Archive for the ‘Farms’ Category

A UNKNOWN FARM HOUSE APPEARED RIGHT BEFORE OUR VERY EYES

June 24, 2017

Surprises come in all shapes and sizes and this particular surprise came in the shape of the house pictured above.  Last December, Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian, was contacted by Sue Gould, a local realtor, who was listing a home at 635 Lakeview Lane in Hoffman Estates.  According to the tax records she pulled, the home was built in 1879.  It is next to Lakeview School and the front of the house faces Evergreen Park and pond.  She wondered if we knew anything about it.  (Lakeview School is to the left in the photo below.)

The answer was no, we didn’t, because this house was a total surprise to us!  We know of only two houses in Parcel C that were here before the Hoffmans began development in the area.  One is the Hammerstein House on Illinois Boulevard that is now the Children’s Advocacy Center and the other is a private residence.

The realtor asked for a bit of background on the house so we got busy.  In looking at some of the old plat maps, Pat determined that the home was owned by the Bartels family.  I made a couple of calls and talked to Mr. Sporleder whose family farm backed up to the property.  He confirmed that, during his lifetime, the farm was first owned by Arthur Bartels and, later, by his son, Harvey Bartels.  He also mentioned that they lived in a big, two-story house.  Bingo.

In looking back at the many plat maps in our library’s collection, Arthur Bartels owned the property back to the 1920’s.  However, I suspected their ownership was earlier than that.  Mr. Bartels married Alma Hitzemann in 1915 at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schaumburg.  An account of their wedding ran in the Palatine Enterprise and stated, “The happy couple were the recipients of many beautiful and useful presents and will start life under most favorable circumstances on the groom’s fine 160-acre farm, with good large buildings and everything to make them prosperous and happy.”  In fact, the obituary for Mrs. Bartels in 1945 confirms that, “after their marriage [they] made their home on their farm on Bode Rd. in Schaumburg twp.”

This clearly did not date the house though.  Prior to Mr. Bartels purchasing the property, the plat maps show that the farm was owned by the F. Gieseke family going back to 1861.  The property was split sometime in the following ten years and became two parcels, with houses built on both farms. (Note the fieldstones that make up the cellar walls of the house.)

According to the records collected by Larry Nerge, Friedrich or “Fred” Gieseke emigrated here in 1845 and died in 1891.   Friedrich or “Fred Jr.,” his son, died in 1911.  Both farms are listed on the maps under the name of F. Gieseke.  It’s a good possibility that the west farm passed from the Giesekes to the Bartels after Fred Jr. died in 1911.

Interestingly, Hattie Hitzemann, the sister of Mrs. Bartels, married William J. Gieseke who lived in another part of the township.  It is probably through Hattie and William that the Bartels heard that the Gieseke property was for sale.  Fred Gieseke Jr. was a first cousin to William’s father, Johann or “John” Gieseke.  So the property was kept in the family for all intents and purposes–though slightly removed from the direct line.

According to my contact, Mr. Sporleder, his best guess was that Harvey Bartels sold the property in the late 1950s.  The adjoining Gieseke property to the east had been sold in 1943 to Arthur and Dorothy Dalton Hammerstein.   After Arthur’s death in 1954, Dorothy sold the farm to the Hoffmans of F & S Construction.  It makes sense that the Bartels would have followed with a sale of their own farm in the next few years to F & S.

But the old Gieseke/Bartels house remained–as did the Gieseke/Hammerstein house.  For some reason F & S allowed both of them to stay in the midst of ongoing development. Somewhere along the line, though, the Gieseke/Bartels house dropped out of the local history consciousness.  Fortunately it resurfaced, thanks to Sue Gould’s attentiveness and concern.  And, just in time for Pat and me to take a look!

It was clear in the walk through that the house was added onto at some point.  There were two separate apartments with two separate kitchens and entrances.  Judging by the walls and the foundation in the cellar, it was also obvious here that at least one addition had occurred.  It is my feeling that the portion of the house in the middle and a fair portion on the east side, closest to Lakeview School, were the oldest parts of the house.  The chimney is another giveaway for that argument as is this bay in the center.  Notice the style of the trim around the window.

