THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Thirty-Nine

No. 1 

January, 1998

 


 

Kinne & Jeffery Department Store & Schielke Food Store

Recollections of Donald Schilkie

 

From 1876 to 1976, the Kinne & Jeffery Department Store, begun in 1874, and its successor, the Schielke Food Store, occupied the limestone building with ornamental cast iron front on the southeast corner of River Street (Route 25) and Wilson Street.

 

Donald Schielke, who was born in Batavia on January 10, 1919, and is steeped in the history of both stores, recently reminisced about his experiences with Elliott Lundberg and your editor.

 

How did Kinne & Jeffery get started?

 

I have a book here that was printed in 1903, Kinne & Jeffery Department Store. The first paragraph says the business was founded in 1874 by LB. Kinne, who purchased a drug store and added groceries in a small way in 1875.  

 

In 1876 he rented and moved to the building at Route 25 and Wilson that had been constructed in 1869 M.M. Kinne bought his father's interest in 1880, and J.W. Jeffery, my grandfather, entered employment as a druggist. Later my grandfather left the business for a short time to work at Howell's in Geneva, but then returned, buying an interest in the business and becoming a partner. My grandfather's office was on the first floor underneath the stairway.

 

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Tell us something about the store.

 

 

When Mr. Kinne took over the building, he had many different rooms in the back, one for oil, one for sugar, one for paint, and one all lined with tin walls, floor, and ceiling. Supplies were kept there so the rats couldn't get them. During the Depression, the Government rented this room and would bring in beans, sugar, and other supplies that they would give out.

 

People would go down to Jake Feldman and get a ticket for so many dollars worth of food and bring the ticket in for the food. There was a big double Hubbard grinder and a roaster. The County Farm would come down with 100 pound bags of coffee that had not been ground -- I guess it was cheaper for them to buy it that way.

 

We would grind and roast it for them. And if customers wanted something ground up fine, we could do it for them. We had a second floor that was very interesting. Grace Pierce, Harry Pierce's mother, worked up there for about 30 years. She took care of the upstairs where they sold lamps, some clothing, and toys -- lots of toys.

 

When Mrs. Pierce needed change, she could order it from the downstairs office where my Aunt Erma Jeffery sat. They had a cable between the offices with a metal container attached, which could be sent back and forth between them. It was operated on a spring system. When I was young, we used to go to Chicago at Christmas time to McClurg's and Gould's and Butler Brothers' and buy toys.

 

They'd send the goods out to the store on a truck. There was an el­evator in the middle of the store that went from the basement to the third floor. It had a motor on it, but it was a hand-driven affair with a big wheel and a cord that went around. We'd take the toys up on the elevator and open them up. It was interesting that I got to see the toys before anyone else.

 

In those days, we were about the only store in town that had a big stock, and we sold a lot of toys. In the back of the building, there used to be a three-car garage. The front of the store was heated by steam, but in the garage at the back, Mr. Kinne had put in a little water heater for heat. I used to go down and fire that thing up in the middle of winter so we had heat for those old trucks. They were hard to start when it was cold.

 

What Jed to the name change from Kinne & Jeffery to Schielke's Food Store?

 

 My father married Vera Jeffery, the daughter of J.W. Jeffery. My father could drive a car, and he would take Mr. Jeffery to the Rock River on fish­ing trips. He evidently worked his way in and then married my mother. Mr. Kinne and Mr. Jeffery both died in 1918, shortly before I was born. There were no Kinnes to get in the business, and my grandmother got it. My grandmother and my Aunt Erma Jeffery ran it.

 

Because Aunt Erma and my father didn't get along very well, my grandmother got disgusted and sold the business to my father for about $10,000, just to get out of it.

 

Of course $10,000 was a lot of money in those days, but it was a big business, too. Aunt Erma quit in 1926 and went across the street to work at the Batavia National Bank until she retired In 1947.

 

My father renamed the store Schielke's Food Store. I worked there with my brother, Howard when I was lucky. You can get all the candy you wanted, I never thought anything about it --I guess I thought everybody had candy.


Did your father make any changes after he took over?

