INTO THE MODERN ERA:

                  1870-1920

The period from 1870 to 1920 functioned as the tap root for the modern world In that period the inventions which were to give shape to modernity came into play. While it is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, it can also be said that invention is the mother of necessity, since modern people have become dependent upon technology to sustain new lifestyles. This broad historical force was clearly manifested in DuPage.

Infatuation with innovation is portrayed in The Cottage on Maple Avenue, a film produced by the Lombard Historical Society dramatizing a typical day at 23 West Maple Street in 1876. Newell and Flora Matson are shown entertaining William and Helen Plum by demonstrating the newest devices they had brought back from the Philadelphia Centennial World’s Fair.

But it was the Chicago World’s Fair which triggered the next chain reaction of life-style change. Not only did the Columbian Exposition of 1893 demonstrate how Chicago had emerged as the fastest growing of all cities (from 100,000 in 1860 to one million in 1890, despite the Great Fire of 1871), but it also revealed the wonders of new technology, especially electricity. Electrical demonstrations led quickly to the installation of public utilities in suburbs to the west.

The same impetus carried over into the first two decades of the twentieth century as the automobile replaced the horse and buggy, although they could still be seen side by side at the turn of the century. The 800 cars in the nation in 1900 became 8 million by the end of World War I. By 1920 motion pictures had become prevalent enough that a version of the Black Hawk War was produced on the edge of Lake Ellyn, with Indians giving chase to frontiersmen up Honeysuckle Hill.

The mechanical inventions of this half century found their counterpart in the realm of ideas, such as those pertaining to the women’s movement and to the growth of colleges and schools. Both the offspring of original settlers and those from outside DuPage secured a significant place for the county in society’s intellectual, social, and economic soil.

RAILS, PAILS, AND SALES

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, later known as the Milwaukee Road, was established in 1873; it cut across the northeast corner of DuPage. The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern (EJ&E) was established in 1888, the same year in which the Chicago Great Western was laid across the county. The Illinois Central completed its line in DuPage in 1891, and the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin (CA&E), first called the Aurora, Elgin and Chicago Railway, brought electric rail service to the county in 1901.

With the final laying of rails came the great increase in dairy production and in commercial, industrial, and land sales. The railroads ;were both cause and effect of DuPage’s transformation from a crop to a dairy producing area. After the Civil War, as wheat production moved to the western states, corn reemerged as the main staple crop. Milk and cheese production, however, became the predominant element in the economy until the 1920s. The growing population of Chicago during this half century accounted for the large-scale shipment of dairy products from neighboring DuPage.

CB & Q Lisle Milk Stop. Courtesy of Holleye Riedy Purcell.

Along the Milwaukee Road, Bensenville, Lester’s Station, Itasca, and Roselle were pickup points for milk pails. Bensenville had been a quiet German farming community prior to the coming of the railroad in 1873. Following the establishment of the Milwaukee Road, 400,000 pounds of cheese and 150,000 pounds of butter were shipped annually from that town. By 1910 the roundhouse and switching yards had also been constructed in that community, further diversifying its economy and population.

Residential and other commercial developments followed quickly. Dr. Elijah Smith’s 1874 platting of Itasca anticipated the imminent new home construction. Roselle Hough had 300 acres surveyed for the “Roselle Addition,” in addition to his flax factory for linen and rope production. It was Hough who also was responsible for the directing of the Milwaukee tracks away from Bloomingdale and northward through his own property.

Ontarioville, too, benefited from this rail route. This southern part of modern-day Hanover Park had been called Ontarioville from as early as the 1840s, for it lay on an Indian trail connecting Lake Ontario to Green Bay. With its original post office in DuPage and its first school in Cook, it served farmers in both counties. The Wanzer and Wieland dairy companies originated in this area. Other small butter and cheese factories arose before the advent of refrigerated railroad cars moved production farther north. Evidence of the prosperity was John Henry Harmening’s construction of an Italinate-style home on today’s Route 20 in 1871.

