THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Forty-Five

No. 2

 

April, 2004

 


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In Part 1 of the Wolcott story, which appeared in the last issue, we covered the first generation of the family in Batavia, Nelson andAlvina Wright Wolcott, and life in Bataviain the nineteenth century as recalled by two of their grandsons, Laurens Emerson Wolcottand Kenneth Oliver Wolcott. The story was based on an interview that the late Elliott Lundberg and Bill Hall had with Oliver M.("Ollie") Wolcott, the only member of the family still living in Batavia, and Life in the Good Old days -- Batavia, Illinois -- 1872-1910by the the above-mentioned grandsons of Nelson and Alvina.

 

Using the same sources, we shall focus in this part of the story on succeeding generations of the Batavia Wolcotts. Our frequentinclusion of middle names or initials is an attempt to help readers navigate the generations since the Wolcotts had a propensity touse the same first names over and over. We hope readers won't get lost, or lose interest, in what may sometimes seem like a seriesof Old Testament "begats," but we seldom have such a ready resource to trace most of a family's many branches for severalgenerations. To see how a family intermarries with other local families, branches out, spreads geographically, and in some casesloses some of its branches is interesting and sometimes rather sad, as when we come up against the sentence, "We never sawanything of that family after 1893."Ollie recalls, "I can remember when, in my lifetime, there were nine separate Wolcott households in Batavia. Today there are no Wolcotts other than myself left in Batavia, not even 'shirttail relatives.' Nelson and Alvina Wolcott had eight children -- six sons, Robert Nelson, Henry Kirke, Laurens Wright, Seymour Amzi, William Allen, and Frank Newton, and two daughters, Ellen Huldah and Mary Lundie -- all born before the family moved from New York State to Batavia in 1856.

 

We shall give a few facts about each but will pursue in depth only those, and their descendants, who remained in Batavia. Ellen Huldah Wolcott Ellen was the eldest child. As related in Part 1, after early separation from an unhappy marriage, she spent her life running her parents' household, which included the boarding house they operated. According to her nephew Laurens Wolcott, "the burden of all this fell upon my Aunt Ellen. The chamber work, slops and water pitchers (there were no inside toilet facilities), the laundry, meals, dishwashing and general housework -- cleaning, sweeping, dusting, etc. -- fell upon her. In her 'spare' time there were great pans of milk to skim the cream from and churn into butter, fruit and vegetable to gather and prepare for the table and to preserve and can, quantities of bread, biscuits, pies, doughnuts and cookies to bake several times a week. There were no prepared food in those days; meat was served at each meal -- breakfast, dinner (at noon), and supper.

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"Aunt Ellen could not have had a very happy or cheerful existence," Laurens continued. "She enjoyed meeting and visiting with her broth~/ ers, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces where all would foregather every Sunday afternoon to pay their respects to their parents or grandparents. At the time of which I write, Aunt Ellen also sang alto in the Congregational Church choir. Aside from these mild diversions, she led what seems to me now a pretty drab life -- all work and no play."

 

Robert Nelson Wolcott Robert, the next child, married Agnes Swain of Aurora, Illinois. We know little about Robert. His and Agnes' children who survived infancy eventually moved west, and the Batavia branch of the family eventually lost contact with later generations of Robert's family. Henry Kirke Wolcott Ollie Wolcott tells us that the next son, Henry (often referred to as "H.K."), was probably the best known Wolcott in Batavia. Born in 1840, he was in his early twenties when the Civil War broke out. Along with a number of Batavians and others from the Fox River Valley, he joined the army, entering as a private and ultimately rising to the rank of major. The colonel of his regiment was Edgar Swain, quite likely a relative of Agnes Swain, the wife of Henry's older brother. Henry married Helen Newton, a daughter of Levi Newton, who founded the Newton Wagon Company, and brother of Don Carlos Newton, a fellow Civil War Veteran and successor to his father as president of the wagon company. H.K. became a shareholder in the company, eventually succeeding Don Carlos as president in 1893.1

 

Henry and Helen had three sons, Fred, Elbert and Frank, and two daughters, May and Katherine. His family does not seem to have left much of a mark on Batavia -- possibly there was enough money that the sons did not feel compelled to work. As Ollie recalls about one of them, "I don't know what Elbert did; the whole time I knew him he was retired." Frank was a cement contractor; his wife, the former Clara White, taught for many years at the old McWayne School (Ollie was one of her students). One of Henry's daughters, May, married Roger Derby of another early Batavia family and had two sons, one of whom, Malcolm, lived on South Batavia Avenue until his death in the 1970s.

