Maria Stadden Hollenbeck

Maria was the fifth child and third daughter of William Stadden and Judah Daniels. There is some uncertainty as to the year of her birth. Her tombstone says that she died November 2, 1874, at age 32 years, 7 months and 10 days, which implies a calculated birth date of March 23, 1842. 

From the censuses, we get the following implied birth years:
1850 census: born about 1839
1860 census: born about 1841
1870 census: born about 1845
(She appears to have aged more slowly the older she got.)

However, when her father died in 1848 his younger children had to have a guardian appointed for them as they inherited from their father. In the guardianship file the ages of all the children are given. “Mariah Stadden age 10 on 22nd March 1849”, therefore she was born March 22, 1839.

She lived with her widowed mother until, at age 32, she married Chauncey Hollenbeck, November 6, 1871.

Chauncey was born in New York in December of 1840 and grew up on a farm in Will county, near Naperville, Illinois. In August 1861 he enlisted in Company I of the 15th Illinois Cavalry in Aurora, Illinois. He was mustered out in August 1864, Company A, 36th Illinois Infantry. He probably returned to the northern Illinois area, although he has not been located in the 1870 census. However, he was certainly in the area in November 1871, when he and Maria were married

Unfortunately their married life was cut short when Maria died on November 2, 1874 at age 35. She is buried in the Dayton cemetery, near her parents and other members of the Stadden family.

Chauncey moved west to a farm in Franklin County, Nebraska. He married again, September 4, 1878, to Katie Perrine.  They had four children. By 1920 they had moved from the farm into town in Franklin, Nebraska, where Chauncey died April 12, 1925.


Another Immigrant from England to Dayton

Peter W. Ainsley was born November 11, 1839, in England. He arrived in the United States in October of 1857, at the age of 17. In 1870 he appears in East Liverpool, Columbiana County, Ohio, working in a pottery. The pottery industry was well established in West Liverpool and had attracted many English workers. It is possible that Peter went there because he knew someone working there.

In 1869 he met and married Mary Graften. She was born in England in March 1850, the daughter of James and Mary Graften. Peter and Mary’s first child, James, was born in 1870.

By 1874 the family had moved to Jefferson County, Ohio, where Peter applied for citizenship at the probate court. He was accompanied by Joseph Robertson, who attested to his character and his  residence in Ohio. Peter then renounced his allegiance to Queen Victoria and became a citizen of the United States.













The family moved to Illinois by 1884 and Peter was employed in Dayton as a brick burner in 1900. He probably worked for the Chicago and Dayton Brick Company, newly established in the old woolen  mill building.

Peter and Mary had four children –

  1. James Henry Ainsley was born July 7, 1870, in East Liverpool, Ohio; he died September 16, 1946, in Ottawa, Illinois. He was married June 24, 1896, in La Salle County, to Jane “Jennie” Doyle. She was born in March 1872 in Pennsylvania and died May 26, 1953 in Ottawa.

2. Alice Ainsley was born about 1873 in Ohio; she died March 18, 1895, in Dayton and is buried in the Millington-Newark Cemetery in Millington, Illinois.

3. William Ainsley was born about 1876 in Ohio; he died July 26, 1894, in Dayton and is also buried in Millington.

4. Albert Joseph Ainsley was born February 7, 1884, in Illinois; he died September 19, 1937. On April 19, 1911, in La Salle County,  he was married to Helen Caroline Jacobs. She was born February 7, 1887, in Jerauld County, South Dakota and died August 31, 1976, in Ottawa.

Peter’s wife, Mary, died in 1908 and was buried in St. Columba Cemetery in Ottawa. Peter died in Dayton October 12, 1913 and was also buried in St. Columba Cemetery. On his death certificate, his occupation was listed as kiln-burner and janitor, as he had been janitor for the local school in his later years.

Today is the 137th Anniversary of Barbara Grove Green’s Death – or is it?

This post started out to be a celebration of  Barbara Green’s death on May 3, 137 years ago today. Her death date is clear on her tombstone and has been generally accepted. However, when I came to include the newspaper accounts of her death (see below), I found a different story.  On May 8th, 1886 (which was a Saturday) the Free Trader item said that she died on Wednesday (therefore the  5th of the month).

Also, on May 22, 1886, the Free Trader published a column of Dayton news which stated that she died on May 5th. The writer, known as Occasional, clearly knew her well. I suspect he was her son Jesse.

It just proves that you can’t believe everything you read, even (or especially) when it is carved in stone.

Barbara Grove Green (1792-1886)










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

From Dayton
Barbara Grove Green

Died May 5th, 1886, at the age of ninety three years, five and a half months. She had been confined to bed for about two months, and gradually and gladly passed away like an infant going to sleep. It was her desire to cast off this earthly tabernacle and be present with her Lord.

