THE immense resources of the Western Country, the vast increase of wealth, population, and influence in the New States, have long been, but are more particularly at the present time, topics of great and increasing interest throughout the whole of our vast Republic, and are arresting the attention not only of our own citizens, but of the inhabitants of foreign countries. Such are the admirable facilities of the West for trade, such the variety and fertility of its soil, the number and excellence of its natural products, the genial nature of its climate, and the rapidity with which its population is increasing, that it has become an object of the deepest interest to every American patriot. To this region the speculator is attracted by the increasing value of property; the politician anticipates the time when, through the ballot-box, the West shall rule; the young and enterprising, turning from the eager competition of industry and talent in the older states, see here a less occupied field of action; the philanthropist feels a benevolent anxiety for the intellectual, moral, and religious condition of a population thus collecting and increasing, and destined to fill the measure of our national glory. The greatness and importance of this region is bursting into vision in a manner scarcely less wonderful to the present generation than was American prosperity to the slowly progressing European.
A single glance at the Map of the United States will show, that the direction of our government will shortly be in the hands of the people of the West. The thirteen old states have an area of about 390,000 square miles; while only eight of the new number about the same, and the whole region, stretching westward to the Pacific Ocean, contains not less than 1,700,000 square miles of territory.
No state in the Western Country has attracted more attention and elicited so many inquiries from those who desire to avail themselves of the advantages of a settlement in a new and rising country, as that of Illinois; and none is filling up so rapidly with an industrious and intelligent population, from every part of our extensive country. When the public works, which are now advancing with all possible speed, are completed and in successful operation, Illinois will vie with any state in our republic, and no doubt excel any in the West, in the amount and importance of those artificial channels of intercourse which serve to connect the extremities of our wide-spread territory, and bind our population by links stronger than iron, by lines extending thousands of miles.
This state is undoubtedly the richest in soil of any in the Union, and of
vicourse holds out the greatest prospect of advantage to the agriculturist. Here is ample room for farmers, there being still vast quantities of first-rate land extending in every direction, uncultivated, which may be had not only at a reasonable but a cheap rate, and one acre of which will in a majority of cases produce at least twice as much as the same amount of land in most of the eastern states. If rural occupations are pleasant and profitable anywhere in our country, they must be peculiarly so in Illinois; for here the produce of the farmer springs up almost spontaneously, not more than one-third of the labour being necessary on the farms here that is required on those in the east.
To be able to judge of the extent and power of vegetation in this region, one must reside here through the summer, and observe with what luxuriance and vigour the vegetable creation is pushed on, how rapidly the grain and fruits grow, and what a depth of verdure the forests assume. This state, having a vast extent of the most fertile land, must of course raise with the greatest ease all the articles to which her soil and climate are favourable. By her long line of coast on the Mississippi, rarely hindered from being navigable by the lowness of the water, Illinois has facilities for conveying her products to market which the states situated on the Ohio have not. From her immense prairies, and boundless summer range for stock, she has advantages for raising cattle and horses superior to those of the other western districts.
A gentleman travelling in the state of Illinois remarks, in a letter to a friend from Springfield of March 2, 1837: — "Our 'far west' is improving rapidly, astonishingly. It is five years since I visited it, and the changes within that period are like the work of enchantment. Flourishing towns have grown up, farms have been opened, and comfortable dwellings, fine barns and all appurtenances, steam-mills and manufacturing establishments erected, in a country in which the hardy pioneer had at that time sprinkled a few log cabins. The conception of Coleridge may be realized sooner than he anticipated: 'The possible destiny of the United States of America, as a nation of a hundred millions of freemen — stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, living under the laws of Alfred, and speaking the language of Shakspeare and Milton, is an august conception — why should we not wish to see it realized?' On the subject of internal improvements the young giant of the West is making herculean efforts. A bill passed the legislature, a few days since, appropriating eight million of dollars for rail-roads, canals, &c.; works which when completed will cost twenty millions. On Monday last another bill was passed, transferring the seat of government from Vandalia in Fayette county to this place — Springfield — which is in the fertile district of Sangamon county, and as near as may be the geographical centre of the state, and soon will be the centre of population. There will be but one more session at Vandalia. "The state of Illinois has probably the finest body of fertile land of any state in the Union, and the opportunities for speculation are numerous. Property will continue to advance, admirable farms and town-lots may be purchased with a certainty of realizing large profits. The country here
viiis beautiful — equal in native attractions, though not in classic recollections, to the scenes I visited and admired in Italy. The vale of Arno is not more beautiful than the valley of Sangamon, with its lovely groves, murmuring brooks and flowery meads —
‘Oh Italy, sweet clime of song, where oft
The bard hath sung thy beauties, matchless deemed.
Thou hast a rival in this western land!'’
To give, at the least possible expense, a brief and yet satisfactory account of Illinois, its prominent natural features and productions, plans of internal improvement, prospects and advantages for emigrants, political subdivisions, cities, towns, travelling routes to and from various points, &c., is the object of the following sketch. Those who are about to remove to this state, or who, for business, pleasure, or health, intend to visit it, or who are interested in its welfare and expect to profit by its prosperity, will probably find "ILLINOIS IN 1837" occasionally useful as a work of reference. Individuals well acquainted with the state, who have travelled extensively through it, and whose opportunities have enabled them to become conversant with its districts, counties, towns, &c, or who have carefully perused the various publications illustrative of it, may not meet with any thing that they did not know before. Those less informed, however, will, it is hoped, find a perusal of the work add something to the stock of information already acquired respecting the region in question. Such are now the facilities of intercommunication between the eastern and western states, and to the most prominent points in the Mississippi valley, that thousands are visiting parts of this interesting section of the Union, every month and week. Some knowledge of the different travelling routes that lead to the various portions of it will no doubt be desirable to all who mean to journey in that direction.
The bulk of the information hereafter detailed is quite recent, being derived in part from the lately published and valuable Gazetteer of Illinois, and the Emigrant's Guide, by the Rev. J. M. Peck; also, from Flint's Geography and History of the Western States, Beck's Gazetteer of Illinois and Missouri, Schoolcraft's Travels, and the works of Darby, Hall, Long, &c. The work contains, likewise, extracts from different correspondents, and from various gazettes printed in the state, some of them only a few weeks before its publication; particularly the Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer, the attention bestowed by the editor of which in distributing recent geographical and local information calculated to be useful to emigrants, renders it undoubtedly the most interesting print of the kind in the state.
The accompanying Map of Illinois is, for its scale, probably the most complete yet published; it contains, it is believed, all the United States surveys available at this time; the whole of the counties, seventy in number, organized in the state; and will be found, on examination, to correspond with the descriptive part of the book, — a desideratum not always found in publications of this kind.
The first 72 pages are devoted to the illustration of the Natural Geography, Minerals, Animal and Vegetable Productions of the State, also its Civil Divisions, Public Lands, Plans of Internal Improvements, Manufactures, Education, &c., Suggestions to Emigrants, Travelling Routes, Remarks on Location and Manner of Building in newly-settled Countries. The next 58 pages are occupied with a descriptive sketch of the Counties, Cities and Towns in Illinois; the remainder of the work is filled up with a Letter from the Hon. H. L. Ellsworth on the Cultivation of the Prairies, together with the Letters of a Rambler in the West. The latter are from the pen of a talented young Philadelphian, who travelled in Illinois in the early part of the present year; they are written in a pleasing and spirited manner, and contain a great deal of local information, interspersed with piquant remarks and interesting observations The information in Mr. Ellsworth's letter on the advantages and cultivation of the prairie lands in the Western States, is well calculated to interest those whose views are turned in that direction; and the remarks and statements are declared by those editors of Western papers who have republished the letter, to be the most valuable and accurate that they have seen.
General View of The State of Illinois.
THE rich and highly favoured region forming the State of Illinois is bounded on the north by the Territory of Wisconsin, east by lake Michigan and the states of Indiana and Kentucky, south by the latter state, and west by the states of Missouri and the Territory of Wisconsin. It extends north and south from 37° to 42° 30' north latitude, and east and west from 10° 32' to 14° 33' longitude west from Washington City. Its extreme length is 380 miles; its breadth in the north is about 145 miles, but it extends in the centre to 220 miles, whence it contracts towards the south to a narrow point. The area of the whole state, including that part of Lake Michigan belonging to it, is about 59,000 square miles, of which 50,000 square miles, or thirty-two millions of acres, are considered to be capable of cultivation.
The Act of Congress admitting this state into the Union prescribes the boundaries as follows: beginning at the mouth of the Wabash river, thence up the middle of the main channel thereof to the point where, a line drawn due north of Vincennes last crosses that stream, thence due north to the north-west corner of the state of Indiana, thence east with the boundary line of the same state to the middle of Lake Michigan, thence due north along the middle of said lake to north latitude 40° 30', thence west to the middle of the Mississippi river, thence down the middle of the main channel thereof to the mouth of the Ohio river, thence up the latter stream along its northern or right shore to the place of beginning. The outline of the state is in extent about 1160 miles, the whole of which, except 305 miles, is formed by navigable waters.
As a physical section, Illinois occupies the lower part of that inclined plane of which Lake Michigan and both its shores are the higher sections, and which is extended into and embraces the much greater part of Indiana. Down this plane, in a very nearly south-western direction, flow the Wabash and its confluents, the Kaskaskia, the Illinois and its confluents, and the Rock and Wisconsin rivers. The lowest section of the plane is also the extreme southern angle of Illinois, at the mouth of the Ohio river, about 340 feet above tide-water, in the Gulf of Mexico. Though the state of Illinois does contain some low hilly sections, as a whole, it may be regarded as a gently inclining plane in the direction of its rivers, as already indicated. Without including minute parts, the extreme arable elevation may be safely stated at 800 feet above tide-water, and the mean height at 550.
"In some former period," observes Mr. Schoolcraft, "there has been an obstruction in the channel of the Mississippi, at or near Grand Tower, producing a stagnation of the current at an elevation of about 130 feet above the present ordinary water-mark. This appears evident from the general elevation and direction of the hills, which for several hundred miles above are separated by a valley from 20 to 25 miles wide, that deeply embosoms the current of the Mississippi." Wherever these hills exhibit rocky and abrupt fronts, a series of water-lines are distinctly visible, and preserve a remarkable parallelism uniformly presenting their greatest
10depression towards the sources of the river; and, at Grand Tower, these water-lines are elevated about one hundred feet above the summit of the stratum in which petrifaction of the madrepora and various fossil organic remains are deposited. Here the rocks of dark-coloured limestone, which pervade the country to a great extent, by their projections towards each other, indicate that they have, at a remote period, been disunited, if not by some convulsion of nature, by the incessant action of the water upon a secondary formation, and that a passage has been effected through them, giving vent to the stagnant waters on the prairie lands above, and opening for the Mississippi its present channel.
The bank of the Mississippi from the vicinity of Grand Tower, extending upwards on the Missouri side of the river, is sufficiently elevated above the surface of the State of Illinois to have formed a western shore of an expanse of water, covering its present area. And the alluvial deposits of which the prairies are formed, are composed of fine, hard, and compact layers of earth, similar to those at the bottom of mill-ponds of water long stagnant.