 

The Henry Wolcott family lived in one of the grandest houses in Batavia, located on the southwest corner of South Batavia Avenue and Union Avenue, across from the home of his parents. This is the house pictured on the first page of this issue. It had originally been built by Dr. D. K. Town, a prominent early Batavian. In The Good Old Days, Henry's nephew Kenneth O. Wolcott recalled some of the features of the house. One was indoor plumbing, "a luxury that required both running water and adequate sewers," which only a handful of Batavia homes had before the 1890s. Another feature was electricity, Kenneth noted. "Many of our friends began to install the newfangled electric lights, either immediately or within a few years." Among those were his Uncle Henry. This beautiful house was razed in 1965 to make way for the Lincoln Apartments between Union Avenue and Walnut Street on South Batavia Avenue.

 

Laurens Wright Wolcott

Nelson and Alvina Wolcott's next child, Laurens W., served in the army during the Civil War. He married Lucy Gallup of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They had two daughters. We have little information about him.

 

Mary Lundie Wolcott Willard

The fifth child, Mary Lundie, married Thomas R. Willard, professor, dean and interim president of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. The family must have remained in close touch -- later we find a son of Mary's youngest brother Frank in business with Thomas Willard's brother in New York.

 

Seymour Amzi Wolcott

Seymour A., the sixth child, was 14 at the beginning of the Civil War. He was anxious to join the army but both

his mother and his brother H.K. tried athard to dissuade him. Somehow or other he succeeded in joining, probably underage, and served as a private in the same regiment as his brother. After the war, he opened a drugstore on South Batavia Avenue. In 1871, he married Olivia Patterson, daughter of Dr. R.J. Patterson, the proprietor and medical director of Bellevue place, the private sanitarium where Mary Todd Lincoln was confined for a short period in 1975. They had three sons, Frank Raymond ("Ray"), Richard and Oliver S, and a daughter, Amy. Olivia died when Oliver was born, and Seymour later married Mary L. Emerson, a sister of his brother William's wife, Ada. Seymour continued operating a pharnacy on the Island for many years, even after he joined his father-in-law at Bellevue and ran the pharmacy there. After 1987, Seymour, later joined by his sons Ray and Richard, took over the running of Bellevue, with Dr. F.H. Daniels as the resident doctor.

 

The Second Empire house at 345 Union Avenue was home to the Seymour Wolcott family after 1876 and remained in the Wolcott family until 1958. It is now occupied by the Mark Allen family. When Seymour died in 1940 at the age of 93, he was the last survivor of the Grand Army of the Republic in Batavia. William Allen Wolcott The next child of Nelson and Alvina was William Allen, Ollie's grandfather. We know more about the personal details of William's life than those of his siblings since his grandson Ollie knew him and his sons Laurens and Kenneth wrote about him inThe Good -V'J/d Days. William was born in 1849 and was too young to serve in the Civil War -something he regretted. He always looked up to his three brothers who had served, particularly Henry. (It's strange but true, at least in former days, that those who were prevented by age or physical disabilities from serving during wartime often envied those who did, while those engaged in conflict would gladly have traded places with the "stay at homes"!) William's first wife was Ada Manson Emerson. Originally from Bangor, Maine, Ada was living in Batavia and teaching in a country school when she married William. They had four children, Laurens Emerson, Walter Nelson, Kenneth Oliver and Mariel Emerson, who died at the age of about two. Later, after the death of Ada, William married Eva, daughter of pioneer Dr. Williams. The William Wolcott family lived in a house on Union Avenue at the entrance to the quarry, now the Harold Hall Quarry swimming pool. The louse no longer exists.

