Volume Thirty-Nine

No. 4


Do you remember the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railway, referred to by some as the "Third

Rail"? Today, with one small exception, the Batavia branch of the railroad is a bicycle path that

many of us have ridden without knowing, or reflecting on, its history. Steve Lusted had wanted to

tell our readers about it and gaveus the following story only three days before his death from a

heart attack on August 3, 1998. We are especially glad to publish this history and hope that it will

serve as a memorial for his family and many friends.


The Batavia and Eastern Railway Company and Successors by Steven W. Lusted, Jr. Do you remember the Chi­cago, Aurora & Elgin Railway, referred to by some as the "Third Rail"? Today, with one small ex­ception, the Batavia branch of the railroad is a bicycle path that many of us have ridden without knowing, or reflecting on, its his­tory. Steve Lusted had wanted to tell our readers about it and gave us the following story only three days before his death from a heart attack on August 3, 1998. We are especially glad to publish this history and hope that it will serve as a memorial for his fam­ily and many friends. vol39Num_4_1.jpg


The Batavia & Eastern Railway Company was incorporated February 21, 1901, to obtain right of way and franchises and to construct a rail line between Batavia and the Eola Junc­tion on the Aurora Branch of the Au­rora, Wheaton & Chicago Railway, a subsidiary of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railway.


This line was to serve the huge CA&E powerhouse and pro­vide a right of way to erect electric transmission lines to service the CA&E substations. The Batavia & Eastern lasted only until March, 1902, when it was merged into the AW&C. Freight service never became sig­nificant on the branch, being limited to a few carloads a year that were unloaded on a team track close to the Batavia station.


Although plans to im­prove freight service by running a track either across the Fox River to the south end of the Island or north on River Street and then across to the Island were formulated in early 1917, nothing came of them.


The real im­pact of the line, which lives in the memories of many older residents of the area, lay in its passenger service. After my family moved to Batavia in September of 1948 while I was a teenager, I would spend time around the CA&E Batavia station, located on the east side of the Fox River and the south side of Wilson Street. The sta­tion at that time consisted of a covered Wilson Street Station where a stairway led down from Wilson Street to the platform level and a small area at the north end of the platform that had a roof.


The ticket office was located on the street level in the jew­elry store owned by Eddie Hunt, and Jack and Oma Capocasa had a res­taurant at the platform level. The single car shuttled back and forth between Eola Junction, called Batavia Junction after 1912, and Batavia, from the first trip in the morning to the last at night, when the car would run back to the shop in Wheaton.


My first recollec­tion was of the kindly conductor, Joseph Schramer, who would take time to talk to a kid during the layover,

while also feeding the ducks that abounded along the river bank. A resident of Batavia, Mr. Schramer always wore

his blue uniform coat and hat, no mattter how hot the weather was, and on his coat lapel there was usually a red rose. At that time, he was probably of the more senior conductors and had bid this easy run where there was not too muchwork. I can't recall who the motorman was.


The crews would spend time Batavia standing out on the platform in good weather, looking at the river and noting the time on their official railroad pocket watches. Just prior to the scheduled departure time, the motormanwould board the front of the and close the door. The conductor would check up the stairs to WiIson Street and then board the car, shut the door,and reach up, giving the bell rope two pulls. Upon hearing the two bells,themotorman would releasethe brakes and notch up the control and away the car would go.


The trip toward Batavia Junction the rail. was south, paralleling the river, with the first stop at the powerhouse Glenwood Park.This stop at one time had a platform for faster loading and unloadint the crowds going to and from Glenwood park; the cars from the elevated railroad in Chicago could be used for the large picnics. Since the poerhouse had closed in the late 1920s and Glenwood Park in 1933 or 1934, the wood platfrom had been removed, and a cinder ground-level platrorm replaced it. The shelter was lowered to ground-level.


 Supposedly this stop was kept active because there was at least one commuter who lived on the west side of the river in the Colonial Village area and crossed the river on the foot bridge located atop the powerhouse dam. It was at this point that the trolley pole was put up, and power for the car was changed to an overhead wire from the third rail.