 

He decided to put in a meat mar­ket. He bought a big walk-in cooler and showcases and hired a butcher. The first butcher was from Rockford --I can't remember his name. Then we had Algert Swanson, who made real good Swedish sausage. He'd make wash tubs full of that sausage. He had some special ingredient he'd put in the sausage, and my father was always trying to find out what it was.

 

One morning Mr. Swanson was going down to Rachielles to buy this spice, so my father told me to go with him and maybe I could find out what it was. I went with him, but they just handed it to him. So I didn't find out what it was.

 

We sold lots of meat. Dr. Bothwell would buy a side of beef and store it in our cooler. It would lie up there until it started to get green. Then he'd come down and have Algert cut off a couple of nice big steaks. Later we had a butcher from St. Charles by the name of Walt Otto. He was the last butcher there.

 

You delivered, didn't you?

 

Yes. People would call up on the phone and give us their orders. We would deliver twice in the morning, and the same thing in the after­noon. We had six deliveries going out per day. You could call almost any­time, and if you were a good customer we'd deliver at three in the morning.

 

You know how that was. We had a big counter where we would put the groceries up in a spe­cial kind of box that could be folded and lie flat. There was a small size for bread and milk, and then a bigger box. We had two trucks. I started out driv­ing a Model T, then we had a Model A Ford, and finally we got a Dodge truck. We'd put the groceries on the eleva­tor and let it down about ten feet to where we could take them off and put them on the truck. We were protected from the rain. At Christmas time and at Thanks­giving, we would be real busy. Some­times then we would have to use both trucks.

 

Can you tell us anything about your customers?

 

In those days, everybody charged things. Hardly anyone paid cash. We hardly had any bad debts; people paid their bills. The Frank Snows had the biggest bill, about $250 per month. He was the president of the Challenge Com­pany. They had four daughters, but Mrs. Snow would come down and buy Lionel trains and cast iron toys --all the best toys for them. I think they had had a boy who died. I'd like to have some of those cast iron toys like she bought now. They were about three or four dollars then, and in those days that was a lot of money.

 

There was a customer in town named Albro Prindle. He sold stocks in Chicago. He had the nicest wife; when I'd deliver groceries there she'd always give me cookies. Albro Prindle, though, was an overbearing person. He'd come in the store and say to my father, "Herman, you see that Packard out in front? Put a case of Sunkist or­anges in there; that's my car." He al­ways wore diamond rings and was well-dressed. He'd go to Chicago on the Aurora and Elgin train, and he'd stop in the store and cut off a big hunk of baloney or liver sausage and chomp it down.

 

When he left, my fa­ther put it on his bill. I used to deliver groceries to the Holmes sisters. There were two of them, Harriet and Olive. They lived on South Batavia Avenue where the Bed and Breakfast is now. Their father had been a wealthy man. Harriet worked as a cancer researcher at the University of Chicago, and also taught at North­western University.

 

Olive stayed home and took care of the house and her cats. She would buy Richelieu sockeye salmon for cats, fifty cents for a small can. Most people had never even heard of it. At Christmas time, she'd give me five dollars, a lot of money then. They were real nice people.

 

Did you handle anything besides groceries and toys?

 

At Christmas time, we used to buy Christmas trees from a company up in Elgin -- name of McGill and some­thing else. We'd store them in the basement, which had a floor that had been the bed rock of the river and was always cool. So we could show trees to customers and sell them from there, and the ones we didn't sell, they'd come down and pick them up and give us credit for them.

 

At one time, Clarence Bell, who used to be a policeman in town, and my father had the idea of raising chick­ens. They had a big room upstairs, and they put in coops and raised a lot of chickens for quite a while --those small white chickens, I think they were leghorns. My father decided he would sell some kind of liquor in the store, so he got a license to sell but not serve li­quor. He ordered $500 worth of liquor, and I cleaned off about four or five big shelves for space. He was always afraid that Miss Holmes wouldn't like it.

 

One time she called and asked for my father. He had an idea what she was going to say; she asked if he sold liquor, and he said he did. "Good," she said. "Send me up a bottle of wine." My father was real happy -- he thought she was going to cancel her order.

