Volume Eleven

No. 3 


September, 1970



We shall seek a renewed stirring of love for the earth; we shall urge that what man is capable of doing to the earth is not always what he ought to do, and we shall plead that all Americans here, now, determine that a wide spacious untrampeled freedom shall remain in the midst of the American earth as living testimony that this generation, our own, had love for the next.


David Brower - The Audubon Bulletin, Dec., 1969








In recognition of the 120th anniversary of the first train service between Batavia and Chicago, the September 20th meeting of the Historical Society will be devoted to railroading. Gerald Ruble of Batavia will display material from his private collection of early equipment, tools, glassware and mementos gathered over the past 40 years of his association with the Nickel Plate Railroad.  


Truly astonishing number of interesting items, including a large number of foreign railroad memorabilia and a set of slides showing the fastest train in the World, the Japanese Tokyo Express.


The refreshment committee will be: Dorothy Patzer, Chairman, Marilyn Phelps, Marge Benson and Ione Blair


Our May meeting was outstanding. It was well attended, with an interest-packed program under the guidance of Mary Snow, Program Chairman. Mrs. Dorothy Ann Miller talked about many things - the Indians who lived here; her first night in Batavia; Glenwood Park; the Isaac Wilson house, etc. Eunice Shumway showed dresses, vests, etc. of the early Van Nortwicks and artifacts of the Lockwood daughters and of Dr. F. H. Daniels.

Arnold P. Benson talked briefly about some of the outstanding personalities of Batavia, the early baseball teams and his experience driving the Rehder Bakery wagon. Mary Snow discussed our desperate need for a place to house our mementos. We have now such a building in prospect, the "Q" Depot, but it needs repairing and remodeling.  After viewing the artifacts which were on display, the audience was invited to inspect the depot where refreshments were to be served by a committee composed of Martha Wood, Georgette Kautz and Mary Snow.  Many accepted this invitation and viewed the station for the first time.


We extend our sincere sympathy to the families of Mr. Carl S. Swan, 79, who passed away April 13, and Mr. Ralph C. Benson, 60, who passed away April 25.  Ralph was our Treasurer for 1966, 1967 and 1968; Mrs. Joseph Kelly, 66, who passed away August 7; also Mrs. Michael Schomig who passed away August 14. Since completing our last Newsletter, we have received mementos from the following people: Melvin Rasmussen, Mrs. Barton S. Snow, Mrs. Lowell Burkitt, Mrs. Ralph Benson, Mrs. Arthur B. Hoover, Mrs. Walter Schelsky, Mrs. G. R. Johnson, Elburn, Mrs. Leo Hoppe, D. Harold Bunker, Philip R. Elfstrom, Miss Fern Hinfrock, Coyle Anderson, James L. Hanson, Miss Viola E. Peterson, Geneva.


In the last Newsletter I located the lime kilns which were in various parts of Batavia. I said that I had never seen a kiln, real or in a picture, except the one on the north side of Mahoney Creek. I asked if anyone could advise me what they looked like. Marj Holbrook carried my question in the Aurora Beacon News. Here are the answers I received: Stanley Alberding on May 19, brought out a 2 1/4" x 3 1/4" photo of the kiln on Mahoney Creek taken about 50 years ago.  This shows a built-up limestone wall about 40 feet long and 18 feet high with a short wall at both ends.  


There are two openings, arched, in front, about four feet wide and four feet high. This looks as if it was built out from the north bluff. Mrs. Hazel Millett said that Lyle Hendrickson had· told her the kiln was near the creek and she had gone there often as a girl. The installation at Barker’s Quarry was a stone crusher. (I remember this - it was along the C. & N. W. tracks for easy loading of crushed stone.) Her father and uncle, Charles and Fred Millett, hauled stone from Hendrickson’s Quarry to Wayne to build Dunham's Castle. Brayton Weaver said there was a kiln at Mill Creek. This was lined with granite boulders so that the kiln itself would not be injured when limestone was burned. Mrs. Edwin G. Remaly of St. Charles said the Fall Issue, 1969, of "Wisconsin Tales and Trails," a magazine, had two good articles about limestone and lime in Wisconsin. I sent for a copy of this.  


