Mail to California

In April, 1850, David Green wrote to his father and brothers in the gold fields near Sacramento. The postage to California and Oregon was 40 cents and it was paid by the sender. This letter was folded and sealed to create its own envelope. Note the red blob of sealing wax still adhering to the paper. The postmark reads “Ottawa Ill. APR 28”. How did this letter get to California?

Mail to California began in November, 1848, when Postmaster General Cave Johnson dispatched a special agent to California to establish Post Offices. By Christmas, steamships were carrying mail from New York to California via the Isthmus of Panama. This was before the construction of the canal. When the ships reached Panama, the mail was taken off and transported in canoes or on pack animals – and later by railroad – about 50 miles to the Pacific coast. Another steamship collected the mail on the Pacific side and headed north. The total journey took about three weeks. See here for map.

Since the first overland mail service to California was not until the spring of 1851, this letter likely went by boat from Ottawa to St. Louis and then by steamboat to New Orleans. From there it joined the main mail route from New York, crossing Panama and continuing up the coast to San Francisco.

This second letter came in its own (hand-made) envelope. Note that in this case the sender paid only 10 cents, leaving 30 cents to be collected upon arrival. Was David thinking the miners would have plenty of gold to pay the amount due?

Mail to and from California was eagerly awaited and all the letters stressed the fact that they had not heard from the other in a long time. Then a batch of letters would appear all at once and news was relayed to everyone for miles around, in hopes that their people would be mentioned. Many of the letters from La Salle county people were published in the Ottawa Free Trader.

Mail from home was not only eagerly awaited, it was treasured. These two letters, mailed to California and received there, were put away safely and brought home with them. The fragile originals are now treasured as evidence of how important the mail was to the adventurers.

1829 home of the Green party

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.  In the picture above, the small extension on the back of the house is the original cabin.

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

Baldwin Didn’t Get Everything Right

The bible of early Dayton history is Elmer Baldwin’s History of La Salle County, which attempted to give a sketch of the pioneer settlers of each town up to 1840. In a comprehensive work of this nature, it is no surprise that occasional errors crept in. I have my great-aunt’s copy of Baldwin’s book where she handwrote corrections into the Dayton-Rutland sections. She was writing about her family and neighbors, correcting errors that she saw.

Here are two paragraphs from the account of Dayton, with her additions and corrections in italics:

William Stadden* and wife, Elizabeth Hoadley [Judith Daniels], from Licking County, Ohio, in May 1830, settled on S. 33, T. 34, R. 4; sold to Jonathan Daniels, and moved to Dayton in 1831; built a flouring mill; was twice elected Sheriff of La Salle County, and twice to the State Senate. He was a prominent and useful citizen, and died in 1848. Children: Jonathan, married Elizabeth Long, in Rutland; Mary, married David Green; William; Elizabeth, married Horace B. George; Richard, married Sally Sevant [Swank].
[*His son William Stadden Jr. married Elizabeth Hoadley.]

Nathan Proctor bought the store and goods of David* Letts, [David Letts bought this store from Jas. McFadden who was shot through the ankle by Indians on Indian Creek when Robert Beresford was killed]. in the spring of 1836; he had a very interesting family, and was himself a genial, able and popular man, and did a prosperous business for about one year and was noted for his honorable and upright business habits. On his way to St. Louis to purchase goods, he was detected in passing counterfeit money. He avoided arrest, but never returned. He was found to be a member of the notorious band that then infested the country from the Illinois to Wisconsin, called the Bandits of the Prairies, who were horse thieves, counterfeiters, robbers, burglars, and murderers. Dies, and plates for counterfeiting, were found in his store, and years after, when the building was torn down, a copperplate engraving was found behind the plastering. If his former or subsequent history should be written, it is probable the name of Nathan Procter would not appear.
[*David Letts had one child – Rhoda Ann Miller – (went to Utah). 2nd wife’s children: Madison, Noah, Amanda & James.]