Next to Louisiana and Delaware, Illinois is the most level state in the Union. A small tract in the southern part of the state is hilly, and the northern portion is also somewhat broken. There are likewise considerable elevations along the Illinois river, and the bluffs of the Mississippi in some places might pass almost for mountains. But by far the greater proportion of the state is either distributed in vast plains, or in barrens, that are gently rolling like the waves of the sea after a storm. We may travel on the wide prairies for days, without encountering an elevation that is worthy to be called a hill. In no part of the peopled divisions of the United States, are there such great sections of prairie country. One vast prairie, with very little interruption, spreads from the shores of the Mississippi to those of Lake Michigan.
On the route from Cincinnati to St. Louis, the great road passes through this state, in its whole extent of width. More than 100 miles of it is high, dry, and rich prairie. In all this distance, the margins of the streams are almost the only places where timbered land is found; and the streams have only narrow skirts of wood. The first stratum of soil in this wide extent of country, is a black, friable, and sandy loam, of from two to five feet in thickness. The next is a red clay, mixed with fine sand, and from five to ten feet in thickness. The third is a hard blue clay of a beautiful appearance, and a greasy feeling, mixed with pebbles, and, when exposed to the air, emitting a fetid smell. The soil is of the finest quality. In the season of flowers, the eye and all the senses receive the highest gratification. In the time of strawberries, thousands of acres are reddened with the finest quality of this delicious fruit.
Between Carlisle and St. Louis, an extent of 50 miles, we meet with woods, streams, lime-stone ledges, and a rolling country; although we cross an occasional prairie, quite to the American Bottom. On the north of this road, and between it and the Illinois, the surface is generally more irregular. Much of the country may be termed broken. The hills abound with stone-coal. A range of heights commences at the bluffs that bound the American Bottom, near Kaskaskia, and stretches north-eastwardly through the state towards Lake Michigan. A noble limestone bluff breaks off, almost at right angles to this chain, and stretches along the margin of the American Bottom to the point nearly opposite the Missouri. This bluff has, in many places, a regular front of perpendicular limestone, not un-frequently 300 feet high. Another line of river bluffs commences opposite the mouth of the Missouri, and reaches the mouth of the Illinois. Opposite Portage des Sioux, these bluffs shoot up into detached points and pinnacles, which, with the hoary colour of the rocks, have, at a distance, the appearance of the ancient spires and towers of a town. This chain of bluffs marks the limits of the alluvion of the Illinois. As along the Mississippi, the face of this grand work of nature is frequently perpendicular. When the limits of the alluvion are marked on one side by this wall, on the opposite side they are bounded by a succession of singular
11hills, parallel to each other, called by the French mamelles. What is singular is, that a beautiful prairie is seen on that side which is bounded by the perpendicular bluffs; and a thick, tangled, and heavily timbered bottom on the side of the river that is marked with these mamelles. When the prairie is found on the right or the left of the river, so are all these accompaniments: and they regularly alternate, being found first on one side and then on the other.
Undoubtedly the most remarkable feature of the state of Illinois is its extensive prairies, or unwooded tracts. They begin on a comparatively small scale in the basin of lake Erie, and already form the bulk of the land about lake Michigan, the Upper Wabash, and the Illinois; but on the west of the Mississippi they are more predominant; or rather, the whole of this tract may be described as prairie intersected by patches of woodland, chiefly confined to the river valleys. The characteristic peculiarity of the prairies is the absence of timber; in other respects, they present all the varieties of soil and surface that are found elsewhere; some are of inexhaustible fertility, others of hopeless sterility; some spread out in vast, boundless plains, others are undulating or rolling, while others are broken by hills. In general, they are covered with a rich growth of grass, forming excellent natural meadows, from which circumstance they take their name.
The Indians and hunters annually set fire to the prairies, in order to dislodge the game: the fire spreads with tremendous rapidity, and presents one of the grandest and most terrible spectacles in nature. The flames rush through the long grass with a noise like thunder; dense clouds of smoke arise; and the sky itself appears almost on fire, particularly during the night. Travellers then crossing the prairie are sometimes in serious danger, which they can only escape by setting fire to the grass around, and taking shelter in the burnt part, where the approaching flame must expire for want of fuel. Nothing can be more melancholy than the aspect of a burnt prairie, presenting a uniform black surface, like a vast plain of charcoal. A prejudice at one time prevailed against the prairies, as not being fit for cultivation; but this was found to be erroneous, and they are more in request, as it is a most important object to save the labour of clearing the wood.
Prairie is a French word, signifying meadow, and is applied to any description of surface that is destitute of timber and brushwood, and clothed with grass. Wet, dry, level, and undulating, are terms of description merely, and apply to prairies in the same sense as they do to forest lands.
The prairies of Illinois may be classed under three general divisions; — the healthy, or bushy; the alluvial, or wet; and the dry, or undulating. Those designated healthy, have springs of water, and are covered with bushes of hazel and furze, small sassafras shrubs, interspersed with grape-vines, and in the season of flowers become beautifully decorated by a rich profusion of gay herbaceous plants. Early in March the forests are in blossom, and the brilliant red tufts of the Judas tree (cercis canadensis) handsomely exhibit its charms. The Lonicera Flava, or yellow-flowered honeysuckle, diffuses its pleasing fragrance, and the lovely yellow jasmine, or Jasminum fruticans, impregnates the air with its delicious perfume; and a vast variety of other odoriferous plants are passively engaged in the faithful discharge of their offices, either of display, or of the emission of their well-flavored odours. The bushes are often over-topped with the Humulus Lupulus, or common hop.
Of the healthy prairies these lines of the poet are highly descriptive.
A large and spacious plain on every side,
Strewed with beauty, whose fair grassy ground,
Mantled with green, and goodly beautified.
With all the ornaments of Flora's pride.
The alluvial, or wet prairies, are generally on the margins of the great watercourses, though sometimes they are at a distance from them; their soil is deep,
12black, friable, and of exhaustless fertility; excellent, in apposite latitudes, for wheat and maize, but grapes hitherto have not been cultivated with much success, yet, as those that are wild grow luxuriantly, it can hardly be doubted that a hybridous species formed from a union of one of these natives and the exotic vine, would prove prolific of estimable fruit.
From May to October, the prairies are covered with tall grass and flower-producing weeds. In June and July, they seem like an ocean of flowers of various hues, waving to the breezes which sweep over them. The numerous tall flowering shrubs and vegetables which grow luxuriantly over these plains, present a striking and delightful appearance.
The dry or undulating prairies are almost destitute of springs and of all vegetation, with the exception of weeds, flowers, and grass. The undulations are so slight that, to the eye, the surface has almost the appearance of an uninterrupted level, though the ravines made by freshets show that there is a considerable degree of inclination. In the prairie region there are numerous ponds, formed some from the surface water, the effect of rain, and the melting of the snows in the spring, and others near the rivers from their overflowing. In these are deposited great quantities of the various kinds of fishes common in the western streams, which, after the waters subside, are frequently taken away by cart-loads, affording to the residents in the vicinity abundance of animal food almost without labour: those that are left, when their element becomes evaporated, attract thousands of buzzards, who prey on and devour them. Herds of deer bound over these plains.
These are the Gardens of the Desert — these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
And fresh as the young earth ere man had sinned.
The Prairies! I behold them for the first,
And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
In airy undulations, far away,
As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,
Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,
And motionless forever. — Motionless? —
No — they 're all unchained again. The clouds
Sweep over with their shadows, and beneath
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye:
Dark hollows seem to glide along, and chase
The sunny ridges.
In the southern part of the state, the prairies are comparatively small, varying in size, from those of several miles in extent, to those which contain only a few acres. As we go northward, they widen and extend on the more elevated ground between the water-courses to a vast distance, and are frequently from six to twelve miles in width. Their borders are by no means uniform, but are intersected in every direction by strips of forest land advancing into and receding from the prairie towards the water-courses, whose banks are always lined with timber, principally of luxuriant growth. Between these streams, in many instances, are copses and groves of timber, containing from 100 to 2000 acres, in the midst of the prairies, like islands in the ocean. This is a common feature in the country between the Sangamon river and Lake Michigan, and in the northern parts of the state. The lead-mine region, both in this state and the Wisconsin Territory, abounds with these groves.
The largest tract of prairie in Illinois is denominated the Grand Prairie. Under this general name is embraced the country lying between the waters which fall into the Mississippi, and those which enter the Wabash rivers. It does not consist of one vast tract, boundless to the vision, and uninhabitable for want of timber, but is made up of continuous tracts, with points of timber projecting inward, and long arms of prairie extending between the creeks and smaller streams. The southern points of the Grand Prairie are formed in the north-eastern parts of Jackson county, and extend in a north-eastern course between the streams, of various widths, from one to ten or twelve miles, through Perry, Washington, Jefferson, Marion, the eastern part of Fayette, Effingham, through the western part of Coles into Champaign and Iroquois counties, where it becomes connected with the prairies that project
13eastward from the Illinois river and its tributaries. A large arm lies in Marion county, between the waters of Crooked creek and the east fork of the Kaskaskia river, where the Vincennes road passes through in its longest direction. This part alone is frequently called the Grand Prairie.
Much the largest part of the Grand Prairie is gently undulating, rich, and fertile land- but of the southern portion, considerable tracts are flat, and of rather inferior soil. No insurmountable obstacle exists to its future population. No portion of it is more than six or eight miles distant from timber; and coal in abundance is found in various parts. Those who have witnessed the changes produced upon a prairie surface within twenty or thirty years, consider these extensive prairies as offering no serious impediment to the future growth of the state.
On the origin of the prairie lands it is difficult to decide: various speculations have arisen from this subject, giving rise to a diversity of opinions. The level surface of the state of Illinois (according to the ideas of many) was formed by inundations. The whole of the state, from a few miles north of the Ohio river, where the prairies commence, affords tolerably conclusive evidence of having been once covered with water, forming probably a large lake similar to Lakes Michigan, Erie, &c. When the lowest point near the Grand Tower perhaps was worn away, so as to drain the waters oft; it was left with a rich soft muddy surface nearly level, as we may suppose is the case in the present lakes. When this soft soil was drenched with rains, the waters, gathering into little rills as they descended to the lowest parts, would intersect the soft soil, and finally wear away much of the rich surface: hence we see the elevated parts the most fertile, while the lower and more broken and timbered land is the poorest soil.
From whatever cause the prairies at first originated, they are undoubtedly perpetuated by the autumnal fires that have annually swept over them from an era probably long anterior to the earliest records of history. Along the streams, and in other places where vegetation does not suffer from the drought of the latter part of summer and early autumn, and of course becomes sear and combustible less soon than it does in the plains which are drier, the fire does not encroach much; consequently the forests prevail there, and probably gradually increase in some places upon the prairies. As soon as these are ploughed, and the heavy grass kept under, young timber begins to sprout, particularly such as is produced by winged seeds, as cotton-wood, sycamore, &c. Where the soil is either too poor or too wet to produce a heavy annual growth of grass sufficient to make a strong fire, there is no prairie.
It is well known that in the richest and most dry and level tracts, the aboriginal inhabitants, before they had the use of fire-arms, were in the habit of enclosing their game in circular fires, in order that it might bewilder and frighten the animals, and thus render them an easy prey.
