William and George Knoch were a couple of young go-getters who ran a cigar factory and tobacco shop in town. The Holland’s
editor praises William and George, saying “the business having been established three years ago by the former, and has grown to very respectable proportions.” Since William was born in 1864, that would make him barely nineteen in 1883, with George a couple of years older.
The Knoch family were long-time Naperville residents. Father Christopher was born in Prussia and mother Josephine was born in France, but they were married in DuPage County in 1860. The birth of son George soon followed with five more siblings after him.
Christopher was a tailor and had a shop on Water Street, now an extension of Chicago Avenue, which is still there today. The small, unassuming building has been empty, on-and-off, for a number of years. Most recently, Dark Horse Pastries, Sugar Monkey Cupcakes, and Ehrina Yarn have been tenants.
Unfortunately, Christopher died in 1874, just 41 years old. Details on how Josephine supported her young family are difficult to discover, but according to the 1880 census, both George and William were already working. In fact, sixteen-year-old Willliam was a “segar maker.” I haven’t seen a direct confirmation yet, but it’s logical to assume William was working for Charles Schulz who had a long-standing cigar business that is also listed in Holland’s
One ad in Holland’s Business Directory promotes “Tom Ley’s Chinese Laundry” and it is the only one advertised, although it’s possible there were other laundries operating in Naperville. Ads were run in The Naperville Clarion in 1885 for a laundry business run by Charles Ong Lung.
Chinese laundries were common in the 1800s because of a series of discriminatory practices. During the 1840s, many hopeful men came from China to make their fortunes during the Gold Rush. As the boom fizzled out, however, large numbers of unemployed men of all races were left competing for too-few jobs. Growing conflicts led to anti-Chinese policies, including an 1875 law that prevented Chinese women from entering the country. In 1902, all Chinese residents were required to be registered and carry photo IDs.
Excluded from property ownership and the most desirable