Ontarioville Historical Museum – in Hanover Park.

The Illinois Central and Great Western offered both passenger and freight service, while the EJ&E functioned strictly as a “belt line,” connecting industrial sites on the perimeter of the metropolitan area from Dyer, Indiana to Waukegan. The Illinois Central (IC) made its 10:00 A.M. milk stop at Cloverdale at Gary and Army Trail roads, where Tedrahn’s Grocery began its ninety-five year history in 1888. A hundred people lived on the surrounding dairy farms.

By 1894 at the eastern end of the county an equal number of people would be riding just one of the three commuter lines serving the 1,500 residents of Elmhurst. The Great Western was among these. This line was intersected at the turn of the century by the CA&E. Thus the rural community of Prince Crossing was formed. The Country Home for Convalescent Crippled Children, later owned by the University of Chicago Clinic, was established nearby in 1911. This institution shipped its extensive dairy produce from this rail junction.

The EJ&E brought hope of rapid industrial development to Turner’s Junction-not that the community had lacked enterprising individuals during its earlier years. J. C. Neltnor, whose parents had come to Bloomingdale Township in 1847, moved to Turner’s Junction at the beginning of the Civil War. By 1874 he owned a nursery in partnership with C. W. Richmond, then county superintendent of schools and also author of the first history of DuPage County. In 1872 Neltnor started The Fruit and Flower Grower, a horticultural magazine. Active in national Democratic politics, he began publishing The DuPage County Democrat in the 1880s. This paper lasted until 1913. Neltnor himself lived until 1938, when he died at the age of ninety-six.

John C. Neltnor House. from 1874 Atlas & History of DuPage County, Illinois.

He was a contemporary of John “Bet–A-­Million” Gates, who had grown up on the family farm outside Turner’s Junction and who was nine years younger than neighbor Elbert Gary. In 1874 through family connections Gates was established in a hardware store, in which he fared poorly. After selling his interest, he became such a stunningly successful salesman for Joseph Glidden, the DeKalb inventor of barbed wire, that he began to buy steel companies.

Elbert Gary and John Gates. The prominent industrialists’ portraits are featured in the DuPage Heritage Gallery.

This led, in turn, to his involving attorney Elbert Gary, by then the mayor of Wheaton and former county judge, in mergers which resulted in the formation of United States Steel Company. Although Gary became president Gates was excluded by the conglomerate partners. He then turned his organizing abilities to the founding of the Texaco Company. All of this, however, occurred beyond the confines of DuPage.

Meanwhile, in Gates’ hometown Civil War veteran and wealthy hide/tallow merchant C. E. Bolles built an 1894 “opera house,” which featured plays and other entertainment. To further the prospect of a boom the name of the town was changed to West Chicago. It was not, however, until the mid-twentieth century that West Chicago fulfilled such promise.

The commercial development did, though, materialize early along the Burlington line, particularly in Downers Grove. After the roundhouse for the Burlington was built in 1893, half of the suburban trains were serviced there and returned to Chicago; the other half were sent on to Aurora. This community had already undergone expansion, as another Civil War veteran and insurance magnet, A. C. Ducat, had come in 1885 to purchase 800 acres. He subdivided this land, south of 55th and west of Main, with the intention of making it a model community. A promotional booklet in that same year touted 50 foot by 200 foot lots ranging from $3 to $10 per frontage foot, “free from the odors of Bridgeport.” He soon offered to install a water system in the mid-1880s if village trustees would have front yard fences removed, an offer which they chose to refuse. He did eventually succeed in enticing his friend Marshall Field into buying the property, eighty acres of which became Maple Grove Forest Preserve.

The other major residential developer, E. H. Prince, also used the Burlington to bring excursion trains from Chicago to interest prospective buyers in the 250 acres he had subdivided north of the tracks. Prince Pond did, and still does, provide the focal point of that vicinity.

