In 1918, Prairie Farmer Publishing Company in Chicago put out a book called Prairie Farmer’s Directory of DuPage and Northern Cook Counties, Illinois. Woodrow Wilson was president, Frank Lowden was governor of Illinois and this was before World War I.

The book had sections on the farmers, the breeders of various chickens, hogs and cows, and businesses that served the farmers of the area. It even has small sections on those who owned silos, tractors and automobiles.

Below is a list of the farmers, from A-H, of Schaumburg Township. While making the list a few things jumped out as interesting and/or unusual.

  • The average number of acres that most of the farmers owned was right around 160.
  • Farm acreage ranged from 10.5 to 243 acres.
  • The number of tenant farmers was surprising. Of the 53 farms listed here, 16 were run by tenants. That means 30% did not own their own farms. Some of the tenants were clearly family members, which was most likely a father/son arrangement.
  • The names of the farms were not typically used by most of the farmers. When I asked LaVonne Presley about the farm owned by her grandmother, she said that she knew about the name because of the book, but it was seldom referred to as such.
  • The earliest resident of Schaumburg Township in this list was John Homeyer. The date listed for him was 1847. According to the St. Peter Lutheran Church records, John Homeyer was born November 19, 1847. He was most likely baptized by Pastor Francis Hoffman, the first pastor of St. Peter’s, in the very year the church was founded. He died in 1939 which was more than 20 years after this book was published.

This plat map is from Thrift Press and is dated 1926. It is the closest map in age to the 1918 Prairie Farmer’s Directory. You can get an idea of the section numbers of the township and where the farmers lived. In many instances, you can see the names on the map.

Bartels, Arthur H. (Wife Alma Hitzmann) (Children Lorena) “Apple Blossom Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 160 acres in Section 16. Resident of county since 1892.

Bartels, Herman H. (Wife Caroline Lichthardt) (Children William H., Henry F., Emma, Emil, Alfred, Irvin) “Valley Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 243 acres in Section 31. Residence of county since 1871.

Beisner, Henry (Wife Beata Mensching) (Children Anne, Elroy) “Shady Knoll Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 140 acres in Section 32. Residence of county since 1874.

Bell, Austin (Wife Florence Hastings) (Children Florence C.) “Stratford Farms”. Postal address is Stratford Farms, Roselle. Tenant and Manager of 197 acres in Section 27 that is owned by E.F. Meyer. Lived in county since 1917.

Bentrott, Henry “Orchard Grove Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 80 acres in Section 17-16. Resident of county since 1863.

Bierman, John W. (Wife Alvina Schuneman) (Children Harvey, Wilbert). Postal address Route 2, Palatine. Owns 80 acres in Section 12 of Hanover Township. Owns 40 acres in Section 36 of Hanover Township. Owns 40 acres in Section 36 of Schaumburg Township. Resident of county since 1882.

Blomberg, Ernest J. (Wife Martha Meyer) (Children William, Alma, Emma, Ernest, Minnie, Ida, Arthur) “Pine Lawn Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Ontarioville. Owns 110 acres in Section 30. Resident of county since 1902.

Bohne, Fred (Wife Marie Hoecker) (Children Henry, Fred) “Ash Grove Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 167 acres in Section 24. Resident of county since 1859.

Botterman, Fred W. (Wife Matilda Nerge) (Children Ernest, Alfred, Albert at home; Hattie, Irvin, Malinda, Sadie not at home) Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 10 1/2 acres in Section 22. Resident of county since 1911.

Botterman, Herman C. (Wife Annie Katz) (Children Selma, Annie, Meta, Herman, Edna, Viola, Alvin) Postal address is Itasca. Owns 91 1/4 acres in Section 24. Resident of county since 1863.

Brackmann, Henry (Wife Laura Huenerberg) (Children Mildred) Postal address Route 1, Roselle. Tenant of 82 acres in Section 34 that is owned by Henry Huenerberg. Resident of county since 1905.

Busche, Frank (Wife Clara Kruse) (Children Henry, Willie, Albert, Leonard) Postal address is Route 5, Elgin. Owns 160 acres in Section 20. Resident of county since 1887.

Busche, Herman C. (Hulda Freise) (Children Minnie, Ella, Edna, Harvey) “Sunnyside Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 160 acres in Section 27. Resident of county since 1879.

Cleveland, Fred (Wife Anna Welkisch) (Children Fred, Harold, Nina) Postal address is Route 5, Elgin. Owns 158 acres in Section 18. Resident of county since 1918.

Cwiefel, John (Wife Babetta Veeser) (Children John, Fred, Albert, Paulina, Henry) Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Tenant of 160 acres in Section 11 that is owned by Louis Freese. Resident of county since 1917.

Dammerman, Edward (Wife Minnie Beckman) (Children Henry, Meta) “Edgewood Farm”. Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 160 acres in Section 8. Resident of county since 1868.

Dohl, William (Wife Minnie Hasemann) (Children Elmer, Malinda) “Wooddale Dairy Farm”. Postal addres is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 110 acres in Section 33. Tenant of 52 acres in Section 33 that is owned by August Hasemann. Resident of county since 1883.

Eineke, Herman W (Wife Martha S. Wilharm) (Children Edna M., Elsie E.) “Linden View Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 43 acres in Section 3. Resident of county since 1887.