When Captain John Smith visited the Chesapeake, he found extensive prairies, and first bore witness to the practice of circular fires as a mode of hunting among the savages. These tracts having been early inhabited and cultivated by the colonists, the prairies have long since disappeared. Probably one-half of the earth's surface in a state of nature consisted of prairies or barrens; much of it, like our western prairies, was covered with a luxuriant coat of grass and herbage. The steppes of Central Asia, the pampas and llanos of Buenos Ayres and Venezuela, the savannahs of Louisiana and Texas, and the prairies of the Western States, designate similar tracts of country. Mesopotamia, Syria, and Judea, had their ancient prairies, on which the Patriarchs fed their flocks. Missionaries in Burmah, and travellers in the interior of Africa and New Holland, mention the same description of country. The late Mungo Park describes the annual burning of the plains of Manding, in Western Africa, in the same manner as the prairies of the Western States; and the practice is attended with the same results, the country being, in short, covered with a luxuriant crop of young and tender grass, on which the cattle feed with avidity.
Where the tough sward of the prairie is once formed, timber will not easily take root; destroy this by the plough or by any other method, and it is soon converted into forest land. There are large tracts of country in the older settlements where
14a number of years ago the farmers mowed their hay, that are now covered with a forest of young timber of rapid growth.
As soon as timber or orchards are planted in the prairies, they grow with unexampled luxuriance. A correspondent writes from Adams county, that "locust trees planted, or rather sown, on prairie land near Quincy, attained in four years a height of twenty-five feet, and their trunks a diameter of from four to five inches; these grew in close crowded rows, affording a dense and arboury shade. In a few instances where the same kind of trees had been planted out in a more open manner, they grew in the same period to a thickness of six inches, and in from seven to ten years from their planting, have been known to attain sufficient bulk to make posts and rails."
Dr. Beck, in his Gazetteer of Missouri, published in 1823, describes the uplands of St. Louis county as "generally prairie;" but almost all of that tract of country thus described is now covered with a young growth of fine thrifty timber, and it would be difficult to find an acre of prairie in the county. This important change has been produced by keeping the fires out of the prairies.
The first improvements are usually made on that part of the prairie which adjoins the timber; and thus we may see, at the commencement, a range of farms circumscribing the entire prairie as with a belt. The burning of the prairies is then stopped the whole distance of the circuit in the neighbourhood of these farms, to prevent injury to the fences and other improvements. This is done by ploughing two or three furrows all round the settlement. In a short time the timber springs up spontaneously on all the parts not burnt, and the groves and forests commence a gradual encroachment on the adjacent prairies; by-and-by you will see another tier of farms springing up on the outside of the first, and farther out in the prairie; and thus farm succeeds farm, as the timber grows up, until the entire prairie is occupied.
The correspondent quoted above says: — "In breaking up prairie land, &c, for cultivation, we usually plough with three or four yoke of oxen; the shear plough turning up about eighteen to twenty-four inches of turf at a furrow, in breadth, and from three to four inches deep, the sod turning entirely over, so as to lay the grass down, and it fits furrow to furrow smoothly enough to harrow and sow wheat. It is usual to break it up in May, and drop corn along the edge of every fourth row. This is called sod corn. No working or ploughing is necessary the first season. The sod is left lying for the grass to decay; and after the next winter's frost, it crumbles and becomes light and friable. The sod corn does not make more than half a crop, and is cut up, stalk and all together, and stacked up for fodder for stock. The next year the crop of corn is most abundant, averaging 60 bushels per acre; well cultivated wheat, 25 to 30 bushels; rye, 25 to 35; and oats, from 40 to 60 bushels per acre. Potatoes (Irish), hay (timothy), and all the different garden vegetables yet tried, yield most abundantly. A man here can tend double the quantity of corn that he can in newly settled timbered countries, there being no stumps to obstruct the plough or hoe.
"The cost of breaking up an acre of prairie is from one dollar and fifty cents to two dollars; fencing, say forty acres, eight rails high, stake and rider, 6000 rails and stakes, $100; cabin, $20; say, forty acre field broke up and fenced, and cabin, $200, cost of the land $50; total, $250: then worth, in my opinion, $500. Timber, it is feared, will be scarce; but I think differently. No one has yet felt the want of it; nor will they, because it grows so fast, and also because the quantity at present is sufficient for twenty million acres of prairie, being the estimated quantity of good prairie land in this state. The prairies are generally from one to six miles in width; of course, about three miles is the farthest distance from timber, and the prairie constitutes the finest natural road possible to haul on. The settlements are at present chiefly confined to the margins of the timber and prairie.
"The prairie lands are undoubtedly worth from $10 to $15 per acre more for farming than those that are timbered, not only because they are richer, but because it would take at least that sum per acre to put the timbered lands of Ohio and Indiana in the same advanced state for cultivation."
The prairies are the highest as well as the most level land, and the roads generally
15pass through the middle of them, from whence there is an easy slope on each side at first barely sufficient to drain the waters towards the sides of the prairies, or to the nearest point of timber. Here all around you, in the proper season, may be seen the rich luxuriant grass, from two to three feet high, suitable for hay, and mowed by the farmers for that purpose. In the midst of the prairie, the houses and fields of the settlers are seen diminished like a picture along the skirts and points of the forest.
But few have as yet settled out in the middle of the prairie, unless where the road crosses, on account of the distance from timber to build fence, &c. Those who have done so have invariably found it to their interest; and the practice will no doubt in a short time become general, until the whole of the extensive prairies of Illinois will be covered with valuable aud productive farms. The middle of the prairie is not only the highest and most level, but is greatly the most fertile land. As the surface descends towards the timber, it has an increased unevenness and ruggedness, and the greater the descent in perpendicular depth, the less fertile is the soil.
Early in the mornings, when a mist is on the ground, the fog appears all around the skirts of the timber in the lowest places. Hence it is not so healthful on the edges of the prairie, or in the forest, as on the middle or highest part of the prairie. Another advantage possessed by residents on the latter is the facility with which excellent water is procured at a depth of from not more than 15 to 20 feet; whereas, along the broken borders and spurs near the timber, the common depth of the wells is from 40 to 50 feet
The grass which covers the prairies in great abundance is tall, and coarse in appearance. In the early stages of its growth, it resembles young wheat; and in this state furnishes a succulent and rich food for cattle. They have been seen, when running in wheat-fields, where the young wheat covered the ground, to choose the prairie-grass on the margins of the fields in preference to the wheat. It is impossible to imagine better butter than is made while the grass is in this stage. Cattle and horses, that have lived unsheltered and without fodder through the winter and in the spring, scarcely able to mount a hillock through leanness and weakness, when feeding on this grass, are transformed to a healthy and sleek appearance, as if by a charm.
A description of country called "barrens," or "oak openings," prevails to some extent in Illinois. This term is used in the west to designate a species of land which partakes, as it were, at once of the character of the forest and prairie. The surface is generally dry and more uneven than the prairies, and is covered with scattered oaks, interspersed at times with pine, hickory, and other forest trees, mostly of stunted and dwarfish size, but which spring from a rich vegetable soil, admirably adapted to the purposes of agriculture. They rise from a grassy turf, seldom incumbered with brushwood, but not unfrequently broken by jungles of rich and gaudy flowering plants, and of dwarf sumach. Among the oak openings you find some of the most lovely landscapes of the west, and travel for miles and miles through varied park scenery of natural growth, with all the diversity of gently swelling hill and dale; — here trees grouped or standing single, and there arranged in long avenues, as though by human hands, with strips of open meadow between. Sometimes the openings are interspersed with numerous clear lakes, and with this addition become enchantingly beautiful. But few of these reservoirs having apparent inlet and outlet, they are fed by subterraneous springs, or the rains, and lose their surplus waters by evaporation.
In the early settlements of Kentucky, much of the country below and south of Green river presented a dwarfish and stunted growth of timber, scattered over the surface, or collected in clumps, with hazle and shrubbery intermixed. This appearance led the first explorers to the inference that the soil itself must necessarily be poor, to produce so scanty a growth of timber, and they gave the name of " barrens" to the whole tract of country. Long since it has been ascertained that this description
16of land is amongst the most productive soil in the state. The term "barren" has since received a very extensive application throughout the west.
Wherever timber barely sufficient for present purposes can be found, a person need not hesitate to settle in the barrens. These tracts are almost invariably healthful; they possess a greater abundance of pure springs of water, and the soil is better adapted for all kinds of produce, and all descriptions of seasons, wet and dry, than the deeper and richer mould of the bottoms and prairies.
When the fires are stopped, these barrens produce timber, at a rate of which no northern emigrant can have any just conception. When timber begins to grow on the prairies, they assume the character of barrens, first hazel, and other shrubs, and finally a thicket of young timber covers the surface.
In general, Illinois is abundantly supplied with timber, and were it equally distributed through the state there would be no part wanting. The apparent scarcity of timber where the prairie predominates, is not so great an obstacle to the settlement as has been supposed. For many of the purposes to which timber is applied, substitutes are found. The rapidity with which the young growth pushes itself forward, without a single effort on the part of man to accelerate it, and the readiness with which the prairie becomes converted into thickets, and then into a forest of young timber, shows that, in another generation, timber will not be wanting in any part of Illinois.
The growth of the bottom lands consists of black walnut, ash of several species, hackberry elm (white, red and slippery), sugar-maple, honey-locust, buck-eye, catalpa sycamore, cottonwood, pecan, hickory, mulberry; several oaks — as, over-cup, burr-oak, swamp or water oak, white, red, or Spanish oak; and of the shrubbery are red-bud, papaw, grape-vine, dogwood, spice-bush, hazel, greenbrier, &c. Along the margin of the streams the sycamore and cottonwood often predominate, and attain to an amazing size. The cottonwood is of rapid growth, a light, white wood, sometimes used for rails, shingles, and scantlings; not lasting, and of no great value. Its dry, light wood is much used in steamboats. It forms the chief proportion of the drift wood that floats down the rivers, and is frequently converted into planters, snags, and sawyers. The sycamore is the buttonwood of New England, is frequently hollow, and in that state procured by the farmers, cut at suitable lengths, cleaned out, and used as depositories for grain. They answer the purpose of large casks. The size of the cavity of some of these trees appears incredible in the ears of a stranger to the luxuriant growth of the west. To say that twenty or thirty men could be comfortably lodged in one, would seem a monstrous fiction to a New Englander, but to those accustomed to this species of tree on the bottoms, it is nothing marvellous.
The uplands are covered with various species of oak, amongst which is the post-oak, a valuable and lasting timber for posts; white oak, black oak of several varieties, and the black jack, a dwarfish gnarled looking tree, good for nothing but fuel, for which it is equal to any tree we have: of hickory, both the shagbark and smoothbark, black walnut in some parts, white walnut or butternut, Lynn, cherry, and many of the species produced in the bottoms. The black walnut is much used for building materials, and cabinet work, and sustains a fine polish. The different species of oaks, walnuts, hackberry, and occasionally hickory, are used for fencing.
In some parts of the state the white and yellow poplar prevails. Beginning at the Mississippi, a few miles above the mouth of the Muddy river, and extending a line across the state to the mouth of the Little Wabash, leaves the poplar range south, interspersed with occasional clumps of beach. Near the Ohio, on the low creek bottoms, the cypress is found. No poplar exists on the eastern borders of the state till you arrive at or near Palestine; while on the opposite shore of the Wabash, in Indiana, the poplar and beach predominate. Near Palestine, in Crawford county, the poplar again commences, intermixed with beach and all the varieties of timber, and extends northward further than has been explored. A spur of it
17puts into the interior of the state, on the Little Wabash, above Maysville. Occasional clumps of stunted cedar are to be seen on the cliffs that overhang the bottoms but no pine, unless it exists in the wild regions west of Lake Michigan.
