THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Thirty-Nine

No. 2

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Board of Directors Meeting February 3. 1998

 

- The Treasurer has been able to increase the amount of two CD's and purchase an additional CD due to the success of

   John Gustafson's Historic Batavia, the total sales of which equals $18,057.78.

- The Board voted to award Marilyn Robinson and Jeff Schielke each $2,000 for their work on the book.

- A plaque was approved for the house at 123 North Prairie Street.

- Bills of Sale have been drawn up passing ownership of the windmills to the Park District and the City.

- The next general meeting of the Batavia Historical Society will be Sunday, April 19, at 2:30 p.m.

 


Batavia Historical Society
Unaudited Results for Quarter Ended December 31, 1997

GENERAL FUND
Revenue:
General Fund Interest Income

Dues
Donations Unrestricted

Donations for Newsletter

Book Sales
John G. H. B. Books Sales

Museum Sales
Gazebo Print Sales
Total Revenue

 

Expense:
Security System Monitor

Postage
Meeting Expense

Newsletter Expense
Books and Material for Sale

Miscellaneous Expense
Cost of Prints Sold
John G. H. B. Expense
Total Expense


Increase in Fund Balance


SPECIAL FUND
Revenue:
Special Fund Interest Income

Donations Restricted

Memorials
Bequests Restricted (Chapman Estate)
Total Revenue


Expense:
Total Expense
Increase in Fund Balance

 

Unaudited BALANCE SHEET

for Quarter Ended

December 31, 1997 ASSETS


Current Assets:
Checking Account

Money Fund
Certificates of Deposit

Vanguard Mutual Fund

Prints for Sale
John G. H. B. Books

 

Total Assets


EQUITY


Equity:
General Fund
October 1, 1997

Increase for Quarter

December 31, 1997

 

Special Projects Fund

October 1, 1996

Increase for Quarter

 

December 31, 1997

 

Total Equity

 

 

The accompanying financial statements

have been prepared on the cash basis

and are subject to adjustment upon

completion of the annual audit.

 

 

$760.79

874.00

75.60

642.71

380.90

16,635.73

231.50

124.00
$19,725.23

 

 

$87.27

88.29

298.50

642.71

1,338.41

197.15

71.00

2,423.56
$5,146.89

 

$14,578.34

 

 

 

$1,470.31

100.00

20.00

11,810.00

$13,400.31

 

 

$0.00
$13,400.31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$8,419.27

2,312.28

126,050.05

34,956.61

2,662.50

16,964.92

 

$191,365.63

 

 

 

 

 

$37,911.33

14,578.34

 

$52,489.67

 

$125,475.65

 

$13,400.31

 

$138,875.96

 

$191,365.63

 

 


Campana Building

 

Batavians, new and old, are familiar with the striking brick and glass block building on the northwest corner of Route 31 and Fabyan Parkway, but new­comers probably know little about it except that it bears the name Campana. Because this is a story, as told by some former employees, about working at Campana, we are not going to cover the company itself in any detail.

 

To give readers a better perspective, however, we shall thread an abbreviated his­tory of the company through the recounting of individual experiences.

 

This  history is summarized from Thomas A. Mair's Batavia Revisited, Chapter XXII, Mooseheart, Campana, and the Household Joumal.

 

The recollections you will read are those of Willard and Anne Strom Carlson, Marion Swanson Todd, Ben Oswalt, and Barbara Doane Hall --captured in interviews by Elliott Lundberg and, in the case of Ben Oswalt, Bert Johnson.

 

How Campana Began

 

The company's beginning centers on three men -- Ernest Oswalt, Rodney Brandon, and James J. Davis -- and is intertwined with the creation of Mooseheart, the origins of the Household Journal, and the establishment of Chicago radio station WJJD, bearing Davis' initials. One must read Tom Mair's book to understand these complex relationships; suffice it to say that in December, 1926, the State of Delaware issued its corporate charter to Campana Company "to manufacture, buy and sell, at wholesale and retail, and generally to deal in face lotions, cold creams, perfumery, soaps, cosmetics, toilet preparations and essential oils.

 

On February 5, 1927, the company was authorized to do business in Illinois, and Ernest M. Oswalt, Ira E. Seymour, and Rodney H. Brandon were president, secretary, and treasurer, respectively. In addition to those three, the directors included Vivian Weaver of Aurora and Hazel Oswalt, Ernest's wife.

 

Oswalt had become acquainted with a Doctor Campana, a Canadian citizen who had developed Italian Balm, and had purchased from him the rights to the development. In April, 1928, Oswalt sold to the new concern assets valued at $57,000, consisting of "U.S. Trade Mark 176347, popularly known as Campana's 'Italian Balm,' together with contract of purchase by Ernest Oswalt for the Canadian Trade Mark of 'Campana's Italian Balm' ... " Campana began manufacturing Italian Balm in the Household Journal building (still standing at the northwest corner of Batavia Avenue and First Street), which it later acquired. Despite the Depression, which came a few years after Campana started operations, the company was successful.

 

Start of Some Early Employees

 

"I started work at Campana in 1929," Anne Carlson, then unmarried and from Elburn, told us. - At that time Campana sent out a lot of samples of Italian Balm, and I worked putting la­bels on the small bo«les and getting them ready to mail out. I worked there a number of years; then I met Willie, we went together for some years, and we got married in 1940. I guess I worked a while after we gal married, and then we started raising a family."

 

"I was born in Batavia on March 19, 1915." Marion Swanson Todd said, "and graduated from Batavia High School in 1933. In the middle of the deep Depression I needed a job. My father went to see Walter Walsh, who was the general manager of the Campana factory)' and the renter of our house on Harrison Street. He told my father he would let me know, and later he called and told me to come in the next day. I went to the factory on the corner of First Street and Batavia Avenue; the job they told me I was going to do was to 'drop Italian Balm.' So I got on the line and dropped the bottles into the crates. That was my initiation into working in the plant.

