Volume Eighteen

No. 3


September 1977                                       

Batavia, Illinois

Published by the Batavia Township Historical Society 

Regular Open Meeting -        

Time: Sunday, September 11, 1977, 3:00 P.M.

Place: Bartholomew Civic Center




From Negro Spirituals to Modern Black Music
Mrs. Grace Oregon, Pianist and soloist

Comments on the Blacks in Batavia


Business Meeting

Current Projects
Fiscal Situation


Social Hour


Tea and cookies . . . or maybe coffee.  Please take this opportunity to greet old friends and to meet new members.  


Also you are invited to sign up as hosts and hostesses. Those who cannot serve may wish to make a contribution to the iron pot.


*Note: Mrs. Oregon is a musician with unusual talent, performing in an area that Batavians seldom hear. Be sure the concert is announced in your church bulletins. It will be a real treat.  





A lot of different people have a variety of messages to forward to you.  Jean Conde, chairman of volunteers, says that only 57 members out of a total of about 350 have acted as hosts and hostesses . . . docents to you. No one is more important to the success of the Depot Museum than a hospitable and informed guide. Most Saturdays and all Sundays are busy days for the volunteers. Our visitors come from a wide area to see our museum and the displays, Chicago suburbs principally, although there are frequent visitors from other states and occasionally one from a foreign country.


Almost without exception they are charming people whom we would be pleased to entertain in our own homes. It is desirable to use couples Sunday afternoons because they tend to be social occasions and because the hours are later (3 - 5 P.M.).


Weekdays, i.e., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (2 - 4 P.M.) are busy in a different way. Visitors are fewer but Carla Hill can always keep you busy at the work table in the library stamping magazines or making out accession cards.  


Certain saintly souls report every month as regular as clockwork for their two hour stint. Please phone Jean (870-3646) to volunteer your services.



Miss Mary Snow has graciously agreed to undertake a delightful but responsible task. Mrs. Victoria Matranga wrote the Society inviting Batavia to present a 45-minute illustrated lecture concerning the transformation of our local CB&Q station into a viable, effective, charming museum.  Mary will present it as more than a joint project of the Park Board and the Historical Society . . . as a venture and adventure of the whole town.  


Her topic will be "Bring the Past into the Future: the Batavia Depot."  The talk will be presented September 21 at 12:15 in conjunction with a presentation by the Smithsonian Institution, no less. This is surely one of the greatest honors that our town has received.  The Society will prepare about 2000 free handouts about our experience.  


Now here is the request: Wally Cunningham and Mary took four rolls of pictures at the museum Saturday, August 26 . . . interior views of current exhibits, racks of costumes, trash and treasures being processed, as well as exterior views. But she also needs colored slides of the station at its old east side site and in transit October 10, 1974.  


If you have any that she might choose to use, please phone her at 879-5705, the museum at 879-1800 or L.G. at 879-1212.




Mrs. George Autenreith (Yvonne), our talented program chairman, has a request.  She would like to work with a different corps for each successive meeting. She solicits your cooperation. She is directing our attention to the people of Batavia, chiefly as concerns our cultural heritage.


You know that Grace Oregon will present a program of Black music at the next meeting, September 11. In December we shall enjoy Elizabethan music by the madrigal singers. In February we shall learn of the part that industrialists have and are playing in our town. The Easter program in April will feature some Easter music and different Easter customs.


If you are moved to volunteer, you may see Yvonne at the next meeting or you may call the museum, 879-1800.


Historic Documents


Charles Ohleson, our cataloguer of documentary materials, compliments us on our rich treasure of source materials.  He considers us fortunate in having predecessors who knew what was worth saving.  Every few days as he sorts “Junque” into piles of relative value, he comes across extremely valuable items.  (Fortunately for us he is a true scholar who can recognize the unusual and valuable).  Presently there is on display in the Gustafson library original poll books of 1860 and 1864 when Lincoln was elected pres dent.  There is even a tally sheet recording votes as we always did in pre-computer days with four lines and a cross bar.  Above the case is a lithograph of The Wigwam, the meeting place for the 1860 Republican convention when Lincoln was nominated.  This was collected by N. P. Gustafson.


One day Chuck said, “Look at this receipt. It is dated 1851 and is acknowledgment of payment toward a $100. purchase of CB&Q stock by Spencer Johnson."  Again, in with these road tax tolls was an original Van Nortwick letter.  All such documents are filed in a special notebook between mylar sheets and kept in the fireproof safes.  




We quote Dispatch, the Illinois State Historical Society publication, Series 4, Number 27: "The Batavia Township Historical Society (eastern Kane County) reports considerable success in its work because of the cooperation of various local and statewide organizations and agencies.  With a membership now totalling 350 . . . including several city officials . . . in a community of 10,000, the Society had the cooperation of the fire department (in the hydrant decoration for the Bicentennial), the city council (in a windmill photographic contest at the Society's train depot museum), the park board (for providing the museum building . . . the Society furnished artifacts, money and volunteer workers), the Landmarks Preservation Council (“in a very successful preservation”), a local bank (paying for printing a historic calendar), and the Illinois Department of Conservation (in a program of historic house recognition)."


Presently we are involved in several cooperative efforts.  One of these is the creation of an interesting display through the united efforts of a bank, the schools, and the Depot Museum.  We expect that the public will find them of value and interest.  Posters concerning each of our local schools are being assembled.  For instance, the one concerning the Louise White School will show photographs of the four latest principals, pictures of the two limestone buildings and the new site, and photographs of the two groups of school children, one of persons now grandparents, and the other, of their modern counterparts.  They will first be shown in the Batavia Bank and then probably in the schools and the Depot.


The new McDonald's is to adopt the depot theme.  The walls will be decorated with pictures of early Batavia industrial and railroad history, and probably murals of the 1872 lithographs.  We have assisted interior designers with pictorial materials frequently.


Dr. Lindsay Baker from Lubbock, Texas is writing a book on windmills.  He spent two days studying and copying valuable materials he had found nowhere else.  He got a lead on Batavia when he read John Gustafson's Historic Batavia in the Library of Congress.  He found especially valuable a huge scrapbook of original materials collected by the Larson-Becker Company.  He will return the courtesy by making xerox copies of windmill material about Batavia that we do not have, such as a monograph prepared by Ed Parre on windmill dynamics for the U. S. Wind Engine and Pump Co.


Several members of the Batavia Township Historical Society are playing important roles in the public buildings committee, Dave Sawitoski and Carl Hinds representing us directly.


At a recent Chamber of Commerce Board luncheon meeting we offered our assistance to them in their project.  Inquiries for information still reach the society via the Chamber of Commerce and the City Hall.  The latest was a request for information as to the origin of the name of Batavia.  In answering we added information about three other names we had: Big Woods, Lowell, and Manchester.




Every visitor to the museum receives an art map of historic structures, a folder about the museum, and a brief history of Batavia.  We are enclosing a copy of the latter with this letter.  If you have no need of it, please give it to someone who would enjoy it. Mr. Wm. Davidson, great grandson of Judge Lockwood, visited the museum last Sunday.  (Have you come lately . . . or ever?) See you Sunday, September 11, at 3:00 P.M. at the Civic Center to hear Mrs. Grace Oregon sing spirituals.


As ever, L.G.