THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Forty-Three

No. 1

 

January 2002

 

 


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By Marj Holbrook

 

Thirty years ago -- on February 3, 2002 -- the crew from Frank Saupp Tree Service braved sub-zero cold to fell a giant elm.

 

"When it went, it was like somebody had slapped it with a fist. It let out a few creaks and just collapsed."

 

This was not just any tree; it was the enormous, historic Shabbona Elm at Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve. Legend says that beneath this elm, Chief Shabbona conferred with tribal leaders. Later, the massive tree became a focus for Boy Scout and Girl Scout events. Visitors hiked into the woods to crane their necks, gawking at its highest branches. "We've never cut a bigger tree than that," says Frank Saupp, the second generation of arborists. Now 61, he was 32 years old on that frigid winter day when the crew from his father's business cut the tree.

 

"The tree was about eight feet in diameter. It was so cold, we were glad we could just fell it right there," he recalls Over the years, the forest preserve had cleared trees around the elm to give visitors a better view. Saupp says the tree had been dead at least two years -- from Dutch Elm disease -- and all its bark had peeled away. "It took me about an hour to cut the notch out and start on the back [of the tree]. When it went, it was like somebody had slapped it with a fist. It let out a few creaks and just collapsed. I've had very few trees do that." Frank recalls that he was a grade school Patrol Boy when Police Chief Russell "Ruck" Clark took the Patrol Boys to Johnson's Mound for a week during the summer. "I think I was in seventh grade, and I looked up at that tree and thought, 'What a racket that will make if it comes down.' And it did! But when I was in seventh grade, I never thought that tree would come down -- and I never thought I'd be there." Felling the tree was just the beginning, however; it still had to be cut and piled up.

 

"It was colder than all get out," Frank remembers, adding that there were at least six inches of snow on the ground. "We started a fire and burned a little of the tree just to keep our hands warm." He says several slabs cut from the branches were delivered to area museums, including the Fabyan Museum and the Aurora Historical Society museum. Today, the Batavia Depot Museum's collection also includes a slab from the historic tree. We couldn't cut a slab from the base," Frank says. - It was just too big. Even the slabs from the branches were really good-sized," He also remembers precisely who was there: His father, Frank Saupp, who owned and operated the business; his younger brother, John (who died in 1995); Jeff Banbury and Odell Renfrow. Does he remember the names of every crew over the years? -No, I don't he says, "bul that job was special."

 

Frank says the business still operates with a five-man crew these days, only now he works for his son. Frank Jr.  the third generation of Saupps in the tree business -- has taken over the operation. The other three are Jim Borman, Shawn Kane and Steve Marks. The Shabbona Elm was down and piled up in just one day. The forest preserve got their money's worth," Frank says. "We didn't stand around. I'm still glad we didn't have to do any climbing on that one."

 

Starting Early But Frank did start climbing early. He grins through his graying beard as he remembers how il began when he was just 12 years old: "Paul Fenske and I took our lunch and went down to the river. We climbed the Power House chimney and sat on the top and ate our lunch."The Power House was along the river, just south of Batavia about where the Funway properly is today. "The newspapers reported that 'two reckless youth' climbed the chitney," Frank remembers. "They didn't use our names. Heck, we climbed very carefully." All we wanted was a better view. "[Police Chief] Ruck Clark came and hauled us home. When my dad came home for supper that night, my mom told him what happened, He said, 'If you're such a climber, I've got a job for you.' "On my first day out, dad wanted to see what I had. He gave me a climbing rope and safety harness, told me what branches he wanted off that tree and I went up and did it. That's how I got started, and it was 49 years ago." He even remembers the tree: it was on the old Bob Joshel place in Geneva. We didn't have power saws back then, so I took a hand saw and just climbed up and started sawing." He pauses and the grin widens. "I'm still climbing," he says. - It's all in balance and strength know-how and experience. You learn from your mistakes and never make the same ones twice ."

 

Anyone who has watched Frark Saupp swing through tree limbs marvels at his agility and safety record." I've never had a bad injury," he says with pride. "I've taken some wildswings, gotten tangled, and had limbs break from under me, but I always was tied to another one." A Family Business Frank Saupp Tree Service began about 1932 when Frank's dad was working for Davey Tree Service. "He didn't want to 'barnstorm' with Davey, so he started his own business," his son says.

 

The elder Saupp came to Illinois from Pennsylvania and met his wife, Gertrude, an Auroran, when both were dancing. Over the yea rs, Gerlrude took the phone ca lls and handled the bookkeeping for the business. Their two sons, Frank and John, took over the business about 25 years ago. The business is still listed al 417 Carlisle Road, Batavia. Owner Frank Saupp, who is actually the fourth generation of the family with that name lives there now, but it was his grandparents' home for decades. Frank, Sr., and his brother John lrew up in the tree business. Frank was still in grade school when he began working regularly for his father. "There were logs in the back yard, and after school, I broke them up for firewood. On Saturdays, we'd deliver them," he remembers.