 

Are there any special things you remember from working at the store?

 

At Christmas time we'd have a Santa Claus, and he sat up on the landing half-way up the stairs. The kids would come up, and he'd ask them what they wanted for Christmas. I always believed in Santa Claus, be­cause he was always there. One day I was coming down the back stairs, and in one of the rooms I saw Santa Claus taking off his clothes. It was Bill Bartelt. After that, I think a year later, I was the Santa Claus.

 

On Saturday evening in the sum­mertime, I would go down and put two or three hundred pounds of peanuts in the roaster. We had it vented so the odor would go out on Wilson Street and on River Street. The whole cor­ner would smell of fresh roasted pea­nuts. Boy, they were good when they were fresh, and we sure sold a lot of them.

 

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What happened to the grocery business?  

 

There hadn't been any chain stores earlier, just home-owned stores. Then the A&P, National Tea and Kroger's came in, and it got to be that I could do gown to Kroger's and buy things cheaper than what we paid for them at the wholesalers.

 

My father got upset with business and was sick, so my brother took over the business and I went down to Au­rora to work at Allsteel Equipment.

 

My brother, Howard, was different; he bought models to sell and took over the front of the store. My father moved to the back of the store. They didn't get along too well, and my father fi­nally left. Howard operated in his own way. When he was out of the store, he would hang a potato sack on a hook in front, and people knew he was out of the store.

 

What finally became of the build­ing that hadhoused Kinne & Jeffery and then Schielke's for so many years?

 

The State wanted to improve the corner of Route 25 and Wilson Street, and the City had a plan to put a parking lot on the corner, so my brother sold the property to the City. I don't know how much he got, maybe $38,000 or some­thing like that.

 

Then the City found out that Schielke's and the building next door to the east had a common wall, so they had to buy that building, also. Then they bought the small building to the east of that one. They were all torn down, but the parking plan did not ma­terialize.

 

There were a number of old fixtures in the building. Some men were going to develop an old-fashioned street on the east side of St. Charles, and my brother sold most of the fixtures in the store to them. But they went broke, and my son, Jeff, had to sue them -- I guess he got something back.

 

I've got the old cash register from the store and a scale and some other nice things. The old coffee grinder was sold to some farmer who used it to grind grain. Parts of the cast iron pieces used on the front of the Schielke building are displayed in the Depot Museum, down on the lower floor. They were  made by the Love Brothers in Aurora. So that's how Schielke's ended.

 


A Short History - Faith Church of the Brethren

 

 

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Top row (left to right):

L.A. Pollack, James M. Moore, Pastor, Eva Door, Mrs. Pollack, Alta Netzley (Williams), Birdie Clemmer (McCall), a Visitor, Hazel Rogers (Rahm )from Independence, MO, Amy Netzley (Replogle), laVerne, CA, Harvey Houck.

 

2nd row from top:

Mildred Zollers (Guddendorf), Aurora, IL, Grace Montgomery (Beckman), Lucille Benton, Bessie Barr, Ruby Ballard (Downs), Elgin, IL, Alice Quinby, Margaret Netzley (Small), Seattle, WA, Chaucey Stuff.

 

3rd row from top:

Mary Smith McKay, Mrs. David (Alice) Sluff, Sarah McCullough (Bolt). Bradenton, FL, Jessie Partlow, Sadie Miller (Oxe), Gladys Barr, Frances Cavender, Helen Cavender, California, Lillian Barr (Henning). St. Charles, IL, Mrs. Emanuel Netzley, Floyd Morter, Samuel Netzley, Mrs. Ella Moore (pastor's wife).

 

4th row from top:

Harold Morter, Eva Stuff (Netzley-Rigley), Georgia Corklund, 3 Jackson brothers, Gladys Barr, Elhel Door, Deliah Montgomery, Monlgomery, another Jackson boy.

 

5th row from top:

Naomi Houck, , Grace Pollack, Raymond Pollack, John McCullough, Mertle Partlow, Helen Benton.

 

Sadie Miller had the original 0f this picture cleaned and reframed May 22, 1956.

