THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Forty-Six

No. 3

 


July 2005

William J. Wood -- The Society's Historian

1920 - 2005

 

 

To many people, Bill Wood was the heart and soul of the Batavia Historical Society. A charter

member, he long served as the society's historian. We shall sorely miss him.

 

 

When death,came to Bill Wood on the evening of June 9, it came as he would have wished -- in his own home, surrounded by his many books. Despite continuing health problems and recent hospitalizations, Bill had maintained his zest for life and his interest in others to the very end. It is impossible to capture the essence of Bill Wood in a few words; he was a man of many and diverse interests whose life touched his beloved Batavia in many ways. His departure leaves a huge gap in his wide circle of friends, the many organizations he served, and in the entire Batavia community. Bill was not a native of Batavia, although that is hard for anyone to remember. 8.jpg

 

After his tour of duty with the Eighth Air Force in England from 1943 to 1945, he made Batavia his home. The community, its people and its history, became his passion. Just a brief listing of his accomplishments suggests the measure of the man. He served for six years as a teacher and seventeen years as principal of J. B. Nelson School, where the street in front is named William Wood Lane in his honor. In 2003, a new elementary school in southeast Batavia was named Hoover-Wood in honor of Bill and his foster mother, Eldora Hoover.

 

In more recent years, he was involved with the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence. His community involvement was by no means limited to education. He served as a member of the Batavia Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, trustee of the Batavia Public Library District, charter member and historian of the Batavia Historical Society, and member of the Batavia Access Committee. In 1976 he was named Batavia's Citizen of the Year. Bill was devoted to Holy Cross Church, where he formerly served as organist. A large part of his life was Marmion Abbey, where he was a member of the Benedictine Oblate. Every Sunday afternoon would find him there at vespers.

 

 

But enough of his accomplishments -- it was on the personal side that Bill left his mark on so many people. Mayor Schielke, whom Bill often referred to as "the son I never had;' said, "He taught each of us how to grow old with great dignity ... and how to love and be loved, and how to bring a smile to the face of each person time and again." One of Bill's regular haunts, and perhaps one of the most important, was the Gustafson Research Center at the Depot Museum. He had a tremendous curiosity, about people and about information. He could be found almost every afternoon at the Center, looking up some facet of history that intrigued him or helping others with their searches. Along with Marilyn Robinson, he was the person everyone turned to in any search for some elusive fact in Batavia's past.

 

After initially resisting having his name appear on Batavia's new elementary school, Bill came to cherish the relationship and the time he spent with the students and teachers at the Hoover-Wood School. They reciprocated his love and showed it with a signed banner that covered an entire wall of his room during his last hospital stay.

 

Another of Bill's loves was the Se nility Club, a group of older men who met for lunch each Tuesday to discuss' Batavia history and whatever else might interest the members. Bill had been saddened in recent years at the deliv loss of fellow members he cherished -- Don Schielke, then Bob Phelps in 2002, Elliott Lundberg in late 2003,and earlier this year the newest member, Jerry Harris. It was 8ill who drove the other members to lunch, most often at Bill's beloved Harners', and it was Bill who worked on rescheduling a lunch if conflicts arose. He couldn't let a week go by without conversation with these friends and, at the time of his death, was searching for ways to replenish the membership, which had dwindled to three. Similarly, Bill was devoted to the group of friends that met at 9:30, everynight but Saturday, at McDonald's. He loved people and conversation.

 

Friends who invited Bill to dinner knew that the evening would be early since Bill would not want to miss McDonald's. Another place one could always count on finding Bill was at the biweekly city council meetings on Monday, where he always occupied a frontrow seat. He attended because of his intense interest in the city and everything that affected it. An even greater reason, perhaps, was his close relationship with Mayor Schielke. But it was as a human being th<'": Bill shone most brightly. The Rev. John Rippinger of Marmion Abbey noted that Bill had a way of bringing people together from all typesof backgrounds. "His family," Rippinger said, "was people of every faith, political party and race." And so we say goodbye to our friend, Bill Wood.

