“Six Naperville Residents Made Naturalized Citizens” was the headline in the June 22, 1939, issue of the Naperville Clarion. Becoming a citizen of the United States is a privilege, honor and duty, especially in the era between the World Wars.

Former Romanian Jutka Emoke Barabas was naturalized in 2000 and said, “To be an American is not just a great honor, but also an obligation to do more and reach higher.”

In 1939, the DuPage County applicants were “warned against foreign ‘isms’” by States Attorney Russell W. Keeney, given a history lesson about the U.S. flag by Mrs. Seymour Waterfall, Jr., and given the oath of allegiance by deputy circuit court clerk, Phil Banghart. After the examination, only 39 of the 50 applicants were granted full citizenship. Judge William Fulton gave a “short address of welcome to the new citizens…explaining to them the various privileges they had received.”

The first U.S. naturalization law was passed in 1790 and later revised as the Nationality Act of 1795. Initially, the oath of allegiance involved cutting all ties with the former country and ruler and pledging oneself to the U.S. More than 5,000 U.S. courts administered a variety of oaths and civic examinations of varying degrees until a presidential commission was created in 1905 to standardize citizenship procedure.

The oath of allegiance, however, was not made uniform until 1929. The Immigration Act of 1950 added phraseology about bearing arms for the U.S. and in 1952 “performing work of national importance” was added.

I was curious to see who the six Napervillians were and what countries they formerly called home.

Ina Weatherly was from Germany, Margaret and Michael Crummy were from Ireland, Wilhelmenia Steininger was from Austria, and Olga and Otto Purpur were from Canada. I could find no additional information about Ina Weatherly. Both Otto Purpur and Wilhelminia Steininger worked for the Kroehler furniture factory, the former an assembler and the latter an upholsterer. Michael Crummy was a telegraph operator for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

Wilhelminia lived to be 99. In 1995, at the age of 86, she was instrumental in reviving German-language church services in Naperville which had ceased in the 1940s.

These six people are just a few of the many individuals who chose to call America and Naperville their home. Their contributions to our history are important and will not be forgotten.