The Standard Fire Brick Company

standard-fire-brick-company

The Standard Fire Brick Company1
Fire Brick and Fire Clay Articles

            In August, 1892, the Ottawa Paving Brick Company, under the management of John W. Channel, who, for several years prior to this date, had been superintendent of Hess, Crotty & Williams’ brick factory, leased the brick works at Dayton, Ill. For three years this plant was run successfully, when, in November 1895, the Standard Fire Brick Company, of Ottawa, Ill., was organized by Thomas D. Catlin, John W. Channel, M. W. Bach and E. W. Bach, with $25,000 capital stock. The company bought the Dayton property, consisting of the large, substantial four-story stone building, formerly used as a woolen mill, and also the three-story frame building used for many years as a horse collar factory, together with all the clay-lands, waterpower and machinery. John W. Channel was made president and general manager, Thomas D. Catlin, vice-president and treasurer, and E. W. Bach, secretary.

            Shortly after the Standard Fire Brick Company had been legally organized and had commenced business, negotiations were entered into with the firm of Hess, Crotty & Williams for the purchase of their brick factory, located about a mile east of Ottawa, at a location called “Brickton.” The capital stock of the Standard Fire Brick Company was increased to $50,000 and the purchase of the plant of Hess, Crotty & Williams effected, and the company assumed control in May, 1896, with the same set of officers that the original Standard Fire Brick Company had, each private individual of the old firm of Hess, Crotty & Williams taking an interest in the company which purchased their plant.

            On May 1, 1900, the Standard Fire Brick Company assumed control of the plant of the Ottawa Fire Clay & Brick company, whose interests are now merged in the Standard’s. The plant, an immense one, is located east of Ottawa, and east of the Standard Fire Brick Company’s original Brickton plant, and is on the line of the C., R. I., & P. Ry.

            With these three factories the capacity of the Standard Fire Brick Company, as regards fire brick and fire clay, is practically unlimited. It is the largest fire brick plant in the United States, and will produce 100,000 fire brick per day. The officers are T. D. Catlin, president and treasurer; M. W. Bach, vice-president; E. W. Bach, secretary. The Dayton plant is situated four miles north of Ottawa, on the Fox River branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad system, and has its own side-track along the yards, and the Ottawa factory is located on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific mainline, with a side-track at the factory also. Thus the company has double the shipping facilities that any concern located on a single system would have, saving, of course, a great deal of annoyance and the expense caused by transferring from one road to the other. The company is a member of the Western Railway Weighing Association, from which a great benefit is derived.

            At the Dayton factory the company has abundant water-power, and at Ottawa steam-power is used. Both places are heated thoroughly by a complete system of steam pipes, and they are also amply equipped with the usual dry pans, pug mills, clay crushers, conveyors, hand and power presses, clay bins and auger machines, no steam presses being used in the manufacture of their wares.

            The company has 65 acres of clay land, all underlaid with a vein of fire clay, most of it within 8 to 16 feet of the surface. At Ottawa, on top of this fire clay, there is a vein of coal about 22 inches in thickness, and above this coal a vein of common clay, varying from common yellow clay to one having the nature of soapstone. This yellow clay, properly mixed with a proportion of fireclay, is used in making their sidewalk tile. At Dayton, on the west side of the river, there is, above the fire clay, besides a vein of coal, an extensive bed of valuable shale about 30 feet in depth. This makes good common ware, and mixed with a little fire clay, makes as fine a sidewalk tile as one will find anywhere in the country. On the east side of the river, where the main supply of the company’s fire clay is obtained, there is nothing above the fire clay except a bed of excellent gravel about five to eight feet in thickness. This gravel makes it possible to maintain the roads to the factory in excellent condition.

            Fire brick and fire clay articles are the company’s main product. The market for this material is, besides Chicago, the great trade center of the West, all of the northern part of this state, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, all of them great manufacturing states. Their competitors in the fire clay materials are very few, while the competitors in the common clay products are many, nearly every location of any size at all having its own common brick yard.