Eineke, Louis W. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Tenant of 80 acres in Section 21 that is owned by Mrs. Mary Meineke. Resident of county since 1895.

Eineke, William (Wife Martha Wagner) (Children Esther, Arthur) Postal address is Ontarioville. Tenant of 200 acres in Section 31 that is owned by C.H. Fischer. Resident of county since 1913.

Engelking, John (Wife Anna Hartman) (Children Fred, Edwin, Tillie, Henry, Ernestine, George, Loretta, Phillip, Laura) “Pleasant Valley Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 160 acres in Section 28. Resident of county since 1866.

Fasse, Henry E. (Wife Clara Gieseke) (Children Wilbert, Evelyn, Raymond, Adeline) Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 116 3/4 acres in Section 3. Resident of county since 1878.

Fasse, Herman H. (Wife Martha Gieseke) (Children Herman J., Edna, Marvin, Lorena) “Maple Lane Stock Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Itasca. Owns 120 acres in Sections 24-25. Resident of county since 1883.

Foege, Henry (Wife Amanda Tonne) (Children Hilda, Alfred, Hurbert) “Elder Leaf Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Itasca. Owns 80 acres in Section 36. Resident of county since 1878.

Fraas, John (Sister Annie Fraas) “The Pines”. Postal address is Route 1 Roselle. Tenant of 90 acres in Section 33 that is owned by Christ Fraas. Resident of county since 1890.

Freise, Alfred J. (Wife Martha Kastning) (Children Harvey, Raymond) Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 160 acres in Section 13 . Tenant of 40 acres in Section 13 that is owned by H.W. Freise. Resident of county since 1892.

Freise, Henry J. (Wife Christine Kirchoff/Kirchhoff) (Children Sophie, Henry, William at home; George, Pauline and Laura not at home.) “Pleasant View Farm” Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 160 acres in Section 10. Resident of county since 1884.

Freise, William H. (Wife Alma Lichthardt) (Children Arnold) “Clover Valley Stock Farm” Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 170 acres in Section 12. Resident of county since 1889.

Gathman, Henry O. (Wife Emma Beirmann) Postal address is Route 1, Itasca. Tenant of 80 acres in Section 36 that is owned by Henry Gathman Sr. Resident of county since 1883.

Gathman, Louis (Wife Emma Scharringhausen) (Children Ida, Amanda, Viola, William, Martha, Albert, Arthur, Carrie, Edward) Postal address is Route 1, Itasca. Owns 80 acres in Section 36. Resident of county since 1865.

Gehrls, John (Wife Diana Bortmann) (Children Martha, Arnold, Herman, Minnie, Elsie, Theodore, Lydia) “Cosy Corner Farm” Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 59 acres in Section 32. Resident of county since 1886.

Geistfeld, August (Wife Carrie Hattendorf) (Children Alma, Arthur, Laura, Martha, Bertha, Alfred, Herman, Walter, Elsie) Postal address is Route 1 Palatine. Owns 80 acres in Section 16. Resident of county since 1906.

Gerken, Ben (Wife Rosea Schmidt) Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Tenant of 80 acres in Section 26 that is owned by Fred Pfingsten. Resident of county since 1875.

Gieseke, John (Wife Ella Meyer) (Children Fred W., Clara, John H., Emily, Emil, Herman, Louis C., Alma, Arthur, Edwin, William J.) “Village View Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 164 1/2 acres in Section 15. Resident of county since 1857.

Greve, August (Children Edwin G.) Postal address is Route 2 Palatine. Owns 215 acres in Section 8. Resident of county since 1863.

Greve, William (Wife Dina Behrens) (Children Edna) “Spring Creek Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 153 acres in Section 7. Resident of county since 1882.

Haberstick Bros., Emil and Walter (Wife Mary Kieper) (Children Howard) Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Tenant of 160 acres in Section 34 that is owned by Herman Boeger. Resident of county since 1896.

Hansen, Victor (Wife Annie Dell) (Children Pearl, Florence, Harold, Ruby, Violet and Earl) Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Tenant of 204 acres in Section 7 that is owned by Edward Lake. Resident of county since 1918.

Harke, Henry (Wife Emma Bartling) (Children Fred, Annie, Louis, Henry, Elsie) Postal address is Route 1, Itasca. Owns 85 acres in Section 36. Resident of county since 1870.

Hartmann, Fred (Wife Lena Kruse) (Children Meta, Henry, Albert, Minnie, Hilda, Arthur, Emil) “Clear View Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 160 acres in Section 29. Resident of county since 1870.

Hasemann, August (Wife Mary Nerge) (Children Mary, Emma, Minnie) Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 15 acres in Section 33. Resident of county since 1853.

Hattendorf, August (Wife Emma Clausing) (Children Alvin, Alfred, Herbert, Edna) “Mile Long Stock Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 160 acres in Section 16. Resident of county since 1883.

Hattendorf, Fred (Wife Minnie Haemker) (Children Arthur, Emily, Fred Jr., Hermine, Martha, Ella at home; Herman, Louis, Emil not at home) “Locust Hill Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Owns 150 acres in Section 21. Resident of county since 1856.

Hattendorf, Herman W. (Wife Lydia Swain) (Children Harold) Postal address is Route 1, Palatine. Tenant of 120 acres of Section 16 that is owned by H. Troyke. Resident of county since 1897.

