Volume Forty-Three

No. 3


July 2002


The J. Adolph Swanson Family and Company



1.jpg Many Batavians live in homes built or worked on by J. Adolph Swanson and his sons. Their story was related to Elliott Lundberg and Bill Hall on April 30, 2002, by Marion Swanson Todd, daughter John Adolph Swanson was born on April 15, 1871, in Sweden -- Marion Todd, his daughter, is not sure where. He came to America in 1887 and roomed and boarded with a family named Pierson on First Street; Mrs. Pierson was a relative. He walked to and from his first job, which was on a farm west of Batavia. Many readers today will find it almost beyond belief that a 16 year-old who could not speak English would come alone, across the ocean, to a foreign country and then travel halfway across the continent to live with a relative whom he had never met. And yet this was not unusual among the many Swedish immigrants who came to Batavia around the end of the nineteenth century.




At least, they had the comfort of living among friends and relatives who could speak Swedish -- although many chose not to in order to demonstrate that they were now Americans. Adolph, as he was called, lost no time ln fitting into his new environment. He bought himself a set of encyclopedias and and went to work learning English. After a while, he decided that farming was not for him. He found work repairing windmills, in the Fox Valley and many times traveling to Minnesota. Later he went into carpentry. In 1898, Adolph married Anna Elimina (Minnie) Carlson, a native Batavian. She was born on March 2, 1876, a year after her mother arrived from Sweden to join her husband who was already here -- bringing Minnie's older sister with her. As Minnie grew up, she sewed for farm families; according to Marion, "she would go out and spend a week at each of the farms making clothes in the spring for summer and then a week in the fall for winter." 


J.A. Swanson c. 1905 At first Adolph and Minnie lived in a flat on North Lincoln. "But my mother wanted to live near her mother," Marion said, "so they bought a house across the street from her mother, who had received a little money from Sweden and loaned them the down payment. In 1914 they built the big square house on the north side of Main

Street, now 615 Main, a few houses east of the Kahlke and Collins Lumber Yard, later the Thorsen Lumber CO." Adolph also built a house next door, 611 Main, for Oscar and Emma Pierson. Their first son, Elmer Rudolph, was born in 1899, followed by Ethel Leonore in 1902, Lawrence Adolph (Laurie) in 1905, Carl Robert (Bob) in 1908, Elsie Elemina (who died young) in 1911, Marion Naomi in 1915, and Helen Victoria in 1917. "About 1907," Marion said, "My father's brother came out to Batavia and brought his son Roy with him and asked my father if he would take care of Roy because they were getting a divorce. The day after my uncle was out here with Roy, they called and said that he died. My parents adopted Roy, who was then seven years old, so we had a large family.



vol_43_17.jpg  I was born in the house on Main Street, which had four bedrooms and was a big house. It is still a very nice house and has been kept up." Between 1900 and 1910, Adolph worked on houses in Aurora. Possibly he went there because he was a friend of Ed Maimer in Aurora. The two of them"did a lot of singing," Marion said, "and my father played the trombone -in a band-that-they·had~The-houses he built were on Wilder Street in Aurora. "I don't know how he got to Aurora," Marion said. "He had a truck later on, and we had a Model T car with glass windows, but those would have come later. He must have ridden the street car." Finding after a while that working alone was difficult, Adolph went into business with Andrew Johnson, who lived on Wilson Street, next to the tracks that have since been removed. Andrew was the father of Carl "Pinoke" Johnson, an all-state Batavia basketball player in the 1920s, later a Big Ten basketball official, and the proprietor of Pinoke's Men's Wear on East Wilson Street. Marion does not know why, but at some point her father and Andrew Johnson split up. It may have been because


his sons were ready to go into business with him. Elmer did not finish high school and probably started working with his father about 1915. Laurie and Bob worked summers until they graduated; then they joined their father full time. Laurie finished high school in 1923 and Bob in 1926. Roy never went into the family business; according to Marion, "he worked at Mooseheart and then went into business for himself, making prestressed concrete products.




 At least, they had the comfort of living among friends and relatives who could speak Swedish -- although many chose not to in order to demonstrate that they were now Americans. Adolph, as he was called, lost no time ln fitting into his new environment. He bought himself a set of encyclopedias and and went to work learning English. After a while, he decided that farming was not for him. He found work repairing windmills, in the Fox Valley and many times traveling to Minnesota. Later he went into carpentry. In 1898, Adolph married Anna Elimina (Minnie) Carlson, a native Batavian. She was born on March 2, 1876, a year after her mother arrived from Sweden to join her husband who was already here -- bringing Minnie's older sister with her. As Minnie grew up, she sewed for farm families; according to Marion, "she would go out and spend a week at each of the farms making clothes in the spring for summer and then a week in the fall for winter." 


