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October 13, 2019

The year is 1847 and you have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and half of the continent to reach Schaumburg Township. You get your first view of the land that you have purchased from the government. Rich, dark soil? Check. A market for your products in nearby Chicago? Check. Enough trees to build your first house? Check. Enough trees to provide you with fuel for the next 20 years? No. And that’s a problem.

Considering that Illinois farmers of the 1800s largely heated their homes and cooked their meals with wood, it was absolutely necessary to have a steady, ready supply for anyone living on the frontier. In rural Schaumburg Township there were five nearby groves on the prairie that were available with timber that was ready to cut and cull. 

Sarah’s Grove was in the middle of the township, just west of the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads. Wildcat Grove was in the northwest corner of the township where the Greve Cemetery is located today in Hoffman Estates. The other three options were just outside of township boundaries in today’s Paul Douglas Forest Preserve off of Central Road in Palatine Township, the Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserve on the west side of Barrington Road in Hanover Township and the Ned Brown Forest Preserve in Elk Grove Township that is best known as Busse Woods. (Portions of all of the groves still exist to this day.) The surveyor’s map below shows the large key-shaped section of Busse Woods to the left that is simply marked “Timber” in the middle.

To be able to take advantage of these groves, farmers purchased acreage that often ranged from two to ten acres. According to Larry Nerge’s report on the Johann Heinrich Boeger family who lived on today’s Spring Valley property, they had a wood lot of two to three acres in Busse Wood.

The following document from LaVonne Thies Presley’s book, Schaumburg Of My Ancestors, draws out a legal description of the nearly ten acre woodlot her great grandfather purchased from Henry and Maria Bochers on November 23, 1853 for $1250.

The entrance was off of Higgins Road in Busse Woods and required quite a trek from their farm on Meacham Road near today’s WGN transmitter. Multiple trips a year were necessary to keep the house stoves going for warmth and cooking purposes.

A trip to the woods began in the morning after the milking and chores were finished.  Two men drove a wagon pulled by two large draft horses that carried their “two-man [cross cut] saw, wooden bow saw, sharpened axe, steel wedges, water and/or coffee, food for lunch, and possibly oats or hay for the horses.” 

Presley’s relatives were no different from the brothers of Ralph Engelking who was one of our oral historians. His account can be viewed on the library’s Local History Digital Archive. In his history, Ralph, youngest of eleven, recalls that his brothers would bring a lunch of sausage sandwiches and coffee when they made their trip to Busse Woods.

It is not known how the owners determined exactly where their property began and ended but there had to have been some kind of posts or markings that established the corners of their acreage. (If any of the readers of this post have ever come across something like this in Busse Woods, please put in a comment or send me an email.)

Once there, they began accumulating the fallen logs and branches that were easy pickings. Next, they probably tackled any dying trees as these were quicker to take down and more easily chopped. Dead wood was also dryer wood and burned more cleanly in the stoves. If burned, newly cut, green wood created an accumulation of creosote that could cause chimney fires if the stove fires burned too hot.

According to Presley, trees “were cut into lengths (about 5-6 feet long) that could be lifted and put on the wagon. Lengths to fit the stove would be cut back at the farm. This cutting and splitting was time consuming and took time away from the farm work. Time was precious and could not be wasted on tasks that could be done more easily at the farmyard.”

Some lengths of wood were also used for fence posts in the farmyard. The harder the wood, the more durable the post. According to “Farm Woodlots In Illinois” from Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science, Vol. 16 published in 1923, the best types of wood were white oak, catalpa, cedar, black locust, mulberry and, osage orange or “hedge” which was the best possible choice. Of course, if they did not have a choice of wood, the farmers in this area were going to take any type that grew on their woodlot–and replace the fence post when necessary.

Wagons were loaded very carefully as they did not want any displacement to happen as the horses pulled the timber home. As the afternoon drew to a close, saws, axes, wedges and other items would be placed in the wagon and the slow, burdened wagon would be pulled home by the powerful draft horses.  

