THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Forty-Four

No. 4

 

October 2003

 

 

C. W. Shumway & Sons Foundry

A Part of Batavia for 130 Years

 

 

 

When John Shumway, Sr., was president of the Chicago Foundrymen's Association in 1956, there were 56 iron foundries in the Chicago area. Now there are only two. In Batavia, there were once five iron foundries: C. w.. Shumway & Sons, Lindgren, and the foundries that were part of the Appleton, Challenge, and U. S. windmill companies. Now there are none. In neighboring communities, there were the D. R. Sperry Foundry in North Aurora (which had Batavia roots), the Diversey foundry in Geneva, and the Love Brothers foundry in Aurora.

 

These foundries were an important source of employment in Batavia. According to John Shumway, at one time Batavia Local #209 of the molders' union had over 600 members. Because of declining numbers, it has since merged with the glassworkers' union.

Material for this story came primarily from an interview of John Shumway. Sr., by Elliott Lundberg and Bill Hall on July 15, 2003, and the chapter "Shumway Foundry" in Batavia Revisited by Thomas A. Mair.

 

 

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After 130 years of operation by the Shumway family, the C:W Shurnway & Sons Foundry closed for business on December 22, 2002.

 

According to Tom Mair in Batavia Revisited, "Charles W. Shumway, known as 'C. W: by most Batavians, was born September 9, 1827, in Granville, New York. He came to Batavia in 1849, having already learned a trade as a tinner in Plattsburgh, New York. At the age of 22 years in 1849 he opened a hardware store and tin shop. It was the first to be operated in Batavia and it is believed it was located [on the southeast corner of First Street and Batavia Avenue, which is where the Deluxe Cleaners is now]. He ran this business for twenty-three years.

 

"In 1872 at the age of 45, C. W. and Allen M. Merrill obtained a deed from Levi Newton and Don Carlos Newton, conveying to them about one and one-half acres of land at the location [oc-cupied until recently] by the foundry  on Shumway Avenue, formerly South Island Avenue ...

 

"[The foundry they built there];' Mair continued, "made use of the water running through the race by means of a water wheel that turned, through a series of gears, the line shafts in the shop. The line shafts in turn powered the equipment in the plant. One of those shafts turned a blower fan to force feed oxygen to the fires in the cupola to raise the temperatures to a heat that melted iron and steel scrap. The shafts also turned the tumbling barrels and the grinding wheels, each used for finishing the molded castings. Although the power source was somewhat erratic, depending on the water level in the river which fed the race, this water power was used until about 1956 when the pond was finally filled and slowed down the race".

 

John Shumway, Sr., C. W;s grand-son and a partner of the foundry until 1990, doesn't think that his grandfa-ther knew anything about the foundry business Merrill was the foundryman, and C. w.. probably had some money. But C. W. was apparently a fast learner. In 1875 he bought out Merrill and brought in another partner, Charles Osgood. This partnership continued until Osgood's death in 1887. In 1888, the firm became known as Shumway and Bishop, but Virtually nothing is known about Bishop. Bishop apparently did not remain long because the foundry soon became entirely family owned and took the name C. W. Shumway & Sons, the name by which it was known throughout the rest of its existence.

 

While the changes in name and ownership were going on, the foundry prospered. After Bishop's departure, C. W.'s older son Horatio, born in 1865, came to the foundry. where he worked until his death in 1945. Prior to joining the foundry, Ray, as he was known, had worked as a draftsman at the U. S. Wind Engine & Pump Company. Ray, incidentally will be remembered by older Batavians as the father of Batavia's well known Eunice Shumway, first president of the Batavia Historical Society

 

C.W.'s younger son , Robert, born in 1878, began work in the foundry at age 17. He became ill, however, and moved to Colorado where he raised five children: Ruth Ness, Mary Anderson, Charles, John, and David. In 1938 he returned, together with his family, to help his uncle Ray in the foundry. Eventually all the family became involved in the business.

 

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In the early days, the shop made sad irons for ironing clothing and horse ties, which were round pieces of iron with a ring in them for tying horses. The U. S. Cavalry was a cus-tomer for these ties. The Shumways still have the pattern for these. John picked up on the story: "They also made architectural iron work, and we still have patterns for the second Palmer House built after the Chicago fire. They made tun-nels that ran in the street with cables for the cable cars in Chicago. Later they made laundry stoves, and my dad told me that at one time they made thousands of school desks. They made them and painted them Shumway Foundry. Even a magnifying glass doesn't reveal and shipped date, but Petty Girl calendar suggests 1940s.

 

"One of the big things they made was furnaces. They made what they called an Enterprise Furnace. The last person who had one of those furnaces in her house was Erma Jeffery. I used to go over there and put new grates in. I was 13 when I came back from Colorado, and they were making the Enterprise Furnace then. Then gas became available and that . wrought havoc with the burninq of coal. "They weren't having a very good time during the Depression," John continued. "I understand the men would come to work in the morning, and if there was work they would work, but if there wasn't they would go fishing. Sometimes they would get an order for some castings, but rather than firing up and making them, they would run the patterns over to the U.

S. foundry and have them make them.

 

"There was a lot of help. Batavia was full of Swedes, Germans and Irish, and they loved foundry work. At one time we had five John Johnsons, and they all had nicknames -- Chicken John and Big John. If you said John Johnson, we wondered who you were talking about. There were a lot of Milroys working at the foundry over the years. Bernie Milroy, three or four years older than I am, just died. John Milroy's son was recently named headmaster at Marmion Academy.

