THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Thirty-Nine

No. 3

 


 

 

"It Was a Hard Sight to See"
Company B, 124th Illinois Infantry, and the Vicksburg Campaign
by Eric S. Nelson
Eric Nelson, a native Batavian and a member of the Society, is a captain in the Air Force, pres­1ntly stationed in England. With Ilis permission, this article has been excerpted from a paper that he recently prepared in a master's degree program. Many readers will recall his article, "Batavia and the Civil War," that appeared in the April 1996 issue of the Historian.


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 Batavia's Adin Mann, C. H. Keller and E. F. Stafford marked with X.

 

 

In the late summer of 1862, a 46 year old surveyor named Adin Mann recruited a company of men from his hometown of Batavia, Illinois,1 and the surrounding area to serve in the Union Army for a period of three years. Mann was able to sign up the required number of volunteers between August 3 and August 15. Ninety-three men and three elected officers, led by Mann himself, reported for service to Camp Butler outside Springfield, Illinois. At Camp Butler, the company officially became Company B of the 124th Illinois Infantry Volunteer Regiment. Three of the 124th Illinois' companies had been recruited to be a rperance regiment. In these comnies there were eleven ordained and five licensed ministers. The commander of the regiment was Colonel Thomas Sloan, a college president from Chicago. On September 10, 1862, the regiment was officially mustered into service.

 

Sixty-six of the men in Company B reported themselves as farmers. The rest of the volunteers were shoemakers, millers, coopers, students, mechanics, carpenters and one each doctor, surveyor, railroad man and mason. The average age of the company was 27. The oldest man was Adin Mann himself at 46, and the youngest was John Ball, who was fourteen. Ball had enlisted with his two older brothers, Samuel, 23, and Theodore, 21. There was another set of relatives in the company -- Mann's eighteen year old son served as a private.

 

The birthplaces of the men were quite varied. The variation demonstrates the growth in the area prior to the start of the war. Although the entire company was recruited within ten miles of Batavia, only ten soldiers had even been born in Illinois. The vast majority were born in the United States; however, there were fourteen foreign-born soldiers in the company. Canada and England were each the original homes of four soldiers in the company while three were born in Ireland, two in Scotland and one in Norway.

 

At Camp Butler, the regiment had its introduction to military service. Learning to march and drill took up much of the time of the regiment, but not all. On September 8, 1862, an order came out stating: "All card playing for money or any other valuable things is t,otally prohibited in the regiment from and after this date. All card playing for amusement on the Sabbath is prohibited from and after this date." On September 27, the regiment was armed with old French rifled muskets deemed unserviceable by the regiment. Then, on October 4, 1862, the regiment suffered its first death. Company B's Canadian-born farmer, Isaiah Noakes, died of typhoid fever. The company, like most Civil War units, would lose more men to disease than combat. On October 6, the regiment left Camp Butler and was sent to Cairo, Illinois. In Cairo the men changed trains and were sent to Columbus, Kentucky.

 

Once in Columbus the regiment was ordered to Jackson, Tennessee. Prior to leaving Columbus, however, the regiment mutinied in an effort to acquire better weapons. The men had fired the French rifles in target practice. In some instances, they had fallen apart, had heated up too rapidly to be of use, and had proven completely inaccurate. Only after the commander of Columbus was called out and the men promised better weapons would they quietly get on the train to Jackson. On the way to Milliken's Bend near Vicksburg, Company B suffered two more losses. Simon Paul died February 15, and Samuel Ball died on February 22, both deaths caused by disease. The company also lost eleven more soldiers to discharge because of disability or disease. Among them was fourteen year old John Ball. Before the company would leave Milliken's Bend, Private Menard Stone, a twenty year old farmer, would become the company's fourth casualty. Like all the others, Stone died from disease.