Presley recounts a story in her book that, on a late fall day, her father and uncle were at their woodlot when an unexpected snowstorm broke out. They left the woods as quickly as possible but the snow was so blinding and heavy that they could not make out the road. It became obvious that the horses weren’t going to stop so the two young brothers loosened their hold on the reins and let the horses pull the load where they wanted. Through better vision, instinct or the feel of gravel on their hooves—or all three—the horses pulled the wagon safely to the barn on their farm. 

Once home, the 5-6 foot lengths were arranged in a teepee form to allow for further drying before they were chopped for use in stoves or used as fence posts. Chopping happened when there was time in between chores or when a group of family and neighbors had time in the winter to tackle the pile. 

The woodlots were kept by local farmers until other means of heat, like coal or kerosene, became available to the farmers. This was also close to the time that Cook County purchased Busse Woods for their newly formed Forest Preserve District, as can be seen in the letter to the Thies family in January 1918. 

It was most likely a win/win situation for many of the farm families. There was an opportunity to easily sell their remote woodlot, adjust to life with a kerosene stove and, best of all, eliminate that portion of chores from their workload. 

They did us all a favor, though, by being such careful conservators of their woodlots. As a result, we remain blessed to this day with the large forest preserves that surround Schaumburg Township.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

The Thies family documents and photo are all taken from the chapter of LaVonne Thies Presley’s book, Schaumburg of My Ancestors which gives us an amazing overview of farming in rural Schaumburg Township around the turn of the century. Copies of the book are available in the library’s Local History Collection or can be read on the Local History Digital Archive


May 26, 2019

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.




March 17, 2019

The footage is amazing because some of it has never before been seen by the public.

The magnificent engines of the Saturn V rocket fired with latent, unleashed power necessary to propel the men into space.

Rows and rows of white-shirted men monitored their analog screens with manuals perched on the tables in front of them.

Thousands of people came to Cape Canaveral to see the lift off, camping out in their cars and tents or simply sleeping in a sleeping bag on the beach. There was the occasional glimpse of celebrities, people like Johnny Carson and Lyndon Johnson, who wanted to be a part of it too.

There are periodic mentions of the heart rates of the astronauts. During the launch, Armstrong’s rate was reported at 110, Collin’s around 95 and Aldrin’s, shockingly low, near 88.

The moments as the lunar module descended foot by foot to the moon are captured, and the tautness of the unknown is palpable.

The director’s dual screen uniquely captured the camera footage, on both the lunar module and the command module, as they slowly, carefully docked in their tense rendezvous after the moon landing.

The welcome home parade, set against the backdrop of beautiful, sunny Chicago, is featured prominently, with wildly cheering people and Secret Service agents running alongside the astronauts’ convertibles.

The colors are sometimes startling. The bright summer clothes worn by the people on the beaches. The oranges and reds of the rocket as it fired. The bright, kapton foil on the lunar module, in contrast to the dull color of the moon. The heat shield of the command module as it moved through the earth’s atmosphere. The beautiful parachutes lowering the space capsule into the ocean. And, of course, the swirling whites, greens and blues of planet earth as seen from space.

The sheer science of it all is breathtaking. And the geometry. Wow, the geometry. The math that was required to get the three astronauts to the moon and back is especially noteworthy, give the small margin for error–and the fact that all of it was done without calculators.

And, lastly, there is the utter calm and professionalism of the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins as they go about their duties, interjecting occasional humor when time allowed.

Apollo 11, the newly released documentary directed by Todd Douglas Miller, tracks the mission to the moon in 1969. The world watched in suspense as the rocket finally took off and began the many maneuvers required to get the astronauts to the moon and back. During the eight day voyage that began on July 16 we, on earth, ate, slept, went to work, and enjoyed our summer.

