THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Fifty-Four

No. 4

November, 2013

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Batavia Women’s Club
By Marj Holbrook


In 2012, the Batavia Woman’s Club celebrated 120 years of service to the Batavia/Fox Valley community. That makes it one of the longest active organizations in town.


The club was formed June 4, 1892, in the parlor of Mrs. WilliamVanNortwick’s home. It first called itself the Kane County Women’s Exhibition Club, according to information in Historic Batavia by John Gustafson, Marilyn Robinson and Jeffrey Schielke. The 12 members met regularly in homes. Mrs. E.H. (Jane) Gammon was the first president; she died in December and Mrs.
Van Nortwick was chosen to replace her. She served from 1893 to 1895.


The club’s name was first changed to the Woman’s Columbian Club, but changed again in 1895 to the Batavia Woman’s Club when it became affiliated with the Illinois Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs. In 1946, the club became a member of the International Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs.

 

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A complete list of presidents shows that almost every married woman used her husband’s name. Only Mrs. M. Alice Burton, president in 1900-01, used her given name. It was not until 1989 that women began using their given names.


Current president Patti Condon took over the reins this fall from Margo Cooper. Condon joined in 2002 at the invitation of member Patti Rosenberg and says she believes a lot of members joined that way. Condon says she wanted to be involved in the community and believed in the focus of the Batavia club and its objectives.


The club currently has about 60 members but once had about 120. One of Condon’s goals is to increase membership. She’s also considering forming a juniors club which some Woman’s Clubs sponsor. In Illinois there are about 250 Woman’s Clubs with a state membership of approximately 8,000.


Reaching out beyond Batavia
The state and national overall emphasis in the 21 st Century is women’s and children’s welfare. The state project is: Our Promise: A Safe Place for Every Child (preventing child abuse.) Internationally, the project is “No Excuse for Abuse,” focusing on the fight against domestic violence. Around the world, club members encourage civic involvement and promote world peace and understanding.


In its first 100 years, Women’s Clubs established 75 percent of United States libraries, developed kindergartens in public schools and worked to establish food and drug regulations.


The Batavia club has three sub-groups:
• Conservation and Garden which studies native flora and fauna, and fosters conservation of natural resources.
• Home Life and Education which supports family economics, abuse prevention and the needs of the disabled and learning disabled, as well as literacy and libraries.
• Fine Arts which meets quarterly and focuses on music, drama, literature and art.


A member can choose to join the sub-groups in which she has an interest and may belong to any or all of the groups.


Even though most of its members qualify as senior citizens, the club has an energetic dynamic that accomplishes its goals. “Most of the community has no idea what we do,” Condon says. “We don’t just have nine meetings a year, we’re busy.” Condon says that some of the things the Woman’s Club does are “little things, but those little things make a difference in our community.”


Among its activities are:
• Helping Native Americans. Members just collected 100 book bags for Native American students which were sent off to South Dakota, via FedEx, earlier in September.
• Providing docents for the annual Batavia House Walk and the hospitality room for Art in Your Eye which brings well-known artists to Batavia for a weekend.
• Helping with Riverwalk activities, SOS (Survivors of Suicide) group, Hesed House,
Valley Sheltered Workshop and the Wounded Warriors program.
• Harvesting Prairie seeds at Fermilab.
• Helping at the Batavia Rehabilitation Center on Fabyan Parkway.

 

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Fund-raising
An annual fashion show and luncheon is a big fundraiser for the club. Proceeds will be donated to Mutual Ground in keeping with the club’s commitment of helping women and children. Mutual Ground, based in Aurora, provides housing and counseling for women and their children who must escape abusive situations. This is the third time fashion show proceeds have been earmarked for Mutual Ground. Other organizations helped in previous years include: CASA-Kane County, and Valley Sheltered Workshop in Batavia. CASA provides volunteers to monitor and follow court cases involving children to make sure the best interests children are obtained.


For more than 60 years, the club has awarded annual scholarships to Batavia students to attend music and conservation camps. In recent years, five scholarships of $350 each have been awarded to middle school students. Funds are raised through the annual Geranium Sale the first weekend in May. Cooper says between 30 and 50 applications for scholarships are received each year.


Officers generally serve two-year terms, but Margo Cooper, immediate past president, served four years. “If some group in the community needs volunteers for a specific task, they call on us,” Cooper says. “And we always find members who are willing to help.”


