People from Germany settled west of Eagle. One of the first to come was Charles Retzlaff, who settled along Steven’s Creek in the late 1850’s. He was joined by friends who learned of his success in America and wanted to make their own fortunes: the Ketelhuts and Bergmanns. Other prominent German family names in the community included Umland, Rockenbach, Reitter, Wetenkamp and Oberle. At one time it was said that if a traveler got lost between Eagle and Bennet, he would never find his way out unless he could speak German.
People from England settled east of town and south toward Palmyra: Wright, Lanning, Forsythe, Dowding, McClintic. Many of the early merchants were English. Sam English had the first general store. The Adams family started the Bank of Eagle.
Each group had its own church. The members of the Congregational and Methodist churches were predominantly English, while those of both Lutheran churches were mostly German.
Differing customs caused problems in the community. The Germans were in favor of having taverns that served beer, while many of the English were prohibitionists.
Early merchants tried to appeal to the German community by using their language in advertisements. When Dr. Koehler came to town in 1893, he advertised “deutscher Arzt”. One of the general store ads included “Deutsch wird hier gesprochen.” German was used in both Lutheran churches, the north more so than the south, until World War I, when anti-German patriots painted the North Church yellow to protest the use of enemy language.
Even with more new people moving into the community today, the same two ethnic groups still prevail.