Volume Forty-eight

No. 2

April 2007

The Family of Samuel Hanson

An Early Batavia Alderman

by Marilyn Robinson


The Gustafson Research Center receives many family histories. They are all interesting and reflect life in

an earlier time. Virginia Hanson Kay 1f La Grange Park, Illinois, gave us one such history in 1999. Virginia's grandfather, Samuel Hanson, was an early immigrant, settling in Batavia. He was elected a city alderman in 1911. He was born i n Hesslunda, Skana, Sweden, in June 1852. His wife, Kathrina Pearson was born in August 1857 in Zirekopinge, Skana, Sweden. The couple was married in their homeland on December 30, 1876. Five years later, they left for America with their four-year-old son, Gotthard (Gus) and two-year old daughter, Clara. The family was quarantined at Hoffman Island for two weeks where the infant Clara died. Sam, Kathrina, and Gus arrived at Geneva on June 3, 1881.


The Hansons celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1926 at a family gathering in Aurora. Their son, Elmer, wrote and read a family history at the celebration. This is the work his niece Virginia donated to our archives. It gives not only a humorous look 1t the family's story but glimpses of rife in Batavia from 1882 to 1926. Here is a condensed and somewhat revised version of Elmer's story. Way, way back in the days of 1872 when horses were self startersand filling stations were blacksmith shops, there lived in Bosorup, Sweden, a little girl named Kathrina Pearson. From Hesslunda, not so many miles away, had come a young man named, Samuel, son of Hans Anderson, to take employment at Bosorup. It was winter; and the days were short and the nights tedious, save for the cabarets that cost money. Christmas arrived and parties and functions were numerous. Kathrina begged her parents to go to one of these parties, and they consented. After work, Samuel and his brother, Martin, decided to take in one of the parties.


It happened to be the same party. Samuel and Martin entered the hall intending to get acquainted. Once in the hall, their eyes centered upon the same attractive, demure little girl - Kathrina. Instantly there was rivalry between Samuel and Martin. Both had a good line.


As time went on, Samuel wore better with Kathrina, and all other suitors wore out their welcome, including Martin. Samuel became a regular caller. He knew his onions and called often, never giving another guy a chance. On the nights he didn't call, he watched his rivals. One year of courtship slipped by; two years passed; three years faded and in the latter part of the fourth year, Samuel put on his best bow tie and new shirt and went to see his girl. After Kathrina's parents went to bed, Samuel moved closer. He stuttered, "Skall ve gifta?" Kathrina piped, "Sure -- it's about time you asked me."


And so they were wed. At first Kathrina objected to going to America; but they soon left from Lanskrona, a seaport, went to Copenhagen, and caught a boat to America. After stopping at a hotel in New York, they took the New York Central oil burner special to Chicago. From there, they boarded a Northwestern line dinky to Geneva. There they settled for a time. Samuel was first employed at the United States Wind Engine & Pump Co. as a superintendent. He left the pump company, but being a firstclass mechanic in Sweden, went to Shumway's foundry in Batavia and asked for work. For two months, all the scrubs at the foundry wondered who the new machinist was.


Eventually, they bowed to him. As foreman,he had to have an interpreter or draw pictures of what he wanted done by the others, for he couldn't speak English. By this time there were two children. After Sam had served three years at Shumway's, during which he declined three raises, he took a position at the bag factory, right next door. He stayed there less than a year, before he went to the paper mill. During this time, the family moved to Batavia because they didn't like the stop light at Geneva.


Here they had five more children. A short time later, a fellow who thought he had his trade learned, was erecting mining machinery at Bloomington, Illinois. They were trying to sink a coal mine, but were having trouble. So Sam answered an S.O.S. and succeeded in bringing about the coal mine. All this time Kathrina was watching four unruly kids, Gus, Ellen, Clara, and Richard. She also had two boarders whom she tried to feed right. The worst job was keeping them sober and making them shut up during card games. Sam returned from Bloomington and worked again for a short time in the bag factory. The bags didn't do so good, so he went back to the U.S. Company, starting as a machinist in August 1887. He was appointed assistant foreman in 1892.