Timber not only grows much more rapidly in this country than in the northen states, but it decays sooner when put in buildings, fences, or is in any way exposed to the weather. It is more porous, and will shrink and expand, as the weather becomes wet or dry, to a much greater extent than the timber of New England. This may be owing partly to the atmosphere, but it is unquestionably owing in part to the quality of the timber. The fences require to be newly laid, and one third of the rails provided anew, in a period of from seven to ten years. A shingled roof requires replacing in about twelve years. This, however, may not be a fair estimate, because most of the timber is prepared hastily, and in a green state. Doubtless with proper care in the seasoning and in the preservation it would last much longer. Timber is ordinarily required for four purposes: fencing, building, fuel, and mechanical operations. Rails is almost the only article used for fencing. In making a plantation in this mode, there is a great waste of timber; nor will a man with a moderate capital, and with the burden of an increasing family, stop to make experiments. He must have fields enclosed, and takes the quickest and cheapest method by cutting down the most convenient timber and making rails.
The first buildings put up are cabins made of logs, slightly hewn on two sides, and the corners notched together. They are made single or double with a space between, according to the enterprize, ability, or taste of the owner; and the chimney is built of sticks of wood plastered with mud or clay mortar. The next step in advance is a log house. This is also made of logs more accurately hewn on two sides than those of the cabin, with a framed or shingle roof, and a brick or stone chimney; all the out-houses are at first put up in the same manner. It is perfectly obvious that this mode of building sweeps off vast quantities of timber, that by a more judicious and economical plan would be saved for other purposes. In a few years brick, and in some instances stone, will take the place of these rude and misshapen piles of timber. This begins to take effect, to a considerable extent, in those counties where the people have obtained the means, for brick and frame houses are fast erecting. The substratum of the soil in any place is excellent for brick, and in many of the bluffs inexhaustible quantities of limestone exist. The waste of timber for buildings then will be greatly lessened, as the country advances in improvement, population, and wealth.
As in all countries where the population have been accustomed to burn excessive quantities of wood before they emigrate, and where they live in cold and open cabins, there is a great waste of timber for fuel. This will be remedied as the people obtain close and comfortable dwellings, and make use of proper economy in this article. In almost every direction through the country there are inexhaustible stores of stone-coal near the surface of the earth. There is fuel for domestic purposes and for steam-engines, without limits.
It will be perceived that Illinois does not labour under as great inconveniences for timber, as many have supposed. If provision is made for the first fifty years, future supplies will be abundant. Timber may be artificially produced with little trouble or expense, and to an indefinite extent. The black locust, a native growth of Ohio and Kentucky, may be raised from the seed with far less labour than a nursery of apple-trees; and as it is of very rapid growth, and a valuable and lasting timber for fencing, buildings, and boats, it must claim the attention of farmers. Already it forms one of the cleanliest and most beautiful shades, and when in blossom presents a rich prospect, and a most delicious fragrance.
The term "bottom" is used throughout the west to denote the alluvial soil on the margin of rivers, usually called "intervals" in the eastern states. Portions of this description of land are flowed, for a longer or shorter period, when the rivers are full. Probably one tenth of the bottom lands are of this description; for though
18the water may not stand for any length of time, it prevents settlement and cultivation, though it does not interrupt the growth of timber and vegetation. These tracts are on the bottoms of the Wabash, Ohio, Mississippi, Illinois, and all the interior rivers.
When the rivers rise above their ordinary height, the waters of the smaller streams which are backed up by the freshets of the former, break over their banks, and cover all the low grounds. Here they stand for a few days, or for many weeks, especially towards the bluffs; for it is a striking fact in the geology of the western country, that all the river bottoms are higher on the margins of the streams than at some distance back. Whenever increase of population shall create a demand for this species of soil, the most of it can be reclaimed at comparatively small expense. Its fertility will be inexhaustible, and if the waters from the rivers could be shut out by dykes or levees, the soil would be perfectly dry. Most of the small lakes on the American Bottom disappear in the summer, and leave a deposit of vegetable matter undergoing decomposition, or a luxuriant coat of weeds and grass.
As the prairies mostly lie between the streams that drain the country, the interior of the large ones is usually level. Here are formed small ponds and lakes after the winter and spring rains, which remain to be drawn off by evaporation, or absorbed by the soil. Hence the middle of the large level prairies are wet, and for several weeks portions of them are covered with water. To remedy this inconvenience completely, and render all this portion of soil dry and productive, only requires a ditch or drain of two or three feet deep to be cut into the nearest ravine. In many instances, a single furrow with the plough would drain many acres. At present this species of inundated land offers no inconvenience to the people, except in the production of miasm, and even that, perhaps, becomes too much diluted with the atmosphere to produce mischief before it reaches the settlements on the borders of the prairie. Hence the inference is correct that the inundated lands present fewer obstacles to the settlement and growth of the country, and can be reclaimed at much less expense, than the swamps and salt marshes of the Atlantic states.
The surface of the alluvial bottoms is not entirely level. In some places it resembles alternate waves of the ocean, and looks as though the waters had left their deposit in ridges, and retired. The portion of bottom land capable of present cultivation, and on which the waters never stand, if, at any extreme freshet, it is covered, is a soil of exhaustless fertility; a soil that for ages past has been gradually deposited by the annual floods. Its average depth on the American Bottom is from twenty to twenty-five feet. Logs of wood, and other indications, are found at that depth. The soil dug from wells on these bottoms, produces luxuriantly the first year.
The most extensive and fertile tract, of this description of soil, in this state, is the American Bottom, a name it received when it constituted the western boundary of the United States, and which it has retained ever since. It commences at the confluence of the Kaskaskia river with the Mississippi, and extends northwardly to the mouth of the Missouri; being bounded on the east by a chain of bluffs, which in some places are sandy and in others rocky, and which vary from 50 to 200 feet in height. This bottom is about 80 miles in length, and comprises an area of about 450 square miles, or 289,000 square acres. On the margin of the river is a strip of heavy timber, with a rank undergrowth: this extends from a half to two miles in width, and from thence to the bluffs is generally prairie. No soil can exceed this in fertility, many parts of it having been under cultivation for more than a century without the least apparent deterioration.
The only objection that can be offered to this tract, is its unhealthiness. This arises from the circumstance of the lands directly on the margin of the river being higher than those under the bluffs where the water, after leaving the former, subsides, and forms ponds and lagoons, which during the summer stagnate and throw off noxious effluvia. These, however, might at a trifling expense be drained by lateral canals communicating with the rivers.
The first settlement of this state was commenced upon the tract of land above I described, and its uncommon fertility gave emigrants a favourable idea of the
19whole country. Cultivation has no doubt rendered this tract more salubrious than formerly: and the extension of agriculture, together with the construction of drains and canals will make it one of the most eligible in the States. The old inhabitants advise the emigrants not to plant corn in the immediate vicinity of their dwellings, as its exuberant foliage prevents the sun from dispelling the deleterious vapours.
Coal exists in abundance on this alluvion, and the bluffs which bound it. It has been mined to some extent for several years past, and carried to St. Louis. The quantity hauled there in wagons in 1836 amounted to about 300,000 bushels. A rail-road is now making from the coal-mines to the Mississippi river opposite St. Louis, for the purpose of expediting the transportation of the mineral to that city. At the mine a new town is about to be laid out, called Pittsburg. Besides the American Bottom, there are other tracts which resemble it in its general character, but which are much less extensive.
It would lead to a particularity beyond the limits of this sketch, to go into a detailed description of all the bodies of excellent land in Illinois. For not only here, but all over the Western Country, the lands seem to be distributed in bodies, either of rich or sterile, level or broken lands. The Military Bounty Tract, the country on Rock river, the Sangamon country, &c, are all familiarly spoken of for their beauty and fertility, and have each their advocates, who, swayed by various predilections, extol the advantages of that section to which they are attached. On the Illinois, the Kaskaskia, the Fox river, on the Kankakee, and the Embarras, between the Great and Little Wabash, and on all the considerable streams of this state, there are large bodies of first-rate lands. On the Grand Prairie, the Mound Prairie, the prairie upon which the Marine Settlement is located, and that occupied by the society of Christians from New England, are exceedingly rich tracts. The following description of the Military Bounty Lands, the Rock river country, and the region on the Sangamon river, will give some idea of the situation, natural features, productions, capacities for settlements, &c, of each district.
The region generally denominated the Military Bounty Tract, was surveyed during the years 1815 and 1816, and the greater part subsequently appropriated in bounties to the soldiers of the regular army, who served in the late war between the United States and Great Britain. It is situated between the rivers Mississippi and Illinois, and extends from their junction due north by a meridian line, denominated the fourth principal meridian, 169 miles, presenting an irregular curvilinear triangle, the acute angle of which is at the junction of these two rivers. From this point the two rivers diverge, so as to make a distance of 90 miles between the extreme points of the northern boundary. Half-way between the extremes, the width is 64 miles. The base line running due east and west, and commencing seven miles above Quincy on the Mississippi, and terminating at the Illinois, about four miles below Beardstown, intersects the fourth principal meridian at right angles 73 miles above the junction of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and is 52 miles long. The whole tract, according to the public surveys, contains 207 entire townships, of six miles square, and 61 fractional townships, containing together 5,360,000 acres, of which 3,500,000 have been appropriated in military bounties. The residue consists partly of fractional sections, bordering on the rivers, partly of fractional quarter-sections, bordering on the township lines, containing more or less than 160 acres, and partly of lands that were returned by the public surveyors as unfit for cultivation; but there are also large reservations not coming within the above exception, being the overplus of lands after satisfying the military claims, subject to entry and purchase as other congress lands.
This tract of country lies between 38° 54', and 41° 40' of north latitude, and 13° west longitude from Washington City, and is bounded on the north-west for 255 miles by the Mississippi river, and for about the same distance on the south-east by the Illinois. Thus do these two great rivers, in their diverging course, with Rock river approximating from the north, form a spacious peninsula, furnishing a border
20to the bounty lands by a sheet of navigable waters for steamboats more than 500 miles in extent, leaving no part of the tract more than 45 miles, and the greater part not exceeding 20 miles from steamboat navigation.
The water communication now about to be completed between the Mississippi and the lakes, by means of the Illinois and Chicago canal, must eventually greatly increase the value of the bounty lands, by affording a choice of markets for their products, either at Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, New-York, Montreal, or Quebec, by way of the Illinois canal and the lakes, or by the natural channels of the rivers at St. Louis and New-Orleans.
In the interior of the tract, and traversing it in various directions, are several rivers and creeks of less consequence, in a commercial point of view, than those great water-courses which form its boundary lines, but nevertheless of great utility in other respects to the settlements in their vicinity. Of these, Spoon, Henderson, Edwards, and Pope's rivers, and Crooked, Kickapoo or Red Bud, Copperas, Otter, M'Kee's, M'Craney's, Hadley's, Mill, and Bear creeks, are the most considerable. There are also many other smaller streams, generally tributaries to those already mentioned, affording sufficient power for mills and other machinery.