Just south of that neighborhood the first industry in Downers Grove, Dicke’s Tool Company, which still makes equipment for electrical linemen, was established in 1889. Casper Dicke had won a prize for such innovations at the Paris World’s Fair before coming to America from his native Cologne. Although Downers Grove residents at the time of Chicago’s Columbian Exposition were still drawing water from wells and lighting by coal oil, they had made public improvements by the end of the century. The electrical plant, water works, and paved streets were due largely to Dicke’s leadership.

Dicke’s Tool Company.

Other commercial developments of importance in that locality were the Austin Nur­series, the Washburn Greenhouse, and the Kidwell Greenhouse in Belmont, the largest in the county at the turn of the century.

Associated with this business expansion was the Polish settlement in East Grove, along Fairview Avenue. This area was also known as Gostyn, after the village in Poland, from which many of the 500 turn-of-the-century residents had come. St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church was founded in 1891 to serve these Eastern Europeans as well as the Irish residents. This was the only Catholic parish between La Grange and Naperville, until St. Joseph’s was built in downtown Downers Grove in 1906.

Altogether, this community’s growth was among the most dramatic in DuPage. It grew from 586 persons in 1880, to 960 in 1890, to 2,103 at the beginning of the new century, making it among only four villages with populations of more than 2,000. The others in order of size were Naperville, Hinsdale, and Wheaton.

Naperville’s development, to the west, featured the emergence of James Nichols, a leader not only of local significance, but also of worldwide importance. He had come as an immigrant from Germany in 1876, had graduated from North Central College, and had become the owner of a company that produced manuals for business. This made him the Dale Carnegie of his day. Nichols’ self-help book, The Business Guide, sold four million copies; it was translated into German and Spanish. He was also instrumental in pioneering door-to­-door salesmanship. One of the young men Nichols helped in particular was P. E. Kroehler, who took Fred Long’s furniture shop and converted it into Kroehler Manufacturing Company. This was once among the world’s largest furniture companies, although it is no longer in business in DuPage County.

Teamster George Stafford on his stake wagon, with the DuPage Courthouse in the background. The rig was used to move household furniture between Wheaton and Chicago in the 1885-1890 period-the round trip taking three days. Courtesy Willis Stafford.

In the same year that Nichols came to Naperville, the community purchased the Joe Naper Pumper, its first fire engine. This horse-­drawn, hand-operated equipment was used until replaced by a motorized engine fifty years later. That single transition might be taken as the symbol of the whole economic transformation through which DuPage had passed.

The Joe Naper Pumper. Present day students at the Naper Settlement learn first hand of early firefighting effort, with the Paw Paw Post Office on the left, and the Martin-Mitchell Museum in the background.

At the same time the social scene assumed an elegance for a growing elite. Ironically, this development followed Chicago’s greatest disaster until that time. Even citizens of Naperville could view the Great Chicago Fire thirty miles away from the widow’s walk of Willard Scott’s home, on the high land at Franklin and Washington streets.

The Great Chicago Fire had multiple effects on the county. After many had fled the flames, they began to make the area west of the city their home. Noted clothing merchant Henry W. King had purchased Hill Cottage in 1867, using the original tavern of Gerry Bates. It was to become Elmhurst’s most famous residence. Not only had Thomas Bryan once owned it, but prominent portrait painter George Healy had also lived there. His “beardless” Lincoln is the only one of its kind of the president. King used it as a summer home until the 1871 fire. He describes the escape from his Lincoln Park home as follows: “As the dry leaves took fire beneath our feet, crossing a bridge on North Avenue and reaching the west side we found a conveyance at noon which brought us out to Elmhurst. We almost felt ashamed to be so comfortable.” King subsequently established permanent residence in Elmhurst.

Thomas Bryan housed refugees from the fire on his estate, called “Byrd’s Nest,” named after his wife’s family, the Byrds of Virginia. Elaborate balls and musicales would become common on such estates by the “Gay Nineties,” although Elmhurst still remained a one street hamlet, with prairie chickens so plentiful that they were called “food for newcomers.”