But we were attuned. To both the tenseness of the situation and to our radios and televisions that tracked the steady progress of the journey. When it was over, and the astronauts were back on planet earth, there was relief, there was sheer joy and there was overwhelming pride. The three astronauts had most assuredly reserved their place in history as the heroes we revere today.

The people of Schaumburg Township, though, paid their respects in a way that is evident nowhere else in the country. In 1971, as a result of the area’s furious growth, Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District 54 opened four elementary schools, naming three of them in honor of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.

All four schools built that year–including Dirksen–are identical, as you can tell in the photos below.

If you look closely enough at the sign for Aldrin School, you can see that the mascot is the eagle. This is a direct reference to the Lunar Module that landed on the moon and was named the “Eagle.” It was–uncoincidentally–piloted by Buzz Aldrin.

On Armstrong School is their mascot of an astronaut, which requires little explanation!

Below is Collins School, named for the command module pilot who orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin took those giant leaps for mankind.


Scattered throughout the district, these schools are a steady, gentle reminder of a  stunning voyage that happened 50 years ago this summer. The astronauts gave the best parts of themselves on that trip.  Two years later, Schaumburg Township returned the favor and thanked them in the best way they knew how.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library



March 3, 2019

During Hoffman Estates’ 60th anniversary year of 2019, we will take a look back at the Hoffman Estates you’ve known for the last six decades.  Every month there will be a posting on village happenings for each decade the village has been in existence. Maybe you remember some of the events and have something more to add to a few of the items? Send in your comments!

60 Years Ago In 1959

  • A new Lions Club was begun in Hoffman Estates and Thomas Sandow of Roselle was elected president. They had 16 members and was organized through the efforts of the Arlington Heights and Palatine clubs.
  • Our Saviour Methodist Church prepared to celebrate their first anniversary in Hoffman Estates after having been organized March 16, 1958. During the first year the church purchased five acres from the Meineke’s Honey Farm on the southwest corner of Plum Grove and Golf Roads. In the meantime, they were holding services at Blackhawk School.
  • It was announced that F&S Construction would open four new model homes in their Parcel C development. A split level, three-bedroom Lincoln model lead the lineup.

50 Years Ago In 1969

  • The Village of Hoffman Estates made plans to erect an armed forces honor roll board on village property to honor those who died in Vietnam. The village had its first casualty when Alan Ramsey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ramsey, was killed in combat on February 2.
  • Magna Mart and Twinbrook Ace were both selling Scott’s Turf Builder giant triple size bag for $11.95. The ad mentioned that in 1959, this would have cost you $13.50. (It’s a good bet that this went like hotcakes in growing Hoffman Estates.)
  • Suburban Imports Motors was selling a Datsun car for $1896 and advertised it as the “world’s best $2000 car.”

40 Years Ago In 1979

  • Kennedy Brothers and 27 young men from Hoffman Estates High School planned to team up to build a three-bedroom ranch house in the Colony Point subdivision. The plan was for them to work five days a week from 10-12 and 1-3. They were part of the building trades program at the school.
  • The Village Board gave approval for the Mobil gas station at Golf and Higgins Road to become a self-service station. They were also given approval to sell convenience food.
  • The Camp Fire Leaders of Hoffman Estates were scheduled to meet at Lincoln Federal Savings & Loan on Higgins Road on Tuesday, March 20 at 9:30 a.m.

30 Years Ago In 1989

  • The village board voted to ban video arcades and their coin-operated machines. A limited number of machines were to be allowed in bowling alleys, movie theaters, restaurants and convenience stores.
  • The Miss Hoffman Estates pageant was looking for young women interested in participating in the pageant that would be held on April 16 at 3:00 p.m. at Eisenhower Junior High School. The winner would go on to represent the village in the Miss Illinois pageant and, possibly, the Miss America pageant. The pageant chairwoman was Debbie Schoop.
  • In a column in the Daily Herald celebrating the village’s 30th anniversary, a question was posed to Barbara Adrianopoli, the Village Historian, “What is the history behind the abandoned building on the corner of Spring Mill and Higgins Road?” Barbara responded by saying this was the site of the Bowling Proprietor’s Association of America and, at one time, also a temporary site for the Hoffman Estates’ post office. (This was on the southeast corner of the intersection where the First American Bank is today. I have not been able to track down when this might have served as a post office. In a Herald article from January 19, 1967, all of the various sites to that date are listed. There is no mention of a temporary site on Higgins Road, although a sub-station was in B & K Realty at the corner of Roselle and Higgins Road from 1964-1966.)