            This fire clay is the material out of which they manufacture their most important products. The upper stratum of common clay and coal is removed and the beds of fire clay exposed, they being from six to ten feet in depth.

            They can well be proud of the reputation their brick have attained in Chicago and the Northwest, which is unparalleled by any of their competitors. They supply material for stack linings, boiler settings, iron cupolas, furnaces, foundries, lime and brick kilns, retorts, and any purpose requiring refractory brick. The beds of plastic fire clay at Brickton, and also to a limited extent at Dayton, have not been touched in recent years, although they are very valuable deposits, as they are adapted for the manufacture of stone ware and articles of that kind.


  1. Ottawa in Nineteen Hundred (1900; reprint, Ottawa, Illinois: La Salle County Genealogy Guild), 20. viewed on Google Books

Great care has been taken in the burning . . .

tile-works-letterhead

            Green Bros. have just finished burning their third kiln of tile, and are now ready to furnish customers with a good quality of tile at the lowest market price. Great care has been taken in the burning, and the tile taken from the kilns are found to be of the same degree of hardness none too soft, but all alike. Some parties have been misrepresenting the tile by saying they are too soft, but to those who would know the truth, we must say, “visit the kilns and see.” Tile will be drawn to the top of the hill by the proprietors for those who will notify them of their desire. In fact, the firm will do everything to please customers, not only in market prices but in a good quality of tile.1

            Drain Tile. – We have been shown specimens of Drain Tile manufactured by the Green Brothers at the Dayton Tile Works, and if all are like these, and we are assured they are, there are no better tile made in the country. They are made in all sizes from 2 to 8 inches. Sold at Ottawa prices, with 10 per cent. off for cash. For sale at the works in Dayton or at Freeman Wheeler’s on the Chicago road, east of Dayton.2


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, September 13, 1879, p.8, cols. 1-2
  2.  Ottawa Free trader, September 20, 1879, p. 1, col. 2

Millstones

millstone-shabbona-parkOne of the original Dayton millstones

The reason the Green party settled at what became Dayton was the presence of the rapids of the Fox river. They were looking for a mill site and liked the look of this spot. They had brought the mill irons and the millwright with them from Ohio, but the mill stones were a local product, created from boulders found along the river bank. The mill was the first order of business upon arriving, and Jesse Green remembered its first day of operation:

On the morning of the 4th day of July 1830 the first wheat was ground by water power in the northern portion of Illinois. We did not at this time have a bolt for separating the flour from the bran but we thought that graham flour was good enough to celebrate that Natal day with a double purpose that will never be forgotten by the latest survivor of the memorable event. It marked the first and greatest step in the alleviation of the hardships and suffering of the early settlers, and they soon all had plenty of graham flour and corn dodgers. Up to this time we were obliged to grind our grain in a coffee mill, or pound it in a mortar improvised by burning out a hole in the top of a stump, and attaching an iron wedge to a handle to use as a pestle which was operated in a manner similar to the old fashioned well sweep.

In one of the many upgrades and improvements to the mill, the original millstones were removed, but not discarded. They are today to be found in Shabbona park, near Earlville.

How to Make a Rainbow

rainbow

The Dayton woolen factory’s products came in a range of colors. In order to produce the various shades, a large number of vegetable dyes had to be kept on hand. From an inventory of the factory in 1873, they had a variety of dyes and other products used in making woolen cloth.

Before dyeing, the raw wool had to be washed and cleaned with something that would remove the oils that occur naturally. The oxalic acid listed in the inventory would have been used on the wool as a first step.

Alum, chrome, and soda ash were used as dye fixatives, or mordants.

Extract of logwood, a purplish-red natural dye obtained from the logwood tree, could produce black, grey, navy blue, purple, violet or lavender, depending on the mordant used.

Sicily sumac could produce dyes of red, yellow, black, or brown.

