Barbara Grove Green

Barbara Grove Green

Barbara Grove Green

Much of the information about Barbara Grove Green comes from notes written down by her granddaughter, Maud Green, which I now have. 

Barbara Grove was born near Woodstock, in Shenandoah County, Virginia, on the 15th of November, 1792, the daughter of John Grove and Barbara Lionberger. Both of her grandfathers, Christian Grove and John Lionberger, served in the Revolutionary War from Virginia.  The Lionbergers were Swiss immigrants who arrived in America in 1735. John Grove, her father, of Swiss and German ancestry, was “a large and powerful man who could pick up a barrel of flour under each arm and toss them on a wagon”.  Maud notes that Barbara had a vest which had belonged to her father, and that it was much too large for any other member of the family.

In 1805, when Barbara was thirteen, John Grove sold the land he had inherited from his father in Virginia and moved to Fairfield County, Ohio, where German and Swiss pioneers from Pennsylvania had already started a settlement.  Barbara never attended an English-speaking school until arriving in Ohio. Among the settlers already established in that part of Ohio was Benjamin Green, with his large family.

Barbara Grove and John Green were married on March 28, 1813. Sixteen years later, after the birth of nine children, and the death of two of them, they moved from Ohio to Illinois. Barbara was then 37 and her youngest child was 14 months old. The party consisted of 10 men, ten children, and four women. The other three women were Barbara’s 19 year old sister, Emma DeBolt, who had a 3 month old baby; her 24 year old sister-in-law Annie, wife of her brother David, who had a 2 year old child; and her husband’s 24-year old niece, Elizabeth Brumbach, who was 6 months pregnant with her second child. As the oldest woman in the group, Barbara was surely called upon to provide support to the entire party.

The trip from Ohio to Illinois was full of adventure. One of the county histories tells the story of how the  group was spending the night in a heavy rain (this is in November) and Barbara lay down in the wagon, trying to sleep and was frozen fast  and unable to get up in the morning.

Once they arrived in Illinois, there was also plenty of work to do to feed the family. As Jesse Green told the story:

The second and third winters we were here we had about two feet of snow, which lay on the ground most of the winter, and drifted badly and crusted over so that we could ride over fences without difficulty, and prairie chickens were so plentiful and tame that on a frosty morning, they would sit on trees so near our cabin that Father stood in the door and shot them, until some of the men said he must stop before he shot away all of our ammunition, and leave none to shoot deer and turkeys.  Our first winter here Brother David and myself trapped rising three hundred chickens, besides a large quantity of quail.  After eating all we could, Mother merely saved their breasts salted and smoked them.

“Merely” is not the word I would use for salting and smoking three hundred prairie chicken breasts, but that was “women’s work” and Jesse didn’t seem to think too much of it.

The first year must have been a lonely one for the women of that small party, but the next year more settlers  arrived from Ohio, many of them relatives. Then in 1833 Barbara’s mother and brother Elias came to Rutland,as well, so she was surrounded by family.

The Black Hawk War affected much of La Salle County. The Indian Creek Massacre may be the most well-known of the local occurances, but here is how Barbara Green related her part of the action to her granddaughter, many years later.

On the 16th of May 1832, about ten o’clock in the morning, myself and the girls were washing at the spring near where the feeder bridge now is when Eliza came down on horseback and told us that the Indians were coming & that we would have to go to Ottawa right away.  Then we went to a place a couple of miles below Ottawa (to Penbrook) and stayed there all night the next day come up to Ottawa and next day home again.  This was Sunday and the next day the men made a stockade around the house out of plank.  After it was finished they tried it to see if a bullet would go through it, and it did, so they hung up feather beds all around.  There were about sixty people here at the time, we were so crowded that they had to sleep on tables, under the beds and all over the house.

The same night George Walker came and told us that we must go to Ottawa again, so we left right away and went down to the river to get in the pirougue, but when we got there we found that Daniels’ had taken the boat and gone before we got there, so we had to walk.  As I had forgot some of Rachel’s clothes and, coming back to the house, I found Jesse and David yet in bed.  They had been waked before we started so I supposed they were with us.  We followed the river bank all the way down and I had to carry Becky all the way because she would cry when anyone else took her.

Aunt Becky Trumbo was sick so that she could not walk and she rode on the horse behind old Mr. Letts.  Eliza Trumbo was left standing on the river bank and we went off and forgot her.  Wm Dunavan came back and got her.  When we got to Ottawa there was no fort there, only a log cabin on the south side of the river, but they soon built a fort on top of the hill.  We went to the fort but there was so much confusion there that we had the log house moved up on the hill and lived in it.  We women didn’t know what the trouble was til we reached Ottawa and then they told us about the “Indian Creek Massacre” where there were sixteen people killed.  Two boys who ran away and two girls who were taken prisoners, were the only ones that escaped.

The next day (?) a company of soldiers from the southern part of the state passed through Ottawa on the way up the river and two men Hazleton and Schemerhorn who lived at Mission Settlement intended to go with them to their farms but failed to get ready in time and so were an hour or two behind the soldiers.

The duties of a housewife on the frontier must have been endless. Maud writes that she remembers her grandmother making candles for them to carry upstairs. She also wrote “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”. The factory referred to is the Green’s woolen mill, which made both yarn and cloth.

John and Barbara Green had 70 grandchildren and they all came frequently to visit Barbara at her home in Dayton until she died in 1886, at the age of 93. Barbara also had over 200 great-nephews and great-nieces; the grandchildren of her 3 brothers and 3 sisters who lived across the river in Rutland. She had come a long way, from the little group of 24 pioneers to the senior member of a large family.

