THE BURLINGAMES OF EARL
By Mary Louise Sturgeon, Dist. 310
In the early fall of 1845 Mr. and Mrs. Burlingame came to La Salle
county. They settled about three-fourths of a mile north of where Earlville
now stands. Cold weather soon came and everyone suffered from fierce snow
blizzards. Mrs. Burlingame sat up through the nights and kept the fire from
going out. If a fire went out it was hard to get it started again. Mr.
Burlingame watched the cattle at night to keep them from going out into the
cold. The wolves were near, too, and they were hungry.
Mr. Burlingame bought forty acres of land from the government. He paid twelve dollars an acre for it, which was then a good price for land. The land is in Meriden township.
Mr. Burlingame went to Chicago to get the money. The government would not accept paper money, therefore it had to be paid in gold. His family worried while he was gone, because much murdering and robbery was being done.
When he returned from Chicago with the gold, he had to take it to Dixon to pay for the land. This journey took from two to three days by horse and wagon. He had his gold in a small trunk. On the way he stopped at a hotel for the night. The hotel man asked him if he was going to leave his trunk in the wagon. Mr. Burlingame laughed and said, "No one would want what is in that trunk." He then went into the hotel, leaving his trunk behind. When he awoke the next morning his trunk was still there.
On their farm the Burlingames had a dairy. They had thirty-five cows. The milk, butter and cheese was taken to Ottawa and sold. They also sold eggs for five cents a dozen. They raised many hogs. They butchered them and the pork was sent to Chicago.
In the summer time when the mosquitoes were bad, the people were attacked by malaria fever. Mrs. Burlingame took it. She suffered every other day from bad chills.
In 1857 the Burlingames built a new home. By this time they had three children. The two older children went to the district school near their home, but the youngest child went to the town school. Mr. Burlingame thought that she would get a better education. When the children were older they had parties, dances and get-togethers at the farmers' houses. They also had spelling bees. One time Earlville and Leland had a spelling bee in which Leland was victorious.
In about 1849 Earlville built a post office. In 1850 three more buildings were built. They were Wade's general store, S. T. Sutphen's hotel, and Harris' and Bennett's blacksmith shop.
Mr. Reed, a man of Earl township, sold whiskey. This was against the people's wishes and they made him leave town. Mr. Reed was very angry about this. He hired Mr. Letz to blow up Earlville's schoolhouse. Mr. Reed and Mr. Letz were both arrested. They also received a sentence. This took place in 1858.
Earlville was increasing rapidly by now. They had several stores, but quite a few were destroyed by fire. In 1867 Union block was burned. In 1875 the buildings south of here were also burned. In 1894 the city hall was burned. In 1899 the Wallace home was destroyed by fire, too.
In 1840 the Methodist church was organized. The church was built in 1856. In 1852 the Presbyterian church was organized in the home of Susie Kelly. The church was built in 1855. The Universalist church was built in 1869, the Congregational church in 1870, and the Baptist church in 1871.
The first paper published here was the Earlville Gazette. It was an interesting paper and was enjoyed by everyone who read it.
Mr. and Mrs. Burlingame have passed away, but Miss Fanny Burlingame, their youngest child, is still living. She is librarian at the Earlville public library. Here she has endeared herself to not only people of her own generation, but also to the school children who come to her for books.