Contention Over Water

old dam

The old dam at Dayton

From Dayton

Dayton, July 26. – Misses Myrtle Stadden and Julia Lyons, of Chicago, are visiting at Mrs. David Green’s.

Miss Amy Dickens, of Amboy, Ill., is spending the summer at  Mr. Charles Green’s.

Miss Lillian Wayland, of Appleton, Wis., is spending the summer at Mr. D. Moore’s.

Mr. Wm. Dunavan, of the horse collar works, returned from a short business trip last week.

Mr. James Green says that the honey business is of no account this season. Usually he has between nine and ten thousand pounds of honey for sale, but this season he hasn’t a pound. Thinks perhaps he will be obliged to feed his bees this fall.

Miss Bangs, of Ottawa, who has been spending a few weeks in Dayton, has returned home.

Canal Supt. Leighton, of Lockport, was in town this week.

The river is lower than it had ever been in the remembrance of the oldest inhabitant. The mills have been able to run most of the time, but with decreased power.

The Free Trader, with the remainder of the Ottawa press, got things badly mixed on the power question, and has given the Dayton mill owners some unnecessary scoring. The Green and Stadden lease with the State provides for one-half of the water flowing in Fox river, of which the State is to have one-fourth of the river, and Green and Stadden one-fourth of the river, (not one-eighth as the Free Trader had it last week.) These two-fourths must be drawn first, even if the other one-half runs down the river.

The Ottawa power is third class, and when only one fourth of the river is drawn through the feeder, as it is during eight or nine months of the year, the Dayton power is entitled to all the water except what is necessary for canal purposes. Green and Stadden were not foolish enough, as the Ottawa press would have the public infer, to give away all their rights when they gave the State a right-of-way and one-half of their power. Any lease or agreement made between the State and the Hydraulic Company cannot affect the original and right of way lease.

In 1870 Mr. Wm. Thomas brought an injunction suit against Messrs. Williams and Sweetzer to prevent them from locating their paper mill on the power at Dayton. The claim was made then, as it is now, that we were using more water than we were entitled to. Judge Leland dismissed the suit, and decided that the Dayton power had preference over the hydraulic power, and in time of low water the side cut should be closed so as to keep a 6-foot head in the canal. If this could not be maintained, the Dayton fourth could be drawn on.

The present condition of affairs is this: The mill owners have agreed with Capt. Leighton to confine themselves strictly to their one-fourth, and to run as long as there is water.

The Hydraulic Co. is entitled to the surplus water of the canal, and, as there is no surplus from Fox river now (all of the water being used by the canal and the Dayton mills), water is being drawn from the other level at Marseilles to supply power for the Ottawa mills.1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, July 30, 1887, p. 8, col. 4

July 4th, 1840, in Dayton

Fourth of July

                                                                    July 4th, 1840

The birth of American liberty was celebrated in a becoming manner, in the town of Dayton, La Salle county, Illinois. The day was ushered in by a national salute from Capt. Ira Allen, who deserves credit for the manner in which he discharged the duties assigned him. Never perhaps has the day been celebrated with greater patriotic pride than on this occasion. The unity and harmony manifested, is a sure guarantee of the immortality of the day. The Declaration of Independence, prefaced by a few appropriate remarks from C. G. Miller, was then read, after which an oration was delivered on the occasion by Hon. Wm. Stadden, which, notwithstanding the short time allotted to him to prepare the address, was characterized by its forcible and strong appeals to the human heart to perpetuate the liberties purchased by the blood of our fathers; after which we partook of a dinner prepared by Wm. L. Dunavan, who spared no pains to accommodate his guests in a manner so as to render general satisfaction. After which the following toasts were drunk:
[the following lists only the name of the toast and omits the rather long text]
The day we celebrate
1776
George Washington
Gen. Lafayette
Thomas Jefferson
Our country
The constitution
The Heroes of the Revolution
The signers of the Declaration
The American citizens
Our happy Republic
The state of Illinois
The Fair

volunteer toasts

By Charles Hayward. The Independence we now celebrate – It must and shall be defended, supported and sustained, by the blood and sinew which has and will descend from those noble patriots who fought and bled for what freemen now enjoy.

By Lucien Delano. Political and Religious Freedom – While American blood and Freemen’s arms sustains the one, let the Age of Reason and Common Sense protect the other.

By William Hickling – The “Striped Bunting” – wherever unfolded to the breeze it commands respect.