Death of Nancy Green Dunavan

Mrs. Nancy Dunavan

Mrs. Nancy Dunavan died on the 27th of February, 1905, at the home of her son, David Dunavan, near Hamilton, Mo. She was born on April 26, 1816, in Licking county, Ohio, coming to this state with her parents, John and Barbara Green, in 1829. They were pioneers of Dayton precinct. She was married to J. Albert Dunavan in 1834, and settled on a farm in Rutland township, which was at that time a part of Dayton precinct. They lived there for 55 years, until 1889, when they left there a few years later to live with their children at Hamilton, Mo. Her husband died in February, 1892. She leaves one sister, Mrs. O. W. Trumbo, of Dayton, and one brother, Jessie [sic] Green, of Ottawa. The only surviving members of a large family are two daughters, Mrs. Kate Brandon and Mrs. Jennie Howe, of Missouri, and five sons, Samuel Dunavan, of Adam, Ill., Isaac, of Minnesota, David, George and Lewis, of Missouri.1


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, March 10, 1905, p. 7, col. 6

Dam Being Built at Dayton in 1924

building the dam

A Million Dollar Dam Being Built at Dayton

 About forty men are now at work on the new dam across the Fox river at Dayton, a few miles southeast of Earlville. The project will cost in the neighborhood of a million dollars and it is planned to have power ready by next April.

The power house will occupy a site on the west bank of the Fox, formerly occupied by an old stone structure, built almost a century ago and known then as the Green woolen mills, which has been razed to make room for the new plant.

The site of the dam is about 1,000 feet north of the highway bridge. The dam will be 625 feet in length, and will be of a type known as a multiple arch. Engineers in charge of the work say they know of but one other dam of this type. It is in Italy. The dam will be arched upstream in moderate crescent shape. Attached to this arch on the upstream side will be other arches in 25-foot units, extending from the top of the dam to the bottom. The dam will slope gradually up stream so that the body of water will rest upon the dam as well as against it.

The old feeder canal will be used to convey the water from the dam to the powerhouse. It will be dug deeper and rip-rapped with material taken from the old Green building, which was of Joliet stone.

Plans call for a 30-foot head of water, with water standing at a depth of about 25 feet at the dam. The backwater, it is said, will be only one foot at Sulphur Lick Springs, and the overflow will cover but little more than 80 acres of farm property.

Heyworth plans to carry material to the site of the dam from the Burlington railroad by electric power. A power house for the development of electricity will be constructed on the west bank of the river and an oil engine installed. Material will be taken from the cars on the Burlington switch and transported directly to the dam, dump cars being used to eliminate cost of handling.

When this dam is completed it will form one of the most beautiful spots In LaSalle county. The lake will be from a few feet in depth at Wedron to 25 feet in depth at Dayton, a length of four or five miles by a breadth of more than 600 feet.1


  1. The Earlville Leader, 12 Jun 1924, p. 9

Dayton Centennial – Part 7

Trunk with old clothes

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

RELICS OF FORMER DAYS

            Mementoes, relics and curios on exhibition at the celebration includes:

Display of arrow heads, owned by Elmer R. C. Eick, 420 Christie street, Ottawa, many of which were found in Dayton and Rutland townships; quilt made by the great, great  grandmother of Mrs. Verne Wilson; coverlet made in Virginia more than 75 years ago, the property of Mrs. Van Etten; shawl owned by Mrs. John Thompson, made by her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Brumbach, 80 years ago; quilt made by the wife and daughters of Matthias Trumbo in 1850; straw plug hat and woman’s straw hat of the vintage of about 1800; picture of old school house on the site of the present elevator in Dayton; corn planter used by David Strawn in Livingston county, loaned by Mrs. Walter Strawn; trunk carried in a covered wagon across the plains to California by Joseph Green in 1849 and again in 1852; another trunk brought from Rockingham county, Virginia, by Matthias Trumbo; steelyards which belonged to the Hayes ancestors, sewing box, which belonged to Mary A. Boston, grandmother of G. R. Hayes of Wedron; English tea caddy loaned by Mrs. Wilcox; bedspread made by the mother of C. H. Tuttles, 65 years ago; old candle molds used by Mrs. David Strawn, loaned by Mrs. Walter Strawn; 17 year locusts gathered in 1933 by Mrs. John W. Reynolds of Dayton; piece of fancy work made by Mrs. Mary D. Bennett, 81 years ago; reproduction of Jeremiah Strawn’s lantern 100 years old, loaned by Mrs. Walter Strawn; pictures of John and Barbara Grove Green; vest worn by Mr. Hall when killed by the Indians in the Indian creek massacre in 1832; old cow bell used by David Strawn’s farm in Livingston county, loaned by Mrs. Walter Strawn; flint lock guns which belonged to Peter W. Ainsly and Tim Thompson, lantern and fork found in Wedron under C. E. Thompson’s house; mammoth tooth found near Norway in a gravel bed 30 feet underground; copper toed boots; charcoal iron belonging to Mrs. Sarah Thompson; horse pistol brought from Nebraska by Edman Thompson, half brother of George R. Hayes of Wedron; handcuffs plowed out on the old Ed. Brundage place by G. R. Hayes at Wedron; silk stovepipe hat made by Roussel in Paris and worn to the inaugural ball of President James Buchanan in 1856 by one of Rhoades family; a large map of La Salle county drawn in 1870 by M. H. Thompson and C. L. F. Thompson, showing Dayton as one of the towns of the county; pictures of the old Dayton woolen mills, collar factory and Green’s mill were shown on the map; coverlet brought from Virginia by Mrs. Frank DeBolt’s mother and one brought from Ohio by Mr. DeBolt’s mother; a black net and lace shawl owned by Mrs. Charles Hayward Reed; brown blanket made in the old mills and owned by Mrs. Cornelius Bogerd’s mother; hoop-skirts, dress, blouse and hat about 100 years old; linen, black silk and satin capes eighty years old belonging to Miss Catherine Rhoades; a spinet, 85 years old, and having twenty-nine keys and 30 inches in height; coverlet, more than 100 years old owned by David and Anna Grove and brought from Ohio; a dollman, made of English broadcloth, lined with figured silk and worn by Sidney Lowry; two woven baskets each more than 75 years of age; spiral hall tree 75 years old; sugar, and coffee scoops made of wood; spatula of wood used to remove pie plates from the old ovens; earthen bowls, pottery jugs and ladles used more than 75 years ago; a tardy bell and a call bell used at the old Waite school. which was taught at that time by Miss Susan Bailey of Ottawa. Miss Bailey taught the school when she was sixteen years of age. She is 91 years old now. There were two chairs on display, which were brought down the Ohio river to Memphis, Tenn., thence to Alton, to La Salle on the Illinois and then overland by a four-yoke ox team to the Old Fox River house at Ottawa. The chairs were the property of Miss Rhoade’s grandmother, Mrs. Sarah Collins Rhoades and were brought to Ottawa in 1843; bed quilts made in 1860; two Paisley shawls which had been in the Collins family for 75 years;  mourning shawls and hats which were loaned out at the time of funerals which were at least 65 years of age; a table of mahogany and a tidy which were wedding presents of Mrs. Catherine Rhoades in 1860.

PLACE OF HONOR

            Mrs. Frances Beach, who resides north of Ottawa, and is ninety years of age, was given a place of honor on the official Centennial register of visitors, her name being placed first on the list.

[concluded]

A Serious Accident

building the Dayton dam

building the Dayton dam – 1924

Eleven men were hurt, three fatally it is thought, and fifty more escaped injury when a forty-foot trestle, used in the construction of the Dayton Dam on the Fox River four miles from Ottawa collapsed at one o’clock today under the weight of four cars of cement and an electric locomotive.

All of the men were removed as soon as they could be extricated from the tangled framework of the wrecked trestle, to Ottawa hospitals.

The three not expected to live are:
Al Muhebauer, 19, Little Falls, Minnesota, fractured skull.
Elmer Starks, 37, Marseilles, internal injuries.
Andrew Poka, 20, back, head and legs hurt.
Other workmen were uninjured when they escaped the falling timbers by miraculous good fortune.

It was the first time the trestle had been used, and the cement was being poured into the dam wall from it when the supporting timbers gave way.

The construction camp was thrown into consternation, but work of removing the injured was begun immediately. Ottawa ambulances were rushed to the scene, carrying the workmen back to the county seat.1


  1. The (Streator) Times, 5 Nov 1924, p. 7

Dayton Centennial – Part 6

 

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

THE DAYTON SONG

            A song composed especially for the centennial by Edith Dunavan Hamilton, a great granddaughter of John Green was sung by Miss Isobel Brown at the afternoon program. The song follows:

“Sound of the axe-man’s stroke, creaking of ox-teams yoke, bravely the young wives smile ‘though danger lurks the while. Planting the cornfields, plowing for bounteous yields, braving the winter’s cold, we honor you, dear pioneers of old.

By the river gently flowing – Dayton, mellowed by the year’s swift going – Dayton. Through days of storm and strife, through years of peaceful life for those gone these many years, we pause to shed a tear, today we gather to honor your 100 years.”