J.A. Swanson c. 1905 At first Adolph and Minnie lived in a flat on North Lincoln. "But my mother wanted to live near her mother," Marion said, "so they bought a house across the street from her mother, who had received a little money from Sweden and loaned them the down payment. In 1914 they built the big square house on the north side of Main

Street, now 615 Main, a few houses east of the Kahlke and Collins Lumber Yard, later the Thorsen Lumber CO." Adolph also built a house next door, 611 Main, for Oscar and Emma Pierson. Their first son, Elmer Rudolph, was born in 1899, followed by Ethel Leonore in 1902, Lawrence Adolph (Laurie) in 1905, Carl Robert (Bob) in 1908, Elsie Elemina (who died young) in 1911, Marion Naomi in 1915, and Helen Victoria in 1917. "About 1907," Marion said, "My father's brother came out to Batavia and brought his son Roy with him and asked my father if he would take care of Roy because they were getting a divorce. The day after my uncle was out here with Roy, they called and said that he died. My parents adopted Roy, who was then seven years old, so we had a large family.


They screened in the front

porch, added a back porch, and put in new windows in Svea Lundberg's house at 312 North Mallory. Another example is the former home of Joe

and Ruth Burnham at 432 Main Street. And after Adolph's death, Bob did a lot of work on the Hall house at 345 North Batavia Avenue, including adding a garage and a room for storing yard equipment. Marion recalled with a laugh one experience Laurie had with Joe Burnham.


The Swansons had done a rather major job on the Burnham house; when Laurie presented the large bill, Joe, as a good businessman (for the information of Batavia newcomers, Joe was president of Marshall Field's), asked for detail, which Laurie provided him. A while later, though, when Joe called for some additional work, he was told that Laurie was not available. Puzzled, Joe told Ruth, who replied, "I think you offended him by asking for detailed support for wh?' he billed." Joe called Laurie ar\I"-'" straightened matters out, and the Swansons continued working on the Burnham house as long as they were in business. It would be interesting to know whether Laurie started providing detail with his later bills or whether Joe just accepted what he was given.


When we told this story to Ruth Burnham, she did not remember the incident but said that it was undoubtedly true, certainly in keeping with the personalities of those involved and their relationship. Our discussion reminded

her of the Swansons' many projects at their house. One was the amount of time that Bob spent on the difficult and precise task of fitting and hanging some working, three-tier shutters that the Burnhams had found in Woodstock. She also remembered that, unlike some other workers, Laurie always showed up ready to work and didn't even stop for a coffee break. Laurie, she recalled, was the quiet one, while Bob always welcomed a chance to talk.


Marion resumed her recollections. "My father did a lot of things besides building houses and additions. He did business with Kahlke's Lumber Yard mostly, and I think when he first started he would do a roof for someone or fix something for their house. The other day someone asked who had put the roof on their house -- my father put his last roof on it in 1949. Bob fell off the roof when they were roofing the More house at 113 North Batavia Avenue, just north of Houston Street, in 1953 or 1954. That's the last one that they did. "My father worked hard in Bethany Lutheran Church, doing anycarpentry that was needed. He was proud of what he did, and he served as a trustee of the church for 40 years. He had surgery in 1950 -- he was 79 -and they let him out of the hospital and told him to go home and stay there. I went down town that afternoon and there he was up on the roof of the church. For some reason, someone needed to climb up the roof rafters to the top. My father offered to do the climbing."


Adolph died in 1953, and Elmer followed in 1965. Laurie and Bob then went out on their own, continuing until 1976 when Bob retired to Arizona. Bob died in 1996 and Laurie in 1997. The Swansons' work is still visible, and will remain so for many years, throughout Batavia. The Gustafson Research Center would appreciate learning of other significant work that was done by Adolph Swanson and his sons.





Shadowy Figures from Batavia's Past



 vol_43_18.jpg  Most Batavians are familiar with Gammon Corners, the impressive Queen Anne house on the southwest corner of Batavia and Wilson avenues, but we doubt if many people know much about Elijah H. Gammon and his wife, Jane, who built it as their home in 1885 and lived there until their deaths a few years later. This is surprising since Gammon was an unusual man of many parts -- an ordained Methodist1 minister, an exceptionally successful industrialist, and a generous philanthropist who gave freely of his time as well as his money, especially to serve the religious needs of the emancipated blacks after the Civil War. Material for this story comes from the Gammon Theological Seminary of Atlanta, Georgia; the Gustafson Research Center; Rev. Dan Swinson, chair of the Northern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church's commission on archives and history; Rev. Donald Guest, district superintendent of the Methodist Church for the southern part of Chicago; and Marilyn Robinson's Batavia Places and the People Who Called Them Home.


