Volume Six

No. 4

                                                                                                       

December 1965

Published by the Batavia Historical Society

 


"One who lacks this expanded sense of indebtedness to the past is like a town I once visited. ‘Thirteen years ago,’ said my friend as he waved his hand out toward it. ‘there was nothing here, and now look at it!’ I did look at it. It was very raw. It was painfully extempore. It had all the virtues of enterprising youth-business, energy, expectancy - but it had the obvious lacks of youth as well. It had no past tense. As I looked at it I thought of other towns which have a present and a future but which have a past as well. One is aware in them of days gone by and. it may be of high doings when folks fought and died for great causes. The past is not everything and any generation or any man that tries to make it everything is lost. But neither are the present and the future everything. It is an ennobling experience to have a great past and to be gratefully aware of it.”

- From "Possessing a Past Tense" in "Twelve Tests of Character” by Harry Emerson Fosdick.

 


NEXT MEETING

SUNDAY. DECEMBER 12. 1965

at 3:00 P.M.

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH FELLOWSHIP HALL

WILSON ST. AND WASHINGTON AVE.

 

PROGRAM

“MEMORIES OF A 19TH CENTURY CHRISTMAS”

 

Prepared and Presented by Ben Limbaugh and his associates

of a newly organized Junior Historical Society

 


Our last meeting was held Sunday afternoon October 24, 1965.  This was an informal meeting in which members sought one of their most treasured mementos to “show and tell." The chairs were arranged in two concentric circles with a table in the center on which the mementos were placed to "show" after "telling." Ten members participated in the program which was enjoyed by some sixty members.  Refreshments were served after the program by a committee headed by Mrs. Ben Limbaugh.

 

Remember to buy our book. "Batavia. Illinois: Past and Present” for Christmas presents to your friends. They are attractive, historical and easy to mail. Anyone who has lived in Batavia and is now living elsewhere will especially appreciate receiving a copy. One such recipient said. "Even though one is happy where he is, they never can completely forget their early home life, nor does one want to."



Mementos have been received from the following people since our last meeting: Mrs. Mary Williams, Mrs. Elaine Cannon, Mrs. Arthur W. Bergstrom, Harry Strain, Bert L. Hyde and Richard Butcher. Our thanks to these friends for their gifts.

 

We went up to see the Geneva Historical Society Museum on November 1. They have a beautiful building and the mementos' are attractively arranged in it with no "cluttered up" look. The room to the south of the display room is the storage room with plenty of space to conveniently hold all of their items properly cataloged.  I especially envied them this room. In the rear is the office and work room.

 

The museum is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:30. Visit it if you have not already done so.

 

Looking through the department "Activities of Local Historical Societies" in the last issue of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, we note that several societies are conducting drives to raise money for a new-or-old building for a museum.

 

As we close this year, let us think of Batavia a century ago. What did it look like and what were the thoughts of the people? We have some idea of the former by looking at the Bird's-eye View of Batavia in 1869.  This is the spread in the center of the book, "Batavia, Illinois: Past and Present." But the latter is not so easy to come by.

 

The Civil War had just finished and then in the midst of the rejoicing came the tragic news of the assassination of President Lincoln.  How did Batavia take this news? We have these words from the record of the Congregational Church Sabbath School for April 16, 1865, "Today we meet, but it was in sadness as our dear President has breathed his last. May he rest in peace."

 

Along the same line, the following comments from the diary of Nathan S. Young for 1865 are interesting:

 

“Aug. 15, Sat.  The news came today of the death of Pres. Lincoln at 7:22 this morning having been shot last evening at Ford’s Theater by a Rebel Desperado.

 

“Thus is a nation suddenly thrown into mourning and sadness by this calamity.

 

“Aug. 19, Thurs.  The funeral of Pres. Lincoln took place at Washington on April 19th and also throughout the loyal part of the country.  It was observed as a solemn day, all business laid aside and the people repaired to their various churches where divine services were held.  Buildings, universally almost, were draped in mourning. “

 

Aug. 20, Fri.  A delegation with the body of Lincoln left Washington for Illinois. . . .


“May 1.  To Chicago when the funeral procession of Pres. Lincoln came off.  Stores and saloons all closed and the whole city was out in procession or on the sidewalks.”

 

Then follows some comments about Jeff Davis and of his capture in Georgia.  Then on January 1, 1866 he says:

 

"We all ought to rejoice that we are entering upon a new year with a Union unrent and the flag flying and acknowledged in every state.  The fratricidal hands that raised the sword to rend the Union have been overpowered, surrendered their arms and given up the contest, acknowledging that the Doctrine of Secession and State Rights have been lost to them forever, as well as their slaves who are free henceforth.

 

“That a people thus terribly thrashed as the Southerners have been, and their peculiar institution, slavery, their life and backbone gone, should love the Yankees for all this is not possible; but on the contrary, we may look for hatred and revenge on all occasions that offer a chance.”

 

Mr. Young settled in Blackberry Township in 1843. He came to Batavia in 1853 and was successively a Highway Commissioner, Assessor, Village Trustee, Supervisor, banker and a real estate broker here.  He was also a member of the Board of Education for many years and a member of the Board of Library Directors.  So you see, he kept busy.  He was the grandfather of Mrs. Arthur Rendler.

 

Christmas was not celebrated much by the early settlers. They were evidently too busy with frontier jobs - building barns and fences, digging wells, adding finishing touches to their homes, cutting wood, husking corn, butchering hogs, etc.

 

I have partial copies of Mr. Young's diaries for 1843, 44, 45 and 46, but he never mentions Christmas in any year.  He only gives the weather for Dec. 25, 1843.  A year later, for Christmas 1844, he says, "Cloudy and quite warm, wind south. Self and Peleg (his brother) down to Snyder's Mill (North Aurora) looking for stone, timber, etc."

 

His entry for Dec. 25, 1845 is, "Cold, snowy and windy. Peleg and Father off to town with pork and wheat. John Wheeler also took along a load of wheat for us." He notes only the weather for Dec. 25, 1846 as, "Very pleasant and fine."

 

Our thanks to the Furnas Electric Co. for printing our Newsletter throughout the year and to the staff for folding it, clipping it, stamping it and putting it in the mail. They do a fine job, don't you think?

 

Two century-old houses have received our plaques this year; the William Springborn home at 635 Elm Street and the Russell Nelson home at 420 McKee St.

 

Ray Patzer will accept your 1966 dues.

 

And now in closing - May there come to you at this Holiday Time an abundance of the precious things of life; Health, Happiness and Enduring Friendships.