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The Batavian


By C. M. Barons
Jan 15, 2011, 2:54am

I made a hasty remark aimed at a lead sentence I judged troublesome.

I would not characterize Howard as an unskilled writer.  I've witnessed his work when it exhibits command of language.

Howard has demonstrated often that his writing ability is excellent.  In fact he has done some superlative investigative pieces and propelled a self-conceived project (The Batavian) into a respectable web presence.

The Batavian has an excellent editor, namely  Billie, who nails her grammar and sentence structure consistently.


Responding To Howard's "The Batavian Is An Open Forum"

By Robert Harding
Aug 30, 2009, 10:36pm

Earlier today, Howard authored a post entitled, "The Batavian is an open forum" that discussed, in my view anyway, the current state of The Batavian and the evolution of The Batavian. It was an interesting take by Howard, but I think he missed the mark in a few areas.

I have been a fan of this blog since its inception. It is because of The Batavian that the Daily News (who had long been without a website) decided to join the rest of the newspaper world in introducing a website to the fold. The Batavian also proved to be key during the 2008 elections - a perfect year for a blog such as this one to start and get off the ground running.

But I do take issue with a few things Howard said in his post. In discussing the political leanings of readers and contributors here at The Batavian, Howard said the following: 

There was a time when Republicans thought The Batavian was hostile to their positions. Many of the original members of the site were active in local Democratic politics, and I think Philip Anselmo leaned a bit to the liberal side. 

While I espoused a localist-libertarian position, I was (and am) non-partisan.

In this environment, Republicans didn't see many of their ideas being put forward and thought their viewpoints would be unwelcome.

Now, I'm hearing the Democrats are thinking of The Batavian, especially since Philip left,  is hostile to their party and positions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Naturally, I'm going to be critical of big government programs being pushed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand or more taxes and spending from David Paterson, but that's because as  a libertarian, I think those are bad policies. It has nothing to do with party affiliation.  I'm critical of Republicans when they espouse more government solutions to problems.

I don't know how accurate it is to say that Republicans "thought The Batavian was hostile to their positions." Let's be real: The Republicans weren't reading. There were a few Republican contributors, including Genesee County Legislator Jerome Grasso, but the Republicans weren't represented here. It is one thing to claim hostility. It's another thing to be not active. The Republicans weren't active. The Democrats took advantage of having a new medium and did what we do best: We used it. We didn't see it as something foreign.

The Republicans weren't posting any of their ideas. And to say that their viewpoints would be unwelcome is a joke. If they aren't posting and aren't trying to post, how can we make such a statement and claim it as fact?

I'm not sure where Howard gets his facts about Democrats labeling this blog as "hostile to their party and positions." That word "hostile" is getting tossed around rather liberally (no pun intended) and I'm not sure where the perception of hostility is derived. I think the belief is that Howard has tried a little too hard to try and erase and previous views that this blog was friendly to Democrats. He might not agree with that view, but that is something I have noticed over the last several months and I know I'm not the only one who shares that view. Does that mean we believe that this blog is anti-Democrats as a result? No.

It is no secret that Democrats/progressives have had great success in online organizing and with the blogosphere. The Republicans/conservatives haven't had the same success. If that is what they consider "hostile", then maybe they need to be more proactive than reactive. I recall Grasso mentioning this same point. He called on his Republican friends to contribute. Apparently, instead of showing up, they chose to stew about it and allege "hostility."

Unless a blog has a certain identity (progressive, conservative, libertarian, socialist, etc.), then there really isn't a need to worry about who is utilizing the blog more than others. If there are more conservatives utilizing a blog like The Batavian, all the power to them. The Batavian isn't targeting one ideology over another. So there is no reason to try so hard to balance things out, nor is it necessary to try and debunk any claims by one party or another about one side being favored over another.

American Sign Language class offered

By Billie Owens
Apr 1, 2009, 3:41pm

Starting April 13 classes in Level 1 American Sign Language will be offered by the Genesee Region Independent Living Center.

Cost for the 10-week course is $25 per person and includes two textbooks. Classes will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the center's conference room.

Genesee Region Independent Living Center, Inc. is located at 612 Swan St. in Batavia. To register call (585) 343-4524 ext. 18.


By Tom Gilliatt
Oct 3, 2008, 1:59pm

Hey Batavian if there is anyone here from Rochester or near by I have a site something like this forum here and NO not trying to steal members or anything just helping out a friend that runs that site he help with mine so I thought I would return the favor. It's called Rochester If it is OK I would like to post a link there to this site

Can I post a link for this site there Howard? also I would like to post the Batavian Logo on my site if this is OK ?!