20 Years Ago In 1999

  • The Hoffman Estates Park District was interested in installing a 6-foot high chain link fence around two holes of the Poplar Creek Golf Course to prevent trespassers from cutting through.
  • The Village of Hoffman Estates moved closer to approving an ordinance that would ban the use of laser pointers by minors under the age of 18 except at home.
  • ComEd reported that they did a major tree trimming project in the Highlands area and repaired a number of wires that had been spliced too many times, straightened and replaced some faulty poles and added fuses to several feeder lines in the Highlands. All of these actions were intended to reduce the number of power outages in the area–particularly during major storms.

10 Years Ago In 2009

  • Garibaldi’s was advertising the special of a 16″ cheese pizza “all day, every day” for $8.95.
  • John Porter Kelley who served as the attorney for the village of Hoffman Estates from 1963 to 1970 passed away on March 22. He also helped found St. Hubert Church in 1960.
  • The Canterbury Fields Park project was scheduled to have its first phase completed by August. The Park District board voted to change the site plan and added a cricket field instead of a softball field due to residential interest.

(Photo of Mr. Kelley used courtesy of the Daily Herald.)

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

The factual items for this blog posting were taken from stories that appeared in the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune.



February 24, 2019

In Community From Cornfields, the little booklet that keeps on giving, there were two pages devoted to the churches of Hoffman Estates. Rather than photos, drawings were inserted of all of the church buildings in existence at the time.

Two other churches had been formed but did not yet have buildings. They were Community Covenant Church, which was meeting in Blackhawk School at the intersection of Illinois Boulevard and Schaumburg Road, and Highlands Baptist Church whose location was 223 Northview Lane. Their congregation met in Hillcrest School.

The drawings of the church buildings are below. As a small local history quiz, please let me know in the comments below or in an email what the name of the churches are.

Number 1:

Number 2:

Number 3:

Number 4:

Number 5:

Number 6:

Number 7:

Number 8:

Number 9:

Number 10:

As correct answers are sent in, I will switch out the number with the name of the church. Thank you for playing Hoffman Estates Church Trivia!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


February 10, 2019

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hoffman Estates in 1969, the village put out this neat little booklet called Community From Cornfields: The Story of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

It is 24 pages and includes everything from a brief history of the village to blurbs on the various village departments to lists of government officials and board members to a list of Hoffman Estates churches.

The library is fortunate to have two copies of the original document that was sent to the Thomas Guiney household on Northview Lane and the Carl Soderholm household on Bonita Drive. The most interesting part of the little booklet, though, are the surprising number of photos that are here for you to check out.

This is a photo of the Gieseke family farm that was originally located off of Bode Road and is currently the site of the Children’s Advocacy Center, St. Hubert Catholic Church and School, Alliance Fellowship Church and Hoffman Estates Fire Department Station 21.

The Giesekes sold the farm in 1943 to Arthur and Dorothy Dalton Hammerstein. They lived there until 1954 when Arthur passed away and Dorothy subsequently sold the farm to Jack Hoffman of F & S Construction.

This photo probably looks familiar to you. It is the Gieseke/Hammerstein house that became the Hoffman Estates village hall and is today’s Children’s Advocacy Center. When Dorothy Hammerstein sold the property to F&S, they used the house as their field headquarters. F&S then relinquished the property to the Village in 1959 and they adapted the house as their municipal center.

