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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Town Clerk, Supervisor, Mayor


Thomas Henry Betts was born December 6, 1834, in Rochester, Monroe County, New York, the son of Thomas Betts and Mary Wilson. His family moved to Copenhagen, now part of Naperville, in May of 1840.

Thomas attended the district schools and at the age of 15, he left home and began working on the railroad. Afterward, he learned the carpenter’s trade. Thomas enlisted in the 6th U.S. Regular Infantry April 7, 1857. Yet prior to reporting for duty, he married Hannah Wilson, his cousin, on May 9, 1857, at Lafayette County, Wisconsin.

He mustered out of the infantry on December 25, 1857.

Thomas and Hannah were the parents of Charles Robert, Thomas Henry Jr., Mary Frances (who married George E. Frost), and Olive Elizabeth (who married Maurice Lincoln Willard).

Thomas farmed in Adrian, Wisconsin, for a couple of years, then moved to Aurora, Illinois, and was employed in the car shops of the C.B. & Q. Railroad.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Thomas enlisted in Company I of the 58th Volunteer Infantry as a Private on October 10, 1861. He was wounded in both thighs with buckshot at the Battle of Shiloh and was taken prisoner. Thomas was then abandoned on the field by the rebels due to his condition.

Union soldiers found Thomas the following day and transported him to the Sisters Hospital in St. Louis to recuperate. On leaving the hospital, he was still on crutches and not physically fit for duty. He was discharged March 14, 1863. After healing from his wounds, he enlisted in Battery D, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery Regiment on February 8, 1864, mustering out June 14, 1865.

Following the war, he returned to Aurora and the C.B. & Q. Railroad and served as the Town Clerk in 1866 and Constable in 1867.

In 1868 Thomas and his family moved to the small family farm in Copenhagen and in 1884 moved to their home on West Jefferson Avenue in Naperville.

Thomas served as Trustee of the Village of Naperville in 1885, 3rd Ward Alderman in 1891 and Mayor in 1901 and 1902. He served on the DuPage County Board of Supervisors, as Assessor and as Police Magistrate. In addition, Thomas was a member of the Walter Blanchard G.A.R. Post at Naperville, a member of the Union Veteran Republican Club of Chicago, and President of the 58th Regiments Veteran Association. Thomas was also a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows.

Thomas Henry Betts was raised a Master Mason in Euclid Lodge No. 65 on August 25, 1885, and exalted a Royal Arch Mason in Euclid Chapter No. 13 on October 22, 1886. He died May 27, 1909, in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois, and was buried in the Naperville Cemetery.

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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.