THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Forty-Five

No. 3

 

July, 2004

 


 

The VanNortwicks in Batavia

--- Introduction ---

 

Many of the early settlers in Batavia started successfu I, sometimes large, businesses. vol_45_7_vanNortwick.jpg The wagon company founded by the Newtons is a good example. The Shumways began a foundry that lasted for 130 years. Others established banks or started the windmill companies for which Batavia was famous. No family,

however, operated on as vast a scale, and for so long, or was involved in as many diverse business interests as the VanNortwicks. In them, we find a family of risk-takers -- entrepreneurs who more than once built fortunes, lost them, and then created even greater ones. The first Batavia VanNortwick, William, was born in New Jersey in 1779 and moved with his parents to upstate New York in 1800. Coming to this area in 1835, just two years after the arrival of Christopher Payne, the first settler, he promptly built a dam and erected a saw mill and a flour mill. That was the beginning of the family's business enterprises. Although his only son, John, remained in upstate New York for thirteen more years, he eventually settled in Batavia in 1848.

 

Over the years, John was active in the organization of two major railroads, built paper mills here and in Wisconsin, became involved in the manufacture of windmills, operated a paper bag company and founded a bank. Both of these VanNortwicks were active in the community; one of Batavia's earliest churches began in William's house, and John built and gave to a different denomination a church building that is still in use. John's sons and grandsons, almost invariably named William and John1, continued the family businesses. And yet today, no one bearing the VanNortwick name lives in Batavia. The name appears with any prominence only two places in Batavia -- a street on the west side and a room in the Depot Museum named in honor of a VanNortwick benefactor.

 

It seems appropriate that we should put together a story of this unusual family and its influence on Batavia. In writing this, we have relied heavily on a number of sources but have drawn most heavily from Batavia Places and the People Who Called Them Home (hereafter referred to as "Batavia Places") by Marilyn Robinson, John Gustafson's Historic Batavia ("Historic Batavia") by Marilyn Robinson and Jeffery Schielke, and The VanNortwick Genealogy, written and published privately in 1971 by William Buchwalter VanNortwick (hereafter "William B."), a greatgreat- grandson of the first settler. The VanNortwick Genealogy contains an amazing collection -- a veritable treasure trove - of early VanNortwick correspondence, primarily between William and John before, and during the years between, William's arrival in 1835 and John's in 1848, but also including letters to and from other family members, John's father-in-law, Meredith Mallory, and various business associates. The collection contains more than 150 letters written over a 20-year period beginning in 1831.

 

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In his book, William B. wisely chose to reproduce the letters as written, complete with misspellings, grammatical

errors and inconsistency in capitalization -- a practice we shall generally continue in quoting from them (without inserting the customary "sic") since it brings us the flavor of his writing. As William B. wrote, "The 'History of Morris County' [where William grew up] ... states that the first formal educational institution in Mendham was not founded until 1795. William was then sixteen years old; so it must be assumed that his primary education was achieved at home or in some informal local manner. He says in one of his letters that he did not spend his youth with a pen in hand. What is more interesting, I feel, is the extentof his vocabulary and his ability to express himself." For the ease of our readers, however, we shall make one kind of editing change: breaking William's paragraphs, some of which ran for many lines without punctuation, into sentences. In his introduction, William B. observes: "The reader may also wish the letters contained less business information and more of a personal nature. However, I find that, withall, a careful reading of all the letters brings out a surprising amount of sociological detail if the reader is prepared to identify it." We agree: that is why we have quoted as much as we have from them. The letters give us an interestinV picture of the evolving relationship between father and son. At the outset while William is still in New York, we find John asking for his father's advice and William offering guidance, both financial and spiritual -- sometimes without being asked. William is always focusing on John's future, urging him to seek jobs that might enhance his career prospects.

