Volume Twenty-Nine

No. 1


February 1988




You are cordially invited to the Spring meeting of the Batavia Historical Society.

Our co-vice presidents, Marilyn and Bob Phelps, have arranged for an interesting program.


Date:  Sunday, March 13, 1988

Time:  3:00 p.m.

Place: Riverain, North Island Avenue




Mr. Martin Ingalls, historical archeologist and project manager for the Kane County Rural Structures with the Illinois State Museum will speak and show slides on the history of Kane County including homes, farms, etc. dating from the early 1800's.


Social Hour Time for old friends and new acquaintances. Parking is limited but is available on the south side of the Riverain complex. A short business meeting will preceed the program.




A new membership mailing list will be prepared soon. To insure being included, please pay your 1988 dues soon if you have not done so already. Also, we ask you to check the mailing label and let Jim Hanson know of any corrections needed. (379-7492)


As of February 9th, our records indicate that you:


__ have paid your 1988 dues. Thanks!

__ are a Life Member. Great!

__ paid dues in 1987 and should forward the 1988 dues shortly.

__ have overlooked paying dues for some time. How about renewing your membership?


Dues are nominal and your support is appreciated. An application form may be found at the end of this issue.




The Board of Directors met January 27, 1988 at the Depot Museum. Ed LaMorte and Ray Anderson were appointed to fill two vacancies as Trustees and Bill Wood was named Historian for the Society.  A committee headed by Jim Hanson and Tom Mair will review the Bylaws and make suggestions for any needed revisions later this year.  The Society now has a complete set of Newsletters thanks to Ray Patzer, who loaned his collection so we could make copies of those missing in our files.  


Good news was reported that Eldon Frydendall had located a new insurance carrier for us at our old fee after our former one had tripled the cost.  Later in the spring the Board will be taking a close look at the feasibility of placing an historical marker on East Wilson St. indicating the site of the Payne cabin. (See our feature article on Christopher Payne in this issue.)



As with any volunteer organization, there is always need of help.  

If you can lend a hand with any of the following, please give a call:


a)   With the Depot Museum scheduled to open in March, May Lundberg is looking for additional hosts and hostesses. The Museum is open from 2 - 4 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday each week. Two hours a month is easy and it is an interesting experience. Our curator, Carla Hill, will provide a short training session to help you get acquainted. If interested, call May at 879-3660.


b)    Now that we have a complete set of Newsletters, the Board would like to see them indexed since many issues contain valuable historical data that people could use. If you would feel comfortable in taking on this task, call Jim or Dot Hanson (879-7492).


c)   Marilyn Phelps would appreciate help on refreshments for our general meetings. Can you assist? Call Marilyn at 879-1924.


d)   If you would be interested in helping Tom Mair and Jim Hanson review the Bylaws, they could use several other members on their committee. Give Jim a call at 879-7492.




Below are several questions related to upcoming events or items in this and forthcoming Newsletters.  How well can you do?


1.   An important referendum for Batavia schools will be held in March. Question: How long after Christopher Payne built his first cabin here in 1833 was the first school started in Batavia?


2.   Our feature article this month is a biography of Christopher Payne.  He came in 1833.  Question: How long did he stay in what is now Batavia before selling and moving elsewhere?


3.   A future newsletter will have a history of Batavia libraries.  Question: From what source did the first library secure its initial books?


4.   What do the names Tews & Mitchell, Pollocks, Pedersons and Blakeslees have in common regarding Batavia's past? (Answers can be found following the Payne biography)




By Raymond J. Patzer Christopher Payne was born December 18, 1186, in what is now Somerset County, Pennsylvania. This area was not organized into a county until 1795. This area of Pennsylvania was still a wilderness in 1786. Here he grew up with little or no opportunity for a formal education. In fact, he lived his entire life unable to sign his own name. His mark was an “X” between his first and last name, written by someone else. When he was 14 years old his father took his family to Belmont County, Ohio (1800).  