 

"Most of our jobs were piece work. My son Paul has a time book showing how much they'd get for making certain castings. Some of the pictures I've seen show that they had about 30 employees. While I was there, they had - about 21.

 

"When I was a junior in high school, I went to my uncle Ray and said I would like to work at Shumway's. They - had just set the minimum wage at 45 cents an hour, and my uncle said they couldn't afford me. So I went to the Challenge. They had a lot of war orders, and they gave me a job riveting windmill blades for Herb Seeley and Bob Stuttle, the school principal. He was working up there along with Gene Seymour, the photographer. Charley Hoag asked me what I was doing up at the Challenge.

 

"One of the jobs I had when I came out of high school," John continued, "was to shut the water off. They sent me up into the tube to patch any holes from the inside. It was a slimy mess in there. I had to clean the intake from the bowling alley out with a rake. We wanted to clean the concrete out of the tank but there was no way we could get it out. It would have been interesting to see.

 

"We had some gears that ran the line shaft. One had wooden teeth and one had cast iron teeth so they wouldn't make too much noise. In the summer time when the water got low, they had some electric motors to run them.

 

"Back in the old cupola burning days, It used to be something when they poured off. It would light up the whole town. All of the foundries in town used to pour off every afternoon,and there would be smoke all over town. In 1970 the EPA got after us, and we had to put new equipment in. But before we could install the new equipment that was sitting on the ground, the EPA fined us $1,200 for noncompliance.

 

"When my uncle Ray died, my dad took over and formed a partnership with my brother Chuck, myself, my two sisters, and my brother David. Around 1956 we decided we either had to specialize or get out of the foundry business. So we specialized in preci-sion iron casting, using a German pro-cess that we perfected and sold na-tionwide. I used to go out as a sales-man and spend a whole week traveling. This process saved the work of machining the mold. We made a lot of molds that didn't need machining, and that's when we made a lot of trophy molds. When they asked us if we could make a mold for the Oscars, we said sure. It was quite a distinction to say that we had our hand on that mold.

 

"After my two sisters and then my brother Chuck retired in the late 1980s, David and I ran the business until 1990 when I retired. I sold my interest to my son Paul, and he and David ran the business until David retired about three years ago. Then his son David took over his share."

 

What happened that forced the Shumway foundry to close after 131 years? One thing was how cheaply the Chinese could produce castings. As John said, "In this country, we have OSHA, pension plans and high wages; they get two dollars a week in China. They produce castings in China and machine them on the ship bringing them here. When the castings arrive, they cost about one fifth of what they would it-made here.

 

"Another thing that has hurt the foundry industry is slab cast comput-ers. They can take a chunk of steel, put it on a machine, put the tape in the computer, hit a button and machine the whole piece. If I have a pattern maker prepare a pattern and use it to make a casting, we've got to polish it up. What buyers want today is precision, plastic, polymer. Years ago, a good deal of the weight of a car was in the cast iron engine, the block. Nowadays I think they use cast iron only for the liners in the cylinders.

 

So, C. W. Shumway & Sons discontinued operations early in 2003 -- after settling all its obligations, most particularly including its employees' pension plans. In closing his chapter on the company, Mair wrote in 1988: "[C. w.] died in 1913 at the age of 86, but the business has prospered in the hands of his descendants and it looks as though there will be a Shumway's making iron products for many years to come." That was written just 15 years ago: it shows how uncertain are the times in which we live.

 

Probably the end was inevitable but it is sad -- for the family, for the re-maining employees, and for the community of which Shumway's was an important part for so many years. Nothing, however, will take away the impact that this family and its business had on Batavia.


Batavia's Rodney H. Brandon and the Founding of Mooseheart

 

 

 

Rodney H. Brandon was one of Batavia's most distinguished citizens: a key organizer of Mooseheart and Moosehaven and later7.jpg Director of Public Welfare of the State of Illinois. Mark Allen, son of Batavia's Nancy Brandon Allen and grandson of Rodney Brandon, made available the information on which this story is based. Most of it comes from issues of Moose, the magazine of Moose International.

 

 

The May/June/July 2003 issue of Moose honored James J. Davis as the founder of Mooseheart for, it said, he conceived the Child City concept, It went on to say, however, that it was Rodney Brandon "who built the place, guiding the campus' planning, con-struction, staffing and program for its first three years."

 

In 1968, the same magazine's obituary of Rodney Brandon recog-nized his key role, hailing him as the co-founder of Mooseheart. From all that we have read, it seems that the 1968 characterization was more accurate, since Mooseheart would never have been conceived without the vision of Davis or brought to fruition without the managerial skills of Brandon. They made an ideal team -- but it is Brandon who is the focus of this story.

 

Rodney Brandon was born in a log cabin in Monroe County, Indiana, on September 21, 1881. After attending Indiana University for three years, he became a clerk and auditor for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in New York. In 1903 he went to Anderson, Indiana, where he was reporter, city editor, and makeup man for the Herald.

 

While there, he became acquainted with Davis, and in 1907 he resigned from the Herald to join Davis in the development of the Loyal Order of Moose, which at that time was hardly more than a struggling handful of discouraged fraternalists. The next few years saw phenomenal growth. As told in the May/June/July issue of Moose, "Davis' success in six years of recruiting deputy organizers and tirelessly crisscrossing the continent was astounding: from less than 250 Moose members in fall 1906 to nearly 400,000 by the end of 1912"

 

By 1911, Davis and Brandon de-cided that the time had come to make good on Davis' idea of a Moose Institute. Throughout 1911 and 1912, a board of trustees appointed by the fraternity's Supreme Council consid-ered and visited several Midwest com-munities to hear proposals on a site. A natural favorite was Anderson, Indiana, but the trustees finally decided on a site west of the Fox River between Aurora and Batavia, consisting of two parcels totaling 1,023 acres. The purchases were concluded in early 1913, and a joint meeting of the trustees and Supreme Council approved the name "Mooseheart" for the institute.