 

John Saupp retired in 1993 after experiencing back problems. He moved to Alabama, but died from cancer just about a year later. In high school during the late 1950s, Frank Saupp was in the Diversified Occupations program and prepared to take the eight-hour written exam that would make him a registered tree expert. After high school, he continued to study via correspondence courses, but he didn't take the exam until he was 27 years old. (He quickly adds that son Frank is a certified tree expert.) "When I was in school, they didn't have college degrees in arborculture only in forestry," Frank says. "Forestry looks at trees as a group, managing them. Arborculture looks at individual trees -- nursing them." , Frank says he's never stopped learning and credits many people with teaching him. One was his father. "He'd find something out of the ordinary and gather the crew together. 'Anybody know what this is?' he'd ask. Then he'd go on to explain the species, characteristics, etc." Another was Charles McFarland, a tree service competitor who became a good friend. "His son really didn't want to go into the business, and Charles wanted to pass on what he'd learned over the years," Franks says. "I really enjoyed learning what he could show me." Still another was Dr. Richard Campana, head of the University of Illinois department of plant pathology. "When Dutch Elm disease broke out, my dad invited him to speak to people from the city. I first met Dr. Campana when I was about 14 years old. I still have books he wrote and gave to me." He also credits the late Gunnar Anderson, long-time superintendent of Kane County Forest Preserve, with teaching him about management and politics.

 

Industry Changes 

 

When 12-year-old Frank Saupp first trimmed a tree under his dad's watchful eye, chain saws were huge, cumbersome and used only on the ground. "When I started in the business, it was a rope, saddle and guts," he recalls. "the first chain saw we had weighed about 80 pounds." There were no cranes or bucket trucks. The Frank Saupp operation got its first bucket truck in 1967, shortly after Frank had attended a field day for the International Shade Tree Association at the Morton Arboretum. "They had all kinds of equipment," he recalls. "I got there early and there was a Hi-Ranger [bucket truck] that impressed me. The salesman said, 'I'll show you how to run it; you can try it out.' Heck, any 2-year-old could have run it. I was in the bucket having a great time and decided it was time to come down. The salesman yelled, "Hey, keep going. There are a lot of people watching you." It was a great piece of equipment, but I wondered if you could make money with it. I took the salesman's business card and explained that my father owned the business and I'd talk to him. "The next Monday, I came home from work and a brand new rig was in the driveway. Dad came out and said, I don't know what you did, but the guy said to try this for one week.' The next day, we used it and did three days work in a single day. That night, Dad ordered one. From then on, it made life a lot easier."

 

Community Involvement

 

For people in Batavia, Frank Saupp's name may be synonymous with trees, but he's also been active on city boards for 16 years. He was on the Zoning Board of Appeals for two years and on the city's Plan Commission for 14 years. "I enjoyed every minute of it," he says enthusiastically. I got in on some of the ground-breaking history of the city. [Former alderman] Jim Hanson and I were on the Plan Commission and someone wanted to build where the Riverwalk is now. We fought it and fought it. After it was defeated, the Riverwalk got going and look what we have. If that building had been allowed, we wouldn't have had anything there. "That's what I'm most proud of: Fighting that project." He's also the city arborist and adviser to the Batavia Tree Commission, which looks out for the welfare of trees and planting new trees. Frank and his wife, Mary, have two children, Frank -- now owner of the business -- and Lisa, and two grandchildren. After 49 years in the business, it's not surprising that Frank Saupp loves trees. He says he prefers the trees of the native forest: maples, ash and oaks. "If I had an absolute favorite, I guess it would be the burr oak. It's the strongest and most [disease] resistant and it has so much character." That description also fits Frank Saupp perfectly.

 

Marj Holbrook, writer of this story, is a Depot Museum volunteer. She was a BeaGan-News reporter who was at Johnson's Mound the day the Shabbona Elm was cut down.


HISTORY IS WHERE YOU FIND IT!

 

by Marilyn Robinson

 

When I'm invited to read to school children, I often read from a book entitled "The Story Lady's Book" by Georgene Faulkner, copyright 1921. I found this book in a second-hand store somewhere, sometime.

The day after reading to the children at the story hour for the Festival of Lights, Bill Wood asked me what story I had read. I showed him my book. He opened it to the handwritten inscription on the fly leaf, "Harriet from Viola."  "I recognize this handwriting," Bill said. "That's Harriet Chamberlain. She was the librarian at the east side branch library on North Washington Avenue. Viola McDowell was her cousin. They lived together on South VanBuren Street, three houses from the corner of Wilson on the west side of the street."