 

William's obituary in the April 7, 1944 Aurora Beacon News provides a good picture of the public side of his life: "Educated as a pharmacist led. note: this profession seems to have run in the family], Mr. Wolcott was a leading merchant and druggist of the city for many years. He conducted a store in South Batavia Avenue ... When that store was destroyed by fire, he long conducted a drug and grocery business in East Wilson Street, on the island ... "When he retired from the business life of the city, he became a magazine salesman and in spite of his advanced years, his sales won him many prizes in competition with young men and women. He canvassed Batavia and much of the countryside, on foot, often walking 5 miles a day. Of sturdy stock, he kept very active, and only last week was able to ride down town and attend to errands. A painstaking gardener, he enjoyed the results of his victory garden last summer and was expecting to follow his usual garden plans this year. He was a lover of the outdoors, a veteran camper and picnicker." William's son Laurens recalled: "My father's hours at the store were long - from 7 a.m. until 9 or 10 at night, with just time enough to come home at noon for dinner and at night for supper. As a small boy, I rarely ever saw him atany other time, except Sundays. Even on Sunday, he would open up the drug store for an hour or so for prescriptions and often was called out to fill a prescription at other times during the day.

 

"Occasionally, however, perhaps once or twice a year, he would take time off and take me fishing. Oh what a glorious feeling that was! I think asa boy I liked fishing better than anythingelse, but I was not allowed to goalone or with other boys until I learnedto swim, which I did when I was tenyears old."My father was a just man, but hewas no softie. He never petted orcuddled me, as my mother did, andrarely showed outward signs of affectionor emotion. When he promisedpunishment he never forgot it, althoughhe might keep me anticipatingit in dread for several days beforeadministering it. During this time Iwould try to be a model kid and slavishlydo everything I could think of inthe hope that he would mitigate thepunishment. My ruse never worked. I have sometimes since wondered ifthis delay wasn't done deliberately tokeep me on good behavior longer. Ifso, it did."Survived by his second wife and hissons, William died in 1994, three daysshort of his 95th birthday. He was an honorary deacon for life of the CongregationalChurch, having served asdeacon for many years.Frank Newton WolcottThe eighth and last child of Nelsonand Alvina was Frank Newton, bornin 1852. As Ollie's father, Laurens,wrote in The Good Old Days, "Frank N. went west at an early age, finally drifting down into Arizona where he married and had three children: two girls, Lucie and Eva, and a son, [Henry] Newton.

 

Uncle Frank died in a hunting accident after which our families sort of lost touch with each other and I do not know what became of these three cousins." Kenneth adds a bit to this in his part of The Good Old Days. Eva married a young geologist or mining engineer who was one of the victims murdered by the Mexican revolutionary bandiV general Pancho Villa, in 1916 in one of his raids across the border. Eva's brother Newton eventually became associated with a brother of his uncle Tom Willard in the manufacture or distribution of paving bricks in the New York City environs. William Wolcott's Descendants This brings us down to William's sons -- and more particularly Laurens, who was the only one to remain in Batavia. Walter settled in Pennsylvania and Kenneth, Laurens' coauthor of The Good Old Days, ended up in Rochester, New York. In Part 1 we have already covered Laurens' boyhood. He married twice, first to Jeannette Hazen, daughter of the superintendent of the East Side schools. She died early, and he later married Ethel May Patchin. Her father, Lyman Patchin, was a former pharmacist in Batavia, which Ollie points out makes him a grandson of twr; pharmacists. They had three son(~ another Laurens (better known as "Tinker"), born in 1908; Philip, born in 1913; and Ollie, born in 1918. According to Ollie, "My father worked for the U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Company most of his life. He built the brick house on North Batavia Avenue in 1910. He bought about three acres of land there.

 

The first thing he built when he bought the land was the boat house. His logic was that if he built the boat house first he'd have enough money to build the house but if he built the house first he wouldn't have enough money to build the boat house." Laurens died in 1959 at age 86. His wife, Ethel, had died eighteen days earlier. Tinker eventually went east where his uncle Walter was, worked in road construction, and eventually bought the company. He died at age 65 -- unusually early for the long-lived Wolcotts. Philip, who taught at the University of Illinois while obtaining his master's degree, became a geologist, working for many years in Venezuel'J for the company that became Exxon. Now 90, Philip lives in Florida. Ollie, who graduated from Northwestern University Law School, has lived his whole life in Batavia. He married Leota Capps, then a first grade teacher at the McWayne School.