Hattendorf, William (Wife Caroline Leiseberg) (Children William C. Emma, Alweria, Martha, Henry A., John, Martin) “Locust Lawn Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Palatine. Owns 200 acres in Section 23. Resident of county since 1853.

Heide, Frederick (Wife Emma Steinmeyer) (Children Otta F., Louis F., Laura, Emilie) “Ever Green Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 120 acres in Section 9. Resident of county since 1878.

Heim, Ernest G. (Wife Augusta Dahms) (Children Andrew, Ernest, William, Gertrude, Adelia, Rosie, Nellie) “Clover Meadow Stock Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 140 acres in Section 32. Resident of county since 1903.

Heine, Fred W. (Wife Ida Vette) (Children Elmer) Postal address is Route 5, Elgin. Owns 93 acres and is tenant of 93 acres that is owned by Mrs. A. Heine. (Section number is not given) Resident of county since 1896.

Heine, Herman F. (Wife Emma Heine) (Children Harvey, Alice, Edwin) “Orchard View Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 5, Elgin. Owns 160 acres in Section 18. Resident of county since 1883.

Homeyer, John (Wife Caroline Baumman) (Children Sophia, Meme, Emma, John H. Henry, Emil) “Maple Wood Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Owns 158 acres in Section 34. Resident of county since 1847.

Homeyer, John H. (Wife Martha Geistfeld) “Maple Wood Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 1, Roselle. Tenant of 158 acres in Section 34 that is owned by John Homeyer. Resident of county since 1885.

Hoth, William (Wife Sophia Biermann) (Children Clarence, Willie, Raymond, Harvey, Frank, Carlton) Postal address is Route 5, Elgin. Tenant of 160 acres in Section 19 owned by Mrs. S. Lichthardt. Resident of county since 1912.

Huenerberg, William F. (Wife Anna Sporleder) (Children Raymond W., Elsie M.) “Maple Drive Dairy Farm”. Postal address is Route 2, Palatine. Owns 196 acres in Section 10. Resident of county since 1870.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Additional lists will follow in the upcoming weeks.



Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

It’s such a small building, yet it was the most important building for the pioneer families that settled in what would one day be the village of Hoffman Estates. The small building is the only building in Hoffman Estates that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. This most important building is the Greek revival style smokehouse on the Sunderlage Farm at Volid and Vista Dr in Hoffman Estates. Built circa 1840, it is the only smokehouse built in such a style in the state of Illinois.

When you visit and examine this small building, besides its beautiful design, you’ll notice the unusual color of the brick and the fact that it has a window in the west wall. It’s very unusual for a smokehouse to have a window but this smokehouse was also used as a summer kitchen. 

The window provided light for the cooking and washing that was done to keep the house cooler in the hot weather of summer. A pump, sink and work counter were a part of the smokehouse. Wash day began early in the morning. A large wash boiler would be filled with water and put over the fire to come to a boil.  Laundry would be boiled, rinsed, wrung out and hung outside on clothes lines to dry. 

Baking (bread was baked daily) and cooking would be done out there keeping the kitchen and farmhouse cool. In winter, cooking returned to the large stove in the farmhouse.

Come November, with cold weather settling in, the animals raised since spring and destined for the kitchen table, would be slaughtered and prepared for the smokehouse. Pork was the meat of choice but some beef may have also been hung to smoke. The freezing temperatures also provided another way of preserving the meat. The number of hogs needed to feed the family would be one for each member of the household.

 It’s believed that the smokehouse was built before the farmhouse. Not only the Sunderlage family used the smokehouse, but other neighbors who had settled across Higgins Road in Wildcat Grove were thought to have used it.

The work involved to prepare the animals for smoking was very tedious. The animals had to have all of their hair removed with boiling water in a large tub or trough. The whole family and perhaps neighbors would be a part of the process.  Nothing was wasted. The blood would be used in sausage and blood pudding.  The layer of fat would be saved to be used in frying and cooking throughout the coming year. Some meat would be salted before hanging to dry or smoke. The women would be busy gathering all the pieces and scraps of meat for the sausage they’d be making and this would also be hung in the smokehouse.  

Life was not easy for our early pioneer families. Being able to provide food for the coming winter was vital to their survival.  The small smokehouse did just that.

For a wonderful look into the history of the Sunderlage House and smokehouse, along with other historical sites in Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg, view the Schaumburg Township Historical Society’s Virtual Bus Tour at  

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

Credit for the photo of the woman doing wash goes to Canada’s History.
Credit for the photo of the men slaughtering a pig goes to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


If you have been reading this blog over the past 10 years, you have seen the presence of local Schaumburg resident, LaVonne Presley, in more ways than one. Whether it was in photos she donated, interviews she participated in, books she wrote or comments she shared, LaVonne was a true historian of Schaumburg Township.

She grew up on a farm on Wise or, Wiese Road, as she liked to say. She spent her youth helping out and combing every inch of their farm and her grandmother’s farm on Meacham Road. Listening was a great virtue of hers and she soaked up all of the details her mother and, especially, her father shared about running a farm.

This was echoed in the letters she wrote every week to her friends and family. Like any good farmer does, she always mentioned the weather and, quite often, a farming topic. Periodically, she would send a picture from her father’s farm and explain every detail in the picture. It was a lesson in farming and historical farming, all in the same paragraph.