Elijah H. Gammon, the eldest of six children, was born December 23, 1819, on a humble farm in Lexington, Maine. His boyhood days were spent helping his family gain a meager livelihood from that small, rocky farm; he studied at night. At age_ 19, he, was converted to the Methodist faith and, two years later, began teaching school along with continuing his studies to prepare for the ministry. Service As a Minister After he was licensed to preach (a preliminary to ordination) in 1843, he was appointed to the church in Wilton, Maine, with a salary of $100 per year. In that same year, he married Sarah J. Cutler. Two daughters, Abbie and Sarah, were born to them during the next eight years while they remained in Wilton.


In 1851, Gammon contracted a bronchial ailment that necessitated their move to a milder climate. It will surprise most Batavians of today to learn that they, along with a large company of New Englanders, selected Illinois -- and northern Illinois, at that -- as the "milder climate." On arrival in Illinois, he first organized a "select school" in DeKalb; then in 1853 he was admitted to the Rock River Conference of the Methodist church. In the years immediately following, he filled appointments in St. Charles, Jefferson Street in Chicago,2 and Batavia. In 1855 after one year in Batavia, his wife, Sarah, died. Later that year he was appointed presiding elder of the St. Charles district, in which capacity he organized and oversaw the work of a number of churches. The next year he married Jane C. Colton, a widow who had moved to Batavia with an infant son, Norman. She was a sister of James P. Prindle of Batavia, J. R. Prindle of Evanston, Mary M. Newton, wife of Don Carlos Newton of Batavia's Newton Wagon Company, and Lucy P. Foote of Batavia. A son, Charles Wesley, was born to the Gammons in 1857.



Gammon continued as presiding eIder until 1858 when his bronchial ailment returned in a severe form (apparently the Illinois climate was not the answer he had hoped for). As reported in a memorial published in the Herald after his death, "he was confined to his bed for a long time. After his recovery he being unable to continue in the ministerial work, was placed upon the superannuated list, which relation he maintained up to the day of he death." Achievements As a Businessman The details of Gammon's subsequent ventures and the moves of the Gammon family are rather sketchy. Over the next twenty years, he entered into several business enterprises,two of which were with brothers-in-Iaw D. C. Newton and James P. Prindle. The Gammons moved several times, first to Chicago in 1863, next to Detroit, and then to Plano. While in Chicago, Jane's twelve year-old son, Norman, suffered injuries in a street car accident that ultimately led to his death. It is not clear what businesses some of the enterprises were engaged in, but we know that one of the firms, Easter & Gammon in Chicago, was the western agent for six states for the Marsh Harvester Company, reportedly the manufacturer of the third largest line of harvesters in the country.


This became the foundation of Gammon's fortune. In 1869, he and James Prindle acquired an interest in a Plano factory and began manufacturing Marsh Harvesters. In a seemingly abrupt move, Gammon withdrew from the business in 1878, and he and his wife spent the next two years traveling, both in Europe and in this country. Perhaps they were seeking a change of scenery because of the death of their son, Charles Wesley, in 1876 while he was at school in Worcester, Massachusetts. There may also have been a loss of one or both of his daughters from his first marriage; although they both married, neither survived him when he died in 1891, and neither apparently had children. In 1880, Gammon returned to the business world. He and brother-in-law D. C. Newton bought the Coffin & Young Bank in Batavia, renaming it Gammon and Newton. In 1881, the Plano Manufacturing Company was established, with Gammon as the vice president and two-thirds owner. According to the memorial address given after his death, the company "at once placed a harvester, the 'Light Running Plano,' on the market, which was a most marvelous success, and today [1892] the factory ranks among the best."


One cannot help wondering what the key was to Gammon's business success. He was not born into wealth, and he certainly did not become rich as a Methodist minister. It is possible that his second wife, who was well connected, may have had money. It is more likely, however, that talents in product design, manufacturing methods, and organization were the major -factors inchis accumulating wealth. Quoting a trade publication, the author of Gammon's memorial address wrote: "It is hardly possible to measure the influence Mr. Gammon had in the successful improvement of the methods of reaping the harvests of the world, and also it is not too much to say that the development of the harvester and binder used today everywhere in all grain-fields from what was known and used twenty years ago is largely due to him. He was connected with its progress almost from the beginning and with the experiments made until the development into the successful machine used today by thousands of farmers."


Even allowing for some hyperbole in a memorial address and in the rather florid language of the late nineteenth century, we must conclude that Elijah Gammon was a man of unusual business abilities. Although his primary business interest seems to have been the Plano Manufacturing Company, he found time to become involved in the Gammon Live Stock Company, importers and breeders of Norman horses and dealers in ranch cattle. Although the company's letterhead bears a Batavia address, the farm itself was in Wyoming. The letterhead also shows that, besides Elijah Gammon, officers included a J. P. Gammon, H. K. Wolcott, and D. C. Newton.


