Blacksmith and farriers were important craftsmen in horse-powered Naperville.
Before factory mass production and automobiles, blacksmiths made and mended tools, and farriers took care of horses – the power source that moved people and goods from place to place. From the plow to the wagon wheel, from nails to hooks, from cooking implements to tools, the blacksmith produced a wide range of everyday necessities. By the 1880s, ten blacksmiths served Naperville’s 2,000 inhabitants.
This blacksmith shop re-creates German immigrant John F. Strohecker’s Naperville business. Strohecker learned his smithing skills as an apprentice. He bartered his labor for two years in the shop of Norman Lent, an experience local blacksmith. Then Strohecker worked as a journeyman for other blacksmiths in neighboring towns. He operated his own Naperville shop in the 1870s-1880s. Eventually competition from factory-made products reduced Strohecker’s trade. He sold his shop to Johnny Hauser, who closed the business in the mid-1920s when motorized tractors replaced horses on local farms.
This building is a re-creation of a late nineteenth-century Naperville blacksmith shop located on Main and Jackson Streets. The shop is furnished with tools donated by the family of Henry J. Wohead, whose 1930s farm had the last working blacksmith shop in Naperville.
Volunteers & Donors Appreciation is extended to the Wohead Family for sharing these original materials and for Les' determination to see this working shop in action again to be enjoyed by those who visit Naper Settlement.