 

The Vice President of the United States, Thomas Marshall, spoke at the July 27, 1913 dedication. It had not been easy to get him to come. When approached to participate, he said, ''When I was Governor of Indiana I was forced in the Course of duty to visit a number of orphanages. I thought they were terrible places, and I won't help you lay the cornerstone for another one:' But he finally yielded to persuasion -- and possibly some political arm twisting.

 

Brandon, confirmed immediately af-ter the dedication as the first superin-tendent, a post he was already filling de facto, had taken up residence with his wife Harriette in one of the two existing frame houses near the east front of the property. He had brought with him Dr. J. A. Rondthaler, a 69year-old Presbyterian minister who had helped him organize the Junior Order of Moose in 1913. Rondthaler would become the first dean of students; together he and Brandon took charge of the building program, the development of a curriculum, the recruiting of faculty, and the intake of boys who would be the first Mooseheart students.

By its fifth anniversary in 1918, Mooseheart had 500 students and 78 buildings. Invited back to address the fraternity's 30th International Conven-tion, Vice President Marshall recalled his earlier misgivings, "Let me tell you that when I spoke, there was a reservation in my mind ... I felt that, like many of the good ideas and good devices of humankind, it was only a circus performance and when the tent went down, the show would soon be over.

 

"Thank God that today," Marshall continued, "I can stand before you and say that ... UTe age or miracles has not passed. All that I hoped for, longed for, and prayed for on that interesting oc-casion five years ago has come to pass at Mooseheart. Thank God for miracles:' Busy as Brandon was with Mooseheart, he had time for other activities, and to carry them out he gradually turned over day-to-day re-sponsibilities at the Child City. A pro-fessional administrator had been ap-pointed in 1916, although Brando.n continued involvement throughout his life. As related in Moose magazine, May 1968, "It was largely through the inspiration and urging of Mr. Brandon, as Grand Regent of the Legation of the Moose, with the aid of the Women of the Moose, that Moosehaven, the "City of Contentment;' for aged members of the Moose at Orange Park, Florida, was financed and established:'

In 1919, he was a delegate to Illinois Constitutional Convention, where he served as chairman of its committee on education and editor of the convention proceedings.

 

Because of his background in social work for twenty years, he was selected by the Federal government to visit France and England in 1926 to study methods there of caring for de-pendent children and aged persons. Two years later he was named Ameri-can delegate to the Pan-American Welfare Congress meeting in Havana. The eminent lawyer Clarence Darrow regarded Brandon's analysis of the causes of crime in the United States as the most common-sense plan he had seen for correcting criminality in youth.

With this background, it was only natural that newly elected Governor Emmerson appointed Brandon Direc-tor of Public Welfare of the State of Illinois on January 22, 1929. He held this office for four years and then in 1941 returned at the instigation of Governor Green.

 

It is interesting to note that in 1942 Brandon appointed another Batavian, Dr. Edward Ross as superintendent of the state's largest mental hospital at Manteno. Member Rodney Ross, Dr. Ross's son born in 1943, wrote in the January, 2001, Historian that his "first name was dictated by the great respect his parents had for Rodney Brandon."

 

Rodney Brandon died in 1968 at age 86. His daughter Nancy Brandon Allen of Batavia, who was born on the Mooseheart campus in 1918, summed up her father's life in the June/July issue of Moose: "Jim Davis was a salesman, driven and very ambitious. Dad, on the other hand, was not ambitious. Dad didn't care who got the credit for something, as long as something of value was accomplished ... [but] he had a brilliant intellect, very organized, an excellent speaker ... I think Dad quite definitely was Davis' intellectual underpinning"


Trip Home Brings Flood of Memories

 

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We have been privileged in recent years to be able to reprint reminiscences of yesteryear in Batavia that Sheila Tierney Stroup, BHS Class of '61, has included in her column in the New Orleans Times Picayune. The column reprinted in this issue, with her permission and that of the Times Picayune, appeared in that newspaper on August 19, 2003, following a visit to Batavia. We are sure that longtime Batavians will find it particularly evocative of a time in their lives. You can go home again, at least for a little while. I went back to Illinois last week to see people I once spent time with and to breathe in the sweet, grassy smells of a Midwest summer.

 

My friend Barb invited me to stay with her and her husband and have a minireunion with our classmates who still live in the area and our friend Bob, who came home from Oregon to visit his father.

 

For three days, we talked and laughed and poked around in the nooks and crannies of our childhood. The Batavia of our youth was a place where nothing much seemed to hap pen. Excitement for us was followinq the mosquito spray truck on our bi-cycles when it fogged McKee Street, which might explain why our memories are hazy now.

Whenever somebody began a sentence with, "Do you remember when we ... ," each of us recalled the event differently.

 

'A good place to grow up' On Thursday, Barb invited Sam Rotolo, one of our favorite teachers, to have lunch with us. I would have known him anywhere, although his hair is white now, and he seemed smaller than he was when he taught science.

When we mentioned someone on the faculty, he'd have a funny story to tell, like the one about our absent-minded English teacher, Mrs. Ruckel. "One day she came to school with her nightgown hanging down under her dress," he said.