 

At that time, all Campana made was Italian Balm and 0.0.0.2 prescription. Walter Walsh was in charge, and he watched what we did. 1f we went to the washroom, he watched to see how long we stayed. He never did it to me, but they said he would come and knock on the door if you stayed too long. I made $10 a week, but pretty soon the N.R.A. came in, and I got $12 a week." Anne Carlson's husband, Willard, spoke up, "In the fall of 1934, I ap­plied for a job at Campana. Logan Benson was the shipping clerk when I started working there. I was sup­posed to get $14 a week, but my first would like to try another job. I said I'd give it a shot. John Issei was head machinist, and I went to work for him and Carl Peine. Carl and I got to be pretty good friends."

 

When asked what she did after "dropping Italian Balm" for a while, Marion Todd replied, "I worked in the factory for about three months, but then they needed someone in the of­fice who could type. I went to work for Roscoe Sappenfield, vice president, and he was a persnickety man. I worked for him for about 20 years. He was a lawyer, and nothing got by him. I can remember I typed on this long carriage typewriter; it was about 20 inches wide, and I typed figures. He would watch over your shoulder and make sure it was right."

 

Despite what was obviously a pro­motion to a more responsible position as Sappenfield's secretary, Marion says that she did not receive any in­crease from her $12 a week pay. In fact, she related, "In 1939 business got pretty slow so they cut 20 cents. I got $11 .80 a week. -In 1945 Otto Moss was the auditor from Chicago, and he had been com­ing to audit from Household Journal days, before I began to work there. He decided that he would like to work for Campana, so they hired him. He moved out here, and I worked for him, too. 

 

I always worked with figures. He was a great guy." Sampling and Radio Programs In 1931 Campana inaugurated a radio program over NBC named the -First Nighter." Don Ameche was one of the stars of the program. Heard every Friday night, by 1937 it had from eight to ten million listeners each week, rating above Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Burns and Allen, and Rudy Vallee. In '1937, the company started a second radio show, - Campana's Varieties," which appeared Monday nights. Both radio shows were de­voted exclusively to advertising Ital­ian Balm, which had gained nation­wide acceptance and a huge market.

 

Ben Oswalt, Ernest Oswalt's  nephew, who went to work for Campana when he got out of the ser­vice after World War II, commented,l, "It was the sampling campaign that actually got Campana off the ground. My uncle also started the First Nighter and Dr. FuManchu and that radio stuff. Florence Ward was a writer for the First Nighter radio program.

 

Lillian Budd was a writer who worked there, too.-A thick file in the  Depot Museum archives bears out Ben's views: It is filled with letters praising the radio show and requesting the Italian Balm samples promised to those who wrote in first. Move to New Building In 1937 the company moved into its new building on North Batavia Av­enue, the first structure in the United States using glass blocks. Marion Todd recalled, "It was fully air condi­tioned, but then they had problems with the terra cotta; they had to take out all the glass blocks and also the terra cotta below the glass blocks. Campana had to pay part of it, but the builders and suppliers paid most of it.

 

First they tore out some of the glass blocks, but then they couldn't find d enough of that size to repair it, sothey had to replace them all." With the move to the new building, Willard Canson said, -They were go­ing to need someone in the kitchen to help with the mixing of the Italian Balm.

 

In the old plant everything was mixed by hand. In the new plant av­~erythjng was automatic. You just pushed a button, but you had to know what you were doing and that things were shut off at the right time," That reminded Barbara Hall, who worked at Campana one summer during World War II, of the time someone failed to turn off the spigot for one of the per­fumes. The next morning the all-night drip had eaten a hole in the belt. Willard Carlson continued, MMr. Ernest Oswalt, the owner of Campana, came through one day, showing off the plant.

 

He told the people with him that everything was so automatic that the operator could go over in the corner and go to sleep, and everything would take care of it­self. But it was very complicated. When an electric storm came up and we lost electricity, everything being automatic meant we didn't know where we were at the time we lost power. When the electricity came on again, we had to make sure every­thing was in order.

 

We had big power machinery, a 50 horsepower motor for use in homog­enizing the Italian Balm. It ran at 3500 rpm, twice the speed of ordinary mo­tors, and it was very noisy. We had an inspection one time, and they told us we couldn't work around that machine unless we covered our ears, that all that noise would ruin our hearing. I think it did, too. One year my partner and I made 165,000 gallons of Italian Balm. I had two helpers then. Walter Dickenson worked for me; he was the clean-up man, mostly. And Gary Gregor from Mooseheart --he was a quarter­back on the Mooseheart football team --and Bill Hatton from Eola. And then we had Tony Huff to help us, too." Others Who Worked There Marion Todd mentioned others who worked at Mooseheart at one time or another. "Mr. Oswalt had a secretary, Genevieve Connell. Bill Crull (Willard Crull, a nephew of Ernest Oswalt) came to Campana right after he graduated from Brown University in 1928, and Richard Crull (Willard's brother) came in 1930.

 

Bill Crull be­came president in 1955, after Mr. Oswalt died. "Clarence Miller started to work in the purchasing department. Later on he became personnel director. He used to bring bags of money from the Campana promotions to the bank to be counted. First it was dimes, and then eventually it was dollar bills. "Way back in the 1930s, Logan Benson was shipping clerk, and New­ton Smith worked with him. Newt took over as shipping clerk later on when Logan left. For quite a while they were over at the Appleton where Campana rented the whole first floor of the present City Hall and shipped their products out of there.

vol39Num_2_1.jpg

 

"Harry Fisher was in charge of the shipping of all the samples; they started that in the K.P. building on South Batavia Avenue where the First Chicago Bank now has its branch. Then they opened up a section of the office at the building on South Batavia Avenue and First Street, and that's when they hired all kinds of people. And then in the 1930s they moved that office over to the Appleton office.

