Thomas Campbell, new resident to the city, wanted to find out more about the history of the land his home rests on. The previous owners had relayed to him and his wife Josie that on several occasions people had stopped by the house asking them not to tear down the barn that was on the property. The Campbell’s curiosity grew about the history of the barn.
After getting no good leads from the city, the county or the county historical society, they reached out to the Savage Library who put them in touch with the Dan Patch Historical Society. The society realized that the Campbell’s lot — on the way to Hidden Valley Park — was part of one of the many Egan parcels in the city and the barn could possibly be the oldest in the city. The society contacted Edward Egan and all parties met at the site to discuss the history and tour the barn.
Edward is a descendant of Michael Eagin, Sr., who emigrated in 1847 from County Mayo in Ireland. The name had many spellings as a result of emigration which included Michael’s spelling and Eagan, as in the town Eagan, named after Patrick, on the original township board. Now spelled Egan, brothers and sons settled many parcels in the area. Michael Senior begat Junior who settled 37 acres around 1861. Michael Junior’s son was George who married Sadie in 1908 and settled on some acres at the top of what is now Hidden Valley Park. Their homestead still stands though it has been updated several times. George’s son was Joe Egan who purchased the home and happened to be a prolific Dan Patch collector. Finally, Joe’s son Edward, who was raised there, graciously shared the history.
Incidentally, one of Michael’s offspring married a Campbell, and there was a Campbell House that boarded employees of Mr. Savage’s International Stock Food Farm, but no relation To Thomas, who hails from New Zealand.
Edward said the barn was built around 1900 and that the farm also had a granary as well as a corncrib, pigsty and chicken coop. The barn itself housed four ponies and a horse. Above was the haymow for the bales. The barn is still in relatively great shape and contains many horse shoes and other farm implements from the era. Once the horse was saddled up, others joined in trail rides through the picnic grounds Egans ran at the bottom of the hill. The grounds were a popular destination in the summer for its cool location on the Credit River, and in the winter for its ski hill, which emptied at a lodge where you could warm yourself by a grand fireplace and get an adult beverage or perhaps feed the slot machines.
Edward related that many companies held their annual picnics there and once a helicopter landed with either the mayor or the governor who shook hands and hobnobbed. Edward would direct the cars on where to park for a dollar per car, of which he could pocket a dime. Some days he earned up to ten dollars.
Thomas, much to the delight of the historical society, wants to preserve the historic structure, make repairs and put it to good use, perhaps install a golf simulator as he is a pro who not only competes but also instructs.
Thanks to Thomas and to Edward for sharing a piece of history. The Heritage Room of the Savage Library has Nancy Huddleston’s book on the history of Savage as well as old plat plans, maps and files on many of the settler families and other historical topics.