Another area affected by the fire was Westmont, so called because of its location as a high point between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River valley. The person to capitalize on this location was William Greggs, who established the Excelsior brick-making firm beside the clay pit there. The reconstruction of Chicago was facilitated by these building blocks from Gregg’s Station, as Westmont was first called; they were placed on the Burlington cars and the gravity of the downhill slope drew the heavily laden train into the city.

William Greggs House.

Westmont’s neighbor to the east, Hinsdale, also received its share of prominent fire refugees, such as H. L. Storey, founder of Storey and Clark Piano Company. As “Millionaires Row” was built in what some called the “Gold Coast of DuPage,” the population rose from 500 in 1873 to 1,584 by 1890; thus it moved ahead of Turner as DuPage’s third largest village. By 1900 it had replaced Wheaton as the second largest. It was the first community to establish water works, in 1890, and a power plant, in 1896, which it had purchased for $1.00 from J. C. F. Merrill, later president of the Chicago Board of Trade.

Hugh G. Dugan in his Village on the County Line describes this period of “crinoline and lace, broad acres and verandas, cupolas, sleighs, surreys, side-saddles, piano recitals, archery, costume balls, and calling cards.” The bicycle craze was represented by races every Saturday afternoon in the summer. The Tennis Club was organized in 1893.

Also in this decade, Frank Osgood Butler moved to Hinsdale. The Butlers of Oak Brook are descendants of those who came in the 1830s from Burlington, Vermont, and established the first paper mill west of the Alle­ghenies, in St. Charles. After purchasing a home in Hinsdale, Butler bought property in the Fullersburg area from George Robbins, son of Hinsdale’s founder. The stands of oak trees along the Salt Creek suggested the Oak Brook name. The Natoma Dairy also became part of the Butler enterprise. Subsequently called Bowman Dairy, it was a pioneer in certified milk and thus anticipated Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. By 1909, F.O. Butler’s son Paul had organized the Chicago Polo Club.

The Butlers also had interests in what was first called West Hinsdale, but by 1873 was named Clarendon Hills, as suggested by Robert Harris. This president of the CB&Q Railroad sought with others to turn Clarendon Hills into another high-growth suburb. Oliver J. Stough had purchased Jarvis Fox’s land south of the tracks in 1866. Henry C. Middaugh had purchased the 270 acres north of the railroad in 1869. In 1871 he drain-tiled the acreage and planted eleven miles of ash and elm. A designer laid out streets in the curvi­linear fashion of Frederick Olmstead, the land­scape architect famous for his Riverside Plan. One early commentary on this layout reads: “The peculiarity to this place is that no two streets are parallel and no two lots of the same shape or size. Only men of steady habits must settle in this place, for the serpentine appearance of the streets might prove too much for a head not evenly balanced.”

The Middaugh Mansion.

Middaugh also built his own mansion at Norfolk and Chicago Avenue in 1892. But the anticipated boom did not materialize until after his day-in the 1920s. In the meantime the streets and parkways north of Chicago Avenue were formally vacated by ordinance in 1913, with the trees of today marking the original lines. What did survive the development lull was the Hinsdale Golf Club on Middaugh property, which the Butlers were later to purchase. Golfing represented still another component of the “Gay Nineties.”

On New Year’s Day in 1906, Marshall Field played at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton with Robert Todd Lincoln. According to Wayne Andrews’ Battle for Chicago, he was back on the same links again a week later on one of the bitterest days of the year. By mid­month Field was dead from an illness contracted from the cold. The incident is illustrative of DuPage at the turn of the century, not only in terms of the golf craze, but in what it represented in the pattern of wealth and class.

The World Columbian Exposition of 1893 precipitated the spread of the sport, with Charles Blair Macdonald laying out the first nine-hole course west of the Appalachians on a stock farm off Belmont Road in Downers Grove. Within a year the Chicago Golf Club, later to play host to Walker Cup and other major championship competitions, was founded on the 200-acre Patrick farm in Wheaton. This was the first eighteen-hole course in the U.S.

