Louis P. Morel (1855-1897)

coal miner

Louis P. Morel married Marie Fritsch in Chicago on December 16, 1884. According to their marriage application both were born in Chicago, but Marie, at least, was born in France. She probably came from the Alsace region that was the home of many French people in the Somonauk-Serena area, close to Dayton. It’s also possible that Louis was related to some of the Morels living in the area.

In 1885 they moved to Dayton and bought a small three-room, one-story, frame house on lots 1 and 2 in block 7 of the original town of Dayton. [See the map on the home page of this site for location of house.] The lot also included a coal house and a well, and a board fence surrounding it all.

Louis and Marie had three children, all born in Dayton:
Louise, born March 15, 1886
George, born September 10, 1888
Emma Berthe, born December 12, 1889
Emma died October 20, 1896, and is buried in the Dayton cemetery.

On November 17, 1897, Louis was taking coal from a small surface mine near Dayton, when a mass of earth caved in on him, crushing him to death. He was buried in the Dayton cemetery, with his daughter Emma. [See his cemetery page on this site for more information.]

Marie, the widow, inherited the personal property – beds, bedding, kitchen equipment, furniture, and the only explicitly named item – the sewing machine. She sold the house for $300 and moved to Goble, Columbia County, Oregon with the children. She may have chosen this place because there were other Morel families there, perhaps related to her husband, although no such connection has yet been found.

In May of 1908, Louise, now aged 22, married Frederick “Fritz” Aniker. Marie died in Goble on October 19, 1914 and is buried in the Kobel Cemetery there. Son George died March 28, 1917 and Louise on June 27, 1930. They are also buried in the Kobel Cemetery.

Thanksgiving day in Dayton – 1901

cornucopia

CORRESPONDENCE
Dayton

The Fox river at this point is frozen over.
Len Hubbell is spending this week in Chicago.
A. W. Ladd made a business trip to Aurora last week.
Charles Sheppler has been laid up for a few days with a lame back.
John Marshall of Serena made a business call here on Saturday.
George Galloway enjoyed his duck at his own fireside on Thanksgiving day.
Mr. and Mrs. Moore spent a couple of days last week with friends at Earlville.
The Mutual Protective League meets on Wednesday night at Woodman hall.
Miss Mary Coleman and Miss Mary Cloat spent Wednesday and Thursday at Streator.
John Hippard has joined the T., P., & C. W. brigade and is now one of their teamsters.
Miss Mary Dunn of Ottawa spent Sunday with the Misses Mary and Maggie Coleman.
Mrs. Edwards and daughter, Mamie, of Ottawa spent Monday at Mr. and Mrs. James Timmons.
Mr. Isaac Green and family were guests of Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Trumbo on Thanksgiving day.
Mrs. John Channel and A. W. Ladd were visiting Mr. and Mrs. Beik’s at Ottawa on the 28th.
Corn husking is nearly over in the corn fields, but has just commenced at the fireside in the store.
Miss Jennie Barnes starts for Joliet in a few days to spend the winter with her sister, Mrs. Winn Green.
Mrs. Marguerite Mills and Mrs. Brown of South Ottawa spent Friday with Mrs. George Galloway.
One hundred and fifty bushels of corn were sold here on Monday for sixty cents per bushel, cash.
John Green and son, Percival, former residents here for many years, spent Sunday with friends here.
Mrs. John Gibson and son, Fred, left for Chicago on Tuesday, where they will make their home for the present.
Roy McBrearty, operator for the Q. at Denrock, spent Thanksgiving with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. McBrearty.
Mr. and Mrs. George La Pere dined with Mrs. La Pere’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Lohr, on Thanksgiving day.
Mr. and Mrs. Ed McClary spent Thanksgiving with Mr. E. H. Pederson and wife, deputy U. S. marshal at Yorkville.
Miss Blanche McGrath and Miss Kate Hogan of Streator were guests of the Misses Colman on Thanksgiving day.
The ticket winning the watch at the raffle on Saturday night was No. 31, and was held by Joseph Futterer of Ottawa.
William and Walter Breese and Lowell Hoxie and wife of Aurora spent Thanksgiving with Mr. and Mrs. John Breese.
John Campbell, feeder watchman at Dayton, has tendered his resignation, the same going into effect December 1st, 1901.
The Woodman Lodge will elect their officers on Tuesday night, December 10th, at 7:30, at their hall. A large attendance is expected.
On account of the scarcity of water in the feeder the electric plant was compelled to shut down on several occasions the last few days.
Bert Edwards, who has been employed as teamster for George Green, has gone to Streator, which city he expects to make his future home.
William Collamore, Jr., of Ottawa and Miss Olson of near Morris, gave Thanksgiving at the home of William Collamore, Sr., and wife, on the 28th.
Mrs. Ed Vernon and two children left for Somonauk on Saturday morning, where she will be the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Colb for a few days.
John Cisco of Ottawa is now acting as feeder watchman until the successor of John Campbell, resigned, is appointed.
W. Wheeler and R. Doran left here for Chicago on Wednesday morning where they will visit the fat stock show and will remain until Saturday.
Wilmot Van Etten, agent for the Q. at Batavia, with his wife and three sons, Clare, Walcott and Frank, dined with Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Trumbo on Thanksgiving day, returning on the afternoon train for Batavia.1