The next year, he was named foreman. The couple had two more children, Elme· [the author of this story] and Clarence. Whenever, Samuel was away, Kathrina looked after the youngsters, scrubbed the floors, dusted the furniture, cooked for the boarders, took care of the garden, gave lickings, mowed the lawn, managed expenses, did the buying, nursed the sick, mended apparel, and shoveled snow. The family became members of the Swedish Methodist Church, and Samuel was numbered among the loudest singers in the church until Gus Benson came along. Years went by.


The children learned to be good -- they read for the minister and fought with other kids on the way home. Samuel fired a lot of men at the plant, and Kathrina washed many dirty breeches and petticoats. She thanked the world when women quit wearing petticoats. In 1911, Samuel didn't like the way the city was headed, so he ran for alderman of the second ward. Later Claus became a special officer for the New York Central Railroad and the Carlsons moved to the south side of Chicago. Brother Richard was born in October 1887 in Batavia. Growing up, Richard often skipped school and would fight anyone who got in his way. He even got into trouble with the local law for his ways.


The stamping ground of Richard and his gang centered on Atherton Hobler's large lawn where the Batavia High School basketball team gets beat now [1926]. The gang used to gather there daily. One day when everyone went home to eat, Richard turned up missing. His parents searched for him everywhere. They learned that Richard had last been seen climbing onto Bristol's barrel wagon, headed north. He reported to the home of brother Gus and Anna in Elgin.


He was quickly rushed back to Batavia. After a while Richard tired of Batavia again and once again failed to show up for dinner. Panic set on in my family again. Much later Richard was heard from in Mexico. Later escapades took him to Nevada and other desolate parts of the continent. Eventually, he learned to be a machinist, having served an apprenticeship on Kinne and Jeffery's delivery wagon. The dance hall beckoned Richard, and he was recognized as the best waltzer [sic] around. He was a steady dancer on Pigeon Hill in Aurora. When he couldn't get a date, he would play cards. Then he bought himself a motorcycle, and was at one time a policeman in North Aurora.


Richard then took vocal lessons from Harry Bartholomew and made his first appearance as a singer on the stage of the Nickelodeon in Geneva. At Bartholomew's one night, he was introduced to a girl singer, Miss Maude Dickinson. Eventually, the couple married in a town downstate. They first lived in Chicago. For two years they played one night stands in Detroit, Michigan, Van Wert, Ohio, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and other cities in the central states. At last Richard got to be a salesman. He and Maude had one son. The next to the youngest child in Samuel Hanson's family was Elmer, born in September 1890 in Batavia. Elmer held many jobs during his life: paper boy, pinsetter, errand boy, cigar clerk, assistant bookkeeper, and moving picture machine experimenter.


Bob Challman hired Elmer to carry the special deliveries and paid him eight cents for each letter he delivered. With this money Elmer bought caps for his baseball team. Leaving school, Elmer was recommended for a job reading gas meters. Next he read slot meters and collected the quarters. Then Elmer tried to be a printer and office clerk in Aurora, but eventually followed the footsteps of his predecessors and landed at the U. S. machine shop. Sam and Elmer hooked up like twins at the U.S. until one morning Elmer did something wrong. Father and son started hollering at one another. When Elmer couldn't out-holler his father, he left through the front door.


It was 11 o'clock. At noontime, everyone in the family took the father's side, so Elmer gathered his two neckties, his mandolin, machinist's tools, and left for Milwaukee where he found a job with Schlitz brewing company. Elmer soon returned to Chicago, working at various tasks in machine shops for several years and dancing the evenings away. When the United States entered World War I, Elmer was turned down by the exemption board, so he enlisted in the air service, taking a toolmaker's job at the airplane factory in Dayton, Ohio. After the war, he returned to Chicago.