 

In the summer, Mr. Rotolo taught swimming lessons, and we took them no matter now cold the weather was. I remember mornings when our lips turned blue and our teeth chattered. Learning to swim was important be-cause once we could swim two laps, we were allowed to go in the deep end of the huge swimming hole where we whiled away our afternoons.

"You know," Barb said when we were talking about those days at the Quarry, "Batavia really was a good place to grow up."

 

Summer tinted memories

 

As soon as we were old enough to ride bikes, summer meant long days of freedom. We could follow the fire truck when it sped by us with its siren going. We could pedal to the Quarry or the library or all the way to Sugar Grove where we went horseback riding.

 

Or we could just ride over to somebody's house and sit around with our friends, waiting for something to happen.

"Remember those days that used to go on forever?" we asked each other. "Why does it seem like they passed so fast?"

Barb, Bob and I walked around the neighborhood where we used to live, and Barb took a picture of Bob and me sitting on the front steps of my old house, the way we did when we were 8.

 

Then I showed them where my dad buried our first dog, Pepper, a temperamental little terrier I loved dearly. "Remember when Pepper bit me?" Barb asked. But, of course, I didn't. Like the adventures we reminisced about, Pepper seemed more perfect than he really was, cast in the golden glow of a long-lost summer.


 

Easy Way to Pay 2004 Dues

 

Many members customarily pay their next year's dues at the December potluck dinner. And that is still all right. So that you will not have to stand in line and miss visiting with your friends, however, we are enclosing a self-addressed envelope so that you can send your dues in now.

 

There is, of course, a selfish reason for this offer, which we are sure you will recognize. Prompt payment of dues will ease the follow-up work of the membership chairman and will save your society the expense of mailing out follow-up reminders. We are sure that Alma Karas will welcome your cooperation.


Peddlers and Beggars

Helen Bartelt Anderson

 

 

We are fortunate to have another of Helen Anderson's reminiscences of earlier days in Batavia and the surrounding area. This story will bring back memories of a different way of life for all readers, whether or not they lived then in Batavia.

 

The driveway on our farm ran the length of Mama's garden on the east. Our yard and home bordered on the west side. By looking out the east win-dow in the kitchen, we could see visitors before they knocked on the kitchen door. Most of our visitors drove down the driveway to the back door. Exceptions were our preacher and my aunt and uncle from Oak Park: Aunt Peg liked to do things in a more proper manner.

 

Most people stopped at the farm during the spring and summer. Some of the people came to buy and some to sell. Some came to borrow, a few to beg. Others came to steal and many just to talk. Our driveway was not cement nor was it gravel. It was just plain, packed, hard dirt caused by the traffic of many years. Cattle, horses pulling wagons and other farm equipment, along with sun and rain, helped to build this solid lane.

 

When I sometimes warned Mama that "company's coming," she would quickly remove her often soiled apron and smooth her hair. With a smile on her face, she would welcome the visi-tors. Often, in an aside to me, she would whisper, "I hope they don't stay too long"

 

Peddlers

 

Among the visitors who knocked at our kitchen door were peddlers. Frank Jarvis sold merchandise for Grand Union Tea Co. He called about once a month. He carried a large basket with everyday items such as coffee, tea, cake ''fixins,'' and spices. He also sold" an assortment of toilet articles. Of great interest to me were boxes of fancy soap. Each box contained five bars of different colors and scents. The pink bars smelled like roses, the yellow like lemon, and the white like carnations. I cannot remember the scent of the tan one, but the fifth one had little flakes of oatmeal in it. Around Thanksgiving time, Mr. Jarvis had a few children's gifts and post cards that people could order.

 

There were two other peddlers, one from Raleigh Co. and the other from Watkins. I think Mama bought things like furniture polish and liniment. Papa bought bag balm for the cows to heal their sore udders. Bag balm also healed Papa's and Uncle Charlie's hands during corn husking time.

 

About once a year, fhe Fuller Brush man came to call. He bragged that Fuller brushes lasted a lifetime. He was right. Mama bought a hairbrush for my brother Roger. Today the eighty-year-old brush is almost like new.

 

Mama looked forward to the coming of another peddler. He drove a banged-up truck with a clanging school bell tied to the back to announce his arrival. He was a grimy little man and wore rubber boots and a slouchy hat. As he drove down our driveway, he called out in a loud voice, "Fresh fish today." Mama always bought fish from him because they were fresh and good.

 

The peddler weighed the fish Mama selected. His scale was small, with a rounded tray underneath, and it hung from the tailgate of his old truck. The fish were lying loose in the truck, along with large chunks of ice. He covered the load of fish with a large, not too clean, canvas. Then he jumped into the truck and drove away to the next farm with his school bell clanging. We never knew when he would come back.

 

During the Depression, times were rough on the farm, too. Grain supplies often ran out before a new crop was ready. There was little money to buy more. There were peddlers who picked up stale bread from big Chicago bakeries. They brought the bread to farmers who mixed the bread with water and grain to make a mash for pigs and chickens to stretch out their meager supply of grain

 

Beggars

 

My parents' workday began early.

 

By 4 a.m. Papa was up caring for his herd of twenty or more dairy cattle. At 6:30 he would be finished and ready for a big breakfast. Mama had been busy at 5:30 making a good fire in her cook stove so that breakfast would be ready by the time Papa finished. The oatmeal had been soaking overnight, and the big coffeepot was filled. She usually served fried potatoes, bacon or sausage, and eggs.

 

One long ago morning, a loud knock was heard on the kitchen door. It brought little Helen down the stairs two at a time. Who could be coming so early in the morning? A young man was asking Mama if she could spare a cup of coffee and a slice of bread. Mama told him that the coffee was not quite ready. Would he mind chopping a little wood? If he did, Mama would heap a pie pan with good food and a large tin cup of coffee.