 

On April 25, the 124th Illinois Infantry left Milliken's Bend and marched toward Grand Gulf. At approximately 3:00 p.m., the regiment was loaded aboard the Mound City to cross the Mississippi river. They landed at Bruinsburg and camped there for the night. Private Frederick Morris, in his diary, noted that all the transports were "riddled with balls, grape and canister" during the run past the Vicksburg batteries. The evening the brigade landed, Morris wrote that "the brigade band is playing, it sounds beautiful, a pleasant day and a delightful evening." Also that evening, the troops were addressed by Illinois Governor Richard Yates and Illinois Congressman E.B. Washburne, who were traveling with the army during the campaign. On May 1, the 124th Illinois started marching at 6:30 a.m. Because the day was hot and humid, the men began throwing away their blankets and overcoats. After marching about eight miles, the unit saw the first signs of~ battle. Outside of Port Gibson, Union troops were engaged with the Confederate defenders. When Logan's division came up, the First Brigade was sent to cover the Union left flank. Although the 124th and Company B were in reserve, they did fire two volleys into the Confederates -- the first shots they had fired in anger. Shortly after the 124th Illinois entered the action, the Confederates retreated andthe battle of Port Gibson was over. There were no casualties in Company B and only two in the regiment.

 

On May 3, Company B skirmished with the Confederates outside of Port Gibson. They then marched eighteen miles and camped for the next three nights about two and a half miles from the Big Black River. On the march through Port Gibson, the regiment stopped for a few hours, and Frederick Morris reported they broke into houses and stores and took "a lot of sugar, corn bread, etc ... they also found a large quantity of bacon, hams, etc." On May 5, the regimental tents finally caught up with the unit. Previously, they had been sleeping in the open. On May 12, Logan's Division fought at the Battle of Raymond. Company B was deployed as skirmishers out in front of the regiment. Once again, the company suffered no casualties; however, the regiment lost its first two soldiers in battle. Young wrote to his mother about the battlefield, "I found a pocket book that belonged to a rebel captain of the artillery. He was shot dead and someone picked his pockets. There was a great slaughter. I went over part of the ground, and it was enough for me to see the way men were shot, some all to smash. Some of the rebs that were wounded were good to us and some were saucy, but it was a hard sight to see, such a one I never want to see again."

 

The day after Raymond, Company B and the 124th Illinois marched to Clinton, Mississippi, a distance of about eight miles. Company B was assigned to picket duty that night. The following morning the 124th commander, Colonel Sloan, was put on arrest because he slept in and did not have his men ready to march on time. Company B's Captain Adin Mann was then assigned to duty as acting major of the regiment. Meanwhile, back at Milliken's Bend on the hospital ship jashville, Company B lost another soldier to disease. Private Samuel Updyke, a 41 year old farmer, became the fifth death from the company. At 9:00 a.m., the 124th Illinois left camp as the rearguard of the division. As the men marched on May 16, they heard the sound of artillery firing. When they arrived, the Battle of Champion's Hill was three hours old. Shortly after noon, the regiment was ordered to fix bayonets and charge with their brigade. The Confederates, taken by surprise, started falling back, and soon the entire Rebel line began retreating.

 

The 124th Illinois suffered its first serious casualties of the war. They entered the battle with 350 men and lost 63 killed and wounded; however, Company B, which had been assigned to guard the brigade ammunition train, never played a direct role in the engagement and thus suffered no casualties. On May 20, the 124th Illinois took a position in the lines around Vicksburg. Two days later, Company B was detailed as skirmishers for the assault. Private Young told his mother that thecompany was ordered to charge the rebel works. "They told us there was no rebs there but we started. We had a big hill to go down, and we started on the run, and got part way down and there was about 5,000 raised up out of the rifle pits and fired on us, we got behind trees, stumps and logs." Private Morris continued the story in his  diary. "About noon I was struck by a piece of a shell or a canister shot on the instep of my left foot, which made me pretty lame. I then moved my position behind the log where half a dozen of our boys was.

 

The sun shone very hot for three to four hours, when it clouded over and rained for an hour or two. We had to lay close to the ground not daring to raise up and shoot for our own boys was just above us on the hill and their balls whistled over our heads as well as the rebel balls. It was an awful ticklish predicament to be in and such as I hope never to be in again during this infernal and  cursed rebellion. We laid until dark when our and the enemy's shooting had pretty much ceased. Then we got out of the hollow as fast as we knew how." Other than Private Morris being hit in the foot with a spent ball, miraculously no one in the company was hurt or killed. On June 2, the men were issued clothing items. Private Young received two pairs of socks, a pair of shoes and a hat. Although siege warfare is a sedentary process, the troops still were not able to fully clean themselves. On June 7, Private Young wrote home, "I have not had my clothes off to sleep since the 24th of April and gray backs (lice) are plenty."

