Some of Naperville’s parks are named in honor of our city’s earliest history.
Pioneer Park, which is a popular stretch of woods along the DuPage River near 75th Street, is “dedicated with grateful reverence to the pioneer men and women of DuPage County.” The monument, which includes two millstones, is erected on land that belonged to the Hobson family, but on the other side of the river is Bailey Hobson Woods Park, named specifically for them.
The Hobsons arrived in the area just months before the Napers. Bailey and wife Clarissa ran a grist mill along the river. Since mills were few and far between in the early years, farmers might hang around for days waiting for their turn to have their corn ground. The Hobson home then served as a tavern and hotel as well. The Hobson homestead was eventually annexed into the city, retroactively making them the earliest inhabitants of Naperville.
Farther south past 104th Street is a park called the Clow Creek Greenway, named for another early family.
Robert Clow emigrated with his children from Scotland to New York and eventually to Illinois. Between Robert, his six sons and his two daughters, the Clow land once encompassed a full square mile.
Located in Will County, most of the Clow dairy farm has over the years become homes. Fortunately, some of the old farmstead has been preserved. The mid-1800 Limestone House was moved to McDonald Farm and is now part of the Riverview Farmstead Preserve. Also on-site are two old barns as well as the Conservation Foundation and The Green Earth Institute.
Just last month, the City Council approved a plan that will build houses on one of the last tracts of the Clow farm. Ninety-six-year-old Betty Clow sold thirty-some acres to a local builder that included a couple of 150-year-old limestone houses. It’s been determined that the structures are not sound enough to be saved, but the builder plans to reuse the stone in a monument commemorating the Clow family.
Perhaps the monument will be in a new neighborhood park.