While the group is more than 100 years old, it’s using 21st-century techniques to reach out and inform. Member Caron Carlson updates the group’s web site: www.bataviawomansclub.org.


Energetic, active members
Condon says. “New members bring us new energy to meet our goals.” Condon adds that Dorothy Willey is a one of the members who brings energy to the group. Willey, a member since 2004, says she doesn’t deserve recognition. “I was looking for something to do after I retired,” she explains. “And I supported the aims and involvement of the Woman’s Club. I’m not a ‘joiner,’” she adds, “but I’ve found so many wonderful women in this group. For instance, one of our members called the Catholic priest at the Indian reservation that we support. He said youngsters didn’t have a way to carry their books to school except for paper bags and some didn’t even have those. He wondered if we could collect book bags (backpacks) for the students. We put out the word to members and shipped 100 backpacks to the reservation.”


Willey also likes the general programs and calls them “upbeat and informative. Condon says Nita Chevalier is another member who is knowledgeable and supportive. “She’s been so helpful to me,” the new president adds.


Chevalier has been active in the Woman’s Club since 1994, serving as program chairman and publicity chairman. She was president from 2001 to 2003 and president-elect for two years prior to that. She credits Georgene Kauth O’Dwyer for inviting her to Woman’s Club meetings and encouraging her to join. “She was the first person I met in Batavia. My husband and I had moved here from Geneva and I was changing my bank accounts. Georgene not only helped with that, but even drove me to the meeting and brought me home.


“I was active in my church, but I wanted to meet others,” Chevalier says. “The Woman’s Club was a perfect place to do that and it had lots of different activities.”


Chevalier says the club had a special program for one of its anniversaries. Sammi King, a Batavia author and columnist, wrote the script and club members took various parts. “We tried to dress the parts with long dresses and hats,” she recalls. “Shirley Fox played piano and it was at the open-air Peg Bond Center on the Island. It was so exciting to be outdoors and telling the public what we do.”
Women interested in club membership should contact Janet Kristensen at 630-406-8136.




From the President
Bob Peterson
 
Our annual meeting was held on Sunday, October 6th. Election of officers was held and the following were elected to two year terms:

Gary King                     Director
Robert Popeck              Director
Eldon Frydendall            Director
Robert Peterson            President
Carole Dunn                 Recording Secretary
Georgene O’Dyer           Corresponding Secretary
Glenn Miner                  Historian

We thank John White for his many years of service on the board. John’s service as a Director and Long Range- Planning Chairman was invaluable. We will really miss John’s service. Welcome to new life members Robert Boss from Tucson AZ and Karl Bruhn of Batavia as well as to new member Janice Swana of Glen Mills PA. George Sheets, the director of the Batavia Library, presented a wonderful program on the history of Batavia High School football at the fall meeting. Thanks, George, for a great program. Treasurer Ralph Fisher reported that income and dues are running behind. We encourage you to make sure your dues is up to date. Bob Nelson reminded us that the next general meeting will be our Christmas Party on December 1st. The program will be a repeat performance by magician Brian Smith.




BATAVIA’S SCHOOLS: PART 2,1911-2013
George H. Scheetz
Director, Batavia Public Library


As noted in Part 1, a county-wide renumbering of school districts occurred on 1 July 1901, in which No. 6 (East Batavia) was changed to No. 101, and No. 5 (West Batavia) was changed to No. 102.

UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
In April 1911, after much preliminary work, the two districts were again made one. In 1911, the newly consolidated Board of Education asked the voters to choose between two possible sites for a new high school. By a 536-215 vote, the “Batavia Avenue and West Wilson Street Site” was selected over the “East Wilson Street Site” between River Street and Washington Avenue.

The unified high school held classes in the West Side School until Batavia High School opened in 1915 at 10 South Batavia Avenue—now the site of the Batavia Public Library. The old John Van Nortwick home, immediately south of the new high school, became the Home Economics Building.
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THE BATAVIA PLAN
The Batavia Plan of Week-Day Religious Instruction (commonly known as the “Thursday School”) began at the opening of school in the fall of the 1919-1920 school year.

The Batavia Plan was almost the “Wednesday School,” because the petition to the Board of Education by the churches of Batavia (in June 1918) requested “that the children of the first eight grades be dismissed for one hour each week” on Wednesdays “to attend their respective churches for religious education.”

