Volume Fourty-Seven

No. 2

April 2006


Carla Hill

2005 Citizen of the Year





Tribute by Marilyn Robinson



At a festive dinner and dance held at Fermilab's Wilson Hall on January 28, 2006, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce honored Carla Hill as Batavia's 2005 Citizen of the Year. Members of the Society, familiar with Carla's long and successful tenure as the curator of the Depot Museum and the Gustafson Research Center, knew how well-deserved that honor was, but perhaps few knew the whole story. Marilyn Robinson has told it well in this tribute to Carla that she presented at the banquet.


There are few people who are so involved that they become known only by their first names. For instance, there's Oprah, Cher, and Carla. This last name is synonymous with "volunteering." Like many of Batavia's notable volunteers, Carla is not a native. She came to town in 1965 and immediately became involved in "mother-type" volunteering. She joined Batavia's Mothers' Club and the JB Nelson PTA, she organized and worked on school fun fairs, worked with her children's scout troops. Here's a partial list of what she's done up to now:


• Member of Batavia Access Committee

• Steering committee member of the Tri-City Well Child Clinic

• Committee member for Valley Sheltered Work shop

• Member of the Community Hospital Women's Auxiliary

• Board member of Batavia Community Chest

• Volunteer and active participant in Friends of the Riverwalk

• Board member of Batavia Main Street

• Member of the Main Street Design Committee

• Member of the Steering Committee for Art in Your Eye Festival

• Life member of the Batavia Historical Society


It is through the Historical Society that I've come to know and work with Carla. Long before I was involved, Carla participated in the effort to relocate and renovate the old Burlington Railroad Station into the Depot Museum. Her volunteer efforts during the museum's early days led to her position as curator.


In the early 1970s, as a volunteer, she watched the old Depot move down Wilson Street. She scraped and painted, washed and waxed to create the new museum.


In 1976, after two curators had come and gone, a man was hired for the job. He didn't show up for work on his appointed day, so Carla was asked to continue volunteering the three afternoons the museum was open each week. Eventually Lucile Gustafson, one of the founders of the Society, asked her to become curator.


Till then, she hadn't realized that volunteers get promoted. But better yet, she would be paid for it. She loved her job and will soon be at it 30 years. This proves again an old axiom, "The best man for a job may be a woman!"


She tells the story on herself of how she'd create a meaningful display. Proud of her work, she'd go meet Mike for lunch; and when she returned, Dr. Lucile would have it fixed.

Years later, Carla had the vision to take the old warming center in the lower level of the depot and turn it into a permanent exhibit on the early history of Batavia. She found the way and means to have it professionally done.


Another time, a developer offered her a gazebo. All she'd have to do was move it down Rt. 31. Oh, and by the way, have it off his site in 24 hours. She did.


Several years ago, the newly formed long-range-planning committee of the historical society acknowledged that our greatest need was for space where our paper archives could be displayed so that researchers could make use of them. Carla said that she'd often thought that the hillside at the back of the Depot could be turned into useable interior space. We talked about it and dreamed a few plans.


Before long, Carla announced to the committee that she'd heard of a state grant that was available for additions to small museums. One problem, the grant proposal had to be submitted within 10 days. Carla got the grant in on time, and in 2000, the Gustafson Research Center was dedicated and today fulfills a major part of our mission to preserve and disseminate Batavia's past.


Perhaps she works best under stress. Completing these major projects meant hours of time beyond her paid hours. And she's always been willing to donate hours of Mike's time as well.


Indeed, Carla is not one of those persons who are here today and gone tomorrow. She is one who is here today and here tomorrow.


Thank you, Carla, for all you've done for Batavia and for the Historical Society. Congratulations on tonight's award. You truly deserve it.




Marilyn Robinson


This story on the 1918 worldwide flu epidemic and its effect on Batavia is particularly timely because of the current concern about possible spread of the Asian bird flu.  


While World War I was winding down in Europe, an epidemic of the Spanish Influenza swept the world, killing more people than died because of the war. There were 27,789 Americans killed in war action, while 550,000 died of the flu.