 

As Tom Schlueter eulogized him in the Kane County Chronicle, "He was a gentle soul who spread goodness wherever he went. How many people can we say that about? ''The world seems a little less gentle, a little less civil, a little less dignifiedwithout him. It will be up to us to pick up the slack. It won't be easy.

 


 

Addresses Renumbered in 1947

 

 

Anyone who has done research on the history of his home or other buildings in Batavia has undoubtedly discovered that that they carried different street addresses before the mid-1900s. Following is the_Dotice sent out in 1947 to"

explain the change to residents and other building occupants. The last paragraph stresses the importance of placing addresses where they will be easily visible from the street. Anyone who has tried to make deliveries in Batavia knows that a reminder of this need is as essential today, in many cases, as it was in 1947.

 

A new numbering system based on each 20 feet to an odd or even number is necessary. It will follow the plan used in large cities, which uses 100numbers to a block, that is, the first block will have numbers from 1 to 99, the second blockfrom 101 to 199, and so on. The river will remain the dividing line for east and west numbers. Wilson Street will remain the line for north and south numbers. This plan has been discussed favorable for many years but the costofsending out men to measure each block has prevented its adoption.

 

As the numbers as first assigned were for the purpose of mail delivery, the post office, in cooperation with city officials, is now assigning new numbers. Your new number IS . Please erect this number on or soon afterSept. 1,1947. However, when reporting a fire, the firemen will appreciate if it you give the new number now. this will tell them exactly how many blocks to go and wi ll result in fast action on their part. When the new numbers are erected, they should be placed where they canbe read easi ly from the street. The farther back your house is from the street, the larger the numbers should be. It has been noted that some houses have been painted recently and the numbers are now the color of the house so as to be practically invisible.Other numbers have been placed over doors.

 

Later, porches were added, sothat the numbers are now hidden and, at night, are in such shadow that th)icannot be read.

 


 Chuck Beckman - A Life of Service to Batavia

 

Selection to serve as Grand Marshal of Batavia's Loyalty Day Parade on May 1, 2005, was a fitting tribute to Chuck Beckman as he ended a record-setting thirty years on the city council. But serving the city he loves in that capacity was only one facet of Chuck's life -- a life in which he has served as an air force mechanic, a fire fighter, a businessman, and most of all a dedicated family man. The story that follows is based on an interview by Bill Wood and Bill Hall on February 23, 2005.

 

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"Before I was born," Chuck began, "my parents lived in Aurora, and Dad worked at the D.F. Sperry foundry in

North Aurora. When he went in and asked for a half day off to go up to the county clerk's office in Geneva to

get a marriage license, they darn well fired him. Because they had a lot of work to do, they didn't want him to take a half day off to go up there. And they wouldn't take him up there, either; he had to walk across the river and catch a bus -- no, a streetcar I guess it was back then. Go up there and then wait for another streetcar to come back to work after he had gotten the marriage license." Until Chuck was two, his family lived in a house they rented from an uncle on East New York Street in Aurora.

 

After the birth of his brother Jim, the family moved to a little house on South River Street in Batavia. From there they moved to church Street, next door to Harold Aaves' store, and then over to McKee Street, where Art Jaschob used to live. Neighbors that Chuck recalls from there included Reverend Forstberg of the Covenant Church, Mel Kraft and Frank Pierson, whom Chuck remembered as a particularly dear friend.

 

The family's last move during Chuck's boyhood was to a house on Blaine Street that his father bought from his grandmother. By that time, there were five kids in the family, of whom Chuck was the oldest. As Chuck recalls, "We were a nice family, a good family, and Mom was there for us all the time. But she also worked hard -- down at the Anderson greenhouse and at Mercy Center, where she knew enough about nursing to take care of people along with whatever else came along -- wherever they wanted her, that's where they'd put her. One week she'd work in the kitchen, and the next week she'd be down in the laundry. And I started work early -- ten years old peddling newspapers.

 

While doing that, I got hit by a car down by the old Lincoln Inn. I went to sixth grade -- me and my friend Roger Williams -- with my arm in a cast. Do you remember Roger?" "Yes;' Bill Wood replied, "his father was a famous coach at Mooseheart, Johnny Williams Williams." "Roger and I grew up together," Chuck continued. "We used to hunt -we were big hunters with our BB guns and slingshots." Asked how far he went in school, Chuck, replied, "Freshman year.

