Naper, Joseph

Born: 1798 Vermont

Died: 1862-08-17

Flourished: Du Page County, Illinois

Alternate name: Napier

Naper was a sailor, rising to the rank of captain of a steamboat on the Great Lakes by 1828. In 1831, he retired from sailing and settled in an area of Cook County, Illinois that would later become Du Page County. He built a flouring mill and established a trading house, which became prosperous and lucrative, Naper being the first licensed merchant in the area. In 1832, Naper served as captain of a company of mounted militia during the Black Hawk War. After serving in the war, Naper was elected into the Illinois House of Representatives for one term, 1836 to 1838, representing Cook County. He was reelected for another term, 1838 to 1840, representing McHenry, Will, and Cook counties. In 1842, Naper founded the town of Naperville. During the Mexican-American War, he again volunteered, serving as the quartermaster from 1846 to 1848, and as an aid to General Zachary Taylor at the battle of Buena Vista. Upon returning from the war, Naper was again elected into the Illinois House of Representatives for one term, 1853 to 1854, representing DuPage County. In 1860, he was a merchant in Naperville and owned $35,000 in real property, with a personal estate of $5,000. Naper was also a Mason and was a founding member of the Naperville lodge. Naper died in 1862, leaving behind his wife Almeda.

Gravestone, Naperville Cemetery, Naperville, IL; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), DuPage County, IL, 48; C. W. Richmond and H. F. Vallette, A History of the County of DuPage, Illinois (Chicago: Steam Presses of Scripps, Bross and Spears, 1857), 7; Rufus Blanchard, History of DuPage County, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1882), 21, 30-31, 42, 215, 237; Ellen M. Whitney, comp., The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: Illinois Volunteers, vol. 35 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1970), 1:472-73.