Volume Fifty-Five

No. 2

August 2014



History Returns to Batavia Civil War Encampment
September 12-14
Sponsored by the Batavia Depot Museum



Wednesday, Sep 10 Batavia Public Library


7:00 pm. Railroads of the Civil War

Friday, Sep 12 Batavia West Cemetery
7:00 pm Opening Ceremony
8:00 pm Cemetery Talk at Newton Monument

Saturday, Sep 13 Batavia Riverwalk
11:15 am - 4:00 pm On-going activities for children and adults.
1:00 pm President Lincoln Speaks at the Depot/Caboose 1:30 pm Ladies Tea & Fashion Show at Peg Bond Center Cannon drill, horse demo, signals demo, medical demo, Medical induction, troop drill, kids drill, and music in the museum.

8:00 pm Special night signals demonstration using Civil War style signal torches. See how fire was used to send night-time messages.

Sunday, Sep 14 Batavia Riverwalk
10:00 am - 3:30 pm. On-going activities for children and adults. Cannon drill, horse demo, signals demo, medical demo,
Medical induction, troop drill, kids drill, and music in the museum

1:00 pm President Lincoln Speaks at the Depot/Caboose

1:30 pm Ladies Tea & Fashion Show at Peg Bond Center

All Events Are Free!
Watch for full schedule in the Batavia Park District Fall brochure And in the local newspapers

 Veteran Honored at Batavia Quilt Show
By Chris Winter
 If you have served on a volunteer committee in Batavia, chances are that you know Rich Henders.

Rich has been an active volunteer in town for a number of years and is currently a dedicated docent at the Batavia Depot Museum.

This past weekend he offered his help with the Batavia Quilt & Textile Show. One of the show vendors, Quilts of Valor, invited him to attend a presentation. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. After the presentation, the speaker, Rita Pennington honored him with a small patriotic quilt to thank him for his military service.

Rich Henders served as a United States Marine from 1968-1972. He attended OCS training in Quantico, VA; attended Artillery School at Fort Sill, OK; received training at Camp Lejuene, NC; and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, C A when he received orders to be deployed to Viet Nam. Upon his arrival in Okinawa he was assigned as an embarkation officer off the coast of Viet Nam. Rich was discharged in 1972 with a rank of Captain and returned home.

This poignant offering of the patriotic quilt to Rich Henders was a gentle reminder to me that we should never miss an opportunity to thank a veteran. Don’t wait until Veterans Day - thank a veteran today for serving our country and protecting our freedom!
by Marilyn Robinson and Glenn Miner
There is a rather extensive file of biographies of Batavians, including their ancestry, at the Gustafson Research Center. The file was first generated from notes made by John Gustafson on 3X5 note cards in the 1960’s. These cards were then typed onto family sheets and many other families have since been added. This file is a prized historical tool for researchers who come to the center or who write to us for information.

Many of our members are not represented in this file. It would be good for future researchers if you were included. The easiest time to report history, is when it is happening. If your family is not in our database, please give us the information on your family, both mother and father sides. You can send this information in a family tree form or in a narrative form.

The more you can tell us about your family members, when they came, their occupations, schooling, their country of origin, etc., the better. Include dates of vital statistics which will help future researchers.

You can mail your history to the Depot Museum or email it to “ Thank you in advance for taking part in this continuing historical research project.

Glenn Miner, Batavia Depot Museum’s Historian.
What’s For Dinner?
By Chris Winter
A donation was mailed to the museum a few weeks ago from Delaware. Apparently, the donor’s 90 year old mother collected restaurant menus from the places that she visited with friends and family. In this collection, was a menu from a Batavia restaurant named Mill Creek Manor on South Batavia Avenue. I wasn’t familiar with the name of this establishment, so I decided to look through our Tri-City telephone directories and found it listed in 1967. It was advertised as serving lunch, dinner and cocktails from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm; and on Saturday open until midnight - formerly the location of Trade Winds Restaurant. They also offered Piano Bar Entertainment Nightly!


