The Bran Duster

Bran Duster

Drawing of Bran Duster from patent application

No one could accuse David Green of not being up-to-date. Left in charge of the Green businesses in Dayton while his father and brother went to California to seek gold, he refurbished the grist mill and installed a newly invented piece of machinery. In February of 1849, Frost & Monroe, a Michigan company, got a patent for a machine called a Bran Duster. By November of that year, one of these newfangled machines was installed in the mill at Dayton, as reported to the Prairie Farmer by one of its correspondents:

At Ottawa, on my return, I saw a machine, called a Bran Duster, patented by Messrs. Frost & Monroe, for the purpose of taking the flour out of bran after the latter has passed through the mill. It is said to gather five barrels of flour from the bran of a hundred. One is put up at Dayton, La Salle county. The cost I did not learn.1

  1. Prairie Farmer, November 1, 1849, p 22

A Summer Crime Wave

picture of an old safe

1885 was not a good year for the Dayton Horse Collar Factory. As you will see, there were no less than THREE attempts to rob the safe that summer.

The first try:

A. F. Dunavan, of the Dayton Collar Factory, was in the Free Trader office last Thursday morning and stated that an attempt had been made the night previous to blow open his safe. Powder was placed in the keyhole and fuse was found on the floor, but the burglar or burglars left, finding the attempt unsuccessful. Krouse, the gunsmith, went up and opened the lock of the safe, which had been so damaged that it could not be opened.1

Later in the summer, two more attempts were made:

Wednesday night of last week burglars broke into the safe of A. F. Dunavan & Son, of Dayton, the celebrated horse collar men. The safe was blown open with powder, but the thieves found nothing to reward them for their trouble, the safe being only used for the protection of books and papers in case of fire. This was the second attempt made by burglars, within the last two weeks, to break open this safe. Safe cracking is getting almost too numerous in this vicinity of late. There is work for a good detective in this county.2

However, it doesn’t appear that the thieves made any profit from their labors, reinforcing the notion that crime doesn’t pay.

  1. Ottawa Free Trader, May 30, 1885, p. 1, col. 5
  2. Ottawa Free Trader, August 15, 1885, p. 1, col. 5

Cooking in the Schools

               Apple    potatoes    Oyster

School lunch and home ec classes are nothing new. In 1913, the Farmer’s Voice, a farm magazine, reported on the forward thinking of La Salle County schools.

LaSalle county is forging ahead in things educational. This is shown by the splendid county institutes that are being held there. An item in the LaSalle County School bulletin tells of the work being done in the rural and village schools. Cooking in the schools is the newest thing up there. In some cases the teacher had a little oil stove on which soups and various dishes were prepared. In one district during cold weather a warm drink at noon is always provided, and sometimes roasted apples. The families are interested in this new departure and furnish materials. Baked potatoes were prepared at one school, using the ashes and ash pan as an oven. Vegetable soup and oysters have also been prepared and various hot drinks. Some of the girls spend scraps of time at home looking up dishes that might be prepared at school.1

  1. Farmer’s Voice, May 15, 1913, p 15

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . .

Jesse Green - postmaster appointment

. . .stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
(The unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service)Dayton postmark

Dayton had a post office from 1837 to 1954. In that 117 years, there were 17 postmasters, George Makinson and Edward McClary having each held the post at two different times. An example of the appointment procedure in the 1840s is shown above in Jesse Green’s appointment, which lists the steps he must follow in order for his appointment to be approved. He had to post a bond and swear an oath, all of which had to be documented and sent to Washington.

The Dayton postmasters were
William Stadden 1837
Charles Miller 1839
Aaron Ford Jr. 1845
Jesse Green 1847
Christian Stickley 1849
George W. Makinson 1854
Oliver W. Trumbo 1857
George W. Makinson 1866
Maud V. Green 1895
Edward McClary 1897
Charles Hippard 1907
Frank Brown 1914
Mary Fleming 1919
Obert Howe 1923
Grace MacGrogan 1924
Edward McClary 1925
Catherine Corso 1940
Donald Ainsley 1945
Dominic DeBernardi 1946

In 1954 the Postal Service discontinued the Dayton post office, all Dayton addresses changing to RFD Ottawa. The final day of the Dayton post office was April 15, 1954.

Medicine on the Frontier


The following is an excerpt from a memoir written by Jesse Green, recounting tales of life in early Dayton and promoting a truly terrifying prescription for cholera:

“The next day after reaching home, I was taken down with the scarlet fever, which we supposed was contracted on a trip to St. Louis a short time previous.  This came very near to ending my earthly career, being the first and only time I ever fainted.  We had a German doctor who bled me with a high fever on.  I keeled over and was unconscious for quite a spell.  This was my first severe attack of sickness, but afterwards I had five others equally as severe, scarlet fever, lung-fever or pneumonia, inflamation of the bowels, cholera on route to California in 1849, and a fall on my head and shoulders, that came near to proving fatal.  I was saved in my attack of cholera by a prescription found in a medicine chest we bought in St. Louis put up by Dr. Westbrook.  It proved successful in every case where I knew it to be used.

“I will herewith give the formula from Dr. Westbrook:

Camphor                     6 grains
Capsicum                    6 grains            One dose in severe cases,
Blue-Mass                   6 grains            to be repeated often if
Pow’d Opium              3 grains            necessary.  1/2 dose
Prepared Chalk         20 grains            sufficient in mild cases.

“Some doctors claim that this is too large a dose, but I took three or four full doses myself.  It should be repeated every ten or fifteen minutes, but in mild cases of cholera morbus I found that a half dose was sufficient, and soon effected a cure.”