Briefly from Around the State

Thursday, January 22, 2015

State of the City a Major Mayor Milestone



In honor of Mayor A. George Pradel’s final State of the City address, let’s take a look back at the history of Naperville’s mayors.

You might think that Joseph Naper was our first mayor — but you’d only be sort of right. Although founded in 1831, Naperville wasn’t incorporated as a village until 1857 when the first government was formed. Joseph Naper was elected, but as President, not Mayor, and he served for one year with the assistance of city trustees.

Every year that followed, a new man was elected to the Presidency, including such local notables as Merrit S. Hobson, Morris Sleight, Robert Naper and R.N. Murray.

Judge Myron C. Dudley held the position most often and was mayor for four consecutive terms from 1869 until 1872. 

Naperville incorporated as a city in 1890 which was when we elected our first mayor — James J. Hunt. Hunt had also served as President a couple of times and as a trustee so he was a natural selection.

The mayoral position continued to be elected on an annual basis until 1913 which was when the Chamber of Commerce was founded. Francis Kendall was elected that year and was re-elected in 1915.

Our Mayor Pradel holds the record as the longest-serving mayor and he’ll likely hold on to his title as voters approved term limits in 2010.

Pradel was first elected in 1995 and has served five terms for a total of twenty years in office. The next closest mayoral stint was James L. Nichols (son of the library patron James Nichols) who served for three terms and a total of sixteen years.

So far, Naperville has only had one female mayor, Peg Price. She was elected in 1983 and served two terms for our city.

Mayor Pradel was introduced by then NACC Chairman Brad McGuire at the 2005 State of the City luncheon as “His Hotness” and certainly he has left an indelible mark on our city. No one else will be like Mayor Pradel — as it should be — and we will soon have the opportunity to choose his successor.

At a networking event many years ago, a short, older man  introduced himself to people with “Hi, I’m George. I work for the city.” That sort of sums it all up, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

50th Anniversary Only the Beginning of the Story



Anderson’s Bookshop recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. But the shop’s Naperville roots actually go back much farther.

Dr. Hamilton Daniels operated a pharmacy in the building that now houses Ted’s Montana Grill. In 1875, William Wallace Wickel purchased the store from Dr. Daniels and started a family dynasty.



W.W. Wickel and his wife, Sarah, had a daughter named Susanna. Susanna graduated from North Central College and was later a member of the music faculty.

She met another North Central student who worked in her father’s drugstore, William Oswald, and married him in 1907. By 1915, W.W. sold the pharmacy to his son-in-law, who renamed it Oswald’s.

The Oswalds had a daughter of their own, Helen. Like her mother, Helen met a young man who worked in the pharmacy, Harold Kester. They were married in 1931. 


Harold in his turn bought the pharmacy from his father-in-law in 1953. While the store had always sold books, in 1964, Harold opened a separate shop, Paperback Paradise, above the drugstore. In 1971, Harold moved the bookstore into an old Woolworth’s building down the street. The store has been remodeled several times, but it’s still in the same location.

Helen and Harold raised two daughters, Jean and Anita. Jean carried on the family tradition by marrying pharmacist Robert Anderson who took over the business.

In 1991, Robert turned the family businesses over to the current generation: Bill, Becky, Tres and Peter. Bill runs Oswald’s Pharmacy, Becky and Tres run Anderson’s Bookshop and Pete runs Anderson’s Bookfair.

Fittingly, the Anderson family received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chamber in 2013 for their “long-time contributions to the Naperville community.

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!


Monday, October 6, 2014

A Book Review Perfect for October

Graveyards of ChicagoThe People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries
By Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski
Lake Claremont Press

www.lakeclaremontpress.com

In 1982, I packed a wicker basket with tasty treats (including canned heat to melt butter for the lobster!) and took my new husband on a picnic. In Graceland Cemetery.

Just recently, I read the book Graveyards of Chicago; The People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries and relived some of my favorite local haunts, if you’ll excuse the expression. I was also reminded that a few bad apples are ruining the cemetery experience for the rest of us.

Graceland, on the north side of Chicago, is lovely, peaceful and not at all a strange place to picnic. Families in many cultures have a tradition of gathering in cemeteries, packing respect for their ancestors along with the sandwiches. Unfortunately, while people in Chicago today may be fascinated by cemeteries, too many pages in this book recount the damage done by vandals and thieves in these historic parks.

A book like this is a mixed blessing:  I’m sorry to make it easy for those bad apples to find cool places to vandalize, but I’m so thankful to have these graveyards documented for posterity. 

Graveyards of Chicago is written by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski, both of whom are involved in the paranormal community. Judging from the amount of research that went into the book, you can see that these two are concerned with preserving the cemeteries rather than exploiting them. The research is so detailed, however, that you probably won’t sit down and read this from cover to cover. Reading Graveyards is more like an afternoon of sightseeing:  After a few parks, it’s time to take a break, but you’ll enjoy visiting a few more on a future afternoon.

In fact, on these lovely fall days you might want to actually visit these cemeteries with Graveyards of Chicago as your guidebook. Just remember to be respectful of the property and clean up after your picnic.

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.