The History of Naperville  

Transcribed from "A History of the County of Du Page, Illinois" pub. 1857 By C. W. Richmond and H. F. Vallette


"The first inhabitant of this town was Capt. Joseph Naper, who came to this state from Ohio, in the winter of 1831.  His family arrived in June, of the same year, and occupied a log house, near the present site of the grist mill.  The following list includes the names of all we have been able to ascertain, who settled in the town previous to 1838:  John Naper, Ira Carpenter, John Stevens, John Murray, M. Hines, A. H. Howard, S. J. Scott, Willard Scott, L. Ellsworth, A. S. Jones, S. Sabin, Geo. Martin, L. C. Aldrich, H. L. Peaslee, R. Hyde, Geo. Stroubler, G. Bishop, J. H. Stevenson, W. Rose, R. Wright, E. G. Wight, J. F. Wight, S. M. Skinner, W. Weaver, J. Granger, N. Crampton, W. J. Strong, R. Whipple, U. Stanley, T. Thatcher, A. T. Thatcher, J. Lamb, R. N. Murray, R. Hill, David Babbitt, H. C. Babbitt, J. S. Kimball, J. B. Kimball, L. Kimball, Harry Fowler, Hiram Fowler, R. K. Potter, J. J. Kimball, Adial S. Jones, Peter Dodd, Nathan Allen, Benjamin Smith."
       "Naperville is the oldest town in the county, and the first in point of property and population.  It has upward of two thousand inhabitants, 2 hotels, 12 stores, 6 churches, 1 bakery, 1 bank, 2 post offices, 1 grist mill, 10 manufactories, 1 saw mill, 2 breweries, 1 tin and stove warehouse, 1 printing office, 2 quarries, 2 extensive lumber yards, 2 nurseries, and 1 incorporated academy.
       "The town pays $3,400 annually for the support of preaching, and about $1,500 for the support of common schools.  There are 400 members of the different churches, and 350 scholars in the Sabbath schools.
        "The village of Naperville lies partly in the town of Lisle, being divided by the town line into two unequal parts, the greater lying in the town of Naperville.  In our notice of the village, we include the territory lying within its limits in both towns.  The first frame building erected here was by A. H. Howard, in the fall of 1833.  It was erected a few rods in front of the present dwelling of Mrs. Howard.  Among the buildings next put up of this description was the Preemption House, by Mr. George Laird, in 1835.  This hotel was owned and under the management of Gen. E. B. Bill, for several years, during which time no hotel west of Chicago enjoyed a more extended and well-deserved patronage.  The road passing through the village from east to west, was the great thoroughfare between Chicago and Galena, and the town presented the appearance of an unusually active and business-like place.  At a very early date it is said the size of the town exceeded even that of Chicago!  The latter city having but one log house, while Naperville had two.   The first mill constructed upon the river was a sawmill, in 1835, which was torn down in 1840, to give place to the flouring mill which stands upon the same site.  This mill has two run of stones, and enjoys unsurpassed advantages for water power.
       "The original town plat was laid out in the year 1835, by Capt. Naper.  The plat embraced about 80 acres.  To the original plat, several additions have since been made.  The usual form of the village lots in the original plat was four rods front by ten in depth, containing on-fourth acre.  These were large, compared with some which have been laid out in more modern times."
        "The DuPage Eclectic Nurseries were established in 1853, by R. W. And R. M. Hunt.  During the four years past these nurseries have propagated, in each year, from fifty to one hundred and fifty thousand fruit trees...The DuPage County Nurseries, of Lewis Ellsworth & Co., were established in 1849.  These nurseries cover at present some fifty acres of ground."
       "The plow and wagon shop of Messrs. Vaughan & Peck is located in this village.  It was originally established by A. S. Jones, who is entitled to the credit of originating the steel plow now so much in use.  The manufacture of plows at this shop commenced in 1840...The establishment is capable of making fifteen plows per day.  Two thousand five hundred were manufactured in 1856."
       "There are two breweries in the town, which consume annually fifteen thousand bushels of barley, and eleven thousand pounds of hops, at a cost of ten thousand dollars."
      "The I.O. of O.F. was organized in 1850.  The number of members has been about 60, and the present number is 48.  The present officers of this institution are S. Boliman, N. G. ; W. Naper, V. G; S. O. Vaughan, Secretary, and R. Willard, Treasurer.
       The Masonic Lodge was established in 1848.  The number of all the members to the present time is 120.  There are now about 60 members.  The officers are H. H. Cody, W. M.;  C. D. Haight, S. W.;  and C. W. Keith, J. W."
