The School Playground

Dayton school picnic

Shirley Walleck and Judy Jackson are sitting on the merry-go-round, which is unusually stationary. The more normal state of affairs was to have several children pushing it madly around, while others clung to the bars and screamed. This picture was taken around 1949, at a school picnic held in the schoolyard.

There was other playground equipment – swings, monkey bars, and that favorite of some of us – the giants. Also called a Maypole swing or an Octopus, you’ll never see one on a playground today, but we loved them. As seen in this picture, you ran around the pole holding on to the handles at the end of the chains until the centrifugal force swung you off your feet.

playground equipment

What do you remember about the playground equipment? Leave your stories in the comments.

Early Mail Delivery


newspaper listing of early mails

Mail Service to Dayton in 1842

Tri-weekly mail up Fox River, via Dayton, Northville, Pennfield, Bristol, Oswego and Aurora to Geneva, arrives every Monday Wednesday and Friday at 8 o’clock, p. m., and departs every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday, at 3 o’clock, a. m.

The Dayton post office was established in 1837. In 1842, as this mail schedule shows, Dayton was on the Fox River route up to Geneva, in the north. Because of the relative ease of the river route as compared to the overland routes, there were three mail deliveries a week in Dayton, whereas the other routes only provided weekly service. There was no home delivery of mail, so stopping by the post office to get your mail was also a social activity for the exchange of local news.

In 1842, prior to the use of envelopes and postage stamps, letters usually consisted of one sheet, folded, with the charge (paid by the recipient) written in the corner. At this time, the charge for a letter was 25 cents, and often a letter languished at the post office until the recipient could afford to retrieve it. A story is told of a man whose letter lay in the post office for over a month because he could not collect the money to get it. He finally traded the postmaster four bushels of wheat for it and thought he had made a good deal, so anxious was he to hear from the folks back home.

Image from Illinois Free Trader, October 28, 1842, p. 3, col. 2

The Dayton Exchange

This house was once the hotel

CORRECTION: although this building is the same size and shape and on the same location as the Dayton Exchange, this building was built on the site after a fire in 1890 which destroyed the Exchange.

This building, now a private home, was originally the Dayton Exchange, a hotel. In 1870, the building was purchased by George Makinson and Joseph B. Jennings, who advertised that:

[the purchasers] have completely remodeled and refitted it in modern style, and now open it to the patronage of the public, offering all the comforts and conveniences of a first-class hotel. The rooms are comfortable and dry, and particular attention will be given toward providing the table with all the delicacies of the season. A good stable is in connection with this house, where horses will be well and properly cared for.1

A portion of the building was fitted out as a grocery store, for the convenience of the villagers, as well as the hotel guests. in 1880, James Timmons bought the Dayton Exchange and advertised that he had “re-modeled, re-painted and re-furnished from top to bottom, inside and outside”. The hotel catered particularly to fishing parties, frequent visitors in the summer. In 1902, Timmons sold the building and it ceased to be a hotel.

1. The [Ottawa, Illinois] Free Trader, July 16, 1870, p. 2, col. 6

A Tombstone Jigsaw Puzzle

Welke tombstone in pieces

In September 2014, the Dayton Cemetery Association worked with a professional restoration expert to repair a number of monuments which had been damaged by vandals. Our first effort was the Martin Welke stone, seen above. After the middle section was replaced on the base, attention turned to replacing the top.

And here is the reassembled stone:

Welke tombstone completed

We repaired seventeen stones that week and plan to continue the work in 2015.