She retained her faculties to the last, with the exception of her sight, of which she had been deprived for the past seven or eight years. She was never heard to murmur or complain of her misfortune, but on the contrary seemed cheerful and happy.

She was born in Shenandoah county, Virginia, November 15th, 1792. At the age of thirteen she, with her parents, removed to Licking county, Ohio, being in the year 1805, and lived there until the fall of 1829, when she and her companion, John Green and family, removed to this county. A few incidents of their journey will show the hardships and privations of those early pioneer days. We quote her own words from statements made by her to one of her grand daughters, who has recorded them:

“We started from Licking county, Ohio, on the first of November, 1829, for the state of Illinois. There were 24 in the company. Father had gone to Illinois the September before we started and bought land. He and three other men rode on horseback around by Cleveland and along the lakes. When they reached Chicago, where there were only two families besides the garrison, father bought some provisions and in paying for them pulled out quite a roll of bills. That night his brother, Wm. Green, dreamed there were robbers coming and woke the others up, but they refused to start out in the night just for a dream, and he went to sleep again only to dream the same thing again, and when he had dreamed it three times he told them they could stay there if they wanted to, he was going to leave; so they all started and soon after they saw three men following for the purpose of stealing they [sic] money.

“When we reached the ‘Wilderness,’ in Indiana, a man who lived on the edge of the woods told us it was impossible to go on, as the mud was so deep, unless we could travel on the wagons already stuck in the mud; but if we were foolish enough to try it, we must leave ‘those two smart little boys’ (Jesse and David), for we would surely freeze to death. But we did go on and the men cut a new road through the woods for sixty miles, about ten miles a day.

“Then, when we got to Cicero river, we had to take the wagons over with bed cords. One wagon, loaded with mill irons and blacksmith tools, was so heavy it tipped over, and we lost a good many things.

“Then the next place we came to was Sugar creek, and it was so high we had to pull the wagons over with ropes again and cut trees for us to walk on. Then there was a swamp next to the creek that the men had to carry the women over on their backs. Between Iroquois and Nettle creek there were five days the horses had nothing to eat, as the prairie was burnt, and they became so weak they got stuck in a ravine and could hardly pull the empty carriage out.

“One evening we had only bread and tea for supper, but that night father came back with corn and beef that he had obtained at Holderman’s Grove, and we were the happiest people you ever saw. We spent the next night at the Grove and the next day home, at what is known as William Dunavan’s farm.”

She lived in the town of Rutland something over a year when she removed to Dayton, being at this place at the time of the Black Hawk war in 1832. Of this war she says: “On the 16th of May, 1832, the girls and I were at the spring, near where the feeder bridge now stands, when Eliza came down on horseback and told us that the Indians were coming, and we would have to go to Ottawa immediately. Then we went to a place a couple of miles below Ottawa and stayed there all night, and the third day returned 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 as it did, they hung feather beds all around. There were about sixty people here at the time, and we were so crowded that they had to sleep on tables, under the beds and all over the house.”

Mr. Green had intended to remain in his improvised fort during the war, but at about twelve o’clock at night, hearing of the massacre on Indian creek, and fearing there might be too many Indians, all those in the fort went to Ottawa. “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. The next day a company of soldiers from the southern part of the state passed through Ottawa on the way up the river.”

Grandma Green bore all the hardships and privations incident to the settlement of two new countries and lived to see the development of this vast prairie country far, very far beyond her anticipations. When she came here she supposed that in time she might see the country settled around the skirts of timber, but never in her early days did she anticipate seeing the prairies settled up.


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, May 8, 1886, p. 8, col. 3.
  2. Ottawa Free Trader, May 22, 1886, p. 5, col. 2

A Double Birthday Remembrance

Today, April 26, is the birthday anniversary of two members of the Green family; Benjamin, born 1855, and his granddaughter Nancy, born 1816.

Benjamin is the progenitor of the Dayton branch of the Green family. He was born in New Jersey in 1755. During the Revolutionary War, he served in the Virginia militia from Loudoun County on three separate occasions. He entered the service about the last of June 1777 as a volunteer and marched to a place then called Bellhaven in the State of Virginia , now Alexandria in the District of Columbia and left the service about the last of August at the expiration of his two months service and returned home.

In September 1778 he was drafted into the service and served two months at Leesburg in Virginia guarding prisoners and again in the month of August 1781 he was drafted into the service and marched to the siege of Cornwallis, was at the taking of Cornwallis, and marched as a guard to prisoners to Nolens ferry on the Potomac river. There he was discharged in October 1781, having served two months in his last tour.