 

As the siege wore on, little seemed to change for the men in the front lines. Young's June 7 letter started, "And still I am living and in good health. Today is the Sabbath but it does not seem so down here for the cannonade goes on as usual." On June 8, Company B lost a man who was off duty at the time -- a thirtyone year old Batavia farmer named Oscar Cooley. Sergeant Christopher Keller wrote his grandparents, "He was killed Monday evening by a musket ball ... He was in a reclining position in the house or shelter he had made, and covered with his rubber blanket, and had his feet towards the west, the direction the ball came from. His only words were 'Oh, I am shot. I am killed,' and then his voice was silent forever." As Grant and his troops tightened the noose around the Confederate army, food and other supplies began to get very scarce for Vicksburg's defenders.

 

Early in the siege, Private Young wrote home, "It is fun to hear our boys and the rebels talk on picket. The rebs have to drink sassafras tea and eat corn bread without any salt in it and a small piece of bacon. They don't get any coffee, sugar, hardtack, beans or rice or any of those things Uncle Sam feeds his boys on." Eventually the Vicksburg garrison was forced to eat mule meat. On July 3, Confederate General Pemberton asked for a conference with Grant, and the Confederates surrendered on July 4. As agreed in the terms of surrender, the Confederates marched out of their works and stacked arms. The Vicksburg Campaign ended the fiercest fighting the 124th Illinois and Company B would endure. During the campaign the regiment suffered 114 casualties in killed and wounded, while Company B lost one killed and three wounded. Before they were mustered out of the army, another seven men of Company B would die, three from wounds and four from disease.

 

At the end of its service, Company B had lost sixteen men, the majority to disease -- but it never lost a soldier to desertion during the entire three years of its service, something that not many Civil War units could claim. Adin Mann would finish the war as a brevet lieutenant colonel and commander of the 124th Illinois. 1 In 1860, the population of Batavia was 1,621 , which was double that of the 1850 census. In the election of 1860, Batavia had cast 157 votes for Stephen Douglas and 251 votes for Abraham Lincoln. Before the end of the war, over three hundred Batavia men would serve in the Union armies.

 


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Veteran Museum Volunteers Honored

 

At its March 24 meeting, the Batavia Park District presented community service awards to Society directors Marilyn Robinson and William Wood for their  services to the Depot Museum. The awards, given in collaboration with the Illinois  Park and Recreation Association and the Illinois Association of Park Districts,  recognized the recipients' "outstanding contributions and unselfish devotion  for the advancement of parks, recreation and leisure in the community and  the state of Illinois."

 

Among Marilyn Robinson's many projects with the museum, the closest to her  heart is helping third-graders through their curriculum unit on Batavia history. The  unit is based on her book for children, Little Town in a Big Woods, which received

the Illinois State Historical Society's certificate of excellence in 1990. In accepting  her latest award, Marilyn said, "Whatever I do, it's because I love history and  I love Batavia."

 

Bill Wood's specialty is genealogical research -- helping people from as far  away as Australia who write, seeking information about ancestors here. Most  days will find him at the museum doing research. Like Marilyn, Bill is modeslJ  about his contributions, stating, "What I've done is a very small return to Batavia  for what Batavia has given me -- a sense of belonging and hundreds of friends."


Mark Your Calendar

 

October 4 may seem a long way off,  but we don't want you to miss the seventh  annual Cemetery Walk. This annual  event, co-sponsored by the ACCESS  Heritage Committee and the  Society, is always popular and wellattended.  This year it will be held at  the West Side Cemetery.  You will be receiving more detailed mformation in the next few months -but

save the date!

 


 

Johnson Drug Store and Its Predecessors

 

by Bert L. Johnson

 

 

 

West Side Pharmacy -

Jed McNair and Harry Hunter

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The following story has been sum­marized from a presentation that Bert Johnson, co-president of the Histori­cal Society and the proprietor of Johnson Drug Store until 1979, made to the Society in 1991.

 

For almost one hundred years, a drug store was located at what is now 117 South Batavia Avenue. The first prescription file that we had at Johnson Drug Store was dated 1890; at that time the store, known as the West Side Pharmacy, was owned and operated by Jed McNair. Prices for prescriptions were quite reasonable in those times, averaging from 50 cents to one dollar. Most were compounded from chemicals, fluid extracts, tinctures, elixirs, and syrups --no sulfa drugs, penicillin, insulin, or antibiotics. Druggists prepared oint­ments, eyedrops, powders, supposi­tories, and cough medicines from syr­ups and other chemicals.