Cudbear was extracted from a lichen and produced dyes in the purple range.

Camwood produced a brilliant but non-permanent red dye.

Brazilwood extract produces bright reds, corals, and pinks.

Fustic , a bright yellow dye, is very colorfast. It is frequently combined with other dyes to produce a range of yellow and green colors.

Lard oil was used to prepare the dyed and dried wool for carding.

Large quantities of these were kept on hand. The inventory listed 533 pounds of logwood; 800 pounds of Sicily sumac; 1260 pounds of Camwood and more than a ton of soda ash.

It was certainly a colorful business!

 

Coal mining in Dayton

coal miner

Did you know they used to mine coal in Dayton? All quotes from the Ottawa Free Trader.

February 2, 1867
Coal at Dayton, – Messrs. Grove, Stadden & Co. have opened a 2½ foot vein of splendid coal directly under the village of Dayton. The coal is obtained by drifting*, and lying many feet below the surface, is, like all deep coal found in this vicinity, much superior to coal obtained by stripping. Their drift is located a few rods below Green’s Mill, where they are prepared to sell to all customers that may apply, at prices as low as at any other bed in this region.

Dayton, May 8, 1879.
Messrs. Zearing & Row, and Basil Green will finish at the culvert this week or next. Two large coal beds have been opened on Mr. Green’s land, enough coal to supply the town for some time.

December 10, 1887
Considerable coal is being mined here this winter.

* A drift mine is an underground mine in which the entry is horizontal into the ore seam, usually on the slope of a hill.

The Meat Cleaver Bandits

Dayton store

The Dayton store/post office/gas station

from the January 26, 1922 Free-Trader Journal

DAYTON P. O. ROBBED BY MEAT CLEAVER BANDITS; GET $7.25

Thieves Use Butcher’s “Weapon” to Break Open Strong Box Containing
Funds Belonging to Uncle Sam and Store Keeper

Running a risk of facing a term in the federal prison to secure a few dollars of government money, thieves last night robbed the Dayton postoffice, making way with $5.25 in postal funds and $2 in pennies from the W. B. Fleming grocery store. The robbery is believed to have been pulled by the rankest kind of amateurs, so kiddish did the traces left behind by the robbers seem.

The postoffice which is located in one corner of the Fleming grocery store, was closed shortly before 9 o’clock last night. This morning at 7 o’clock Mr. Fleming opened his place of business and built a fire before he discovered that the place had been burglarized.

A small safe, which is more in the nature of a strong box, twelve by twenty-four inches in dimensions, which held the postoffice funds, had been smashed open by a meat cleaver, which was taken from the butcher shop. The supply of stamps was passed over, the robbers evidently searching only for cash. The money from the store was taken from a cash drawer and from a dish in the candy counter.

The meat cleaver was found where it had been hidden by the robbers, after the theft in the coal pile, in the basement.

Entrance to the building was gained by breaking out a basement window. The robbers then went upstairs by an inside stairway. They worked with the door, until they succeeded in getting the wooden bar lock that fastened it from the arm that held it.

A trail of burnt matches which were strewn on the floor around the room, showed that the burglars had taken their time in making the search. The robbers were evidently of a hungry frame of mind, for they stopped long enough to have a lunch, opening a can of peaches, and scattering crackers all around the cracker box, Some bars of candy are also believed to have been devoured by the hungry boys or men.

The candy and cigarette case was evidently overlooked for it is not believed to have been touched.

The thieves left the building by a side door which they unlocked from the inside of the building. The door was carefully closed after the robbers and it was not until a careful investigation was made that it was learned that the exit had been made that way.

Deputy Sheriff Fred E. Stedman went to Dayton this morning to make an investigation.1


  1. Ottawa Free Trader-Journal, January 26, 1922, p 1, col 2

Bridging the Fox

wooden bridge

In 1837, John Green and William Stadden, who owned the land on either side of the Fox river at Dayton, were granted permission from the state to build a toll bridge. They had to complete the bridge within 5 years and could place a toll gate at either end to collect a toll, the amount of which was set by the county commissioners’ court.

