An oyster supper was held last Wednesday . . .

oyster stew

An oyster supper was held last Wednesday evening at Mr. Jesse Green’s, the proceeds of which will go toward purchasing an organ for the school house. Quite a number were present. The old organ was put up at lottery, and the proceeds from both amounted to about $25. Mr. H. B. Williams drew the instrument and we understand will sell tickets for it again, the proceeds to go for the same purpose.

The literary’s entertainment will be held at the school house Friday evening, April 4. The following is the cast of characters of the play, “Three Glasses a Day, or The Broken Home:”
Ralph Aubrey                          Mr. John Green [son of David Green]
Harry Montford                      Mr. Wm. Dunavan [grandson of Eliza Green Dunavan]
Zeke Wintergreen                   Mr. Chas. Green [son of David Green]
Mrs. Aubrey                            Miss Cora Green [daughter of Jesse Green]
Clara Aubrey                           Miss Josie Green [daughter of Basil Green]
Julia Lovegrove                       Miss Ada Green [daughter of David Green]
The entertainment will conclude with the extremely ludicrous Dutch farce, “Hans, the Dutch J. P.”1

The previous notice, which appeared in the Dayton news column of the Ottawa Free Trader describes two of Dayton’s popular social activities of the 1870s. Frequently held as a fund raiser, as in this case, the oyster supper was a well known and popular event. Packed in barrels and whisked from New York by train, oysters were a popular food. Diners could usually choose from a variety of oyster dishes: raw, fried, or scalloped, but oyster stew was the mainstay.

The play, described as “A Moral and Temperance Drama, in Three Acts” was published just the previous year. The cast of the play consisted entirely of the young Greens, aged 17 to 24, showing themselves to be very up-to-date in their literary endeavors.

“Hans, the Dutch J. P.” was also a new offering. Judge for yourself whether it is as “extremely ludicrous” as reported. A copy of the short script can be read here.

  1. The Free Trader, March 29, 1879, p. 2, col. 4

On Memorial Day We Honor Another Veteran

US flag

On this Memorial Day weekend, the veterans buried in the Dayton Cemetery take the spotlight. One of them is John W. Channel. He was born March 10, 1849 in Licking County, Ohio and came to Illinois with his parents in 1851.

In April, 1865, at the age of 16, he lied about his age to enroll in Company E, 3rd Illinois Cavalry. In May, the Regiment went to Minnesota where he participated in an Indian expedition through Minnesota and Dakota Territory. They arrived back at Fort Snelling in October, where he was discharged.

He returned to Dayton where he married Josephine Makinson on June 27, 1868. They had two children who lived to adulthood, Eva M., born in Dayton July 31, 1869, and Clyde W., born July 5, 1887.

In 1870, he was working in the Green Woolen Mill as a cloth finisher. In 1881 he moved to St. Louis where he was engaged in the manufacturing of horse collars, with J. W. Denning & Co. He sold his interest to his partner on account of poor health, and returned to Dayton  to assume the management of the Basil Green tile works. When the firm of Hess, Crotty and Williams was organized, Mr. Channel became the superintendent of the works. He remained in this position until the Standard Fire Brick Co. was organized, when he left the employ of Hess, Crotty and Williams, to become president and general manager of the new company. In 1898 he disposed of his interest in the Standard Fire Brick Co. and purchased the tile factory of Basil Green of Dayton, in company with his son-in-law, Arthur T. Ladd, operating under the firm name of J. W. Channel & Co. He died November 22, 1900 and is buried in the cemetery, as is his wife.

John W and Josephine Channel, tombtone

A Medical Story from Early Dayton


The following report, from the Ottawa newspaper, gives details of the courage required to confront the horrors of medical care without anesthesia, in early Illinois.

Surgical Operation

           Messrs. Editors. – Permit me to lay before the readers of your paper a detailed account of an operation I yesterday saw performed upon the breast of a female living at Dayton, who, for her courage and fortitude in sustaining it, has scarcely a parallel on the records of Chirurgery. Mrs. Q____, aged about 30, perceived a tumour eighteen months’ since in the left breast, which in consequence of its small size and not being painful, was little regarded until three months since, when it began rapidly to enlarge, ulcerating and becoming very painful. Accordingly she was apprised of the truth, that there was no hope of a cure in her case, short of a complete extirpation of the tumour, to which operation she expressed her assent; and with an unflinching resolution she seemed to call forth all the energies of her body and mind, and bared her bosom to the formidable strokes of the Scalpel. The operation was performed by Doct. Hurlbut, according to the approved method laid down by Sir Astley Cooper, with a clear perception of the nature and extent of the malignant mass, being a Medullary Sarcoma, of which he was careful not to leave the least particle from which it might again form. The tumour, which weighed five pounds, was removed in about 20 minutes, although it was rendered very intricate by many adhesions. Dr. H. shurely merits the approbation of the profession, for the expert manner in which he removed the tumour; and Drs. Hatch, Sanger, and myself, who by request lent our assistance, can vouch for the feeling and tender manner the operation was conducted. Nothing, Messrs. Editors, could be more touching to our feelings than to see this poor dependent creature alive to every trivial roughness while treading the prosperous path of life, suddenly raising in mental and bodily force, to abide with unshrinking firmness this most formidable operation, not a groan passed her lips, nor was there the least distortion, or rigidity of the muscles.