Chicago Golf Club Diamond Jubilee, 1892.

By 1900 twenty-six clubs were operating in the Chicago area, including those of Hinsdale and Elmhurst, the latter in old Duncklee’s Grove along Salt Creek. To the west the Medinah Country Club would be established in Meacham’s Grove.

Parallel to this development was the continued growth in estates. Again, Field was a case in point, having purchased the large acreage in Downers Grove in the mid-1880s. By 1920 Marshall Field II had sold the virgin maple stand to the DuPage County Forest Preserve and the balance to developers.

It was indeed the spread of disposable income to greater numbers that led to the opening of Burlington Park in Naperville, an early version of today’s amusement parks. On a weekend as many as 10,000 people would ride out from the city on the train for recreation. A counterpart was the Roselle Park Club, established in 1898. Both parks provided for new-found leisure time.

Burlington Park. Courtesy of Mary Wehrli.

Such modern trends could be related to that life-style-defining event, the Columbian Expo­sition. Thomas Bryan, who had given Cottage Hill its new name of Elmhurst after the row of elm trees he had planted there, had served as vice president of the World’s Fair, His neighbor, banker Henry Glos, had visited the fair so often that one of the rooms in his 1893 Romanesque mansion was decorated with souvenirs from the exposition. A year earlier John Quincy Adams had built the Wheaton library in the same Romanesque style; today it is the DuPage County Historical Museum.

The fair’s impact extended even to the westernmost edge of the county. The Dunham farm in Wayne, developed largely by Mark, the son of early pioneer Solomon Dunham, was among the largest horse farms in the country. It specialized in Percheron horses from France, a Clydesdale type needed to break up prairie sod. After a return trip from France, Mark had built what has been called a castle on the northwest corner of Dunham Road and Army Trail Road.

Oaklawn Farm.

In 1893 during the Columbian Exposition, the Chicago & Northwestern trains brought visitors to the Dunham or Oaklawn farm to view the latest in agricultural technology, as demonstrated by International Harvester. During the early 1900s the line brought guests for the horse shows, which continued to be featured in that vicinity.

The electric railroad, in itself, had such diverse and far-reaching effects in DuPage as to warrant particular treatment.

CENTURY’S DAWNING

The first two decades of the twentieth century opened as dramatically as the preceding decades had ended. The acceleration of change was quite visible in 1905 Bensenville where an eight-mile-per-hour speed limit for automobiles was posted. Not quite so obvious, but just as much a sign of modern times, was Philip Lambert’s replacing his team of plow horses with his first tractor in 1918 on the site of today’s College of DuPage.

Not until the “Roaring Twenties” would motorized vehicles came to dominate the scene. In the meantime, the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin would literally electrify much of the county. Not only did this company in 1901 bring the last of the rail lines through the middle of DuPage, where it branched at the Wheaton switching yards, but its power station, south of Batavia, also served to provide electricity to towns served by the trains.

Among the communities virtually created by the CA&E were the twin developments of Ardmore and Villa Park, Just as Louis Meyer had donated land for the right-of-way to the Chicago & Great Western in 1886, so he did again when the CA&E came across his property at the St Charles and Ardmore roads intersection; and so did neighbor, Florence Canfield.

CA&E Ardmore Excursion. Courtesy Villa Park Historical Society.

In 1908 Chicago-based realtors, Bullard and Pottinger, purchased a part of the Canfield property and subdivided it into 203 lots. The name of Villa Park may have originated with its wealthiest resident, Charles C. Heisen, who owned an estate in Florida with the same name. It was named after the fashionable Philadelphia suburb. Free excursion trains were run on Sunday afternoons for prospective buyers.

The two subdivisions, in order to obtain tax revenues for public improvements, united in 1914, taking Ardmore as the name. By 1917 with the population east of Summit being of greater number, the name was changed to Villa Park. It was also in that part of the community that in 1917 the Ovaltine plant became operational. This company’s malt extract had been widely distributed to allied troops, including those in German prison camps, during World War I.