 

The year 1909 found a new owner of the drug store, Herman Zinno He remained there until June, 1914. Dur­ing his tenure, besides dispensing prescriptions and whatever products there were to sell, the drug store be­came a "blind pig" --a pleasant spot to visit on Sunday for spirits. Under the "Blue Laws" in effect in those years, taverns were closed on Sun­days. A druggist, however, could buy whiskey (Spiritus Frumenti) by the ~Pace 4 small barrel from the wholesale drug company, and it was sometimes pre­scribed by doctors as a kind of appe­tite stimulant --in proper doses, of course. One Sunday morning, I have been told, the local head of the minis­terial association dropped in to use the telephone; Mr. Zinn, caught off guard, hastily signaled the imbibers to retreat, and there was a mad scramble to the basement, bottles and all. A Johnson Enters the Picture Mr. Zinn decided to sell in 1914, and one Bert Napoleon Johnson, my fa­ther, purchased the store in June of that year. It became known as the Zinn & Johnson Drug Store.

 

 

Bert N., as I shall sometimes refer to him, was born in Batavia at 525 Elm Street on February 5, 1891. Follow­ing graduation from West Batavia High School in 1909 (along with Emil Benson, John Gustafson, Bertha Mann, William Sandell, Ed McAlister, Sigrid Johnson, and Mary Bergeson), he entered the College of Pharmacy at Northwestern University and was graduated in 1911. To seNe his required apprenticeship, he went to work for Tom Sanders Drug Store, corner of River and Downer Streets in Aurora. Among those whom he met while working there was Stella Oppfelt, who became Mrs. Bert N. in March of 1913. After that, he worked for one year as a druggist in Pontiac, Illinois, before returning to Batavia and purchasing the Zinn store.

 

Daily receipts at Zinn & Johnson averaged $25 to $35 a day; however, each month showed a small profit af-J,Jter paying the former owner, Mr. Zinn, what was owed him. Some of the ex­penses were rent, $25 per month; Chicago Telephone, $3.85; Western United Gas and Electric, $.50; and the City of Batavia, $1.84. Besides dispensing prescriptions and other products, in order to swell the income Father took on the B.P.S. (Best Paint Sold) agency and became a supplier of paints and related items. A self-bottled product that he had to continue for a while was whiskey for men when they left work down at the U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Co.

 

 

One time during the bottling process he dropped and broke a bottle; the odor wafted about and, 10 and behold, who should arrive to shop but Grace McWayne. As he later recounted, he quickly sprayed the store with perfume to cover the other odor. And, as soon as possible, he managed to wean customers off these bottled goods and discontinued the sales --at least for the time being. Bert N. ventured into several other pursuits at the store to make a dollar. J For one, he rented space to a Ben ~ Randolph, who had a watch repair service located in the southeast cor­ner of the store. He also was an agent for R.C.A. Victrolas ("His Master's Voice") and Pioneer radios with the C, B, and A batteries, ear phones and all. In 1923, Glen Oppfelt, my mother's brother, joined with Father in a part­nership. They opened a drug store on East Wilson, next door to the Jules Morris (later the Phipps) Department Store. Both stores were then called Johnson and Oppfelt.

 

The two existed until 1939 when William Rachielles, formerly an employee of my father's, purchased the east side store. It be­came Rachielles Drug Store and the west side store became Bert N. Johnson Rexall Store. Bert N. had great rapport with his customers, fun times, and he was caring and generous. He spoke Swed­ish quite well, and in this way could communicate with the people who were arriving from Sweden, as well as the old-timers, who loved to verse in their mother tongue. Father  was a multi-talented man, motorcycle rider, tap dancer, poet, great fisher­man, crack shot, pheasant hunter, and baseball player with the likes of Hugh Mair, Emil Benson and others.