 

Married names and addresses added by Mrs. Harry Schlmelpfenlg, 1970. Sunday School In 1906.

 

This is the sixth in a series of Batavia church histories. It is based primarily on Brethren in Batavia, a history of Faith Church written in 1970 by Pastor Terry Hatfield.

 

Erin Matteson, the church's new pastor, reviewed the article and suggested the conclusion.

 

The final details of organization were not yet established when 24 brothers and sisters met at 2:30 in the afternoon, October 3, 1896, in their new Batavia meetinghouse. Nineteen in number, heretofore members of the Naperville church, the German Bap­tist Brethren gathered in council, with five leading brethren present to assist in the organizational proceedings, Chosen as trustees in the first elec­tion were Henry W. Barkdoll, Samuel E. Netzley, and Jesse Clemmer. Church officers elected were Mary E. Netzley, clerk, and Samuel Netzley, treasurer, Butthere had been Brethren church activity in Batavia for 16 years prior to the formal organization.

 

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The Church in 1957

 

The Brethren's first church services were held in 1880 at the Christian Church, followed later by revival meetings, one series held in the old Baptist Church and the other in the Evangelical Church.

 

In 1885 the members estab­lished their first prayer meetings, held for some time in different homes but later in a small room that they rented on Church Street. In 1886, they baptized their first convert, Susan Morter, This and other early baptismal services were not the secluded rites of today in some con­venient church pool, but were con­ducted on the shores of the Fox River, both in winter and summer.

 

Two years later, Bro. George Zollers conducted the first communion service in the old Methodist Church. The membership slowly increased until, in 1895, they thought it advis­able to have a regular place of war ship of their own. After obtaining permission from the Naperville church to which they still belonged, they purchased the site of the present church on North Van Buren Street. The build­ing in which the 24 Brethren met to organize their church was completed for $785.

 

Let's pause at this point to consider just who the Brethren were. They be­gan about 1708 when eight dedicated Christians joined to seek refuge from the religious persecution in what is now Germany. They shared the ex­periences and many of the beliefs of the Mennonites. In 1719, forty fami­lies Jeft for Pennsylvania. followed over the next ten years by most of those who were to stay with the Breth­ren. The first group established a church in Germantown; the Coventry and Conestoga congregations were founded in 1724. The pre-Revolutionary period saw expansion into Virginia and Maryland.

 

Following the Revolution, Brethren congregations began to appear west of the Appalachians. In 1849, Jacob

Netzley left his home in Lititz, Penn­sylvania, for Illinois, settling in DuPage County. With the coming of other Brethren families, the Naperville Ger­man Baptist Church was founded in 1855. This church, as we have seen, became the parent church of the Batavia congregation.

 

Brethren life was characterized in this time by their principles of the good life, the simple life, peace, brother­hood, and temperance. Adherence to these principles, based on New Tes­tament scriptures, was expected ­and demanded. The "peculiar people," as they sometimes called themselves, avoided materialism in both church and home. Women wore gowns, capes, and bonnets. A net prayer covering was also worn on the head. Men dressed in collarless black coats and broad-brimmed hats and wore beards. The meetinghouse was usually a simple structure with benches, a heating stove, and a table for the ministers.

 

The first council was reconvened on October 17, 1896, two weeks after or­ganization, to complete a set of by-laws by which to govern the church. Article 7 stipulated the procedure necessary to bring a charge on another member's action or conduct. The complaint was to be in writing, with the name of the person bringing it and the charge.

 

That first council found two of the nineteen original members being charged for misdeeds. Therman Cressen and Charles Ballard, "ac­cused of drunkenness and miscon­duct did not appear at the council meeting." Bro. Cressen acknowl­edged the charge to be true "but de­sired time to consider reconciliation." Bro. Ballard had made no such ac­knowledgment, but council decided "to send him a visit and get a decided answer if he will come to the meeting and make an acknowledgment and the church forgive him."