It appears that this change had reported in the Batavia Herald of May suited from a serious accident. As re ported Strangely enough, 19, 1933, "Florence Pitz, 9 year old daughter of Mr.and Mrs.Wendell Pitz, 36 N. Prairie Street, is winning her fight for life ... Florence had been pickingflowers along the third rail with her sister, Betty, and a chum, Dawn Stadler, when she stumbled and fell onto the high rail ... Freeman Young of Aurora,- who was fishing nearby, was attracted by her screams and the cries of the other  two children and ran to her aid, prying her unconscious form from the rail. She was rushed across River Street to the Lynse home. Mrs. Lynse, her two daughters and Charles Santini of Aurora, a male nurse at Copley Hospital, just drove up. Mr. Santini applied artificial respiration while Mrs. Lynse phoned in vain for a doctor. Finally Dr. O.B Simon, of Batavia returning from the golf course, was flagged down by State Patrolman W. J. Spauling.




Dr. Simon promptly rushed the little girl to the Community Hospital for treatment." John F. Petit of Batavia, then the state, representative from this district led the drive to have the third rail removed within the town.


After the powerhouse, the line ran through Glenwood Park and turned east. In making this turn, the branch passed under Illinois Route 25 and the Burlington Railroad. At this point there was a steady rise in the grade of about 120 feet to Wagner Road,a distanceof about one and one-third miles.


This grade is quite noticeable to anyone walking this part of today's bicycle path. The stops along this grade were  Raddant Road (in the early years), Wagner Road, State (now Butterfield) Road, Bilter Road, and the junction. Each of the stops had a

shel­ter, semaphore stop signal, and cin­der platform.


State Road had a dia­mond-shaped concrete pier set in the center of the highway with a wig-wag signal and bell; later this was changed to wig-wags on the side of the road and a set of gates.


The shelter was located on the south side of the high­way where there were a half dozen or so houses. All these stops were out in the country, but the CA&E would not have kept them unless there was some passenger traffic.


Each of the stops had a semaphore stop signal --a metal pole with a three­foot arm near the top. Attached to this arm was a chain that could be pulled to raise the arm to the horizontal po­sition, signaling the motorman to stop.


Upon seeing the signal, the motorman would give two short toots on the whistle, and the passenger would un­,ook the chain to lower the arm. Oc­0asionally someone would forget to raise the signal, and the car would go by the shelter, then have to back up. This usually brought on a lesson from the conductor on the proper use of the semaphore. Arriving at Batavia Junction, just west of Eola Road and south of today's 1-88, the shuttle car kept on the branch, stopping where the plat­form went across to the Aurora branch platform.


The passengers going east or west would usually find the car(s) from Aurora arriving at this time, so they did not have to use the small room in bad weather to wait for their connection. An elevated platform was erected there in 1926, allowing passengers to cross without stepping down and then up. The Aurora branch side had a long enough platform to provide for a three­car train. Initially there was no shelter as the passengers waited in the Batavia car for the arrival of an Au­rora branch car, but in 1930 a canopy over the platform was added. During the summer, the crews wait­ing for the next train cared for a veg­etable garden at the junction. They used a milk can to haul water from Batavia to the garden.


The car(s) from Chicago bound for Aurora would glide to a stop at the junction. The Batavia passengers, few except at rush house, would walk across the platform and board the Batavia car. Sometimes a bundle of Chicago newspapers destined for the Batavia News Agency would be trans­ferred to the head-end vestibule. On the trip back to Batavia, the first stop might be State Road. Here the third rail ended at the state highway right of way on each side, and there was a stretch of overhead wire across a road.


If the train had to stop to let a passenger off, the trolley pole then had to be used to get across the high­way. From Hart Road to the Fox River was the best part of the trip. The down grade increased, and the trees grew almost to the tracks, with some out­cropping of limestone near the Burlington overpass. The whole branch was notorious for its rocking and rolling, but in this area a car seemed to go as far side to side as it did forward. After the CUNe near the Burlington and Route 25 bridges came the shelter and cinder platform of the powerhouse; here the third rail ended and an overhead line with trol­leys, supplied the power. The track was straight from the powerhouse into the Batavia terminal. If, as was usually the case, no pas­sengers were getting off at the pow­erhouse stop, the motorman would shut off the controller and coast into the terminal.


This was not done on cars that had leaking brake systems. The bumper post at the Batavia ter­minal was hit more than once --the reason, I was told, wet or icy rails. Harold Poss of Aurora told me that in the 1939-1943 period he rode the CA&E from his farm home on Bilter Road to Batavia to attend high school. The monthly ticket was $2.82, which was paid for by the State of Illinois since he lived outside any established school district. Other students, he re­membered, boarded at Butterfield Road, Wagner Road, and Hart Road.