 


Carl Furnas ... And the Company He Built

 

This story began in the October 2001 issue with Carl Furnas' birth in Edinburg, Indiana, on September 27, 1885, covered his growing up years, focused on his years at Allis Charlmers, and concluded with the start of the Furnas Electric Company in West Allis, Wisconsin, in 1931.ln this issue, we take up the story with his decision to move -- a decision that led him and his company to Batavia. vol_43_2.jpg

 

After sales topped $200,000 in 1938, Carl wanted to move out from under the shadow of the giant AllisChalmers plant and to a place where taxes would be less burdensome. He decided to conduct a three-state search and checked locations in Madison, Woodstock, South Bend and Muskegon. In addition, his cousin Don convinced Carl to consider the Fox Valley as it was close to both suppliers and customer potential in northeast Illinois, northern Indiana and Ohio. Also, there was a good supply of skilled trades and labor to draw on. Carl looked closely at all the cities along the Fox River Valley, especially Geneva and Batavia.

 

His biography says that it was a group of aggressive Batavia businessmen who helped him make up his mind; after his visit to Batavia, a delegation from Batavia came to West Allis and convinced him that Batavia wanted and needed Furnas Electric Company -- enough that it was willing to give him $1,000 to help him move south Not long after this, Carl and Gilbert Hansen were busy surveying an 8.9 acre plot on McKee and VanNortwick streets.

 

And then Carl's brother-in-law Ross Buck, a successful civil engineer, came to town to line up the labor and materials to build Carl's dream. From start to finish construction of the plant took less than four months. Upon completion, the move from West Allis proceeded without a hitch. As Art Wendland recalled, "We loaded all the trucks ourselves by using rollers and pry bars. When it got so dark we couldn't see anymore, Ed's brother Elmer Parmann put the front end of his car up on blocks and we finished loading under the beam from the headlights.

 

Elmer, Lee Dungey and I loaded that last truck ourselves. I can still remember tying those drill presses down just before we took off." Art continued, "We shipped out of West Allis on Wednesday, moved on Thursday and started shipping from Batavia on Friday." It was a move for people as well as equipment -- Wilbur Slicker, Bob Sanderson, Homer Matthews, Lee Dungey, Art Wendland. Howard Wollendorf, Doron Cox and all of the 26 "Furnas families." "Those were the days," recalled ArtWendland. "No one was making a mint but at least we were working and we were young enough that nothing bothered us.

 

There were seven of us rooming in the old McKee place. We were all single and Mrs. Cox cooked for us, packed our lunches and looked after us like we were her own sons" -- which Doron actually was! When Carl Furnas moved to Batavia, he immediately began dreaming of expansion. Between 1939 and the close of the 1940 fiscal year, annual sales at Furnas climb' from slightly more than $100,000 \"P $1,000,000, some of which could be attributed to the move to more spacious quarters in Batavia. Just before Pearl Harbor, employment reached about 50. During the war years, the company's activities were confined mainly to established products; reflecting a slow but steady growth, sales rose to $2,000,000 during the war. Early in 1948, Furnas Electric Company launched what Carl described as "our greatest venture" -- a line of magnetic starters that took until 1950 to be perfected and added to the company's product line. Among those in the "know," it is generally believed that this development enabled the company to compete, with a complete line of magnetics, as a full-line control manufacturer.

 

The post-war years saw a real flurry of new products and designs being added to the company's growing catalog. During these years, the long pent-up demand for new technology consumer products not available during the war years led to a tremendous growth in manufacturing all across the  country, resulting in a great demand for the machines to make these products -- and, of course, an equally strong need for the electrical controls to run those machines and factories. The Furnas family and company, however, were badly shaken in 1957 when Gilbert Hansen lost his life on a photographic expedition on the Colorado River. His neoprene raft had overturned without warning. Although Carl personally supervised a search that lasted for months, Gilbert Hansen's body was never found. According to what Leto told Ruth Nicholson, Carl's cousin in Aurora, it was the only time she had ever seen Carl cry. The death of his son-in-law seemed to force Carl to focus on management expansion. Gilbert had overseen so many of the details of keeping the growing company in harmony with the manufacturing demands that his loss was immediately felt.

 

Although Carl continued to say that he would retire when he was 90. Of course, everyone just loved those almost daily changes! -V For the first time, it appeared that he was beginning to recognize that the time would come when he would no longer be around to direct the company's business, and the loss of his son-in-law brought home the need to expand the management team. In 1958, a unique opportunity came to Furnas Electric Company. Carl's former employer, Allis Chalmers, then a major factor in electrical power generation, transmission and distribution equipment, asked Carl Furnas to design and build them a new line of low voltage motor control products for their growing distribution market. This would effectively double their business and give cause to redesigning their now aging magnetic motor control product line -- sort of like a car company coming out with six new models all at once. Furnas, of course, agreed to supply Allis-Chalmers with a complete line of controls -- the biggest assignment Furnas had ever received. The agreement not only called for a major expansion in the company's operations but also brought about changes in the way the company operated. As Plant Superintendent Marshall Froland put it, "When we got this business from Milwaukee, we moved from the minors into the big leagues. We doubled our engineering staff; draftsmen were working overtime; and the tooling department expanded by at least 30 percent. We went to two shifts on magnetics because we quickly discovered that we just couldn't utilize our equipment efficiently while we were only working one shift." Although the company consumed most of Furnas' energy, Carl still had time and money to spend on charitable activities -- if anything, he increased his interest in philanthropy. vol_43_10.jpg

 

As told in his biography, "If someone had a serious illness, Carl was there wanting to know if he could advance a personal loan. If he learned that a man had somehow strayed off the beaten path because of alcoholism or some other emotional problem, his first thought was for the man's family. If money was needed to fix up a social center for teen-agers, Carl was ready to give both money and time." In 1960, he formalized these philanthropic activities by setting up the Furnas Foundation, which gave primarily scholarships to employees' children, but also gave grants to churches, hospitals and welfare centers located in the Greater Chicago area.

