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Monday, October 25, 2021

Kate's Brief History


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. 

From the 1874 DuPage Atlas – Joseph S. Ferry

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Joseph Sanford Ferry arrived in DuPage County in 1838 as a nine-year-old when his parents, Sylvanus and Rhoda, moved from New York via Terra Haute. The family lived in Warrenville at first until his father bought his own land. Sylvanus, unfortunately, died not long after. 

When Joseph was sixteen, his uncles helped the family purchase fifty-three acres of farmland. Within a few years, Joseph had sold that farm and bought another more than twice the size. During that time, Joseph married and started a family. Joseph didn’t have access to much education in his youth, but his wife, Sophronia, was a school teacher. In order for the children to attend school, they moved into the city of Aurora a few years later and Joseph sold the farm. 

While the Civil War certainly was an unfortunate influence, Aurora grew rapidly in the mid-1800s, aided by the many factories that were powered by the Fox River. Joseph became a builder and developer while living in the city and “purchased residence property and vacant lots on which he erected several neat dwelling houses.” 

The expansive “farm scene” depicted in the atlas engraving is probably the farm he moved to in 1873 since the atlas was published in 1874. According to a map in the same atlas, Joseph’s acreage was southwest of the town of Naperville. Northwest of Naperville is another plot labeled “M Ferry,” which belonged most likely to Melancthon, Joseph’s brother. Melancthon was married three times and sired a number of children. His family farmed the homestead until the 1970s and inspired the name of Ferry Road. There was also a sister, Louisa, who never married. 

Joseph Ferry only remained on the farm in the engraving until 1890 when he and his wife, Sophronia, moved back into Aurora. Sophronia taught school in DuPage County as well as in Vermont and New York, where she lived before her marriage. Both her great-grandfather, Col. Seth Warner, and her grandfather, Israel Putnam Warner, were Revolutionary War veterans, although Israel was only a nine-year-old messenger and scout during the war. 

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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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