A timetable for June, 1945, lists 24 round trips between Batavia and Chi­cago on weekdays, 26 on Saturdays, and 18 on Sundays and holidays. One of the trips, nicknamed the "Cannon­ball," left at 7:56 a.m. and arrived in Ci'1icago at Wells Street terminal at 8:55. The westbound Cannonball left Chicago at 4:55 p.m. and arrived in Batavia at 5:55. One hour to and from the Loop with no traffic problems!


In the summer of 1953 the Illinois Commerce Commission gave the CA&E permission to use motor coach seNice during non-rush hours, week­ends and holidays on the Batavia branch. Four years later, on July 3, shortly after noon, a judge allowed the CA&E to abandon passenger seNice. Fearful of a court order to continue seNice, the CA&E discontinued all passenger seNice immediately. Many commuters were stranded in Chicago or other stations.


A crew had to be sent by auto from Wheaton to bring back the car sitting in the Batavia station awaiting the rush hour trips. Thus ended 55 years of seNice to Batavia. Today, with one small exception around 1-88, the right of way is a bi­cycle path.


Ed. note. In Batavia Revisited, Tho­mas A. Mair relates that on one occa­sion " ... 52 tons (of railroad cars) made themselves recognized. At about 4:30 in the morning of May 27, 1911, one of the ... freight cars was headed for Batavia from Eola Junc­tion, when the brakes failed just west of the Wagner Road crossing. The road bed being all down grade from there into Batavia, the result was fore­ordained. After the motorman burned out the fuses by trying to reverse the motors, it was all down hill in more than one sense.


The car picked up speed, hung to the rails through the CUNe just past Route 25, and made it to the bumper at the Batavia station with momentum to spare. The bumper made some impression, but not nearly enough; the car continued on through it, through the platform and finally stopped partially embedded in the stone and brick wall of the transfer station and coffee shop.


With no pas­sengers on board and none waiting at that hour of the day, no one was hurt, but the car was severely bent and so was the building."


For further information on the CA&E and a num­ber of interesting anecdotes, read Chapters XII-XIV of Mair's book (avail­able for sale at the Depot Museum).




The Search for Cpl. Isaac S. Hedges

by William J. Wood


Dr. Brendan Clifford of Encinitas, California, recently visited here to ac­quaint himself with the Batavia of the Civil War era. He is planning to pub­lish a book based on the Civil War di­ary of Captain John S. Hedges of Batavia, who served in Company I of the 42nd Illinois Infantry. Through his intensive reading and interpretation of the diary, the many related govern­mental and civil documents he had collected, and his correspondence with Carla Hill and me, he felt at home in that era.


He had come to feel that he really knew Captain Hedges and the many per­sons hewrote of in his diary, all withold Batavianames. His first stop in Batavia was at the West Side Cem­etery where, in his own words, "I vis­ited with the Wolcotts, Derbys, Newtons and many others whose names are so familiar to me." He also met and him a furlough and we came home to Batavia, Illinois.We arrived in Batavia at 11o'clock and at sunset he ceased to breathe."


The eulogy of his commanding of­ficer ,Capt. Adin Mann, tells us that"... he came home emaciated with dis­ease on the 15th of August, 1863, to breathe out his last farewell to earth on the eve of the same day, sur­rounded by his sorrowing parents, brother and sisters. His age was 22 years and 10 months. He is gone: hush mourners, for he sleeps."




There was no record of place of burial. A visit to the Congre­gational Church in Batavia and the graveyard at the church on Eola Road yielded no in­formation. Dr. Clif­ford returned to California with the hope that we here in Batavia might be able to solve the mystery. In the northeast sec­tion of the cem­etery, an old stone, lying flush with the visited with two Jason LeKander and Kyle Hohman grass, reads: "Pru­very much alive young men, Jason LeKander, sexton of the West Side Cemetery, and his summer helper, Kyle Hohmann.


Both became interested in Dr. Clifford's work and eventually solved a mystery for him and the Batavia Historical So­ciety. Captain Hedges' diary disclosed that a younger brother, Isaac S. Hedges, was also a participant in the war, serving in Company B of the 124th Illinois Infantry.


