THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Thirty-Three

No. 1

January 1992



BUSINESS BEFORE PLEASURE

LOOKING AHEAD:


Although the plans are not completely finalized, Batavia's antique dealers will be sponsoring a fundraiser for the Society again. The 3rd Annual Cigrand Antique Show will be held Saturday, June 13th. Mark the date on your calendar and plan to volunteer to sell tickets at the door. The details will be in the next newsletter.  Carole Dunn already has offered to coordinate staffing the ticket table again.



RED DOT ALERT:               


What does a red dot mean on the address label on this issue of the newsletter? By now you should know! Each year this method is used to remind members they have not paid their dues.


Check your label now and if you see a red dot in the bottom left corner, send in your dues and the membership form printed at the end of the newsletter.


PLAQUE ADDENDUM:  


The last issue contained a listing of the homes which have received plaques from our Society. I know of two other buildings with historic plaques, neither of which was issued by the Society but which deserve mention. The house at 15 S. Jefferson St. has a plaque which reads, "Birthplace of Bethany Lutheran Church." This was a gift to Freda Lundberg from Melba Pierson. The other plaque is on the Congregational Church indicating the church was built in 1856. It was placed there by the church itself.



BOARD ELECTIONS:


Unlike the political campaigns now going on, the election of officers and trustees held at the Annual Meeting in December involved no contests. The slate of nominees submitted by the Nominating Committee was elected without opposition.  


Elected for two-year terms were:


Marilyn Robinson, Vice Pres.

 

Georgene Kauth, Corresponding Sect.

 

Bill Wood, Historian

 

and Bob Cox and Bob Popeck, Trustees.  


The carry-over Board members, whose terms expire in December 1992, are:


Dot and Jim Hanson, Co-Presidents

 

Patty Will, Recording Sect.

 

Elliott Lundberg, Treasurer

 

and Ray Anderson and Marlene Rotolo, Trustees.

 


ADDRESS CHANGES       


Remember to let the Society know if you are moving or if there is an error on the present mailing label. The special postal rate used to mail the newsletter saves money but does not include forwarding when the recipient moves.

 

You may have noticed the newsletter now comes triple-folded and sealed with a sticker instead of a staple.


This is the result of new postal regulations. Supposedly it helps the post office and is needed because of automated sorting machines, but it adds to the time needed to prepare the newsletter for mailing.

 



HELP WANTED:      


The Museum will open again before I expect to have another newsletter in the mail. With the new exhibits in the lower level, it is very important that two volunteers be present each day the Museum is open.  

 

If you can give two hours of your time once a month, please call May Lundberg (879-3660) and offer your services.  

 

The hours are 2:00 to 4:00 each day except Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even though you cannot be a regular, perhaps you would be willing to be a back-up to fill in when someone cannot make it.



VOLUNTEER LUNCH

 

Carla Hill organized a luncheon for all of the volunteers as an expression of appreciation for their services last year. A hearty buffet was followed by a delightful musical program and culminated with presenting each person a limited edition Christmas ornament on which was depicted the Depot Museum.  

 

Our thanks go to Carla and the Park District for cooperation and support given the Museum and the volunteers.



MINI - QUIZ

 

1.      Batavia has become a town with numerous restaurants.  What name has the longest association with a place to eat

         in Batavia?


2.      Many people remember Crane & Swan's slogan, "Let us feather your nest."

         Can you name the local business that used each of the following slogans:

a)      "Honest goods at honest prices."

b)      "We can feed 800 people--8 at a time."

c)      "Come in and browse around."

d)     "Shoes that fit the eye, the feet, and the pocketbook."


3.      In the early 1900's a married couple were both in the beauty business---he a barber and she a hairdresser.    

        They lived on E. Wilson Street in a house located behind his barbershop.  What were their names?

 

 

 

 MINI - QUIZ ANSWERS

 

 

1. The Lincoln dates back at least to 1928.  At that time the Lincoln Bar-B-Q was located on the lot just south of the present Lincoln Inn.  A more-recent picture of the original Lincoln building is to the right. The 1928 establishment was operated by the Bernacchi family.

 

2. (a)  "Honest goods at honest prices" was used by J. (Jules) Morris Co. located in the building which presently houses the Wilson Street Emporium antique shop.

 

(b)  "We can feed 800 people-8 at a time" was the slogan of Marsh's Coffee Shop squeezed between Perna's West Side Fruit Store {now Carlson's Realty) and Mike Schomig's BarberShop (now State Farm Insurance:)

 

(c)  "Come in and browse around" was used by J. Harrold Blair when he had Blair's Music Store in the late 1940's.  It was on the south side of W. Wilson St. next to the Fox River where Reel Pro Video now operates.  He sold sheet music, records small radios, and Bibles.