  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, February 25, 1842, p. 2, col. 4

English Workers at the Dayton Woolen Mill

power looms

Many of the employees at the Dayton Woolen factory were from England, bringing their previous experience of factory work to the Dayton mill. One of these, William Lancaster, was working in Dayton as a wool sorter in 1870.

William was born in Addingham, Yorkshire on May 31, 1835, the son of Thomas and Ann (Wildman) Lancaster. Thomas and all his family were deeply involved in the wool trade.  Thomas worked in the West Yorkshire mills as a wool top finisher;  at least five of his sons and three of his daughters also worked in the factory. The children would start by the age of ten, on the spinning machines. As they got older, they moved on to more responsible jobs – wool combing overseer, power loom weaver, or wool top finisher. William, at the age of fifteen, was a power loom weaver of worsted cloth.

In 1859 William married Elizabeth Muff, the daughter of William and Patience (Elsworth) Muff. They had a daughter, Frances Elsworth Ann, born the following year, and in 1862, a son, Seth Elsworth. For whatever reason, William seems to have left the wool trade and moved to Pudsey, Yorkshire, where he was a milk dealer in 1861. Whether this was because of a slowdown in the wool trade or merely a desire for a change, in 1866 William left Yorkshire altogether and with his wife and son (Frances having died in 1865) took ship for America on the City of New York leaving from Liverpool and arriving in New York on July 30, 1866.

Apparently wool was in William’s blood though, as he found recruiters were encouraging workers to go to Lowell, Massachusetts, to work in the mills there. He found work there as a wool sorter, and while living in Lowell, a daughter, Martha Ellen was born. More research will be needed to explain how he heard of Dayton and why he decided to go there, but by 1870 he was at work in Dayton as a wool sorter. He inspected all incoming wool and was skilled in sorting it into lots by color and quality, as length and fineness of fiber. A successful wool sorter would have had a perception of color shades greater than that of an artist.

By 1880, William had moved his family to Jacksonville, Illinois, where he and his son, Seth, were working in the Jacksonville Woolen Mills. Apparently unable to settle in one place, by 1900 he was working and living in Chester, Pennsylvania, another mill town not far from Philadelphia. Here his wife, Elizabeth died in 1893, and a few years later he remarried, to Margaretta, widow of John Blithe. In 1910, at the age of 74, he was still working as a wool sorter. He died on March 9, 1917, bringing to a close a life dedicated to the wool trade.

Could you have voted in 1845 in Dayton?


Women and non-whites need not apply:

At any and all elections held in this State, all white male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years, and having resided in the State six months next preceding such election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector, whether such elector has been naturalized or not;1

There was no such thing as a secret ballot:

Electors shall vote, by first announcing their own names to the judges and clerks of the election, and then the names of the persons for whom they wish to vote; and the clerk shall enter their names and votes accordingly: Provided, That a voter may vote by presenting an open ticket to the judges, containing the names of the persons for whom he votes, and the offices; and the said judge shall read the same to the voter, and the clerks, with the assent of the voter, set the same down in their books, as in other cases.2

And precautions were taken, should things get ugly:

For the preservation of order, as well as the security of the judges and clerks of the election from insult and abuse, it shall be the duty of any constable or constables residing within the precinct to attend at all elections within such precinct . . .3

Judges could impose a fine of up to $20 on any persons who persisted in conducting themselves in a disorderly or riotous manner after having been warned. If they refused to pay, they could be jailed for up to twenty days, or until the fine was paid.

If any judge or clerk knowingly allowed an unqualified person to vote, that judge or clerk had to pay $100 to the county, for use in defending any suit that might arise. If a judge refused to receive the vote of a qualified person, he could be indicted and, if convicted, fined $500.

1. Brayman, M., Revised Statutes of the State of Illinois (Springfield: Walters & Weber, 1845), 217, Sec. 18
2. ibid, Sec. 15
3. ibid, 218, Sec. 21