SOME OLD DRESSES

            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.

[to be continued]

Dayton Centennial – Part 5

Levi Fahler

Levi Fahler

Herbert L. Dunavan

Herbert L. Dunavan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

MANY OLD TIMERS

Levi Fahler, 87, of Mendota and his wife, Mrs. Katherine Gephard Fahler, 85, were two of the interesting visitors at the celebration. Fahler made his first visit to Dayton with a load of grain which he took to the grist mill when he was but sixteen years of age. Both he and Mrs. Fahler were members of a colony of 27 persons who came from Pennsylvania by boat in 1849 and settled on a farm near Troy Grove. Fahler hauled grain to the Dayton grist mill for many seasons after making his first trip at the age of sixteen. They were accompanied to the centennial by their son, Martin Fahler, of Mendota and his son Forest.

Josiah Fahler, 89, also of Mendota and his son Forest at the celebration. He is a brother of Levi Fahler and although he was reared near Troy Grove he frequently went to the mill at Dayton.

H. L. Dunavan, manager of the People’s Gas stores in Chicago with Mrs. Dunavan, his son, daughter and four grandchildren came to Dayton for the celebration. Dunavan was born and reared in Dayton, as was Mrs. Dunavan who was Cora Moore, daughter of the late Daniel Moore.

Dunavan left Dayton 37 years ago. He spent the greater part of the day hunting up friends of his boyhood days.

“Nothing looks natural,” he complained, “Not even my old home. It does not seem as though I ever had lived here. The old Fox river bridge is the only thing that looks the same. I proposed to my wife on that bridge and I still like it.”

James A. Green, a grandson of John Green, one of the original settlers brought Mrs. Green and their daughter driving from Grand Junction, Colo. to attend the celebration.

[to be continued]

Dayton Centennial – Part 4

Chief Shabbona

Chief Shabbona

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

G. W. GREEN RETURNS

G. W. Green, 79 of Aurora, whose boyhood at Dayton was marked by a friendship with the great Indian chief Shabbona, was disappointed Saturday to find that the village had changed since his boyhood days.

The Aurora man was the grandson of John Green, and the son of David Green who accompanied John Green to the Fox river town site in 1829. His mother was Mary Stadden Green who moved to Dayton in 1832.

“Why if I should drop in here at night I would never know where I was at,” he exclaimed as he looked up and down the streets. Green left Dayton in 1884 to move west and later returned to Illinois settling in Aurora.

His boyhood was marked by many interesting experiences with Chief Shabbona and the Indians. Once Green and a group of Indian boys who accompanied Chief Shabbona to Dayton were shooting pennies with arrows. The Indians won all the pennies, stirring up the anger of the Dayton boy who grabbed the bow one Indian boy was using and broke it. The Indians started after him, and Green related Saturday how he fled to the front porch of the home of his grandfather, when John Green and Chief Shabbona were sitting talking. Shabbona saw the child’s fear and stroking him on the head said kindly: “No be afraid.”

Green also told of the visits Chief Shabbona would make to Dayton twice a year, to receive the blankets, meat and flour from John Green and would then go on to Ottawa where George Walker and William Hickling would give him groceries. These men gave Shabbona his supplies for his friendship with the white people and because he warned them of attacks which were to be made by unfriendly tribes.

OLD FRIENDS MEET

“This town was almost at a standstill when I left here in 1884,” said Green. “In my boyhood, it had been a brisk little business community. The old Trumbo home is about the only thing around here that looks the same to me.”

Mrs. Alice Allen of Des Moines, Iowa, the eldest sister of G. W. Green, was also in attendance at the centennial.

Green was born in the old Dayton Tavern in 1850 and grew to manhood in the village. The principal recreation in his youth, he said were old fashioned country dances held at the various homes.

Frank DeBolt stood in front of a stranger until a September breeze blew the man’s identification tag disclosing the name Harry Green.

“Why, are you Harry Green?” gasped DeBolt.

“Yes,” replied the other, who failed to recognize DeBolt.

Why I haven’t seen you for forty years,” continued DeBolt. “Don’t you remember me, why when you ran the store here, I furnished you meat for several years.”

This was only one of the hundreds of revivals of old friendships that occurred during the day. Green is now living in Chicago.