At the time of the printing of this booklet, the village was trying to decide what to do with the property as they felt they had outgrown the building and needed a more modern structure. “The Trustees are reluctant to tear down more than a hundred years of history, however, our growing community requires a decision soon.” To their great credit they preserved the house and it exists as one of the oldest structures in the village today.

It was, initially, a bit puzzling to discern what we are looking at in this aerial photo–except that the big grove of trees had to be either Sarah’s Grove or Walnut Grove. It took a bit but the thing I kept going back to is the diagonal road that crosses through the upper middle of the photo. It had to be Illinois Avenue. When I looked more closely I could see Schaumburg Road in the middle of the photo on the far right. It bisects Sarah’s Grove which puts the Timbercrest subdivision in the very foreground of the photo. Friendship Village is yet to be built, since it opened in 1974. Thus, we are looking at Parcel C and the Highlands in the background.

We then move into the photos that cover some aspects of Hoffman Estates government that were in place in 1969. This was Village Clerk Grace Kindelin’s office.

Fire Station #1 opened in 1960 and, sixty years later, exists as Station #21.

This was Fire Station #2 that was located at 469 Hassell Road. This station existed until 1974 when the village sold the building to the Schaumburg Township Public Library. The library used the building as their Hoffman Estates Branch Library until 1992. It was later torn down and the current Branch Library was erected on the spot.

The Village Board’s chamber was the location for all board meetings.

The three photos above represent the Hoffman Estates Park District which was formed in 1964–five years after the formation of the village. None of the photos are identified in the booklet. The top two are clearly built around a pond or a lake–and are possibly the same park. (The consensus in the comments below indicate that this was Evergreen Park near Lakeview School.) The last photo is likely the Community Pool.

Other photos, such as the ones below, represent the various parades that took place in the young village.

If you recognize any of the parades or locations of the parks, please leave something in the Comments or send me an email. It would be great to put a name to the location.

Next week, schools and businesses will be featured. The businesses, in particular, were a wonderful surprise!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


February 3, 2019

During Hoffman Estates’ 60th anniversary year of 2019, we will take a look back at the Hoffman Estates you’ve known for the last six decades.  Every month there will be a posting on village happenings for each decade the village has been in existence. Maybe you remember some of the events and have something more to add to a few of the items? Send in your comments!

60 Years Ago In 1959

  • Another vote for incorporation was held on Saturday, February 21 from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. at 117 Cumberland Street which is in Parcel B, just off of Roselle Road. The pro-incorporation group held a party at the Buggy Whip (Easy Street Pub) the night of the vote.  The proposal, however, was defeated by a vote of 276-142. Another vote was scheduled for September.
  • A Hoffman Estates unit of the League of Women Voters was formed as a branch of the Palatine chapter. Women who helped organize the unit were Cleis Jensen, Sally Probst and Louise Dennett.
  • A Valentine Square Dance was held at Our Saviour’s Methodist church on Saturday, February 14 starting at 8:30. Refreshments were served and donations of $1 per couple were requested to attend. The Dance committee was headed up by Gloria Bowen on Geronimo Street.

50 Years Ago In 1969

  • A new publication called “Community From Cornfields,” celebrating Hoffman’s 10th anniversary, was all the rage. Hank Linton, a commercial artist on Edgemont Lane, contributed a two-page drawing of local churches and designed the brochure’s layout.
  • The first four-bedroom ranch model houses in Hoffman Estates were offered in the new High Point subdivision by Hoffman Rosner.
  • Hoffman Estates Village Board rejected a zoning appeal for Photo-Mat to erect a 24-hour photo processing and developing booth in the Golf Rose Shopping Center. The booth was to be built with a styrofoam core surrounded by an aluminum skin and glass. It was rejected because of the potential for increased traffic and a lack of sanitary facilities. [Sidenote: Didn’t one of these eventually get built, next door in the Annex Shopping Center?]

