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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Businessman, soldier, first fire marshal, village trustee, treasurer, and mayor

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Willard Scott Jr. was born October 9, 1835, the son of Willard Scott Sr. and Caroline Hawley, in the Stephen J. Scott Settlement. The Scott Settlement was close to the confluence of the East and West branches of the DuPage River, in what is now Will County.

The younger Willard was educated in the Naperville schools and began his business career in his father’s mercantile establishment, Willard Scott & Co.

In 1858 Willard traveled to Columbus, Wisconsin, and engaged in the banking business for three years. That’s where he met his future wife, Etta Cooper.

He returned to Naperville in 1861 and was again associated with his father and brother Thaddeus in the banking and mercantile business. Willard answered the call of his country and enlisted Sept. 2, 1862, in Company B, 105th Regiment Illinois Infantry as a Second Lieutenant and saw action at Resaca, Peach Tree Creek, West Altoona, Kennesaw Mountain, and Jonesboro. He mustered out on June 7, 1865, at Washington, DC as a Major.

In 1867 Willard bought out his father’s interest in the mercantile business, his brother Thaddeus having passed away in 1866. On March 18, 1868, he married Etta Cooper in Columbus, Wisconsin, and then returned to Naperville. Their union produced no children.

Following a fire that burned the Washington House Hotel on August 6, 1874, Willard was appointed to the committee to purchase a fire engine and equipment and was appointed as Naperville’s first Fire Marshall on November 21, 1874.

Willard served the Village of Naperville as Village Trustee in 1869, Village Treasurer from 1874 to 1878, and as Mayor from 1895 to 1896 and again from 1899 to 1900.

The Walter Blanchard Post No. 386, Grand Army of the Republic was mustered Jan. 7, 1884, and Willard served as the first Commander of the Post.

On a trip to Florida in 1894, Willard acquired a baby alligator which he brought back to Naperville and kept in his store as an attraction. According to the article in the May 20, 1914, Naperville Clarion, the alligator lived until 1914, and had attained a length of twelve feet by the time it died.

In 1898 he became a member of the First Congregational Church in Naperville and served as a Deacon and Trustee.

He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Nichols Library in 1917 and on the 1917 Naperville Homecoming General Committee, Patriotic Committee, and Reception and Hospitality Committee.

Willard was one of five Naperville Military Veterans given the honor of unveiling the Centennial Park bronze marker during Naperville’s Centennial Celebration held June 5-6 in 1931.

Willard was a member of Euclid Lodge No. 65, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons and Euclid Chapter No. 13, Royal Arch Masons.

Willard Scott Jr. died March 11, 1932, in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois. The Rev. Earl Fawcett Collins conducted the funeral service at the First Congregational Church. Edwin C. Rickert, the last surviving member of Co. B, 105th Illinois Infantry, led the GAR in their funeral ritual with the American Legion Post No. 43 accompanying the procession to the Naperville Cemetery where members of Euclid Lodge No. 65, A.F. & A.M. performed the simple Masonic Funeral ritual at the grave.

Tim Ory
Tim Ory
Tim Ory is a fifth-generation Naperville native, descended from Francois Sebastien Ory, who immigrated to America from Alsace Lorraine, France, in 1844. Signing off as "Tim Ory, Historian, Euclid Lodge No. 65 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons," Tim adds that he continues to research the History of the Masonic Lodge and Naperville every day. Contact him at tjory@sbcglobal.net.

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