Volume Thirty-Eight

No. 2


January, 1997



First There Where Quarry Workers


A Batavian need not have lived here long to know that our city was once well known lor manufacturing windmills. In­deed, we celebrated this important part of our history by successfully hosting the International WindmillersTrade Fair in June 1996. But how many readers know that a major Batavia industry be­fore windmill manufacturing began was quarrying the limestone that underlay a large part of town? As the Kane County Gazetteer of 1867 observed, Batavia had "inexhaustible quarries of the best limestone"; the rock taken from the Batavia quarries, white magnesia limestone, was highly regarded for its wearing qualities.



The availability and exploitation of this resource led to the nick­name "Rock City." And it is why Batavia stiil has so many beauti­ful old schools, churches, busi­nesses, government buildings, and homes built in the last cen­tury with this native product. Fine examples include Calvary Episco­pal Church on South Batavia Av­enue, the present Batavia govern­ment center on North Island Av­enue, and the old Louise White School, now occupied by Pedals, Pumpers & Rolls, on North Wash­ington Avenue.


Quarrying began in 1834 when Colonel Joseph Lyon dug lime­stone to line the walls of his well. In 1842, only nine years after the first settlers arrived in this area, Zerez Reynolds1 opened a quarry for commercial use. At a location on the west side that we cannot now identify, this quarry soon devel­oped into a substantial operation. The 1846 St. Charles Prairie Messenger re­ported, "Mr. Reynolds has made a wing dam to the island, which, with an un­dershot wheel, carries machinery for cutting stone for a variety of building purposes."


By 1860 a map shows that Batavia had at least ten quarries. Wiiliam Cof­fin, a man active in many local enter­prises, owned a quarry behind what is now known as Stone Manor. This is probably the same quarry that Elijah Shumway Town, another prominent early Batavian, had previously owned for ten years. Town, a building contractor, undoubtedly used stone from this source during the 1850s in the foundation of the Congregational Church, Stone Manor, and Lockwood Hall, the present home of the John Gosselins, on South Batavia Avenue.


In 1852 James C. Derby and Lawrence P. Barker, other early Batavia entrepreneurs, paid $1,000, a large sum in those days, for their first acre of quarry land and opened operations at the east end of Walnut Street. At some point Derby must have dropped out because the operation became known as LP. Barker and Son. Later Barker bought five and a half more acres of quarry land for $2,000 an acre and ac­quired the adjoining Coffin, Booth and Whipple quarries.


Ultimately Barker was to become the largest quarrying operation in Batavia, employing from 35 to 40 men in 1887. In that year, a tramway was installed to elevate the stone to ground level. Some time after 1873 a souvenir edition of The Headlight, a publication devoted to the interests of railroads, wrote, "The North-Western road has recently placed a sidetrack which runs directly in the [Barker] quarry, and with im­proved appliances for handling the rock, the company is enabled to load by means of derricks, direct from the quarry onto the cars." Pastor Arvid Hokonson, a former Batavian born in 1899, who grew up on Water Street at Union Avenue, wrote to the Chronicle in 1983, "I used to watch the men min­ing the limestone.


They had a number of small cars on tracks leading down from the railroad tracks (Northwest­ern). These [cars] were pulled by horses. 3 By a system of pulleys the cars were loaded and then a horse on each side of the car would pull it up to the siding by the main tracks."





Barker's quarry had the capacity to produce 40 cords of limestone per day. The stone was cut out in pieces from two inches to thirty-three inches thick and as large in height and width as could be moved. Some of it was crushed while the rest was dressed for building stone. Single blocks as large as eight to ten inches thick, nine feet wide, and twenty feet long were shipped to Chicago.


The first stone from the Barker quarry went into the building of the Chicago and Northwestern bridge in Geneva. Later Barker supplied stone for most of the Challenge Company buildings, the rebuilding of Chicago after the 1871 fire, and the initial con­struction of what is now Northern Illi­nois University in DeKaib. For the lat­ter project, Barker had a contract to supply 500 cords of building stone.


Farther north, next to the river at the east end of Illinois Avenue, lay the McKee quarry. Although the quarry bore the name of Joel McKee, a promi­nent early businessman in Batavia, we find Daniel Collins1 name referred to in its operations.4 This is the area along the river where the Waterford townhouses were recently con­structed. Collins opened his quarry about 1850, employing from 15 to 30 men. Although the quarry had a heavy striping, it furnished stone of an excel­lent quality, and Collins had the only rubbing bed in town, operated by steam power. In 1887, his son Cornelius, later a Batavia mayor, took over the management.


