A documentary on the southern suburbs wherein my in-laws get the shaft

Tonight, during their pledge drive Channel 11, WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station aired two very cool programs put together by Geoffrey Baer. Sarah and I ended up watching both of them.

The first was called Chicago’s Lakefront that was filmed 5 years ago or so. It covers the lake front of the city and many of the sites and pieces of architecture along the lake. It was well worth the time to watch and I recommend it if you get a chance to see it.

The other was called South of Chicago: Suburbs, Steel Mills, and Shorelines. It started in Gary, Indiana, and traveled up Lake Michigan, and then down the Calumet river, to the Cal-Sag Channel, and then south when the Channel starts to cut west. It was really interesting and I know a lot more about the southern suburbs then I did before I watched it. I also recommend watching this one if you get the chance.

One reason we decided to watch this one as well was to see if it mentioned South Holland and its history. We were interested in South Holland for a number of reasons. One reason is that South Holland was the onion set capital of the world . The most important reason is the fact that the Peter Peerbolte Company was there. The Peter Peerbolte Company was an onion farming company. They even had their own train cars, which you can now find as models.

In any case, Sarah is a descendant of Peter Peerbolte. He was her great-great grandpa. What we’ve been told is that with the onion company, he owned most of the land that is now the town of South Holland. Unfortunately, the Great Depression took its toll and he had to sell everything. Its worth nothing that he did not end up buried in debt as he managed to pay back everyone he owed money to with the proceeds from selling off the company. He had enough money to buy a farm in Kankakee, which is how my wife’s mom’s family ended up there. But I digress…

In any case, during the discussion of South Holland, the Peerbolte family wasn’t mentioned. Sarah was upset about that. However, its caused us to question how big the farm was, and if they were the only farm in South Holland. I think we may be visiting the South Holland historical society to do some research as we’re both interested. Why are we interested? I’m not sure, it might be only so we can tell Dinah more of her family history when we get that far.

Baer is currently working on a new documentary about the North-West suburbs that I’m looking forward to seeing when WTTW airs it.

[Update 5/26/2011: Sarah was doing some web searching and came across some found film footage of Peter Peerbolte and his family in 1929.]

3 thoughts on “A documentary on the southern suburbs wherein my in-laws get the shaft”

  1. If you are truely a descendant of Peter Peerbolte than you should have the family history written by Leanoard Peerbolte the oldest son of Peter Peerbolte the Onion King of the World. The report is quite extensive and has great detail of our family history. I am the second oldest granddaughter to Lennie and Leonard Peerbolte of south Holland Il. I can get you e-mail addresses of one of the last living members of this family and they may have a copy of the Peter Peerbolte family story.

  2. Pamela,

    Its actually my wife’s family that is part of the Peerbolte family. My grandfather-in-law is Roger Peerbolte who, if I remember correctly, is the son of Garret who is the son of Peter. We’ll be seeing them for the holidays tomorrow.

    I’ll let you know if they are interested in taking you up on your offer!

    Thanks for leaving a comment, it really made my wife’s day.

  3. Hello!

    Now and then, I use Google to see if my name is still out there and so I stumbled on this message. I was very surprised to see there has actually been a company called the Peter Peerbolte Company!

    My name is Peter as you can see and I am from Holland. As you probably know, the name Peerbolte has its roots in Holland. My father owns a “state bible” (I hope this is the correct translation) which goes back to early 1800. As far as records can tell us (the Dutch Peerboltes) the name goes back to early 1700.

    I find this kind of family history very interesting. Is there a possibility you can tell me more about Peter Peerbolte? Who his parents were and where they came from?


    (I hope my comment/English makes sense)

Leave a Reply