How to Tell A Yankee from a Buckeye

 

prairie schooner

Dayton was largely settled by people from Ohio, but the eastern states also contributed settlers to the area. If you need to know how to tell the difference, these remarks, given by  P. A. Armstrong at the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers’ Reunion will help:

“The state of Ohio, though comparatively speaking one of the younger states, contributed largely towards furnishing the first settlers of this county, among whom I will mention the Greens, Shavers, Groves, Debolts, Dunavans, Hupps, Brumbacks, Pitzers, Richeys, Strawns, Milligans, Trumbos, Armstrongs, Parrs, Hitts, Reynolds, Wallaces and Bruners, all of whom have left many descendants. New York also contributed handsomely to the first inhabitants, while Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and many of the eastern states had their representatives here at an early day. As a general rule we could distinguish whether the incoming emigrant were Yankee or from the Middle States.

The Yankee drove but one span of horses to his wagon and rode on the wagon to drive – the other drove from four to six horses to his wagon, riding the left hand wheel-horse to drive. The wagon of the Yankee was coupled longer than the other, had a flexible tongue held up by a neck yoke, and was of several inches narrower gauge and far lighter draft. The box was much lower and longer than the other’s, and of simpler construction and more easily taken apart to put on and oil.

The Buckeye or the Middle State wagon was schooner-shaped and closely coupled together. The rear wheels were some 12 inches greater in diameter than the front ones. It had a still tongue, which was ever busy pounding the legs of the wheel horses. The team was driven by a single line. Three sharp jerks to turn to the right – a steady pull to turn to the left, guided them.

The harness was both a curiosity and a monstrosity – a curiosity, how it ever came into use; a monstrosity by way of punishment to the poor horses who wore them. Great heavy blind bridles, huge collars, massive hames, broad backband and heavy trace-chains for the leaders, immense breeching that literally covered the hind-quarters of the wheel-horses, side-straps full five inches wide for tugs, and large bent-skin housings upon the wethers of each horse, were sufficient to melt anything in the shape of flesh.

The box was much higher at the ends than in the middle and was made of panel work, and so mortised together that the entire weight had to be lifted up in taking it off or putting it on the wagon. Hence it required the united effort of a whole family to handle it. These schooner wagons being about 5 inches wider than the Eastern wagon, they of course never tracked with them, and hence they made a new track, at least on one side. Being very heavy they sank to hard pan in every slough, and when planted they are “solid muldoons.”

These wagons, so dissimilar, each had their advocates for a while, but the superior advantages possessed by the Eastern wagon were so patent that the prairie schooners were abandoned and suffered, like the wonderful one-horse chaise, to tumble to pieces and were never repaired or duplicated.”1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, August 18, 1877, p. 4, col. 6 – p. 5, cols. 1-5
  2. image credit: By Kevin Burkett from Philadelphia, Pa., USA (Flickr Uploaded by SunOfErat) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dayton Company on Their Way to the Gold Fields

DELANO-LIFE-ON-PLAINS-BOOK-COVER                      California gold rush

The following descriptions of the journey across the plains to the California gold fields come from 2 sources – Alonzo Delano’s Journal,1 which he kept day by day during the journey and Jesse Green’s memoir,2 in which he wrote his memories of the trip many years later.

Twenty wagons and forty-nine men, principally from Dayton, but some from Ottawa, left on the boat Timoleon from Ottawa for the California gold fields on April 2, 1849.  Jesse Green was elected captain of the company; Joseph Green, his younger brother, was among the company.  John Green, their father, had been hired by the company to go with them as far as St. Joseph, MO to buy the oxen for the journey.

From St. Louis  they took a boat up the Missouri River to St. Joseph.  There were no cases of cholera on their boat, but on other boats, many people died – in one case, 12 in a single night.  The first night after arriving in St. Joseph, one of the company suddenly came down with cholera and died before morning.  That was the only death in the Dayton company during the entire trip across the plains, but John Green decided there was so much cholera on the river that it would be dangerous to go home, so he went on to California with them.