I will wait for reply before doing so



From The Batavian's Vaults: Wife of a Pugilist

By Philip Anselmo
Jun 3, 2008, 12:10pm

For a short while in 1895, the newspaper that proudly proclaimed itself "a good organ" in service to farmer, merchant and tradesman alike shrunk its name from The Progressive Batavian to the simple yet stately: The Batavian. What a pleasure it was for us here at the contemporary Batavian — no less stately, no less of a service to farmer and citizen alike — to discover our progenitor in the drawers of microfiche at the Richmond Memorial Library.

As evidence of our continued service as a good and vital organ of the people, we have initiated this series of revisits to our shared past: that bizarre world of tonics, dames, davenports, milliners, philtres and... pugilists. So we turn back the clock 113 years to August 17, 1895, to peek in on the news of the times on that particular dog day of summer.

Before we delve into the tale of the wife of a pugilist, let us look at some of the other headlines from the day.

"This is Tough: Providence, a Lawyer and a Woman Make an Unhappy Combination for One Man" is a short tale of woe about a man who "had his eyes blown out ... in a lime-kiln explosion" and was then abandoned by his wife who subsequently hooked up with the man's attorney who had moved into his home and taken over his life.

"Grasshoppers Take Free Rides" is a quirky story about a "plague" of grasshoppers that rode a passenger train from Kansas to Denver and "made themselves disgracefully real" there, taking over the town.

"Girl Wife Sues Boy Husband" is mostly self-explanatory. While "Sheriff Sale on Execution" begs a bit more intepretation.

"Beats a Sea Serpent" tells of an 875-pound sea turtle that was believed to have already been an adult when Columbus discovered America. A state Senator purchased the creature for $25 and had plans to

"make the turtle a feature of the babies' parade on the board walk. He will place the monster on a float decorated in the national colors. Upon the back of the turtle will be a little girl dressed as a mermaid, holding ribbon reins extending from the turtle's mouth."

"Free Silver Charlatans Endeavoring to Humbug the People" artfully (and editorially) transposes the image of rainmakers sending dynamite-filled balloons into the sky and cheating Midwestern farmers with a group of citizens attempting to start a "coinage congress."

Near the end of the paper is a first-hand account of a boxer's wife titled: "Wife of a Pugilist: When She Met Him, Fame Knew Him Not. When Notoreity Came, Women Pursued Him — A Story With a Good Deal of Pathos Between the Lines." In it, the wife, a native of Amsterdam in New York, tells of why she decided to divorce her husband. She tells of how Jim went from a bookkeeper to a boxer and became adored by women, and how he was too "gallant" not to pay them attentions. She never wanted for anything, she says, though the couple barely spent a few months out of each year together. Still she kept with him. That is, until Jim began seeing another woman regularly and went as far pretending the other woman was his wife. She says: "To have such a creature as she be passed off for myself was outrageous. I felt no ill will toward her. He is a strange mixture, and few can understand him. I hope that he may be very happy with her, but I fear for him."

Previous "From the Vault" posts:

Look for the next installment in the coming weeks.

The Batavian's third wheel: Me.

By Ryan Sholin
May 28, 2008, 11:24am

Hey there, I'm Ryan Sholin, filling in at The Batavian today for Philip.

I'm at Main Street Coffee at a table facing the window - stop by to say hello and let me know what you'd like to see more of here at Batavia's first online news source.  (I had a good cup of coffee and a great grilled cheese sandwich, but I'm about to hit the road.  Thanks!  I'll be back soon.)

I've got something in mind myself -- One of you wrote in to point out that the old red brick is showing through some unrepaired asphault on Walnut Street.

So I took a drive down Walnut on my way in this morning, and I think I saw the spot in question, close to the railroad tracks, but I've gotta say -- and I drive a ten-year-old Honda -- I was unimpressed with the depth of the pothole.

It seemed like par for the course here in Western New York, but I'm new to the area, so don't trust me -- let us know where the worst potholes are in Batavia.

Use the "Send us news" button to submit your (least) favorite roads in town -- you can even send in a picture of the offensive street.

We'll pass your submissions on the Department of Public Works and see what happens next.

[UPDATE: We've added a Batavia Pothole Map where you can flag spots that need repair.  Check it out!]

From The Batavian's Vaults: Gold

By Philip Anselmo
May 5, 2008, 9:49am

Some years ago, a pug-eyed French aristocrat gave me a book to read. She was a trunk of a woman with a tongue more refined than any cut gem I've ever held. When she spoke the language, it was like a lesson in grace and custom. She was a whole other class of beast.

