Products of the Dayton Woolen Factory

Woolen factory coverlet

This woven coverlet is one of my treasured family heirlooms. It was produced at the Dayton Woolen Factory and has been handed down in the family for over 150 years. The pattern is an example of an overshot pattern, where the horizontal yarn shoots over several vertical yarns at a time. The slight discontinuity in the pattern (circled) shows where two lengths woven on a 36 inch loom were joined to make the full sized coverlet.

Woolen ad

The factory made many kinds of cloth, as noted in this ad. Satinet was a satin-weave fabric made with cotton warp and wool filling; cassimere, a twill-weave, worsted suiting fabric; flannel, a fabric made in plain or twill weave, usually with carded yarns and napped for added warmth. My great-aunt remembered that the family was always well-supplied with stockings knit from factory yarn and the family clothing, as well as the blankets for their beds, were products of the factory. Fabric was obtainable in many colors, with basic grey, brown and black as well as blue, scarlet, green, and red. I also have another, light-weight, blanket from the factory which is a pale yellow. The products of the factory were of a high quality, as evidenced by the awards they won at cattle shows and county and state fairs, throughout Illinois and other states in the midwest.

Tying Two Families Tightly Together

Eliza and Wm Dunavan            Joseph Albert and Nancy Green Dunavan

Among the very early marriages in La Salle county are the marriages of three brothers, William, Joseph, and George Dunavan, with three sisters, Eliza, Nancy, and Katherine, the daughters of John Green, founder of Dayton. William and Eliza were the first to marry, on November 6, 1831. Nancy and Joseph followed on January 26, 1834, and finally, Katherine and George married on June 15, 1837. In later years, Noah Letts, the younger half-brother of the Dunavan boys, reached the age where he was thinking about acquiring a wife. His brother Madison’s wife, who was John Green’s sister-in-law, suggested a Trumbo girl, a niece of hers. Noah, knowing that several Trumbos had also married into the Green family, felt that Dayton was full of his relatives and thought that he would look elsewhere for a wife.

Who was Ann Muddamin?

picture of Ann Muddamin tombstone

There is a tombstone in the Dayton Cemetery which reads:
Apr. 17, 1843
AE 75 years

A search in three large on-line genealogical sites, Ancestry, Family Search and Mocavo, found no one with a last name of Muddamin. A search for Muddaman produced some results, mostly from the British Isles. A search for Muddiman produced many results, mostly from the US and Britain. It appears, then, that “Muddamin” may be a misspelling of the more common “Muddiman”. There is no head of household in the 1840 census of La Salle county with a name beginning MUDD, so she is not the wife or sister of a local man. Muddiman might be her married name and she might be in the household of a married daughter. There are no households in the 1840 federal or state censuses for Dayton that contain a female over seventy.

She was unlikely to have been traveling on her own. Was she with someone who came to Dayton after 1840? Perhaps she was with a group that was only passing through and she was buried at the nearest place to where she died. Tracing the families of the early residents may eventually turn up a Muddiman connection, but for the present she remains a mystery.

The early mill

Green's Mills ad

In the early days of the settlement of northern Illinois, one of the most pressing needs was for a grist mill. When the Greens built their first grist mill, in 1830, it was one of the few places where people could have their grain ground. People came from as much as fifty miles away, and because of the distance and the number of people waiting for their turn, they sometimes had to wait in line for several days. The hardships of those early days made good telling in later years, as shown by this excerpt from the Earlville Gazette of February 8, 1868

Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Town of Earl, by Charles H. Sutphen

The first two winters we were here it was very difficult to get grinding, Green’s mill, at Dayton, being the only one within fifty or one hundred miles, and this mill occasionally froze up in the winter; the mill would be so crowded sometimes in the winter, that parties going to mill would have to wait sometimes two and three days for their grist.  I have laid by the hopper some two nights in succession, in the coldest of weather, waiting for my turn.  If you left your post, some one might slip a grist in ahead of yours; but this was soon remedied by the erection of mills on the Big Vermillion, and Dr. Woodworth’s, at Marseilles.

During the Black Hawk War

One of the major events in La Salle county during the Black Hawk War was the Indian Creek Massacre, which alarmed the settlers in the area. Barbara Green was in Dayton and recounted these memories:

On the 16th of May 1832, about ten o’clock in the morning, myself and the girls were washing at the spring near where the feeder bridge now is when Eliza came down on horseback and told us that the Indians were coming & that we would have to go to Ottawa right away.  Then we went to a place a couple of miles below Ottawa (to Penbrook) and stayed there all night the next day come up to Ottawa and next day home again.  This was Sunday and the next day the men made a stockade around the house out of plank.  After it was finished they tried it to see if a bullet would go through it, and it did, so they hung up feather beds all around.  There were about sixty people here at the time, we were so crowded that they had to sleep on tables, under the beds and all over the house.

The same night George Walker came and told us that we must go to Ottawa again, so we left right away and went down to the river to get in the pirougue, but when we got there we found that Daniels’ had taken the boat and gone before we got there, so we had to walk.  As I had forgot some of Rachel’s clothes and, coming back to the house, I found Jesse and David yet in bed.  They had been waked before we started so I supposed they were with us.  We followed the river bank all the way down and I had to carry Becky all the way because she would cry when anyone else took her.

Aunt Becky Trumbo was sick so that she could not walk and she rode on the horse behind old Mr. Letts.  Eliza Trumbo was left standing on the river bank and we went off and forgot her.  Wm Dunavan came back and got her.  When we got to Ottawa there was no fort there, only a log cabin on the south side of the river, but they soon built a fort on top of the hill.  We went to the fort but there was so much confusion there that we had the log house moved up on the hill and lived in it.  We women didn’t know what the trouble was til we reached Ottawa and then they told us about the “Indian Creek Massacre” where there were sixteen people killed.  Two boys who ran away and two girls who were taken prisoners, were the only ones that escaped.

The next day (?) a company of soldiers from the southern part of the state passed through Ottawa on the way up the river and two men Hazleton and Schemerhorn who lived at Mission Settlement intended to go with them to their farms but failed to get ready in time and so were an hour or two behind the soldiers.

Dictated to Maud V. Green by her grandmother, Barbara Grove Green, December, 1884. Transcribed from the handwritten original by Candace Wilmot, gr-gr-granddaughter of Barbara Grove Green, 18 September 1990. Original in possession of Candace Wilmot.