In 1 920, he returned to Batavia and got a position as a reporter on the Aurora Daily Journal. Within six weeks, the paper was bankrupt. So Elmer turned into a bus driver. In February 1921, he again thrust himself upon the newspaper profession, at the Aurora Beacon-News. In about 1915, Elmer had caught up with a sweet young blonde named Helen Frances Carlson, former Kane County high school typewriting champion. For eight long years, Helen's mother fed Elmer over the weekends; and finally in 1923, Helen and Elmer were married and moved to North Aurora. Clarence was the baby of the family. In high school, he won himself a spot on the great basketball team of 1912, which will be the only state championship that Batavia will ever see. Clarence played forward, subguard, and center. He was the first player on the team to bump his head against the balcony of the old Methodist "boxcar" gym.


Clarence was valedictorian of his graduating class. After graduation, he helped make pumps for a time at the U.S. as a preparatory training to enter college. He chose to attend Milliken University at Decatur, Illinois. There he also won a place on the basketball team. After a long courtship of a fellow student, named Lucille, he wired home and told them he had married Mildred Mohr. The new couple went to Chicago where Clarence went to work for a large printing establishment and studied law in the evenings. He was drafted into the army. The war ended before Clarence finished training; he was not sent overseas. He returned to his law studies. Mildred left him. He married twice again, but neither marriage worked. He finally wed Miss Carrie Faith. This marriage lasted. 12.jpg


Elmer finished his long tribute to his family with the following. These are some of the highlights and humorous episodes of the family tree and all of its branches, as seen by this writer. The tree is in full bloom today.


The trunk is just as fresh as any of the limbs, and the twigs of the generation are sprouting with all the vigor of youth." These family accounts and/or diaries make for very interesting reading. Not only do they give the lineage of a family, but glimpses into life at a particular time in our history. Wouldn't you like your family's history preserved by adding it to our collection?



The Norm and Jerry Show Returns!

East Meets "West Reminiscences of

Two Boys Growing up in Batavia


Part 2


In the last issue, we began the reminiscences of Norm Freedland and Jerry Miller, two boys growing up on opposite sides of the river but becoming fast friends after Jerry was transferred to the west side for seventh grade. We'll now continue the recounting of their experiences, based on their June 2006 interviewed by Jim Hanson and Bill Hall.


Jerry resumed the story, "You always went to the grocery store, like Harold Maves' up on Route 25 - he kept his empty pop bottles stacked up out behind the store. Well, there was a 2-cent deposit on every bottle, so when the kids needed money, they would go back, hook the bottles, run around to the front door and turn them into Harold. He would give them the 2 cents so they could buy some candy. Harold knew what was going on, but he was the kind of guy l didn't bother, and he would let the dads have the candy".


 "And it was penny candy, really good penny candy," Norm recalled. "F&H was really a good store. They had a big old jar with a slot in it, and they trusted the kids to put two or three cents in or whatever for Chum Gum or whatever they chewed at that time. "We had a number of grocery stores on the west side F&H, Chemp Nelson up on Houston Street, and Abhalters on the south end. The A&P was probably the big store, a supermarket, and across the street was the West Side Food Store." Bill was reminded, "I remember our grocery store, Bortner's, which we used even though it was on the other side. Barbara would call in her order to Erv or his mother; then Bill Bortner would come and deliver the stuff in the afternoons." "Yeah," Norm interjected, "Bill worked at the foundry in the morning and delivered in the afternoon."


"Sure," Jerry said, "I can remember my dad always charged our groceries there. We kids would run over there and buy a loaf of bread; Martha would write it on a ticket, and she just kept a running tab going. And when my dad got his paycheck, he went into Bortner's and cashed the paycheck. Paid for the grocery bill and got the change back. That's just the way it was then." "The F&H was Bloom's in my day," Jim recalled. "Yeah, Harold Bloom." "That must have been in the 30s," Norm said. Well," Jerry continued, "besides, Bortner's, we had Earl Sloggett, up on the corner of Franklin and Delia streets -" " BeardsIey's Supermarket , "Norm recalled.