After the war he moved his family, first to western Maryland and then to Ohio. He was in Ohio by 1799, settling near Marietta for a year and then moving up to settle on the Licking river, near what is now Newark, Ohio. It was from this area that his son John in 1829 organized the expedition to Illinois that resulted in the settlement of Dayton. Benjamin’s wife, Catherine, died in 1821 and Benjamin moved to Moscow, Licking County, to live with his son Daniel. Benjamin remarried in 1823 to Mrs. Martha (Rees) Lewis. He died in 1833, at age 78. Both he and Catherine are buried in the Beard-Green Cemetery in the Dawes Arboretum near Newark, Ohio.

Nancy was born in 1816 in Ohio, the daughter of Benjamin’s son John and his wife, Barbara Grove. She was 13 when John brought his family to La Salle County, Illinois in 1829. She married Joseph Albert Dunavan on January 26, 1834, and they raised a family of twelve, only two of whom died as children. In 1889 they left Illinois to live in Missouri, near some of their children. Joseph died in 1892 and Nancy in 1905. They are both buried in the Highland Cemetery in Hamilton, Missouri.

A search for Nancy Green on this web site will turn up much more information.


Maud V. Green, Without Whom This Web Site Would Not Exist

This is my great-aunt, Maud Virginia Green. She was born in Dayton September 4, 1866, the daughter of Isaac and Mary Jane (Trumbo) Green. She went to the Dayton school, where she earned high marks in grammar and history. As you can see, she was never absent or tardy, but her deportment evidently needed improving. Ada Green, her teacher, was her first cousin.

She lived at home with her grandparents, John and Barbara Green, her parents, Isaac and Jennie (Mary Jane was called Jennie) and her younger brothers and sisters, Lyle, Ralph, Grace, and Barbara.

As the youngest son, Isaac remained at home, working the family farm with his father. Isaac married Jennie September 6, 1865 and Maud was born a year later.  She was eight when her grandfather died and 19 when her grandmother died. She heard many stories of the early days of Dayton’s settlement from her grandmother.  I have a handwritten sheet on which she wrote down Barbara’s recollections of the Black Hawk war. Maud was interested in Dayton’s history from an early age, as so much of it was the history of her own family. It is because she collected so much information on Dayton’s early days that this web site exists. She was also related to most of the families in Dayton and Rutland. I can remember drawing family charts for her on the back of rolls of wallpaper. She passed her interest and information on early Dayton to other family members and years later i was able to draw on all this collected information.

In 1904 her father died and her brother, Lyle, took over the farm. Maud remained at home, keeping house for her mother and brother. When Lyle married in 1908, Maud and her mother moved to Ottawa. After her mother’s death, Maud returned to Dayton to keep house for her brother. After Lyle’s death, Ralph and his family moved to the family home and Maud continued to live there until her death in 1952.

So I knew her for the first thirteen years of my life, saw her nearly every day, and have many memories of her. That’s why this web site exists.

Kirby Todd and Folk Valley

In 1947 Kirby Todd became the music teacher for the rural schools of La Salle County. I was attending the Dayton school when he first took up his post, succeeding Miss Ida Chamberlain. He taught us folk songs and square dancing and was immediately very popular.

He was the founding president of Folk Valley, a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation of the art of square dancing and other folk arts. Folk Valley was situated on land near the Illinois river east of Marseilles. The idea of Folk Valley came to him when he was teaching the school children in Grand Ridge. The principal and several adults asked him to teach adult square dancing. He began teaching square dance classes every fall and winter.

He was an assistant professor of health and physical education at Illinois State University from 1964 to 1972 and served as sponsor and director of two groups that provided recreational activities for students –  Shufflin’ Shoes and the Lloyd Shaw Dancers. He retired in 1989 and died September 21, 1998, at the age of 88.

My Name Is Not Judith

If you search for Judah Daniels, who married William Stadden in Ohio on January 25, 1827, you will find over one hundred trees on Ancestry. I didn’t look at every one, but it appears that about half have recorded her first name as “Judith”, as opposed to the half who call her “Judah”. As there seems to be some doubt as to the spelling, let’s ask the lady herself.

The document shown above is from the probate file of her husband, William Stadden. The document was written by someone other than Judah herself, as shown by the difference in handwriting. Her name was initially written as “Judith” (even the people who knew her got it wrong a lot) but she obviously insisted that it be corrected and she then clearly signed her name, “Judah”.

