FIRST SETTLERS IN EDEN
By Nikodum Degutis, Dist. 71
The early settlers of district 71, Eden township, came about the middle
of the nineteenth century, from the East. They had a hard time getting here
because of the poor roads, wagons and the slow movements of the horses and
oxen. Most of them came to buy cheap land and to make a home.
Ira Mosher, an early settler of our neighborhood, came here shortly after the Black Hawk War in 1832. He made his home about one-third of a mile east of the Hetrich school.
In 1853 the Illinois Central railroad was built through a swampy and marshy land. Many of the men working on the railroad caught malaria or typhoid fever from the mosquitoes of the swamps and marshes. A great number of men died.
Ira Mosher was a carpenter. He made many beautiful coffins. He was very skillful in polishing and putting the boards together. Finally the men died in such large numbers that Mr. Mosher used only the rough boards and nailed them together to make coffins. The men were buried in a cemetery east of Hetrick school. Later the human bones were plowed up by the farmers cultivating the land.
Mr. Mosher was a Methodist preacher as well as a carpenter. He preached in a little rude structure north of Tonica once a week, which was used as a school and a church. Now it is used as a barn on Mrs. Minnie Cofoid's farm.
Mr. Mosher traveled from farm to farm preaching, and was a welcome guest wherever he stopped. For his pay he received flour, some meat, apples or some other food.
Mr. Mosher had twelve children, five of which were boys. They fought in the Civil war. They all returned safely to their home at the close of the war.
When Mr. Mosher died, he was buried in the Tonica cemetery.
Mr. Calvin Palmer, another early settler, built the house where Mr. H. O. Walgenbock is now living. The original owner was Alexander Monroe, who presented it to Mr. and Mrs. Palmer when they were bride and groom. The farm contained sixty acres then, but more has been added since.
Mr. Palmer had ten children. They all attended Hetrich school. One of the boys played truant one day and took a ride to La Salle with a farmer who was hauling grain. He was coming home earlier than the time school was dismissed. He jumped off of the wagon before he got home so his folks wouldn't see him. The old negress who did the washing for the Palmers, spied him and wondered why he was coming home so early and in such a hurry. The boy ran into the house
excited and told his mother that Chicago was nearly burned down. He had heard about the Chicago fire while he was in La Salle.
About the time the Palmer family came here the settlers used very crude stoves. The chimneys were on the outside of the cabin. When it looked like rain the children shouted as they ran by, "Pull in your chimney, its going to rain."
In 1855 Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Goodwin and their family settled one-half mile south of Hetrick school, on Route 2. They lived in a rude shanty. Other shanties were built here, in which the men working on the Illinois Central railroad lived.
Where Hetrick school now stands stood the old schoolhouse. It was like a shed, having a few windows. Mrs. Goodwin cleaned the old and later the new schoolhouse.
She had a log hut east of the school, across the Illinois Central railroad, in which she sheared sheep, cleaned wool and wove it into cloth. She made shirts, socks and overalls by hand, not only for her family, but also for others.
Mrs. Goodwin also performed the part of a doctor because the nearest doctor lived on the old Ottawa road and a person might die before the doctor arrived. She was a doctor among her neighbors until she became so old that she couldn't get around.
Mrs. Goodwin had three sons and one daughter, two of which are still living. The youngest son, who came to Eden township when six months old, is now an old man living in Tonica.
Mrs. Goodwin had three brothers, who were killed in the Civil war fighting on the Union side. Mr. Goodwin couldn't go to war because he was a cripple. He was mowing a field of grain with a team of colts when they became frightened. He was thrown underneath the mower and his leg was cut off.
Mrs. Goodwin died at the age of ninety-two. She lived in Eden township from the time she came here from New York.
The farmers in this vicinity sold their grain in Chicago. A few farmers would go together on such a trip, which would take more than a week's time. In order that they could guard themselves against the large packs of prairie wolves that roamed about attacking the travelers, they slept under their wagons with their guns by their sides. Another reason they traveled together was because of poor roads. Many times the wagons were stuck in the muddy roads. There weren't any bridges at that time and the settlers had to cross the river on ferries. On their homeward journey they brought home a barrel of flour, some meat and other necessities.
When the Illinois-Michigan canal was built the farmers brought their produce to La Salle. From here towboats, pulled by mules on the bank of the canal, carried the grain to Chicago. When one team became exhausted or had pulled to its limit, another team was used, and when this team had pulled to a certain place another team was used, and so on till they hauled the goods to Chicago. The canal was supplied with water from Lake Michigan by a large water pump near it.
It was these early settlers who made, this country a better place to live in. When they came here they found a great deal of timber and prairie land, but they have changed it to a thriving agricultural region, growing cities and great farms.