Other than the owners' names, we have no early information on the four east-side quarries that were located between the south end of River Street and the Burlington Northern tracks and owned by L.S. Canfield, M. Huntly, a man identified only as Morgan, and William Clark (for whom Clark Island was named). Later they became a part of James Shannon's quarry. Shannon, a contractor who came to Batavia about 1860, needed quarry facilities to produce the stone needed in his busi­ness. He built the old McWayne School in 1867, and the Main Street bridge in St. Charles. About 1887 he transferred the business to Frank Brady, husband of his step-daughter. Later the quarry was run by John Hendrickson.


South of the Shannon quarry, at the extreme southern end of good stone, lay the quarry owned by J.W. Randall and i.S. Stephens. After Randall died in a quarry accident in 1875, Stephens bought his interest from the heirs. A small force was employed in the quarry in 1887, the period when Stephens was building the present Methodist Church and a building for the Newton Wagon Company. Two men named Griffith and Hunter later purchased the quarry.


Besides those quarries described, we find various references to others, the exact locations of which are not known. These include operations of Jenkins and Major Adin Mann, ac­quired by John Joslyn about 1883 and later run by John Hendrickson, and one worked by a firm named Starkey and Co.


The production of lime for plaster and mortar from inferior, soft limestone began in 1857 when A.A. Smith placed a kiln for burning limestone in opera­tion. Over the years, several kilns scat­tered throughout town were operated either as adjuncts to quarries or as a separate business. In an article in the Herald at the time of the city's Centen­nial in 1933, George Birk wrote that there were kilns at Hendrickson's, George Vermilyer's in the northeast part of town, and Barney Price's junk yard on State Street - the latter a big one. Two that he said could still be seen were on the north bluff of Mahoney Creek, just west of Route 25, while Charles Johnson operated two others north of the Chicago and North Western depot.


The opening of the quarries brought—*' great numbers of Swedish immigrants to Batavia - increased, probably, be­cause of the demand for stone to re­build Chicago after the 1871 fire. Evi­dence of their arrival iies in the found­ing of three churches - the Swedish Methodist Church in 1870,5 the Swed­ish Mission Church (now the Evangeli­cal Covenant Church) in 1871, and Bethany Lutheran Church (described elsewhere in this issue) in 1872.


Although we know the names of the various owners, and something about some of them, we have virtually no in­formation on the men who worked in the quarries - not even their names. Because the quarries were in active operation earlier, no one can tell us about these men with the same first­hand detail that Elliott Lundberg gave us in the last two issues on the people who worked at the Challenge Com­pany in the late 1930s and early 1940s. We can well imagine, though, that the work was hard and dangerous, the hours long and irregular, and the pay small. One need only look at the pic' ture on page 1 to get an idea of the--" hand tools the workers used on the hard stone; the excellent exhibit in the lower level of the Depot Museum in­cludes a display of these tools.


In his 1983 letter to the Chronicle, Hokonson, whose boyhood home was next to Barker's quarry, recalled, "I can remember vividly the blasting that took place, shaking our home. This ulti­mately led to the city barring any fur­ther mining of the limestone for fear of collapsing South Water Street into the quarry," Coupled with a declining sup­ply of stone and water seepage from underground springs, this led to the eventual abandonment of the west side quarrying by 1920. As the quar­ries closed, they became filled with water. Hokonson remembers, as a boy, what he described in 1983 as the "present swimming hole. It was almost twice as large as it is now and was forty feet deep on the east side in the cen­ter. It was off-limits because of its depth and extreme cold. But we sometimes on a dare would swim in it very briefly."


In 1920 Frederick H. Beach, formerly with the Newton Wagon Company, bought the land on which the Barker quarry stood and donated it to the township park board. By then, six ponds - Frog, Pump Shed, Swimming, Snow's, and Big and Little Quarry -had formed. One swimming area was created out of the six ponds, and the area was named the Frederick H. Beach Park and Pool. This facility served the community in its original condition for about 15 years.


With the Depression of the 1930s and the creation of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Federal Government utilized unemployed la­borers, many highly skilled, to work on public projects. The park in Batavia was one of these projects. As reported in the July 30, 1937, Batavia Herald, the WPA renovations, "which began a year or two ago, have reached their peak this summer, and the fruits of hard labor are beginning to be realized." The WPA laborers must have done their work well, since the Frederick Beach Park and Pool lasted with little change for the next five decades.


By the 1990s, the pool was show­ing its age, and other improvements were needed. After a year of off-sea­son work, beautiful new facilities were unveiled in June 1993. As our files state, "In keeping with historic preser­vation, two of the WPA quarry stone buildings are seeing new life" - a store­house and an admissions center and open-air pavilion. Although the entire park is still named in honor of the early donor, Frederick Beach, the name of the new swimming are is Harold A. Hal! Quarry Beach, honoring a former man­ager of the swimming facility and a four-term commissioner for the Batavia Park District.


