H C Hawes, a merchant in Atlanta, IL was interviewed on this date in 1915. He was born in a log cabin near the place where Atlanta would be in 1844 and his grandfather had come to that place in 1819.
"I have traveled over Delavan prairie" said Mr. Hawes, "when not a house was in sight as far as the eye could reach. The same was true with the Atlanta prairie. The wolves and the deer were roaming this region in that day."
He remember that Waynesville was the oldest trading station and that Atlanta was not established until the Alton road came through. Atlanta was established sometime around 1853. Atlanta was the "great trading center" at that time because of the railroad connection. People came from as far east as Farmer City to shop in Atlanta. Waynesville, having no railroad fell into obscurity.
Mr Hawes could remember going to see the first train engine that came to Bloomington in 1853. It was a great thrill, but later the same trains came through Atlanta and the train became commonplace.
At that time the land was extremely swampy and mosquito infested. People were very sick with malaria and ague. There were more sick people that healthy people, so very few nurses to care for the sick. He said that the people congregated around the wooded areas not just because the trees afforded shelter, but because the ground in those areas was easier to till with the poor farming implements they used at that time.