 

Af­ter Harry Fisher died, two women who worked for him took over. One of them was Nellie Birnie from Geneva. "Bernice Olson worked in the book­keeping department until 1947. Evelyn Anderson and Gertrude Rupenthal also worked there. Lenore Freedlund worked in the billing department, and Evelyn Freedlund was in charge of the key punch department. We had key punch back then, not computers." Willard Carlson remembered that Evelyn'S Sisters, Lenore and Edna Freedlund worked there, as well. ·Wally Freedlund also worked there," Marion Todd resumed, "and he would show visitors through the build­ing. That was in about 1938 or 1939, and then in 1940 we started getting new products like cosmetics and lip­stick.

 

They started Dreskin in the early 19305." Willard Carlson recalled others who worked at Campana. "When I started, Mr. Ernest Oswalt was the preSident, and Mr. Roscoe Sappenfield was vice president in charge --he was the big shot. When Bill Crull became presi­dent, he was the president but Mr. Sappenfield ran the place. Elliott Stone from Elburn was the plant man­ager, and after he died a man by the name of Clinton Graeff was made plant manager. He was a wonderful man. Mr. Snider was the purchasing agent, and Mr. Eugene Pearsall was in charge of sales."

 

Marion Todd re­called that Martha Lundberg worked for Pearsall for some time; when she left, Julia Smatzer took over. "Over the years," Willard Carlson said, "there were a lot of women from Batavia who worked at Campana. Alice Benson worked there for many years. Mrs. Ward and Helen Nottingham worked there, too. She was a lovely person." "When Campana first moved up to the new building," Marion Todd re­called, "Alice Benson and I used to ride to work with Willard Carlson. I didn't have a car then. Up in the new building they had a cafeteria which was just off the main office. Then we would see all the people who worked in the building.

 

Mr. Sappenfield had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ev­ery day for lunch, with th ree slices of bread. Pearl Carlson was the cook at Campana; she was a good cook, but they couldn't afford her. After that, she worked in the plant. "Virgil Snyder was in charge of pur­chasing, and Sadie Lundberg worked for him at one time. Another person who worked at Campana was Bob Frick."

 

Impact of World War II

 

With the onset of World War II, the company dropped "Italian" from its principal product, calling it Campana Balm.

 And after our country's entry into the war, the company concen­trated on products for the Chemical Warfare Services, including M-4 and M-5 ointments. "Because of the shortage of mate­rials," Willard Carlson recalled, "we were limited in the amount of Italian Balm we could make during the war. We made a product for the Chemical Warfare Service which was used if someone got caught in a fire. They just dumped this chemical on them to put it out. Then we made M-4 and M­5 protective ointment, which we put in tubes. This was also for the Chemi­cal Warfare Service, and we made tons and tons of that, too. This was used for burns. Page 4 "Because we couldn't get the glyc­erine needed for Italian Balm during the war, we had to use a substitute sugar product.

 

I can't think of the name. So we had to have two sepa­rate tanks for that, and we had six 2,000 gallon tanks on the third floor and six 4,000 gallon tanks in the ware­house down below. Every three months the FBI would come out and check us for how much alcohol we used and where we used it. They put seals on the gauges on the sides of the tanks and on the openings of the tanks. Then they wanted to put locks and seals on the doors into the room where the alcohol was kept. We told them we couldn't do that as it would be a fire hazard and someone might be caught down there. So we talked them out of doing that.

 

"We went into perfume, and they used names like Plantation Gardens. They then decided that needed a dif­ferent name, something French, so they named them Anjou. They had three different perfumes." Along with three friends from West Aurora High School, Barbara Hall worked at Campana in the summer of 1943 or 1944. When asked why they came all the way from Aurora to Campana, she replied that it was a matter of money. "Block & Kuhl Depart­ment Store in Aurora was paying only 25 cents an hours --$12 for a 48 hour week --while I got $19.50 a week at Campana." She recalled that her sum­mer job was on an assembly line, put­ting together gift boxes of Plantation Gardens and Woodland Spice. Still re­membering how demanding the work was, she said that failure to complete a step as the product passed by on the line would jam up the whole process. Barbara said that the daily trip from Aurora was not so bad, either.

 

One morning as the four girls waited for a bus a young man in a car stopped and said he had seen them there for sev­eral days and wondered where they were going. When they told him, he said he was going that way and of­fered them a ride --continuing to do so all summer, even waiting if they were late. Barbara thinks he enjoyed listening to their school girl chatter. How different those days werel When she heard Marion Todd's story about Walter Walsh checking how long people stayed in the wash­room, Barbara laughed and recalled the experience of a girl who tried to slip some perfume out in her bras-'-' siere. Somehow or other someone in management knew; she was caught and had to return the perfume. She did not lose her job, however.

 

Resumption of Civilian Production "After World War II," Willard Carlson said, "Campana bought the Carlay Company. They were located in Chi ­cago and made a candy caramel which was supposed to help a per­son reduce if eaten in place of food. The caramels were named 'Ayds.' Carl Peine and I went into Chicago every day for three months; I had to learn how to make that stuff, and Carl had to learn how to operate the ma­chinery. Those machines could throw out 104 caramels a minute. We had to learn from two guys who spoke Ital­ian, and they wouldn't tell us what to do. They would mix up a batch and cook it and put their hands in to feel whether it was done or not. I had to learn to do that, but finally

 

I got brains enough to tell at what temperature it was done." Ben Oswalt recalled, "When World War II came, Italian Balm was the best selling hand lotion in the country. Italy got in the war on the wrong side, and our sales just went kaboom. So my Uncle Ernest took the name 'Italian' out of it and named it Campana Balm -it was the same product. After the war was over they then put the old name back on it, but that didn't work. Sales just kept doing down, and they stopped promoting it.