We have been unable to identify J. P.Gammon or a Samuel Gammon, both later involved in a lawsuit; possibly they were brothers or nephews of Elijah. Efforts As a Philanthropist While Gammon was amassing a fortune from his business ventures, he retained a strong social conscience and and religious faith; he never lost sight of the goals that had first drawn him to the ministry. This is particularly true of service to the black population of America, both before and after the Civil War. Back in his early Maine days when antislavery men were few, Gammon took his stand against slavery, He voted the first abolition ticket and continued on that line until Emancipation. When he entered the Rock River conference, no anti-slavery resolution had been passed by that body. At an early session, he was instrumental in securing the passage of the conference's first resolution against slavery. Although we do not have the details, we know that Gammon was involved with African-American Methodists in Chicago after he ceased to be an active minister.


According to Rev. Donald Guest, district superintendent for the southern part of Chicago, a church on the west side was named after him shortly after the start of the twentieth church. Only recently, the name was changed to Resurrection United Methodist Church; according to Rev. Guest, many parishioners were unhappy to see the Gammon name disappear, even after all of these years, because his notable work with African-Americans was still remembered. After the end of the Civil War, Gammon turned his attention to the the newly freed blacks. Although he planned to make a large contribution to address this need, he planned carefully, working closely with leader~ black and white, to develop sound long range plans. It has been noted that he was not one to deal with problems only by making contributions; he, in effect, rolled up his sleeves and immersed himself in the details.


Early on an old friend encouraged him to direct his attention to the Atlanta area. At about the same time, Bishop Warren had taken up his work in the South and was addressing the need for a trained ministry to serve the emancipated blacks. Gammon and Bishop Warren teamed up to erect a school building adjacent to Clark University; this was the beginning of what was to become the Gammon Theological Seminary. Over the years, he was intimately involved with the growth of the seminary, both through his frequent visits and through his continuing gifts. It is difficult to establish the amount of money that he gave to the seminary over the years. The memorial address given at the seminary after his death says that "he gave his half-million of treasure to found and perpetuate it." Apparently that was made "One day he said to [the dean's] wife: 'This great school-hall is not a fit place for you and your little children. Come out on the campus and select a spot for a house.' He built it. And then built three more for the other professors.


A library building was needed. He met it with one of the most artistic buildings that ever delighted a well-trained and appreciative eye." Gammon's philanthropy was not limited to the seminary that bears his name. For 20 years, he was a trustee and benefactor of Garrett Seminary in Evanston and a supporter of Drew Seminary in Madison, New Jersey. vol_43_20.jpg


Of perhaps the greatest interest to Batavians, in 1887 at a cost of $37,000, he joined his brother-in-law D. C. Newton in giving to Batavia Methodists the beautiful church at 8 North avenue for 15 years, The Last years of his lifetime and an additional amount provided in his will. We know that he gave financial support for individual projects over the years.


The memorial address provides an example: In 1885, Elijah and Jane Gammon bought land on what is now the southwest corner of Wilson and Batavia avenues for their Queen Anne showplace and moved three old buildings to make room for it. Original drawings, framed and hung in the house, reveal that the architect was J. M. VanOsdel of Chicago. The house, built just eleven years after the first Queen Anne home built in America, cost $27,000. He died July 3, 1891, leaving an estate worth over $1 ,500,000. Jane died the next year -- December 22 or 23 -from a stroke incurred on the way to Chicago.


At the time of her death, she was president of Batavia's Columbian Club and an active worker in the Methodist Church. As reported in a memorial in the Batavia Herald, March 10, 1893, "she expended thousands of dollars every year. Every week she used to visit the county alms house, and by her sunny face, genial ways and liberal purse, made glad the hearts of many unfortunates." In her will, she left an additional $750,000 to the Gammon Theological Seminary. Both Elijah and Jane Gammon are buried in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. They left no immediate survivors. In 1894, Jane's brother, James P. Prindle, bought the home from the Gammon Seminary to whom it had been willed, and it remained in the Prindle family until 1917. A portrait of Sarah Gammon Huse, Gammon's second daughter,3 hangs over the fireplace in Batavia's new public library.


That, their home and the Methodist Church, are the Gammons' tangible monuments in Batavia.

