Volume Seven

No. 3 


October, 1966

Published by the Batavia Historical Society


No man is fit to be entrusted with the control of the Present, who is ignorant of the Past, and no people, who are indifferent to their Past, need hope to make their Future great. - Motto of the Texas Junior Historians



SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1966 at 3 P.M.





By Mrs. Betty Madden


Chief Curator of Art at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Ill.

This will be illustrated with colored slides and should be most instructive.


Our June meeting was successful, at least every chair in the auditorium was filled.  Our new president, Miss Eunice Shumway, gave great thought to make it a success.  We had fourteen honored guests: Batavia's city officials, past and present. The speaker, your editor, read a paper "Batavia Grows Up." Refreshments were served by a committee after the meeting and people sat around and talked, this is always an enjoyable occasion.


We thank the committee for their excellent original posters to advertise the meeting and Mrs. Pauline Campbell for her marvelous display of photographs for Batavia Past and Present on-exhibition at the Frame.




Now that the summer vacations are over (mine in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska was most enjoyable), we have many plans for the Batavia Historical Society.


Our fall meeting, arranged by Mrs. Clare Kruger, will be an outstanding one.  We are most fortunate in having as our guest speaker, Mrs. Betty Madden, who is very enthusiastic about the charming places in Batavia.


Miss Ruth Northrup has taken most of the colored slides of the buildings with architectural interest in Batavia.  Amos Hartman, Mrs. Pauline Campbell and John Gustafson also have contributed some.


Posters for the meeting were done by Mrs. James Wertz, Mrs. William Slobe and Mrs. Pauline Campbell, lettering by Bob Stephano, a Junior High School student.


Refreshments will be served by Mrs. Gordon Smith, Mrs. Walter Wood and Mrs. David Webster.


Students from the Junior and Senior High School have been invited to be our guests.  Mrs. Raymond Palm is working with the students at the Senior High School and Mr. Stanley Lenart with those at the Junior High School. Miss Ruth Northrup is the Resource Chairman for both groups.


At a recent board meeting it was decided to offer any groups who might be interested in selling our book Batavia, Past and Present, a commission of 50 cents for each copy sold.


We also decided to retain the name Batavia Historical Society.  One-fourth of our members now reside outside the city, so there would be no advantage, either for tax purposes or membership, in adding the word Township to the name. It also would involve changing the charter and stationery.




These good people were intelligent, thrifty and industrious citizens of Batavia in the not too distant past.  Many of them were merchants who had a hand in building our town.


The father, Joseph Burton, came to Batavia in 1852 and entered the market business on a capital of $50.00.  He continued to expand into other lines until his business overflowed into two stores on East Wilson Street.  (See the picture of his store on page 13 of your book Batavia, Past and Present). He had twelve children. They were Joseph, George, Mathew, Amos, Mary, James, Anna, Helen, Ruth, Edward, Sarah and Thomas. Helen was Mrs. Ruth Jones' mother.


Miss Mary Burton reminisced on her 94th birthday for the Aurora Beacon-News for January 26, 1944. She said in part:


"My father, Joseph Burton; built our home (the stone house opposite the Junior High School building on West Wilson Street, and now the back part of Olmstead's Television and Appliance Store) as the Civil War started.  It was a funny looking house, just the first story of the main building.  There was no second story and no wing.  Then the men and boys were called into the war. The building stopped until the time of the Chicago fire in 1871. By that time our family of little children had grown to need more rooms so the second floor and wing to the east were added".


The Burtons moved from this stone house when Joseph Burton built the house on the north-east corner of Batavia Avenue and Houston Street in 1895. Here Misses Mary and Anna and Tom Burton lived until 1946 when Miss Mary died at the age of 97.


Now this well-built frame house is to be destroyed to make way for a service station. We have four stations in a three block distance now. The J. Van Burton house across the street has recently been razed to make way for a used-car lot.  Thus both sides of the Houston-McKee Street blocks on Batavia Avenue have begun to give way to commercialism.  Does this mean that no home on Batavia Avenue is safe from the encroachment of business?


Since our last meeting, we have received mementos from Mr. and Mrs. Allan F. Larson, Ansgar L. Carlson, Wilton Hoag, Elmer R. Nelson, George Dickenson and Miss Margaret H. Moore of Detroit, Michigan. We thank all of these thoughtful people.


We have received a letter from Mrs. Alvin Danley for information about her uncle John J. (Jake) Skinner, who was caretaker for the Fox Valley Country Club in the early 30's.   Also, Mrs. Hazel Calvert of Fresno, California is seeking information about a man named Alloway.  Do you have any information about either of these men?


Wm. T. Purdum wrote us about his father and his memories of Batavia.  His father, John M. Purdum, operated a shoe store here from 1895 to 1905 when the family moved to Oklahoma.


Three of our members have died since our last meeting, Mrs. Margaret Payne, Mrs. G. P. (Stella Anderson) Williams and Mr. Herbert Anderson.  We extend our deepest sympathy to their families.


We wrote to Vic Thelander in answer to his interesting letter to us which Eunice Shumway read at our last meeting.  Vic was visiting in Minneapolis at the time where his brother Roy was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary and the letter caught up with him there.  He stopped on his way back to his home in Florida and we had a nice visit.  He sent greetings to all his friends.



The Batavia Fire Department is celebrating their centennial with an open house at the Fire Station on Fire Prevention Day, October 9th from 1 to 5. Everyone is invited.  May we suggest that you go there first; then come to our meeting? We congratulate Bud Richter and his staff. No town has a better or more efficient fire department. Their job is much more than fighting fires.



At the last Council meeting, Bud Richter suggested changing the name of either Washington Street or Washington Avenue because of confusion caused by the similarity of names. If this is done, may we suggest the name of Lincoln as a replacement name?  Let not the name of Lincoln go unhonored as a Batavia street name any longer.


The Society has received three letters from Miss Margaret H. Moore. She is related to the McKees and the Risks and lived in the house on the hill on North Batavia Avenue. In one of her letters she said that Houston Street was named after one of McKee's ancestors. Thus the street is not named after Gen. Sam Houston as we had thought.


The State Meeting at Freeport September 30, October 1 and 2, will be a thing of the past when you receive this newsletter.  The Illinois Sesquicentennial Commission Historical Sub-Committee met there too. We celebrate our sesquicentennial in 1968.  You will hear more about this occasion in the months to come.


We hear that the historic Shabbona elm in the Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve is dying of the Dutch elm disease. It is sad to think of so many of our American elms dying, especially this huge, famous tree.