Volume Twenty-Three

No. 1


Winter / 1982


The Annual Meeting of the Batavia Historical Society will be held on Sunday, March 7, 1982 at 2 p.m. at the Holmstad Retirement Center, Fabyan Parkway entrance, Batavia.  


(The meeting will be hosted in the same location as last year's session, the center building of the three-story complex facing on Fabyan.)  


A very unique program is being planned which will feature “A Musical Tribute to the 20th Century” performed by Nancy Hubbard Roth and Peggy Hawse Harper.  These two young women have long won the hearts of Batavians with their musical talent and they will share some of their delight with us Sunday as they take us on a musical memory lane that will stretch back eight decades.  We have further hopes that some audience participation will find its way into the program. Also on the schedule for Sunday meeting is the election of a new slate of Officers for the Society plus a brief business meeting to be conducted by out-going President Jeff Schielke.  


This year's Nominating Committee of Officers consisted of Roberta Campbell, Georgene Kauth and Penny Tracy.  

Refreshments will be served by the Holmstad kitchen and all residents of the Holmstad complex have been invited to be our guests for the meeting.  As you may remember, last year's session drew one of the largest audiences in the recent history of our Society. Plans are now underway for Batavia's 150th Birthday Celebration scheduled to take place during the year of 1983.  


Representatives from the city and park district, which will co-sponsor the big event, have been busy preparing for the occasion and have recently met with officials in Naperville who oversaw that city's similar birthday during 1981.  Batavia hopes to encourage as much “community involvement” in our 1983 celebration as is possible.  Society members who wish to become involved in the celebration our encouraged to watch the local newspapers for more information.  


Announcement of the time and place of the first general planning meeting for all volunteers in “Batavia's Sesquicentennial” will be made at Sunday's gathering of the Society.  A number of memorable events are under consideration for the celebration next year. A number of interesting “Batavia events” are in the planning stages for 1982 in somewhat of a “warm-up routine” in anticipation of '83.  


Scheduled for this year already are The Miss Batavia Pageant on March 27th, a Heritage Art Festival on Clark Island and the Mid-American Canoe Race on June 6th, Windmill City Festival July 29,30,31 and August 1st, and the 25th Annual Outdoor Art Show on September 11th.  Mark your calendars now for these important dates! As most of you read in the newspaper, our Depot Museum escaped serious damage on January 12th when a sprinkler line in the attic area burst during the severe cold weather spell of that time.  


Quick work by Chuck Kuhn from the Batavia Park District plus a fast response from the Fire Department saved the Depot from serious damage.  Thankfully, damage to our equipment or artifacts was minimal and no real loss was reported.  There was, however, heavy damage to the upstairs ceilings in the building and to the sprinkler system.  Ironically, the Depot had been closed down for repainting, redecorating, and repair work and fortunately this activity had yet to begin when the problem occurred. We continue to be a town with a Windmill reputation.  


In the mail last week the Society received a letter from a farm owner near San Francisco who reported that some of the parts on his “working Challenge windmill had broken” and he was wondering if we could supply him the address of the Challenge Company's offices in Batavia!  On the subject of windmills, Carole and Bobbie Phillips of Batavia report they have spent a great amount of time recently researching and recording on film the locations of windmills all around America.  They have hopes to use their efforts in a publication project in the future.  The Windmill Merchant newspaper is yet another sign of Batavia's lingering romance with the old energy industry. Publisher Ralph Gebes has also undertaken the chore of printing a quarterly Batavia events calendar which uses the windmill as its identification.


The passing of Batavia's beloved Elaine Cannon in January was news which touched many Batavia hearts with sadness.  The unique work of Elaine in creating scenes of miniature was a talent which won hearts worldwide.  The works of Elaine Cannon grace mansions and museums across America and Batavia can be truly proud that she called our city her home.  Ironically, the dioramas presented to our Society by the Chicago Historical Museum arrived in town and were placed on display in time to allow Elaine the pleasure of traveling to the museum to see them personally.  Carla Hill opened the museum during closing hours to allow for the special visit by Elaine under the watchful eye of nurses from the Michaelson Health Care Center.  Yet a third of Elaine's dioramas was presented to the Depot Museum as a gift from Elaine.  


Howard Matteson aided in the final preparation of the third piece before its presentation to the Depot.  Beyond these gifts, further Elaine Cannon treasure have arrived in the hands of the Depot thanks to the generosity of Eunice Shumway, Agnes Larson and Mariam Johnson.  Additionally, Eunice Shumway made a generous contribution towards the purchase of some permanent cases for the display of Elaine's work in the Depot.  How truly fortunate the Depot Museum and the Batavia Historical Society are to have the right to claim such talent at Elaine Cannon's as a local trademark.  Needless to say, the artistic flavor of the gentle lady of West Main Street will long live as a true spirit of our community lifestyle. There continues to be interest and resulting sales in our reprinting of HISTORIC BATAVIA.  


Inquiries about the book are frequently handled by the park district office and McGregors Book Store in River Square reports it can hardly keep copies in stock.  Hardcover editions of the book are about soldout with a fairly good supply of soft covered copies still available.  


Price of the soft covered copies remains at $7.50 per book.  With the coming of the Sesquicentennial little doubt exists that John Gustafson's portion of the book will be in for healthy reading as planners of the coming celebration try to retrace and revive some of the community's early years.  Interestingly, John recounts details of the celebration in 1933 when the community was 100 years old and marking its centennial year on page 83 of the newly published edition of HISTORIC BATAVIA. From former Historical Society President Harold Patterson we recently received a nicely framed picture and written biography of the late Harold Bunker.  Mr. Bunker, a long time member of the Society. remembered us with the financial gift that allowed for the reprinting of HISTORIC BATAVIA.  


A long time farmer on lands to the west of our community, Mr. Bunker was an avid reader and researcher and often was found enjoying the collections of the Batavia and Geneva Public Libraries.  The recent efforts of Mr. Patterson to provide us with some biographical information on Mr. Bunker are greatly appreciated and have been placed in the Depot Museum.




It goes without saying that the demands now placed on me as Mayor of the City of Batavia mandate that I must conclude my second term as President of the Historical Society and ask that I not be considered for any further officer positions at this time.  I have sincerely enjoyed the past two years that I have had the opportunity and honor to serve as President.  Starting with the love and dedication the Society found in its first President, Eunice Shumway, and continuing forward for the past two decades, I believe our organization has been richly served by some most talented people. Batavia today, and our Historical Society especially, stand atop a mountain built with a heritage second to none.  Our community never needs to take a backseat to any other town for the quality or content of its history.  


The chapters of Batavia's past, and the outlook of its future, are as bright and wonderous, as any city in America could ask for.  The true fibers of Batavia, I believe, are not found in our architecture or our geography, they stem rather from the character of our community lifestyle and the talent of the people who have over the years called themselves “Batavians.”  Like it or not, those of us who call the Windmill City our hometown are in a special class of people who know down deep what it means to feel pride in your town, in your neighbor, and your family.  


We are a community that draws itself together in times of trouble, divides in debate in times of dispute, then instantly reunites when someone dare challenge our rights or spirits as “Batavians.”  We in Batavia, above all else, seem to sense tie importance of our roots and it has been an important factor in the quality of our growth over the years that we knew from whence we came and where it was that we wanted to go.  Many cities in America today lack direct or a course to follow which leads them towards progress.  In Batavia we have long enjoyed the trail to progress because we as a city know all too well the lessons of our past and the clues towards direction these lessons offer. In closing I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Officers and members of the Batavia Historical Society for their support and assistance during the past two years.  J. Schielke