Isaac died Au­gust 15,1863,at Batavia while on sick furlough from an Army hospital in St. Louis. A letter written by his mother, Martha, tells a heartbreaking story: "In July of 1863 after the surrender of Vicksburg Isaac was sent up river to Lawson Hospital with others at St.Louis. When we heard how low he was, I went to him as his father could not ... He commenced to gain and I remained with him a few days and helped to care for him ... They gave dence, Wife of Capt. Isaac Hedges, died Mar. 1, 1854, Aged 84 Years." No other stones are on the lot.


Considering the similarity of the names and year of Prudence's birth, we thought it pos­sible that she could be Cpl. Isaac's grandmother and the wife of a Revo­lutionary War soldier.


After a group discussion in which all agreed with this assumption, Jason LeKander and Kyle Hohmann went into action. Prob­ing the area near Prudence's stone .... ' they began hitting multiple pieces of stone in close proximity to one an­other. Excavating the top layer of soil they found a broken headsstone and began fitting the many pieces to­gether.The top part of the stone isstill missing except for the date, 1863. Next line down begins: "Soldier, Rest! Thy warfare o'er, Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking; Dream of battle­fields no more, Days of danger, nights of waking. Aged 22 yrs. 10 mo. 7 days."


A few days later a government document listing all veterans buried in the West Side Cemetery was found, confirming that Cpl. Isaac S. Hedges, Army, Co. B, 124th III. Inf., died Au­gust 15, 1863, and was buried in Lot 11 with a personal headstone. Cpl. Isaac's final resting place is no longer unknown. Jason and Kyle also uncov­ered the foundation stone for Prudence's headstone. The pieces of Isaac's headstone will be bonded together --in time, we hope, for the October 4, 1998, Batavia Cemetery Walk.


In Marilyn Robinson's script, Isaac will join Charles Pindar and Durkee Whipple, two other Civil War veterans who lie nearby, in tell­ing their stories. All three died in their twenties.


Grand Army af the R.epublic -Past #40 Batavia Men Who Helped Preserve the Union  
by Marilyn Robinson
The Grand Army of the Repub­lic, an organization of Union vet­erans of the Civil War, was founded in Springfield, Illinois, in 1866, in "defense of the late sol­diery of the United States, mor­ally, socially, and politically."
At its peak in 1890, the GAR had over 400,000 members nation-wide and was a significant political force for many years. vol39Num_4_4.jpg

Three companies of men were re­cruited from Batavia during the War between the States in 1861-65.


Names of 299 men are on the New­ton Soldiers' Monument in the West Batavia Cemetery.


These are men who lived in Batavia when they were mustered into the military.


According to an article written by John Gustafson, eight of Batavia's soldiers were killed in action and six­teen more died in army hospitals, in "'muthern prison camps, or at home on sjck leave.


Following the war, veterans return­ing to Batavia formed a post of the Grand Army of the Republic.



In the early days, there were more than 130 members in Post #48. Almost all of the men belonging to the post were resi­dents of the city. Post #48 originally met two times every month on Friday evenings. Min­utes at the Depot Museum indicate that little business was conducted af­ter 1910 except for resolutions of con­dolences for illness or death of its members. Election and installation of officers took place every year until the end, and occasionally a member was chosen to attend a state encampment.


The post always participated in Deco­ration Day programs, the holiday es­tablished to honor deceased Civil War veterans. By 1925 it appears from the min­utes that each surviving member had to hold an office or two. As the group dwindled, the men began meeting in members' homes. In 1926 Daniel Zollers and James Fredendall died.


In 1927 the post gave the Batavia American Legion post the $100 in Lib­erty Bonds it owned and passed to the The Batavia Historian Picture taken before 1912at Seymour A. Wolcott home on Union Avenue. post the duty of tending to veterans' graves in Batavia cemeteries. From 1927 on, the post met at James Stewart's home on East Wil­son Street (now the vacant lot in the 100 block).


By then, there were only four members left, Stewart, Henry K. Wolcott, S.A. Wolcott and Charles Barnes. Barnes was too ill to attend the meetings and died in August, 1928. The remaining three men continued to meet in Stewart's home, electing officers in December, installing them in January, and paying national dues. By now each man had to hold several offices. H.K. Wolcott died in 1932, and the remaining two men continued to meet.


After Stewart's death in October, 1934, Seymour A. Wolcott gave the $5.00 in the treasury to the Women's Relief Corps and discharged the post. He was killed in an automobile accident in Wisconsin in September, 1940 -- the last of Batavia's Civil War veterans.