 

Gradually we see the relationship shift after William, aged 57, suffered an apparent financial setback in 1835 that precipitated his move to Illinois. This eventually led to his acting primarily as his son's agent in establishing their first Illinois ventures. We find William showing frustration at not receiving answers to his questions and John sometimes becoming rather testy about receiving admonishments or advice he has not requested. Withal the correspondence shows a warm relationship between father and son while making it increasingly apparent that, even though William may haVE> laid the cornerstone of the family'y business enterprises in Batavia, it is the younger, more hardheaded, John who will move the family business to fruition. We see here the "fits and starts" in the beginning of the VanNortwick business empire. To assist in identifying the various VanNortwicks, we have included as an insert part of the family tree that appears in The VanNortwick Genealogy. Part 1: The Years before Batavia The VanNortwicks, originally of Dutch extraction, had been longtime residents of New Jersey until John, the father of our settler moved to upstate New York in 1800. It ishis only son, William, born in 1779, who came to Batavia in 1835.

 

Prior to coming here, William was a contractor for some of New York's important public works. For some time he had been Superintendent of Canals in northern New York, presumably including the Erie Canal. His son, John, who was born to William and his wife, the former Martha Flack, in1809, first worked for him in the engineering department, Correspondence reveals that by '-<831 John was feeling his way toward a career, working on the canals but away from the family home. There is no evidence in these letters that William was still working for the state. Always on the lookout for possible investments, William wrote John in December, 18322 :"I thought it probable the Chenango Canal Bill will pass this winter. If it should it will give you imployment for two or three years which would be better for your interest than keeping a store in Ft. Edward.

 

"There will be a new bank chartered this winter in Troy. If that should take place you had better subscribe for stock sufficient to invest your money and at any time you may want to go into business you can sell it at an advance

and realize your money." We do not know whether or not this transpired. But William did not focus on business alone in that letter. A "staunch Methodist" as his son later described him, William went on to inform him that "your Uncle Rogers and Martha have experienced Religion and joined the Methodist Church in this place ... We have had a protracted meeting in this place and the above are some of the fruits of it. The work of the lord is going on properly in this place. We should be glad to have you here to participate in our days." In April, 1833, William advised John, "As the Chenango Canal Bill has passed, let me advise you on the subject... I think you had better apply for a situation immediately and not stay to finish where you are, as no doubt Mr. Mills would prefer your staying there. You will readily see if you stay on the Crooked Lake Canal it will prevent your getting a situation that would be advantageous on the Chenango Canal ... It gives me great satisfaction to learn that you have given such general satisfaction the past season to Mr. Bonck and the contractors on your canal.

 

I hope you will conduct yourself so as to continue to meet with their approbation." Fearing that John was considering a career change, William advised him: "You wrote in your last as though it was doubtful whether you would go to the Chenango Canal. You informed me Mr. Hutchinson had offered the maping of a part of the Erie Canal at two dollars per day. I should think it was not enough. I supose your business where you are will soon close. I wish you would write and let me know where you think you will go." At one point John must have chided his parents for not writing. We find William responding (and he must have been quite upset because his spelling is unusually bad): "[A]lthough you attribute our not riting to you oftener to a want of Parental affection I think a moment's reflection would do away with all such surmizing on the subject. You know my young days were not spent with a quill in my hand or gloves on my fingers and from habbits formed in early life I have ever had an aversion for writing and I can assure you it really greaves me that you should attribute the neglect to causes that have no existence but in your immagination."

 

In a September, 1833, letter, William cautioned his son, "I would advise you to stay in the State employ if

you can obtain sufficient wages. I think you have been long enough in the business to take charge of the construction of a section of the Chenango Canal ... If you can obtain such a situation at about four dollars per day I think you had better accept it. If you cannot get that I would advise you in that case to accept a situation on the Railroad."

In the next paragraph, William continues: "I will now make a few remarks on your letter and in the spirit in which it was rote. In the first place as to the letter you make such a small [sic] and then cross write it that it would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer to read it and in the next place you moralized home and the domestic circle to such an extent that one would think you were really homesick or about getting married. In aformer letteryou wrote something about locating yourself in the western part of this state. Now you write me you have purchased a lot of pine timber.