Terry Simmons, Marseilles editor, was one of the most enthusiastic visitors at the centennial. Simmons’ father used to take grist to the mill when Dayton was the state’s most thriving village.

[to be continued]

Dayton Centennial – Part 3

crowd

Were some of your family members in the crowd?

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

SOME OF THE VISITORS

            Among the visitors who came from a distance for the celebration were:

Mr. and Mrs. James A. Green and daughter Alice of Grand Junction, Colo.; Mr. and Mrs. James Nagle of Webster Park, Mo.; Mrs. Hattie Lewis, Stuartsville, Mo.; Robert Fleming, Palkerton, Wyo.; Miss Isabella Grove, Washington, D. C.; Edward E. Rooney, St. Albans, Vt.; Mrs. Kate Fleming McAllister, Laramie, Wyo.; Mrs. Ben E. Lawrence, River Forest, Ill.; Carl Rossitor, South Bend, Ind.; Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Green, Aurora; Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Knight, Aurora – Mrs. Knight was formerly Miss Ethel Green; Harry Green, Chicago; Mrs. Alice Green Allen, Des Moines, Ia.; Emma A. Wallwork, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mrs. Lena Masters, East Chicago, Ind.; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Richmond, Taylorville, Ill.; Mrs. Richmond was Miss Maude Shaver, daughter of Frank Shaver prior to her marriage; Mr. and Mrs. LeVoy Richmond and family; Miller Wier, Jacksonville, Ill.; Al Fisher, Gatzki, Minn.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Green and Winfield Green, Peoria; Roy McBrearty, Aurora; Mrs. Myra E Lawry, St. Louis, Mo.; Mrs. Barbara DeBolt Webster, Pontiac; Harriet Bruner, Los Angeles, Calif.; William Holmes, Mrs. Nettie Holmes and William B. Holmes, Chicago; Lewis E. Myers, Valparaiso, Ind.; Mrs. John Champlain, South Bend, Ind.; William Breese, Chicago; Ruth Brown, Oak Park; Walter D. Brown, Oak Park; Mr. and Mrs. Allen Fleming, Aurora; Mrs. Walter Brown, Helen Brown and Ethel Brown, Oak Park; Mrs. John Westermeier, Warren Westermeier and Donald Westermeier, Chicago; Mrs. J. Neises and Gladys Neises, Chicago; Charles Nash, Hennepin; Mrs. Russell P. Childs, Ohio; Mrs. Nellie DeBolt Snow, Chicago; J. N. Ferguson, Woodlawn; William Mettebarger, Woodlawn; Mrs. Charles N. Nash, Mr. and Mrs. Roland Hamm, Hennepin; Mr. and Mrs. Roy Green, Aurora.

George W. Green, Aurora; Miss Miriam Green, Aurora; F. S. Wallwork, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Dunavan, Chicago; Dorothy Elains Richmond and Floy Arlene Richmond, Taylorville; Herberta Dunavan Schabes, Chicago; Harold Dunavan, Chicago; Frank Schabes, Chicago; Eva Channel Ladd, Shabbona; Lottie Makinson Pederson, Chicago; Mrs. C. A. Palmer, Chicago; Mrs. Frances Hendrix, Chicago; Martha Howard White, Joliet; Walter Howard White, Joliet; Maud Ferguson White, Joliet; J. Kent Greene, Chicago; Mabel Greene Myers, Valparaiso, Ind.; R. E. Breaty, Aurora; Robert Lee DeBolt, Evanston; Mrs. W. Miller, Aurora; Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Miller, Millington; Ludwig Lazar, Joliet; Elmer Freine, Somonauk; Mrs. Mannie Freine, Somonauk; John Champaign, South Bend, Ind.; Walter Rositer, South Bend, Ind.; Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Fleming, Aurora.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Reid, Springfield, Mo.; Mamie DeBolt Terry, Highland Park, Ill.; Mr. and Mrs. Ray Doran, Aurora; Mrs. Carrie Green, Joliet; Mr. and Mrs. Jule Pitts, Joliet; Mrs. S. A. Armagast, Joliet; Mrs. J. E. Cutting, Joliet; Mrs. Evelyn Lawrence, River Forest; Mrs. Lana Masters, Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Green, Joliet; Mrs. Hattie Lewis, Stuartsville, Mo.; Mrs. Josephine Gibson, Chicago; Mrs. Pauline Blunt, Mo.; E. W. Jackson, Toledo, O.; Charles W. Eisenhuth, Mrs. Lena Eisenhuth, Marian Eisenhuth, Aurora; Mrs. Mable Hayward Rothgeb, East Orange, New Jersey; Harriet Pellouchoud, Odell, Ill.; Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Swindler, Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Leafe, Villa Park, Ill.; Mrs. M. Raymond, Blue Island; Ira Hanson, Iowa; Pearl Masters, Chicago; Philip Deegan, Chicago; John W. Whalen, Graymont, Ill.

