Volume Thirteen

No. 2


Consecutive 50     


May, 1972




A past one respects is essential for intellectual life, as parentage is for physical life; as an individual cannot think without a memory, neither can society think without a tradition. Archbishop Fulton Sheen










The Bethany Lutheran Church was organized in March of 1872, one hundred years ago, with 52 members who were dismissed from the Geneva Swedish Lutheran Church. They purchased the old school house on S. Lincoln Street and converted it into a church which was dedicated September 1, 1872. Rev. Lund started his pastorate here on October 1, 1954. Roger Beels will sing a solo in Swedish as an added attraction. The Barber Shop Quartette may also sing. Refreshments will be served by Miss Eunice Shumway, Mrs. Marguerite Brown and Mrs. Irene Kreitzer. There will be artifacts on display from the Bethany Lutheran Church and from the Capt. D. C. Newton and Carl N. More estates.


The February meeting was extra interesting with an attendance of 80 or more.  Officers for the ensuing year were elected.  Mr. Ray Houser of the Waubonsee Community College, the speaker, gave an informative talk about the Illinois Indians. My sister Alice wrote out an excellent summary of his talk which I regret I do not have the space to print.  If you missed the program, you missed one of the most instructive meetings that we have ever had.


This is the fiftieth consecutive issue of our Newsletter.  Now I must resign as its Editor at the end of this year, stepping down for a younger person.  I do have several articles ahead for the succeeding issues for this year.  Of course, I will always do everything possible to aid the Society.

We all appreciate the effort in writing 50 (J. G.) issues.  Letts all THANK John Gustafson personally, for his devotion and work, beneficial to Batavia, and the Historical Society. h. p.We extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Dewey Swan. Since our last Newsletter we have received artifacts from the following people. They have all been thanked by mail - we do this so that the donors have a receipt for their gifts. Ed Hampton, Mrs. Carl N. More, Mrs. Marguerite Brown, Claude L. Hanson. We want to thank all who helped to identify those whom they recognized in the factory group pictures as well as the church and athletic groups. We still have many more photos of groups to be identified. We went through the Batavia-Geneva Township School Trustee’s Reports from 1862 to 1954, classifying all of the important items included between these two dates. 


These reports were received from Roy Weaver. We are in receipt of a very fine history and report of the Batavia Police Department written by Robert A. Popeck, Jeff Schielke and others. F. C. (Bud) Richter remembered to give us a copy of the Fire Department Report, for which we are always grateful. Bud, some time ago, lent us six books of the old East and West Fire Department, the old Hose Companies.  These gave the rosters of the two companies, the minutes of their meetings, and also a list of the fires in Batavia from 1895 to 1948. With Bud's permission, we copied some of this material.  He also gave us a 5” x 7” photograph of the East Batavia Company taken about 1913. We have sorted out Capt. D. C. Newton's letters that he wrote to his wife during the Civil War.  


There are 52 letters written in 1862, 1863 and 1864, given to us by Mrs. Carl N. More. The letters are quite clear, although of course there is some fading of the ink.  Now I am trying to read them but I find it difficult and I will have to surrender that job to some one else with better eyes than I have. There are other letters also - Mrs. Newton’s letters to her husband and some miscellaneous letters. Towards the end of the War, writing-paper must have been scarce because when he was stationed in Rome, Georgia, he wrote across the paper in black ink as usual: but then he turned the paper at right angles and wrote across the other writing in red ink. Mrs. More gave us a total of 43 artifacts of Capt. D. C. Newton's and Carl More’s, besides the letters.

Kenzie B. Harris, who wrote so many fine articles for the “Illinois History” while he lived in Batavia, is keeping up the good work since his family moved to Bartlett.  In the December, 1971 issue, he wrote on “Eradicating Electrical Pollution” and this month he has a story called “A Modern Day ‘Poor Richard's’” under the subject of Illinois' Printers and Publishers. One of our members is interested in the biography of Charles E. Hall, colored, who was a clerk in the Census Office, Washington, D, C. from 1890 on.  Charles E. Hall came to Batavia with his parents in 1866.  He was the son of Rev. Abraham T. Hall who lived at 208 N. River Street here.


Mr. Hall was educated in the Batavia Public Schools, then went to Wilberforce University. This member found an article about Mr. Hall in the “New York Age” for June 8, 1935.  We quote from this article. ". . . During the forty-five years of his clerkship in the Census Office, Mr. Hall has maintained a high efficiency and has often been assigned to special tasks in connection with Negro statistics.  He compiled the statistics and wrote the bulletin on the clay products of the United States in 1906.  


This was the first report on a commercial subject compiled by a Negro and published by the Federal government.  He arranged the tables for Bulletin 129, "Negroes in the United States, 1790-1915.  Mr. Hall has been compiling data for a new volume, the title of which is, “Negroes in the United States, 1920-1932.”  It covers twenty chapters and is supplementary to the volume on the same subject which covered the same field from 1790 to 1915 . . . “In recognition of his long sustained efficient service, Mr. Hall was recently promoted to the rank of "Specialist in Negro Statistics.”  