Family Record of Joseph & Nancy (Green) Dunavan

Dunavan family register

Joseph A Dunavan was
Born march 30 1812

Nancy Dunavan his wife was Born
April 26 1816

Joseph A Dunavan and Nancy his
wife was married January 26 1834

Cathrine Dunavan was Born
May first 1835

Samuel Dunavan was Born Aprile
9th 1837

Isaac Dunavan was Born october
30th 1838

David Dunavan was Born September
10th 1840

Amanda Dunavan was Born october
19th 1843 and Died January
15 1846

Joseph Dunavan was Born January
30th 1845

George Dunavan was Born July
26th 1847

John A. Dunavan
was born Dec 14 1849

Cynthia Jane Dunavan
was born Feb 3rd 1851

Col. John Stadden

Stadden cabin

The original Stadden cabin, now in the Dawes Arboretum, Newark, Ohio

From a history of Licking County, Ohio:

In the spring of 1800 two brothers, John and Isaac Stadden, came up the Licking Valley and entered upon some bottom land, partially cleared, a mile below Newark, now on the Jones farm, and built a hut or cabin. In September, 1800, Mr. Isaac Stadden removed his family from Pennsylvania into the cabin erected for them in the spring. He drove the first wagon that passed up the Licking Valley from Zanesville to Newark. The trip occupied two days, although his brother John and another man were along to assist in clearing a path for the wagon.

During the summer, John Stadden, having made the acquaintance of Betsey Green, daughter of Benjamin, became enamored of the fair maid of Shawnee Run, and after an honest courtship of reasonable length for pioneer times, she, nothing loth, having fallen into his notions on the subject, they resolved upon matrimony, and matrimony they committed, and it was the first offense of the kind in civilized life within the limits of Licking County.

A child born to them in the latter half of the year 1801, was the second birth in what is now Licking County, and its decease before the close of said year was the first death.

John Stadden moved to “Hog Run” in 1802, and in 1808 was elected Sheriff (the first one) of Licking County, in which office he served two years. He was also for some years Collector of Taxes, and held other positions of honor and trust in military and civil life.  His son, Richard was Sheriff of this County from 1834 to 1838, and was, in the last-named year, elected a member of the Senate of Ohio.

Colonel John Stadden was a man of integrity, uprightness, and a fair degree of intelligence. Late in life he removed with his wife to Illinois, where they died. They were honored and highly esteemed while living, and died leaving a reputation untarnished. He and his wife were original members of the first Methodist society formed in this County, which was in 1804, by Rev. Asa Shinn.1

By 1840, they were living in Dayton, Illinois, where Betsey Green Stadden’s brother, John, had established a thriving settlement. John Stadden died there on January 26, 1855, at the age of 77 years, 4 months, and 2 days (as recorded on his tombstone) and was buried in the Dayton Cemetery. 


  1. L. H. Everts, 1875 History of Licking County, Ohio / Plus New Indexes / Adapted from the 1875 Atlas of Licking County (Knightstown, Indiana: The Bookmark, 1975), 48.

The Green Houses

map of Dayton showing location of Dayton Green houses

Location of Green family houses

The Green Houses
Maud V. Green
1946

The first house in Dayton was on the site of our present home [1] and was probably not a log cabin as Grandfather [John Green] had put a saw-mill in one end of the flour-mill in the spring of 1830, leaving his family on the farm four miles up the river until the next Fall, in the cabin 18 x 24 where they had spent the first winter.  They were still in the first house in 1832 at the time of the Blackhawk War as they made a fort of it that summer and had sixty people there just after the Indian Creek Massacre.  Then they all went to Ottawa where Ft. Johnston was built on the south bluff.

I never heard how long it was until the second house was built in the hillside, facing the river.  It had three stories with a spring in the basement floor running into a stone trough, parts of which are still in existence.  The spring dried up long ago but I can remember it.  The upper floor was even with the top of the hill.  It had a porch on the east side of at least one floor.  While the men were away at the California Gold Rush in 1849 the Hite family lived in this house and rented the farm, the only time any but the Green family ever lived here (in 117 years).

In the summer of 1853 John Green & his sons David and Jesse built three square frame houses in a row [1, 2, 3],  John’s where the first house stood.  In these three houses, the Jesse, David & Isaac Green families grew up.  The Jesse Green house was destroyed by fire within the last twenty years and our father’s house was torn down (in 1924) and replaced by the present structure, which is the fourth house on the original building spot.  The David Green house, owned by Charles and Grace Clifford, is the only one still standing of the three built in 1853.

[See pictures of all of these houses here.]

It Reads Like a Romance

little girl

First, a little background:

Marriages
In Dayton, Ill., Dec. 29th, 1880, by Rev. John Ustick, Mr. Alexander M. Alcorn, of Earl, and Miss Ella Courter, of Dayton, LaSalle Co., Illinois.
This marriage took place on the coldest day of the winter, the mercury that morning indicating from 20 to 24 degrees below zero according to exposure, and Elder Ustick rode 32 miles that day to keep his engagement. Irv. Smith drove out and back with him, and didn’t mind the cold until he found he’d gone two miles out of the way and to the wrong house; then he sputtered a swear or two and hurried on.1

[Son Harvey A. Alcorn, from 1900 census of Earl twp, was born Dec. 1881.]

