× Search
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Kate's Brief History


Naperville 1920 Flashback: Power Farming

Kate Gingold Host 0 6 Article rating: No rating


1920 was the first year that America’s population tipped toward an urban rather than rural majority. DuPage County and the surrounding area was still mainly farmland and towns like Naperville supplied farmers’ needs. 

Motorized tractors for the most up-to-date Power Farming were quite new. Henry Ford and his son Edsel had only started offering their Fordson tractor in 1917. It ran on kerosene and was intended to replace horses and oxen on farms. Because Ford’s automobiles had already created a widespread sales network, Fordson tractors were a favorite purchase.


The Cromer Bros. in Naperville sold the Henry Ford & Son tractors as well as the Mogul 10-20 from International Harvester. According to the Naperville Clarion newspaper ad about a “Power Farming” presentation, they operated out of a building at 22 Water Street. When one looks at the 1921 Sanborn map, however, it’s clear that this earlier Water Street is on the opposite side of the DuPage River from where Water Street is today. 

That short stretch of Water Street in the 1920s extended from Chicago Avenue where Washington Street intersects and is now considered part of Chicago Avenue. This Clarion ad invites farmers to 22 Water Street and looking at the Sanborn map, there is a “Farm Machinery” building identified at that location, which seems to place it east of today’s Empire restaurant, where the photography studio is now. All of the buildings on that side of the street have changed hands many times and exactly which building housed Cromer’s I have not been able to confirm. 


Motor Co. Inc. is also listed in early 1920s directories across the street at 13-19 Water Street. In 1946, th

Naperville 1920 Flashback: August’s Blackbirds

Kate Gingold Host 0 30 Article rating: No rating
In 1920, Naperville was just a small, mainly rural, community with a population of only 3,830. It was so rural, in fact, that City Council minutes listed expenditures for horse feed and shoeing that were regularly paid to August Springborn, the Assistant Superintendent of Streets. Although the minutes don’t say exactly what Springborn needed a horse for, he probably used a cart rather than a truck for his work on the streets.

Naperville’s residents in 1920 were no doubt more tuned into their environment than most of us are today. The Chicago Tribune carried a column by Larry St. John called “Woods and Waters” in which St. John discussed such outdoor sports as casting, which was a popular competitive activity in the early 1900s for all ages and genders. 

One of St. John’s readers wrote from Naperville asking for advice on how to get rid of annoying flocks of blackbirds that congregated every August in town. They roosted in trees in great noisy numbers and made a mess on the sidewalks that in the late-summer heat was really unbearable.

Another reader from Kalamazoo wrote in to comment that it sounded like Naperville had grackles rather than true blackbirds and that many other towns had a similar problem. 

Those of us living in the now-mainly-urban city may not notice it, but our birds’ habits have changed since May. We used to hear a lot of birdsong in the early morning as avian families marked out their nesting territories, but the songs wane towards summer’s end because the children have, quite literally, left the nest. Parent birds now spend their time recuperating from the demands of childcare, molting and resting up for fall’s migration. 

This pre-migration breather is why the grackle

Naperville 1920 Flashback: Going to the Pictures

Kate Gingold Host 0 63 Article rating: 4.0
The Masons built their new lodge in 1916 and outfitted the second floor for their own use while renting out the first floor. On the street-side were a couple of shops, but an entrance corridor led to the back of the building and the Grand Theatre.  


The Grand opened in 1917 and boasted 350 seats. It paid the city of Naperville an annual license fee to operate, which according to council minutes, started at $15 per year and went up to $60 per year by 1928. 

While it’s unclear whether there was an organ or piano in the theatre, there probably wasn’t a sound system, at least for most of the Grand’s existence. “Talkies” were being made, but were not commercially available until 1923, and even then, they didn’t really catch on until 1927. Instead, folks would come into town to watch “one-reeler” comedies and cartoons or short silent feature films like “When the Clouds Roll By.” 

The Grand operated from 1917 until 1931 when it closed down, perhaps due to the aftermath of 1929’s crash. In 1935, however, the space was enlarged by incorporating the street-side shops and updated to seat 480 patrons. Outside, it was dressed up with a fancy sign and marquee and renamed the Naper Theatre.


Theme picker

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.


Terms Of UsePrivacy StatementCopyright 2020 by Gnu Ventures Company
Back To Top