By David Green. The Ladies – the fairest work of the Creator. We admire their charms and appreciate their virtues and intelligence, and will ever be ready to throw our arms of protection around them.

By Wm. Hickling. The day we celebrate – The 64th Anniversary of American Independence is this day recorded, and the fact is shown to the world, that a democratic government thus far has been successful.

By Sam’l. Hayward. Liberty – It can only be maintained by watching Priests, with equal care, that you would a King.

By J. B. Johnson. The Ladies – The binders of our affections, the folders, the gatherers and collectors of our enjoyments.

By a Guest. – The Heroes of the Revolution – There are but five who now survive, but may the innumerable blessings which they obtained, through a long and perilous war, be handed down from posterity to posterity.

By Brice V. Huston. Thomas Jefferson – The Author of the Declaration of Independence. The great Champion of civil and religious freedom.

By Ira Allen. The Abolitionists – May they be lathered with Aqua Fortis and shaved with Lightning.


From the Illinois Free Trader, July 24, 1840, p. 2, cols. 4-5

Dayton News – 1886

                                                                         Dayton Items.

The fishing season has been very good so far, and large numbers of game fish have been caught. Fishermen and sportsmen are here from all parts of the country, also numerous camping and picnic parties.

Quite a number of our citizens “took in” the circus at Ottawa Monday.

Wm. Dunavan started out on the road again Monday to take orders for horse collars, fly nets, &c., for the firm of which he is the senior member.

The tile works have been rented by Green Bros. to Messrs. Channel & Ladd, who are running them with a full force and are having a good trade. They are also running a general merchandise store – the only one in the village.

Miss Springer, of Streator, is visiting at T. S. Bunker’s, our new agent.

The Sunday school appointed a committee last Sunday to select new singing books for the school.

The paper mill is being overhauled and will soon be ready to start up again.

The flour mill is now in good running order and is ready to do all kinds of custom work for the farmers. The mill contains the best of wheat cleaning and milling machinery, and is run by an old and practical miller. As this is the only first class custom mill in the country, farmers will no doubt patronize it from a wide scope of territory.1


  1. The Ottawa Republican, May 14, 1886, p. 4, col. 6

A Celebration Banquet

Mr. and Mrs, Samuel Dunavan

When Samuel Dunavan and Miranda Munson celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, March 22, 1909, they celebrated in high style by inviting 100 relatives and friends to a dinner at the Clifton hotel in Ottawa. The menu was printed in the newspaper account of the festivities, and although it was quite elaborate, the Clifton hotel seems to have taken it in its stride. Ottawa was not going to be thought at all backward in the amenities.

The menu was as follows:

Blue Points
Iced Celery Hearts
Consomme in Cup
Olives              Radishes
Individual Planked Fresh Shad
Sliced Cucumbers                   Potato Croquettes
Tenderloin of Beef, Larded
Sliced Tomatoes                      Latticed Potatoes
Orange Ice
Braised Guinea Squabs, Current Jelly
Tips of Asparagus
Candied Sweets
Fruit Salad
Neapolitan Cream                   Assorted Cake
Roquefort                    Salted Wafers
Café Noir

A Letter to California

 

Rachael Green

[John, Jesse, and Joseph Green had been away in the California gold fields since April of 1849. In January 1850, Rachael wrote to tell her brother Joseph all of the local news and to ask him for more frequent letters about their doings. Spelling and punctuation are as in the original. Explanatory comments appear in brackets.]