Her farming heritage was so important to her that she wrote two books: A Schaumburg Farm, 1935-1964 and Schaumburg of My Ancestors. The first is the story of the farm where she grew up and the second is an account of her grandparents’ farm. Both books are incredibly rich in detail and full of photos and documents that the family saved over the years.

Because she spent almost all of her years in Schaumburg Township, she became part of the history that moved our township from a rural, agrarian lifestyle to a commercial, suburban lifestyle.

LaVonne was born to William and Clara (Becker) Thies on March 28, 1940 in Chicago. Clara, her mother, was the daughter of Otto and Emilie (Meyer) Becker who lived in Roselle. This Roselle connection stayed strong in LaVonne’s family as they did much of their business in Roselle and attended Trinity Lutheran Church.

Otto and Emilie Becker on their wedding day

Otto ran Becker & Leiseberg Machine Shop and Planing Mill that catered to farmers and homeowners. In LaVonne’s words, he “and his partner did wood turning, windows, screens, cisterns, windmills, farming implements, etc.”

++Otto Becker is the tall man on the right. His daughter, Clara, the mother of LaVonne, is in the middle.
The interior of Becker & Leiseberg Machine Shop and Planing Mill
Otto Becker is the tall man in the derby in the center of the photo.
Wedding photo of Henry and Sophie (Fedderke) Thies

LaVonne’s father, William, was the son of Heinrich and Sophie (Fedderke) Thies. His family farmed 120 acres on the east side of Meacham Road, near the WGN tower. Because his father died when William was 4 years old, William did not begin farming the family acreage with his brother Henry until 1910, when they were in their teens.

William in his World War I dress uniform.

William’s life was disrupted when he was drafted into the army in World War I during the height of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. After his return, he married Amalia Boergener and they had a son, Raymond. Amalia died suddenly in 1926 at a young age.

A few years later William and Clara met at the Roselle State Bank where she was a teller and where he came to do his banking. Shortly before they married in 1935, they purchased the former Haseman/Burgdorf farm on Wiese Road. This is the farm where LaVonne grew up.

William and Clara Thies on the event of their 30th wedding anniversary

She attended Trinity Lutheran School in Roselle for her grade school education. This was followed by four years of high school at Palatine High School and an additional four years at North Central College in Naperville where she graduated in 1962.

Three years later, in 1966, she married Leonard Presley. Both were teachers at Community Consolidated School District 54 in Schaumburg Township. Leonard was an art teacher and LaVonne was an elementary teacher. She began her teaching career as a fifth grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in Hoffman Estates and finished her teaching years as a fourth grade teacher and, later, a librarian at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School in Elk Grove Village.

LaVonne on the left with family friend, Rose Dusek, at the Thies farm around 1950

LaVonne loved teaching and often shared her stories of times in the classroom with her students. She thoroughly enjoyed the many instances where former students would see her out and about in the community and stop to talk to her.

During her teaching years she and Leonard had two boys named Ronald and Carl who were the light of her life. It was also during this time that they moved to Arlington Heights. However, when her father, William, grew too old to stay in the house he and Clara had built after selling the farm, the Presleys moved back to Schaumburg where their sons attended high school. LaVonne spent the rest of her life in this house.

After her husband died in 1988, LaVonne continued to teach until she retired in 2001. A bit before this time, LaVonne joined a group of women who formed an organization called Facilitators for the Preservation of Schaumburg Area History. Led by L.S. Valentine, they undertook an oral history project, with the intent of capturing the history of the township in the words of both its German farmers and some of the residents who were early to the development of the township. These oral histories, with their wealth of information, are now viewable on the library’s Local History Digital Archive.

Her retirement years were spent writing her books and volunteering at the library and Trinity Lutheran Church, which was so very important to her. She faithfully attended many church activities and social outings, finding joy in her faith and the many friends she had at church.

She also joined the Schaumburg Township Historical Society, attending the meetings and giving presentations. Dressed as a 19th century school teacher, she would provide details on school life in the one-room Schaumburg Center School on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property.

Most importantly, she spent as much time as possible with her sons, daughter-in-law and granddaughters. She was endlessly delighted by the addition of these female family members. If her weekly letters began with the weather, you can be sure they also contained proud accounts of her family’s activities.

Even though part of her family lived outside of the Chicago area, she talked, communicated and emailed with them as much as possible. She always enjoyed their visits and her trips to see them, and loved when her son dropped by with his dog.

When her granddaughters were young, she waited every year for the week in the summer when they came to stay. She planned events and outings and indulged them with all of the local foods they loved. (Hello County Donuts and Portillo’s!) And every visit ended with a trip to the store to purchase supplies for their upcoming school year. She was always a teacher.

LaVonne passed away on November 22, 2020. She will be missed by many more than she could have ever realized. She stayed true to her roots until the end because, no matter where she lived or what she did, she was a Schaumburg Township farmer’s daughter every day of her life.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

LaVonne was such a good friend to me and is irreplacable in more ways than I can count. When I needed any type of local information or color on a tidbit of Schaumburg Township history, I could count on her to add details that I was unaware of. I will miss her suggestions, her comments and her local knowledge. As Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian, said, “One of the good ones is gone.”