The church was then named the Methodist Episcopal Church; later its name was changed to the Methodist church; and it is now known as the United Methodist Church. For simplicity we will use the shortened name "Methodist" throughout this story.  The memorial address refers to this as "the nucleus of Centenary church, which in later years his thought and devotion did so much to build up and sustain," but we have been unable to get information on this. The picture was a gift to the library from the estate of Dolores (Mrs. Carl "Pinoke") Johnson, who had been given it by the widow of James

P. Prindle II.



Summertime Longings


Last year our readers enjoyed a column by Sheila Stroup, BHS Class of 1961, that had appeared in the New Orleans Times, where she is a regular columnist. With that paper's and her permission, we are including another of her columns -- one that is particularly appropriate now that summer is upon us.




At this time of year, I start to miss the feel of a Midwestern summer. It's different in south Louisiana. Here, the air is as heavy as a burden, and we shut the windows to seal ourselves away from it. In the big old house I lived in, we only closed the windows for thunderstorms -- and then not all the way - so summer seeped into the rooms and stayed.


Summer was endless possibilities and occasional disappointments. (My dad and I were Cubs fans, for example.) The first time summer let me down I was almost 4, and excited about going on a real family vacation to the Indiana dunes, I knew where every state was from putting my U.S. puzzle map together, but I'd never been outside of Illinois.



"We're in Indiana now," my father said, when we drove across the state line. I looked out the window in disbelief.


It was more farmhouses, more miles of cornfields, more endless green. "Why isn't it pink?" I asked, indignant, remembering my map. (It showed Illinois green with a stalk of corn on it and Indiana pink with smokestacks.) my parents exchanged a look and laughed. States don't come in pastel colors, they explained. The vacation was OK. I spent the days shoveling sand into a little metal pail, the nights sleeping on grainy sheets. But all that was pink in Indiana was my brother's freckled face.


After dinner playtime There was always so much to look forward to in summer. When I was little, it was getting to go outside after supper to play hide and- seek with the big kids, shoot my cap gun into the shadows, catch lightning bugs in a peanut butter jar with nail holes hammered in the lid I'd fall asleep watching a flutter of blinking lights next to my bed. By morning, the grass in the bottom of the jar would be dry and pale, the lightning bugs dead, but there were always more in the vacant lot that night. Later, it was long aimless days of reading Nancy Drew mysteries and Black Stallion adventures on the screened in porch and riding my bike down to the quarry for swimming lessons.


It was meeting my friends at the carnival that cast a glow onto the small town sky on hot mid-summer nights. We'd pull the bar up on the Rock-o-Plane to make it go upside-down and feel the blood rush to our heads, and crowd together on the Tilt-a-Whirl, letting it fling us around until we felt weak from screaming. Later still, summer meant working during the day and going out at night. We'd pile into the car with the one boy who had his driver's license, roll down the windows and turn up Elvis and Chuck Berry on the radio and drive fast into the future. Summer was freedom. And knowing we were on the threshold of something. It was pulling into the drive-in and seeing somebody you wanted to see in a car across the way. Or meeting a boy in the dark behind the John Deere tractors at the County Fair.


It was waiting-for-something-to happen, an almost electric feeling, like a storm about to hit. I remember sweeping the sidewalk outside my mom and dad's grocery store in the evening, smelling the dust and thinking that last hour of work would never get over, that I was stuck there, sweeping dust forever.


And now, all of a sudden, I wonder how so many endless Junes and Julys and Augusts have slipped away, Maybe it isn't Midwestern summers I miss so much as limitless possibilities. Maybe, now and then in June, I miss the thought of being young.


Societys First Auction A Resounding Success





L to r (above): Jerry Harris, Florence Olson and

Sandy Chalupa examinging articles before auction.



With almost a hundred persons in attendance, the Batavia Historical Society's "first ever" auction to support the Depot Museum raised just short of $2,000 on Sunday, June 23, at the City Council meeting room -- and everyone had fun These proceeds do not reflect additional amounts that will be realized when items unsold during the auction will be offered at the society's flea market during the Windmill Fest or on e-Bay. Everyone was amazed at the quantity and quality of the items members and local businesses donated for the auction.      Sampler donated by

Ruth Burnham; English tea set donated

by Bill Wood.





The members who worked so hard to make the auction a success included Patti Rosenberg, Carole Dunn, Sue Blazek, Carla Hill, Rosalie Jones, Sue Peterson, Marilyn Robinson and Chris Winter. Kalvin Boewe of Boewe Auction House in Batavia generously donated his services. He set a lively pace for the bidding with his rapid-fire recognition of bids and his attempts, often humorous, to induce bidders to raise the ante. We owe the donors, I Kalvin Boewe and the members who organized the auction a big vote of thanks. Let's hope this becomes a regular event.



