Volume Fifty-Three

No. 1


January, 2012






In December, Robert & Suzanne Peterson were named Batavia’s 2011 Citizens of the Year by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. Both are life long Batavians who have contributed many countless hours in various community services and activities, with a shared vision toward the continuing growth of Batavia.




Bob has served 15 years on the Batavia Board of Education and was its presedent for nine years. His vision was to expand the educational curriculum and school facilities to create the highly respected, Batavia school district, which has grown and enhanced our community and made for a better life.


Sue was appointed to the Batavia’s Plan Commission, seven years ago, by Mayor Jeffery Schielke and currently serves as the Commission’s chairperson. This commission has developed the Batavia Comprehensive Plan, which is used for the future growth of Batavia.


Both are active members of the Batavia United Methodist Church and generously offer their time and talents toward helping the church to continue to be a growing and innovative organization.


Bob and Sue are active members of the Batavia Historical Society and Bob is the current president. His visionary leadership has helped the Society to establish the expansion program for the Depot Museum. In the words of Roger Breisch, Executive Director of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, "The magic of naming Citizens of the Year is the discovery of the fertile ground in which this magnificent community has blossomed" and "Batavia would be far more desolate had Bob and Sue not nurtured its growth with such love and devotion."


The Batavia Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee of previous recipients of the award and from nominations from the community. The award is given for the extraordinary contributions to the community over the course of the recipient's lifetime.


The Batavia Chamber of Commerce will honor Bob and Suzanne Peterson at its annual awards dinner, held on January 28, 2012 at the Lincoln Inn Banquets.




 Our Apology



The Board of Directors of the Batavia Historical Society offers our apologies for not providing our quarterly newsletter in a timely manner. During 2011, we experienced some “volunteer oversights” and we are in the process of correcting this. Starting with this January 2012 newsletter, we plan to provide issues on a regular quarterly basis.


The April newsletter will concentrate on windmill history in anticipation of the International Windmiller’s Trade Fair hosted in Batavia in June. The August and November newsletters are looking for volunteer editors who can provide family stories and/or Batavia memories. These stories can be in a short story form and we will edit to fit into the available space.


We are currently seeking an Editor for the Historian, who will manage and coordinate all of the various areas required to produce each edition. Please consider volunteering for this important position so we can continue to offer quality newsletters to our members. You may contact Chris Winter at the museum with any questions or for more information, 630-406-5274. We thank Gary and Sammi King for the fine job serving in this position for the past four years.



January 2012 NL.jpg



Marilyn Robinson Honored


Batavia third graders and their teachers held a tree dedication in the honor of Marilyn Robinson, noted Batavia historian, on Tuesday, November 29 at the Batavia Depot Museum. The students and teachers raised funds for the memorial. According to the plaque, the tree is being dedicated to Marilyn Robinson who inspired countless third

graders to love Batavia through her book “Little Town in a Big Woods”.


Marilyn Robinson was the Batavia Depot Museum’s historian for more than 20 years. She spent countless hours in the Gustafson Research Center at the Museum. Shortly after Robinson’s death, the Batavia Historical Society donated a room in the Research Center in her honor. Marilyn enjoyed helping people with research inquiries, giving tours to third graders and helping with special events at the Depot Museum. “She dedicated her life to educating children and people about the history of Batavia”, said Carla Hill, Depot Museum Director, “She was always there.”







Membership Matters


The Batavia Historical Society welcomes new members since the last newsletter.


Ralph & Debbie Fisher, Batavia, IL

Pat Quast, Batavia, IL

John Freedlund, Batavia, IL

Mark & Ellen Peterson, Sarona, WI

Juliana Gabriel, Geneva, IL

Doris Ray, No. Aurora, IL

Linda M. Gebhardt, Batavia, IL

Peg Read, Batavia, IL

Don & Jan Kobyleski, Batavia, IL

Dennis & Margaret Schuett, Batavia, IL

Eleanor Leitner, Huntley, IL

Susan Stark, Batavia, IL

Carolyn Olson Lund, Grantsburg, WI

Hope Terrazas, Batavia, IL

Blythe Hazelton McDuffee, St. Charles, IL

Selma Wilkerson, St. Charles, IL

Phillip M. Ory, Lakewood, CA

Kathi Olson Wilson, Batavia, IL


We regret to report the deaths of the following members in 2011 and extend our sympathy to their families. We wish to express our appreciation for the following Memorials and donations to the society.



