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Monday, November 29, 2021

Kate's Brief History


From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – Joshua Erb

Kate Gingold Host 0 6 Article rating: No rating

Joshua Erb was born in 1803 in Pennsylvania Dutch country. The “Dutch” is actually a reference to “Deutch,” the German word for “German” and the Erb family emigrated from Switzerland several generations previously. A number of religious communities in early Pennsylvania followed guidelines such as plain dress and conscientious objection to war, including Quakers from England and Mennonites and Brethren from Germany. The Erbs were mainly Brethren.

In 1847, Joshua Erb arrived in DuPage, intent on buying land. He bought about 1200 acres between the DuPage River and Mill Street, some of which he sold to other relatives and friends while retaining a portion for his own family. By 1848, Joshua, his wife Sarah, and their four children were settled on their Naperville farm. Two more children were later born in Illinois.

The Erbs were instrumental in founding Naperville’s Church of the Brethren along with some other families, including the Netzleys, who also have strong roots in town. They started by gathering in each other’s homes, but by 1860, they had raised enough money amongst their members to build a meeting house. Joshua Erb donated a piece of his farm for it, as well as land for a small school and a cemetery. 

Son John and his family of seven girls and one boy took over the farm operations in the latter part of the 1800s. Joshua passed away at age 86 in 1893 and wife Sarah followed him the next year. By the early 1900s, John was also ready to retire and he handed over the farming duties to his own son, also named John. 

This John struggled to run the farm during the Great Depression, but he was able to hang on by selling off a tract that became Cress Creek Commons. In addition to farming, he also expanded into construction. A couple of his sons followed him in both careers and son Marshall seems to have been the last one to farm the Erb homestead. Marshall died in 1989 and by 1990s, construction had begun on the land to develop what is now known as the Century Farms, a nod to the long line of Erb farmers. 

While there isn’t an Erb farm in Naperville today, there are still Erbs farming elsewhere in Illinois. Also, the Erb legacy with the Brethren continues. 

In 1907, the Brethren meeting house was disassembled and moved from Joshua Erb’s farm. It was rebuilt on Benton Street and enlarged or remodeled several times o

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – William Henry Hillegas

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While William Henry Hillegas built an upstanding reputation in the Naperville community, it’s his son that the guides on the ghost tours talk about. We’ll get to that later, but first, let’s give William his due.

Joseph and Mary Hillegas arrived in Illinois in 1857 and started farming. The family experienced several tragedies including the deaths of two sons before the move, two daughters after the move, and the death of Mary just a few years after their arrival. William and his two sisters, however, settled comfortably into the Naperville community. 

William worked downtown at the hardware store of Andrew Friedley. Friedley’s name pops up all over the early city council records for providing nails and similar items for community infrastructure maintenance. His Lemont store is a national landmark and he died in Lockport, but the family tomb, an impressive pyramid, is in the Naperville Cemetery.

In 1862, William married Maria Hartman. The Civil War was already underway and William joined the 156th Illinois Infantry in 1864, serving until the War’s end. Their first child, Ida, was born in 1863 before William enlisted, Charles was born in 1867, and Harvey in 1869.

Eventually, William took over Friedley’s hardware store, partnered with Louis Reiche. Their establishment was on Water Street, now part of Chicago Avenue, in the building that currently houses Features Bar & Grill and Frankie’s Blue Room. Their names and the date when their store was erected, 1882, are still visible at the roofline.

In addition to working at the hardware business, William was also elected Trustee of the Naperville Village Board, served as a Mason, and was extremely active both with his church and with the local G.A.R. organization. Apparen

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – Philip Beckman

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In 1853, the Peter and Eleanore Beckman family emigrated from Bavaria with three daughters and four sons. One of the teenaged sons was Philip, who had already been apprenticed in harness-making. Starting on the east coast, Philip worked his way to Chicago and by 1859, he was settled in Naperville with his new bride, Elizabeth Pfeiffer.

Philip was employed at Martin Ward’s harness shop on the corner of Washington Street and what used to be known as Water Street, now an extension of Chicago Avenue. Philip eventually bought out Ward and ran the harness and saddlery for many years, tanning hides and furs, making his own horse collars, and selling manufactured goods such as buggy whips. By 1893, it became obvious that buggy whips were going the way of, well, buggy whips and Philip sold the business. 

Philip tore down Ward’s original frame building and built a two-story brick structure in its place. That building was then taken down during the 1920s and Jimmy’s Grill now operates on the point where his shop once stood. 

During his Naperville years, Philip served as a volunteer fireman, school director, and city road commissioner. He and Elizabeth also owned farmland that they rented out and grew their family to nine children, all of whom were musical. The Beckmans owned both a grand piano as well as a pump organ and everyone enjoyed singing. 

The Beckmans are also credited with installing one of the first telephones in the city, which meant there weren’t many locations to call. The Beckman phone in the harness shop connected to the family home on Loomis Street, with vibrating screens on each side as alerts. The family story is that Philip could yank on the wire at the shop which vibrated at the house so his wife knew he was on his way home for lunch. 

On the Riverwalk where Chicago Avenue dead-ends at Main Street, there is an iron trough-turned-fountain. While the facts are still being debated, it is likely that the horse trough was originally erected by the Beckman family. An advertisement in the 1886 Hollands Business Directory points out that the Beckman harness shop is “Near the Fountain” and the Naperville Area Farm Families History recalls that Philip established a horse trough in the street near his shop for customers and others to water their horses. 


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Using Tech for Book Marketing

Don and Kate Gingold


Kate and husband Don have been building websites since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

As the Internet has evolved, producing books and marketing them has become much more complicated. Whether traditionally-published or self-published, authors today need to know their way around websites, blogging, social media and other online marketing tools.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs, small- to medium-business owners and not-for-profit directors. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Frequently Kate also writes about tips specific to authors, some of which are available here.

The Sprocket Report

The Sprocket Report is published every other week with Internet marketing tips, tools and techniques. The archive features articles from 2011 up to the present. You are welcome to read how business owners are using technology to market themselves and apply those tips to your author business.


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