Settlement Volunteers Bring History to Life Again

Article excerpt

Byline: M.J. Porter Daily Herald Staff Writer

Marcia Pendexter said history is vital, not dead, at Naper Settlement Museum Village in Naperville.

When she dons the costume of Mrs. Blodgett, an abolitionist and one of the original settlers of Naperville in 1831, Pendexter relives the underground railroad and the fight against slavery.

Her portrayals have inspired visitors to join the ranks of nearly 1,000 volunteers, from 9 to 90 years old, at the settlement.

"I've gotten a couple of volunteers inadvertently," she said. "It's very flattering when a visitor becomes an educator or volunteers after watching me."

Pendexter, 58, started volunteering in 1988.

"I enjoy the people contact immensely and the educational aspect of the settlement," she said. "It's the best of teaching - the cream- all the fun and none of the work of grading papers. Visitors come with an upbeat attitude."

She said the best part is when she is satisfied children have had fun participating and learning and when older visitors share experiences recalled from their youth.

Cheryl Dugas, 44, began volunteering about five years ago when her son, Eric Ardis, wanted to be a junior interpreter for the village. Then as assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 107 of Naperville, she began getting the Scouts involved.

"We manned the battle lines of the Civil War," she said, "and had a front row seat.

"Naper Settlement is such a special place to Naperville and the area," she said. "It's fun to be part of the community and a way to give to the community. …