This epidemic was the most destructive in history and is considered one of the severest disease outbreaks the world ever suffered. It ranks with the Black Death Plague that is estimated to have felled one-half the population of western Europe in 1348-49. Twenty million people died worldwide of the flu in 1917-1919, and more than fifty times that were sick. Batavia did not escape the epidemic, although the exact number affected is not known.


The disease was called "Spanish Influenza," but there is no evidence that it originated in Spain.






One view is that it began in the Orient, and the Germans mentioned it along the eastern front as early as the summer of 1917. The flu raged in Europe in May, June, and July of 1918.


By October 1918, there was an United States emergency, creating a shortage of physicians, nurses, and hospital beds. Because the war hadn't yet ended, Americans were told that it was the patriotic duty of every citizen to stay in good health to avoid the influenza. Citizens were to practice good health habits and avoid crowds in streetcars, theaters, movie houses, and all places where groups gathered.


People with colds, sore throats and coughs were to be shunned, and no one but a nurse or doctor was to minister to them. To avoid chills, living rooms were to be kept between 65 and 75 degrees, and feet and clothing were to be kept dry. There was to be no spitting in public places, and worry was to be avoided.


The flu resembled a cold accompanied by fever, pains in the head, eyes, ears, back or other parts of the body and a feeling of severe sickness. In many cases, the symptoms disappeared after three or four days, and the patient rapidly recovered. Others developed pneumonia, or inflammation of the ear, or meningitis, and many of these complicated cases died. To avoid pneumonia, patients were told to stay in bed for at least three days after the fever disappeared. Symptoms varied, making it difficult to recognize the disease. The number of white corpuscles in a patient's blood did not rise as usual when there is an infection, and this baffled physicians. A vaccine, originated at Mayo Clinic, was manufactured in Chicago and used in the area. While thousands were given the vaccine, it is not known whether it did any good.


In September 1918, there were not yet any reported cases of influenza in Batavia, but local servicemen were susceptible in military camps. In October, John Duffey, who lived with an uncle on Van Buren Street, died in a camp in Virginia. Johnny Benson, who had owned an ice cream parlor on Batavia Avenue before joining the navy, died in England. In mid October, State Public Health Authorities reported that 227 cities and towns in Illinois had been hit by the epidemic. They reported 55,725 cases, of which about one-third were in Chicago. There had been 491 deaths down state and 2,264 in Chicago, some of whom were from Batavia. Sarah, age 26, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Russell, of McKee Street, died at a boarding house in Chicago. She became ill with a cold on Thursday and by Friday evening, had died. Also dying in Chicago was former Batavian George White, a grandson of John Ozier.


At the time the White family was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Mrs. White had gone to Chicago for a visit. She died of the flu, and her husband went to the city for her body. While in Chicago, George became ill and died within a few days. In the middle of November, there were 250 cases of the flu at the St. Charles School for Boys, and eight boys had died. Doctors and seventeen nurses were brought from other state institutions to help with the outbreak. At the same time, there were many cases and several deaths among the children and adults at Mooseheart. Physicians were overworked and in some rural areas of the state, men drove the doctor's horse and buggy from house to house at night so that he could sleep between sick calls. Eventually, the State Department of Health ordered all theaters, movie houses, night schools, lodges, places of public amusement and public schools that lacked adequate medical and nursing supervision closed until the epidemic subsided. To comply, The Batavia Opera House and other public places closed, but the schools stayed open.


At the time, Batavia was thought to be in better shape than many cities as there were only thirty-five cases reported. The city washed the streets, and sanitary precautions were taken to prevent the spread of the dreaded disease. Soon, however, one to four deaths from pneumonia or influenza were reported each week for the next two to three months. Whole families became ill. In December, nearly the entire family of Christie James, southeast of Batavia was stricken. A daughter, Alice Marie, died on a Sunday, Christie on Monday, and Tuesday Mrs. James passed away. Only a two-year old son survived. When Earl Montgomery, the two and a half year old son of G. Montgomery of near West Chicago died, his father, mother and baby sister were all ill and could not attend the funeral. A few of the others who succumbed were Mrs. George Bowker, Mrs. Nellie Edwards, William Harrold, Mrs. Laura Smith, and Nels Johnson.