 

Other Services Were Offered During the 1930s the two best busi­ness days were the Fourth of July and Christmas. For the Fourth the store sold all kinds of fireworks, cap guns, and paper balloons --the ones with the flammable seltzer that, when lighted, filled the balloons with hot air. As they floated away, we hoped they would never land on someone's house or haystack. Then on Christmas we had a Rexall Doll contest: after you had registered your daughter or sis­ter, for every cent purchased, she re­ceived a vote.

 

The top ten vote get­ters received a doll Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve was spent counting votes until 10 p.m. and then notifying the winners. Hazel Patzer Hawse re­cently recalled winning a doll in the contest --a very exciting time. Another service offered at the drug store was a postal substation, begin­ning in 1909. The substation sold stamps, made out money orders, reg­istered mail, and mailed packages -­a busy place at Christmas. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the store operated a Postal Telegraph Service, similar to Western Union. Messages came through a teletype machine in tape form that was trans­ferred to a message blank.

 

The mes­sage was either phoned or delivered, whichever the customer preferred. It proved worthwhile for a few years -­then the company failed. From 1922 to 1933, Spiritus Fru­menti returned. If one was in dire need of such help, the doctor would give a prescription for a pint of 16-year bonded Four Roses whiskey. One prescription a month was the limit. Ac­cording to an oft-told story, when this service came into being, many cus­tomers were paying early visits to the doctor before he had the prescription blanks. The post office employees passed the word when the blank pre­scriptions arrived. With the repeal of prohibition in 1933, this service was discontinued.

 

Another Johnson Joins the Business In 1936 I headed for college at the University of Illinois and was eventu­ally graduated from pharmacy school in Chicago in 1941. Later that year  Bert L. Johnson became a registered pharmacist. Shortly after that I entered the service of the United States Navy, returning in December, 1946. Unfortunately Bert N. died of a heart attack January 11, 1954. That very evening he had resigned his position as head of Batavia Township Repub­lican Party, an organization he had been active in as far back as 1923. At this point my mother became my non­working partner and continued so un­til about 1960. Her sight failed then, confining her to home most of the time.

 

 

She lived well cared for the re­mainder of her 90 plus years. In line with the new thinking about space usage, we discontinued the ice cream fountain in 1955. That idea proved not to be the best so, when I expanded our facilities to the building to the north in 1961, we restored the fountain and put in a sit-down counter, serving coffee and rolls along with the usual ice cream delights. We had J. Adolph Swanson cut an 8-foot hole in the common wall into the shop next door and, upon comple­tion, added extensively to our Hall­mark line, candles, stationery, school supplies and toys. Even after all the expansion in 1946, 1955, 1961, we had only about 2,700 square feet of space --small in comparison to today's drug stores.

 

By the way, we had first introduced Hallmark cards in 1941 with a two-rack display. One could buy a card for 10 cents then -­a 25-cent card was considered the best. To many protests, the ice cream fountain was finally removed --for good --in 1967. It was difficult for me to manage, but I sometimes reflect that I should have maintained it as a;~ port of call for kids, shoppers, and -& coffee drinkers --a neighborly stop. We did, however, maintain a back room coffee pot ready for certain lo­cals, particularly on Sunday mornings when many world problems were solved under the tutelage of none other than our own Phil Elfstrom. The Heart of the Business -­Our Employees In the early 1920s Bill Rachielles and Roland Koepky, both of Batavia, served as pharmacists.

 

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During World War II, Bert N. worked alone. After his death, I had the good services of phar­macists Raymond Kramer in 1955 and Ralph Conley for five years before he left to buy his own drug store in West Chicago. Then Richard C. Frick worked for me for five years before joining the staff at Delnor Hospital. Others, part-timers, included Tom Clark, Russell Leugert, Donald Larson, and my son, Richard. The people who represented the drug store up front were most impor­tant.

 

Elsie Henningson Kresser, who / began in 1928 and left in 1949, was the whole drug store herself. If Elsie had not been there during those try­ing times of depression and war, there would not have been any drug store. On occasion she would walk to work from Second Street in St. Charles! During the war, we had some no­table high school employees --Allan Benson, Marilyn Lundeen Phelps, Molly Olesen Hubbard, and Ethel Johnson (Mrs. Paul Bergeson).

