Volume Nine

No. 2  



April 1, 1968



Prepared by John A. Gustafson


Adlai Stevenson once said, “Here on the prairies of the Middle West, we can see a long way in all directions. We 1ook to East, to West, to North and South. Our commerce, our ideas come and go in all directions. We want no shackles on the mind or the spirit, no rigid pattern of thought, no iron conformity. We want only the faith and conviction that triumph in fair and free contests.”



SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 1968 at 3 PM






Our Secretary, Miss Joanne Kane, will lead the audience in group singing two old-time songs “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad" and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game."  Nostalgia plus!  Phil Elfstrom was with the "Third Rail" as manager from 1949 and Roger Beels knows more about early baseball here, without a doubt, than anyone else.  Remember "Rahaj's Colts", a boy's baseball team?


The Misses Sadie Lundberg, Mary Anderson and Freda Lundberg compose the Refreshment Committee.


Since our last Newsletter, we have received the following mementos.  We are most grateful for all of them.


Miss Amy Bartholomew for one reel of Movie Film, 100 feet, showing our beloved school teacher, Miss Grace McWayne.


Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Burnham for two copies of the magazine "The DeKalb Chronic1e" for December 22, 1894 and December 23, 1899.


Mr. Paul Cable far an old hand lantern, lit with a candle, used and undoubtedly made by Mr. E. C. Newton.


We thank our Vice President, Miss Ruth Northrup, for a most interesting talk on “Old Mills of the Midwest” illustrated with her own excellent slides.


Bill Rachielles let us take a little booklet lent to him by Austin Runde. It was issued in 1896 and contained sixteen Batavia store and factory ads, most of whom we had heard about before, but some were new to us.  For instance:


“Vandervolgan & Rachielles.  Manufacturers of Carriages, Buggies and Wagons. Horse Shoeing a Specialty, Repairing, etc. Pipe Fitting Done to Order. 56 Batavia Avenue." We remember Amenzo Vandervolgan and his son Arthur but they were well drillers. The Rachielles whom we knew were not horse shoers or manufacturers. 56 S. Batavia Avenue was the location of the old two-story “Sons of the North” building razed some years ago. Do you know anything about these partners?


We are all saddened by the death of Mrs. H. N. (Ruth Doty) Jones.  Her passing has left a deep void in the ranks of our society.   She was chairman of the committee which got out the booklet Batavia: Past and Present. Her memory was clear and precise and she was an authority on the early history of Batavia. No one can take her place. We extend our sympathy to her family.


On January 15thg Miss Ethel Alexander, sister of Mrs. Margaret Allan, died. We can remember her millinery shop on the corner of S. Batavia Avenue and Main Street, where Bentz Bros. Service Station is today. She started her shop there in 1905 and carried it on for twenty years. She has been a member of' our society since its inception.


The Society has at present seven life members as follows:


Miss Eunice Shumway

Mrs. Mary A. Strange

Norman Johnson

Mrs. Norman Johnson

August J. Mier

Wmo B. Van Nortwick

John A. Gustafson  


Life membership dues are $25.00. This money is a big help in the operation of our Society. Our expenses are kept at a minimum but we do have expenses. We need new annual members too. Encourage your friends to join.


At the end of this Newsletter you will see your membership status.  If you are in arrears for 1965 or 1966, you will not receive another Newsletter until your dues have been paid. We must do this because of the increase in postage rates.


Thank you for your help in listing the Batavians who raised strawberries commercially. To date the list includes the following growers, Martin J. Abernathy, L. C. Carlow, Rev. Wm. Minium, Mr. Turner of Park Street, all on the east side; H. W. Williams, Thomas Guyder, F. E. Pearsall, John B. Nilles and George Gunzenhauser on the west side.  You see Batavia was quite a “Strawberry Center” in the early 1900’s.


Mrs. Elmer Coleman called us recently and read part of an article which her late husband had written for his immediate family about Batavia as he remembered it as a boy.  His manuscript should be imitated by many old-time Batavians. You will recall events and stories about Batavia and its people that are important and that should be written up now or they may be lost.


In the late 1890’s and the early 1900’s many Batavians, often the women of the families, treked out to the common cow pastures which were on the edge of town, nights and mornings. They were loaded down with a milk pail, milking stool and a pail of feed and they went to corral their cow and milk it. They waded through wet grass, dust, in rain or in heat - the cow had to be milked at a certain time twice a day. I remember two pastures - there were many more - VanNortwick’s pasture west of Batavia and a pasture near Lockwood Hall.  Please write or call me relating your memories. How much did it cost to board a cow in these pastures?  How long was the season?  What was the total number of cows in pasture?

There was another way to take care of these cows.  Some owners hired a boy to take their cow out to pasture, after milking, every morning and to bring it home every evening. If the pasture was close by, the cow was taken back to the pasture after milking. I was one of those boys, I led a cow across Batavia Avenue, night and morning, from Van Nortwick's barn to Van Nortwick’s pasture.  This would be some problem now with today's traffic.


Is Betsy Lyon, the first wife of Col. Joseph Lyon, buried in a Batavia cemetery?


In what ward did Robert Alexander live in 1884?


When did E. G. Dixon serve here as station agent for the Burlington Railroad?


How old is the Paul G.. Bosse house? Both Eunice Shumway and I worked on that problem.


Does anyone have a portrait of A. O. Mallory or any biographical information about him?


Who were the members of the 1912 Batavia Basketball Team?

Our Society, along with 140 other local societies in Illinois, has been asked to join the Congress of Illinois Historical Societies, annual dues $7.00. There are several advantages in joining a state organization like this. The primary reason for being is that the Congress wishes all local societies to name the Congress as the repository in trust for historical material held by affiliates to preserve such material in case of the dissolution of the local society. Their object is to have a continuing, permanent organization which will hold the material so that it will not be lost through neglect if the local group is ever disbanded.  However, your officers want assurance that we could determine the disposition of our possessions, therefore the following Article XII will be a part of our Constitution By-Laws. A copy of this article will be sent to the Congress before we join.


ARTICLE XII.   In case of the dissolution of the Batavia Historical Society, all decisions concerning the disposition of its possessions shall be determined by the current officers and Board of Trustees of the Society.


Yes, we had allowances when we were young.  Dad sometimes let us keep half of what we earned, usually it wasn’t that much. Our money was needed to help pay the grocery bill. This made it a family affair.


It’s tragic to see an old monarch succumb to old age and disease. The majestic Shabbona elm is dead, a victim of the Dutch elm disease. It was a huge tree, thirty-five feet in girth at the base; its age is estimated to be between 300 and 400 years. Thus it began life about the time the Pilgrims reached our shores. Fortunately we have word that the tree will not be destroyed, the trunk will “lie in state" for future generations to view with awe.


What was the total amount of water power generated by the Fox River here and used by the factories?  The turbine which ran the machinery in the machine shop of the U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Co. developed 100 horsepower, we understand.  But the Challenge Co., Newton Wagon Co. and the Danforth Machine Shop used water power.  Does anyone know how much?

Don’t forget our book Batavia: Past and Present.  It costs only $1.50 and makes an elegant gift to your friends.  They are on sale at the Library and the Batavia Insurance Agency.  The paper-bound copies of Historic Batavia are all gone.  There are a few cloth-bound copies left at $4.00.


You are in arrears for the years _____________________________ , total $_________________ .The treasurer is Ralph Benson, 207 N. Washington Avenue, Batavia, Illinois  60510.