Dayton Centennial – Part 1

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

Dayton and Rutland Townships Dedicate Marker and Celebrate Centennial of Settlers Arrival

            Old-time residents of Dayton and Rutland who have gone out to find a niche elsewhere, practically the entire present population and representatives of most La Salle county towns were at Dayton Saturday afternoon and night for a celebration commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of these communities.

A program of platform speaking, songs by the assembled school children of both communities, dedication of a marker on the spot where the mill-stones were found which were used in grinding the first wheat flour made in northern Illinois, and addresses by W. R. Foster, county superintendent of schools, and Kent Greene, former Daytonite and now a Chicago legal light, featured the day’s festivities.

Thomas O’Meara, Ottawa attorney, who was reared in Dayton, was master of ceremonies in the afternoon, when crowds gathered to hear addresses dealing with the significance of the origin of Dayton and Rutland. He was introduced by a member of the committee which evolved the celebration.

Relics which accumulated through the years provided a point of interest for visitors. All former and present residents were tagged with their names and addresses, facilitating renewal of old acquaintanceships.

Of particular interest in the celebration was the unveiling of a stone marker commemorating the vicinity where John Green, one of the village founders, and his party built their flour mill. A boulder set in a cement base, identified by a bronze plate inscribed with the story of the discovery, was veiled by a historical blanket woven in Dayton’s own woolen mill in 1860.

The blanket, now in the possession of Miss Catherine E. Rhoads of Ottawa, was bought by Thomas Rhoads, her father, at the mill and has been in the possession of the Rhoads family ever since. It is one of the few remaining tokens of the woolen mill which once apparently had Dayton headed on the road to industrial importance.

Blanket from Dayton Woolen Factory

Another example of the Dayton Woolen Mill blankets – this one from the Green family.

The dedication address was by J. Kent Greene of Chicago, a descendant of the John Green whose industry resulted in the flour mill.

He traced the events leading up to the founding of the mill, beginning with the first trip to the then new state of Illinois in 1829, when four pioneers, led by John Green, came to Dayton from Licking county, Ohio, on September 14, 1829.

They returned with their families on the 6th of December, 1829, and, despite the impending rigors of winter, established their colony by erecting shelters and clearing 240 acres of land before spring. Their saw and grist mill was put in operation on July 4, 1830, and the village of Dayton had been officially founded.

A vigorous folk, they with stood the menace of the Blackhawk Indian war, and not only stood their ground themselves but attracted other Ohio pioneers who populated Dayton and Rutland.

[to be continued]

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