Biographical Sketches of Pioneer Settlers
From the History of LaSalle County, Illinois
By Elmer Baldwin - 1877
Elmer T. Baldwin was born in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in 1806. He taught school, managed a store, and farmed in Connecticut until 1835 when he headed west to settle Illinois. Baldwin traveled by boat and train through the Great lakes region, until he reached the small village of Chicago. For here Baldwin and his companions walked to Ottawa, Illinois. After trudging through the swamps of the Chicago region for several days, Baldwin and his company first laid eyes on the rolling prairie. "We strained our eyes to take in its extent, till the effort became painful. We descanted again and again upon its beauty, and richness..." He had found his home.
In that same year, Baldwin purchased land in what is now Farm Ridge, Illinois. A statesman and historian, he served as a Justice of the Peace of the Vermilion Precinct for 14 years, was Postmaster for 20 years, served on the Board of Supervisors of LaSalle County for six years, and helped to govern the Farm Ridge Township. In 1856 Baldwin was elected to the state House of Representatives, and continued to serve in the House and in the State Senate on and off for 17 years. He died on November 18, 1895.
Perhaps his greatest contribution to the citizens of Illinois and LaSalle County was documenting the era in his History of La Salle County. Here he provided vivid descriptions that give twenty-first century residents a glimpse at the past.
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