Volume Thirty-Two

No. 1

January 1991


Plans for the spring meeting of the Society have not been finalized yet and will be included in the next issue of the news-letter.

The annual meeting in December was enjoyed by almost 100 members. In honor of the Society's over thirty years of existence, special recognition was given to many who have been instrumental in its success. Colored ribbons were presented to a wide variety of past and present members symbolizing their contributions to the organization.
Those recognized included founding members, charter members, past and present officers and trustees, and the 1990 museum volunteers. Our vice-president, Marilyn Robinson, did a great job in putting this all together!
The following day I received a letter from Salle Kruger Stead, our first vice-president, and would like to share a few excerpts:

"I received my November newsletter and am delighted to realize we are celebrating our 30th birthday.  
This is a testament to the spirit and character of Batavia. I shall forever treasure those many exciting months of research preceding the grant of our charter and the resultant knowledge of the town I chose to raise my five children in.

I moved to Batavia in my early twenties with two small children and not knowing a soul. I had been told it would be difficult to adjust---not so---I treasure the memories of the many warm people who took my little family under their wings."

It is nice to know that Batavia holds a special place in the memories of those who no longer reside here. Later in this news­letter is another example of someone moving away but still interested in his "home town".

The election of officers at the December meeting brought two new people to the Board of Directors. Patty Will is our new Recording Secretary and Marlene Rotolo is a new Director. Re-elected to their positions were Dot and Jim Hanson, Elliott Lundberg and Ray Anderson. A complete list of Board members is on the last page.


As many of you know, Lucile Gustafson died late last year.  She was an active and dedicated member of the Society, serving as president, trustee and historian over a period of ten years. The Society is one of the beneficiaries of her estate.


-  to Marilyn Robinson, our vice-president, for the series of in the Windmill Herald about some of the historic homes in Batavia.
- to Jerry Miller for auditing our accounts again this year without charge as he has done for a number of years.
-   to Tom Mair for writing and publishing another interesting book about Batavia's past. The book, BATAVIA REVISITED sells for $12.00 and is available at both Johnson's and Rachielles' Drug Stores, the Book Nook, and the Benson, Mair & Gosselin law office. Those wishing to purchase a copy by mail may do so by sending Tom a check for $14.00 at 706 Maple Lane, Batavia.
-  to the Batavia Park District for securing the grants and providing the additional funds for the on-going projects at the Depot Museum site. The Museum has been repainted, the Coffin Bank and the Gunzenhauser Gazebo have been relocated to the site, painted, and are being refurbished. A new $38,000 matching grant has been received which will see the basement of the Museum made into a series of permanent displays covering a variety of scenes related to Batavia's development. The work will be completed this year. 

 - to Georgene & Walter Kauth for faithfully opening and closing the Museum on weekends

- to Martha May Lundberg for scheduling the volunteers for many years and offering to continue this vital service.


Is there a red dot on the mailing label of this newsletter? If so, your 1991 dues have not been paid.  We're sure this is an oversight so please take care of it promptly.  Fill out the form on the last page and send it in with your dues.  Don't risk being removed from the mailing list. 



As the newsletter is sent third-class bulk mail, undeliverable copies are not returned to us and there is no assurance they will be forwarded. Thus, it is important that you notify the Society of any change in your address.  In the past several months five members have moved and I was lucky enough to read or hear about it so I could call them to secure their new addresses.  There is no guarantee this will always happen so it is important that you let us know if you move. 



The newsletter is the responsibility of the president of the Society.  In attempting to make it of interest, I have tried to include a variety of items related to Batavia's past.  However, my knowledge of our community's past is limited and I need to rely on the help of others.  During the last three years eight people have been most helpful by contributing original articles and/or items written by others.  My sincere "Thanks" to these individuals: Ariadne Fredendall Boyd, Joe Burton, Miriam Johnson, Ray Patzer, Nancy Newlin Pearce, Marilyn Robinson, Ted Schuster, and Oliver Wolcott.

Several times I have asked the members to drop a line with their remembrances and several have done so.  Again, I ask for more of these.  They needn't be long, but they are important in preserving a picture of life in Batavia at various times.  As I have said before, our "past" will be "history" to those in the future.
Jim Hanson


The Museum will open again in March.  Our volunteer coordinator, May Lundberg, can always use additional hosts and hostesses. It only requires two hours of your time once a month or even less often. The hours are from 2 - 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Give May a call at 879-3660.  
I'm certain she can use your services on a date convenient for you. Also remember to keep some time free to help at the Cigrand Antique Show on June 8th and 9th.  This is a benefit for our Society and our coordinator, Carole Dunn, will be asking for volunteers this spring. Now that you have your 1991 calendars you can mark down the dates.