By 1854, the bridge needed replacement and a subscription was taken up to build a free bridge. The toll was dropped to encourage those living on the east side of the river to patronize the businesses in Dayton.

In 1857, there was a severe ice jam in the Fox River between Dayton and Ottawa and the free bridge at Dayton was carried away. Jesse and David Green took on the job of rebuilding and in December of that year, the following announcement appeared in the Ottawa paper:

Free Bridge

The free bridge across Fox River at Dayton is now completed, and persons living on the east side will again have the privilege of patronizing our new Grist and Flouring Mill, which is capable of grinding from 50 to 60 bushels per hour. As the undersigned have expended their means very liberally in erecting such a Mill and Bridge as the growing wants of the country require, they hope to receive a liberal share of public patronage. Persons coming from a distance will find good warm stabling in connection with the above Mill, free of charge, and their public house has passed into other hands, and bids fair to do justice to the inner man at reasonable rates. Please give us a call.                                                              J. & D. Green1

In 1875, the bridge washed out again and for the next ten years, there was only a precarious ford to cross the river. The county agreed to pay one-half of the cost of a new bridge, leaving Dayton and Rutland to pay one-fourth each. In 1885, although Dayton was ready to pay their share, Rutland opposed the bridge, because they had recently been taxed for a bridge at Marseilles. Dayton offered to pay part of Rutland’s share, but it was some time before the bridge proposal was passed by the Rutland voters. The bridge was not finished until April 1887, and lasted until it collapsed in 1940.


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, December 12, 1857, p. 3, col. 6

The Bran Duster

Bran Duster

Drawing of Bran Duster from patent application

No one could accuse David Green of not being up-to-date. Left in charge of the Green businesses in Dayton while his father and brother went to California to seek gold, he refurbished the grist mill and installed a newly invented piece of machinery. In February of 1849, Frost & Monroe, a Michigan company, got a patent for a machine called a Bran Duster. By November of that year, one of these newfangled machines was installed in the mill at Dayton, as reported to the Prairie Farmer by one of its correspondents:

At Ottawa, on my return, I saw a machine, called a Bran Duster, patented by Messrs. Frost & Monroe, for the purpose of taking the flour out of bran after the latter has passed through the mill. It is said to gather five barrels of flour from the bran of a hundred. One is put up at Dayton, La Salle county. The cost I did not learn.1


  1. Prairie Farmer, November 1, 1849, p 22

A Summer Crime Wave

picture of an old safe

1885 was not a good year for the Dayton Horse Collar Factory. As you will see, there were no less than THREE attempts to rob the safe that summer.

The first try:

A. F. Dunavan, of the Dayton Collar Factory, was in the Free Trader office last Thursday morning and stated that an attempt had been made the night previous to blow open his safe. Powder was placed in the keyhole and fuse was found on the floor, but the burglar or burglars left, finding the attempt unsuccessful. Krouse, the gunsmith, went up and opened the lock of the safe, which had been so damaged that it could not be opened.1

Later in the summer, two more attempts were made:

Wednesday night of last week burglars broke into the safe of A. F. Dunavan & Son, of Dayton, the celebrated horse collar men. The safe was blown open with powder, but the thieves found nothing to reward them for their trouble, the safe being only used for the protection of books and papers in case of fire. This was the second attempt made by burglars, within the last two weeks, to break open this safe. Safe cracking is getting almost too numerous in this vicinity of late. There is work for a good detective in this county.2

However, it doesn’t appear that the thieves made any profit from their labors, reinforcing the notion that crime doesn’t pay.


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, May 30, 1885, p. 1, col. 5
  2. Ottawa Free Trader, August 15, 1885, p. 1, col. 5

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . .

Jesse Green - postmaster appointment

. . .stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
(The unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service)Dayton postmark

Dayton had a post office from 1837 to 1954. In that 117 years, there were 17 postmasters, George Makinson and Edward McClary having each held the post at two different times. An example of the appointment procedure in the 1840s is shown above in Jesse Green’s appointment, which lists the steps he must follow in order for his appointment to be approved. He had to post a bond and swear an oath, all of which had to be documented and sent to Washington.

The Dayton postmasters were
William Stadden 1837
Charles Miller 1839
Aaron Ford Jr. 1845
Jesse Green 1847
Christian Stickley 1849
George W. Makinson 1854
Oliver W. Trumbo 1857
George W. Makinson 1866
Maud V. Green 1895
Edward McClary 1897
Charles Hippard 1907
Frank Brown 1914
Mary Fleming 1919
Obert Howe 1923
Grace MacGrogan 1924
Edward McClary 1925
Catherine Corso 1940
Donald Ainsley 1945
Dominic DeBernardi 1946

In 1954 the Postal Service discontinued the Dayton post office, all Dayton addresses changing to RFD Ottawa. The final day of the Dayton post office was April 15, 1954.

Big Fire at Dayton in 1890

burning building

BIG FIRE AT DAYTON

The City Hotel, Owned by James Timmons, Goes Up in Smoke

W. B. Soule, Vice President of the Brick Works, Narrowly Escapes Death – The Loss Estimated at $2,000 – Insurance, $1,000.

Shortly after 12 a. m. Friday morn the people of the little town of Dayton were aroused from their slumbers by the cry of fire, and in a few moments the demon presented itself in its greatest form. The city hotel, the largest building in the town, was the scene of the conflagration, and the flames had gained such headway before being notices that it was utterly impossible to subdue them in any way, and in a few moments the building was a mass of ruins. There is no fire department in the town, but the people turned out en masse, and with buckets and tin pans fought the flames as best they could while the furniture was being removed.

Their battle against the flames and smoke was for a few minutes only, and they were compelled to give up and stand by while the building, furniture and all sunk before their gaze. The fire was first noticed by the engineer at the mill, and it was his cries that awakened the inmates of the house. The fire originated in the kitchen, located in the east end of the house and only a few feet from the C., B. & Q. R. R. track. The origin of the fire is unknown, but it is generally supposed that it caught from the sparks of a passing engine. This is merely a supposition. There was no fire in either of the cook stoves in the kitchen, but it might be that the fire was the work of an incendiary, although Mr. Timmons, who was the landlord of the house, says that he does not think that he has an enemy in the town.

There were ten boarders at the house, and of this number all escaped without any injuries except W. B. Soule, the vice president of the Fox River Brick Company. He is a man about 75 years of age, and did not know of the fire until the flames entered the room that he occupied. When he awoke his room was filled with smoke, and had it not been for the assistance of two of the other boarders he would have been burned to death. As it was he narrowly escaped suffocation and is now lying in a very critical condition.

The house was a two story brick building and was well furnished. In the cellar were stowed away sufficient supplies to run the house for the winter. These, together with nearly all the furniture, were destroyed. In fact there was only very little saved, and the damage is estimated at $3,500. The building was insured for $1,000 by MacKinlay & Warner, of this city, leaving a loss of about $2,000.

The hotel was an old landmark in the town, and was a pleasant resort to the hundreds of fishermen, from this and other cities, who visited Dayton during the summer months. Mr. Timmons was interviewed by a representative of this paper, this morning, and as yet he is undetermined whether to re-build.1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Republican-Times, November 28, 1890, p. 2, col. 3

 

All Kinds of Woolen Goods

Jesse Green and Sons business card

The woolen factory at Dayton produced many different products. Cassimere was a closely woven twilled fabric. It had a smooth surface and was used for suits. Jean was not the same fabric as denim in the 19th century. Topcoats, vests and jackets could be made of jean in different colors – black, blue, or white. Denim was used for work clothes worn by manual laborers, while other workers would be dressed in tailored trousers made of jean. Although the two fabrics were similar, denim was made with one colored thread and one white thread; jean was woven of two threads of the same color.