 

Upon the whole I think you reveal a discontented mind." William then goes on to tell his son that life's satisfaction can come only from seeking "firstthe kingdom of God and its righteousness." In late 1833 we find William giving more guidance to John, stating, "[F]rom what you write it appears that you are undeterminedwhat your business will be next season. I have seen Mr. Bonck since you wrote me. From him I learn you can have a place on the Chenango Canal under Mr.Allen. I supose it would be mortifying to you to be obliged to work under Mr. Allen or any other person on account of wages as well as on account of dancing- attendance-to-one-no way your supperior. Let me advise you to suspendyour decisionon the subject until towards Spring and in the meantime say nothing that may give offense to Mr. Bonck or Mr. Allen. I know Mr. Bonck is your friend and he may be prevailed on to give you a better berthin the course of the winter. I have a good deal of anxiety you should continue in the employ of the state and although you may not be promoted asfast as you would wish I think it will tum to your advantage in the end.~ A few letters tater, William offered some advice that John had solicited."You rate for my advice about goinginto business with James White.

 

I will give it in few words. White has neither the capacity or means that shold make it an object with you to go into business with him. I am confident he left this place poor. And Remember if you put your money in his hands or under his management you will suffer a loss."During this period, the letters of Wil1iam and Martha to their son continuouslyoffered him religious guidance-- even more, sometimes, than business counsel. In an 1834 letter, William wrote, "We ... are sorry to lem you are so unhappily situated. As you ask my advice on the subject I will procede to give it... As to the conduct of Mr. Allen in regard to Religion, I would reprove him likewise for a wantof a becoming respect fo r the Sabbath but let it always be done with a becoming spirit. We cannot help won- dering if John offered the reproof and, if so, how he did it with a mbecoming spirit" -- also, how il may have beer received. ~ Later William upbraids his son, "I once more take my pen in hand for the purpose of correspondence wilh my only son not corresponded with for near four months although within oneh undred miles. There can be no good reason for sutch neglect on your part.You have neit her old age nor infirmity to complain of.

 

You can't say we have not answered your letters. All this has been done and yet we hear nothingfrom you except what we get by accident. Permit me to hope that on readinga few lines from an unfortunate Father will so far wake up thesensibi lityies of your nature as to induce you to drop us a few lines although this is by way of reproof for past neglect. There is no hint in these early letters that William had any intent to leave New York. But then, in a March 1835, we find him writing from SI. Louis to a John Mcintyre in New York City. In that letter, there is an implication that he had become involved in some business difficulties at home. He wrote, "I have injured [my friends] without benefitting myself or nay boddyelse. On the receipt of this be so kind as to write and let me know wherefamily are ... I do not think it beslto let any know where I am al present. After reading this you had better destroy il. Tell my poor family life is only desirable for their sakes ... " He goes on to say that he hopes to make amends.In a letter the next month, John wrote his father in Peoria -- a mixtureof business and reassurance, ml was in hope that you would have writtenme I nstead of John Mcintyre -- he to be sure has appeared very friendly tome and the family -- but I tell you plainly I think he is that kind of a man that I would not place much confidence in and I should think for the futureyou had better write me and the family John goes on to urge his father to look for land. ~ I f you should think best I should like to have you look about and if a few hundred dollars could be well invested in land along [the Illinois) River or on the line of this new Canada

[between Chicago and the Illinois River] n I will forward you the money."

 

And then, reverting to whatever may have been the cause of his father's leaving New York, John reassures him: "Do not let these troubles disturb your peace. I know you have fine feeling and are very sensitive -but you know you have allways done what you thought was for the best. If it has turned out bad you have a clear conscience and with this there is no necessity of casting any reflections upon yourself and certainly I nor your family have nor never will cast any upon you n" In June, 1835, William responded from Paw Paw, Illinois. expressing thanks for his son's "kind and honest sentiments of your affectionate heart" and describing his business plans. "I concluded to purchase Vandeventer's claims on the east side of Fox River of about sixty acres of land with a logg House on it without any other improvement the land being mostly covered with oak timber. This lot bounds on the River where we intend to build our dam. My part of the dam will be about 150 feet in length and between six and seven feet high.