Deaths Recorded in the Isaac Green Bible

Frank B. Green died
in Central City Colorado
January 7th 1881 aged
13 years 4 months and 1 day

Elizabeth Green died
in Denver Colorado at
Sister Rachels, August
30th 1892 at 12:30 A. M.
aged 89 years, 1 month,
and 10 days

Isaac Green died
Aug. 4th 1850 in
Georgetown California
aged 46 y. 6 m. 25 days

George M. Dunnavan
died Oct. 2d 1894 in
Chicago Illinois, aged
79 yrs. 6 m. 23 days

Mother, Catherine Green
Dunnavan, died
in Chicago, Illinois
May 27 A D 1899
aged 77 years, 2 months
and 19 days
gr grand daughter of Ben. Green

Louisa Jane Green wife
of David S. Green, Died
May 28 A. D. 1906 aged
64 years 6 months and
9 days, in Denver
City, Colorado
b Nov. 19, 1841, LaSalle Co, Illinois
She was a gr. granddaughter of Benj. Green

David Samuel Green
died in Denver Colo
Aug 26 1912, aged
73 yrs 8 months 3 days

See the previous posts listing the births and marriages pages from this bible.

The births and marriages from the Isaac Green Bible are also available.

Marriages Recorded in the Isaac Green Bible

Isaac Green & Elizabeth
Brown were married in
Licking County Ohio January
Third 1828.

George Dunnavan & Katie
Green were married in
LaSalle County, Illinois
June 15th 1837.

David S. Green & Louisa J. Dunnavan
were married in LaSalle
County Illinois March 8th, 1866.

Carl J. Green and
Edith Butcher wer
married in Denver
Colorado July 7th 1892

Carl J. Green and
Catherine Almira
Wolcott wer married
August 29 – 1900

David S. Green is the son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Brown) Green’

Louisa J. Dunnavan is the daughter of George andKatie (Green) Dunnavan

Carl J. Green is the son of David and Louisa (Dunnavan) Green

The births and deaths from the Isaac Green bible are also available.

Births Recorded in the Isaac Green Bible

Isaac Green was born
in Licking County Ohio
January 10th 1804

Elizabeth Brown was born
in Matison County Kentucky
July 20th 1803

George M. Dunnavan was
born in Licking County Ohio
March 9th 1815

Catherine Green was born
in Licking County Ohio
March 8th 1822.

David S. Green was born
in Licking County Ohio
November 23d 1838.

Louisa J. Dunnavan was
born in LaSalle County Illinois
November 19th 1841.

Frank B. Son of
D. S. & L. J. Green, was born
Sept. 6th 1867, in Denver
City Colorado Territory

Arthur S. Son of D. S.
and L. J. Green was born
January 3d A.D. 1870 in
Terre Haute Indiana.

Carl J. Green Son
of D. S. and L. J. Green
was born May 7th
A. D. 1872 in Green
City Colorado Territory

Walter Lee Son of D. S. and
L. J. Green was born January
28th A. D. 1875 in Nevada,
Colorado Territory.

David and Louisa were first cousins once removed, as her grandfather, John Green, and his father, Isaac Green, were brothers, sons of Benjamin Green.

The marriages and deaths from the Isaac Green Bible are also available.

A Double Wedding

Andrew Jackson Brown

Hannah Loretta Brown










Andrew Jackson and Hannah Loretta were the children of Sylvester Brown and Catherine Altenburg. They grew up on a farm in Dayton township. Andrew was one of the thousands of young men who were drawn to California by the lure of gold. While there he became friends with a young man about his age named William Martin.

The two spent several years in panning for gold, but after several years of roughing it, they decided they had enough gold and would like to go home. There was no way of transporting their gold in those days except carrying it on their persons, so they had money belts made, with pockets for the gold dust and nuggets. They each carried what was then considered a small fortune with them.

Andrew pursuaded his friend to come home with him to Illinois and there William met Andrew’s sister, Loretta. The two young men made quite a splash with their money and Andrew was as interested in Emma Dunavan as William was in Loretta. They married in a double wedding ceremony on March 2, 1865, and all went to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon.

Saved From Amputation

Having a good doctor in the early days was essential, as this excerpt from Jesse Green’s memoir shows:

Our first physician in Dayton, was a German, whose name I have forgotten, next was Allen H. Howland, Harmon Hurlbut and Peter Schemerhorn, Dr. Howland was also an excellent surgeon whom father employed, when he had his arm smashed from the hand to above his elbow, in cutting the ice from a water wheel, other Physicians wanted to amputate his arm, above the elbow but father would not consent to this, and sent for Dr. Howland, notwithstanding they had just passed through a very bitter campaign, in which Wm. Stadden was the regularly nominated candidate for the state Senate and Dr. Howland ran against him as an independent candidate and was defeated. When he called to see father and examined his wound, father made this proposition to him, “if he would save his life and his arm, he would give him five hundred dollars,” and the Dr. said he could do it, and took the case and did do it, and got his five hundred dollars.


