. Fred Luft Says:

    I remember seeing the large (at least to a little kid) Standard Oil sign when my brothers and I would go with Mom to shop in Elgin when she drove there via the Evanston-Elgin Road.

  2. karl sievers Says:

    and don’t forget the man named “Oscar”. he was a mentally and physically challenged man. he walked with a pronounced limp and could talk but was very hard to understand. he lived at the gas station and I used to say hi to him whenever I saw him. he was always in a good mood. then one day he was hit by a car, the driver never stopped, and he died shortly after that. people were so sad at this happening. I wished the jerk that hit him would be caught but never was.

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello Karl,

      “Oscar” was actually the son of the Kosniks and, according to the Sunderlages, was physically challenged as a result of a childhood illness.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  3. Dorothy Jahn Schult Says:

    I fondly remember both the Sunderlage Service station and the Kosnik family. Both owners were the nicest people around. My sister and I did a lot of horseback riding back around the area and our favorite stop was Sunderlage’s to buy candy, Cracker Jack, etc. They were very special, friendly and kind. I also remember the Kosniks too. They had a heavy accent – German? – and we would often pick up Oscar to take him to church with us. Today he would be called disabled. He did walk with a limp and was hard to understand. Our family was also good friends with Chester and Esther Cristiansen and their kids. Our mom and Esther would take turns driving us to school in inclement weather. We visited them often, and I have fond memories of them too. My parents were Art and Elsie Jahn and our farm was just to the North of them. Good memories of my childhood. Yes, neighbors helped each other always. When Art Plote’s barn burned down neighbors from all around went to help. If there was illness in the farm families, neighbors pitched in to do whatever was needed to keep their farms going.

    • jrozek Says:

      Thank you for pitching in with your great comments Dorothy.

      I appreciate the details you’ve provided from your personal perspective. It’s always nice to find out just a few more pieces of the puzzle!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

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