At the turn of the century, the Stallbohm Inn stood in the middle of a growing Dutch agricultural village stretching along Ridge Road from Lansing in Illinois eastward to Griffith in Indiana. Sixty or more families spaced themselves along this road comprising what 1900 historian T. H. Ball called a "Happy Valley." By 1909, Munster was a two-year old town and the Kaskes were active citizens in this thriving community. Hugo Kaske served as a judge, town clerk, member of the town board, and served on several town commissions. Wilhelmina's sister, Caroline Stallbohm, moved to Chicago where she worked as a personal secretary to social reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd. Her personal effects, found under the front porch by Brownie Scouts in 1989, included many photos and correspondence such as letters from Jane Addams (founder of Chicago's Hull House), Helen Keller, and dozens of Chicago-area and national reformers.
Wedding at the Inn
Allen and Julia Brass and their three children are listed in the 1850 Lake County censuses. The Brass farm extended from present-day 35th Street to the Little Calumet River. Julia Brass was the daughter of Oliver Watkins, a veteran of the Revolutionary War; the Crown Point chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is named in her honor. Allen and Julia are buried in the Maplewood cemetery in Crown Point. County Times (November 4, 1909) described the inn as a famous landmark with huge fireplaces and good wine both of which warmed travelers far from home.
Stage coaches drove through the area every day. Once a telegraph was placed in the Inn, news began to arrive with unheard of quickness. It was from this device in the Stallbohm Inn that the Calumet Region learned of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. As the social center of the area, the Stallbohm Inn was occasionally used for evening dance parties. Wilhelmina noted that these events attracted large crowds with folks coming from miles around. Yet this corner of the state was still a relatively untamed locale: Dingeman Jabaay, who was born on a newly established farm in 1867, claimed that his mother would not go out at night for fear of the timber wolves.
Declining business in the 1890s forced the Stallbohms to close the inn, yet the family continued to reside at this corner for nearly another 100 years. Soon after the deaths of Johann and Wilhelmina Stallbohm (in 1899 and 1901, respectively) their daughter Wilhelmina and her husband Hugo Kaske moved back home from Minneapolis, remodeled, and set up housekeeping in the old building.