 

The war was on, and employers would take about anybody. And I was a pretty husky guy, not very big, but I did a lot of work. I worked for Thorsen's Lumber -- Kahlke's then -- and Alexander Lumber. I worked two days for Plummer's Coal Yard up on Wilson and Prairie. "Then I unloaded coal at the Batavia Body Company; we were the only kids that would do it, me and Melvin Patzer. My younger brother Jim would come and help us, but he was kind of short for such work, smaller than I was. He couldn't throw the coal over the side. We used to get twenty-five dollars to throw a carload of coal off over at the Body Company and the city.

 

At the city, Dad came down and helped; we didn't get any money for that, but it paid the electric and water bills. Times were tough, you know, especially with five of us kids:' After a pause, Chuck resumed, "I worked on the railroad one summer -there were probably fifteen or twenty of us kids. We rebuilt the line from the Lindgren Foundry all the way down to Barber Greene in Aurora. We built all of that, us kids and two Mexicans. If you're good driving spikes, it takes three hits from two guys. One guy hits twice and the other hits once; the next time, the second guy twice and the first guy once. "I was only fourteen, and my brother Jim was thirteen, but we were driving those spikes on the railroad. Those memories are precious. How many kids ever got to work on the railroad? How many kids have ever unloaded coal out of a coal car -- or lumber? But I couldn't unload the cement cars because I couldn't pick up ninety- four pounds -- I was too short and would fall over when I tried. "Right beyond Alexander's and Thorsen's down at the foot of Houston, there were hobo camps along the river. Guys would be sleeping in caves. All along the riverbank little huts and caves. In the wintertime they would get into Rogers Brothers Galvanizing or the drop forge and sleep where it was warm. That was in the early'40s. "In 1948 I was working for Norm Anderson's dad. He had a wooden leg.

 

But boy, you talk about a carpenter, he could get up on a roof and put more nails in a roof than any twolegged carpenter could. He taught me how to use a hammer. I was putting a roof on a garage up on Webster and Prairie when he saw me holding a hammer with quite a bit of the handle sticking out behind. He said, 'Let me see that hammer:' and he pulled out his saw and sawed  the end of the handle off. 'You aren't supposed to use a hammer that way,' he said. 'You're supposed to hold it at the end. When you learn how to do that, we will throw this hammer away and get you a proper one.''' Something that was said reminded Chuck of Frontier Days in 1947 or 1948. "Everybody had to grow a beard," he recalled. "And I was out there trying to grow a beard, and I didn't have much in the way of whiskers, you know. I don't remember where it was, maybe over at the fire station, but a bunch of us guys had our picture taken with all those whiskers. 10.jpg

 

That's the kind of thing I remember -- people should come forward and tell their stories, you know. "It was about that time -- August 4, 1948 -- that I married Norma Allison, who is still my wife after almost 57 years. The wedding, conducted by Pastor Forstberg, was in the Covenant Church. It was on a Wednesday night; everybody thought that was nuts, but still it was a church wedding. We moved into the house on Blaine Street with my family. "I was only 20 years old when I first got on the fire department part-time- - you were supposed to be 21 , but they couldn't get anyone. Before that I used to get to the fires ahead of the fire department.

 

I leaned the code and where the fire was, and I had an instinct for getting there. I remember the Ottinger fire. Mrs. Ottinger was coming down the street crying, 'My baby's in there.' And being 20 years old, I was going to be a hero and get that kid out of there. I opened the door, and a puff of heat and wind hit me and I was out on the sidewalk -- it blew me right out of the house. Just then the kid came out -- walked right out and passed me -- only two feet tall and coming out under the smoke. I'll never forget that -- one of my first fires. "In 1951 I went into the air force and was gone four years. I've often wondered why I went in. My dad was mad at me -- he wanted me to join the navy. But I didn't want to -- I always figured it was too far away to swim to shore. That was my biggest fear. Of course, I never figured on being in airplanes, either. I was more mechanically inclined."

