Batavia Public Library

After undressing in the Kane County Courthouse [sheepish grin], Husband and I found a little pub in downtown Geneva. A flatbread pizza and glass of wine later, I was ready to resume my search for the burial location of my 3rd great-grandmother.

2015 04-23 Batvia Public LibraryInstead of visiting the Kane County Government Center (I’ll save that for another visit), we went to the Batavia Public Library. Having been to this beautiful library many times in the past, I headed directly to the Local History room at the back of the building and began looking for city directories. I needed one for 1900 or thereabouts, but there wasn’t one for that time period on the shelf.

Enter one very helpful librarian with many great suggestions but one piece of bad news.

The library doesn’t have city directories for the period in which I need them. Drat! But there are some city directories locked in a cabinet in the local history room. One fragile copy from 1910 remained. From that we learned that funeral directors as such didn’t exist. Funeral furniture stores provided undertaking services. That was a head-shaker. Funeral furniture? Really?

Although there was a funeral furniture dealer listed, it wasn’t a slam dunk since Helena Tolf died in 1901 – nine years before this directory was published. And as we know, a lot can happen in a community in nine years.

Thankfully the library also has extant Batavia newspapers on microfilm. They’ve recently updated their microfilm equipment. It’s the same slick system that we had seen earlier in the day at the Gail Borden Public Library.

Locating the newspaper issue in which Helena’s obituary was printed was quick and easy work. And rather conveniently a large ad for Smith & Crane Furniture and Wallpaper (undertaking a specialty!) was on the very same page.

Next steps are to find out if records from this company still exist and where/how I might access them. But that won’t happen on this trip. We have too many other things to do.

Like visit Acacia Park Cemetery.

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