In the rather florid writing style of an earlier generation, the book Past and President of Kane County described the impact of Batavia's quarries, then still active, "Hundreds of hands have found employment in [the quarries] and they have not only contributed to the prosperity of the place by bringing wealth from outside and furnishing em­ployment for its laborers, but by plac­ing at convenient distances, and for a merely nominal sum, a material with which to build its schools, churches, manufacturing establishments, busi­ness blocks, many of its private resi­dences and the sidewalks of its princi­pal streets, lasting as the eternal hills." It is fitting today that the largest of these quarries has been transformed into a beautiful park for the benefit of present and future Batavians and their guests.


1  Although most sources (many of whichquoted each other) give Reynolds the firstname of Zoni, Marilyn Robinson has discov­ered, in her research for the forthcoming newedition of Historic Batavia, that it was actu­ally Zerez.


 It is said that the need for stone to build itsshops in West Chicago and Chicago is whatbrought the Chicago and Northwestern toBatavia.


3  Marilyn Robinson says that she has dis­covered that mules, not horses, were used inthe quarry.


4  It is not clear whether Collins bought thisland from McKee or, perhaps, held a mineral lease. Since this would appear to be part of the land that a later McKee offered to the city as a park in 1927 (see the January 1997 is­sue), it seems likely that Collins was operat­ing under a lease arrangement


As discussed in an article in the January 1997 issue, the Swedish Methodist Church joined with the First Methodist Church in 1971; the combined church took the name of the United Methodist Church of Batavia. The former Swedish Methodist Church building is now the home of the New Life Assembly of God.


The material for this article came prima­rily from books, photographs, clippings, and notes maintained by the Batavia Historical Society at the Depot Museum. Marilyn Robinson and Bill Wood were particularly helpful in identifying useful sources.




Dream of Dreams

by Helen Bartelt Anderson


Helen Anderson, who grew up on the family farm on Warrenville Road in Batavia Township, wrote "I Remember Holidays on the Farm," a series of four articles that appeared in recent issues.  


I love to think of the iong-ago days on the farm. I love to think of the dreams that brought my grandfather, Carl Bartelt, to America from Germany and eventually to Batavia. "Work hard and save; work hard and save" must have been his motto. He did just that.

In the early 1860's he was able to buy the farm on Hart Road that became the family homestead. In 1997 family members still own this property. Carl was married to Caroline Schimeipfenig in 1861. To this union were born twelve children. My father, George Bartelt, was one of the younger Bartelt kids.


George had dreams, too, which made the days go faster as he scrubbed milk cans at Kee and Chapell Dairy on N. River Street. Some day he would have his own farm where he could work the land, harvest crops, have good horses and a dairy, and maybe get married and have a family. He worked hard and saved!


In 1904, a 183 acre farm was for sale, east of Batavia, on Warrenville Road. Papa's sister, Mayme, and her husband, Jack Buelter, wanted that farm and so did Papa George. They solved that problem by becoming part­ners. They purchased the farm from the Griffith family. A fairly large house and other buildings were already on the farm.


For a few years they were all doing well. Papa and Jack cleared more land and worked very hard. Then my Aunt Mayme became very ill and died. Jack decided to give up farming and moved to Wisconsin. Now, Papa's dream was beginning to come true. The good rich farmland was producing bountiful crops. Papa enjoyed working long days and into the night, but Papa needed and wanted a wife.


Papa was 27 years old. He had seen this pretty brown-haired girl at a neighbor's farm. He had a friend intro­duce her to him and he began to call on her. Everything about her pleased him. She liked him in return. He finally built up enough courage to ask her to be his wife, and she said "Yes." They were married January 23,1908, at the home of her aunt and uncle, Mike and Katie Wurtz. The bride was Delia Zoller, my Mama.


Delia was born in Forreston, Illinois, to Sam and Sarah Zoller. Sam died when Mama was two years old, and Sarah when she was 10. She lived with relatives up until the time she was married. She was also 27 years old.


Mama worked hard, too. But some­times she would go for a walk out in the Big Woods, which was part of the farm. Papa had given her a beautiful black horse that she enjoyed riding. The horse's name was Gypsy. In the spring Papa would go to the woods, too. He knew where the good mush­room beds were. Sometimes there would be morels, which looked like tiny little trees. Papa knew the mushrooms were safe to eat, but Mama played it safe by always putting a silver coin in the pan with the mushrooms. If the coin turned black, they were supposed to be poison.


Their happiness was complete, Papa's dream fulfilled, when in 1912 a husky, blonde boy was born to them. Then, in 1914, atinybrown-eyed baby girl arrived. They named their son Roger Carl, their daughter Helen Sa­rah Marie.


