About Benjamin Harrison Eaton
Benjamin Harrison Eaton (December 15, 1833 – October 29, 1904) was an American politician, entrepreneur and agriculturalist in the late 19th and early 20th century. Eaton was a founding officer of the Greeley Colony and was instrumental in the establishment of modern irrigation farming to Northern Colorado. A member of the Republican Party, he served as the fourth Governor of Colorado, from January 1885 to January 1887, with the nickname of the "farmer governor". He was one of the largest land owners in Weld and Larimer counties, at one time owning over ninety 160 acre (0.6 km²) parcels, all watered from canals and reservoirs of his own construction. His projects were influential in helping turn the South Platte River valley into an important agricultural region in the state's economy. The town of Eaton, Colorado in western Weld County is named for him.
Benjamin Harrison Eaton's sister, Mary Jane Eaton, married William S. Dickerson, also from Coshocton County, Ohio. They settled in Weld County, Colorado. Their daughter Adda Dickerson married Thomas Grant Cullison in Windsor Colorado on September 20, 1900. Thomas & Adda's grandson Tom Cullison still lives in the Greeley/Eaton Colorado area.
Eaton is among those who are depicted in stained glass on the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol Building.
Eaton was born in Coshocton, Ohio, the second of eight children. He went to school in West Bedford,Ohio (Coshocton County) and taught school there as well. In 1854, at the age of 21, he moved to Louisa County, Iowa, where he taught school for two years. He returned to Ohio in 1856 where he married Delilah Wolf. His wife died in 1857 after giving birth to a son, Aaron James Eaton.
After emigrating to Colorado in 1858 during the Colorado Gold Rush he settled in Weld County In 1858 Eaton went to Iowa for the second time. The following year 1859, at the height of the Colorado Gold Rush, he went from Iowa to Colorado. He prospected for gold in Colorado and New Mexico, as well as working on farms. During the American Civil War, he served under Colonel Kit Carson, in the New Mexico Volunteers. He returned to Louisa County, Iowa in 1864 and married Rebecca J. Hill. He crossed the Great Plains with his second wife that year and settled in Weld County along its western border with Larimer County, establishing a livestock raising operation. He was an early prominent citizen of Fort Collins, the nearest post office and trading point, and was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge there. In 1866, he was elected as Justice of the Peace, serving in that capacity for nine yrears. For six years, he served concurrently as a county commissioner.
Eaton expanded his operations from farming into contracting, specializing in the building of irrigation canals and reservoirs, a business he heavily promoted as a means of bringing growth and wealth to Larimer and Weld Counties. In 1873, in association with John C. Abbott, he built what later became known as Larimer County Canal No. 2 which watered large areas of land west, south, and southwest of Fort Collins. In 1878 he began construction of the Larimer and Weld Canal, once known as the Eaton Ditch, which at the time was the largest and longest irrigation canal in the state. In 1879 he built the High Line Canal in Denver for a group of British investors. He later built the Windsor Reservoir near present-day Windsor, and well as many other smaller water projects throughout Larimer and Weld counties. He died in 1904 at Greeley.