 

"Ours was a big business as far as Batavia was concerned, but not na­tionwide. We didn't have enough bud­get to promote our products. My uncle realized the importance of becoming affiliated with a big company like Dow Chemical, which could spend ten or twenty million dollars in one year to promote an item. Then that item would respond and grow. But we were lim­ited in advertising by what we had made the previous year, so we could maybe spend $800,000 advertising an item when it really needed $15,000,000." Ernest Oswalt died in 1955, and jnY 1956 the company was sold to Allied  Laboratories of S1. Louis. In 1962, Purex Corporation took over, continu­ing operations until 1982. The build­ing was sold in that year.

 

Deja Vu

 

After a half century and more, memories of working at Campana are sometimes incomplete, often softened with nostalgia. And the recollections of the former employees are bound to be affected by when and for how long they worked there and what their jobs were. Starting with Campana after the war and being a member of the owning family, Ben Oswalt may have had a different perspective from others when he said, "The thing that I remember about Campana were the people that worked there. They were all friends; they were all family. Uncle Ernie would go through the plant, and they would all call him Ernie. They didn't call him Mr. Oswalt - there was no formality there." The others interviewed, how­ever, always spoke of Ernest Oswalt as "Mr. Oswalt." Despite her many years of working in the office, Marion Todd said that she never called him "Ernie." It is significant to note, however, that none of those interviewed were sour or voiced any deep-seated unhappi­ness about their experience --and that is important when one recalls that most of their service took place dur­ing the stressful days of the Depres­sion and World War II.

 

Those who worked there for any time probably did feel, as Ben Oswalt remembered, that they were ·family.· Perhaps Marion Todd summed it up best when she said, "People always complained about the low wages at Campana, but they provided a lot of jobs for many years.' 1 Copies of this book published in 1990 are still available at the Depot Museum. The chapters cited, alone, are well worth the $12 price of the book. 2 Ben Oswalt said the D.D.D. was named after Dr. David Dennis and was based in Canada. Ernest Oswalt bought the formula for making 0.0.0. lolion and soap from Dr. Dennis al about the same time that he boughllhe formula for Iialian 8alm from Dr. Campana.


 

The Batavia Historian, recipient of the Illinois State Historical Society's 1997 Award for Superior Achievement, is published quarterly by the Batavia Historical Society.

 

The editor, Bill Hall, will welcome any suggestions or material -- 630-8792033. The Depot Museum, a cooperative effort of the Society and the Batavia Park District, is open from 2 to 4 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from March through November.

 

The director, Carla Hill, can be reached at 630879- 5235.

 


Spring General Meeting April 19 l Authors  Available for Autographing

 

Come and hear Marilyn Robinson and Mayor Jeffery Schielke tell about the writing of John Gustafson's Historic Batavia.

 

The meeting will be held at 2:30 in the Bartholomew Room at the Civic Center, 327 West Wilson Street. Books wil be available for purchase, and the authors will be glad tosign copies.

 

Refreshments will be served, andvisitors are urged to attend.

 


What's Doing at the Museum?

by Carla Hill, Director

 

The museum reopened March 9 with the opening display titled "Colorful Kite Tales." This exhibit depicts the history, art and technology of kite flying, starting with Benjamin Franklin. It was originally produced by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Handouts will be available for children to make their own kites at home.

 

This is a fun exhibit that we have done in the past and it is always popular with the children. Chris Winter and I have been working on many projects over the winter break. A couple of changes have been made in the Van Nortwick Room - an additional painting which came from the Mary Chapman estate and a new oak lectern with an album full of photographs and other items from the Van Nortwick family.

 

Chris worked very hard to put this album together and I think it adds a wonderful personal touch to the room. An additional album is being prepared for the Lincoln Room. Plexiglas and wood cases have been produced for the lower hallway which contain some of our collection of memorabilia from Batavia's dairy industry. Photographs and newspaper ads help complete this display.

 

We have several other exciting displays planned for the 1998 season. We are looking for anyone who has any type of photographs, artifacts or information on Batavia doctors and dentists. We would also like information on home remedies and cures. Chris and I are working on a special display for next fall and could use input from anyone who can provide information. All photographs and artifacts will be returned.

 

 

National Volunteer Week will be celebrated the week of April 19-25. Each of the 'Tluseum volunteers will receive a small gift and a heartfelt thank you from the museum. We look forward to another great year at the museum. Anyone who would like to volunteer at the museum should contact Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041.

 


 

Litigation Is Nothing New Alpheus C. Badger vs. Batavia Paper Manufacturing Company

by Marilyn Robinson

 

Marilyn Robinson came across this lawsuit. which involved early Batavia men, while working on the project in which the various historical societies of Kane County are reviewing the origi­nals of court records that have been microfilmed. Each society takes possession of those records in which it has an inter­est. Marilyn heads up our society's efforts on this project. Seeing words said by the men about whom she has read and written so much brought them to life. In the late 1860s, the Chicago Fi­bre and Paper Company in Batavia purchased a boiler for its plant. The company gave the supplier a mort­gage and note. Alpheus C. Badger of Kentucky bought the note. Chicago Fibre went bankrupt in January 1870.

 

John VanNortwick pur­~C' chased the company on August 18, 1870, and it became the Batavia Pa­per Manufacturing Company. The building it occupied is still on the southeast corner of Water and First Streets. In May of 1872, Badger sued Batavia Paper and William M. VanNortwick, John VanNortwick's son, to collect on the note. The first to testify for Badger was George B. Moss: "I have resided in Batavia for twelve years. During the entire year, 1869, I knew the Chicago Fibre and Paper Company. I was its president from some time in 1868 until its bank­ruptcy in 1870. My office was at the works in Batavia. There was no officer there but me. That was after the chat­tel mortgage to the Eagle Works Manufacturing Company was ex­ecuted and delivered. My signature is on the mortgage as president of Chi­cago Fibre. The note was for a boiler, with attachments. We were to have a year's time to pay for it ... I can't say what the value of the boiler was in early 1871 ... If not materially rusted ~Anside, it was worth as much as $4,000 as it cost when set up.

