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