The Paltry Sum of One Dollar

last will and testament

When Elizabeth (Snyder) Trumbo died in Dayton on May 1, 1873, she had been a widow for twenty years. She had moved off the farm, into a house in Dayton where she died. Her will indicated that most of her children had been previously provided for, but she left specific bequests to four people:

To her daughter Mary Jane, wife of Isaac Green, two thousand dollars and the house in Dayton;

To her grandson Walter Trumbo, son of John Trumbo deceased, eight hundred dollars;

To her daughter-in-law Rebecca (Green) Trumbo, wife of her son Oliver, eight hundred dollars plus the residue of the estate;

To her daughter-in-law Delia, wife of her son Ahab Christopher deceased, one dollar.

As part of the duties of executor of the estate, Oliver W. Trumbo sent Delia Leith, living at Mason, Effingham County, Illinois, a one dollar bill and this receipt for her to sign –

Received Mason Ill December     th 1877 of Oliver W. Trumbo executor of Estate of Elizabeth Trumbo deceased the sum of one dollar in full of legacy bequeathed to me by the will of Elizabeth Trumbo deceased.

Please insert date when you sign the above Receipt.

The reason that I know this is because the envelope containing the unsigned receipt (and the dollar bill) was returned to the executor and appeared in the probate file along with the following note:

Mr. O. W. Trumbo.
Dear Sir
Enclosed I return your one dollar. I do not propose to sign my name to any papers of the Estate for the paltry sum of one dollar.
Yours Truly
Fidelia Leith

When I saw this file in the probate court office, in 1988, the dollar bill, crumpled and worn, was in the envelope. Unfortunately, it is no longer there.

Tangled Relationships

Family_tree

Though not royal or noble, the family trees of the early settlers of Dayton bear a certain resemblance to those of the noble family above. There was a limited number of possible spouses for the young people and, as a result, many of the marriages involved familial relationships.

Among the children of John and Barbara (Grove) Green :

David Green and wife Mary Stadden were 1st cousins once removed. Mary’s grandmother, Elizabeth Green Stadden, was John Green’s sister.

Jesse Green and wife Isabella Trumbo were 1st cousins. Isabella’s mother, Rebecca Grove Trumbo, was Barbara Grove Green’s sister

Sisters Eliza, Nancy, and Katherine Green married brothers William, Albert, and George Dunavan and when their descendants grew up, there were many cousin marriages.

Rebecca Green married Oliver Trumbo, while her brother Isaac married Oliver’s sister Mary Jane.

Oliver Trumbo was also the half 1st cousin of Jesse’s wife Isabella. Isabella’s father, Matthias Trumbo, was Oliver’s half-uncle.

Rachael married George W. Gibson, who was not related to her or any of her family.

In the later generations –

Elizabeth Dunavan married Cyrus DeBolt, her 1st cousin once removed. Barbara Grove Green, Elizabeth’s grandmother, was the sister of Emma Grove Debolt, Cyrus’s mother.

Louise Dunavan married David S. Green, her 1st cousin once removed. David’s father Isaac Green, was the brother of Louise’s grandfather, John Green.

Rachael’s son John Gibson married her brother Jesse’s granddaughter Mamie Green.

No wonder I have trouble keeping everyone straight!

APRIL FOOL!!

april-fools-day

Ottawans at play on April Fool’s Day:

They tell us a good one on Al, a south-side-of-the-square druggist, who got up a brilliant April fool speculation. He took his best business coat, and vest, and hat, down to the bank of the river on April 1st. He enclosed a note in one of the vest pockets, which read pensively to the effect that “whiskey has caused this fatal act,” and invoking the blessings of Heaven on the praying women. Giving directions on how to dispose of his body when dragged from the river bed, he then retired behind a bunch of willows and watched for a victim — someone to come along and find the clothes and give an alarm. He saw in the distance the jury, and anxious citizens, much excitement, drag robe, &c. But no one came. He waited all forenoon and rubbed his hands and kicked the ground with his feet to keep them warm, but still no one came. Then he went up town and threw out vague hints about “some one being found drowned — clothes on the willows at the river bank,” &c., but still the old thing didn’t work! At dusk he lonesomely repaired to the river and brought away his “duds” and meandered home through the back alleys. If you want to worry him just allude to his cute April fool speculation.1

If a proper observance of Fourth of July is going out of style and Christmas, New Year and Saint Valentine days are not as popular as they once were with Ottawa people, April Fool’s Day is, as the other days lessen in public esteem, receiving more attention. On Thursday all the practical jokers were on the lookout for victims. Lon Piergue furnished nicely frosted cotton cakes, and stood back and laughed while George Taylor, Gib Strawn and editor Zwanzig vied with one another in their attempts to masticate them. At the Clifton Hotel half the boarders swallowed salt in their coffee and made wry faces over bran pancakes. At the suggestion of Pat Carey, Judge Weeks spent fully five minutes at the telephone trying to talk to an imaginary somebody at the other end of the line. The day in short, was very much of an “All Fool’s Day.”2


  1. The Ottawa Free Trader, April 4, 1874, p. 4, col. 6
  2. The Ottawa Free Trader, April 3, 1886, p. 1, col. 4

The Drunken Dancing Master

drunken-dancing-master

FROM DAYTON, Jan. 8, 1877

Being a constant reader of your paper, I see no one has taken note of our little village for some time. Permit me, therefore, to give you some items of interest.