+Credit to the Presley family for the photo of LaVonne.
++Credit to L.S. Valentine for passing on the top photo of Becker & Leiseberg Machine Shop and Planing Mill.
+++Credit to the Schaumburg Township Historical Society for the photo of LaVonne at the Schaumburg Center School.



Gray Farm Park and Conservation Area is one of four large, open, designated conservation areas in the Schaumburg Park District. It is located north of Schaumburg Road, between Springinsguth and Barrington Roads. The area comprises 47 acres and contains a fishing lake, a large open marsh, trails, boardwalks, interpretive signs and a wildlife viewing platform.

The Conservation Area is named for Dr. Herbert Gray who was the long time owner of the farm where the Conservation Area is located. Many of the locals in the area–including a number of our oral historians–knew him as Doc Gray.

Herbert Weir Gray was born April 20, 1887 in Chicago to William Perry and Louisa (Weir) Gray. The William P. Gray School in Chicago at 3730 N. Laramie Avenue is named for his father.

According to Doctor Gray’s obituary from the April 7, 1977 issue of the Chicago Tribune, Doctor Gray graduated from Northwestern Medical School in 1913, served as Assistant Professor of Medicine at the school, taught at Cook County Hospital and served as a staff member at Ravenswood Hospital.

He married Marguerite Erisman in 1914 and they had three children together. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he listed himself as a 30-year-old, self-employed Doctor of Medicine in Chicago.

In the late 1920s the Grays bought two farms in Schaumburg Township. In a November 9, 1928 issue of the Herald, it states that ‘Dr. Grey [sic] bought the old Sween [sic] farm from Strauss Bros. and the five-acre woodland tract from Dr. Theobald.” The Strauss Brothers property can be seen in this 1926 map.

This first farm was almost directly on the southwest corner of the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads. It was a large L-shaped parcel of about 170 acres that covered much of what is today’s Sarah’s Grove townhouse community and parts of The Woods and Timbercrest subdivisions, as well as today’s still developing Coventry Woods subdivision on Schaumburg Road across from the Schaumburg Township offices.

The north part of the L ran along Schaumburg Road and the short part of the L ran along Roselle Road. The wooded portion eventually became known locally as Gray’s Woods, according to the Power Point put together by Herb Demmel of Friendship Village who did a fair amount of research on Sarah’s Grove.

According to Wayne Nebel and Ken Sporleder, two of our oral historians, when the Grays first moved to the area, they built a small brick house in Roselle on Roselle Road. The 1930 census shows that the family was living in Bloomindgale village at the time. Maybe this was before they built their home?

The Grays eventually moved to the farm at Schaumburg and Roselle and lived in the house that was set back off of Schaumburg Road. Later, he rented the farm to the Herbert Knutson family in the early 1950s. By this time he had married Johanna Wald in 1949 and they moved to his second farm.

This second farm that we know as Gray Farm Conservation Area consisted of a 100 acre parcel between Schaumburg Road and Bode Road, just east of the intersection with Barrington Road. In addition, according to the 1956 plat map, he also owned an 80 acre parcel due north of the original 100.

According to the memories of Ken Sporleder, this second farm home was also down a long lane. Mike Gallichio of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society recalls that the home was where Elizabeth Blackwell School is today.

The barn on the Gray farm was to the right of the drive. Ruth Clapper, who grew up across Schaumburg Road, said, “I used to play in the yard with… Dr. Gray’s grandaughter when she came to stay during the summer. You [could not] clearly see the Gray house from the road due to the barn.”

Doctor Gray sold the centrally located farm first as it was developed into the Timbercrest subdivision in the late 1960s. According to a 1966 listing of taxpayers of Schaumburg Township that appeared in the Herald, he was still paying property taxes on the west farm at that time.

A bit later he sold the last of his Schaumburg Township property and moved to McAllen, TX where he died at the age of 89 on March 31, 1977. He is buried at Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio, TX.

But, his long legacy in Schaumburg Township lives on in the conservation area that is named for him. In fact, you can see how it would have been formed judging by the 1961 topographical map of the Streamwood Quadrangle shown above. The low lying, marshy area of his farm was just to the north of Schaumburg Road.

When the property was ultimately sold for development there were really only two options–drain it or develop a park. Today, the Conservation Area consists of an open marsh, surrounded by a dense outline of cattails. In the summer, the open area is only visible from the playground at Elizabeth Blackwell School by taking the short walk from the edge of the school property to the boardwalk and observation deck. At the deck it is possible to focus in on the nearly dry marsh that is the home of water birds such as egrets and herons. Schaumburg Township is fortunate to have these large green spaces that were once the farms of the area.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library










Many of those who grew up in Schaumburg Township during the early years of development fondly remember a bucolic combination of farms and subdivisions. It was nice to live in a modern house with all of the conveniences, yet also live in an area with a rural feel to it.

Even into the 1980s there were still a number of farms and fields sprinkled around the area. Some were large working farms run by gentleman farmers who had bought into the area during the 1930s and 40s. Others were still owned by the German Lutheran families who had come to Schaumburg Township in the 1800s and had continued to reside there as development happened around them. They were reluctant to leave their land and their tradition.