 

 Later, after Carl's death, the expanded organization, subsequently renamed the Hansen-Furnas Foundation, began providing scholarships to qualified high school graduates of schools within a 12 mile radius of Batavia and in Clark County, Iowa, as well as supporting numerous local charities in the Fox Valley. Since its inception, the scholarship grants and support for local charities have exceeded six million dollars. The "farm" on Deerpath Road near Batavia.

 

 Then on January 10, 1962, Carl got up about six o'clock in the morning to check the furnaces that heated his home on Deerpath Road. After checking them, he apparently retired to a couch in the living room and drew a blanket up under his chin. When Leto went into the living room, she found that he had apparently succumbed to a coronary occlusion. It was the end of an era. Despite having lost her only child and her husband in a period of five months, Leto Furnas, who had always been kept current on company affairs, stepped into the gap at the company. She took the position of chairman of the board, and Bill Lisman, formerly a vice president, was elected president. And the company, following the principles laid down by its founder continued to grow.

 

By the end of 1963, the year after Carl died, Bill Lisman was looking forward to sales of $9.300,000 -- a ninefold increase over the 1940 sales figure. And he was forecasting continued growth. As he said then, "We figure we have about seven percent of the market for electrical controls. We want to at least raise that figure to 10 percent as soon as possible. When we do, our sales will have risen to $15 million and our total employment will have doubled." With the help of Richard W. Hansen, grandson of Carl and Leota Furnas, we willi conclude the story of Furnas Electric Company in the next issue. In the preparation of this issue, we relied primarily on the biography of Carl Furnas, Shadow ofa Man, by Robert Lorz; Dick Hansen helped by reviewing our draft and providing additional information.

 


 

Batavia Company Rebuilds Lena. Illinois· Collapsed Water Tower

 

Mayor Schielke recently came across the information that follows in a publication that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Lena (Illinois) Fire Department. It reveals a facet of the U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Co.'s operations that many of us knew nothing about.

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After considerable debate on the need, the voters of Lena, Illinois, passed an April, 1895, referendum calling for the construction of a "waterworks with a giant tower standing erect like a proud lady." Drilling soon began, and the tower began to rise. "Then on Christmas morning, a morning most people were readying for a celebration, a day when people were planning to admire their efforts, it happened. The water tower, a symbol of strength and progress, heaved a tired sigh and crumbled. Months of work tumbled to the ground like a sand castle demolished by a carefree boy. It took four hours for the tower to fall, but at the end of that time, as people gathered in clusters to gaze in awe and anger, it was complete.vol_43_4.jpg Nearly the entire tower had fallen."

 

 

 

The editor of the Lena Star "pointed an accusing finger at the contractor, Jack Collins, who said when he left town before the tower fell, 'When you get your tower pointed up and tank in position, you will have the best and finest looking tower in the state, and if the tower were to be sawed in four pieces from the bottom to the top, it would stand forever.'" A representative from the U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Co. of Batavia placed the entire blame of the water tower disaster on the company that built it, and said construction of a new one would begin in the spring of 1896. As attested by the accompanying picture the rebuilt tower has stood the test of time for 105 years.

 

 

 


 

What's New At The Museum

 by Carla Hill, Director

 

The year 2001 proved to be a year of new programs, improvements and advancements at the museum. Many needed repairs have taken place over the last year. The main building now has a new roof, the first since AI Johnson of Johnson Roofing and a group of volunteers re-roofed the building before it was moved to it's present site. The Coffin Bank received a fresh coat of paint, new lexan was placed over the stained glass windows of the Gazebo and low-e glass, which filters sunlight, was placed over all of the transom windows on the main floor of the museum. Chris Winter and I are still working on the Furnas display, which will be completed by the end of February. A beautiful new case is now in place and will house many of the pieces that have been brought in by Dick Hansen, grandson of Carl Furnas and former) resident of Furnas Electric. We will also be working on the railroad exhibit while we are closed for the winter break.

 

The Gustafson Research Center has allowed us to do so many things. We have offered many successful programs for adults and children. Our volunteers now have a wonderful space in which to catalog and do research. The Historical Society's website has been a great success, and Marilyn Robinson continues to receive many inquiries for information. The year 2001 has also been a year of funding. We have received grants from the Hansen-Furnas Foundation, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Museum Grant Program, the Batavia Township and Kane County's Riverboat Funds. The Hansen-Furnas grant allowed us to purchase computers, install a network, and fund our new intern and several other much needed improvements.

