Volume Thirty-Two

No. 5


September 1991




This issue’s quiz differs in that it is not about Batavia but tests your memory of some advertising and/or sponsors of about fifty years ago.


These first four are phrases used in cigarette ads.  Name the brand that belongs in the blank space.


1.         "I’d walk a mile for a ____________ .”


2.         “___________ , They satisfy.”


3.         "Not a cough in a carload.” Ad for what brand? _________


4.         “___________ means fine tobacco.”



Two that dealt with appearance were, in part, the following. What was the product of each?


5.         "You'll wonder where the yellow went . . . . . . . . . . . . "


6.         "A little dab will do ya"


In those pre-TV days, radio provided a great deal of entertainment. What product was closely associated with each of these programs or radio personalities?


7.         Fred Allen


8.         Fibber McGee and Molly


9.         Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy


10.       Jack Armstrong


11.       Jack Benny


12.       Bob Hope


13.       Little Orphan Annie



Annual Meeting


Mark your calendars now for the Annual Meeting and Holiday Pot Luck Dinner. It is scheduled for Sunday, December 1, 1991.  Details will be in the next newsletter.


Open House a Success


The members-only open house to preview the new exhibits on the lower level of the Museum was well attended with over eighty in attendance.  Everyone seemed to agree that the additional displays were excellent and a great addition to the Museum. If you were not able to attend, be sure to stop and see these exhibits whenever you have the opportunity.


More Exhibits--More Volunteers


With two levels of exhibits, the Society needs to have at least two volunteers on duty each day the Museum is open to protect our artifacts. May and Sadie Lundberg, who schedule the volunteers, have received calls from several members offering to serve in response to the appeal in the last issue of the newsletter. Three new volunteers have been scheduled for this month---Kathy Fairbairn, William Hall, and Marlene Rotolo---but it is hoped that more will call the Lundbergs (879-3660) so that an adequate number are on their list and nobody will have to serve double-duty. The Museum hours are from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each day other than Tuesday and Thursday.


Two House Plaques Approved


Two more homes in Batavia have been approved to receive a plaque signifying the building is over one hundred years old. One is the home of the McGraths on the southeast corner of Prairie and Spring streets. It originally was the George Kenyon family home and dates back to 1872.


The other is the Rundle home at 120 N. Washington Avenue, parts of which date back to 1869. The house was in the Wood family for almost 100 years before the Rundles purchased it in 1964.


Nominating Committee


Help wanted: a few good people to serve on the Nominating Committee to select a slate of candidates for the positions on the Board that are to be filled at the Annual Meeting in December. Please call Jim Hanson (879-7492) if you would be willing to serve.


Bonding the Board


Due to the increase in assets of the Society as a result of the bequest of William vanNortwick, the Board of Directors secured a fidelity bond covering all the officers and initiated a double-signature requirement on all large financial transactions. This was seen as a prudent business decision and not a reflection on anyone's honesty.




1.      Camels


2.      Chesterfields


3.      Old Golds


4.      Lucky Strikes. Do you recall when they also used "Lucky Strike green has gone to war"?


5.      Pepsodent ( . . when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.)


6.      Brylcreem


7.      Ipana Toothpaste and Sal Hepatica were sponsors of Fred Allen.


8.      Johnson's Wax sponsored Fibber McGree. Did a show ever go by without him opening his closet and we could hear

         everything falling out?


9.      Chase & Sanborn Coffee.  In addition to Charlie there was Mortimer Snerd.


10.  Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy taught us to eat Wheaties for breakfast.


11.  Jack Benny, with his sidekick Rochester, had J-E-L-L-O as a sponsor.


12.  Pepsodent and Bob Hope went together.


13.  Ovaltine and Little Orphan Annie were a team just as she and her dog, Sandy, were one. 


Did anyone other than Tom Mair catch the error in the dates in last issue's Mini-Quiz?  The date for the Appleton fire was given as November 14, 1890.  That was ten years too soon.  It should have been Nov. 14, 1900!  I appreciate Tom's catching it and letting me know immediately.  My source (Batavia Herald) and my notes were correct but my mind must have been on something else when I typed the date.


Another watchdog, Arnold "Chuss" Johnson, corrected me on some spelling of the Swedish nicknames in Joe Burton's article.  


According to Chuss, Art Swanson's nickname was "Dratz" (not "Drotz") as it was derived from "otts" which many Arthurs were called. Also, Harry (Art's brother) was called "Byx", not "Byz." That, I believe, was my typing error and not Joe's.



Its population was about 3600, less than one-fourth of today's size.


Each side of the river had one school, 3 stories high and teaching all grades.  Both graduating classes had 7 students---all girls on the west side and six girls and one boy on the east.


There was no city water or sewer system. Homes depended on wells and pumps for water and an "outhouse" in the back yard.


The town's government changed from a village form to a city form. This change had been voted down a number of times previously.


The first electric lights were installed.  (See next article). A new city hall and jail replaced the old meeting room in the fire department hose shed and the 3 cell "calaboose" in the rear.




That grand event happened March 30, 1891, a little more than two months before Batavia became a city. The City Hall had been built and the dynamo building, the machinery installed, poles erected, wires strung and electric light bulbs screwed in the sockets.  All was ready for the critical moment.


On that date the City Clerk was instructed "to notify all consumers of electric lights to get lamps ready on signal of lights going out three times in quick succession." The turning on of the lights must have happened the next day, April 1st.


