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Soon after US cavalry troops defeated the Sauk and Illini in the Blackhawk War in 1834, Benjamin Butterfield’s family transplanted from Fort Dearborn – where they had moved from New England just a few years before – to the farmland 30 miles south of Chicago. Ever since then, Butterfield’s name has been attached to a wide “crick” that wanders the area, now passing under asphalt roads, meandering through farms, and sneaking behind homes of wealthy suburbanites.

Oak trees blanketed Chicago’s southland in 1834. There, Butterfield found rich black loam and silt in the low areas near the banks of the Butterfield Creek. Some of those oaks still stand along the banks of Butterfield Creek, taunting golfers of today just as they taunted the men who first farmed that land.

In November 1838, Butterfield bought 240 acres of land, most of it located east of Dixie Highway, which was then known as Vincennes Trail, and north of Flossmoor Road. But part of the parcel included a spit of land west of Dixie and south of Flossmoor Road, now known as Dartmouth subdivision that overlooks the 5th, 6th and 7th holes of Flossmoor Country Club.

Butterfield signed an affidavit under the 1838 Preemption Act, a federal law allowing squatters to buy land they developed before the government sold unclaimed land to newcomers. The legal description of Butterfield’s property fits precisely with the descriptions in the will of William Gottschall, putting Butterfield’s second parcel right on top of Idlewild CC, a course catty-corner to Flossmoor CC.

Two days before Butterfield’s first purchase, on November 14, 1838, a mysteriously named man dubbed Mehitable Crary bought 162 acres that now includes what is Flossmoor Country Club’s front nine. Except for the Illini and Sauk Indians, Mehitable Crary is the first recorded owner of that land.

The early settlers cleared the land, raised cabins, farmed and lived. But in 1870, southern Chicago area began to change when it became a vacation spot for wealthy Chicagoans. In that year, the Illinois Central Railroad began building tracks for a commuter train for those who saw the area as a getaway. At the same time, there was a “new” game – an ancient Scottish pastime – leaping across the Atlantic. The game quickly caught the imagination of Chicago’s wealthy, and it wasn’t long before leisure-seekers, who rode the Illinois Central Railroad out to their cottage, began to build golf courses.

John Goldchrist was there at the beginning of FCC as a co-founder, and the first Secretary of the original Board. He even played a role in the original Village of Flossmoor. Mr. Goldchrist was interviewed for an article printed in November 2, 1929 in “Ye old Towne Crier”, published by the Flossmoor State Bank. The following paragraphs are excerpts from that article.

"…on the 8th day of July, 1899, Mr. Fred Jenkins, my associate in the Edison Company, and I went to lunch together at the Chicago Athletic Association. The National Golf Tournament was being played at Onwentsia. Both of us had played golf several times, and as we lived on the South Side, in the Hyde Park district, we were convinced there should be a golf club somewhere on the line of the Illinois Central.

I suggested to Mr. Jenkins that we start out that afternoon to see what land was like. He told me he was very anxious to see Chandle Egan play in the finals at Onwenstia and would rather make it the next day. However, Mrs. Gilchrist and I got on the Illinois Cnetral train, going as far as Harvey. Then we hired a team and drove down to about where Calumet Country Club is now, when one of our horses became sick and we returned to Harvey and Chicago.

The next day, Sunday July 9th, Mr. Jenkins and I went out to Harvey, walked from there to Homewood, looked over a good deal of property around Homewood and returned. The next day I asked Mr. Louie Seeberger, my associate in the Edison Company, to provide me with a map of the farms in the vicinity of Homewood. After studying this, Mr. Jenkins and I, realizing we needed a good real estate man who could speak German, decided on Mr. Frank Riedel. Mr. Reidiel spent a month getting to know the land and put on option on three pieces of property.

Mr. Jenkins and I went down and looked the pieces over and were not satisfied. A week or two later Mr. Riedel took us to what is now Flossmoor, and we saw first the property of August Hecht and Chris Hibbing, being 160 acres each, one on the east side and one on the west side of Western Avenue. We were very much impressed with this property.

In the meantime we had some talks with Mr. A.H. Hanson, then General Passenger Agent of the Illinois Central Railroad. Mr. Hanson evidently mentioned the matter to Mr. John Wallace. He also mentioned it to Mr. John C. Nelleger and said that he understood that Mr. Nelleger was anxious to join a golf club. We talked trains with Mr. Hanson and got the assurance of the Illinois Central people that if we purchased property at what is now Flossmoor, they would extend their service there and build a depot for us.

As a result of the information regarding Mr. Nelleger, I called him up one morning and made an appointment to lunch with him at Chicago Athletic Association. However, prior to our meeting, I had stirred the matter up with a good many of my friends in Hyde Park, notably Mr. Walter Nelson, Mr. John C. Welling, Mr. Thomas E. Wells, Dr. W.H. Gentles and many others. Mr. Nellger and his partner, Mr. Wells, Mr. Jenkins and I went down and looked over the farms we had under contract, although we said nothing at that time about the Hecht and Hibbing farms.

Around October of that year we organized a good-sized excursion of people we thought we would like to have in the club and took them to Homewood. We looked at the various pieces of property that we had optioned. After some wasted time visiting a property that was priced out of the market place, I informed Mr. Wells that we had some other property that we would like him to see. That afternnon Mr. Nelleger, Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Wells and I drove out to Harvey, took a team and drove down and looked over the Hecht and Hibbing properties, with which they were very impressed. We met August Hecht and made an appointment with him. We found that Hecht and Hibbing were in a much more mellow mood, and they had heard of the property under option at Homewood and had become convinced they had lost an opportunity for a sale. Therefore, we made an option contract with them, with the understanding that it should by put on record, but should be left in the hands of a local judge, under which we had an option to buy their farms for $125 an acre, this option to last 60 days from the day on which it was made, November 14, 1899.

We then started to recruit the club and quickly had a subscriptions list drawn. The club was to be called Homewood Country Club.

When the original property was closed, Mr. Jenkins and I were very anxious to include the property in the south end of the golf club owned by a man named Peterson, which we could have bought for $125 an acre, but Wells, Nelleger and some of the other associates we had gathered thought we were biting off more than we could chew. Therefore we closed up. However, a few weeks later on a beautiful spring day we took a crowd down to Flossmoor, and everyone believed we made a great mistake in not getting the piece of property through which the creek ran. By the time the owner had learned of our purchase and that we wanted his property the price nearly doubled to $200 an acre. …”

J.F.G.  October 25, 1929

The 1906 yearbook of the “Homewood Country Club” published just seven years after the origin of the Club helps us visualize the changes that have occurred over the past century.

The site of our swimming pool and pool house was occupied by the farmhouse and farm buildings of the August Hecht farm that was sold to the Club founders. The original clubhouse, built about 1900, and its 1908 successor, stood near the intersection of Western Avenue and Flossmoor Road – just north of the 4th tee. The concrete steps and arched shelter are all that remain of the south side access to the old clubhouse. The style was a grand horseshoe-shaped two story wood structure. After losing the first and second clubhouses to lightening strikes and fire, the current clubhouse was built in 1917 at the current location. The course was altered so the 1st and 18th holes looped to and from the clubhouse.

At the time of construction of the current clubhouse the Illinois Central depot had been constructed at the site of the Bunker Hills coaling stop, and was called Flossmoor Station. From this the Homewood Country Club was renamed Flossmoor Country Club.

     
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Flossmoor Country Club • 1441 Western Ave. • Flossmoor, IL 60422 • (708) 798-4700