BORN
Earl, May 29th, [1883] to Alex. Alcorn and Wife, a son. [This is Asa, died 1885.]2

BORN
On May 2nd, [1887] to Mr. and Mrs. Alex Alcorn a little daughter. Mother and child doing well.3

And now to the 1889 story from the Chicago Tribune:

IT READS LIKE ROMANCE
The Story Behind a Petition for the Possession of a Child
A. M. Alcorn, a La Salle County Farmer Appeals to the Courts to Recover his 2-year-old Daughter

A petition for habeas corpus was filed in the Circuit Court yesterday by Alexander M. Alcorn, a La Salle County farmer, to recover the custody of his little daughter May, 2 years old. Alcorn’s story read like a romance. Ten years ago he wedded a pretty young girl, who lived in Dayton, La Salle County. Their wedded life was happy for several years, until a young man named Samuel Mitchner engaged to work for Alcorn as a farm hand. The wife, Ella F. Alcorn, who had borne her husband two children, became infatuated, it is charged, with the brawny young tiller of the soil. Last Christmas Alcorn, who had business at the village near by, returned home to find that his wife had eloped with Mitchner. She had left their 7-year-old boy but took little May with her. For some time the heart-broken farmer plodded on at home, but he was not idle. Engaging the services of a detective he located the guilty pair in Chicago. Before they could be arrested they fled, leaving little May in the care of two women – Mrs. Lizzie Frazer and Mrs. Button. The women refused to surrender the child to her father, claiming that she was Mitchner’s child, so the father invoked the aid of the courts. Judge Tuley will hear the case this morning, and has ordered the production of the child in court.4

He Secured Possession of His Daughter

Alexander M. Alcorn, the La Salle County farmer who began a legal fight Wednesday to secure the possession of his 2-year-old daughter May, triumphed yesterday in the fight and bore his little one back to her country home. Alcorn’s wife eloped last Christmas with a farmhand in his employ and carried the little girl away. The father traced the guilty couple to this city [Chicago]. When they were discovered they again fled, abandoning the baby, leaving her with a woman named Mrs. Hutton, where the father found her. Mrs. Hutton refused to surrender the child, as she was not certain Alcorn was its father, but willingly gave her up when the court so ordered. The little one, so heartlessly abandoned by her mother, nestled confidingly in her papa’s arms and was seemingly quite content.5

and the Earlville Leader:

About the beginning of the present year the wife of Alexander M. Alcorn went to Chicago giving as a reason that she could make some money. She took with her their youngest child, a little girl in her second year. Their other child, a boy of about seven, was left at home with his father. About two weeks ago she returned. She claimed she was making $20 per week in the hair dressing business and that she could make more if she had more capital. Her husband let her have $200. Suspecting that all was not right she was followed into the city and found to be living with a man named Samuel Mitchner, who formerly worked for Mr. Alcorn on his farm. When the guilty couple found they were detected, they left before they could be arrested. The little girl, May, was left with two women, Mrs. Lizzie Frazer and Mrs. Button, who refused to give the girl to its father. Mr. Alcorn filed a petition of habeas corpus in the circuit court of Cook County. The writ was issued. Thursday Judge Tuly heard the case. After listening to the evidence, the Judge gave the child into his keeping. Mr. A. arrived home with her the same evening. It is not known where the guilty couple have fled.6

Another chapter in the Alcorn elopement affair occurred last Saturday when Mrs. Alcorn returned from Chicago and again installed herself as mistress of the home which she some months ago deserted. Upon her appearance, it was suspected that she returned for the little girl, therefore a warrant was sworn out for her arrest and placed in the hands of Constable Boozel to be served. When he reached there an understanding had been arrived at between husband and wife, the wife forgiven for her escapade, and henceforth in all probabilities their relations will be the same as before.  Mitchner, the hired man, made his appearance, and caused a dark blot in the history of a happy home. Mrs. Alcorn threatens the existence of young Wood, the amateur detective, who shadowed her to Chicago and then lost her, as she claims it was he who caused her acts to be made so prominent.7

with a happy ending in 1910:

Married This Afternoon
Just as we go to press we learn of the marriage of Charles Louis Wold and Miss May Alcorn, two of the well-known and highly respected young people of this vicinity, the wedding ceremony taking place at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Alcorn, at 1:30 this afternoon. Rev. D. R. VonderLippe of the Presbyterian church officiated.8


  1. Earlville Gazette, January 7, 1881, p 8, col 2
  2. Earlville Gazette, June 2, 1883, p 1, col 3
  3. Earlville Leader, May 6, 1887, p 5, col 4
  4. Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1889, p. 12, col 1
  5. Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1889, p. 8, cols. 2-3
  6. Earlville Leader, May 3, 1889, p 5, col 4
  7. Earlville Leader, May 24, 1889, p 7, col 3
  8. Earlville Leader, May 19, 1910, p 4, col 3

The Old Barn

Green farm - old barn on left

Green farm – old barn on left

When I was a child, all of Dayton was our playground, but no place saw more action than the old barn on the Green farm. It was no longer in use, having been damaged by fire, and had been replaced by the new barn, where the cows were housed.

The old barn made a perfectly marvelous playground. We played a game that had some of the aspects of hide-and-seek, some of tag, and some of a game we made up on the fly as we went along. One of the most important skills to have in order to do well at the game was the ability to climb. In order to avoid being caught by a pursuer, you might climb to the hayloft at the north end, scurry along southward, avoiding the area where the fire had burned the floor away, climb down the silo, and seek safety in the lower level. At some point you might turn into the fox rather than the rabbit. The game had no formal stopping point; no one ever won. It just kept going until, all of a sudden, everyone had somewhere else to be.

The old barn had other uses, as well. I had an aunt who was an amateur artist, who sat up in the hayloft and painted a picture of the dam and the river valley from high above it.

One of the fascinating things in the hayloft was an old sleigh. It had belonged to previous generations, who needed it for winter traveling, but it had been stored in the hayloft, unused, for many years. My mother always wanted it brought down and refurbished, but somehow my father never got around to it. My sister and I have the sleigh bells and bring them out every year to add to the Christmas spirit.