One of these was the family led by Heinrich and Mary (Hasemann) Hartmann who married in 1863 and established a farm on the northwest corner of Wise (Wiese) and Rodenburg Roads. It was a large, prosperous farm and, according to the First One Hundred Years At St. John Lutheran Church written by Larry Nerge, Heinrich divided his 1200 acres in 1915 when he retired. Six of his children received 160 acres and the youngest received the remaining eighty.

Fred, or “Fritz” as he was called, was the oldest son and lived on the family farm with his wife, Caroline “Lena” (Kruse) Hartmann. According to Mr. Nerge’s document, they had eight children, one of whom was a young man named Albert. When Albert married his wife, Mabel Berlin, on January 30, 1937 in the parsonage at St. John Lutheran Church, they moved to Elgin where they lived for a year.

The following year, in 1938, they moved to this home near the southeast corner of Wise (Wiese) and Rodenburg Roads, diagonal from the farm where Albert’s parents lived. It was a parcel of 13 1/2 acres with a house, barn, chicken house and garden. There they raised three daughters and, subsequently, named it the Be-Ba-Bo Farm after those same daughters.

Albert, shown here at his home, worked for 27 years at the Roselle Farmer’s Lumber Company where he eventually served as their president. In 1953 he sought office as the Schaumburg Township Collector. From an article in the April 2, 1953 issue of the Daily Herald, he noted that “It is due to my present inability to engage in heavy work that I have decided to seek the job. I will appreciate the support of voters assuring them that I will have the the time to give the office the attention that it  may need.”Mr. Hartmann won the election and set up office on the porch of his home, hidden behind the windows in this photo. He performed this duty for 16 years.

In an article after his death in 1994, this statement was made by Schaumburg Township Republican Committeeman Donald L. Totten. “He was very active in the Republican party and served as one of my precinct captains…. At the time he was active in politics, he was considerably older than his counterparts, so he would spin tales about what had gone on here before it was named Schaumburg.”

Sharon Kimble, director of administrative services of Schaumburg Township, also said in the article that he was so actively involved in the village of Schaumburg for so many years, that the Campanelli Brothers who developed the Weathersfield subdivision, named Hartmann Drive for his family.

Hartmann Drive is located off Braintree Drive. According to Beverly Graham, Albert’s daughter, Braintree was originally the driveway for the original Hartmann farm.

Albert and Mabel’s home faced west on Rodenburg Road.

They were also north and west of the Centex Industrial Park that was essentially developed in their own backyard. You can see the Village of Schaumburg water tower in the industrial park on the other side of their small acreage.

The Hartmanns sold their home in 1987 to Town and Country, the developers, who erected a townhouse community called Wellington Court in its place in 1989.

This view, though, looking east beyond the garden of the Hartmann home, is exemplary of the wonderful meshing of rural and suburban life that so many grew up with in the early days of development in Schaumburg Township. Between the gardens, the fields and the two-lane rural roads, it gave the residents a lovely touch of days gone by.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Many thanks to John Graham who reached out and passed on these photos of the home where his grandparents, Albert and Mabel Hartmann, raised his mother and her sisters. It has been a delight to discover more about the Hartmann family and share these family photos.


Stop by for an open house of the Sunderlage Farmhouse in Hoffman Estates! Visitors will have an opportunity to see the house’s interior and learn about its history.

When:  Saturday, March 21, 2020

Where: 1775 Vista Lane, Hoffman Estates

Who:  Hoffman Estates Historic Sites Commission

What: This free event will examine the history of the 1856 farmhouse, including the layout of its rooms, floors, staircase and basement. The smokehouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its mid-19th century Greek Revival style, will also be open. Photos, blueprints and maps will be on display.

For more information, call 847-781-2606.


Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Can a house talk?  Would it talk about all the years that it sat at its address? Could it feel that its time was ending? I know of a house that I would love to listen to. But it’s gone now. I think, if it were possible, the Bergman house would have told us many stories. I could just sit on the lawn in the side yard and listen.

The men in the Bergman family built it with the skills that they had learned over the years. It was a big house, meant to shelter several families. The upstairs apartment had a kitchen, dining room, living room and two bedrooms with a bath. The main floor of the house had beautiful wood, trimming each of the doors and windows. The dining room china cabinet had the same beautiful wood and was tucked into the west wall.

It was a happy house when family members would gather around the table for special holiday meals. The house could feel the love and sometimes the anger of the Bergman family as the days came and went year after year.

The house looked out across Algonquin Road to see the families’ Highland Dairy Barn. It heard about the dairy herd and the crops growing in the fields. The conversation around the breakfast table was always about the success or failure of one or the other. When electricity came in the 1930s the house was fitted with new bulbs and a new life for the family who no longer had to live with the battery powered system that only gave light until shortly after dinner. The house could feel the increase in evening activities. The piano was used more often and the two front parlors saw more reading, crocheting and listening to the radio now that it had electricity. The beautiful pocket doors always gave privacy for visitors when they came.

The back porch stairs had the most activity. It seemed as though It was up and down all throughout  the day. But the house noticed that year by year that the people in the house dwindled to just a few. Finally there was only one of the children who had been born in the house many many years ago, who remained. He worried about the house. The beautiful white house went unpainted. It turned to a peeling gray, the roof was leaking and the house felt old and sad and only that old child still loved it.

