Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

In the latter part of 2017, two of the gentleman that I enjoyed talking to and visiting passed away.  Harold Bergman and Vernon Frost won’t be able to tell me their stories about the farming world that they lived in.  I will greatly miss both of them.

Vernon loved to talk about his early years growing up on his parents’ farm that was located at Central and Ela Rd.  He lost his father at an early age and went to stay and work on his Grandmother’s farm that is now the Highland Golf Course and was right across Ela Rd. from his parent’s farm.  He and his mother moved to Palatine but he continued to earn some money by working on other relatives’ farms in the area.

He had stories of his days attending the Highland Grove School on Ela Rd. and how Harold Bergman was his confirmation teacher at St. John’s Church.

He loved tractors and could keep them repaired and running for the daily work in the farm fields.  He told stories about the farms that formed their harvesting circle that shared the large combines to get the crops into the barns and silos.  He was always there when I’d call him for confirmation of information I was trying to pull together about the farming days before development began with F & S Construction.

Harold Bergman was a special friend who was always willing to sit down at his kitchen table and share the stories of what it was like to grow up on his parent’s farm at Ela and Algonquin Rd.  I’d ask question after question about his daily routine as a young boy.  He seemed to love remembering back to those early days.  I learned so much.  He also shared pictures from his life on the farm.

He told how the cans of milk would be put into a large tub of well water to keep it at 55 degrees until the dairy came by for pick up each morning.  When there wasn’t enough wind to drive the wind mill and pump the well water into the tub, he told of the series of Delco batteries that powered the pumps as well as his farm house.  The batteries gave enough power to last until shortly after sunset.  When the house went dark, everyone would go to bed.   When electricity came down Algonquin Rd. in the mid 1930s, he recalled how excited his mom was because she’d buy a new refrigerator and get rid of that old ice box.  All the light bulbs in the house had to be changed with the new “off the line” power as they called it.  Harold recalled how expensive those new bulbs were.

Harold was the oldest farmer still farming in Cook County.  He retired at the age of 100 moving to live with his son.  He passed away in December of 2017 at the age of 102.

These two men helped save our farming history by sharing their stories and photos of a time long past. I’ll always fondly remember them and be grateful for the time I spent with them.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

Thank you to the family of Vernon Frost for providing the photo of him for his obituary and to the Daily Herald for the photo of Harold Bergman near his familiar farm house on Algonquin Road.  


  1. Kristy Catlin VanCleve Says:

    Our family were members of St John’s church in the 60’s. Us three kids were baptized there on the same day and if I recall correctly, Mr. Bergman stood as a witness that day. Sad to hear of the passing of him and Mr. Frost. What amazing lives they had, to see all the changes and growth of the area. God Bless them.

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