Skip to main content
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Inaugural Rt. 98 Museum Crawl

post by Amy Vlack in historical, history, Museum, society, tour

Crawl through local history.  Visit the Holland Land Office Museum, Historical Society of Elba Museum, DAR House in Albion, the Cobblestone Museum in Childs and the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum on Point Breeze (all along scenic Route 98.)

The cost is $5.00 per person or $10 for a family which is admission to all five participating museums.  Passports (tickets) will be available at all of the museums, Chap's Elba Diner and Bindings Bookstore in Albion.  Have your passport stamped at all of the museums and receive a certificate redeemable at one of many participating local establishments. 

Event Date and Time

October 4, 2014 - 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Photos: A bit of Oakfield in USAF museum in Ohio

post by Howard B. Owens in history, Oakfield

Master Sgt. Jason Earle (retired), a former Genesee County resident, was visiting the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio when the word "Oakfield" caught his eye.

A bag of beans labeled "George W. Haxton & Son, Inc., Oakfield, N.Y." was in a display showcasing the USAF's efforts during the Berlin Airlift following World War II.

Earle said, "I'm quite sure there was a lot of war effort going on with the numerous factories the county had at the time, but nobody really thinks of what effect our local farmers had as well."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Batavia, Arkansas, is nestled in the Ozarks, at least what's left of it

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, history

This is the last in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Arkansas, an unincorporated collection of houses and other buildings west of Harrison in Batavia Township, Boone County. It is nestled in a beautiful area of the Ozark Mountains.

At one time, Batavia, Ark., was an incorporated community. It had a post office, stores, hotels, a canning factory, a train depot, a stockyard, mills, a blacksmith shop, a school, and churches. Today, the railroad is gone, the post office closed, and only houses, three churches, and a small repair business still exist. A convenience store and the bar and grill into which it had recently been converted, were both out of business in the spring of this year.

The local historians assert that the community was named about 1880 by Rowell Underwood who became the first postmaster and named the town after his hometown of Batavia, N.Y. They also claim that Underwood had worked for four years in Genesee County as a surveyor for the Holland Land Co. The latter claim seems improbable because the Holland Land Co. had ceased its operations in Western New York in the mid-1830s. If the claim were true, it would make Underwood at least 70 years old at the time he became postmaster in Arkansas.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

'Creaseville' Iowa is now named Batavia, but how that came to be remains a mystery

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, history

This is the sixth in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Iowa, an incorporated city of around 500 people located west of Fairfield in Jefferson County. The city (no, that is not a typo) is governed by a mayor and five councilmen.

According to local records, Batavia, Iowa, was laid out in 1846 by David Switzer, a county surveyor, for William McKee, Henry Crease, and Elijah O’Bannor, proprietors. Besides the proprietors, other early settlers included Henry Punnybecker, Joseph Crease, and Benjamin Abbertson. At that time, the community was named “Creaseville (or Creeseville)."

Seven years later, in 1853, in response to a petition presented to the State by William Hambrick with the unanimous consent of the people in the town, the name of Creaseville was changed to “Batavia.” Who Hambrick was, where he came from, and how he persuaded fellow residents to change the name is lost in history.

In a later Federal census, the same apparent Hambrick shows up in Western Iowa. In this census, he is identified as a German immigrant. This leads to the speculation that William Hambrick may have been a native of Passau, Germany, a city once named “Batavia” after the Batavii, the same Germanic tribe that temporarily gave its name to the Netherlands and, thus, indirectly to Batavia, N.Y. If this is correct, it would explain why Hambrick liked the name, but it still leaves a major mystery. How did Hambrick persuade the residents of Creaseville to change the name of their town, named after two of the first settlers, to the former name of a city in Germany?

Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Batavia, Wisconson -- don't blink or you'll miss it

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, history

This is the fifth in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Wisconsin, an unincorporated collection of houses and other buildings southwest of Sheboygan in Sheboygan County.

