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1932 Stories

By Lillian Landers, Dist. 103

Grand Rapids township, which is number thiry-two, is located in the southeastern portion of La Salle county. It lies in range four, and is mostly made up of prairie land, but has a timber grove along its main stream, Covel creek. Along this creek on sections six and seven, is a grove of trees called EbersoPs grove. It was near this grove that most of the early settlements were made.

One of the first builders near this grove was Henry Hibbard, who came to the Ebersol farm from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1827. Later he made a claim on section five in 1829, which is called Ebersol farm. Two years later, in 1831, he sold the claim to Disney, who in turn sold it to John McKernan.

Mr. and Mrs. Ebersol came to Illinois from Harrisburg, Pa. Mr. Ebersol was a blacksmith by trade, although a farmer most of his life.

When he came to Illinois he brought with him his anvil and some self-made tools. Some of his other tools were a hammer and a two-tined fork, which are now in the hands of Mrs. Mary Baker, an eighty-five year old resident of 127 Campbell street, Ottawa, Illinois.

The first scouring plow was owned and used by Mr. Ebersol, and the first revolving horse rake owned and used by him also were some more of his old-fashioned tools he brought with him. His first sulky rake was used the first time by Mr. William C. Moore in 1876.

Mr. Ebersol continued to make yearly improvements on his farm. He planted an orchard in 1830 with the aid of his self-made tools.

The family home of Mr. and Mrs. Ebersol was made happy by seven very lovely children — four boys and three girls. The oldest child was A. M. Ebersol, who wrote a brief history of the town of Grand Rapids, from 1829 to 1871, including the Ebersol farm. He married Miss C. C. Whittlesey in 1844. The marriage ceremony was performed in Princeton by the Reverend Owen Love joy, the renowned Abolutionist.

If one should walk through the timber along Covel creek he would see an old path, known at one time as a Chicago Trail. This trail was made by the early settlers and was a means of conveying their grain-loaded wagons to Chicago. These loaded wagons were drawn by oxen, which were common in those days.

Roping oxen was not a very easy matter. It was necessary to put the rope over the head of one of the oxen and then over the other. Their tails were tied together to keep the oxen from stepping away from each other. It was sometimes known as the market trip, which took ten days, for many times they would get stuck in the mud while crossing a slough. The others joined teams and pulled them out. Always a lot of people went together for that reason. Camp life was enjoyed on these trips, although they did have to sleep under their wagons instead of in tents.

Wheat was at that time thirty-two to forty cents a bushel. A price of fifty to sixty cents was a real surprise.

Besides sowing wheat, the farmers planted corn. The kernels of corn were placed in a gash in the ground, the gash being made by hitting the ax in the ground. With another blow of the ax the kernels were covered. Cultivation was almost impossible, due to many growing vines.

There is also a graveyard located on the northwestern portion of this farm. Many of the tombstones are sunk into the ground, but some are still standing around the graveyard, and it is mostly used for a pasture.

Mr. Harold Richolson owns this historic farm, although T. A. Holman now resides on it.

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