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, December 6, 1901, p. 12, cols. 1-2

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 5

               scythe sickle

concluding the Hon. P. A. Armstrong’s remarks to the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion:

Our modes of farming and the implements we used would of itself constitute a theme for hours of description. I will pass them briefly as I have already taken up too much time. Seven yoke of cattle strung out in front of a bar-share plow with long raking wooden mould board with one man to govern the plow and another to drive the team did well in turning over two acres per day.

In crop plowing the second year we used what was termed the Carey plow. It was similar in construction to the prairie plow with wooden mould board and coulter, but instead of cutting the sod and turning it topsy turvy as that manufactures by our friend T. D. Brewster does, it simply pushed it aside and left the soil in splendid condition for the growth of weeds. Our stirring and corn plows were of similar construction, fine implements for the cultivation of weeds. He who would have told us that a plow could be made that would scour in loose soil would have been deemed “soft in the head.”

A paddle to remove the dirt from the mould board was deemed as essential as the plow itself. These plows gave way to cast iron mould boards for stirring plows, and the shovel plow for tilling the corn. These in turn have given place to the more modern improvements until these of the present day, when gang plows for cultivating have reduced the labor almost into a pastime.

Our hoes were of monstrous size and ponderous weight, with the handle thrust  into a massive eye. They bore about the same relation to the steel-shanked and polished hoe of today that the stone ax of the Indians bears to that made by the Perkins Brothers or Underhill.

We harvested our grain with the sickle or cradle and our hay with the scythe. Our threshing machines were the flail or the more speedy but less cleanly mode of tramping it out with horses. The latter was the general mode, but for buckwheat it would not work, because the horses’ feet ground it as well as threshed it. The Messrs. McCormick, Manny, Ball, Esterly and other manufacturers of farm implements had not yet put in their appearance. Harvesters, mowers, threshers, shellers, horse-rakes and forks, did not even have a name, much less a habitation, in those days; yet we thought ourselves well advanced in the arts and sciences, and criticized our predecessors for their lack of knowledge. If the same ratio of improvement in the discovery and manufacture of farm implements be made during the coming half century that has been made during the past, who is there here to-day will dare predict the result?

Executor’s Sale of John Green’s Property

shorthorn cattle

shorthorn cattle

 

Executors’ sale: Notice is hereby given, that on Thursday, the 22d day of October next, between the hours of 10 o’clock in the forenoon and 5 o’clock in the afternoon of said day, at the late residence of John Green, deceased, the personal property of said decedent will be sold, consisting of twenty thoroughbred short-horn cows and heifers, five thoroughbred short-horn bulls, and twenty-five high-grade cows, steers and heifers.

