THE WINKELHAKE FAMILY FARM: THE OLDEST IN SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

For years the small farm on the southeast corner of Higgins and Plum Grove Road seemed to persevere in spite of the growth around it. If you lived or worked in Schaumburg Township from 1980 to 2000 during the height of office development, you couldn’t help but notice the fields, the barns and the white farmhouse that stood out on busy Higgins Road.

This was the Winkelhake property, purchased in 1848 by Christof Winkelhake, two years before the township itself was established in 1850. Through sheer dint of will and passion, the Winkelhakes managed to maintain their agricultural independence for 150 years, despite all of the development that surrounded their farm.

Christof Winkelhake and his wife, Louise Marie, emigrated here from Germany around 1845, eventually purchasing 80 acres from the government as a land patent in 1848. The property was obtained in two different parcels a little over a week apart on March 1 and 10, according to the Bureau of Land Management’s General Land Office Records.

With their seven children–two of whom were born in Germany and the rest in Schaumburg Township–the Winkelhakes worked their farm, year in and year out. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune from July 27, 1999, Christof had “accumulated 240 acres by the time of the Civil War.”

The 1861 map above shows the Winkelhake property, 160 acres at the time, stretched laterally across Higgins Road. Note that Plum Grove Road came down from the north, through Horace “H.P.” Williams’ property, and ended at Higgins Road. It would be years before this gravel road extended south through the heart of the Winkelhake property.

All of the plat maps from 1861 to 1947 depict Plum Grove as a straight line, moving north/south through the Township. It isn’t until the 1947 map that we see Plum Grove take the slight jog that remains there today. It is my presumption that when it was finally paved it was necessary to go around, rather than through, the farmplace of the Winkelhake farm–hence the curve.

After establishing the farm for future generations, Christof died in 1897 at the age of 82. Both he and his wife, who had died ten years before him, are buried at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Cemetery. Below is their grave marker with its unique, ornamental finial on top.

The farm passed on to his son, Henry Winkelhake who was born in 1847 and was one of the first to be baptized within the St. Peter Lutheran Church congregation that formed in the same year. When he died in 1907, his two sons, Henry Jr. and Herman, farmed two different parcels, as can be seen on the 1926 plat map below. (Note Plum Grove’s straight, due south direction.) According to this map, Herman was farming the original property and Henry was farming the property that had been acquired on the east side of Plum Grove.

After their deaths, Herman’s sons, Louis and Herman, took over the farming, continuing to milk cows and grow corn, grain and soybeans. They sold off parcels here and there, particularly the portion that had been farmed by Henry on the west side of Plum Grove Road. That was sold to Arthur and Dorothy Hammerstein as their second farm.

When Arthur Hammerstein died in 1955, his wife sold their two farms on Roselle Road and Plum Grove Road. Eventually Palatine Township High School District acquired a portion of the Plum Grove Road farm that they would later use as the grounds for Conant High School, the first high school in the township. Before that was built the school district rented the 38 acres back to the Winkelhakes to farm in 1959. It is quite interesting that the school district was calling it the Hammerstein school site.

After working the farm for many years, Louis left and moved to Milwaukee. Herman continued to live in the white farmhouse, persevering season after season until his son Ron came back to help around 1987. Herman was bound and determined not to sell the property and, in fact, never did. He lived there until the day he died in 1995.

In the photo below, you can see how embedded the Winkelhakes were in Schaumburg Township and St. Peter Lutheran Church. Most of this row consists of the Winkelhakes we’ve been talking about, except for Herman, who was the last to farm. He is buried at St. Peter’s but is not part of this family plot.

By 1997, it was apparent to Herman’s survivors that it was time to sell the beloved farm that had been in the family for 150 years. Over the course of a few years, the family farm became the Morningside subdivision (which is on the homeplace), Bank of America and Sunrise of Schaumburg, an assisted living facility, to name a few.

Do you suppose some of these tall trees that line Plum Grove Road and border Higgins, are leftovers from the oldest family farm in Schaumburg Township? If they are, it’s sure nice to know there are remnants of the farm that still survive.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

This blog posting was written with the assistance of the following:

  • Schaumburg Review, April 3, 1997
  • Chicago Tribune, July 27, 1999
  • A Winkelhake Time Capsule Or a Rainy Spring Day with Ron and Anne Winkelhake by Linda Valentine
  • Larry Nerge, Genealogist

 

 

6 Responses to “THE WINKELHAKE FAMILY FARM: THE OLDEST IN SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP”

  1. Richard (Dick) Clark Says:

    Having moved to Hoffman Estates in 1956 and began attending Schaumburg School in March of 56′, I met Larry Winkelhake and his sister Ruth. We later attended Palatine Twp High School together. Everyone in H.E. and Schaumburg knew of the Winkelhake farm but at the time it was known as the “Goose Farm”. They raised geese there mostly for the down and feathers I believe (?). Larry & Ruth had several younger siblings as I recall but I never really got to know the younger ones.

  2. Barbara Bell Says:

    Alma Winlklehake set up a hair salon in her kitchen in the 1960’s. live in California but remember those times very well. Loved this article on Facebook.

  3. Shakemap Says:

    Ooh, this is a great one! It reminds me so much of when I was attending Aldrin elementary school, Christof Winkelhake was elevated to a nearly godlike status in Schaumburg history. This was in the early 80s, and there were apparently enough remnants of the site of an old “heuele” (not sure if that’s the correct spelling) on the property, that we took a school bus tour past it. I never see it mentioned anywhere, but I remember learning something about how the earliest German settlers to the land built these heueles in the land as their first homes before they could get their farms and houses erected. Would you happen to know whether or not this is true after all? For all I know, it might’ve been someone’s mere speculation that got into an elementary school’s local history curriculum. 🙂

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello Shakemap,

      It is very interesting that you commented on “hueles” and referred to the Winkelhake family. For years the library has had a book called “Schaumburg, A Pictorial History” that was written by Renie Hurban who was with the Schaumburg Sister Cities Association. It was published in the 1980s and was intended to introduce Schaumburg to visitors and locals unfamiliar with the history.

      It, in fact, has a page on hueles and gives a description. “Early shelters were temporary dwellings built of logs and willow branches and covered by prairie grass, clay and earth. They were known as hueles. Construction of more permanent dwellings, usually log cabins, began as soon as possible.”

      Does this fall in line with what you saw on the Winkelhake farm?

      I appreciate you making the connection. This was always a bit puzzling as the word in this context is difficult to find anywhere else.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library
      jrozek@stdl.org

      • Shakemap Says:

        Miss (or Mrs?…Miss sounds right somehow) Hurban! You just reminded me, I think she was actually my 4th grade teacher!…Well, that explains a lot. No wonder she got us so into Schaumburg history! I had no idea she’d published a book with all of that information – when we got it, it was just a packet of dittos stapled together! 🙂 Thank you so much for reminding me! Yeah, I think when we rode past the site on the bus, it was raining, and all we could see was a grassy bump on the ground at that point. I guess it must be all built over by now.

      • jrozek Says:

        Well, this all makes sense then. During the 1980s District 54 put an emphasis on Illinois history as part of the fourth grader curriculum. You definitely had the advantage of a teacher who took local history to heart.

        Thank you for the personal clarification of this term. It answers questions we’ve had for a number of years.

        Jane Rozek
        Local History Collection
        Schaumburg Township District Library
        jrozek@stdl.org

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