 

This episode took place many time in a year, Homeless men slept in barns or wherever they could find shelter. After World War I, young men had trouble finding work. Many found jobs on the farms where they had asked for food.

 

Some men asking for food were what Papa called "professionals:' Others called them hoboes. They were not job-hunting. They criss-crossed the country, hopping on freight trains for transportation. Papa did not want them to hang around because most of them smoked cigarettes. Hoboes enjoyed their way of life.

 

Another group of beggars and thieves were the gypsies. Gypsies had their own transportation and traveled in family groups. Their colorful covered wagons were pulled by two horses with flashy harnesses. Even the little children were dressed in pretty long dresses of bright, ruffled material.

 

The gypsy men came to Papa and asked where they could put up their tent. Could they have a little hay and oats for their horses? Papa never refused them for fear of retaliation. It had been rumored that one farmer refused them -- during the night, his straw stack was burned, endangering his farm buildings.

 

One of the gypsies knocked on the kitchen door and asked Mama for food. He said the children were very hungry. Mama gave them a large bag of potatoes and some apples. During the night, Mama and Papa were awakened by Teddy's barking. They knew

that the gypsies were helping them-selves to chickens. They did nothing to stop them.

 

One time one of the gypsy women walked to our home holding a tiny, crying baby. She said the mother had no milk. Papa gave them milk. The next morning, Papa asked them to be on their way. I did not want this colorful family to leave. In the evenings, the air was filled with their colorful style of music.

 

Speaking to our police chief, I was surprised to learn that gypsies pass through this area nearly every year. They glean a living by entering stores and slyly taking what they need. They are usually unnoticed by storekeepers; however, when reports of thefts are made, police look for gypsy camps. When found, they are usually given the ultimatum to leave town immediately.

Some things never change.


HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

 

Here are some items copied by John Gustafson from copies of the Elgin Advocate in 1876, 78, and 1879. Jim Hanson has been sorting through John's papers, and Marilyn Robinson has been organizing and indexing them so that they can be used by researchers. These papers surfaced during Jim's and Marilyn's work.

 

1876

One week in January, The Newton Wagon Company shipped 65 wagons. During the month, the Challenge Mill Company shipped 40 corn shellers and grinders, and 25 shellers without grinders. In all, over $6,000 worth of machines.

 

In one week in February, Burr & Whitney shipped 90 express wagon bodies to Racine, Wisconsin. (In a Batavia 1867 directory, there is a Bradley Burr, carriage manufacturer, who had his shop on the west side of Batavia Avenue two buildings south of the Revere House.)

 

In March, all of the Batavia manu-factories are running 10 hours per day. In April, Newton Wagon Company shipped 100 wagons to Oregon. This was its first order for 100 or more at a time. By October, they had received an order for 400 wagons to be shipped to Oregon. During the years 1876 to 1879, the newspaper contains many reports of carloads of wagons from the company being shipped to the West. Also in April, a lodge of colored Masons was instituted at Batavia. It had been named Mount Moriah Lodge.

In May, McGuire Bros., the Batavia coopers, were turning out 1,000 barrels per month, a large portion of which they ship to Geneva.

 

During June, the Batavia Paper Manufacturing Company shipped a roll of paper to the Chicago Tribune, 9 feet in circumference, which weighed 725 pounds. It was one continuous roll with no break or flaw, and was over 4 1/2 miles long. In July, the company shipped a carload of paper to Boston and expected to contract for 1,000 tons more.

 

In August, an excursion from Batavia to Madison, Wisconsin, for the benefit of the free library was announced. Round trip tickets were $2.50. Batavia had nine baseball clubs and the season was only half over. The paper company was paying local farmers $8.00 per ton for rye straw delivered to the company for use in its paper making.

 

In the fall, Prof. O. T. Snow was re-engaged as principal of the East Side School. Prof. Barry of Elgin was the principal of the West Side School when it opened on September 21. In October, three young children died in Batavia of diphtheria. In November, the U. S. Wind Engine and Pump Company was finishing up a 10-foot pumping wind mill for the King of Sweden.

 

1878

 

In January, a musical organization composed of 50 members was formed in Batavia. Tom Meredith was elected president and leader of the Batavia Cornet Band. He can furnish wind enough for two or three bands and have enough left to run a good-sized mill.

There was not a vacant lot in either of the cemeteries in Batavia.

 

In February, Batavia organized a Greenback Club with D. W. Starkey as president. And in March, the Ancient Order of Hibernians gave a grand ball. John VanNortwick was elected presi-dent of the Batavia Library Association in April. The association was free to all citizens and was sustained by volunteer subscriptions. At the last meeting, $60 worth of books were approved for purchase.

In June, a Grand Army Post was or-ganized. It was reported: "Horseback riding is becoming fashionable.

 

It is healthful exercise and the wonder is that it is not more frequently indulged in. The Batavia Red Ribbon Club has a membership of 178. The club will hold a picnic on the 4th of July"

 

In August, the Batavia Band ser-enaded General Logan while on his visit to Geneva, and the Batavia Post of the GAR. was presented with a handsome flag by the ladies of the village.

 

By September, the paper company had 1,000 tons of straw stocked up for winter use, and the Challenge Company have had their products represented at about 200 fairs this year. By December, some of the manufacturing establishments were working 14 hours a day.

 

1879

 

John Rogers was 75 years old in January and fired 11 guns in honor of the event. He is an old soldier, having served in two or three wars, including the Florida and Mexican Wars.

