Pearls of the Past: Unearthing Naper’s Homestead

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Historians were truly digging 2006 and 2007 when they uncovered artifacts from Joe Naper’s homestead. The Naperville Heritage Society purchased land at the corner of Mill Street and Jefferson Avenue in 2006 for $756,000 for its historical significance.

The group then teamed up with S.C.I. Engineering and about 100 volunteers that year and the next for two archeological digs. Together they discovered elements of the foundation to our town founder’s original log cabin built in 1831, as well as remnants from his second and third homes. Archeologists unearthed an additional 25,000-plus artifacts, ranging from dishes to pocket knives to a shoe buckle and even gold teeth.

For the Heritage Society, this was a pivotal moment in its on-going efforts to learn more about the city’s beginnings and so the group suggested the site be turned into a public, educational park. That eventually became a reality, culminating with the dedication of a 10-foot tall bronze statue of Joe Naper in 2013.