History of South Dixon, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


At the February session, 1867, of the Board of Supervisors, the town of South Dixon was detached from the Town of Dixon, embracing all of Town 22, Range 9, except the north tier of sections. The town remained with these boundaries until the March session, 1877, when the territory lying north of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway was restored to the Town of Dixon. The earliest permanent settler in the township was Joseph Cartwright, who settled there in 1838 and died the following year. Prior to this, however, in 1836, a young man staked out a claim for himself close to the three mile branch on the Chicago road, near the northeast corner of Section 15. Abram Brown, who settled in the town in 1849 on that part of Section 13, where he continued to live until his death a few years ago, relates that Uncle Peter and Aunt Rhoda McKenney, through some misunderstanding, jumped the young man's claim and built a small shanty and set up housekeeping, by reason of which the "Claim Society" ousted them. The shanty was loaded on a wagon, thuch against their will, and moved off the premises.

The second permanent settler was Charles Edson, who located here in 1839. Mr. Edson and his wife did much to foster everything that was calculated to uplift and advance the interests of the community. The family afterwards occupied the farm across the road from the brick school house, which circumstance and their relations to the school gave it the name of the Edson school, by which it was known for many years. As soon as they moved into their first house, Mrs. Edson gave up her largest room for a school, and this was the first school to be taught in the vicinity. The teacher was a Miss Robinson, later a preceptress in Mt. Morris Seminary, where she married Judge Fuller of Ogle County, and after his death became the wife of Bowman Bacon, a nephew of Mrs. Joseph Crawford of Dixon. In the early '60s the Edson family moved to California.

The next family to locate in the town consisted of James Campbell, his wife and two daughters. Mr. Campbell did not live long, and on his death his widow married Isaac Boardman, of Dixon. The father of Reuben Trowbridge settled near Eldena very early, and reared a large family of boys. Hiram and Heman Meade joined the settlement soon after, and a man of a different stripe by the name of Hamill, who brought his wife from the poorhouse at Buffalo. New York, came to the township. His abuse of one of his children so excited the kind N. G. H. Morrill, the County Poormaster, and other large hearted people of Dixon, that they administered to the brute a thorough coat of tar and feathers in Dixon, in the vicinity of where the Western Hotel then stood.

Other early settlers were Christian Stevens, Henry B. True, Caldwell Bishop, Henry Page, Jacob McKenney, Jacob Groh, and son E. H., James Rogers, Matthew McKenney, William A. Judd, Nathan Hill, John Fritz, Sr., William J. Fritz, William Rink, John Anderson, Barnhard Wissman and others.

St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church was early organized and, in 1877, built a church edifice north of the Chicago road near the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of Section 14. Another church of the same denomination was built on the southwest corner of Section 20, known as Emanuel Church. In the village of Eldina the Methodist Episcopal Society built a church in 1870, which has also been used by other denominations.

Further mention should be made of the Edson school house, later known as "The Brick," on the northwest corner of the southwest guarter of Section 13, which was built at an early day, and was for many years the center of intellectual activity in that section. Mr. E. B. Edson was the first teacher in this building. At one time the attendance reached 120. In the days when Abram Brown, Ephraim Groh and others were at the height of their activity, this school house was the scene of periodical debates, which attracted a large attendance, it being a common thing for disputants from Dixon to take part. In 1858 the Edsonville Literary and Debating Society was formed, with Mr. Brown as its first President, and it was under the auspices of this organization that, for many years, the forensic contests went on during the winter months.

The only poor farm in the county is situated on Section 26, and cantains 100 acres.

July 10, 1863, the "Town of Eldina" was platted on land of the Illinois Central Railroad. The first store and house in the village was built by Reuben H. Cheney. The first grain house was built by Reuben Trowbridge, Reuben H. Cheney and Daniel Brown. To this was later added an elevator.

The population of South Dixon, according to tbe government census, was 841 in 1890, and 854 in 1900.

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