 

"The boiler was 25 feet long, 7 feet in diameter and weighed about 10,000 pounds. We could not get it into the building. There was no suitable place for it at the works when it was brought there so it was placed outside the building, out of doors atthe south side of the bleach room, the east end run­ning under the building a little way. We tore down a part of the stone wall of the building and erected a building over the boiler 35 feet by 15 feet on the ground, about 15 feet high. It was roofed over, shingled over, and fin­ished up in a substantial and perma­nent manner ... In order to move the boiler after the mortgage became due, the building over it would have to be removed." Frank P. Crandon testified next "I am the County Clerk of this county. I knew the Chicago Fibre and Paper Company ... Badger wished me to take the mortgage in my hand on the day the mortgage matured, and go to the mill and get someone of the Batavia Paper Manufacturing Com­pany to go with me where the boiler was, place my hand on the boiler, and say that I took possession of it for him. On that day, I went to the mill of the defendants and found no one there except James Allen, the foreman of the company .. . I asked him to go with me to the boiler and witness my taking formal possession of it for Mr. Badger ... I don't think I told any of the officers (John VanNortwick, Will­iam M. VanNortwick, Walter A. Cornell and Daniel B. Cornell) about my tak­ing formal possession of the boiler.

 

"I attempted to have the boifer re­moved for Mr. Badger. I went to see J. L. Cary to get him to move it. I sent him to the mill with tools to move the boiler. I went to the mill and found Cary there with tools and gave him direc­tions about the manner of moving the boiler. I told him to move it westwardly endwise and to go to town to get tim­bers strong enough not to hurt any­one. Nearly the entire rear end of the new building over the boiler was nec­essary to be removed to get the boiler out. It was a modern building. "I went to the mill the next morning and told William M. VanNortwick that I had learned that he refused to allow Cary to move the boiler and asked him why. He said it would injure the build­ing, and he did not wish to have that done unless it could be repaired. I told him I would agree for Badger that it should be put in good repair. He said that they had been obliged to fit up another room for a rag room on ac­count of the boiler occupying the room that would otherwise have been used for that purpose and that they had sent a bill for expense to Badger and that he had paid no attention to it, and the boiler could not be moved until that matter was settled. I told him I would see his father, John, about it. He said he wished I would. I did see John that evening at his house. I told him of the conversation I had had with William.

 

I asked him if that was the position the company took. He said the boiler could not be moved until the claim they had against Badger was settled. "I asked him what Badger owed him. He said he didn't know exactly-­$50, $75, $100, or more. I asked him if Badger would settle the claim if the boiler might remain where it was until they should want the room without charge of storage. He said it might for the time being and that he would give Badger reasonable notice when he wanted it removed. "I had no authority from Mr. Badger to arrange a room for storing the boiler with the paper company. I was in­structed to take the boiler away. I wrote to Badger of my conversation with VanNortwick. I never had any reply .. " John VanNortwick then testified for the defense. "I reside at Batavia part of the time and part of the time in the State of LouiSiana. I told Frank Crandon we had requested Badger repeatedly to remove the boiler and that he had not complied and that had occasioned extra expense in fitting up a room in which we could prepare rags. I thought Badger should pay the expense. We did not need the room right now. I asked Crandon if Badger had sold the boiler or was only going to remove it from our building. I think his reply was that Badger was merely going to move it out of our way. "I said we had prepared another room, and did not want that room and had no objections to the boiler remain­ing if he would remove it upon rea sonable notice when we wanted the room. He said they would comply. We have never used the boiler. Never re­fused to deliver the boiler. I never told anyone they could not remove the boiler until the bill was paid or that they could not tear down the building. We offered to buy the boiler for $1 ,SOO: The jury retired to consider a ver­dict. It must have been in favor of the VanNortwicks for the plaintiff asked the court to grant a new trial. Judge Silvanus Wilcox refused to grant the request. The plaintiff then asked for an appeal to the State Supreme Court, which was granted. We do not know what finally hap­pened to the unwanted boiler.

 

 


 

More Batavia Body Reflections Membership

by Donald Miller

 

Don Miller, a native Batavian and Life Member of our Society who now lives in Pennsylvania, was moved to comment to Bill Wood on Gunnar Wiberg's Batavia Body Company story that appeared in the October, 1997, issue.

 

We wish we had space for all his comments (and maybe we will have more later), but we wanted to share the fol­lowing excerpt with our readers in this issue. The lead article on Batavia Body really brought back memories. Hav­ing worked there between high school and the Navy (early 50s), and in both the plant and the office, many names within the article evoked many, many memories.

 

My work at the Body Company started in the paint shop where I worked for Martin Downen. Gunnar called the shot on him correctly. He was a very company oriented, and, as with himself, expected a day's work for a day's pay from his people. There were ten of us. Other than myself,

 


 

Marching to School - to Music

 

In his memoirs about growing up in Batavia, former Batavian Norman Harry Peterson recalled living diago­nally across the street from the Blaine Street Grade School, now the school for apprentice painters. "It was a great location for a school as far as the Petersons were con­cerned," he wrote. "The principal for many years --1st through 5th or 6th ­-was Miss Woodburn. Each day, the boys would line up on one side of the long sidewalk leading into the school. The girls on the other side. Then Miss Woodburn would turn on John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" ­-on a phonograph. She would march us in, clapping her hands to the march music. And the same thing happened at the morning recess and after lunch and the afternoon recess. So that made four concerts a day for five or six years. Thank you, Mr. Sousal" Floyd Roessler, John Sjoberg, Bob Hansel, and Harold Holbrook were the Batavia people. The sign painter was an older guy from Elgin --one Bill Callens. It was he who taught my fa­ther the art. The other guys were from Aurora and North Aurora.  