According to a 1921 article by H. C. Storm, “The Board agreed to this scheme,” but then, with “the excitement” of World War I, “everybody was engaged in war work, and the matter was dropped till after the signing of the armistice.”

The Batavia Plan, as originally proposed by the churches and carried out by the Superintendent of Schools, was completely voluntary, and permitted pupils in the elementary schools (grades 1-8) to attend church for religious instruction for one hour on Thursday, on application of their parents only. Students who remained in school had a study hour.

The churches agreed to provide proper courses of study, teachers, and materials, and to report, on uniform blanks, pupils’ attendance.
In May 1983, the Board of Education discontinued week-day religious instruction for junior high school students. The Batavia Plan continued through the 1984-1985 school year, and was discontinued by the Batavia Ministerial Association in 1985 after 66 years.

THE SCHOOLS

A new gymnasium was added to the high school in 1952. A completely new high school opened at 1201 West Main Street in 1966, which was expanded several times—most recently in 2008-2011.

The old high school became Batavia Junior High School (1966-1992) until Batavia Middle School opened at 1501 Raddant Road in 1992. It was renamed Rotolo Middle School in 2002.

There are now three elementary schools on the east side—J. B. Nelson Elementary School (1955), the new Louise C. White Elementary School (1978), and Hoover-Wood Elementary School (2001)—and three on the west side—Alice O. Gustafson Elementary School (1957), H. C. Storm Elementary School (1978), and the newest Me Wayne Elementary School (2001).


The Rosalie M. Jones Administration Center opened in 2002 at 335 West Wilson Street, the former site of the Batavia Public Library (1981-2001). Jones served as a member and president of the Board of Education (1979-2001).

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The names of the different schools honor people who contributed significantly to education in Batavia. The following biographical sketches appear in the order in which the current buildings were named; school names appear in short form.


Nelson (1955), 334 William Wood Lane—John B. Nelson (1893-1978) was hired by H. C. Storm in 1919 to teach mathematics at Batavia High School, where he served as principal (1921-1938) before becoming Batavia’s third superintendent of schools after unification (1938-1962).


Gustafson (1957), 905 Carlisle Road—Alice Otelia Gustafson (1892-1979), a native Batavian and 1911 graduate of Batavia High School, taught 34 years, of which 30 were at the East Side (later White) School, including 18 as principal, until her retirement in 1956.


White (1978), 800 North Prairie Street—Louise Conde White (1875-1965), a native Batavian and 1893 graduate of East Batavia High School, taught in Batavia for 37 years, including 27 years as principal of the East Side School, until her retirement in 1938. The old school was named in her honor circa 1924; the name was carried over to the new school in 1978.


Storm (1978), 305 North Van Nortwick Avenue—Howard Charles Storm (1881-1956) was Batavia’s second superintendent of schools after unification (1916-1938).


Hoover-Wood (2001), 1640 Wagner Road—Eldora Esmay Hoover (1896- 1984) began teaching at Wagner School (District 112) near Batavia in 1915. She later taught in Batavia for 20 years until her retirement in 1964. William J. “Bill” Wood (1920-2005) met Hoover when both were teaching in Downers Grove. He taught 31 years in Batavia, first at White School in 1945, then as teacher and principal at Nelson School (1955-1976).


McWayne (2001), 3501 Hapner Way—The name of the newest west side elementary school (2001)—the third to bear the McWayne name—has an interesting history, which is described in more detail below. The first school was named in 1923; the second in 1950.


Rotolo (2002), 1501 South Raddant Road— Samuel R. “Sam” Rotolo (1925—) began his Batavia career at White School, where he taught (1953-1956) and served as principal (1956-1966). He was the first principal of Batavia Junior High School (1966- 1989).


THE MCWAYNE SISTERS
As noted above, the newest west side elementary school (2001) is the third to bear the McWayne name.
According to John Gustafson, in a 1949 historical sketch of the West Batavia schools,“Without a doubt, the two who have influenced more people than any other teachers, were the McWayne sisters, Ellen and Grace.”


Ellen McWayne (ca. 1837-1925) taught the eighth grade at the West Side School (later Central School) for many years. According to her obituary, she “taught for some 40 years in ... the Batavia schools,” until her retirement (ca. 1912), “and previous to that was a teacher in the Aurora schools.”