 

(d) "Shoes that fit the eye, the feet, and the pocketbook" was an advertising slogan of Chelstrom's Spot Cash Shoe Store located on the north side of the W. Wilson St. hill in the early 1900's.  In later years Mr. Chelstrom operated shoe repair shops at several locations on both East and West Wilson St.

 

3.   The answer to this is covered in Joe Burton's article on the preceding page---Amanda and Jim Stewart. Jim's barber shop was located on the north side of the E. Wilson St. hill where today there is an empty lot between the Fox Valley Hospice and Batavia Insurance buildings. The Stewart's home was located behind the shop. The picture below is one of Jim Stewart taken about 1906.
 

 

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ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO


At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892, every windmill manufacturer in the U.S. was represented with exhibits, but the Challenge Co. "swept the field" and walked off with all the prizes offered---the grand prize, the gold medal, and awards for the tallest windmill (110 ft.), the smallest, the largest, and the greatest number.



FOUND IN A TRUNK


The following poem was given to the Society by a woman who found it in an old trunk she had purchased from another lady. The trunk had previously been purchased at a house sale in Batavia. 

 

This appears to have been one page of several but the succeeding page was not found. The back of the paper on which it had been written had the name "Billie Quinlivan" written on it.


The Quinlivan family lived at what is now 726 Park St. from about 1885 to 1905. Mr. Quinlivan worked at both the Challenge and the U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company. The spelling, punctuation, etc. is as written. The page ended as shown below.

 

"Buttermilk Alley" was a name given to State St. between River and Washington as it led down to the Kee & Chapell Dairy in the building occupied today by the River Street Crossing restaurant and Rep. Hastert's office.

 


Side Walks of Butter Milk Alley


Theres a little side street in Batavia so neat
Where the boys of a payday night rally
Tho its not very wide and its noisy besides
They call it the butter milk ally
But a cop on the beat with two tiny large feet
With a smile like the last rose of summer
they say he is wide and hes clumsey besides
he's strong man of butter milk alley

 

Chorus

 

Every pay day down to the town we go
We will meet then all of the bums we know
Always jolly happy when drunk are we
for we are the sports of Butter milk ally

When old Monahans lad had the big head so bad
That no one would dare go against him
Till this dear little cop as stout as an ox
Told his friends that he thought he could whip him
so out on the street went himself and friend dear
like two tom cats they wildly went at it
deak "got a kick and a punch with both mits
on the sidewalks of butter milk ally

 

Chorus

 

When the aldermen met monday night it was wet
They agreeded that the weather was rainy
But they soon changed the rain to Mckinlys name
And the meeting was closed like a RaIley
but Alderman Pratt in the chair where he sat
made a motion with alderman Riley
To elect more police and to clean up the street
And the side walk's of Butter milk Alley

I suppose you have heard of Batavia's high court
Called to order by old _________________ Haley 



A TALE OF TWO STEWARTS


Joe Burton


If you lived in Batavia back in the early 1900's, you probably had seen both Mr. and Mrs. Stewart many times and never knew who they were. Both were good Batavia citizens and both were in the business of beauty. Mrs. Stewart, Amanda, was a hairdresser who not only took care of the beauty needs of women in her own home on East Wilson Street, but also took her skills to the homes of others.  


Her clients were on both sides of the river and on the north and south ends of town. Amanda Stewart was a familiar figure on the streets of Batavia --- a pleasant woman in a long skirt, wearing a hat and carrying a small satchel which contained the tools of her trade.  Some of the finest ladies in town used Mrs. Stewart's services and were proud of her handiwork. According to one of her clients "she washed your hair in pure rainwater and dried it with a palm leaf fan.


"The Yellow Pages in today's telephone directory lists six different "Beauty Salons". Back in the early days there were none. Mike Shomig hadn't yet added a woman's section to his men's barber shop. This brings us to Jim Stewart, a barber with a shop on East Wilson Street just in front of the house where he and his wife lived. Although he didn't carry his combs, brushes and razors to the homes of his customers, he was one of the most seen citizens in town.


Why? It was because Jim Stewart had been a private in the Union Army and whenever Batavia had a Memorial Day parade Jim rode in the open front car alongside Seymour Wolcott, a fellow veteran of the "War between the States."

It was a scene that brought to mind Lincoln's words at Gettysburg," . . . dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Jim Stewart and his wife Amanda were black.


Note:

Once again I wish to express my appreciation to Joe Burton for contributing another picture of Batavia as it was earlier this century.  At the same time I would like to encourage others to send in your remembrances.


