Kane County, IL History: Batavia’s WWI French Connection
via the Kane County Connects (IL) web site
In January, 1997, students of the Junior High School in Saint-Aignan-Sur-Cher, France, sent a letter to the “City Archives” of Batavia, in hopes of learning more about “W. F. Hoag.”
The eighth- and ninth-graders were studying World War I, and as part of a class project were attempting to track down American soldiers that had left their names scratched into the limestone caves and buildings in the nearby town of Noyers-sur-Cher.
“W. F. Hoag BA – – – IA ILL.” was found on the front façade of the home the students’ history and geography teacher, Christian Couty. It took a bit of puzzling, but the only town that fit that pattern of letters was Batavia, IL.
This letter was passed from the city to Batavia Historical Society Historian Bill Wood, who knew exactly who W. F. Hoag was. An educator himself, he knew what an amazing opportunity this was for the students and got straight to work gathering information about the man and Batavia for the class to enjoy.
Wilton Folsom Hoag was a well-known name in town. He was the last living WWI veteran in Batavia, and had just died the year prior, June 22, 1996, at the grand age of 102.
He was born Dec. 4, 1893, in Nebraska, but his father, an established windmill builder, came to Batavia to work at Challenge Company about 1911. Wilton had already followed in his father’s machinist footsteps when America entered World War I in 1917.
Wilton enlisted, and was sent to France, where his skills were put to good use.
From April 1 to Dec. 25, 1918, he was part of the 15th Company 2nd Regiment of Air Service Mechanics, where he helped rebuild “Spad” airplanes used by both the U.S. Army Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps.
It was this talented young man that engraved his name into the limestone building in France.
Read the entire article on the Kane County Connects web site.
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