- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was contributed by Jeffery D. Schielke, mayor of the city of Batavia. This story originally appeared in The Batavia Historian newsletter of the Batavia Historical Society and is reprinted with permission.
The landing by the United States on the surface of the moon in the summer of 1969 brought something of a rendezvous of American and local history to Batavia.
Largely regarded as one of the most significant moments of U.S. history in the last century, the event came with telephone calls to the Batavia city government and to our local news media from NBC News in Chicago, seeking confirmation that the mother of astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. had spent part of her childhood growing up in Batavia.
A quick phone call to the Gustafson Garden Green House on West Main Street was met with an in-depth explanation from Dr. Lucile Gustafson confirming that the question from NBC News had an affirmative answer.
According to Gustafson, Buzz Aldrin’s grandfather was the minister of Batavia’s United Methodist Church between 1915 and 1918, and that his name, with a strong sense of ironic coincidence, was none other than the Rev. Faye Arnold Moon.
Moon and his family, including daughter Marion, lived in the Methodist parsonage in what is now the 300 block of Main Street. Gustafson related that she and Marion Moon were very close friends and shared a variety of viewpoints.
Interestingly, Gustafson described Moon and herself as “pioneering women who held a strong independent spirit for the rights of womanhood in the early decades of the last century.”
Gustafson had a favorite story that she and Moon had presided over a debate in the eighth-grade classroom of what was then the Central School on Batavia’s west side, on the topic of granting women the right to vote. When the debate was over, all members of the class voted to endorse women’s voting rights.
After the moon landing occurred, several written articles appeared in national publications where Buzz Aldrin’s mother was said to have displayed a strong spirit of independence in her parenting skills.
Moon and his family left Batavia in 1918 after the Methodist minister made the decision to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War I. The family in total never appears to have returned to Batavia with the exception of Moon’s wife, who reportedly stopped back on a couple of occasions for visits with the Stafney family, who were active members of the local church at the time.
In the 1970 book “First on the Moon,” by the three Apollo 11 astronauts, mention is made on page 77 of that book that the “flex lines,” which were utilized to transmit power sources around the orbiting space ship, were designed and manufactured in Batavia.
Research into this fact came with the finding that such history was true and the location of the research and design of the flex lines was largely conducted at the DK Aerospace Division of the Dunbar Kapple Company, which was located at 100 N. Island Ave., in what is today our Batavia Government Center building.
Longtime Batavian Les Hodge was plant manager for Dunbar Kapple for many years and shared the memory that much of the research work at the time took place in the space that is today’s Batavia City Council chambers.
Hodge also shared a sidebar story about the research and related that legendary rocket scientist Wernher von Braun came to Batavia on at least two occasions to confer on the design of the flex lines.
Hodge said that on one visit, von Braun spent nearly 20 hours straight working at DK Aerospace. The work came to a brief halt after NASA officials in Florida had alerted von Braun to a Newsweek story about the space program. Hodge and the famous aerospace engineer took a walk to Bert Johnson’s drug store on Batavia Avenue to obtain a copy of the magazine.
About the Batavia Depot Museum
The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place. Open seasonally, from March through mid December, the museum’s hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Labor Day.
Read The Kane County History Series!
- 1850-1925 Geneva — When Penmanship Was Mightier Than The Sword
- St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Elgin Puts 3,500 Priceless Photos Online
- Batavia-Inspired Miniatures Thrilled a Nation
- Aurora’s Maud Powell, World Famous Violinist
- Waxing Nostalgic on Geneva’s WGSB, WFXW
- American Doughboys of WWI — in St. Charles, IL
- Experience High-Tech History at April 21 ‘Open Elgin’ Event
- Batavia, IL — ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Meet Andy Aurora, Man About Town
- Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in Geneva
- Blue Goose And Evergreen Pub — ‘Shop Local’ 90 Years In The Making
- Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye
- Nordens Soner And Batavia’s Swedish Society
- Aurora’s Melting Pot ‘Yearning To Breathe Free’
- Candles, Timing Devices, Phonographs And The ‘Life Cup’ — All Things Made in Geneva
- Hotel Baker, The ‘Masterpiece’ of The Fox Valley
- Elgin Celebrates Our Once-Burgeoning Dairy Business
- Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool
- Aurora’s Mabel O’Donnell, Author of “Alice And Jerry’ Books
- As Alice (Davis) Says, ‘Schools Out For Summer!’