 

Asked where he was in the service, Chuck replied, "I started out down in San Antonio, where I had twelve weeks of basic training. It took four days, on a milk train, to get there from Chicago. That train stopped every- where, for every railroad and whereve'csome farmer had cows crossing the tracks.

"Come Christmas, I got permission for Norma to come down, and I could go off the base with her. We'd been married then for about three years. She had to come to the base and sign me out like a little kid. We got two days out. Then it was back to the base and tents. We were living in tents, colder than you know what -- ice on the fire barrels and cold showers. Oh boy, you learned a lot of things like shaving with dry razors because you didn't want to put that cold water on your face. "After New Years, Norma went back home.

 

The end of February I went to Ft. Ord, California, for mechanics school. I found a place to live, so I called her and my brother Ollie, who drove her and another girl they picked up in Indiana out to California. Then we flew Ollie home -- no, we gave him a ticket and he went home on the train. We were there for ten weeks, in a tiny cottage. After graduation from that school, we drove back home on a thirty-day leave. "At the end of my leave, I flew back_ out to California and boarded the USf Altman, a troop ship bound for the Far East. We dropped 180 airmen off in Hawaii, along with some sailors; then he dropped off some more sailors in Guam; and finally we arrived in the Philippines, where I got off. I was stationed there for eighteen months, and I never got to bring Norma over because I didn't have the 'stripes.' "While I was there, I got a chance to go to school in Japan. A kid was supposed to go but got sick, and they told me if I wanted to go in his place to get my duffel bag and go to Base Operations. We boarded a C47, stopped in Formosa and ended up in Japan. I went to automotive mechanics school, which was truck mechanics.

 

I got big trucks to work on there, which helped me as far as my rating was concerned, but the fact that I hadn't graduated from high school held me back on promotions. Had I graduated from high school, I'd have made staff sergeant in four years, and then I would probably have stayed in the service. "Back in the U.S., I was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base. I lived in Lancaster, oft base, and even rode fire tucks while off duty. When I told them was a fireman, they wanted me to join them when I got out of the service, but I was too short. They said, 'We'll get you passed for that. We'll take you down and massage you the night before and put you to bed; you'll stay in that bed all night, and the next morning we'll carry you across the street to the doctor's. When they get ready to measure you, you get up and get measured -- if you pass, then you've got it.' But nothing came of that. When I got out of the service, we returned to the house on Blaine Street - and the fire department. It wasn't until 1957 that we moved to our place on Midway." "When did you start your garage?" Chuck was asked. "February 1, 1957. And two weeks after I started it, Bud Richter came down and wanted to know if I wanted a full-time job as a fireman. I said, 'Sure.'

 

They had Fred Womack and Bill Thrun, and I believe Don Neuses. Womack quit and Bill Thrun went on the police department. Then when Johnny Cryer quit, that's when Bud came and saw me." V Recalling some of the Batavians he had worked with on the fire department. Chuck said, "Besides the chief, Bud Richter, Bob Hodge was still there. And Johnny Shumway and Harold Peterson -- I got on right after Harold. Then there were Charlie Kline and Otts Johnson. Do you remember Otts? He was great." Asked how he was able to handle the garage while working as a fireman, Chuck explained, "We used to work 24 hours on, and then we had 48 hours off. So I had two days in the garage. Following his surgery, my dad had to quit working at Sperry, and he would come and sit at the garage. He'd keep the fire going and answer the phone. It was a godsend for him and for me. He would chase parts and sell gas. I remember it was 15 or 20 cents a gallon. People would come in and say, 'Fill it up.' "Back to the fire department, Bud Richter was a good teacher and very strict. The biggest thing a lot of kids have trouble with -- and I still do -- is tying knots. Bud would have us stand out there on the street practicing knot tying, with everybody watching. And we had a lot of practice climbing ladders. They'd place a big ladder up in the alley, not the one on the truck but a fifty-foot ground ladder. They would raise that thing with ropes up on the top of it. And then you'd climb it -- the trick was in going over the top.

