THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Fifty-Five

No. 1

February, 2014

 


 

Citizen of the Year
 (from Batavia Chamber of Commerce)
 
Jim Hanson, a “gentleman of tremendous grace and dignity”, was named the 2013 Batavia Citizen of the year by The Batavia Chamber of Commerce and honored at their January 31 “Inspire 2014: A Celebration of Those Who Inspire Us!” annual awards event.

Mayor Jeffery D. Schielke describes Hanson as “a caregiver of Batavia on so many fronts and a phenomenally positive force ”Jim Hanson considers himself a lifelong Batavian, despite his sojourns to other towns and states for college and teaching positions.

The 88-year-old describes himself as “quiet and reserved,” while Schielke calls him “one of the moving forces” when Batavia’s downtown was redeveloped in the 1960s. Elected as an alderman in 1961, Hanson also served as the chair of what at that time was known as the planning, zoning, and annexation committee.
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During his 16-year tenure, downtown’s Batavia Plaza came into being, and land was acquired north of Wilson Street for additional downtown redevelopment. This area now includes
Fifth Third Bank and neighboring businesses. Further land annexations resulted in the northeast side industrial park, as well as major subdivisions on both the east and west sides of Batavia. “Jim worked diligently to not only develop Batavia, but also was the conscious of the council,” says Schielke. He referenced Hanson’s work to pass an open housing ordinance.

During the late 60s, heated discussions about discrimination in housing bubbled to the surface. At this time, U.S. Atomic Nuclear Commission officials planning to build a “smasher” east of Kirk Road, pressured Batavia about fair housing. Hanson says that this is a highlight of his career as a council member. “One of the most important things I worked on was the open housing ordinance to fight discrimination and segregation,” says Hanson. “It needed to have teeth for enforcement.”
Besides his long-term involvement in Batavia’s government, an avid group of supporters notes that Hanson’s work with the Batavia Historical Society, the Calvary EpiscopalChurch, the Interfaith Food Pantry, R.S.V.P., and Meals on Wheels are worthy accomplishments as well.

Thirty years ago, the Muslim community was looking for a place to meet. Hanson approached the Calvary Church to allow the group to use the facility. An idea embraced by both groups, the Muslim community continues to gather at Calvary to this day.

“He is so deserving,” says Carla Hill, director of the Batavia Depot Museum. “When I came to the museum in 1976, Jim was already here; dedicated, smiling, and always volunteering.” Hanson still volunteers at least once a month at the Depot Museum and is the longtime historian for Calvary Church.

Besides calling him a man of dignity, Daniel Hoefler wrote in his nomination letter “Jim is a treasure to our community.” “At many critical periods in Batavia’s history, Jim was there providing leadership and council,” explains Hoefler. “As more social services were needed, Jim was at hand helping to start them.” Hanson counts his help at the various social service agencies as “one of the things I felt the best about; it was satisfying.” He resigned from the board of R.S.V.P. just last spring.

It was during one of Hanson’s out-of Batavia stints in Bartow, Florida, as an English and history teacher that he met the love of his life, Dorothy (Dot) Watson. The couple will celebrate their 60th anniversary on December 27. In 1955, they moved (back) to Batavia. At this time, Jim took a position as a junior high school history and math teacher at West Aurora School District #129. Much later in his education career, Hanson served three terms as the Kane County Regional School Superintendent.

After renting in Batavia for one year, the Hansons purchased the house next to his father on Illinois Avenue, where they raised two boys. Currently, eldest son John and his wife Barbara (a Batavia native) live in Texas. Mark lives in New York. There are four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in the Hanson family.
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When asked about his favorite thing regarding Batavia, Hanson says that even as it has grown, Batavia still has a small town feel, where “people talk to each other.”
 
An interesting statement coming from a person who says he doesn’t talk much. “Well, you must have someone to listen,” quipped Hanson. “You don’t want people walking around town talking to nobody.”
 
