Two of Joseph Naper’s relatives, Paula (Naper) Almasy (Joseph Naper’s great-great-great granddaughter) of Firestone, Colorado, and her daughter, Heather Jackson (Naper’s great-great-great-great granddaughter), of Colorado Springs, Colorado, visited Naperville for the first time on Friday, June 5.
Jackson was planning to attend a conference in Chicago and wondered how close Naperville was. When she learned it wasn’t too far away, she and her mother decided to visit the town that bears their family’s name.
“This is our first time in Naperville,” Jackson said. “We wanted to take a day to look at our history.”
Almasy said she had seen Naperville somewhere along her family’s genealogical timeline and had always wanted to visit.
“For 10 years, I have been saying I am going to work on my family tree,” she said.
Almasy and Jackson started their morning at the Naper Homestead, located on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Mill Street. Two archeological digs in 2006 and 2007 uncovered the foundation of Joseph Naper’s first log cabin and trading post, along with two other structures that once stood on the site, as well as more than 25,000 artifacts.
They then visited Naper Settlement’s Research Library and Archives where Curator of Research Bryan Ogg showed them the only known daguerreotype, a type of photograph, in existence of Joseph Naper. They also saw the original town plat that Naper mapped out in 1842; the Naper family tree; and artifacts from the Naper Homestead archeological dig.
At a luncheon held in their honor, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico presented Almasy and Jackson with reproductions of the 1842 town plat.
“Joe Naper had a vision to transform a little piece of prairie into a booming settlement,” Mayor Chirico said. “This vision and his determination and hard work set the pace for our vibrant community today. Our City believes in honoring its past and thanks to Naper Settlement staff and the Naperville Heritage Society we continue to share the history of our founder Joe Naper.”
Naper Settlement Museum Educator Ernie Klapmeier was dressed in the period clothing that Joseph Naper might have worn in the 1830s. A skilled blacksmith, Klapmeier presented Almasy and Jackson with beautifully handcrafted roses that he made in the Blacksmith Shop.
Almasy enjoyed her visit to Naperville so much that she is considering having the Naper family reunion here, which would include about 200 people.
Jackson said, “This makes me feel connected to know our history and to see in our own family some of the same entrepreneurial qualities that Joseph Naper had.”
Naper Settlement President and CEO Rena Tamayo-Calabrese said, “We are so excited to have met Joseph Naper’s relatives today. It shows us that history is a living and breathing entity and that it requires constant attention and provides continuous discovery. We are pleased to be able to add a new chapter to the story of our town’s founder.”