News of Dayton – 1850

Pages 1 and 4 of a letter from Josiah Shaver to Jesse Green

                                                                                                                                                Ottawa, Illinois Feb 6th 1850

Mr. Jesse Green Esqr.

                Dear Cousin

                                I am seated for the first time to address you since you left us. But we were very sorry to see in your last of Nov. 8 ’49 to E. Trumbo stating that up to that time you had not heard a word from home. (which letter came in Ottawa on the 26th of Jan ’50 with many more, one for your wife of an earlier date, and some for the Mrses Dunavans) I hardly know where to commence in giving you the news, for I expect that your folks have written of events as they transpired, and much that I may write will likely be no news to you but thinking that perhaps you will not receive all I will commence back at the time of your departure and come up as near correct as my memory will serve me. The first item of importance is the cholera which scared the folks more than it hurt them. It made its appearance in Ottawa in the fore part of June. Never was there such a cleaning of the St.s and renovating and white-washing of houses & cellars before in that place which fortunately cept it from raging very much about, but 30 or 40 died with it there and many of them caught it on the canal. The Country folks never stoped going in on buissiness. The folks in Dayton were perty badly scared at one time being so many in one house. They feared if it got among them that it would make bad work. But fortunatley they were joyfully disappointed (for they expected it) for there was but one case in Dayton and that was Cousin David thought that he had every symptom of it, but by using the cholera medicine he soon was as well as ever. It did not cramp him. Aunt Anna Groves died with it Aug 8th ’49. She took it and had not been exposed to it in any way, and in a few days Aunt Trumbo took it but was soon relieved. That is all of the connections that suffered any with it. Colman Olmstead’s wife and two oldest daughters died with it, also Jesse Johnson’s wife and oldest girl. (Colman is married again to his wife’s cister, an old maid)

It was much worse in Peru at one time in July it was nearly deserted all kinds of buissiness stopped for a few days. Here it was but a short time that they feared it. Your son Byron died on the 6th of may ’49. He was sensible until the last he wanted to be carried across the room but a few minutes before he expired. We had great trouble with the seed corn, almost all had to plant over from once to three times, which cept very backward until quite late but we had such an extraordinarily good fall that corn was first rate, wheat on an average both Spring and winter was scarcely a half crop. Potatoes, tolerable good, rot doing but little damage. Corn market last summer ranged at one time from .30 to .37 cts pr. Bush, and came down to 2 shillings at which price it readily sells for now in the ear. Wheat market was up last fall to 5 and 6 shillings pr. Bushl and then fell and was very low until lately. It is worth now best qual .75 cts pr. B. Pork was very dull from $1.75 to 2.50 pr. Hund. Lbs. Ottawa has improved very fast this last summer. We had a delightful warm and dry fall until the 25th of Nov. when winter set in but we have had a pleasant winter this far. Some snow which made good sleighing for two or three weeks. For the last two weeks it has been quite warm and windy, but it is colder today. The ice has started in the river. W. Irwin, Commision merchant of Ottawa (Eaton Goodel’s brother-in-law) went to Chicago last June and there entered his passage on a vessel for the lumber country, as he intended to purchase some lumber to bring home with him, and that was the last track that could be got of him all supposed that he was murdered or fell overboard in the night as the officers of the boat could tell nothing about him, all was mystery until lately when a Mr. Kellog returned from California and said that he saw him in Sanfrancisco, and a few days ago they got a letter from him. It is supposed that he got scared too soon. (he ran from debt.) A. W. Magill of Ottawa failed this fall. His store was sold at auction. The California Fever is raging this winter as bad as last if not worse, although Elias Trumbo and David and I have not got it so bad but I do sincerely wish that I had of went with you. George & Theodore Gibson are going. Aaron Daniels & John Holkan are using every effort to make a raise to go, the Connord boys are going. All intend to go with the oxen. In fact they are going from all over the country. Alison & Ralph Woodruff & Jo. Hall started a month ago, and Ralph died in Peoria in a drunken fit, and the others came back on account they say that they would have to lay too long at the isthmus. George Galloway with a number of them on that side are going to start soon. Our Township Organization caried unaminous. The commissioners are now laying out their boundaries, and in April we elect our officers which is some 14 or 15 in each town. I can’t give you the boundaries of them as they are fractions and will be attached, to some other and the commissioners have not got this far along. The banc of Marseilles has gone the way of all the living. Old L. Kimble died this last fall with an old complaint. Jack Trumbo had been in Cincinatti over a year, studying to be a physician when the cholera broke out there and he started for home, and died with it near the mouth of the Ohio river, and his father went in the fall and took him up and brought him to Ottawa for interment. The connections here have been unusually healthy since you left, your folks have got along very well as far as I know. They all remain in the big brick house. Their greatest anxiety is for your welfare which is often increased by the long space of time between letters, as I will tell you by and by. You will have to try for a large lump or your wife will beat you, as she found over a 7 pounder. The married part of the emigrants have generally left their representatives they range from a month to 8 weeks of age, yours is a fine daughter about 6 weeks old wife and child well. Tell George & Albert that their wives can present them with a Son each