We are just grateful we were alerted to this piece of history we might have otherwise missed.  There are few farm houses left in Schaumburg Township and it was nice to have the opportunity to view this quiet masterpiece from days gone by.

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

 

THE BELL FAMILY ON STRATFORD FARMS

May 28, 2017

About six years after Levy Mayer bought the Stratford Hotel in 1907 at the corner of Jackson and Michigan in Chicago, he also bought a farm in rural Schaumburg Township.  The plan was to grow chickens, cows, pigs, produce, etc. to supply the restaurant in his hotel.   Rather than paying wholesalers for the items, the hotel would go right to the source.  Thus began Stratford Farms on Roselle Road in Schaumburg.

In October 2011 I wrote a blog posting about this farm and, even though it’s been 5 1/2 years, Sandra Nobles found the blog posting.  Amazingly enough, her great grandparents, James Austin and Florence Bell, managed and lived on the farm with their children for a period of time in the late 1910s into the 1930s.  Even more amazing, they took wonderful photos of the farm during the time they lived there.  This, then, is a view of a working Stratford Farms–and a view of Schaumburg Township along Roselle Road in the roaring twenties.

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Pictured below is one of the two houses on the farm. Roselle Road ran in the front of the house.  Electricity had not yet come to Schaumburg Township so we can confirm the telephone pole in front of the house.  There are a variety of outbuildings behind and to the right of the house.  And, clearly, the owners saw a strong need for water so they built their own water tower for the animals and the produce they raised.

This is closer view of the farm’s buildings.  The other house on the farm is in the background of the photo.  Notice the two figures standing purposefully, I would think, for this photo on the catwalk that surrounds the water tower.

This photo is taken from the front porch of the house on Roselle Road.  It looks east as far as the eye can see.  Imagine standing on Roselle Road at Hartford Drive today and looking east with nothing to impede your view.  That is what you see here.

In this photo you get an idea of the scope of produce the farm was producing for the hotel.

These were some of the hens raised for the hotel.  Can anyone tell me what type of bird this is?

Here is another view of the countryside–and of a snazzy looking roadster.  Again, the land and the view seem to stretch on forever.  Some of you car buffs may be able to determine what make and model this is.

The Bells moved to the farm from Ohio with their young daughter, Florence, in the late 1910s. In January 1920 they had twins, a girl and a boy, Edwina and James Austin, Jr., respectively.  Two years later they had a son, John Robert.

The Hafner family also lived and worked on the farm.  Ada (Bell) Hafner was a sister to James Austin Bell Sr.

In the photo below are, from left to right, Edwina, John Robert, Florence and James Austin Jr.

The next photo is another scene of the Bell family.  The children from left to right are:  James Austin Jr., John Robert, Edwina and Florence Katherine “Kate.”  Their mother, Florence, is holding John Robert, who is still fairly small so the photo was taken in 1922 or 1923.

I suspect this is Florence on her first day of school.  She has on a beautiful, sparkling clean dress and stockings with, what look to be, new shoes.  Edwina is standing on the grass and James Austin is sitting on the steps behind her.  Can you see her mother standing in the house behind the screen door?

We are also treated to a photo of James Austin Jr. and Edwina dressed up in their very best too.

This is a more casual day.  From left to right are James Austin Jr., Florence Katherine “Kate”,  John Robert and Edwina.  Notice how they are dressed.  It was a carefree existence for the children and there was no reason to dress up.  Very seldom do we see photos of this type where children of this time period in Schaumburg Township are dressed in their every day garb.  This is a unique view.

This is a photo of the twins, Edwina and James Austin with, it is presumed, two of the farmhands.  Edwina certainly seems like a lively child!

Interestingly enough, James Austin, Sr. not only farmed but he also played on the hotel’s baseball team.  Here he is dressed in his baseball uniform.  Did he drive the car to his games or take the train from Roselle into the city?

