Volume Twenty-One

No. 2


July 1980  


Special Program



A special program about Batavia and its history will be previewed at the Depot Museum on Saturday, July 26th from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m.  All members of the Society are invited to attend as this will be our summer program event. This program is special because it was put together for use as an educational and information tool for the Depot.  Done with colored slides, music and commentary, the program is the brainchild of Carla Hill, our Depot Director, and the Reverend David Berg of Bethany Lutheran Church of Batavia.  


The first segment of this program was previewed at the windmill dedication program last September and was highly praised by all who saw it. The now completed show includes several different segments with different titles.  


These include:

"Introduction to Batavia,"

"Mary Lincoln In Batavia,"

"Windmills and Wagons,"

"Historic Homes," and "Batavia Today."  


Reverend Berg's award winning photography captures many scenes in town like they have never been shown before and there is no doubt that this program will be much sought after once it is released out into the community. Since the Historical Society has supported this effort from the outset more than a year ago, and since many of the scenes and items pictured are of historic importance, it seems only fitting that members of the Historical Society be invited to the first public showing. At the request of Carla and Reverend Berg, the program has been dedicated to the Gustafson family in honor of their many years of combined service to the citizens of Batavia and the community's heritage in total.


Again, the program will be shown a number of times on Saturday, July 26th in the basement of our Depot Museum at Houston and Water Streets.  Starting time for the first showing is 10 a.m. and the program will be rerun as long as there is an audience until 3 p.m.  The Society will provide refreshments for all who attend.  The program will of course take place during the Windmill City Festival (alias Boo Boo Days) which the Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring throughout the downtown area the weekend of July 24-26.  Several other community events are expected to be taking place in the Depot area at the same time so there should be lots to see and do in addition to previewing the new program.  It is expected that about a half hour's time will be needed for a complete viewing of the new program so plan your schedule accordingly.




John Gustafson marked his 90th birthday on July 9th and to honor and commemorate this event the Society planted a tree at the Depot Museum.  The tree will be set at the center of the pond area east of the museum near Houston Street.  


From this location, it should grow and someday tower over the top of the pond area for future generations to see and enjoy.  The tree will thus hold a prominent position in our historical area, similar to the prominent position John has held in Batavia for many years as a civic servant, city booster, and town historian. While talking of trees, plans are also in the works to plant another tree at the Depot in tribute to the late Harold Bunker, a long-time member of the Society.  The Society recently received a $5,000.00 gift from Mr. Bunker's estate.


At the last meeting of the Board of Directors, it was decided that the Society would begin a long term historical recording project to explore "the roots" of Batavians.  Through a joint venture of Marilyn Robinson, a Batavia High School teacher with a background in genealogy and our own Dr. Lucile Gustafson, we are now developing a form or questionnaire that is to be printed up in mass and circulated throughout the community.  What we will be asking is that everyone fill out one of our forms on themselves and any deceased relatives who lived in Batavia.  Information gathered from the forms will then be transcribed onto file cards which will eventually go into a card file system at the Depot.  Thus, in future years, we hope we shall have a comprehensive file system of "Batavia People."  


Information we shall try and obtain about you and your family include birthday, date of marriage, children, address where you live, occupation, .and other interesting tidbits of information. We already have started this project and now have a card system with about four hundred names on cards.  The basis for this starting point was the information which John Gustafson gathered on early Batavia residents using early city directories and Kane County Histories.  With this base, we hope to expand our card system to include a card of information on everyone in town.  Marilyn Robinson has been very busy transcribing this information for us and has offered to assist further. The importance of this project is clearly seen when you consider that we constantly are receiving requests for information from people researching their "roots."  Family genealogy is becoming a hobby with many people and thus it is important that we try and make our Society records as complete on Batavia as possible. 


Hopefully a copy of our form and detailed information on the project will be featured in our next newsletter.  Eventually we are planning to have a community wide distribution of our genealogy form in hopes that all residents will participate.  This should be an exciting project for the Society to embark upon and from the sound of things, it looks like we may be one of the first historical groups in the Valley area to sponsor such a venture. Another project which the Board of Directors has taken steps to revive is the offering of plaques for historic structures in the community.  The board is currently working up a new set of guidelines by which plaques will be offered for structures which are over 100 years old and still reflect their historical identity.  Because of the cost of plaques, the Society will only be able to offer them to persons who will be willing to pay the price of the plaque manufacturing.  Complete details of how to go about making application for a plaque for a historic structure in Batavia through the Society should be available sometime in August.  


Details will be outlined in the local newspapers as well as the Society newsletter. It was with sincere regret that we learned that The Batavia Chronicle has been forced to reduce its Batavia office staff in an economy move.  No longer with the newspaper because of this. economic problem are Roberta Campbell and Joyce Grand.  Roberta has been a special friend to the Society for many years during her employment at both The Herald and Chronicle and Joyce Grand in her short time in Batavia did stories of historical importance on such topics as the future of Bellevue Place, Glenwood Park, etc.  She also did a nice story on John Gustafson's 90th birthday celebration during her final days with the newspaper.  We certainly extend to both Roberta and Joyce the thanks of the Historical Society for all their efforts on our behalf. The City of Batavia has been informed by the State Historical Society that a recommendation has been made by the State Preservation Council to have the old Louise White School building placed on the National Registry of Historical Places.  The state's recommendation has been passed onto Washington for further consideration.  


The Society sent a letter to the State Council endorsing the idea of having Louise White placed on the National Registry. Reportedly, the general economic slowdown around the country has caused remodeling work to be halted at the old Louise White building for a temporary period of time.  The owners still have hopes of reopening the old school as a retail shopping attraction to include a restaurant in the attic. It is hard to believe that 5 years have passed since the Depot Museum was officially dedicated. To commemorate this event, we are planning a 5th birthday party and Society meeting for the early fall. 


Noting that the move and restoration of the Depot was one of the more historic events to take place in Batavia during the 1970's, it is thought that now would be a good time to get into the record the memories of those who played an active role in getting the Depot off the ground.  This shall be the theme of our fall program and Carla is working on some special displays and attractions at the Depot to help make the 5th birthday of the 125 year old building at its new location a memorable event.