The CA&E also served as a further stimulus to established villages. Glen Ellyn had already undergone its first expansion before the turn of the century under the leadership of Thomas E. Hill. He was a former mayor of Aurora and author of Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms, an etiquette guide, which made him the “Emily Post” of his day. With Seth Baker he had developed Lake Ellyn and the health spa hotel overlooking it. In promoting his “Wildairs” subdivision south of the tracks, he would meet prospective buyers at the train with elaborate horse and carriage. Englishman John Foster was, at the same time, erecting many of the brick buildings still standing downtown. The CA&E added to this momentum as the Glen Oak Country Club was included as a stop.

Glen Ellyn Hotel. Courtesy of Glen Ellyn Historical Society.

Likewise, the Chicago Golf Club, in south Wheaton, was a favorite stop of the city’s elite who came to stay in summer homes as well as to play on the course. The architect for many of these was Jarvis Hunt, His own home featured a parquet floor, the tiles of which were brought from the Chicago World’s Fair.

Farther west, the pioneer homestead of Jude Gary lay on the CA&E route. Before his death in 1881, complete with a thirty-carriage funeral procession from the Warrenville Methodist Church, Jude had married a second time. It was this wife who provided a 100-foot-wide strip in exchange for the location of the Mont view stop on the farm.

The Warrenville depot, built by William Rockwell, became the center of the settlement that arose north of the original section of town. Rockwell’s family had come as tenant farmers to the area in 1853. By the 1900s he had become the largest property owner in the community, succeeding Julius Warren in this regard.

These examples of the CA&E’s impact along its southwest branch had their counterpart along the northeast fork. A hotel and inn were built for visitors who would come from the train stop to the horse shows and expositions at Oaklawn Farm. Mark Dunham’s horse “Brilliant” was painted by Rosa Bonheur as a way of publicizing the 2,000-acre facility.

Brilliant, the Percheron stallion. from a drawing by Rosa Bonheur.

Such a spread was indeed part of the estate pattern that continued to characterize DuPage even after the World War I era. In 1912 commodities trader Arthur Cutten hired architect Norman Bridges, who had been affiliated with Frank Lloyd Wright, to build the mansion on his 525-acre estate. It was located just north of Joy Morton’s Lisle Farms. To the east of them fuel oil and coal magnet J. Berrymans in 1910 built a three-story home, coach house, and 65-foot water tower at the southwest corner of today’s Highland Avenue and East-West Tollway. Hand grenade manufacturer Frank Curran bought this complex and surrounding one hundred acres. His family continued to own it until 1979. It is currently being developed as condominiums by Sherman and Gwen Baarstad.

Betwixt and between these clusters of large land holdings, an increasing diversity of population groups were anticipating the proliferation of varying life-styles later in the century. Prior to World War I, the CA&E brought Cad Lewis Sublett, the first of a group of blacks who would build on the eastern edge of Wheaton. Called “The Hill,” this area was the one place where blacks could buy without harassment. Peter Hoy, a Danish immigrant who settled in Lombard, took in “knights of the road,” hoboes from the railroad, whom he quartered in his Flowerfield barn.

But of all those from DuPage who represent its penetration of the modern world, Loie Fuller may best exemplify it. Her mid-winter birth in Castle Inn, which had the only iron stove in the Fullersburg area in the 1860s, caused her to say later that she came into the world “with a cold she never got rid of.” In contrast to those limited circumstances of her origin, she gained world-wide fame for her innovative, modern dance. After making her start on the Chicago stage, she won greatest admiration in Europe for her combining diaphanous apparel with electric lights. Her Serpentine Dance led Toulouse Lautrec to paint her whirling in “a mist of iridescent color,” and Anatole France to extol her in the introduction to her autobiography, Fifteen Years of a Dancer’s Life. That acclaim was evidence of the cultural and social growth that was evolving before and into the new century.

Loie Fuller. Courtesy Hinsdale Historical Society.