Considerable bodies of timber are to be found on the margins of all these streams, with but few exceptions, the lands of which are generally broken, and the soil not so productive as that of the adjacent prairies. And it may be remarked in general, in relation to the bluffs of the Mississippi and Illinois, as well as those upon the smaller rivers, that they exhibit a surface too rough to be cultivated, and a soil too thin for successful tillage. The hills, or bluffs as they are called in this country, which are everywhere to be seen on the margins of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, are generally neither very high nor precipitous, and very rarely approach the water's edge. The bottoms between the river and bluffs are generally alluvial, and expand from one to five miles in width. Two-thirds of these bottom lands are subject to occasional inundation from high water; and when this happens, the river is seen gradually to rise for several successive days, until the channel within the banks is no longer capable of containing the immense accumulation of waters from above, at which time they burst over the banks in all directions, extending themselves from bluff to bluff in all the terrific grandeur of a mighty river. Again they gradually recede, until they are confined within the ordinary channel. When these inundations occur as late as the months of June and July, a sickly season, arising from the noxious vapours engendered by a decay of vegetation, may be expected in these and contiguous parts of the country; but if early, and the bottoms become dry before the hot season commences, no difference in the health of the inhabitants is expected to ensue on that account.
Of the military tract, about two-thirds may be set down as prairie land, and the remaining one-third as timber land. The detached groves, or those which are found occasionally as islands in the prairies, and those at the heads or sources of the streams, generally produce the finest timber, with a soil mostly of good quality, and not unfrequently very rich. The soil on the prairies is good, and a large portion of it may be considered as first-rate, having either a black vegetable mould, or a dark sandy loam, from 15 to 30 inches deep, generally bedded on a stiff yellow clay. Many of the prairies are of convenient dimensions for farming operations, others too large at present, and again we find many only large enough for a single farm.
The emigrant, in travelling over this delightful region in the spring and summer months, will generally see timber either before him or to the right or left, within a few miles, but he will occasionally, after descending one of our beautiful slopes to the verdant valley beneath, through which the gentle rivulet is meandering its course with its flowery border, get as it were out of the sight of land, while his vision is bounded only by the blue horizon above, and not a tree can be discovered as far as the eye can reach. Again, when he approaches the summit of the opposite slope, his vision is relieved with the green forests upon his right and left, and a cluster of beautiful island groves immediately in the advance, with their varied shrubbery in full bloom, scattering its fragrance for many a mile around: the prairie, in the mean time, being covered with a smooth green coat of grass, and innumerable
21flowers of every variety and hue, which blossom and decay in succession, from the first opening of spring until the severe frosts of winter.
The bounty lands extend from north to south over about two and a half degrees of latitude the medium of which exceeds forty degrees north, and afford a climate not uncongenial to the constitution of men from the northern and middle states. The climate seems also to be well adapted to the constitution of emigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas, who, in the general, enjoy as good health as those from the more northern states. It is a fact, however, which ought not to be disguised, that a large portion of the lands on the margins of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, as well as those upon the banks of the smaller streams, including such also as border upon the large, flat, wet prairies, may be reckoned among the situations most unfavourable to health. The stagnant waters which sometimes remain after the overflowings of these rivers, not unfrequently produce pestilential vapours, proceeding from putrescent vegetable substances, which very often engender malignant fevers and agues, and prove destructive to the health and vigour of the newly settled emigrant and his family. Habitations should, therefore, at the commencement of a settlement be as far removed as convenient, from stagnant waters, and low, rich, alluvial grounds, which are thickly shaded by forest trees, and located on more open and elevated ground, where air and water can be enjoyed in their native purity. Lands of this description, which, in a state of nature, prove most injurious to health, when drained, opened to the sun, and cleared of the trees and rank weeds, which generally grow upon them, have often become salubrious places of habitation. But the new comer should be aware before he is acclimated, that it is a dangerous experiment to attempt the improvement. But of this quality, there is a small part only of the whole tract, most of the residue furnishing situations as healthful as any part of the Western Country, old Kentucky not excepted.
Taking all the Bounty Tract together, and there is no region of country in the west more eligibly situated for all the purposes of agriculture and commerce. The lands everywhere, with but few exceptions, are of the best quality, and in a manner surrounded by a sheet of navigable waters; and the country exhibits a climate of great variety for the space occupied; whereby its productions are varied, and the means of traffic greatly increased and facilitated. Lands of excellent quality may yet be had at the government price of $1.25 per acre, in desirable parts of the country, so that means of wealth, or at least of a comfortable competence, are still within the reach of the poor as well as the opulent. What motives of advancement are here held out to the industrious and skilful cultivator of the soil — what prospects of wealth to the industrious mechanic and enterprizing merchant — what a wide field of speculation is not in fact here presented to the view of the whole people of the west!
In this region there are but few springs; but water may be plentifully obtained anywhere on the smooth prairies, by digging from fifteen to forty feet below the surface. The well water is pure and salutary, and generally preferred to the spring water. The surface of the ground everywhere in this country is remarkably free from stones, except on the rivers, creeks, and branches, in which many good quarries are found both of lime and sandstone. With the exception of stone-coal, there are no mines on the Military Tract. Some specimens of iron, lead, and copper ore have occasionally been picked up, but not in sufficient quantities to justify the belief that any discoveries will be made worthy of pursuit.
The agricultural productions of this part of Illinois are Indian corn, wheat, rye, oats, barley, potatoes, hemp, flax, &c. The tame grasses, such as timothy, red clover, red top or herd's grass, and blue grass, are also now cultivated to some extent, and so far succeed well. The principal articles produced for exportation consist of horses, beef cattle, milch cows, live hogs, barrelled beef and pork, bacon, lard, hides, butter, Indian corn, wheat, and flour. Some of the backwoodsmen, also, still continue to carry on a considerable traffic with the merchants, in deerskins and furs, such as otter, muskrat, and raccoon, and in honey and beeswax. Some farmers have been frequently known to make more money in this way, than from the product of their farms. The disposition of so much of this fine country for military rewards, has very
22much retarded its settlement. Most of the titles have long since departed from the soldiers for whose benefit the donations were made. Many thousand quarter sections have been sold by the state for taxes, and are past redemption. Much of it is in the hands of non-residents, who hold it at prices too exorbitant to command sale. Some have doubted the legality of these sales at auction for taxes; but able lawyers, and those who have investigated the business, have expressed the opinion that "tax titles" are valid. Within the last two years the Military Tract has received a great accession to its population. A large quantity of these military lands are now owned by a company, who have a land-office opened at Quincy, and offer tracts at from three to ten dollars per acre. About three-fifths of the quarter sections have been appropriated as military bounties. The remainder is to be disposed of in the same manner as other public lands. South of the base line, which passes across the tract through Schuyler and Adams counties, the public lands have been offered for sale. North of that line there is much excellent land yet for sale.
A scientific gentleman, who has recently examined the central parts of the Military Bounty Tract, has given the following as the geological structure of the upland prairies in that region. That the same general structure prevails throughout the entire peninsula (between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers), and all the central and northern parts of the state, is most probable. 1st. Vegetable mould, formed by the decomposition of grass upon the original clay soil, 8 to 30 inches: 2d. Pure yellow clay, 3 to 8 feet: 3d. Gravelly clay, mixed with pebbles, 4 to 10 feet: 4th. Limestone rock, 2 to 12 feet: 5th. Shale, covering a stratum of bituminous coal generally 4 to 5 feet thick: 6th. Soapstone: then sandstone. The bed of limestone seems to be universal in this region, it having been discovered in all the wells that have been dug, and in all the banks of water-courses of any magnitude.
An opinion is entertained by some persons at the east, that the prairies here are of a light, spongy nature, without solidity or firmness. The notion has probably been gathered from the boggy prairies of Ohio. But no land of this sort, we are assured, is to be found in the Military Tract, if we except the marshes upon the margins of rivers. The substratum being clay, the surface is as firm and dry as any of the limestone lands of Pennsylvania or Maryland, and in many respects is of a similar character to the best in Frederick county, in the latter state.
That portion of Illinois, situated in the northern part of the state, watered by Rock river and its branches, is known by the appellation of the Rock River Country. It is a fertile agricultural region, combining all the advantages of a rich and fruitful soil, a healthy and temperate climate, a fine navigable river, and clear perennial streams, affording excellent mill-seats, together with many of the most useful and important minerals.
Rock river rises in Wisconsin Territory, about midway between Lake Michigan and the Wisconsin river. Its course in Illinois is nearly 180 miles in extent. It receives its most important tributary, the Pekatonica, from the lead-mine region of Wisconsin Territory, a few miles below the northern boundary of the' state. The Rock River Country may be considered as embracing not only the parts which border immediately upon that stream, but all those portions of the surrounding territory that may contribute directly to the developement and employment of the resources of the Rock river valley.
In this view may be included the mineral wealth and agricultural advantages of the Pekatonica and its branches, the products of which must eventually find their way to market on the bosom of Rock river; but also the mineral region around Galena and Dubuque, which will, sooner or later, be connected by close links of interest and necessity with the inexhaustible beds of coal and general manufacturing advantages in the neighbourhood of the mouth of Rock river. Under the same general head we may also include the fine agricultural country on the west bank of the Mississippi, extending from the Indian reservation on the Iowa to the
23waters of the Wabepisipimecon, which will look to the east bank of the Mississippi and the town located near the mouth of Rock river for its market.
The bottom-lands of these streams, most usually about a mile and a half wide, cannot be surpassed in fertility. Besides other causes which have combined for centuries to produce the same result, the wash of the bluffs enriches the plain below by its deposit, to such an extent that the depth of soil in places is almost incredible. Like the great American Bottom below the mouth of the Illinois river, which has been cultivated for more than a hundred years, the fertility of most of the Rock river and Upper Mississippi bottoms is indestructible. On such a soil, under proper cultivation, 100 bushels of corn and 40 bushels of wheat to the acre could be raised with facility. With the most careless kind of culture, where the farmers do not think of applying the hoe after planting, and run the plough through but twice, the average corn crop is about 50 or 60 bushels per acre. The soil on the brow of the bluffs, as might be expected from the unceasing washing of ages, is thin and unproductive; but when you ascend to the elevated table-land — which is generally characteristic of the bluffs after you leave the breaks, gullies formed by springs and drains on the edge of the bluffs, — you will find, most usually, a soil of the richest kind — high and dry, and fanned, in the warmest days of summer, by breezes of the most refreshing character. These breezes, however, are converted into pretty cold winds in winter.
The greatest objection made to the Rock river country is the alleged scarcity of timber. What is termed the "grand prairie," commencing in the lower part of Illinois and reaching to Lake Superior, touches Rock river in several places, and some of its wide-stretching arms partially separated from the parent prairie by occasional groves, cross that stream. These extensive meadows form an obstacle at this time to the dense settlement of those portions where the predominance of prairie over timber is too great; but the time will come, and the day is not far distant, when emigrants will rush to the large prairies with almost as much eagerness as they now avoid them.
But without reference to the prospective settlement of the prairies, the existence of these large meadows in the neighbourhood can form no reasonable objection to the settlement of such portions as are timbered. Of these there are thousands of situations in the Rock river country, where plenty of timber in proximity to prairies will give settlers the advantages of timber and prairie united; and if the argument be a good one that the large prairies cannot be settled without recourse to the woodlands, that very fact should form a strong inducement for the early settlement of the more favoured portions. But reflecting and experienced men say that no apprehensions need be felt about the supply of timber for the wants of the country, and that so far as Rock Island county is concerned, it has a greater proportion of timber than the counties in its vicinity.
The portion of country south and south-east of Rock river is comparatively deficient in timber, except where the waters of Green river, Edwards, and Henderson, carry belts of it along their various windings. Up Rock river the timber is in many places of the finest character, and convenient of access to the river, down which it could be rafted with ease.
The bluff which forms the principal portion of the strip of land between Rock river and the Mississippi, from Albany in Whiteside county down to near the mouth of the former stream, a distance of 35 miles, is, with one or two slight exceptions, covered plentifully with good timber. This woodland, although broken in many places by gullies which carry off water to the prairie bottoms, is in general excellent wheat land.