Now to go back two years to the beginning of this dream for Batavia. Batavia had kerosene street lamps for some time before. *  Some towns had gas lights between kerosene and electric ones but Batavia never did.  Kerosene lights must have been better than no lights at all, but their weak gleams could not have lighted the path of the traveler very far.


A vote was taken on April 16, 1889 with 614 for electric lights and 44 against, a comparatively small negative vote.  The Town Board of Trustees immediately went into action, appointing a special visitation committee to visit the cities of Belvidere and Clinton to see their plants. It recommended a plant similar to the one at Clinton.  


Specifications were drafted by the Street Lighting Committee. A central place in which to build the plant, near a railroad, was needed. A lot owned by Mr. VanNortwick on Island Ave. south of the Music Hall was ideal. President Miller appointed a committee to confer with Mr. VanNortwick to see if a lot which Batavia owned elsewhere could be exchanged for the Island Ave. lot. It could, with $300 to boot, so the lot was acquired. In August of 1889 the contract was let to James McMaster, a local contractor, for a City Hall and dynamo building "for $4,018 and foundation walls for $12.50 per cord."


There was one thing that bothered the Street Lighting Comm. Did the village have the authority "to do electric lighting for commercial uses?" There were no private concerns, evidently, which made and sold electricity at that time. However, the Town Board decided to go ahead even if they might be challenged later as to their right to produce electricity for others.


In July the plans and specifications had been drawn for steam engines and two boilers for the plant.  In August the contract was let to Westinghouse Co. for an electric light plant.  One hundred fifteen 32 candle power street lights were to be installed at a cost of $6,800.  In September, 1889, a $20,000 bond issue was passed to pay for the project.  An electrician was engaged to make a thorough examination of everything upon completion of the plant.  His approval was accepted, the lights tested, and on March 30, 1891 everything was set to go.  A plant electrician and a fireman were employed to run the establishment.

At first, the plant was run for only a few hours each evening.  In October the Street Lighting Comm. reported it would cost too much to make extensions to light the new Swedish Lutheran (Bethany) Church, but apparently the report was not heeded.  The same month H. N. Wade and S. A. Wolcott requested the city plant run all night.  Also the Challenge Co. asked the city to furnish lights for its shops.  Later other factories followed suit.  Thus the city was really getting in the business of furnishing commercial electricity and going beyond its original purpose of just lighting streets.


Running the plant all night was evidently started because the next month the Committee recommended to the Council that it discontinue the all-night operation.  In February of the next year (1892) the Committee recommended that the City discontinue the furnishing of supplies to citizens in the future---probably mainly light bulbs. In March of that year the City emphatically stated that if anyone wanted the plant to run after midnight for their private benefit, they would be charged $1.00 for the first hour and $2.00 for each additional hour.


In 1893 the Council instructed the Committee to extend the lines on all streets to the city limits.  The next month, July, the plant ran until 2:30 a.m. to accommodate persons returning from the World's Fair in Chicago.  Finally, in November of that year, the plant started running all night.


By 1900 some of the customers, especially the factories, wanted to be able to use electricity for power to run motors, elevators, etc, but the Committee reported unfavorably on the matter.  In that year, when the Appleton located its factory in Batavia following the fire, one inducement was the offer of the City to furnish them drinking water and electric lights for its buildings for five years at $1 .00 per year for each of the utilities.


It wasn't until October 15, 1906, fifteen years after the initiation of the first street light service in Batavia, that the City Council granted the request of some forty petitioners that the City furnish both electric light and power to those desiring it during the day as well as at night.


 *  Based on an article by John Gustafson


* In 1879 town received offer by E. C. Davey to make and set 14 street lamps for $98.00. Each would be 11 ft. long, stand 7 ft. above ground and have a reservoir to hold 1½ gal. of fuel. In 1880 15 street lamps were purchased for $90.00. In 1884 Policeman Kennedy also acted as the lamplighter. Sam Harrold agreed to contract to light 70 lamps (3 more than in use at the time) for $300 annually in 1887. The number increased to 115 5 years later when the first electric lights were installed.




The following is the itinerary and expense account for a trip from Batavia to New York City in 1847. According to the VAN NORTWICK GENEALOGY it is believed they relate to a trip made by Mr. Smith Mallory.


Leave Batavia morning of July 28th

Arrive in Chicago evening of July 28th


Leave Chicago evening of July 29th

Arrive in Detroit evening of July 31st


Leave Detroit morning of August 1st

Arrive in Buffalo 11:00 a.m. August 2nd


Leave Buffalo afternoon of August 2nd

Arrive in Albany evening of August 3rd


Leave Albany morning of August 4th

Arrive in New York afternoon of August 4th.  



Time elapsed: 8 days 


Batavia to Chicago                    75¢

Room in Chicago                      $2.50


Fare to Buffalo                          $10.00

Expenses Chicago to Detroit       $3.75 



Bill at Buffalo                            $1.00


Fare to Albany                          $12.00

Expenses in Albany                   $1.75 


Fare to N.Y.C.                           $2.25 




Total:                                                  $34.00  

Quite a contrast with the present! Unfortunately, we do not know what means of transportation were involved in the various portions of the trip, although it probably included a stagecoach and possibly combinations of steamboats, trains and/or canal boats on the Erie Canal.