Following is a description of a lime kiln from this magazine:

“The kilns were built of limestone and were well lined with firebrick. The simplest kind were called ‘mixed feed’ kilns. First cordwood was dumped down the shaft and set afire. Then alternate layers of limestone and fuel were added. The heat from each layer of wood converted the stone above it to lime.  This method was efficient, but the lime collected from the bottom of the oven was mixed with wood ashes. To combat this problem, separate fireboxes were built low in the sides of the kiln. These kept the burning wood away from the limestone, but allowed the heat to reach it.” The kilns the magazine mentions were larger than the Batavia kilns, I am sure. "They were square and stood thirty to fifty feet high with walls up to six feet thick.”





It is amusing the “build-up” that the artists used in depicting the overall views of some of our manufacturies in the 1890’s. For instance, “Headlight” for 1895, a magazine published by the Northwestern Railway, shows a general view of the Challenge Wind Mill Co. spread across the center two pages. Besides the buildings, and extensive lumberyard south of the plant, and the dam, the artist has drawn four windmills on top of the buildings, a water tank, a tall chimney belching smoke and three locomotives pulling lines of boxcars. Also, would you believe it, on the Fox River below the dam, is a good-sized steamboat, a sailboat with four sails and a racing boat with two men in it rowing. That artist used his imagination, I would say. We did have a steamboat, 60 feet long, but that was on the Pond and plied from the Wilson Street bridge to Laurelwood Park.


Then, in the Challenge Co, catalog, #72, a birds-eye view of the plant showed three vents spouting vapor and nine chimneys spewing clouds of dense black smoke. In a magazine called, "The Arkansas Traveler" for February 28, 1899, there is an overall view of the U. S. Wind Engine & Pump Co. plant, showing six chimneys pouring out smoke. There again the artist must have thought the more smoke he could show pouring out of the stacks, the more industrious and prosperous the industry was. They evidently didn’t know anything about air pollution in those days - at least they were not concerned about it.


Here are the results of the open bicycle race for boys and girls on Saturday, May 23, put on for the benefit of the Batavia Historical Society Museum Fund. There were 93 entrants and each entrant paid a 50 cent fee. The committee sold orange drinks. A total of $38.01 was raised for the Museum Fund. The names of the winners follow:

Age 0 to 8 years: Girls' conventional - Cheryl Johnson Boys’ conventional - John Poole Boys’ speed - John Hollyfield   Age 13 to 15 years: Girls’ conventional - Karin Curnock Boys’ conventional - Roy Poole Boys' speed - Dale Thomas  
Age 9 to 12 Years: Girls' conventional - Laura Kauth Girls' speed - Laurie Harris Boys’ conventional - Brent OlsonBoys’ speed - Dan Ellwanger Tandem - Bryan Maddox and Jeff Lash   Committee: Kenzie B. Harris, Scott E. McMurray,
Roger D. Williams, Danny David, Steve Ahasic, Greg Bond, Gary Larson  - Advisor: Charles Christiansen  

A Continuation of the Happenings here in 1870:In August, the Batavia Paper Manufacturing Co. bought out the paper mill from the bankrupt Chicago Fiber & Paper Co. The main building, on the south side of Mill Street, was of cut limestone, two stories high and 150 feet long. Print paper had been made here since 1862. The new company employed from 60 to 80 men, making six tons of paper a day from rye straw, rags and some wood pulp. It was incorporated with John VanNortwick as President. In September, the Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was organized (present McKee Street United Methodist.)  


It met with the Geneva congregation until September of 1871. The first church, a frame structure, was erected on the site of the present stone church in 1875. Also, in September, Andrew P. Anderson, a tailor, erected the stone block at the northeast corner of E. Wilson and N. River Streets. This was the Smith & Crane Furniture store, later, and now the Tri-City Warehouse Sales. At one time this store had a catchy slogan. When Glenn S. Crane and Ralph J. Swan were partners in the furniture business, their slogan was “Let these birds feather your nest.”