Sock yarn could be had in a light mixture or in a blue grey. Carpet yarn also came in assorted colors. Blankets (white, grey, or multicolored) and buggy rugs were available to keep out winter’s cold and wind. Carpet was made in a number of styles and flannel could be purchased in white, scarlet, grey striped, or black and white check.

Other varieties of cloth included satinett (half wool and half cotton, but finished the same as wool); doeskin (a twilled fabric that came in different weights); linsey (a strong, coarse fabric with a linen or cotton warp and a woolen weft); and tweed.

Maud Green remembered that “Grandma [Barbara Grove Green] 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.”

 

A Handmade Gravestone

champaign-albert-john tombstone

This tiny gravestone, only 12 inches high, stands out in the Dayton Cemetery not only for its size but for its material. It is made of brick and appears to be handmade. John Champaign, the father of little Albert John, was a day laborer in the brick yards in Dayton. Whether he made the gravestone himself or had a friend at work do it for him, it almost certainly was made in Dayton.

John Champaign was born in January, 1858, in Michigan, of French-Canadian stock. In 1870 he was living with his parents and siblings in South Bend, Indiana. On September 21, 1880 he married Louise Haverley in South Bend. Sometime before 1883, John and family came to Dayton, where they were living in 1900. By 1910, they were back in South Bend, where they lived out their lives, John dying in 1938 and Louise in 1947.

One of their daughters, Grace, married James C. McGrogan of Dayton on April 30, 1900, and remained in Dayton when her parents moved back to South Bend.

A Most Distressing Accident

Fred Green

Fred Green, who survived the accident

A most distressing accident occurred at the Williams paper mill at Dayton, on yesterday morning. The unfortunate victim was Fred Green, oldest son of Mr. Basil Green, aged 14 or 15 years. He was one of the employees of the mill, and while talking with some young men, was thoughtlessly handling a rope working a spindle. Suddenly his hand was caught in the machinery, his body was caught up and he was hurled through the air until two revolutions of the spindle had been made, when the hand was torn from the arm and he fell to the floor. His left hand was torn off; the same arm broken above the elbow so that it had to be amputated; two fingers on the other hand had to be amputated at the first joint, and both his legs were broken. Dr. Hard, happening to be in the village treating diphtheria patients, was called at once. He immediately telegraphed for Drs. Dyer and McArthur, who went to his assistance, and after several hours’ work left the unfortunate lad as comfortable as could be expected. His life is in great danger.1


  1. The [Ottawa, Illinois] Free Trader, May 29, 1880, p. 1, col. 3.

 

Counterfeiters, Thieves, and Outlaws

bandits

Nathaniel Proctor ran the general store in Dayton in the late 1830s. Jesse Green’s memoir has this story about his time in Dayton:

Proctor had a very nice and amiable family, and was apparently a high minded and honorable man, he had a great faculty for gaining friends and did a very successful business for a year or two. One cold winter day father went from the mill up to his store, and put his feet up against the stove to warm them, having his pocket-book containing between five and six hundred dollars wanted for buying wheat in his pants pocket. Returning home he soon discovered he had lost it, and thinking it might have dropped out of his pocket at the store, he returned immediately to look for it, but not finding it, he offered Mr. Proctor’s boys five dollars if they would find it for him, saying he must have lost it between the mill and store; seeing they made no effort to find it, he concluded they had found it, and that probably he would see no more of it.

Not long after this occurrence Mr. Proctor went to St. Louis for some goods, and on his return, and probably in St. Louis passed some counterfeit money, and learning by some means that he was liable to be arrested, he never returned to Dayton. Father being security for him to the amount of twelve or fifteen hundred dollars, and other creditors gobbling up his goods, it fell to fathers lot, to take his book accounts and notes, nearly covering the amount he was held for provided collections could be made. They were scattered over a great extent of country. It was afterwards learned that he had dealt quite heavily with members of his gang of outlaws, that infested the whole north western portion of the state.