A little information about the good doctor:

Dr. Allen H. Howland was born in 1796 in Saratoga County, New York. In 1823 he was one of the organizing physicians of the Wayne County, NY, Medical Society. In 1826 he married Catherine Reed in Canandaigua, New York. By 1838 he had moved to La Salle County , living in Ottawa.

In 1838 Allen H. Howland ran as an independent against William Stadden (who was running for re-election) in the race for state senator for the counties of La Salle, Kane, Iroquois & Livingston. Stadden, a long-time friend and family connection of John Green’s,  won with a sizeable margin.

In 1848, Howland was elected president of the Ottawa Medico Chirurgical Society. A prominent physician in Ottawa for nearly a third of a century, he died in 1866.

The Rest of the Story

This is the follow-up to last week’s story, which may be seen here[Note that George Benoit’s name was spelled Bennett in the initial articles on this event.]

Against Mary McWilliams and George Bennett for Attempted Murder

From Wednesday’s Daily
The special grand jury summoned to investigate the McWilliams affair began their labors on the case at 9 o’clock this morning and by noon were done and returned indictments against Mary McWilliams and Geo. Bennett, charging them with an assault with intent to commit murder by poisoning. The charges were conclusive and the jury completed its work in short order. Neither of the defendants was able to give bail and they now occupy quarters in the county jail. It is thought that they will enter a plea to the charges and in less than a week they will be doing time in Joliet.1

Bennett and Mrs. McWilliams Sent to Joliet Prison Yesterday

George Bennett and Mrs. Mary McWilliams were given a long season by Judge Blanchard yesterday afternoon in which to meditate upon the consequences of a double crime, that of unfaithfulness and attempted murder. They were brought before the court by the sheriff’s officials to plead to the indictments found against them on the previous day, and, as both had made confessions, she that she had placed the poison in her husband’s tea at Bennett’s suggestion, and Bennett that he had purchased the poison and given it to her for the purpose of putting McWilliams out of the way, they expressed no desire to stand trial, but threw themselves upon the mercy of the court by pleading guilty.

Judge Blanchard said that he considered Bennett the plotter and real culprit, as he had alienated the affections of the wife, while having a family of his own, and then sought to wholly possess the woman by making her the executioner of her husband. On this account he gave Bennett the full limit of the law, fourteen years in Joliet, but gave Mrs. McWilliams seven years because of the fact that she had been more a dupe and a tool than a willing criminal. Both took their sentences hard, especially the woman. Their intended victim, the husband, John McWilliams, has fully recovered, and is now as well as ever.2

She Admits That She Placed the Poison in the Tea

From Sunday’s Daily
Mrs. John McWilliams, wife of the man who all but expired from Strychnine poisoning Friday noon, confessed at the county jail last evening that she placed the deadly drug in her husband’s tea for the purpose of putting him out of the way. Rumors to the effect that McWilliams had poisoned himself with “Rough on Rats” are without foundation, for, though he may have made such a statement in his delirium, the fact is that the poison was strychnine. Mrs. McWilliams is closely confined in jail, while her husband, who is still very weak, is in the county asylum, on account of the lack of a city hospital.3

George Benoit Admits That He Figured in the Poisoning

He Says That the Whole Affair Was Arranged Weeks Ago by Mrs. McWilliams and Himself and She Administered the Dose

From Monday’s Daily
But little has been said of the McWilliams affair, which occurred on Friday last, up to the present time, owing to the fact that George Benoit, one of the accessories to the crime, was not captured until last night. As soon as he heard that he was wanted he made his escape from Dayton and went to La Salle, where he remained with his sister-in-law. As stated in yesterday’s paper, Mrs. McWilliams made a confession of the whole affair on Saturday, and Sheriff Taylor lost no time in hunting up the abode of Benoit. He was captured at La Salle and brought to Ottawa this morning and placed in the county jail. This afternoon he was brought before State’s Attorney Blake and told the whole story. He said that Mrs. McWilliams made the proposition to him to do away with her husband so that they might get married, and on Saturday, Oct. 22, he purchased the strychnine in this city. Benoit took the matter very cooly. He is a man of family, and according to his own statement intended to get a divorce from his present wife after McWilliams was out of the way and marry his wife.

