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.