THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Thirty-Four

No. 1

 

April 1993

  
BIOGRAPHICAL PROJECT UPDATE


Last summer, we asked society members to submit family information to be added to the biographic file in our museum's research room. Several of you did send in data and it is being added to the file. There are many, though, whose families are not yet included in the file. Please take. a few minutes and send us the names, birth dates, birth places, death dates, current residence, marriages/children, etc. of each generation in your family who has lived or is living in Batavia. Add a few sentences that tell a little about each family, too.


Remember, it is part of our job as a society not only to resurrect the past, but to record the present so that it will be available when it becomes the past. Send your data (form enclosed) to the Society, Box 14, Batavia. Non-members' family information is welcome, too. Let's build the file.



PRESIDENT'S COLUMN
This is my first attempt at the Society newsletter, and I must start out with an apology at its lateness. I understand many of you look forward to this newsletter and as the year goes on, I am sure they will be more frequent. I do appreciate the assistance from any Society members who would like to submit articles or stories that we may all share. If you have any items of interest, please direct them to me.
The Board of Directors met once this year and has several goals in mind which will enhance our organization. We are looking into enlarging our Society through a membership drive aimed at new residents and younger members. Another goal is to further preserve our excellent collections of papers, books and writings in a controlled environment. A committee has been working with the Regional History Center at N.I.U. in DeKalb investigating several alternatives. We will keep you updated on this project.
To allow you an opportunity to get to know your Board of Directors, we will be featuring a brief biography on each Director in upcoming newsletters. Look for this feature, entitled "Biographies of the Board".

 
WHAT IS THAT RED DOT?
If you noticed a red dot on the address label of this newsletter, it serves as a reminder that your 1993 dues have not yet been paid. Please mail your dues promptly to the address below to insure continued receipt of this newsletter. Treasurer Batavia Historical Society P.O. Box 14 Batavia, IL 60510.



The following is a listing of current 1993 Officers and Directors:


President: Robert Popeck - TERM ENDS:Dec. 1994
Vice President: Marilyn Robinson - TERM ENDS: Dec. 1993
Recording Secretary: Patty Will - TERM ENDS: Dec. 1994
Corresponding Secretary: Georgene Kauth - TERM ENDS: Dec. 1994
Treasurer: Elliott Lundberg - TERM ENDS: Dec. 1993 
Historian: William Wood - TERM ENDS: Dec. 1994
Directors: Ray Anderson, William Hall, Robert Cox, Carole Dunn.
The above constitute the Board of Directors for the Society and are the voting members thereof.

The following positions are non-voting services to the Society:
Museum Volunteer Coordinator - May Lundberg
Museum Sales Inventory - Bunny Kline
Museum Curator - Carla Hill

The Spring meeting of the Batavia Historical Society will be held April 25 at 3: 00 p.m. Members are asked to meet at the Batavia Civic Center; from there we will progress to the Depot for the dedication of the new Van Nortwick Room. Don't miss this important event.
COFFIN BANK AND VAN NORTWICK ROOM
The Batavia Park District, along with Carla Hill and the entire Historical Society, is looking forward to Batavia's Windmill City Festival for the opening of the Coffin Bank Exhibit.


DEPOT REOPENS
The Depot has reopened for the 1993 season.
Thanks to Carla Hill and May Lundberg, along with their many volunteers, we should again have a wonderful year.

(AUTO)BIOGRAPHIES OF THE BOARD
Elliot Lundberg
I was born on South Harrison Street in Batavia in 1918. Except for four years in the service from 1941 to 1945, I have lived on the West side of Batavia my entire life. I was educated in the Batavia school system, starting at the Blaine Street School, then the old Grace McWayne School, and finally the old High School on Batavia Avenue from which I graduated in 1936, during the Great Depression. Before entering the service in 1941, I worked at Campana. At that time they were renting space in the Appleton Building which houses the current City Hall. They then moved to the corner of First Street and Batavia Avenue, then on to their present building on North Batavia Avenue in 1938. I also worked at the Batavia Body Company and at the Challenge Company for a few years.
I served in the U.S. Army during World War II, spending 3 1/2 years in the Southwest Pacific area. After being discharged in August 1945, I went back to work at the Challenge Company until the Garsson scandal that caused its demise. In October 1947, I started work at the Batavia National Bank on East Wilson Street. At that time, Mr. H. T. Windsor was President, Mr. Walter R. Johnson was Vice President and Mr. Ernest R. Nelson was Cashier. Mrs. Ruth Freelund, Mrs. Gladys Noren, Miss Eleanor Meyer (later Issel) and Miss Dora Hicks were the other employees. The Batavia National Bank was sold and in 1970 Mr. Robert F. Riley became President. The name was changed to Batavia Bank and, after being sold a second time, finally to Gary Wheaton Bank of Batavia.
I retired in 1980, but continued going to the bank one day a week until the end of 1992. My wife Noma and I have been married since 1949 and have five children - James, Kathryn Chesley, Carl, John and Dan.
 

