THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Vol. 3

November 2014

 


   

GROWING UP ON THE BARTELT FARM-Part 1 ‘LIFE IS NOT FOREVER’
By Helen Bartelt Anderson
edited by Jim Anderson and Roger Bartelt (deceased)
 

Because “Life is not Forever”, I want to pass on to my children what my life was like in the years when I was growing up.
Parents who worked from before dawn to after dark on the farm. Parents who loved us very much - this we knew even though they never hugged or kissed us. Abam full of cows that had to be milked twice a day. I remember when my father bought a Surge milking machine, which saved much time and effort, even though each cow had to be stripped after the machine was taken off because the last few squirts meant richer milk.

My mother did not always help with morning milking. She had 2 children to dress and a big breakfast to cook, but first she polished the big, black kitchen stove with a brush and stove polish, then made a wood fire. Soon oatmeal was cooking; home cured ham, bacon or sausage were sizzling, potatoes frying or pancakes. The eggs my mother gathered each day were often traded at the grocery store for staples.
I remember a big collie named Bruce who was a constant companion to my brother and me. After Bruce, there was Teddy - a short haired mongrel who was all fun. Roger used to hitch him to our wagon or sled but Teddy mostly just wagged his tail and didn’t care for the pulling bit.

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Change of seasons was important to us. Each one brought different duties on the farm. I loved winter; the snow, sucking on ice cycles, having my father around the house more. Sometimes he would bring a harness into the kitchen to repair because the cold weather made the leather stiff. After we got the furnace, that chore was relegated to the basement. I remember him testing seed corn that he had saved from the fall crop. He would take an old towel, wet it, and lay a row of corn kernels at one end, then carefully roll up the towel like a jelly roll, place it in a long pan and put it on the floor behind the cook stove where it would stay warm. He kept the roll moist. At the end of a week or ten days he would start checking it. If enough of the kernels sprouted, he would use the best ears of corn in the crib for planting, otherwise he would have to buy seed. This testing took place around St. Patrick’s Day.
 
All of our fields were not fenced. When the grass in the meadows was tall enough, my father would turn the cows into the field to eat the grass. As soon as we were able, one of our jobs was watching to cows so they would not get in the cornfield or alfalfa. This was one farm job I disliked.

My parents bought us a fat, black pony and cart. His name was Dandy. He travelled at a snail’s pace but was better than walking. We rode him bareback most of the time. One day Roger and I went out to the woods about a 'A mile away' from our house. Roger and I decided to race - he on his bike and I on Dandy. When Roger easily went around me, Dandy got scared and galloped the rest of the way home - with me screaming and bobbing around on his back. Somehow I managed to stick on and easily won the race. My Dad was very angry at poor Dandy and punished him by tying his head high, which he hated and broke my heart.

Haying was hard work, but a fun time for us kids. Roger was soon old enough to lead the horse that pulled the big forkful of hay up into the barn. Before that, my mother did this. We usually had a hired man and often farmers helped each other. The hay at that time was not baled. The man who stood on the hay rack had to know how to stack the loose hay so that the top of the huge load would not slide off on the way to the barn. Starting early in the morning was out of the question because hay that was damp in the hay loft would cause combustion. After the hay in the fields was cut down, it had to lay in the sun for a day, then my dad would go through the field with a hay rake which turned the hay and made it into rows where the wind and sun dried it thoroughly. That also made it easier for the hay loader to lift the hay onto the wagon.

Dad planted oats to feed the horses - no doubt some was ground to mix with other grains for the cows and pigs. Sometimes he would plant a small plot of sweet clover. He took the grain to Bennett Milling Co. to be made into flour. My father bought a couple hives of bees at an auction sale. The bees very much liked the blossoms of the sweet clover and alfalfa. I did not care for the taste of the flavored honey, but if we wanted something sweet on my mom’s homemade bread, we ate the honey and I guess I got used to it.

After seed testing, the grain was planted early in the spring it was corn planting time. Then came haying and corn plowing. If the ground was too wet, they would walk through the rows and chop out the thistles with a hoe.