In 1930 the family is listed in the census with Florence being 12, Edwina and James Austin 10 and John Robert 8.  Ada and Fred Hafner are also listed with their children:  David 19, Daniel 18, Bethella 12, Paul 10 and Phillip 7.  By 1940 both families had moved on.  But, aren’t we lucky they took these marvelous photos when they did?  What an interesting perspective of everyday life on a busy farm in the twenties.  Thank you to the extended Bell family for providing the photos!

To this day, we commemorate the heritage of Stratford Farms by the farm’s marker that can be found behind the Turret House.  The next time you visit Lou Malnati’s, stop and take a look!

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

The photo of the Stratford Farms marker is used courtesy of the Village of Schaumburg. 

SPRINGTIME ON THE FARM

April 15, 2017

The Volkening Heritage Farm at the Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg invites you to participate in an introduction to  life  on an 1880s working farm in the springtime.

This family event features such activities as plowing, blacksmithing, laundering, gardening and butter churning.  Family members will be able to participate in many other activities such as handcrafts, games and hayrides.  Refreshments will be available.  Admission is $4 per person and $16 per family.  Children 3 and under are free.

April 23, 2017   12:00 – 4:00
Spring Valley Nature Center
1111 E. Schaumburg Road
Schaumburg, IL

THE OLD FARMHOUSES OF HOFFMAN ESTATES

March 5, 2017

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

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When developers saw the potential for building their suburban communities, they went about buying up the farms but not every farm fell to the wrecking ball and bulldozer.  The farm fields were laid out with curving streets and newly built homes but some of the old farm houses remained.  After several generations of life on the old homesteads, it was impossible for some of the farm families to see their homes torn down, so they choose to stay, selling their open fields and keeping life going in the family farmhouse.

We can still see the old farmhouses scattered within the village.  Only their unique appearance gives them away.  Few of us know their whereabouts.

One such farmhouse was recently discovered after I received an e-mail asking about its history.  After living in Hoffman Estates for the past 50 years, I’d never seen this old farmhouse yet it was about a half mile from my home.   Of course I had to drive to the address to see for myself.  The farmhouse was located on Lakeview Lane directly west of Lakeview School.  Due to restrictions for right turns onto Lakeview it was clear that I had never gone down this street before.

I learned that it was the Bartels farm house by looking at the old 1942 and 1954 farm plat maps and with help from Jane Rozek, Schaumburg Township Library Historian.  What a wonderful historical discovery.  It was so surprising that both Jane and I had no idea that this farmhouse still existed.  There are other old farmhouses in our village; some have been restored or repurposed.

The ones that come to mind are the Hammerstein Caretaker’s home on Abby Wood Dr. west of Conant High School, the Gieseke/Hammerstein farmhouse on Illinois Blvd., east of St. Hubert’s School (shown above), the Sunderlage farmhouse on Volid Drive (first photo below), the Vogelei farmhouse and barn on the northwest corner of  Higgins and Golf Roads and the Bergman Family’s farmhouse on the northwest corner of Ela and Algonquin Roads (second photo below.)

sunderlage-farmhouse

 

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The farmers have moved on. Most have died but a few live on now into their 80s and 90s.   Many of their children remain to tell us the stories of growing up on the farms.  Over the years Jane Rozek and the Schaumburg Township District Library have saved those farmer’s stories for us to listen to long after their passing.

Many early residents, who lived on the edge of the newly developing village, still remember hearing the cows mooing out in the fields or the roasters crowing early in the morning.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

AUTUMN HERITAGE FESTIVAL

October 1, 2016

What:  The Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary is sponsoring their annual Autumn Heritage Festival.  Step back in time and watch history come to life at Spring Valley’s most popular event! Experience life on an 1880s farm by helping with the harvest, cooking over the woodstove or squeezing fresh apple cider. Relive the adventure of the Illinois frontier at an authentic pioneer encampment near the log cabin. The day will include historical demonstrations, children’s crafts, haywagon shuttle, live music and a variety of tasty fall foods.

