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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Kate's Brief History


Hotels in Holland’s Directory

Kate Gingold Host 0 12 Article rating: No rating

The 1886 Holland’s Directory lists three hotels in Naperville: American House, Pre-Emption House, and Washington House. All of them were on Main Street, just a stone’s throw from each other. 

Jacob Keller emigrated from Germany to Naperville in 1851 and, at first, worked for Stenger Brewery. He eventually became a saloonkeeper on Main Street around 1867, but he had grander plans.  In 1872, he built a hotel on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Jefferson Avenue which he called, naturally, Washington House. According to Holland’s, it was a “fine brick building,” but “this, not being to his mind, he sold, at a great sacrifice, in 1872." Keller moved his business back to the Main Street location in 1879, keeping the name, Washington House. The hotel was also designated as the township polling place.

American House was started by B. F. Russell in 1875 as an addition to the livery business he had been running since 1869. Russell’s livery offered ten horses and twelve different kinds of wagons for customers to rent and provided his hotel with a particular advantage in transportation. As a bonus for American House guests, Russell ferried travelers to and from the train station for free. He also ran a taxi-type service to “carry citizens to any part of the village for ten cents.”

The Pre-Emption House had the oldest history. It was originally built in 1834 by George Laird and had a

Ernest Von Oven in Holland’s Directory

Kate Gingold Host 0 37 Article rating: No rating

The 1886 Holland’s Directory features three full-page ads promoting Ernest Von Oven’s various businesses. All have the same office “at the forks of Aurora and Oswego roads,” where St. John’s Episcopal Church currently sits. In fact, the rectory behind the church was once the Von Oven home. 

Von Oven arrived in 1855, and by 1866, he had established himself as a businessman in town and married Emma Reifnerath, with whom he raised a family of five children: Helene, Johanna, Hedwig, Frederick, and Emma. 

Von Oven also started the Naperville Nursery with his brother, Adelbert, the favorite of all his operations, which ran until the mid-1900s, long past Ernest’s own passing in 1906. It was one of several nurseries in the area and was well-known for fruit trees in particular. Emma and her children carried on the business for a number of years. This 1926 ad from the American Institute of Park Executives shows the only son, Fred, as the president and “H. Von Oven” as the secretary. As Hedwig, unfortunately, died while still a toddler, this no doubt refers to Helene. 

Von Oven’s other operations included a tile- and brickworks with George Martin, the builder of the mansion now featured at Naper Settlement. Martin had started the brickworks in the mid-1850s, but it really took off following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 when the city was desperate to rebuild. One of Martin’s former associates was Martin Ki

Women Business Owners in Holland’s Directory

Kate Gingold Host 0 74 Article rating: 4.0

In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at the woman-owned businesses that were listed in the 1886 Holland’s Directory. At least seven are identified with a “Mrs.” proprietor and two shared an ad page, Mary Lindemann and Eva Blake. 

Holland’s says Lindemann’s general “store may be found on the south-side of Jefferson avenue west of Main street,” which would put it approximately where Everdine’s Grilled Cheese now operates. “Dry goods, groceries, confectionery and a fine assortment of cigars and tobacco are the chief articles in which she deals, and in each, standard goods are the rule,” the directory continues, and notes that she has been in business since 1872. 

According to Illinois marriage records, a Mary Auguste Dehnike wed John F. Lindemann on November 23, 1974. If this is the same Mary Lindemann, she was already working the counter years before her marriage. Unfortunately, no other information has been found about her, neither census, burial, nor birth records.

More details are available for Eva Blake. She married Anthony (“Andrew” in some records) in 1866. Anthony had been wounded twice during the Civil War and became ill with “chronic diarrhea.” Regardless, the young couple became the parents of daughters Annie, Mary, Emma, Marie, Maria, Matilda, Christina, and Marguerite.  

Unfortunately, Anthony Blake died in 1882, leaving Eva with their eight children to support. How she started her millinery business is unknown, but Holland’s notes that “being left a widow several years ago with only eight daughters [Their italics!] dependent on her efforts for support, she went to work with a will and constancy that has been admirable and commendable.”


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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.

As the Internet has evolved, producing books and marketing them has become much more complicated. Whether traditionally-published or self-published, authors today need to know their way around websites, blogging, social media and other online marketing tools.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs, small- to medium-business owners and not-for-profit directors. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Frequently Kate also writes about tips specific to authors, some of which are available here.

The Sprocket Report

The Sprocket Report is published every other week with Internet marketing tips, tools and techniques. The archive features articles from 2011 up to the present. You are welcome to read how business owners are using technology to market themselves and apply those tips to your author business.


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