They left St. Joseph and went sixty miles up the river to find more plentiful grass for the teams, then headed west , travelling without a road for some two hundred miles.

[JG memoir] We agreed upon a point of compass that we would travel, making headway on our route rather than striking more south in order to reach the main road from St. Joseph.  The grass still being short we did not aim to travel over five to ten miles a day for a spell, and were so long reaching the main road that [a] mutinous spirit began to manifest itself, until I yielded to their request to allow Mr. Delano (of Ottawa) to lead them, which he undertook to do not caring for my compass, and though it was a clear day, I found before noon that in his eagerness to strike the road sooner, he had swung completely around and was traveling on the divide between the big and little Nimehahs down stream, while all knew we should travel upstream.  To satisfy the company that we was lost, I went to the nearest stream to see in which direction the water was running.  I knew by my compass and otherwise but did not wish to take any chances in ordering a countermarch.  I hurried back and stopped the train for our noon halt, and satisfied our men that we had been traveling the most of the forenoon on our back track, and said if they desired to go with me to California we should have to turn about, and try to make [the] camp which we had left in the morning, and I would lead them as I had been doing by the aid of my compass but would bear a little more in the direction of the road.  In due course of time we struck the road at a point where we could not possibly have bettered had we been well acquainted with the country,  as ten miles further west we would have encountered sand hills where it was impossible to travel with teams.  Mr. Delano published a history of our travels across the plains giving a good and truthful account with the exception of his leadership of our company, which was of such brief duration that he doubtless did not consider it worthy a place in his history.

 

[AD journal] May 15, 1849:  the party found a ford through a stream “and it was duly consecrated by an involuntary baptism of Mr. [John] Green.  The old gentleman rode in to sound the depth, when his saddle-girth gave way and he slid, body and breeches, over the mule’s head into the water; but as cold baths are recommended by physicians, he consoled himself upon the water-cure principle against future disease.  Notwithstanding the consecration, fate claimed a mite for her share from the old gentleman, for when the train was about to ford, he rode in to show the way, when the girth gave way a second time, and made a cold-water man of him again;  then he claimed the honor of being the best marksman in the company, for without firing a shot he had got a brace of ducks – two duckings in one morning.”  

That night, again according to Delano, John Green, who was acting as hunter for the party, did not return to camp. There was much concern and at the earliest dawn a search party went out.  About 11 o’clock, the old pioneer was sighted approaching the camp.  It seemed that, the previous evening, just as he was approaching camp, an antelope started up near him and in attempting to bring it down he was led on a chase of 2 to 3 miles and lost the direction of the camp.  He wrapped himself in his blanket and slept until the rising sun showed him the correct direction.  Upon his coming in, a second search party was sent out after the first and it was not until night that the entire company was re-united.

[JG memoir] …at Laramie the abrupt bluffs approached so nearly that we were obliged to leave the River for a distance of one hundred miles over the Black Hills, and here grass was so scarce, that we concluded to divide our train, as it was almost impossible to find grass in sufficient quantity for so large a train.

[AD journal} Captain Greene continued in command of eleven wagons and 29 men…I parted from Captain Greene with regret, for his modest unassuming manner, and his sterling good sense had made me much attached to him.

[JG memoir] Isaac Freadenburgh of Ottawa was elected captain of the branch Company.  Our friend Delano was in the mess that went with Mr. Freadenburgh.  He tried to get into our mess; when we separated he said I knew how they abused him and he really cried like a child at his being refused.  The difficulty between him and his mess mates was that they thought he was spending too much of his time on his Journal and failing to do his share of camp duty.

They crossed the Continental Divide at South Pass.

[JG memoir]  “…and here on top of those gigantic mountains, although eager to reach the mines, we were constrained to stop and meditate on the grandeur of the scenery, surpassing anything we had ever beheld, as peak after peak, snow-clad, in the distant Wind River Mountains, dazzled the eye…” The next point on our route of importance, was the crossing of Green River, where we found about five hundred wagons awaiting their turn to be ferried over by a company of Mormons.  Instead of waiting on this company, there was a train there from Hennepin in our state, which had two wagon boxes made of sheet iron with the view of using them in such emergencies, they crossed their own train and we paid them ten dollars each for ferrying our wagons and loading them over, and swam our teams.  By this means we got ahead of the five hundred teams awaiting the ferry.”