 

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DAIRY DELIGHTS


Marilyn Phelps


Having spent my childhood with my parents on Houston Street, I have many fond memories of that area. One of them is of the Batavia Dairy milk wagons which would pass our home twice a day. Because of this, I became well acquainted with the drivers and horses that utilized the Batavia Dairy horse barn.

 

My friends and I spent as much time as possible there with the milkmen and their respective horses. We were allowed to go up in the haymow and push the hay down to the horses --- being ever watchful that we didn't step in the holes and go down with the hay!  


At any rate, one of these gentlemen was L. R. Johnson who drove a huge (to us) white horse named "Dolly". She was a lover of no one other than L.R., and sometimes not even him!  The second driver, Harry Schimelpfenig, drove a black horse named "Prince"; and the third driver, whose name I do not recall, drove "Brownie". If anyone cares to dispute the names of the last two horses, feel free to do so, as time does play tricks on a person's memory.

 

I remember specifically one time when I was going to a party with my parents and had been given strict instructions "not to go to the horse barn." I was dressed and ready when I heard the "clop-clop" of the horses and the rumbling of the wagons which were coming down the street.  


Needless to say, off I went. I'm sure you all know what happened when I got to the barn to help supervise the unhitching of the wagons and the bedding down of the horses. I slipped! Down I went directly behind the horses and was covered with the horses' own particular perfume. Need I say more as to what happened when I got home! Those of you who remember the horse barn will also recall the old, unused wagons that were parked outside by the barn.  


These old wagons provided a constant source of entertainment for the neighborhood kids. We spent hours playing tag on them, bruising our shins and arms in the process. This building was located on the northwest corner of Houston and Mallory and has since been remodeled into four apartments.

 


Note:

 

Just before sending the newsletter to the printer, I received Marilyn's remembrance.  This, as I mentioned in regard to Joe Burton's, is truly appreciated.  I am looking forward to more of the same from the membership.  They needn't be long or "finished"---just jot them down and send them in.


 

I Remember
By John Gustafson

 

"Daddy, what is that?" "Why, son, don't you know? That is a stove." Another time a little girl asked, pointing to a pile of coal, "Mother, what is that black stuff?" We forget the many things which have gone from our every day life with the passing of time.

 

One night, as I lay awake, I thought back to the old base burner which heated the homes in the days of yesterday. This stove was a cast iron munster which had to be wheeled into the parlor every fall and wheeled out in the spring to some corner where it would be out of the way.

It burned hard coal which I carried up from the basement. A nickel plated cover pivoted at the corner could be opened so I could dump in the hod full of coal. The coal was automatically dropped into the grate, giving off heat through the isinglass windows. Another chore was to carry out the ashes when the pan was full. A railing made a fine place to toast cold feet. Would we trade our gas furnace for the old heater?

Another chore I remember was taking Van Nortwick's cow from the shed near the tracks on Water Street to the pasture at the end of First Street.

This meant coming up the hill, crossing the Avenue, and walk­ing along First Street. Again, at night, I had to catch the cow and return across the Avenue.

 

One memory of this trip was when the cow caught her hoof in the rope and I wasn't able to free her. I wasn't very big at the time. I will always remember this experience.

Anyone want to lead a cow across Batavia Avenue today?

 

I remember when Batavia was a strawberry center. During the season for shipment, quantities of cases were sent by express to the surrounding towns. Ahernathy's strawberry fields were on the east side and Williams on the west side. Further south on the Avenue, Guiders and Pearsall had fields.

I remember there were several greenhouses in the early days; Services, the Bellevue and Wenbergs. The flowers were picked, packed and shipped on the early train to Chicago. One day, I remember, a box of carnations broke open and the flowers spilled out. The conductor gave everyone on the train a flower.

 

Again, as a young boy, I remember weeding long rows of carnations in the field back of the greenhouses for five cents an hour.

Just as I finished this article, a group of fourth graders wondered if I remembered the Third Rail.

Indeed I do, but that is another story for another time. It's fun to go back. What do you remember?

   



CONFERENCE SCHEDULED IN BATAVIA


Restorations of Kane County, a nonprofit volunteer organization, is sponsoring a conference to be held March 14, 1992 at Batavia's United Methodist Church.  It is entitled PRESERVATION PERSPECTIVES: RECYCLING VINTAGE BUILDINGS.  


Sessions will be held both in the sanctuary of this historic building and in the new fellowship hall.  Participants are asked to enter at the new door on the east side of the new addition just off Water Street.  Information and a registration form are being provided for our members who are interested.  


 

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BATAVIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION:  1992

 

DUES

 

Individual:                                $3
Joint/Family:                             $5
Sustaining:                               $10
+Life (each):                             $50
Business or Institutional:            $10

Bus/Inst. Life                            $100