This new position which Mr. Hall has created will be a permanent part of the Census office and, in all probability, will be filled by colored men of special training, experience and fitness in this important branch of inquiry.” Now, we would like to know more about the latter part of Mr. Hall's life, from 1935 on.  If you have any information please let us know.


The following is from “Energy Sources for the Future” by Donald E. Bunyon in the Yearbook of Agriculture for 1971:“The wind was one of the first nonbiological sources of energy to be used by man.  It drove his ships and windmills, lifted his water, ground his grain, aired his mines.


Harnessing wind provides a source of energy which is free.  It exhausts no natural resources, and it produces no pollution.  As long as the earth turns, the wind is available.”The time may come again, for reasons of cost and pollution prevention, when we will be compelled to use less gas, oil and coal and use more wind power whenever that is feasible.  That is something to think about anyway.  As an example, the windmill can be used to store energy by generating electricity through a dynamo and storing it in batteries until needed.



As told by Mrs. Michael Schomig


It is nearly impossible to imagine the privations of our early settlers when they first came to Batavia. The Lars Bengtson family illustrated that. They came here in 1867 and were some of the organizing members of the Bethany Lutheran Church in 1872. They settled on a fifteen acre farm three and one-half miles southeast of Batavia in the Big Woods area. 


They built a log cabin here. Having no clock, the mother made a crude sundial by nicking a south window sill so that the shadow of the mountain fell across the sill and, as it crossed the nicks, would tell the time of day. The first year they walked a mile to a neighbor's home to get drinking water. When they first came here, they united with the Geneva Lutheran Church and often walked all the way, summer and winter, from their farm to the Geneva church.


Three of the sons of Lars Bengtson became pastors, the fourth, James, started here as a decorator in 1887, founding the company still doing business as the Bengtson Decorators. Mrs. Schomig goes on with the church history telling about her father, Rev. Andrew Challman, who lived in Chicago at the time of the big fire, serving as assistant to Doctor Erland Carlsson, pastor of the Immanuel Church. This congregation was considered the mother church, and was situated on the near north side.


The night of the fire, the family, along with neighbors, piled their furniture against a gas tank and fled. That night David Challman was born on one of the fire boats crossing the Chicago River, each boat having a doctor aboard. Incidentally, the furniture was still intact four days later when they returned.


We are seeking information about the life of Hamilton Browne, who lived in the large frame house south of Campana Road and on North Batavia Avenue.


The only data we have of him is taken from the book History of Kane County, Illinois, written by R. Waite Joslyn and Frank W. Joslyn. Vol. II 1908. Mr. Browne was in railroad construction work and coal mining in Iowa from 1872 to 1904 when he came to Illinois and bought the Calumet Stock Farm between Geneva and Batavia.  


In Illinois he was also engaged in railroad building and was the biggest stockholder in the Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company when it was organized.  From 1908 we know very little about him.  Being such an important industrialist he must have been written up by several people, but so far we have not found any of this information. During the year we receive many inquiries for information about Batavia people, past and present, also on many other Batavia subjects.  


Recently a man from Alabama wrote in for information about the Halladay Standard Windmill.  He was going to make working models of the four most important mills in his mind: the Halladay, Aermotor, Eclipse and Vaneless.  I told him any windmill could be made vaneless. The Society has an old U. S. Company catalog so we had five pages of that copied showing Halladay pictures including a Repair Chart - these we sent him.


Then on February 29th, Mr. and Mrs. Goodson of Missouri visited us.  They wanted information about the Spears and Whitmarsh families, early pioneer settlers here and in Virgil Township.  We had some data but they gave us much more than we gave them. We have helped others with genealogy charts, maps, copies of articles, etc.  So you see, your Society is important to Batavia and the national outreach.

Following are some of the arrivals in Batavia in 1872: John A. Anderson - Dry-goods and groceries. Isaac B. Kinne and his son, Myron M. Kinne - Kinne & Jeffery Co. William Urch - Farmer Frank Carr - Farmer from Bangor, Maine.


Today one can hardly pick up a local newspaper but what there is news of an automobile accident with people killed or injured or both.  


That seems to be one of the results of our times and we are apt to long for the serenity of the old days and the slower pace of living. But these times had their accidents too, although from different causes as witness the following accidents in the horse and buggy days. The Bible says that a horse is a vain thing for safety and these items prove it.  


They are from the Batavia column of the Geneva Patrol: June 15, 1888 . . . Theo Wood's farm team ran away Tuesday and smashed the wagon badly but did no other damage. July 20, 1888 . . .  Mrs. S. Conde's horse took fright at the cars and ran away, throwing Mrs. Conde out.  Three of her ribs were broken and she was unconscious for many hours but was considered better on Wednesday. July 20, 1888 . . .  Mr. Barker's horse took fright at a wheelbarrow Wednesday and threw two ladies from the carriage.  



They were considerably bruised.