The November 1992 newsletter had more than its share of mistakes. In the picture of the Green Pheasants football team on Pg. 4, Weldon Hopkins' name was omitted. He was the first man in the back row. Bussy Nelson corrected the name of the sixth man in the middle row, identifying him as "Fats" Seyller, not Don Scroggins. The latter was the name listed on the back of the photo. In the compliment to Marilyn Robinson on Pg. 6, a spelling error was erased, but the correction was not made. It should have read," for the exceptional programs she arranged this year". I would also like to add another "Thank you" while making corrections, this one to Tom Mair for making numerous copies of old photographs for the Society's files whenever I ran across one I felt was needed or when a different size would be more useful. 
 -Jim Hanson

AUTOBIOGRAPHIES OF THE BOARD
Bob Popeck
Not being a true native Batavian, my parents moved to a small farm on Hart Road in 1947 from Cicero, Illinois. I attended Louise White Grade School; my 8th grade class was the first experimental class to merge within the senior high, similar to a junior high school. While in high school, my parents purchased the Drake home on Park Street. At that time I enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and upon my return to Batavia joined employment with the Larson Becker Co. In 1960 I became a full time member of the Fire Department, serving with Chief Bud Richter, Charlie Beckman and Bob Hodge. In 1963 I switched my hat to the Police Department and joined the force with Chief Marshall, George Kramer, Dick Clark, Lee Johnson, Bill Thrun, Oscar Benson, Dick Jobe and Butch Ward. After several years I was promoted to Sergeant.I was very interested in photography and introduced many new ideas of photography into the Police Dept. I also held a part-time job with the Jody Advertising Co. in their photo dept. which was housed within the old Capital Theater building. I was appointed Chief of Police in 1970 by Mayor Robert V. Brown. I left the Department in 1974 and assumed the Administrative Assistant position with the City of Batavia. Always having a keen interest in Batavia's history, I was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Historical Society in 1987 and in December 1992, took over the office of President of the Society.


 
I REMEMBER HOLIDAYS ON THE FARM
By Helen Bartelt Anderson
(Part One of a three-part series)
Mama enjoyed holidays. Even on a busy farm, each little holiday was celebrated in some way. We knew that on New Year's Eve we could stay up a little later to "kick the slipper". Even the hired man (we called him Thruny) joined in the fun. We each in turn laid down on the floor, head toward the door, placed a slipper on the toes of one foot, then kicked it backwards over our heads. If the toe of the slipper landed with the toe pointing toward the door, that would mean "going out" and trouble ahead, but if the toe pointed in, happiness and prosperity would come to that person in the new year. Most often New Year's Day was spent at Luessenhop's (Mama's cousins on County Farm Road - now Fabyan Park-way).  We would have roast duck or goose with all the trimmings. Being of Pennsylvania Dutch descent, there was always a bountiful feast. Of course, the food was raised right there on the farm. Each person tried to be the first to wish the others a Happy New Year. After dinner, the men would adjourn to the barn to enjoy an after dinner cigar, while the boys stood around and tried to act interested in the conversation. The women would wash dishes and also get caught up on the latest neighborhood gossip. Dish washing on the farm at that time was considerably different than most city women enjoyed. There was no electricity and no running water. Water had to be carried into the house in pails.

Most kitchen ranges had reservoirs alongside the firebox. When filled, especially when the stove had a steady fire, the water would be nice and warm for dishes, etc. Stoves burned wood, which also had to be carried into the house. Sadie's kitchen sink was in the pantry, but it did not have a drain, so when there were lots of dishes to be washed, Sadie washed them on the kitchen table. Then there was room for guests to gather around the table and dry dishes. Soap, like nearly everything else, was hand­made of lard or bacon fat and Lewis lye. Lard made the whitest soap. Ground Hog's Day was not ignored. If nothing else, it caused much conversation with eyes on the morning sky. Of course, it nearly always happened that the ground hog did see his shadow, and we were in for six more weeks of winter. Next·was Valentine' s Day, which meant many hours of preparation.
We cut valentine hearts from old wall paper sample books and decorated them with pictures from Sears catalogues or magazines. Paste was made of flour and water. We exchanged valentines at school, with an especially pretty one for our teacher. I remember we had vacation from school on both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. Before our days off we learned much about these two great men. At home, Mama made cherry pies. The Bartelts are of German descent, but if we had anything green, we wore it on St. Patrick's Day. We did not know who St. Patrick was nor why it was a holiday, but we made shamrocks and colored them green in honor of the day.
 