"And," Jerry resumed, "Mrs. Beardsley was up on North Van Buren Street, and Daniel's had a store on Delia and State Street. And, of course, downtown we had a Kroger's Store next to Bill Rachielle's, and across the street on the corner was National Tea Store. So we had everything within walking distance. That's how we got by without a car." Turning to another subject, Norm remembered, "The old Capitol Theater, the movie theater, was 13 cents for kids and 44 cents for adults. A serial on Friday nights, wasn't there? 'They had a serial," Jim agreed, "newsreels and cartoons. Previews of coming attractions." "Friday night was always a big night, wasn't it?" Norm mused. "Looney Tunes." "And if you were real lucky," Jerry said, "they would have another deal like the Three Stooges or-" "A spaghetti western," Norm remembered, "then a serial or Tarzan." "Jerry," Jim asked, "you said you worked for Pinoke?""Right, when I was a sophomore in high school. Pinoke used to hire a high school kid in his sophomore year, and he worked there his junior and senior years. At graduation, Pinoke would hire a new sophomore."



"Excuse me," Norm interrupted, "but you have to tell them all the places you have worked and how far they were from home." "Well, Pinoke's was right there on Wilson Street and River Street; I worked there till I graduated fromhigh school. Then I went across the street and worked for Angelo Perna for sixteen years. We were in the old Duffy's Tavern building over there. Then I went to work for Larson Becker, which was a block closer to home. All that's within three blocks of home." "Three blocks!" exclaimed Norm. "His whole life was three blocks from his home to his work." "And I have to say," Jerry replied, "that I never had to look for a job. When Pinoke was hiring a kid, Mike Day was the senior who was graduating, and he told Pinoke I would be a good candidate to come to work for him. My mother or dad had been in the store, and Pinoke said, 'I understand you have a son who would maybe consider coming to work for us.' They said, 'We'll ask him, so I went down and talked to Pinoke. He hired me on the spot.


"And then when I was a senior in high school, my bookkeeping teacher, Bea Hodson (Ms. Hahn when she was single), entered us in a bookkeeping contest, and I placed rather high on it, nationally. Angelo Perna was just fresh in business and looking for somebody to work and train with him, and she suggested me. So I went over and went to work for Angelo Perna for $50 a week.


And I worked for him for sixteen years. "Then Bob Becker, whom I had grown up with, was working for his dad at Larson Becker and was looking for someone to replace Neil Conde, who had done their accounting. He asked, 'Are you really tied to Angelo in any way?' And I said, 'No not really.' He asked, 'How about coming to work for us?' I asked him what was involved - what they were offering and so forth.



Well, it was better than what I was getting from Angelo and I knew Larson Becker was a good, secure company, so I went to work for them. When the Beckers sold out '84, I stayed on and worked for the Larsons until I retired two years ago.


"But," Jerry said, turning to Norm, "you haven't had that many jobs in your life." "Yeah, but I didn't work three block from home." "Well, you Swedes are a little slower and -" "He started at 9 o'clock in the morning, so if we were out at night, he always got an extra hour of sleep, so in a week's time he had an extra day of sleep. And he walked to work." "Plan ahead, plan ahead," Jerry came back. "My mother didn't raise fools. But when I first met Norm, he was peddling newspapers. He had the elite route in town, out on Maple Lane. How many papers did you deliver then?" "Thirteen - 75 cents for the Beacon and 90 cents for the News, or $1.25 for both." "Did you have to go down to turn your money in?" Jim asked. "To the news agency, pushing the bike across the trestle and going down to pick up the papers. All the guys were down there in the basement, folding papers a hundred miles an hour because they had 130 papers or something like that.


There was Toe, Bob Thomas, Dweeb, Stan Thomas, Billy Kline would steal your underpants. He was slick." "Where did you go after that?" Jerry asked. "You didn't work during high school?" "I worked at the National Tea Stand up in Geneva. I don't remember how I got to work, though. I must have hitchhiked, I suppose." "Hitchhiking was common then," Jim commented. "Everybody hitchhiked back then."