 

In February, the Batavia Butter Fac-tory, which was organized in 1876, turned out about 400 pounds of butter daily. In June, it received 15,000 pounds of milk from area farmers daily.

 

In March, the Batavia Cornet Band re-organized and practiced every Sat-urday night so as to receive a blessing on Sunday.

By April, Batavia had 1,000 books in her public library. The Superintendent of Schools gets paid $1,300 per year.

On the 6th of May, "Batavia will vote on the question of becoming a city.

 

They have plenty of money down there and want to put on airs probably. On election day, by a vote of 186 to 73, Batavia, very sensibly refused to adopt a city organization"

 

Batavia organized an archery club in June. It was represented in the National Archery Association in Chicago in August. In September it organized a rifle club with J. L. McMasters as president.

 

Batavia folks were getting up an ex-cursion to Michigan City, Indiana, Au-gust 13. Fare for round trip, including railroad and steamboat ride, and dancing, $2.25.

 

Williams & Sons picked 300 cases of strawberries from 3 acres in their Batavia gardens.

"Batavia is the town to strike. It claims 60 old maids and 80 widows. The latter shows it to be a good town for married men to die off in"

 

In October, the cornerstone of an Episcopal Church was laid with impos-ing ceremonies. Bishop McLaren of the Diocese was present, together with a number of clergymen. The church will cost about $9,000 and is the gift of John VanNortwick of the village. Daniel Collins of Batavia has been awarded the contract to build the new church.

 

In November, the West Side School was closed because of a malignant form of scarlet fever. The Batavia Paper Manufacturing Company was making 120 tons of pa-per per month. It was building an ad-dition to its already extensive estab-lishment. This mill headed the list of Kane County's most thrifty and worthy industries.

 

The Batavia Red Ribbon Club was taking steps toward establishing a reading room in connection with their club. In 1878 and 1879, the U.S.w.E. & Pump Company sent mills to Italy, Egypt, Australia, Sandwich Islands, Germany, Russia and other foreign countries. The two mills to Egypt were to elevate water from the Nile River for irrigating purposes. These pumps were connected by a walking beam, and could raise 3 barrels of water per stroke. By the fall of 1879, this com-pany employed 90 men and had to work nights to fill their orders.

 


An Apology from the Editor

 

 

I know we're late with this issue -- and I'm sorry. Those of you in Batavia may be thinking this is a habit -- you received the last issue about two weeks late. But that time it was because your copies got lost in the post office. This time it's my responsibility, and everyone suffers, not just those in Batavia.

 

After 40 years and three months in the same house, we moved last month. We had always heard what a terrible experience such a move is, but little did we know. Finding a toothbrush was a problem.

 

For ten days I couldn't even find everything needed to make my computer work. If it hadn't been for all the great contributors who submitted the stories in this issue, you would still be waiting.

Thanks for your patience - and I promise not to move again!

 

Bill Hall

 


Were We Ever Wrong?

 

Marilyn Robinson

 

 

One of the results of going global in our research is that people from all over the world can evaluate our results.

 

For instance, in early August we re-ceived an E-mail from Dick Vermaas in Holland. He wondered if we knew what "Batavia" meant.

I replied that yes we did and thanked him for his interest.

He wrote back, asking me what we thought it meant.

 

I explained how we were named after Batavia, New York, and all our history as far back as we could research said that Batavia meant "Fair Meadows."

 

He politely explained that in no way could that be true. He spoke the Dutch language and was a etymologist by hobby and well aware that it did not mean anything like meadow or fair.

 

Following some hints that Mr. Vermaas gave me, I searched the internet and learned that Batavieren or Bataven, were a German tribe from the Chatten area. Under Roman pressure, they migrated to the middle of what is now The Netherlands between 55 and 10 B. C. For many years, Bataves formed the Imperial Guard in Rome. In 69-70 A. D., they took part in the Gallic uprising against the Romans under their famous leader Julius (Claudius) Civilis.

 

The area in which the Bataves lived formed a so-called Civitas, with the city Mijmegen as capital. In exchange for military services, the Bataves were exempted from paying taxes to the Romans. After the 3rd Century A. D., there are no more records of the tribe. They may have left the area together with the Romans.

 

Thus, Batavia simply denotes a tribe much as Illinois names a tribe of Native Americans. Julia Spalding, our summer intern, found an English to Dutch dictionary on-line and confirmed that neither "fair" nor "meadow" is "Batavia."

 

No one seems to know where our definition started, but we must rewrite our history thanks to the keen eye of Mr. Vermaas. Julia, a graduate of Batavia High School, suggests that our home team should be the Warriors instead of the Bulldogs. Wouldn't that be a wonderful game? A game between the Batavia Warriors and the Geneva Vikings?

 

Ed. note: What a coincidence! We had just written a story, "Where Did We Get Our Name?" for this issue, with the same conclusion, when Marilyn's more interesting version arrived on our desk. As we had written, we can say with assurance that the source of our city's name was Batavia, New York, the town and surrounding area from which many of our first settlers came. Undoubtedly Batavias in other states such as Ohio and Iowa can claim the same origin. But it wasn't until we re-cently read Simon Winchester's book Krakatoa: The Day the World Ex-ploded: August 27, 1883, that we found the original source of the name.