Butchering was usually scheduled for early February. Sometimes my Uncle Charlie, mother’s brother, came to help with the butchering. I never wanted to know how the pigs were killed. From an upstairs window I could see the animals hanging by their hind legs so the blood would run out. They tied three big poles together at the top and hung the animals from it. They slit the pig’s tummies from bottom to top so they could clean out the insides, then using round sharp scrapers and boiling hot water, they scraped the skin until it was as white as snow. The carcasses hung on the scaffolding until all animal heat was gone - usually overnight. They had to be pulled up high enough so dogs and other animals could not reach.

My dad usually fattened a young beef or calf and sometimes a lamb so we had a variety of meat. The second day of butchering, the fat was trimmed from the pork. Roger and I helped cut the firm fat into small chunks. It was heater and then strained through strainers lined with cheese cloth and stored in earthenware crocks in our cold basement. The next layer under the lard, (ready for pie crusts, cookies and fried potatoes) which was mostly just under the skin was a layer of fat streaked with red meat. This was cut in big squares and wrapped in cheesecloth, and put in the smokehouse along with the hams. I think they were first soaked in a heavy salt brine.

Hickory wood was used to smoke the meat. Hickory is a very hard wood and would smolder for days. We had fresh liver and heart, fried. It was so fresh and delicious. My mother cooked the meat carved from the head, including the tongue, the rest of the liver and heart, ground it all together, and put it in a big pan in the oven. She stirred it often until it was thoroughly cooked, then packed it in quart jars and sealed them. It kept very well because of the fat sealing the meat from air. We called this meat treat pudding. It was very rich. I’d give a lot to have some right now on top of a split square of Johnnie cakes or pancakes.

Spare ribs were cut into 2-3” lengths and thoroughly cooked and browned in the oven like the pudding and canned in the same way. Sausage meat was ground raw and seasoned with sage, salt and pepper. Mom made sausage patties, cooked and canned them. The rest was put in casings. The small intestines of the pigs were cleaned, then soaked in lye solution, then scraped until they were thin as parchment. Mother used a dull table knife on a smooth board for this. This sausage was fed into the casings by means of a special attachment on the hand operated meat grinder. No one in our home ever suffered from food poisoning. We grew up healthy and well fed. Beef was cut into chunks, put in fruit jars and cold packed. Salt was an important factor in preserving. Mom scrubbed the pig’s feet until they were white and clean, cooked them and pickled them - delicious.

I can barely remember the war raging in Europe. One day my father had to go to the Court House to the Draft Board. He came home and said the country needed farmers as much as soldiers - he was exempt at least until the next draft call. Shortly after that, World War 1 ended. I vividly remember the first Armistice Day, November 11 1918. We drove the Model T downtown - mother squeezed us kids into the Aurora-Elgin station to watch. The station was next to Jule Morris’ Dry Goods store (Phipps) by the river. There were speeches which I don’t remember. What I do remember was the hanging and burning of the Kaiser in effigy at 11:00 AM. It was a cold, cold rainy day. I was 4 years old.

About this time my parents took a girl (teenage) from an orphanage named Nora Whitly. Farm help became impossible to get during the war and after, so mother had to help with the farm work again. Nora watched after Roger and me. She stayed with us for several years, and then ran off with a sailor named Ralph Downing from Aurora. When Ralph was discharged from the Navy, he could not find any work, so my dad took them in hoping Ralph could help on the farm. But Ralph preferred to lie in bed until 10:00 in the AM and play with their baby boy after that. After a couple of weeks, my dad asked them to leave. Nora divorced Ralph and remarried. A daughter named Harriet was to be the wife of Ted Harker.

One day when Nora was taking care of us, she and I got into a big argument about some minor thing. I completely lost my temper - screaming and kicking, etc. My mother was in the kitchen getting supper. She called me out to the kitchen and said, “Helen, if I had a temper like that, I’d get down on my knees and ask God’s forgiveness”. I didn’t at the time, but have never forgotten.