They arrived in the mines on September 2, 1849. They spent a year at various locations, with a moderate amount of luck, but in late summer of 1850 they decided to go home. Rather than recross the great plains, they went home through Mexico. On September 2, 1850 they went to San Francisco and took passage on  a boat which landed them at Mazatlan, Mexico, after a trip of 18 days. In Durango, there was a Government Mint and they exchanged some of their gold for coin to buy horses, which they had to take in silver, and put it on a pack mule.  They bought 500 head of horses at 5 to 6 dollars each and drove them overland to Texas, where Joseph and some others remained to winter them there and drove them home in the spring.  Their profit was not as great as they’d hoped as they arrived with less than half the original number, due to stampedes in Mexico.  The Mexicans would stampede the horses, then get a reward for rounding them up, although some went missing every time.

[JG memoir]  We passed over the memorable battleground of Buena Vista where General Taylor and General Santa Anna were in command.

In San Antonio Jesse and John Green and Mr. Goodrich left the company and took a steamer at Port Lavaca for New Orleans, in what was a very rough passage – the boat striking bottom 2 or 3 times and seeming as if it must be smashed to pieces.

[JG memoir]  “We arrived at New Orleans all safe and got aboard a boat for Saint Louis the same evening, and while at supper we had our trunk broken open in our state room just back of where we were sitting, and everything of value taken, not much money however, only about fifty dollars in silver, but all our specimens of gold and other rare specimens of value together with several small buckskin sacks, filled with black sand and fine gold, a watch, etc.  These sacks were very nearly as heavy as gold, and doubtless those thieves thought they had made a larger haul than they really did.  We regretted the loss of our specimens more than all else.”

They encountered ice on the river at Cairo and reached St. Louis with difficulty.  There, they found the Illinois River was frozen over and were obliged to return home by stage, reaching there in January of 1851, where Jesse Green saw for the first time his daughter Clara, born over a year before.


  1. Delano, Alonzo. Life on the Plains and Among the Diggings. Auburn [N.Y.] : Milner, Orton & Mulligan, 1854.
  2. Unpublished memoir of Jesse Green, a transcription of which is in the possession of Candace Wilmot, Urbana, Illinois.

The Black Hawk War – An Eyewitness Account from 1832

(1099) Barbara Grove Green - frame

 

Maud Green

Barbara Grove Green                                 Maud V. Green

The following account was dictated to Maud V. Green by her grandmother, Barbara Grove Green, December, 1884. It was transcribed from the handwritten original by Candace Wilmot, gr-gr-granddaughter of Barbara Grove Green.

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

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

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

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

 

Fardowners vs. Corkonians

Irish canal workers

The word  “fardowner” appeared in America at least as early as the 1830s, and referred to people from Ireland who came to obtain work on the new systems of canals and railways. The Corkonians came from County Cork in southern Ireland, while the Fardowners were from central Ireland. Rival clans competed with each other for jobs on the canals and there were frequent outbreaks of violence. One such outbreak among the workers on the Illinois-Michigan canal in 1838 is told of by Jesse Green in his memoir:

The season of 1838 we had what Mr. Baldwin in his history of the county terms “The Irish rebellion,” the Corconians being in the majority on the canal, the rivalry between that class and the Far-downs, culminated in the attempt of the Corconians to drive all Far-downs off the canal.

