Briefly from Around the State

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Someone Who Should Haunt Naperville


Last year we wrote about Edward Sanitarium, the precursor to our current Edward Hospital complex. What we didn’t tell you is that Dr. Theodore Sachs, the tuberculosis expert who conceived and ran the Sanitarium, committed suicide on the grounds and was buried on the property.

Dr. Sachs was a Russian immigrant of Jewish descent who arrived in America in 1891. Already armed with a law degree earned in Oddessa, Ukraine, Sachs studied medicine at the University of Illinois, graduating in 1895. He specialized in diseases of the lungs, becoming extremely influential in the Chicago Tuberculosis Institute. With the financial backing of Eudora Hull Gaylord Spaulding, he opened the Edward Sanitarium for tubercular patients in 1907.

But in 1913, Sachs clashed with Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson over political appointees
on the Chicago Sanitarium board. Thompson’s camp responded with accusations of financial mismanagement. Sachs resigned from the Chicago board in March, but became overwhelmingly despondent.

On April 1, he told the nurse on duty he would rest in his library where they found him the following morning, dead of a morphine overdose. He left two suicide notes protesting his innocence, one to his wife and one to the city of Chicago.

An enormous crowd attended Dr. Sachs’ funeral on that cold day and he was buried on Sanitarium property under a large bronze and stone monument. The grave was moved more than once due to Edward’s expansion, most recently in 1989.

Poor Dr. Sachs! If anyone has a reason to haunt Naperville, the good doctor does!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

October Chicago Portage Walk

The “Friends of the Chicago Portage” would like to announce their next public walking tour of the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, Saturday October 4th, 2014 at 10:00 A.M. Please join veteran tour guide Jeff Carter who will explore the “Birth Story of Chicago” from the geological beginnings of the Portage to how it is still functioning in Chicago today. One of only two national historic sites in Illinois, the Chicago Portage site is the only place where you can stand on the same ground walked by all the early explorers, early settlers, and creators of Chicago. The Tour is approximately ½ mile in length on a gravel path through the woods and will take about 2 hours. Wear long pants and walking shoes or boots. The Tour will run rain or shine.

The tours will continue on the 1st Saturday of the month through November 1st, 2014.

The late Tribune columnist John Husar, after touring the site, called it “Our sacred ground”. It is certainly Chicago’s “Plymouth Rock”.

This is a must-see event for history lovers, historians, educators, tour guides, and anyone who communicates the stories of Chicago to others.

All tours are free and open to the public.

Location: The Chicago Portage National Historic site is at 4800 S. Harlem which is on the west side of Harlem Avenue (7200 W) just 2 blocks north of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55).Meet at the monumental statue of Marquette and Joliet and their Native American guide at 10:00 am.

Sponsor: Friends of the Chicago Portage
Contact: Gary Mechanic at 773-590-0710 or visit www.chicagoportage.org.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Other Naperville

Our town may be the first one named “Naperville,” but it wasn’t the only one.

While it is now known as Naper, a town in Nebraska was originally called “Naperville” as well. They dropped the “ville” to avoid confusion with the Illinois community.

The name is not just a mere coincidence. Naper, Nebraska was founded by Ralph Robert Naper, a grandson of our founder Joseph Naper.

When Joseph traveled from Ohio, he and his wife Almeda already were parents of three children:  Robert, age 6; Elizabeth, age 3 and Maria, age 1.

Robert, like his father, was elected President of our town and was also a village trustee. He operated his father’s mill, opened a dry goods store, and served as postmaster as well.

Robert married Amelia Morse in 1852 and they had two sons, Joseph and Ralph Robert, who was born in 1863.

As an adult, Ralph Robert moved west, opening his own mercantile establishment in Nebraska. He married Lydia Cornelia Wright, known as Lily. The Napers had four children:  Harold, Donald, Maria and Howard.

Along with another early Nebraska settler, George Hoteling, Ralph Robert donated the land on which the town of Naper was built.

Naper, NE is located just over a mile from the South Dakota border. It may be a tenth of the size of Naperville, but they are just as proud of their history as we are.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Naperville's First Business Partnership

This week in 1831 was when the first settlers arrived in Naperville, including Joseph Naper, his brother John, their sister Amy and their families.

We don’t know the exact day, but it was around July 15. The Napers’ schooner, the Telegraph, left New York around the first of June and after nearly four weeks of sailing the Great Lakes, anchored near Fort Dearborn.

Some of the families onboard stayed in the settlement that would soon be known as Chicago, but several others hitched oxen to their wagons and walked alongside for three days until they reached the DuPage River.

The area had previously been inspected by Joseph Naper and he had contracted to have some land cleared and a cabin built before the group’s July arrival.

Naper and a friend from New York, P.F.W. Peck, intended to go into business together, trading with the local native population as well as with the growing number of homesteaders.

They brought supplies with them to stock their trading post such as calico cloth, whiskey, and other necessaries not easily obtained on what was then the western frontier. Glass beads were also popular trade items with the Potowatami and other tribes who lived in the area.

Peck and Naper’s business plan was to operate two trading posts:  One at the DuPage River settlement and one at the Fort Dearborn settlement.

By the following summer, trouble was brewing between Chicago-area settlers and some of the native tribes who rallied behind the Sauk chief, Black Hawk. While the 1832 not as bloody a conflict as others in Illinois’ history, it spooked Peck enough to dissolve his partnership with Joseph Naper.

Peck remained in the larger Fort Dearborn settlement and became instrumental in building early Chicago. He amassed an impressive fortune through real estate.

During the Great Fire, Peck lost  a substantial amount of property and he was injured during the conflagration, dying a few days later. But his family rallied to become wealthy pillars of the early Chicago community.

The archeological dig at Naper’s cabin in 2007 uncovered glass beads dating from the time Peck and Naper were trading post partners.

For more photos of the Naper statue that was erected last year on the original cabin site, see
JosephNaperHomestead.com.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Naperville Marketing History

When perusing the Holland Business Directory of 1886, the first of its kind in Naperville, you are immediately impressed with how genteel the advertisements are.

Certainly humans have been advertising since probably forever. Caterwauling peddlers are part of our history and are still present today in certain bazaars and marketplaces.

Of course now the caterwauling doesn’t stay in the marketplace. Advertisements show up in our mailboxes, on our televisions, along our highways and on the phone in our pockets.

Modern marketing isn’t actually all that old. Mass manufacturing in the late 1800’s and relative prosperity in the early 1900’s was the impetus for the swell in merchant advertising.

Today’s business owner might want to keep in mind comments about marketing made in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge:

“Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade. It is a great power that has been entrusted to your keeping which charges you with the high responsibility of inspiring and ennobling the commercial world. It is all part of the greater work of regeneration and redemption of mankind.”

Now that’s a refreshing spin on marketing we should all get behind!