Dayton Ills Lasalle January 19th 1850
Dear Brother I am now going to give you all the news about home this winter we are all well we have enjoyed very good health since you left the friends generally are well there has been but two deaths amongst our relations this sumer Aunt Anna Grove [Anna Houser, wife of David Grove, died 8 Aug 1849] and little Byron [John Byron, son of Jesse & Isabella (Trumbo) Green] we reiceved letters from you all about two weeks ago it was a joyful time Christ Stickley is postmaster now he come hollering there is california letters before daylight we was glad to get a specimen of the gold it has to be showed to a great many as all are anxious too see what it was that took you away from your friends Elias Trumbo Jonathan and Tom all got your letter to them with the gold in it. we have had some ferstrate sleighing this winter and have improved it pretty well but we miss you every where but we have some cousins that are very kind to us Martha Green [probably the daughter of William and Sarah (Pitzer) Green] is spending the winter with us Rebecca and I were out to visit them this fall we stayed seven weeks we have cotillion parties at our house every saturday night per formance commences at six oclock and quits at ten we have verry pleasant parties there is some very nice smart folks living over in fords house they attend the parties Hites Boys have got to be good dancers Ben Hite lives with us this winter David [her brother, David Green] says Ben is his right hand man that foolish talk that there was last winter all stoped and every body thinks as much of him as any of the boys i guess i have told you enough about Ben this time when you write again tell us about all the freinds in california David was up to Mr Beams on new years day and read them all of our letters from you Beams have never got bot one letter from Jackson since he left home David sayed he was so glad that he almost jumped up and down tell Jackson he must do better after this when you write again tell us all about Dan Stadden his folks are verry ornary about him as they have not heard from him they are afraid he has left your company tell us whether John size ever got wits or not he was here about two weeks after you left and sayed he was bound to overtake you if he had to get a pack mule we are anxious to hear from all our freinds that have started to california Nancy Dunavan has got a young son [John, son of Joseph Albert & Nancy (Green) Dunavan]  and i want her to call him John Tray because i think he must be a good clever fellow there is a great many men in the world have taken the chance that he had to get gold last spring with you know, tell us whether he still holds out faith full Catharine has a young son and Isabella has a daughter she calls her Clara Olevia [Clara Isabella, daughter of Jesse & Isabella (Trumbo) Green] Joseph we had a party at our house a christ monday and new years day we spent at home verry plesantly Eliza [her sister, Eliza Green, wife of William Lair Dunavan] was here today her family are all and she sends her love to you all Mother send her love to you all and wishes you to return as soon as you feel satisfied Mrs George Turner died last thursday morning she had been sick all winter so she had to keep her bed Robert Turners folks still live here but the old man has gone to Ohio Ben has been on the illinois river hunting he killed fourteen deer in two weeks it is getting late i must stop and let Rebecca write som do write as often as possible Tell Father and Jesse they must write as we are verry anxious to hear from give my love to Father Jesse and my love yourself

Rachael Green

What’s for Dinner?

deer, quail, prairie chickens

When the Green party arrived in La Salle county in 1829, they had to be self-sufficient as far as food went. There was no McDonalds down the road, nor any grocery stores in the neighborhood. So what did they do for food? How did they provide for themselves?

To begin with, there was plenty of game: deer, turkey, prairie chicken (grouse), quail, squirrel, goose, duck, and fish. One highly specialized form of hunting was bee-hunting. A good bee-hunter could find and harvest 30 bee trees a season, yielding 50 gallons of honey and 60 pounds of beeswax.

Chickens were rarely eaten, as they were too valuable as egg producers. Only when they were too old to lay did they end up in the stewpot.

They didn’t bring pigs with them, as there were plenty of feral hogs in the woods, although hunting them was dangerous. Pigs, both wild and (later) domesticated) were the main source of pork, lard (both for shortening and for lamp fuel), and cracklings – those crispy bits that could be baked into bread. They ate mostly pork, usually cured. There was fresh meat in the late fall and early winter; otherwise the meat was salted or smoked to preserve it. Jesse Green tells of how his mother salted and smoked the breasts of hundreds of the prairie chicken which he and David killed.

They had plenty of fruit: mulberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, blackberries, crab apples, pawpaw, persimmons, wild cherries, wild grapes, wild plum, ramps, and may apples were common in Illinois, although probably not all of them were found right here.

There were many varieties of nuts: beech, chestnut, hickory, walnut, hazelnut. Most nuts were fed to hogs, not consumed by people.

There was no white sugar available, so food was sweetened with honey or the sap of the sugar maple, which was collected primarily to make sugar, not syrup.

They made a coffee substitute from parched corn, ground in a coffee mill, and made tea from sage or wild sassafras.

Within a few years of their arrival they would have been growing wheat, buckwheat, corn, sweet corn, pumpkin, beans, soybeans, potatoes, apples, and peaches. They would have planted herbs, both for cooking and for their medicinal uses. Lemon balm was good to relieve feverish colds or headache; thyme tea mixed with honey was good for a sore throat, coughs, or colds; lavender was good for headaches, fainting, and dizziness.

Most kitchens would have had a few large pots, some hand-hewn wooden bowls, a dipper made from a gourd.

Most dishes were either fried in lard or simmered/boiled in water. For slow-cooked dishes of beans, greens, potatoes and other thrifty ingredients, salt pork was used for flavoring. The staples were meat, cornbread, and cornmeal mush.