On a farm there are always things for children to do. Under the back steps there was an opening in the lattice that allowed Teddy, our dog, Roger and me to enter. There, with his little red trac­tor, Roger constructed his first farm. There were fields with fences and roads. It was a fun place to play, ex­cept sometimes Teddy would get too friendly and mess up the whole scene.


Roger and I did well in our studies at little Buelter School. It was quite an adjustment when we had to go to Batavia High School.


Things were going well on the farm. Papa hired Louis Hill to build a tenant house across the road from our home, so hired men and their families could live there instead of our having to share our home with them. He also had Mr. Hiil build a large porch on the front of our house, with an upstairs porch for sleeping. (Marilyn Bartelt Wenberg likes to tell about the time when she was a sophomore in high school; she had placed her butterfly and leaf col­lections on the sleeping porch for safe­keeping. It so happened that a tornado came through their yard which tore off the sleeping porch, along with Marilyn's biology collection. She had a hard time making her teacher believe her story. One of the fingers of the storm took one of our big willow trees, one-half mile away.)


There were many set-backs on the farm. After World War I, scientists dis­covered that tuberculosis could be caused by people drinking the milk irom infected cows. The government sent out inspectors to all dairy farms. Papa's herd of 25 cows all tested posi­tive and had to be destroyed. Farmers were required to improve conditions in the process of producing milk. Papa had William Drake build a large, new cowbarn and a milkhouse and cooling tank. There was a large hayloft above the cowbarn. Each cow had her own drinking cup which automatically filled with water as she drank. Mama wasn't too happy about this modern conve­nience for the cows. She said, "Why, I don't even have running water in the house."


At this same time all dairies were required to pasteurize their milk. Many lives must have been saved by these new regulations. In 1929 came the stock market crash and years of de­pression. Farmers had trouble selling their products. There was just no money to buy anything. But we were luckier than most. There was always plenty of food from Mama's big garden and plenty of grain for the animals. There was nothing to do but work as usual and wait for the economy to start crawling up again.


In 1930, Roger graduated from high school. He was chosen to be a com­mencement speaker. Mama and Papa were understandably proud. Then tragedy struck! Three weeks after graduation Roger was helping Papa with haymaking. Papa was sticking the big fork that pulled the hay up into the loft. Roger was waiting for the forkful to come into the loft so he could level off the hay. But it never came. Roger hurried down and found Papa lying unconscious on the ground. Papa had slipped off the high, slippery load, breaking his neck and crushing the spinal cord. Dr. West took him to Com­munity Hospital, but there was noth­ing that could be done for him. This strong, healthy man died with Mama and me standing beside his bed, wait­ing for his last breath. Dorothy Sager and Ellida Larson were his around-the-clock nurses. If I remember right, Ellida would work for 24 hours and then Dor­othy would work the next 24.


Mama and Roger were faced with the near impossible task of running them, farm. Neither of them knew too much about operating machinery or what to do when. By trial and error, patience and learning, and lots of faith we all got through that first year. I graduated from high school and worked at sev­eral different places -- Mooseheart, Pike's Seed House, then for Mr. Harry Fisher, at Campana. He was a fine person to work for but when his de­partment got slow I decided to go to Gertrude Hale School in Chicago, where I learned to be a hairdresser. That was about 1934.


After graduation, I worked for Anne Johnson in her Polly Anne Beauty Shoppe, which was in the back of Mike Schomig's Barber Shop on Batavia Avenue. I was dating Cliff Anderson who worked in his father's hardware store, next to the barber shop. A few years later I married Cliff. We will be celebrating our 60th anniversary later this year.


Roger had dreams, too. He and Mama decided to sell 80 acres of land, along with the tenant house so that he could manage the work of the farm alone, with the help of a fine young man who one day stopped to ask for a job. He was Homer Terry (now the di­rector of the Batavia Food Pantry). Homer was dating Genevieve Ander­son, who lived on a farm west of Batavia. One night they invited Roger to meet Myrtle Carlson, a friend of Gen's. They immediately liked each other. In 1944 they were married. Roger and Myrtle had three children.


After Marilyn was born, Mama de­cided to take an apartment in town. She moved to an apartment above Johnson's Drug Store. She thought it was just wonderful to be so near the stores and the Methodist Church.


In 1967-68, the U.S. government decided that Kane-DuPage Counties were the perfect place to build the National Accelerator Lab. This project required 6000 acres of land. Fighting the government did no good at all. Many, many productive farms and a good many residences were forced to move, including Roger's farm and our home. After much searching, Roger and Myrtle found a beautiful farm west of Polo, Illinois, about 80 miles west of Batavia. They enjoyed life in their new location. They had 27 good years, then tragedy struck again - Roger devel­oped colon cancer. He died January 10,1997, at the age of 84.


Now, their sons, Ron and Duane, carry on the farming tradition that their father, grandfather and great-grandfa­ther dreamed about and made happen.


