THE OLD HOMER TRAILS
By Marjorie Hickok, Dist. 227
Three boys sat under a tree talking of trails. One boy spoke up, "I wish
we knew more about the trails of Troy Grove that the settlers used. If we
knew, we might explore them sometime."
"Yes," said another one, "It would be a lot of fun to do so."
"Here comes a man who might tell us something about them. He is quite an old man and I know him well. He will be pleased to do it."
The man was liked by everyone and always ready to tell of the olden times. He readily consented to tell the story the boys wanted to hear.
He began: "The first trail used, which was probably an old Indian trail, was over the ridges north of La Salle. It came into Homer from the southwest, over what is now called the Dimmick road. It passed through the site of the village and eastward on the west side of the Vermillion creek, past the old Welch and Meinhardt Cemetery.
"It crossed the Mendota branch of the Vermillion and on toward Triumph, passing the old Kurtz place, the old Carey cabin, all of which are torn down, but the old trail can still be lined through the timber.
"Reynolds, Thornton and the Careys came over this trail when they settled here. Shabbona came over this trail to warn the settlers in Black Hawk's war, and back over this trail they went to Fort Wilbur.
"Another Indian trail crossed the Vermillion at the highest riffle north of Burris' bridge. It passed eastward toward the old dam. About twenty rods south of the dam the trail forks. The original trail went north and east toward Chicago. It can still be plainly seen through the Burris and old Mitten timbers. Reverend Gould and Wm. A. Hickok ran the underground railroad on this trail to Wedron and Gouldtown.
"The south fork of this trail was used by the Scotch settlers who settled in Waltham, to haul lumber from a saw-mill for their homes and grist from the old Meinhardt mill. The first murder occurred on this trail.
"A farmer named Quigly killed a neighbor named Edgecomb. He killed him with a wagon stake because Edgecomb pulled his whiskers.
"Another trail became the route of the stagecoach line from Dixon to Peru. It ran straight north from Homer's main street, swung northwest past the Hepinstall stone house and went on toward Mendota.
"The angling part of this trail probably followed an old Indian trail. It is said that Hepinstall traded with the Indians and early settlers, and had his home built on the lines of a fort. It is now torn down, but it was located just a few rods north of the house now occupied by Charles Barr.
"There were few trails or old roads going across the prairie then because the pioneers built roads on the high ground or bluffs near the streams. It was also very muddy on the prairie in rainy weather."
The boys, who had listened very closely to every word he had said, thanked him very much for telling them the story.