Volume Twenty-Three

No. 4



Fall / 1982 


The passing of time is marked in many ways. Our last newsletter was sent out in July and here it is almost "Turkey Day."  We hope you have all had a wonderfully relaxing summer and are now winterized, weatherstriped, and insulated for the corning retreat to the indoors. Here's what's new in your Society:




The Board felt it was time for a social meeting, so we hope you will join us on December 5th for a Christmas potluck dinner.  Baked ham will be provided if you will bring the trimmings.  Select your favorite Christmas decoration (ornament, candle, centerpiece, wall hanging, wreath, etc.) and these will decorate our tables.  Guests are welcome.  This would be a jolly occasion to introduce prospective members to our group.  Don't forget to make your reservations by December 1st!




Carla Hill, curator, reports a very good response to her recent training session for Depot volunteers.  She has put together a volunteer manual which all present and future volunteers will receive.  We appreciate her efforts to keep volunteers up-to-date on procedures.  New recruits are always needed.  Call Jean Conde (879-3646) to sign up. A direct descendant of Christopher Payne visited the Museum in August.  Judy Maginnis Kuster lives at 1018 So. Payne St. in New Ulm, Minnesota.  She is writing a family history and told Carla she would send us a copy.  For those of you who do not recognize the Payne name, Christopher Columbus Payne was Batavia's first settler, arriving in 1833. After months of delay, the cabinet to house the Elaine Cannon collection will finally be made by a master craftsman -- a local one, too.  Upon several recommendations, we contacted Mr. Helmer Wiberg who came to the museum, took measurements, viewed the dioramas and miniatures, and carne back with a drawing and a price.  We gave Mr. Wiberg the order and look forward to receiving a display case equal to the display.



The following items have found a new home at the Depot Museum.  From Charles Morris: A Civil War Military Record Book dated 1899. From Joan Rumps: A W.W. II Veteran Photograph. From Mr. & Mrs. James Cox: Miscellaneous family items from the estate of Alma Pipping. From Jackie Graver: A chrome and glass display case. From Michael Dixon: A floor to ceiling photograph of historic Bellevue. In addition, the following memorial gifts have been received: For Herbert L. Rowcliff, from Phillip Elfstrom. For Philip B. Carlson, from Frances, June, and Delores Carlson For William Murphy and G.H. Stead, from Walter and Georgene Kauth For The Beith Family, from Mr. and Mrs. John E. Barta (Buffalo Gap, So. Dakota) who requested genealogy data.



1983 will be special for all Batavians and we urge you to participate in as many of the 55 planned birthday events as possible.  You can start the new year by renewing your Historical Society membership and by asking friends and neighbors to join.  Then be sure your bookshelf contains a copy of Historic Batavia (on sale at the Depot for $7.50) which you promise, as one New Year's resolution, to reread.  What better way to prepare for our Sesquicentennial!




Nostalgic Reflections of Past Christmases                                    

by Mrs. Stanley A. Johnson


"Going down memory's lane, both past and present I think the Christmas Season is the most wonderful time of the year.  Many of the events which took place when I was a child are still impressed upon my memory. The World seemed much larger to the individual as then folks did not travel so far from home for recreation and visiting.  People were more friendly and conditions in the World did not worry them as they do today. Usually the Night of Christmas Eve was almost like the first "Silent Night" for with no bright street lights, the moon and the stars, the candles in the windows together with the glistening snow was a picture of nature enjoyed by the Batavians of Swedish descent when they attended "Julotta" at the Bethany Lutheran Church. Many of our present conveniences had not been invented and there were few furnaces, electric lights, radios and no gas heat and television sets. In the winter the front parlor would be closed and a heating stove would be in the sitting room.

 "As the winter's seemed colder, you would dash down the stairs in the morning through the closed parlor and into the sitting, now called living room, and gather around the heating stove to dress. The kitchen was the most used room in the house, especially at Christmas time.  The windows had fresh starched curtains and the floor was polished and scrubbed.  My mother as well as other mothers in the neighborhood were busy baking cookies, fruit cakes, breads, not to say the process of making pressed veal, a meat delicacy pressed for weeks between large stones.  Also the traditional Lutfish which was then also prepared through a long process while today you are able to purchase the fish in a grocery or meat market and only a few extra ingredients are needed to prepare it ready for the table.


The parents and children would spend the evenings in the kitchen and on cold nights take turns sitting by the cook stove with their feet in the oven.  Corn would be popped to be strung as trimming for the Christmas tree which would also be decorated with strings of cranberries, candles and ornaments. Mothers would give their children baths in a wooden tub placed near the stove.  I still have a scar caused when my birthday suit accidentally touched the hot stove as my mother was getting me out of the tub. As most people walked in those days it was fun to go down town on a Saturday night especially at Christmastime.  The Kinne and Jeffery store was a popular place for on an upper floor were articles appropriate for gifts. Toys of war in those days were little toy soldiers.  Folks made many of their gifts such as clothes, mittens, footstools, scarfs, sleds, doll clothes, etc.  Skating and coasting were a popular sport and children and young people were able to use Wilson Street from the East Side to the Middle of the bridge.  


The frozen river was also filled with skaters, young and old. One of the Christmas events I shall never forget was our Children's Christmas Program at Church.  At that time tiers of seats were built in front of the auditorium.  They reached almost to the top of the ceiling and all 300 children were seated facing the audience.  It was a sight to behold and the loud singing almost rocked the church.  The late Rev. Philip Thelander directed the singing and when practicing he would keep saying in Swedish "louder, louder."  He himself had a powerful voice.  The audience was thrilled and we children were also enthused. There are sad as well as happy memories at Christmas because of the faces of many loved ones that are missing at our family gatherings."  


Maybe we could all use the reverse side of this sheet to record our own Christmas memories and give it to someone dear who will want to remember us.