There were many others. Eventually, the situation improved in the northern part of the state, but the epidemic spread into the southern section of Illinois. Health officials explained that there was a high death rate among farmers because pneumonia is more fatal to robust men than to those not quite so strong. So many people became ill in the coal mining areas of Illinois that fuel production was decreased by 30 per cent, and a minor fuel shortage existed. Even animals were affected. Thousands of hogs died near Plainfield, and many dogs and some cattle succumbed after developing coughs. By January 1919, an unnamed Batavia physician said that he felt the epidemic was decreasing in town. This was confirmed by there being fewer obituaries giving pneumonia or influenza as the cause of death in the local papers.


From the Editor


Several months ago, a friend asked why I didn't occasionally reprint stories from earlier issues of the Historian. After all, he pointed out, we have a gradualtumover in the membership; besides that, even long-time readers are unlikely to remember all the stories that had appeared some years earlier.


Although I acknowledged the validity of his arguments (I occasionally have people suggest interviews with people whose stories have already appeared a few issues back) and I know that well-known writers such as Mike Royko and Ann Landers have used this approach while on vacation, I had felt that doing so might suggest that we were running out of new ideas. Then something happened: I had back surgery in February and found that the rest and then therapy that followed would make it impossible to assemble or write enough new material for this issue.


That explains why some readers may ser several stories in this issue that seem familiar -- they are! I Although this approach will not be a precedent, we may in the future occasionally use a story from a much earlier issue that seems particularly pertinent. Some are worth a second look.



The Newton Memorials


James L. Hanson


Recent Issues have included stories involving Don Carlos Newton: one covering his reminiscenses on his 60th birthday in 1892 and the other his remarks at a gathering of former Union Army officers at about the same time. It seems appropriate, therefore, to refresh our memories about memorials donated by Newton and his wife Mary in Batavia and elsewhere, as told by Jim Hanson in an April 1996 issue of the Historian. A former president of the Society, Jim Hanson is an active volunteer in the Gustafson Research Center.


A familiar sight to Batavians is the Newton Monument in the West Batavia Cemetery which honors those from Batavia who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Many, however, may not know how and why it came into existence some 50 years after the war ended. Mary Prindle Newton, the widow of Don Carlos Newton (1832-1893), bequeathed $10,000 for the erection of this memorial when she died in 1913, naming Charles More, Albro Prindle and E.H. Wolcott to carry out this provision in her will. The memorial was erected in 1918 and formally dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1919. D.C. Newton assisted in raising a company to serve in the Union Army in 1861 and was elected a lieutenant of Co. D, 52nd Regiment, Illinois Infantry. He was later promoted to captain and served until December, 1864. He participated in many major battles including those at Shiloh, Corinth, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and in Sherman's "March to the Sea" and capture of Savannah. Following the war, Batavia had an active GAR. organization in which Mr. Newton was involved. Few Batavians are aware that Mrs. Newton also provided funds for another memorial to her late husband.


In 1901 an observatory, named the Newton Observatory, at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, was dedicated as the result of a gift of $10,000 from Mary Newton. The college had in its possession a telescope but no appropriate facility for its placement and use until it received this gift. In 1910 she established a $5,000 endowment fund for the maintenace of the observatory, which is still in use at the college. The present Methodist Church on Batavia Avenue was a gift from D.C. Newton and his brother-in-law Rev. E.H. Gammon. They had it built similar to a design of a church that the Newtons had8.jpg seen in France. The church cost $35,000 and was dedicated in 1888. References are found that indicate Mr. Newton thought of this as a memorial to his father, Levi Newton. An organ which had been given by Mary Newton and Mrs. Gammon to the previous Methodist Church was installed in the new edifice.


In her will, Mary Newton provided for a trust to be established with $10,000 to be used in maintaining the church building. Mary Newton also was giving money to Dakota Wesleyan University at the time of her death in 1913.


Note: Information in this article regarding Allegheny College and the Newton Observatory was researched by Tom Mair and given to me several years ago. He had received an old, undated newspaper clipping about the gift, which whetted his interest just as his notes caused me to delve into Mary Newton's probate records, old newspapers and the Society's archives for more details about her philanthropy.