Dee Karas

Darlene & Dick Larson


Bob French

Lois & Dick Benson


Jeanette Anderson

Beverly Hegre

Elizabeth Stone

Mickey Feldott

Charmayne Kreuz


Kay Neely

Rhonda Messina

Bob and Suzanne Peterson


Lillian Brown

John & Mary Lou White

Gerald & Karen Miller


Roger Williams

Phyllis Soderquist


Marilyn Robinson

Bequest from Robinson Estate





History on the Web


You can now access past issues of The Batavia Historian Newsletter from the comfort of your home or office! In collaboration with the Batavia Public Library, the Historical Society now has 50 years of newsletters dated 1960-2010 available to researchers through the Library’s new website A huge thank you goes to Board Member, Gary King, for many hours of scanning and indexing these documents and to the Library staff for their efforts.





Membership Renewal


It’s that time of year again. Membership renewal time. If your newsletter mailing label has “2009” or “2010” in the upper right-hand corner, your membership needs to be renewed. If you want to keep receiving the Batavia Historian, please detach or copy the renewal form on the back of the newsletter and send your membership in to the address indicated. Memberships not renewed by April 2012 will be dropped from the list. Thank you








Historic Photos Discovered

By Chris Winter


The museum recently received a donation of more than 50 glass negatives from a Batavia photographer, Brian De Wolf. The negatives came to him from a local photography shop that was going out of business. After scanning and printing the photos that appear on this page we were amazed at the clarity of the images that had been stored in many a base­ment and attic for over 100 years. We wondered who took these photos that give us great insight to what life was like in the 1890's. The only clue in this collection was a name penciled in the margin of a photo of a thin man with a long white beard: O.E. Cooley. Being a very curious person, I enlisted the help of a few of the museum's volunteer research­ers and will share what we have uncovered so far.


Oliver E. Cooley was born in 1835 in Massachusetts and his family came to live on a farm in Batavia in 1838. He mar­ried Clarissa Fowler in 1858 and she died in 1862. His second marriage was to Mary Clark and they had three children, Oscar E. (1868), Ellen E. (1873) and Sara L. (1877). He worked as a clerk at George Fowler's General Store on the east side of Batavia from 1850-1873 and then established an insurance agency. According to an 1896 Directory, Mr. Cooley served as Justice of the Peace in addition to being an insurance agent and his home was near the SW comer of Spring and College Streets. The photos in this collection were taken during the 1890's from what we can determine from the flood in February 1893 and the addition to the West Side Public School in 1898.


We would love to hear from any of our members who might be familiar with the Cooley family or can provide more in­formation to identify these photos. Please contact me at the museum 630-406-5274 or email:




 O. E. Cooley Family c1895, Family meal in the kitchen




























"Dewey" Passenger Boat on Fox River; possibly near Laurelwood Park



Flood photo looking north on Delia from C.B. & Q. tracks





View of the east bank of the Fox River taken from the top of the Newton Wagon Company. Note: Batavia Creamery smoke stack at River and State Streets




Two unidentified girls in an Express wagon



Piano with a framed certificate for Sara L. Cooley from Gottschalk Music School



Home at NE comer of Delia and State Streets during a flood in Feb. 1893



Addition built on the West Side School in 1898






Facebook – 21st Century History

By Chris Winter


For those of you who might not be familiar with Facebook, it’s a social networking web site on the internet. As of January 2012, Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages. In the past, if your friend moved out of state you would keep in touch with a handwritten letter or occasional phone call. Now you can log into Facebook and see if they’ve posted any news, send messages and share photos.


Additionally, Facebook users may join common-interest user groups. One of these groups is titled “IF U GREW UP IN BATAVIA ILLINOIS” and currently has over 1,200 members of all ages. It’s a place to connect with old classmates, share photos and share memories of growing up in Batavia, IL. I’ve posted a few photos from our museum collections from the 1960’s & 1970’s and the following memories were posted. Some of the members still live in town, but many are posted from out of state and out of the country. The world seems a little bit smaller and much more connected on Facebook.










Chris W: The Depot was moved in 1973. Anyone there to see it?


