Volume Eleven

No. 1 


February, 1970



The things that the Flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands for, was written by their lives. The Flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history  It represents the experiences made by men and women, the experiences of those who do, and live under that Flag.


Woodrow Wilson 










At the moment we do not know just what phase of their work they will talk about. The Executive Board will furnish the refreshments. The program will be preceded by the Election of Officers. The following slate is proposed by the Nominating Committee:



Vice President



Trustee for Two Years

Trustee for Two Years

Harold O. Patterson

Miss Mary Snow

Mrs. Walter H. Wood

Herbert R. Carlson

Miss Mary Anderson

Mrs. Franklin G. Elwood



December Meeting


Our December meeting was a Christmas program. Nine students from our High School gave a delightful program of vocal, flute and trumpet solos, accompanied by a very competent pianist.  The program was extremely versatile and very well done. This was followed by a Christmas story by our Librarian, Mrs. Carl W. Johnson. The story was written by one of the editors of the gone, but not forgotten “Youth’s Companion.”The Misses Theresa and Mary Feldott furnished the refreshments. Our sincere sympathy is extended to the families of Mrs. L. L. Urch, 89, who passed away November 10th, and Mrs. Stella Atkinson, 87, who passed away November 4th.  Loyal members, both of them, although they were not able to attend any meetings.

Since writing our last Newsletter


October 13, we have received mementos from the following people: Miss Alma Benson, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rubo, Harold F. and Robert F. Peterson, Ralph Finley and George Neri, St. Charles. Recently we received a letter from our Mayor Robert V. Brown, enclosing a copy of a letter that he had received from the President of the Batavia, N. Y. City Council, asking for a "closer inter-governmental relationship between the four ‘Batavias’ in the United States." We told our Mayor that, in February of 1963, we had sent the Librarian of Batavia, N. Y. a complimentary copy of our book "Historic Batavia, Illinois.” We also told the Librarian that our town was named in honor of Batavia, New York by our first Postmaster, Judge Isaac Wilson, who came from there.  


Also, we told them, when Judge Samuel D. Lockwood came to live near Chicago, he undoubtedly was influenced in coming to Batavia to live because, after studying law in New York, he opened his first law office in their city. We received a very kind "thank you" from their Library Director there who also enclosed much information about that city. Several years ago we went east to visit some relatives, and, passing near Batavia, New York, we digressed and stopped there for an hour or so to see what kind of a "birth right" we were named for.  


As I remember, it was a well-set-up city, larger than our city. Kenzie B. Harris, a Junior High School student, wrote an article for the December issue of "Illinois History" on "Kane County’s Reba Keeler," the Executive Secretary of the Kane County Fair. Some of us "Old-timers" remember when the Fair was held in Laurelwood Park, north of Batavia and recall riding the steamboat "City of Batavia" from the pier on Wilson Street to the Park for five cents. Memories! But that’s another story. Mrs. Earl Judd has suggested that we initiate a program in our grade schools to talk about Batavia History and to create a reverence for our historic buildings. She volunteered to help but we will need others. It will give volunteers an opportunity to read up on our history.  


Also she thought it would be decidedly worthwhile to have a picture map of Batavia made to leave in the several grade school rooms. This would show all of the early points of interest here. We have learned much about the perfumes and other products of the Campana Corporation, due to the inquiry of Miss Sandy Brown of Houston, Texas. The information about the "Old South" perfume has been sent to her, but no empty bottles were available. We thank all of you who helped us with information. We went out to the Kane County Home for the Aged recently, to take some pictures of the buildings. While we were there Paul Willing, the last Superintendent, told us that the stone buildings are to be torn down. In a way it is more important to preserve these structures than the brick Court House in Geneva because these are made of our local stone.  Strong, well-lighted native stone buildings such as these are getting scarce.  


Go out and look at them while you have a chance. There they stand "like a strong-hearted and cheerful person, forceful yet friendly," but what memories they must have. The other day, a man wrote us who had a 60 year old log saw made by the Appleton Manufacturing Company that was in poor condition. This he wanted to restore for his museum. He wanted information about this concern so that he could get from them literature or drawings to help him rebuild the saw. We told him that the company was no longer in existence but we traced a cut of a log saw that was in a 1900 Appleton catalog, which the Society has, along with a description of the saw. We sent him this, hoping that it will help.


Do you have a copy of Historic Batavia that you will part with? We have had calls from three different persons for copies in the last few days. (Maybe we need a new printing?)


The Kane Counto home for the aged


For most of the period in which the Kane County Home for the Aged has been in existence, the indigent have been well taken care of in clean, sunny, comfortable rooms with good care and food. Kane County has lessened the anathema of going “over the hill” to the poor-house to the minimum. Until 1852, when the first alms house was procured, the poor were farmed out, as was the custom, to individuals in private homes who took care of them for a small fee. Undoubtedly some of these caretakers took advantage of those in their care by treating them as menial servants. In the spring of 1852, the Board of Supervisors bought the farm of Elijah Lee of 179 acres for $16.00 an acre. This was part of the present farm located between Geneva and Batavia on the Averill Road.  