Our improvements are plain. The paper mill of Williams & Co. is running in full and is in a flourishing condition, turning out about 24 tons of paper per week.

It is needless to say the Fox River Horse Collar Manufacturing Co. still carry on an extensive business. They are known far and wide. Nothing seems to daunt them, nor does their trade decrease. In spite of hard times they prosper.

The store formerly owned by John T. Makinson has been purchased by Jesse Green & Sons, who have enlarged the building and now have on hand a full line of groceries, woolen goods, &c.

Our inhabitants are a class of persevering, energetic people. Among them is a renowned ex-granger, to whom life on a farm becoming monotonous, he concluded to enter into something which would bring him more in contact with the people of the world. So he engaged in wholesale manufacturing pursuits, but becoming weary of the hum of machinery, retired from business and set himself down to think what he should do next. At length he exclaimed, “I have it!” I will do something for the people which will cause my name to be handed down to future generations with honor never to be forgotten.

‘Tis true, we have no churches, but we don’t need any – our people are good enough. They are noted for honesty, integrity, and warm genial disposition. Neither have we any saloons, nor do we need them – our people are temperate, and Ottawa is not far distant. But notwithstanding our people are good and temperate, they are deficient in good manners and gracefulness – cannot describe a proper circle in making a bow; in short, need a dancing master. Therefore he had one imported from the east, organized a dancing school – in fact, two dancing schools, one for juveniles at 4 P. M., another for adults at a later hour. Juvenile class assemble to meet their tutor dressed with all the care and taste their fond mothers could devise, their flashing eyes sparkling with anticipated pleasure, the bloom of health and innocence upon their cheeks. Their teacher arrives by the train, alights and walks up the railroad track describing a Virginia worm fence. Great consternation among his admirers. It was a stunner, a perfect surprise. Crowds could be seen on every corner with blanched cheeks and distended eyes, asking what shall we do? “Pickles!” shouts one. “Lemons!” cries another. “Yes, that’s business, give us lemons,” says a third. “Who cares for expenses. Here – you – somebody – hold him up on t’other side; feed him lemons; walk him two miles and a half!” A consultation was then held as to whether the school should continue, the gentlemen being in favor of a change of tutors, while the sentiments of the majority of the ladies seemed to be, “get drunk if you want to, boys, we’ll forgive you.” This is apparently a new style of crusaders.

Much more might be said upon the subject; but suffice it that the adult class proceeded to be instructed, and got through as well as could be expected under the trying circumstances, closing with an appointment for Thursday evening, Jan. 11.

A READER1


  1. The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, January 13, 1877

The Meat Cleaver Bandits

Dayton store

The Dayton store/post office/gas station

from the January 26, 1922 Free-Trader Journal

DAYTON P. O. ROBBED BY MEAT CLEAVER BANDITS; GET $7.25

Thieves Use Butcher’s “Weapon” to Break Open Strong Box Containing
Funds Belonging to Uncle Sam and Store Keeper

Running a risk of facing a term in the federal prison to secure a few dollars of government money, thieves last night robbed the Dayton postoffice, making way with $5.25 in postal funds and $2 in pennies from the W. B. Fleming grocery store. The robbery is believed to have been pulled by the rankest kind of amateurs, so kiddish did the traces left behind by the robbers seem.

The postoffice which is located in one corner of the Fleming grocery store, was closed shortly before 9 o’clock last night. This morning at 7 o’clock Mr. Fleming opened his place of business and built a fire before he discovered that the place had been burglarized.

A small safe, which is more in the nature of a strong box, twelve by twenty-four inches in dimensions, which held the postoffice funds, had been smashed open by a meat cleaver, which was taken from the butcher shop. The supply of stamps was passed over, the robbers evidently searching only for cash. The money from the store was taken from a cash drawer and from a dish in the candy counter.

The meat cleaver was found where it had been hidden by the robbers, after the theft in the coal pile, in the basement.

Entrance to the building was gained by breaking out a basement window. The robbers then went upstairs by an inside stairway. They worked with the door, until they succeeded in getting the wooden bar lock that fastened it from the arm that held it.

A trail of burnt matches which were strewn on the floor around the room, showed that the burglars had taken their time in making the search. The robbers were evidently of a hungry frame of mind, for they stopped long enough to have a lunch, opening a can of peaches, and scattering crackers all around the cracker box, Some bars of candy are also believed to have been devoured by the hungry boys or men.

The candy and cigarette case was evidently overlooked for it is not believed to have been touched.

The thieves left the building by a side door which they unlocked from the inside of the building. The door was carefully closed after the robbers and it was not until a careful investigation was made that it was learned that the exit had been made that way.

Deputy Sheriff Fred E. Stedman went to Dayton this morning to make an investigation.1


  1. Ottawa Free Trader-Journal, January 26, 1922, p 1, col 2