Batavians I Have Known - Don Schielke

by William J. Wood


It was my good fortune as a com­parative newcomer to Batavia (53 years ago!) to gain as a friend a life­long Batavian, a fifth generation resi­dent with links to some of the earliest settlers of our community. He was a person who, for almost 80 years, lived in and greatly loved his hometown as it grew from a town of some 4,000 citi­zens to a city with almost 23,000 in­habitants.


In all those years, among all those people, Don Schielke left his own mark on Batavia. Don had a great interest in history, believing that, if we hope to under­stand the present, we must know the history behind it, whether it is world history or the history of Batavia.


In 1943 Don's army unit was based in southern England while waiting for D­-Day. Within walking distance of his­toric Stonehenge, Don visited it sev­eral times, standing in awe at the site and reflecting on its history. He was unable to get any of his buddies inter­ested enough to accompany him to what they perceived as a "pile of old stones." He often pondered on why a sense of history was lacking in these men. Here in Batavia Don had been raised with a sense of history and felt that he and his family were part of that history. His time spent in the family store gave him a feeling of "connectedness" with the past and current life of his community.


His only regret about his years of working in Aurora was that from morning until evening he was not sharing in community life in Batavia and the making of its history through daily life. In later years Don's volunteering at the Depot Museum gave him an opportunity to share with others, particularly newcomers, a knowledge of our local history. His membership in the TASC (Tuesday Afternoon Senility Club) was a great source of enjoyment for him as the group (including several classmates) worked on projects for the Batavia Historical Society.


At times the work was pure gossip -- but always with an historical bent! It was a rare Tuesday afternoon that he did not leave his spot at the dining room table to fetch a book from another room -- a book on Batavia history to settle some question being debated by the members. Don was a giving/sharing person. His giving/sharing was most evident in his willingness to share what meant the most to him -- his son -- with individuals and with his city. He was proud of his son, proud of the son's part, as mayor for many years, in the making of Batavia history -- but that pride was never tinged with arrogance. Friends were very important to Don, especially his classmates.


Some were classmates for twelve years, some for only the four years spent at Batavia High School. They were a close-knit group who enjoyed the society of one another year after year. Don, however, was always adding new friends to his list. He had the unique gift of relating with and to the younger generations.


They returned that friendship and counted Don as a very special person in their lives. We miss the physical presence of Don but retain another special presence and are truly grateful for our time spent with him and his effect on our lives.


"God gave us memories so that we may have roses in December."





Board of Directors Meeting August 13, 1998


The Plaque Committee reported they had met to review the Home Plaqueing procedure and presented revised forms for the Board's approval. The Board adopted the revised forms of the following documents: "Historic Structure Plaque Policy" "Procedure for the Issuance of Historic Structure Plaques" and correspondence to applicants. -Application for a plaque was approved for the home of Eric and Linda Sailor at 315 North Prairie Street, with a date of 1892. -A Program Committee has been established consisting of Dick Benson, Ruth Burnham, and Patty Will. -A request for a county grant from the Elgin Casino has been approved. The Society will receive $16,500, part of which will be used for Riverwalk plaques.  


General Meeting

September 20, 1998


Mr. and Mrs. Morris Johnson requested that people planning to attend the Cemetery Walk on October 4 purchase tickets ahead of time if possible. Tickets are $3.00 if purchased in advance, and $4.00 if purchased at the cemetery. Volunteers are needed. -Mrs. Martha Cox told members about the small houses being planned for the "Home for the Holidays" event on the Riverwalk and said assistance will be much appreciated. -Librarian Margo Cooper told about the plans for the new library and that a special area will be designated for genealogical and historical research. -Ruth Johnsen urged all to take advantage of the free trolley rides around Batavia on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 -5:00 through September. -Marilyn Robinson narrated an interesting slide program on the 44 plaqued buildings in Batavia. The script, prepared by Marilyn, highlighted historical and architectural aspects of the buildings.





First Baptist Church of Batavia

Its First 100 Years -- 1836 - 1936


Seventh in a series on the churches of Batavia, the following is taken from One Hundred Fifty Years of the First Baptist Church of Batavia, published for the church's sesquicentennial in 1986. The first section of the history, which had been written by an unidentified author at the time of the church's Centennial in 1936, evidences such candor and humor, but withal faith in the church's ability to overcome obstacles that kept arising, that we present it here in abridged form, using the author's own words. Only where there was a need for summary or transition have we used our own words, which are presented in italics.

vol39Num_4_8.jpg Andrew Jackson was President of the United States when the church began. Still in the possession of the church is the first minute book with the record of organization. The ink is a sepia for the most part, and in spots rather faint after its long useful career. The title page is inscribed: "Church Record of the Regular Baptist Church of Christ at Big Wood, Fox River, illi­nois."