The sheriff Alson Woodruff called out all the available men he could get to thwart their purpose, he sent up to Dayton where we had on the upper and lower works something over one hundred men, all Far-downs, working on the feeder. The contractors on both works were absent that day and no one was left except myself and Cousin John Stadden who was willing to marshall and lead our men to the scene of expected battle. We were the only Americans in the squad, so we marched our men down the tow-path unarmed expecting to meet the sheriff in Ottawa, but he had preceded us down the Canal, and we continued our march down the tow-path, and met the Corconians coming up at the upper end of Buffalo Rock, armed with all manner of death dealing weapons, guns, pistols, scythes, shovels and picks &c. As soon as our men saw their opponents marching up the canal in such formidable array, they all broke ranks and ran up the North bluff like a herd of wild swine, leaving Stadden and myself alone there, and though a serious matter we almost burst with laughter to see the stampede. Doubtless it proved to be a very lucky circumstance, had they stood their ground and met the Corconians unarmed, we should probably have had a bloody battle and our men would have fared badly.

The Corconians continued their march up the canal to Ottawa when the sheriff with his posse of armed men halted them just west of town and read to them the riot act, and demanded that they lay down their arms and disperse, which most of them did but some attempted to run with their arms (not a gun was fired up to this time) in Mr. Baldwin’s history he says “it was claimed by some that fourteen or fifteen were killed.” We were ordered by the sheriff to pursue the fugitives on horseback and disarm them, which seemed to imply that if they ran too fast they were justified in retarding their speed, but I only heard of one instance of this kind, one bragadocia whom I will not name bragged that he stopped his man “rather suddenly” in the high grass fronting Judge Catons residence. I pursued one man and overtook him on the bank of the river just east of the present water works plant. I could not see that he had any arms, but told him he had a pistol which he must surrender, but he stoutly denied having any kind of weapon, until I told him my orders were to shoot if obliged to; and drew down my gun and cocked it as in the act of shooting, he then said he had a pistol but it was a borrowed one and he was afraid if he gave it up he never would find it again; I assured him that all arms and weapons taken would be left in charge of the sheriff and be returned to owners as soon as the difficulty was settled, he then handed the pistol to me.

On our return home that night we found our men had all returned home safely, and “Begore lucky it was fur us that we did run, faith had we stood our ground, ivery mithers son ivus would have been kilt.” The work proceeded without much trouble on this score, but it was desirable and almost a necessity on the part of contractors to not mix the two clans on the same work.

A Party in Dayton

party-ribbons-balloons-background-free-vector

Dayton on September 14, 1929, was the scene of a glorious centennial party, marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Green party in Illinois. Two bands, a children’s chorus, and a dance orchestra provided music; a gigantic tug-of-war and other tests of skill and strength amused the merry-makers; and former residents came from near and far to join the festivities.

A marker was dedicated on the spot where the mill-stones were found which were used in Green’s mill, the first water-powered mill in northern Illinois. The marker, a brass plate with the story of the discovery, was placed on a boulder set in cement, along the east bank of the river. Although the boulder may still be there, the brass plate disappeared many years ago.

During the afternoon, Miss Maude Green, Mrs. John Bowers, Miss Helen Hallowell and Miss Edith Reynolds donned garments of several decades ago and promenaded the streets, reviving an interesting bit of history in regard to modes and fashions. Only the marcelled hair of Miss Hallowell and Miss Reynolds which peeked from underneath their quaint old bonnets showed that they were maids of the twentieth century rather than of the days when Dayton was in its infancy.

There were many mementos, relics and curios on display:
.     straw plug hat and woman’s straw hat of the vintage of about 1800
.    old candle molds
.    flintlock guns which belonged to Peter W. Ainsley and Tim Thompson
.     blankets and coverlets made in the old woolen mill
.     hoop skirts, dresses, black silk and satin capes
.     an 85 year old spinet, having twenty-nine keys, and thirty inches in height
.     a tardy bell and a call bell from an old school
.     mourning shawls and hats, which were loaned out at the time of funerals

The revelry went on well into the evening and a good time was had by all.

The Terrors of Cholera

Cholera was an ever-present danger in the middle of the 19th century and the disease could strike swiftly and cruelly, as this newspaper article from 1854 shows. Aaron Daniels lived just across the Fox river from Dayton and was related to members of the Green family.