"If we ever had enough money," Norm recalled, "we hitchhiked to Pottawatomie Parks to go golfing. We would always hitchhike to Aurora. It was very common. People felt safe, I guess, at that time" Jerry turned to Norm, "How about the time you hopped on the train? You rode how far? To the Mississippi? And about froze to death." "That was on a freight train. I went to Iowa." "Talk about a dumb Swede!" "Bob White, my neighbor Jerry Peterson, and I would wear coveralls. We would get on the train in West Chicago and ride it out to the Mississippi; then we get off, take off the coveralls. We rode to Peoria, Rock Island, all over the place. You know, it was just something to do on the weekend -" "And you always told your mother you were going? Right?" Jerry interrupted.


 "We were just talking about this this morning at coffee - turning south in Dixon and ending up in Peoria. We caught a freight train to Rock Island and couldn't get a ride home. So we hitchhiked home - let's see, I got home at 5:30 in the morning. I was walking along with a sleeping bag on Houston Street, and my mother was walking down to catch the bus to go to work in St. Charles. She stopped and asked, 'Where have you been?' I replied, 'Denny Swanson's grandma's house.' She owned nine acres out there, and we used to go camping there." "How old were you when you did this?" Bill asked. "Junior high -maybe high school a little bit. We rode our bikes to White Pines once and stayed a week - I think we were in seventh grade. That was Jack Weist, Steve Nelson and Denny Swanson from the hardwarr-­ store. We were leaving in the dark and Denny's mother wouldn't let him go in the dark. So we had to wait until it got light, and then we went.


We only made it to Sycamore because the only had Schwinn 26" bikes, and You couldn't get many miles like that. We camped out there, and we went the next day to White Pines and stayed a week. "Denny's dad, Art Swanson, came out and got mad because we hadn't tipped the ladies in the restaurant. We had one good meal a day - that was cheeseburger for lunch, I guess. We didn't need to tip the waitress for that, but he got mad at us and tipped the waitresses. They didn't charge us for another day, and we didn't pay him back." Leaning back, Norm concluded with a touch of nostalgia, "It was fun growing up here. It was just an easy life." 14.jpg


"Another thing I remember from high school," Jerry said, "was the Huddle. It was the social club for the high school kids. And it was always fun. If you didn't have anything to do on a Friday or Saturday night, you went to the Huddle. They had everything there for you." "Mrs. Schiedler ran it, and Mrs. Westrob before that," Norm recalled. I think when I started going, it was "above the old city hall," Jerry continued, "next to the fire department, way upstairs.


Then after a few years, they went over to the Legion Hall above Rachielle's Drug Store. It was a good hangout. "Dancing and a ping pong table and all that stuff" "Cards and checkers." "Like I said," Norm observed, "we were easy to entertain then. There television to Batavia, for the most part. Cliffy Anderson had them up on the Avenue. He had Crosley TVs, and then in '48 or so Olmstead came to town. He used to put one in the window so that if there was prizefight on or something, people would go down and stand at Olmstead's, watching it.


"Art Swanson used to sell Mack TVs at the little hardware store over by Schreiner's Drug Store." "I remember our first TV was a Muntz," Jerry said. "Oh yeah, Mad Man Muntz 'I tried to give them away, but Mrs. Muntz wouldn't let me.' His TVs were cheap - he used everyone else's parts. He built the Muntz automobile, remember, in the early 1950s." "McClurgs next door had a TV early," Jerry recalled. "They were the first ones in town to have one. I can remember as a little kid coming home from school and running quick over to McClurgs' to watch Howdy Doody or Kukla, Fran and Ollie or something like that. And of course at night, we had to quick get the dishes done and get over to McClurgs' because Milton Berle was on. You didn't want to miss that." "Some of them were coin-operated, like telephones," Norm said. (And with this, we'll stop Jerry's and Norm's reminiscences for the time being, resuming them in the next issued with their entry in the military service.)