McWilliams has fully recovered from the effects of the poison and on Saturday did not seem desirous of prosecuting the matter. But the authorities told him it was no longer in his hands and that there would be a rigid prosecution. The case will come up at the January term of the court.4

  1. The Ottawa Free trader, November 5, 1892, p. 1, col. 2
  2. The Ottawa Free trader, November 5, 1892, p. 1, col. 3
  3. The Ottawa Free trader, November 5, 1892, p. 3, col. 2
  4. The Ottawa Free trader, November 5, 1892, p. 7, col. 2

A Halloween Horror Story

John McWilliams Lying at the Point of Death

He Alleges That His Wife Prepared the Dose in Hopes of Putting Him Out of the Way – He Will Recover and Will Prosecute the Matter

From Friday’s Daily:
One of the most fiendish plots that we have been compelled to chronicle for many a day occurred in this city at noon today. For several days past John McWilliams, a laborer, whose home is in Dayton has been employed on our streets by the Rockford Construction Company. He worked at the Rock Island depot unloading the brick from the cars to the wagons. As stated before, his home is in Dayton, to which place he returned every evening. He carried his dinner with him in the morning and at noon he ate it at the flagman’s house on Columbus street. After quitting work this noon, he went to this little house, as usual, and proceeded to eat his dinner. He carried his tea in a small can, and after drinking probably a half a pint of it, he remarked to some of the men who were with him that the tea had a queer taste and he threw the balance of it away. He soon became sick and was seized with cramps and then became hysterical. Dr. Dyer was sent for and upon examination found that the unfortunate man had drank strychnine in his tea and administered an emetic.

McWilliams was conscious all the time and when questioned by a representative of this paper as to the manner in which the poison was placed in his tea, he had no hesitation in saying that it was the work of his wife and that she was undoubtedly prompted to do so by a married man, who resides in Dayton and with whom she has been very intimate of late. The whole circumstances tended to show that the plot was perpetrated with homicidal intentions and the poisoned man weak as he was stated that it was the work of no one save his wife and her admirer. The matter was reported to State’s Attorney Blake, who immediately issued a warrant for their arrest and the same was placed in the sheriff’s hands for service. At 3 o’clock McWilliams was resting quietly and Sr. Dyer’s opinion is that he will recover. The plot is one that should not go unrecognized by the authorities and the perpetrators should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.1

[Stay tuned. Next week we will see the follow-up to this attempted murder.]

  1. The Ottawa Free Trader, October 29, 1892, p. 5, col. 4

Solomon Channel

Solomon Channel death record

. . . Solomon Channel deceased, left him surviving no widow but left him surviving Joseph R. Channel, whose place of residence if living is unknown, his son and Mary C. Belk, and Sarah Channel, residing in South Ottawa, Illinois, and Melvina P. Mitchell residing at Centralia, Ill, his daughters and Maggie Corsbie only child of Maggie Corsbie a deceased daughter of said Testator residing in Montague, Texas, Jackson Channel a son residing in Dayton Illinois and John W. Channel, this administrator, his only children and heirs at law1

Solomon Channel, and wife, Betsy Wamsley, from Ohio in 1832, settled on N. W. 1/4 S. 12, T. 33, R. 4; sold to A. D. Butterfield, and returned to Ohio, came back to Illinois in 1840 [actually 1850], and died 1875; his wife died before him. He has had seven children. Joseph, now in Iowa; Mary married a Mr. Bell in Adams; Malvina; Alva, is dead; Sarah, John, and Jackson, are single.2

Solomon Channel, b 5 July 1800; d 5 March 18753
Betsy Channel, b 1811, d 27 October 18653
Alva Sea Channel, b 1833, d 15 August 18543
Samuel A. Channel, b 1850, d 28 August 18543

John W. Channel, b 1849, has been covered elsewhere on this site; see his biography and his cemetery record.

See this well-sourced Ancestry tree for more information on the children.

  1. Solomon Channel probate file, 1876, box C, file 173, La Salle County Genealogy Guild, 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa, Illinois
  2. Elmer Baldwin, History of La Salle County, Illinois (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1877), p. 283.
  3. FindAGrave entries, Daniels Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois.


A Rough Spot in a Marriage – and an Unexpected Ending

On September 29, 1881, Alice Virginia Furr married Edward Joseph Ward in Dayton. She was the daughter of Squire and Mary (Bruner) Furr. He was the son of Fenton and Mary (?) Ward. Although he lists his mother’s name as Mary Clemens in this marriage application, the 1842 La Salle County marriage of Fenting [sic] Ward lists his wife’s name as Mary Cofield. Further investigation is needed on this.

The marriage was performed in Ottawa by Charles F. W. O’Neill, Catholic Priest.

They had three children:

Mary Elizabeth, born April 28, 1883, in Dayton township; married Robert J. W. Briggs September 12, 1905, in Ottawa, Illinois; died September 24, 1948.

William Albert Ward, born April 25, 1885, in Dayton township; died August 4th, 1967, in Warm Springs, Montana. He never married.