Terms of Sale. – Purchases of less than five dollars to be paid in hand; for that amount and over, on a credit of nine months, the purchaser giving note with approved security, without interest if paid at maturity, otherwise, bearing interest at the rate of ten per cent. per annum.

Jesse Green
David Green
Executors1


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, October 10, 1874, P. 3, Col. 4

    Photo credit: By Sanders, James Harvey, 1832-1899. [from old catalog] [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 4

boneset

boneset

continuing the Hon. P. A. Armstrong’s remarks to the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion:

Our worst enemy and severest affliction was ague and fever. None escaped it, or if so the exceptions were few indeed.

Nor is it to be wondered at, for no attention was given nor effort made to obtain pure water. Holes were sunk at the edges of the sloughs, which were filled with surface water, covered with a blue scum, and during hot weather teeming with animalculae. We called them wigglers, and since it has been asserted that blue glass is a great invigorator in the growth of vegetable matter we have been inclined to believe that blue scum is equally potent in developing wigglers into mosquitoes and tadpoles into frogs and that as an ague producer the blue scummed water was a perfect success.

We neither had any physicians or medicines except on the botanical principle. Our quinine was boneset or wauhoo, the very thoughts of which make us shudder even now. When the ague came it manifested great staying qualities. Six weeks of daily shakes were not uncommon. Whole families were afflicted with it at the same time, when the question as to which one was best able to carry water from the slough was difficult to solve.

We were frequently compelled to live in tents and sleep upon the ground for weeks and months before we could collect a sufficient force to raise our little cabins. Everybody was sick with the ague and unable to work. Our first buildings were log cabins, [This generality was not true of Dayton, which had a sawmill from the beginning.] generally with but one room, which must serve as kitchen, dining-room, sitting room, parlor and bed room.  In-door sparking was almost impossibility as Pa, Ma and all the mischievous brothers and sisters of your girl persisted in lying awake to listen to what you said and take notes of what you did.

———————— to be continued —————————

Halloween in Dayton

Clara Mathews

Halloween in Dayton in the 1940s meant trick-or-treating. of course. Coming home with a bag full of treats or seeing the soap on the store windows, it was a night of excitement. Number one on my personal list was the treat from Ma Mathews. I don’t suppose she made the same thing every year, but in my memory it was always a popcorn ball, the gooey, sticky caramel on the freshly popped popcorn. I always hoped I could get two – one to eat on the spot and one to take home, but she was too wily to fall for that. Since she was the school janitor, she knew exactly how many children there were in town. It was no good telling her that you needed another one to take home to your sister, as she had probably just given one to your sister ten minutes ago.

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 3

bible Pilgrim's Progress

continuing the Hon. P. A. Armstrong’s remarks to the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion:

Our population was too much scattered for schools. Four Miles was not considered too far for the children to travel in attending school. Books, except the book of books, the Bible, were very scarce. There were no newspapers then published in the state and if there had been, we had no means of obtaining them, as we had no mails. There was one copy of that noble work of Bunyan, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” in our neighborhood. It was read by all who could read, and constituted a kind of circulating library. I doubt not but my pious friend Col. Hitt perused the history of poor Prospect, filled with hopes and doubts, especially the doubts. The condition of society at that date was such as to render this locality very unhealthy for the Mrs. Grundys and the Paul Prys.

Even visiting was not popular, not because our people were unsocial, but because our neighbors were too far distant.

Talking societies and curiosity shops did not flourish. Nor had we any tramps, gipsies, or strolling organ grinders; sewing machine agents would have been shot on the spot. We had no difficulties between neighbors on account of trespass committed by the chickens or pigs of one upon the premises of another. The only trespass with which we were then familiar was that known as jumping of claims upon Uncle Sam’s land. These sometimes occurred and when they did occur a field fight generally followed in which whole families took a hand; but we never went to law to establish our claims, although all sometimes did seek consolation at law for bruised heads and bloody noses received in the struggle to protect our claims. It was a poor country for office and office holders. All our disputes were settled by arbitration, hence lawsuits were but little heard of.