The time required to start a fire in the morning and get a meal cooked meant that there was one substantial meal a day, eaten at mid-day, with leftovers for supper. Breakfast would be mush or pancakes. Cooking would be done in the fireplace.

The major difficulty was storing up enough food to last through the winter. Cabbages, onion, and turnips could be stored for a time in the root cellar, but large quantities of cucumbers, cabbage, eggs, and pigs feet were pickled to preserve them. Fruit was dried or bottled in a thick syrup. Meat was smoked, dried, or salted.

Early Customs

latchstring

The latchstring is out.

The following excerpt from Jesse Green’s memoir shows the changes that appear in a frontier society as the population increases:

“I think it may truthfully be said, that in no sphere, or stage of progressive civilization and advancement is the Scriptural Injunction obeyed with a fuller realization of its import and importance, than in the early settlement of a New Country. Namely, “do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.”

Circumstances all combine to make each and every one feel his dependence upon others and consequently this injunction is obeyed not merely as a duty but as a pleasure, as this dependence is felt in so many different ways. A cabin has to be built requiring the assistance at the entire neighborhood, harvesting will not admit of delay and a neighborhood joins teams in order to do it to better advantage, and a hundred and one little acts of kindness are rendered and gladly reciprocated through a higher and more exalted motive than we usually see in older settled countries, but with increased prosperity or wealth men become more selfish, and selfishness begets strife, and strife puts the big man on top with the little one whineing at his heels. Such seems to me, to be the tendency of the age in which we live. It is fast coming, and now is to an alarming extent, that man’s worth is measured by his dollars and cents. No man of ordinary means can think of filling any high office of honor and trust, the moneyed man has got on top, and the others qualifications of honor, honesty and fitness in every respect avail not against dollars and cents.

It used to be the custom of the country that no matter who chanced to reach your home at night, the stranger was made perfectly welcome to share your scanty fare “without money and without price”.  In the morning the guest offering to settle his bill for entertainment, usually the only charge was “go and do likewise.”

This generous and hospitable spirit prevailed for a number of years in the infancy of this new, great and prosperous country. We had no pennies, nothing less than six and a fourth cent pieces (five and ten cent pieces came later) and sixpence then was more readily given in making change than a penny is today. With greater immigration from all parts this generous and hospitable disposition began gradually to die out and we begin to see the big sign swinging high in the air announcing entertainment  the latch string now pulled in, free entertainment was no longer expected and from this time on a more selfish and acquisitive disposition began to take root and grow among all classes of society.

And here commenced the race for money making gradually all seemed to enter vs with each other first to see who could get the most land, and then to see who could raise the most wheat, the most corn, the most cattle and the most hogs. It required great production of everything raised, or grown in those days, to bring a little money, pork was sold at $l.50 per hundred, wheat when hauled to Chicago our only market except in a small way at the mill, would not bring over 40 to 50 cents requiring a week to make the trip with ox teams, and in order to raise their tax money, the settlers could not afford to put up at Hotels, but were obliged to carry their own grub, which the hardy women knew well how to prepare for such a trip and they were obliged to camp out. Tax money bothered the pioneers for a number of years. They did not require much of either gold or silver for anything else as all seemed to understand the rule of barter, and it supplied most of their wants or needs.”

Christmas in Dayton, 1931

Christmas greetings

Program Given at Community Party at Dayton

Decorated Christmas trees and red and green streamers formed an attractive setting in the Dayton Community hall, Saturday evening for the annual Christmas party sponsored by the Dayton Woman’s club.

One hundred and seventy-five guests were served cafeteria style at the community supper at 7:30 o’clock.

An interesting program of vocal, piano and dance numbers was presented by a group from the vicinity of Dayton. The program consisted of the following numbers: piano solo, Dorothy Mitchell; song, Mrs. T. J. Cruise, Miss Anna Cruise and Will Breese; solo, Will Breese; duet, Mrs. T. J. Cruise and Miss Cruise; reading, Zelda Garrow; solo, Billy Gardner; solo dance, Dorothy Mitchell; acrobatic dance, Della Tohella; Christmas song, Mrs. Benson Chamberlin; cornet solo, Walter Anderson; solo, Alden Garrow; solo, Earl Gardner; solo, Nicholas Parr.

An orchestra furnished tunes for old time and modern dances at the conclusion of the program.