 

The lot will furnish all the timber for my part of it on this side." After discussing his business plans in great detail in a June letter to his son, William turns to the arrangement to get his family and his possessions to Illinois. He instructs John, "I shold advise the family to take a steam boat at buffalo [New York] for Chicago as they will arrive there in 7 or 8 days, Their goods will cost no more than on board buggy or schooner. When they get to Chicago they may come to Napers with the stage or hyre a private conveyance as may be cheaper or best." By July 18, a letter from William tells John that his mother has arrived, although "her health is not as good as usual" -- presumably as the result of her arduous journey. And with that, we shall leave off until the October issue when, in Part 2, we shall go into the business and family problems that arose as William, usually acting as John's agent, gets the family's businesses under way in Batavia. In the story on the Wolcotts that appeared in recent issues,we noted the propensity of that family to use the same first namesover and over.That propensitywas nothing as compared to that of the VanNortwicks; family tradition apparently decreed that "the sons of the VanNortwicks were only named John or William in alternate generations or both when there were two sons." The family tree available to us shows only two male VanNortwick descendants of the settler, William, with a different name. The VanNortwick Genealogy shows this letter as having been written in December, 1833, but its location and context make it clear that it was written in 1832.


A Family Tie to Abraham lincoln

 

Like most of Illinois, Batavia has long sought a connection with Abraham Lincoln. It is known that he was acquainted with Judge Samuel Lockwood, an early opponent of slavery in our state, but there is no evidence that he ever visited here. The circuit he covered as a lawyer was south of here, in central Illinois The only direct tie-in that we can claim is through Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd Lincoln. She had always been unstable, and following her husband's assassination her behavior became increasingly erratic. In 1875.her son Robert had her declared insane, and she became a patient at Bellevue Sanitarium under the care of Dr. R. J. Patterson for a short period. Recently another connection to our sixteenth president has come to our attention. Genealogical research has revealed that Wilma Hanks Phillips, the mother-in-law of our Fire Chief Bill Darin, is related to Abraham Lincoln through his mother, Nancy Hanks.

 

Wilma's great-great-grandfather John Hanks was a first cousin of Nancy Hanks; and her great-grandfather John Calvin Hanks was accordingly Lincoln's second cousin. This means that Wilma is a second cousin, three times removed, of President Abraham Lincoln. Anyone who has even dabbled in genealogy always hopes to find some connection, however remote, to an important person in history. Few, however, can claim the close tie that Wilma has with one of the greatest figures in our country's n indeed in the world's --history. We're proud to share that tie.


 

Meeting the Bowron Family

Part 2: Memories of a Batavia Girlhood

 

In Part 1, we concentrated on Lyman ("Red") Bowron, who ran a trucking business in Batavia until his untimely accidental death at age 40. In this part, we shall recount his daughter Kay Bowron Anderson's recollections of a childhood in Batavia during the 1930s and 1940s. After 50 years in California, she has returned to be near her 96-year-old

mother and has vivid memories of growing up here. The story is based on interviews that Bill Wood and Bill Hall conducted with Kay on February 25 and March 2, 2004 and some additional information she provided on May 4, 2004. vol_45_9.jpg

 

Kay Bowron Anderson spent all of her Batavia girlhood on the east side, living with her parents, Red and Clarice, her sister, Jean, and her brother, Denny. The family began its Batavia life on Delia Street, then moved to North Van Buren Street, and finally settled in 1940 in the house that Ralph Kresser built for them on Church Street. Kay attended the old Louise White school, the only grade school on the east side in those days. AliceGustafson was the principal. Kay recalls the names of some of her classmates, most of whom were still together at graduation from high school in 1949. (She is working on the 55th reunion.) Some of them were Corliss Andrews (Weaver), Bea Petraitis (Porch), Dick Wagner, Stan Lenart, Art Follett (who went off to West Point), Mary Lou Hamingson (Pierson), Harvey Sweigert, Wayne Benson, Marge Augustine (Burch), Jim Mair and Kay B. Graves (Aronson). Asked about skating on the pond, she repliea,"Yes':rremember trying to skate! The problem was that by the time I walked to the pond and put on the socks and skates my feet were numb. Then, after spending an hour or so 'skating,' with freezing feet and bent ankles, I don't recall it as being fun. There was no place to warm up, and then there was the cold walk home. I remember it all right!" "What about the quarry," she was asked. She replied, "The first thing I remember about the quarry was the dash across the trestle -- which was a no-no, as I recall. We'd listen to the track to make sure no train was approaching because there was no way

off -- you'd either have to run like heck or jump off the side!