 

Their daughter, Patricia Ann, is an Episcopal priest in Winnetka and has three children. Ollie spent his business career as a trust officer in the former Merchants National Bank in Aurora. It is sad to realize that someday there will be no members of this once large and prominent family left in Batavia. Unfortunately, this loss of continuity in a community may be the price of an educated, mobile society. It is interesting to note that Nelson and Alvina Wolcott's youngest son was named Frank Newton; it makes one wonder if there was an earlier family or other connection between the Wolcotts and the Newtons. The Newtons moved to Batavia from Attica, New York in 1854, and the Wolcotts arrived here from Attica two years later. The Emersons were related to other pronnent Batavia families of that time, including the Carrs, the Wades and the Glasspooles.

 


 

Meeting the Bowron Family

Part 1: Lyman "Red" Bowron and His Motor Service

 

Kay Bowron Anderson was born and grew up in Batavia; then, in 1952, she married and moved to California. Returning to Batavia fifty years later to be near her 96-yearold mother, she is full of memories of her life here, uncluttered by events in the intervening years. We think that you will find fascinating what she had to tell Bill Wood and Bill Hall in February 25 and March 2, 2004, interviews.

 


 

Red Bowron, Kay's father, was a well-known and universally liked figure on the Batavia scene sixty and vol_45_3.jpg

seventy years ago. Christened Lyman Crosby, Red was born in 1905 to William and Blanche Crosby Bowron.

William came from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and was related by marriage to the Max Alexander family. He worked at the south dam power plant that served the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin railroad. Blanche came to Batavia from New York. Besides, Red, the Bowrons had three other sons, Bob, Bill and Dick. Possibly Red did not care for school. In any event his formal education ended with seventh grade at Louise White -- "a mutual thing," as Kay put it. Family tradition gives an amusing explanation that has come down through the years -- that he hung J.B. Nelson from a coat hook at the school. We know that J.B. arrived in 1919 by the "third rail" to teach mathematics at the high school; while the timing might be right, the location is not, unless the newly arrived teacher went over to Louise White to help some students with their math. Let's leave it that it's an interesting story that may be true but that, more likely, involved some other teacher.

 

One thing, this is the story in which Red's legendary strength first came into play. We next see it when he was older, but still before he was married. He and his brother Bill liked to play tricks on one another. In this instance, it seems that Bill had stopped traffic over on Batavia Avenue; the police came along, and Bill said, "Red did it." As Kay tells what happened next, "The police came after Daddy, and he picked up Chief Alberovski and dangled him over the bridge on Wilson Street, saying, 'If you don't leave me alone, I am going to drop you in." And he was never bothered again.' " Little else of note is known of the interim years, but we do know something of what led up to his marriage. Harold Hall, one his buddies, was visiting a friend in Chicago and took Red with him "That," Kay says, "is where Daddy met Esther -- and her friend Clarice Caldwell, who would become my mother. "Esther was the daughter of the janitor in the building where Clarice's family lived. EsthEfr'sfamilywas friends the Carlstedts in Batavia, and Esther would come out and visit with them in the summer. Daddy wanted to date Esther, but her folks didn't like him and wouldn't let her go out with him unless Clarice went along. So Clarice paired off with Harold Hall on double dates, but eventually, though, Daddy switched his interest to Clarice, instead of Esther, and the rest is history. "After my parents married, they stayed in Chicago, I think, for about a vol_45_4.jpgyear, and Daddy drove a city bus for a while. Then he wanted to come back to Batavia, and that is when he began to drive for the Carlstedts in their trucking business." Kay has an interesting newspaper clipping, source and date unknown but from the late 1920s or early 1930s. It reads: ''The Carlstedt Motor Service truck was badly damaged early Sunday morning near Dixon when a Ford car occupied by five young men from Dixon smashed head on into it as the driver, Lyman Bowron, was changing a tire. The truck was badly smasher' but none of the young men were badly injured." Kay took up the story again, "The family moved to a little place on Delia street, and then they moved to a place on Church that was owned by the Pittmans. And from there they went to North Van Buren Street. On Van Buren, our neighbors were the Reicherts and the Hunts." During the course of these moves Red and Clarice had three children Kay, our interviewee; Jean, who married Ralph "Popcorn" Johnson and now lives in Des Plaines; and Denny, who married Nancy Wiberg, Gunnar's daughter, and has been at Fermilab for many years. After the Depression began, business got slow for the Carlstedts, and Red was laid off.