The committee in charge was comprised of Mrs. Arthur Retz, Mrs. Thomas Waldron, Mrs. Alvin Hepner and Miss Emma Fraine.1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Republican-Times, December 28, 1931

Christmas in Dayton, 1888

Dayton Doings

Dayton, Ill., Dec. 27. – King Winter visited us last night and we find a good covering of snow on the ground this morning. A little more and we will hear the sleigh bells jungle.

Christmas day has passed and everyone has recovered his usual equilibrium – at least we should suppose so.

The Sunday school gave a very pleasant Christmas entertainment, at the school house, Monday evening. A good program was rendered, after which the children were made happy by receiving many toys, candy, as well as useful and pretty presents.

Our worthy P. M. gave a family dinner at his residence on Christmas day, which done up the post office for that day, at least.

A large family dinner was also held at the residence of Mrs. David Green in which about 35 persons happily participated.

In fact the day passed very pleasantly in our little village, although the young folks were pining for the beautiful snow, and its accompanying sleigh rides.

Frank Green came down from Chicago to spend the holidays.

W. J. Burke has gone to Penryn, Placer county, California, where he has hired out for a year to work on Mr. P. W. Butler’s large fruit farm. He writes back that he is delighted with the country.

The Brick Works have had fine weather for rebuilding, and have got a new roof on their building, new floors, &c., and will soon have it in good shape again. We understand a new company has been organized with about $30,000 capital stock, Messrs R. C. Hitt and Ed. C. Alen Jr., of Ottawa being members of the new company; also Messrs. Soule and Williams. We wish success to the new company, and see no reason why the property should not be a paying institution, if properly managed.

The Tile Works, Paper Mill and Collar Factory are running right along and doing a good business.

The Roller Mills have had a good big trade and been quite busy. The farmers are learning where to take their grists of wheat and corn to have good work done, and will patronize home industries.1


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, December 29, 1888, p. 5, col. 2

Thanksgiving 1901

turkey

The reporter to the Free Trader from Dayton was careful to chronicle the Thanksgiving activities of his neighbors.

DAYTON

George Galloway enjoyed his duck at his own fireside on Thanksgiving day.

Mr. Isaac Green and family were guests of Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Trumbo on Thanksgiving day.

Mr. and Mrs. George La Pere dined with Mrs. La Pere’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Lohr, on Thanksgiving day.

Mr. and Mrs. Ed McClary spent Thanksgiving with Mr. E. H. Pederson and wife, deputy U. S. marshal at Yorkville.

Miss Blanche McGrath and Miss Kate Hogan of Streator were guests of the Misses Colman on Thanksgiving day.

William and Walter Breese and Lowell Hoxie and wife of Aurora spent Thanksgiving with Mr. and Mrs. John Breese.

William Collamore, Jr., of Ottawa and Miss Olson of near Morris, gave Thanksgiving at the home of William Collamore, Sr., and wife, on the 28th.

Wilmot Van Etten, agent for the Q. at Batavia, with his wife and three sons, Clare, Walcott and Frank, dined with Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Trumbo on Thanksgiving day, returning on the afternoon train for Batavia.1


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, December 6, 1901, p. 12, cols. 1-2

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

116 Years Ago Today in Dayton

tent in camp site

[NEWS FROM] DAYTON

Charles Sheppler of Wedron Sundayed at Dayton.

Some nice fish are now being caught above the dam.

Charles Clodt and son Charles, spent Sunday at Serena.

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Channel and son, of Marseilles, spent Sunday here.

Miss Marguerite Clodt is spending a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Ed Clodt.

Mrs. Stella Kelly and child are now visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Cullimore.

Miles Masters, formerly of this place, but now of Ottawa, made a flying visit here on Tuesday.

G. L. Makinson, now employed at Hess’ factory, will shortly remove his family to Ottawa.

Miss Etta Barends, of Joliet, is spending her vacation with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Barends.

Miss Ruth Fleming, who has been spending the past four weeks at Earlville, returned home on Saturday.

Farmers are getting along nicely with their threshing, and will soon be through if the weather holds good.

Miss Nellie McGraw, of Streator, who has been visiting the Misses Coleman, returned home on Sunday evening.

Frank Corell was stung on the hand by a large bumble bee on last Saturday. He quoted scripture in French for a few moments.

There are just fifty houses in Dayton, fourteen of which are vacant. The tile, brick and grist mills, also the electric light plant, are all idle.