Dr. H. G. Logan, Mrs. Rae Parr Logan, Mobile, Ala.; Mrs. John Watnew, Santa Monica, Calif.; E. M. DeBolt, Mildred DeBolt, Barbara DeBolt, Catherine DeBolt, Roy DeBolt, Gilbert, DeBolt, Robert DeBolt of Pontiac; Mrs. Harry Hinkson, Waterman; Mr. and Mrs. Chris Junken, Chicago; Loretto E. Dockendorf, Joliet; Mrs. Nauman, Joliet; Mrs. underline, Joliet; Dwight, Lillian and Jack Ladd, Chicago; Mrs. E. Weber, Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Paul C. Lange, Chicago.

Cora Tanner, Aurora, Ernest Weber, Chicago; Sam Hall, New York; Arthur G. Wunderlick, Joliet; William Carter, Joliet; Reuben Burch, Arlington; E. Rachael Davenport, Chicago; Dorothy Masters, Chicago; John E. Davenport, River Forest; Cora Childs Greene, Chicago; Mrs. Anna Manges, Chicago; Mrs. Ruth Atkinson, Champaign; Ed W. Jackson, South Bend, Ind.; Mrs. Sara Ferguson, Grand Haven, Mich.; Alvin Green, Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Ladd, Joe Ozark, George Ozark and Nicholas Dummitt, Chicago.

[to be continued]


Image: Ghozt Tramp [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

Dayton Centennial – Part 2

continued from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

FOSTER BLAMES TARIFF

“Long ago though they lived, riff raff of Europe though they have been proved to be, the first pioneers of America are worthy of our emulation,” was the message brought by W. R. Foster, county superintendent of schools to the big crowd gathered about the speakers stand.

“I doubt whether we of the present day posses that fearless determination which inspired the Shavers, the Greens, the Brumbachs, the McKees and their followers to their long travail across country, under the most adverse conditions, from Licking county, Ohio, to Dayton and Rutland in the fall of 1829,” Foster stated.

Family and wagon

“They were the first settlers of this rich section of Northern Illinois, descendants of those outcasts of European nations who were driven to the shores of this country a hundred years before.

“They taught me the ‘three r’s’ when I went to school as a boy. Think how infinitely more important than those pedagogic classifications of simple knowledge was the mastery over the three r’s of resolution, resource and reverence possessed by those early pioneers.”

Explanation for the failure of rich woolen mills which at one time bade fair to make Dayton one of the most important communities of the state was given by Foster who decried in emphatic terms the manipulation of the wool tariff by politicians at Washington which led to the crash of Dayton industry.

“The first flour mill in Northern Illinois had been constructed by the Dayton and Rutland pioneers in 1830,” he stated, “and on July 4, 1830, the first wheat was ground and made into flour for bread eaten at their independence day dinner. By 1840 their woolen mill was well established and in 1860 a 100,000 project was doing business down here on the banks of the Fox river.

“I have always regretted one of the old-time Dayton settlers could not have come to life at that time, could not have taken his ancient shotgun to Washington and have laid down the law to those scheming politicians. Because with $65,000 worth of wool on their hands, purchased at $1 per pound, owners of the Dayton woolen mill saw their dreams snatched from them and the bottom knocked out from under them when manipulation of the tariff sent the price of wool tumbling to 40 cents a pound.

“That forever shattered Dayton’s golden opportunity, forever doomed this little town to relative unimportance in the scheme of industry. All that is left now is the memory of what was and what might have been.”

[to be continued]

Dayton Centennial – Part 1

from the Ottawa Republican-Times, September 16, 1929

Dayton and Rutland Townships Dedicate Marker and Celebrate Centennial of Settlers Arrival

            Old-time residents of Dayton and Rutland who have gone out to find a niche elsewhere, practically the entire present population and representatives of most La Salle county towns were at Dayton Saturday afternoon and night for a celebration commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of these communities.