Tell Snelling that his wife has a daughter also. All are well and doing well. Mrs. Zeluff is in the same fix. (Surely the idea of California is quite prolific.) Eliza Gibson had a young daughter. So much for the live stock. Rachel & Rebecca have been on a visit to their Unkle William Greens this winter for 6 or 8 weeks. They were all well and his oldest daughter come home with them and is there now. David is not running the factory this winter and he thinks that it will hardly quit expense in the winter. Old man Hite gets along very well. They all think a great deal of him the girls say he is so good and fatherly that they can’t help but like him. Ben is living with David and talks some of California. Feb 13th river closed up again roads have been excellent for the last 2 weeks neither snow nor rain, excellent, winter weather. Winter wheat looks fine yet. Grain is on the raise wheat 80 cts corn 28 cts They say that the California gold has made quite a visible change on real estate and in the markets in N.Y.

                We but seldom hear from you. We heard tolerably regular from you until you left Fort Hall and then it was over 3 months before we got any more, which you wrote about 300 miles from the diggings, then the next was when you got through which was some 8 weeks after incoming. We were glad to hear of your success in getting through, and in your first adventures in the diggings, and may you continue to be successful until, as the song goes “now I’ve got all I want I cannot lift any more &.c.” Tell Snelling his folks are all well and John gets along as well as well as could be expected. I will write to him soon. Please write soon. Tell Joseph a line from him would be thankfully received. My respects to you all.

                                                                                From your affectionate cousin   J. R. Shaver

Mr. Jesse Green Esqr

Feb 20 This leaves us all well. I have not got a line from any since you left.  J. R. Shaver    write soon

Blooded Cattle

 

Durham cattle

Durham cattle

BLOODED CATTLE

La Salle county may well be proud of her splendid stock of cattle. Her enterprising and wealthy farmers have spent thousands and thousands of dollars in improving the breed of stock of all kinds and especially short-horned Durhams.

Desirous of doing equal and exact justice to all we began at the north end of the cattle stalls, after looking at some fine lots of cattle exhibited by Isaiah Strawn. We found, first: Mr. Isaac Green”s blooded stock. First, his handsome Durham bull “Clifton,” 3 year old, weight 5,000 lbs; is brown and white spotted; “Jenny June,” six months old, weight 500; both having a No. 1 record in the herd books.1


Adjoining the town [of Dayton] is the splendid grain and stock farm of Isaac Green. Mr. Green makes a specialty of raising Norman and Clydesdale horses and thoroughbred cattle, and can show some of the finest in either class to be found in the state. Among the minor attractions are many fine driving teams, single and double.2


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, 10 Sep 1870, p.4, col 3
  2. Ottawa Free Trader, 12 July 1879, p. 8, col. 1

Trumbo – Hosford Agreement

Trumbo-Hosford Agreement

 

Jacob Trumbo arrived in La Salle County in 1853 with his wife Elizabeth and five sons, Oliver, Moab, John, Mathias, and Christopher. He purchased 160 acres of land, complete with house, from Abram Hosford. Because it was the middle of the growing season, arrangements had to be made to share the crops and produce equitably between the buyer and the seller.