Carrie E., born 6 May 1887, in Dayton township; married Oakley Wright Esmond December 23, 1908, in Dayton; died February 1981 in Ottawa.

After 12 years and four children, the marriage was in trouble, and in January 1893 Alice sued for divorce, as reported by the Free Trader –

Mrs. Alice V. Ward’s Case to be Tried Tomorrow Morning

The somewhat sensational divorce case of Mrs. Alice V. Ward, of Dayton, four miles northeast of Ottawa, against her husband, Edward J. Ward, will be placed on trial before Judge Blanchard and a jury at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Mrs. Ward, who is the daughter of the late Justice Furr, alleges that she has been a true and dutiful wife to her husband, but that she is no longer able to bear his name because of his drunkenness and general worthlessness.1

But the next day we find the following:

The Ward divorce case, from Dayton, was not placed on trial this morning, as the defendant, Ward, withdrew his contest and allowed his wife to secure her divorce by default. Mayo & Widmer, attys.2

In 1893, divorce was available only for a very limited number of causes. Many divorces that told of cruelty or bad behavior could have been an agreement between two people who wanted to end the marriage, but had no legal grounds for divorce. The fact that Mr. Ward did not contest the action suggests that he was a willing partner to the divorce.

The divorce does appear to be amicable, as Edward and three of the children – Mary, William, and Carrie – are found in 1900, living with Alice’s mother and brothers. Alice has not been located in 1900. In 1910 both Alice and Edward are listed as divorced. In 1920 Edward claims to be a widower.

But that is not the end of the story. In 1921 the following appeared in The Free Trader:


Miss Alice Ward and E. J. Ward, both of Dayton, were quietly married Saturday at high noon at the home of Rev. and Mrs. J. L. Vonckx at his home in this city.3

I don’t know if this time was happier. I hope so.

Note that this time they were married by a Protestant minister.

Edward died in Dayton on December 26, 1931. Alice died in Ottawa on June 24, 1935, at her daughter’s home. Both are buried in the Dayton Cemetery.

  1. The Ottawa Free Trader, 28 Jan 1893, p7, col 1
  2. ibid, 28 Jan 1893, p5, col 2
  3. ibid, 10 Oct 1921, p. 3, col. 4

Report from the adventurers

One of the best parts of having a public website is hearing from strangers who have landed here via Google. Recently, I got an email from someone who had found two documents in her deceased father’s estate that meant nothing to her or her family. She did not know why he had them, but she read them, got interested, and Googled the people mentioned. She sent me copies of the items – they are typed transcriptions of 2 letters from Jesse Green, on the trail to California in 1849, to his brother David at home in Dayton. These are not the original letters and why and where the transcripts were made is unknown. It is possible neither letter ever reached Dayton, as the family treasured the letters from Jesse and preserved them carefully, but neither of these two new letters appear in the family collection. Here is the first, written on the way to California. (The map is one I made for a program for the Dayton Cemetery Association.)


Ham Iowa
Sept 6 1849                                  10 [cents postage]
Mr. David Green
La Salle County

25 Miles East of South Pass
June 28th 1849

Dear Brother – Wife & All
Here we are within 25 miles of the S. P. and have met with an express for the States and write a few lines whilst our train is going on. We have reached this point without any difficulty. All well with the exception of diarhea. I have had it badly but am perfectly over it. Wm. (or Mr.) Goodrich & Wiley are complaining some at this time of the same complaint.

We divided our Company about two weeks since on account of the scarcity of grass for so large a train. We have ten of the wagons of the original Company together now. We find grass our only hindrance but have kept our cattle in good condition thus far and hope we have passed over the greatest scarcity. We have gained some on the crowd ahead of us – the first Ox teams are from 3 to 4 days ahead of us and number about 500 and probably 1000 mule teams but what the large number behind us are to do for feed the lord only knows, for 3 or 4 days past we have seen large numbers of oxen dead, that was killed by the sabulous or alkaline water. We have been very cautious about keeping our cattle from those places and have not lost any since we started. Our wagons are standing it well and nothing to complain of, but we are getting along much better that could possible be expected. We had been calculating to celebrate the 4th on South Pass but will pass by before that time and of course will not stop in this crowd. There is frequently 200 wagons in sight of the same encampment. Health generally on the route good – no cholera nor any fatal sickness. We have not heard from home since we left. If you have not already written us at San Francisco do so immediately as it is the only place we can get them. I hope you have escaped the cholera and all are well. I have not time to write more, be not uneasy if you hear of great suffering on the route as I think we are safe. O that I could hear from you all and especially Byron.
As ever in haste
Jesse Green1

Note that, although the letter was written when the company was within 25 miles of South Pass, the letter was actually mailed from Iowa. The emigrants would take every opportunity to give a letter to someone headed east, for them to mail when they reached a post office.