Addendum: In the July 1996 issue, Jim addressed the question that probably occurred to most readers: Why the generosity to Allegheny College? Allegheny College, founded in 1815, was a well respected school affiliated with the Methodist Church. It was located about 150 miles from Attica, NY, where Levi Newton, D.C. Newton's father, operated a wagon factory.


Around 1850 (available references vary as to exact date) D.C. Newton attended Allegheny College for one year. After his father's factory was destroyed by fire in April, 1854, Levi decided to move to Kane County to rebuild. The entire family including D.C., who had married the previous year, came to Batavia in September, 1854, and Levi and his son entered into a partnership to build wagons. This eventually became the Newton Wagon Co., one of Batavia's leading industries in the late 1800s. Even though D.C. Newton attended Allegheny for only one year, it seems logical to assume he had maintained an interest in it. The school's Methodist affiliation would certainly have also influenced a decision to give it support.


In the early 1900s the college's president, William Crawford, visited Batavia one or more times. As he was noted for greatly increasing enrollments, faculty and facilities at Allegheny, these visits may have been part of trips to encourage enrollments and donations. Carl More [a great-nephew who was raised by Mary Newton] may have attended the college after graduation from high school in 1907, which would relate to [Mary's] support for the school.




Were Barney Vermilyer and Charles B. Vermilyer the Same Person?

The Answer Found in the Depot Museum



The following story, which initially appeared in the October 2000 issue, explains the "disgraceful occurrence" referred to in Bill Wood's January 1996 story, "Mark Twain and Batavia," included elsewhere in this issue.


Recent Depot Museum visitors from California, Jim and Wilma Vermilyer, have sent us a letter that ties up some loose ends of an 1869 "disgraceful occcurrence" in Batavia that was originally reported in the February 4, 1869, Aurora Beacon. The incident was retold by Marilyn Robinson in the WindmillHerald, June 24, 1992, and by Bill Wood in the January 1996 issue of The Batavia Historian. The Vermilyers were happily able to complete the story, and their genealogical search, on the basis of court documents they reviewed at the museum.


The Barnabas (or Barney) Vermilyer family, living in early 1869 in Batavia at Washington and Church, - included Barnabas' wife, Mary, and sons James, 26, daughter Emma, 21, son George, 18, and daughter Viola, 6. A Mrs. Harriet Keller Roath, age 26, and seven year-old son also lived with the Vermilyer family, presumably as boarders. According to the Beacon, "a party of low downers, headed by a Bill Nooks [or Noakes] went to the house of Barney Vermilyea [an alternate spelling of the family name] for the purpose of applying tar and feathers to [Barney's] person.


Barney armed himself with sundry revolvers, shot guns and other deadly weapons, and hid in the cellar. Nooks' party broke into the house, frightened a woman living there into spasms, and ransacked the premises from top to bottom, appropriating some things that allegedly did not belong to them. "Not finding Vermilyea above, Nooks, with Cooney (Fran Moon), started down to the cellar, having a gun in his hands. Vermilyea fired three shots at him, one passing through his groin, making a dangerous wound. Upon the fall of their valiant leader, the rest of the group made a hasty charge away from there that made Sheridan's celebrated ride seem slow in comparison.


They stood not upon the order of their going but went as if the devil was after them." The newspaper account gave no hint of what might have given rise to this "disgraceful occurrence," but the likely cause can be deduced from information in a court doument in the subsequent divorce of Barnabas and his wife, Mary. In February, 1869, Mary claimed, she had asked Barnabas to go with her to visit their daughter in Aurora. He declined, claiming he had business in another direction. Even after his plans fell through, he still declined going to Aurora with Mary. Mary left in the wagon. The wagon broke down so she was forced to return home. When she approached the house, she heard rustling inside.


Then she saw Harriet Roath, the boarder, climbing out of the window! She went inside and asked Barnabas why Harriet felt a need to leave by way of the window. Barnabas had no explanation. In the same court document, however, George W. Vermilyer, then age 19, stated that on one occasion he saw his father, Barnabas, dancing with Harriet, holding hands and going into a bedroom at 2 a.m., then turning out the lights. It was later in February that Barnabas and Harriet reportedly "eloped" and left the state.