Two Cousins with Old-time Batavia Roots

Died within Three Months of One Another



Marj Holbrook



Word has been received of the deaths of two former Batavians who were first cousins. Carl L. Anderson, 89, of New London, CT died Nov. 16, 2006, after an illness of just a few weeks. He was born July 20, 1917, in Batavia. Ward H. Conde, 96, of Milwaukee, died Feb. 1, 2007, in Milwaukee. He was born Sept. 11, 1910, in Batavia. Both grew up together in Batavia. Ward Harrington Conde was the third son of Guy and Alma Conde. Carl Leslie Anderson was the fourth son of Charles and Selma Anderson. Carl Anderson documented his family history - and tales of growing up in Batavia during the 1920s and '30s, in a series of books, "Walk in My Shoes." His interest in genealogy and family history spurred him to recruit various relatives to contribute to a book about their families, their lives, their interests. He self-published a first volume, then updated it twice over the next 10 years. Copies of each are available in the Gustafson !enter of the Depot Museum. One of 1e stories in "Walk in My Shoes" is about Boy Scouting in the troop led by Harry "Cornie" Pierce of Batavia. Carl's and Ward's mothers were sisters; each had five sons.


Early in their marriage, Charles and Selma Anderson lived with the Condes in the large house at Washington Avenue and Spring Street. Their sons played, went to school, participated in Boy Scouts and went fishing together. It was a connection that would last almost all their lives. Later, Charles and Selma bought a home at the corner of North Van Buren and Franklin streets and moved their family there. But the cousins were always together. Even after the men returned from World War II service, get-togethers and parties brought the cousins and other assorted friends together at least once a month. During World War II, Ward Conde was a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving in the European theater. Carl Anderson was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and commanded a patrol boat serving along the east and Gulf coasts. Four of the five Conde sons were in the Armed Forces; Ward's brother, Army Maj. Clare B. Conde, was killed Dec. 28, 1944, in the Battle of the Bulge. Two of Carl's brothers, Howard and Kenneth, also served in the military during the war. After the war, both Ward and Carl returned to Batavia for several years. Ward Conde moved to Pretty Lake, Wis., and later to Milwaukee. He retired from Pabst Brewing Co. after 35 years of service.


He is survived by two children, daughter Joey (Ron) Hinzpeter, and son David Conde. His nephew, Neal J. Conde Jr., was a Batavia alderman for many years, and a member of the Historical Society. Neal's widow, daughter and granddaughter still live in the Conde house, built before 1850. coverings for Sears, working in the Chicago corporate headquarters. In 1955, he and his family moved to New London, CT where he was the manager for a hard-surface floor covering manufacturer. When the mill closed in 1970, he bought a water well drilling business, learned the basics as well as a degree in geology. The business became a nationally- recognized company featured in Water Well magazine. He is survived by two sons, Wade, of Downers Grove, and James, of Connecticut, and a daughter, Leslie, of Massachusetts.


He also is survived by two brothers, Howard, of Texas, and Don of Wisconsin.



Memorials and Other Gifts

In memory of Roland & Marion Ekman:

Georgene K. O'Dwyer; in memory of Cliff & Florence Neely:

John A. O'Dwyer; in memory of Wayne Swanson:

Georgene K. O'Dwyer; in memory of Robert V. Brown:

Robert & B.J. Rileyand Robert & Susan Ducar; in memory of Norma Lundberg:

Florence Olson, Barbara Maxwell, Denis & Nancy Bowron, Rosalind Hazelton, Ronald Grandquist, Wayne & Carol Johnson, Mary Ann Hubbard, Dean & Joanne Johnson, George & Mary Tincknell, Colin Blanchflower, Peter & Leslee Kraft, Alan & Nancy McCloud, James Anderson, John & Georgene O'Dwyer, Robert & B. J. Riley, Karl & Violet Kraft, Don & Shirley Johansen, Bill & Barbara Hall, John & Dorothy Carlson, Patrick & Nancy Bell, Helen Owens, Vi Johnson, Eva Peterson, Ruth Lindgren, William & Trudy Horler, Fermilab Co-workers, Colleen Feece, Dan, Amy, Patrick, Kevin & Diana Collins, Floyd & Sally Braddy, Barbara Bumbar, Natalie Jones, Phyllis Soderquist, Jeffrey & Colleen Cebula, John & Janice Swana, Dennis & Glenda Heinkel, Dorothy Patzer, Jerry & Marsha Schuster, Bob & Sue Peterson, Janet L. Smudde, William & Rosemary McConnaughay, John & Karen McConnaughay, and Catherine & Glenn Cushing, Elaine M.Johansen, Marcey Burtch, Ted & Betty Sharpenter, Martha M. Morris, Douglas & Priscilla Miller, Dale & Catherine McConnaughay, Mark McConnaughay, and John & Esther Flodstrom. In honor of Bill & Barbara Hall: Kathryn Klose.