This part of the country was then the frontier of the west. Here young Christopher became an excellent hunter. The family stayed here for seven years (1801). Their next move was to the southeast corner of the territory of Indiana, (now Dearborn County). Here Christopher married Elizabeth Dawson, ten years his junior. They lived in Indiana for several years. Christopher spent part of his time with a party making a survey of Public lands. When war broke out in 1812, he volunteered in the Indiana Rangers and served for 12 months in Indiana and Illinois. In 1814 he was one of 25 defenders of Fort Harrison, Indiana.  


There were 20 soldiers and five settlers, who had taken refuge there with their families. This was one of the last sieges by the Indians. The 300 well armed Indians finally gave up the attack. After the war Christopher and Elizabeth and the elder Paynes moved to Vincennes where they farmed for 3 years (1816). It was while Christopher lived in Vincennes that their first child died. The elder Paynes moved onto the Haley farm in Dearborn County, Indiana. Christopher had a brother, Adam, who was a traveling preacher who depended on others for his room and board.  He was a little eccentric and wore tattered clothes, had long hair and long whiskers. John Chapman, alias Johnny Appleseed, was sometimes a companion of Adam Payne.  


One day Adam was attacked by the·Indians and beheaded.  They put his head on a pole as a trophy. Because of this attack, Christopher hated Indians all his life.  It also caused the elder Paynes to move away to Lawrenceburg, Ohio, but they later returned to the Haley farm and then to the Dearborn County Asylum where they lived until they died. In 1818 Christopher and family moved to Madison County, Illinois, 20 miles east of the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis.  Here they farmed for 9 years.  


But here he encountered so much ague and fever that again he pulled up stakes. This time he moved to Sangamon County, near Springfield, in 1827, where he took up farming for 3 years. In 1830 he decided to go to Galena to try his hand at lead mining. After two years he gave this up, as he had little success at it. Next he moved to Putnam County near Hennepin and farmed for two years.  


In 1833 he moved to Dupage County near Naperville. Christopher Payne served in Captain Joseph Napier's Company of the Illinois Volunteer ODD battalion under Major N. Buckmaster. Payne took up a claim near Batavia in 1833, thus becoming the first settler in what was to be Kane County. His cabin was located where the C.B.& Q. tracks are now  north of Wilson Street and about a half mile west of Kirk Road. He stayed in Batavia 2 years with his family. While in Batavia his oldest daughter, Abigail, was married to a Mr. Hiram Trimble from West Virginia who took up land on what is now East Side Drive in Geneva.  They had a "Scotch" wedding in Payne's cabin.  


They said their vows in front of the guests because there wasn't a minister present. In 1836 the Paynes sold out and moved, with the Trimbles, to Squaw Prairie, near Belvidere, and took up farming again. At this time his family consisted of 4 sons and 2 daughters, plus his sons-in-law Hiram Trimble and George Trimble. Payne's other daughter, Lucinda, had married George Trimble and eventually moved to Minnesota. This same year Christopher Payne was to go to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to be the first settler there. He blazed his claim on the sides of the trees, then returned to Illinois for his family.


Returning to Lake Geneva, he encountered claim jumpers and spent many years in court until he finally won out. But he was so tired of it all that he sold out his claim on Lake Geneva on October 17, 1839 for $200.00, and moved to Lake Como. (Blk 14, lot 7; blk 19, lot 12; blk 24, lot 12, and blk 30, lot 8). (See bill of sale). At Lake Como he built a mill that he operated for 7 years. He extended too much credit and sold out to his son-in-law, and moved to LaFayette County, Wisconsin in 1844.  


In 1846 or '47, he moved to Winnebago County where he made claim on the north side of the Fox River opposite Delhi. For the next two years there were 27 lawsuits with a man named Crego over the land. Payne won but was greatly in debt from the legal fees and sold the property. He lived for a short time in Fon du Lac County and then returned to Walworth County and lived there until the fall of 1864. In the fall of 1864 he and Elizabeth moved to Columbia County, Wisconsin, to live with their son, George. 


