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Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Family history found at flea market
By Barry Schrader.................................August
Sometimes you just get lucky.
I sure did on
the last day of the Sycamore Steam Power Show & Threshing
Bee earlier this month. I passed by the Peterson family flour
concession several times and then noticed Maynard Petersons
daughter, Melanie, was selling some loose leafs from an old atlas.
There were several flea market tables in the area I had checked
out earlier, but not hers.
Looking closer, I realized
they were an assortment of pages from an 1871 atlas of DeKalb
County townships. She had decided to part with the atlas after
it fell apart and some pages had been torn, lost or damaged over
Quickly thumbing through them, I found
Victor Township, which is south of Waterman, where my great-great-grandfather
Johann Schroeder (aka John Schroder or Schrader) had taken up
farming just a few years after getting off the boat from Germany
in 1856. My heart raced as I discovered his 160-acre farmstead,
then was surprised to see a second 110-acre farm with his name
on it. I couldnt wait to fork over the $10 and take my
newfound treasure home with me.
Once I got home
I realized there were more surprises in store on that plat map.
I already knew that his son, Ferdinand, had married Caroline
Kutzner, and there was proof on that page that she had come on
the boat with her family from the old country as well. I found
an 80-acre parcel owned by her father, Frederick Kutzner, near
the Schrader farm. Counting six country schoolhouses on the map,
I remembered that the Greentown School in the northwest corner
of the township was where my mother taught for two years before
marrying my father in July 1928. This I found out from the book
Rural School Journeys which details the history of
some 160 country schools scattered among the 19 townships in
During the 1870s and later, there
were six schoolhouses in that one rural township, quite an accomplishment
for the residents who had to build and support them. According
to the Journeys book, only three remain today, converted
into houses; two others were torn down, and one burned down.
More interesting history I found on that map: The
father of Civil War veteran Deck Wesson owned a 160-acre farm
whose corner touched my familys farm.
The Greentown School where my mother, Margaret Stryker
(Schrader), taught from 1926-28. This is the second school built
at the site, in 1902, located at the corner of Chicago and Leland
Roads, converted into a home sometime after it closed in 1950.
The original structure has the peaked roof.Just this one corner of the 1871 Victor Township map
shows the location of the Greentown School (labelled 1) and the
farms owned by John Schroder and the Wessons. Another Schroder
farm is southeast of this.
So after writing all that history about the Wessons earlier this
year, I found that my family and theirs were neighbors some 140
years or so ago. Also of interest was the fact that Decks
wife, Maggie Suydam, came from the farmstead where the Suydam
Church stands today the same church where my ancestors,
including my grandmother, Ethel, and father, Vernon, were members.
In fact, my father was christened and confirmed there, and my
grandmother taught Sunday school, so probably my family knew
the Suydams at one time way back then.
curiosity had been piqued, I went to the DeKalb Public Library
and perused the atlases and plat books from 1892 and 1905. They
reveal that later generations of our family and the Wessons had
inherited or purchased the farms. My great-grandfather Ferdinand
became owner of the 160-acre farm, while the smaller parcel
had been sold after 1871 to a Buckhart and then later before
1905 to a Johnson. Meanwhile, the Wesson land holdings had doubled
in size, and the farm was assumed by Deck after his father passed.
It was also exciting to find out that north and east
of our old family farm were three Beveridge family parcels. John
Beveridge became governor of Illinois in 1873 and another Beveridge,
James, was named state treasurer in 1865. I also found out that
an ancestor Augustus Breese of my friend, Sue Breese,
farmed right next door to the Schrader place.
an impressive group of pioneers had gathered in that one township.
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PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115