Volume II Issue 1

Happy New Year!!! - January 1997

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"Early Life in Illinois" Part 1

Dunton, IL -- by Mrs. William H. Dunton (Amelda Wood)

In the year 1843, I came to Illinois with my parents from the state of Pennsylvania, although my native state was New York. My father located to a farm west of Plum Grove, six miles from here. There was a very small cabin on the place, 12 X 14 feet. There being seven of us, it became necessary for some of us to vacate and I being the oldest was the one to first go. In the year 1845 I married William H. Dunton, of blessed memory. My father's house being small the question was raised whether we should go to the minister's house or should we stay at home to have the ceremony performed. My parents wished it to be held at home.

I had some friends I wished to ask in, so all in all there were about twenty present. Of course the bed was taken away, so we had quite a large room. Reverend Drake of Elk Grove performed the ceremony. You all know him --- if not personally, by reputation or otherwise. After the ceremony came the banquet, consisting of mince pie, turkey, etc.

After that had been enjoyed and the guests gone, I took my farewell to home and went to make a home of my own. We came to this then desolate prairie --- no neighbors, no roads; nothing but a little house but that was enough with such ardent love and good health. After we got settled we began to talk of a little trip to see Mr. Dunton's parents, who lived 35 or 40 miles south in DuPage County. We had one horse but no sleigh. What should we do?

My husband went to the grove and cut two long poles, brought them home, hewed them off, bent up one end in the shape of a sled runner and fastened them some way, making what was called in those days a 'jumper'. But we had no box. We took a dry goods box, fastened it to the jumper and made a seat inside, so it was quite nice.

The sleighing was fine, so one nice morning we started on our wedding tour. We got along very well, stopping at Babcock's Grove for dinner, then pushed on to our destination, getting there about sundown. Father Dunton came to the gate with both hands extended and a welcome on his tongue, that has always stayed with me, 'Welcome, my daughter,' he said --- the dear good old man.

After staying several days it began to have the appearance of thawing so we started for home, but had not gone more than ten miles before it began to mist and shortly after a hard rain fell. Then we began to think about a place to stop until it should clear again. So the first house we came to we asked if we could stay all night. Yes, we could, if we would put up with their fare. I well remember what we had for supper. It was corn cake, which they called 'dodger,' I called it Johnnie cake --- and coffee, with no butter, and popcorn for dessert. The weather grew very cold in the night, but we got started early the next morning. Oh, how rough the roads or rather the prairie was --- there were no roads to speak of. We got home the same evening --- cold, tired, and hungry.

I have told you this story for the benefit of the younger people that are here. I know that the older ones could tell of far harder things than I have told, but this will give you a faint idea of frontier life in Illinois.

Two years after this (1847) Father Dunton came here, took a farm and built a house where Mrs. Farwell is living now (612 North Arlington Heights Road). So we had neighbors that were really neighbors. North of them no one lived until we got to Buffalo Grove. On the east Mr. Millard was our nearest neighbor, on the south Mr. Isaac Smith lived on a farm owned later by J. Peter and on the west lived Mr. Fred Howe and later Mr. Warwick.

A little school house was built in 1849 and five years later the railroad was constructed through our settlement."

From a speech delivered at an Old Settlers' Picnic in 1885 by Amelda Wood. From the book "Prairieville USA: The Story of the Birth and Growth of a Prairie Village", Daisy Paddock Daniels, 1971, The Historical Society and Museum of Arlington Heights, pp 49-51.

Click on the hotlink at the beginning of this article to learn more about the town of Dunton (now Arlington Heights), Illinois.


The Poetry of Lewis Carlysle Dunton

[Commentary by Michael L. Dunton] -- A year ago, I did not know much about my Great-great grandfather, Lewis Carlysle Dunton. Other than the usual names, dates, and place names we find in genealogical work, the essence of the man had been hidden from me by time. I am lucky to still have many living relatives that can remember him. In this past year of interviewing and recording stories, I have started to piece together a bit of "his story". Nothing, however, equaled the insight into the man as the words that he penned himself. These following lines of prose were provided to me by Les Dunton and forwarded to him by his nephew, Forrest Gualco, whose mother possesses the originals. Sometimes we are really lucky to discover hidden gems. According to Lewis, he never wrote a line of prose until after his wife had passed on and he was 83 years of age. Here is my favorite, written in about 1934, about his courtship with Sarah Marie Wheelock in about 1877.

"In Memory of My Dear Wife"
The first time I went to see her,
Her mother said she'd gone away,
To make a friendly visit,
And planned some weeks to stay.

The next time that I met her,
Was in a lecture hall, this time.
I felt something was to happen,
When she placed her hand in mine.

One day when I called on her.
She felt sure I'd understand.
She picked for me a pure white rose,
And placed it in my hand.

Once I took her from school,
She said, I at ease should feel,
And visit with her mother,
While she prepared the meal.

Once we visited her sister Nett,
Had dinner with her that day,
And then we sang many songs,
And played the game croquet.

It was on that self-sameday,
While riding by my side,
In answer to my question, said,
That she would be my bride.

When I asked her for her picture,
She had no copies she said,
With a smile playing upon her face,
She'd give me mothers instead.

Did I receive that picture?
Indeed I did you bet.
Although it was sixty years ago,
I have that picture yet.

Ere long i received another,
This time, it proved to be,
A picture of the dearest girl,
In all the world to me.

When I prepared to go home,
Although 'twas the first time,
That I asked her for a kiss,
She pressed her lips to mine.

To those that read these lines,
It should be plain to see,
That the mother of my children,
Was all the world to me.
Oft times she comes to see me.
And I feel she can't be wrong,
When she says to keep up courage,
That it won't be very long.

It used to be an awful thing,
To see a human soul take wing,
But now I feel the way t'will be,
The happiest moments we'll ever see.

To me this was her last request,
I am so tired I want to rest,
And this is what she said to me,
I've just got to get out of this.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It was when the day was done,
That we saw her eye-lids close,
Calmly as to a nights repose,
Like flowers at set of sun.

L.C. Dunton - 1850-1942

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Last Updated January 9, 1997
Copyright 1997 by Michael L. Dunton
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