 

The IDNR grant allowed us to expand our programming capabilities, prepare and issue the new Museum/ Riverwalk brochure and purchase many needed preservation items. The Batavia Township grant has allowed us to microfilm the collection of Windmill News papers that were left to us by Arlene Nick. We are also in the process of microfilming fragile early town records and several scrapbooks that are in our collection. The county grant will be used to fund the buildout in the new space that is being donated to us by the developers of the Quarry Stone Pond condominium project. We look forward to the New Year and new projects and programs. With the new library nearing completion we have been offered a space where we will be doing some small exhibits and will provide copies of our indexes and other information that will help visitors with their research. We look forward to this cooperative effort with the library.

 

I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank all of our dedicated museum volunteers. Special thanks go to Walter and Georgene Kauth, Marj Holbrook, Sandy Chalupa, Marilyn Robinson and Kathy Fairbairn for all of the hours that they give to the museum. Without our volunteers the museum would not be what it is today. Chris and I would also like to thank the Historical Society Board and the Long Range Planning Committee for all of the direction and expertise that they give to the museum. The museum and the society have come a long way over the lasf'P few years. 

 Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

 


 

School Memories

of Lloyd Kautz

 

Lloyd Kautz is well known to many vol_43_5.jpgBatavians, a number of whom relied on him to pick up and deliver their laundry and cleaning over a period of 32 years. Still others remember him in his later capacity as the school bus driver who loved children and didn't suffer from discipline problems. The story that follows is based on June 12 and October 8, 2001, interviews by Elliott Lundberg and Bill Hall. Lloyd stressed that what he would tell would be "truthful and without embellishment." Those who have known him over the years do not need that assurance. Lloyd Kautz was born December 9, 1909, to Frank and Freda Schuett Kautz on the family farm east of Geneva. Lloyd's father lived his entire life on that family farm; he died in the house in which he had been born. Lloyd recalls, "Uncle Ed and my father each inherited half of the farm.

 

We were well established farmers. "Living on the farm is a wonderful experience. It has many advantages, but disadvantages, as well. A major disadvantage is that you're deprived of the association with a lot of other people. But, all in all, it was a happy way to grow up." Lloyd attended the Bradley School, a one-room school, District 99. He fondly remembers, "All of the students who went to the school were members of established farm families, and all of them within walking distance of the school.

 

To begin with there was our family; we had three brothers and sisters who were in school at the same time. Then there was my uncle, who had two children who attended that school, and there was the Bauman family east of them, with three children in the school. And there was the Averill family. Mr. Averill was the superintendent of the Kane County Farm -- the Kane County Poor House as we knew it in those days. The Averills had, I think, ten children, and there were almost always four of them in the Bradley School. Then there was the Streit family, and at the time they had four children in the school.

 

The Lund family had three children in school. So it was kind of like one big happy family." The school had a simple slab porch and windows on either side of the room. In the back there was a storage room that contained wood for the stove in the back of the room. It was necessary to build a fire every cold winter morning and wait for the room to heat up before classes could start. "The landscaping," Lloyd said, "consisted of a grassy backyard, fenced on all sides, with an outhouse in each of the farthest corners, one for the boys and one for the girls.

 

That is where we played pom-pom-pullaway at recess and sometimes had classes outdoors on nice days. "The front yard contained, basically, our baseball diamond. I recall that first base was a big rock. We were right at the turn on Kirk Road so if you could hit a ball over the center fielder's head it would roll down the hill and you'd get a home run for sure. The teacher, Amy Kline, was usually pitcher and umpire, which served to settle all arguments. 'The side yard contained the well with a hand-operated pump where we got our water for drinking and other needs. Each child carried his own sanitary drinking cup."

 

Lloyd asked if we knew what a sanitary cup was, and one of us did. It was comprised of concentric circular metal bands that would collapse for easy carrying, and it had a cover on top. "I nside, the front of the room between the two entrance doors," Lloyd continued, "consisted of a large slate blackboard that was used extensively by the teacher and students for all subjects. To be chosen to clean the blackboard and dust the erasers outside on the porch was something of an honor. "The curriculum stressed the three R's plus geography, physiology, spelling, penmanship, history, and short courses in other subjects.

 

We got a thorough course in phonics to help us pronounce words and teach us how to use the dictionary. We had a daily class in penmanship, doing exercises on specially ruled paper with a steel pen and a wooden pen holder. Each desk had a covered ink well in the upper right hand corner. "In arithmetic we learned the basics in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We learned to recite the multiplication tables from 2 through 12 without hesitation. The problems got more complicated as the grades progressed. "I remember the large roll-down chart at the front of the room showing all the organs and muscles of the human body; this was used to teach physiology. Strangely, even then, the ill effects of smoking were emphasized.