In June, James Hotchkiss was appointed the first Superintendent. For a time, due to many demands on the County, it was a case of making the existing buildings do.  However, after the Civil War, times became more prosperous so that, in 1871, a three story stone building, costing $18,000 was completed. An addition for the mentally ill was erected soon after. In 1887 the west part of the main building was destroyed by fire but was quickly rebuilt, remodeled and enlarged. Some of the early “keepers” were Simeon R. McKinley, J. D, Sperry, Alonzo Cook who served for 14 years until April of 1869. Robert L. Reeves was Superintendent for a short time, followed by Clark Wood, serving for 16 years, from November, 1871 until his death February 2, 1888. Then Seymour E. Keyes was Superintendent until his death 17 years later on January 7, 1905.  During his term of office, many improvements were made to the buildings and farm. There were now, 1904, three large stone buildings, three stories high with slate roofs. A deep well had been drilled. This was a great improvement to the fire fighting equipment. Steam and electricity plants were installed for light, heat and power.

The Court House and Jail in Geneva were lighted from this plant. The cattle and hay barn was modern and well equipped and the horse barn was fairly good. Small fruits, vegetables, meats, milk, & eggs used were produced on the farm. Grain and hay was raised for the farm stock with some to spare. To take care of this plant, there were two assistant farmers, two men attendants, one night watchman and attendant, also one electrician, one engineer and one cook. Mrs. Keyes, the matron, had five assistants. In 1898, 41 acres were added to the farm. Prior to that the establishment had grown to 240 acres. In September of 1905 John Micholson followed Mr. Keyes as Superintendent, with Mrs. Micholson as matron. In November, two years later, a fire doing $10,000 damage, broke out in the Women's Department.  Fortunately the inmates were removed without injuries. Succeeding Mr. Micholson, who resigned in December of 1913, Frank Averill became manager. He held that position for 21 years. During his span of office, the big horse barn burned to the ground, the fire being caused by sparks from the boiler room chimney. Mr. Averill was followed by Robert A. Powell, with Mrs. Powell as matron.


June, 1939 saw the completion of extensive improvements to the plant in excess of $100,000. Due to careful management, the Powells reduced the per capita cost of taking care of the inmates, to $1.67 a day. More land was needed so, in 1949, the Board of Supervisors purchased the Green Farm to the west of 67 acres, bringing the total acreage to 348. In 1951, Robert Powell died and Mrs. Powell took over the management with her son James as farm manager. They retired nine years later and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Willing have supervised the farm and home since. The number of inmates grew from eight in 1855 to a maximum of 171 in 1904 which included 105 mentally ill. August 1, 1969, there was a total of 56. Since then these inmates have been placed in private nursing homes or with families, leaving the Kane County Home for the Aged empty. An auction sale was held recently of everything that was portable. Will these sturdy stone buildings be destroyed? I understand that they will. So, after 117 years, the Kane County Home for the Aged has served its purpose. (The stone buildings may be all razed, by the time you receive this printing). Some of the “portable” items were purchased for our museum, such as dining room tables, antique benches, wheel fire hoses and several small items. We will need physical and financial help, before we have the “Q” Depot ready, to store and show our Historical material.



The Batavia Historical Society extends to you a special invitation to attend its 3:00 P.M., Sunday, May 17th meeting at the Civic Center, behind the library on West Wilson Street. The program, "This is Your Town", is specifically geared to inform newcomers (and any oldtimers too) of the interesting history of Batavia in this Fox Valley area. Dorothy Ann Miller's comments range from tribolites to the wonderful collection of native Indian arrowheads and artifacts she has collected.  


Eunice Shumway, direct descendant of one of the town's earliest pioneers (1849) presents a fashion show, replete with an embroidered wedding vest of a town founder, his wife's handsome gold mesh shawl (5 x 7 feet, weighing umpteen pounds) and her very beautiful parisian couturier gowns. Mary L. Snow, whose great-grandfather arrived in time to bury three wives, gives a quick rundown of early manufactured products; among others, an all brass, miniature replica of a Challenge windmill (it works) and tools used by skilled artisans to fashion the magnificent native limestone of our churches, stores and factory buildings.


Arnold P. Benson, our former State Senator, and Batavia's best pitcher, (baseball that is) promises delightful anecdotes about early sports in (or is it of?) Batavia. In conclusion: all speakers will be brief so that everyone will have an opportunity to visit the future home of the Batavia Historical Society, the old (1854) Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Station at the corner of Webster and So. Van Buren. This station, solid as its limestone foundation, is a fascinating one.  Restoration is underway, but we would like you to see the "Before" and perhaps join in planning and working for the "After".  


As the spring and summer progress, we will be having sweep-ups, scrub-ins, paint-in and outs, and would cheerfully welcome "JOIN-INS"! Sincerely, Harold Patterson, President Mary L. Snow, Program Chairman P.S.  


Oh! by the way, the station is where refreshments will be served after the May 17th meeting.