 

One thing I still chuckle about as I look back on those days: while Mar­tin never realized it, everyone always knew when there were problems or somebody was in trouble. Invariably, under those circumstances, he would be whistling The Tennessee Waltz. The faster he whistled, the more irri­tated he was, the more tense the situ­ation. Accordingly, at the first sound of The Tennessee Waltz, everyone went into hiding or doubled his nor­mal working pace. He never was aware of his projecting this warning, but it was essentially the paint shop equivalent to general quarters in the Navy, a well guarded operating pro­cedure among departmental insiders. Despite his gruff demeanor and rough edges, he was a good guy. I remember when the good old Chi­cago, Aurora and Elgin went on strike, my dad was out of work, and my mother immediately assumed we'd all starve to death. I went to Martin and asked him if he had any work for a good painter. "Good painter?" he asked. "My dad," I replied. "Tell him to be here in the morning --he's a damned good painter," was the reply. Enough said.

 

 


 

and Other Matters

 

Since the last issue, five Batavian: have been added to our rolls as Ufe Members: Robert and Lucy Anderson, Robert V. and Ullian Brown, and Rob­ert Fondriest. Other new members (from Batavia unless otherwise noted) include Robert Ahrens (Columbus, Ohio), Mrs. Ellen Anderson, Glen Anderson, Gordon Anderson, Mrs. Kay Anderson (LaVerne, California), Denis and Nancy Bowron (Maple Park), Sandra Chalupa (S1. Charles), Eloise Freedlund, Gary and Elizabeth Granberg, Marian V. Heiser, Anthony Herbert, Karen Kletzing, Mrs. Marion Powers, Lois and Don Prindle, Peter J. Stephana (Des Moines, Iowa), Judy Hogan and George Turner, Lillian Vander Pluys (Merrimac, Wisconsin), and Mariann C. White. We welcome these members and look forward to their participation in the affairs of the Society. We regret to report the deaths of Life Members Gregory S. Issei and Elna A Larson and extend our deep­est sympathy to their families and friends. In addition, we share in Bruce and Patti Will's grief over the death d~ their daughter Andrea Faye, a student at Eastern Illinois University. Through the end of last year, Patti had served as the Society's vice-president and program chairman.

 

 

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Several years ago, Elizabeth Hall, a member of our Society, was given the assign­ment in a creative writing group at the Holmstad to write about a country store. Because her story was based on a Batavia store, included the names 01 many Batavians, and evoked the mood of an era now gone, we thought the product of her assignment would be 01 interest to our readers.

 


 

A country store

 

That is the assign­ment for our creative writing group, and I have no firsl-hand knowledge of a real one, although I have seen modern restorations of such a store in 81. Augustine and Williamsburg. What shall I do? I have it --I shall ask my octogenarian, native Batavia friend, Carl Johnson, about his father's store that once stood with the old ho­tel, The Revere House, north of Main Street on South Batavia Avenue. It was opened in the late 1800s by Carl's father and his partner as Johnson and Micholson's Grocery Store. In the back of the store, but in no way divided from it, was the Chi­cago Telephone Company's ex­change, where two women handled the switchboard. (I might add, paren­thetically, that there was another tele­phone company in Batavia back then --the Interstate.)

 

The telephone ex­~change and the men who gathered around the pot-bellied stove, winter and summer, made Johnson and Micholson's a nerve center of the town. Kinne and Jeffery's Grocery Store on the east side of town was another. It was run by the family of our present mayor, Jeff Schielke. There was a big, black cast-iron drinking trough for horses in front of Kinne and Jeffery's. Now and then, some of the young boys would "stock" the trough with fish from the Fox River; this caused quite a stir when horses encountered the wild life in their drinking water. But we must get back to Johnson and Micholson's. Every weekday morning six, often more, townsmen ambled in. They pulled up chairs -­crates from the back room when the chairs gave out --and talk and occa­sional munching of crackers, courtesy of the house, began. "I understand Appleton Manufactur­ing Company is moving to town. It will turn out windmills, corn-shellers, saws, and who knows what all. That will be a boon for our city. It "Did you know that the new Meth­odist Church cost $30,000? $30,000 ­-phew! And by Cfackey, the Reverend Mr. Gammon and Captain Newton gave the church to the congregation!" "Hey, has anybody had a ride on the stern-wheeler, City of Batavia? I have, but I had to spend a whole nickel for the trip. Worth it, though, gliding along the Fox River." Unidentified but typical Batavia General Store The BataVia HistOrian "Do you think Teddy Roosevelt will be our next president?" "Are you fellows all going to see the balloon go up in Laurelwood Parl" "My wife says Nellie Smith is wear­ing a divided skirt --wore it right down­town on Wilson Avenue. 'Tisn't decent, I say. What's the world coming to, with such gOings on?"

 

"The good old factory owners and merchants are doing it again --spon­soring an excursion for the whole town. This year we're going to Peoria on the C.B. & Q. I hear the round trip fare is $1.50." "Yeah, lots of excitement --the Chatauqua soon will be coming to town. Batavia's no backwater." "Who are you fellows backing for mayor? We need an up-and-coming chap for our up-and-coming town. " "We ought to do something about all the dust we get on Wilson and Batavia Avenues. " "Our Batavia Horse Market Asso­ciation is having its annual sale next week. We really have a reputation for our fine horses.· "Say, let's make our plans for our midnight foot race on Friday night. You and I are on the committee, Ole. " And so it went as the men social­ized and discussed.

 

Carl said Swan Johnson, his father, often found some of the pot-bellied stove league wait­ing to get in when he arrived morn­ings at 6 o'clock to open the store. Among the regulars were Joel McKee, a major Batavia land owner, who is memorialized by a street bearing his name. Almost always present was C. W. Shumway, whose father founded the Shumway Foundry. His son , Horatio, rarely joined the group, but he came in regularly for snuff and chewing tobacco. Another was Chariie Johnson, who founded Hubbard's Furniture Store. There was Civil War Captain Stafford. What stories he had to tell of the War between the States! Sharing these remembrances was another Civil War veteran, Johnny Ozier, who belonged to one of the first black families of Batavia. Mr. Ozier spent the first 45 years of his life as a slave and lived to be 100. But I was to write of a country store. So far I've described it only as the venue for a little forum and a telephone exchange.