 

As I look back, i guess it was the shortest route to the quarry from the east side." "That was south of the old City Hall, on the way down to the quarry," Bill Wood interjected. "That was where the outlet came from the drains underneath the second bridge. Crossing the trestle was something people remembered." "Another thing I remember," Kay resumed, "was stopping in at Wright's Bakery to get warmed up on the way to and from high school. We couldn't wear pants to school, and we certainly weren't going to put on snow pants. By the time we got to Wright's Bakery, our legs were blue in front, so we would stop in there to thaw out." "Now, where was Wright's Bakery?" Bill Wood asked. "It was on the north side of Wilson, up the hill, where John Malkowski' accounting office is now. We did need places like LA Fitness back then. We walked to and from high school, including lunch time. Rain or snow! It took 20 minutes each way, which left just 20 minutes in which to eat lunch. In the winter it seemed that, for every step forward we took in the snow, we went back two! While in grade school the walk was shorter, but then we lost time trying to avoid the meanies who were trying to wash our face with snow -- things like that. "Speaking of Wright's," Kay continued, "reminds me that a close friend of my mother from her school days in Chicago was Virginia Wright. It happened that she and her husband, Bill, came to Batavia and opened the first dime store. It was on the east side and was a Ben Franklin ." Bill Wood asked where they did their grocery shopping. "Well," Kay replied, "we went to what was the only major store in town at that time.

 

That was the National Tea, which was managed by Paul Wasser. It may have become A&P later on. I remember butcher in the store who entertain6"fJ us by making his bow tie wiggle. When you're a kid, things like that are amusing and stick in your mind, I guess.  "Then there were the wonderful small 'corner stores.' My favorite was Harold Maves' store on the corner of Church and Washington Avenue. He was always so pleasant -- didn't seem to get tired of us hanging around! Others were Bortner's, Beardsley's and Sloggett's. I remember that some of us were 'invited' to stay out of Beardsley's place. I'm sure she had good reason, but I can't seem to recall what is was." Returning to school memories, Kay recalled, "In third grade we played the song flute. If you showed the slightest bit of talent and were interested, you then chose an instrument in the fourth grade. I took clarinet and continued that through high school. "I think it was in the fifth grade that we had a musical program in the gym -- that was my first solo. For some reason, I chose 'The Carnival of Venice.' Bad choice! It was fairly difficult -- 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' would have been better -- and the tempo kept picking up. And then I heard my dad repeating -- in what he called a whisper -- 'She's going to squeak, I know she's going to squeak,' which didn't help matters. "As eighth graders, we were presenting a musical program and inviting the west side eighth graders.

 

I guess it was to see if we'd be able to get along with each other when we started high school -- it was that east side vs. west side thing, you know. Several of us decided to form a musical group for part of the entertainment. So was born 'Professor Lite Bulb and His Live Wires.' Gene Minor was 'Professor Lite Bulb'; members were Stan Lenart on drums (he was also an accordionist), Corliss Andrews on trombone, Wayne Benson on sax and me on clarinet. None of us remembers what we played, but it must have been a success because, when we got to high school, we hit if off just fine. In fact, many of those east siders and west siders are married today! "My years of clarinet were all under Paul Peebles. He was a great guy, with the patience of Job. In eighth grade, Corliss Andrews, Stan Lenart and I were invited to join the high school band since they were short on members. For a time Mr. Peebles made me first chair, clarinet, but I didn't read music! What I played, I played pretty much by ear. I used to play along with Fats Waller, 'Ain't Misbehaving,' and stuff like that. Just put the record on, and I would pick it out. I got to the point where I knew what the key on the clarinet was by where the note was on the page. But if Mr. Peebles said, 'Play this note,' I would ask, 'What is it?' "One incident I will never forget took place at a high school graduation. The band was playing the national anthem, and as I played, the clarinet part reminded me of hoe-down music.

