Fermilab History and Archives Project

Erdmann Farm: Site 72 and Site 74

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Erdmann Family History

Peter Erdmann Sr. was born in 1901 in Hungary (today’s Romania) and became a printer by trade in his late teens and early twenties. In 1923, Peter and his wife Anna booked passage to the United States and they arrived in New York City. They lived near Chicago for a time--Peter was a printer and Anna was a dressmaker. The Erdmanns later made their way to California and lived there until 1939 when they decided to return to Illinois. Upon their return, Peter bought 75 acres of land along Kautz Road where he built a house that they and their young son, Peter Martin, born in 1944, lived until 1948 when the family moved back to California. Peter Sr. grew oranges in the San Fernando Valley and also ran a print shop.

In 1950 the Erdmanns moved back to Batavia because Peter was dissatisfied with his print shop and the San Fernando Valley’s smog. They returned and bought a 96-acre farm on Wilson Road previously owned by Mary Stuchill and William Duriavich. When they bought this farm, it was in poor condition and the house was in need of repair. Peter Sr. fixed the house one room at a time. With each new project the house became a little bit bigger and a little bit better. Peter Sr. took a run-down corn crib and stripped it of its limestone footings, and built a new corn crib to replace it. Then, he used the limestone to make a circular driveway to the house. The farm featured a large fish pond and windmill, and elaborate gardens planted with 1500 to 2000 petunia plants every year.

The farm was primarily a chicken farm. The Erdmanns’ main income came from about 8,000 laying hens. It was a successful business and they sold the eggs to both Wheaton and Concordia Colleges for twelve years. Besides the chickens, they grew sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, and more. Peter Jr. would help around the farm and became good friends with the Barkei and Giese children who were around the same age.

When the Erdmann farm was sold in 1969, Peter Sr. and Anna moved 62 miles west to Franklin Grove, where they bought a well-developed 360-acre farm for a low, reasonable price. At this time, Peter Jr. was twenty-four years old and had just been married. He was looking for a place for his own family and heard that 470 acres of land in Elgin was available for rent. Peter Jr. did some research and bid on the land. He was the top bidder and won. Later, he bought a couple hundred more acres. Peter Jr. was a young aspiring farmer who went from 129 acres to 800 acres in just a few years.

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Erdmann Farm Erdmann House

Farm Families

Farm Families