       "The Naperville Artillery Company was organized in 1856.  There are now some 50 members belonging to the company.  The officers are J. J. Hunt, Capt.; H. F. Vallette, 1st Lieut.;  R. Naper, 2d Lieut.; J. H. Hobson, 3d Lieut., and E. Page, Ensign.
       "There are two post offices in the town, one at Naperville, and one at Big Woods.  The post master at the Big Woods is John Warne.  The office at Naperville has an annual income of one thousand dollars;  R. Naper, post master."
        "The freshet of 1857 was a calamity to the town.  This occurred in March.  The river, swollen by the heavy rains and the melting snow, overflowed its banks and inundated all the business portion of the town.  Soon after the stream commenced rising, the mill-dam gave way and let down upon the town an avalanche of water, bearing upon its swift current large sheets of ice, which demolished everything in their way.  the rise of the water was so sudden that many of the inmates of the houses situated on the banks of the river, with great difficulty escaped.  Several buildings, including three stores, were carried away.  The loss is variously estimated, between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars, and was chiefly sustained by Messrs. M. Hines, J. T. Green, R. Willard, C. W. Keith and Joseph Naper.
        "The village of Naperville was incorporated by act of Legislature in the winter of 1857.  The first election of officers for the corporation was held in May following.  The names of the Board elected at that time are as follows:  President, Joseph Naper;  Trustees, H. H. Cody, Geo. Martin, M. Hines and X. Eggerman;  Police Justice, H. F. Vallette;  Constable, A. C. Graves;  Assessor, A. W. Colt;  Clerk, C. M. Castle. _____________________ CHURCHES
       "Our space will not admit of our entering into the details of the ecclesiastical history of this town.  the first effort toward organizing a religious society ws made by settlers in this and the adjoining town of Lisle, as early as 1833.  A meeting was held in Lisle on the 13th of July, in that year, and a society organized by Rev. Jeremiah Porter and Rev. N. C. Clark, missionaries for this county, and Rev. C. W. Babbitt, of Tazewell county.  This meeting was called at the request of Isaac Clark, Pomeroy Goodrich, Isreal Blodget, Robert Strong, Leister Peet, Henry H. Goodrich, and Samuel Goodrich.  The society commenced its labors with true christian zeal, and its numbers rapidly increased.  Among the first resolutions adopted by the society, we find the following:
       'Resolved, That the minister, as soon as practicable, shall visit every family in the settlement, and that each member of the brethren, in turn, when called upon, shall accompany him, to ascertain the state of religious feeling, and to awaken attention to the subject, and especially to explain the object and plan of Sabbath schools, and the distribution of tracts.'
      "Rev. N. C. Clark was the first pastor of the society.  Meetings were held during the year at different places in the south part of the settlement, for three Sabbaths in succession, and the fourth in the school house at Naperville.  Punctuality in attendance upon the meetings of the society was strictly enjoined, and a committee appointed to notice the absence of any, and call on him at the next meeting, for his reason.  In 1834, the society raised one hundred dollars to help defray the expenses of their pastor.  During the year of 1835 Mr. Clark preached regularly upon the first and fifth Sabbaths of each month at his own house, on the second and fourth at Naperville, and on the third in the neighborhood of Mr. Luther Hatch.  He continued as their pastor until July, 1836.  With a pledge of three hundred dollars, and the assistance of the Home Missionary Society, the society next secured the services of Rev. E. Strong, who remained with them until August, 1837.  The Rev. J. G. Porter then became their pastor, and served the society faithfully and acceptable until July, 1840, when, at his own solicitation, he was dismissed.
       "During the years of 1838 and 1839 the society began to feel the need of a house of worship which should be their own.  A vote was passed, at a meeting held in September, 1838, to build a meeting house, and at a subsequent meeting, in March, 1839, Naperville was selected at the place for its location.  Deacon Clark, Pomeroy Goodrich, and Henry Goodrich, were appointed the first trustees.  In October, 1840, Rev. O. Lyman became pastor.  He was employed for six months, or until an opportunity offered to procure a permanent minister.  The Rev. J. H. Prentiss, of Fulton, received a unanimous call in November, and was installed as pastor on the 12th of July, 1842.  Three hundred dollars were pledged for his support, payable half in money and half in produce, by the society, and an additional sum of two hundred dollars was obtained from the Home Missionary Society.  by his own request, his connection with the society was dissolved, Aug. 25, 1843.