Tea and coffee were luxuries we could not obtain for love or money, for there was none in the country.

——————– to be continued ————————

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 2

chicken

continuing the Hon. P. A. Armstrong’s remarks to the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion:

To have our humble cabin selected as the place to hold divine services was considered a special favor, and the itinerant preacher (for that is the name by which they were hailed) was always a welcome guest to our firesides. Indeed we used to count the days and look forward to the time when the preacher was to come, and had our favorite club in a convenient place to slaughter a chicken for his dinner or supper whenever he came. We were happy in the anticipation of wheat bread and chicken upon his arrival. There was, however, a rumor current in those days that the chickens began to squeal as the preacher came in sight. Be this as it may, I am now under the solemn conviction that the preachers of those days were as fatal to the barnyard fowls as the chicken cholera of the present time, and yet they were a very devout and good kind of men. In many instances they rode on horseback hundreds of miles to fulfill their engagement, and not infrequently sacrificed their lives to their devotion to duty.

The pioneer preacher of all this section of the country was Rev. Jesse Walker, the uncle of David Walker, Esq., of Ottawa. William Royal, now on duty in Oregon, and Stephen Beggs, of Plainfield, Ills., were our pioneer circuit riders. They were Methodists. Elder John Sinclair, than whom God never made a better man or purer Christian, was also among the first and was the first presiding Elder.

These men worked through sunshine and storm, never faltering, never wearying in well-doing. They labored without money and without price, taking no heed of what they should eat or wherewithal they should be clothed. Elijah-like, trusting in God to be fed by the young Ravens, their labors were more than crowned with success.

Churches were built, congregations formed and sabbath schools established all over the country.

—————– to be continued ———————


Photo credit: By Lilly M [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Those Blankets Were Tough

Blanket from Dayton Woolen Mill

A blanket produced by the Dayton Woolen Mill

DAYTON GOODS. – We have now in daily use, and have had so for twenty-five years, several pairs of blankets made by the Greens at Dayton, and they are apparently good for a dozen years more. This accords with a recent incident at the mill. An old friend of the Greens ordered six pairs of blankets, saying that the four pairs he had bought thirty years ago began to show wear, and as the present would probably last him the rest of his days, he took enough to go ‘round. We have never seen “store” blankets that equaled those made by Jesse Green & Sons at Dayton, in point of either finish or durability, at so low a price.1


The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, 22 Sep 1877, p1, col 2

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 1

Covered Wagon

At the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion the principal speaker was The Honorable Perry A. Armstrong of Morris, a lawyer and member of the state legislature for several terms. His lengthy speech was reported in the Ottawa Free Trader on August 18 and told of the early days of the county. Excerpts from that speech are given below.

“The state of Ohio, though comparatively speaking one of the younger states, contributed largely towards furnishing the first settlers of this county, among whom I will mention the Greens, Shavers, Groves, Debolts, Dunavans, Hupps, Brumbacks, Pitzers, Richeys, Strawns, Milligans, Trumbos, Armstrongs, Parrs, Hitts, Reynolds, Wallaces and Bruners, all of whom have left many descendants. New York also contributed handsomely to the first inhabitants, while Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and many of the eastern states had their representatives here at an early day. As a general rule we could distinguish whether the incoming emigrant were Yankee or from the Middle States.

The Yankee drove but one span of horses to his wagon and rode on the wagon to drive – the other drove from four to six horses to his wagon, riding the left hand wheel-horse to drive. The wagon of the Yankee was coupled longer than the other, had a flexible tongue held up by a neck yoke, and was of several inches narrower gauge and far lighter draft. The box was much lower and longer than the other’s, and of simpler construction and more easily taken apart to put on and oil.

The Buckeye or the Middle State wagon was schooner-shaped and closely coupled together. The rear wheels were some 12 inches greater in diameter than the front ones. It had a still tongue, which was ever busy pounding the legs of the wheel horses. The team was driven by a single line. Three sharp jerks to turn to the right – a steady pull to turn to the left, guided them.