From March 1st until around St. Patrick's Day, there was much viewing to see who would find the first robin. If the robin was high up in a tree, it meant that the finder would be in good spirits all summer, but if it was on the ground, the viewer could expect a pretty dismal season ahead. The next big holiday was Easter. At school we made paper Easter eggs of every color, pasting them to brown paper baskets which we used to decorate the windows of our school. We also made rabbits of brown construction paper and pasted colored eggs around them. Mrs. Perrow brought real pussy willows. We made pink flowers of crepe paper and fastened them to branches.
Our schoolroom was beautiful. I believe we had spring vacation the week after Easter. I don't remember going to church on Easter Sundays because Mama usually had the family to dinner, but I do remember going with her to Charlie Bird's on E. Wilson St. or Mrs. Alexander's to have new hats made. One year Charlie Bird made a pink braided straw hat for me. I felt very grown up. When Roger and I were quite small, we would run downstairs on Easter morning and look for the nest the Easter Bunny had left for us. This bunny nest was made in one of Papa's old felt hats, lined with straw. In the nest would be not brightly colored eggs, but brown, tan or dark red, with our names and other designs. They were beautiful. Mama kept all this a secret from us, but when we got a little older, we helped her make them. She would steep different colored onion skins on the back of the cook stove.
Then she added the eggs which became hard-boiled at a temperature just below boiling. At the same time, the onion skins, dyed the eggs in brownish tones, depending on the color of the natural eggs. Designs were made with wax before she put the eggs into the natural dye. Pickled eggs were a tradition on the Easter dinner table. On Saturday before Easter, Mama put hard boiled eggs in a fruit jar with picked beet juice. By the next day they were a beautiful shade of pink. I have continued with this tradition, hoping that our children will keep alive this Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. I continue to serve pickled eggs in the same beautiful dish that Mama used and wonder how old this lovely dish is.
HIRED GIRLS
By Joe Burton
In a well written and highly informative booklet, two Batavia brothers, Laurens and Kenneth Wolcott tell us what it was like to "keep house" back in the days before electricity and modern, push-button gadgets existed. The booklet, entitled "Life In The Good Old Days" (1872-1910), a copy of which is in the archives of the Batavia Historical Society, covers a variety of subjects, including a chapter on "Hired Girls". The authors relate that there were very few wealthy people in Batavia at that time - possibly the Newtons, the Van Nortwicks and one or two others - who could afford a full time live-in maid. "But", the authors say, "many of our friends and neighbors had a 'Hired Girl' and kept her busy 10 or 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. After all, in those days, female help was seldom used in industry. There were a few - a very few women clerks in baking, grocery and dry goods store, etc. Most girls left school at 14 or 15 very few went beyond high school. When girls finished or quit school, they were eligible for housework. Reasonably accomplished, competent, experienced girls were paid $3 or $4 a week. (Plus room and board, of course)."
Here are a few of the jobs the girls handled around the home, as described by the authors:
· "Keeping the home fires burning, in the kitchen all day, winter and summer: in the various stoves all around the house during cool or cold weather;
Gathering all kerosene lamps from every room in the house, cleaning and polishing all lamp chimneys, filling lamps and return all to their respective locations;
· Sweeping and dusting with broom and dust cloth, every room in the house at least once a week: living room and dining room brushed up daily;
· Complete laundry for the entire family including 'boiled shirts' for the men; ruffles and flounces and many skirts, shirt-waists and unmentionables for the women and girls; all bed linen for the family and guests, if any, also table linen - tablecloths and linen napkins. All washed by hand, hand scrubbing in water pumped and carried outdoors, hung up to dry, taken down, carried back into the house, sprinkled, folded and later ironed with a heavy, hot flat-iron heated on the hot stove, summer or winter;
Baking - cakes, cookies and pies, as well as several large loaves of bread to be raised, kneaded and baked twice a week;   Preparing, cooking and serving twenty meals a week including washing and putting away the dishes, setting table for the next meal, etc.; and Baby-sitting afternoons and evenings.
This list is far from complete. There is much more, particularly for families with babies or small children, or (as in our case) when horses, cows or chickens are kept. The Hired Girl was not ordinarily involved in the outside care of the animals, but it always involved extra dishes, hot water, dirt tracked in, etc." If you would like more insights into "Life In The Good Old Days", stay tuned; the Wolcott Brothers' memoirs are about 100 pages long!

 

BIOGRAPHIC PROJECT  
Father's Name _________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date of Birth ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Place __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Death Date ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Married ________________________________________________________________________________________________________  
Date __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date of Birth ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Place __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Death Date ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Children: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Birthdate ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Deathdate _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Comments on family history USE A SEPARATE SHEET FOR EACH FAMILY UNIT
Mail to Batavia Historical Society Box 14 Batavia, IL 60510
Name of submitter _____________________________________________________________________________________________  
Phone No. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________