Volume Twenty-Two

No. 3


October 1981


The fall meeting of the Batavia Historical Society is slated for

Sunday, November 8th starting at 2 p.m.

lower level of the Depot Museum, corner of Houston and Water Streets.  


All members and guests of the Society are cordially invited-to attend what promises to be a most interesting meeting.  


The planned agenda is as follows:

(A) Regular Business Meeting

(B) Report & Visual Review of the "ELAINE CANNON DISPLAY"

(C) Presentation by Don Murphy of "Devils Cave Research"

(D) Refreshments and Social Hour


As many of you already know, the Society has recently been very fortunate to acquire some very valuable creations of Batavia’s beloved Elaine Cannon.  A legend in her own time for her talented and artistic world of miniature detail, the Society is most thankful that is now has some coveted Elaine Cannon work to enhance our local collection. Thanks to the generosity of Eunice Shumway and The Chicago Historical Society, the masterful work of Elaine Cannon is now on display for all Depot visitors to enjoy and appreciate. The first viewing of the display was on October 24th and the Society has been receiving nothing but compliments ever since.  


The display came about after our Society was approached by Sharon Darling, curator for the Chicago Historical Society, who revealed that her organization had several Elaine Cannon miniature scenes which they wished to donate to our museum.  We could not agree to accept such a gift fast enough.  Hearing of the Chicago gift, Eunice Shumway announced her intention to donate her highly regarded collection of Elaine Cannon work to the Society.  Much of this terrific generosity is now being shown at the Depot in a temporary display case and the Historical Society Board of Directors is taking steps to bring about a permanent display case for the items. Carla Hill, Depot curator, will tell more about the Elaine Cannon display on Sunday.  Those members who have yet to have an opportunity to see the Elaine Cannon display are encouraged to come Sunday

Also on the agenda for Sunday is a presentation by Don Murphy of Batavia detailing his research into the legendary "Devils Cave" found just south of Batavia along the east bank of the Fox River.  Don, a resident of the 14th Colony subdivision on the city's east side, has spent an active summer researching various historical sites and legends around the Batavia area.  A teacher by profession, his interest and findings should be of genuine appreciation to all our members.  Interestingly, there are probably very few "oldtimers" who have not personally inspected Devils Cave or at least known of all the legends which surround its centuries of existence. Again a reminder, the next meeting of the Society will be Sunday, November 8, 1981 at 2 p.m. in the lower level of the Depot Museum.  Please plan to attend and bring a friend or two with you.




Being your historian is really lots of fun.  A Mr. Colson from Barrington phoned and wrote about a research project he is directing relative to thirteen octagon houses in Illinois, one of which is on Forest Avenue here in Batavia.  The present owner of the Batavia home has come to a property that has been altered somewhat by previous owners.  Such improvements included changes (?) in the exterior look and added appendages (bumps) such as a kitchen.  Each of the eight sides is eleven feet long complicating the placement of furniture and modernization.  


It seems Orson Fowler's highly advertised efficient house style wasn't as efficient as touted, and perhaps he should have kept to his major career as a phrenologist, head bumps interpreter.  He apparently believed that exterior phenomena are an indication of interior attributes, which is certainly not true in this house. History of the Batavia house? It was built by Harold Blair's great grandfather, on his mother's side--name spelled "Harrold."  Some of you will know doubt recall Carl Harrold who was a paper hanger and amateur artist -- he would sketch murals on the walls that he was soon to cover with fresh new wall paper.  


According to the 1867 census, William Harrold lived on the corner of Washington Ave. and Lathem Street.  It is thought that he or one of his two sons may well have built the Forest (Forrest then) Avenue home.  One local legend says that an Irish man built the house so his wife couldn't corner him. Many members of the Society will recall that Harold Blair was one time president of the Historical Society and was a well respected local vocal talent.  His wife, Ione, has often served as a volunteer at the Depot Museum. On Friday and Saturday, November 13-14 North Central College in Naperville will present at Pfeiffer Hall a play entitled WITHOUT DISCRETION.  Authored by Mrs. Doris Porter, actress and playwright of Glen Ellyn, the plot centers around Mary Todd Lincoln's stay at Bellvue Place in Batavia in the summer of 1875.  Mrs. Porter, of course, has referred to Rod Ross' definitive research study of Mrs. Lincoln's stay in Batavia.  Interestingly, Mrs. Porter's is taking a different approach to the Mary Todd Lincoln story in town stressing the spiritualism angle.  She talked on this subject with many people in the area, including myself (Dr. Lucile), as a representative of the Historical Society.  


Mrs. Porter believes that Blanche Patterson, daughter of Dr. R. J. Patterson of Bellvue, often acted as a companion to Mrs. Lincoln.  Following up the spiritualism idea, it seems logical that Mrs. Lincoln may have taken walks to the nearby West Side Cemetery during her stay in town.  While near the old part of the cemetery, it is quite logical to assume Mrs. Lincoln may have heard the tapping out of quarry stone from our now Quarry Park as stone masons of the day (1875) busied themselves with the task of mining stone for the rebuilding of Chicago after the fire in 1871.  Across the street from the cemetery, Mrs. Lincoln could have looked upon the home of Judge Lockwood, the man who admitted her husband to the Illinois bar.  


Unfortunately, Mrs. Lockwood has died just several months before Mrs. Lincoln came to stay in Batavia. Members of the Society are encouraged to attend the performance of Without Discretion on November 13-14 starting at 7:30 p.m. in Pfeiffer Hall at North Central College in Naperville.  Tickets are priced at $2.50 per person. Mentioned above of Batavia's own Dr. Rod Ross reminds us of correspondence we had from this local historian earlier in the year.  Dr. Rod, who now calls Washington D.C. his address, took on the task of working to put the papers of Vice President Walter Mondale into the National Archives with the change of administrations this year.  Needless to say, this must have been an interesting task for a talented local name. There are a good number of changes in the air around the old town of Batavia these days.  News of $50,000,000 energy research centers to be built here remind us that that our town has long held a historical role in solving the energy concerns of America and the world.  Who says that history does not repeat itself? In closing, we send along a special thanks to all those who continue to volunteer and serve the Society in many ways from goodwill ambassadors to resource persons.  The continued crowd we find waiting to see the exhibits at the Depot is good news for the betterment of all in Batavia.



TO: THE BATAVIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY, P.O. BOX 15, BATAVIA, Ill. 60510 I wish to (start) (continue) my yearning of curiosity in Batavia's past.  

My (Our) membership dues for 1982 are enclosed.

NAME ...................................................................................................................... ADDRESS ...............................................................................................................

CITY .....................................  

STATE .....................  

ZIP .......................................



Single, $3.00

Tandem, $5.00

Sustaining, $10.00

Life, $50.00