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I was trying so hard not to laugh -which you can't do and blow on a clarinet. I just kept it in my mouth but quit playing, but Mr. Peebles could tell, and he really lost it at that point! When we got back to the music room, I heard the first bit of profanity come from his mouth that I'd ever observed. I think I also received a "B" on my report card in music with a note about learning respect for our national anthem. "Now," Kay reminisced, "I can appreciate what Mr. Peebles was trying to do. He was a dear man and great teacher. He even kept his cool when he'd have to tell us about lipstick on the reed or a reed with a chunk out of it 'cause we were out of reeds or just too lazy to change it!" Kay was asked about other things she remembered from growing up. "A memorable happening in eighth grade," she recalled, "was the party I threw in our basement on Church Street. I had recruited Daddy to keep the party moving so it didn't end up going the way of dance class -- the boys all lined up on one side of the room with the girls on the other side. It was that way until the teacher forced us to dance! "The party went well until the boys ended up at our nickel slot machine - with my dad's help -- while we girls sat and talked like we could do any day of the week. Let me say, though, that there was no real gambling in volved. Guests used our nickels, and if they won they had to put them back in the nickel container." 

 

Readers of Part 1 will recall that Kay's father, Red Bowron, died in an accident shortly after his fortieth birthday and right after Kay started her freshman year in high school. "After my dad's death," Kay said, "Norm McCrimmon was hired to drive the Bowron Motor Service Truck. Mother went to work at the bank in Mooseheart. She later went to the First National in Batavia, and then she and I worked in the offices of Sarkes Tarzian. They were located in the Appleton building, now the City Hall, and manufactured cathode ray tubes for television sets. Norm drove for us for several years, I believe, then bought the business but kept the name." Kay concluded her reminiscences, "It was great growing up in Batavia. There weren't many fenced yards. I remember great picnics on Church Street with our neighbors -- Art Clarks, Fred Morfees, Jake and Rosie Birkeneder, and the Richie Robertsons. The George Gebes family lived n and still lives n across from our house. "We kids could walk to and from the movie n even at night -- and had fun times at Fairyland down on south Van Buren. I remember 'calling' for friends instead of ringing the door bell -- just standing out front and hollering their name!

 

"We had great picnics in the pasture of Ollie and 'Beets' Schimelpfenig's farm. Our dog 'Choppy' used to lie un der the beer keg and catch the drops until he was feeling no pain. Speaking of picnics, it occurs to me that few folks really picnictoday n you know, eat on the grass. Now we have 'cookouts' and sit on a cement slab, a wood deck, or inside. "'Choppy' would also take trips downtown on his own and come home with big bones from the butcher shop. On some occasions the police would bring him home! "Such great memories, and how lucky I was to be brought up here."

After a fifty-year absence, Kay loves being back in Batavia. It feels like home, and she'd remain if her children and grandchildren weren't all in California. There's something about being near your roots -- especially, Kay says, when those roots are in Batavia.


A Favorite Teacher -- and Mother -- Remembered

 

vol_45_11.jpgNancy Newlin Pearce's story The Old Me Wayne School, as she remembered

it in the 1920s, appeared in the January 2004 issue. In it, Nancy

recalled her first grade teacher, Miss Russell, "a sweet-faced woman who

was soon married and moved away. She frequently answered to the name

Mom from many of us." Her son Phil Benson, a resident of Valley Park,

Missouri, read the story and wrote the following letter, including the picture

that clearly shows why Nancy remembers her as "sweet-faced."

 

 

Dear Ms. Pearce,

I recently enjoyed your article on the Grace McWayne School in the BataviaHistorian, January 2004 edition. The "sweet-faced" Miss Russell, your first grade teacher, was my mom. She was born Margaret Louise Russell in 1896 and grew up in the house on the corner of McKee and lincoln (then Washington), across from the old Swedish Methodist Church. (I have enclosed a photo as you probably remember her.)

 

As you mentioned in your article, she left teaching when she married the boy next door, my dad, Eugene "Shean" Benson. They bought the house at 123 McKee Street (now 321 McKee) and had three boys: Millard, b. 1926, Russell (deceased), b. 1931, and myself b. 1936. Both my brothers and I attended Grace McWayne for

grammar school -- Millard graduated from Batavia High School in 1944. Our

family moved to Burlingame, California (on the San Francisco peninsula) in 1945. Russ was in the eighth grade and I was in the third. Mom kept in touch with a number of her 1st grade students, corresponding with a few when she was well into her 70s. She was always great with kids and talked of Miss McWayne and her teaching days in the warmest of terms. I believe she stayed until she was

pregnant with brother Millard.

