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