Tentative plans have been made to display a number of our smaller artifacts in the exhibit case at the Batavia Library in the coming months. Be sure to watch for it. 



When Batavia's telephones changed to a dial system, the local exchange for Batavia was "TR9" (which evolved into the present "879"). The "TR" was an abbreviation for what word?


In the years around 1960 Batavia became well-known as the home of a prolific writer of "Letters to the Editor" to both local and Chicago newspapers.  What was his name?


What two related events occurred on Nov. 17, 1959 and Jan. 17, 1990?


Batavia is an ever-changing town.  Some of those changes are reflected in things we no longer see that were commonplace some 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago.  Just a few that come to mind that may bring back memories are:

-  the name "BATAVIA" spelled out in concrete letters in front of the high school (now the Junior High)

- the winding narrow road leading out of Quarry Park behind the West Side Cemetery

- mailboxes at corners all around town, often not more than several blocks from any home. 

- railroad tracks running down the middle of Water St. between Wilson & First streets and also in the street on
  Island Ave.(now called Shumway).

- "Streamer", the fire department mascot, riding on the fire trucks.

- the steam pipes hanging on the south side of the Wilson St. bridge used to pipe heat from the city plant to the east
  side businesses. 

- the foot bridge across the river at the CA&E powerhouse dam south of town

- the brick pavement on Batavia Ave. and on Wilson St. from Washington Ave. to Batavia Ave. 

- burning the Christmas trees on "Twelfth Night" at Quarry Park.

- the "riding horse" barber chair for giving haircuts at Mike Schomig's barbershop to small children

- the railroad spur line that ran into the "U.S." building along Wilson St.

- the stile over the fence that separated the old McWayne School property from the Township Park (now the site of the
  present McWayne School.) 

- the bench at the southwest corner of Batavia Ave. and Wilson St.

- the Legion carnivals each summer at the Township Park. 


The following comes from a letter written in 1925 to the editor of the Herald.
"As my time must be about expired, I am enclosing my check herewith for the ensuing year. Mrs. George Otis (formerly Mrs. Frank Averill) is our near neighbor and my wife was Beda Bradley, born in Batavia in 1858.  Mrs. Otis calls every day or so and we all eagerly peruse the issues of your paper and discuss affairs and people in the home town.

My parents moved to Batavia in 1864. I attended school in the old stone school house with frame addition located where a Swedish church now stands. Then a new school was erected and we went into that and had Prof. H. O. Snow for principal.
My immediate teacher was Miss Ellen McWayne (God bless her).

Leaving school, I did odd jobs, such as cleaning up the yard for Mrs. William VanNortwick, picking strawberries in the Kenyon strawberry patch, riding astride a horse to keep him in the straight and narrow path in the plot of ground adjoining Dr. Williams’ strawberry patch south of the Asylum which I think in those days was a private school.

In the fall I would go to the country south of town and west of Judge Lockwood's and pick potatoes at four cents a bushel. Then I went to work for Isaac Stephens on the farm located on the north side of Mill Creek.

There was dense timber in those days along Fox River and the river abounded with fish. I have seen men drive through town in a single horse wagon and go into the river with a seine and take away a wagon load of fish.
My next employment was in the grocery store run by E. K. Green on the west side.  

I next entered the employ of H.B. Spooner in the Variety Store on the west side next to Buck and Porter's. Mr. Spooner had only recently returned to Massachusetts from the Civil War and had followed his brother-in-law Daniel Halladay to Batavia. Soon thereafter he sent to Massachusetts for his daughter, Ada, and I remember well the occasion of Mr. S. going via the C.B.& Q. to Aurora to bring his daughter to his new home.

Myron Kessler had married the daughter of Levi Newton and opened the Island Drug Store and I entered his employ and was in his employ when the store was taken over by Seymour Wolcott, who took me along with the store and I slept in the store and boarded with Mrs. Elson (daughter of L.D. Conde) and she was a second mother to me.