Jim and Wilma had long been searching for his Vermilyer roots in Indiana where an elderly Lewis Vermilyer had a chart showing his grandfather as Charles B. Vermilyer. He had heard stories that Charles B. had been married before to someone named Mary and had two boys. Presumably this was Barnabas, as suggested by the middle initial of Charles B., but they needed more evidence. Lewis took them out to several cemeteries in the LaPorte area, showing them many stones with the name Vermilyer, including ones for Charles B. and Harriet Vermilyer, apparently the fomer Harriet Roath with whom Barnabas had "eloped" from Batavia.


The needed evidence was found in the Depot Museum. In a 1907 Kane County court action to clear title to property that had earlier been sold by the divorced Mary Vermilyer, the list of heirs to Barnabas Vermilyer included George Vermilyer and Viola Jones, children of Barnabas and Mary; Hattie Vermilyer, the former Harriet Roath; and several children of Barnabas and Harriet. This satisfied Jim and Wilma that they had the evidence- they~needed:--Barnabas Vermilyer and Charles B. Vermilyer£ were one and the same, Jim's ancestor for whom they had been searching.


Afterwords Jim and Wilma wrote an article for the Vermilyea Association in which they referred to their visit here as follows: "Batavia Histoical Society is a 'gold mine of information.' We were on a rather tight schedule. They have a new research room ready to open in June. We were there in May They offered to let us go into their attic, showed us how to use the index, and within minutes we were holding in our hands a divorce document dated 1870, and hand written.


By now it was closing time! They were kind enough not to ask us to leave, but we felt we should let them go home - after all, they are volunteers. I asked if we could come back They were not supposed to open again for several days. We would be in Indiana by then! A very gracious woman named Carla Hill offered to open for us the very next day. All without charge! We of course left a donation! What wonderful people!


The Museum Has Re-opened for 2006


Carla Hill, Director


Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. The museum re-opened for the 2006 season on March 1st. April and May will be busy months at the museum. Over 400 Batavia school children will visit the museum as part of the third grade Batavia history unit. National Volunteer Week will be celebrated April 23-29. As part of that celebration

the museum volunteers have been featured in the spring issue of "Whispers" which is part of the Batavia Park District's spring brochure. The museum is truly blessed to have over 100 dedicated volunteers who serve in many capacities.


We would like to recognize Marilyn Robinson, Sandy Chalupa, Dorothy Staples, Georgene Kauth and Kathy Fairbairn for donating so many hours of their personal time to the operation of the museum. In November, after scheduling the museum volunteers for more than 10 years, Kathy Fairbairn announced that she would be retiring from that position. We are very grateful to Kathy for so many years of dedication to the museum.


We are pleased to announce that Lois Benson has agreed to take over the position. Lois is a long time Batavia resident and volunteer and has been enthusiastic about taking over the position. This summer we will begin working on the restoration of our caboose, which was built at the Aurora Burlington Roundhouse in 1907 and will have a 100th Birthday Celebration in 2007.


If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or helping out at special events please call Chris or Carla at the museum at 406-5274 or Lois Benson at 879-1080.


Mark Twain and Batavia


William J. Wood


This item originally appeared in the January 1996 issueof the Historian and, as readers will discover, is updated by another story thai is reprinted in this issue.


In the early evening hours of January 26, 1869, SamuelClemens! Mark Twain began a letter to Uvy, his soon-la-be wife. Date-lined "Batavia, Illinois," he finished it in the early morning hours of the 27th after delivering a lecture to a Batavia audience, site and topic still unknown. In his wildest dreams he surely CQuid not have envisioned that on January 18, 1996, Jeffery D. Schielke, Mayor of Batavia, would be reviewing "The Mark Twain Papers: Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 3,

1869" in which his letter is reproduced. In preparing publicity for Mayor Schielke's presentation, Mark Johnson, Batavia reporter for the Aurora Beacon~News, researched the February 4, 1869, edition of the Beacon and found that his 1869 counterpart had mentioned Twain's lecture, but only as a footnote to more vital news of the day.


