Volume Seventeen

No. 3


Batavia, IL, P. O. Box 15

"May the Wind Always Blow Strong."


Regular Open Meeting

September 12, 1976


Time: Sunday, September 12, 1976.


2:30  Business Meeting

3:00  Program


Place: Senior High School Cafeteria  


(Civic Center not available).




“The Historic Valley of the Fox” by Mrs. Robert Kubicek (Pat).


Pat Kubicek spoke on this subject several weeks ago in the NAL auditorium. A number of Batavians heard her and were so excited about her information, pictures and charm that they advised the program committee to engage her for the next meeting. And so they did. Her price would be out of range except that she offered to come free because of her appreciation of our architectural richness. She and her husband have a library of about 500 slides of this area, which she uses in connection with her talks in Chicago and various suburbs before art clubs and history associations. She will present the above lecture at the Fortnightly of Chicago September 23 to open the 1976-77 season. She has conducted bus tours here for four years in conjunction with her association with the Chicago Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art . . . two are scheduled for September.


Coffee Hour immediately following the illustrated talk.



Batavia . . . the Windmill City of a Past Decade


According to a copy of The Fox Valley Mirror almost forty years old, a onetime visitor remarked, when speaking of our windmills, "More power to them. May the wind always blow strong."  


The Chamber of Commerce, as they adopt their new logo based on models of windmills made by the three local companies (the Challenge, the U.S. and the Appleton) may well consider this as a toast or motto.


Also, The Mirror informs us that a Mr. Murchie invented the flat bottomed bag. Murchie of Murchie and Gustafson Grocery Store. A Miss Murchie married Dr. Kerfoot.


The local fire department started something innovative . . . carrying a stretcher with them to use in case of emergency. When they got a little more money they planned to buy a first aid kit.



Welcome New Members


An oldtime member said the other day, "You know, with 200 members, the Batavia Historical Society is the biggest one in the state for the size of the town." Presently we are a society of over 350 members and are growing constantly.  About eighty new members have been added in the past year!  


Moreover, it is doubtful if there are many historical societies in the state that have as members all the city aldermen, the mayor, and many city staff personnel. In addition, there are many oldsters and other ex-Batavians who keep in touch with the town through the Historical Society newsletters and other communications.


The Society aims not only to reach back to recall and record events but also forward to our town's growth and renaissance. Schools, churches, clubs, businesses, are some of those who constantly request information or assistance; we try to be obliging.


Again, instead of having just one meeting annually, we meet four times annually but also have a continuity of a variety of projects, including the museum. The museum exists because of the Historical Society's foresight and capability but is not its sole project. (We anticipate that the Park Board will inform us before long that the building is again ready for occupancy. Hope there is a curator to work away at the backlog of artifacts.


New members may not know that the Commissioners furnish building and curator's salary; the Society owns artifacts and movable furniture, “mans” the complicated volunteer activity program and pays operating expenses for the museum excepting for utilities (amounted to over $4,000. last year).


We certainly do welcome the new members. We anticipate meeting you over a cup of coffee at the September 12 meeting at the senior high school. And we rely on you to help make Historic Batavia Day a great success . . . October 10.



Historic Batavia . . . October 10 . . . A Parade of Historic Structures


Batavia is fortunate in having a real historic heritage in many areas; scenery, religion, schools, industry . . . and architecture, which some of us tend to undervalue as an asset.  Others do not. You know about the bus trips from the art institute . . . tourists pay money to see what we see free just for the looking.  Architects walk the better to see.


As far as being listed in the National Register of Historic Structures, Batavia has one already entered and two more are on the way to achieve this honor. Twenty are being reviewed favorably by the Illinois Conservation Commission. When the Archivent bus visited Aurora, three of the less than thirty structures selected for special display were from Batavia.  


The Instant Press has sketches of three in their 1976 calendar. The mural painting in the new Talman Bank in the Fox Valley Shopping Center featured three sketches of Batavia.