A program of platform speaking, songs by the assembled school children of both communities, dedication of a marker on the spot where the mill-stones were found which were used in grinding the first wheat flour made in northern Illinois, and addresses by W. R. Foster, county superintendent of schools, and Kent Greene, former Daytonite and now a Chicago legal light, featured the day’s festivities.

Thomas O’Meara, Ottawa attorney, who was reared in Dayton, was master of ceremonies in the afternoon, when crowds gathered to hear addresses dealing with the significance of the origin of Dayton and Rutland. He was introduced by a member of the committee which evolved the celebration.

Relics which accumulated through the years provided a point of interest for visitors. All former and present residents were tagged with their names and addresses, facilitating renewal of old acquaintanceships.

Of particular interest in the celebration was the unveiling of a stone marker commemorating the vicinity where John Green, one of the village founders, and his party built their flour mill. A boulder set in a cement base, identified by a bronze plate inscribed with the story of the discovery, was veiled by a historical blanket woven in Dayton’s own woolen mill in 1860.

The blanket, now in the possession of Miss Catherine E. Rhoads of Ottawa, was bought by Thomas Rhoads, her father, at the mill and has been in the possession of the Rhoads family ever since. It is one of the few remaining tokens of the woolen mill which once apparently had Dayton headed on the road to industrial importance.

Blanket from Dayton Woolen Factory

Another example of the Dayton Woolen Mill blankets – this one from the Green family.

The dedication address was by J. Kent Greene of Chicago, a descendant of the John Green whose industry resulted in the flour mill.

He traced the events leading up to the founding of the mill, beginning with the first trip to the then new state of Illinois in 1829, when four pioneers, led by John Green, came to Dayton from Licking county, Ohio, on September 14, 1829.

They returned with their families on the 6th of December, 1829, and, despite the impending rigors of winter, established their colony by erecting shelters and clearing 240 acres of land before spring. Their saw and grist mill was put in operation on July 4, 1830, and the village of Dayton had been officially founded.

A vigorous folk, they with stood the menace of the Blackhawk Indian war, and not only stood their ground themselves but attracted other Ohio pioneers who populated Dayton and Rutland.

[to be continued]

RELICS OF 100 YEARS AGO AT DAYTON FETE

parade

from the Ottawa Free Trader, September 13, 1929

Historic relics, vestiges of the civilization now a century old, which wrested the present commonwealth from the naked prairie, are to be on exhibition, and will occupy a prominent place in the celebration at Dayton, commencing tomorrow noon, and lasting until midnight, which will mark the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Dayton and Rutland townships.

Music, choral, orchestral, and band, will all share in shattering the peace and quiet of this once-important village, which now drowses, sleeping on the left bank of the murmuring Fox. Oratory, with the pulpit, in the Rev. J. J. Dunlap, and education, in W. H. Foster, represented, will mark a memorable passage of time at the light of a civilization and pioneer descendants will commemorate, with praises graven in stone, the industry of their sturdy forefathers, when Kent Green dedicates the marker to be placed on the spot where the first flour mill in what was then the wilderness of Northern Illinois, was built by the hands of his ancestor, John Green.

Games, dancing, amateur entertainers and sports will wake this quiet village from its revery, and feasting and a giant tug of war are among amusements by which Dayton will celebrate, in the lighter mood, its birthday party.

Rush Green is the chairman of the celebration committee and Nicholas Parr is chairman of the program committee.

A Difficult and Dangerous Journey

Covered Wagon

In Elmer Baldwin’s History of La Salle County, the sketch of Dayton’s settlers includes an account, on pages 268-270 , of the Green party’s journey from Licking County, Ohio, to La Salle County.

NARRATIVE BY JESSE AND DAVID GREEN.

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 ox 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.

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.

Our teams crossed a prairie which 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 till they formed a temporary bridge, over which we conveyed our 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.

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 Baresford butchering a beef. He harnessed Baresford’s horse, a large gray one, to a light wagon of Baresford’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.

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 relieved. 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.

Our next object was to secure some provisions, as we had a large family and good appetites. We bought twenty-four hogs of Markly, on the Desplaines; then went south to Tazewell county, bought thirty bushels wheat at four shillings, eighty bushels corn at two shillings, and took it to a horse mill where Washington now is; spent several days in putting the mill in order, having to dress the boulder mill stones, and furnish the motive power. Provisions were scarce before we had produced a crop; we frequently lived on beef, potatoes and pound cake, so called, being made of corn pounded in a mortar.