Annual donation: John L. Hafenrichter.


Threads from the Past

Quilt and Textile Show at Eastside Community Center

July 13-15


The Batavia Depot Museum along with The Fine Line Creative Arts Center is sponsoring a Quilt and Textile show, "Threads From Past to Present" at the Eastside Community Center on July 13-15. The show will include exhibits, demonstrations, quilt appraisals and programs. The show hours will be Friday, July 13 from 1:00-7:00 p.m., Saturday, July 14, from 10-5 and Sunday, July 15, from 12-5. Tickets prices will be Adults $5.00, Seniors and Students $4.00, Children 1 0 & under free. On Friday, July 13 at 5:30 p.m., Clarice Boswell will be presenting her pro ·ram, "Pre-Civil War Quilts: Their Hidden Codes to the Underground Railroad and Freedom." Tickets for the program will be sold in advance for $5.00. All participants will receive a discount coupon for admission to the Quilt Show on Saturday or Sunday.


For more information call the museum at 406-5274.

Neighborhood Grocery was Stocked with Friendliness


Sammi King

(Sammi wrote this story in 1999.)



It was the last neighborhood grocery store in Batavia, closing its doors in August, 1975. It had been at its Walnut Street location for many years. Originally, it had been called Bloom's grocery. Later it became Abhalter's, named after the store's owner, Don Abhalter. Many in the neighborhood referred to it as the Little Store because of its small size. There were other Abhalter's stores in Aurora which were run by Don's brothers; Norbett and Ray. Back in the old days, it was not uncommon to see bicycles parked out in front of Abhalter's or kids sitting on the porch enjoying a popsicle on a hot summer day.


The inside porch was the area for grocery pick-up. Customers would call and ask Don to leave items in the porch area for pickup after the store's 6:00 PM closing. Don would just attach a hand written bill that the customer would pay the next time he stopped in. Carlisle resident Wally Anderson worked for Abhalter years ago as a delivery boy. "It was my job to deliver groceries and to do pick-ups and deliveries from the Aurora stores," he told me. "I got to drive an old '34 paneled truck. Esther Larson (Koubenac) worked at the store at the same time that I worked there. I remember taking her home on a snowy day and sliding on the ice in that truck."


The interior walls of the store were lined with shelving for canned goods and staples. Bread and dairy was located

in the back of the store. Also in the back was the meat area where Don would cut steaks, chops and roasts. Next to the freezer area, the most popular place for a kid to be was at the counter. There you could have a clear view of all the penny candy on the top two shelves and those expensive candy bars on the bottom. In the late '30's Billy Johnson, son of Augie Johnson was a frequent customer of the store. Billy, who was blind, lived two blocks to the north. He would make his daily trip to Abhalter's for a candy treat, without assistance. In the fifties, Don's wife, Marge, was the cashier and keeper of the candy. She made sure that no small hands made it into the candy shelves unnoticed. Former Batavian, Gene Borman, recalled receiving a phone call from Abhalter back in the fifties. "Don called and said, "I have two little kidsabout 3 or 4 who don't know their names, where they live or who their parents are. But they do remember Don Borman." Monty Kisser and Jean Keskitalo, two kids from the Carlisle Road neighborhood , had made the 3/4 mile trek to the little store. After questioning, they remembered the name of neighbor Don Borman, Gene's husband. Borman immediately went up to the store and got the happy wanderers.