Heidi B: What a cool picture! I went to Louise White and we sat outside and watched it go by.


Kim R: I remember that now didn’t realize it was that big.


Robbie B: Kevin, didn’t they take us from school to watch it? Or was I dreaming that? LOL


Debbie N: They did let us all out of school to watch was a HUGE event in town!


Kathy C: I was working at the Colonial and we all staff and customers stood in the plaza parking lot to watch!


Kertrina J: Thanks for posting this. I LOVE seeing photos of what the town used to look like. Obviously being born in 1972 I would not remember this


Mike R: Wasn’t there a house near the old Louise White that was also moved?


Katie H: Wow- I had no idea that they moved the Depot. very cool!


Dawn S: Yes there was next to the Baptist Church, it was moved to Franklin St.


David D: I remember watching this during school!


Kevin D: I was in middle school. I don’t remember being let out, but I remember watching it from the third floor of the old Junior High


Forrest W: I remember the depot across from Walt’s, i used to buy my mom cigs with a note, i was like 7 or 8


Vikki H: I didn’t know the Depot’s current location was not it’s original location... good thing they didn’t have to go up the hill


Daniel S: It was across from Walts food store


Earl M: There are a lot more photos now in the museum. From the 50’s that my family donated. Many bring back great memories of the town.


Joyce Q: thanks for the pic! keep’em coming!


Michael R: Across from walts... When I was a kid 8/9 used to take bottles back, get pop/candy an sit on it to rest and enjoy our goodies. An hope for a train to come by...


Nancy M: My mom told me once that she had her first kiss at the old depot.....


Monica M: I was only two when this occured, so I never knew that the Depot was move either. Very cool picture!!


Erin G: OMG! I love the retro signage!


Don K: Remembered a summer in the late 60’s or early 70’s when the bank temp showed triple digits for several weeks. Sun burn everyday at the quarry!








Chris W: December cold weather is here. Any memories of skating on the pond?


Al R: Warming up next to the 55 gallon drums with a fire in them, skating after dark by street lights.


Jo V: don’t forget the hot cocoa, too!! BATAVIA, I STILL LOVE YOU!!!!


Lulu H: I found a $20 bill frozen in the ice and my mom made me turn it in to the park district office in case someone came in to say they lost it. That was like a million dollars in kid money. Shocking, but no one came in to claim it. The park district gave it back to me after 2 weeks. Whooeee!!!


Jo V: that sure was the day, you did the right thing..cuz. And it was a lot of money to a kid then!! Great story..... and your honesty paid off !!


Bill A: My skating memories were playing hockey at the Quarry


Shari J: wow...the memories


Barb Y: We would rush home from school, get our skates, go through the back yard (on Batavia Ave) and skate almost to Geneva if the ice was thick or down to the pond to be meet friends.


Carol B: Had so much fun skating with Jody W when we were kids . We are still neighbors to this day .


Douglas M: I worked at the warm up house for one winter, I was probably 16 years old. I made the hot chocolate and actually opened & closed the place at night. What a responsibility!


Mike R: In the early 70s, we used to ice skate at the east end of Lathem street (near the Thousana’s). I think it was a floodplain that would freeze over.


Rick S: played hockey at the quarrey for many years. folks did not give me the dime to call for a ride. used to call, let the phone ring 2 or 3 times, 5 minutes later, mother would be there to pick me up.


Stephen H: Yup and froze my baggetts off.


Rhonda R: every night great pic thx


Dan S: Dare we skate to Duck Island?


Ralph G: Skating on the pond was great. Each year the fire department would check the ice for thickness and give the ok to skate. There were 55 gallon barrels filled with wood that would burn to keep you warm, thanks to the Batavia Body Company. There was no warming house when you finished skating you would go to Rachielles Drug Store and get a great hot chocolate with whipped cream on top.


Loane T: We skated up the river, and once I went all the way to Fabyans... passing Duck Island and Cat Island. There were bonfires on the island to warm our toes.


Marianne C: Have you all been skating at the Quarry in recent years (before the current renovation) - or is that now just a fond memory of the past?


Leslee K: Marianne, no more skating at the Quarry. They drain it in the winter.


Marianne C: Leslee, at least we have our fond memories of skating there.