The harness was both a curiosity and a monstrosity – a curiosity, how it ever came into use; a monstrosity by way of punishment to the poor horses who wore them. Great heavy blind bridles, huge collars, massive hames, broad backband and heavy trace-chains for the leaders, immense breeching that literally covered the hind-quarters of the wheel-horses, side-straps full five inches wide for tugs, and large bent-skin housings upon the wethers of each horse, were sufficient to melt anything in the shape of flesh.

The box was much higher at the ends than in the middle and was made of panel work, and so mortised together that the entire weight had to be lifted up in taking it off or putting it on the wagon. Hence it required the united effort of a whole family to handle it. These schooner wagons being about 5 inches wider than the Eastern wagon, they of course never tracked with them, and hence they made a new track, at least on one side. Being very heavy they sank to hard pan in every slough, and when planted they are “solid muldoons.”

These wagons, so dissimilar, each had their advocates for a while, but the superior advantages possessed by the Eastern wagon were so patent that the prairie schooners were abandoned and suffered, like the wonderful one-horse chaise, to tumble to pieces and were never repaired or duplicated.

Carriages and buggies (either open or covered) were unknown to us. Instead of buggy-riding we practiced that far more elegant and invigorating mode of pleasure-riding – horse-back exercise. Our young ladies enjoyed riding on horseback with more genuine pleasure than those of today enjoy the buggy or phaeton. It gave them rosy cheeks and robust constitutions, even though eight yards of calico were sufficient to make a dress for any of them. Our young man deemed it a pleasure to mount his horse of a Sabbath morning and ride 20 miles to escort a young lady 10 miles further to attend meeting. We had no churches or ministers at that time. Divine services were held by our pioneer preachers at private houses all over the country.”

————- to be continued —————–

Buy Your Fruit Trees Here!

man in orchard

50,000 Grafted Fruit Trees

are now awaiting purchasers at my Farm and Nursery, on the west side of Fox River, near Dayton, and five miles north-east of Ottawa. They consist of nearly

300 Varieties of Apple,

And a great variety of Pears, Plumbs, and Cherries, which have been selected with care and great expense from the most popular and approved Nurseries in the Union, embracing nearly all the standing varieties in the eastern and southern states, the fruit of which it is confidently believed, cannot fail to suit the most delicate and refined palates.

The subscriber assumes with confidence that he has the greatest variety and most splendid assortment to be found in northern Illinois. The trees are from 1 to 3 years of age, and ranging from 3 to 7 feet in height, and well proportioned.

It is believed that the lamentable remissness on the part of farmers, every where observable in planting fruit trees, is mostly attributable to the almost total failure, in most cases, where trees have been transplanted from a distance; and the fibrous roots on which the tree relies for its nutriment have become dead from too long exposure to dry air or severe frosts after taking them up, either of which is fatal to its growth. But these embarrassments no longer exist. The farmer can now be supplied in his own vicinity with the number and variety he wishes, grown in the same soil and climate in which they are to be transplanted.

If the trees are taken up in the spring, it should be done soon after the frost is out of the ground — at all events, before the leaf begins to put forth. If taken up in the fall, they should be buried until spring.

Apple trees at the Nursery 12 ½ cents; all other kinds, 25 cents.       Wells Wait1


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, March 2, 1849, p. 4, col. 3

Graduates from the Dayton School in 1900

graduation cap & books

The following notice appeared in The Ottawa Journal, July 8, 1900
Graduates of Dayton school: Clyde Channell, Emma Fraine, Edith Olmstead, Mary Ward

What happened to these four young people after they left the Dayton school?

Clyde Wamsley Channell was born in Dayton July 5, 1887, the son of John W. Channel and Josephine Makinson. After attending the University of Illinois for 2 years, he became a surveyor for the railroad. He then tried farming in Minnesota, where he married Carrie McGee on April 5, 1911, in Itasca County, Minnesota.  They moved to Florida by 1930, where he worked for the post office in Arcadia. He died there on February 10, 1957.