When:  Sunday, October 2, 2016 Noon to 5 p.m.

Where:  Volkening Heritage Farm.  Parking is available at the Nature Center on Schaumburg Road and off Plum Grove Road across from Heritage Farm.
Charge:  Cost is $4 per person and $16 per family. Children 3 and under are free.

Info:  Call (847) 985-2100 for more information.

WILL THE REAL WAYNE KING PLEASE STAND UP?

July 31, 2016

To Tell The Truth is a television game show that began in 1956.  It featured a panel of four celebrities who, through the questions they asked, tried to determine the correct identification of one of the three guests who was appearing because of their unusual occupation or because of an interesting experience they had had.  The two impostors could lie if they wanted but the real celebrity was required “to tell the truth.”

The show aired in the evening on prime time television and, two years into their run on Tuesday, January 14, 1958, Wayne King, “The Waltz King” appeared.

Wayne King was a nationally known orchestra leader who was renowned for his saxophone playing and the waltzes his orchestra performed.  The orchestra had a Chicago-based radio show and television show at various times after World War II but was most renowned for their performances at the famous Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.  In fact, his orchestra performed “The Last Waltz You Save For Me” on the final day of the Aragon’s long run.  In addition, he put out a number of LPs highlighting his waltzing, orchestral sound.Wayne King 2

But, in Schaumburg Township, Mr. King was known personally.  He purchased a weekend, get-away farm along Roselle Road in August, 1951 where the Mennonite Church is today.  In fact, their barn-like church was the barn that housed his animal stock back in the day.

During his years here, Mr. King endeared himself to the people of Schaumburg Township with his quiet, unassuming ways.  A number of the oral historians on the library’s Local History Digital Archive speak fondly of him and remember him going to Lengl’s (now the Easy Street Pub) for a bite to eat and even serving as Master of Ceremonies at the Fall Dance Frolic at the Roselle Country Club (now the Schaumburg Golf Club.)

Mr. King sold the farm in 1957 and the following year appeared on “To Tell The Truth” to try and fool the panel made up of Polly Bergen, John Cameron Swayze, Kitty Carlisle and Hy Gardner.  You can watch it here on YouTube at 15:56.  See if you can tell who the real Wayne King is before the panel casts their vote!

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

THE BERGMAN FARM IN HOFFMAN ESTATES

February 14, 2016

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

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The house has stood proudly at Ela & Algonquin Road since the turn of the century. Its white exterior is slowly graying due to peeling and weathered paint. The evergreens around the front porch have become overgrown and now hide the front of the home that Harold Bergman was born in 99 years ago. Whenever I’d visit Harold, I’d always find a small trail of tiny pieces of hay that he’d track up the stairs as he’d make his many daily trips to the barn when customers would come to pick up a load of hay.

Over the years, since the Cook County Forest Preserve purchased the Highland Dairy Farm’s 200 acres south of Algonquin Rd., the decision was made to continue farming the remaining 36 acres with a hay crop. It provided an excellent way of preventing erosion and a cash crop of top notch hay for the thoroughbred horses at Arlington Park Race Track and horse owners in the surrounding rural areas of Cook County. It helped pay the taxes and other expenses on the farm. But with increasing age, Harold’s family knew that although he was the oldest living farmer in Cook County to still farm his land, the time had come to sell what was left of the farm.

The land was sold to M&I Construction. They’re planning to build 81 single family homes on the farm property with half the homes in phase one and the remainder in phase two. It’s nice to know that the new development will be called Bergman Pointe and several of the streets will have Bergman family names.

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The 115 year old farmhouse still stands as it has for so many years but for how long?  The farmhouse is now in the hands of the Village of Hoffman Estates. Benjamin Historic Certification has determined that the building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It’s an early example of one of the few remaining four square farm houses in Illinois. Hoffman Estates would like to find a suitable owner who could save the farmhouse from the wrecking ball, which could occur in March, 2016 if no interested family or business can be found to rehab the farmhouse. The Village of Hoffman Estates, Benjamin Historic Certification and Landmarks Illinois are all working together in an effort to save Harold’s home.