 

One of my best achievements was having these four ladies who worked for me for 25 years. And there were Dorothy Dahling, Wilma Liden, Lorraine (Mrs. Ken) Olson, and Helen (formerly Mrs. Harold) Anderson. My three children, Richard, Marjorie, and Mary, worked for me during their high school years, sometimes joined by my wife, Anne, who filled in on occasion and was called the "new girl." And I must not forget the doctors who sent us prescriptions over the years --Drs. Carpenter and Scott of "'9ars ago, Bothwell, Fitts, O.W. Hubbard, Annie Spencer, John Charles West, Theodore Henning building they were located in and also the adjoining store and remodeled the two buildings into the one building which still stands there today. Mr. Herbert T. Windsor was Presi­dent of the bank at that time, and af­ter the remodeling was completed and the bank opened in the new building in 1921 or 1922 he bought a large Toledo scale and installed it in the lobby.

 

 

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The scale stands 6 feet 6 inches in height and the face measures 24 inches in diameter, registering weight up to 300 pounds. The weighing plat­form is large, often holding two or three children as they added or sub­tracted their individual weights. Asign on the scale states "Weigh with our compliments. " It was a very popular item and countless customers stepped on it to weigh themselves -free. When the bank was remodeled in 1962 the scale was moved back into the bookkeep­ing department, and people who asked about it were sent back to book­keeping to be weighed.

 

Years later the bank bought the adjoining building to years as the West Side Pharmacy, Zinn & Johnson, Bert N. Johnson Rexall Drugs, Johnson and Oppfelt, Johnson's Rexall Drug Store, and Johnson's Drug Store. the west, the old Maroma Restaurant, and the lobby of the bank was again remodeled to include the additional building. A grand opening ceremony was held in 1980 and the old Toledo scale was again placed in its former posi­tion on the west wall of the main lobby.

 

On the night of the grand opening two of Batavia's largest men made a friendly wager on who was the larg­est. Although neither Philip Elfstrom nor George Kramer reached the 300 pound level, they both came close. When the bank ceased operating at 18 E. Wilson Street at the end of 1992 the Toledo scale was moved up to the lobby of the First Chicago Bank branch on South Batavia Avenue where it still provides free weight to any and all who come in, as it has for almost eighty years.

 

 

Note: Gladys Noren worked at the Batavia National Bank from 1936 to 1974. She remembers that Mr. Windsor said that the scale had been on board a ship; she didn't know whether he meant in being transported or in being used aboard the ship.

 

 

 


What's Doing at the Museum

by Carla Hill, Director  

 

 Since the museum re-opened in March and with the beginning of warm weather, we have started to see a marked increase in the museum attendance. May and June were busy months with many of the third grade classes coming to the mu­seum as part of that Batavia History project. Chris Winter and I have just completed installing an exhibit titled "Batavia Red, White and Blue," which includes part of the museum's beautiful poster collection, information on Bernard Cigrand and Flag Day, and artifacts from World War I, World War II and Viet Nam.

 

This summer the caboose will be repaired and re-painted. Many of the boards on the west side of the caboose are very damaged and need to be replaced and the paint which is very faded needs to be redone. We will be doing some additional landscaping as the year progresses and a few minor repairs on the building. We have installed a railing at the rear of the museum on the steps leading to the Coffin Bank and we have installed an open hours sign on the front of the Depot Museum. The Summer Passport program has started, and we are beginning to see a lot of children and their families from various towns throughout Kane, DuPage, Cook and other nearby counties.

 

This is always a very popular program. Chris and I are busy making plans for the Ruble display of railroad artifacts which will be located in the front portion of the main room at the museum. We hope that the work can be started when we close for the winter in November. We have many other projects and special events that are being planned as a result of the plans that are being developed by the Society's long-range planning committee. Keep an eye out for more information as dates are firmed up and plans are made. We will also be looking for people to help with many of the special events. If you are interested in volunteering at the museum or for any of our special events, please contact me at 879-5235 or Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041

We are looking forward to a wonderful and busy summer. Take time to drop in at the museum and see what is new!