I don’t know whether our mothers didn’t know what we were doing, or just held their tongues, but no one ever said “Don’t go up there.” There might have been an occasional “Be careful” but that’s all. It was a different, and magical, time to be a child.

Rev. Jesse C. Green

Jesse C. Green

Rev. Jesse C. Green

One of the Civil War veterans buried in the Dayton Cemetery is Jesse C. Green. He is buried there because he died unexpectedly while visiting his brother Basil, who lived in Dayton, but he lived his life elsewhere. He was born near Newark,  Licking County, Ohio, November 20, 1832, to Isaac and Elizabeth (Brown) Green.

In 1847 he moved to Crawford County, Illinois, with his parents, where he farmed with his father and brothers. On August 25, 1852, he married Isabel Whitmer in Crawford County, Illinois. They had one son, Hamer Herschel Green, born December 21, 1854. Isabel died in 1856 and in February 1857 he married Anne E. Brown, also in Crawford County. They had two daughters, Ida and Lula.

He didn’t remain in Illinois, though, as he was in Mississippi in 1860. He appears to have taken up his calling as a minister at that time. As the war approached, he returned to Licking County, and there enlisted as a private in the 95th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. At that time he was 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and light colored hair. He was married and a minister.

The Ohio 95th was mustered in for three years service in Columbus, Ohio, on August 19, 1862. The next day they moved to Lexington, Kentucky, and then  made a rapid march to Richmond, arriving there about midnight one week before the battle at that place on August 29th and 30th. The men lay on the pavement or ground the rest of the night and the combination of over-exertion and exposure injured his health. He was sent to the Regimental hospital and was captured in the battle which followed. He was retained as a nurse to wounded men, but overworked and became ill again. After the exchange of prisoners on November 20, 1862, when ambulances arrived, he was sent home to recover his strength. He returned to the Regiment in very feeble condition and was never able to make a single march of any considerable distance afterward without being taken into the ambulance and being sick for days or weeks afterward. (This description was given by the regimental surgeon in testimony to support Jesse’s request for an invalid pension, so may be somewhat exaggerated.) He was discharged for promotion December 14th, 1864, in order to re-enlist as the chaplain. He was mustered out in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 14, 1865, and in later years received a pension for the stomach disability resulting from the forced march.

Following the war, he came back to Illinois and was admitted on trial as a Methodist minister in the  Olney District in 1865,  He was appointed to various Southern Illinois Conference churches in Macon, Richland, Edwards, Wayne & Fayette Counties, Illinois.  In 1878 he moved to Oak Grove, Florida, but stayed only a year. Due to his ill health he moved frequently, always hoping for a better climate.  He spent several years each in Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, and Georgia, finally settling in Sutherland, Florida in 1902, where he had a thriving real estate business.

On August 20, 1910, the Tampa Tribune noted that Rev. J. C. Green had gone to Illinois to visit a brother and other relatives. The brother was Basil Green, of Dayton, whom he had not seen for thirty years. During the visit a party celebrating the 80th birthdays of Rebecca Green Trumbo (September 8) and Basil (September 17) was held at Basil’s house. A group picture was taken at the party and one of the thirty-eight attendees was identified as Jesse C. Green (see picture above). Not long after, Jesse was taken ill and after several weeks of ill health he died October 9 and was buried in the Dayton Cemetery.

His obituary in the Tampa Tribune highlighted his association with Southern College:
Word has been received here of the death of Rev. J. C. Green in Illinois, where he had been visiting a brother. He was perhaps one of the oldest residents of Sutherland, having moved here just before Southern College was opened. Since he has been one of the most ardent supporters of the college and has likewise been a benefactor of almost every other institution of the church. He has been a liberal contributor to every religious movement and was always foremost in promoting anything tending to the spiritual welfare of the community.

It’s All Grist to the Mill

sliced bread

from Jesse Green’s memoir:

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 time. 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. [This mill was called the Old Pioneer.]

Our second flouring mill was built in 1831. Having plenty of lumber at this time, a good frame building was erected but before we had got fully acquainted with the pranks of old “Fox”, we found that we had encroached too closely on her banks, and by way of admonition a gorge of ice shoved the mill back a little, sufficient for a warning, the damage not being so great but that it was soon repaired so as to do our grinding until a third mill could be built.

The third mill was built in 1834 of much greater dimensions containing five pairs of “flint ridge burrs” gotten in Ohio together with the old Pioneer [stones], which were used for grinding corn and buck-wheat. This mill did a very extensive business in the manufacture of flour which found a ready market in St. Louis at that time, and a little later Chicago became our market. I find an old receipt reading as follows.

“Dayton, June 10th, 1843”
Received of John Green nine barrels of flour in good condition, which I agree to deliver in like condition to  J. V. Farwell in Chicago without delay.
Signed Gersham Burr.

This mill did all the grinding for the surrounding country for a radius of eighty and in some cases, one hundred miles. I distinctly remember grinding a grist of white winter wheat for “Old Davy Letts” as he was familiarly called, that made him forty pounds to the bushel of the best flour I ever made, this after tolling it, and I think better flour than we get today with all of our boasted improvements in milling. I attended mill for five or six years, and learned the impossibility of making number one flour out of inferior wheat, and I do not think it can be done under present processes. Among my first mill customers after I commenced tending mill, were our Indian friends. In grinding their small grists of from one peck to two bushels of wheat to each family, which is what they had gleaned from wheat fields, after the harvesters had passed over the ground, and it was always a question in our minds whether those having the larger grists, might not have encroached upon some of the sheaves or shocks in passing them. I had thirty different families to grind for at one time, which I did free, until I came to one of those two bushel grist, when I attempted to toll it, (which would be one peck for toll) it seemed to them too much like discrimination, as I had been grinding all of those smaller grists free, so I put the toll back and ground for all free.

