Roann on the Eel River
|Roann, c. 1900|
My first introduction with Roann came when I was still in highschool. I took a round-about way to get to my cousins in Van Buren via Roann-which was a great little village to stumble upon. The covered bridge welcomed me to the town nestled along the banks of the Eel River. Another return trip occurred with my two kids, pretty young at the time, when we stumbled on their Covered Bridge Festival. So it was a real honor when I got the opportunity to work with the good folks in town to place almost the entire community on the National Register.
Roann was originally platted in 1853 by Joseph Beckner. The small village was a rival to a nearby community also located on the Eel River, about two miles west, named Stockdale. Stockdale had been settled in 1839 and had a functioning mill on the river. Beckner, himself an early settler, owned 600 acres of land between the south edge of the Eel River to about one mile south of present day Roann. He established a tavern along an American Indian trail near the south edge of his property. A town in the vicinity of Roann had been proposed for some time prior to the plat due to the location of a bridge over the Eel River in the same area. When the Detroit, Eel River, and Illinois Railroad was projected to come through the area, Beckner seized the opportunity to establish the town on his land between the river and the proposed railroad. The most valid story on the origins of the name for the community is from the name of a young woman who worked at Beckner’s tavern and Beckner’s daughter. Both girls’ names were Ann; the worker’s last name was Roe.
|The famous covered bridge over the Eel River|