 

On March 13, 1897, it was reported the "Bro. Ballard has made his ac­knowledgment to the church and was forgiven." The trust and faith in his repentance was so strong that the church "decided to have Bro. C. Ballard for janitor until the next coun­cil." Brother Cressen's case was still un­decided as he was "afflicted." As promises often fade with time, Bro. Ballard was once again found under the influence and expelled from the mem­bership on June 13, 1897.

 

That same day, the other accused, Bro. Cressen, acknowledged his drunkenness and re­ceived the forgiveness of the council. The forgiveness, however, was trans­formed into a vote of disownment in October of the same year, as he con­tinued his indulgence. And, over the next few years, the council minutes revealed Bro. Ballard and his wife, leav­ing, reentering, and again leaving the church as if through a revolving door! While these disownments were fre­quent (fourteen in the first seventeen years), cases were handled with much patience.

 

There was frequent mention in early minutes of decisions "to bear with" the violator a "while." Details about many of these cases are not re­corded, suggesting that they were se­rious transgressions. Other matters seem trivial to us today, such as giving ~Myrtle Dame time, until first of April 1901, to lay aside her jewelry and hat." In 1908 the name of the church was changed from the German Baptist Brethren to the Church of the Breth­ren.

 

Beginning in that year, there was a noted emphasis on the church's mission to the poor. The church helped find a home for the children of a mother who could not keep them. Records show the church helping with the sickness and funeral expenses of one of its members. And an important development: The September 30 council "decided that we carry out the decisions of Annual Meeting in giving the sisters the privilege of breaking bread" - a right reserved for the men up to that time.

 

The first real sign of ecumenism sprang forth in 1914 when the Breth­ren cooperated with the rest of the churches in Batavia in a union revival service. This was the initial step to greater community participation in worship and religious programs. Their interests began to broaden beyond their own fellowship.

 

On April 6, 1914, the council passed a resolution to sup­port national prohibition and to request that the Senate of the United States pass the Shepherd and Hobson Reso­lution.

 

At the council of March 16, 1916, the following resolution was passed:

 

That we hereby put ourselves on record as favoring the simple life in all its phases as set forth in the Gos­pel and by Annual Conference.

 

1.  That we will to the best of our abil­ity maintain in our lives this simplicity of life and modesty in dress as de­fined by  

     Annual Conference.

 

2.  That we will uphold these principles and methods in our personal work and mingling with one another as well as with

     those not of our church.

 

3.  That we hereby record our stand against all the evil forms of worldliness so detrimental to spiritual life and growth.  

 

While the third resolution specifically recognized "mingling with one another as well as with those not of our church," it is interesting to note that the church discontinued all active part in the union worship services. As for Brethren of every generation, war and military service became a serious question. During World War I, Rev. J. M. Moore wrote to Chauncy Stuff, who at one time served as church clerk, dealing with "the difficult situation in which you find yourself, and the problems you must resolve relative to your religious convictions" on military service.

 

We do not know what decision Bro. Stuff reached. In order to ascertain whether the church was willing and able to sup­port a resident pastor in 1922, the ministerial committee recommended that each member present publicly pledge the amount he is willing to con­tribute. Seven hundred dollars was pledged. Since the amount was insuf­ficient, the members then voted on the question: Should we go ahead and hire a resident pastor on the strength of the $700 pledged tonight?

 

The bal­lot revealed a close split of 12 yeas and 18 nays. But in January of 1923 they saw their way clear to hire Galen Lehman. A dramatic change in worship came in that year with the introduction of a previously forbidden piano.

 

Sixteen members had filed the following peti­tion:

 

Inasmuch as church music is a most vital part of church worship, and Inasmuch as we do not have the response in congregational singing that we believe our ability and num­bers justify, and Inasmuch as Annual Conference Page 8 has given permission to all churches so desiring to place pianos in their church for the purpose of being used as an aid to congregational singing, and Inasmuch as we believe that a piano would prove valuable in pro­moting better singing, We the undersigned do hereby petition the Batavia Church of the Brethren to grant the privilege of placing a piano within the church for the purpose above stated, provid­ing that the funds for the same can be secured unassisted from funds forming the regular budget of the church.