Such was the rush to our mill, that frequently there would be too many to be accommodated at my father’s home, and they were obliged to camp out, about the mill, sometimes for near a week, awaiting their turn for grinding and we were unable to store their grain in the mill, until near their turn for grinding. The mill ran day and night to its full capacity (of six pairs of stones.) Soon after this mill was built, the Rock river country commenced settlement, and they had to depend upon our mill for their flour, and would come with ox teams (four pairs) and take two tons to the load, I frequently loaded up one of these teams before breakfast, and probably by noon would have the train all loaded up. They would come with little bags of silver (their only currency then) and I remember at one time, I had a little trunk nearly filled with it.

The demand for flour was so great that it necessarily annoyed those waiting so long to have their grists ground, to see several of those large teams come in the evening, and start off the next day with their loads. But we reserved the right and satisfied them, that we should be entitled to the use of one pair of burhs out of the six, to do our own grinding for those not having wheat of their own, and to keep the toll wheat out of the way which would require the use of one pair, three fourths of the time to do it, and this pair was kept running constantly on what was termed merchant work, or flour for sale.

Musical Dayton

 

DAYTON, Dec. 24. – Dayton, unlike many western towns, is blest with a number of good things, and one of the good things is the Musical Union, which was organized last spring by Prof. Newbury, and has since been conducted by our esteemed fellow citizen, Mr. Chas. Green. We also have a Glee Club in Dayton. And all feeling a high appreciation of Mr. Green, determined to make that feeling manifest by giving him a benefit. Hence a concert was agreed upon and given last Friday evening, which was well attended, not only by the village people, but by many from the country. All were well pleased with the entertainment and expressed a desire to come again. We certainly have good reason for anticipating a bright future for Charlie in his wisely chosen field of labor, knowing as most of us do that he is in a very large degree self-made in his profession. May success crown your every noble effort, friend Charles.1

Dayton, Feb. 24. – Friday evening, Feb. 13, the Musical Union gave a concert and entertainment, which was well attended and quite a pleasant occasion. The class are making good progress in music and it is to be hoped the Union will continue its existence for a long period. The choruses “Great is the Lord,” “Lift your glad voices,” “Zion’s children, ” “O, Lord of Heaven,” “Crown them as Martyrs” and “We all are happy rovers” were given in a very fine manner. Marks of power were carefully observed, thereby giving considerable expression and life to the choruses. The male quartette and glee club, consisting of Messrs. Green, Rhoads, Howard and Grove, sang a few selections in an admirable manner. Their quartette “I love the path of the tree” and chorus “Barnyard Serenade” are especially worthy of mention.2

The Musical Union will give an entertainment at the school house next Wednesday evening, Feb. 23, the proceeds of which will go towards procuring chorus books for the Union. Mr. Frank Fitzgerald will assist in the entertainment with his cornet solos, and, with Mr. Harry Hammond, will give a musical sketch and minor comicalities. The Union will also furnish music in the way of quartettes. A good enjoyable time is promised, and everybody is invited. There will be no lack of fun. You will miss a treat if you are not there.3

The Musical Union are preparing an interesting drama entitled, “The Lost Children,” which will be given at the school house Saturday evening, April 30. Admission 10 cts. This drama is full of interest and excitement and the minstrel scene is quite funny. The play opens with a fine prelude followed by an interesting chorus. Then the plot of the play commences. A small company of soldiers have been well drilled by Capt. Howard and will form a scene with their military maneuvres, army songs, &c. A band of minstrels is also introduced in the play with their instruments, darky songs, jokes and scenes, the whole forming a pleasant evening’s entertainment. You should not miss hearing it; besides this is the closing entertainment for the season of the Musical Union, and it should be well attended.4

A large audience assembled at the school house last Saturday evening to witness the presentation of the drama, “The Lost Children,” by the Musical Union, assisted by others of the home talent. Considerable pains had been taken to make this closing entertainment a complete success and the members of the company exerted themselves to their utmost to secure that end and acquit themselves creditably. The words of the play were all well memorized and the parts were finely sustained. The characters of Jamie and Lily, “the lost children.” were performed in an excellent manner by little Eddie Hess and Gertie Howard, who entered into the spirit of the play and were highly encored by their appreciative listeners. The prologue and epilogue by Eddie and the tableaux in which Gertie figured beautifully as the Goddess of Liberty, capped the climax of their success. William Dunavan as Mr. Manly, Cora Green as Mrs. Manly, and Dessie Root as Bridget sustained their parts admirably. The other characters of the play, Jennie Dunavan as Miss Fitzallen, William Davis as Mr. Bonville, James Green as Town Crier, Chas. Green as Watchman, and William Holton as Dick, played their parts well. The squad of soldiers under the command of Thomas Howard was a novel feature in out home theatricals, and the drill and the military tableaux were considered very fine. The minstrels deserve a word of praise for their funny efforts. The singing between the scenes by the chorus of young girls was quite good and their selections appropriate. All in all the drama was quite a success and is highly satisfactory to the management. The members of the Union desire to return thanks to Capt. S. R. Blanchard, of Ottawa, for his kindness in fitting our the military scene, which made the drama quite effective, to Mr. Thos. Howard and others for their kind assistance in presenting the drama, and to Wright’s orchestra for their excellent music.5


  1. Ottawa (Illinois) Free Trader, December 27, 1879 [page labeled Dec. 20]. p. 8, col. 2
  2. same, February 28, 1880, p. 8, col. 2
  3. same, February 19, 1881, p. 8, col. 1
  4. same, April 23, 1881, p. 10, col. 1
  5. same, May 7, 1881, p. 8, col. 1

Apple Butter Time

cider press

In 1932, a small booklet titled “Stories of Pioneer Days in La Salle County, Illinois” was produced by the grammar school students of the village and rural schools of the county. 14-year-old Virginia Esmond wrote of happy famiiy times on the Furr farm, the property of her great-grandparents, Squire Newton Furr and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Bruner.