Membership and Other Matters

 

Since the last issue, Steve and Anita Nelson of Batavia have joined the Society as Life Members. Other new members (from Batavia unless otherwise noted) include Erik Ander­son Uunior member), Todd Anderson Uunior member), Helen Babb, John and Dorothy Carlson, John and Karol Clark, Harold and Marj Holbrook, Barb Jeske, Ellen Lacher Uunior member), Jacob Lacher Uunior member), Jason W. LeKander, Carol L. Leppert, Matt and Tom Linhart, Robert Ratliff fam­ily, Tim Schmitz, Dick Shewalter (St. Charles), Eleanor Smith (St. Charles), Julia Spalding Uunior member), Betty Stephano, Robert Surdynski family, Connie Sutphin (Aurora), Nicole Sutphin Uunior member, Aurora), Rob­ert Warfel (Riverside, California), Tony and Chris Winter family, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Zollner. We welcome these members and look forward to their participation in the affairs of the Soci­ety. We regret to report the deaths of members Mary L. Matteson, Ida Gertrude Hoag, Marvin H. Nelson, and Louise Glos and extend our sym­pathy to their families and friends. Besides the gift from the estate of Mary Matteson (see page 9) the So­ciety received gifts from Dr. Brendan Clifford and Mr. and Mrs. George Fairbairn (Reliance Gear Corp.) and a memorial gift from Sara M. Dworak, niece of Mary Matteson. The Society Plans for Its Future At the April meeting, the board di­rected the president to appoint a long­range planning committee, charged with making recommendations regard­ing the Society's future operations, the space and other facilities required to carry out those recommendations, and the financial resources available or needed to implement the recommen­dations. The committee is to report its findings to the board by August 31, 1998. President Johnson appointed Bill Hall (chairman), Dick Benson, Bob Brown, Carla Hill, and Marilyn Robinson to serve on the committee, with Treasurer Jerry Harris to serve as an advisor. Members are urged to con­tact any of the committee members with their suggestions.

 


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Our Biographical File Needs Your Help

The Society is preparing a biographi-the information is available to those who cal file. This file is based on notes made follow. by John Gustafson in 1960, with many A form for you to use as a guide is facts and families added by Marilyn included as an insert in this newsletter. Robinson's research --but this is only a You may give as many generations as beginning. We want to include a brief you wish --the more the better. If you family history of all members, and as have a generational chart already pre-many other Batavians as possible, for pared, a copy would be a good addition use by future researchers. The time to record history is now, Please work on it right now, while the when it is happening. You will be a part request is fresh in your mind. of that history some day, so let's be sure to this file.

 

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Summer Events Slated for Junior Members The Society has planned three activities this summer for its junior members ­-those entering third grade in the fall up to those entering ninth grade who have paid $1 dues or whose parents have bought family memberships. On June 23, junior members at the Depot Museum learned how artifacts are preserved. This gave them an opportunity to visit the third floor --an area that visitors are normally barred from with a "No Admittance" sign at the foot of the steps.

 

There they saw where documents used for historic research and items for which display space is not available are stored. This is also where donated items are catalogued and prepared for preservation. In July, junior members will serve as docent for a day, working with an adult volunteer, and in August, they will help the curator, Carla Hill, prepare a mu­seum display on medicine and early medical practices in Batavia.

 

Irene Wood in 1892 event in which Anyone wishing to become a junior member of the Society or desiring more each store had a girl dressed to information about the youth program should call Carla at 879-5235.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irene Wood in 1892 event in which

each store had a girl dressed to

represent it.

 


Summer Events Slated for Junior Members

 

The Society has planned three activities this summer for its junior members -  those entering third grade in the fall up to those entering ninth grade who have  paid $1 dues or whose parents have bought family memberships.  On June 23, junior members at the Depot Museum learned how artifacts are  preserved. This gave them an opportunity to visit the third floor -- an area that  visitors are normally barred from with a "No Admittance" sign at the foot of the

steps. There they saw where documents used for historic research and items  for which display space is not available are stored. This is also where donated  items are catalogued and prepared for preservation.  In July, junior members will serve as docent for a day, working with an adult  volunteer, and in August, they will help the curator, Carla Hill, prepare a museum  display on medicine and early medical practices in Batavia.  Anyone wishing to become a junior member of the Society or desiring more information about the youth program should call Carla at 879-5235.

 


 

A Young Child's Memory of the Harvest of Grain

 

Our readers always look forward to something new from Helen Anderson. With her warm, personal stories about growing up on the Bartelt family farm in Batavia township, she is one of our most popular contributors. The picture below is of Helen as a young child.