My father was doing well on the farm, paid off the mortgage and and built a tenant house across the road from us, so my mother wouldn’t have to put up with the hired men who would go on a “toot” every weekend. Swedish immigrants were the easiest to find but didn’t always work out. They didn’t understand instructions and many had no farm experience. I can still hear my mother yelling at them. No wonder they went to town Friday night and didn’t return until Sunday night. After the tenant house was built, we had married men with families.

After the war, the Government called for a TB testing of all dairy cows. Scientists discovered that affected cattle could transmit TB through the milk. My dad had been building up his herd with purebred Holstein stock. When the Government inspectors came, they found that the entire herd was infected. They were branded with a T on their jaw and sent to the stock yards in Chicago. Cattle after that were tested once a year.

The first family to live in the tenant house was the Richard Hazelwood’s. The second family was Wallace and Mary Peterson. He was the brother of Arvid (Batavia Foundry). Arvid’s wife was Mabel, a dressmaker. She sewed for us and made dresses for mother and me for Aunt Estella’s wedding, which I also barely remember. Estella and Sam Gregory were married at home in 1922 in West Chicago in the house she still lives. After their marriage, they lived in the house across the street which was stucco, newly built - a wedding gift from Aunt Kate and Uncle Mike Wurtz, Estella’s parents. They were like grandparents to me because mother lived with them during her late teens until she was married at the age of 27. My dad was the same age.

Richard Hazelwood was probably the best worker my dad ever had. He was big and strong. He loved music and his beautiful, powerful voice could be heard all over. His sons, George and Preston and daughter, Marie, played with Roger and me, which upset my mother to no end because they were black. My dad had no problem with that and neither did we. To us they were just kids. Richard was an uncle to Rev. Truman Hazelwood, and a very fine man.

Threshing was another big time on the farm. We didn’t have big combines. My dad had a grain binder drawn by 4 horses. The binder cut the grain and tied it in bundles and then threw them out on the ground. The bundles were stacked into shocks (10-12 bundles to a shock). The field looked beautiful with the shocks in straight rows.

The evening before threshing one of the threshing machines drove into the yard. The machines were owned by the group of farmers. A steam engine, owned by Uncle John Bartelt, and operated by Fred Krause (dad’s cousin) pulled the machine. Fred was a mechanical genius and if there was a problem, he would often be called to fix it. Wilbur Hawks owned a corn shredder and silo filler.

At 5:30 the next morning, the engineer arrived to oil and grease the machinery and fire up the engine, which burned coal. Sometimes big chunks of wood were added to the firebox. At 6:30, the engineer would give a couple of blasts on the steam engine whistle which told the neighbors that all was OK and that they were needed to help. About 7:00, the milking and chores would be finished and my mom would have a big breakfast ready. Then my dad would take the milk down to the creamery.

After dropping the milk off, dad would go to the market to pick up meat to feed the threshers. This would probably be a 12 to 14 pound roast of beef. If it was a Friday, he would buy fish. Mother would make 3 or 4 pies, rolls or bread - always cabbage salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple sauce, homemade pickles, cake and cookies. There were rarely any leftovers. The second day, mother would probably serve meatloaf. Usually, the engine crew stayed for supper, too. Then there were fried potatoes, sliced tomatoes, cold meat and cake, probably cheese and bread. A few weeks earlier my mother made root beer which was kept cold in the tank that cooled the milk. This made a big hit with the farmers.

Days were very hot. The neighboring farmers brought their own hay racks and horses. Sometimes there would be 14 or 15 men to feed. There would be 1st and 2nd settings for dinner, the crew eating last.

Roger and I loved to play in the fresh straw stack but it was dangerous because freshly stacked straw was soft and we could suffocate. My dad would let us level off the separated grain in the hay wagon.
 
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We have had a number of comments on Chris Winter’s article of “What’s for Dinner”.

Ron Anderson wanted to add that she forgot the Marona Cafe, located between
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Rachielles Drug store and the Batavia Bank, who’s Evelyn Kramer, made the
most wonderful tasting pies. I have attached a photo of the west side’s
Batavia Coffee Shop, circa 1954-55.