Ottawa June 7th 1853
This article of agreement witnesseth that whereas Jacob Trumbo has this day purchased of Abram P Hosford the Northeast Quarter of Section No twelve in Town Thirty four North of Range No Three east of the Third Principal Meridian.  Now the said parties agree to the following conditions Viz  The said Trumbo is to have the entire crops now growing on the premises except a portion of the winter wheat to which Edward Bagley is entitled Viz  2/3 of twenty acres,  also except 1/2 of the garden sauce & roots and also 1/2 of a small piece of beans and sweet corn in orchard  also excepting the whole of a small piece of Osage orange now just planted in the orchard.

The said Trumbo is to furnish the same help at thrashing the wheat which E Bagley raises, as the said Hosford has agreed to  Viz  one hand  The said Trumbo is to have the North half of the division fence between the N East & N West quarter of section above named and the said Hosford the South half including rail fence and Osage Orange hedge

The said Trumbo is to have the possession of the cultivated land forthwith;  of the pasture land and three rooms in the house on the first day of July next and of the horse stable at the same time.  Also of three piles of wood now in wood shed and on or before the first day of August next the said Hosford agrees to give to the said Trumbo the entire possession of the premises except store room for some part of the corn now on the premises the whole of which the said Hosford agrees to have removed before the first of October next  Also the said Trumbo agrees to pay the taxes to become due next winter on the above premises.

Abram P Hosford                                                                                                                                            Jacob Trumbo

Unfortunately, Jacob was not to enjoy his property for long. He died on November 10th, just 5 months later. His widow and sons remained on the farm for many years.

La Salle County Old Settlers

During one of the La Salle County Old Settlers picnics, pictures were taken in groups, depending on when they arrived in the county. This picture shows the settlers who arrived in 1832 and 1833. The gentleman on the left of the back row is Isaac Green. He did indeed arrive in 1833, being born in Dayton on August 8th. His parents, John and Barbara Green, and his older siblings had been in La Salle County since 1829.

Isaac was the youngest child in the family. While his older brothers and sisters married and were given land by their father, Isaac remained at home and took over the home farm, supporting his parents in their old age.

He had a well-known grain and stock farm, where he made a specialty of raising Norman and Clydesdale horses and thoroughbred cattle. He was well known at mid-west stock shows, where he showed some of the finest in either class to be found in the state.

A Weighty Matter

Thanksgiving dinner

Henry Schmidt of Dayton township has the credit of raising the largest turkey reported in this section. The gobbler weighed, dressed, 28 pounds. Mr. Schmidt sent it to an aunt in Chicago, who in turn sent it to the German consul of that city. This is a heavier gobbler than that sent to the President by an easterner Thanksgiving.1


  1. Ottawa [llinois] Free Trader, December 25, 1908

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 5

               scythe sickle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Executor’s Sale of John Green’s Property

shorthorn cattle

shorthorn cattle

 

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

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

Jesse Green
David Green
Executors1


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

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

Buy Your Fruit Trees Here!

man in orchard

50,000 Grafted Fruit Trees

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

300 Varieties of Apple,

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lyle Green’s Purebred Jersey Cattle

Jersey cows

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

1918 Register of Merit of Jersey Cattle

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

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

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

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

La Salle County Fair – 1870

 

curculio catcher

In 1870, a reader of the Prairie Farmer magazine submitted an account of the La Salle county fair, which mentioned the Dayton Woolen mill among the other exhibits.

After running down the list of animals (horses, cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry) and mentioning fruits and preserves, the cloth and needlework exhibits, and the races,  the correspondent got down to what really interested him – farm tools and machinery. He reported agricultural implements, too numerous to mention, were ranged on the ground. Nathan Woolsey, of Waltham township exhibited something new in fences, being an iron post and board fence, the post in two parts, the part that enters the ground being of cast iron, shaped like a lance head, and two feet long, in the top of which is a bar of wrought iron about 1 1/2 inches by 3/8 inches thick, to which the boards are fastened by bolts. An excellent invention for the prairie, he thought.

However, the attention of all was centered first and last on Dr. Hull’s curculio catcher, exhibited by J. E. Porter, of the Eagle Works, Ottawa. The plum curculio was a beetle that attacked plums, peaches and other deciduous fruits. It ruined the fruit and various methods were tried to get them off the trees. At one point a bounty of $20 for 5000 was offered.