The first entry is dated June 16, 1836, and reads as follows: " .. Resolved that in the opinion of the meeting the time has arrived when it is expedient to associate together in church relation and to present ourselves for the fellowship  of sister churches." This is followed by the names of eight people: Isaac Wilson, Susanna Wilson, Major Osborn, Sophia Osborn, Lawrin Hurlbut, William E. Bent, Lucetta W. Bent, and Fanny L. Wilson.


Other sources list the names of five more, making thirteen in all. It was the practice of that period to hold "Covenant" meetings preparatory to Communion, in which prayer and testimony were given and business transacted. From the various entries regarding these Covenant meetings a rough sketch of the situation of the little church body can be imagined.


The group had no building of their own and met quite frequently at the home of Judge Isaac Wilson, who was also the clerk for some years, or in the local school-house. In 1844, we have the record that three Covenant meetings were held in the Presbyte­rian Church, one in the Congrega­tional, and another in the Episcopal! Having no church home, they conse­quently had no baptistry and the Fox river was utilized when needed.


The following minute of April 6, 1845, is &  an interesting thumbnail sketch of what must have taken place many times: The Batavia Historian ' "Lord's Day, after preaching by Elder Dudley, repaired to the waterside of the Fox River, and, after singing and went down into the water and Brother Martin was bur­ied in water baptism and on the bank received the right hand of fel­lowship and closed the pleasing scene by prayer. Isaac Wilson, Church Clerk." The minutes are by no means musty or filled with dry notations at this period, e.g. we have a letter of May 6, 1844, reproduced in entirety, which was sent by the church to a former brother who had committed the crime of joining the Methodist Church! We quote one phrase or two to give the flavor of it.


"We sincerely desire that you would review this whole subject and be fully persuaded that you are building on the right foundation with gold tried in the fire." Some idea of the membership is gleaned from the figures of 1844, when 45 members were reported, and again, in 1846, when 53 members were reported. In the last statement, 40 were listed as reSident, but the poor attendances at the covenant meetings are indicative of a low spiritual and fra­ternallife. The year of 1849 seems to be (from the record) one of general depression fo~the little church. In a February 11th minute we read: "The prospect of erecting a house of worShip this sea­son was talked over among the memo bers. Circumstances unfavorable, and rather a dark day for the church."


The next item of March 10 has but one sentence but speaks volumes: "Mem· bers did not attend meeting today." Again on August 25, "few in atten­dance; some detained by sickness, harvesting, etc., but some others probably from cold indifference." OUT' ing this year even the ink of the records seemed to share in the sense of weakness and remains a very faint brown! On January 1,1850, the tide of de· pression seems to have turned for the church. The work seemed to thrive under Elder Hovey (the new part·time pastor), so that on February 16, 1850, we read that his full time service could be secured for $450 a year, which was accepted. At the same meeting there is the entry: "On motion voted that there be a committee of five appointed to take into consideration the proprio ety of building a meeting house" ". which committee was appointed. The details of the erection of this first building are not recorded, but in the church letter to the Association held in Naperville and dated June 5, 1850, we read: "Dear Brethren: Since our last annual epistle there has been a great change in our prospects. We commenced the year with dark clouds hanging over us; some of the dear brethren were well nigh discouraged; but of late we have felt to enquire 'what shall we render to our God for all his kindness shown.' During the year Brother Hovey preached to us occa· sionally.


The forefront of January we commenced a series of meetings and ~rother Hovey remained with us, and In answer to prayer the Lord blessed his labors to the upbuilding of Zion. The church was revived ... we have just completed a house of worship and would cordially invite our brethren with their pastor to meet with us on Thursday next week when we wish them with us to celebrate the goodness of God in consecrating our house to his worship." Thus in 1850, after fourteen

years without a church home, the first building was erected ... At that time also the name of the church was

changed to "The First Baptist Church of Batavia." Finances were always a pressing, problem.


