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.