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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Ancestor of Dan Dixon

ASA EASTMAN - Asa Eastman, who became one of the early settlers of Illinois and was known as a pioneer of Sangamon county, carried on a business of such magnitude and importance that he was called the grain and flour king of the central portion of the state. Along legitimate business lines, in harmony with modern ideas and in accord with the progressive spirit which has ever dominated this section of the country, he developed his business interests and his operations not only brought to him a handsome fortune, but were of material benefit to this portion of the state, furnishing an excellent market for producers. Into other fields of activity he extended his efforts and his unwearied industry, intelligently directed by sound and discriminating judgment, made him one of the most successful men of central Illinois, but while his prosperity excited the admiration of his fellow men, there were in his life other dominant qualities which won their highest esteem and respect, he being ever honorable in all his relations with his fellow men and conscientious in the discharge of every obligation of public or private life.

Mr. Eastman was a native of Winthrop, Maine, born on the 16th of September, 1804, his parents being Thomas and Sarah Eastman. The mother died in New England during the early boyhood of her son Asa, and the father afterward married Susan Frothingham, of Boston. In 1830 he journeyed westward with his family, making the trip by wagon and by boat. The means of travel were then so primitive that the journey was a very long and difficult one. The family home was established at Waverly, Morgan county, Illinois, and there Thomas Eastman formed a partnership with a Mr. Cook. Together they built a large flouring mill and store, continuing business operations under the name of the Illinois Company. Mr. Eastman was thus engaged for several years, on the expiration of which period he sold his interest there and removed to Auburn, Sangamon county, where he continued to reside until called to his final rest.

Asa Eastman acquired his education in the public schools of his native state and came with the family to the west. He assisted his father in the mill and store at Waverly and after his marriage removed to Auburn, where be built a large flour and saw mill, engaging in its operation there through several years. He then removed to Springfield, where he again turned his attention to the milling business and. in connection with the manufacture of flour he also became extensively engaged in grain dealing. He built the large grain elevator which now stands near the tracks of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He possessed an adaptability and, moreover, had the power to recognize readily an opportunity, and when he saw that he might advantageously extend his efforts into other fields he did so and ultimately became one of the largest mill owners and grain dealers of central Illinois. He was proprietor of a large flourmill in Mechanicsburg, Illinois, one in Decatur, a third in Moweaqua and a fourth in Cairo, Il linois, and the conduct of these made heavy demands upon his time and attention. He continued in the flour and grain business up to the time of his death and he was also interested in other enterprises which contributed to the material development and prosperity of Springfield. He was a large stockholder in the Leland Hotel and was president of the company which owned the hotel at the time it was built. He improved what is known as Eastman's addition to Springfield and erected many buildings there. His benevolence was always of a most practical character. He did not believe in the indiscriminate giving which fosters vagrancy and idleness, but he believed in helping those who were willing to help themselves, and because of this trait of his character he is well remembered and gratefully so by many of the poorer classes of the city, for he built a large number of small houses in the Eastman addition and arranged to sell these upon easy terms to wage earners. Whatever he undertook be carried forward to suc cessful completion, his business being crowned with a high degree of prosperity, which was won entirely along legitimate lines, resulting from strong and honorable purpose, unwearied diligence and continuity of energetic action.

Mr. Eastman gave his political allegiance to the Republican party and had firm faith in its principles. He never sought or desired office, content to do his duty to town, state and country as a private citizen, and his deep interest in the welfare of Springfield was manifest by his active and helpful co-operation in many measures which tend to promote the city's welfare. In his early life be belonged to the Masonic fraternity, but afterward withdrew from membership therein. Both he and his wife were members of the Second Presbyterian church of Springfield and his Christian faith was undoubtedly a permeating influence in his life, leading to his honorable career in business and his consideration for his fellow men at all times.

While residing in Waverly Mr. Eastman was united in marriage to Miss Susan Elizabeth Tanner, a native of Warren, Connecticut, whose people removed to the west in 1835, settling in Morgan county, Illinois. There were two children born of that marriage, but Allan T., the son, died at the age of eight years. The daughter, Annie S., is now the widow of James M. Tobenson, of St. Louis, Missouri, who was engaged in that city in the wholesale dry goods and clothing business for several years. He afterward devoted his energies to the commission business there for sixteen years or until his death in 1887. There were two living children born of this union: Hershel A., who is proprietor of the five and ten cent store in Springfield and who married Miss Florence Evans, by whom be has two children, Allan Eastman and Hershel Evans Johnson; and Susan M., who is an invalid and resides with her mother. Mrs. Johnson is well known in the social. circles of Springfield and owns a beautiful home at No. 601 South Sixth st reet. In addition she has four other houses and lots on South Sixth street in the vicinity of her own residence. After her husband's death she returned to Springfield to make her home amid the scenes and friends of her girlhood days. Her mother had died March 8, 1842, when but twenty-two years of age. Mr. Eastman survived her for more than forty-six years and passed away on the 25tb of October, 1888, at the age of eighty-five years. His career was a most useful one, and while he never sought to figure before the public in any light in connection with political or military honors he yet had marked influence in promoting, as a private citizen, the development and material growth of his adopted state and he left behind him an honorable name, a name which was a synonym for business integrity, for sterling worth, for high principles and upright character.

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