The farm on Warrenville Road is at rest now, covered with native grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs. The house where Roger and I were born has been moved to across the street from the former village of Weston where it is used to house scientists who are visiting Fermilab, We are all thank­ful that the land has not been used by a developer and covered with concrete.



A Brief History of Bethany Lutheran Church

by Elliott Lundberg

This is the third in a series of histories of the many churches in Batavia.




Lutheran Church as it appeared until 1948.





The Swedish immigrants who settled in Batavia in the middle of the 19th Century came mainly from a few neighboring parishes in Halland, Swe­den. Until 1872 the Swedish Lutherans went to Geneva to worship, where a Swedish Lutheran Church had been organized in 1853.


Part of the property on which the present church is located was for sale. An old school building stood on the property. In March of 1872 a group met on the second floor of the August Anderson home at 15 South Jefferson Street and formed a Swedish Lutheran Church which consisted of 53 people including 36 adults, 14young men and 3 young women.

On March 26,1872, the contract to purchase the property was signed and alterations to make the school build­ing suitable for use as a church were started. The permanent church orga­nization, "The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethany church of Batavia Illinois," was effected on August 1, 1872, the remodeled church was dedi­cated on September 1,1872, and the church was received into the Augustana Synod on September 26, 1872.


In little more than six months the church was organized, property pur­chased, and church building prepared for worship. The Reverend C.O. Lindel! from Geneva came occasionally week­days to preach but in a few months the Batavians joined with the Aurora church (Grace Lutheran Church) and called a pastor for the two churches. The arrangement continued until 1893, and a number of pastors served the two churches from 1872 to 1893.


Swedish was the original language of the church and remained so for many years. Children attended sum­mer Swede school to learn Catechism and Bible History in Swedish. This summer school and confirmation in Swedish continued until after World War I. After summer Swede school ended, an interesting method of reli­gious instruction, the "Batavia Plan" was introduced in Batavia churches in 1919, whereby grade school children were excused from public school for a part of the day each Thursday and at­tended their church for religious in­struction.

This plan was found to be legal under separation of church and state laws, and the dismissed time Thursday School continued until 1985.

Church services in Swedish contin­ued for many years until eventually a Swedish service and an English ser­vice were held each Sunday. The Swedish service continued until after World War II; now the only remaining vestige of the Swedish language in the church is the Christmas morning Julotta service.


The small remodeled schoolhouse served the church until 1887 when it was torn down and a red brick church with a tall steeple was erected. Addi­tional improvements were made and the church bell was added in 1904.


In 1948 and 1949 the church was rebuilt. The steeple was torn down, an educational unit was added, tower and entrance rebuilt, and the church rebricked. By 1953 the debt for the rebuilding was retired and the church was again free of debt.


The latest addition to the church was made possible by the purchase of land on First Street which was traded to the School Dis­trict for a parcel adjoining our church to the south. The addition of the educa­tional-office-fellowship wing was constructed in 1980.


In 1996 the church ap­proved plans for renovat­ing and redecorating the sanctuary, which will in­clude new and improved lighting and sound sys­tems as well as air condi­tioning. The tower is also undergoing rebricking and remodeling to guard against future damage.


By the end of 1872, the church's first year, there were 60 confirmed mem­bers in Bethany, By 1905

this number had reached 433 in addi­tion to which there were 411 children. The confirmed membership continued to grow, reaching 923 in 1966 and 1207 at the end of 1995.


During the early years, 1873 through 1875, with an average of 104 con­firmed members, the church disbursed an average of $445 per year. The pas­tor, Reverend Edgren, received $500 in 1873 and $600 the next year. At the annual meeting of 1874 it was resolved that every communicant member con­tribute fifty cents to the educational fund of Augustana College. Additional members together with inflation caused these figures to increase greatly over the years, and in 1995 over $367,000 was disbursed with a membership of 1207.


Though the local church building, staff, and programs have required con­siderable funds, giving for benevo­lences and needs other than the local church have also increased. Giving for the many needs and programs of the church at large is through the Metro­politan Chicago Synod of the Evangeli­cal Lutheran Church in America. Be­ginning in 1951 Bethany sponsored Dr. Kenneth and Eloise Dale, as mission­aries to Japan (now recently retired), first by direct contributions and later through the Synod. A Scholarship Fund, funded mainly by gifts from members, friends, and former recipi­ents, is available to aid seminary and college students attending Lutheran schools. The history of Bethany is filled with instances of Bethany aiding vari­ous needs and causes, local and oth­erwise, from the Batavia Food Pantry to new congregations in Illinois to World Hunger programs.