 

Speaking of Batavia, capital of the Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta, In-donesia), which was near the cata-clysmic eruption, he wrote: "The name Batavia had a kind of easy, silky poetry to it. The Dutch, who were excep-tionally proud of having created their great administrative supercity for the Orient from scratch -- a somewhat less than altogether accurate claim, as the equally proud Javanese are still eager to point out -- liked to think of it as their 'Queen of the East.'The choice of the name was a nicely sentimental notion. Batavia was the old name for Holland, later the Netherlands more generally, the Batavi having been a tribe, first recognized by the Romans, who inhabited a muddily fertile peninsula between the Rhine and the Waal, a few miles south of what is now the city of Utrecht."

 

Isn't it amazing that Marilyn and we found the same answer at the same time after years of our mistakenly claiming that our city's name meant "Fair Meadows"?


What's New At The Museum?

Carla Hill, Director

 

It is hard to believe that summer is over and fall is here.

 

This summer we were very pleased to have Julia Spalding, a student at the University of Colorado, intern with us. As part of her internship, Julia created an index for the museum's photograph collection. She was also given the responsibility of creating the museums first "Museum In A Box" featuring the Indian tribes of Kane County. Julia did an outstanding job on this project and was featured in the Chronicle for her efforts (see enclosure). This box is the first of a series that we hope to offer to local schools.

Our building, which was built in 1854, will celebrate its 150th birthday in 2004.

 

Chris Winter and I are working on a few special events that will take place next summer and fall as part of the birthday celebration. We are also working on the completion of a permanent railroad history display on the main floor of the museum. This display will feature many artifacts that we received from the Gerry Ruble estate.

 

We have received a donation of $1,000 from the Batavia Township for the development of this display. We are very appreciative of all the donations that we have received. If anyone has photographs or information on any of the families that once lived in our depot, please contact Chris or me at the museum.

 

As usual Chris has prepared another wonderful exhibit featuring pho-tographs and information on the Batavia schools. This exhibit will re-main in place until we close for the winter season on November 21.

 

This year we will be offering the first of another set of ornaments for the museum. The series will focus on buildings that are no longer standinq but are an important part of our community's history. The ornaments will be made of brass and will come in a box, which will give the history of each building. The first ornament will feature the old Batavia High School.

 

Chris and I are working on plans for the Annual Volunteer Christmas Party, which will take place on December 9. The museum has a wonderful staff of volunteers, which we sincerely appre-ciate. We will once again be hosting the Lincoln Dinner Theater at the Lincoln Inn on February 8. Max and Donna Daniels, with Joe Essling as modera-tor, will be giving the performance.

 

The new winter hours for the Gustafson Research Center starting on November 21 and ending on March 8 will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and Sun-days by appointment only.

 

We are always looking for new vol-unteers. The Gustafson Research Center especially needs volunteers to help visitors with research. Anyone who would be interested in volunteering at the museum or the research center can call Kathy Fairbairn at 406-9041 or Chris and Carla at the museum.

 


6.jpgMajor Research Find for Batavia Revolutionary War

Veteran Buried in East Side Cemetery

 

Marilyn Robinson

 

The Gustafson Research Center and the Kane County Genealogical Society often cooperate when asked to find family infor-mation in response to website requests. Recently, both groups helped James Wray from Maryland with an ancestor, John Gowdy, who is buried in our East Side Cemetery.

 

After hearing from the genealogy society, Mr. Wray sent family information to Linda Eder of that society. In reading this new information, Linda discovered that Mr. Gowdy is a veteran of the American Revo-lution. She contacted us immediately. This is an important find for Batavia. Mr. Gowdy is only the fourth such veteran identified who is buried in Kane County.

 

Representatives of the Genealogical Society, the DAR, the city of Batavia, and the Batavia Historical Society are meeting

to plan a celebration to commemorate Mr. Gowdy and our finding him. He has a large memorial stone, but we will be trying to get East Side Cemetery a second one that identifies him as a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He enlisted before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

 

We are trying to find more about Mr. Gowdy, who came to Batavia in 1852 and died here in 1854. It appears he may have been related to Mrs. Lawrence Barker, a member of the family of quarry fame. If anyone knows anything about the Gowdy family, please let us know at the Gustafson Research Center.


 

Our Holiday Potluck Dinner

Sunday, December 7 at 5 P.M.

Bethany Lutheran Church

 

Although you will receive a postcard reminder nearer the date of our popular Holiday Potluck Dinner, you should put the date on your calendar now. For many, this is the highlight of our annual functions.

 

Please bring a dish to pass - if you have a favorite Swedish dish, consider bringing that along with your recipe for Carole Dunn. She is working on a cookbook with collections from the wonderful dishes that are served.

 

You will also need to bring your table service (plate, silverware). Swedish meatballs, rolls, and coffee will be provided.

Our musical program will be provided by the Fox Valley Swedish Children's Choir.


We Continue to Grow

 

Since the last issue, the following persons have become life members: Gregory A. Burnham (WA - a gift from Ruth Burnham) and Dr. and Mrs. Robert E. Lee, Batavia. Other new members (from Batavia unless otherwise noted) are Douglas Andrews (a gift from B. Rhodes), Jeanne Bailey (CA - a gift from Robert C. Johnson, CA), David Hrycewicz, Kathryn Kehoe, Denise Leadabrand (TX - a gift from Carole Clark), Elna Miner, Stephen and Laura Newman (a gift from Bill and Barbara Hall), Katherine Symons (North Aurora), and Joan and David Webster (GA - a gift from Gregory Burnham).

 

We welcome these new members and encourage them to participate in the affairs of the society.