His book accounts and notes were put in legal shape for me to collect and I was sent out with his books in a pair of saddle bags, and calling one night on one of his principal creditors, who was keeping a Hotel on the Pickamesoggin not far from Belvidere, I found a crowd of ruffians, all armed with pistols and bowie knives, and I could scarcely make up my mind, which would be best under the circumstances, to try and find another stopping place for the night, or boldly face the trying ordeal which I felt sure I was doomed to for the night. I finally concluded that if they might have any intention to rob, or molest me, they would do so in either event, and I determined to put on as bold a front as it was possible for a little boy of 18 and concluded to seek no farther. When I went in and threw down my saddlebags containing the books, there were a dozen fierce roguish eyes cast upon me, which almost made the hair on my head stand on end, and young and defenseless as I was, my situation can be better imagined than I can tell it.

I concluded to retire to bed soon after supper, as my company did not seem at all entertaining to me, and about twelve o’clock at night the landlord brought up a great burly fellow and put him in bed with me, he first laid a big pistol under his pillow, and then a large bowie knife. My sleep from then on until morning was somewhat disturbed, as they all knew my business, and I had a bill of $250.00 against the landlord, they would naturally suspect that I had collected some money, such thoughts as these kept crowding upon me before I could sleep, in fact I do not think I did sleep any that night, the more I would think of my situation as it occurred to me, among (as I thought) a den of thieves, the more would I think, that they probably would destroy my books and possibly me too. So my stay there was anything but pleasant, but fortunately no demonstrations were made or harm done and next morning as soon as I heard any movements below, I left my bedfellow pretty early sleeping soundly on his arms, and after breakfast had a settlement with the landlord. He gave me no money, but I took his note with which I was more than glad to leave him, but his note was never paid. I suspect that most of Proctor’s customers in that far away region were members of the gang of outlaws called the bandits of the prairies, and the Driscols who were summarily punished near Mount Morris in early times were of the same gang.

Whilst invoicing Proctor’s goods, his dies for making bogus coin were discovered, and secretly laid aside until going home at noon when it was the intention to secure them; but when they put their fingers upon them, like the Irishman’s flea, they were not there, removed by his clerk probably.  In digging out a cellar to the store, he [the new owner] found father’s old pocketbook minus the money lost with it. A little later the old store building was torn down, and inside the plastering was found a ten dollar copper plate on a Michigan bank for making counterfeit money. All sympathized deeply with the disgraced family, who remained in Dayton but a short time after this unfortunate circumstance. But where they went and their subsequent identity, we never learned as they probably were no longer known by the name of Proctor.

The Dayton Literary Society

Book label - Dayton Literary Society

The Dayton Literary Society was founded in February of 1881,  with Isaac Green as President, Charles Green as Secretary and Harry Green as Librarian. Harry was the librarian because the library, all one hundred volumes of it, was housed at his store. You paid a monthly fee and then you could borrow any book. This label, found in every book, listed some of the rules governing the library:

ART. 4. The Time of Keeping a Book shall be Two Weeks, and any person failing to return said book inside the specified time, shall be fined the sum of 5 cts. for each day until returned. Also, any person returning a book unnecessarily soiled, shall be fined the sum of 10 cts.

ART. 6. The Librarian shall not issue Books to any person who is known to be in arrears of monthly dues or fines.

ART. 7. No person shall be allowed more than ONE Book at a time.

Unfortunately, no record of the complete “Rules to Govern Library” has survived. Did it contain guidelines for what books to include? Were books purchased, or donated from town residents? What was the most popular subject matter?