Last Thursday, Miss Mary Coleman, on entering the barn, discovered a huge snake about four feet long. A neighbor was called, and his snakeship was killed.

The camp just north of the ice house above the dam, is certainly an ideal spot. There are about a dozen glass blowers from Streator at the camp, and sometimes as many as fifty visitors can be seen enjoying camp life at one time. Good boating, turtle soup and fresh fish always on hand, and no one who ever visited there ever went away without leaving sweet memories behind. On Saturday, August 17th, will be “Ladies’ Day” at the camp, when the wives and lady friends of the members will be present and a most enjoyable day is expected by all. Good music and dancing will be one of the features of the day.

Twenty-nine boys ranging in age from five to ten years of the “Fresh Air Fund” arrived over the Q. R. R. at 11:17 A. M. on Tuesday. A number of ladies and gentlemen from Ottawa met them at the train and escorted them to their camping ground, just west of Basil Green’s residence. The camp presents a very pretty appearance, everything about it being very neat and tidy. Eight tents comprise the sleeping apartments, while one dining, two commissary and one kitchen tent make up for the rest. Felix Mader of Ottawa presides over the culinary department, while Charles Caton acts as his assistant. Through the courtesy of Mr. Basil Green a dam has been built just south of the camp, where the boys may bathe and enjoy a fresh water bath, unlike that of the Chicago river. Judging from the first day or two, the visitors next week will be very numerous, and will no doubt wake up this old burg, which has so long been sleeping.1


  1. Ottawa Free Trader, 9 Aug 1901, p12, col 1

Grand Balloon Ascension

                              1

This announcement, which appeared in the Ottawa Free Trader 161 years ago today, would surely have caused great excitement in Dayton. Mr. S. M Brooks, the great American aeronaut was coming to town. A balloon ascension, followed by a fireworks display, would have attracted people from far and wide, and many Dayton people would surely have been among the spectators.

Silas M. Brooks popularized ballooning all over Illinois and Iowa. He would begin with a lecture on aeronautics. Following that, the balloon would be inflated and Brooks would take his place in the car. The ropes would be released and Brooks would ascend majestically into the heavens.

At least, that is how the show was supposed to go on. Balloon ascensions were dangerous. Just the previous year, in Chicago, a balloon ascension by Brooks took the aeronaut up “about a mile.” The balloon ran into trouble and was entangled with a telegraph wire, when the car, and Brooks, fell to the ground. The freed balloon rose into the skies and, despite a reward for its recovery, was never seen again.

Balloons were gaily decorated and some launched accompanied by music. It was also common to launch unmanned balloons. Sometimes a number of small balloons were launched, to the spectators’ delight. With the balloon and the fireworks, it was the Fourth of July three weeks late.


  1. Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, July 26, 1856, p. 2, col. 7

A Trumbo Reunion

Trumbo reunion       A Trumbo reunion held in 1906, a few years later than the one described in this 1904  article.

A TRUMBO REUNION
Was Held Thursday Up at Glen Park. Many of the Family Were There

            The Trumbo reunion was held at Glen Park. Thursday, June 25th, was the day. The Trumbos, large and small, old and young, gathered at their annual picnic. The place of meeting was Glen Park. About seventy-five went up on the morning train and later in the day a number more drove up. The afternoon train brought in another bunch of about fifteen or twenty.

The morning was spent in the amusements that resort furnishes. At noon a chicken pie dinner was served. The Trumbos then sat around, shook hands and swapped stories until 2:30 p.m., when the following program was given:

Trumbo Reunion, Meeting at 2:30 p. m.
Opening by Gualano orchestra – Two selections.
Pres. Elias Trumbo opens meeting.
Miss Dora Trumbo reads minutes prepared by Mrs. Parr, secretary, she (Mrs. Parr) being absent.
Election of officers – Same officers retained.
Address by Mr. Trumbo, of Pontiac.
History of Trumbo family from 1774 to 1904.
Selection by Gualano orchestra.
History sketch by Jesse Greene, read by Miss Trumbo of Pontiac.
Speaking by Mrs. Wm. Long.
Recitation by Strawn Gay.
Recitation by Miss Trumbo, of Pontiac.
Recitation by Miss Carpenter.
Gualano orchestra.