I had to chuckle at the prices: Twin African Lobster Tail for $6.95, Choice Filet of Red Snapper $3.95, Filet Mignon $6.50, Tender Spring Lamb Chops $5.25 or Roast Long Island Duckling $4.95. It’s hard to find a burger and fries at a fast food restaurant at these prices today.
As I researched further, I realized that prior to 1980 there were very few restaurants in town. Hard to imagine when you look at Randall
Road today and can find everything you could possible want within a 15 minute drive. In the 1920’s there were only three restaurants listed in the directory - and one of them was a tavern that also happened to serve food. Four restaurants appeared in the 1930’s directory: Cottage Eat Shop and Ideal Confectionary on East Wilson, and Thiry’s Restaurant and Marsh’s Coffee Shop on South Batavia Avenue.
The 1940’s list includes Batavia Coffee Shop, Frazier’s Corner Cupboard, Tasty Sandwich Shop, Lincoln Inn Restaurant and Tavern on the west side; The Dinner Bell and Harry Duffy’s Tavern on the east side.
Diners had more choices by 1958: The Coffee Cup, The Elbow Room, Maroma Restaurant and Erv’s Drive In on East Wilson, True Drive In at 1105 N. Washington (now Lew’s Drive In), and Lindy’s Sandwich Shop on West Wilson, Jack’s Snack Shop and Johnnie’s Restaurant on South Batavia Avenue, and Twin Elms at 912 Main (still there today).
Now on to 1967 - here are some that you all might remember: B.J. Anderson at 4 N. Batavia Avenue, Colonial Ice Cream and Snack Shoppe at 134 W. Wilson, Funway Caboose on Route 25, Hum-Dinger Drive In at 1105 N. Washington, Lincoln Inn on S. Batavia Avenue, Maroma Restaurant at 16 E. Wilson, Mill Creek Manor at 6003 Route 31, and Shirley’s Coffee Cup at 11 E. Wilson. The menu prices seem so reasonable, don’t they? Well, let’s consider the cost of living back in 1967. Average cost of a new home was $14,250.00; Average monthly rent $125.00; Average cost of a new car $2,750.00; a gallon of gasoline .33 cents; Average household income per year $7,300.00; the Federal Minimum Wage is increased to $1.40 per hour. So, that Lobster Tail dinner was close to a full day’s wages! It’s no wonder that by 1970, the Mill Creek Manor was closed.

Write down your recollections of past Batavia eateries or any other memories of the Good Old Days and send them to our newsletter editor. We would love to include them in a future newsletter and our Historical Society members will smile as they read about days gone by. Mail your story to: Newsletter Editor, Batavia Historical Society, RO. Box 14, Batavia, IL 60510 or email to: bataviahistorian@
George H. Scheetz Director, Batavia Public Library
Let’s go to the movies! Did you know that William B. Van Nortwick, of Batavia, Illinois, served with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFA&A) section during World War II (The Monuments Men)? Or that his great-great-grandfather, WilliamVan Nortwick, employed Solomon Northup, as a freeman, to work on the Champlain Canal in New York (12 Years a Slave)?

In his memoir, 12 Years a Slave (1853), Northup reported, “During the winter [of 1829-1830] I was employed with others repairing the Champlain Canal, on that section over which William Van Nortwick was superintendent.” Van Nortwick (1779- 1854) was a prominent contractor and Superintendent of Repairs for the Champlain Canal in northern New York. He relocated from Washington County, New York, to Batavia in 1835, where he and his son, John, built a family empire.

In April 1945,William’sgreat-great-grandson, Captain William B. Van Nortwick (1911—1988), 784th Tank Battalion, responded to a special call for personnel with an art history background. Van Nortwick had a Bachelor’s degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University (1934).

After temporary duty in the British Zone, where he protected monuments and art objects in Westphalia, Van Nortwick arrived in Karlsruhe, the capital of Baden, in the American Zone, on 4 July 1945.
Among many interesting encounters, Van Nortwick met Rose Valland, the unassuming heroine of French culture during World War II, when she came to pick up incunabula from Strasbourg, which Van Nortwick had found in the chapel at Zwingenberg Castle. Valland, an employee of the Jeu de Paume Museum, in Paris, secretly recorded the movements of art objects stolen by the Nazis in France.

