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Short Posts of Historic Facts and Events in Illinois

Published on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Notable Naperville Women - Clarissa Hobson

Clarissa Stewart Hobson was Naperville’s first female European settler. Joseph Naper’s wife, Almeda, long held that title, but as city borders extended to include the Hobson land, Clarissa now claims it. 

A Georgia girl, Clarissa and husband Bailey spent their early married life in Indiana not far from Louisville, Kentucky. She was already a 26 year old mother of five children when they decided that greener — and less rocky — pastures were to be had in Illinois. 

Leaving Clarissa behind with the farm work and the children, Bailey checked out some land in Illinois before returning to pack everything up for the move. They left on September 1, 1830 and were three weeks on the road, camping with their household goods, their kids and their cattle. 

After another three weeks bunking with a friendly family, Bailey had a cabin roughed out in Kendall County. The Hobsons were settled in their new home toward the end of November, but by December, Bailey was already thinking about moving closer to civilization. 

Leaving Clarissa in charge once again, he scoped out the DuPage River and chose a spot for their next cabin. 

1830 was the legendary Winter of Deep Snow which made traveling and cabin-building treacherous. Also, the brand-new farm had no harvest in storage. More than once over the winter, Bailey slogged out to buy provisions and was snowed in by fierce blizzards. Not knowing for weeks if he was alive or dead, Clarissa managed the hungry children, melted snow for drinking water, tore apart a shed for firewood and shoved aside a cow which died of cold on the doorstep.

They settled on the DuPage River in March of 1831, eventually building a saw mill and then a grist mill. They also opened their home as a tavern for the farmers waiting for their grain to be ground. You can still see their mill stones at Pioneer Park on south Washington Street.

Clarissa went on to birth seven more children and continued to run the mill after Bailey died in 1850. Despite her early hardships, Clarissa herself lived to be 84.
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Author: Kate Gingold Host

Categories: Brief History



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