 

The council approved the petition in July. As with churches generally, the Brethren encountered severe financial difficulties from time to time. In 1925, some of the members, it was stated, were not looking upon their pledges with seriousness. An envelope system was established, with payment of pledges to be made each Sunday. At the end of each quarter, the treasurer gave a "public report-of each member's standing --a short-lived practice we are told. Over the next couple of decades, which included the Great Depression, the church continued to struggle finan­cially.

 

In 1945, however, after twenty­ two years of refinancing, remodeling, and repairing, the parsonage debt was paid off. With vision and hope, the trustees purchased a lot adjacent and north of the church in 1955. In January of 1958, a building fund for enlarging the church was started. Although attendance had dropped to an average of 36 in 1955, it in­creased to 47 in 1957 and 67 in 1959. And during this period, the first steps were taken for closer association with the Faith Evangelical United Brethren. Five blocks south of the Brethren at the corner of State Street, the E.U.B. had its beginning in the middle of the 19th century.

 

The two churches were not related historically in origin or be­liefs, but there was a kinship in prob­lems, struggles, and family ties. Both had Germanic roots. The church in 1957 First, the two churches sponsored a joint vacation Bible school, and the men had some combined fellowship meetings. Talks in the spring of 1963 led to the formation of a "yoked par­ish."

 

In 1965 the churches voted to hold combined services for the sum­mer, and in January, 1966, the two churches voted to unite into one body, which became the Faith Church of the Brethren. The E.U.B. church and par­sonage were sold to the Holy Cross Parish for $40,000. At the next council, the first officers were elected: James Renz, modera­tor, and Ruth Anderson, Clerk.

 

The first church board members were Andy Anderson, Glenn Anderson, Forrest Barber, Floyd Fitch, Letha Gribble, Clarence Gorham, Harold Maves, June Oxe, Emilie Schimel­Fenig, Robert Stuttle, Thelma Wagner, and Ida Wisthoff. With the combining of the two bod­ies into a building too small for one, the need for a new structure was evi­dent to all. On August 3, 1966, the­ congregation approved a $77,000 building contract for a new complex.

 

Difficulties with the contractor, who was eventually dismissed before completion of the building, increased considerably the cost. The structure, finished through the combined efforts and talents of the members and local contractors, cost approximately $105,000. Although Faith Church continues to move through transition and change today, such as welcoming a new pas­tor just this past July, the members continue to build in their tradition and rich history as well. And they do this, keeping their doors open, warmly to any and all who wish to enter into their story at this juncture of its telling.

 

The congregation still talks openly about what it means to live simply in today's fast-paced, materialistic culture. The members still work at issues of peace and justice and social action for the good of their community and the world.

They still work cooperatively With other congregations in town on community projects. And they still work hard as a people, toward a fu­ture tilled with hope and promise.


The Batavia Historian, recipient of The Illinois' State Historical Society's 1997 Award for Superior Achievement, is published quarterly by the Batavia Historical Society.

The editor, Bill Hall, will welcome any suggestions or material. Call 630·879·2033.

 

The Depot Museum, a cooperative effort of the Society and the Batavia Park District, is open from 2 to 4 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from March through November.

The director, Carla Hill, can be reached at (630) 879·5235.

 

 


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Museum Doings

by Carla Hill, Director

 

We are still available for help with re­search and some special tours. The Museum Volunteer Christmas luncheon went very well, and the Batavia High School Swing Singers provided an outstanding program.

 

The museum has approximately 80 dedi­cated volunteers. Without volunteers we would not be able to operate. A spe­cial thank you to Walter and Georgene Kauth for opening the museum on Sat­urdays and Sundays; Dorothy Hanson, Marilyn Phelps and Helen Anderson for their on-going work with the museum collections; Marilyn Robinson and Bill Wood, who are always there when I need their help; and Kathy Fairbaim, who has the tremendous task of sched­uling the museum volunteers and pre­paring the monthly calendar.

 

The 1997 Museum ornament has sold very well this year, and John Gustafson's Historic Batavia books have been a tremendous success. We have the windmill kits back in stock so if you have been waiting for them they are now available.