The Abhalters had two children of their own who helped out in the store, son Dick and daughter Lynn. Dick played basketball and had his own claim to fame. He was the Bat avia Bulldog who scored all three points in the 1 959 game against Charles, when St. Charles tried to stall the whole game. There weren't a lot of Batavia fans in the St. Charles gym that night. Tom Skea was there keeping track of the stats for his brother Bill who was on the team. "That game was one of the strangest that I had ever seen,' Tom said. "No one had ever stalled for an entire game before. It really threw off all the players' statistics." People in the neighborhood convincedDon to submit the basketball story to the popular game show "What's My Line." Unfortunately the game show executives thought that it wasn't unusual enough. Sports were talked about frequently over the meat counter. Bulldog fan "Smash" Anderson lived down the street and rehashed games frequently with Don and the people from the neighborhood.


After closing, the Abhalter's store was sold and served as a beauty shop and a TV repair facility. Don and Vi Cole purchased the property 10 years ago [now 18] and converted it to a family residence. The restoration is on going but most of it we. done over the course of a year. Don Cole, who is an extremely talented carpenter, spent every day working on the house. He painstakingly removed and restored all the original trim and wainscoting. He also milled all the additional trim that was needed, paying careful attention to the detail.


Mark Your Calendar!

June 10 Meeting at Mooseheart


The Society has been invited to Mooseheart by Director General William Airey for a luncheon buffet and presentation on "Mooseheart History."

When: June 10 , 2007

Time: 1:00 P.M.

Complimentary Luncheon Buffet

Where: Paul J. O'Hollaren Center For Tomorrow at Mooseheart;

Gate guard will direct to Center and parking.

Who: Members and Guests

Program: Luncheon Buffet

Brief business meeting - Video of Mooseheart History

William Airey Presentation

Bob Zaininger- Museum curator commentary

Museum tour

Bus tour of Mooseheart grounds, those who wish You will be receiving a notice in the mail, but be sure to set aside this date now. You won't want to miss this exceptional program.


From a column in The Batavia Herald, May 2, 1947, entitled

You're Getting Old if You Remember


Gleaned by Marilyn Robinson


It is not clear the exact period in Batavia's history that the anonymous writer is remembering. It is known that Mr .Danforth died in 1913, so these memories are from probably 80-90 years ago. Note: The number of music references in the column. When Benjamin Danforth played the big bass viola. (Danforth was a manufacturer of horseshoe nails.)

Mrs. Emanuel Holbrook's music studio at the corner of Wilson and Van Buren Streets. Miss Linnie O'Conner was a house-to-house piano teacher.


Miss Alice Williams, piano teacher and long-time organist in the Congregational Church. Arthur Burton's Music Studio at the corner of Batavia Avenue and First Street. Mrs. Alice Doty Wernicke's Music Studio on McKee Street. The singing school conducted in the basement of the Baptist Church by Professor Benjamin, Mr. Joseph Felver, leading tenor. When Coach Peel's Batavia High School football team scored a victory over Dundee 49-0. When J. B. Benson's depot restaurant gave a free ticket for every 25 cents spent in his place, good for a chance on a gold watch? When Batavia had several millionaires who were liberal and public spirited.


When lots in the East Batavia Cemetery sold from $2 to $5.73 each. There were twenty-two businesses cin the east side of the river. These included gents' furnishings, 2 meat markets, Adams Express, 3 barbers, 2 livery stables, a glove factory, a medical doctor, a hardware store, a photographer, a blacksmith, a coal and lumber dealer, a grocery store, 2 shoe stores, and a dry goods store.




Bob Riley's Fascinating Presentation


At the March 1 1 General Meeting


After being shipwrecked off the African coast in 1815, Captain John Riley was sold into slavery by his Arab captors and suffered a grueling trek across the Sahara before an English consul finally purchased his freedom. This is the bare outline of the gripping story that Captain Riley's descendant, member Bob Riley, related to a large audience at the society's general meeting on March 11.


After his return to America, Captain Riley told his adventures in a book that sold many copies and was republished several times over many years. More recently, the story was retold in Skeletons on the Zahara (variant spelling of Sahara) by Dean King and was the subject of a History Channel presentation. After numerous questions and answers, the meeting was adjourned, and members and guests enjoyed refreshments and a chance to visit.