As a newspaperman, Twain would be understanding that news of his lecture would be overshadowed by a "disgraceful occurrence" in which "one of a self-constituted vigilance committee came to grief. "Barney Vermilyer, the planned recipient of a coat of tar and feathers declined the honor. After the committee ransacked his home on North Washington Avenue and tracked him to the cellar, Vermilyer fired three shots, injuring the leader, Bill Noakes, who resided on North Van Buren Street. "Upon the fall of their valiant leader, the rest of the group made a hasty charge away from there that made Sheridan's celebrated ride seem slow in comparison.


They stood not upon the order of their going but went as though the devil was after them." The Batavia correspondent, known only as "Ben," had a way with words bequeathed to his 1996 successor. Ben added that the matter was turned over to the grand jury, which did not bode well for Noakes as "mob law and vigilance committees are decidedly unpopular just now." It was reported that Twain's lecture was a "success pecuniarily and otherwise."


Ed. note: For a more complete report on the Vermilyer/Noakes affair, read "Was Barney Vermilyer and Charles B. Vermilyer the Same Person?" in this issue.


Membership Matters


Since the last issue, we have added as life members the following persons (from Batavia unless otherwise noted): Kathy Chesley, Richard Feuerborn (gift from Jim Anderson in memory of Bill Wood), Harris Bank, Ruth Johnson, Mrs. Martin Mortensen (Shirley Schiedler - Troy, MI), and Mike and Patty Rosenberg. Other new members include Linnea Funk, Richard J. Johnson (Eagan, MN), Robert and Regina McPeek, Marge Roesler (Sebring, FL - giftof daughter Diane Cutlip), Rolf Sandvold, Frank Saupp IV (gift of Frank and Mary Saupp), Michael Schrauth (Dixon, IL - gift of Ellyn Stewart), and VictorSchrauth (Lancaster, CA - gift of Ellyn Stewart).We regret to report the deaths of long-time members Bette Hansford and Gladys Noren.


We have received gifts in memory of Bette Hansford from Alma Karas and Yangling Zhang; in memory of James Hazleton from Alan and Nancy NcCloud; in memory of Bert L. Johnson from James R. Anderson, Constance A. Bond, Marjorie Bortner, the Ellithorpe sisters and spouses, Charles and Lillian Elwood, Leonard and Shirley Mohr, Robert and Paula Moseley, Harold Mavesand Cordie Nelson, and Norman and Judy Peterson; in memory of Gladys Noren from Jeanette Anderson, Rick and Sandy Eckblade, Alma Karas andYangling Zhang, and Merwin and Sheila Stroup; and in memory of Geri Reimers from the Batavia Senior Citizens Club. In addition we have receivedgifts in honor of Carla Hill from James R. Anderson and in honor of Marilyn Robinson from the Elias Kent Kane Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.



1912 State Champions - and More


With Batavia High School's outstanding 2005-2006 basketball season still fresh in our minds and the presentation of "March Madness" by Coach Jim Roberts at our March meeting, it seems appropriate to look back at our State Championship team of 1912. This story first appeared in the April 1998 issue of the Historian.


The facilities in 1912 were cramped for playing, and for watching, basketball. Because the high school had no gymnasium, the team was forced to play its home games in the Methodist church gymnasium, sometimes jokingly referred to as the "cracker box gym." The balcony was too narrow to seat many spectators. Claude Hanson, a 1908 team member, recalled that when they played, it was the job of one team member not on the court to collect the admissions and/ or donations from the spectators. Probably the situation was much the same four years later. But the team was good -- very good. Comprised of Dwight Emigh, Clarence Hansen, Walter "Dutch" Trantow, Horace Bone, Charles "Chuck" Barr, Ray "Irish" McDermott, and Parks "Puck" Bailey and coached by Kenneth C. Merrick, it had won 20 of 22 games during the regular season.


In the first round of the tournament, Batavia beat Joliet, Sycamore, Belvidere, and Freeport. Advancing to the state round, which was played in Galesburg, the team defeated Canton 32-32, then Granite City 29-26, and finally, to win the championship, Galesburg by the same 29-26 score. As described in John Gustafson's Historic Batavia, "in celebration whistles blew, and crowds broke into churches to ring the bells. Everyone, regardless of age or previous condition of dignity, laughed, shouted, and cheered." If water towers had been round in those days, Batavia, like Hebron 35 years later, might even have proclaimed its status by painting the city water tower to look like a basketball.