Emma Clementine Fraine was the daughter of Charles Fraine and Clemence Petitcolin. She was born in Dayton May 22, 1885 and after two years of additional schooling in Dayton she became a schoolteacher herself. She first taught in a rural school north of Earlville, later going to Waltham Township to teach. She then taught in the Kleiber School northeast of Ottawa and in Grand Ridge. During these years she was busy furthering her own education and taking summer courses at DeKalb. In the year 1907 she was assigned to teach the primary grades in the two-room Dayton school and continued in that capacity until her retirement in 1952. She died in 1959 in California, at the home of her sister-in-law.

Edith May Olmstead was the daughter of Charles H. Olmstead and Anna M. Burgess. She was born February 14, 1886 and following graduation from the Dayton school, she went to Ottawa Township High School, graduating in 1904. She then taught school in the rural schools of the county. She married Edwin Miller about 1918, but the marriage did not last, ending in divorce before 1940. She died in October 1968, and is buried in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.

Mary Elizabeth Ward was the daughter of Edward Joseph Ward and Alice Virginia Furr. She was born April 28,1883, in Dayton. After graduating from the Dayton school she went on to 2 years of high school. On September 12th, 1905 she married Robert J. W. Briggs, a veterinarian from Ottawa. His job took them to various locations in South Dakota and Nebraska. They returned to Ottawa when he retired and Mary died there September 24, 1948

Lyle Green’s Purebred Jersey Cattle

Jersey cows

In the early years of the twentieth century, Greenacres, the Green farm in Dayton, was celebrated for its prize-winning herd of Jersey cattle. The farm was run by Lyle A. Green, son of Isaac Green and grandson of John. As can be seen in the information below, Lyle was well known as a breeder and had many cows that were top producers of milk and butterfat. They also had very aristocratic names and pedigrees.

1918 Register of Merit of Jersey Cattle

Cows owned by Lyle Green: Prince’s Cynthia, Prince’s Susanne, Fern’s Amy, Morocco’s Grey Princess, Gilderoy’s Vic, Bobby’s Helen

Cows bred and owned by Lyle Green: Raleigh’s Meg, Raleigh’s Penelope, Raleigh’s Ota, Raleigh’s Minnie Fite, Raleigh’s Lady Brookhill, all sired by Raleigh’s Lord Brookhill;
Lodestar’s Gilderoy, Lodestar’s Tuscan Fern, sired by Sultan’s Lodestar;
Raleigh’s Trudie, sired by Le Cotil’s Raleigh.

Register of merit rules: All cows over 5 years must produce at least 360 lbs. of butterfat in a year. 2 year olds start at 250.5 lbs butterfat and the amount required increases until the cow is 5 years old.

Raleigh’s Minnie Fite was the top producer, with 420.35 lbs. of butterfat and 7635.7 Lbs. of milk. She was aged 2 years, 11 months, and was estimated to weigh 790 lbs.

Contention Over Water

old dam

The old dam at Dayton

From Dayton

Dayton, July 26. – Misses Myrtle Stadden and Julia Lyons, of Chicago, are visiting at Mrs. David Green’s.

Miss Amy Dickens, of Amboy, Ill., is spending the summer at  Mr. Charles Green’s.

Miss Lillian Wayland, of Appleton, Wis., is spending the summer at Mr. D. Moore’s.

Mr. Wm. Dunavan, of the horse collar works, returned from a short business trip last week.

Mr. James Green says that the honey business is of no account this season. Usually he has between nine and ten thousand pounds of honey for sale, but this season he hasn’t a pound. Thinks perhaps he will be obliged to feed his bees this fall.

Miss Bangs, of Ottawa, who has been spending a few weeks in Dayton, has returned home.

Canal Supt. Leighton, of Lockport, was in town this week.

The river is lower than it had ever been in the remembrance of the oldest inhabitant. The mills have been able to run most of the time, but with decreased power.