Indeed. Fortunately for Batavians, it appears Jim Hanson listened a lot during his service to Batavia, and then set about making certain it happened. Congratulations, Jim!


 
 
 
 

 
 The Batavia Historian Revisited by Dan Hoefler
by Dan Hoefler
 
As I have continued to research the role of Batavia and Illinois in the Civil War I came across this article that was written in the April 1996 edition of The Batavia Historian by Eric Nelson. It was exciting to come across this article since it mirrored the articles that have been presented in the current editions of the Historian. So here are excerpts from the article as it originally appeared, enjoy.
 
Batavia and the Civil War
By Eric Nelson
 
 “From the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861 to Lee’s Surrender to Grant in 1865, approximately 600,000 people lost their lives in the Civil War. Among that number are 32 Batavians. The census of 1860 shows the population of Batavia was 1,621, and yet, throughout the war, Batavia provided 309 soldiers for the Union Army. Even more amazing was just how far those soldiers spread out during the war. Other than the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, there is virtually no major battle of the war that did not have at least one Batavian present. My interest in military history and the Civil War, in particular, has been a lifelong fascination.

Batavians served in 29 different regiments. Most were Illinois infantry regiments. Batavia men served in three Illinois cavalry regiments, most notably the 8th Illinois Calvary Regiment which trained at Camp Kane in St. Charles and served in the eastern battlefields throughout the war. Batavians serving with the artillery, with one exception, served in Battery B, 1st Illinois Light Artillery. Theodore Wood was commissioned a lieutenant near the end of the war with the 5th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. Batavians fought in the ranks of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Petersburg. Two Batavians served in other states’ regiments. Franklin Crandon was with the 1 st Maryland Cavalry Regiment, while William Brown fought as a member of the 123rd New York Infantry Regiment. Batavians served in every rank from private to colonel. Dentist Edgar Swain was the highest ranking Batavian.

He finished the war as a colonel and commander of the 42nd Illinois Infantry Regiment. The 46 year old surveyor Adin Mann was the only lieutenant colonel from Batavia. Two men served as majors, while six made captain and eight were lieutenants. Charles Bucher, served first in the ranks of the 124th Illinois and then became a surgeon with the 72nd Illinois Infantry Regiment, where he saw service at the battles of Nashville, Spring Hill and Franklin, Tennessee in late 1864. In the enlisted ranks 27 men served as sergeants, 35 were corporals, 13 musicians and the rest served as privates. As was common during the Civil War, men joined the army and served together throughout the war. Company B of the 124th Illinois was organized by Adin Mann and 79 Batavians served in its ranks. Company I, 42nd Illinois had 30 Batavians as well as most of the regimental band members. Company 0, 52nd Illinois had 37 Batavians, while 55 men served with Company B, of the 141 st Illinois. Finally, 22 Batavians served in Company F, 156th Illinois Infantry. This was the final regiment Illinois sent to the Union Army.

Families also joined and fought together. Five Manns were in the army, four Prindles, four Woods, three Wolcotts, three Balls, three Burtons and three Kenyons. The Kenyons, the Manns, the Prindles and the Hammonds all had fathers and sons that served in the same regiments together. Batavia soldiers had about a ten percent mortality rate in the Union Army. As was typical for both armies of the war, most Batavians died from disease rather than battle. Typhoid fever, chronic diarrhea, kidney disease and measles were some of the ailments Batavia soldiers succumbed to that today aren’t quite so deadly. Combat deaths did occur as well. Jacob Price and Thomas Andrews were killed at Shiloh. Thirty one year old Oscar Cooley was killed at Vicksburg. Charles Burnell and Clement Bradley were killed at Chickamauga. Jesse Dawson and George Young were killed in action in Mississippi.

John Brown was killed in Virginia in 1862, and James Watts and Jordan Stewart were killed in the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia in July 1864. On November 22, 1863 Sidney Barlacom died in Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. The strangest of the Batavia casualties was Peter Victor who was captured October 16, 1863. The following morning he was found dead in a gully stripped of his clothes. At the time of Victor’s death his regiment was in an area surrounded by Confederates. It was thought he wandered too far from his comrades and was picked up and murdered by rebel troops.