 

A lot of guys wouldn't get ten feet off the ground when they'd get the shakes; they'd hang on and you couldn't get them off. "One thing Bud told us many times was about driving fast. He said, 'Remember, if you pile that truck up on a corner, a block and a half from a fire, that truck isn't going to do anything. You're out of business. You go too fast around Rcorner, and you roll it over - it isn't any going to be doing any good at the fire' "It could be awfully hard work. You'd run into a house with an 83-pound respirator like we used to carry. Maybe you've come a block and a half, and you run up stairs on the porch, then in the house, and find that the guy is upstairs. So you've got to carry that thing up a flight of stairs, then turn and go up the other half. You'd be all pooped out by the time you got there. But I was so blessed with the fire service. That job was meant for me, and I loved it." "When did you quit the fire department?" he was asked. "I got hurt in 1973 at a fire on Rte. 25 and State Street -- a big two story house across from the old Louise White School. I tried to run to the fire house -- it was next to the old city hall -- and beat Johnny Shumway, who was at the foundry. I tripped in a hole or something.

 

I fell and hurt my back -- couldn't walk, damned near paralyzed. I did shuffle up and got there in time to take the truck, Engine 3, to the fire. But I couldn't get out of the truck; they had to carry me out and lay me on a stretcher on the street. "I had treatments for a week and was heavily bandaged. Finally they put me in traction at the hospital. And I had to wear a brace for three months -- couldn't do any work. After about six months, they said, 'Now you can go to work.' Richter asked if I could do all the work. I said I didn't know but would do what I could. 'Well,' he asked,' can you pick up a hundred pounds?' I said, 'Hell, no -- I wouldn't even try it,' and he replied, 'I can't use you.' So then I had to go on disability, and that is when my pension started. "The fire department provided some work for me at the garage, but I never got much work from the city. There was a reason for that -- we didn't want people talking. But you've never heard me complain about not getting enough work from the city. I got my livelihoodfortwenty-five years, plus thirty years on the city council -- I'll never get rich on that job! The city has been good to me." That brought up the question of when, and how, Chuck got on the city council.

 

"It was in 1973, I believe," he responded. "Bill Reese was moving and had resigned and I came to Mayor Bob Brown with a petition to take Bill's job on the council. Then Bill came back and asked Bob if he could get back on the council. Bob told me that he was going to give the seat back to Bill but asked if I would take a seat on the zoning board of appeals until the next election and then run for it. I did, and two years later I ran for and was elected to the city council. "That's when the council met in the old city haiL" "Do you mean the old city hall down on what is now Shumway?" Bill Wood asked. "No, we were in thf old one-story building on the island -  the one with the rats, cats and bats -the one where the roof leaked. "Yes, I've seen a lot of changes over my thirty years on the council, but they've all been good years. It's always been said that we'd have disagreements among the council members, but then we'd go out for coffee together. Or we'd go down to the VFW - that's when I was drinking. But I'd only have two beers -- I was always a two-beer person. Then I'd button it up and go home."

 

When Chuck stepped down as alderman on May 2, he had completed a record- setting thirty years on Batavia's city council. And serving the day before as grand marshall of Batavia's Loyalty Day Parade capped it all off. As Chuck was quoted in the Kane County Chronicle, "I've had so much support from people. I'm living my dream." And what more could a person ask from life?


More Sears Houses

We've Gained 12 -- But Lost a Big One!

 

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In the January 2003 issue, we featured Batavia's Sears houses and includedpictures of 26 of them. Additional

information appeared in the nexttwo issues. We can now offer ourreaders a major update.The March 4, 2005, Chicago Tribunecarried a story about ongoingresearch on Sears houses byRebecca Hunter of Elgin. We got intouch with her, and she provided uswith a list she had compiled of Searsand other mail order houses inBatavia. Most of these we alreadyhad, but she identified twelve Searshouses that were not on our list, aswell as five mail order houses soldby other companies -- Harris Bros.,Lewis, and Gordon - Van Tine.We did lose one Sears house -- anda big one -- in comparing her list withours.

