A Handmade Gravestone

champaign-albert-john tombstone

This tiny gravestone, only 12 inches high, stands out in the Dayton Cemetery not only for its size but for its material. It is made of brick and appears to be handmade. John Champaign, the father of little Albert John, was a day laborer in the brick yards in Dayton. Whether he made the gravestone himself or had a friend at work do it for him, it almost certainly was made in Dayton.

John Champaign was born in January, 1858, in Michigan, of French-Canadian stock. In 1870 he was living with his parents and siblings in South Bend, Indiana. On September 21, 1880 he married Louise Haverley in South Bend. Sometime before 1883, John and family came to Dayton, where they were living in 1900. By 1910, they were back in South Bend, where they lived out their lives, John dying in 1938 and Louise in 1947.

One of their daughters, Grace, married James C. McGrogan of Dayton on April 30, 1900, and remained in Dayton when her parents moved back to South Bend.

A Most Distressing Accident

Fred Green

Fred Green, who survived the accident

A most distressing accident occurred at the Williams paper mill at Dayton, on yesterday morning. The unfortunate victim was Fred Green, oldest son of Mr. Basil Green, aged 14 or 15 years. He was one of the employees of the mill, and while talking with some young men, was thoughtlessly handling a rope working a spindle. Suddenly his hand was caught in the machinery, his body was caught up and he was hurled through the air until two revolutions of the spindle had been made, when the hand was torn from the arm and he fell to the floor. His left hand was torn off; the same arm broken above the elbow so that it had to be amputated; two fingers on the other hand had to be amputated at the first joint, and both his legs were broken. Dr. Hard, happening to be in the village treating diphtheria patients, was called at once. He immediately telegraphed for Drs. Dyer and McArthur, who went to his assistance, and after several hours’ work left the unfortunate lad as comfortable as could be expected. His life is in great danger.1

  1. The [Ottawa, Illinois] Free Trader, May 29, 1880, p. 1, col. 3.


Gracie Green’s school days

card & ribbon

In 1881 little Gracie Green was an eight-year-old student in the Dayton school. She was a well-behaved student, since her teacher certified that she “during the winter term of five months has not whispered once neither has she been guilty of any act of misconduct.” Grace was the daughter of Isaac and Mary Jane (Trumbo) Green. She was born in Dayton in 1873. She did not marry, and died in Dayton in 1894. She is buried in the Dayton Cemetery.

Gracie Green

Her teacher was Miss Desdemona (Dessie) Root. Miss Root taught in the Wedron school in the summer of 1881 and then moved to the Dayton school for one year, where she was responsible for the success of many of the entertainments held at the school house. She received many compliments on how well she had prepared her students for their performances. Surely little Gracie did her well-behaved best in her part, whatever it was.

Ice Jam on the Fox River

Ice jam on the Fox River 1943

The Fox River at Dayton has been the site of a number of washed-out dams and swept-away bridges over the years. In 1943, a large ice jam in the river between Dayton and Ottawa caused the slush ice to pile up on both sides of the bridge. The pressure of the ice moved the bridge a few inches, but it went back into place as the ice melted. The houses and cottages along the east side of the river, above the bridge, were flooded as well.

houses flooded in 1943



The Dayton Enterprise

Dayton Enterprise

For a brief period of time, Dayton had its own newspaper, the Dayton Enterprise. It was the product of Charles Green, son of David Green. With his own small printing press, Charlie was reporter, editor, printer, and publisher. He was also a musician, giving lessons and conducting a singing school at the schoolhouse

The October 18, 1878, edition contains local and area news, humor, advertising, and an editorial about the poor condition of the sidewalks. A year’s subscription could be had for 40 cents, and it is a great loss that only this one issue has survived.

A few excerpts:

Wit and Humor
A poor relation – a carb-uncle.
Why is an insensible man like a wicked man? Because they both need to be revived.
What is the difference between a gas tube and a silly Dutchman? One is a hollow cylinder, and the other is a silly Hollander.
The first thing in a boot is the last.
Is it right for young ladies to smoke? – Yes, there can be no harm in taking a lady-like cigar – a she-root, for instance.
Query for naturalists: If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, is a mole on the face worth two in the ground?

Population of Dayton, latest census, 204.
Number of young men, actual count, 12.
”      ”         ”     ”      ladies,   ”       ”           6.
Boys, a half a dozen of us will have to go,
so as to give the other six a chance.
No. of dwelling houses in the town, 41.
”    ”   manufacturing establishments, 4.
”    ”   Hotels,                                      2.
1 Store.
1 Meat-market.
and 1 Printing Office,
Don’t forget that!