MATTER OF MIND

The tap root of modern times had its intellectual and social fibres intertwined with the profound material change previously noted Its institutional expression could be identified in the number of schools and colleges which suddenly appeared on the scene. In 1870 North Western College, originally Plainfield College and subsequently named North Central College, moved to Naperville, with Old Main built on an eight-acre site by Morris Sleight. By 1880 James L. Nichols was chairing its innovative Department of Commerce.

In 1873 Elmhurst College marked its beginning when the German Evangelical Synod accepted the thirty acres along prospect Avenue, made available through the generosity of Thomas B. Bryan. The first building, Kranz Hall, built in 1873, was named for the school’s first president, Carl F. Kranz. As a proseminary, its main purpose was to prepare students for theological training and to train teachers for the schools of the founding denomination. Bryan’s admiration for German culture and learning was also evidenced as he sent his sons to the second floor of the public school where Herr Lussenhof taught in his native language, rather than to the English-speaking classrooms on the first floor.

Wheaton’s first graded school, Longfellow, still standing at the Union and Seminary streets intersection, included high school classes. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century there were only four graded schools classified as high schools, the others being Naperville, West Chicago, and Hinsdale.

The next institution of higher education, St. Procopious in Lisle, did not come to DuPage until after the turn of the century, in 1910. It was founded in 1890 in Chicago by the Bohemian Fathers of the Order of St. Benedict. Their abbey followed in 1914, two years after the Sacred Heart Convent and Academy was built. Specialties in the Czech and Slovak languages and literature are still included in the curriculum of Illinois Benedictine College, as it is now called.

St. Procopius College. Courtesy Lisle Heritage Society.

In this same pre-World War I period Avery Coonley School began its move from River­side to the west end of Downers Grove. From 1912 to 1929 this country day school established a program and facility for preschoolers through eighth grade. From 1906 Mrs. Coonley and her colleague Lucia Burton Morse had applied the progressive principles of John Dewey in the Cottage School as it was called initially. Dewey, in turn, would describe this educational experiment in his Schools of Tomorrow.

Individuals from DuPage whose accomplishments bespeak an in-depth education include Herman A. Fischer, Sr., and Jr. The father’s father, Conrad, was among the first settlers in Churchville and was the brother of Dr. Frederick Fischer, whose career has been previously noted. Herman A. Fischer, Sr., distinguished himself as professor of mathematics and philosophy at Wheaton College for forty-three years; Fischer Hall was named for him. His son, Herman A. Fischer, Jr., was one of five children to graduate from Harvard Law School.

James Henry Breasted. Courtesy Downers Grove Historical Society.

Moving to Downers Grove at the age of eight in 1873, James Henry Breasted became famous as an archaeologist in the twentieth century. He first attended school at the two story school house on the present site of Lincoln Center. After graduating from North Central College, Breasted seemed set on becoming a pharmacist. But his early participation in the Congregational church led him eventually to enroll in the Chicago Theological Seminary. There he immersed himself in antiquities. By 1919 he had founded the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, and in 1922 he was present at the opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt.

Pursuing another field of scientific endeavor at the same time was Dr. Friedrich Conrad Koch. Also related to the Fischer family on his mother’s side, Fred was born in 1876 in Elmhurst after his parents had fled the Chicago fire and built a home in the newly established Emerson Subdivision. After attending the German Lutheran School, he graduated from Oak Park High School because Elmhurst’s high school was not yet accredited. Following his graduation from the University of Illinois in 1899, he became a noted research chemist for Armour Company and a distinguished professor of biochemistry at the University of Chicago. Before his death in 1948, he had become internationally recognized for his studies of enzymes and hormones, and was the first to show that ultraviolet light converted cholesterol into vitamin D.

Friederich Conrad Koch. Courtesy Elmhurst Historical Society.