       "Arrangements were then made with Rev. E. W. Champlain, to preach for the society on each alternate Sabbath during the remainder of the year, commencing on the first Sabbath in October.   Mr. Champlain continued as the pastor until his death, February 8th, 1845.  At a meeting of the society, April 18t, 1844, it was resolved 'that we deem it expedient to take immediate measures to build a house of worship."  At a subsequent meeting, Deacon Isaac Clark,George Blackman, Deacon Pomeroy Goodrich, J. Strong, and Eli Northam, were appointed a committee to select a site.  That committee selected a site gratuitously offered by Capt. Morris Sleight.  The choice was concurred in by the society, and the present edifice was erected upon it in 1847.
       "By the death of the Rev. Mr. Champlain the whole society was thrown into mourning.  Although he had labored among them for only a brief period, yet he had become endeared to his people by the strongest ties of affectionate regard.  He is the only minister of any denomination who had died in this place, or whose sepulcher is with us.  After his death the people were destitute of a settled minister for several months, but the pulpit was regularly supplied by Rev. O. Lyman.  A call was extended to Rev. Hope Brown, in August, 1845, which was accepted.  It was provided that he should preach on alternate Sabbaths, and receive a compensation proportionate to the amount of service rendered.  Mr. Brown was connected with the Home Missionary Society, and for several years after his settlement here, received contributions toward his support from that society.  He was installed on the 11th of November, 1845, and continued with this people until October, 1856, when he was dismissed, at his own request."
       "The Baptist church in Naperville was organized through the instrumentality of the Rev. Morgan Edwards, in 1843.  At the time of its organization, there were nine members.  Immediate steps were taken to erect a house of worship.  A building was commenced on the foundation of the present Congregational church, but a difficulty arose between the owner of the lots (who had not yet conveyed them to the society) and one of its members.  In consequence of this the owner refused to give title to the society, and forbade the removal of the partly constructed building, threatening personal violence to any one who should attempt it.  A committee waited upon him and endeavored to obtain his promised deed of the lots, but it was refused.
       "Finding all their overtures in vain, a large number of the most prominent citizens of the place met by agreement, and unawed either by threats of violence or the terrors of the law, forcibly took down and removed the edifice to its present site, which was donated to the society by Lewis Ellsworth, Esq.  In 1844, the building was so far advanced that it was occupied by the Congregational and Baptist societies, each on alternate Sabbaths.  Rev. Riley B. Ashley became pastor of this church January, 1844, and continued to supply the pulpit until January, 1846, during which time the church increased to thirty-six in numbers.
       "From July, 1846, to July, 1848, Rev. Allen Gross was pastor, and the church increased to fifty-six.  He was succeeded by the Rev. Silas Tucker, in October, 1848.  Mr. Tucker continued as pastor until October, 1855, when the number of members was ninety-five.  The Rev. Silas Kenny supplied the desk for eight months during 1856 and 1857.  The present pastor is Rev. E. P. Barker.
       "In 1847 the church was enlarged and improved.  Its present dimensions are 52 feet in length by 36 in width.  At the time it was enlarged, a belfry and steeple were built upon it, from which sounded the first church bell in the county."
       "The German Evangelical Association has a large society in this place.  This society was formed in 1837, by a few members from Warren county, Pa.  J. C. Gros, M. Weis, Adam Knopff, George Stroubler, John Rahm, Martin Asher and Adam Schwigert were among the first members.  Meetings were held in different parts of the town for several years, until the church waS erected at Naperville, in 1842.  the lot on which the present church stands, was given to the society by Capt. Naper.  Since 1840, the society has sustained regular preaching, and the church has increased rapidly in numbers.  There are now upward of two hundred belonging to the society.   Connected with this church there is a Sabbath school of nearly 200 scholars.  It has a library of 300 volumes.  The present church building is much too small for the accommodation of the society, and the erection of a fine brick edifice is contemplated during the present year.  No other church in the county has met with so great a degree of prosperity.  We give the names of the pastors, from its organization:
                   1837- Rev. Jacob Boas,
                   1838-    "    Martin Hawert
                   1839-    "    Christian Einsel
                   1840-    "    J. Lutz
                   1841-    "    Adam Strooh, C. Lintner
                   1842-    "    F. Wahl, G. A. Blank
                   1843-    "    C. Kopp
                   1844-    "    C. Lintner
                   1845-    "    G. A. Blank
                   1846-    "    C. Kopp, S. Dickower
                   1847-    "    C. Augestin, G. Meszmer
                   1848-    "    C. Holl, H. Weilty, J. Raggerts
                   1849-    "    S. A. Tobias, C. A. Schnackn
                   1850-    "    B. Apley, M. Hawert
                   1851-    "    J. Riegal, G. Franzen
                   1852-    "           "      , J. Trombaner
                   1853-    "    G. A. Blank
                   1854-    "    J. P. Kramer
                   1855-    "           "            ,  J. Gibeis
                   1856-    "    W. Straezburger
                   1857-    "           "                H. Henitz
       "The Methodist society was formed in 1841, through the instrumentality of J. Granger, A. Keith, Mr. Underwood, E. Rich, and H. Daniels.  A church was built in 1849.  The society has been regularly supplied with pastors since 1841.  The Sabbath school connected with this church has about 100 scholars, and its library contains 250 volumes.  there are now between thirty and forty members belonging to the society.