APPLE  BUTTER TIME
by Virginia Anne Esmond, Dist. 142.

There was great excitement in the house. Tomorrow was to be the great boiling down of the apples to make apple butter at my Great-grandmother Furr’s home.

The house was about half a mile west of Dayton. The relatives were to come in the morning and stay all day to help. The men were out in the orchard getting apples to use. Romany apples were the kind used. They were excellent for eating and cooking. When stored in barrels in the basement they lasted till the next summer. Some of the smaller cousins were helping pick up apples, too. Some of the windfalls were used in making cider in great-grandmother’s cider presses. She had two of them.

People used to come from miles around with wagon loads of apples to be made into cider. In later years when the grist mill at Dayton ground apples and pressed out the juice for cider the people used to take their apples over there and have them ground. Eventually my great-grandmother did, too.

The best apples on the ground were used to make apple butter. The cider was made and boiled down. The stirrers, which are long wooden paddles with handles set in them at right angles, long enough to keep the person stirring from getting too hot, were made from the wood of a large maple tree that had been injured when the crib burned down.

Early the next morning the boys were in the orchard picking up more apples.

Somebody had to go to town to get the relatives that were to help. When they arrived they exchanged greetings, as they hadn’t seen each other probably for quite a while. They set to work washing apples. After they were washed, the young folks peeled them with two peelers. The young people thought it quite a bit of fun to turn the crank on the peelers, but the novelty wore off before the apples were all peeled. The older folk sat down and cored the peeled apples.

Some cider was put in the boilers to keep the apples from burning. As soon as the apples were peeled and cored they were popped into the boilers. They kept on boiling down. As soon as the boilers were filled enough so that they wouldn’t boil down much more, the young folks went out in the pasture to catch old “Dexter.” The city cousins considered riding old “Dexter” much fun, even if he was a driving horse instead of a riding horse. Two or three of the young folks got on the horse at once.

Much of the time was spent also by the young people in rambling over the farm and sometimes sliding down the strawstacks. Also amusement could be found in the barn, both in the hay loft and in where the animals were.

The men worked in the fields after carrying in apples by the basketful. Each one of the younger folks took his turn stirring the boiling apples.

The women had a sociable time preparing dinner. The relatives stayed to supper that the women had prepared. After supper the visitors usually went home and the women at grandmother’s finished the work.

They took the apple butter off the stove at about nine o’clock. Then it had to be put in crockery jars about ten inches high. A cork fitted into the top that was about half an inch thick. This was sealed with sealing wax. A few days later the butter was distributed and each family took some home. Everyone that had helped make the apple butter could be reminded of a pleasant day at Grandma Furr’s whenever they tasted of the butter.

The Paltry Sum of One Dollar

last will and testament

When Elizabeth (Snyder) Trumbo died in Dayton on May 1, 1873, she had been a widow for twenty years. She had moved off the farm, into a house in Dayton where she died. Her will indicated that most of her children had been previously provided for, but she left specific bequests to four people:

To her daughter Mary Jane, wife of Isaac Green, two thousand dollars and the house in Dayton;

To her grandson Walter Trumbo, son of John Trumbo deceased, eight hundred dollars;

To her daughter-in-law Rebecca (Green) Trumbo, wife of her son Oliver, eight hundred dollars plus the residue of the estate;

To her daughter-in-law Delia, wife of her son Ahab Christopher deceased, one dollar.

As part of the duties of executor of the estate, Oliver W. Trumbo sent Delia Leith, living at Mason, Effingham County, Illinois, a one dollar bill and this receipt for her to sign –

Received Mason Ill December     th 1877 of Oliver W. Trumbo executor of Estate of Elizabeth Trumbo deceased the sum of one dollar in full of legacy bequeathed to me by the will of Elizabeth Trumbo deceased.

Please insert date when you sign the above Receipt.

The reason that I know this is because the envelope containing the unsigned receipt (and the dollar bill) was returned to the executor and appeared in the probate file along with the following note:

Mr. O. W. Trumbo.
Dear Sir
Enclosed I return your one dollar. I do not propose to sign my name to any papers of the Estate for the paltry sum of one dollar.
Yours Truly
Fidelia Leith

When I saw this file in the probate court office, in 1988, the dollar bill, crumpled and worn, was in the envelope. Unfortunately, it is no longer there.

George W. Gibson

GEORGE W. GIBSON

For three-score years George W. Gibson has made his home in LaSalle county, having come here from Ohio with his parents in 1838, and he is not only familiar with the history of the county, but has also contributed his part toward its growth and development.

Mr. Gibson was born in Marysville, Kentucky, March 22, 1826, and along the agnatic line traces his origin to Scotland. His grandfather, Robert Yates Gibson, was a Scotch army officer, and when a young man emigrated to this country and settled in Pennsylvania. In Cumberland, Pennsylvania, John Gibson, the father of George W., was born and reared. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He married Elizabeth C. Yates, like himself a native of Pennsylvania and a descendant of Scotch ancestry. Some time after their marriage they removed to Marysville, Kentucky, where they remained for two years, going thence to Licking county, Ohio, and in 1838 coming to Illinois and establishing their home in LaSalle county, where the father purchased a farm and where he and his good wife passed the rest of their lives and died, her age at death being seventy-five years, while he attained the venerable age of eighty-six. She was for many years, and up to the time of her death, a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal church. This worthy couple reared six children, as follows: Martha, wife of C. McKinley, is deceased; Maria is the widow of James Trenary; William, who died in Eldorado, Kansas, was a veteran of both the Mexican and civil wars, being colonel of the Fourth Illinois Infantry; George W., whose name graces this sketch, is also a veteran of the Mexican war; J. M. was likewise a soldier in the Mexican war; and Theodore, also a veteran of the Mexican and civil wars, was major of the Sixty-fourth Illinois Infantry, and has for years been a resident of Ottawa, Illinois.