 

Our January 2003 issue featuredon the first page the house at233 South Batavia Avenue, which weidentified as the Sears "Magnolia"model. Our identification was basedon information in Thomas Mair'sBatavia Revisited, although we will admit to having had some reservationsin comparing that house to the"Magnolia" illustration in the Searscatalog. A picture from a Sterling catalogprovided by Ms. Hunter clearlyshows that our reservations were justifiedand that she is right in identifying that house as "The Vernon" bySterling -- see them side by side onthis page.We have included pictures of the newly identified Sears and other mailorder houses in this issue, togetherwith their model names.

 

In a few cases, Ms. Hunter had put questionmarks beside the model names, and we have included these.We have placed in the GustafsonCenter a copy of the material Ms.Hunter sent us, which includes somemodel names of Sears houses that wepictured earlier but were unable toidentify by name. For anyone who might be interested, Ms. Hunter providesresearch on Sears houses for afee.Our search for Sears and other mailorder houses is ongoing. If anyoneknows of mail order houses we havenot listed, now or earlier, please tellus. Also, give us any corrections toinformation we have included; therewere many "look alikes" when thesehouses were built. Indeed, when weasked to photograph one house thatwe had been told was a Sears house,the owner told us it wasn't -- that hewas the second owner and knew the man who had built it!

 

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The Tale of an Organ Pumper

 

John Gustafson

 

Today an electric motor is an essential part of a church organ. Earlier it was a pumper. The pumper operated a bellows that provided air for the pipes in order that sweet music could come forth. The pumper was usually a boy in his early teens. For this labor he got the magnificent sum of ten cents an hour. I can remember earning my first money at pumping. I thought I was on my way to being a financial magnate. For other jobs such as mowing lawns, raking leaves, beating carpets, weeding gardens, etc.,

 

I had been getting the customary compensation of five or six cents an hour. But 10 cents an hour was something stupendous.Of course, at first I pumped for the organist only when she practiced. This was much harder than during a regular church service because you didn't get much respite -- you pumped nearly continuously, and it was hard work. May I explain the mechanics of pumping an organ? The pumper pumps like all get out until the air-box or reservoir is full of air. You know this when the gauge, a lead weight on a string in front of you on the side of the organ, is at the bottom of its course. Then you can rest -- sit down, look out the window, or carve your initials on the wooden pipes. But you have to keep one eye on that lead weight in its inevitable climb upwards, showing that the air is being consumed by the pipes at the behest of the organist.

 

When it reaches a certain height on the gauge, you have to pump the airbox full again -- or else! Or else the air is exhausted, the music ends in a most horrendous gasp, and the organist slams in a stop that hits the side of the organ with a report loud enough to wake the dead or, at least, loud enough to arouse you, the pumper from your daydreams. This only needs to happen once, and I can assure you it won't happen again, especially during church service. That is the height of ignominy as I know from experience.

 

Ed. note. Marilyn Robinson came across this story in John Gustafson's journals, which are kept in the Gustafson Center at the Depot Museum.

 


 

What's new at the museum?

 

 

Carla Hill, Director

 

The museum reopened on Monday, March 14. We experienced a very busy April and May with over 490 Batavia third grade students touring the museum. Chris Winter has been working on the preparation of a new "Batavia Artists,

Past & Present" exhibit that will be in place by July 1. This exhibit is being done to go along with the Batavia "Art In Your Eye" art show and school that begins in mid-July and ends with the Art Show on August 12 and 13 on the Riverwalk. We are also chairing the Local Arrangements Committee for the Illinois Association of Museums Conference, which will take place in October. Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles are hosting the conference.

 

The museum celebrated National Volunteer Week on April 17-24. The museum has over 100 volunteers who actively participate in the operation of the museum, from being a docent to working with the collections. We are very fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers. Fun Fact* A recent study by the Independent Sector indicated that 83.9 million American adults volunteer, representing the equivalent of over 9 million full-time employees at a value of $239 billion dollars. We are looking forward to a wonderful summer season at the museum with many new exhibits and programs. We are always looking for new volunteers. If you would like to volunteer at the museum or the Gustafson Research Center please contact Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041.