Batavia soldiers were typical of Civil War soldiers of both sides in another aspect-desertion. Eight Batavians deserted their regiments. Somehow this fact surprised me when I came across it; however, with 309 soldiers serving it would have been unusual not to have some desertions. Most desertions occurred early in a soldier’s military career, probably right after he realized what he had gotten himself into. Interestingly, most of the men who deserted are not included in the list of names on the Newton Civil War Monument.”
 
 
Eric Nelson was looking for proof of Batavia citizenship or residency prior to military service for
12 additional soldiers. Glenn Minor, the Batavia Historian, found the following information for each of them.

• Charles Stevens (enlistment September 11, 1861) 52nd Illinois infantry, Co D, Sgt,
Discharged 4 June 1864, died 2 Jun 1903, buried in East Side Cemetery.

• Franklin S. Hanks (enlistment August 11, 1862) 124th Illinois infantry, Co B, Discharged 15 Aug 1865.

• Benjamin Stephens (enlistment July 24, 1861) 1st Illinois Artillery, Co B, Pvt. Discharged 15 Aug 1865.

• William H. Bennett (enlistment Au-gust 15, 1861) 42nd Illinois infantry, Co I, Pvt.

• Emory Caskey (enlistment August 15, 1862) 124th Illinois Infantry, Co B, Sgt, Discharged 15 Aug 1865 from Geneva.

• Charles W. Cook (enlistment Au-gust 11, 1862) 124th Infantry, Co B. Sgt, Discharged 15 Aug 1865 from Geneva.

• Joseph E. Merrill (enlistment July 29, 1862) 124th Illinois infantry, Co H, Musician.

• Beverly Hammond (enlistment February 25, 1864) 29th Illinois Infantry, Co B, Pvt., Buried East Side Cemetery (no dates).

• Henry Harmon (enlistment August 15, 1861) 52nd Illinois Infantry, Co A, Pvt.
Discharged 26 May 1865 died 19 Jun 1912, East Side Cemetery.

• Thomas James (enlistment December 17, 1861; (Nelson note: a T.R. James voted in the Batavia town meeting
on April 5, 1864, and signed to receive Charles James’ bounty on February 27, 1865;
however I think this may be Thomas’ father.) 58th Illinois Infantry, Co F, Pvt., Discharged 1 May 1866.

• George C. Wood (enlistment March 1862) 13th Illinois infantry, Co B, Pvt.
Discharged 13 Aug 1862 as disabled, died 12 Apr 1905, East Side Cemetery.

• Thomas O’Connor (enlistment August 11, 1862) 124th Illinois infantry, Co B., Discharged 24 May 1866 from Geneva.

(If readers of Batavia Historian have additional information about any of these men, please contact the Depot Museum.)
 

 
 
 Guess Who Came to Lunch?
By Jim Edwards
 
Conditions were ripe in the Fox valley in 1965 for the establishment of a series of lectures given by famous people in the arts and sciences. The old-time movie theatre, the Arcada, was reborn and available for rent during the day, while in Aurora the Paramount had not yet been resurrected as a cultural arts center. Both became sites of future lectures.

The core of women leaders at Calvary Episcopal decided to sponsor a series of four lectures each year with luncheons following each lecture to be held at places such as Dunham Woods Riding Club and St. Andrew’s Country Club. The SRO (standing room only) series proved to be just that! Each year profits were used to help local charities and to pay off the mortgage on the new church addition.
Talented performers from Broadway, the world of fashion, and the arts all flocked to Batavia in the 1960s and 1970s to be part of SRO. Maybe you recognize some of them from these photographs.
 
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By the 13th season of SRO, conditions had changed in the Valley that made SRO less successful. Pheasant Run and the new Paramount Arts Center began producing the same type of entertainment. Also more and more women were going into the work force. But for 13 years, Calvary Episcopal Church was in show biz and made the Valley sparkle with talent brought from Hollywood and across the world.
 