Dottie B: I love this photo, I miss them days, I love ice skating, not that I probably could now, but I loved going there every winter


Rhonda R: me to Dottie. skated every night after school was a blast. when my kids were younger took them ice skating, my ankles just couldn’t do it been so long but I luved it bk in the day.


Shirley T: Yea Rhonda..As a teen I would skate till dark and my ankles hurt so bad it was hard to walk home! But great fun!


Barbara D: Went to the pond every night after school and all weekend long. Loved to dance skate with Mr. Les Bex. He was down there a lot. We also played crack the whip! One year of Christmas I got a skating skirt, wool tights and skating sweater. I was hot stuff ! I would be a world famous figure skater. Ron and I would skate at the quarry when we were first married, even had a picture of us skating down there as our Christmas card one year.


Alice F: Mercy....this picture brings back skating memories


Lin J: Always had trouble skating on smooth ice of indoor rinks after all the great years of the river ice. The extra padding helped too. I also remember the fire truck out on the ice testing it and then spraying water on the ice. The road down to the skating area from Wilson seemed so steep when little.







Chris W: Here’s one for those remembering the Ben Franklin store.


Toni E: I spent a lot of time in that Five and Dime! hahaha Worked there for a couple of years in early 70’s.


Kevin B: Wow, that looks really old. No “Coast to Coast” sign next door to Ben Franklin and there used to be a photo booth in the corner of the parking lot. I used to drop film there for processing.


Amy S: i remember walking from the depot where we were ice skating, to ben franklin in my ice skates to get candy ...


Dan P: There was a photo booth, but I think it was later than this pic


Kim R: you are right believe it was fotomat my mistake


Kevin B: I can’t remember if anything was next to Ben Franklins prior to Coast to Coast.


Linnea A: Ben Franklin was my first job! Think my starting salery was $1.10--and we got paid in cash!!


Joyce Q: what a neat job! i would be working there too if i weren’t 2200 miles away. guess what! i thought you were posting a pic of the original ben franklin store on east wilson street. love the fact you have access to all that good stuff ! thanks!


Jim L: There was a Kodak Fotomat in that corner in the late 70’s if I remember correctly. Who remembers Wright’s 5 & 10 on East Wilson St


Eric A: Lavoy’s liquors around the corner.


Jane B: Ben Franklin was my first job, I was only a freshman in High School, Roger Carlson was my boss. Then I moved on to Jewel next door, the pay was better!


Beth R: Aaahhh...the Jewel, Ben Franklin, and (not shown) Swanson’s Hardware, and the post office. Back when the town had all it needed in one sweet spot.


Beth R: Jane I remember working horrendously long Saturdays with you...and at the end of the day...your REGISTER was perfect to the oh how did you do it?!!!

Now, I used to be FAST and they’d empty my drawer more than the other cashiers, but there was no way I was ACCURATE...always off by a few dollars LOL


Jane B: So Beth, let’s go get our old job back. My back would be killing me by the end of the day on Saturday, we usually ended up bagging our orders too. Remember working with Jewel Ann, she was a riot.


Don K: I worked next door at the Coast to Coast!


Angie D: Was Colonial there then? I can’t remember what it was before Colonial?


Kim O: Hard to remember what it was like before these stores - Brett’s dad worked at Coast to Coast. Surprised Walt’s survived after Jewel came to town.


Mark K: Certainly no Locust trees or potted plants by the sidewalks back then!


Jane F: Colonial was where Daddios Diner is now, think Colonial was the first occupant of that section of the strip.


Jim L: Colonial was an original occupant of the shopping center. It was Lori’s Diner after Colonial decided to leave Batavia.


Forrest W: My mom worked at Ben Franklin and Colonial my sister Cindy and i would go in on the weekends and fill the salt, peppers and sugars!


Dottie B: WOW, boy do I have memories of that place, all the stores, my mom would food shop @ Jewel, and on sundays sometimes if we were lucky we would go to the corner store there when it was a restuarant,(can’t remember the name), and get ice cream


Joyce Q: before ben franklin was there, it was on east wilson just down from the bank. i can still picture the red double swinging doors!


Debbie K: I moved away in 1988, what does it look like now????


Lulu H: I remember hearing DON’T PLAY WITH THE TOYS!!!! Even better? I think that’s where my mom bought me my very first training bra. Haha!!!!


