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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Kate's Brief History


Kate Gingold Host
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Tom Ley in Holland’s 1886 Directory

One ad in Holland’s Business Directory promotes “Tom Ley’s Chinese Laundry” and it is the only one advertised, although it’s possible there were other laundries operating in Naperville. Ads were run in The Naperville Clarion in 1885 for a laundry business run by Charles Ong Lung.  

Chinese laundries were common in the 1800s because of a series of discriminatory practices. During the 1840s, many hopeful men came from China to make their fortunes during the Gold Rush. As the boom fizzled out, however, large numbers of unemployed men of all races were left competing for too-few jobs. Growing conflicts led to anti-Chinese policies, including an 1875 law that prevented Chinese women from entering the country. In 1902, all Chinese residents were required to be registered and carry photo IDs.


Excluded from property ownership and the most desirable jobs, some Chinese men found employment building the railroad while others started washing clothes and linen. Native American and Mexican women had previously provided laundry services to miners and others, but these early entrepreneurs started seriously competing. Washing was considered “woman’s work.” Few men were willing to do it and those that did were not seen as “threatening.” Chinese laundries thrived in the west and started to move across the country. 


Tom Ley has been difficult to trace, especially since it’s highly doubtful that his name was really Tom. No people recorded in the 1880 census are listed as “Chinese” and a fire destroyed most of the 1890 census. A quick perusal of the cemeteries in the area didn’t turn up any Leys either. 


Ley’s “first-class laundry” seems to have operated for decades on Water Street before moving to Jefferson Avenue in 1907. Since the first location was down the street from the Pre-Emption House, those are probably glimpses of the shop in old photos. In 1916, the property under the laundry and a neighboring cobbler’s shop was purchased by the Naperville Masonic Temple Association. The temple building erected there is still in use today and houses the Naperville Running Company on the first floor. 


The Chinese laundry seems to have moved to 47 Jefferson Avenue, which is how it is recorded in the 1923 telephone directory. Tom Ley, however, is no longer listed as the proprietor. Instead, Sam Lung is the name printed. Or possibly Ley was no longer in business and this was a second laundry, the one mentioned in the 1885 Clarion ad promoting Charles Ong Lung, who may be a relation. Sam Lung is also mentioned in the 1917 Souvenir of Naperville Homecoming book which lists all of the local businesses that supported the Homecoming event. 

Other than these few references, history about these men has been hard to find. An article in a 1913 issue of The Naperville Clarion thanks “the Chinaman on Jefferson Avenue for his grand display of fireworks which is so freely given every year,” which probably refers to Charles Ong Lung or maybe Sam Lung, judging by the date. Sam Lung is also listed in the 1910 census. 


While there may not be records enough to trace, it’s important to do whatever is possible for a more complete understanding of our community’s past, however hard to face. Our history may not be particularly pretty at times, but you know what they say about being doomed to ugly repetition if we don’t learn the first time. 

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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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