100 years ago, there was no Calumet City, there was

1992-06-30T00:00:00Z 100 years ago, there was no Calumet City, there wasPAM JIRANEK nwitimes.com
June 30, 1992 12:00 am  • 

There are several Schrums listed in the Calumet City, Lansing and Hammond

phone books. There's Hoover-Schrum School District 157 in Calumet City. Schrum

Road runs one way from State Line west to River Oaks Road. And, hidden off

Burnham Avenue behind a shut down motel, there's the Heritage Cabin at the

south end of Veteran's Park. These are quiet reminders of the family that first

settled Calumet City, the south end of which was known, 100 years ago, as

Schrumsville.

In 1851, Hans Johann Schrum, who was then 17, came to Chicago from Germany.

He worked for the Illinois Central Railroad, splitting wood for the engines to

burn. he married in 1860 and, three years later, he moved with his wife Louisa

and their town children to rural Globe, Ill, now part of Calumet city. The

Schrums owned a farm with acreage bounded by the Little Calumet River on the

south, Michigan city Road on the north, State Line Road on the east and

including what's now Wentworth Woods Shopping Center.

In 1865, Hans' father Thomas Agge, brother Peter Nicholas and Peter's wife

and child also came to America from Germany and settled in Globe. they lived in

and added onto a log cabin that had been build in the 1830s. Peter's farmland

eventually ran from the river to where the Hoover-Schrum School is now located.

Hans and Louisa had nine children, all of whom helped with chores in the

family's farm, which eventually expanded to 275 acres. In addition to farming

crops such as potatoes and hay,th4 Schrums grew trees and sold them in Hammond.

Some of the maple trees growing in Hammond today came from the Schrum farm.

As if farming and the tree business weren't enough, the family also began a

dairy business. The Calumet Dairy, run by Hans and his six sons, produced milk

and ice cream, using blocks of ice from the Little Calumet River to keep them

cool. The dairy was eventually sold to Klitze's Dairy, now the Borden Company

Dairy in Hammond which closed in 1970.

In about 1892, Hans built a two-story frame home at what became 26 Schrum

Road. The house was designed with high ceilings, woodwork, and the first

picture windows in the neighborhood. It was home to three generations of

Schrums.

In 1903, while one son, John continued farming, five of Hans' sons, Fred,

Peter, William, Joe and Clause, went into a new line of work, the pickle

business. Their inspiration came from their sister Magdelena's marriage to C.S.

Claussen, of Chicago's Claussen pickle family. The Calumet Pickle Works began

with a pickle and sauerkraut packing business, started in the former dairy's

ice house.

A year later, the brothers went into the retail business, making and

delivering dill and sweet pickles, relish, catsup, sauerkraut, hot and sweet

peppers, horseradish, piccalilli and onions throughout the Calumet region.

While this first pickle business dissolved after World War II, th4e next

generation of Schrums, three of Peter and his wife Mary Tapper's six children

started operations again. Under the direction of Peter, Paul and John, the

Schrum Pickle Works continued at the original location, 32 Schrum Road, until

1973.

Throughout its operation, many members of the Schrum family pitched in at

the Works. "It was a pretty good business," says Joe's son August who worked

there until he went off to World War II.

"My saying was, 'Save your nickels and buy Schrum's pickles,'" explains

Viola Schrum, whose husband Fred was one of Peter and Mary's sons.

And according to Florence Steffel of the Calumet City Historical Society,

the pickles were well worth it. "I loved them," she proclaims, proudly showing

the Historical Society's collection of old pickle jars, labels and photographs

of the buildings on Schrum Road.

But, as those photographs attest, much has changed over the century since

Hans Johann and Louisa began their life in Calumet City. The land that Hans

first farmed was sold, some to the Forest Preserve and some to real estate

companies.

The log cabin where Peter Nicholas first lived eventually was dismantled and

put in storage until 1982 when the Calumet city Historical Society raised the

money to have it rebuilt where it now stands in Veteran's Park.

The family house Hans build on Schrum road was torn down a few years ago.

"It was condemned," August Schrum explains. "It's a shame they tore it down. It

was a nicely built house." And after the Pickle Works closed, the old factory

stood unoccupied until it was demolished in 1984, following unsuccessful

attempts to find another use of it.

At 26 and 32 Schrum Road now, there's an overgrown lot of land for sale. And

as for the Schrum family, "there aren't so many of us now," says August. But

while their numbers have dwindled in Schrumsville, they've left an un-dill-able

mark.

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