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
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
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
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
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
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