 

by Helen Bartelt Anderson

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As the harvest neared, Papa walked to the fields to check on the ripeness of the wheat and oats. Wheat was always harvested first. Being very hardy, the seeds were planted in the fall. I always felt big if Papa asked me to walk with him. There was a lot of preparation be­fore threshing began. The large bins where the grain was to be stored had to be cleaned, horses' harnesses had to be in good repair, and the grainbinder had to be cleaned, greased and oiled. Finally, the day arrived when Papa hitched up his three horses to the binder and started cutting the wheat. Other men picked up the bundles from the binder and set them into shocks --nine bundles set up straight with one spread out to cover the top. This prevented the rain from soaking them and also kept the grains of wheat from shelling out. McCullough, a slightly retarded man who lived with us and did chores forMy brother, Roger, and I watched breakfast. ~,nd waited until one evening the big steam engine, with a loud blast of its By the end of breakfast, the pies whistle, rolled into our yard. There had been baked, dishes put to soak, and Mama was off to town to deliver were several different threshing "rings" around. The one Papa be­the eight big cans of milk to the dairy longed to consisted of four neighbors. and pick up the big roast for the They took turns in using the engine threshers' dinner.

 

Mama would hurry and separator, which were jointly home, put the roast in the oven and owned. I believe Wilbur Hawks was more wood on the fire, and get on with engineer, and Papa kept the big sepa­dinner preparations -all of this before rator running. It was fun and exciting 8:00 a.m.! I am sure Roger and I were to watch the farmers come on their kept busy doing errands. And the next hayracks, pulled by strong, peppy day would be a repeat --also the day after that. horses --the horses and men equally excited and happy to be working to­I remember watching the wagon wards the end of the harvest. loads of bundles come from the field. Bundle after bundle was fed into the Threshing days started early. At about 6:00 a.m. the engine man blew threshing machine, where the grain two blasts, which told the neighbors was separated from the straw. By that all systems were "Go." I believe all the farmers in the ring were dairy farmers, which meant that before they started the threshing, the cows had to be milked. By the time the whistle blew, Papa had finished with milking, the milk cans were all in the cooling tank, Mama was putting her pies in the oven, Roger was already up, and.

 

I was rubbing my sleepy eyes. I dnelled the coffee, bacon, eggs and fried potatoes that Mama served to the engine man, Papa, Uncle Charlie, Roger and me, as well as Fred means of a long spout, the wheat went into a box wagon. The shiny, yellow straw was blown onto a mountain­sized stack in the yard. Roger and I wanted so much to jump into that soft straw stack, but we had to follow Papa's rules. We had to stay away from the engine and separator and watch for the men driving the horses on the hayracks, not play there or in the grain bin in the barn. Giving the men a good, nourishing meal was very important to Mama and Papa. The threshers worked very hard and really needed good food. As soon as the meal was ready, Mama sent us to tell Papa, and he would call to the men, "Dinner's ready!" Papa had put up a bench in the yard with soap, water, towels, and even a mirror and comb fastened to a tree so they could comb their hair. It must have been a treat to them as they walked into the dining room. Mama always used her big white tablecloth and water glasses with ice-cold water from our deep well.

 

The food was passed, and each man ate his fill. Mama served the same food each day, but there was no com­plaint because she was a good Penn­sylvania Dutch cook. Roast beef was the most popular except fish on Fri­days because most of our neighbors were Roman Catholics. The dining room table, when stretched out, could seat fifteen or six­teen men. If there were more, they had to wait. Mama was always pleased when every single man said thank you as he left. The men sat on the ground to rest for about half an hour and were ready to go again. It was a time for neighbors who seldom got together socially to exchange ideas, brag about achievements, and tell many stories. Farmers knew all about cooperation and teamwork. Many strong hands and strong backs were needed to complete the harvest.

 

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Grain Harvest Crew (Identifications lost)  

 


Mary Matteson Bequest to the Society

The Society recently received a $10,000 charitable contribution from the estate of the late Mary Louise Marcuson Matteson, who was a Life Member and had served as a museum volunteer. In addition her niece, Sally Martin Dworak of EI Paso, Texas, sent a memorial gift -- For Batavia Depot Museum in loving memory of my dear aunt Mary Louise Marcuson Matteson 1908-1998 with fond memories of Batavia and your fine museum The Society is grateful for both gifts and will use the money for a purpose to be designated in memory of Mary Matteson.

 


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