Finally the old child moved away. It had been 101 years since he was born there. The house now had that feeling that its time was coming to an end, and it did.

The house was silent.  There were no more stories to tell. In August of 2019 the work of the Bergman men came down quickly. Modern methods took little time to tear it down not like the months of hammering, measuring and sweating over the building that would be their home.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Historian


The letter is addressed to “Doc” Bell, the cashier at the Stratford Hotel in Chicago. It is dated April 16, 1919 and it is from Corporal Harley Paris Ottman.

Before his service in the war, Harley was employed on Stratford Farms in Schaumburg Township which was located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Roselle and Wise (Wiese) Road. Stratford Farms was owned by Edwin F. Meyer and served as a source of fresh dairy, meat and produce for the Stratford Hotel in Chicago. (Read more about the farm here.)

When the United States entered World War I, Harley Ottman and Thomas Ford Hislop, another employee of the farm, were drafted to serve. Harley’s World War I draft registration card states that he was a farm laborer for E. F. Meyer in Schaumburg. He was born in 1893 to William and Estella Ottman in Wisconsin and would have been 24 years old at the time of his registration.

Thomas Ford Hislop is also listed as a farmer for E. F. Meyer on his draft registration card. He was born in 1888 in Manistee, Michigan to Thomas G. and Nettie Ford and would have been 29 at the time of his enlistment. It is stated in the December 14, 1917 issue of the Cook County Herald that “Tom F. Hislop and Harley Ottman from the Stratford Farms have enlisted in the U.S. aerial service.”

Mr. Hislop made his way to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and was formally enlisted on December 15, 1917 as part of the 270th Aero Squadron. He was then sent for training to Gerstner Field at Lake Charles, Louisiana. Having gained the rank of sergeant, he departed for France on the Matsonia on August 14, 1918 from Hoboken, NJ. According to Wikipedia, the 270th Aero Squadron served at the Colombey-les-Belles Aerodrome in northeastern France.

On the other hand, Mr. Ottman, served as a private in the 55th Infantry and left for France from Hoboken, NJ on the Leviathan on August 3, 1918. While there, Harley wrote a letter to Dr. “Doc” Bell at the Stratford Hotel.

[It is from the Bell family’s archives that we are fortunate enough to share this letter. “Doc” Bell was James Austin Bell who served at the hotel as cashier prior to his relocation to Stratford Farms. It is thought by the Bell family that he was given the nickname “Doc” because of his skill with numbers in managing the hotel. He was eventually sent to the farm with his wife Florence and their young daughter, Florence Catherine, where he served as farm manager until 1934. It is Florence Catherine Bell Randall who, fortunately, saved all of these materials that we are able to share!]

Harley sent this letter via Captain Fred W. Charles, Q.M.R.C., who was clearly a mutual friend of Harley Ottman and James Austin Bell. We can make this assumption because, written on the envelope, is a notation that says, “Greetings ‘Doc,’ I’ll be sure to talk French when I get back. Have one on me–Remember me to all my friends! F.W. Charles.” Maybe it is because Fred was a Captain or because he served with the Quartermaster Reserve Corps that he could more easily move the letter along the postal chain for Harley.

Harley’s letter is written on Salvation Army stationery and is sent from France on April 19, 1919 after the war had ended. It is written thus:

Leiseberg and Allman,
Roselle, Ill. 


When drafted, May 3, 1918, I was sorry to have to leave behind a debt of $55 on the acct. of Tom Hislop and myself, which I had wished to assume. It was for accessories and labor on our Ford car.

Now, to save time will you please correspond with my mother about this–Mrs. Wm. B. Ottman, 5659 Maryland Ave, Care of Miss F. G. Knight, Chicago, Ill. Tell her whether all or part of this bill has been paid, and if this is not the case, state in your letter that the amount you mention will pay in full the account of Tom Hislop and myself. Also please send a receipt for any money she may send you.

I got thru the war in good shape, was up at the front South of Metz for one month. Am in the 7th Division, regular army, in a Trench Mortar platoon. Am now in French Lorraine. France may be all right, but I surely would never stay over here from choice.

By the way, I met Leroy Wertz over here–came over long before I did.

I’m raring to come home, and will probably be out to Roselle in 4 or 5 months.

As ever,

Harley Ottman

This debt of $55 was either weighing on Harley and, possibly Tom, or Harley knew he was soon coming back to the states and thought he may like to seek employment at the farm. It would have been a good idea to clear up any outstanding bills with a nearby garage where he did business. He had the name of the garage slightly wrong because it was known as the Leiseberg and Ohlman Garage. But his heart was certainly in the right place.

(According to the draft registration card for Leroy Wertz, he listed Roselle as his residence when he registered on June 5, 1917. Clearly, everyone knew everyone in the Roselle/Schaumburg area.)

It was less than a couple of months later that Harley departed from Brest, France on June 12 aboard the Imperator, bound for Hoboken, NJ. He had achieved the rank of corporal during his time in Europe.

Tom Hislop had preceded him and left on April 10, also from Brest, aboard the Charleston. He had achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class.

To my knowledge, neither Tom nor Harley returned to Stratford Farms for employment. In a check of the 1920 census, two other hired men were living on the farm–which is no surprise. It would have been impossible for James Austin Bell to hold the positions open through the war.