George W. Gibson was a lad of eleven years when his parents first sought the Illinois prairies, and was reared in the vicinity of Ottawa, attending the Ottawa schools. In 1849, in company with his brother Theodore, he started westward to seek the gold fields of California; they made the trip with ox-team and were six months on the way. En route they passed large herds of buffalo and were often in terror on account of the bands of Indians along the trail. For three years he remained in the west, engaged in mining, returning to Chicago at the end of that time and thence to his home in LaSalle county. The return trip was made by way of the Isthmus of Panama and New York city. Aside from this western mining experience, Mr. Gibson’s life has been quietly devoted to agricultural pursuits. Although now seventy-three years of age, he is still active and vigorous, both physically and mentally.

Mr. Gibson was married first in 1856, to Miss Cynthia Robinson, and to them were born two children, Lewis and Clara. Lewis married Miss Flora Ditch, and they have two children, George P. and Mabel. Mrs. Cynthia Gibson died in 1861, and for his second wife Mr. Gibson married Miss Rachel Green. There were born of this marriage two children – John and Alta, who became the wife of William Miller, of Pennsylvania, and who has one child, Gertie. Mrs. Rachel Gibson died in 1883, and in 1889 Mr. Gibson was united in marriage to Mrs. Mary Ann Poole, his present companion. She was the widow of Joseph Poole, who was a native of England, and she is the mother of five children, three sons and two daughters.

While he has never been a politician in any sense of the word, Mr. Gibson has always in local affairs given his support to the men best suited for office, while in national affairs he has voted the Democratic ticket.1

George Gibson’s second wife, Rachel, was the daughter of John Green of Dayton. She is buried in the Dayton Cemetery.


  1. Biographical and Genealogical Record of La Salle County, Illinois (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), 1: 281-283.

Tangled Relationships

Family_tree

Though not royal or noble, the family trees of the early settlers of Dayton bear a certain resemblance to those of the noble family above. There was a limited number of possible spouses for the young people and, as a result, many of the marriages involved familial relationships.

Among the children of John and Barbara (Grove) Green :

David Green and wife Mary Stadden were 1st cousins once removed. Mary’s grandmother, Elizabeth Green Stadden, was John Green’s sister.

Jesse Green and wife Isabella Trumbo were 1st cousins. Isabella’s mother, Rebecca Grove Trumbo, was Barbara Grove Green’s sister

Sisters Eliza, Nancy, and Katherine Green married brothers William, Albert, and George Dunavan and when their descendants grew up, there were many cousin marriages.

Rebecca Green married Oliver Trumbo, while her brother Isaac married Oliver’s sister Mary Jane.

Oliver Trumbo was also the half 1st cousin of Jesse’s wife Isabella. Isabella’s father, Matthias Trumbo, was Oliver’s half-uncle.

Rachael married George W. Gibson, who was not related to her or any of her family.

In the later generations –

Elizabeth Dunavan married Cyrus DeBolt, her 1st cousin once removed. Barbara Grove Green, Elizabeth’s grandmother, was the sister of Emma Grove Debolt, Cyrus’s mother.

Louise Dunavan married David S. Green, her 1st cousin once removed. David’s father Isaac Green, was the brother of Louise’s grandfather, John Green.

Rachael’s son John Gibson married her brother Jesse’s granddaughter Mamie Green.

No wonder I have trouble keeping everyone straight!

Cora Watts – Artist

Cora Watts - artist

Cora Belle Dunavan was born June 20, 1879, the daughter of Samuel Dunavan and Amanda Miranda Munson. She was the granddaughter of Joseph and Nancy (Green) Dunavan and the great-granddaughter of John and Barbara (Grove) Green. Her maternal grandmother was Rachel Hall, one of the sisters captured by the Indians during the Indian Creek massacre in 1832.

She married Harry Wallace Watts on October 7, 1904. They lived and farmed near Leland, until Harry’s death in 1949.

As can be seen above, Cora lived a long and productive life, dying in Ottawa May 22, 1964. She was generous with her paintings and gave them away freely. I own several. One is a copy of a picture postcard of a Bavarian castle I visited and greatly admired, but my favorite, which hangs in my living room, is a picture of the home in Dayton where I grew up.

Frog Hunting and Fishing in the Fox River at Dayton

DAILY EVENTS
Tuesday, June 3, 1890

A sport which is becoming quite popular with Ottawa cigar-makers is frog hunting. George Keim and Morris Flynn captured several dozen of these pet animals at Dayton on Sunday.1

Frogs were not the only sport in the Fox river at Dayton. It was known for the good fishing, attracting people from a wide area. Anglers fished for common snook, redfish, trout, bass, pike, catfish of several species, walleye, and muskellunge.

Our busy little neighbor, Dayton, besides becoming famous for her horse collars, woolen goods, tile and paper, is getting to be quite a popular summer resort. The stream of visitors during the few weeks since the fishing season opened must be enormous, for on every bright day at least the banks of the river are lined with people. As a sample of the size of parties: – Some 25 couples from Streator went up in a special car on Tuesday! Already the campers have begun to put in their appearance, and it is altogether likely that from this time until fall there will be no great diminution in the number of visitors. We should think the citizens would turn this flood of tourists to their advantage; and they certainly could make themselves vastly popular with the people of the Fox River Valley by lending their aid in the suppression of illegal seining in their waters.2

In 1884 a muskellunge was caught at Dayton with a hook and line, that weighed over 32 lbs.! It was over four feet long, and 9 inches across the body.