On the west bank of the Mississippi, for about ten miles above Rock Island, and twenty or thirty below, the bluff falls gently into bottoms of about a mile wide-- frequently intersected with spurs and groves of timber; and altogether forming a succession of farm-sites as beautiful as the eye ever saw or the heart could desire. Immediately back of these sloping bottoms, the bluff is covered with the dense foliage of stately timber, forming a rich bordering for the picture of scenic loveliness below. This skirt of timber varies from one to two miles in width. Back of it, the timber is scattered into little patches of foliage, dotting the interminable
24prairies as they sweep off in beautiful and ocean-like undulations, westward to the waters of the Iowa. The timber of this region comprises the usual variety of the latitude — white and black oak, ash, hickory, elm, lynn, cherry, white and black walnut, maple, sugar tree, &c. In provision for building materials, nature has been bountiful to the Rock River Country. Clay for brick, limestone of the finest quality, and freestone, can be found in almost any neighbourhood.
The products of this region are the same as those of the adjoining districts, and are raised with the same facility as in the most favoured parts of the state. A correspondent writes, "I have not seen in any place this season, crops of wheat, corn, and oats to surpass, and but few to equal, what I saw near Stephenson, the seat of justice of Rock Island county. The size to which esculent roots have grown there is almost incredible."
Besides the agricultural advantages of this region of country, it must for ever be connected with, and interested in the mineral regions above it. The extent of the lead region will perhaps never be determined. The mines are considered inexhaustible, and each succeeding year developes new treasures, inviting the hand of enterprize, and exciting the eager appetite of discovery.
The mines mostly wrought at this time, are in the vicinity of Dubuque, Galena, and Mineral Pont on the Pekatonica. Taking Rock river on one side of the Mississippi, and the Iowa on the other, for the southern limits of the mineral region (although it is believed to extend much farther south), north of these streams for perhaps hundreds of miles west, reaching to Lake Michigan on the east, and a thousand miles to the north until you reach the ocean-like shores and pure waters of Lake Superior, you have an immense territory, already known to possess mines of lead, iron, copper, saltpetre, &c, the value of which will ever be beyond calculation.
Lead and copper ore have been found upon other tributaries of Rock river besides the Pekatonica. Upon the latter, mines of the richest character are wrought with industry and success. Copper ore has been raised already from the mines on the Pekatonica, to the extent of about 200,000 pounds. Lead has been found by the Indians in several places west of the Mississippi, not far from Rock Island. Near the Wabepisipimecon, which empties into the Mississippi about 30 miles above that island, copper and iron ore, saltpetre, epsom salts, and a fine species of variegated alabaster, have lately been found. On the shores of Lake Pepin, up the Mississippi, near the Falls of St. Anthony, iron ore exists in such masses that the lake may almost literally be called "iron-bound." Iron ore and stone-coal are found in several places along the Upper Rapids of the Mississippi. The latter article, of a good quality, pervades the Rock river bluffs extensively, and will, before long, become a very important article of trade with the lead-mines, where the country is destitute of it. The recent improvement in smelting furnaces, and the contemplated introduction of steam-engines to drain the mines on the plan of the miners of Cornwall, England, which must take place before long, will cause the consumption of an immense quantity of stone-coal. They now send to St. Louis for it, and freight it up stream 500 miles. It will not be many years before the business of smelting will be done near the mouth of Rock river for nearly all the lead regions above, from the circumstance that the mineral can be much easier floated down to the fuel, than the fuel can be freighted up to the mineral. This will throw into the lately located seat of justice of Rock Island county an immense trade, which is not generally looked upon as being alienable from the immediate neighbourhood of the mines.
The time will come when the facility with which lead can be obtained, will cause it indirectly to enter into the consumption of the country in a thousand different shapes now not thought of; and the demand becoming comparatively limitless, will cause every hill and valley where there are signs of "mineral" to be explored; and infinite developements of the resources of the country, now entering only into the dreams of the visionary, will greet the acute eye of enterprize. When we reflect that for a century and a half the gold-mines of the southern states lay hidden from a comparatively dense population, it should rather be a matter of astonishment that so much has already been discovered by the sparse settlements of the lead region.
There can be no doubt of this region being eminently healthy. The country is supplied bountifully with water from good springs, and the air is second only to mountain air in purity. It is even thought that the neighbourhood of Rock Island will one day be the resort of rich invalids, and the man of leisure from the south, on account of its double charm of salubrity of atmosphere, and picturesqueness of scenery. The existence of a copious white sulphur spring near Rock Island, of medical virtues equal perhaps to the waters of any of the celebrated springs in the United States, gives strength to the idea.
The navigation of Rock river is obstructed principally by the rapids, 3Ë miles from its mouth; upon which, however, there is never less than about 18 inches water which is more than the Ohio river affords at its lowest stages, in places. Several enterprizing individuals have it in contemplation to build a steamboat expressly for navigating Rock river, which may be done for a considerable portion of the year.
A circumstance which the recent survey and settlement of the country on the Upper Rock river has but lately brought to view, may and will, if taken advantage of, no doubt, have an important bearing on the prosperity of the Rock River Country. It is ascertained that the distance from the city of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan to the navigable waters of Rock river, is only about 50 miles, and over a country well calculated for making either a canal or a rail-road. The improvement of this region by the construction of one or both of the above public works would open a medium of communication from the Mississippi to the Lakes, and afford an outlet to the northern markets that would be of incalculable benefit to the upper part of Illinois, and add another link to the mighty chain that is binding together the extremities of our widely-extended republic.
With the present possession and prospective control of advantages like all these, it does not require sanguine calculations to determine the future condition of this country. Easy access to market will always insure to the farmer the rewards of industry; and a rich agricultural community ever promotes the steadiest and purest prosperity to all other classes. Mechanics are always demanded by the wants of an improving country; and the lack of competition in a new country, guaranties to such as emigrate the best of prices and the best of pay.
The boundless resources of the great west spread out their harvest for the sickle of the young and the enterprizing. "The harvest is plenty, but the labourers few." He that would carve out his own fortune at the expense of temporary sacrifices, in preference to frittering away his existence in the slavish occupancy of an overstrained competition, should turn his eyes and his footsteps westward.
The country traversed by the Sangamon river and its branches is a region seldom equalled in fertility. It is high and undulating, well watered with creeks and springs, and is beautifully interspersed with timber and prairie, the former of which consists of those descriptions which grow only on the richest soil, being principally locust, black walnut, hickory, maple, &c.
The prairies frequently contain fine groves of timber: these are generally elevated above the surrounding country, and are most advantageous situations for settlement. The inhabitants reside chiefly in the margin of the timber, extending their plantations to any distance in the prairie.
This desirable tract was settled with such rapidity, that it contained 5000 inhabitants before a single section had been sold; and farms of considerable size, even of a hundred acres of cultivated land, had been made. It is now divided into several counties, containing a population of at least 40,000. The first white inhabitants settled here in 1819, and the first sale of public land was in November 1823. At the present time, the borders of the prairie are covered with hundreds of smiling farms, and the interior is animated with thousands of domestic animals; the rough and unseemly cabin is giving place-to comfortable framed or brick tenements; and plenty everywhere smiles upon the labours of the husbandman.
The objection often made by those unacquainted with a prairie country against
26the great extent of the prairies and a want of sufficient timber in the Sangamon and other districts in Illinois, offers no serious inconvenience for the present; as timber in sufficient quantities has been found without difficulty, to meet all the demands of the population. With regard to the prairies, many persons are beginning to understand the superiority of that description of land for agricultural purposes; and the day is not far distant when, no doubt, it will be generally preferred to all others.
Late scientific examinations, as well as the practical results of settlement and cultivation, have determined the fact that the prairies are richer as you approach their middles, and in some measure in proportion to the distance from timber; and that the carbonate of lime, so rich a nourisher of grasses and grains, is found in the soil of the prairies to an extent of from 20 to 42 per cent. In timber lands it is found in a much smaller proportion, and in many cases does not exist at all. This fertilizing property, which renders the prairie lands so desirable, in appealing to the esteem of the farmer, has only to struggle against his ideas of convenience to timber. His apprehensions will be broken down by degrees. Coal, which exists in the bluffs of the rivers and streams in almost every part of the state, will be his fuel, and he will grow the hedge-thorn and the black locust for his fencing. There is also a certainty of the gradual self-introduction of timber of the ordinary growths, where the fires are kept out of the prairies. In the southern part of the state, which has been settled for 15 or 20 years, and where they once had the same apprehensions about the prospective scarcity of timber which is now felt at the north, they now have a greater abundance of timber than they had 20 years ago, notwithstanding all the consumption of a comparatively dense population; and timber has sprung up and grown large enough for farming purposes, where at the time of settlement were extensive and monotonous prairies.
Above all countries, this is the land of flowers. In the season every prairie is an immense flower-garden. In the early stages of spring rises a generation of flowers, whose prevalent tint is peachblow. The next is a deeper red. Then succeeds the yellow; and to the latest period of autumn, the prairies exhibit a brilliant golden hue.
The Sangamon country is one of the finest stock districts in the Western states, the summer range for cattle is inexhaustible, and the amount of excellent hay that may be made every season from the rich prairies almost without limit. Horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs, can be raised here with but little trouble and expense, compared with the eastern states. The mildness of the climate has not unfrequently relieved the owners from all care and expense of feeding them through the whole year; but it is generally necessary to feed from the commencement of December until the latter part of March. When cattle are fed and attended to in the best manner by provident farmers, the expense is less by one half, than wintering the same species of stock in the eastern states.
The shortness and moderation of the winter seasons, and the abundant forage which may as yet be gathered from the wild prairies, render the raising of stock both cheap and easy. The grass, when cut from the upland prairies and well cured, makes excellent hay; and cattle will keep in good order the whole winter on this food alone. It has also been frequently remarked, that both horses and cattle fatten quite as fast in the spring and summer, on. the wild grass of the prairies, as upon the tame pastures of the east. And the richness and flavour of the beef thus fattened, has been much esteemed at St. Louis and New-Orleans, and generally reckoned of the finest quality.
This region is also admirably adapted for the cultivation of the sugar beet root, which besides its great value in the manufacture of the beet sugar, is about to become a most important article in the feeding of cattle.
The following account of what has been accomplished in this way by a single individual, is extracted from a western paper of late date. "Lot Pugh, Esq. of Cincinnati, has cultivated most successfully the sugar beet, on his farm near that city. Last year he raised 50 tons of beets to the acre, and his crop is much better the present season. The manager of the farm says, that it requires but little more labour to raise 50 tons of beets than fifty bushels of corn, while the former is
27quite as good for horses, much better for cattle, and rather better for stock hogs. He also asserts, that sucking calves preferred beets, when properly prepared, to milk. Although cattle and hogs will eat beets in a raw state, still they are much better than boiled. The apparatus and fixtures used by Mr. Pugh for boiling or rather steaming, food for 300 hogs and 40 or 50 cows, with other stock, cost about $150, and consumes a quarter of a cord of wood per day."