But the season did not end then. A clipping from an unidentified newspaper that we found in the De, ot Museum files reveals that the Batavia champions continued the winning ways. The headline from that clipping reads:



Before facing Batavia, however, they should have had time to acclimate, and we think that the reporter may have bent over backwards in offering Ft. Morgan that alibi for its loss. The article concluded: "Athletic prospects for next seaon at Batavia High School are unusually bright with the promise of a fine new gymnasium of regulation floor space in the basement of the new high school building and the return to school of McDermott, Trantow, Barr, Emigh and Hansen."            


Apparently, however, the return of most of the team and the promises of a new gymnasium were not enough, since Batavia did not retain its title in 1913. But we have come close, more than once, since then.



1872 Rules for Teachers


In the last issue, we printed a test given in 1895 to 8th graders in Salina. Kansas - one which, if we were to be honest with ourselves, most of us would have had some difficulty passing. Recently in a newsletter from Scholes School, Chris Winters came across the following rules for teachers in 1872. Like the test, this shows us how different schools, and society generall were in those days.


Rule NO.1: Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.


Rule NO.2: Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day's session.


Rule NO.3: Make your pens carefully, You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils


Rule No.4: Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.


Rule NO.5: After 10 hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.


Rule NO.6: Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.


Rule No.7: Every teacher should lay aside from each day a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.


Rule NO.8: Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his work, intention, integrity and honesty.


Rule NO.9: The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.


Editor's note: While we can't help wondering if some of this may be exaggerated, we have no question that the general substance is true. How well we remember, over 70 years ago, the titillating rumor that our sixth grade teacher had been seen having dinner with a man and that she was smoking!


Spring Meeting Highlighted "March Madness"


Batavia's Basketball Coach Roberts
And Team Members Featured in an Outstanding Program


Baskeball has long occupied a special place in Batavia, dating back to our state high school chamionship team of 1912 (see story in this issue) -- and even earlier. Down through the years, Batavia High School has continued to have outstanding teams with players such as Dan Issei and Ken Anderson, who later starred nationally in professional sports. And the close rapport between the team and the community has continued through the years -- there are a number of 10.jpgsenior citizens who follow the games faithfully, both at home and away.


It was indeed fitting, therefore, that the Society's spring meeting featured Coach Jim Roberts and three seniors, Jeff Roeske, Steve Ideran, and Jack Scalcucci for a "March Madness" program.


A large turnout of members and friends filled the city council chambers on Sunday afternoon, March

19, to honor the highly successful 2005-2006 team.


Coach Roberts and the three team members emphasized the importance of the community's involvement with the basketball program, something that the players noted was the envy of other teams.


We owe warm thanks for an outstanding program not only to Coach Roberts and his players but also to board member Bob Peterson, who arranged the event. After the program, those in attendance enjoyed Carole Dunn's refreshments, which were highlighted by a basketball motif in recognition of the occasion.








I Remember Holidays of the Farm

Part 1 - New Year's Eve through Easter
Helen Bartelt Anderson


Over the years, Helen Anderson has perhaps been the most popular contributor to the Hisotrian. The following story, which initially appeared in the April 1993 issue, is the first installment of her reminiscences of holidays as she was growing up on he George and Delia Bartelt farm, now a part of Fermilab. We plan to reprint her other holiday memories at the appropriate tmes in future issues. Most of Helen's stories are included in Memories of a Childhood, which the Society published in 2000. Copies are available for purchase at the Depot Musuem. Mama enjoyed holidays. Even on a busy farm, each little holiday was celebrated in some way. We knew that on New Year's Eve we could stay up a little later to "kick the slipper." Even the hired man (we called him "Thruny") joined in the fun. We each turn lay down on the floor, head toward the door, placed a slipper on the toes of one foot, then kicked it backwards over our heads. If the toe of the slipper landed with the toe pointing toward the door, that would mean "going out" and trouble ahead, but if the toe pointed in, happiness and prosperity would come to that person in the new year. Most often New Year's Day was spent at Luessenhops (Mama's cousins on County Farm Road -- now Fabyan Parkway).      


