Volume Twelve

No. 3


September, 1971



Social reform is not to be secured by noise and shouting; by complaints and denun­ciations; by the formation of parties; or the making of revolutions; but by the awakening of thought and the progress of ideas. Until there be correct thought, there can be no right action; and when there is correct thought, right action will follow.

Henry George








Refreshments will be served by Mrs. Franklin Elwood, Mrs. Harrold Blair, and Mrs. Malcolm Derby. This exhibition is open only to Batavians and to Batavias Past and Present.  Anyone with any art talent is invited to show their products - paintings, drawings, metal work, work on cloth or leather, etc.  If your exhibit needs support, bring an easel.  If your paintings are large we must limit you to one or two pictures.  Tables will be provided for flat displays. Mrs. Augustus Sindt of Naperville, Illinois talked about and showed slides of the Illinois Prairie Path at our May meeting.  She gave a most interesting account of the history, the present status and future plans for the Path.


We extend our sincere sympathy to the families of the following former members: Mrs. Elma H. Hettinger, 90, who passed away March 24th. Miss Florence A. Johnson, 82, who passed away April 24th. Mr. Philip R. Elfstrom, 80, who passed away June 1st.  Mr. Elfstrom was one of our directors.  


Sixty-nine individuals or businesses contributed a total of $410.50 to the Batavia Historical Society as a memorial to him. Since completing our last Newsletter, we have received artifacts from the following people: Central Pattern Works; Forbes Bryant; Mrs. Marshall Gayle; Ralph H. Finley, Santa Barbara, California; Miss Harriet Chamberlain; Mrs. Frederick C. Richter; Mrs. Harvey M. Sampson; Mrs. Elmer W. Olson; Arnold P. Benson; Charles Hodson; Miss Ora Mead; Mrs. Ture Andrews; Mr. and Mrs. Ronald J. Urich; Mr. and Mrs. James W. Mills.



The Society sorely needs a student, or students, to replace Kenzie B. Harris who has left town with his family. Undoubtedly there must be other budding journalists in our Junior High School who can follow through on the program of topics set forth by the student state magazine, "Illinois History." We understand that all classes in the proper category receive this magazine.  Batavia writers have been noted for their absence since March of 1970. I know that this has disturbed several people who have always worked for student participation. We need one or more teachers who will spark the young writers in their classes arid urge and help them to write on one or more of the following subjects set forth in the state magazine for the ensuing year:


October 1971 November


December January 1972


February March April May  

Regional Meetings. Illinois Public Buildings and Monuments. Illinois Inventions and Inventors.

Illinois Waterways. Abraham Lincoln. Illinois Printers and Publishers. Social Work and Charitable Institutions.

Medical Education and Institutions.  


One of our own members should be in charge of this program because it is important not only to the students but to Batavia.  I'll do what I can to help, of course. Here is a list of Kenzie Harris' topics and the month and year in which they appeared in the magazine:


December 1968 February 1969 October 1969 December 1969 March 1970

The St. Charles Arcada. Batavia's Famous Visitor - Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.

The Batavia Institute. Kane County's Reba Keeler.

Swedes in Illinois - They Came to Batavia, Too.


Prior to Kenzie, the following two students wrote single articles for "Illinois History:" February 1968  Batavia's Judge Lockwood by Loretta Marie Bolle.May 1968. Some Sesqui Dates by Keith Wendland.Let's give this program some thought because it is most important.  We need young people with a knowledge of Batavia's history to take our place. Students receive much information about the history of the World, the United States and Illinois, but very little about local history, City and County.  


Mrs. Mary Ann Judd, our President, has suggested that several of our members be trained in Batavia history so that they can go to the school class rooms and tell them about the important events that have happened in our town.  Batavia is our home, it is where we go to school, to church, where our parents work, where we play, where our friends and some of our relatives live.  Where some of our tax money pays for our water, lights, our sewage system, improved streets, playgrounds, fire and police protection and garbage collection.  Here our doctors, ministers, teachers, lawyers, public servants, mail carriers, milkmen, storekeepers, and "the candlestick maker" live.  Here we see, and participate ourselves, in so much of our entertainment, music, sports, plays and special events such as the Fourth of July display.