Amy K: When working at Morrie Larson’s, Morrie would often give us cash to get a chocolate soda for him and whatever we wanted. He was the best!


Doug J: Beth, Don’t forget the laundrymat, Lavoy’s Liqour store and Remsnyder’s drug store!! Talk about having everything you needed in one place!!!


Gordon L: and having my dad watch your laundry at nite so u can run errands hehehe


Mark K: It seemed like Ben Franklin was the only place our school supplies came from for many years. Am I getting long term memory loss? I don’t remember much of the old Jewel store.


Joyce Q: before jewel was kroger’s; one veteran’s day i was there at 11:00 AM and everyone stopped what they were doing and held their hand over their heart in honor of those who served. too bad nothing like that happens today. Blake W: Worked at Remsnyder’s Drug store - 1st real job. about 1973. My girlfriend back then worked at Ben Franklin’s - we were at both ends of the shopping center. Does anyone remember the hardware store that was close to the shopping center?


Lulu H: The Swanson’s owned a hardware store in Steamboat Springs too. My mom came to visit me and of course had to go in and see them. Next thing I know, she tells me I have a part time job working for them. She said, well they need help and neighbors help neighbors. Can’t argue with that


Janie H: I remember getting my allowance on Saturday and heading down to Ben Franklin to spend it. Would spend most of the day down town


Jo V: I worked my Senior year- 69- 70 at the Jewel as a cashier, and at that time the Colonial was next door.....Batavia safe enough to walk home at night from there to Blaine Street after 9pm closing.


Kathy B: Ben Franklin was a Great store- especially during “Boo-Boo Days”- you could buy all kinds of little treasures plus candy... what more could a kid want?


Leslee K: I think Ben Franklin was owned by the Liska family. I went to school with a JoBeth Liska. She was older than me but I had a P.E. class with her or maybe band. And Roger Carlson was store manager.


Jo V: I thought Roger Nepstead was the manager...


Jim L: Roger Carlson preceded Dick Nepstead as store manager my grandmother worked at Ben Franklin for both of them.


Rita H: I loved picking out my swatch of oil cloth to be used to cover my desk for art class each year from Ben Franklin.


Jim L: Dick Nepstead’s parents lived at the Southeast corner of Walnut and South Harrison Street. My Grandma was Florence Mason she worked a total of 50 years on Wilson St. She started at Wright’s Dime Store on East Wilson after that she worked at Phipps Department Store and finally at Ben Franklin. I worked next door at the Jewel from 1971-1977.


Jo V: I remember your grandma!!! I worked at the Jewel 1969- 1970, graduated in 70, and worked the summer there until I went off to nursing school. Pat C and Dale T worked there as stockers when I was there. they had a friendliest checker contest when I worked at Jewel, and I won as checker. Got to go see Judy Collins at Ravinia Park in Chicago. Excellent time, can’t remember who was friendliest stocker. Martha J worked there as Asst. Manager, and Marge (?) was one of the managers. Earned 2.65 because it was union. Made 1.10 at Community Hospital as a nurse’s aide. Small world.


Blake W: I forgot all about “Boo Boo” days. I worked at Remsnyder’s Drug Store and it was fun getting ready for that sale!


Connie D: When my Dad (Archie Bentz) was Mayor in the late 70’s he changed it from Boo Boo Days to Windmill Days


Kathy B: I think I am one of the few that still refer to it as “Boo-Boo” days! Those were the days of sidewalk sales and the idea was each Store Owner put their stock on the sidewalk and sold it at Great Prices- hence “Boo-Boo’s” in pricing... it was a very hectic time in my Dad’s shoe store!


Christopher G: Sorry Kathy, I still call it Boo- Boo days as well!


Dan P: It will always be Boo-Boo days


Rhonda S: thx Chris that is great. We’re here to share memories and anything else.


Jo V: I’m with the Boo-boo days was exciting, and Kathy you are was too unload excess surplus that hadn’t sold yet....get toys at Jack’s toy box.


Jo V: Who remembers Christmas shopping on Batavia Ave, and Wilson St. with Christmas music played as you went from store to store, or to visit Santa across from the library? Wonderful memories of walking in the snow, the street decorations lit up, and the store windows all dressed for the season...we were blessed to experience Batavia as the quaint town it was! And it’s spirit lives on!!