Archive for the ‘Spring Valley’ Category


June 9, 2018
  • Dates: Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, 2018 from 12:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Location: Heritage Farm
  • Address: 201 Plum Grove Road or 1111 E. Schaumburg Road
  • City: Schaumburg, IL
  • Phone: 847/985-2100Spring Valley

Experience the charm of a community farm fair during the late 19th century. Visitors can stop by the livestock and domestic arts tents to find out who has won blue ribbons and watch demonstrations of the latest hay mowers and other farm equipment. Join in the fun by participating in various games and competitions. Don’t forget to buy a delectable treat from the bake sale table. This recreated historic event will include food, music and more!

This event is for all ages. Admission is free.


July 1, 2015

Volkening home

Travel back in time and experience the rural community of Schaumburg’s youth.  First generation German immigrants brought their culture and traditions to Schaumburg, including a strong sense of community and fellowship.

Bring a family picnic and partake in the merriment as historical intrepretive staff re-enact a summer day in the 1880’s.

Noon – 3 p.m.

Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley
201 S. Plum Grove Road, Schaumburg

Free Admission
*Adult beverages, soft drinks and food will be available for purchase.

For more information, call the Heritage Farm at 847-985-2102 or visit

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


January 25, 2015

Merkle Cabin 2

Schaumburg and what it has to offer has definitely been in the news in the past couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago the blog took you to a Chicago Tribune article about the upcoming renovation at Woodfield.  This week it’s taking you to a Daily Herald article about part of an episode of “Empire” being filmed at the Merkle cabin at Spring Valley.  The cabin is being incorporated into the show as a weekend hideaway for two of its characters.  Judging by the photo above, it’s a perfect idea.  Thumbs up to the location scouts on pursuing the unusual!

The Adirondack-style Merkle cabin was built in 1927 by John Redeker, the great grandson of Johann Boeger, the original land grant owner of the Spring Valley property.  Around the same time, Redeker began propagating parts of the property into large peony fields with the intent of starting a wholesale flower and root business.  Unfortunately Redeker died in 1930 and the business lasted for only a couple more years.

Merkle Farm

In 1942 the Redeker family then decided to sell portions of the property to Frank Merkle and family.  This included the cabin which the Merkle family used as a weekend getaway for many years.  Frank’s son, Bill, describes the cabin in his book, Frank and Leona, as “the magnificent log cabin with matched cypress logs and a huge fieldstone fireplace.  With the cattails and rushes, the view of the cabin from across the pond was stunning.”

“Originally, the cabin, which measured about twenty feet square, was partitioned into three rooms, with a tiny sleeping room at the northeast corner containing the trap door to the basement, a kitchen, and a living room.  These partitions were removed separately after we took over the farm.  The cabin had been built in 1928 [Merkle’s date], and the brick addition was constructed in 1946.  The first year or two, there was no electric power or phone, and water was run by gravity from the well across the small pond into the basement (summer only).  An outhouse was located in the apple orchard just west of the cabin.  It was all very charming and rustic and we began by going out there weekends during the summer, and ‘camping’ in the cabin.  We cleared the brush and weed trees from around the cabin and the grass leading down to the water of the two nearby ponds.  We kept it mowed down with a gas powered hand pushed mower, and in a few years with a John Deere tractor with a lifting sickle bar on the side.  The grass became a very credible lawn.”

The Merkle family held the property for 35 years, making countless trips from Evanston to their personal, family retreat enjoying all the rural countryside had to offer.   After Frank Merkle’s death, the property was eventually acquired by the Schaumburg Park District in 1979.

One year later in 1980, the cabin was vandalized and a fire destroyed the guest house/hunting lodge behind the cabin.  The Schaumburg Jaycees donated time and many of the building materials used in the renovation of the Merkle Cabin. The Spring Valley Nature Club also took it on as a project as well as the
Schaumburg Professional Firefighters Association.

In 1983 Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary opened and programs were held in the Merkle Cabin which operated as a temporary nature center and administrative office.  Park District programs continue to be held in the Cabin to this day.  The uniqueness of this structure lends itself nicely to the enclave that is Spring Valley.  It’s wonderful that others outside of our area appreciate what it has to offer too!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


May 28, 2014

With spring bursting out all over, take the time to discover the remnants of the JH Redeker Peonies farm located on the grounds of Spring Valley in Schaumburg.   The beautiful, fragrant flowers can be approached from both the Vera Meineke Nature Center and the Volkening Heritage Farm on the Spring Valley property.

Spring Valley will be sponsoring a tour and an overview of the Redeker peony farm on Sunday, June 8.  Drop by anytime between Noon and 4 p.m. and you can view the descendants of the original peonies that grow there today.Peonies

In 1927, John Redeker, son of Friedrich and Wilhelmine (Boeger) Redeker, used some of his mother’s Boeger land to start a wholesale peony flower and root business.  Unfortunately, John died suddenly on December 29, 1930 at the age of 30 and the business survived for only a short time afterwards.  I was told that, not only was it a struggle to keep the business going during the height of the Depression, but peonies grown in the St. Louis area were available one to three weeks earlier and could easily be shipped to the Chicago area by new refrigerated trucks.

By 1932 John’s mother sold the property to Frank Merkle who used it as a getaway for his family.  When staying on the farm, they lived in the Adirondack-style log cabin built by John Redeker that still stands on the Spring Valley property.  Frank Merkle must have attempted to continue the peony operation for a while because one of our oral historians said his brother, George Engelking, worked for him tending the flowers.

You don’t want to miss this special time of the year viewing these nearly 90-year old plants.  They’re gorgeous!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library