The Free Trader, with the remainder of the Ottawa press, got things badly mixed on the power question, and has given the Dayton mill owners some unnecessary scoring. The Green and Stadden lease with the State provides for one-half of the water flowing in Fox river, of which the State is to have one-fourth of the river, and Green and Stadden one-fourth of the river, (not one-eighth as the Free Trader had it last week.) These two-fourths must be drawn first, even if the other one-half runs down the river.

The Ottawa power is third class, and when only one fourth of the river is drawn through the feeder, as it is during eight or nine months of the year, the Dayton power is entitled to all the water except what is necessary for canal purposes. Green and Stadden were not foolish enough, as the Ottawa press would have the public infer, to give away all their rights when they gave the State a right-of-way and one-half of their power. Any lease or agreement made between the State and the Hydraulic Company cannot affect the original and right of way lease.

In 1870 Mr. Wm. Thomas brought an injunction suit against Messrs. Williams and Sweetzer to prevent them from locating their paper mill on the power at Dayton. The claim was made then, as it is now, that we were using more water than we were entitled to. Judge Leland dismissed the suit, and decided that the Dayton power had preference over the hydraulic power, and in time of low water the side cut should be closed so as to keep a 6-foot head in the canal. If this could not be maintained, the Dayton fourth could be drawn on.

The present condition of affairs is this: The mill owners have agreed with Capt. Leighton to confine themselves strictly to their one-fourth, and to run as long as there is water.

The Hydraulic Co. is entitled to the surplus water of the canal, and, as there is no surplus from Fox river now (all of the water being used by the canal and the Dayton mills), water is being drawn from the other level at Marseilles to supply power for the Ottawa mills.1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, July 30, 1887, p. 8, col. 4

A Landmark Gone

The brick works – rebuilt after the fire

A Land Mark Gone

Dayton, Ill., Nov. 15. – Last Sunday evening about twelve o’clock the old woolen mill property was discovered to be on fire, flames leaping out at the roof and the whole building was soon engulfed in flames. Most of the people in town were soon aroused by the bright light and by the noise of the falling timbers, but the fire had gained too much headway to warrant any attempt at checking or extinguishing it. The floor being saturated with oil it burned very rapidly and soon the roof fell in, flames shot out of every door and window, floor after floor tumbled in, and the magnificent stone building was reduced to ashes in a few hours, nothing remaining but the empty walls. A flue runs from one of the brick kilns to the large chimney in the corner of the building, and it is supposed the fire originated in some way from this chimney which was built originally for a boiler. This fine building was constructed of Joliet or Lemont stone, was 50×100 feet square, five stories in height, the roof being surmounted by a cupola, &c. It was built in 1864 by the firm of J. Green & Co. at a cost of $32,000 and filled with woolen machinery worth $33,000. This firm run it as a woolen mill until 1878 when they failed in business and the building remained idle for a number of years. Mr. Jesse Green then purchased it and ran it for a few years but finally sold off the woolen machinery to various parties, and the building and water power to his son-in-laws Messrs Williams and Hess who in 1884 organized a brick company. This firm put in brick machinery, built kilns, &c. and manufactured brick for a number of years, but this season sold the whole property to Messrs Soule & Williams who have been continuing the manufacture of brick. The total loss by fire to the last named firm is about $10,000 and we understand there is no insurance. They will probably put a roof over the walls erect two floors, and continue business.1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, November 17, 1888, p. 8, col. 2

A Sad Accident

CB&Q caboose

A SAD ACCIDENT. – Last Thursday evening, at about 12 o’clock, Mr. James Timmons, a brick mason who lives at Dayton, met with a fearful accident by which he was deprived of his right arm. He was attempting to get upon a freight train at Grand Ridge to go home, when, owing to the darkness and the difficulty of climbing on the caboose of the train, he fell with one arm under the wheels. The arm was of course completely crushed. He got up and ran a short distance in a state of complete bewilderment, caused by his intense agony, and then fell. Jay Doolittle, being near, picked him up and brought him to Ottawa. Dr. Campfield successfully amputated the mangled arm, the poor sufferer bearing the operation bravely. He was eased as well as could be done with opiates, and left under the care of Jay Doolittle and John Cliff at the Ottawa house, where he now lies. He is a poor man with a large family, and presents rather a pitiable case.1