 

Shopping at the Dayton store

Spooner

This piece of glass was purchased at the Dayton store about 1880. It was made by the La Belle Glass Company of Bridgeport, Ohio. The company was founded in 1872 and its Queen Anne pattern, of which this piece is an example, was first being advertised in the trade journals in the fall of 1879. It would have been one piece of a fairly extensive set. This piece is a spooner, used on the table to hold dessert spoons. They often resemble short-stemmed goblets or vases. Some have handles, as this one does, but some do not. Other pieces in the set might have been a butter dish, cream and sugar, salt cellar, celery vase, and of course, plates and goblets. Harry Green, the proprietor of the Dayton store at that time, obviously made an effort to have the most up-to-date stock. In the Ottawa newspaper’s account of the wedding of David Green’s daughter, Ada, in 1881, among the gifts received was a set of glassware from her cousin, Harry Green. There’s no way of knowing if it was a set of this pattern, but it might have been, as it was a new and popular pattern then.

The Dayton Exchange

This house was once the hotel

CORRECTION: although this building is the same size and shape and on the same location as the Dayton Exchange, this building was built on the site after a fire in 1890 which destroyed the Exchange.

This building, now a private home, was originally the Dayton Exchange, a hotel. In 1870, the building was purchased by George Makinson and Joseph B. Jennings, who advertised that:

[the purchasers] have completely remodeled and refitted it in modern style, and now open it to the patronage of the public, offering all the comforts and conveniences of a first-class hotel. The rooms are comfortable and dry, and particular attention will be given toward providing the table with all the delicacies of the season. A good stable is in connection with this house, where horses will be well and properly cared for.1

A portion of the building was fitted out as a grocery store, for the convenience of the villagers, as well as the hotel guests. in 1880, James Timmons bought the Dayton Exchange and advertised that he had “re-modeled, re-painted and re-furnished from top to bottom, inside and outside”. The hotel catered particularly to fishing parties, frequent visitors in the summer. In 1902, Timmons sold the building and it ceased to be a hotel.


1. The [Ottawa, Illinois] Free Trader, July 16, 1870, p. 2, col. 6

The Pennypacker Horse Collar

Horsecollar ad

The celebrated Pennypacker horse collar was a specialty of the Fox River Horse Collar Manufacturing Co., which claimed that the general mechanical construction of this collar “has rendered it the best device of its kind known to the trade. It is so constructed that the draught is close to the horse’s neck instead of back on his shoulders, and thus an easy and comfortable fit is effected.” Their goods were widely known, from Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia on the east, to Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri on the west. They used about forty tons of rye straw yearly for filling horse-collars, and the hides of about 2,000 head of cattle were required yearly to supply them with leather. The Seamless Team Collar was a standard pattern, always on hand. They also advertised their willingness to make any grade or pattern to order on short notice. Their collars were for sale by any harness dealer in Ottawa and elsewhere. In 1883 the factory had a capacity of turning out 300 dozen collars per month, which were shipped throughout all of the western states and into many of the eastern states, and even, in 1886, to Sydney, Australia.

Products of the Dayton Woolen Factory

Woolen factory coverlet

This woven coverlet is one of my treasured family heirlooms. It was produced at the Dayton Woolen Factory and has been handed down in the family for over 150 years. The pattern is an example of an overshot pattern, where the horizontal yarn shoots over several vertical yarns at a time. The slight discontinuity in the pattern (circled) shows where two lengths woven on a 36 inch loom were joined to make the full sized coverlet.

Woolen ad

The factory made many kinds of cloth, as noted in this ad. Satinet was a satin-weave fabric made with cotton warp and wool filling; cassimere, a twill-weave, worsted suiting fabric; flannel, a fabric made in plain or twill weave, usually with carded yarns and napped for added warmth. My great-aunt remembered that the family was always well-supplied with stockings knit from factory yarn and the family clothing, as well as the blankets for their beds, were products of the factory. Fabric was obtainable in many colors, with basic grey, brown and black as well as blue, scarlet, green, and red. I also have another, light-weight, blanket from the factory which is a pale yellow. The products of the factory were of a high quality, as evidenced by the awards they won at cattle shows and county and state fairs, throughout Illinois and other states in the midwest.