We would have roast duck or goose with all the trimmings. Being of Pennsylvania Dutch descent, they always had a bountiful feast. Of course, the food was raised right there on the farm, Each person tried to be the first to wish the others a Happy New Year. After dinner, the men would adjourn to the barn to enjoy an after-dinner cigar, while the boys stood around and tried to act interested in the conversation. The women would wash dishes and also get caught up on the latest neighborhood gossip. Dish washing on the farm at that time was considerably different from what most city women enjoyed. There was no electricity and no running wa water. Water had to be carried into the house in pails. Most kitchen ranges had reservoirs alongside the fire box.


When these were filled, especially when the stove had a steady fire, the water would be nice and warm for dishes,etc. Stoves burned wood, which also had to be carried into the house. Sadie's kitchen sink was in the pantry, so when there were lots of dishes to be washed, she washed them on the kitchen table. Then there was room for guests to gather around the table and dry dishes. Soap, like nearly everything else, was handmade, using lard or bacon fat and Lewis Lye. Lard made the whitest soap. Ground Hog's Day was not ignored. If nothing else, it caused much conversation, with eyes on the morning sky. Of course, it nearly always happened that the ground hog did see his shadow, and we were in for six more weeks of winter. Next was Valentine's Day, which meant many hours of preparation.


We cut valentine hearts from old wallpaper sample books and decorated them with pictures from Sears catalogs or magazines. Paste was made of flour and water. We exchanged valentines at school, with an especially pretty one for our teacher. I remember we had vacation from school on both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. Before our days off, we learned much about these two great men. At home, Mama made cherry pies. From the first of March until around St. Patrick's Day, there was much viewing to see who would find the first robin. If the robin was high up in a tree, it meant that the finder would be in good spirits all summer; but if it was on the ground, the viewer could expect a pretty dismal season ahead.


The Bartelts are of German descent, but if we had anything green, we wore it on St. Patrick's Day. We did not know who St. Patrick was nor why it was a holiday, but we made shamrocks and colored them green in honor of the day. The next big holiday was Easter. At school, we made paper Easter eggs of every color, pasting them to brown paper baskets that we used to decorate the windows of our school. We also made rabbits of brown construc construction paper and pasted colored eggs around them. Mrs Perrow brought real pussy willows.


We made pink flowers of crepe paper and fastened them to branches. Our schoolroom was beautiful. I believe we had spring vacation the week after Easter. I don't remember going to church on Easter Sundays because Mama usually had the family to dinner, but I do remember going with her to Charlie Bird's on East Wilson Street or Mrs. Alexander's to have new hats made. One year Charlie Bird made a pink braided straw hat for me. I felt very grown up. When Roger and I were quite small, we would run downstairs on Easter morning and look for the nest the Easter bunny had left for us.


This bunny nest was made in one of Papa's old felt hats, lined with straw. In the nest would be eggs, not bright colored but brown, tan, or dark red, with our names and designs. They were beautful. Mama kept all this a secret from us, but when we got a little older, we helped her make them. She would steep different colored onion skins on the back of the cook stove. Then she added the eggs, which became hardboiled at a temperature just below boiling. At the same time, the onion skins dyed the eggs in brownish tones, depending on the color of the natural eggs. Designs were made with wax before she put the eggs into the natural dye.


Easter breakfast was also traditional. Each year we had a contest to see who could eat the most soft-boiled eggs. Fred, a slightly retarded man who lived with us and helped with chores, could easily put away a dozen or more. He was the undisputed winner for all time. Pickled eggs were another tradition on the Easter dinner table. On Saturday before Easter, Mama put hard-boiled eggs in a fruit jar with pickled beet juice. By the next day, they were a beautful shade of pink.


I have continued with this, hoping that our children will keep alive this Pennsylvanie Dutch tradition. I continue to serve pickled eggs in the same beautiful dish that Mama used and wonder how old this lovely dish is. This story originally appeared in the April 1993 issue.