Grace McWayne (1847-1940) taught the first grade at the West Side School and the Church School for 59 years, from 1868 until her retirement in 1927. For many years before her retirement, she was principal of the Church School and then Central School (the former West Side School), the latter of which was named in her honor in April 1923, in her 55th year as a teacher.


“Our mother and all her seven children went to both Miss Grace and Miss Ellen McWayne in that building,” wrote Mary Williams in her 1960 reminiscence “A Walk Up Town in 1900.”


Roberta Campbell reported that, inNovember 1937, “Superintendent H. C. Storm suggested that Ellen also be honored in the school name.” Storm reported in a 1949 letter to the Board of Education that, during his tenure (he retired in 1938), “the Board felt that it would be better to honor both Grace and her sister Ellen by changing the name to the McWayne School in honor of both.”


When the time came to raze the original school, the Board of Education retained the name, “McWayne Elementary School,” for the new school on West Wilson Street, now part of Bethany Lutheran Church. The new school was dedicated in February 1951 “in honor of the McWayne sisters, Grace and Ellen, who taught in the original building for many years.”


The McWayne “sisters will ever be remembered as among the most successful and veteran school teachers of Kane county,” stated the Batavia Herald in 1925. Perhaps not forever.


In 2001, District 10l’s 14-member naming committee of teachers and parents recommended (and the School Board approved) that the new west side school be named for only one of the McWayne sisters. As one committee member put it (with remarkably little grace towards Ellen), “Grace was the one that was so remarkable.”


So the sign on the current McWayne school now honors only Ellen’s younger sister, Grace, who doubtless would be dismayed at this turn of events.


Hair Styles from the Past
by Heather Edwards
 
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Hairstyles have a history; histories that everyone can remember, enjoy, and laugh about. Though many of us just think “It’s JUST hair”, as a former hairstylist I say it’s more than hair. It’s another side of history. A history we are all a part of. A history each and every one of us has contributed to. Hairstyles and clothing are clues of the period of time a picture was taken. You can identify the decade by those two clues.

So here’s what Batavia’s “hairstory” looks like up to the early 1980s. Each of these photographs of Batavia women represents pioneer or original styles. If we were to look at photos from the late ‘80s till the present we can also see how much history influences later styles. These photos are from the Batavia Historical Society. If you recognize any of them, please call the Depot Museum to help Carla or Chris identify the women represented.

As early as the 1920s, hair inspiration came from silver screen stars such as Clara Bow and Theda Bara, the original vamp. If you see a bob or a finger wave, that photo was most likely taken in the 1920s. In the 1920s aluminum clips were used to hold the curls in place to set the wave.
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Styles in the 30s didn’t change too much. They combined straight hair with curls. One actress in particular who wore straight top and curl bottom was Greta Garbo. Also in the 30s we began seeing braids incorporated on the sides helping the hair to appear pulled back leaving

curls on top such as the style that Ann Sothern wore. The style I found to be my biggest inspiration from 1936 was that of Una Merkel. She wore this beautiful flowing wave. By the ‘30s the short cuts of the’ 20s were gone. Hair and curls were long.

 

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By the 1950s we saw women in the pixie and the beehive styles that were popular right on into the ‘60s. By the ‘70s the style was softer thanks to Farrah Fawcett. Feathered flip is still known today as the Farrah style.


In the ‘80s perms were all the rage and by the ‘90s all were asking for the Rachel cut from the Friends sitcom. By the 2000s the fashionable young women were chasing weaves and the Jessica Simpson wedding style or else chasing her sister’s rebellious style by dying their hair black, and googling “Emo” haircuts which were loads of fun and a clear way to express individual personality.


Now women are asking for everything under the sun. Today young ladies have become obsessed with adding fantasy colors or feathers or even jewelry to hair styles. While the ultra straight and the braid have been two the most popular styles that have been incorporated, my favorite style are the Kim Kardashian curls.

 

 

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As a kid I often wondered what could possibly be next with hair. Little did I know that hair stylists today would just take the old and revamp it or put a little spin on it. Almost every current style has been created from previous style. For example the old “finger wave” of the 1920s has been revamped by using a deep waver iron popular on short and long hair.

 

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You can also see the classic bob that originated in the ‘20s. We have once again put a new spin on this classic style. Cheers to the hairstylists who learn from the past what worked and what didn’t. Cheers to them for not letting history repeat itself but instead using history as a tool for improvement.