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Champaign County, Illinois

History of Homer

May 4, 1911
by: Miss Opal Towner

The first signs of Homer were in 1832 at which time a watermill was built and put in operation by Moses E. Thomas, on the Salt Fork, one mile and a half north of Homer's present situation; Around this Homer had it beginning. The first plat was made on Section thirty-three, on the north-east part of the ground where those cottages are now, on the south side of the river and below the dam. Later on in 1833 or 34 M. D. Coffeen a young man, came over here from Eugene, Indiana and started the first store. Within the next ten years about 1854, Homer had grown to have four or five stores, five blacksmith shops and one wagon shop. During this time a carding machine had been placed in the mill, which was used in carding the wool and grinding the feed and the wheat for flour.

All the frame houses were made of white oak and burr oak. They were lathed in white walnut and trimmed in black. At that time Homer was the central trading place for sixteen to eighteen miles around. M. D. Coffeen was the principle merchant and all the goods were sold on one year's credit. Hogs, also and other farm products were sold on a years time, and the bulk of the business was transacted by the exchange of products.

In 1854 there were prospects of a railroad going through, one mile and a half south of Old Homer, and the old town was moved to its present situation in persuance of that design. M. D. Coffeen who owned large tracts of land, laid out what was called the plat of South Homer. During January of 1855 began the moving houses out from Old Homer into its present location, which was affected by the means of forming trees into sled runners. Some of the trees being as long as forty feet. A large hole about six inches square was cut in the front end of each runner. These runners were placed under the buildings in such a way as to fit the end sills of the house. Then a large acid or beam was run through these holes, thus forming a large sled. To this sled was attached oxen one in front of each other. From three to twenty-four oxen were used, according to the size of the house which was to be moved. All the people and farmers round-about joined in one Jubilee in moving the houses. They generally moved from one to four houses a day. In January of 1855 a large snow came which lasted two months, during which time all the houses but two were moved. The cash outlay per day was Five Dollars.

There are yet four or five houses standing in South Homer that used to stand in Old Homer years ago.

The old house north of Perry Morison's is the Old Homer postoffice, it being the first frame house ever built in Old Homer. Billy Doroughty's house is the last one ever built.
The first post-office ever built in South Homer stands just behind the present post-office and is used as a ware-house for F. C. Hayes grocery store.

Homer has prospered greatly since those days. The place where Old Homer once stood is now occupied by a beautiful park, with an interurban line running through it from Homer to Ogden. Homer now has about 1000 inhabitants with all modern conveniences.
Opal Towner

grade 93

Perhaps it would be well,
Opal, for you to look up
the uses of the "capital"
Your story is interesting.
Especially the house
moving part.

(Opal was born May 12, 1896, in Homer, IL, dtr. of Claudius Towner and Emma Jane Wright. She would have been 15 when she wrote this).

Submitted by Linda Garrett

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