WHERE IN THE WORLD WAS SCHAUMBURG HALL?

 

About a year ago this rather unique photo popped up on eBay and came to my attention. While the ball field itself looks like it could have been our rural township, the house in the background and the small pergola were very much out of the ordinary for Schaumburg Township in the 1910s.

To confirm my feelings about the photo, I ran it past LaVonne Presley. She was born and raised in the township and was familiar with the farmhouses of the area. She agreed that this was not Schaumburg Township but had no clue where the grounds were.

There were definitely Schaumburg Township baseball teams, as indicated by this photo in the library’s collection. Our photo was probably taken about ten to fifteen years later than the photo at the top, judging by the style of clothing worn. Plus, the Schaumburg Township players wore uniforms instead of the white shirts and black knickers that are seen in the earlier photo.

To deepen the mystery, Johnny Kunzer, one of the blog readers, recently passed on another picture that was clearly taken at the same spot.

The handwriting is the same, the sequencing number on the photos is two digits off and that pergola and house look mighty familiar. Additionally, it says “Schaumburg Hall & Park” and the people are dressed in the same fashion. The information on the back of the photo said that it was taken in 1915.

I did a bit of internet searching but, with little time, decided to throw the question to a museum list serve. Within hours I received a response from a list member who said it appeared that this was the present day Schaumburg Supper Club in Randolph, WI. She sent a couple of other photos, one of which was from an article in the Fond Du Lac Reporter from August 22, 1973. It looked darned close but some of the elements were changed.

The beautiful glassed-in porch was gone and it appeared to have some type of addition on the right side of the building. Because the cupola cannot be seen in the 1915 photo, it was impossible to tell if that was an original architectural element that survived until 1973 or if it had been added somewhere along the way.

I then took a chance and called the Schaumburg Supper Club. Luckily, the very nice, very interested owner, Candy Palmiteer, answered the phone. While she was not sure about the pictures, she mentioned that the building had, indeed, been altered at some point and a glassed-in porch had been removed.

She also told me that the building was originally built by a man named John Schaumburg and his wife Mary. From Google Satellite, I was able to see that the building is currently on a lake. She confirmed that the lake was called Lake Emily and was named for one of the daughters of a man named Hamilton Stevens.

With a little more to go on, I looked into John and Mary Schaumburg and found quite an interesting story. By fleshing out some of the details in the Fond Du Lac article, I discovered in the 1870 census that John and Mary were born in 1812 and 1813 respectively. The article said they left Germany shortly after they were married–probably somewhere around 1832–and came to the United States, settling in New York’s Mohawk Valley.

Conversely, the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census–as well as John’s death certificate–all state that both John and Mary were born in New York. Without further research into Germany or New York church records, it is difficult to determine which location is correct.

To make things a little more interesting, the article further states that, “receiving an annual sum of money from his parents, young Schaumburg started a grocery store which quickly prospered into a large business. His wealth increased even more when he received a bequest of $60,000 from his mother upon her death about 1836.”

He and Mary must have used the money to begin buying acreage in Dodge County, Wisconsin. The Bureau of Land Management’s Land Patent database states that John and Maryann (as she is listed) both purchased 80 acres in 1848. As mentioned in the newspaper article, they eventually purchased 1800 acres on the shores of Lake Emily that had been surveyed by Hamilton Stevens (!) who also named nearby Lake Sarah and Lake Maria for his other daughters. In the 1850 census, as well as the years 1860 and 1870, John is listed as a “hotel keeper” so they must have built a rudimentary establishment when they arrived.

(In fact, in an article that was written by Beverly Connor and is hanging on the wall in the Supper Club, it states that the home “became a stop over for Indian agents, travelers and fur trappers, besides the settlers and local Indians.)

In 1852 they began construction of their large, two-story white house that was purportedly “designed after his ancestral Von Schaumburg castle built in Germany in 1030.” The house was fashionably furnished both inside and out according to the article. It is astounding to imagine that the house that we see above was built 15 years before Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in the Little House in the Big Woods in Pepin, Wisconsin.

According to the Fond Du Lac article, the Schaumburgs had a daughter who married an Englishman named Winship and “they too lived at Schaumburg Hall.” The 1850 census, in fact, lists only George Winship as a farmer on the Schaumburg property. It states that he was born in New York. We might surmise then, that Winship came to Wisconsin with the Schaumburgs to help them with their property.

The 1870 census confirms that the Winships were indeed living with the Schaumburghs (as the name is listed in the census.) George and Jessie were listed, along with their children Stephanie, John, Imogene, Desdemona, Thomas and Margaret.

The problem is that Jessie’s birthplace is listed as Scotland. In doing a bit of research on Family Search.org, her death certificate in Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths states that her parents were Alexander Fyfe and Margaret Caird. In fact, Jessie’s tombstone in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, lists her maiden name of Fyfe as well as her married name of Winship. Clearly there was some type of relationship between the Schaumburgs and the Winships, but it was not parental.

After living in Schaumburg Hall for 35 years, as the article states, John and Mary sold their property and moved to Chicago with the Winships. Two years after the 1870 census–and after the sale of the property–Mary died on June 29, 1872 and was buried in Graceland cemetery in Chicago. John survived her by almost 16 years and died on June 14, 1888. He, too, is buried in Graceland Cemetery. George and Jessie Winship died in 1891 and 1916, respectively, and are both buried at Graceland too.

The Hall, meanwhile, went through a variety of owners, including Dr. Frank Gunther, a dentist from Chicago, who purchased it for a summer home in 1913. He, then, was the owner when the above photos were taken of “Schaumburg Hall!” He kept the establishment until 1930 and sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Louis Zoeller until his death in 1964.

After sitting vacant for four years, Bob and Marge Palmiteer bought the mansion in 1968 and converted it into the restaurant it is today. They, in turn, sold it to their son David and his wife Candy who run it today. They are often asked whether they are somehow connected to Schaumburg, Illinois and they have to say “no.” Conversely, we here in Schaumburg Township, despite the strong German farm period, never had a resident with the last name of “Schaumburg!”

In a recent visit to the Supper Club, it is clear that the beauty of the building and the setting are still very much present in this off-the-beaten-path spot in Wisconsin. Touches of the original building still exist. The cupola on top, the dark walnut trim inside that was hauled by oxcart from Green Bay, the front staircase, and the bucolic front lawn and circular driveway that reach out to County A are all in place.

The Palmiteers, in fact, have the historic lawn photo on the walls of the club. It states that the photo was taken in 1922, which seems possible, given the large hats that the ladies are wearing.

It is safe to say that the only connection that Schaumburg Hall in Randolph, WI and Schaumburg Township share is their common roots in Schaumburg-Lippe Germany. But, boy, did those roots stretch a long ways!

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

My thanks to the Palmiteers for their valuable input into this story.

Photo credits:

  • Credit extended to Fond Du Lac Reporter for the exterior photo of Schaumburg Hall with the caption.
  • Credit extended to the Palmiteer family for interior color photos of Schaumburg Hall.

4 Responses to “WHERE IN THE WORLD WAS SCHAUMBURG HALL?”

  1. Fred Luft Says:

    The amount of time and research you did to get to the meaning of the word Schaumburg, a house in the background, a field with baseball players, people watching them and a car in the background. What a great accomplishment you did. Thanks for providing us with this story.

  2. Karen Says:

    I love reading these histories and applaud you for all the research done. Thank you. ________________________________

  3. Lara Says:

    Wow what a great detective story. Great work!

  4. jrozek Says:

    Thank you for your kind comments. This blog post was SO much fun to research and write. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Plus, it was a delight going there in person!

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