Applying such new discoveries were persons in health services. Medical practice at the turn of the century was in pronounced contrast to what it had been when doctors first came to DuPage, usually following the railroads. A number of these first physicians were trained in homeopathy. Offices were in the doctors’ own homes, and practice was often taken into patients’ homes, with tonsils removed and legs amputated on kitchen tables. Embalming was also done in homes, until the 1920s.

Downers Grove Water Tower. Courtesy Downers Grove Historical Society.
Wood Dale Road 1916.

According to Dr. Raymond A. Dieter, whose History of Medicine in DuPage County is currently in preparation, the turning point for health care came at the turn of the century, when public utilities were installed. A high proportion of nineteenth-century illness was water-related. Once a clean water supply and sanitary sewers were installed, the fatalities from such diseases as cholera declined dramatically.

Following a system of “rational therapeutics,” Henry Lindlahr purchased the Lathrop home at St. Charles Road and Prospect Street in Elmhurst in 1914 as a health resort. Among the notables who came for the nondrug treatment were novelist Sinclair Lewis and Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs.

The first hospital in DuPage was the Hinsdale Sanitarium, founded in 1905. Previously, in 1899, Drs. David and Mary Paulson had come from the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan to establish a Seventh Day Adventist mission and medical center in Chicago. After receiving care at that facility, Charles B. Kimball, manager of the Beckwith Estate, arranged for the transfer of that center to the Hinsdale property. The dedicatory address was delivered by J. H. Kellogg of Battle Creek.

Edwards Sanitarium in Naperville opened its doors in 1907 as “the torchbearer of just and efficient treatment of the consumptive.” The words were those of Theodore Sachs, who had inspired Eudora Hull (Gaylord) Spalding to found the institution in memory of her first husband, Edward Gaylord In 1909 the Jewish Charities of Chicago opened a tuberculosis sanitarium in Winfield, which eventually evolved into Central DuPage Hospital.

Parallel to the rising concern in the health field was that of child welfare. The first evidence of this was the orphanage established adjacent to the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary in Addison, in 1873. The preceding year, during the silver jubilee of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, eight congregations had joined together to build a facility accommodating a hundred youths.

Evangelical Lutheran Orphan Home. Courtesy Historical Museum of Addison.

In 1888 the county board of supervisors purchased 176 acres for the DuPage County Home and Farm, now the County Convalescent Center. In 1895 the Evangelical Home for Children and the Aged began in Bensenville. It still is in operation on York Road.

Business-inspired rest and recreation facilities for women employees came after 1913. In that year the Chicago Telephone Company purchased a forty-two acre wooded site in Warrenville for its “Hello Girls,” who were suffering job-related stress. This program continued until 1939, when Our Lady of the Cenacle obtained the land. Nearby, the old Warren Mansion served as a summer camp for Montgomery Ward female employees between 1918 to 1925. Likewise, the Katherine Legge Memorial in Hinsdale was made available to the women workers of International Harvester.

As these accommodations were being provided, the feminist movement was realizing a significant breakthrough; for it was also in 1913 that women were allowed to vote in all elections in Illinois. Much credit for that development may be ascribed to Ellen Martin of Lombard. A native of New York state, she became the first woman law student in Chautaugua County, and began practicing in Chicago in 1876; however, she was not recognized officially as an attorney, because she was not an elector, a status not then granted to women.

On April 6, 1891, she and fourteen prominent women residents of Lombard marched into polling places and demanded ballots. The village charter did not explicitly use the word “male” in defining electors. It referred only to “citizens.” The women’s claim was then contested before county judge George W. Brown. Later that year women were allowed to vote in school elections. Ellen Martin died four years before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, granting nationwide suffrage to women.

DuPage County Welcome Home for returning World War I veterans.
25,000 lined the streets in Wheaton in September 6, 1919.
World War I era map.

At the time of her death, the struggle with other stereotypes continued. Those of German descent were having to register in SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church and in other ways prove their patriotism during World War I, although sixty-one of the parishioners were serving in the armed forces. Yet even those parochialisms would soon be giving away to the broader view that came with the unprecedented influx of newcomers in the following decades.

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