"The Galena and Chicago Union R. R. Co. completed its line from Chicago to Turner Junction, now West Chicago, in 1849. About that time a meeting of interested citizens was held in Batavia to plan a connecting route from Aurora to Turner Junction. This was adjourned to Aurora. Money was raised to finance the project and a strap-iron railroad track was started from the east end and reached Batavia, twelve miles distant, on September 2, 1850, 120 years ago. This was called the Aurora Branch R. R. It was continued on to Aurora and reached there October 21, 1850." The above is a quotation from my article in the Newsletter for September, 1969. Now go back and read the rest of the article to be prepared for the current program.


We have recently received from Mrs. G. R. Johnson, Elburn, through the kindness of Arnold Benson, a bill of sale from Hunter & Griffith, Batavia, for December 19, 1898.  Just to show what inflation and scarcity of product has done to prices, compare these prices with present-day prices:


Roll Tar Paper - 1/2 MRC

Shingles 6/2 l-2x6-l6 14-2x4- 6 l-lx12-l6          

#2 2085 lbs. coal -  

$1. 25

$1. 25 $0.24 $0.67 $0.27



In part payment, the purchaser offers 25 bushes of corn at $5.00.


Your Editor is grateful for, and thanks everyone who had any part in making his 80th birthday anniversary a success.  He didn't know anything about the city-wide celebration contemplated until it appeared in the newspapers with a copy of the Mayor's and Council’s Resolution making July 9th, “John Gustafson Day."  


That overwhelmed him.  He thanks all of you for your birthday cards and “well-wishes.” I came across the program recently of the musical comedy romance, “The Land of the Honeymoon.”  This was given in the High School Auditorium under the auspices of our American Legion Auxiliary on Thursday and Friday, October 17 and 18.  However, no year is given. Do you remember the year?  Here is a partial list of people who were in the comedy. Eldora Hoover, Ansgar Carlson, Gifford A. Johnson, Hattie Swan, Herman Benson, Harrold Blair, Mrs. Edw. Johnson, Pauline Krause, Edna Freedlund, Thelma Borgstrom, Victor Thelander, Florence Daniels, Joseph Kelley. And now just a few of the advertisers in the program:


Hollister Funeral Company
Sheahan’s Electric Shop
- - G. E. Refrigerators, Majestic Radios
Julia Kline, 8th Anniversary Sale, October 15 to 19
W. A. Whitney, Battery Man
Batavia Cash Market - For quality and service
A. J. Barckley - Hardware and Sheet Metal Work

Dr. Clarence Smith, until recently a member of the Aurora College faculty, visited us a short time ago. He talked to my sister about the value of a museum in every town, large or small. He said that when a museum represents several towns, much material in the separate towns, like photographs, newspapers and some artifacts, is destroyed. This material may be very valuable in the town where it came from but not in the other towns as the larger consolidated museum has to pick and choose. There may be many similar artifacts from each town that it represents.

What are you doing to help convert the old "Q" depot into our museum? Some of you have done a lot, I know, others have done hardly anything. In the meantime, we are getting more artifacts to take care of. Since our last meeting, fourteen people have donated mementos. Our house is temporary storage for these and we are bursting at the seams. Moreover, this material cannot be stored properly, much less displayed properly here. Our home has been temporary storage for over ten years now.  Please hasten the remodeling of the museum.

We thank Mrs. Mabel Bowron for the loan of Bill Bowron’s scrapbook, through the kindness of Mrs. Joseph McClurg. Bill was reporter for the Batavia Herald during the Centennial Year 1933. Most of the material I hadn't seen before, and it was interesting. I copied some of it for our record. We have received a "Batavia High School World War II Scrapbook, 1941-1945" from Miss Viola E. Peterson, Geneva, who was a teacher here for many years.  Many of those in uniform were her students.  We will consider this scrapbook one of our priceless, irreplaceable possessions.


Our Museum is developing slow and sure; we have hired a man to sandblast the many coats of paint, on the depot which will cost us between $300. and $400. Then we'll clean the walls and woodwork on the inside, where we will need volunteer help. (We’ll also need help to paint the outside, after it is cleaned up). We still have some copies of “Batavia, Past and Present” - for you. Our membership committee has added 22 new members since our May meeting. Thanks. Mary Snow and her sister Frances Moran were the main contributors to our Boo Boo Days float.  


We wish to thank Larson & Becker for the use of their windmill and truck for the occasion. There is some correlation between the Past, the Present, and the Future. Harold Patterson, President.