 

"Imagine, if you can" Lloyd exclaimed, "a new, inexperienced teacher, teaching all of these subjects to all kinds of pupils, grades one through eight, in one room! But I remember no trouble with discipline. And because we were privileged to listen to the recitations of those in the grades ahead of us, we had a big advantage. There was never a distinct change from, say, fifth grade to sixth grade." This experience carried over to home. His older brother, Wallace, and older sisters, Helen and Alice, were in the school and had their homework to do. "We'd sit around the dining room table," Lloyd remembers, "and they would do their homework and talk about the different problems in different grades. Even before I started school, I would sit there and listen, and pretty soon I was able to read a little. And I could add a few numbers.

 

"So, when I was four years old, I guess my mother was tired of having me, the last one, around the house, and she wondered if I could go to school, regular. In those days, it was not uncommon for the older kids to bring their younger brothers and sisters to school. Anyway I guess they thought maybe I could do first grade work. The teacher was Amy Kline, a Batavia girl, who loved her work (those teachers had to because they worked for practically nothing) and was devoted to every child in school, regardless of their bringing-up or their age or their nationality. Well, she found that I could read and write and spell and add a few numbers, so I did first grade work.

 

"At the end of the year," Lloyd continued, "I was five.The next year's classes were formed, and there was nobody insecond grade except me. So Amy Kline wondered if I could do third grade work. They tried me out, and it so happened that, with help from other kids and the lovely teacher, I managed to skin by for third grade. Besides Amy Kline, the teachers I remember at Bradley School were Nellie Averill, Ednah Baker, Margaret Corrigan and Jeanette Hoffman. "Our monthly report cards were graded by numbers, not letters. Below 75 was failing; above 90 was pretty good. One month I got 100 in penmanship -- a little generous, but I was quite proud. We were also graded on Industry and Deportment, marks of which our parents took special note." In answer to a question about field trips, Lloyd responded, "It's kind of hard to believe that today kids go on a field trip.

 

In those days, we went on a FIELD trip -- it was out in the field. We'd go out in Streit's woods, and we would have a little basket lunch; we'd study nature and we'd become aware of all the birc,-, and the animals and the plants and ev'? erything that grew. And to me, that's an important part of training. "Amy Kline drove to school in a horse and buggy.There was a farm -- the Streit farm -- about two city blocks away from the school. Every morning someone among the older kids was privileged to drive her horse and buggy down to the Streit farm and put the horse up for the day, To us, that was quite a feather in our cap, to be trusted with the teacher's horse and buggy. "One time it was a real cold winter, and for some reason we had no heat.

 

My dad came with his bob sleigh and picked up all of the kids in school and took us up to our house. We had school on the living room floor, a memory that I cherish." Lloyd continued, "Come eighth grade and the district was disbanded and merged with the community high school district in Geneva. I think there were eight of us left, and we were sent to town school. Well, at that time I was eleven years old, but I didn't know any different -- Ithought that's the way thing~ were. So I went to eighth grade in th;~ old stone building in Geneva just north--:/ of where the post office is now. That in itself was quite an experience: there was a new group of teachers and a separate classroom for each grade. This bewildered me, but I got along all right. The following year I wasa freshman, and I was twelve years old going to high school.

 

I guess I was accepted because I was elected president of the class that first year!" Lloyd's father died when Lloyd was 13, which left his mother and three children, Wallace, Alice and Lloyd, on the farm. Wallace assumed the responsibility for maintaining the farm, with whatever help Lloyd and their mother could provide. But, Lloyd said, "It was too much, it wasn't to be. My mother had a chance to sell the farm, and she bought a house in Batavia -- one owned by David Anderson at what was then 193 South Batavia Avenue, the second house from Walnut Street on the west side of the street. I still had my senior year of high school to complete, and I didn't want to change schools; everybody cooperated, and I was allowed to continue school and graduate frol~ Geneva High School in 1926." That was how it was 75 years ago.

 


 

 News Extra

All aboard' for 25 years

 

Depot Museum director celebrates milestone in Batavia

 

By ERIC SCHELKOPF

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BATAVIA - Depot Museum Director Carla Hill recently made history herself.

Hill has been director of the Batavia Depot Museum since November 1976,

watching it grow over the years. The time has gone by fast, she admitted. "It is like having children and before you know it, they are grown up," Hill said.

She took the job after being involved in many other community activities.

"I thought of it as opportunity to continue to be part of the history of the

town," said Hill, a resident of Batavia since 1965.

 

The Depot Museum is housed in an old railroad depot, and Hill has been a

big part of the museum's history. She started working at the museum shortly after the 1854 Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was moved in 1973 from Webster and VanBuren streets to its current location on Houston Street.

The depot was renovated, and the museum was dedicated in 1975.

Shortly after the museum opened, Lucile Gustafson, one of the founding

members of the Batavia Historical Society, offered Hill the position as curator / director of Depot Museum. While the Batavia Park District operates

the Depot Museum, the historical society provides the artifacts for the museum,

along with many of its volunteers. Both Hill and museum coordinator Chris Winter are employed by the park district.