During its 124 year existence hun­dreds of people have contributed in numerous ways to the operation, growth, education, and success of Bethany, as well as leadership in the spiritual welfare of all. Reverend Philip G. Thelander was pastor of Bethany for 25 years and Reverend Gustav Lund served for 22 years. Probably the longest service to the church was by Gerda "Jennie" Peterson who was  church organist for 55 years. Having played for the Sunday School before her confirmation and for the Ladies Aid after retirement as organist, Jennie served the church a total of 79 years.


Miss Bernice Olson was secretary of the church from 1949 to 1980, a total of 31 years in addition to which she served in innumerable volunteer activi­ties before 1949, during her term as secretary, and presently continues to do so. Warren Felts served as choir director from 1942 to 1976 and many sang in the choir from 24 to over 50 years, with the Freedlund family serv­ing a combined total of over 200 years in the choir. This is but a sampling of the services given by so many in Bethany.


Bethany was organized by Swedish immigrants as a Swedish church and was a member of the Augustana Lutheran Church until 1962, Augustana being an organization of churches of Swedish heritage. In 1962 the Augustana Lutheran Church joined with other Lutheran churches to form the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). In 1988 the LCA united with The Ameri­can Lutheran church (ALC) and the As­sociation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA In 1996 the ELCA totals over 5,000,00 members.



Methodist Church History Triggers Memories

by James Handon


My father, Claude Hanson, was one of the six man West Batavia High School basketball team in 1908. This team played in the gym built by the Methodist church in 1906, mentioned in the last issue. Although this was the school's team, it received no financial support from the school district, as he recalled. He said that when they played, it was the job of the one team member not on the court to collect the admissions and/or donations from the spectators. This constituted the team's funding.


The next story I have heard or read at some time, but I was never able to verify any of it.

The first wedding held in the new Methodist Church after its completion in 1888 was that of Lillian Foote, niece of both Mrs, D.C. Newton and Mrs. E.H. Gammon (wives of the two men who donated the church), to Mr. Charles H. More. According to the story, the bride came to the church from the Newton home directly across Batavia Avenue from the new church. As the street was unpaved at that time, a red carpet runner was laid across Batavia Avenue from the

Methodist Church.


This may be true, or partially true but embellished to make a better story. As Mrs. Newton had lost her children in infancy, this niece was very special to her. When Liilian Foote More died in 19092 leaving a two year old son, Carl More, Mrs. Newton raised him.



Paving and Repaving Batavia Streets

by James Hanson


Look over these news items. Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street paving under way. State to repave Aurora-Batavia Road, Prairie Street paving in approved contract. State to let Batavia-Geneva road con­tract. Another bridge needed across Fox River. These items ob­viously apply to 1996 and 1997 -- but for those who lived here in the 1920s, they give rise to a feeling of deja vu.


When the blacktop was recently scraped off Batavia Avenue in prepa­ration for repaving, the original red bricks became visible in several places. This led to research in back issues of the Batavia Herald to learn more about the early project. It soon became evident that the 1920s de­cade was an era of street paving in Batavia which must have kept people even busier than in 1996, avoiding construction throughout the city.


In November, 1922, it was an­nounced that the Aurora-Batavia con­crete road, paved in 1912 as "one of the first hard roads constructed un­der the state aid plan," would be re-paved the following year. The next month a public hearing was held on the $157,000 Wilson Street Improve­ment Project." Unlike the 1996 work, this project started at Batavia Avenue and went east to the city limits at Branford Avenue. Wilson Street did not then go west from Batavia Avenue to Lincoln, as the Levi Newton home stood in the way at the top of the hill. The paper stated that this home was to be sold and moved so that the missing block of Wilson could be built; however, it was probably razed.


Virtually all the costs of paving city streets in the 1920s were paid by the property owners along each street through a special assessment. The assessment was payable in ten in­stallments, with interest at 6% per year on the unpaid balance. Each project had to be approved by the Board of Local Improvements after a public hearing.


The 1923 construction must have caused the most disruption. Wilson Street was paved, using brick from Batavia Avenue to Van Buren Street and concrete the rest of the way. The county paved Wilson from the east city limits to the county line, coordi­nating with DuPage County work; this extended a paved route from "the library to Lake Michigan," as had been planned, according to a Herald article the previous year.


At the end of March, 1923, the con­tract was let for paving Batavia Av­enue from the south city limits (five lots south of Morton Street) to the north city limits {one lot north of Illi­nois Avenue). The paving was to be all brick, and the work involved amending the franchise of the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago railroad, which oper­ated streetcars on tracks down the middle of the street. The total bid was $109,294, with the county providing $15,000 toward the cost. Two Soci­ety members, Bussy Nelson and Bob Kalina, remember watching the bricks being laid, particularly by a black man who could use both hands in placing bricks on the roadbed.