 

I am looking forward to preparing some new exhibits for 1998, including a display that will feature the Jerry Ruble artifacts. The museum will reopen the first Monday in March. Anyone who would like to volunteer at the museum should contact Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041.

 

 


 

Newton Wagon Company
 

Taken from John Gustafson's His­toric Batavia.

by Esther Flower Cruickshank.

 

An Oklahoma antiques dealer recently acquired the wagon pictured on this page. Noting that it bore the name Emerson-Brantingham Corp., Newton Wagon Works, Batavia, III., the dealer wrote to Batavia, asking for information about the maker of the wagon. Bill Wood responded, and it occurred to us that readers who have seen the Newton name various places around town, such as the house at the northwest corner of Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street and the Civil War monument in the West Side Cemetery, might be interested in a brief history of the company.

 

Much of what follows is taken from John Gustafson's Historic Batavia. After fire destroyed his wagon factory in Attica, New York, Levi Newton recalled that much of his business was derived from Illinois and came to Batavia in September, 1854. He looked over the north end of the Island, which was in wheat, and appraised it, with its available water power and the abundant timber up and down the valley, as an ideal site for his new factory. The first year he and his son, Don Carlos, who had gone into partnership with him, made only thirty-six wagons and thirty-five buggies. Later his younger son, E.C., and then his son-in-law, H.K. Wolcott, became joint stockholders. It was well the losses were divided and limited because disaster in the form of another fire hit in 1872. The fire burned the entire shop north of the newly erected three-story office building.

 

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Since that was the year after the Chicago fire, the insurance companies could not pay their obligations. The Newton company had to stand the entire loss, which totaled about $40,000 – a staggering sum for those days. The company rebuilt the plant, however, better than before.

 

Newton wagons became known all over the United States for their strength and durability, with many of them used in the country's westward expansion. As reported in Roberta Campbell's Batavia: 1833-1983, "the Newtons' contribution to settling the west is described in an excerpt from a small booklet titled 'The Covered Wagon, a reminiscence of the migration of the Flower family to Iowa from their Vermont home in 1887,' written by Esther Flower Cruickshank.

 

She told how, after a train trip from Shushen, N.Y., by way of Niagara Falls and Canada, ferrying the Detroit River and thence to Chicago, 'we changed cars for Batavia, Illinois, our stopping place ... and here it was that we found our "Covered Wagon." Uncle Eli and Pa spent days looking for a good team of horses and choosing a wagon in which we must travel the rest of the way to Iowa. I think the wagon was selected, then the cover was put on.

 

The cover was of heavy white cotton and there were strong bows to hold it firm and in shape.'" In 1887, the company was making between four and five thousand wagons and carriages a year. Don Carlos succeeded his father as president in 1879, H.K. Wolcott succeeding him in 1893. Wolcott continued as president until the Emerson Brantingham Corp. bought the firm in 1912. The Batavia Body Company, which Gunnar Wiberg described in the last issue, grew out of this in 1931.

 


 

Has Your Historian Arrived on Time?

 

As you have probably noticed, we have a non-profit permit that allows us to mail the Historian and notices of meetings at substantially reduced rates. The Postal Service is not required to deliver such mailings as promptly as it does first class mail. Members who live in Batavia are fortunate in receiving very timely delivery service, but we understand that delivery to members in other cities is sometimes delayed for several weeks. If you live outside of Batavia and have not been receiving timely deliveries, we shall be glad to mail your newsletters and meeting notices first class. Please let us know if you wish this service, with a payment of $2.00 for the year in addition to your regular dues.

 


 

Annual christmas Meeting An Enjoyable Event - As Usual

 

With 125 members in attendance, the Annual Meeting and Christmas potluck, held on Sunday, December 7, at Bethany Lutheran Church, was what we have come to expect – a huge success.

 

Following a delicious dinner, Co­-President Bert Johnson conducted a brief business meeting at which the following officers and directors were elected:

 

Vice President and Program Chairman,

Richard Benson (succeed­ing Patricia Will); Corresponding Sec­retary,

Georgene Kauth (incumbent);

and incumbent Directors Carole Dunn, Tim Mair, and Bill Wood.