                                                    NAMES OF PASTORS:
                   1841- Rev. Caleb Lamb                    1850- Rev. M. P. Hannah
                   1842-   "     John Nason                    1851-    "   John Beggs
                   1844-   "     O. Walker                      1852-    "   J. C. Stoughton
                   1846-   "     Elisha Springer              1853-    "   Mr. Vance
                   1848-   "     Nathan Jewett               1854-    "   O. Huse
                                                       1856- Rev. B. Close.
       "The Catholics have a large society here.  Their church was organized in 1846, and a house of worship erected during the same year.  The society was formed under the labors of the Rev. Mr. Theroler, and the first members were Peter Shultz, Xavier Eggerman, D. Bapst, S. Dutter and G. Ott.  In 1852 the church building was enlarged, for the accommodation of the rapidly increasing society, which now numbers 232.  The names of the priests who have officiated since 1848, are Rev. Mr. Yung [?], Rev. Mr. Foelker, who died here in 1850, Rev. Mr. Zucher, Rev. John Kramer, Rev. Mr. Etafer, who died here in 1855, and Rev. Mr. Keiser, who, having been suspended for misdemeanor, left the community very abruptly sometime in August, 1857."
       "The physicians at Naperville are H. C. Daniels, J. Jassoy, W. B. Stewart, R. K. Potter, Dr. Overholser and Dr. Ferris.
       The practicing attorneys are H. F. Vallette and H. H. Cody, of the firm of Vallette & Cody;  W. Blanchard and M. Hobson, of the firm of Blanchard & Hobson.  J. F. Wight, for many years the only attorney in the place, has now retired from practice."
       "In the fall of 1831, a log house was erected on land now owned by Mr. Samuel Boliman, and a school taught there during the following winter by Mr. Leister Peet.  The building was by no means remarkable for architectural beauty, but being fourteen feet square, it afforded accommodations to the children of this sparsely settled district for two or three years..  Boards were fastened to the sides of the room for desks, and slab benches were provided for seats.  Mr. Peet was succeeded by Mrs. Hines and Mr. Hiram Standish..."
       "A new frame building for school purposes was erected near where the Congregational church now stands, in 1835.  It was used as a church, town house, and two or three terms of the circuit court were held in it before the court house was built.   This school house was sold by the district, and for several years previous to the passage of our present school law, the district was destitute of a school building, and the public schools of Naperville were of little benefit to the community.  The were usually held for only a small portion of the year, at places the most inconvenient and uncomfortable.  But a new impulse has been given to public sentiment on the subject of education.  There is now a fine stone building on the west side, belonging to that district, and a commodious brick building in process of  erection on the east side, for the accommodation of the Lisle district.
        "The Naperville Academy was incorporated in 1851.  mr. N. F. Atkins was the first preceptor, and performed the duties of principal for about one year.  After his removal, the trustees appointed Mr. C. W. Richmond, then principal for the academy at Great Barrington, Mass., to fill the vacancy.  In this academy, in addition to the common branches of an English education, instruction is afforded in the languages and natural sciences, including music, drawing and painting.  Upward of 600 different scholars have been members of the school during the past three years.  The average attendance has been about 100.  The following are the names of assistants in the school:  Howard Kennedy, A. M. ; Geo. Hudson, J. H. Edson, Mrs. C. W. Richmond, Mrs. H. L. Snyder, Miss M. B. Dewey, Miss C. E. Crossman, Prof. C. N. V. Vasque and Eugene Burnell.
       "The academy building is pleasantly situated in the west part of the village, is three stories high, and constructed of durable and handsome stone, found in the vicinity, at a cost of about six thousand dollars.  The institution is provided with chemical, philosophical, geographical and historical charts, and has a library connected with it of about 600 volumes."
       "There is a private school taught in the family of Mr. Lewis Ellsworth, by Miss S. B. Skinner.  The number of pupils is limited to about twelve."
A Note about spelling:  In transcribing portions of this book I have recognized what I believe to be simply typographical errors and misspellings.  I have not updated any of the terms, nor have I "corrected" any of the spellings of surnames.  If you would like to submit a correction, please send it to me and I will add it as a postscript.  Pat Sabin.
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