Wednesday, June 16, 2021

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – Daniel Strubler

In 1832, George and Salome Strubler emigrated from Alsace, France to Warren, Pennsylvania with their young son, George Jr.. Two more sons, Philip and Frederick, were born before the Strubler family decided to relocated to Illinois, just a few years after the founding of Naper’s Settlement. Son Daniel was born in Naperville in 1837.  

All four of Strubler boys were in livery-related businesses as horses were still required for every form of transportation, including farming. Until the railroad was built in town, brother Philip drove the stagecoach between Naperville and Winfield. 


Daniel was trained as a blacksmith and opened his own shop. Not only did he shoe horses, but he also made and repaired farming equipment and eventually sold wagons and repaired wagons as well. His empire included a series of storefronts along Washington Street, as seen in the atlas engraving. 


In 1859, Daniel married Mary Kribill and they shared 53 years together, throwing a big golden wedding anniversary party in 1909. Unfortunately, none of their children lived to adulthood, but he and Mary adopted and reared one of her nieces, Lorena. 


The Strubler family was very involved in community activities. Daniel served with the Evangelical church and the local Masonic Lodge and brother Philip was serving as town sheriff the night of Wheaton’s raid on the county courthouse.


While Daniel Strubler’s blacksmith and wagon shops have long gone the way of the buggy whip, the family home, which in the engraving is barely visible behind the trees, is still on Washington Street. It has hosted a number of businesses and is currently the location for Karisma Boutique.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – The Stolps

Highlighted in this atlas are three farms owned by families named “Stolp.” The name may be familiar to people who have been to the Paramount Theatre or Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Illinois as both of them are located on Stolp Island. It turns out that DuPage and Kane counties have a wealth of Stolps in their histories. 

The Stolp ancestors were originally from Germany and immigrated to New York in the late 1700s, serving in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, before sending roots westward. They had large families and often named their children for parents and grandparents, so it gets pretty tricky to sort them all out. Several times over the past decades Stolp family members have recorded histories, many of which are available online, but there is still some confusion.

Just trying to focus on the DuPage Stolps was a challenge! Of the three that are depicted in the atlas, it seems Henry P. and Chas. W. were brothers, the sons of Frederick. Frederick walked from New York to Naperville in 1833, which is just a couple of years after it was founded. He was 52 years old, a brickmaker by trade, and decided the area around Big Woods was suitable for his needs. So Frederick walked back to get his wife and nine children. 


Frederick, apparently a champion walker, lived until he was 91 years old. He was married to Jannetje Peper, (the “P” in “Henry P.” stands for “Peper) who was the mother of all those children, for 24 years. A couple years after her death in 1837, he remarried, sharing 34 years with Amanda Rosier. In the 1870 census, which was taken just before this atlas was published, Frederick is listed as a “retired farmer” with his son Henry in charge. Presumably, this is the farm shown in the engraving. 


One of Frederick’s other sons was Charles West, the Chas. W. mentioned in the atlas. He and his wife Sarah had six children and apparently lived their last years in Kansas with daughter Harriet, although they are both buried in Aurora. Alfred, yet another son, is listed on a county land map. His property, west of downtown Naperville, is bordered by land labeled “Thatcher,” which should be explored since Alfred married Roxanna Thatcher. 


Peter M. was the son of Johan, Frederick’s brother, and Margaret Marlett, which is his middle name. He was married to Mary Jane Briggs in 1841 and they raised their family in DuPage, but by the time of the 1880 census, Peter and Mary Jane were farming in Crawford County, Wisconsin, which is only a few years after the atlas was published.


Another brother of Johan and Frederick was George Stolp. George and his wife Katharine started their family of eleven children back in New York. Some stayed, some moved out to Illinois, and some traveled even farther across the country. Son John was among the first of the family to settle in the area, farming in Naperville, so that’s where his brother Joseph stayed when he arrived. It was Uncle Frederick who secured the island for Joseph.


The twenty-five-year-old Joseph was apprenticed in wool manufacturing and was planning to start a woolen mill empire. The island location was perfect because he was counting on the Fox River to power the mill. Joseph was enormously successful, at one point employing 150 people, mainly women. Milling stopped in 1887 and the mill burned down in 1906, but the Woolen Mills Store and the Dye House buildings are still standing on Stolp Island if you want to see them. 


This only scratches the surface of the Stolps who were numerous and active. If you do any poking around in local history books, you are bound to find a Stolp! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – W.H. Wright

W.H. Wright’s farm looks tidy and prosperous, but who exactly was W.H. Wright? 

Naperville’s history features a number of Wrights. One of the most community-minded was James Gregson Wright. James was born in England, emigrated to New York, and by 1843, he had settled in DuPage County where land was reasonably easy to obtain. He farmed for a number of years, and then became a banker, launching Producers’ Bank in 1857 with partner George Martin II, the Scot who built the mansion at Naper Settlement. 


Continuing to be involved with Naperville, James was appointed postmaster and served six terms in the Illinois General Assembly. He was also the first owner of the farm that is now the site of the Meson Sabika restaurant, but this engraving is not of that farm and James is obviously not W. H. Wright. 