The above will show that a new item of national wealth is about to be introduced into the United States. The culture of the beet root has produced important results in France. It is well known that land in those districts where its growth has become general has increased in value from 50 to 150 per cent; and the clear annual income per acre, after paying all expenses, ranges from 35 to 40 dollars. The profits would be equally great in this country; for, although the price of labour is cheaper in France, the difference would no doubt be amply compensated by the superior fertility of the Illinois prairies, and the circumstance of dispensing with manure, which the great depth and richness of the soil of the Sangamon and other districts in this state will render unnecessary for a long period. A very considerable diminution of the annual profits in Europe, consists in the expense of manuring the land so as to make it sufficiently rich to produce a remunerating crop.
The prodigious impulse which the prosperity of a country may receive from the introduction of a single new plant, is illustrated by the following historical fact. In an early part of the reign of George the First, the culture of the turnip was limited in England to as few gardens as that of the beet is now with us, and used almost exclusively for culinary purposes. That monarch, in one of his visits to his Electorate of Hanover, was attended by his Secretary of State, Lord Townsend; whilst residing there, this nobleman was struck by the appearance of extensive fields devoted to the culture of turnips as food for cattle and sheep. Impressed with the belief that this method might be introduced with advantage into his own country, he, before leaving Germany, took good care to provide himself with seed, and, on his return, earnestly recommended to his tenants a practice, which, in Hanover, had been found to produce the most favourable results. His wishes were attended to, and the experiment spread through the county of Norfolk, which from that period dates its high reputation as an agricultural district. Lands which rented for one or two shillings an acre, soon brought 15 or 20; and sterile barrens, on which were to be seen only a few half-starved rabbits, were reclaimed and are now covered with rich harvests of grain. Colquhoun, in his Statistical Researches, computes that the annual value of a crop of turnips in Norfolk alone, amounts to not less than 14 millions sterling! When it is considered that this root has been the means of bringing under culture lands which without it must have remained valueless; that it leaves the soil in a good condition to receive a crop of grain or grass, and that the latter is a good preparation for wheat, we may safely consider the benefits resulting to England from the culture of the beet as incalculable. If it was now asked, said Colquhoun, who was the man in modern times who had rendered England the most signal service, no one should hesitate to say it was the nobleman, whom shallow courtiers nicknamed in derision "Turnip Townsend." In half a century the turnips spread over the three kingdoms, and their yearly value at this day, says the same author, is not inferior in amount to the interest of the national debt!
A body of lands perhaps equally extensive, and nearly as fertile and productive, with that on the Sangamon, lies along the course of the Kaskaskia, or Okau. This river has a long course through the central parts of the Illinois, and a country happily diversified with prairie and forest. The streams that flow into it, have sufficient fall to be favourable for the site of mills. Some well-settled parts of the state are watered by this river. On its banks is Kaskaskia, formerly the seat of government, and Vandalia, at present the metropolis.
Although there are extensive bodies of sterile and broken lands in Illinois, yet take the whole of its wide surface together, it contains a greater proportion of first-rate
28land, than any state in the Union; and probably as great in proportion to its extent, as any country on the globe. One of the inconveniences connected with this extent of rich country is too great a proportion of prairies, with which two-thirds of the surface are covered; but the prevalence of coal and peat, and the ease and rapidity with which forest trees may be raised, will render even the extensive prairies not only habitable but desirable places of residence.
It is only necessary to look on the map of this great state, to see what astonishing advantages for inland navigation nature has given it. On its northern borders it has for some distance the waters of Lake Michigan and the various streams that empty into it; and by this vast body of waters a communication is opened with the northern parts of Indiana and Ohio, with New-York and Canada. On the northwest frontier it has Rock river, a long, beautiful, and boatable tributary of the Mississippi. On the whole western front it is washed by the Mississippi, and on its southern by the Ohio. On the east it is bounded by the Wabash. Through its centre winds in one direction the Illinois, connecting the Mississippi with Lake Michigan by the Des Plaines and the Chicago rivers; and in another direction the beautiful Kaskaskia flows through the state. Besides these, there are great numbers of boatable streams penetrating the state in every direction. Such is the intersection of Illinois by these waters, that no settlement in it is far from a point of boatable communication, either with Lake Michigan, the Mississippi, the Ohio, or the Illinois.
The Mississippi forms the western boundary of the state through its whole length from north to south, a distance by the meanders of the stream of not far from 600 miles.
One hundred and fifty years from the time of its discovery by La Salle, Mr. Schoolcraft first reached the source of the Mississippi, in the little lake Itasca, on a high table-land, 1500 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, and 3160 miles from its mouth by the windings of its channel. Its source is in about 47°, and its mouth in 29° north latitude; and it consequently traverses 18 degrees of latitude. This great river is in some respects the noblest in the world, draining a larger valley, and irrigating a more fertile region, and having, probably, a longer course, than any other stream. It commences in many branches, that rise, for the most part, in wild rice lakes; but it traverses no great distance before it becomes a broad stream.
Having acquired, in a course, following its meanders, of three hundred miles, a width of half a mile, and having formed its distinctive character, it precipitates its waters down the Falls of St. Anthony. Thence it glides alternately through beautiful meadows and deep forests, swelling in advancing march with the tribute of a hundred streams. In its progress it receives a tributary, which of itself has a course of more than a thousand leagues. Thence it rolls its accumulated, turbid, and sweeping mass of waters through continued forests, only broken here and there by the axe, in lonely grandeur to the sea.
No thinking mind can contemplate this mighty and resistless wave sweeping its proud course from point to point, curving round its bends through the dark forests, without a feeling of sublimity. The hundred shores laved by its waters — the long course of its tributaries, some of which already flow through the abodes of cultivation, and others pursue an immense course without a solitary dwelling of civilized man on their banks — the numerous tribes of savages that now roam over its borders — the affecting and imperishable traces of generations that are gone, leaving no other memorials of their existence or materials for their history, than their tombs that rise at frequent intervals along its banks — the dim, but glorious anticipations of the future, — these are subjects of contemplation that cannot but associate themselves with the view of this river.
With the common propensity of travellers to exaggerate, the Falls of St. Anthony, until very recently, have been much overrated. Instead of the extravagant estimates of the first French writers, or the fall of fifty feet assigned to them by
29more modern authorities, the real fall of the Mississippi here is between sixteen and seventeen feet of perpendicular descent. Though it has not the slightest claim to compare with that of Niagara in grandeur, it furnishes an impressive and beautiful spectacle in the loneliness of the desert. The adjoining scenery is of the most striking and romantic character; and, as the traveller listens to the solemn roar of the falls, as it sinks into feeble echoes in the forests, a thrilling story is told him of the love and despair of a young Dacotah or Sioux Indian woman, who, goaded by jealousy towards her husband, who had taken another wife, placed her young children in a canoe, and, chanting the remembrances of love and broken vows, precipitated herself and her infants down the falls. Indians are always romancers, if not poets. Their traditions say, that these ill-fated beings so perished, that no trace of them was seen; but they suppose that her spirit wanders still near this spot, and that she is seen on sunny mornings, carrying her babes in the accustomed manner bound to her bosom, and still mourning the inconstancy of her husband.
Below this point it is bounded by limestone bluffs, from 100 to 400 feet high, and first begins to exhibit islands, drift-wood, and sand-bars; its current is slightly broken by the Rock river and Des Moines rapids, which, however, present no considerable obstruction to navigation; and 843 miles from the falls its waters are augmented by the immense stream of the Missouri from the west: the latter has, indeed, the longer course, brings down a greater bulk of water, and gives its own character to the united current; yet it loses its name in the inferior stream. Above their junction, the Mississippi is a clear, placid stream, one mile and a half in width; below, it is turbid, and becomes narrower, deeper, and more rapid.
Between the Missouri and the sea, a distance of 1220 miles, it receives its principal tributaries, — the Ohio from the east, and the Arkansas and Red river from the west; and immediately below the mouth of the latter, gives off, in times of flood, a portion of its superfluous waters by the outlet of the Atchafalaya. It is on this lower part of its course, where it should, properly speaking, bear the name of the Missouri, that it often tears away the islands and projecting points, and at the season of high water, plunges great masses of the banks, with all their trees, into its current. In many places it deposits immense heaps of drift-wood upon its mud-bars, which become as dangerous to the navigator as shoals and rocks at sea.
Below the Atchafalaya, it discharges a portion of its waters by the Lafourche and Iberville; but the great bulk flows on in the main channel, which here has a south-easterly course, and, passing through the flat tract of New-Orleans, reaches the sea at the end of a long projecting tongue of mud, deposited by the river. Near the Gulf of Mexico, it divides into several channels, here called passes, with bars at their mouths of from 12 to 16 feet of water. The water is white and turbid, and colours those of the Gulf for the distance of several leagues.
The river begins to rise in the early part of March, and continues to increase irregularly to the middle of June, generally overflowing its banks to a greater or less extent, although for some years these have not been inundated. Above the Missouri, the flooded bottoms are from five to eight miles wide, but below that point, they expand, by the recession of the river hills from the channel, to a breadth of from 40 to 50 miles. From the mouth of the Ohio, the whole western bank does not offer a single spot eligible for the site of a considerable town, and hardly affords a route for a road secure from overflow; on the eastern side, there are several points where the hills approach the river, and afford good town-sites; but from Memphis to Vicksburg, 365 miles, the whole tract consists of low grounds, subject to be inundated to the depth of several feet; and below Baton Rouge, where the line of upland wholly leaves the river, and passes off to the east, there is no place practicable for settlement beyond the river border, which is higher than the marshy tract in its rear.
The Mississippi is obstructed by planters, sawyers, and wooden islands, which are frequently the cause of injury, and even destruction, to the boats which navigate it. Planters are large bodies of trees firmly fixed by their roots in the bottom of the river, in a perpendicular manner, and appearing no more than about one foot above the surface of the water, when at its medium height. So firmly are
30they rooted, that the largest boats running against them will not move them; but on the contrary, they materially injure the boats. Sawyers are likewise large bodies of trees, fixed less perpendicularly in the river, and rather of a less size, yielding to the pressure of the current, disappearing and appearing at intervals, and having a motion similar to the saw of a saw-mill, from which they have taken their name. These obstructions to the navigation have been partially removed by the enterprizing captain Shreve, and his snag-boat, in the employment of the general government; and a great portion of the trees that form them have been cut away from its banks. Wooden islands are places, where, by some cause or other, large quantities of drift-wood have been arrested and matted together in different parts of the river. Formerly, all these various impediments were the cause of heavy losses to the merchant, and danger to the traveller; but since the introduction of steamboats, and the improvement of the channel to which we have just alluded, accidents of this nature are not of such frequent occurrence.
The Mississippi and its mighty tributaries, which form so striking a natural feature of this region, give to the mode of travelling and transportion in general, a peculiar cast, and have created a peculiar class of men, called boatmen. Craft of all descriptions are found on these waters. There are the rude, shapeless masses, that denote the infancy of navigation, and the powerful and magnificent steamboat which marks its perfection; together with all the intermediate forms between these extremes. The most inartificial of all water-craft is the ark, or Kentucky flat, a huge frame of square timbers, with a roof. It is in shape a parallelogram, and lies upon the water like a log; it hardly feels the oar, and trusts for motion mainly to the current. It is 15 feet wide, from 50 to 80 feet long, and carries from 200 to 400 barrels. These arks are often filled with the goods and families of emigrants, and carry even the carriages and domestic animals. They are also used for shops of various kinds of goods, which are sold at the different towns; and some of them are fitted up as the work-shops of artificers. Sometimes, also, they are used as museums of wax-figures, and other raree-shows, or for travelling libraries.