In the fall of 1851 a committee was appointed to work out a scheme where each member would pay "an equitable and just tax according to (his) property or ... ability to pay." Anyone who yearns for the "good Old Days" in church work should reflect on this minute! On May 22, 1852, a certain brother was charged with the following: , 1st--for neglecting covenant of the church and also absenting himself from communion for years and publicly boasting of the same. 2nd--for being a railer. 3rd--for threatening to shoot a man or take his life on his way to California 4th--for offering a reward for some one to take the life of another man by drowning or some other way. 5th--for slander. 6th--for dishonesty. ... Charges #1 and #2 were sustained and ... the brother confessed #3 at a subsequent meeting!


There followed a period of dissention and the above member with some eight others started a Campbellite Church in opposition. The associationalletter of 1853 reads like Jeremiah's lament interspersed with quotations of apostolic optimism for which it is difficult to see a basis. The minutes were very frank at times and display a desire to record truth rather than conciliatory nothings. For example, on March 11, 1854, with five men and one woman in attendance at Covenant Meeting the clerk stated that they all expressed "sorrow for the stupidity of the church." A Home Mission Society worker, Rev. J.M. Cochran, took up the pastoral work on April 8, 1854, and the church shows signs of progress under

his ministry. In the associational letter of June 1855, we read that "we have enjoyed an almost unbroken

season of rest from internal dissension, discord and strife."


And again in of June 1856, we discover the Sabbath School scholars now 100, with 33 volumes in the library and the church membership at 71. An interesting note in the church benevolence at this date is $11.61 given for the Liberation of Slaves.


Feelings were evidently intense between denominations during these early years. On May 4, 1856, there was a baptismal service in the Fox River and the clerk writes that there was a large congregation to witness it "among whom was the celebrated Campbellite preacher, M.N. Lord, who appeared more like a spy in the camp of Israel than like a Saint, may God convert his souL"


Much could be written of the pungent entries in these old minute books. On August 9, 1856, we have this: "Met for Covenant meeting, but only 2 or 3 present, scarcely enough to claim the promise." (Referring of course to Matthew 18:20 -- "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.") In the associational letter of 1864 we read: "our prayer to God is that, this branch of Zion may become strong," yet when the statistics are placed side by side they reveal a steady decrease through the years from 1859, which marked the peak of membership -- 98. In 1861 there were 86; in 1862, 66; in 1863, 62; in 1864, 59; in 1865, 47.


It appears as though the Lord was answering prayer on theprinciple of Gideon's army, where the untried and unfit were systematically weeded out! The story of the next twenty years or so shows a succession of pastors,most of whom served only a year or  so, and recurring financial problems.One of the outstanding  pastors came in March, 1886, Rev. G.M. Daniels. Things were none too bright when he came for the trustees had to borrow $100 in November of that year to pay his salary! The 50th anniversary of the church was notcelebrated in any way so far as the minutes show, arrangements for such being "postponed indefinitely."


On April 4, 1887, a business meeting was called for the express purpose of considering the building of a new. church. The following resolution was read and accepted: "Resolved that the Trustees be authorized to sell the parsonage when $2,000 have been sub­scribed; this together with the sum realized from sale of par­sonage and what can be raised from every available source be expended in the erection of a new church edifice at the earli­est opportunity." ... The first enthusiasm waned, for election was delayed and not until De­cember 1889 was the old church building sold for $100. The minutes do not record the date of laying the foundation stone or when the build­ing was completed, but from other sources we learn that it was dedicated on March 17, 1889. The church building and furnishings cost $8,600 of which $7,283 had been paid by former subscriptions, leaving a debt of $1,317 to be met.


Monday evening the pleasant eloquence and native wit of Dr. Rowlands and Elder Hobbs kept the people in such a happy frame of mind that the amount was soon raised; and when, notwith­standing the "doubting Thomases" the Clerk announced that the amount of indebtedness had been raised, the vast congregation made the walls re­sound with "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow."


Again the church became lax in money matters and on June 2, 1892, owed the pastor $243.33. This was fol­lowed by his resignation in August and his removal on October 30, 1892. The next decade shows continuing financial orobfems and pastoral turnover. Rev. R. Marshall was invited to serve and assumed full charge on August 4, 1901. We notice a minute First Baptist Church of Batavia referring to a union service held in the [Methodist] Church on the evening of September 15, 1901 on account of the death of President McKinley.