 

The delightful program, which the outgoing program chairman, Patty Will, had arranged, consisted of mu­sic from different countries presented by the Middle School's Bataviana Strolling Strings.

 

After the program, many members took advantage of the opportunity to buy copies of John Gustafson's Historic Batavia, which the authors, Marilyn Robinson and Jeff Schielke autographed.

 

 


 

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When Carl "Pinoke" Johnson died on November 11, our city lost a major contact with an era in which Batavia athletes achieved outstanding

suc­cess, both locally and beyond. Know­ing that Pinoke had a scrapbook of clip­pings from the 19205 that was given to him by Harold Foland,

we asked Pinoke's son Dean if we might borrow it.

 

Although most of our members have probably heard that Batavia won the state basketball championship in 1912 and may have read in John Gustafson's Historic Batavia that the 1920-21 teams reached the state finals two years in a row, we wonder how many know that Batavia came close to repeating in 1924.

 

That year's team, led by All-slate Pinoke Johnson, won 20 games, with no losses, during the regular season. Opponents included West Aurora and Wheaton, as well as downstate powers Decatur and Taylorville. The story on the Wheaton game noted that Wheaton's center was a brother of the famous Harold Grange of the IIIini, better remembered today as Red Grange.

 

It was certainly a dif­ferent game in those days, with a cen­ter jump after each basket; the win against St. Charles was by a score of 17 to 5. In that era of low scores, the 69-13 runaway against Downers Grove must have been truly breathtak­ing. In clinching the Aurora district play­off title with a 41 to 17 rout of Sand­wich, "'Pinoke' Johnson,· according to a headline, "Blazed Way to Victory, Scoring 17 of Winning Points." Unfor­tunately, however, the dream came to an end after 27 straight victories when Batavia lost to Elgin, 31 to 19, in the Final game of the Joliet sectional tour­nament.

 

Elgin went on to win The state championship. Besides Pinoke Johnson, the starters on the Batavia team, coached by J.W. Peel, included Carl Anderson, C. Bergeson, Leonard Carlson, and Herbert Johnson.

 

One of the Elgin players was Doug Mills, who later became the basketball coach and then the athletic director of the Univer­sity of Illinois. And Pinoke went on, as many Batavians will recall, to serve for many years as a Big Ten basketball official, as well as handling state tour­nament games in Champaign. But the scrapbook was not limited to the Batavia basketball team of 1923­24.

 

Johnny Mauer, a former Batavia football and basketball star and by 1924 an outstanding athlete at the University of Illinois, was featured in a number of clippings. A picture of the leaders expected to play for Illinois that year in a basketball game against Michigan carried the line: "Michigan and Illinois will dash again tomorrow night, but this time it will be on the bas­ketball court and there will be no Red Grange for the Wolverines to fear. But the Illini have a man by the name of Johnny Mauer who is expected to be something of a menace to the Ann Ar­bor boys."

 

A couple of pages later, un­der a heading "Saves Illinois," we read that "Johnny Mauer, former Batavia High School star, tossed Illinois to vic­tory and the lead in the Big Ten con­ference last night when he chocked the winning basket in the game against Indiana which the Illini won, 21 to 20'­And still another headline reads: "Mauer Hero As lliini Quintet Triumphs, 35-31" against Ohio State. After a career at Illinois that included captaining the football and basketball teams, Mauer retuned to Batavia for one year as the high school basketball coach before moving on to coach at the col­lege level, first at the University of Ken­tucky and later at West Point.

 

Reading the sports page then must have been as exciting for Batavians as it was forty to fifty years later when Dan Issei and Ken Anderson captured so many headlines in high school, in col­lege, and finally in professional bas­ketball and football. But that is another story --one to cover another time.

 


 

We Hate to Lose a Reader but

 

 We will have to discontinue sending future issues of the Histo­rian to any readers who have not paid dues since January 1, 1997. If there is a red dot on your ad­dress label, it means that we have not received your dues for 1997 or 1998, and this will be your last is· sue unless we hear from you. Please keep that from happening.

 

 


 

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