A Different Look at the Dayton Cemetery


How many people are buried in the cemetery?
There are 221 people known to be buried in the cemetery, as of July 1, 2012. Undoubtedly, there are some undocumented burials, as La Salle county did not register deaths until 1877 and even then not everyone complied. Even when deaths were mentioned in the newspaper, women and children were largely ignored. A child whose parents and siblings are buried in the cemetery, and whose family was known to be living in Dayton at the child’s death, is likely to be buried there. Where there is no confirmation of that, that child is not included with the 221 for whom some evidence exists.

Age at death Number of deaths
0-5 years         37
6-10                   5
11-20              13
21-30              15
31-40              16
41-50              10
51-60              16
61-70              33
71-80              40
81-90              21
91-100              8
Unknown         7

Causes of death
Of the 98 persons for whom cause of death is known, the seven most common causes were (in order of frequency): heart disease, cancer, meningitis/pneumonia, accident, apoplexy/cerebral hemorrhage, old age, and tuberculosis.
These seven accounted for 62 deaths.

Family clusters
The largest cluster is that of the Green/Grove/Dunavan families, which, with in-laws, includes 147 people. There are ten members of the Warner/Tanner/Luce family, nine members of the Timmons family, 11 members of the Breese/Hoxie family, seven Hoags, and seven in the Bennett/Wilson cluster.

Joel Foster Warner in the Civil War


warner-joel-f - tombstone

Joel F. Warner, who is buried in the Dayton Cemetery, was born June 14, 1831, in Syracuse, New York. He enlisted August 14, 1862, in New Buffalo, Michigan, in company F of the 25th Regiment of Michigan infantry and was mustered in as a corporal on September 22, 1862, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In the spring of 1863, the regiment joined the Georgia campaign with General Sherman from Chattanooga to Atlanta, participating in the battles of Tunnel Hill, Rocky Face and Resaca, among others. On June 12, 1864,  while the company was in action at Pumpkinvine Creek near Dallas, Georgia, Warner was injured. In the words of his sergeant:

I was first Sergt at the time. We moved up in front of the enemies line about noon of the day in question. We hurriedly threw up breastworks, had orders late in afternoon to strengthen the works that night. I made a detail from my Co, J. F. Warner being one of the number & set them to work.I then went to the rear some 10 or 15 rods & lay down for the night, The weather was warm and our line in the woods. We put up no tents. The night was very dark. Some of the men went in front of the works to dig a trench, J. F. Warner with their number. Through some mistake or neglect a gun with fixed bayonet was left leaning against the works. Some time in the night the enemy opened fire on our line with artillery. It lasted but a few minutes, did not alarm the camp to much extent. But the men in front of the works came back very hurriedly. J. F. Warner came in contact with said bayonet, which struck him somewhere in the region of the groin, and carried clear over on the point of it to the ground. He seized hold of the bayonet with both hands and being a man of superior strength kept it from going through him, twisting the shank of the bayonet around the barrel of the gun. I did not see the wound, he was immediately  moved to Hospital before I was apprised of the fact. I saw the condition of the bayonet.

He returned to duty September 16. He had two other short spells in the hospital, in October for fever and in November for neuralgia. He was mustered out with the company on June 24, 1865 at Salisbury, North Carolina. Following his discharge he returned to Three Oaks, Michigan, where he remained until 1872, when he moved to Oswego, Illinois, and then to Dayton.

In 1876, Joel Warner applied for an invalid pension since his ability to work was hampered by the effects of his old injury. He was examined by a local doctor, who estimated that he was 50 percent disabled because of a scrotal hernia on the left side. He had also suffered the loss of his right leg four inches below the knee in a railroad accident, although this happened many years after his war service.

His request for a pension was initially refused, on the grounds that he was not truly incapacitated. However, in 1890 another pension law was passed, expanding the grounds for acceptance. He reapplied, and this time received a pension of $12/month, which was later raised to $20/month.

Warner died in Dayton September 26, 1911, and was buried in the Dayton Cemetery. His widow received a pension of $12/month following her husband’s death, and in 1916 that was increased to $20/month. Mary Ann (Inman) Warner died January 20, 1918, at the age of 79, and is also buried in the Dayton Cemetery.

Dayton in 1850 – Where we came from

In 1850, the first year for which we have places of birth from the census,  there were 85 people living in the village of Dayton. Of these:

22 were born in Illinois
18 were born in Ohio
5 were born in Pennsylvania
4 were born in Virginia
3 were born in New York
3 were born in Vermont
2 were born in Maine
1 was born in New Hampshire
13 were born in Norway
9 were born in England
4 were born in Ireland
1 was born in Wales

The oldest of the children born in Illinois was 16, reflecting the settlement of the area in the early 1830s. The first party of settlers came from Ohio; thus, the second largest group were born there.