After a long absence of statistics from the minutes we were glad to see them resumed in the annual report of January 1902. There the membership is reported as 107. In January 1903 Rev. Marshall resigned but offered to supply the pulpit for $10 a Sunday until other plans were formulated . As he had been paid nearly $20 a week at his inauguration it looks as though fi­nancial problems had again played bogey man in the Baptist Church.


The next twenty-five years show the church see-sawing between periods of prosperity and periods of financial crisis. This reffected itself in a continu­ing turnover of pastors, at least one seemingly leaving without his salary paid in full. Apparently there was some plan afoot for a merger of the Chris­tian and Baptist churches but, after a couple of meetings, the idea was abandoned. And there are hints of recurring dissension --and possibly of bad relations (unexplained) with the community.


A new pastor was found in Rev. R.C. Bensen, who came into this dif­ficult situation on November 27, 1927. Mr. Bensen did not stay long, but was well liked and did much to promote the harmony which the church sorely needed. He left to assume the duties of a professor in Hamilton, Canada, in June 1930. The harmony was well continued by the coming of Rev. Aron L. Roth, who began his pastorate on October 12, 1930. At the annual business meet­ing of 1931 the church membership stood at 137.


Mr. Roth was an aggres­sive worker and noted for producing unusual services and publicity for the church. The attendances at the annual business meetings are a good indi­cation of the state of the church. In 1933 there were 125 present and in 1935, 135 present. At this last meet­ing the membership had risen from 130 to 200. On June 14, 1936, the 100th Anni­versary of the founding of the church was celebrated. In the evening an his­torical pageant depicting the life of the church was given under the direction of Erma Jeffery. For this service Deagan Chimes had been installed in the organ as a Centennial Memorial by various members and friends.



The booklet issued at the time of the Centennial closed with these words: The present vitality of the church and its leadership, we believe, are demonstrated by the unusual way the church has advanced and carried on through the recent depression years, all of which speaks well for the church's prospect as it enters upon its second century. These words have certainly proved prophetic.


In the years since, the edu­cational unit has been added, the sanctuary has been remodeled, and continuing improvements have been made. With a membership now total­ling more than 300, the First Baptist Church looks with renewed confi­dence toward the carrying out of its mission in the years ahead.




Society Receives $16,500 Grant from County Following a presentation by Carla Hill on September 8, 1998, the Kane County Board approved a $16,500 grant to the Society from Riverboat Funds for historical "Past and Present Plaques" to be placed on the Riv9rwalk and for a microfilm reader/printer. The plaques will give visitors to the Riverwalk a visual perspective of the past and present. Placed in several spots along the river's edge, they will show what an area looked like in the mid-to-late 1800s.


In some cases buildings portrayed, such as those where the Appleton and Challenge windmills were made, are still visible from the Aiverwalk. The museum receives many requests from people who are doing historical and education research . Many local records and newspapers are currently available on microfilm. These and others that will be microfilmed will enhance the museum's collection and, with the availability of the reader/printer, the ability to answer requests and prepare exhibits.


The Society's request for these funds was suggested by Bob Brown, a member of the long-range planning com­mittee, and was sponsored by Douglas Weigand, our representative on the Kane County Board. We appreciate their efforts and the support of the County Board.


What's Doing at the Museum


by Carla Hill, Director


It's hard to believe that summer is over! The Junior Member Pro· gram at the museum went very well. In August eight of the Junior Mem· bers helped prepare the new fall display, "Where Does It Hurt?" The new display features many of Batavia's doctors and dentists as well as many artifacts that were loaned to us by Bert Johnson and Ron Royce. This is a great display so make plans to stop in and visit. The west side of the caboose has been repaired and we have sched· uled to have it completely re o painted in early spring 1999.


The first annual Museum Open House will take place on Sunday, September 27. We are hoping that this is a successful event that will attract many of Batavia's third grade students and their families. The museum volunteer trip will take place on October 16. We will be visiting Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. Graceland has many wonderfullarge monuments decorating the grave sites of well known people such as Marshall Field, Louis Sullivan and George Pullman. On Sunday, November 8, we will be sponsoring a Batavia historic area bus tour. Marilyn Robinson will give the participants a historic over­view of many of Batavia's homes and churches.


This event will be open to the general public. The Christmas ornament this year will feature the Calvary Episcopal Church and will be available after November 1 at the Batavia Park District office. We are working on many excitng projects this fall and we will be looking for volunteers to help with many of the special events. If you are interested in volunteering at the museum or for any of the special events, please contact me at 879-5235 or Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041.