Gifts in Memory of Lillian Horton

 

The following persons have sent us gifts in memory of Lillian Horton: Van M. and Mary Kay Adkisson (Roseville, IL), Nancy L. Cruse ((Bloomington, IL), Charles M. and Beth A. Edwards (LaGrange Park, IL), Leroy F. and Helen M. Gillen (Monmouth IL), Catherine Grant (Roseville, IL), Janet and Leroy E. Hammond (Monmouth, IL), Keith and Gwendolyn Heaton (Roseville, IL), Janelle and George M. Hennefent (Roseville, IL), Paull R. Safransky (Batavia), Duane and Terecia K. Torrance (Macomb, IL), Susan and Jan J. Van Arsdale (Rosevillie, IL), and Chuck and Doris Vaughn (Stronghurst, IL).

 

We appreicate these gifts and assure the donors that they will be used carefully in the mission of the society and museum.


On August 3, the Kane County Chronicle carried a story about the Depot Museum's new railroad exhibit; and on August 27, it featured the portable "Museum in a Box" created by intern Julia Spalding. With the permission of the Chronicle, we are reprinting these as inserts in this issue.

 

History on the go

Batavia's Spalding designs portable exhibit

 

By MARK FOSTER

Kane County Chronicle

 

Julia Spalding likes history, architecture and doing research. She wants to be the curator of a museum or historic site.

 

"My dream job is to work in a chateau or castle in France or England and create the displays and make the interpretive plaques," Spalding said. Spalding, a 2002 Batavia High School graduate and a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, is studying history and philosophy.

 

This summer, she worked in the Gustafson Research Center at Batavia's Depot Museum, There, she created "Museum in a Box," a display that will be used in Batavia elementary school classrooms.

 

Spalding's portable museum is a multi-media presentation on the history and culture of the Potawatomi Indians, who once lived in the Fox River Valley.

 

 

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BELOW:

Artifacts, such as arrowheads and stone axes, are part of the exhibit.

 

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Untitled-2.jpg

 

 

"Carla said she had a project for me," Spalding said.

Chris Winter, who also is on the staff at the Batavia research center, said ' Spalding worked on the project virtually without any supervision.'

 

"She really took the project and ran with it," Winter said.

 

Spalding began her re-search at Aurora University's Schingoethe Center, a library of Native American history and culture.

She also found plenty of usable material at the Batavia Public Library, where she also worked this summer.

 

"I got a lot of practice researching," Spalding said. "I learned that sometimes it helps to look in the obvious places. I waited a month before I started looking here."

 

Here meant the Gustafson Center, which is filled with Batavia historical information maintained by Hill, Winter, historian Marilyn Robinson, museum volunteers and the Batavia Historical Society.

Batavia elementary students study Batavia history in third grade, and the Gustafson Center is a re-source for them.

Hill said the Museum in a Box program is going to grow.

 

"This is 'meant to be a series," Hill said. "We want to create two boxes a year."

The topic for the next portable museum will be limestone, and will look at its creation by geologic forces to how it was quarried in Batavia and used in constructing homes and buildings that stand in the community today.

 

Hill said the demand from schools to use the Museum in a Box will be high enough that a borrowing schedule will have to be developed. However, Spalding hopes that her work will be useful to teachers and that students will learn something.

"I hope they learn something about how the Indian tribes weren't all the same," she said, "The tribes had different cultures, and it's important for the students to know who was here before them."


Batavia Depot Museum 'hires' new stationmaster

 

Mannequin donated

to train museum

 

 

By MARK FOSTER

Kane County Chronicle

 

BATAVIA - There once again is a stationmaster at the Batavia railroad depot. Standing in the ticket booth, he has a friendly look on his face as he offers a railroad ticket to a visitor.

 

The stationmaster is a mannequin, and he promises to be a central attraction for the new railroad history ex-hibit at the Depot Museum.

 

"It's a work in progress," said Carla Hill, museum director. "Our basic mission is to tell Batavia's railroad history."

The exhibit is on track for a grand opening in summer 2004, in time to commemorate the depot's 150th anniversary.

In 1854, the depot was built at the southeast corner of Webster and Van Buren streets to serve passengers and handle freight on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

 

"It was a community gathering spot," Hill said. By the 1950s, the depot's use for passenger traffic had

come to an end, but it con-tinued to be used as a freight office until 1966.

In 1969, a group of resi-dents bought the station building from the railroad to use as a museum. However, the land did not come with the building.

 

The depot was moved to its present home on Houston Street next to the pond in 1973. The museum has become a popular attraction, featuring exhibits of the city's history and a 1907 railroad caboose parked next to the building. The railroad exhibit will tell the story of the CB&Q, which continues to operate a freight line through Batavia, along with the Chicago & North Western Railroad that passed the depot's current lo-cation, and the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin electric rail-road that provided passenger service from a station on the east bank of the Fox River at Wilson Street.

 

Many of the railroad artifacts are donated, including some from the estate of the late Jerry Ruble, a Batavia resident who worked for the Norfolk & Western Railroad.

 

The money for the pur-chase of the stationmaster mannequin was donated by former Batavia resident Bea Hodson, whose late husband, Charles, was the last Batavia stationmaster.

 

On display will be railroad timetables and other printed items, along with a luggage cart, a caboose stove and a railroad bench.

The ticket booth is made of wooden elements from the original depot building, Hill said - There are plans to set up a telegraph as part of the exhibit, Hill said, in order to provide people with a handson opportunity to experience railroad history.

 

The exhibit already includes the wooden "BATAVIA" sign that once identified the station. Featured is a photograph that covers and entire wall, showing a crowd of Batavians outside the station at its location at Webster and Van Buren in 1949, welcoming a steam locomotive that was chugging into town to commemorate the opening in 1850 of the rail line between Batavia and Turner Junction, today known as West Chicago.