About this time I met and courted Miss Beda Bradley. She was attending school on the east side. My connection with the Island Drug Store was severed by sickness and I went temporarily to Rochelle to which place my parents had removed. Returning to Batavia, I entered the employ of Joseph Burton, dealer in dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes. There I had the delightful companionship of Amos, Thomas, and Mary Burton and the splendid business instruction of their patriarchal father.

I have to thank my old employers, Horatio Spooner and Seymour Wolcott for the inspiration derived from their high character and business capacity. To use our Ante Nuptial names, Calista Daly Otis, Beda Bradley Satterlee and the writer, await weekly the arrival of the Herald from the old town.

The Home Town Paper

When the evenin' meal is over an' the dishes put away,
An' you settle down to store your happenin's of the day,
Comes a peaceful feelin' o'er you, brushin' from your face a frown,
As you scan the weekly paper from your old home town.

Faithful yours,
John C. Satterlee
Chicago, Apr. 26, 1925
Mr. Satterlee certainly worked for a variety of employers.  
I also found some of the "language" used quite different than is common today.


Do you recall the pictures of high school graduating classes which were on display at the old high school?  For the past several years a number of us have been trying to find out what happened to them with no success.  Fortunately, Tom Mair did not give up.  

Although the large original displays are gone, photo copies of them had been made.  Last month Marilyn Robinson located them in storage at the present high school. The Batavia School District has given the Society one of the two sets of pictures.  

This album starts with the first class of the combined east and west side schools in 1911 and continues through the graduating class of 1961.  

Thank you, District #101, for the gift!


The "TR" in the first dial numbers stood for Tremont.

Batavia's letter writer was Oke Pomp.  I won't attempt to comment further as Oke was a unique character who could be the focus of a full article by himself.

Nov. 17, 1959 was the date when 22 people met at the home of Eunice Shumway to discuss preserving Batavia's history. A committee was appointed to write a constitution, nominate officers, and plan for enrolling members for an historical society.  On Jan. 17, 1990, our Society was officially organized at a meeting held in the Congregational Church. 


The following is a copy of a script used at a party prior to the wedding of a Batavia couple around 1900 copied by the prospective bride who changed the names.

"Fellow Conspirators. We are assembled here for the preliminary of a grave event. It is becoming that such great and solemn events should have a fitting prelude; so in honor of this hour, I command that you applaud these victims of "This Earth born fate" who are about to take the Holy Vows of Wedlock. I also command that if either of you have been guilty of unmaidenly or ungentlemanly attitudes or expressions permissable only to those of more mature experiences that you do now make open confession.

I also command that if any in this company know of either of these unhappy people, being guilty of unusual hours, of winking or blushing at each other, or making goo-goo eyes, that you, my esteemed friends, confess it now or hereafter let your lips be sealed. And now:

Ray Sperry, do you solemnly promise that in taking this young maiden, you will get up in the mornings; make the fires no matter if Mercury is playing with Zero, and his many brothers and sisters below; then fix the coffee and empty the slops; that you will always be faithful in your post as in your courtship duties; that you will never complain when the biscuits are heavy, the beef-steak burned, or the dinner late; that you will never tell your wife, "How Mother used to cook.”  

That you will be in promptly at eight; put out the cat, and never be late. That you will never allow the little demon, Temper, become master of your now tranquil happy intoxication, but always be jolly and never sad. That you will be more anxious to sprout wings from your shoulders than to raise a moustache or carry a cane; and finally, Ray, will you try in every conceivable manner to be an ideal Hubby; that on pay-days you will never touch your envelope unless your wife seems to be so inclined to give you what she thinks necessary.

Answer my commands be saying, “Yes, I do so agree.” And you, Nellie Guy, you must also promise as far as in you lies to look after the interests of your new Sovereign Master, ever remembering that you are to be a dutiful and obedient wife; you must promise that the bread shall not be too sticky, the meat too tough, the pie to much like paper weights, nor the coffee too thin.  

You must also promise that the holes in his stockings shall never be allowed to get larger than a silver dollar; nor all the buttons be pulled off by the wringer. You also promise to request him to keep his nails, especially those of his feet, properly trimmed, and always keep uppermost in your mind that, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

Answer my commands by saying, "Yes."

Take hold of your right hands. With this ring, and I with this shower, promise you, a bogus man and wife, that you may have a long happiness, and in future years when the Rays and Nellies are gathered around your fireside, you can relate again and again, your strange but happy wedding. So let it be!




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