Those present from Ottawa were: Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Grove, Mr. and Mrs. George Pitzer, Barbara Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. George D. Sleuder, Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Strawn, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Strawn, Florence Strawn, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Trumbo, Mr. and Mrs. C. G. Deenis, Elias Trumbo, Mr. and Mrs. Sleuder, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Gay, Strawn Gay, Isabelle Gay, Dorothy Gay, Charles Bradford, Jesse Grove, Lucy Grove, Helen Trumbo, Mr. and Mrs. E. F. Bradford, Rebecca Bradford, Mrs. Frank Shaver, Irene Shaver, Glen Shaver, Ruth Carpenter, Mrs. B. F. Trumbo, Mrs. C. L. Douglas, Josephine Trumbo, J. F. Trumbo, C. H. Tuttle, J. G. Shaver, Roy Deenis, Henry G. Hall, Roe Debolt, Mrs. H. E. Ruger, Mary Follett, Mae S. Knowles, W. H. Knowles, Frank Follett.


  1. The Ottawa [IL] Free Trader, 1 Jul 1904, p2, col 2

An oyster supper was held last Wednesday . . .

oyster stew

An oyster supper was held last Wednesday evening at Mr. Jesse Green’s, the proceeds of which will go toward purchasing an organ for the school house. Quite a number were present. The old organ was put up at lottery, and the proceeds from both amounted to about $25. Mr. H. B. Williams drew the instrument and we understand will sell tickets for it again, the proceeds to go for the same purpose.

The literary’s entertainment will be held at the school house Friday evening, April 4. The following is the cast of characters of the play, “Three Glasses a Day, or The Broken Home:”
Ralph Aubrey                          Mr. John Green [son of David Green]
Harry Montford                      Mr. Wm. Dunavan [grandson of Eliza Green Dunavan]
Zeke Wintergreen                   Mr. Chas. Green [son of David Green]
Mrs. Aubrey                            Miss Cora Green [daughter of Jesse Green]
Clara Aubrey                           Miss Josie Green [daughter of Basil Green]
Julia Lovegrove                       Miss Ada Green [daughter of David Green]
The entertainment will conclude with the extremely ludicrous Dutch farce, “Hans, the Dutch J. P.”1

The previous notice, which appeared in the Dayton news column of the Ottawa Free Trader describes two of Dayton’s popular social activities of the 1870s. Frequently held as a fund raiser, as in this case, the oyster supper was a well known and popular event. Packed in barrels and whisked from New York by train, oysters were a popular food. Diners could usually choose from a variety of oyster dishes: raw, fried, or scalloped, but oyster stew was the mainstay.

The play, described as “A Moral and Temperance Drama, in Three Acts” was published just the previous year. The cast of the play consisted entirely of the young Greens, aged 17 to 24, showing themselves to be very up-to-date in their literary endeavors.

“Hans, the Dutch J. P.” was also a new offering. Judge for yourself whether it is as “extremely ludicrous” as reported. A copy of the short script can be read here.


  1. The Free Trader, March 29, 1879, p. 2, col. 4

A Spring Tradition

 

violets          Virginia Bluebells

In the early 1900s kids made May Baskets – sometimes pages from wallpaper sample books formed into cone shapes, sometimes strips of paper woven into square baskets.  They filled them with flowers, often violets and bluebells, and with candy and hung them on friends’ doors.  The trick was to yell “May Basket!” and run away fast, because if the receiver of the basket caught you, you’d get kissed.  Of course, some ran away faster than others.

One time a boy who lived here happened to be upstairs when he heard the call “May Basket!”  He ran to a window, jumped on the porch roof, and then flung himself the 12 or 14 feet to the ground and landed running.

“Did you catch them?” he was asked.

“Oh, yes, they wanted to be caught.”

Sending Money in 1854

torn bill

Brighton Iowa May the 8th A D 1854
Dear Nephue
I have at last got ready to write to you conserning your money I went after it the first week in Aprile but Mr Dfrans was not at home and I left word for him to bring it down but he did not come tell last friday. he gave me $88 in $3 $5 and 10 bills and the ballence in gold. on saterday I turnd out to git large bills, and found but one fifty Dollar bill and that was all that I could git, larger then $10 but I have $20 so I will inclose $100 in this letter, or one half of each bill, and the other half in A letter that I have rote to send to Ephraim whare you will find it if he gits his letter and as soon as I can git sutable bills for the gold I will send it if this gose safe
I have not got that rent money yet but I sent him sharp orders if he dit not soon pay it I would give it to some boty to colect it I think your Mother could afford to come after it
we ar all well except my self I had another turn of the rumitis but am gaining again
hoping that these fue lines ma find you all in good health, write as soon as you git this and not fail, so fairwell
Jacob Snyder
[The spelling has been left uncorrected. To see the original, click here.]

