Publication Date: 06/29/93 The Times
Centennial. From pioneers to pickles: Cal City's
CALUMET CITY - Years ago, some children who attended the
former Sandridge Elementary School believed their classrooms
were built on a Native American burial ground. They weren't
Before Calumet City was settled by European pioneers,
nomadic Native Americans inhabited the areas that are now
home to Dirksen Middle School and the River Oaks Center. In
1962, construction crews unearthed hammer stones, blades,
flint-like quartz pebbles and arrowheads in the Shabbonna
Woods area, west of Torrence Avenue and in adjacent Green
The name "Calumet" comes from the Native American word "Kalamick,"
which referred to the Little Calumet watershed. The first
inhabitants relied on the Little Calumet River to fish and
trap waterfowl, muskrats and minks.
The real Calumet City is a far cry from the John Belushi's
cinematic home in "The Blues Brothers." The history of
Calumet City is the story of pioneers and farmers who
settled close enough to a port city for water transport and
supplies, but distant enough to escape its congestion and
Calumet City's first resident was Hans Johann Schrum, a
German immigrant who arrived here in 1863 - the height of
the U.S. Civil War. Schrum and his wife, the former Louise
Schuringa, amassed ownership of 275 acres between what is
now State Line Road and the Little Calumet River at a price
of $17 an acre - a significant amount of money in those
days. Their land holdings eventually blossomed to more than
The Schrum family counted maple syrup and potatoes among its
crops, and also operated the Calumet Dairy and the Calumet
Pickle Works. Their milk delivery service charged a nickel a
quart. The profitable pickle business sent delivery trucks
to Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Whiting and all parts of
Calumet City with shipments of pickles and hot dog
condiments that included relish, peppers, horseradish and
ketchup. The family businesses brought wealth to the Schrums
and attracted other families to the area.
An influx of German Lutherans arrived in what was then known
as Sobieski Park in the early 1880s. A house to live in was
easy enough to erect, but a house of prayer was notably
absent from the fledgling suburb. The creation of St. John's
Lutheran Church was first suggested by a congregation of 11
men on Dec. 9, 1888. By August 1891, the church was
dedicated and an accompanying school was giving students a
parochial education - which included instruction in German.
Polish pioneers settled south of the German enclave after
1885. The first Catholic Mass was celebrated at the newly
built St. Andrew the Apostle Church on Feb. 25, 1892. The
church was rebuilt after a tornado swept through that same
year, and was rebuilt again in 1918 when a devastating fire
In January 1893, residents of the area then known as West
Hammond took the final steps necessary for incorporation
under Illinois law - but the name Calumet City was not
formally adopted until 1924.
Calumet City grew rapidly with a diverse ethnic mix. During
and after World War II, Irish, Polish and Italian families
began moving into town in increasing numbers.
Though the population was steadily increasing, the city
lacked needed infrastructure such as sidewalks and paved
sidestreets into the mid-1900s. In 1910, the population was
pegged at 4,948. By 1960, fully 20,000 more residents had
arrived and houses were being sold for $18,000. Employment
was available at numerous factories within a short drive,
including Standard Oil (now Amoco), the Pullman Standard Car
Co., American Maize products, and the sprawling steel works
in East Chicago and Gary.
The "City of Homes" had become a place to live, work,
worship and raise families. But of all the aspects of
Calumet City's rich history, perhaps the most striking is
not found with Native Americans or pickle entrepreneurs. To
current residents, the most remarkable fact is that people
used to swim in the Little Calumet River.
St. Andrew the
06/30/92 The Times
St. Andrew the
Apostle melds faith, community.
CALUMET CITY - Some churches in the south suburbs have been
standing for 100 years, giving the residents they serve
double reason to celebrate as they anticipate their town's
In February 1892, in what was then called West Hammond and
Sobieski Park, Ill. and now called Calumet City, a new
parish was created on 48 donated lots under the name of St.
Andrew the Apostle, not too far from the Illinois/Indiana
Rev. Francis M. Wojtalewicz was appointed first pastor of
the small congregation, originally made up of only seven
families. Others who had bought lots in the area still lived
The first frame church constructed in March of 1892 was
leveled in a tornado three months later. In October of that
same year, work was begun on a new brick building and at
Christmas time in 1892, parishioners attended the first
By 1901, a rectory and school house had been built and
Sisters of St. Francis of Lafayette, Ind. were installed to
teach almost 80 grade students.
However, the next two years saw an exodus of 200 parish
members, half the total enrollment, who worked in Chicago
packing plants and wanted to merge with other large
During its 100 years existence, many dedicated pastors have
served at St. Andrews. Of that number, a few are remembered
like the Reverends' Victor Zalewski, Francis Bygier, A.
Koytek, F. Frange and S. Koralewski.
Today's pastor, Father Edward Jarzynski, assisted by Father
Michael Alcantara, leads the flock of nearly 1,900 families
with 380 grade school children enrolled. Robert Banet serves
the parish as Deacon and three Sisters of the Holy Family of
Nazareth, Sister Danielle, Sister Carmen and Sister
Virginette , who also serves as principal, are on staff.
St. Andrew the Apostle Church has diversed ethnicity among
its people such as Polish, German, African-American,
Italian, Hispanic and White.
A centennial committee has planned activities throughout the
summer and ending in November 1992 with a solemn mass of
conclusion, where Joseph Cardinal Bernardin will preside.
Father Jarzynski said he is proud of St. Andrew's past, and
looking forward to the next 100 years. "Yes, we're very
cosmopolitan at St. Andrews. We've developed and expanded
all along and now, with the help of the God Lord, the parish
has a bright out look for the years to come, despite
St. Andrew Church Website