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Short Posts of Historic Facts and Events in Illinois

16

Aug

2017

Notable Naperville Women -- Jane Sindt

Newer and younger residents of Naperville may not be familiar with Jane Sindt as a person, but if you’ve ever strolled the Riverwalk, attended an event at the Grand Pavilion or gone swimming at the beach, you are probably familiar with her name. The drive there was designated “Honorary Sindt Memorial Court” in 2002.

Older residents with a longer history in Naperville knew Jane as a person, or more precisely, knew her as a tornado of convictions and activity. 

Caroline Martin Mitchell left her family home to the city in 1936 to become Naperville’s historical museum. But it was Jane who first moved buildings onto the property and started the Heritage Society in 1969 to do so. Century Memorial Chapel was the first building to be carefully secured, raised and rolled through the streets to what we now call Naper Settlement.

The venture was not completely popular at the time, but when Jane took on a project, she completed it well and with flair. 

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19

Jul

2017

Notable Naperville Women - Peg Yonker

Margaret Barnes Yonker, otherwise known as “Peg,” passed away in fall of 2016 at the age of 93. While not a Naperville native with family stretching back to the 1800s, Peg devoted more than half of her life to preserving this city’s history. 

Like many mid-century women, Peg went where her husband’s career took him and they wound up in Naperville in 1959, just as the town started booming.

Smart and energetic, Peg put her efforts toward local philanthropic enterprises both big and small. She was among those who established Summer Place Theatre in 1967 and was a co-founder of TAG, Naperville’s first foster home for teenage girls in 1970. 

Those were busy years for the city and foundations were laid for many of the programs and amenities we enjoy today. The Naperville Heritage Society was formed in 1969 by volunteers like Peg, among others, who wanted to save St. John's Episcopal Church from being leveled by development. They raised money and interest enough to move the church onto the Martin Mitchell property which launched the Naper Settlement we enjoy today.


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21

Jun

2017

Notable Naperville Women - Genevieve Towsley

If you’ve ever walked or driven by the Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the corner of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue, no doubt you’ve seen the bronze statue of Genevieve Towsley sitting near the door. 

Part of the Century Walk public art initiative, the statue shows Genevieve much as she was when she passed away in 1996 at the age of 88. Commemorating her nearly 50 years of writing for Naperville newspapers, she’s holding the familiar notepad and pencil.

Naperville became Genevieve’s “home town” in a round-about way. She was born in Oak Park, but spent many years on an Idaho farm when her family moved there when she was eight.  They returned to Illinois in 1924 so she could attend her chosen college, North Central, at that time still known as Northwestern. 

Genevieve stayed on at North Central College as a teacher until 1932 when she left to raise her family. By 1948 she was writing for The Clarion, a local newspaper. 

One of her former NCC students, Harold White, Jr., bought the Naperville Sun and convinced Genevieve to write for him starting in 1954. She wrote two columns for the Sun over the years:  The Grapevine and Sky-Lines. The Grapevine dealt with local news and issues in the Naperville community. Her column was influential in the desegregation of Centennial Beach and when the Naperville Heritage Society was formed in 1969, she was a charter member. Her writing helped generate interest moving Century Memorial Chapel to the grounds of the Martin Mitchell Mansion, becoming the first addition to Naper Settlement.

Sky-Lines had more of a historical tone. Genevieve re-told local legends, interviewed long-time reside
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17

May

2017

Notable Naperville Women -- Named "Naper"

Gravestone of Almeda Naper, wife of Joseph
Traditionally May is Heritage Month in Naperville, including Civil War Days which is May 20 and 21. So let’s take a look at the women who were here at the beginning. 

It’s Joseph Naper’s bigger-than-life statue in the park on Mill Street and Jefferson Avenue, but he certainly didn’t found this town without some help.The first settlers included his brother John Naper, his brother-in-law John Murray and their pretty remarkable wives.

When these three families arrived 1831, this land was the western frontier with a just a couple of families, such as the Hobsons, in the area.


Joseph and John Naper were in their early 30s, experienced and in the prime of their lives. Joseph’s wife Almeda was a thirty-one-year-old mother with three young children. John’s wife Betsy was even younger, just twenty-three, with a couple of preschoolers in tow. Both women would more than double the size of their families in Naperville. 

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19

Apr

2017

Notable Women -- The Librarians



Naperville boasts three state-of-the-art libraries today. The very first one opened in 1898 thanks to a bequest from James Lawrence Nichols, fundraising by the Women’s Club and donations from other community members.

The first — and many, many subsequent — librarians were local women with a passion for sharing knowledge.

Edna Goss got the library started, cataloguing the books according to the still-newish Dewey Decimal System. But Edna was a only temporary librarian, assisted by Hannah Ditzler who soon took over.

Hannah left the post when she married John Alspaugh in 1905 and Jennie Niederhauser assumed the duties. Jennie’s husband, who had been teaching at North Central College, took a position at Penn State in 1907 so she also resigned to follow him to Pennsylvania.

Jennie was succeeded by Rose Barnard who enjoyed the job as well as the salary of $35 a month. Unfortunately, Rose’s sister got married and she was needed to manage the household of her aging parents. Her father offered to match the library salary, so Rose left the job in 1909.

During her tenure, however, she had been ably assisted by Mary Barbara Egermann who was trained to take over.

Mary, known as Matie, was the daughter of two local brewing families: Her mother was Barbara Stenger of Stenger Brewery and her father Joseph kept a saloon on Jefferson Avenue where Naper Nuts and Sweets currently operates.

Being Naperville’s librarian was Matie’s life’s work and she served the community until 1950. In addition to managing the books, Matie started a little museum in the building that included local history and dolls from around the world. Many of the dolls were brought back by yo
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Using Tech for Book Marketing

Don and Kate Gingold

 

Kate and husband Don have been building websites since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

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