For nearly 50 years, the name William Sunderlage appears in the upper left portion of the Schaumburg Township plat maps. From as far back as the 1871 map, you can find that name straddling both sides of Higgins Road. It is not until the 1926 map that the name changes.
William and his wife, Wilhelmine (Humbrecht) Sunderlage had five children and lived in the area. According to family lore, William and Wilhelmine gave and/or sold the land to their daughter, Emma, who married Herman Steinmeyer in 1897. For those of you who have been in the Schaumburg Township area for a number of years, you may recall this farm that sat off of Barrington Road down Old Higgins Road. It was across Barrington Road from the entrance to Cook County Forest Preserve’s Barrington Road Pond. For many years, this small crossroads was called Buttermilk Corners. The photo above is Old Higgins Road looking east towards the farm.
Emma was born in 1875 and Herman, also a native of Schaumburg Township, was born in 1867. They married in late 1897. It is stated in a Sun-Times article from February 16, 1975 that the Sunderlage land officially switched hands to the Steinmeyers around 1900.
Emma and Herman raised their children, Edwin, Caroline, George, Amanda and Ester on this property. The house to the right is where they lived during the time most of their five children were born. In 1905 they built the large, two-story, white farmhouse that was obvious from Barrington Road. It “was surrounded by two barns, a hog pen, a smokehouse and a sprawling 1-acre garden that included berry bushes, fruit and nut trees and several bee hives. It was notable for its custom design which included twin front doors installed for easy ingress and egress for funerals.” (Pioneer Local; September 1, 2005) The photo below shows this large house in all its glory. It must have been amazing to go from four rooms to this large, beautiful home.
The farm was approximately 81 acres and served the family for many years. Edwin, Caroline and George never married and continued the farming tradition well after most of the other farmers had sold off and left the area. Because of their unique situation, George was interviewed a number of times. According to the Sun-Times article, he eventually “sold 50 acres to a developer, continuing to rent 23 acres back on a year-to-year basis.” This is confirmed in a Chicago Tribune article from October 6, 1974 where it is mentioned that he sold the property “nine years ago,” i.e. 1969. “He made enough money…to buy a 156-acre farm north of Sycamore in DeKalb County.” Left with 31 acres in Schaumburg Township, he continued to raise steers and do grain farming.
Eventually age got the best of George and his siblings and it became necessary to move off the farm. The farm remained in the family until the late 1990s when the property was acquired by the hospital next door. The large house, built by Emma and Herman, mysteriously burned down in 2003. The other buildings—including the barns and the original house—were still in existence as of the Pioneer Local article of 2005. They have since been torn down and the property is vacant, waiting for future development. Old Higgins Road is still in existence. If you turn off of Barrington Road, you will cross a small branch of Poplar Creek and proceed east about 1/4 mile. On the right is the Steinmayer home place. With perseverance and love of the land, the farm remained in family hands far longer than any other farm in this portion of Hoffman Estates.
Tune in next week for a continuation of the Steinmeyer’s story at Buttermilk Corners…
[Information for this posting was also provided by an oral history with Ester (Steinmeyer) Bierman and another history with her son, Jon, and daughter, Judy.]
[The photos were provided compliments of Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian.]
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library