 

Hill praised the growing number of volunteers who give tours at the museum

along with helping out in other ways. Hill noted the number of volunteers have grown from a handful to nearly 100 today. "We have had a wonderful group of volunteers over the years," Hill said. But the work Hill does also is well appreciated, as evident by the ode that Winter and historical society board member Marilyn Robinson wrote in her honor. "Carla started as a volunteer, saw the Depot move down Wilson. Scraped and painted, washed and waxed. Helped create a new museum. Two directors moved on. Dr. Lucile asked her to become curator. She didn't know volunteers were promoted. But she loved the work, and so accepted. 

 

"And now it's been 25 years that she's held us together. Thank you, Carla. for all you've done. We hope you stay another 25," states part of the ode. Not only has Hill watched the museum grow over the years, she has helped the museum to grow. She spearheaded a project to turn the museum's former warming center into an :exhibit on the early life ofBatavia. The Little Town in a Big Woods exhibit was dedicated in 1991. Hill also was instrumental in getting the 1856 Coffin Bank, Batavia's first bank, moved next to the Depot Museum, along with the historic Gunzenhauser /Smith Gazebo.

 

The museum's Gustafson Research Center also was a brainchild of Hill's. And Hill will see the museum, grow even more in the future. The developers of the Quarry Stone Pond condominium development being built next to Depot Museum are donating a rotunda building to the museum that will house an exhibit on Batavia's industrial sector. Hill's enthusiasm for the job hasn't diminished in her 25-year tenure: If anything, it's only grown, Hill said, "I have a lot of ideas and a lot of goals I haven't reached. As a whole, it's I been'a very positive experience," she said.

 

Exhibits document city's history

 

BATAVIA - The Depot Museum, located at 155 Houston St., offers several exhibits. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Caboose was built in 1907and was retired in 1973.Moved to the museum campus in 1974, it was opened to visitors in 1994with exhibits about early railroad life. The bed and dresser on display in the Lincoln Room are from the bedroom which Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the slain president, was assigned to when she was a patient at the former Bellevue Place in Batavia, a rest home and sanitarium. A life-size statue of a Woodlands Indian startles many visitors as they descend the stairs to the lower level exhibit entitled Little Townin a Big Woods.

 

Several Indian tribes inhabited illinois before it became a state. William Coffin built the first. bank in Batavia in 1856. It was moved to a spot just north of the Depot Museum in 1990, where local banking history and artifacts are on display. Depot Museum is open from 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, March through Thanksgiving, or by appointment at (630)406-5274.

 

Gustafson Research Center isopen from 2 to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays all year-round, or by appointment at (630)406-5274. Information provided by Batavia Historical Society, on the Internet at http://www.bataviahistoricalsociety.org/

 


 

ODE TO CARLA HILL

From the Batavia Historical Society

 

Carla started as a volunteer

Saw the Depot move down Wilson

Scraped and painted, washed and waxed

Helped create a new museum

 

Two directors moved on

Dr. Lucile asked her to become curator

She didn't know volunteers were promoted

But she loved the work, and so accepted.

 

Park Director Handlon called her in

Explained the pay procedures

Now she had a real job and

That meant working every day!

 

She'd create a meaningful display

Go meet Mike for lunch

When she returned,

Dr. Lucile would have it fixed.

 

One day, she took a look

At the vacant warming center

"Wouldn't Little Town look nice in here?"

she wondered.

And sure enough it did.

 

A developer offered her a gazebo

All she'd have to do was move it down Rt. 31

She sent it to join the Coffin Bank

Brought them together to the Museum.

 

One day she stood along the riverwalk

She'd helped to build

"I've got an idea for expansion," she said.

And poof, we had a research center.

 

And now it's been 25 years that

She's held us together.

Thank you, Carla, for all you've done.

We hope you stay another 25.

 

By Marilyn Robinson and Chris Winter, 2001

 


 

Batavia Historical Society Balance Sheet

Year Ended 09/30/2001

 

 

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Christmas Party a Huge Success

 

Over 150 persons attended the annual Christmas meeting of the society, held

December 2 at Bethany Lutheran Church. Some people reported that the potluck

dinner, always a highlight of the evening, was even better than usual.

The business portion of the meeting was brief and to the point. Acting on the

report of the nominating committee, chaired by Bob Peterson, the members reelected

vice president Dick Benson, corresponding secretary Georgene Kauth,

historian Bill Wood, and board members Bob Brown, Carole Dunn and Bill Hall.

President Bert Johnson recognized Carla Hill for 25 years of service as director

of the museum. He recited an ode to Carla (included as an insert in this issue)

and presented her with an appreciation plaque from the society.

Roger and Laree Jacobson presented an entertaining program in dialogue

and song based on memories of growing up in the '30s and '40s.

 


 

Happenings at the Gustafson Center

by Marilyn Robinson

 

The most popular request is still "Where can I purchase Campana (Italian) Balm?

My grandmother would love some."

Since the last newsletter we have received twenty-two different requests for

information from researchers in twelve different states. These include Colorado,

Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South

Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. Many of these researchers contact us more

than once. Some we can provide with a great deal of information, others we can

help very little.