Remembering my visits to the farm, I recall the beautiful wood, perhaps cherry, that framed the doorways and windows in the first floor dining room along with the built in china cabinet that housed the good china and linens. There are two front parlors, old wooden floors and pocket doors that take you back to an earlier time when the front parlors greeted special guests on special occasions. Each parlor has a separate door to the front porch, an unusual feature not found on many four square farmhouses. I always wanted to live in a house like this but my time is past for such dreams.

We’re all hoping that a family or business can be found who’ll make this their new home before the March deadline for demolition.

For more information about the farmhouse visit the special website at http://www.hoffmanestates.org/bergman or visit Landmarks.org

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

(The photo above is courtesy of Landmarks Illinois.)

THE THISTLE COMMISSIONER OF SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

November 22, 2015

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See that purple ball in the middle of the photo?  It’s on the edge of a corn field and is really a beautiful little plant.  But, then, most weeds are.  It’s a thistle and is one of many varieties in the United States.  Thistles are considered a problem plant and can be difficult to control.  In fact, they were so rampant in Illinois in the early 1900s that many counties–including Cook–created a post in their township governments for Thistle Commissioner.

It was the job of the commissioner to make sure the farmers and landowners kept their thistles and other “noxious weeds” under control.  When one farmer let the situation get out of hand, the weeds could wreak havoc on neighboring farms.  Thus, the Thistle Commissioner would tour the township’s roads, take note of large infestations and notify the offending landowner.  If they failed to comply, a crew would be hired to take care of the problem and the bill would be handed over to the landowner.  Obviously, it would be in the farmer’s best interest to stay on top of the situation and keep his fields clean.

According to Schaumburg Township Officials 1850 to Present, compiled by L.S. Valentine, the first mention of a Thistle Commissioner for Schaumburg Township was in 1915 when Fred Springinsguth took on the job.  By 1924, August Geistfeld had the job and was being paid $5 a day to make sure the fields, pastures and roadsides were tidy.  Others followed in their footsteps over the years.

Walter Fraas, who lived in the south side of the Township served in the 1940s and, according to his son, Donald, took the job very seriously.  Below is a letter he would send out to offending landowners.

Fraas letter

 

The task of actually controlling the thistles often fell to the farmer’s children and they did NOT like the job.  In her oral history on the library’s Local History Digital Archive, Esther Mensching spoke of how her father would send them out to the field, clad in leather gloves, and they would pull the plants by hand.  The thick, impermeable gloves prevented them from being stuck by the thistle’s spines.

It was necessary to do the job before the plants flowered and after a rain when pulling the taproot was easier.  As the thistles were yanked, they were thrown on the field.  The children moved through the fields, row by row, from 8:00 to noon, taking an hour or so for lunch and then returning until 4:30 when it was time to come back in for the milking.  This was not a job for the faint of heart!

The Thiemanns spoke in their oral history about each person taking 2-4 rows in the corn and oat fields and tackling the thistles with a hoe.  The intent was to get to the thistles by the time the corn was 3-4 feet high and the oats were around a foot high.  They, too, disliked the hot, sweaty, boring job.  Their job, however, didn’t end with the fields because they would also use a scythe to cut down the thistles and all other weeds in the fence rows.

In yet another oral history, Mary Lou (Link) Reynolds, daughter of Adolph and Estelle Link, talked about how her father lost his job as a commercial artist in Chicago during the Depression.  Through a friend, he obtained free housing on Minna Redeker’s farm (now Spring Valley) in exchange for keeping the thistles under control on the property.  It was obviously a win/win situation for both landlord and tenant at a difficult time, but it is also clear that thistles were a difficult issue for the farmers of Schaumburg Township.