40 Years Ago In 1979

  • Mobile classrooms at Hillcrest School in Hoffman Estates and Collins and Dirksen School in Schaumburg were scheduled to close at the end of the school year due to declining enrollment. Room was, once again, available in the school buildings.
  • Hoffman Estates offered a $1 million low-interest loan through village-sponsored bonds to Nederlander Organization of Detroit who was developing the Poplar Creek Music Theater which was being developed at an overall cost of $15 million.
  • After five years of planning, the Suburban Medical Center of Hoffman Estates was close to being built. The exterior walls were up and the interior was close to finished. Chuck Iobe, the administrator, was happy with the numerous windows, the circular nurses’ stations and the cheerful, orange, red and blue walls.

30 Years Ago In 1989

  • The Dominicks at 2575 W. Golf Road was all set for Valentine’s Day and was offering .79 Suave shampoo, Gallo table wines 3/$7.98, Kodak film for $2.69 and diamond earrings for $7.99. Not to mention cologne, lipstick and candy!
  • Village officials approved the construction of Woodfield Lexus in Hoffman Estates to be built at the corner of Higgins Road and Evanston Street. It was built next to Resnick’s Hyundai and was its first location in Schaumburg Township.
  • As part of Hoffman Estate’s 30th anniversary, the Daily Herald accepted questions regarding the history of the village. One of the questions was “When, where and why did Hoffman Estates first annex north of the tollway?” The answer that was provided by the village was: This annexation took place in 1961. There was a land developer who wanted some farm land annexed to the village of Hoffman Estates for the purpose of receiving village services for his development. The Northwest Tollway separated the potential development from the existing village of Hoffman Estates. The decision was finally made to annex by way of Barrington Road over the tollway to Central Road and then including the area that is now Winston Knolls.

20 Years Ago In 1999

  • The sale of Hoffman Estates Medical Center became final February 1 and it would be now known as St. Alexius Medical Center. They also closed on Woodland Hospital, a related-mental health facility that was nearby on Moon Lake Boulevard.
  • Hillcrest School was accepting applications for their new concept school that would group different grades together and design customized learning plans for each student. They had already received 294 applications for 300 openings.
  • The Village of Hoffman Estates issued a proclamation to an ailing Walter Payton offering him “their concern, care and ecumenical prayers” as a “Hoffman Estates business entrepreneur, professional football player and gentleman.” Mayor McLeod hailed him as a “great corporate neighbor” who contributed to numerous local programs such as the Children’s Advocacy Center for abused children.

10 Years Ago In 2009

  • Lakeview School in Hoffman Estates (as seen in the photo above) was celebrating its 50th birthday and was seeking former students, PTA members, community friends, families, teachers and staff who attended or worked at the school to attend the 50th celebration. Lakeview School opened in 1959–the same year the village was incorporated.
  • Susan Kenley-Rupnow, who served as member of the Hoffman Estates Village Board from 1985 to 2005 and then went on to serve as a board member for the District 211 board from 2007 until her death on February 14. She followed her father, John Harmon, who served as a village board member in the early 1960s and was instrumental in pushing for the Public Works building in 1986 and 1987.
  • The Tyson American Cup was held at the Sears Centre arena on February 21 and featured David Sender, Jordyn Wieber and Joseph Haggerty in the international gymnastics competition. Olympic greats like Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug and Paul Hamm were on hand to sign autographs.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

The factual items for this blog posting were taken from stories that appeared in the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune.


November 4, 2018

For years the small farm on the southeast corner of Higgins and Plum Grove Road seemed to persevere in spite of the growth around it. If you lived or worked in Schaumburg Township from 1980 to 2000 during the height of office development, you couldn’t help but notice the fields, the barns and the white farmhouse that stood out on busy Higgins Road.

This was the Winkelhake property, purchased in 1848 by Christof Winkelhake, two years before the township itself was established in 1850. Through sheer dint of will and passion, the Winkelhakes managed to maintain their agricultural independence for 150 years, despite all of the development that surrounded their farm.

