The question is: where in Schaumburg could you find a Western Store and the village’s municipal offices and jail housed in the same building?
It all began in 1954 when Henry H. and Elvira Freise, long-time German farmers sold their 160 acre farm to William E. Frank and his wife, Evelyn. The farm was located on the northeast corner of Roselle and Golf Roads in Schaumburg Township. Coming from the city, the Franks were considered outsiders but, in their hands, the farm remained a farm.
They remodeled the old farm house for themselves and eventually built another home for their son Bill and his wife, Pat. Their first order of business, though, was to rebuild and repair some of the barns and outbuildings so that they could open for business as a working ranch. While living in Norwood Park, the Franks had owned riding horses and this hobby transferred well to the rural nature of Schaumburg Township. It became known as the Sundance Ranch.
They raised, trained and boarded quarterhorses—their own and those owned by the public. According to the daughter of Mayor Bob Atcher, he boarded his horses, Golden Storm “Stormy” and Dakota at the ranch.
The horses owned by the Franks were trained largely for cutting and roping and were shown at an average of 35 shows during the April-October season. They also gave riding lessons to the residents moving into the new subdivisions in Schaumburg Township.
By 1957, 20-year-old Bill Frank was running the business. In 1960 he expanded it to include a Western Store that was housed in a third building on the property. The Sundance Western Store was not only a saddle shop but featured a wide variety of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel. Everything from shirts, blue jeans, “frontier pants”, jewelry, “squaw dresses”, moccasins, chaps and riding jackets were sold.
When Mr. Frank moved to the area, he had been involved in the construction business for years and was the owner and president of the W.E. Frank Company, Inc. as well as Charmaine Builders, Inc. Knowing a little something about building and development, Mr. Frank saw what was coming in the area and elected to run for trustee for the newly formed village of Schaumburg in February, 1956. He served on the board until 1963 and was instrumental in drafting many of the village’s first building ordinances and amendments that came later. His expertise was also invaluable in ironing out many of the details of the water and sewage utilities as well as the roads and sidewalks of the newly annexed Weathersfield subdivision.
In early 1960 Mr. Frank must have offered the Western Store building to the village as a temporary quarters for their village hall and new, one-man police department. On March 15 Martin Conroy was hired as police chief and his police station—complete with no phone, no squad car and no lockup—was a room that was attached to the Sundance Ranch. In an article from The Herald (September 6, 1973) “Conroy said the one room served not only the one-man police department, but was used for board meetings and court proceedings.” He continues by saying, “We had to share the public toilet with the store. There was only one.” From April until December village business was done at the Ranch until the headquarters was moved into a house in the new Weathersfield development at 100 Springinsguth Road.
During the 1960s, according to numerable mentions in the Daily Herald, the ranch was heavily involved in the horse community. They sponsored horse shows, hayrack/barbecue parties and served as the grounds for the North Cook County 4-H Fair. It is unknown how long the ranch continued operations although it can be assumed that it must have been sometime in the early 1970s since there is no mention of the Ranch in the papers after 1969. One of my notes indicates that a Mr. Lambert purchased the ranch from the Frank family. Another faded photocopy in my files states that, “at one time, the current owner, William Lambert, was close to selling the property to the Woodfield Development Corporation. It is now called the ‘Last Chance Ranch’ and has room for 25 privately boarded horses. The majority of the property has been sold for development.”
Maybe some of you can help me out and relate your memories of the Sundance Ranch. Maybe you rode there, maybe you attended a birthday party complete with a hayrack ride, maybe you even have a picture of that party or maybe you knew the Frank family and can help with their unusual history in the Schaumburg community. Any and all information is gladly accepted!
Information from the June 23, 1960 issue of the Hoffman Herald and an article written by Loie Wiley from an unidentified paper were used as background for this blog posting.
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library