Due to continuing infestations, the office of Thistle Commissioner remained in effect until the early 1970s.   Around 1972 Cook County eliminated the position and turned the job’s responsibility over to the Highway Department.  By that time development in the township was beginning to overtake the farm fields that were left and the job became obsolete.  Thistles, though, are still considered “noxious weeds” and if you come across any in your yard, just take your leather gloves or hoe to them.  It’s a lesson learned from yesterday’s farmers!

 

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

 

 

AN AUCTION AT THE BERGMAN FARM

August 30, 2015

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Farm-Auction

The day was warm and sunny.  Perfect weather for a farm auction, I arrived at Harold Bergman’s farm, on the northwest corner of Ela and Algonquin Rds about 9:15 in the morning.  The open fields behind the steel barn and old chicken house were already filled with cars.  People were milling about, looking in old cardboard boxes that’d been loaded on about a dozen flatbed wagons.  I can only assume that they must have been the hay wagons that Harold filled each time he harvested a new crop of hay from his 36 acre farm.  They were so old and weathered that I thought that I’d get slivers in by backside for sure when I hoisted myself up onto the wagon.

The auctioneer had set up the area in row upon row of farm tools, boxes of household articles, and furniture.  The style of furniture told you much about the many years that it had served the generations of Bergmans, some dating back to the turn of the century and other pieces taking the family into more modern times.

From my perch on the wagon, I had a good view of the auctioneer’s progress. As piece by piece and box after box made its way to the parked cars, it was sad to see the end of another farm especially a farm that had been in existence since the 1860s.

Like most of the farms in the area, the Bergman farm was a dairy farm.  With a herd of approximately 30 cows, the crops to maintain the herd were planted and harvested year after year.  In 1971, after the Cook County Forest Preserve condemned the land, the bulldozers came to tear down the barn that had been erected in 1903, the milk house and the windmill.  The Bergman family sold the dairy herd in the late 60s upon learning of the Forest Preserve’s plans to condemn their land on the south side of Algonquin Rd.  What remained of the farm was the acreage on the north side of Algonquin Rd., the farm house and chicken house.  Only 36 acres of land remained.

Originally, Harold had decided to sow grass to prevent erosion, but then he realized that he could produce a hay crop to sell to local horse owners as well as the race horse owners who raced at Arlington Park Race Track.  Eventually he became the oldest living farmer to be actively farming in Cook County. Last fall he harvested his last crop.  The tractors were parked in the large storage building west of the house. The bales of hay were piled high to the ceiling.  Winter would bring customers who’d load their hay and eventually empty the building of that last spring planting.

As the auctioneer worked his way through the equipment and tractors, I watched Harold, sitting in a lawn chair outside the house he was born in, graciously accept the extended handshakes of well-wishers who stopped by to greet him.

This June Harold will celebrate his 99th birthday. Happy Birthday to an amazing farmer and dear friend.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

(The photo is from Saturday Evening Post.)

LOOKING FOR A FARM PHOTO FROM HOFFMAN ESTATES

August 31, 2014

Did you by chance live in Parcel C in early Hoffman Estates?  In the early 1960s?  Barn graphic

Daniel Sedory, one of the blog readers, and I are looking for a photo of the barn that still stood at that time just north of Alcoa Lane.  It was probably part of the Heide farm.  Or, if you want to go further back and are part of our German farm families, it might possibly be part of the Linnenkohl or Wille property.

Daniel was your average, curious boy at the time and even found this part of a German Lutheran paper while poking around in the barn.

Der Lutheraner

If your family lived on Alcoa–or even north of Golf Road on Amhurst Lane or Cambridge Lane–and you may have taken a picture from your backyard looking towards that barn, we would love to hear about it.  Maybe you had a pool set up in the backyard or were having a birthday party or family gathering and that barn was in the background?  Or, maybe you were taking pictures of your first, brand new home and wanted to proudly share the photos with family?  Or it could be possible you’re a Heide, Linnenkohl or Wille descendant and have some of the family photos of the old homeplace.

If any of these situations are the case and you’re willing to share the photo(s) with us, you can contact me at jrozek@stdl.org or 847-923-3331.  We appreciate any assistance you can give us!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian