Greater Prairie Chicken
The second and third winters we were here we had about two feet of snow, which lay on the ground most of the winter, and drifted badly and crusted over so that we could ride over fences without difficulty, and prairie chickens were so plentiful and tame that on a frosty morning, they would sit on trees so near our cabin that Father stood in the door and shot them, until some of the men said he must stop before he shot away all of our ammunition, and leave none to shoot deer and turkeys. Our first winter here Brother David and myself trapped rising three hundred chickens, besides a large quantity of quail. After eating all we could, Mother merely saved their breasts salted and smoked them.
In those days wild bees were quite plentiful, and could be found in winter on the snow where dead bees were thrown out. In the absence of snow our best bee hunters would bait them at different points of the compass, and time them in their flight and thus locate the tree near enough to find it
from Jesse Green’s memoir, written in 1895
Greater prairie chicken tympanuchus cupido by Menke Dave, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
One of the original millstones at Dayton, now on display in Shabbona Park.
When the Green party arrived in Illinois in December 1829, they moved into the cabin that William Clark had built for them. It was 18 feet by 24 feet, and in that single room, fourteen adults and ten children (four of them under two years of age) spent the first winter. As soon as possible in the spring, trees were felled to make a sawmill and the roots of the trees were used in making the dam. Jesse and David Green, ages ten and twelve, were given the task of scraping out the raceway for the mill, with a pair of oxen and a scraper each. They finished their work just as the mill was ready. The sawmill was built with enough room at one end for a pair of grindstones, and on July 4, 1830, the first wheat was ground by water power in northern Illinois. Barbara Green baked bread from that flour for their Independence Day meal. When these first mill stones were replaced, they were placed in Shabbona Park, where they may still be seen.
Continuing Jesse’s and David’s story:
Our teams crossed a prairie that had no bottom – at least, we did not find any. The second day, found a stream too deep to cross; felled trees from either side until they formed a temporary bridge, over which we conveyed out goods and people, which was barely accomplished when the accumulated waters swept our bridge away. The teams were made to swim, one horse barely escaping drowning. One of the women became nervous, and could not be induced to walk the bridge. John Green took her on his back, and made his way over on his hands and knees. The exact position in which the lady rode is not recorded.