Eponetus Reed Bacon was born in Orleans County, New York, Feb. 22, 1840, the son of Benjamin and Louisa M. (Dodd) Bacon, both natives of New York.
Benjamin was a farmer and was twice married; first to Louisa Dodd in 1828, with whom he had six children. Louisa died in 1843.
His second marriage, in 1844, was to Sarah Curtis, with whom he had two children. Benjamin Bacon died in New York state in 1878 at the age of 73.
His son, E.R. Bacon, was reared by B.J. Merrick after the death of his mother when he was very small. He was able to get a common school education, and started out life for himself at a very early age.
He traveled to Illinois in 1856, and in 1858 moved to Michigan. He began the study of medicine about 1861, and as a young man of 21 responded to his country's call for troops at the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted in Company E, Second Michigan Volunteers, and served as a private with that command for three months and was discharged. He reenlisted in the One Hundredth Illinois Volunteer Regiment and served for three years as a sergeant, during which time he took part in the Battle of Perryville.
In 1862 he was a hospital steward at Bowling Green, Ky., and then was transferred to Hospital No. 14 at Nashville, where he stayed on hospital duty until his discharge in 1865.
His clothing was pierced by five bullets at the battle of Chickamauga, but he was not injured. He performed his duties well, taking part in many important battles.
After the war he went to Lockport, Ill., and in May 1866 came to Lowell, Ind. He had attended lectures in Nashville, Tenn. during the war, and soon after he arrived in Lowell he engaged in the drug business, studying and practicing medicine at the same time.
In 1872 and 1873 he attended the Chicago Medical College, graduating Mar. 13, 1873. His diploma from that college was on display during the historical walking tour presented in June 1983 by the Three Creeks Historical Assn. For that tour, the part of Dr. Bacon was ably played by John Eskridge of Lowell.
On the third of June, 1868, Dr. Bacon was united in marriage to Martha B. Sanger, the daughter of an early pioneer couple, James H. and Martha (Cleveland) Sanger of Lake County, whom he wrote about in this column in December 1982.
The children of Dr. and Martha Bacon were Sylvia L., who became the wife of Schuyler Colfax Dwyer, a well known attorney and publisher in Lowell; and Grace M., who married Dr. A.L. Spindler, a dentist in Chicago Hts., Ill.
Dr. Bacon was very active in the affairs of the Lowell community. He belonged to the Knights of Pythias, the Mason Lodge, G.A.R., and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was also a school director for many years, serving when the school was built on Main Street and taking great interest in the matter and personally superintending the construction of the building.
His professional career was marked by continuous advancement. He had a large patronage, sometimes traveling by horse and buggy as far as Kentland to see a patient. He was a director of the State National Bank in Lowell, and owned farm property in this area and other real estate in Chicago. He served for thirteen years as a trustee of the Methodist Church in Lowell.
Dr. Bacon was able to build a fine home at the northwest corner of Commerical Ave. and Fremont St. in downtown Lowell. That home is now a historical attraction, having survived the big fire of 1898 in which several blocks of business buildings were burned to the ground. Old pictures of the house show a large windmill nearby, with a tank, and this writer was told that the house was saved because of a pressure hose from that tank which kept it from burning. There were no fire hydrants until after the fire of 1898.
The doctor was in poor health several years before his death, afflicted with diabetes. He fell off his porch and fractured a shoulder and died soon after on Mon., Dec. 3, 1906, at the age of 66. Pallbearers were C.E. Nichols, Thomas Grant, H.M. Johnson, T.A. Wason, George M. Death, Henry Worley, Y.C. Vosburg and H.H. Ragon, all members of early families of the area.
Historian Rev. T.H. Ball wrote: "Dr. Bacon was the builder of his own character as well as his own fortune. He started out in life for himself at an early age, and was a self-educated and self-made man. In his profession he gained prominence and success, and in private life he won warm personal regard, which is the evidence of many sterling traits of character."