driven by Delbert Smiley, to erect the massive pyramid,
using some sort of ramp to get the higher boulders in place.
Many people moving to Waterman in the last 50 years or
so may not know there is a large monument in town dedicated to
the founders and pioneers of the Waterman area.
It has stood in the same place since 1931 when Dr. Paul
Greeley decided to recognize early trailblazers who settled this
area. Situated halfway between Elm and Hickory streets, the 15-foot,
massive pyramid of boulders cemented together, some weighing
an estimated two tons, was erected on his property with a plaque
on the Elm Street side.
Since then the lot on Elm has been sold and a house blocks
the view of the monument. People driving along the 400 block
of Hickory Street may notice a small For Sale sign advertising
the two 90-foot lots that the Sawyer family wants to sell, but
it is difficult to see the monument far to the back of the lots.
Paul Sawyer, whose late father Mahlon Sawyer acquired the
property from the Greeley family, said they have maintained the
lots for more than a half century, often with the help of neighbors
who planted flowers and edged around the rockpile. At one time
there was a little windmill, flowers and shrubs, a row of trees
planted by Greeley's father Hiram Greeley, plus two quaint bridges,
a fountain and small waterfall. This I learned from the book
"Wigwams to Moon Footprints" written by the late Sara
The bronze plaque reads: "Erected to the Founders
and Builders of this community whose rugged spirit and sterling
character are here typified." Below is the date 1931.
Talking with Sawyer and others in the community I learned
that Kirk's Garage supplied the big wrecker,
A bronze plaque recognizing Waterman area founders
and pioneers is located on the back side of this 15-foot rock
monument when approached from Hickory Street in the 400 block.
The columnist and his cousin Paul Jouranlien used to climb it
as kids. (Schrader photo for ShawMedia)
Now the future of the monument is uncertain as the two
residential lots, if sold and housing built, would completely
obliterate any views of it.
Checking recent real estate transactions, lots in Waterman
are selling for $20,000 to $25,000, depending on size and availability
of utility hookups.
I think it would be a matter of civic pride that the monument
be preserved and the two lots fronting on Hickory be maintained
as a park. I could even envision a row of historical tablets
along a paved path recognizing pioneers from that area-people
like Tom Roberts, Sr. (founder of DeKalb Ag), Clayton Kirkpatrick
Jr. (editor and then publisher of the Chicago Tribune), the Eakle
family and their USS Illinois float, beloved teacher Bernice
Kitner Kirkus, Henry Rose (who invented a type of barbed wire
even before the three barbed wire barons from DeKalb) Howard
Kauffmann and his turkey empire, Dr. Paul Greeley, (local doctor
who was also a Rear Admiral, MC, USNR), and countless more. The
DeKalb County Historical-Genealogical Society could help the
Waterman Area Heritage Society fund the markers. Then each year
another one could be added, thus educating the young people visiting
the park about their forebears.
If a civic-minded company, such as Monsanto for example,
was willing to purchase the property for the village, they could
be offered naming rights so it could be known as Monsanto Pioneer