 

How different from the modern supermart it must have looked, with its long wooden counters and wooden shelves, the shelves reaching to the ceiling. Of course, there was a sliding ladder to make top shelf items available. On the shelves were canned goods, crockery jugs and bowls, dishes, pots, pans, kitchen gadgets and tools, and knickknacks. On the counter stood a big red cof­fee grinder where the proprietors ground, to the customers' orders, the coffee beans scooped from large red tin roll-top boxes that stood against one wall beside tea chests of a simi­lar type. On the counter, too, was a large wheel of cheese, a slab of ba­con, and big square boxes contain­ing cookies and crackers. There were baskets of eggs brought in daily by farmers, who brought in fresh veg­etables in season, as well. The salt, flour, sugar, and pickles were in barrels ranged near the cof­fee and tea chests. In autumn there also were barrels of apples and pears. When the time was right, oysters in wooden pails were available.

 

At Christmas time flat, dried slabs of lutefisk were kept in a special case, with a tub of lingonberries close by. Carl remembers being responsible for getting dairy products to the store. He brought in cases of bulk butter and cans of milk and cream via horse and wagon from the creamery at Bliss and Kaneville Roads. (Holmstad residents will be interested to know that the creamery was later made into an at­tractive dwelling and is occupied by Gunnar Wiberg's brother, Helmer, and his wife.) Carl recalls that a man once came into the store and asked the price of butter. "Twenty cents a pound," said Swan Johnson.

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"Your competitor down the street is selling it for fifteen cents a pound,' the man replied. 'You ought to buy it there, then," countered Swan. "I did go in to get some, but they didn't have any left." "Well," ex­claimed Mr. Johnson, "when we don't have any, we sell it for five cents a pound!" We think with nostalgia of the coun· try store with its relaxed air of leisure and homely turn-of-the-century ap­peal compared to the rush and bustle of supermarts that are symbolic of our restless lives these days. In that coun­try store, Mr. Johnson or Mr. Micholson found each item as the customer called it out from a list. He scooped the sugar from the barrel. He cut off the chunk of cheese required. He ground the coffee; he put the tea into a small brown bag. He packed the purchases into the customer's basket, exchanging pleasantries as he did so. Life was simpler then. What have we lost, now that the country store and its cracker barrel sages are no more?

 

 


1 B 12 State Champions --And More
In the last issue we wrote that "most of our members have probably heard that Batavia won the state basket­ball championship in 1912." Since then we have learned that many readers, especially newer residents in Batavia, were not aware of that fact --$0 we shall remedy that deficiency.


The facilities in 1912 were cramped for playing, and for watching, basketball. Because the high school had no gym­nasium, the team was forced to play its home games in the Methodist church gymnasium, sometimes jokingly referred to as the "cracker box gym." The balcony was too narrow to seat many spectators. Claude Hanson, a 1908 team mem­ber, recalled that when they played, it was the job of one team member not on the court to collect the admissions and! or donations from the spectators. Probably the situation was much the same four years later. But the team was good --very good. Comprised of Dwight Emigh, Clarence Hansen, Walter "Dutch" Trantow, Horace Bone, Charles "Chuck" Barr, Ray "Irish" McDermott, and Parks Puck" Bailey and coached by Kenneth C. Merrick, it had won 20 of 22 games during the regular season.

 

In the first round of the tournament, Batavia beat Joliet, Sycamore, Belvidere, and Freeport. Advancing to the state round, which was played in Galesburg, the team defeated Canton 32-23, then Granite City 29-26, and finally, to win the champion­ship, Galesburg by the same 29-26 score. As described in John Gustafson's Historic Batavia, "in cel­ebration whistles blew, and crowds broke into churches to ring the bells. Everyone, regardless of age or previous con­dition of dignity, laughed, shouted, and cheered."

 

If water towers had been round in those days, Batavia, like Hebron 35 years later, might even have proclaimed its status by paint­ing the city water tower to look like a basketball. But the season did not end then.

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A clipping from an uni­dentified newspaper that we found in the Depot Museum files

reveals that the Batavia champions continued their winning

ways. The headline from that clipping reads:

 

Batavia Ends Brilliant Athletic Year

with Banquet to Visiting Team

 

WESTERN CHAMPS HUMBLED

Local High School Dines Colorado

Visitors after Winning All Western Basketball Honors

 

The clipping continued: "Batavia High School closed its most successful season in athletics after winning the Illinois state high school championship in basketball and then, last night, gaining a good title to the all-western championship by defeating Ft. Morgan, Col., 46 to 20." Ft. Morgan had previously won the Rocky Mountain championship. While lauding Batavia's basketball prowess, the reporter tried to be fair in pointing out that the visiting team had ~suffered much from the climatic change from their home altitude of about one mile as compared with the 500-foot above sea level altitude of this part of Illinois."

 

Since the visitors had played through Iowa and elsewhere in Illinois before facing Batavia, however, they should have had time to acclimate, and we think that the reporter may have bent over back­wards in offering Ft. Morgan that alibi for its loss. The article concluded: "Athletic prospects for next season at Batavia High School are unusually bright with the prom­ise of a fine new gymnasium of regulation floor space in the basement of the new high school building and the return to school of McDermott, Trantow, Barr, Emigh and Hansen."

 

Apparently, however, the return of most of the team and the promise of a new gymnasium were not enough, since Batavia did not retain its title in 1913. But we have come close more than once since then.

 


Didn't This Happen?

 

Member David King recently sent us a clipping from an unidentified newspaper. Although the clipping was undated, the date must have been shortly after the end of World War I. The article, which covered a Batavia City Council meeting, states that "two streets on the east side be named in honor of the two east side soldiers who gave their lives in the War, that Chestnut Street be changed to Carl Mier Street, and that South College Street be changed to John Kelly Street.