Fishing is all the rage here now, and a large number of game fish have been caught and carried away during the past two weeks. Good fishermen have caught all the way from 25 to 100 and over of black bass, ranging from one pound to five and six pounds in weight. The river seemed to be full of them and sportsmen are having a jolly time.3

In 1891 it was reported that over 1000 fish were caught at Dayton in a single day.


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, 7 Jun 1890, p. 3, col. 2
  2. Ottawa Free Trader, 27 May 1882, p. 6, col. 1
  3. Ottawa Free Trader, May 12, 1888, p. 8, col. 2

A Father’s Consent

Dunavan, G - Green, K - marriage consent

Dayton Ill June 14th 1837
J. Cloud Esqr
            Sir I have given my Consent For you to Lisen [license] George M. Dunavan & my Daughter Katharine to be joind in motrimony
John Green

Since Katharine Green was only 15 when she married George Dunavan, her father sent this note of consent to Joseph Cloud, county clerk. The following day Katharine and George were married.

Dunavan, G - Green, K - marriage certificate

State of Illinois
La Salle County
This may certify that the rites of matrimony were this day solemnized between Geo. M. Dunavan and Katharine Green, both of said county, by me the Subscriber, One of the acting Justices of the Peace in and for the county aforesaid.
Witness my hand & Seal this 15th day of June A D 1837.
Geo W Howe, JP

WOOL! WOOL!

ad for Dayton Woolen mill

This ad for the Dayton Woolen Factory appeared in the Ottawa Free Trader on April 26, 1844. Jesse and David Green, the proprietors, advertised for people to bring their wool to be processed.

Customers could trade their wool on the spot for finished product, thereby not having to make a second trip to pick up their cloth when finished, or they could have their wool worked on shares, where the merchant took a share of the wool as his charge for making the cloth.

The customer also had a larger choice when choosing the finished material. He could also choose to only have the wool carded and/or spun, so that it could be spun or woven at home.

For cloth woven at home, it could be finished at the factory. Fulling (the scouring and thickening of the cloth), shrink-proofing, dyeing, and pressing — all would be done in a workman-like manner.

A Spring Day in 1881

 

house under construction

Rural Happenings

Dayton, April 21. – Good bye, old snow, good bye. Fox river has been and is at present on the “boom.” It commenced rising last Saturday and was so high by Monday morning the mills were unable to run on account of the back water. They are still unable to run. Sunday afternoon the water was up to the top of the old pier and towards evening it was carried off.

Martin Wilkie is putting an addition to his dwelling house on Canal street, at present occupied by Geo. W. Green. Mr. Wilkie is one of our most enterprising citizens and is assisting materially in improving the town.

H. B. Williams has the foundations commenced for two new tenant houses. He received three car loads of lumber from Chicago this week for his tenant houses. Mr. W. is another of our best citizens and a believer in progression.

Miss Sadie Holton, of Braidwood, Ill., is visiting at Geo W. Green’s.

Mr. John Channel and family, of St. Louis, are visiting at Geo. W. Makinson’s. John was formerly one of the boys of Dayton and it seems like old times to have him with us again.

Jackson Channel, of Marseilles, who had his arm badly injured at that place a few weeks ago, made Dayton a short visit last Wednesday.

H. B. George, Esq., of Leland, gave Dayton a short call one day this week.

The Literary Society and Musical Union have adjourned until next fall.

The Musical Union are preparing an interesting drama entitled, “The Lost Children,” which will be given at the school house Saturday evening, April 30. Admission 10 cts. This drama is full of interest and excitement and the minstrel scene is quite funny. The play opens with a fine prelude followed by an interesting chorus. Then the plot of the play commences. A small company of soldiers have been well drilled by Capt. Howard and will form a scene with their military maneuvres, army songs, &c. A band of minstrels is also introduced in the play with their instruments, darky songs, jokes and scenes, the whole forming a pleasant evening’s entertainment. You should not miss hearing it; besides this is the closing entertainment for the season of the Musical Union, and it should be well attended.

The tile factory are about ready to commence operations for the summer. They will have tile for sale again in a few weeks.

OCCASIONAL1


  1. The Ottawa Free Trader, April 23, 1881, p. 10, col. 1

100 Years Ago Today

Grade-School-Graduate

ANNOUNCE DATES FOR GRADUATIONS OF COUNTRY SCHOOLS
Rural Schools of the Entire County are to Unite for Exercises
Each Grade to be Represented in Programs

Dates for holding graduation exercises thruout the county has been set by County Superintendent of Schools W. R. Foster. It has been arranged this year to have several of the schools unite in holding their commencements. Each grade of each school is to furnish at least one number for the programs which will precede the presentation of diplomas.

Arrangements have also been made for charging 15 cents admission for the exercises this year instead of the ten cent charge of previous years. Five cents of this money will be turned into a fund to purchase stereographs for the rooms and the remaining ten cent fee for a book fund.

The complete list of dates for the holding of exercises and the committee of teachers in charge of each community unit follow:
. . .
Dayton, June 10. – Jennie Fraine, Margaret Durkee, Bessie Eaton1

Final exams for the seventh and eighth grades of the rural schools were held on May 7th and 8th. About 800 students participated. The first commencement was held at Harding on May 18th, and graduation exercises were held almost  every night until June 15th, including those in Dayton on June 10.


  1. The Ottawa Free Trader, May 6, 1920, p. 4, cols 2-3