  1. The [Ottawa, Illinois] Free Trader, 7 Aug 1875, p5, col 3

Informal Burials in the Dayton Cemetery

champaign-albert-john tombstone

Handmade memorial stone for a child

In the early years of the Dayton Cemetery, many of the burials must have been informal – that is, not handled by an undertaker. The primary source of this information comes from the death certificate, where available. The earliest burial with a death certificate was in 1878, so clearly, for those burials between 1835 and 1878, we have no way of knowing who performed the burial. However, even for those burials after 1878, some were done informally.

William Hoag’s 1879 death certificate leaves the undertaker field blank. Frank Hudson was buried by A Trumbo in 1881. Burials in 1888 and 1902 either specify “unknown” for the undertaker or leave the field blank. Three others specify a single name, with no indication whether they were undertakers or private citizens. As recently as 1922, at least one infant burial was performed without the services of an undertaker.

In an analysis of the 113 death records found for burials in the cemetery, the majority were handles by the Zimmerman/Gladfelter Funeral Home (54 instances). This furniture and undertaking establishment was founded in 1862 by Simon Zimmerman and has been in continuous operation ever since. In 1886, Elmer E. Gladfelter married Zimmerman’s daughter Anna, and in 1889 assumed charge of the business. The business retained the Zimmerman name until his death in 1894, and has operated under the Gladfelter name to the present day.

There are 44 known burials that had no visible stone in 2015, when the most recent restoration was done. There are some pieces of broken stones, too fragmentary to be reassembled, in the woods at the edge of the cemetery, though a few had been recorded before they were damaged.

 

Jesse and David scrape out the millrace

oxen

In this excerpt from Jesse Green’s memoir, he shows that on the frontier, a ten year old and a twelve year old were doing a man’s work.

Early in the spring of 1830 development of the water power was commenced by using the stumps from the timber from which the mill was being constructed. Economy was sought to a greater extent than it is at the present tine. The saw mill was built with sufficient room to put a pair of stones in one end of it to do our grinding until a better mill could be erected, having brought with us the necessary mill irons, black-smith tools etc. Whilst the men were getting out the timber for the mill and dam, which had to be built to intersect a small island, brother David and myself took the contract of scraping out the race or waterway for a distance of about a half mile (he being ten, and I twelve years old). We each had a pair of oxen and an old fashioned scraper. I sometimes had to help him load and dump his scraper and vice versa. We had the race completed by the time the mills were ready to draw their gates.

Shooting Affair at Dayton – 1869

gunslingerShooting Affair at Dayton

About 6 o’clock P. M., on Wednesday evening, Feb 10th, Elijah Martin, a young man about 19 years of age, was quietly passing through the village of Dayton, in this county, driving a cow and having two or three dogs with him, when Charles Lott, aged about 25 years, meeting him, took out a revolver and shot one of Martin’s dogs. There were some words, and Lott fell to beating Martin, Lott being apparently in liquor. The boy, as soon as released, ran home to get his gun. His parents not allowing him to take it, he ran to a neighbor’s and borrowed a gun, and started in pursuit of Lott. He found him between Isaac Green’s house and barn, and at once fired upon him, but without effect. Lott returned the fire with his revolver, also without effect. Martin, after exploding a cap or two upon his second barrel, (his gun being a common fowling piece) fired a second time, the shot taking effect in the lower part of Lott’s abdomen and upper part of his thighs. Lott fell and was conveyed to his house. The gun being loaded with No. 6 shot, and fired from a distance of 30 yards, the wound can only be dangerous from its peculiar location in the abdomen. Martin’s father and mother were close behind him trying to dissuade him from his purpose as he attacked Lott, but without effect. Lott is having good surgical attendance, and is as yet considered in no danger. Martin is still at large.1


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, February 13, 1869, p. 1, col. 1