At 5:30 p.m. on September 22, just six months af­ter the contract was let, both Wilson Street and Batavia Avenue were offi­cially opened for traffic. That same year Prairie and Van Buren streets were paved between Wilson and Church streets, including the parts of State, Spring and Franklin between them.


Residents on South River Street also asked for paving, but the mayor turned them down because of the large number of projects already un­der way. In 1924, however, South River Street, as well as Morton Street west to Harrison and Main Street to the city limits, was paved.


Construction continued in following years. Some of the streets involved in 1925 were North Washington and North River, with the parts of State, Spring and Franklin between them, while the state paved the east side road from Batavia to Geneva. In 1926 Main Street was paved with concrete from Batavia to Kaneville. Bob Kalina remembers that a mixing plant was located on First Street just west of the CB & Q tracks. Grave! and cement were shipped in by train, mixed into concrete, and then taken out for pour­ing the road on a narrow gauge track built for just that purpose. McKee Street, Illinois Avenue and North Av­enue were probably done in 1926, and other streets on the east side as well.


Wilson and Houston streets, with all intersecting streets from First to McKee were part of the 1927 street program. The paper reported that this would complete the paving of the area from Main Street north to the city lim­its on the west side. All these and other projects went into making the 1920s a time of "paving boom" in Batavia.


Oh yes, about another bridge over the Fox River a 1926 newspaper article stated: "Since Batavia is grow­ing ... we need another bridge. It should be located either at the south or north edge of the city. The large amount of traffic now across the Wil­son St. bridge is proof of the fact... The matter should be agitated." Now, 71 years later, it is still being agitated.



Recent New Members


Since the January issue, we have added a number of new Society members.


We welcome the following persons (all from Batavia unless oth­erwise noted) who took out annual individual or family memberships through the end of March:


Pete and Gail Amrein

Pam and Rodger Carlson

Gladys Hemp (Champaign)

Sandra Jelm

Melvin Johnson

Darlene Larson (Geneva)

Leo Mar­tin (St. Charles)

Mary F. Muntz

Eric and Michele Nelson (England)

Ed Reeder (Aurora)

Alice Savage (Marlborough, New Hampshire)

Gerald Schramer (Beliingham, Washington)

Jacqueline Shanahan (Sugar Grove)

Duane and Ellen Stone

Janice Swana (West Chester, Pennsylvania)

and Tim Thielk (Elburn).


In addition, the following persons have become Life Members:


Bruce and Kenna Anderson (Wheaton)

Tim Mair

Daniel R. Russo

and Ed and Nancy Weiss.


Batavians I Have Known - Eldora Hoover

by William J. Wood


Eldora Esmay Hoover spent the s major portion of her life in Education, formally and informally. Born late in December, 1896, and being a small child, her parents did not send her to school until she was almost seven. The year her peers began school her clos­est friend, Pearl Jarvis (later to become the grandmother of Glen J. and Gor­don Anderson), came home from school each day and, assuming the rale of teacher, taught Eldora everything she had learned at school that day. From that year on Eldora knew she wanted to be a teacher.


A member of the first class (1915) to graduate from the "new" high school, she spent a month at DeKalb Teach­ers College and in September she be­gan teaching. It was a country school near the intersection of Seavey and Bliss Woods Roads where she taught students in all eight grades. Boarding at a farm home during the week she walked a mile to school each morning; built a fire in the stove; swept the floor and prepared for the arrival of the stu­dents, some only a few years younger ;nan the teacher. With Nelson's Lake close by she was able to use the stu­dents' experiences in the natural sci­ences to supplement the knowledge found in books.


Later teaching at the Schimelpfenig School on Giese Road, she had a pond next to the school which she used as a "laboratory" for the na­ture she loved ail her life. (While in this school she taught the six oldest Schimelpfenig children; when she left her younger sister, Ruth, taught the six younger children in the family.) Her last country school was the Big Woods School on Eola Road where she found what she considered pure luxury.


The building had a finished basement, won­derful for indoor recess and containing a furnace tended by a nearby farmer. Best of all, it had indoor toilets! Moving info town schools she taught in Warrenville and Downers Grove, teach­ing her last 20 years in Batavia at McWayne and Gustafson Schools, working in her favorite grade level, sec­ond. Retirement came in 1964 after 46 years doing what she loved best -teaching.


The following summer she experi­enced something she had never ex­pected to do - an around-the-world flight. A stop in Iran gave her a visit with a young Iranian teacher of English. Through the Eisenhower "People to People Program" she had been corre­sponding with him for several years. Four weeks in Japan gave her time with three college students, correspondents since they were high school students.


Active in civic affairs she served on committees involved with the refores­tation of Batavia streets following the Dutch elm disease disaster. She was equally active in her church, Holy Cross.