Local historians regard 1851 as the year in which Batavia, Wis., was founded, although there appear to have been settlers beginning in 1846. They claim that the name originated from the many early settlers who came from near Batavia, N.Y. However, unlike other communities, the process by which this naming came about is not recorded.

Batavia, Wis., grew into a fair-sized village. By 1900, there were two dry good stores, one furniture store, one hardware store, a carriage and wagon factory, a hotel, a dance hall, two blacksmith shops, a tin shop, a boot and shoe store, two churches, two schools, a sawmill, a grist mill, a cheese factory, an undertaker, a seamstress, a cigar factory, an egg flume (egg-shaped water conduit), an ice house, and a butcher shop.

Over time, this Batavia shrunk to the status of a hamlet. The one remaining school, an elementary school, had recently closed as of 2013. Most of the businesses and other enterprises listed above are gone. Nevertheless, the homes are generally well kept and the residents, who now generally find employment in other communities, appear to be reasonably prosperous.

However, for the most part, Batavia, Wis., is one of those places where, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Although there are two or three side streets, the community mainly consists of a single main street. One descends a grade to a small creek, Batavia Creek, and then ascends another grade while leaving town.

Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 1:17 am

Rare coins found buried in front yard of home on Elm Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Elm Street, history

Joseph Gottstine found four $1 coins in the front yard of his mother-in-law, Stacy Lynn Neureuther, Saturday afternoon. What makes them such a neat find, is three of them are silver dollars from the 1880s. One is a silver dollar from 1971.

Gottstine's metal detector tells him if the hunk of metal under the ground is likely a penny, nickel, dime, quarter or silver dollar. Neureuther's yard on Elm Street is apparently filled with coins, though Gottstine only dug out the dollars.

Neureuther is curious how the coins got there. The house was built in 1910. Could construction workers have lost them? Or did they just accumulate over time.

She looked up the value of the coins online and the 19th Century pieces may be worth about $65 apiece.  

Gottstine said he took up the hobby of metal detecting about a year ago and this is probably his most exciting find yet.

Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Batavia, Illinois, is a prosperous place once billed as the 'windmill capital of the world'

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, history

This is the fourth in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Illinois, an incorporated city of around 27,000 people located west of Chicago in Kane County.

The city is governed by a mayor and 14 aldermen. Batavia, Ill., in its very earliest days, was a small settlement known as “Head of the Big Woods.” It was renamed “Batavia” in 1841 by Judge Isaac Wilson when he became the postmaster. Wilson, who previously lived in West Middlebury, Wyoming County, N.Y., had immigrated to Illinois in 1835. Historians in Illinois believe he wanted to honor Batavia, N.Y., where he would have seen service as a judge.

Batavia, Ill., is a very prosperous outer suburb of Chicago. The median home value in 2008 was $329,800 which compares to only around $85,000 for Batavia, N.Y. The estimated median family income in 2008 was $103,445. One reason for its wealth is its proximity to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

There is a variety of attractions for local residents and visitors alike. For example, the Fox River flows through the center of the community and there are numerous developments, including a performance center, that capitalize on this waterway. Batavia was once billed as “the windmill capital of the world” because of the number of windmill manufacturers in the city. Today, restored examples of the windmills are on display near the Government Center. Batavia also has a museum depicting local history that is situated in a restored train station.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm

City historian visits Batavia, Ohio

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, history

Photos and story by City Historian Larry D. Barnes.

This is the second in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Ohio, an incorporated village of around 1,500 people located east of nearby Cincinnati in Clermont County, Ohio. The village is governed by a mayor and six-member village council.

George Ely is regarded as the founder of Batavia, Ohio. The community was laid out in 1814 by David Bryan and George Ely on land owned by Ely. Bryan was County Clerk at the time. Ely was a founding Mason and also served in several other prominent roles including those of County Sheriff and newspaper editor.

