On Memorial Day We Honor Our Veterans

US flag

On this Memorial Day weekend, the veterans buried in the Dayton Cemetery take the spotlight. One of them is John Heath Breese, who was born October 12, 1830 in New Jersey. He was married to Elizabeth Lewis in Peoria, Illinois, on November 16, 1859.

They had seven children:
Nellie Virginia, born September 2, 1861
Ellis E., born April 14, 1867
Emmor E., born 29 June 1869
Cora, born September 19, 1871
Nora B., born March 11, 1874
William L., born October 25, 1876
Walter, born December 24, 1878.

John enrolled as a private in Company C (Houghtailing’s), 1st Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery Volunteers on August 22, 1862. At the time of enlistment he was a farmer, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with light hair and blue eyes. He joined the unit just before the march to Nashville, Tenn., September 3-12. He saw action at Murfreesboro; the Battle of Stone’s River; the Tullahoma Campaign; the Battle of Chickamauga; Mission Ridge; Rocky Faced Ridge; Buzzard’s Roost Gap; Pumpkin Vine Creek; Kenesaw Mountain; Pine Hill; Lost Mountain; the siege of Atlanta; the battle of Jonesboro; Lovejoy Station; the march to the sea; the siege of Savannah; the campaign of the Carolinas; surrender of Johnston and his army; the march to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va.; and the Grand Review. He was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, June 12, 1865. He suffered from rheumatism and heart trouble as a result of a fever he contracted at Nashville in the winter of 1862-3. He spent some weeks in the hospital and suffered from rheumatism from then on. This severely limited his ability to do farm work and made him eligible for a pension.

On his return from the war, he spent 8 years in Kansas, returning to Dayton in 1874. In the summer of 1880 he was working in the paper mill in Dayton when he injured himself jumping up out of a pit without waiting for the ladder to be brought.

photo of John H. Breese tombstone

He died in Dayton, September 30, 1914. Both he and Elizabeth are buried in the cemetery, along with children Nellie Virginia, Ellis, Emmor, and Nora (wife of Lowell Hoxie).

The Black Hawk War – An Eyewitness Account from 1832

(1099) Barbara Grove Green - frame


Maud Green

Barbara Grove Green                                 Maud V. Green

The following account was dictated to Maud V. Green by her grandmother, Barbara Grove Green, December, 1884. It was transcribed from the handwritten original by Candace Wilmot, gr-gr-granddaughter of Barbara Grove Green.

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.


The Library Association of the Dayton Literary Society

Book label - Dayton Literary Society

The Dayton Literary Society flourished in the 1870s and 1880s as shown by the clippings below, taken from the Ottawa Free Trader newspaper. Book No. 70, in which this bookplate appears is My Own Times by John Reynolds, published in 1855. Reynolds was governor of Illinois from 1830-1834. It is tantalizing to speculate on what the other 99 volumes might have been.

December 7, 1878, p. 4, col. 5
The Literary meets Friday evening to re-organize and adopt a new constitution. A committee has been appointed to procure more books for the library.

March 15, 1879, p. 8, col. 2
The Literary is in good running order and having good success. The exercises show care in their preparation and talent in their delivery. The library of the society, containing over a hundred volumes of choice reading, is a great benefit to the town. Much interest is taken in it and beneficial results we have no doubt will proceed from its use.

February 5, 1881, p. 8, col. 2-3
The Library Association has reorganized and will soon add a few more volumes to their catalogue. The following officers were chosen for the ensuing year: Mr. Isaac Green, president; Chas. Green, secretary; Harry Green, librarian. An initiation fee of fifty cents for the year will be charged, with no monthly dues. An invitation is extended to all to join the association and enjoy the privileges of the library. It contains many readable and instructive volumes.

February 19, 1881, p. 8, col. 1
The Library Association has adopted a constitution and is receiving many new members. The library is at the store, and Harry is the librarian. He will issue cards of membership at fifty cents each, and allow the holder to read any and all of the hundred volumes in the library.

A School Christmas Program

School Christmas program

This picture of a Dayton school Christmas program dates from about 1955. It was held in the Dayton clubhouse and as you can tell by the picture, told the traditional Christmas story, complete with shepherds and angels. The six angels are (l to r) unknown, Sandra Leonard, Jimmie Mathias, Sally Clifford, Ronnie Thompson, and Betty Jo Hughes If you can identify any of the others, please leave your information in a comment.

Mrs. Trent and Santa

Following the pageant, Mrs. Trent (teacher of grades 5 through 8) welcomed a rather pop-eyed Santa who distributed gifts from the tree. Again, if you can identify anyone in the pictures below, please leave a comment. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

.18       Dayton school Christmas party