Known for her crocheting ability, she became famous for her crocheted snowflakes. While seated she was never without a crochet hook in her hands, even traveling in the car. For more than 25 years she produced snowflakes for friends and for church bazaars. It was only in the last nine years of her life that a count was kept -2,121 crocheted and starched.

Honored as Batavia citizen of the Year in 1970, the Illinois Education As­sociation awarded her the Human Re­lations designation in 1977.


"Retirement" from 1964 to 1984 meant countless hours of tutoring adults and children on a volunteer basis. A proud moment in her life came when she attended the naturalization cer­emony for two of her adult students. In 1981 the Batavia Board of Education honored her for her work at Gustafson School, two full days each week tutor­ing both those needing extra help and those advanced students who needed to be challenged. At this same meeting Mayor Jeffery Schielke (a favorite "adopted grandson") presented her with a proclamation from the City of Batavia.


She lived for her two days a week at Gustafson School and she was there Monday, December 17,1984. Two days later she died, five days after her 88th birthday. She often quoted her grand­mother who said that we must pay rent for living here on this planet. Service to her community and her fellow citizens was her method of paying rent.


News and Other Items


Several people have suggested that we not include any information, or at least information that readers might want to save, on the back of the form for sending in dues. Although we cannot always manage our space in that way, we do have an easy solution to the problem. You do not need to use the printed form for sending in dues; you need only write the relevant information on a plain piece of paper and send it in with your payment.

As an aside, we want to thank those of you who wrote for letting us know that you find articles that warrant saving. We'll try to keep it up.


We regret to report the recent death of three of our members, Jerry Ruble, David Hauman and Mrs. Francis Youssi. Our sympathy goes to their families and friends.


Although we try to keep our members informed with respect to deaths, something that is particularly important to former Batavians who now live elsewhere, we may occasionally miss learning about them. If anyone knows of a member who has died but has not been mentioned in the Historian, please let us know and we will include the informa­tion in the next issue.


If your newsletter has a red dot, it means that, according to our records, you have not paid dues for any year after 1995 and that this will be the last issue you receive unless we hear from you. You can remain on the mailing list either by paying dues for the current year or by telling us, in writing, that you wish to continue receiving the Historian.

What's New at the Museum?
 by Carla Hill
The museum re-opened to the public on Monday, March 10. The opening exhibit features "Turn of the Century Pastimes." which includes dolls, games and puzzles from the museum's collection as well as items on loan from our local antique shops. Also included in the exhibit is a hands-on table for anyone who wishes to try some early forms of entertainment such as Cat's Cradle, marbles and various other children's games.

While we were closed for the Winter months, we worked on several projects. The stairwell leading to the basement now features new paint and track lighting. A large Halladay Windmill Tail is in place, and the completed display will feature several windmill weights, the museum's collection of milk bottles from Batavia's dairies as well as many other items and photographs that relate to Batavia businesses and industries. A base for the newly renovated Van Nortwick music box was made and is now in place.
Museum volunteer and friend, Jerry Ruble, passed away on January 4. His family contacted me, and it was Jerry's wish that the museum be allowed to choose any artifacts that we wished to have from his very large railroad collection. We received many Batavia-related items, as well as other Burlington and Chicago Northwestern pieces from our collection in an exhibit in the front area of the main floor which will be dedicated to Batavia's railroad history.

In May, we will be having a museum colunteer whorkshop in conjunction with National Volunteer week. We will update the museum volunteer manuals and answer questions that have come up over the last year. The museum could not operate without colunteers and we are fortunate to have so many dedicated people who give of their time.
In 1996 the museum had visitors from many cities in 28 states including Virginia, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, Mississippi, Michigan, Pensylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, Ohio, Connecticut, Florida, California, Georgia, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Nevada, Oregon, Maryland, Washington and New Mexico. We had 6 countries represented, which were Mexico, Argentina, Africa, Germany, Canada and England. We also had visitors from 123 cities within Illinois itself.
As we start another year I hope to see a continued climb in attendance as well as many new events and exhibits. Anyone who would like to volunteer at teh museum should contact Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041.

April 20 Meeting to Feature Prairie Restoration
by Patricia Will - vice President - Program Chairman
Spring has finally arrived! The buds will begin to open, the grass will once again be green, and there will be an overall sense of growth and renewal. In honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day, the annual spring meeing for the Batavia Historical Society will be held on Sunday, April 20, at 2:00 p.m. at the Batavia Civic Center.
Following the business portion of the meeting, our special guest will be an environmental specialist from Feri National Acceleration Laboratory. A video, slide and oral presentation will be given on their 1,000 acre prairie restoration project. Fermilab was recently named a winner in teh "Renew American National Awards for Environmental Sustainability".
All members and guests are invited to participate in this unique opportunity to take a glimpse into our prairie past. Refreshments will be served.