When Naperville started planning for its 175th Anniversary, Kate Gingold went to the library to learn more about the founding of our town. While both her son and daughter had been junior and teen interpreters at Naper Settlement, she really didn’t know the details of the journey.
Surprisingly few books were on the shelves. Genevieve Towsley’s collection of newspaper articles and a couple of books written twenty five years ago for the 150th Anniversary offered the most information, but neither held much appeal for the school-aged child. Kate decided that re-writing the founders’ story for children would be her contribution to the 175th Anniversary celebration.
With encouragement from Naper Settlement, Kate read the available books, searched the archives, and then turned to the Internet. Many books are now available online that were not accessible to the people who were doing research twenty five years ago. The simple re-write turned into a full-blown research project that stretched over eighteen months, and continues still.
To make the story more appealing to children, Kate centered the action on twelve-year-old Ruth Eliza Murray, niece to Joseph Naper. Ruth by Lake and Prairie follows the settlers from the time they board the schooner Telegraph in Ashtabula, Ohio, until they pull up the wagons on the banks of the DuPage River.
Since this is Kate’s first book, she was very excited when the books were finally delivered in January. They will be carried by Anderson’s Book Store downtown and in the Naper Settlement Museum Shop, among other places. Anderson’s plans a book-signing, but the date is not yet set. Check www.RuthByLakeAndPrairie.com for an update when the schedule is confirmed.
Kate and her husband Don have lived on Berry Drive since 1989. Daughter Emily is a junior at Naperville North and son James is a recent graduate. Both Don and Kate have served as editors for the WHAT in past years, so apparently the writing and publishing practice has paid off!