 

It was the unanimous vote that these changes be made. Later some streets on the west side will probably be renamed in honor of the sol­dier dead of West Batavia." Now that the city vault is accessible following construc­tion work, our Historian, Bill Wood, plans to do research on old minutes to learn why these changes were not made. In the meanwhile, if anyone has any relevant in­formation, please let him know. We hope to include the answer in a later issue.

 


 Flood of 1887

 

Jim Hanson came across a newspaper clipping that should b eof particular interest while the 1996 flood is still fresh in the minds of Batavians.That one, of course, was caused by heavy rains while the one recalled in TheBatavia Herald of February 9, 1940, resulted from ice jams on the river, but both caused considerable damage. Long-time Batavia resident John Brennan recalled the flood of February 9, 1887. "The 1887 flood was the worst I have seen in the seventy years I have lived in Batavia.

 

The ice coming down the river was from 14 to 18 feet in great chunks about three feet thick. The ice battered against the old stone bridge, which withstood the terrific ice attack. As near as I can judge, the water was about 30 feet deep in the river, and flooded all of the basements on Wilson Street up half-way on the east hill, completely covering River Street, which is more than a block from the river.

 

"I recall the Kickapoo Indian Medicine company was playing at the BataviaOpera House, ... and they were forced to discontinue their show because of the wood. The Newton Wagon Company coal shed, about half full of coal, was washed into the river, and the old North Aurora bridge was washed out. When the water

went down, people shoveled fish by the bushel on River Street, where they were stranded by the receding waters."

 


 

Introducing Your Historian Team
A message from Your Editor

It occurred to me that you, the readers, might be interested in knowing who is involved in getting out each issue of the Historian. And at the same time, I think it is appropriate to pay tribute to those whose help is indispensible but whose names seldom appear in print.

 

Most issues include a story based on a taped interview with an older Batavian. For many years, Elliott Lundberg, and then Bill Wood, helped me with these interviews, and for the last year Jim Hanson has taken their place. While Elliott was alive, he transcribed the tapes and gave copies to me for use in developing a story; since then, Carol Miller has taken over that time­consuming task -- which she is nice enough to say that she enjoys!

 

I usually try to have at least one story in each issue involving Batavia's early history. Usually I do the research, often checking facts with Marilyn Robinson, and write the story. I am sometimes asked, "Who is the author of stories that do not carry a byline?" Those stories are mine. Occasionally others come up with this type of story; their submissions, of course, carry their bylines.

 

You frequently find one or more stories in an issue with the byline of our historian, Marilyn Robinson. She either volunteers these based on something interesting she has come across or responds to my last-minute request when I come up short before going to the printer. The request may be for anything from a full story to the need for a few inches of "filler" to finish a column.

 

In almost every issue, Carla Hill provides a story about what is happening at the Depot Museum, and Chris Winter reports on the latest general meeting of the society. In addition, Chris provides invaluable help in finding pictures to go with stories. Our membership chairman, Alma Karas, gives me lists of new members and the names of members whose obituaries have appeared in the local papers. It is Alma, too, who prepares the labels used for mailing the Historian. Our treasurer, Gerald Miller, furnishes the details about memorial gifts and contributions.

 

Several times I have been embarrassed by typographical errors that have crept into issues -- getting a person's first name wrong or, for example, letting the date 1975 slip into a story about events in the 1870s. It is hard to check on one's own writing, so Jim and Dot Hanson, as well as my wife, Barbara, are now pitching in with proofreading help.

 

Preparing not-for-profit mailings is an onerous task that requires expertise. The Postal Service has strict rules on how such mailings should be submitted. We are fortunate indeed that Joanne Stevens does this work for us at no charge -- and has for a number of years.

 

And finally, we are now going to have some new, and very important, help. Marj Holbrook and Sammi King, both of whom are experienced newspaper reporters, have agreed to help with stories and, possibly, to take on additional responsibilities down the road. As you will see in this issue, Marj is already pitching in.

Bill Hall


Preserving History Boy Scout Restores Cemetery

Jennifer Lauren Lee


about the res­toration of the Pioneer Cemetery at Fermilab appeared in Fermi Today and is included here with the permis­sion of the editor, Siri Steiner.


Henrietta Mead died in 1851 at the age of 2. Engraved on the bottom of her tombstone are the remains of a poem: "She woke the cup of life to sip,/Too bitter 'twas to drain,/She merely touched it to her lips,lAnd then she slept again."

Most of the occupants of the pioneer cemetery have long been forgotten.

But 16-year-old boy scout Adam Rea will try to recover those lost histories this summer by restoring the cemetery for his Eagle Scout Award. "I thought it was a good project for the lab, and I thought is was something interesting--atypical--for a scout to do [for his Eagle Award project]," said Bob Lootens of Roads and Grounds. 13.jpg

Lootens is Rea's advisor for the project. Fewer than 20 stones remain since the cemetery was rediscovered in 1907, hidden under a thicket of rasp­berry bushes. After a century and a half of weathering, most of the inscrip­tions are barely legible, but one can still make out a few-such as a stone dedicated to Alfred Benedict, son of Isaac and Mary Benedict, died Jan. 19, 1854, age 21, and another to Henrietta Mead, died September 15, 1851, aged 2.

Among the faded names on the stones are two clearly marked graves: that of General Th­ompson Mead, who served as a lieu­tenant in the war of 1812, and, by far the newest addition, that of Fermilab's founding director Robert Wilson, who was buried there in 2000. Rea's restoration will include resetting the grave markers, repainting the "Pioneer Cemetery" sign, and collect­ing any information that can be gleaned from the ravaged stones.

He may make rubbings of the existing markers, or sift through newspaper articles that cite epitaphs that have long since been erased. He will then display what he has learned about the buried individuals next to their graves.

 

 

 

 

 

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