Eight years earlier and prior to laying out the community, George Ely erected a cabin on the bank of the East Fork of the Little Miami River, a stream that flows on the western boundary of present-day Batavia. He also built a water mill there, the first of its kind in the county. Later, he added a tavern and store.

George Ely is credited with naming Batavia, Ohio, but the historical record provides no direct indication of how he came up with the name. However, an educated guess can be made. Ely and his wife emigrated from New Jersey to Ohio in 1804. Their New Jersey home was close to Philadelphia and both of them were from wealthy families in that area. It is quite possible, therefore, that they knew Paolo Busti, head of the Holland Land Company’s American headquarters in Philadelphia. It is also quite possible that they knew James Stevens, head clerk of the Holland Land Company office in Batavia, N.Y., given that he was from the same area of New Jersey as the Elys. Furthermore, it is conceivable that they knew Joseph Ellicott and many others who, by 1804, had come from the greater Philadelphia area to reside in Batavia, N.Y. Given these likely associations, the name “Batavia,” was probably well known to George Ely. Perhaps he simply found the name attractive and chose it for that reason alone.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm

City historian visits other Batavias across the nation, will share his journey with readers

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, history

Batavia, N.Y., was founded in 1801 by Joseph Ellicott, surveyor and land agent for the Holland Land Company. Batavia was named after the homeland of the Holland Land Company investors who owned most of Western New York. At that time, their nation, the Netherlands, was called The Republic of Batavia.

Since then, at least eight other American communities have come into existence with the name, “Batavia.” They are located in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, Montana and California. However, none of these other communities had any connection to the Holland Land Company.

As City Historian for our Batavia, I am in the process of visiting the other Batavias to learn their history, visit with residents, discuss the origin of their name, and to take photographs. My first such trip was to Batavia, Ill., in the spring of 2011. Since then, I have also visited the other five Batavias east of the Rocky Mountains.

In the next few days, thebatavian.com will carry a brief article and a few pictures pertaining to each of these places. As the reader will see, the other Batavias range from an incorporated community with 27,000 people to an unincorporated community with only a “handful” of people. As it has turned out, four of the six have direct historical links to Batavia, N.Y.

Larry D. Barnes

Batavia City Historian

June 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 9:00 am

100 Years Ago: referendum on proposed city charter

post by Larry Barnes in batavia, Batavia Centennial, history

Batavia officially became a city on January 1, 1915 after having been an incorporated village since 1823. The transition involved a progression through several steps during 1914. During 2014, I will be acknowledging each of these events 100 years after their occurrence.

On this date 100 years ago, June 9, 1914, Batavians went to the polls to vote in a referendum on the proposed charter that would make Batavia a city. Earlier in the year, there had been two different proposals before the State legislature with one providing for a city government run by a city manager and five nonpartisan councilmen elected at large. That proposal failed to gain sufficient support from assemblymen and senators. So, the proposal now before voters in Batavia was a second one which had passed the Assembly and Senate and had been signed by the Governor. This second proposal featured a mayor, six city wards, and a council person from each ward, all with party affiliations.

Earlier in the year, a straw vote had been taken among Batavians on this second proposal, but many questions had been raised about the voting procedure. While the second proposal seemed to have voter support at that time, there was enough doubt about the matter to warrant voting again. Consequently, when the second proposal was passed by the Assembly and Senate, it had been amended to require a referendum on June 9th. If voters failed to again support the proposal at that time, Batavia would not become a city despite approval by the State legislature.

And so, on June 9th, Batavians once more went to the polls. The turnout was not very high, resulting in only a little more than half of the ballots normally cast in village elections. It was not clear what that might signify and it made some supporters of the second proposal a little nervous.

As it turned out, no one needed to worry. One-thousand and seven ballots were cast, with 795 yeas and 212 nays. Thus, after several years of discussion and debate, Batavia was finally going to become a city. All that remained was to elect the new government in upcoming December elections. Who would be elected to serve? In six months, I will let you know.

Premium Drupal Themes