So here “we live, move and have our being.”  Therefore the more we know about Batavia, the more we will appreciate it.




The following notes were made after a telephone conversation with Miss Harriet Chamberlain on May 14, 1971.  This was in response to my inquiry in the last Newsletter about the cigar factory business in Batavia. She said her father, the late William Chamberlain, started working for the Geiss' as a tobacco leaf stripper when he was fourteen years old.  Later he became a union cigar maker.  This was one of the first organizations that was unionized.  He marched in the first Labor Day parade in Aurora. She has several photographs of the Geiss cigar factory which she has loaned us.


John Geiss and his father, Jacob before him, had his first small factory in the basement of Miss Hallum's store, a frame building on the north side of E. Wilson Street. Later he employed eight men in the basement of his own store which was where Rachielles' Pharmacy is today.  Some of the men he employed were - Ed Richter, Jake Feldman, Otto Conrad, Ed Sorenson, Arthur Kindblade and later the two Stevens boys, Ed and Roy, were strippers, that is, they removed the main stems or veins from the leaf. In making the cigars, one man rolled the filler, another pasted the filler together using a certain aromatic gum. Tobacco leaves from different parts of the United States and foreign countries were used to produce the different brands. Besides John Geiss and James Russell, there was a man named Knuteson who made special cigars in a shop over the Chamberlain barber shop.


We are receiving photos continually of people, shop groups, church groups and others, with only a few, or sometimes none, of the individuals identified. These pictures should be spread out on a table as soon as possible with a sheet for names under each photo. Then we should ask you old-timers to write down the names of all the people you recognize on the sub-tended sheet. This is imperative and should be done at once. For instance, we received a shop group photo of 71 men recently from Mrs. Elmer W. Olson.  Neither she nor I knew more than one person in the picture and he was Theodore Freedlund. We were not sure of the shop in which the men worked.


Our book Batavia Past and Present at $1.00 each makes an excellent gift for Batavians or for banks, industries or stores to give to their "extra special" customers.

Our financial account of this book Batavia Past and Present, as of August 7, 1971, is in the black according to Eunice Shumway.


Her account shows:


Receipts of                  $3064.75

Disbursements of         $2961.18

Balance                       $103.57


Eleven panes of glass were broken in the C B & Q RR depot-museum recently, by vandals.  Harold Holbrook, his son Dan and Les Bex installed new panes.  This was more difficult than usual because each pane had to be cut to fit the window frame.

The Society thanks these three concerned helpers for this work freely and graciously given.


A student of Batavia's District No. 5 wrote the following in front of his text on Bookkeeping, date 1871: "The height of fifty feet has been taken as the extreme height of the atmosphere."  

 What would he say if he lived today?


Have you paid your dues for 1971 yet?  Now it costs eight cents in postage for each issue of the Newsletter and we have a hundred and one other expenses.  We need your dues to carry on. All membership dues have to go to our membership chairman, for proper recording: Sadie Lundberg, 31 N. Mallory or to Batavia Historical Society, P.O. Box #15.


August 19, 1971


Dear John and Members: Have held off reporting to you until several matters could be resolved about the CB&Q station.


1]  The Park District now has the lease on the land with the Burlington and has assumed lease and property tax costs.


2]  The Park District has formally taken title to the station reserving a portion of the building for the use of the Batavia Historical Society.


The Park District has been maintaining the grounds this year and provision has been made in the new appropriation ordinance to cover the cost of grounds maintenance, utilities, upkeep and repairs. Major installations, water supply, electricity, heat and new stairs will be a joint venture between the three interested parties, the Historical Society, the Park District and the Jaycees who are interested in renovating the entire second floor. To get the program started, Neal Conde, Treasurer of the Society, Dwain Wilson, President of the Jaycees and Ron Podschweit of the Jaycees and Mary Snow of the Park District met to coordinate renovation efforts on August 19. By the September meeting of the Society, a full progress report should be ready for presentation to the membership.  At that time we will all have a better idea of just what individual members of each of the three organizations can contribute financially and WORK.