Last Will and Testament of John Green


On January 19, 1874, John Green, of Dayton, made out his will. He was 84 years old and was to die in less than four months, on May 17. He laid out his wishes in a series of nine provisions, as follows:

First, he instructed his executors to pay all of his debts

Second, his three sons were each required to pay their mother $25 per quarter, so that she would have an annuity of $300 per year for the rest of her life. Also Barbara was to have her bed and bedding and make her home with her youngest son, Isaac.

Third, his son Jesse was to inherit 95 acres of farm land and 8 lots in the village of Dayton.

Fourth, his son David was to inherit 19 acres of land and 8 acres of riverfront, along with the rights to a certain fraction of the water power of the Fox River and 8 village lots.

Fifth, his son Isaac was to inherit the land where the house stood, along with the farm land (which is now [2017] still in the family).

Sixth, his daughter Rebecca Trumbo was to inherit 5 lots in the village.

Seventh, he noted that his daughters Eliza Dunavan, Nancy Dunavan, Katharine Dunavan, and Rachael Gibson had all been provided for previously.

Eighth, if any personal property remained after settling the debts, it was to be divided equally among his three sons.

Ninth, he appointed sons Jesse and David as executors

The complete transcription of the will may be seen here.

Hardy Pioneer Women


The women who settled the Illinois frontier in the 1820s had to be hard-working, resourceful, determined, and tough. Barbara Grove Green, who, with her husband John, led a small band of pioneers from Ohio to Illinois in 1829, was surely that. She may have imagined her life to be settled,  living in Licking County, Ohio, with her husband and seven children, but at the age of forty, John decided to move west. He found a suitable place in Illinois, on the Fox river, four miles above the junction with the Illinois river and returned to announce that they would leave immediately, although it was late in the fall. Ignoring advice to wait until spring, a group of twenty-four men, women and children left for the west. John and Barbara were the senior members of the group, at 40 and 37; in addition there were three young couples in their twenties and six young unmarried men.

The first years were difficult ones. The small cabin where the group spent the first winter was replaced as soon as the saw mill was up and running. Two more children were born in Illinois: Rebecca in 1830 and Isaac in 1833. During the Indian Creek massacre scare, Barbara walked the four miles from Dayton to Ottawa with the rest of the family, carrying the baby, Rebecca, who cried if anyone else carried her.

Homemaking chores would have consumed her time. In the early days, these would have included salting and preserving the plentiful prairie chickens and quail that her sons trapped during the winter. Life became a little easier after the grist mill was in operation and she no longer had to grind wheat in a hand grinder. With yarn from the woolen mill, she knit socks and long stockings for everyone. Along with all the necessary sewing and mending, she made candles, rag carpets, and all the many other needs of a self-sufficient household.

Maud Green remembered her grandmother Barbara:
“Then in February it was carpet-rag time and we all sewed & wound carpet-rags & sent them to the weaver.  The new carpet went in the “sitting room” and the others were moved back until at last they reached the kitchen & were worn out there. I can just remember Grandma making candles for us to carry upstairs.  They were afraid to have us carry a lamp, but we had lamps as long ago as I remember. Grandma spent her time knitting socks and long stockings for all of us, out of factory yarn, and we had woolen underwear, skirts and dresses made of factory flannel.”

Barbara led a long life as the matriarch of the Green clan. When she died in Dayton, May 3, 1886, at the age of 93, she was remembered with affection in her obituary:

Granma Green, the oldest settler in the county, died Wednesday morning, at the age of 84 [sic] years. She was of a kind, benevolent disposition and was well beloved by her wide circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances by whom she will be greatly missed.1

  1. Ottawa (Illinois) Free Trader, 8 May 1886


A Sudden Change of Temperature


From Jesse Green’s memoirs:

I will give an account of the most sudden, and greatest change in temperature, in my recollection, which occured in the early winter of 1837 & ’38.  I left home about noon when it was drizzling rain sufficient to wet my clothing, and when I reached a point a little below Starved Rock, it commenced turning cold so fast that I ran my horse as fast as he could go to Utica, and by the time I reached the hospitable home of Simon Crosiar, it had frozen the ground hard enough to bear up my horse, and my clothing as stiff as it would freeze from being wet.  I had to be helped from my horse, and saddle and all together my clothing being frozen to the saddle, and I do not think I could have gone a quarter of a mile farther.

The next day returning home it was a terrible cold day, my left side against the wind was nearly frozen by the time I reached Ottawa, where I went into a store to warm myself, and all I could do to prevent it, fell asleep in a short time, I heard a number say that during that blizzard, they saw chickens frozen in their tracks.

Jesse was a year off in his memory of the event, as the “sudden change” happened on December 20, 1836, but he well remembered the after effects, as did many others. The meteorological background of the sweeping cold front, and a number of stories of Illinoisans caught as Jesse was, can be found here.

The Dayton School in 1925


The Ottawa Daily Republican-Times published a special school section on March 20, 1925, which included this list of the pupils of the Dayton school.

           District 209 – Dayton school.

Jennie L. Fraine, Emma C. Fraine;
eighth grade: Helen Hallowell, Robert Meagher, Edith Reynolds, Donald Ainsley;
seventh grade: Evelyn Huston, James Gleeson, George Garcia;
sixth grade: Elizabeth Meagher, Howard Tanner, Olive Draper, Donald Blue, Olive Garcia, Emmett                        Gleeson, Paul Ainsley;
fifth grade: Joseph Jacobs, Burrel Draper;
fourth grade: Dorothy Davis, Frank Davis, Billie Gleeson,;
third grade: Esther Meagher, Roy Fraine, Glenn Thorson, Reynold Ainsley;
second grade: Margaret Thorson, Janie Huston, Irene Meigs, Dollie Davis, Vera Draper;
first grade: Zelda Garrow, Kenneth Fraine, Vernon Blue, Loretta Gleeson, Stanley Thorson, Russell                      Metge, Mary Ryan, Billie Prince, Joe Davis.

The teachers, Jennie and Emma Fraine, were sisters, and life-long residents of Dayton. Their parents, Charles and Clementine Fraine, came to the United States from France about 1875 and settled in Dayton. Miss Jennie retired around 1945 and died in 1949. Miss Emma retired in 1952, after 50 years of teaching, most of them in Dayton. She died in 1959.