 


An Interesting Coincidence

 

Many Batavians undoubtedly rememberthe story of Bernard L.Cigrand, a dentist who lived at 1184 South Batavia Avenue from about 1912 until 1932. He is widely creditedwith conceiving the idea, while teachingschool in his native Wisconsin, ofobserving June 14 as the birthday ofthe flag. This was the date on which, in 1777, Congress officially adoptedthe Stars and Stripes as the flag ofthe United States.According to Marilyn Robinson'sBatavia Places and the People Who Called Them Home, "he held the first observance of Flag Day in 1885 by assigning students to write themes on the American Flag. It was then that Bernard began his struggle to make Flag Day a national observance."

 

Recalling this, we were surprised to find the name Dr. B. L. Cigrand in The Devil in the White City, a book about Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the exploits of a serial killer who operated near the fair. H. H. Holmes, a handsome, young, nonpracticing physician with a charismatic manner, had built a small hotel near the fair and lured attractive young ladies either to work for him or to take up residence in his hotel. Sooner or later these ladies, most of

them scarcely more than girls and new to the big city, disappeared without a trace.

 

It so happens that one of these girls was 24-year-old Emeline Cigrand. "In October [1892]," The Devil in the WhiteCity tells us, "two of her second cousins, Dr. and Mrs. B. J. Cigrand, paid her a visit. Dr. Cigrand, a dentist with an office at North and Milwaukee Avenues on Chicago's North Side, had contacted Emeline because he was working on a history of the Cigrand family. They had not previously met. 'I was charmed by her pleasing manners and keen wit,' Dr. Cigrand said.

'She was a splendid woman physically, being tall, well formed, and with a wealth of flaxen hair.''' That was the last time they saw her. Among others, it was the Cigrands who unsuccessfully bombarded Holmes over the next few years in search of missing relatives.

 

In the turmoil surrounding the Columbian Exposition and the numbers of young ladies arriving in Chicago to see the fair or seek employment, the police gave no attention to reports of missing girls. It was only several years later after a murder in Philadelphia and the long search for some of Holmes' victims by a determined Philadelphia detective that at least a part of Holmes' killing spree was uncovered.

 

Although the timing and the unusual name Cigrand led us to believe that the dentist referred to in The Devil inthe White City was the same Dr. B. L. Cigrand who was behind the establishment of Flag Day and lived in Batavia for twenty years, we didn't want to jump to conclusions. Discussion with Marilyn Robinson, howevel revealed that our Dr. Cigrand had lived

in Chicago prior to moving to Batavia so we are comfortable in assuming that the two are one and the same

person. Editor's note: We would recommend to readers two books that provided us with the material for this story.

 

The Devil in the White City, recently the subject of a book discussion at the Batavia Public Library, is a fascinating account of the building of the Columbian Exposition's "White City" in 1893, as well as a recounting of Holmes' serial killings and the search for his victims. And anyone wanting to read fascinating stories about early Batavians and their families should be sure to read Batavia Places and the People Who Called Them Home; this book can be purchased at the Depot Museum.

 


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Membership Matters

 

Since the last issue, we have added as life members the following Batavians who were previously annual members: Charles Karas and Eric and Michele Nelson. Other new members (from Batavia unless otherwise noted) include Rosemary (Dibenardo) Gasper (Lockport - gift from Denese Leadabrand), Tom and Gerry Kusterman, Kathy Matthews (St. Charles), Donn and Joan Scherer, and Louise Von Hoff (St. Charles - gift of Shirley Johnston). We regret to report the deaths of Ethel Larson Krupp, Erick Nordstrom, John Shumway (a life member), and William J. Wood (see story in this issue). We received gifts in memory of Robert W. Conde from Georgene Schramer and Kenneth C. and Jacqueline R. Upham; in memory of Jerry Harris from Eric and Michele Nelson (Jerry's daughter) and Norm and Laura Salamone; and in memory of their parents, Henry and Mayme Theis and Leo and Margaret Groener, from Ray and Anita Theis. We also received gifts from Robert W. Buchanan and Byron and Gerry Nelson.