Christof Winkelhake and his wife, Louise Marie, emigrated here from Germany around 1845, eventually purchasing 80 acres from the government as a land patent in 1848. The property was obtained in two different parcels a little over a week apart on March 1 and 10, according to the Bureau of Land Management’s General Land Office Records.

With their seven children–two of whom were born in Germany and the rest in Schaumburg Township–the Winkelhakes worked their farm, year in and year out. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune from July 27, 1999, Christof had “accumulated 240 acres by the time of the Civil War.”

The 1861 map above shows the Winkelhake property, 160 acres at the time, stretched laterally across Higgins Road. Note that Plum Grove Road came down from the north, through Horace “H.P.” Williams’ property, and ended at Higgins Road. It would be years before this gravel road extended south through the heart of the Winkelhake property.

All of the plat maps from 1861 to 1947 depict Plum Grove as a straight line, moving north/south through the Township. It isn’t until the 1947 map that we see Plum Grove take the slight jog that remains there today. It is my presumption that when it was finally paved it was necessary to go around, rather than through, the farmplace of the Winkelhake farm–hence the curve.

After establishing the farm for future generations, Christof died in 1897 at the age of 82. Both he and his wife, who had died ten years before him, are buried at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Cemetery. Below is their grave marker with its unique, ornamental finial on top.

The farm passed on to his son, Henry Winkelhake who was born in 1847 and was one of the first to be baptized within the St. Peter Lutheran Church congregation that formed in the same year. When he died in 1907, his two sons, Henry Jr. and Herman, farmed two different parcels, as can be seen on the 1926 plat map below. (Note Plum Grove’s straight, due south direction.) According to this map, Herman was farming the original property and Henry was farming the property that had been acquired on the east side of Plum Grove.

After their deaths, Herman’s sons, Louis and Herman, took over the farming, continuing to milk cows and grow corn, grain and soybeans. They sold off parcels here and there, particularly the portion that had been farmed by Henry on the west side of Plum Grove Road. That was sold to Arthur and Dorothy Hammerstein as their second farm.

When Arthur Hammerstein died in 1955, his wife sold their two farms on Roselle Road and Plum Grove Road. Eventually Palatine Township High School District acquired a portion of the Plum Grove Road farm that they would later use as the grounds for Conant High School, the first high school in the township. Before that was built the school district rented the 38 acres back to the Winkelhakes to farm in 1959. It is quite interesting that the school district was calling it the Hammerstein school site.

After working the farm for many years, Louis left and moved to Milwaukee. Herman continued to live in the white farmhouse, persevering season after season until his son Ron came back to help around 1987. Herman was bound and determined not to sell the property and, in fact, never did. He lived there until the day he died in 1995.

In the photo below, you can see how embedded the Winkelhakes were in Schaumburg Township and St. Peter Lutheran Church. Most of this row consists of the Winkelhakes we’ve been talking about, except for Herman, who was the last to farm. He is buried at St. Peter’s but is not part of this family plot.

By 1997, it was apparent to Herman’s survivors that it was time to sell the beloved farm that had been in the family for 150 years. Over the course of a few years, the family farm became the Morningside subdivision (which is on the homeplace), Bank of America and Sunrise of Schaumburg, an assisted living facility, to name a few.

Do you suppose some of these tall trees that line Plum Grove Road and border Higgins, are leftovers from the oldest family farm in Schaumburg Township? If they are, it’s sure nice to know there are remnants of the farm that still survive.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

This blog posting was written with the assistance of the following:

  • Schaumburg Review, April 3, 1997
  • Chicago Tribune, July 27, 1999
  • A Winkelhake Time Capsule Or a Rainy Spring Day with Ron and Anne Winkelhake by Linda Valentine
  • Larry Nerge, Genealogist




November 19, 2017

This is an aerial photo of the “W” Section of the Weathersfield development in 1959.  It is at the corner of Schaumburg and Springinsguth roads.  Some things stand out.  The grading of Weathersfield Commons has already begun–or maybe that’s where equipment and trailers were kept during the construction process? There is a farm to the west–or left–of the development.  And, then, there’s a small, white, circular disk in the lower portion that appears to be almost as big as a couple of the nearby houses combined.