Except for William Wheatland, a Methodist minister, all the people who  were born in England were connected with the wool trade and came to Dayton because of Green’s woolen mill.

The other large group, the 13 born in Norway, are a result of the work of Cleng Peerson. Cleng Peerson was a Norwegian-American pioneer who led the first group of Norwegians to emigrate to the United States. In 1834 he led a group to La Salle County, who settled on the Fox river 5 or 6 miles above Dayton. More information on Peerson can be found here.

Fardowners vs. Corkonians

Irish canal workers

The word  “fardowner” appeared in America at least as early as the 1830s, and referred to people from Ireland who came to obtain work on the new systems of canals and railways. The Corkonians came from County Cork in southern Ireland, while the Fardowners were from central Ireland. Rival clans competed with each other for jobs on the canals and there were frequent outbreaks of violence. One such outbreak among the workers on the Illinois-Michigan canal in 1838 is told of by Jesse Green in his memoir:

The season of 1838 we had what Mr. Baldwin in his history of the county terms “The Irish rebellion,” the Corconians being in the majority on the canal, the rivalry between that class and the Far-downs, culminated in the attempt of the Corconians to drive all Far-downs off the canal.

The sheriff Alson Woodruff called out all the available men he could get to thwart their purpose, he sent up to Dayton where we had on the upper and lower works something over one hundred men, all Far-downs, working on the feeder. The contractors on both works were absent that day and no one was left except myself and Cousin John Stadden who was willing to marshall and lead our men to the scene of expected battle. We were the only Americans in the squad, so we marched our men down the tow-path unarmed expecting to meet the sheriff in Ottawa, but he had preceded us down the Canal, and we continued our march down the tow-path, and met the Corconians coming up at the upper end of Buffalo Rock, armed with all manner of death dealing weapons, guns, pistols, scythes, shovels and picks &c. As soon as our men saw their opponents marching up the canal in such formidable array, they all broke ranks and ran up the North bluff like a herd of wild swine, leaving Stadden and myself alone there, and though a serious matter we almost burst with laughter to see the stampede. Doubtless it proved to be a very lucky circumstance, had they stood their ground and met the Corconians unarmed, we should probably have had a bloody battle and our men would have fared badly.

The Corconians continued their march up the canal to Ottawa when the sheriff with his posse of armed men halted them just west of town and read to them the riot act, and demanded that they lay down their arms and disperse, which most of them did but some attempted to run with their arms (not a gun was fired up to this time) in Mr. Baldwin’s history he says “it was claimed by some that fourteen or fifteen were killed.” We were ordered by the sheriff to pursue the fugitives on horseback and disarm them, which seemed to imply that if they ran too fast they were justified in retarding their speed, but I only heard of one instance of this kind, one bragadocia whom I will not name bragged that he stopped his man “rather suddenly” in the high grass fronting Judge Catons residence. I pursued one man and overtook him on the bank of the river just east of the present water works plant. I could not see that he had any arms, but told him he had a pistol which he must surrender, but he stoutly denied having any kind of weapon, until I told him my orders were to shoot if obliged to; and drew down my gun and cocked it as in the act of shooting, he then said he had a pistol but it was a borrowed one and he was afraid if he gave it up he never would find it again; I assured him that all arms and weapons taken would be left in charge of the sheriff and be returned to owners as soon as the difficulty was settled, he then handed the pistol to me.

On our return home that night we found our men had all returned home safely, and “Begore lucky it was fur us that we did run, faith had we stood our ground, ivery mithers son ivus would have been kilt.” The work proceeded without much trouble on this score, but it was desirable and almost a necessity on the part of contractors to not mix the two clans on the same work.

If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another

June of 1880 had an outbreak of disease, injury and death in Dayton, as the following newspaper reports show.


But one new case – that of Mabel, a girl of 7 years, youngest child of Jesse Green – is reported, and with her the disease is not violent. The others, who were very low with it last week, are recovering.

Fred Green, the lad who was so frightfully mangled in the paper mill last week, is bearing up bravely. His recovery would seem miraculous, considering the tortures he has suffered. In addition to the tearing off of the right hand, he lost the first and second fingers of the left hand, his right leg was broken below the knee, the left leg knee joint dislocated and the knuckle bone thereof broken and the right arm broken above the elbow. He successfully bore this awful shock and the subsequent one of the amputation of the fingers and right arm above the wrist, and apparently is on the mend, though many dangers lie in wait before he can recover.1


At Dayton, May 20th [sic: 26], 1880, of diphtheria, ALLIE, son of Jesse and H. R. Green.

At the same place on the same day and of the same disease, EDWARD, son of George and Charlotte McKinson [sic: Makinson].2

1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Republican, June 3, 1880, p. 1, col. 3
2. p.8, col. 5