In December 1944, Valland confided the details of Nazi looting to James J. Rorimer, who (by 1945) was Van Nortwick’s superior Monuments officer—and later director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In The Monuments Men, Valland is portrayed by Cate Blanchett (as “Claire Simone”), and Rorimer is portrayed by Matt Damon (as “James Granger”)VanNortwick’stour of duty ended in February 1946. In his memoir, Watch Your Step (1983) — copies of which are available at the Library — he said, “the MFA&A mission ... was an outstanding success of which I was very proud to be a part.”

Visit www. for more information on the men and women of the MFA&A.



September 12-14, 2014

Batavia Depot Museum’s 160 year birthday celebration!


Batavia Depot Museum’s 160 year birthday celebration. The original Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, in 1850, built the “Aurora Branch” track from Batavia to West Chicago (then called Turner Junction). In 1851, this line was extended to Aurora. In 1854, the CB&Q, built the passenger depot near the Webster Street and Van Buren Street intersection. It’s last station agent was Mr. Charles Hodson, who worked there from 1964 until the depot officially closed in 1966. Mr. Hodson donated many of the artifacts which are used in our Station Agent office display.

The first train left Batavia for Turner Junction (West Chicago) on September 2, 1850, powered by a little, wood-burning locomotive named “The Pioneer”. It was the 37th locomotive built at the Baldwin works in Pennsylvania. It has one pair of driving wheels 54” in diameter and had a top speed of 25 miles per hour. It is still on display at the Museum of Science and Industry. Eventually, local service was discontinued and the station was abandoned. Twenty of Batavia’s business leaders, contributed $50.00 each to preserve it for Batavia. It was estimated that $31,000.00 would be needed to move the building to a more advantageous spot, which was owned by the Batavia Park District.


A “Blue Ribbon Depot Committee” was formed and with many donations and the support from the whole community, this goal was reached. On October 10, 1973, the old depot journeyed through downtown Batavia, “nine blocks, one hill and a bridge”, to its final destination on Houston Street. By the time of its dedication on April 12, 1975, almost half of the town had contributed to this project by donating their money, their treasured heirlooms, their skills with tools or other diversified talents.




On April 12, 1979, the Depot Museum was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The following is the history of the CB&Q Caboose #14662, which is a permanent display at the Depot Museum. It was built in the CB&Q’s Aurora Car Shop in May 1907, for a total cost of $1,151.37. This caboose served as a main line and local caboose until 1970, when it was assigned yard duty in the Chicago-Eola area. It was retired on January 25, 1975 and donated to the Batavia Park District. The caboose was moved to its current location, by the Iseinghausen Derailment Service, who donated men and equipment to transfer it from the Northwestern tracks to the track on which it now stands.


From the President
by Bob Peterson
We want to thank Wynette Edwards for devoting the last two years to the editorship of our newsletter. She took the responsibilities to heart and made sure that I, and other contributors, had our stories or comments done and handed to her in a timely manner. On the other hand, now the Historical Society needs to fulfill this 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:

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. Our next event is the 160th Birthday Celebration of our Batavia Depot Museum. In 1854, this Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad passenger depot was built on the east side of town and was moved in 1973 and dedicated as the Batavia Depot museum in 1975.

We have made a special Limited Edition Brass Collectible to celebrate this event which will be available for $10.00 at the Depot Museum while supplies last.

 News from the Museum
by Chris Winter
Museum staff has been busy moving our technology into the 21st century.

Our museum collections are in the process of being digitized using Past Perfect Software.

Every photo, document and 3-dimensional object will eventually be entered into this computer software. This will make our collections more accessible for researchers and staff. We have 35 years of donated artifacts to process and we need many volunteers to make this happen.

A huge “THANKS” to our wonderful group of volunteers working on this project: Ken Baker, Kathy Carlson, Susan Carlson, Sandy Chalupa, Glenn Miner, Larry Overstreet, Dorothy Staples, Gail Wilke, Len Wray.

Gary King and I have worked collaboratively with the Batavia Library staff and now have many of our research center indexes on their website for the public to view. Now anyone in the world can search for their family members and the history of our community on the web!
Past issues of our newsletter, The Batavia Historian, are also on this site.

The link to access these records is

If you’re a Facebook user - you can now “LIKE” the Batavia Depot Museum for updates on our exhibits, programs and special events. You will also find bits of Batavia trivia when we post pictures on “Way Back Whensdays” so our visitors can share memories and interact with other users.

Go to and join in the fun!