Cholera—Fearful Mortality

While there has not, during the present season, been a single case of cholera in Ottawa, originating here, and our city has been unusually healthy, the disease has on several occasions broken out in some isolated families in our vicinity, like a fire in the night, consuming every thing before it. The last family that has suffered from its terrible visitation is that of Mr. AARON DANIELS, a respectable farmer, residing about three miles north of Ottawa, east of Fox River. The disease first made its appearance in his family on Friday of last week, and up to last Thursday morning six of its members has fallen victims to the ruthless scourge, as follows:

On Saturday evening, Minerva Daniels, daughter of A. Daniels, aged about 17.
On Monday night, Jonathan Daniels, son, aged about 20 years.
Ruth Ann Daniels, daughter, aged about 14 years.
Judith Daniels, daughter, aged about 11.
Aaron Daniels, son, aged about 4 years.
And on Thursday morning Mrs. Aaron Daniels, aged about 40.

The family of Mr. Daniels being largely connected in the neighborhood, a number of persons—friends and relatives—visited and remained at the house during their affliction, nearly all of whom have since been taken with the disease, and in many instances, with fatal results, as the following melancholy list of the dead will show.

On Monday evening Geo. Head, son of Thomas Head, aged about 18 years.
Same day Louisa Parker, child of Mrs. Parker, daughter of Aaron Daniels—aged about 4 years.
On Tuesday morning, Mrs. B. Fleming, sister of Mrs. A. Daniels.
On Wednesday, Alvah Channel, living with A. Daniels—aged about 20.
On Sunday, Miss Kingsley, school teacher, lately from Mt. Palatine. She had been boarding in the family of Mr. Daniels until the cholera made its appearance, when she started for home, but was taken at Ottawa, where she died.
On Thursday, Mr. Garrett Galvin, who had assisted in burying the deceased members of the family of Mr. Daniels.

We hear of several others in the neighborhood who have taken the disease, but up to yesterday morning of no more deaths. All the persons taken thus far, we believe were at the house of Mr. Daniels, either calling or assisting there, during their affliction; and it is remarkable that the disease has spread in no families where there have been cases except that of Mr. Daniels. The only cause we have heard assigned for this fearful visitation is the fact that a few days before the disease made its appearance, Mrs. D. had used fresh pork in his family. This alone, although doubtless very unhealthy food at this season, is not believed to be of itself sufficient to account for the fatality ascribed to its use, except on the hypothesis that the pork had become tainted. Considering the extreme heat of the weather, this is not unlikely to have been the case, and although it may not have been perceptible, we are assured that the slightest taint will render such meat otherwise not unwholesome, as poisonous as strychnine.

The reports circulated in town that the family had suffered for want of attention, and that great difficulty had been found in obtaining assistance to bury the dead, &c., we know to be wholly untrue. The truth is, that during most of the time, too many persons were at the house. The family has many friends and relatives in the whole neighborhood, and frequently they gathered in so numerously that they were advised to keep away. Sufficient help was constantly at hand, and complaint on that score is neither made by Mr. D. nor, if made, would be just to his neighbors.1


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, August 19, 1854, p. 3, col. 1

Early Mail Delivery

 

newspaper listing of early mails

Mail Service to Dayton in 1842

Tri-weekly mail up Fox River, via Dayton, Northville, Pennfield, Bristol, Oswego and Aurora to Geneva, arrives every Monday Wednesday and Friday at 8 o’clock, p. m., and departs every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday, at 3 o’clock, a. m.

The Dayton post office was established in 1837. In 1842, as this mail schedule shows, Dayton was on the Fox River route up to Geneva, in the north. Because of the relative ease of the river route as compared to the overland routes, there were three mail deliveries a week in Dayton, whereas the other routes only provided weekly service. There was no home delivery of mail, so stopping by the post office to get your mail was also a social activity for the exchange of local news.