 

My dad, the love of her life, passed away in 1961, and Mom then turned her full attention to her grandchildren, who simply adored her. She was the kindest, gentlest, most loving and patient mother a son could wish for, and I'm well aware my brothers and I were truly blessed. Mom passed away in 1977. She was 81.

Thank you for your fine article.,

 

Yours truly,

Phil Benson

 

P.S. Perhaps some of your classmates whom Mom corresponded with are in touch with you. I would be interested in hearing from them and you if you find the time.


 

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: Lorraine Baxter (Geneva); Roger Derby (Memphis, IN), Polly Ernzen family, R. Kent and Evie Johnson, Ruth Murray, Donna Neely (Elburn), Marion S. Pierson, Ray and Anita Theis, James and Hannah Volk, and Joan Wood. Other new members include Mrs. Frank Bacci (Palm Desert, CA - gift

from Twylah Bacci, NY), Mark and Cathy Cavins, Troy Chaon (gift of Georgene Kauth), Carol (Pierce) Clark (Geneva), Mr. and Mrs. William Gribble, (Estill Springs, TN - gift from William Wood), Barbara (Frydendall) Gross, Dee and Jim Karas (Geneva), }Nally Mills, Gretchen Naylar, Richard J. Nealis, Mary Lou Pierson (Sugar Grove), Janet Remiyac (Porte Vedra FL - gift from Nanette Sponder, Modesta, CA), John Rusek (who told Bill Wood that Elliott Lundberg was after him for years to join so he joined in Elliott's memory), Jacqueline Shanahan (Sugar Grove), Joan Spring, Ellyn (Anderson) Stewart, and Sandi Wilcox. We are pleased to welcome these members and urge them to participate in the activities of the society.

With regret, we report the following deaths: Charles R. ("Ray") Anderson, a former director of the society; Archie Bentz, a former mayor of Batavia; Richard Ernzen; Walter Kauth, a former alderman, a champion of the rehabilitation of the Depot Museum, and husband of the society's corresponding secretary; Adelaide Nelson, a faithful volunteer for many years; Helen Shumway, a life member; Dorothy Tierney, mother of Sheila Tierney Stroup whose columns in the New Orleans Times -Picayune have beenreprinted in the Historian; and AI Wulff Gifts have been received in memory of Walter Kauth from Clifford and Helen Anderson, Richard A. and Lois Benson, Carole Dunn, Philip B. Elfstrom, Bob and Lois French, William D. and Barbara Hall, James and Dottie Hanson, Alma J. Karas and Yangling Zhang, Bob and Suzanne

Peterson, Marilyn Phelps, Lois R. Prindle and Marilyn G. Robinson, Gifts have also been received in memory of Adelaide Nelson from Edna C. Anderson; Yvonne Autenreith; Batavia Senior Citizens Club; Richard A. and Lois Benson; Carole J. Clark; Agnes Clever; Helen Marcine Doran; Rhonda Eisenberg and Ronald Messina; Philip Elfstrom; Stephen and Nancy Foust; Judith and Ed Hahn; William D. and Barbara Hall; Rosalind J. Hazelton; Inez Lynne Irving; Bert and Ruth Johnson;Violet Johnson; Georgene Kauth; Richard and Darlene Larson; Joe and Addie Marconi; Lynn and Joyce Nelson; Marilyn Poole; Robert and Betty Riley; Marilyn G. Robinson; Bill and Lynn Slavik; Robert W. Thrun; Matthew and Cathleen Urich; and Sandi Wilcox, Larry Wickland, Nancy Wickland Gill and Thomas Wickland. Other gifts have been received in memory of Alfred Wulff from Richard A. and Lois Benson and in memory of Richard R. Ernzen from Philip B. Elfstrom and Polly Ernzen and family.

 

A gift to the society was also received from Kay Peterson.


 

Members of Grand Army of the Itepublic

(undated - probably early 1900s)

 

vol_45_12.jpg

Note: The Gustafson Center has a fascinating file of GAR photos,

of which this is one. One person who viewed this photo noted how

short many of these Civil War veterans were compared to a similar

group of men today.

