By Ann Chrissos
The Rombach Pumpkin Farm is well known throughout Chesterfield and beyond. Schools as far away as Wenztville schedule fall field trips to the farm. The farm also hosts corporate and birthday parties. It is open to the public from September 20 until October 31, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily for pumpkin purchases, hay rides, the Great Pumpkin Pyramid and a country store. The farm, located today at 18639 Olive Street Road, had originally been owned by the Boisselier family in 1796 and later by Al Wilmas, Sheriff of St. Louis County. The Gumbo Bottoms farm (today Chesterfield Valley) was purchased by Karl Rombach, Sr. in the 1920s.
Karl and his wife, Lena Santo Rombach (married September 22, 1906), had ten children: Karl, Jr. (b. 1910), Marie (b. 1911), Ray (b. 1913), Albert (b. 1915), Bertha (b. 1918), Louise (b. 1919), Emil (b. 1922), Norman (b. 1923), Walter (b. 1924), and Lucy (b. 1925). Karl, Sr. planted 150 acres in potatoes, 200 acres in cantaloupes, and 100 acres in sweet corn. In the 1930s he began selling produce along old Highway 40.
Karl’s son Norman married Rosemary Emma Seeger on January 20, 1950 at the St. John’s United Church of Christ in Chesterfield. In 1952, Rosemary took over the operation of the produce stand and created a small pumpkin display. To promote sales, she spoke at schools and businesses about the Rombach pumpkins. Her efforts led to a greater demand for pumpkins which the family was able to satisfy. Norman and Rosemary had four children: Norman (Chip), Steve, Susan, and Jeff.
For the past eight years, Norman’s son Chip and Chip’s wife Marcia have been managing the approximately 70 acre pumpkin farm. The rest of the original acreage purchased by Karl, Sr. has been sold and the other crops have been eliminated. Visiting the Rombach Pumpkin Farm every October has become an annual tradition for many area families.
Courtesy of Susan Rombach Olendorff
Wedding photo of Norman Rombach and Rosemary Seeger 20 January 1950. Courtesy of Susan Rombach Olendorff.
Marcia Rombach interviewed by Ann Chrissos, 3 June 2014.
Norman Rombach and his daughter Susan Rombach Olendorff interviewed by Arland Stemme, 1 Feb. 1995.http://rombachsfarm.com/
The Chesterfield area is featured is several books and in current and past calendars. Book titles include: 1. Chesterfield’s Ancient Past; 2. Chesterfield, Missouri: Cemeteries; 3. Chesterfield, Missouri: From Untamed Wilderness to Thriving Municipality; 4. A Guide to Chesterfield’s Architectural Treasures; 5. Historic Chesterfield Coloring Book; 6. Why We Fought: Nazi Camp Liberators.
These items are available at the Chesterfield City Hall, 690 Chesterfield Parkway West. Finally, speakers on the above subjects for adult and youth groups can be arranged by calling 636.537.4000.