In 1842, prior to the use of envelopes and postage stamps, letters usually consisted of one sheet, folded, with the charge (paid by the recipient) written in the corner. At this time, the charge for a letter was 25 cents, and often a letter languished at the post office until the recipient could afford to retrieve it. A story is told of a man whose letter lay in the post office for over a month because he could not collect the money to get it. He finally traded the postmaster four bushels of wheat for it and thought he had made a good deal, so anxious was he to hear from the folks back home.


Image from Illinois Free Trader, October 28, 1842, p. 3, col. 2

During the Black Hawk War

One of the major events in La Salle county during the Black Hawk War was the Indian Creek Massacre, which alarmed the settlers in the area. Barbara Green was in Dayton and recounted these memories:

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

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

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

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

Dictated to Maud V. Green by her grandmother, Barbara Grove Green, December, 1884. Transcribed from the handwritten original by Candace Wilmot, gr-gr-granddaughter of Barbara Grove Green, 18 September 1990. Original in possession of Candace Wilmot.

The first few winters (1830-1832)

greater-prairie-chicken-tympanuchus-cupido

Greater Prairie Chicken

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

In those days wild bees were quite plentiful, and could be found in winter on the snow where dead bees were thrown out.  In the absence of snow our best bee hunters would bait them at different points of the compass, and time them in their flight and thus locate the tree near enough to find it

from Jesse Green’s memoir, written in 1895


Greater prairie chicken tympanuchus cupido by Menke Dave, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

 

The first year

Millstone - Shabbona Park (1)

One of the original millstones at Dayton, now on display in Shabbona Park.

When the Green party arrived in Illinois in December 1829, they moved into the cabin that William Clark had built for them. It was 18 feet by 24 feet, and in that single room, fourteen adults and ten children (four of them under two years of age) spent the first winter. As soon as possible in the spring, trees were felled to make a sawmill and the roots of the trees were used in making the dam. Jesse and David Green, ages ten and twelve, were given the task of scraping out the raceway for the mill, with a pair of oxen and a scraper each. They finished their work just as the mill was ready. The sawmill was built with enough room at one end for a pair of grindstones, and on July 4, 1830, the first wheat was ground by water power in northern Illinois. Barbara Green baked bread from that flour for their Independence Day meal. When these first mill stones were replaced, they were placed in Shabbona Park, where they may still be seen.

Arrival

The rest of their story:

The company had ordered a halt and prepared to encamp, but with the expectation of going supperless to bed, as their provisions were exhausted, when Mr. Green drove up, to the great joy of the whole party, both man and beast. From the time the corn gave out and the provisions were running short, one young man refused to eat, contending that as they were bound to starve, the provisions should be reserved for the women and children.

The next day, being the 6th of December, 1829, about four o’clock P. M. we reached our destination — except the three young men in charge of the perogue, whom we expected would reach here before us; and when night came on we were all cast down with fearful forebodings, as we thought they must have met with some serious accident. But our anxiety was soon releived. On the same day they had made the perogue fast at the grand rapids of the Illinois, now Marseilles, and crossing the prairie without any knowledge of the country, became benighted, but seeing the light from our cabin, joined us about eight o’clock, and we had a great time of rejoicing, the lost having been found. The self sacrificing brother joined us in a hearty meal, and his appetite never failed him afterward.

Closer to the Goal

The story continues:

A heavy rain came on, and we encamped in a small grove, and were obliged to cut up some of our boxes to make a fire. That night we shall never forget; most of us sat up all night. Mother laid down in the wagon, and tried to sleep, and was frozen fast so she could not rise in the morning. It took us over three days to reach the mouth of the Kankakee, a distance of thirty miles, while the perogue had to go seventy miles by water. The crew had about given up in despair of meeting us, when they fortunately heard a well-known voice calling to a favorite horse, by which they were directed to our camp. We ferried most of our goods over the Illinois on the perogue, when a friendly Indian showed us a ford where we took our teams over without difficulty. Our corn being exhausted, our teams had nothing to eat but browse, or dry prairie grass, and very little of that, as the prairie had nearly all been burned over. In the afternoon of the 5th of December, we came in sight of a grove of timber, and John Green, believing it to be Hawley’s (now Holderman’s) Grove, started on horseback to ascertain. His expectations were realized, and he found Messrs. Hawley and Beresford butchering a beef. He harnessed Beresford’s horse, a large gray one, to a light wagon of Beresford’s, and taking a quarter of the beef, and filling the wagon with corn, started for Nettle creek timber, where he supposed the party would stop.