Also, David Glidden wrote about the original Fruitjuice house, which was prior to Piron’s Snack Shop and finally Jack’s Snack Shop. It opened in 1951 and was the 3rd or 4th in a chain of Fruitjuice Houses, started in Aurora. It didn’t have a liquor license, but had a counter and some lunch tables. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
The following excerpts was originally written by John Russell Christ, in his Radio Reveries,
printed in the “Old Fox River”, volume III, issue 6, 1995. and edited by Glenn Miner.
 
 

The subdivision of Cherry Park located across from Fermilab is a fine neighborhoodof mostly new homes and clean streets. People for the most part are friendly and take pride in caring for their property. But few residents in the community know that in the 1920’s, one of the most powerful radio stations was located there. The call letters were W-O-R-D, “The Watchword Station.”


In the 1920’s most of this land was owned by Max M. Melhorn. His 53 acre farm bordered Giese and Wagner Roads. Everyone knew Max. Folks would say, “If you met Melhorn on the street, you surely would get a sermon and a religious tract.” That area also included the one room Wagner School, where Miss Dorothy Bechtold taught all grades one to eight. She boarded with the Melhorns, as well as Henry “Luke” Janssen, who later married Max’s daughter Ruth. Jannsen became WORD’S engineer.


In the summer of 1924, plans were begun to build the station on the farm. Two towers manufactured by the Aero Company and installed by the U.S. Wind, Pump & Electric Company of Batavia were erected. Power and programming lines tapped into the old Third Rail Line which ran perpendicular to the towers. A small shed-like building between the towers served as the station’s studio.


As plans continued towards a December 28 sign-on, Columbia Conservatory in Aurora donated a piano for the musical programs. Other shows included “Uncle Dan’s Study Club” and some discussions on farming and poultry raising. For the most part, WORD’S programming was religious in nature and confusing to the audience. This was mainly due to the new doctrines being preached by the Jehovah Witnesses that owned the station and the fact that their frequency 1090 khz., was often used by other stations. When WORD was not on the air, Charles Erbstein could be heard airing his musical programs from Villa Olivia and the Purple Grackle Roadhouse over WTAS. WORD did present some band remotes featuring the Watchtower Orchestra live from the Webster Hotel in Chicago.


During the 1920’s, WORD lengthened its hours, adding morning programs to its mostly evening schedule. The People Pulpit Association and the International Bible Students Association, who here licensees of the station, featured talks by Judge Joseph F. Rutherford. One particular program, simulcast over WORD, WGN and many other stations, was heard around the world. It was the first live religious program to last more than 15 minutes. Listeners as far away as New Zealand heard the Harvard judge preach on Armageddon. WORD broadcasted with 5000 watts of power.

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The station’s efforts were not appreciated by the surrounding community. Whenever WORD came on the air, it blocked reception of other stations. The poorly designed radio sets couldn’t tune it out, and listeners complained they could no longer hear shows like Ma Perkins, the livestock reports with Major Bowes, and the fights from Madison Square Gardens.


By 1930, the newly createdFederal Communications Commission had started “cleaning up the radio dial.” Small or unprofessionally run stations were taken off the air. WORD scrambled to improve its programming. It no longer used the small one- room studio near the towers, and broadcast most of its programs from Chicago. The call letters were changed to WCHI in 1931 and finally taken off the air in 1932.


In later years, Henry Janssen became a baritone soloist and worked for WGN and WJJD. One of the towers were taken down sometime before the 1950’s. The last tower was taken down in November 1969.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The following excerpts was originally written by John Russell Christ, in his Radio Reveries,
printed in the “Old Fox River”, volume III, issue 5, 1995. and edited by Glenn Miner.

 

 

In October 1924, Mooseheart’s WJJD came on the air. WJJD (the call letters stand for former Secretary of Labor, under President Coolidge, and Mooseheart Director James J. Davis.). WJJD was actually two stations in one. By day, it utilized Mooseheart children as a talent. At sign on, listeners heard this announcement, “This is radio station WJJD. You are listening to the Child’s City at Mooseheart, Illinois, where 1,300 children are being cared for and trained because their deceased fathers were members of the Loyal Order of Moose. Due to the loss of their fathers, the Moose fraternity makes it possible for the children and their mothers to live and receive care here.”