James married Almira Van Osdel, whose father was a noted architect, and they had seven children, one of whom was named William. William also lived a life of public service, but dedicated himself specifically to the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), an organization for veterans of the Civil War. The G.A.R. was actually founded in Illinois and grew to be a national organization. 

Captain William had served as an officer in the 156th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and it apparently had a deep impact on him. Building on his local involvement, William was eventually elected the 66th Commander-in-Chief of the national organization. He served from 1932 until 1933 when he died in Pittsburgh at the age of 88 years old while attending a G.A.R. encampment. 


In 1872, William had married Ida Sleight, whose father, Delcar Sleight, and grandfather, Morris Sleight, were both major real estate developers in Naperville. Delcar donated the land for North Central College and there is a Sleight Street in one of their developments. There is also a Wright Street which was named for William, Delcar’s son-in-law.

But William’s middle name is Parkinson, which was his Grandmother Wright’s maiden name, and he moved to Chicago in 1871, just before the Great Fire, so he can’t be the W.H. Wright of this farm engraving either. 

W.H. Wright is mentioned twice in the 1874 DuPage Atlas. His residence is listed as Naperville Township, Section 17, with Eola as the post office. The other listing is as a “patron” of the atlas, which no doubt means he paid for inclusion, but cemetery, census, newspaper, and other records reveal nothing else about W.H.. 

So the search continues! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – Frederick Long

At sixteen years old, Fred Long emigrated from Stuttgart, Germany in 1853 and was living in Naperville by 1856. There is no record of his parents living or being buried in Naperville, so it’s possible he was alone. Fred worked as a cabinetmaker in town and he prospered, opening his own shop as early as 1861.  

Also in 1861, he married Amelia Beidelman, the oldest of ten children born to William and Eliza Beidelman who arrived in Naperville around 1847. Of course, the Civil War was just starting during this time and Fred was drafted in 1863, serving in the 49th Infantry, and was mustered out as a sergeant. 


Fred and Amelia’s only child, Charles, was born in 1868 and the family enjoyed being active members of the town. Naperville’s fledgling fire department started in the 1870s and Fred became a volunteer of Rescue Hook and Ladder Company in 1875. 


The illustration from the 1874 Atlas shows the F. Long storefront with an addition to the side. The Sanborn Map from 1886 describes this addition as a “dwelling,” so it seems the Longs may have lived next to their shop. 


During those days, woodworkers made coffins as well as furniture, as described in his advertisement. Fred also served as an undertaker and attended mortuary school in the 1880s to expand his business even further.


James Nichols, who was a professor at what was then known as North-Western College, partnered with John Kraushar and Fred to launch the Naperville Lounge Factory in 1893. They hired Nichol’s student, Peter Kroehler, as a clerk. The business – and Kroehler – both flourished. Kroehler became a partner in 1896 and bought the company in 1916.


Fred and Amelia’s only son, Charles, died at age 30, married, but childless. One of Amelia’s nephews, Oliver Beidelman, who was already working with Uncle Fred, wound up taking over the furniture and the undertaking businesses, passing both along to other family members. It was Oliver who, along with his son “Dutch,” built the brick Beidelman’s Furniture store that is currently on the corner of Washington Street and Jackson Avenue, replacing the shop pictured in the 1874 Atlas. While the funeral parlor space there is still visible, the Beidelman funeral business moved to another downtown location and one in south Naperville. 

By 1911, Fred’s health was failing and his nephew was running the business. He was cared for by Amelia and her sister Ella until his death in 1912 at age 74. The sisters lived together until Amelia died in 1922 and her Beidelman relations continue their business pursuits in Naperville today. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – Milton Ellsworth

Naperville has named a street, a school, and several other locations “Ellsworth” in honor of two men who were influential in town. Father Lewis Ellsworth brought his family to Naperville in 1837 when son Milton was just eight years old. At first, Lewis opened a general store with Milton assisting, but they were also establishing a fruit tree nursery on land east of town that was the site of a fort built during the Blackhawk War, about where the North Central College athletic fields are now.

The nursery was very successful and both Lewis and Milton gave back to the town in a number of ways. Lewis was one of the founding members of the Masonic community and both he and his son served as Masters of Euclid Lodge. Lewis was also a DuPage County school commissioner as well as one of early Naperville’s village presidents.

After years of partnering with his father in the nursery, Milton also became involved in local government, serving five terms as DuPage County Clerk and working for the Internal Revenue Service. In this later part of his life, Milton moved to Wheaton which had become the county seat after the infamous records raid in 1867. 

Milton was married to a Miss Jane Barber and they had three children, one who died in infancy and twins Lewis and Carrie. Carrie never married and worked for her father in the County Clerk’s office. Her brother Lewis, like his father and grandfather, also became a County Clerk.  

Milton’s brother, another Lewis, became involved in government work as well. He moved out to Denver, Colorado, was elected to the Senate there, and was influential in a number of legislative issues for the fledgling state. Apparently serving the public was an Ellsworth family trait. 

Milton died in 1896 at age 67 of cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder. He is buried in the Naperville Cemetery, along with father Lewis and even the Colorado brother Lewis, near the family obelisk.