Factories

Bray & Kates anchored
the west side of the village,
Peter and Volz, the east.
Their grey iron foundry
at Foundry Road north of the tracks
was a major employer.
Nestled in their neighborhood
were modest factories with modest staffs
hand-rolling cigars,
making pickels from local cucumbers,
and sauerkraut from farmers' cabbages.
It was said factory hands
shed their shoes
and jumped cabbage
down into the brine.
Factory feet?
Mr. Herzog, the cigar maker,
strolled uptown for all his errands,
his great white gander swaggering at his side.
Ignoring the farmers watering their horses--
and the horses--at the town's fountain/trough
at Evergreen and Davis,
the nervy gander would hoist his handsome hauteur
into the fountain and sail regally around
until Mr. Herzog finished his errands
and came to reclaim his companion.
Then home to roll more cigars
to pack in the elegant
wooden boxes with
Mr. Herzog and his gander
pictured on the cover.
The contents were known
as Gander Cigars.
Dr. John Ellison Best

His parents rolled down from Canada
in a covered wagon
and bedded down in a Woodstock log cabin
where son John was born
on Halloween 1843.
After a stint
in the 95th Illinois Infantry
during the war between the states,
he graduated in 1870
from Rush Medical College.
With the practical foresight
that would mark his medical mission,
he picked Dunton to practice
for its good soil--
people would prosper--
and doctor near retirement age.
Finding acceptance after he
saved a pedlar sick with pneumonia,
Dr. Best packed his satchel
for a relentless round
of house calls by day and night.
In winter, wrapped in a buffalo robe
over a big overcoat,
sealskin hat, beaver neckpiece,
and overshoes.
He delivered 1552 babies
(none of them in a hospital)
and performed operations routinely
on kitchen tables by kerosene lamp.
The year local farmers invested
in new and improved corn shredders,
he amputated eighteen of their hands and
arms.
A faithful Republican,
he was trustee
of the Methodist Church
for twenty-four years
and Sunday School Superintendent
for fourteen.
He lived with his redoubtable Nellie,
the village intellectual,
in three stories of
showy carpenter Gothic splendor
north of the Methodist church,
and a fur, fur piece from
from log cabin austerity.