Local History

Family Farm Heritage

Centennial/Sesquicentennial Farms in DeKalb County Schafer Farm City: MaltaTownship: MaltaOriginal Date of Purchase: 1903Current Owner: David SchaferAcres: 160 Farm History William Schafer came to DeKalb County from Port Byron, Illinois in 1900 at the age of 30. In 1903 he purchased 160 acres in Section 14 of Malta Township on the northwest corner of more

Students Experience History of One-Room Schools

Have you ever heard someone say, “Education sure has changed since I was a kid?” or “That’s not the way we did math when I was in school?” It’s true education has changed a great deal in the 144 years that Old North Grove School has been standing, on its original more

Reflections – Rural School Remnants

In spite of the demands of surviving on the open prairie, DeKalb County settlers began efforts to set up schools almost immediately after they arrived in the 1830s. And though rural schools were a remnant of the county’s earliest educational efforts, it’s likely that you know someone who attended DeKalb more

Country Schools – By the Numbers

When I was your age... I walked to school uphill both ways. This is something that Grandpa may have said to underscore the challenges that the younger generation does not have to endure. There are variations of this saying – I walked for miles to school, in the snow, uphill both more

Teaching in One-Room Schools

Looking back at rural education with schoolteachers from farm families At the turn of the century the number of one-room country schools dotted the countryside. Each of DeKalb County’s 19 townships had between 3-12 schools. Teachers were in high demand to educate rural youth from first through eighth grades all under more


Honoring Centennial/Sesquicentennial Farms in DeKalb County Svendsen Farm City: Earlville (Rollo)Township: Paw PawOriginal Date of Purchase: 1907-1908Current Owner: Jeffrey Adam SvendsenAcres: 80 (Originally 160) Farm History Coming to America first in 1886, Cornelius Svendsen set out to explore a new world. After four hard years of work, he was able to journey home near more

Reflections – Cattle Rail & Stockyards

Though DeKalb County had certainly sent cattle to distant markets like Chicago for decades, it found itself on the cusp of a boom. The business of shipping livestock by rail developed quickly and later ended just as abruptly. From the early 1850s when railroads began in DeKalb County, trains were the more

Stories of the Stockyards

Local farmers sold livestock at the Chicago Union Stockyards and share their stories The Union Stock Yard & Transit Company was the meatpacking district in Chicago for more than a century, starting in 1865. The district was operated by a group of railroad companies that acquired marshland and turned it into more

Family Farm Heritage

Honoring Centennial/Sesquicentennial Farms in DeKalb County Oakdale Farm City: SandwichTownship: SandwichOriginal Date of Purchase: 1855 by George BarkCurrent Owners: Great-Great Granddaugthers – Lori Carey, Jeanne Skelton & Karen ErhartAcres: 348 acres Farm History In 1847 young George Bark left his birthplace of New York and headed west in hopes of becoming a landowner and more

Livestock at the Stockyards

The Chicago Union Stockyards could handle at any one time: 75,000 hogs 21,000 cattle 22,000 sheep Livestock came from all over by rail and by truck to the south side of Chicago from 1865 to 1971. After the Stockyards closed, the Chicago-Joliet Stockyards opened and some area farmers shipped their livestock there. Other marketing more