 

 


Mark Your Calendar

An Important Meeting on September 12 The next general meeting of the Batavia Historical Society will be held on Sunday, September 12, 2004, at 2:00 P.M. We will be celebrating the "150th Anniversary of the Depot" -- our museum. The meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers at 100 N. Island Avenue. The museum will be open following the meeting to showcase a special railroad exhibit in honor of this very important anniversary. For more details, see "Museum Happenings" in this issue.

 


What's New At The Musum?

 

Carla Hill, Director

 

 

Summer is here and we have many things happening at the museum. Chris Winter is busy preparing another wonderful exhibit for the summer months, which will be based on the history of Batavia's Police and Fire Departments. The exhibit will remain in place through August. Plans for our Depot's 150th Birthday Celebration are quickly coming together. We are still working on the completion of our new railroad exhibit. which will be dedicated in September. Plans include a Birthday Kickoff Celebration during Windmill City Fest on Friday, July 9.

 

The museum will be open additional hours, balloons

and refreshments will be provided and family entertainment starring Patti Ecker & L.J. Slavin will take place on the main stage. On Saturday, September 11, the museum will dedicate its new permanent Batavia Railroad History exhibit at 10:00 a.m., followed by an afternoon of activities and entertainment proved by Larry Penn and Mark Dvorak, two very talented musical entertainers who are known for their songs about the railroad. A group of local model railroad enthusiasts will set up a model railroad display under a tent that will be located on the lawn of the museum.

 

On Sunday, September 12, the Historical Society will hold it's fall meeting at the Batavia City Council Chambers at 2:00 p.m. The program will feature Batavia's railroad history, including the Burlington; Chicago, Aurora and Elgin; and Chicago

Northwestern railroads. We look forward to the celebration and hope to see you there! On another note, we were saddened by the passing of two of our longtime volunteers, Walter Kauth and Adelaide Nelson. We will miss them both very much. Our museum is very fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers. And we always need new ones -- if you are interested, please call Chris or me at 4065274.


Fun Was Had by All

- The June 13 General Meeting -

 

After a brief business meeting, a large turnout of members and guestsenjoyed a dual pr esentation at the Sunday, June 13, general meeting ofthe society held i n the City Council chambers. For the first segment, Julia Spalding, a University of Colorado student who has worked in recents ummers as an intern at the museum, described the "Museum in aBox,"which she had dev eloped for use in our schools. As displayed during themeeting, it cons ists of a series of standing posters that depict the life of the Pottawatomi Indians who inhabited this area prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Then MarilynRobinson gave a talk and, assisted by Julia Spalding, used a skit to describe the life and times of John Gowdy, aRevolutionary War veteran buried in Batavia's East Sideceme tery. There has been a series of meetings sponsored by the society, the City of Batavia, the Kane County Genealogical Society, the Daughtersof the Amer ican Revolution, and the Sons of the American Revolution toce lebrate the recent discovery of th is connection with the Revolutionary War.These evenls wi ll culminate with a ceremony to be held at the East Side Cemetery on July 3 at 1 :30 p.m.P leaseplan to attend. After Julia's and Marilyn's presentations,those in atte ndance enjoyed the chance to sample Carole Dunn's refreshments and visit with one another.

Membership'ls Important

Alma Karas

Membership does matter - it matters to me, anyway. Yes, I am

the membership chairman of the Batavia Historical Society. The society

has a large number of dedicated members.

My volunteer job does take up a lot of my time, as we have a large

membership. This quarter was the "first" time we have gone over 600.

We now have 602 active memberships

(which does not calculate two memberships for those who

belong as Mr. and Mrs. or Bob and Alice - they are only counted as

one member). So you can see we are doing very well indeed. More

and more people are buying memberships as gifts for their relatives

in other states and we even have

one member who lives in Canada. Every year we have a number of

members who do not get their dues paid in time and we have to

drop them from our rolls. This is the hard part of my job - letting

any members go.

 

We now have 223 Life Memberships and everyone else's dues

are due on December 31st of the year you have paid up to. Dues are

only due once a year. Feel free to call if you wonder if you have paid

your dues -- 630-879-3809.

 

Ed. note: You will be well advised not to let Alma get on your case. She pursues lapsed members to the ends of the earth!