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James Murray Eaton papers

Identifier: MSS 28

Scope and Contents

The James Murray Eaton papers, 1860-1927, contain diaries, account books, stallion books, correspondence, and newspaper clippings. The personal diaries contain entries from 1880-1927 which primarily concern the weather, purchases at stores, trips and funerals, and Eaton’s work at the insurance office in Fulton. Eaton writes about local elections, church matters, the school board, and the lightning rod business. There are some gaps in the collection as some volumes may have been removed in a lawsuit.


  • 1880-1927 and undated


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

James Murray Eaton was born in Willett, New York on October 31, 1835. His family came to Illinois in 1836 in a covered wagon and at first lived in a log cabin. They farmed in Garden Plains, Illinois and his father supposedly built the first frame house west of Chicago. The Eaton family is now spread around Carroll County and Maquoketa. Eaton’s wife, Emily Greene, came to Garden Plains as a schoolteacher from Lowell, Massachusetts. The Eatons moved to Fulton, Illinois in 1893. Eaton founded the Mutual Farm Insurance Company and organized the Toronto Insurance Company of Rockford. Besides being an insurance agent, he was a farmer, a stock raiser, and an agent for a lightning rod company. He was President of the Fulton Board of Education and also Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge. He was interested in local politics and was a member of the Democratic Party. Eaton died on March 12, 1928.


2.1 Cubic Feet (/ 6 boxes)

Language of Materials



James Murray Eaton was an early settler and famer in the Mississippi River Valley. Eaton was born in Willett, New York on October 31, 1835. His family traveled by covered wagon to Garden Plains, Illinois in 1836, where they lived in a log cabin. Eaton and his father were farmers, and were perhaps the first to build a frame house west of Chicago. Eaton married Emily Green, a schoolteacher originally from Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1893, the Eatons moved to Fulton, Illinois. There, he founded Mutual Farm Insurance Co. and the Toronto Insurance Company of Rockford. In addition to being an insurance agent, Eaton remained a farmer and was also a stock raiser and an agent for lightning rods. He was elected as the president of the Fulton Board of Education, and was a Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge. Eaton died on March 12, 1928. His papers include forty years’ worth of personal diaries, account books, horse-breeding books, correspondence, and clippings from various publications. Included in his correspondence is a 1917 letter to Eaton containing an account of runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad in Fulton, Illinois.


Original order maintained when possible. Some materials moved to accomodate space limitations in boxes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated to Augustana College library by Emily Eaton Burgess, James Murray Eaton’s granddaughter, on June 16, 1950.

Processing Information

Ariana Solis, November 2017.

James Murray Eaton papers, 1880-1927 and undated.
Ariana Solis
November 2017
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Repository Details

Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository

639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States