 

"At that time," Kay continued, "my parents discussed what to do and decided that he would get a truck and do his own thing, That is what he did. The business was Bowron Motor Service -- I imagine this was around 1932 or 1933. And I remember that truck. It was gorgeous. It had the most beautiful mural on the side -- a hunter shooting and, I believe, a dog. 'Challenge' was painted on it. Every morning he would have to walk over to pick up his truck because we didn't have a car until about 1935 or 1936. He parked under the garage in the back along with Roy Koubenec and Roy Feece - maybe others." Red's primary business was driving every day between Batavia and Chicago. Kay recalls, "He hauled for Polycoff's Garment Factory, the Challenge, and the Wind Engine and Pump Company, and he also hauled caskets for Glenn C- 's funeral home. But he would bring the caskets as far as the dock, because he wasn't going to go in the funeral home -- that was off limits. He would leave them out there, and Glenn Crane got them in somehow or other. "And then he also picked up laundrVfor Junie's Chinese Laundry: because Junie didn't have any washing facilities. He just took in the dirty shirts and had Daddy take them into Chicago to be washed.

 

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Then Daddy would bringthem back at the end of the day, and Junie would iron them." Another undated clipping, apparently from The Chicago Daily News in the early 1930s, features Red Bowron. it reads: "A Daily News classified advertisement and an alert truck driver brought happiness to Miss Norma Willis of Oak Park -- and a brand new $100 bill to the truck driver. "Miss Willis advertised in Monday's newspaper the loss of her purse somewhere between Oak Park and Hinsdale and offered a liberal reward to the finder. Monday morning Lyman C. Bowron, 238 North Van Buren Street, Batavia, an independent trucker, found the purse, containinglittle money but much valuable jewelry, on Roosevelt road between the two suburbs as he was driving to Chicago. "He returned the purse to Miss Willis yesterday, after reading TheDaily News ad, and today received the $100 as a reward for his honesty." "On the weekends," Kay said, "it seemed that Daddy was either shining up that truck or moving somebody. Gunnar Wiberg likes to tell the story that he needed a galvanized bathtub moved up to a second floor apartment. Daddy put it on his back, by himself, and went up the stairs to the second floor. Gunnar still talks about that." At that point, Bill Wood observed, "It's interesting to think back to how things moved-in tnose days. There were your father and Carlstedt and Reisling and, I think, another one who made daily trips just between here and Chicago, with stops along the way."

 

About 1939 or 1940, Red and Clarice decided to build a new home, one on Church Street. Ralph Kresser was the builder. Kay recalls, "It had a lot of new things in it. We had colored bathroom fixtures, which nobody had then. We had silent light switches, another thing that no one had, When Daddy went to get the money for the down payment at one of the banks in Batavia, they wouldn't give it to him since the house would be on the east side of town. They thought it was toogood for the east side. But he found a way -- and we got the house. "Something my dad used to do was out of his love for people. We had a Christmas tree lot down near where later the Swansons built their hardware store. Dad used to sell Christmas trees down there, with a fire burning in a big old oil drum. He would spend time telling people which tree was just right for them. I remember a card we got when he passed away.

 

The woman wrote, 'I can rememberRed -- we'd come, and he would say,"Here's a tree for old man so and so.'''I think Bob Thomas was selling them with him."Dad loved animals. "Kay continued," and it would upset him if he wasdriving around and saw horses out in the rain -- stuff like that. I rememberone time he told me to clean the goldfishbowl, which was sitting on top 0:the refrigeratoL I was going to pLiJthem in the sink, so I put the stopperin and filled the sink with water -- but Ifilled it with hot water! When I finished,I let the water out, and there werethose parboiled goldfish lying in thesink. Oh man, I thought, he is goingto kill me. It was terrible -- I had cookedthe fish."Red died from an accident in October 1945, right after Kay started herfreshman year in high school and rightafter his fortieth birthday. Kay saysthat, according to her mother, his funeralwas the biggest one at that timein Batavia. There were a hundred carsin the procession out to River Hills.Kay says she asked her mother whyhe wasn't buried in the East SideCemetery as she would have expected.It so happens, her mother toldher, that River Hills had a big salescampaign going and were selling lotscheap. At least, Red would have beenhappy -- it wasn't on the west side!In the next issue, we shall cover Kay"lively memories of a girlhood in Batavia in the 1930s and 1940s.