The Lineage of a Farm


In "Dreams of Dreamers" in the April, 1997, issue of the Historian, Helen Bartelt Anderson described growing up on the family farm on Warrenville Road in Batavia Township. Her father, George Bartelt, together with his sister Mayme and her husband, John Buelter, had bought the farm in 1904. A few years later, Mayme died, and her husband decided to go to Wisconsin. George became the sole owners of the farm in 1907; a few months later he married Della Zoller, a pretty girl who lived on a neighboring farm. Helen has described a happy childhood that she enjoyed on the farm with her brother, Roger, until their father's tragic death in 1930 when he slipped from the top of a hay wagon and died from a broken neck and crushed spine. As described by Helen, "Mama and Roger were faced with the near impossible task of running the farm.


Neither of them knew too much about operating machinery or what to do when. By trial and error, patience and learning, and lots of faith we all got through that first year." _ Roger, later joined by his wife, the former Myrtle Carlson whom he married in 1944, continued to operate the farm for many years. In 1967-68, however, the United States government decided that Kane and Dupage coun ties were the perfect place to build the National Accelerator Laboratory.


This project required 6,000 acres of land. Many productive farms and a good many residences were forced to move, including Roger's farm. That ended the life of a farm that had been worked by the Bartelt family for over sixty years. But what do we know about the ownership of that fertile land in the years before 1904 when Carl Bartelt, his sister and brother-in-law bought it? Helen Anderson has a lengthy abstract that traces its ownership in beautiful longhand script from the purchase of land from the United States government by Andrew Spear in 1841 to her family purchase in 1904.


It shows over forty transactions during a 63-year period, some for major portions of the land, others for as little as seven-acre tracts. It also records the numerous liens that evidence borrowing that owners had made to finance their ownership and operations. Sometimes there is evidence of three-way trades as farmers worked to consolidate their holdings which will ring a bell for old time Batavians. Besides Spear, they include Gregg, Kemp, Newton, Howe, Griffiths, Bicknell, Bull, Cornell, Blakesell, Goodwin, De Jarld, Germain, Thompson, Mead and Taylor. Two names, however, are what provide a continuing link from the timU the land was first settled to the date the Bartelts took over. They are Spear and Phillips.


As noted earlier, it was Andrew Spear who bought a quarter section, or 160 acres, from the United States government on June 25, 1841, just a few years after the founding of Batavia. Although his heirs four years later sold about 40 acres (with Isaac G. Wilson, master in chancery, presiding over the transaction for the minor heirs), the family continued to hold most of the land, and members started purchasing other pieces as early as 1845. One of Andrew's children was Mary Spear. We first see the name Griffiths in 1849 when John Griffiths purchased about 58 acres from John Gregg, the man who had previously bought 40 acres from the Spear heirs.


Over the years, we find John Griffiths and his sons John, Jr., and Edmund continuing to pick up pieces from various sellers. And then we discover that the former Mary SRears has become th~ wife of Edmund Griffiths. By the tim~ Edmund and Mary died, he in 1903 and she in 1904, they owned 267 acres of farmland. Although not directly related to the land, it is interesting to read Mary Spear Griffiths' will, which is included in the abstract. She specified: "I desire that my executors shall not sell my horse but give her and the old buggy to some person who will take good care of her as long as she lives."


Apparently without children, she instructed that her estate be split in half, with one part going to the Griffiths heirs and the other half going to the Spear heirs. It is curious to note that she specified that $50 donations be made out of the Spear portion to the Congregational Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Baptist Church, the Christian Church, and the Women's Christian Temperance Union.


It would be interesting to know why these bequests came out of the Spear portion only (possibly the Spears were more religious) or why they enjoyed such an ecumenicc spread and his sister and brother-in-law purchased the 267 acre farm from the Mary Spear Griffiths estate for $17,893.69, they sold three parcels totaling 85 acres. What remained was the 168-acre farm on which Helen Bartelt Anderson enjoyed the idyllic childhood she has described for us in a series of articles in the Historian. Taking a philosophical view in 1997 of the loss of the family farm when the Fermilab was built, Helen wrote in "Dreams of Dreamers,"


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


Copies of Helen Anderson's delightful remembrances, Memories ofa Childhood, can be purchased at the Depot Museum or from the society's gift shop on its web site.


The Horans Again


This is probably the last we will write about the Horans -- the family with the impressive mausoleum in the West Side Cemetery. Apparently they did not play an active role in Batavia and left few traces. But we did get some information that we will pass on. Mandi Moss, who with her husband is the new owner of what was formerly the Yurs-Peterson Funeral Home, read our request in the last Historian and checked for such information as they had in their files. Viola Frances Horan, the last family member, died on April 9, 1972, one week before her 85th birthday. She had taught in the Chicago public school system for 40 years before retiring and was a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church. Her pallbearers were John Cunningham, Richard Knott, William Heine, Leo Bracke, Richard LaBrec and Charles Koncevic. The only surviving relatives in her obituary were Mrs. Carl Hendricksen of Aurora and other cousins in Chicago, England and Ireland ..

