Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Seventy Year Old Surprise

Recently the city of Naperville refurbished a park monument that commemorated the centennial celebration of DuPage County in 1939. When they removed the brass plaque from a large granite boulder, they discovered a compartment hollowed into the stone. Inside the hollow was a sealed metal box. Mayor A. George Pradel, assisted by curators from the Naper Settlement, opened the box in the council chambers in front of a gathering of citizens. Kate was among those who eagerly watched as Mayor Pradel lifted out one historical tidbit after another. While the mayor joked that maybe there might be something in there worth enough to balance next year's city budget, the items were of historical rather than monetary value. Included were newspaper from several DuPage Towns, letters from residents and a couple of coins from the 1830's. The contents are on display at the Naper Settlement Museum until the end of the year but you can also see a list of the items as well as some photos from the opening event at the city's web site.
The Centennial Committee apparently intended to have the time capsule opened in 2039 for DuPage County's Bicentennial, but it was a good thing the workmen stumbled across it early. The box had some water damage and a couple of photos inside were completely destroyed. Who knows if anything would have been left to see in another thirty years? DuPage County was carved out of Cook County in 1838 principally through the political activities of Joseph Naper who founded Naperville in 1831. Tradition has it that Naper and Abraham Lincoln, who was also serving in the Illinois General Assembly at that time, swapped support to help pass their pet proposals. Naper wanted the new county and Lincoln wanted to move the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. Both men were successful.

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