 

Transcriber Found

 

Carol Miller is the new transcriber of our interviews. She was the first to respond to the request in the last Historian, and we have already come to appreciate her promptness and accuracy. She was baptized under fire, taking care of the two interviews of Kay Anderson in record time. We heard from others after Carol ca1led, and we appreciate their offers.

It is encouraging to find volunteers interested enough in the society and the Historian to volunteer for this job.

Our thanks go to all who offered.


The President's Ball January 30, 1934

 

by Helen Bartelt Anderson

 

For many years I have enjoyed sharing memories of my early childhood on the farm. The 1920s were carefree for my brother, Roger, and me until 1929 and the Stock Market Crash. My father's death in 1930 added to our frustration, sadness, and hard work. Herbert Hoover was president at the time. In the election of 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was overwhelmingly voted into office. The United States was in the deepest depression it had ever suffered. Millions were out of work. On March 4, 1933, President Roosevelt gave his inaugural address, bolding stating, "All we have to fear is fear itself." It gave the people a new spirit. Things slowly started to get betteL As a young man in 1921, the president had become a victim of infantile paralysis. The dread disease had left him with both legs paralyzed. Since that time he had searched for treatment that would allow him to walk. Word reached him that in Georgia there was a pool where people with paralysis were flocking to bathe in the warm waters~ He lost no time in trying it for himself.

 

Each time he went to the pool, he was aware of those who came and could not afford the treatment. He especially wanted to help children, so he bought the pool, known as Warm Springs, along with 1,200 surrounding acres. To finance this project, he turned to the people. He proposed to each mayor in the United States that every city would have a ball on January 30 in honor of the president's birthday. Tickets would be sold, with money above expenses to be used to support the Warm Springs Treatment Center. In 1934 Batavia's Mayor Van Burton announced that on the 30th of January, Batavia would hold its first President's Ball. It would be at the high school gymnasium on the corner of Wilson Street and Batavia Avenue. Jack Mate and his orchestra from Berwyn would furnish the music There would be refreshments. Cost? Ten dollars per couple. Hattie Anderson, Vi Swanson and I were good friends.

 

All three of us worked at Campana. There was plenty of time at noon to plan on how to convince our boyfriends that it was their duty to take us to the President's Ball. They finally saw things "our way." Hattie and I had gone to Aurora the Saturday before the ball to buy new dressy gowns. My dress was rosy red. Hattie's was mauve. The saleslady told us those two colors were brand new. From my diary Tuesday, January 30, 1934. Well, the big night arrived. Hattie and I had our hair set at Anne's at noon and were late for work. ML Fisher never batted an eye. We had so much fun tonight at the Presidents Ball. There was a very large crowd, very respectable. Jack Mate's orchestra was very good and put everyone in a dancing mood, if they knew how to dance or not. Hattie, Vi and I are still the best of friends. Hattie lives in a retirement home in St. Charles. Vi lives at Riverain Retirement Center. Clifford and I are the only ones of our friends who are still a couple and living at home, with the help of our family. After 66 years of marriage, we have learned to live together peacefully and happily.


 

It's "Red Dot Time"Again

 

Please check the address label on your Historian. If it has a red dot, our records indicate thatyou have not paid your dues for 2004. Unless you do so, this is the last issue that you will receive. Please use the form on the back-- or even a plain sheet of paper -and mail it in with your check the day. We hate to lose friends.


 

Do You Have a 1937 Batavia High School Class Ring?

 

Nanette King Sponder of Modesto, California, sent us the following request via our website:My mother, Etta Lange, a 1937 graduate; I have her ring, but the crest is missing. I need someone with a 1937 class ring so that I can have it copied

and repair my mom's ring. Can anyone help Nanette? If so, please contact us at the Depot Museum (6304065274), at our website (batavia historical society.org), or at our mailing address (P.O. Box 14, Batavia, IL 60510). Alternatively, you can contact Mrs. King directly at 1937 Walnut Tree Drive, Modesto, California 95355 or via e-mail atrednops@bigvalley.net.