We do know, through a bit of genealogical research, that Tom eventually married and moved to Twin Falls, Idaho where he married Mildred Boone in 1927 and had a son. Tom lived there until he passed away in 1965. Harley married his wife, Carolyn, and died in Pinellas, Florida in 1956.

Both men dutifully served their country and Schaumburg Township. Despite their brief stay on Stratford Farms, they were included in the celebration that was held on Sunday, October 5, 1919 at the Schween Oak Grove on Schaumburg Road. They, along with 22 other men from Schaumburg Township, were hailed as “Our Heroes.”

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

My thanks, once again, to the family of Florence Catherine Bell Randall in sharing a part of Schaumburg Township history that would have gone missing without these local documents. In this day and age of downsizing, we are so fortunate that Florence and her family have chosen to contribute, what I like to think of as the Bell Family archives, with both the library and those interested in our history. Never underestimate what you might have to contribute!


For the past couple of weeks we have investigated the three Johnson men who came to the Schaumburg Township area in the early 1840s from their home in Yates County, NY. Daniel, Morgan and Lyman were all born in Bennington County, Vermont and, with their parents, moved to New York during their childhood.

One has to suppose that, because the men all purchased property around the same time, they and their families came to Illinois together. According to an 1884 obituary for Lyman’s wife, Emilene (Van Court) Johnson, the couple left New York in 1840 and traveled down the Erie Canal by boat and made their way to the area that is now Detroit. They stayed there until the following spring in 1841, arriving in Chicago in the early summer.

However, the 1877 History of Whiteside County states that, “in 1844 he [Lyman Johnson] sought the west, and with his family settled in Cook County, Illinois.”  Apparently, there is some discrepancy with the dates. Because Emeline died in 1884, a mere seven years after the Whiteside County history was published, it is difficult to determine which account is correct.

Eventually, Lyman and Emeline made their way to Schaumburg Township and established a farm in Sections 12 and 13. According to the 1851 map below, they also ran a tavern on their property.


Interestingly, I can find no further mention of this tavern. There is nothing in Emeline’s obituary or in the 1877 History of Whiteside County that lists this occurrence as part of the family’s history. In addition, Lyman is listed as a farmer in the 1850 census for Schaumburg Township. My suspicion is that the tavern reference is possibly attributed to Wickliffe, the tavern that his brother Morgan ran on Algonquin Road in Palatine Township. This tavern was discussed in last week’s blog posting.

We find Lyman and Emilene living in Schaumburg Township as recorded in the 1850 census. They had four children at the time: Rollin, Edwin, J. Harvey and Larman. The three oldest were born in New York and Larman was born in Illinois. Since Larman’s age is three, he was clearly born during their time in Schaumburg Township.

Shortly after, according to the 1877 History of Whiteside County, Lymanabandoned [farming] and settled at Huntley Station, engaging in the hotel business, which enterprise he relinquished about one year afterwards, having secured a contract to build that portion of the present Northwestern railroad between Round Grove and Fulton [in Whiteside County.] He removed his family to Fulton, where he resided about nine months, and from thence came to where Morrison [Illinois] now stands, having purchased a considerable tract of land, upon which part of the city is now located.”

From this point forward, Lyman platted the city of Morrison on the property he purchased. According to a later History of Whiteside County published in 1908, the town was surveyed in 1855. He built the first house (which was a log cabin that was similar to the one above,) opened a couple of different general stores and devoted his energies to building up the town. The book also states that he “was the leading spirit in the early development of Morrison.”

In addition, according to the 1860 census, he and his wife had two additional children, Charles and Frank while living in Morrison. Rachel, who was 10, must have been born shortly after the 1850 Schaumburg Township census was taken and, possibly, while they were still living here.

Lyman died on March 17, 1867 and is given the honor of being founding father of Morrison with his wife, Emeline, known as the Mother of Morrison. In the 1908 History of Whiteside County, the section on Morrison begins, “If Lyman Johnson could rise from the grave, and compare the virgin prairie of his time with the bright and beautiful city of the present day, he would acknowledge his successors have been exceedingly busy.” In looking at Higgins Road today, Lyman might say the same about the small farm in Schaumburg Township where he and Emilene got their start.

The Johnson brothers who made the strenuous journey from New York to Illinois in the early 1840s definitely put their mark on the Schaumburg Township area–and beyond. They are proof that the pioneering spirit moved strongly through all of them.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Sources used:

History of Whiteside County by Charles Bent, 1877.
History of Whiteside County by William W. Davis, 1908.
Photo of the unidentified log cabin is from History of Mt. Pleasant Township by Genealogy Trails.




What: “Dairies to Prairies”  This free exhibit, presented by the Elgin History Museum, explores the history of the area’s remarkable dairy heritage. At one time, there were over 140 dairies, dairy farms and creameries in a 50-mile radius around Elgin. Now, there are only three dairies left.

Who: The Hoffman Estates Historical Sites Commission

When: Saturday, March 23, at 1 p.m.

Where: at the Sunderlage House, 1775 Vista Lane, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

For more information, call Sue at 847-781-2606.

(The Wilkening Creamery listed below as the “Artesian Creamery” was along East Schaumburg Road, across from Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary. You can read about it here.)