You see, there is continuity in our architectural styles and types: Greek Revival, Italianate (Villa and Manor), French Second Empire, Georgian, French Gothic, French Romanesque, American Gothic, Queen Anne-Victorian, Eastlake, Swiss Chalet, Frank Lloyd Wright, modern (Fermilab) and even one of the thirteen octagon houses in the state and various little cottages over a hundred years old. 


And in them lived famous inventors, and judges, and railroad presidents, artists, friends of Abraham Lincoln, wealthy manufacturers, workingmen who built houses that cost $1,000, and now sell for $25-30,000., tailors, civil war soldiers, the rich and the poor.

 (Sorry ... too long an introduction!)


Now, how to become an expert in an afternoon.  Sunday, October 10, is going to be a perfectly gorgeous day. You, your friends, and hordes of out-of-towners will stop at the Batavia Depot Museum, buy an art map of Old Batavia designating not all but representatives of the major interesting styles and designs . . . forty-five, in fact. 


On the back is a precis of historic information concerning the specific places. The map will cost one dollar and will be a contribution to the projects of the Historical Society. (Shh, half price for Society members). One little boy, after a brief walk with his Bethany Lutheran vacation class said, "And all the time I didn't know we were walking in history!” Learn something to brag about to your out-of-town visitors!

We expect that merchants will decorate their windows appropriately and that many townsmen will cut their grass!


An Old Batavia Reader


One of the new adventures in the Society's activities is the issuance of a booklet of 40-50 pages of stories of early Batavia.  Mrs. Miriam Johnson is directing this project.  It will be a reprint in offset of materials about Batavia, principally accounts already written:  the 1888 account of the history of Batavia; Ross' account of Mrs. Lincoln in Batavia; John Gustafson's story of Judge Lockwood; a story of doctors in old Batavia, Batavia in the Civil War, and many of that calibre. It is not a rehash of what is in the book by John Gustafson.  The book was projected after consultation with teachers, so many of whom do a superb job of teaching about Batavia.  It is hoped that newcomers will feel more a part of their town and that oldtimers will pick up a few interesting facts about Batavia from reading the book.  The cover is of the clamp type so that new topics may be added later.


The Society has had several offers from merchants to assist with the cost of republishing the History of Batavia but it seemed wise to take a couple of years in order to research the materials since 1962, to edit earlier chapters, and to catch the renaissance that Batavia seems to be experiencing.  A hasty edition would be no compliment to John's book.


On Preservation     


The Museum is a place where gifts should be carefully preserved and not be permitted to deteriorate.  Bill VanNortwick (fifth generation) volunteered to pay to have treated and restored by Donnelley's in Chicago the only extant copy of an 1854 CB&Q train schedule (worth $500.) at a cost of $205.00.  Your Board likewise voted to have the original of Dan Halladay's 1854 catalog restored as the only surety that it would be around for future generations, to admire and study.  That cost $225.00.  Fortunately, an unsolicited gift of $600 from the Furnas Foundation will pay for this as well as the cost of erecting a windmill at the Museum site.  How fortunate we are in our friends!


With Sympathy


It is with regret that we announce the death of persons who have been valuable and valued parts of our community:


Mrs. Nellie James was a charter member of Batavia Historical Society and attended its meetings for many years.  She was a friend to many.


Mrs. Alice Wood, mother of Bill Wood, the much-beloved retired principal of J. B. Nelson School, has died since the last newsletter.  A memorial was given.


Mr. Kenneth Wolcott, uncle of Oliver Wolcott and son of W. A. Wolcott who had a pharmacy on the Island for many years, recently died.  The Wolcott family has long been an integral part of the town.  



Mark Your Calendars


September 12 . . . . Regular meeting, Batavia High School, 2:30 P.M.

October 10 . . . .     Old Batavia Day - A Walk In History


Membership fees due? Pay at next meeting or send to 210 N. Washington!


See you soon

Lucile Gustafson