A few months after, George's only son, William, was killed in the Civil War. June 1, 1870 we find Christopher a widower and retired farmer, 83 years old. Elizabeth had died November 17, 1869. Christopher Payne was a pioneer who had to always be on the move, so he left little impact on the places he lived. He had another profession besides farming. He always settled near rivers and lakes where he built mills to grind grain and saw lumber.  


But he always built for other people as he cared little for business or making money. He died in Scott Township, Wisconsin, on February 18, 1871, at the age of 85, and is buried along with his wife in lot 27 old section, at Marcellon Cemetery, Marcellon Township, Columbia County, Wisconsin. (I have a picture here of my sons and me standing in back of the Paynes' gravestone, taken in 1963, if you would like to look at it). An interesting but tragic event happened to Abigail, his daughter.


Her first husband, Hiram Trimble, passed away and she remarried Elijah Utter in Wisconsin. In 1860 they set out for Oregon by wagon train. Just west of Bruneau, Idaho, on the Snake River, the wagon train was ambushed by Indians and Abigail, her husband and children (except one 13 year old daughter, Emaline), were massacred by the Indians. This young girl, with a few others, escaped and finally reached Fort Walla Walla, Washington, after 40 days of travel on foot.




1.  The first school was erected in the fall of 1834. This was an important event, bringing people from miles around to assist. Some had not even put up their own houses and others were young men with no families according to John Gustafson in his book, Historic Batavia. There were 9 children in attendance. You can see early settlers, like present residents, were interested in their children and the importance of schools.


2.  Payne left Batavia within 2-3 years, selling out in 1836 and moving to the area of present-day Belvidere --- only one of his many moves. As we know, frequent moves have become quite common in modern America.


3.  Batavia's first library secured the books that had belonged to the Batavia Institute when it closed and its Literary Society's collection was made available. More on our library in a future issue courtesy of Miriam Johnson.


4.  All four were names of neighborhood stores in Batavia about 1911, a part of Batavia life which has disappeared and is discussed under "In the Good Old Days" in this issue.




- to Tom Hair and the Windmill News for the new series of articles on Batavia history which began in January. He hope the best of success for "Batavia Revisted" and the interesting history and sidelights Tom is bringing us.


- to Ray Patzer for providing us the opportunity to publish his biography of Christopher Payne, our first settler --- and for all of the research Ray put into the effort. Ray has been an integral part of the Society over the years: a charter member, first treasurer, a trustee, and as a member of many committees.


- to Roberta Campbell and the Chronicle for the years of providing us with great articles and the ever-present "In Times Past" column that brings back memories to us old-timers.


- to Sandi and John Wilcox who have had their applications for plaques for two homes approved. The homes are occupied by their children. One, at 123 N. Washington Ave., is owned by David and Kim Schuhow; and Bob and Kristi Ellis live in the other at 530 Main St. The Society's plaques have been ordered and should be in the Wilcox's hands soon. Congratulations to all the families.




Plaques are available for buildings which are at least 100 years old. A completed application, including documentation of the building's age, is necessary before approval is given.  


The applicant is responsible for the cost of the plaque. Applications are available from Ed LaMorte (879-2077) our Plaque Chairman.





Co-Vice Pres.


Recording Secy. Correspond. Secy. Historian:  

Dot & Jim Hanson

Marilyn & Bob Phelps

Elliott Lundberg

May Lundberg

Georgene Kauth

Bill Wood  








Robert Cox

Ed LaMorte

Bob Popeck

Bill Wood

Helen & Cliffy Anderson


Ray Anderson  



Remember when the grocer: 


---- brought your groceries to the cash register counter for you instead of you doing it? 


---- let you have a charge account with him?


---- took orders over the phone and delivered the groceries?


---- was within walking distance of your house?


If any of these sound familiar, then you remember a facet of Batavia that has disappeared: the neighborhood grocery store! I would like to save the knowledge of these stores and their owners for future generations with a collection of facts and reminiscences, but I will need your help! At one time Batavia had at least 9 groceries located in its residential neighborhoods. All but one were directly connected with a residence.  


