If traveling near Eaton in the late 1800’s, you might have gone out of your way to see an oddity as noted here in HOUSE BEAUTIFUL MAGAZINE.
“Eli Perkins Japanese Bungalow at Eaton is a unique summer home. It looks up and down the Chenango Valley for miles, and it is so pretty that travelers go out of their way to see it. Outside and inside it looks as if it had been dropped down from feudal Japan. The lawn is dotted with huge Japanese vase and porcelain lanterns, and scampering around them were a half dozen sacred Japanese dogs. Inside are Japanese servants dressed in the costumes of old Japan, and when they walk around porcelain curios, bronze storks and ugly dragons from Kyoto, the visitors think they are in the “Flowery Kingdom”
Melville Landon was born in Eaton, N.Y., 1839, he was known under the pen name of Eli Perkins. Landon attended Madison University (now Colgate) and graduated from Union College in what was called the ‘war class of 1861.’
After graduating from Union College, he went to Washington with other Union graduates. After Fort Sumpter was fired upon, he assisted in organizing and then serving in the famous Cassius M. Clay battalion, which bivouacked in the White House, War Department and Capitol until the Seventh New York Regiment and Fifth Massachusetts marched through Baltimore to Washington attaining the rank of Major. During the War he was asked to take over two seised plantations that he ran to prove that free men would work harder than slave labor.
It is recorded that he passed many an hour in a literary rendezvous, under a Fifth Avenue Hotel, with many of his celebrated friends, Atemus Ward, Petroleum V. Nasby, and Josh Billings.
He became friends with the Emperor of Japan and was given 4 scared dogs that he bred in Eaton and gave away for fundraisers, one of which is buried in the Eaton Cemetery. The Eaton Museum has much information and artifacts on him, as well as a book I wrote as a fundraiser that contains his humor.
Landon became the President of the New York News Association and attained much wealth, spending his later years traveling to raise money for the YMCA & Civil War Veterans and their wives, spending summers at his Eaton Bungalow.
His family home and his Japanese Bungalow are still standing on Landon Road today, and he is buried in the Eaton Village Cemetery at the top of the steps that lead to Landon Road. His beautiful Coptic cross monument, erected by his wife has an hourglass carved into it with the words.
“HE MIXED REASON WITH PLEASURE AND WISDOM WITH MIRTH”.