  1. From a typed transcription of the letter, found in the estate of G. Stanley Smith.

An Early Dayton Wedding, but just WHEN did it take place?

MARRIED – On the 4th of March last, at Dayton, Illinois, by W. L. Dunavan, Esq. Mr. William Lewis to Miss Eliza Ann D. Holdman, all of this county.

The above announcement appeared in the Free Trader on April 24, 1841. The date given for the marriage is more than a month previous, but perhaps the word didn’t reach the newspaper in a timely fashion.

However, the actual request for a marriage license was filed on April 3rd, 1841 in the county clerk’s office, as shown below. The newspaper, apparently, was off by a month.

To make matters worse, Wm. L. Dunavan, Justice of the Peace who performed the ceremony, says that he married them on May 4th. However, he recorded the said marriage on April 17th, 1841.

Both documents agree that the marriage was performed on the 4th day of the month. They just can’t agree on which month – the newspaper says March and the JP says May. In fact, based on the date of application (April 3) and the date of registration of the JP’s return (April 17), the marriage must have been performed on April 4, 1841.

MORAL: Be careful: any record can have errors. 

  1. The Illinois Free Trader, April 24, 1841, p 3, col 3

Another Dayton Wedding


Society’s Doings

Miss May Trumbo, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. P. Trumbo, of Dayton, and Mr. Edgar B. Bradford, second son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Bradford, of Ottawa, were married at the elegant home of the bride’s parents in the town of Dayton, at eight o’clock on Wednesday evening, Rev. Gilbert Frederick officiating.

The spacious parlors were tastefully and handsomely decorated with cut flowers, festoons and banks of flowers. At eight o’clock the guests ceased conversation, and the bridal party proceeded down the staircase and assumed positions facing the doors. Mr. Chas, E. Hook acted as best man and Miss Susie Rhoades as bridesmaid. The bride wore white faille silk, demi-train, with drapings of Duchess lace, and pearl ornaments, and Miss Rhoades wore cream surah silk and diamonds. The ushers were Messrs. W. J. Graham, Geo. M. Trimble, A. S. Hook, and Dr. Butterfield.

When the ceremony was concluded, congratulations were followed by an elegant wedding supper, followed by music and more congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Bradford leaving on the three o’clock train for Chicago.

Among those present were Wm. Bradford and wife, F. Trumbo and wife, Chas. Angevine and wife, W. C. Riale and wife, C. K. Smith and wife (N. Y.), D. M. Hall and wife, A. E. Beach and wife, J. R. Shaver and wife, Charles Cracraft and wife, Judge and Mrs. Blanchard, Charles Neubert and wife (Kansas City), W. W. Nash and wife, L. M. Hess and wife, James Milligan, jr., and wife, C. B. Hess and wife, L. E. Porter and wife, T. E. Mackinlay and wife, I. N. Beem and wife, Gibson Strawn and wife, George W. Yentzer and wife, Capt. and Mrs. Blanchard, L. Leland and wife, George Debolt and wife and W. Van Etten and wife; Mesdames Hook, Fuller (Chicago), and Davidson (Connelsville, Penn.), and Mitchell; Misses Mayo, Finley, Brady (Chicago), Mitchell, Blanchard, Clara and Bertha Angevine, Griffith, Trimble, Rhoades, Porter, Nellie and Kate Bradford, and Kagy (Chicago); and Messrs. Hook, Hamilton, Trimble, Hess, Cary, hall (Chicago), Angevine and Sam, Tom and C. B. Bradford.1

  1. The Ottawa [Ill] Free Trader, September 21, 1889, p. 4, col. 5

Oliver H. and Martha Ellen (Hite) Thompson

On the 31st of May, 1898, Oliver Thompson and Martha Hite appeared at the La Salle County Clerk’s office in Ottawa to apply for a marriage license. Oliver signed an affidavit that both of them were of legal age to marry.

Oliver was twenty-eight and Martha twenty-four. They then completed the application for a marriage license.

Oliver H. Thompson was a clerk, residing in Ottawa. He was Norwegian, born in La Salle County, the son of Bergo and Martha (Johnson) Thompson. It was his first marriage.

Martha E. Hite was the daughter of James M. Hite and his wife, Martha M. Jones. She also was born in La Salle County. It was her first marriage.

The following day, June 1, 1898, they were married in Wedron.

The witnesses were Burton M. Thompson, Oliver’s brother, and Elsie Hite, Martha’s sister. The ceremony was performed by L. C. Burling, pastor of the Sheridan Methodist Episcopal Church.

And here is a picture of the happy couple!

Oliver and Martha Ellen Thompson