My list, using the last name I recall being used for the store, includes:


East side:        


Beardsley's (515 N. VanBuren), once called Pollock's. Bortner's (416 E. Wilson), now the Memory Lane Antiques.


Daniel's (NE corner of State & Delia), earlier Benski's.


Maves' (SE corner of Washington & Church), once owned by a Mr. York.


Sloggett's (NE corner of Spring & Delia). Zoller's (SW corner of Wilson & VanBuren), also run by a Simpson and, earlier than that, by Blakeslee.


West side:      


Abhalter's (418 Walnut), known earlier as The Little Store operated by Frank Bloom and, before that, as Tews & Mitchell.


F & H (NW corner of Lincoln & Houston), owned by Freedlund and Haines, operated earlier as Bloom's (Harold Bloom, son of Frank Bloom), and before that as Wright's.


C. A. Nelson's (521 Houston), previously Martin Pederson's.


Why so few on the west side? Could it have been because others on Batavia Ave. such as the Avenue Food Mart (Perna's) were accessible without going up and down a hill to get to in the business section of town?  


(The story of the groceries and other businesses in "downtown" is another chapter of Batavia's past.) What I have listed are only names and places and do not tell the story of these stores or the people involved. What can you add to fill in the details? What stores have I missed? What names have I left out? When did each first open? change hands? finally close? Who, other than the owner and his family, worked in each? What other business(es) were located at the same places? 


I believe there may have been a laundry pick-up service at Simpson's and possibly a postal sub-station. Anyone know? Are there pictures of the stores and/or their owners and employees the Society could have or borrow? Which delivered groceries? went to the homes of those without phones to take orders? What personal anecdotes, stories, etc. can you share to give a sense of what these stores were like and the personalities of their owners?


Share your recollections or additional facts by sending them to the Society for its files. If you know people connected with any of the stores, talk with them or ask them to share their knowledge. Mail your memories to the Batavia Historical Society, P.O. Box 14, Batavia, and help keep a record of Batavia's past.

Some of my own recollections relate to the clerks at Bloom's who had the patience of Job while we peered into the candy case trying to decide how to spend our pennies; and of my mother telling about Mr. Bloom who always said, "I can hear your clock ticking, Mrs. Hanson" when she called the store.  


Later, as the delivery boy for Don Abhalter, I recall Don having me go to the other stores to buy items his customers had ordered if he were out of them, and of collecting unused ration tickets (remember those in WW II?) so he could help get extra coffee for some of the older Swedish women who always kept a pot brewing on the stove.  With our contributions, we can add a great deal to more clearly portray the essence of the now gone neighborhood grocery and market.




One responsibility of the president is to write the newsletter. With this issue, I hae started to use the term "Batavia Historian" again as the newsletter title as was done when the Gustafsons wrote it.  My intent is to include items of historical interest or research in each issue. Unlike John Gustafson, however, I do not have the knowledge of our past to do it without your help. Share your recollections of Batavia's past.  


Keep in mind that our "past" will be "history" to those in the future. Consider researching a topic of interest to you to be included in a future issue. Finally, let me know your ideas on how the newsletter may be improved.






Dear Historical Society Members:


I am still working on securing the Challenge Grant for the downstairs displays. The Tri City Optimist Club has agreed to build platforms for the displays. 


I am hoping that this part of the project will begin within the next couple of months. The Museum will re-open on March 2nd with a history of Batavia and Railroads display.


The ACCESS Heritage Committee of which I am a member will be hosting an evening with Mark Neely, author of “The Insanity File – The Case of Mary Todd Lincoln.” 


Mr. Neely will be presenting a program called “Lincoln in Photographs,” on Thursday, February 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Batavia Congregational Church. I am looking forward to another good season at the Museum.








Single: $3
Tandem: $5
Sustaining: $10

Life: $50