Volume Eleven

No. 2  


Published by the Batavia Historical Society


The United States "has not been conspicuous for the imaginative and far-sighted use of its endowed resources. Like a profligate heir, it has lived off its capital trusting that the future would uncover a new resource to be chopped down or dug out or shot. Such obvious and easily exploited resources are now gone. Future development will demand sound research, trained intelligence, imagination and patience."


NORTHERN LIGHT, issued by Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin





SUNDAY, MAY 17 - 3:00 P. M.






Mary Snow, Program Chairman


The Board of Directors appointed a Membership Committee


Walter Wood, Alice Storer, Seigred Johnson, Sadie Lundberg, Phil Carlson, Carl Johnson, Amos Hartman, Theresa Feldott, (Sadie Lundberg has the list of all old and new members, paid to date or past due). We elected officers at our February meeting.  


The slate shown on the February Newsletter was elected. Following this Mr. Robert L. Hines, NAL's farm manager, talked to us about his job in this organization.  


He confessed that he didn’t know much about the atomic energy part of the set-up. His business was to develop most of the area into a park. Houses and barns in good condition were to be maintained, also most of the roads. They are interested in saving any artifacts of historic interest and have already started a museum in the Leon Feldott farmhouse which will be open to the public. This museum is on the Batavia-Warrenville Road.  Part of the land, not disturbed by construction, will be rented to nearby farmers on which crops will be grown.


We thank Miss Ruth Northrup, Mrs. Fern Anderson and Bill Benson, our outgoing officers, for much time and thought given to the interests of the Society. Ruth has been our Vice President for two years; as such she was our Program Chairman. Fern and Bill have been Trustees. Since completing our last Newsletter on January 3, we have received mementos from Mrs. Clifton Hildebrand, Oakland, California.

You will remember Mrs. Hildebrand as Lita Keller when she lived in Batavia. Her father, George Keller, was farm manager of Mooseheart. He was also owner of an outstanding farm west on Main St, Road. One day a man came out to see me. He took a rolled-up copy of the magazine "Headlight, Batavia Edition" from his hind pocket on his pants. This, I knew, was printed in 1895, 75 years ago, and therefore very fragile.


I was appalled at his treatment of this. He asked me if I had seen a copy. I said, “Yes, I had, the Society owns several copies,” He didn't ask me if we wanted it and I didn't tell him that we did. He just rolled it up again and stuck it back in his pant's pocket. I shuddered. The proper way is to handle these paper items as little as possible and to keep them in envelopes with no folds or as few folds as space will permit. We are looking forward to the time when these fragile papers can be given the best of care in proper depositories. What did a lime kiln look like? Burning lime was a fairly important industry in Batavia when limestone was being quarried here.  


George Bird lists several in an article in the Batavia Herald for September 1, 1933, the Centennial Edition. He says “there was one at Hendrickson's quarry (south of Dr. Lysne’s home). There were big lime kilns up where George Vermilyer lived (N. Washington Avenue) and another big one was located where Barney Price’s junk yard now is (south side of State Street between Washington Avenue and N. River Street) and two down on Mahoney's Creek (west of Route 25 and south of Batavia).” 


There was also one on the west side of N. Water Street between Wilson and Houston Streets on the stone house property recently razed. There undoubtedly were others. There is still the ruins of a kiln in the north bluff of Mahoney Creek, I tried to get close enough to it to take a photo of it, but too many trees intervened. Some one more agile than I am will have to get down on the creek level to take a close-up of it.  


Does some one have a photo of this now, and will they give a copy of it to the Society? Charcoal kilns are common, Eric Sloane, in his book, American Yesterdays shows pictures of two different kinds, but I haven't yet found a good picture or description of a lime kiln.


This winter, as I have had time, I have been collecting anecdotes about Batavia so that I would have them all in one book. This book is not for publication and includes stories not included in Historic Batavia, stories that people have told me, and stories about Batavia and Batavians collected from here, there and everywhere. Some are funny.  Some are sad.  So far I have written, in longhand, 123 stories, short and long, on over 105 pages. Do you have anything to add to the collection?  Think I’ll call the book Batavia Scrapbook.



Batavia Township, 3,018.  Kane County, 39,091.  Chicago, 298,977. Illinois, 2,539,891. United States, 38,558,371. Our Batavia population consisted of - White, 2,974; Colored, 44; Dwellings, 581. In May O. B. Merrill bought out Roof's interest in the Batavia News. It was then Merrill and Lewis. The paper was founded May 8, 1869.  


The Society has a copy of Volume 1, Number 1.  In October Clark A. Lewis bought out Merrill’s interest.




Why shouldn't the Society be interested in a clean Fox River?  It was clean when Christopher Payne came here and the river was filled with edible fish. Now look at it! It’s dirty and has very few fish in it and those are mostly cull fish - certainly not game fish. Pollution didn’t start yesterday. Back in 1894 polluters, notibly the glucose factory in Geneva, were killing tons of fish. The following quotes from newspapers at the time prove that: April 24, 1894. A great many dead fish are in the river, again alleged to be killed from poisonous chemicals from the glucose factory in Geneva, March 19, 1899.  


The State Board of Fish Commissioners have decided to prosecute the Geneva Glucose Co. for polluting the Fox River. Refuse from the factory has poisoned thousands of fish. August 13, 1899. About 30,000 lbs, of dead fish were taken from the Fox River near Geneva. Six men and a team gathered up the dead fish and burned them under the boilers of Geneva’s factories. The fish included bass, carp, red horse and suckers.September 1, 1930.


Thousands of fish died in the Fox River over the week end and were still being removed in ton loads yesterday. The fish were killed by acids dumped in the river by upriver industries. July 20, 1936. With re cord low water in the Fox River, thousands of dead fish have been taken from the river at Geneva. October 3, 1949. After tons of fish were killed in the Fox River last Friday and Saturday, the City Council sent a protest to Governor Stevenson. Later, sportsmen’s groups met in Geneva to take similar action.

The Kane County Clean Streams Committee should have our wholehearted support in their work. For the last ten years they have been the "watch-dogs" of our valley to prevent pollution in our once beautiful river which even today is our greatest natural asset. Today we should be concerned about the removal of so-called "excess" water from the rivers in Batavia by the NAL. This water is not to be returned to the river after being used.


The Society is happy that Arnold Benson was honored by his compatriots in Batavia on Wednesday, March 11th.  He richly deserved the tribute.  We added our bit with a letter of commendation.


Shall we change the By Laws and increase dues to $2.00 for Ind. and $3.00 for family?