Here is something important for any Batavia researchers to remember. To the extent afforded by their files, the Mosses have volunteered to be a source of information for people conducting research on persons buried in Batavia.


Scouting Recollections of Carl J. Harleen



In earlier issues, we have been privileged to include reminiscences of Carl Harleen, a boyhood Batavian and a cousin of Bert Johnson and Jim and Paul Hubbard, who now lives in Piedmont, California. Carl wrote about his start in scouting in a recent letter to Cliff Anderson, and we thought our readers would enjoy this excerpt from Another contact with you [besides hanging around your hardware store] was made when a new Boy Scout troop was formed by our Swedish Lutheran Church. The church already had established Boy Scout Troop 6, which had been in existence for some time. You would know best the reason for the new troop, but my recollection is that our numbers coming out of Cub


Scouting were so large that it was necessary to form a new troop. You were picked as the Scoutmaster of the new Troop 66, with the assistance of his letter "Bergy" Bergeson and my cousin Nate Anderson. Fritz Carlson was still going strong as the Scoutmaster of old Troop 6. I want to thank you for your leadership and your thoughtful guidance, but at the time I didn't always understand. An example was our trip to Starved Rock, which was a favorite location for a week of summer camping. This particular summer both Troops 6 and 66 went together.   


The first day went well; everybody was setting up their pup tents around the flag pole, with the Scoutmaster's tent looking out at all of us. After Taps when the flag was lowered and everything was quiet, somebody sneaked into Scoutmaster Fritz Carlson's tent, stole his underwear and ran it up the flag pole. At muster the next morning, there it was flying in the breeze at full mast. We were all made to stand at attention and salute Fritz's BVDs as they were lowered down the flag pole. Then we were all confined to our tents while an investigation was formed to find the culprit who did that dastardly deed. Later I thought the confinement was long enough so I tried to sneak out of our pup tent, but you caught me and put me on report.


My punishment was to serve the food at the evening mess, I was really becoming hungry, and when everyone had finished, the only thing that was left was a bowl of cold green beans. I forgot that I had always been a finicky eater and stuffed myself with the cold green beans. That experience changed me so that, until this day, I have enjoyed every kind of food. A cabin was built at the west end of town by some very thoughtful people where we held our weekly Scout meetings.


At times, as you will recall, we would have visitors, and this particular time Rev. Norlander came to visit us. He thought everything was fine until it came to the Scout benediction where we would say, "May the Great Scoutmaster of all good Scouts be with you until we meet again." He didn't like the idea of calling God a Great Scoutmaster. Johnson's Mound was another camp site for our troop so when I was looking to earn a merit badge in hiking, you suggested that Bryon Nelson and I hike out there.  We plan to include another excerpt from this letter in a future issue.




Great Convenience for "Man and Beast"


Batavia Avenue now enjoys the distinction of having the finest drinking fountains (for stock and people) there are in Kane County. This valuable addition is a beauty of modern construction, convenience, sanitary conditions, and came from New York City. This "public blessing" was not a piece of extravagance on the part of Batavia either, as the fountains were purchased by the "People." A few years ago, an amount of cash was subscribed for a 4th of July celebration that never took place in Batavia.


This money has been carefully guarded and finally used in part payment for said fountains. The balance was raised by private subscription and our city. The fountains and placing in position will cost fully $100.00.


Batavia now invites the world to drink with them--that is from their fountains of pure, cool, and healthful waters, that comes from the rocks of 1300 feet in depth and is acknowledged to be the finest in the Fox River Valley.


For these beautiful fountains we are indebted to T.W. Snow, of the U. S. W. E. & P. Co., who has carried the worthyenterprise through and headed the subscription list with $10.00. The HERALD returns thanks to Mr. Snow for his public generosity.


Published in the Batavia Herald, September 24, 1896. Contributed by Marilyn Robinson.


What's New At The Museum

Carla Hill, Director


With summer at hand, we are planning many projects and events. One has already taken place -- the museum volunteer trip on June 13 to Midway Village Museum in Rockford. During the Windmill City Fest in July, we will be opening the Furnas Exhibit underwritten by the Hansen-Furnas Foundation -- something everyone will want to see. On July 13, the museum will again be sponsoring an Attic Treasures Sale and Flea Market. We are still looking for anyone who would like to have a booth space that day.