 
 
 News from the Museum
 by Carla Hill
 
Spring is just around the corner. April and May will be busy months at the museum. We will give tours to approximately 600 Batavia school children who will visit the museum as part of the third grade Batavia history unit. We would like to give a special thanks to society member Barb Dickenson who helps with these third grade tours. We couldn’t do it without her help.

We are always looking for new volunteers. Anyone who is interested in volunteering at the museum or the research center should call Lois Benson at 630-879-1080 or Chris or Carla at the museum.

Mark your calendar for the following events:

February 23- Lincoln Dinner Theater at the Lincoln Inn featuring Dr. Maria Bakalis in “Mary Todd Lincoln: Reflections of a Life of Shattered Dreams.”

March 10-The museum will re-open for the 2014 season.
March 16-Women’s History Month program featuring Laurie Russell in “The Women of Cantigny-Behind the Chicago Tribune Legacy”
July 18 & 19- Eighth Annual Batavia Quilt and Textile show.
September 12,13, & 14-Civil War Encampment.
 

 

The Batavia Depot Museum Presents
The 12th Annual Lincoln Dinner Theatre

Dr. Maria Boundas Bakalis in
"Mary Todd Lincoln:
Reflections of a Life of Shattered Dreams”

 

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A performance of Mary Todd Lincoln's life during the years after the assassination of President Lincoln. Alone and emotionally abandoned, Mary Todd Lincoln experienced the loss of her mate, children and the devastating ordeal of an insanity trial.
This dramatic piece is written and performed by

Dr. Maria Bakalis, Professor of Theatre and Communications at Waubonsee, reflecting the spirit and heart of a woman with shattered dreams.


Sunday February 23 at 5:30 p.m. Lincoln Inn Banquets 1345 S. Batavia Avenue $38 - Includes Buffet Dinner and Performance Tickets can be purchased at the Batavia Park District Civic Center, Eastside Community Center, and the Batavia Depot Museum or registerby phone 630-879-5235
Reserved seating not available
For More Information Call (630) 406-5274

Sunday, March 16 2:00 p.m.
Location: Shannon Hall at Eastside Community Center

14 N. Van Buren, Batavia

Fee: $3 Code: 354004-1A

 

 

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Discover the remarkable lives of Amy McCormick, Cissy Paterson and six others, tracing their roots to Joseph Medill and Robert R. McCormick, owners and editors of the Chicago Tribune. These women lived in a world of debutantes and flappers, but succeeded as Pulitzer Prize winners, record breaking pilots, progressive reformers in Washington, editors of their own newspapers, talented artists and more. This program is presented by Laurie Russell and brought to you on behalf of

the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


Sponsored by the Batavia Depot Museum

Register at the Batavia Park District,
327 W. Wilson St., 630-879-5235


 
 From the President
Bob Peterson
 
The Batavia Historical Society welcomes the following new or renewing members:
 
Stephanie
Bateman
Elbum IL
Life
Rick Overstreet St. Charles
IL Annual
Greg & Laura
Aanenson North Champlin MN Annual
Ruth Johnsen Aurora IL
Life
George Vermilyer San Juan Bautista CA
Life
 
 Membership Dues to Increase, Renew/Upgrade Before the Rates Go Up

It’s finally happening. The Batavia Historical Society has decided that it is time to increase our dues structure. It has been almost 14 years since the last change in dues, and the costs of running the organization and mailing the newsletters has continued to escalate. The Board also compared the new dues structure to other area historical societies and realized that most of them were significantly higher than ours. Therefore, effective March 1, 2014, the new dues structure will go into effect. So now you have an opportunity to renew your Annual memberships (for as many years as you would like), step up to a Life membership, or give gifts of Annual or Life memberships for the 2013 annual membership rates of $10 for individuals, $15 for families, or Life memberships of $100 for individuals or $150 for families. Please consider upgrading today.
 
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