That disk is one of the first two community water reservoirs that were built in the newly incorporated town of Schaumburg.  This reservoir is on property that is adjacent to Campanelli School.

When Campanelli Brothers began construction of Weathersfield, the first order of business had to be a water supply for the multitude of houses they had planned.  Weathersfield Utilities, which was owned by Campanelli, built the concrete reservoir.  After a battle for control between Weathersfield Utilities and Citizens Utilities that handled water for nearby Hoffman Estates, the Village of Schaumburg opted for a municipally-owned utility such as they have today. [Hoffman Herald, August 13, 1959]

In this 1972 aerial photo contributed by John Kunzer who instigated this blog posting, you can see the round reservoir as well as the small building that housed the pump station directly below it.

This is what is left today of that reservoir.


When the village moved from a system of wells, storage tanks and pump stations in the 1980s to Lake Michigan water, the old water supply system was largely let go.  This reservoir was filled in and torn down somewhere between 1997 and 2000.

As John Kunzer said, “I grew-up in the W section about a block west of Campanelli. As a child in the 70s I never thought much about the big cement dome, but knew it had something to do with water. It was many years later that I realized it had been our fresh water source. I recall the well water was pretty hard, and we had a water softener under the counter in our kitchen.”

This Google image from Mr. Kunzer shows what remains today from an aerial view.

Do you have memories of any of the other obsolete water tanks in Schaumburg?  Where were they located?  Of course some tanks are still standing that are there in case of emergency.  How about the big tanks off of Wise that say “HOT” and “COLD?”  Can’t beat the village’s sense of humor on that one!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


August 13, 2017

This photo of Vincent Price and Carol Lawrence at the 1971 grand opening of Woodfield is part of the library’s archive.  From the beginning, my question was, “Why Vincent Price?”  It wasn’t until I mentioned it to another librarian and he began digging on his own, that we found the answer.

Vincent Price was an actor whose deep, distinctive voice lent itself to the multiple horror films for which he was predominantly known.  His more famous movies include The House On Haunted Hill, The House of Usher and Tales of Terror.  

In his off camera life however, Mr. Price was an avid collector of art and, in fact, had an art history degree from Yale University.  He was well known in the art world and in 1962, when Sears Roebuck & Co. decided to bring affordable art to the public, they tapped him to lead the program.  According to the Sears archive website,  Mr. Price “was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection.”

Over the years Mr. Price not only purchased many pieces of fine art for Sears, he also purchased entire collections and “even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for the program.”  In addition, the Sears Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art opened in Chicago in 1966.  

When Woodfield opened on September 9, 1971, it was named for General “Wood”, chairman of the board of directors at Sears, and Marshall “Field” of the similarly named Chicago department store.  It stands to reason that Sears, one of the first two main anchors of the mall, would have had significant input in the opening day festivities.  As a result, they brought in Vincent Price to be master of ceremonies for the day.

It didn’t stop there though.  Sears took advantage of his presence in the area and used him to develop a series of home decorating courses that were also held in the Woodfield store.  Additionally, they tapped into his other great love which was cooking.  Consequently, on September 9, he gave informative talks hourly from 9:30 to 2:30 on the subjects of art, gourmet cooking and home decorating.

Vincent Price was truly a Renaissance man and certainly enhanced the Woodfield opening day celebrations.  It would be interesting to know if there was a similar backstory for the presence of Carol Lawrence!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

A column from the September 10, 1971 Herald and an ad from the September 8, 1971 Herald assisted me in writing this blog posting.  

The photo of the imprint stamp originates from the blog.  We thank them for the use.