| "The first permanent
within the limits of Du Page, was made in the fall of 1830, and during
the spring of the year following. Stephen J. Scott removed from
to this State, with his family, in the year 1825, and "made a claim"
the present site of Gros Point. while on a hunting tour, in the
of August, 1830, in company with his son Willard, he discovered the Du
Page river, near Plainfield. Impressed with the beauty and
fertility of the surrounding country, he resolved to explore the river,
and ascended it as far as the confluence of its east and west branches,
now called 'The Forks.'
was subsequently built upon the farm now owned by Mrs. Sheldon, and the
family of Mr. Scott came on to possess the 'new claim,' in the fall of
1831, Baley Hobson came and settled, with his family, near the present
site of the family residence, being the first actual settler on the
of DuPage County. The family of Mr. Paine located near Mr.
in April following.
"The locality was then known as 'Naper's Settlement.' The winter of 1832 was one of unusual severity, which, together with a scarcity of provisions, rendered the prospects of the settlers rather gloomy. John Naper, John Murray, and R.M. Sweet were sent to the 'Wabash' for provisions."
The winter became spring and the settlement was filled with activity, planning the first planting season.
"The houses of
settlers were usually built near the timber. Scarcely any were to
be found upon the prairie prior to 1837. All the timber land was
'claimed' before 1835, but some of the prairie land in our county,
at that day, was considered almost worthless, on account of its being
to timber, was never claimed by the squatters. Many difficulties
arose among the settlers in relation to the boundaries and priority of
the claims of parties."
"A company was formed somewhere in this county, between 1832 and 1835, which was called- for what reason we know not- 'The Land Pirate Company.' This company made, or caused to be made, a claim in the Big Woods, embracing three or four sections of the best timbered land."
"...the settlers at the Big Woods formed a society, in 1836, called 'The Claim Protecting Society.' It had for its object, beside the protection of the settlers against speculators, the settlement of all disputes as to boundaries."
"A society was formed for similar objects in 1839, called the 'Du Page County Society for Mutual Protection.'
"The County of Du Page, is situated in the northern part of the State of Illinois, and consists of a fraction over nine townships. It belonged originally to Cook county, until its separation and organization into a distinct county by act of Legislature, passed at the session of 1839. It is bounded on the north and east by Cook county, on the south by Will and Cook, and on the west by Kane.
" The early settlers were almost wholly of English extraction, but the population of the present day consists of a mixture of English and Germans."
"We now have about seventy school districts, which are provided with good school buildings and good schools. Much of our advancement in this respect, is due to the indefatigable labors of our late school commissioner, Rev. Hope Brown. From Mr. Brown's annual report of 1855, we give some extracts showing the state of our schools at that time:'In addition to our district schools, there are in the county three incorporated academies, The Naperville Academy, The Illinois Institute, and the Warrenville Seminary; the two former of which are in a prosperous condition, but the latter is suspended for the present. There are also six priovate schools in the county. In these schools and in the above named academies, there have been the past winter, about five hundred pupils...' "
Organization of the County, Etc.
"The law organizing the county was approved Frebruary 9th, 1839. The boundaries of the county, as specified in the first section of the act, embraced not only the present limits, but the north half of two townships of Will county."
"By the fourth section of the act, Ralph Woodruff of La Salle county, Seth Reed, of Kane county, and H.G. Loomis, of Cook county, were appointed commissioners to locate the county seat, and were to meet at the Preemption House, in Naperville, on the first Monday of June, 1839, or within thirty days thereafter.
"There was a proviso to the fourth section, as follows: 'The said commissioners shall obtain for the county, from the claimant, a quantity of land, not less than three acres, and three thousand dollars, for the purpose of erecting county buildings; which sum shall be secured to the county commissioners, and paid out, under their directions, for the purposes aforesaid.' "
"Naperville was selected as the county seat, and on the 17th day of June, 1839, a quit-claim deed was executed to the county commissioners, conveying all the title one claimant had (the undivided half) to the present public square. The county never had title to the other half as a claim."
"About $5,000 was subscribed by the citizens of Naperville to erect a court house, which was built in 1839. The brick offices were subsequently erected.
"The county buildings, after a lapse of nearly twenty years, remain in statu quo, nothing having been done to beautify the grounds, or to improve their convenience or comfort. In view of the possibility of their removal, the citizens of Naperville filed a bond in the clerk's office, in April, 1857, which obligates them to enlarge and improve the appearance of the court house during the present summer. The citizens of the county are looking for a faithful execution of that bond."
Warren L. Wheaton
*Photograph from the Naperville Centennial, first published in 1931, reprinted and used with the permission of the Fort Payne DAR. Provided by Dyonne Brys.