Our Revolutionary War Burial Site To Be Rededicated

 

Marilyn Robinson

 

The Batavia Historical Society, the City of Batavia, the Elias Kent Kane Chapter NSDAR, the Fox Valley Chapter SAR, and the Kane county Genealogical Society are planning a series of special events to rededicate the burial site of John Gowdy, a Revolutionary War veteran, buried in Batavia's East Side Cemetery. Sunday, April 25, 2004, will mark the first in a series of discussion groups, "What Was John Gowdy Thinking?" an in-depth look at the issues facing those living prior to and during the Revolutionary War. This session will introduce the subject and John Gowdy to the audience. The second discussion on May 23 will focus on the issues of the times. The final discussion on Sunday, June 27, will look at families, communities, and day-to-day life in Revolutionary times. What was it like to live next to a neighbor who wished to overthrow the king? Why would a youth like John Gowdy decide to enlist?

 

All discussion sessions will be at the Batavia City Council Chambers from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The rededication of the stone will be at 1:30 p.m., July 3, 2004, at the East Side Cemetery. A new stone will be dedicated in Mr. Gowdy's memory

marking his grave as that of a Revolutionary War veteran. Mark your calendar and plan to at tend these events celebrating a oncein- a-lifetime historical moment for Batavia. Mr. Gowdy is only the fourth Revolutionary veteran known to be buried in Kane County. It is fitting that the city should honor Mr. Gowdy: Watch the newspapers for more de-~ tails as they are announced. John Gowdy was born in Connecticut in 1759. Just after turning 17, but before the Declaration of Independence was signed, he enlisted in a company of state troops for a term of seven months. His entire enlistment was spent at New London, Connecticut, helping to build Fort Trumbull, which was later destroyed by Benedict Arnold after he joined the British side. Gowdy served two more terms. After his service was over, he farmed in Connecticut, married twice, and raised a family. He moved to Illinois with some of that family and ended in Batavia where his granddaughter, married to L.P. Barker of the stone quarry business, lived.

 

After John's death in 1854, he was buried in the Barker lot next to where Lawrence P. and Mary Gowdy Barker would eventually lie. Are you related to John Gowdy or do you know someone who is? We would like to hear from you. We are seeking descendants for the celebration on July 3, 2004.

 


 

Meetings -- Past and Future

 

On Sunday, March 21, the members enjoyed a presentation "An Architect'sVision of Livable Communities" by member and Batavia architect Lane Allen. Following his presentation, refreshments were provided by Carole Dunn and

her committee. Mark the dates for meetings at 2:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers on Sunday, June 13, and Sunday, September 12. The June meeting will feature "Museum in a Box" and "John Gowdy -- Revolutionary War Veteran,"

the subject of Marilyn Robinson's story in this issue. In September we will celebrate the "150th Anniversary of the Batavia Depot," the home of our museum.

 

Some members from out of town have asked a good question: Why do we send notices of meetings to people who we must know are too far away to attend? We have considered this in the past and have decided to send to

all members for several reasons. First, with out-of-town members spread all over northern Illinois as well as beyond, we haven't known how far is "too far" -- where we could draw the line as to who might attend a meeting. Second, occasionally out-of-town members will be visiting the area and might wish to attend a meeting if they know about it and can fit it into their schedules. Third -- and maybe most important -- we want all of our members to know what is going on in their society, even if some may not be able to participate in all the activities ..


 

What's New At The Museum?

 Carla Hill, Director

 

The museum reopened on March 8, for the 2004 season. We are looking forward to a great spring and summer. Be sure to mark your calendar for some of the events. April and May will be busy months. We are scheduled to give tours to approximately 500 Batavia school children who will visit the museum as part of the third grade Batavia history unit. Chris Winter has once again put together a wonderful exhibit based on the History of Fans. Be sure to stop in and see this very interesting display.