Crossing the Prairie

Two men and wagon

Continuing Jesse’s and David’s story:

Our teams crossed a prairie that had no bottom – at least, we did not find any. The second day, found a stream too deep to cross; felled trees from either side until they formed a temporary bridge, over which we conveyed out goods and people, which was barely accomplished when the accumulated waters swept our bridge away. The teams were made to swim, one horse barely escaping drowning. One of the women became nervous, and could not be induced to walk the bridge. John Green took her on his back, and made his way over on his hands and knees. The exact position in which the lady rode is not recorded.

From Ohio to Illinois

Continuing the story of the trip from Ohio to Illinois with Jesse and David Green’s recollections:

We traveled five days by the compass, when we arrived at Parish’s Grove, Iroquois County, Illinois. From there we followed an Indian trail to Hubbard’s trading post, on the Iroquois river. Here we bought all the corn we could get – about eight bushels – and a perogue, or canoe. Loading it with about thirty hundred weight of our goods, we put Jacob Kite, Joseph Grove, and Samuel Grove, on for a crew, with directions to work down the Iroquois to the Kankakee, and through that to the Illinois, where they were to meet the teams. This was necessary, as our teams were worn, feed scarce, and roads very bad, or, rather, none at all. On the trip, Joseph Grove became so chilled that he contracted a disease from which he never fully recovered.

Starting the Journey

Family and wagon

An account of the 1829 trip from Ohio to Illinois is told by David and Jesse Green, sons of John Green, in Elmer Baldwin’s History of La Salle County, written in 1877.

On the 2d of November, 1829, the following named persons left Newark, Licking County, Ohio, for what is now La Salle County, Illinois: John Green, David Grove, Henry Brumback, and Reason Debolt, with their families, and the following named young men: Samuel Grove, Joseph Grove, Jacob Kite, Alexander McKee, and Harvey Shaver. Their outfit was one four-yoke oxen team, three two-horse wagons, and one carriage. Found the roads passable till we got into Indiana, where we lay by three days for bad weather. The streams were high, but we were bound for the West, and pressed forward. Found about forty teams weather-bound at Boxby’s, on the Whitewater, where we were told it would be impossible to proceed unless we traveled on the top of wagons and teams already swamped. From there we cut our way through heavy timber for sixty miles, averaging about ten miles per day. One of the party, with a child in his arms, was thrown from the carriage, breaking three of his ribs, and the carriage wheel passed over the child without injuring it. The wounded man pursued the journey, never complaining; so readily did those hardy pioneers adapt themselves to circumstances, and heroically face the inevitable. The streams were so high we had to head them, or, as the saying is, go around them.

How It All Began

Jesse Green, son of John Green (“father” in the excerpt below), wrote a memoir in 1895, in which he recounted the settling of Dayton:

On August 27, 1829, father with William Green, Joseph Grove and William Lambert left on horseback to explore the Northwest. They passed through Chicago where they found few settlers. They frequently slept on the ground. They came upon the Fox river and followed it down to the rapids where William Clark had arrived in the spring of that same year and built a cabin. The location was ideal for a mill site and was situated on lands subject to entry at that time. Father bought Mr. Clark’s claim on which he was living, and hired him to put in forty acres of fall wheat, and to build another and larger log cabin 18 by 24 feet (all in one room) by the time he should return from Ohio with his family.

 He then returned to his home in Ohio as speedily as possible as it was already late in the season to think of moving that fall, but he had made up his mind to do so, and was not easily swerved from his purpose, as he was a man of positive character and consequently was strong willed, many thought recklessly so sometimes. But his resolutions being coupled with good sound judgement and “good hard horse sense” he was usually successful in his ventures.