History of Eldena
South Dixon Twp. Lee County IL

The history of Eldena is closely connected with the history of Dixon. South Dixon Twp., in which Eldena is located, was originally a part of Dixon Township.

Eldena was platted July 10, 1863 on land owned by the Illinois Central railroad. This land had been part of a federal grant to the railroad to aid in the construction. Stephen O. Douglas, the great Democratic senator from Illinois during the 1850's pushed legislation which enabled the IC to obtain this grant of public lands.

The land was platted while South Dixon was still a part of Dixon Twp. At the February session of the board of supervisors in 1867, the town of South Dixon was detached from Dixon.

Included in the land detached was Eldena and all of town 22, range 9, except the northern tier of the section. In 1877, the land north of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad was restored to Dixon, but Eldena, being south of the railroad, remained in South Dixon Twp.

The first house in Eldena was built by Reuben H. Chaney. He also built a store to service farmers of the surrounding community. Soon after Chaney settled in Eldena, other houses were constructed.

The proximity of the railroad made it possible for farmers in this area to ship grain without having to cart it into Dixon. The first grain house was built by Reuben Trowbridge, Reuben H. Chaney and Daniel Brown. Later an elevator was built to provide more storage space for grain.

The family of Reuben Trowbridge, one of the grain house owners, settled near Eldena very early in the history of South Dixon Township.

Eldena has declined as a grain shipping center. The main reason for that is the fact that not as much grain is grown in the region as was in the 1870's and 1880's.

Today there are a great many dairy herds in the Eldena region. Milk is shipped to Dixon dairies and the Borden cheese plant. As far back as 1914, one cow from this area was recorded as producing 64 pounds of milk in one day.

The Lee county home for the poor is located about 1 1/2 miles from Eldena. The home has 100 acres, part of which are under cultivation.