 

This year our Depot is celebrating it's 150th birthday, and we have many wonderful events planned. During Windmill City Fest on Friday, July 9, we will kick off the Birthday Celebration. We will be open extended hours, and we will be sponsoring entertainment by folk musician Patty Ecker. Once again we will be sponsoring a Cubs Fans "Behind the Scenes Trip to Wrigley Field." The trip will take place on Saturday, July 24. Information and prices will be in the summer Park District brochure. Anyone interested in registering for this trip can do so at the Park District. We have made great headway on the permanent railroad exhibit. Bob Roehrig from Batavia has been helping us with the communications part of the exhibit and has recently installed two working telegraph keys and prepared several other items for display. We can not thank him enough! On Saturday, September 11, we will be dedicating the exhibit, and the day will be filled with activities, refreshments and balloons for our visitors.

 

On Sunday, September 12, the Society will host its fall meeting at City Hall. The meeting will be focused on Batavia's railroad history. Society members will receive a flyer detailing times and events.

We will be making several improvements at the museum over the summer. The building and the Gazebo will receive some repairs and a fresh coat of paint, and the planters will be updated. It will be a great year -- and we can use your help! We are always looking' for new volunteers at the museum, especially for the Gustafson Research Center. If you are interested in volunteering, call Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041 or the museum at 406-5274.


 

vol_45_6.jpg

 

1 Appleton Manufacturing Co. (now City Hall)

 

 

2 Newton Wagon Works (now site of East Side Mall)

 

3 Part of pond later filled in (now site of McDonald's)

 

4 Part of U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Co. (now site of Batavia Shopping Plaza)

 

5 Batavia High School (now site of Batavia Public Library)

 

6 Appleton Manufacturing Co. (now Riverwalk)

 

7 Believed to be Boy Scout cabin

 

8 Site of Depot Museum

 

9 Site of Riverain

 

10 Old Louise White School

 

11 First Baptist Church

 

12 Challenge Windmill Co. (now various businesses)

 

 


 

Membership Matters

 

Since the last issue, we have gained the following new life members (from Batavia unless otherwise noted), some of whom were previously annual members:

 

Ron and Mary Gilkerson, Tim and Sandra Killoran (San Ramona, CA), Mr. and Mrs. William McGrath, Betty Moorehead, Bill and Betty Lee Skoglund, Bob and Ann Thomas, and Richard W. and Sharon L. Whyte. Other new members include Lane Allen Architects, Inc., Betty (Kirk) Chapman (Geneva), Arlene Clark, Connie L. Ekhtiari (Geneva), Peter and Leslee Kraft, Patricia R. Meyers, Shirley Schramer (Berlin, WI), Bonnie Scroggins, Carol Smith (Ingleside, IL), Nanette Sponder (Modesto, CA), Paul Stratton (River Falls, WI -- a gift from Connie L. Ekhtiari), Pat Thompson Strombom (Algonquin, IL )  gift from Rodney Ross); and Louette Turkolu (San Pedro, CA -- a gift from Georgene Schramer). We are pleased to welcome these members and urge them to participate in the activities of the society. With regret, we report the following member deaths: George H. Dickenson, Marg2.~~t Flinn (life member), and Marion Swanson Todd (an active volunteer over the years). Gifts in memory of Elliott Lundberg came from Denis and Nancy Bowron (Huntley), Loraine N. Peddy, and Donald H. Miller (Grampian, PA); in memory of Wilbur Peterson from Thomas and Rica Peterson and from Rosemary McConnaughay (Elburn); in memory of Josephine Sroka (Chris Winter's mother) from Richard and Lois Benson and from Marilyn Robinson; and in honor of Agnes Clever's 89th birthday from her son Robert Clever (Mashpee, MA). Gifts in the amount of $100 each were also received from Edith S. Benson (Charlotte, NC), Robert and Susan E. Ducar, and Erdene S. Peck (Melrose, MT). A note accompanying a gift from Gary E. Garrison (Clinton, IA) mentioned Bill Wood.

 

The last issue included an embarrassing mistake: we said that gifts in memory of Robert O. Anderson were received from Robert and Lucy Anderson, David and Suzy Anderson, and Bruce and Kenna Anderson. We are delighted to report that Bob is still with us. The gifts were actually in memory of Paul Hubbard, and we were glad to let the Andersons know that they were properly reported to Paul's family.