The difficulty of removing them by hand led to various schemes to shake them out of the branches, called jarring. Striking the tree limbs with heavy sticks was fairly effective, as the beetles would fold their legs and fall to the ground when disturbed. However, when on the ground the curculio would roll up into a small ball which was hard to find and remove.

The curculio catcher, illustrated above, solved this problem by catching the beetles before they hit the ground. It is easy to see why this exhibit would have attracted the attention that it did.

Although modern chemical poisons have made the elimination of these pests easier, they have also made the process much less colorful.

To read the full account of the 1870 fair, including the reference to the Dayton Woolen mill, see this.

Get the Latest Plough Here

disk coulter plow

PLOUGH FACTORY

Jacobs & Co. would inform the Farming Public that they are manufacturing at Dayton several kinds of Ploughs, which have been heretofore approved, to which they invite the attention of those wishing to buy. These ploughshares – made of the best material, and warranted to be perfect in every respect – They are also manufacturing the improved revolving Colter, which is acknowledged to be far superior to the common straight ones. Call and examine for yourselves. Old ploughs will be repaired to order on reasonable terms.1


  1. The Ottawa [IL] Republican, April 29, 1854, p. 4, col. 4

B is for Bottle

Dayton Dairy milk bottles

Dayton Dairy bottle capsDayton Dairy cottage cheese lid

Milk bottle, that is.

Farmers throughout the Dayton area sold their milk to the Dayton Dairy. In the early days of the twentieth century, the Green farm had one of the oldest Jersey herds in the state of Illinois. Lyle A. Green, who took over the farm on the death of his father, Isaac, upgraded the herd until many of the cows made their way into the Jersey Registry of Merit. He traveled, often into neighboring states, to purchase pedigreed stock to improve the herd. He became a breeder, building a good reputation for Greenacres Farm of Dayton, Illinois.

The names of the cows give some hint of the  status of these ladies: Poppy Golden Oxford, Royal Mary’s Design, and Belle’s Golden Finance were surely belle dames of the dairy world. Raleigh’s Meg, Raleigh’s Ota and Raleigh’s Lady Brookhill all gave evidence in their names of their descent from Raleigh’s Lord Brookhill, who sired many prolific daughters for Lyle Green’s breeding program.

Despite the use of milking machines, the milking was still finished by hand, and the barn cats were adept at catching their daily ration of fresh milk. The cows were pastured in fields on the east side of the river and twice a day the herd made its slow way across the bridge. After Lyle Green’s death, his brother, Ralph, took over the farm and soon took his son-in-law, Charles Clifford, into partnership.

Green Acres Jersey Auction

As you can see, the Green herd was sold in 1944 and, although the Dayton Dairy continued for some years, it, too, is no longer. The milk bottles are now only found at flea markets or on eBay, but they serve as a reminder of one of the major enterprises in Dayton in the first half of the twentieth century.

Sorghum molasses

Sorghum Molasses article1     Evaporator2

 

Sorghum comes from the sorghum plant and is not a true molasses, which is produced from sugar cane. Sorghum is a type of grass, the juice of which produces a naturally sweet syrup. Special milling equipment extracts the juice from the crushed stalks, and evaporating pans with heating units steam off the excess water, leaving the syrup. Cook’s evaporator was the primary rival of Gates & Co. and they would have looked much the same.

The Greens’ sorghum venture in 1861 was apparently of recent origin, as the 1860 agricultural census of Dayton showed no one producing sorghum or molasses. Sorghum syrup could be used to flavor baked beans or barbeque sauce, or used straight from the jug on pancakes. It could be used in any recipe calling for molasses; it has a milder taste than the true, sugar cane, molasses. There are a number of modern recipes using sorghum. If you’d like to try one of these, check out  http://blueridgecountry.com/newsstand/flavors/mother-nature-in-a-jug/


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, October 12, 1861, p.3, col. 2
  2. Prairie Farmer, (Old Series) Vol. 22, No. 9, (New Series) Vol. 6, No. 9, August 30, 1860, p. 175