- Elgin Watches, ‘The World’s Standard’
- Aurora Silverplate a Symbol of Good Taste
- Women Leaders Played Huge Roles in Geneva
- Nationally Renowned Summer Camp in St. Charles
- The Harrowing Story of William Lynch, Elgin’s Civil War Brigadier General
- Batavia Powered The Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway
- Corsets Doing Big Business in Aurora? Scandalous!
- One Block of Geneva Tells 1,001 Fantastic Stories
- St. Charles’ Evergreen Pub — The ‘Before’ Photos
- 1917-18 — When Elgin Artists Went to War
- Thomas Cleveland — Batavia’s Presidential Connection
- Do Your Wurst — Aurora Meat Markets Are ‘In’ Again
- Geneva Is The Place For Graveyards And Ghosts
- Visit Amelia Anderson At St. Charles’ North Side Cemetery
- Calling All Artists! … For a Cobblestone Reflection in Elgin
- Batavia’s 108-Year-Old Gazebo Still Lights The Way
- The Compelling, Tragic Story of Aurora’s Black WWI Hero Frank Boger
- Geneva History Museum Invites Artists To Celebrate Cultural Heritage
- Elgin’s Anson Clark Soared in The Great War … And Life
- What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy and Louise White School
- ‘Men’s Night’ Christmas Shopping Was a 1950’s Aurora Phenomenon
- St. Charles Remembers Colson’s Christmas-Day Fire of ’33
- The Art of Elgin’s Cobblestone Reflections
- When Suffrage Met Prohibition in Batavia
- Geneva Presents The Art of The Fox River
- Blansford Astronomical Clock Is Aurora’s Treasure
- St. Charles Returns Family Heirlooms From WWII
- Museum Lands Painting By Elgin Artist Albert Kenney
- Cars Still Fixed at Historic Location in Downtown Batavia
- A Bird’s-Eye View of 19th Century Geneva
- Sheldon Peck: Kane County’s Connection To The Underground Railroad
- Elgin High School Celebrates 150 Years of ‘Education For All’
- Batavia’s Incredible Roller Skating History
- The Fabled History of Jewelry Stores in Geneva
- Astonishing Buried Treasure Discovered in Aurora Outhouse
- Lincoln Elementary School in St. Charles Celebrates 90 Years of Education
- Remembering Elgin High Grad, Renowned Composer Daniel Brewbaker, 1951 – 2017
- Meet Batavia’s Sharron Moran, LPGA Star, ‘Most Beautiful Golfer’ of 1966
- The Many Iterations of Geneva’s National Food Store
- The Burlington Zephyr — A ‘Silver Streak’ Through Aurora
- What IS That Thing in Downtown St. Charles?
- 18 Events, Limited-Edition Poster For Preservation Month in Elgin!
- Julius Amandus Anderson’s WWI Memorial Trapunto Banner
- Geneva’s Swedish Days Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary
- The Historic Drive To Save Aurora’s GAR Hall
- The Story of St. Charles’ Paddlewheel Riverboats
- Meet Elgin’s Legendary Marshal — Andrew Barclay Spurling
- Jackie DeShannon ‘Put A Little Love’ In Batavia
- Aurora’s William S. Hart, Cowboy Movie Star
- St. Charles’ First Settlers, One Lost, Found Again
- Discover The Elgin Stories All Around You
- Batavia’s WWI French Connection
- Amazing Stories Behind Geneva’s Extraordinary Parks
- Roots Aurora Seeks 2019 Nominations For Aurora Cultural Champions
- Newly Renovated Thompson Middle School Retains Memories of St. Charles High
- Elgin’s Bluff City Cemetery Memorializes City’s Past