Through Bill McGrath, the society recently acquired a Newton wagon seat. The seat has been placed on the Newton wagon in the lower level of the museum. Chris Winter is currently working on a new exhibit called "Historical Batavia AZ." This exhibit will feature artifacts and photographs from the museum's collection, some of which have never been on display. This promises to be a great exhibit. As part of our new programming at the museum, we are offering a trip to Graceland Cemetery, which is one of Chicago's most historic cemeteries. The trip, which will take place on August 8, will cost $36 per person. Registration is at the Batavia Park District office in the Civic Center.


We are working with West Chicago Museum to sponsor another Family Heritage event in August. Other projects underway include new paint fothe Gunzenhauser/Smith gazebo and a new quarterly brochure that will announce programs and events at the museum. Chris Winter and I, together with the historical society's board, want to take this opportunity to thank Fern Anderson, Jane Elwood, and Lee and Betty Moorehead for their years of dedication to the museum. They are retiring from their volunteer duties and will be sincerely missed.


We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers at the museum.

As always, we need new volunteers. Anyone interested should contact Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041 or Chris and Carla at the museum at 406-5274.



Membership Matters


Since the last issue, the following persons, some of whom were previously annual members, have become life members of the society: Duane and Shirley Bartelt (Polo, IL); Andrea

Fairbank; John Killion; Judi Lampert (Asheville, NC); Bill Schmitz (Bowie. MD - gift of Rodney Ross); Sylvia Kraft Walker (St. Charles); and John and Beverly Waterfield. Other new members

(all from Batavia unless otherwise indicated) are Laura Aanenson (Champlin, MN); Sandra Becker; Carole Clark (Augusta, GA - gift from Rick and Sandy Eckblade); Ruth

Frantz (Sugar Grove); Ron and Mary Anne Gilkerson; Bill and Mary Huber (gift from Dave's Electric Inc.); Kim and Ramon LeDoux; Carol Moore (Jericho, VT - gift from Sol Carlson); Eric Nordstrom (gift from Rick and Sandy Eckblade); Gerald and Joyce Shields; and Carolyn Smith (Huntley, IL - gift from Sandy Eckblade).


We welcome these new members and look forward to their participation in the activities of the Society. We regret to report the death of members Wilma Althea Miller, Helen E. Peterson (North Aurora), Walter and Ruth Peterson (Kenosha, WI), and Walter L. Weiss and extend our sympathy to their family and friends.


We received a gift of $500 from the Hansen-Furnas Foundation, at the direction of Ted Clauser, in recognition of the Depot Museum's third grade program.


We have also received gifts in memory of Robert Phelps from Eldon P.and Jo Frydendall and Gladys H. Noren and in honor of Charles and Lila Schroder's 50th wedding anniversary from Walter and Georgene Kauth.


Other gifts were received from Kay Peterson and Len and Joan Wray.


We wish to thank these donors for their support.




Highlights of Board of Directors Minutes


April 9, 2002


Treasurer Karas reported that the Society received the $125,000.


County Riverboat Grant and it was invested in a 4% 20-month CD until needed for the build out on the new space.


Bill Hall made a motion to transfer the Society's bookkeeping responsibilities to Judy Frigolett, a co-worker of Dick Benson. The hired bookkeeper would be paid a salary not to exceed $1,200. per year. Seconded by Bill Wood. Motion carried.


Program Committee Chair, Dick Benson, suggested that the location for the general meetings be changed from the Civic Center to the City Council Chambers. Holding the meetings at this new location would eliminate the need for set up. The City Council Chamber has chairs set up permanently, a microphone, screens, etc. The board agreed with the decision to move the meeting location.


Carole Dunn reported that the fundraising committee is working to organize the June 23 Fundraising Auction. Kalvin Boewe, from Boewe's Auction House, has agreed to be auctioneer.

On Special Projects, Marilyn Robinson reported that her work on the Past & Present book is completed. She will take the computer disk to Batavia Instant Print and have 200 copies printed for the museum's gift shop.

June 11, 2002

Dick Benson reported that the new bookkeeper, Judy Frigolett, prepared statements for the past 8 months on the Society's accounts. The report is on file for audit.

Carole Dunn reported that several items have been picked up for the 1 st Annual Auction for the June 23 meeting. A mailing has gone out to all society members. Kalvin Boewe, of Boewe's Auction House in Batavia, has agreed to donate his time as auctioneer for this event.

Bill Wood offered to open the museum for the BHS Class of '67 reunion on July 6.

Marilyn Robinson reported that she led a bus tour for Holmstad residents last week. The tour included driving by several Batavia historic sites and a visit to the museum. Marilyn has almost completed work on indexing the museum's collection of obituaries. There are over 7,000 names in this index.



Batavia Historical Society Membership 2002













Dues Structure:






Life (each)

Life (family)

Business or Institution

Business or Institution Life


Mail to:


Batavia Historical Society

P.O. Box 14

Batavia, Illinois 60510