141. Halfway House

Urbane Stanley moved from Vermont to Naperville in 1837. He was a farmer, but he used the rich red clay soil not only to grow crops—Stanley used it to make the bricks used to build this house. It originally stood halfway between Naper’s Settlement and Aurora, 12 miles west and soon became a familiar landmark, dubbed the “halfway house” by travelers passing between the two towns. The location of the house on the main thoroughfare also made it a resting spot, a place to get a drink of water before the next leg of the trip. It is also speculated that some of the travelers were runaway slaves who arrived here by way of the secret route known as the “underground railroad.” Whether the Stanleys were abolitionists is not known for certain, but they did subscribe to an abolitionist publication and undoubtedly were opposed to slavery either on moral, religious or political grounds. If they did assist slaves escaping to the north, they were not alone. Illinois highways provided many active links in the Underground Railroad, as it connected the southern slave-holding states with the free states in the north and Canada.