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By 1926, WJJD’s regular nightly shows featuring big bands where broadcast from the Palmer House in Chicago. In 1930, Lucille Snorr Williams became program director and was responsible for the student staff of performers. Early broadcasts also emanated from Exposition Park’s Log Cabin Ballroom in North Aurora. It was also the first station to present regular church services.


By 1935, WJJD was forced to compete with Chicago stations for band broadcasts and advertisers. Soon, the station management felt they could not financially succeed in the industry by merely presenting children’s show from the women’s dormitory by day and scattered music remotes from a few of Chicago’s ballrooms at night. So that year they were purchased by Atlass Communications and moved permanently to Chicago.

 

Today, WJJD is the country’s. 14th oldest continuously operating station in the country. It is located at 1160 on the AM dial, it broadcasts with 50,000 watts of power and features all talk shows, after many years of various music formats.

 

 

 



RECIPES THAT SPAN GENERATIONS
Written by Bill Woods and shared by William & Ginny Cavender

 

This is not a true antique recipe as is the cornstarch cake, but it dates back to the 1940’s and has “historical” connections with Batavia. When I came to Batavia to teach, (November 1945), the entire faculty (including J. B. Nelson) numbered about 50. It was tradition that three or four times a year we would all get together for a pot-luck supper. His meatloaf was always requested by the staff and Mrs. J.B. Nelson always made several loaves. It was the consensus opinion that the addition of the poultry seasoning made this receipt unique.

 

Mrs. J.B. Nelson’s Meat Loaf
2 lb. ground beef '/2 lb. ground pork 4 slices of bread, crumpled */2 cup warm water
1 onion, minced (or Borden’s Instant Onion)
2 tsp salt
V4 tsp pepper
'/2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 eggs
1 tbsp. catsup or chili sauce Put into loaf pan
Make a depression on top and fill with V4 cup brown sugar V4 cup chili sauce 1 tsp mustard

 

 

 


 

THE FIRST DANDELION


Everyone has often wondered when and where did the first dandelion appear in this area. Well, the Sycamore True Republican, in January 1914, published this article:


“Mr. & Mrs. A.G. Weeden of Tracy, Minn., who have been in Sycamore a few days meeting old friends, left Monday for Plano where Mr. Weeden’s daughter, Mrs. W.W. Owen resides. Mr. Weeden, though 80 years old, does not show his age. He came to Sycamore in 1843 when 12 houses, two of which were log cabins, comprised the settlement. In one of the houses resided a woman by the name of Robinson and it was she who, missing the dandelion which bloomed in parts where she formally lived, introduced the plant to this section.”
Now we know, thanks to Ms. Robinson.

 

DISHWASHING


In 1884, a soap manufacturer made this advertisement:


“Dish-washing is without a doubt a source of constant annoyance, but this difficulty we promise to overcome by the introduction of an automatic method of dishwashing and drying,


“As soon as women make up their minds to ease their almost idiotic opposition to new things.”


I wonder if 1885 was a banner year for that unknown soap maker?


From the President

 by Bob Peterson

The Historical Society needs to fulfill the Newsletter Editor position, to continue to provide our members, the news and stories about Batavia, which we all like to read about. If anyone would be interested and wants more details concerning this Editor’s position, please contact Glenn Miner (630-879-2097) or email him at: bataviahistorian@gmail.com.


Also, if anyone has a story about living in Batavia that you want to share, please contact Glenn Miner. Remember that if these stories are not told and/or written down, they will be lost forever. We need to share them to give the future generations a history.


With Christmas just around the corner and deciding on gifts, remember that the Society membership is only $20.00/year and it will be a gift that continues that keeps on giving.


We would like to thank Kyle Holmann and Jerry Miller for their many years serving on the Board of Directors and wish both success and happiness in their future endeavors.