This letter was written by Jacob Snyder to his nephew, Oliver Trumbo, of Dayton. In the days before the existence of checks or money orders, it was difficult to send money to someone at a distance. If it could be sent with a trusted person who was traveling to that location, that was the best. In the absence of such a person, careful people often resorted to the method Jacob describes in the above letter. A bill or bills would be cut in half; one half sent in one letter and the other half, as in this case, sent to a friend. The person to whom the money was sent would then join the two halves, which could be exchanged for complete bills. Another method was to mail the half bills and wait until confirmation arrived that the money was received. Then the second half could be sent. This method took more time, but did not require involving a second party.

A Social Party

couple dancing

Dayton, March 4, 1884. – The young folks sent out about twenty-five invitations last week for a social party at the residence of H. B. Williams, Esq., in East Ottawa of Friday evening, Feb. 29. Messrs. John Hall, Chas. Green and Wm. Dunavan were the invitation committee, and Messrs. C. B. Hess and S. W. Dunavan were floor managers. About twenty couples were present and all had a very enjoyable time. Two large parlors had been prepared for dancing, the floors nicely waxed, and everything was in good trim. The music by Prof. Cliff G. Sweet and wife of Aurora, consisting of violin and harp, was excellent and was greatly enjoyed by all present. For good first class music, new changes and delicious waltzes, they cannot be excelled and we can heartily recommend them to parties desiring such music. At a late hour the guests retired thanking Mr. and Mrs. W. for their kind hospitality and for the pleasant time they had had. The following guests were present: Prof. and Mrs. C. W. Tufts; Mr. and Mrs. T. E. MacKinlay; Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Hess; Misses Stout, Misses Angevine, Misses Dunavan, Misses Watts, Craig, Barnes, Marriner, Misses Childs, Misses Loy and others. Messrs. Angevine, Trumbo, Hall, Mitchell, Butters, Dunaway, Flick, Clauson, Messrs. Green, Messrs. Dunavan and others.1


  1. Ottawa [Ilinois] Free Trader, March 8, 1884, p. 8, col. 1

The Sounds of Winter


sleigh

In the absence of paved roads, a wet fall could make roads impassable and people waited eagerly for cold weather and snow. It was then time to get out the sleigh and resume visiting with friends and neighbors.

Maud Green remembered that ” ‘Old Jim’ belonged to Grandma Trumbo, & mother inherited him in 1873.  The sleigh bells & a sleigh came with him.”

The sleigh, unfortunately, is gone, although in my childhood it was still up in the hayloft of the old barn. My mother always wanted to get it down and restore it, but it never happened and then the barn burned. However, the sleigh bells are still in existence and are brought out every Christmas to hang on the door. Here’s a reminder of the joys of a sleigh ride:

 

Thanksgiving Day 1900 in Dayton

Thanksgiving dinner

A report of one Thanksgiving feast:

A Thanksgiving dinner given by Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Trumbo was largely attended. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. W. Van Etten and three children, Batavia, Mr. Eugene Appleton, Miss Ella Green, Aurora, Wm. Miller, wife and three children, Rutland, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Green, Miss Carrie Green and Lyle A. Green, Dayton.1

The hosts were Oliver W. Trumbo and his wife, Rebecca Green. Their daughter Jessie was the wife of Wilmot Van Etten and the mother of Clare Trumbo Van Etten, Walcott Gumaer Van Etten, and Frank Campbell Van Etten.

Ella Green, whose name appears coupled with Eugene Appleton was the daughter of David and Mary (Stadden) Green. Eugene appears to have been an unsuccessful wooer, as Ella later married Dr. George H. Riley.

William Miller’s wife was Alta Barbara Gibson, daughter of George W. and Rachael (Green) Gibson. Their children were Gertrude Rae Miller, Howard Miller, and Glenn Gibson Miller.

Isaac Green and wife Mary Jane Trumbo attended with their son Lyle. They had no daughter named Carrie, but they did have one daughter at home in 1900. Possibly daughter Maud was misidentified as Carrie.


  1. Ottawa Republican-Times, December 6, 1900, p. 4, col. 4