We went to work improving in the spring, and by July 4th we had 240 acres fenced, and nearly all broken, and had built a saw mill, dam and race, and had a run of boulder mill stones in one corner of the saw mill grinding wheat, the first ground on Fox river. The stones were made from boulders or hard heads, found here, by Christopher Payne, brother of the Dunkard preacher who was killed by Indians on the prairie between Holderman’s Grove and Marseilles, in 1832.

The Sidewalks of Dayton

Concrete sidewalk in front of elevator

Concrete sidewalk in front of elevator

Ottawa Free Trader, November 22, 1879, p. 8, col. 2

Our sidewalks have been repaired to some extent during the past few weeks. They had been in a somewhat dangerous condition.

May 8, 1886, p. 8, col. 3

A new sidewalk has been constructed down the hill under the railroad bridge. It is quite an improvement over the old rickety walk that has been ornamenting the hill for so long.

April 23, 1887, p. 6, col. 1

The young folks will hold an entertainment Friday evening, for the benefit of the sidewalks.

April 7, 1888, p. 8, col. 2

The young folks will give an entertainment at the schoolhouse Friday evening for the benefit of the sidewalks in this village. The temperance play, “On the Brink,” is on the programme.

July 18, 1913, p. 8, col. 3

One hundred and fifty people attended a lawn social given at the home of Mrs. E. A. Dallam in Dayton Friday evening. A program of unusual merit was rendered, and Ottawa people were among the principal participants in the entertainment. The hours were from 8 until 11 o’clock, and ice cream and cake were served. The Ladies’ Aid society of Dayton assisted Mrs. Dallam as hostess, and $25.00 were cleared, which amount will go towards the sidewalk fund.

September 5, 1913, p. 8, col. 2-3

Many Ottawa people attended the dancing party given at the residence of Rush Green in Dayton, Friday evening. The affair was for the benefit of the construction of a cement sidewalk from the elevator to the school in Dayton and is the third of the parties to be given. Like the others, it was a huge success and a neat little sum was netted towards the sidewalk fund. The evening was spent at dancing, Dwyer’s orchestra, of this city, furnishing the music. Refreshments consisting of ice cream and cake were served during the evening. The arrangement committee consists of William Meagher, Frank W. Lansing, William Buckley, Jr., R. A. Carter, James W. Collison and Harry W. Tanner.

November 7, 1913, p. 1, col. 3

Contractor Green, who is building concrete sidewalks in Dayton, has the job nearly completed. This will be a fine improvement for the village to the north.

July 24, 1914, p. 8, col. 4

The Woman’s club of Dayton will hold another lawn social Wednesday evening, July 22, at the home of E. A. Dallam. Ice cream and cake will be served, and there will be a Victrola concert. The proceeds to be devoted to cement sidewalks for Dayton.

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.

173 Years Ago Today

 

William Reddick

Democratic District Convention

The convention was organized by the appointment of Rees Morgan as chairman, and George Kiersted of Grundy and D. Green of La Salle, secretaries. The following delegates presented their credentials and took seats in the convention.

La Salle county – Dayton – William Stadden, David Green, John Russell1

[David Green was elected to the post of secretary. The convention proceeded to nominate William Reddick for senator and J. O. Glover, Ambrose O’Connor, and William Barber for representatives.]


  1. The Ottawa Free Trader, May 22, 1846, p. 3, col. 1

Jesse and David scrape out the millrace

oxen

In this excerpt from Jesse Green’s memoir, he shows that on the frontier, a ten year old and a twelve year old were doing a man’s work.

Early in the spring of 1830 development of the water power was commenced by using the stumps from the timber from which the mill was being constructed. Economy was sought to a greater extent than it is at the present tine. The saw mill was built with sufficient room to put a pair of stones in one end of it to do our grinding until a better mill could be erected, having brought with us the necessary mill irons, black-smith tools etc. Whilst the men were getting out the timber for the mill and dam, which had to be built to intersect a small island, brother David and myself took the contract of scraping out the race or waterway for a distance of about a half mile (he being ten, and I twelve years old). We each had a pair of oxen and an old fashioned scraper. I sometimes had to help him load and dump his scraper and vice versa. We had the race completed by the time the mills were ready to draw their gates.