Horace P. Williams. Johann Sunderlage. Frederick Nerge. Charles Meacham. Ebenezer Colby. Henry Myers.

All of these gentlemen have one thing in common. They were all original settlers of Schaumburg Township and purchased the first land patents sold by the federal government.

But one of the gentlemen is unique.  Henry Myers made the trip from New York City to purchase land on behalf of the Jewish Settlement Society. (Henry’s name is noted as both Myers and Myres in the federal land patents but every other document, including future census, have his name as Meyer.  That is the spelling we will use.)

He was sent by William Renau who was one of the founders of the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith in New York.  Mr. Renau encouraged his fellow members to lift them themselves up from “the low plane they occupied in economic and social life as peddlers.”  He felt that purchasing land and engaging in farming was the key to a better life.  [History of the Jews of Chicago; Meltes, 1924]

Mr. Meyer set out for the Chicago area and after scouring the vicinity for a few weeks, chose two parcels of land that he felt were most favorable.  The property was in Sections 9 and 10 of Schaumburg Township.  Those parcels today would be near the intersection of Roselle Road and State Parkway and extend westward towards Jones Road.  In his report to the Society, he stated that “this part of the land, especially the town of Chicago, opens a vista into a large commercial future.”

He wasn’t far off.  Find Sections 9 and 10 at the top of this 1935 topographical map.  You will notice the land at this point is rolling and that there is even a stream flowing through the area.  It would have been perfect to have such a nice vantage point and water close by.

Mr. Meyer purchased 160 acres in both sections, bringing the total to 320 acres.  Land was going for $1 to $1.25 an acre.  Both parcels were issued on June 1, 1848.  This simple but significant purchase made Mr. Meyer the first Jew to purchase property in Cook County.  [History of the Jews of Chicago; Meltes, 1924]

His enthusiasm for the site drew other members of the Jewish Settlement Society to follow him to Schaumburg Township, including his brother-in-law, Moses Kling.  Only a couple of the members eventually bought land nearby.  Most either chose to return east to Chicago or went further afield in Illinois and points westward.

Mr. Kling and his wife, Regina, settled in Palatine in Section 29 for a number of years.  This was both due north of Mr. Meyer’s property and of Algonquin Road.  According to the 1884 History of Cook County by A. T. Andreas, the Klings house served as a post office for Palatine Township in the mid 1850s.

The Klings are also listed in Palatine Township as of the 1860 census.  Mr. Meyer, though, had already sold his property and moved to Chicago. According to History of the Jews in Chicago, Meyer continued his land purchases and began investing in real estate.  In fact they list him as the first Jewish real estate dealer in Chicago.

Unfortunately, we lose track of Mr. Meyer after this point.  However, it IS possible to follow the Klings.  They were living in Chicago by the 1870 census.  According to findagrave.com, Moses died in 1872 and Regina died in 1885.  Both are buried in Zion Gardens Cemetery.  Is it possible Mr. Meyer is buried there too in an unmarked grave?

Despite the difficulties in tracking Mr. Meyer’s life past Schaumburg Township, it is good to know of his importance to both our township and Cook County.  Of all of the areas he scouted in the larger Chicago area, it was Schaumburg Township that caught his eye and captured his imagination.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

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