That book was L'Or by Blaise Cendrars. It was about a Swiss-born pioneer named Johann Augustus Sutter, quiet tycoon of the California gold rush. Sutter was a tragic character, as flawed as any other that had graced the stage of American history. His men found gold by accident. He amassed wealth by design. He died poor and broken by fate.

In an article from The Batavian, June 22, 1895, an old miner tells of the day the gold was discovered. It reads:

"There is alive but one of the men who worked for Sutter in the mill at Coloma, where on Jan. 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold. That survivor is James Brown. He is nearly 70 years of age and makes his home with a grandchild in Pomona valley. He is the only man living who was present when Marshall washed the yellow grains in the camp doughpan, and he is the man who first tested the flaky scales with fire, and going forth from the shanty to where the men were at work on the mill race cried, "Boys, here's gold!"

"I am the oldest miner alive in California today," said he the other day. "I don't mean the oldest in years, but I was the first miner. ... It was Marshall came to me and told me about the books about gold and mines he had been reading, and on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 1848, he determined to do a little prospecting. He asked me to bring him the pan. It was a common ordinary pan that we baked bread in and the like. He spent all the afternoon with that pan trying to find gold, but he hadn't got anything by supper."

The next day, everything changed when Marshall came back with the "little flake-like scales" of gold. Meanwhile, Sutter was working his men hard.

"But we made no kick," he went on. "We had agreed to accept cattle, horses and grub in part payment for our work. Moreover, we picked up enough gold before we left the place to square our account with the captain's Coloma enterprise. We had come with a bigger mission than that of seeking gold. We were Mormons. Many of us were soldiers. I had been serving with my battalion, and after our disbandment was marching with the rest of our people to Utah."

But the old miner stayed on with Sutter, at least until the captain's mill was finished. By then, news of the gold had spread.

"Did I stay long at Coloma after the completion of the mill, you ask? No, sir. Only a few of us did. Myself and most of our people only remained long enough to dig up enough gold to equip ourselves for marching back over the plains to meet those of our people who were coming out to join us."

James Brown made a fine cut — about $1,500 in gold dust, he reckoned.

"Marshall, who found it first, had none at all. Marshall was not lucky anyhow. He was one of the original bear flag men — one of the filibusters who thought he owned the country. They had selected the bear flag as their banner because bears were so abundant out here in those days. The first bear flag was nothing but an old strip of canvas, on which the men daubed a picture of a bear with tar, their paintbrush being their own fingers."

From The Batavian's vaults: Sweet Girl Graduates

By Philip Anselmo
Apr 25, 2008, 2:52pm

It's June 22, 1895. The front page of The Batavian — a newspaper of the times — tells the simple story of a high school graduation, titled: "Sweet Girl Graduates."

"Radiant as the rosy morn was the graduating maiden of the Batavia Academy Thursday night. In ravishing costume and with brightened eye and blooming cheek she stepped on the rostrum of the opera house and with all the glamour that surrounds the pomp and panoply of war pulsing in her heart she gazed into the proud eyes of parents and friends and an immense concourse of people, and in the midst of showers of beautiful flowers was thrown into a dreamy ecstasy of delight."

It's no surprise the author has eyes only for such maidens. Batavia Academy's graduating class in 1895 consisted of 13 girls and a meager four boys. Where were all the young Batavian men at the turn of the century? Were they too good — or no good — for study? Ravaged by war? Bound by the ox to the farm?

No matter. This article's author had no need for them. Full of that very same poetic excess, he describes a few of the young ladies who especially caught his eye. Such as:

"Miss Flora Van de Venter is a piquant, fair-haired girl, with expressive eyes and a complexion that suggests peaches and cream. Her essay was captioned 'Fun and Philosophy of Mother Goose,' but there was nothing frivolous about it, though nicely spiced with humor."

And let us not forget "Miss Florence Quirk, a tangle-tressed maiden in white, (who) gave a learned essay, which evinced deep research."

Or in an article on the same front page (under "Town Topics: Seen and Heard in the Daily Current of Batavia Life").

"The summer girl is with us again. Arrayed in delicate tissue gown and jaunty straw hat, she rides through the streets in all her glory these pleasant evenings. With fan or parasol in hand she graces the piazza or the streets as she makes her periodical visits to the soda fountain. What would the druggist do without the summer girl? But it befits us all to be duly and honestly grateful for the blessing. For the summer girl is a blessing."

It must have been a long, lonely winter.

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