Visitors have come into the center to do research. We have had only four "serious"

workers (besides our own members) but have had numerous persons who

have come in to browse.

If there is anyone who would like to volunteer at the center, please let us know.

We need more researchers and compilers.


July 1952; A Simpler Time

Dr. Robert Barnes

 

Marilyn Robinson included an expanded version of Bob Barnes' story in her column in a recent issue of the Kane County Chronicle. Because it is such a good story, however, and because many of our readers, especially those who live outside this area, would not have had a chance to read it, we are including it in this issue.

 

It was 1952, almost 50 years ago. Life was simpler then. We all had just graduated from Batavia High School. The Class of '52 had about 48 students. Most of us had been with the same classmates since grade school, many even from kindergarten. Few had cars then. We walked to school, rode our bikes, carried our lunches to school in paper bags and thought nothing of leaving our house with the doors unlocked.

 

We swam in the "Quarry" when there were fish to bite your legs and no top on the girl's changing area, which always provided ,he unfulfilled idea of an interesting climb. George Glenn had been the janitor at the original Grace McWayne school for many years and was well known by those of us from the "west side." This was the original McWayne school constructed in 1866. "Mr. Glenn" was a gentle, friendly man beloved by the students, and in our minds an important part of the school staff. We thought he resembled Mr. Giapetto, of Pinocchio fame. Finally, in his late 70's, he retired. Now widowed, he lived by himself on the east side at 424 E. Wilson St., but then had been ill. Following graduation most of us had summer jobs when classmate Elvin Follett, who lived down the street from Mr. Glenn, discovered that the old gentlemen was trying to paint his porch. Bringing an idea to his classmates we eventually were able to organize a large group of 18 year old boys and girls who solicited donations from some adults and businesses and then began the task of painting Mr. Glenn's house.

 

These painters even included some "east-siders" who had never gone to the west side McWayne school, and thus had never known Mr. Glenn. Painting and scraping each day, after our summer jobs, we completed the project in a couple of weeks and then celebrated with a party of chips and soft drinks. It took a number of years for some of the paint splatters to fade from the black roof shingles but overall we did a good job. We all felt good about what we had done. The Chicago Tribune published a front page article on the project. Then we all left to continue our educations, or start our adult careers. Four of the classmates married their fellow painters. Still today we can not ride down east Wilson street, in front of the old house, without often thinking of Mr. Glenn and our painting project. Such were those times, now nearly one half century ago, when this was a small Midwestern town.

 


Who Were the Horans?

 

Many of you have no doubt seen the imposing Horan family mausoleum in the West Batavia Cemetery. It holds the remains of mother Elizabeth (1856-1934) and daughters Blanche (1883-1928), Agnes (1885-1929) and Viola (1887-1972). But does anyone know who the Horans were? In answer to our query, Jim Hanson did some limited research at the

Gustafson Center. As a result, we know that the family was in Batavia for at least 92 years -- from 1880 when Elizabeth, then bearing the maiden name Donovan, purchased two lots at the southwest corner of Adams Street and the railroad right-of-way until Viola's death in 1972. Because the property was purchased from a Donovan family trust, Jim initially thought that she might have been a daughter of Thomas and Ellen Donovan who died in 1864 and 1893, respectively, but checking probate records of that couple did not list her among the children. She later married a William Horan, but by September, 1895, she was a widow living in Chicago.

 

Viola was listed in the 1936 and following city directories as a Chicago school teacher with a "summer home" on South Batavia Avenue. There is a reference to the property as comprising four and a half acres. Toward the end of her life, she, along with George Neri, owner of the Lincoln Inn, and others, was listed as a complainant in a legal action against a Timothy Counihan, Sr., for maintaining a nuisance because of swine on his property. If anyone has information or would be willing to perform further research, we would like to know more about a family with such a long association with Batavia.

 


Membership Matters

 

Since the last issue, the following persons, some of whom were previously annual members, have become life members of the Society: Katherine M. Armstrong (Louisville, KY), Diane Bergquist (Elburn), and John L. Hafenrichter. Other new members (from Batavia unless otherwise noted) include Arnie Beirstein (Chicago), Barbara Bigelow (Ketchikan, AK - gift

from Louise Tregellas), Mr. and Mrs. Neal Conde (gift from Barbara Hopkins), Norm and Nancy Freedlund, Bridget Ann Gleeson and Michael 1. Goldman, Cynthia Killoran, Bill and Diana Lauzon, Mr. and Mrs. Colin Munro, Karen Haack Olson

(Kirkland, WA), Mr. and Mrs. John Palumbo, Maggie Robinson (Spring Grove, IL - gift from Karen Bohr), Colin Stephens (Galena), Charles Ella Tuggle Stoakley, and Alice M. Swan (Elburn - gift from Helen Owens). We welcome these new members and look forward to their participation in the activities of the Society. We have received the following donations: from Mrs. Donald Clark in memory of Dr. John W. Hanson and from Kally Klose in honor of Barbara and Bill Hall. We wish to thank the donors for their support.