On their way west in the mid-1830s, settlers found a fertile valley
created by the Fox River-a valley rich in farmland, quarry stone,
timber, and water power. Christopher Payne
arrived in the valley in 1833, staking a claim.
The new settlement, known as "Head of Big Woods," was renamed "Batavia"
by Judge Isaac Wilson after his hometown in New York. Wilson purchased
Payne's land claim when Payne moved on only two years after his
Nearly from its beginning, Batavia was an industrial city (See
Batavia Industries). Farm implement and windmill
factories provided employment for many. The first products manufactured
in Batavia (flour, ice, lumber, paper, stone) found markets in Chicago.
The Newton Wagon Company, which began in
1854, was the first large factory to take advantage of the area's
natural resources. Three major windmill factories, the Appleton,
the Challenge, and the U.
S. Wind Engine and Pump Co., were so productive that by 1890,
Batavia was recognized as the leading windmill manufacturing city
in the world. The output of these companies served an important
role in settling the West.
In the 1830s, wheat grinding mills provided large quantities of
flour for Chicago.
Following the great fire in 1871, Batavia quarries
shipped massive amounts of Niagara limestone to help with Chicago's
Many Swedish immigrants, who lost
their jobs because of the fire, came out of the city to work the
quarries. These families made an indelible mark on the culture of
the community, joining the English, Irish, and Germans already here.
In the last quarter of the 19th Century, papermaking
became an important industry in the village. (See other Batavia
In 1867, Dr. R. J. Patterson, a well-known mental health expert,
turned an old private high school into Bellevue
Place, a sanitarium for women. His most famous patient was Mary
Todd Lincoln, widow of the assassinated president.
In the past decade, residential growth has increased Batavia's
population to over 22,000. Its many styles and designs of architecture
range from the 1850s farm house to the 2000s townhouse. The city
is bounded by projects that keeps urban sprawl to a minimum, including
the National Accelerator, The Loyal Order of Moose's International
Headquarters and Mooseheart, and the Fabyan Forest Preserve.
When two new elementary schools are completed
in the fall of 2001, the city will have six elementary schools,
one middle school, and one senior high school.
Inhabitants of the city are proud of the completion in 1998 of
a downtown Riverwalk built entirely with
volunteer help and funding. This remarkable community project took
seven years to complete.
See Batavia Industries