There are also keel-boats and barges, which are light and well built; skiffs, that will carry from two persons to five tons; "dug-outs," or pirogues, made of hollowed logs, — and other vessels, for which language has no name, and the sea no parallel. There are a few small boats, that are moved by a crank turned by a single man: these are on the principle of steamboat paddles. Since the use of steamboats, numbers of the other craft have disappeared, and the number of river boatmen has been diminished by many thousands. The first steamboat on these waters was built at Pittsburgh, in 1811; since that time, in a period of 25 years, about 600 have been built at different places, some of which are from 400 to 500 tons burthen; but the greater number are from 90 to 150, 200, and 300 tons; there are at present not far from 300 steamboats on the Mississippi and its tributaries, making an aggregate of about 60,000 tons.
The Mississippi is at all times navigable, except when obstructed by ice, by steamboats drawing three feet water, as far up as Prairie du Chien; and frequently they run up to the Falls of St. Anthony, a distance of 800 miles above St. Louis. There are only two permanent obstructions to the easy navigation of this river, except at very low water, throughout this whole distance; and they occur opposite to different points in Illinois. The first is the Des Moines rapids, beginning a few miles above the outlet of the river of that name, and extending up about 14 miles, to a point nearly opposite the town of Commerce. In this distance there is a fall of 25 feet; but the current is never too rapid for boats to stem it, and there is seldom less than three feet of depth in the channel. When the water gets very low, it is the practice to unload the steamboats, pass them light over the rapids, and take the freight over in keel-boats of less draught. These boats, when ascending, are towed up along the western shore by horses moving along the natural beach. This rapid is a source of great annoyance, expense, and delay; and yet it is susceptible of being so easily improved, as to make it matter of surprise that it has not already been done.
The second obstruction is the Rock Island rapids, very similar in character to those below. They commence at Rock Island, just above the mouth of Rock river,
31and extended eighteen miles up the Mississippi. The navigation of these rapids is about to be improved by the general government, for which purpose an appropriation was made at the last session of Congress.
The principal tributaries of the Mississippi within the state of Illinois, are Rock, Illinois, Kaskaskia, and Big Muddy rivers. About one hundred miles below the northern boundary of the state, and in 41° 30' north latitude, Rock river enters the Mississippi. It is a beautiful limpid stream, with a course of near 400 miles, and is celebrated for the purity of its waters, the excellence of its fish, and the fertility of the land on its banks. At a distance of from fifty to seventy miles lower down, Edwards, Pope's, and Henderson's rivers enter: these flow through fertile prairie-lands in the northern part of the Military Bounty Tract, and, though unavailable for the purposes of navigation, furnish fine mill-seats.
In latitude 39° comes in the Illinois from the north — a noble, broad, and deep stream, 400 yards wide at its mouth; having a course, including its head tributaries, of 450 miles, and being navigable for a great distance. It is the most considerable tributary of the Mississippi above the Missouri.
Nearly in 38°, and almost 500 miles below the north line of the state, following the windings of the Mississippi, the Kaskaskia river enters. It runs through a fertile and beautiful country, is 150 yards wide at the mouth, and has a course of nearly 300 miles in length.
Upwards of forty miles lower down the stream of the Mississippi, the Big Muddy comes in from the north. It is a considerable river, flowing through 120 miles of country, and remarkable for having on its shores fine coal-banks.
At 37° north latitude, comes in the magnificent Ohio. It is by far the largest eastern tributary of the Mississippi. At the junction, and for 100 miles above, it is as wide as the parent stream.
The importance of a good town-site at the union of these mighty streams, has for many years excited the attention of the enterprizing. It is a feature in the rivers of the western country, with few exceptions, that at and near their junction the land is alluvion, of a recent formation, and, at the high annual floods, usually inundated to the depth of several feet. This is the case, particularly, at the mouth of the Ohio. For twelve miles along that river above its mouth, and a farther distance along the Mississippi, and across the point to Cash river, the country is subject to annual inundations. Had the Author of Nature formed here an elevated situation, nothing could have prevented this spot from becoming the central commercial emporium of the great western valley. The immense trade of the Ohio and Mississippi, at some future day, will warrant the expense of forming an artificial site at this point for a commercial town. The termination of the great central rail-road through the state of Illinois will greatly facilitate this object, and, with the commerce of these great rivers, build up a splendid city. In due time, art, enterprize, and perseverance, will triumph over nature at this place, and a large commercial city will no doubt exist where now the waters of the Ohio and Mississippi occasionally spread.
Rock River is one of the most clear and beautiful tributaries of the Mississippi. It has its source in Wisconsin Territory, a little to the north of latitude 43° 30', immediately south-west of Winnebago lake, and about 130 miles, by the meanders of the stream, beyond the northern boundary of the state. Its general direction is south-west, and it enters the Mississippi not far from the commencement of the Military Bounty Lands, after a course of about 300 miles. It is said to be navigable for upwards of 200 miles; and receives in its course, about 170 miles from its mouth, its most important tributary, the Pekatonica river; down which stream, one individual, some three or four seasons since, shipped nine flat-boats containing about 1,200,000 lbs. of lead.
A little above the mouth of this stream, in the Mississippi, is the beautiful island, called from the name of the river, on which is a military station of the United States, presenting one of the finest prospects on the whole range of the Mississippi.
The country towards the head of Rock river is made up alternately of swamps and quagmires, ridges of sand and scrubby oaks, with tracts of rich, dry, undulating
32lands. The Terre Tremblant, or trembling lands, is in this region, and is so called from the shaking of the surface, while crossing over it. The militia of Illinois suffered much, in passing their horses through this country, in 1832, while pursuing the army of Black Hawk. Much of the country through which this river flows in Illinois is prairie. About the mouth of Turtle and Sycamore creeks are large bodies of timber. It generally passes along a channel of lime and sandstone rock, and has several rapids of some extent that injure the navigation at low water. The first is three or four miles above its mouth, the second, twelve or fifteen miles below Dixonville: the next is just below the Pekatonica river. These will all furnish a great amount of water-power, applicable for manufacturing purposes.
The country generally, along Rock river north to the boundary line, is among the most desirable in Illinois. It is beautifully undulating. The soil is rich and fertile; but the timber is rather deficient. This, however, will not prevent it from becoming an extensive agricultural region.
The Kaskaskia river is a considerable stream, and is navigable, in those portions of the year when the water is high, to Vandalia, 150 miles from its mouth; and was ascended by a steamboat last spring to Carlyle, 100 miles from the Mississippi. It rises in Champaign county, and, after a south-west course of about 300 miles, enters the Mississippi, six miles below the town of Kaskaskia. Its banks, and those of its tributaries, are generally fertile, and contain some rich and flourishing settlements. The country is mostly undulating, and is well adapted to the cultivation of corn, wheat, rye, oats, and tobacco. Cotton is sometimes raised on its banks, in the lower part of its course.
The Kaskaskia is about 150 yards wide at its mouth. The left bank is high, and affords a fine situation for a town; but in many places the shores are low and subject to inundation, which is a fruitful source of disease.
The legislature, in its system of internal improvements, appropriated $50,000 to improve the navigation of Kaskaskia river. The chief obstructions are logs and sand-banks, and short bends. The chief tributaries of the Kaskaskia are the Hurricane, Crooked, Prairie, Long, Silver, and Shoal creeks. Its lower course is known to the French people by the name of the Okau.
The Big Muddy river (Riviere au Vase ou Vaseux), discovered and named by the French, is a considerable stream in the south-western part of the state. It rises in Jefferson county, between the waters of the Little Wabash and Kaskaskia rivers, and, after a south and south-western course of about 120 miles through Jefferson, Franklin, Jackson, and Union counties, flows into the Mississippi, about 25 miles below the Kaskaskia river, and 8 miles below the Grand Tower; being fed by several considerable branches, the chief of which are, Little Muddy river, Beaucoup creek, and Middle Fork or Racoon creek. It is rendered boatable for 40 or 50 miles through a fine grazing and agricultural country. Its bluffs generally are abrupt. The land along its borders and branches is undulating, and for most of its length well timbered. "Valuable salines exist on its banks, and are worked about Brownsville, where there is an inexhaustible bed of bituminous coal. Native copper has been found on its banks, in detached masses.
The Ohio river, which constitutes the southern boundary of the state of Illinois, commences at Pittsburg, where it is formed by the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela.
This stream, from the beauty of the country on its banks, early obtained from the French traders the name of La Belle Riviere, or beautiful river. From its commencement it affords most delightful prospects; rivers, of romantic and beautiful character, come in almost at equal distances as lateral canals. Its bottoms are of extraordinary depth and fertility, generally high and dry, and for the most part healthy. Between Pittsburg and the mouth, it is diversified with 100 considerable islands. Some of these are of exquisite beauty, and afford most lovely situations for retired farms. The passages between them, and the sand-bars at their heads, are among the difficulties of the navigation of this river.
The Ohio at Pittsburg is 600 yards wide, at Cincinnati a little more, and below the Cumberland its average breadth is 1000 yards. It is bounded in its whole course by bluffs, sometimes towering sublimely from the shores of the river, and
33sometimes receding two or three miles. The rapidity of its current is found, according to the different stages of the water, to vary between one and three miles. In the lowest stages of the water in autumn, a floating substance would probably not advance a mile an hour. It is subject to extreme elevations and depressions. The average range between high and low water, is fifty feet. Its lowest stage is in September, and its highest in March; but it is subject to sudden and very considerable rises through the year. It has been known to rise twelve feet in a night. When these sudden elevations take place, at the breaking up of the ice, a scene of desolation sometimes occurs: boats, and every thing in its course, are carried away by the accumulated power of the ice and the water.
The elevation of the river at Pittsburgh is 678 feet, and that of low water, at its confluence with the Mississippi, 283 feet in 949 miles, the length of the intermediate channel making an average descent of a little over five inches in a mile. Since the Louisville and Portland canal has been completed, steamboats of small draft can descend at all times from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi. Flat and keel boats descend the river at all seasons, but in periods of low water with frequent groundings on the sand-bars, and the necessity of often unloading to get the boat off.
From the mouth of the Wabash to its confluence with the Mississippi, a distance of nearly 200 miles, the right bank of the Ohio forms the southern boundary of the state of Illinois. In this distance, its banks are generally low and subject to inundations; but they are very fertile.
These inundations, as on the Mississippi, are occasionally sources of disease, and in many cases impediments to improvement. There are, however, some elevated situations which afford good town-sites, and which must become places of considerable importance. It is much to be regretted, that at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi there is an extensive recently formed alluvion, which is annually inundated, and which cannot, without immense expense, be made an eligible town-site. At the mouth of the Wabash, the land is similarly situated. Below this, no stream of any considerable size empties into the Ohio within this state. The largest are Cash river, and Saline and Big Bay creeks.
The Saline creek is the largest tributary of the Ohio within the limits of the state. It enters that river a few miles below Shawneetown, after a course of about 75 miles; and is formed of the North, Middle, and South Forks. The salines, or salt springs, from which the stream takes its name, are in the vicinity of the town of Equality, and are sources of wealth to the country, furnishing large quantities of salt for home consumption. To Equality, 20 miles from the Ohio, the Saline is navigable for steamboats of a small class. This stream and its branches water the counties of Gallatin, White, Hamilton, Franklin, and Johnson.
The Wabash river rises in the northern part of Indiana, and running first a south-west and then a south course, empties into the Ohio nearly 200 miles above its confluence with the Mississippi. It is a beautiful stream about 600 miles in length, with but one considerable fall or rapid, which is near the junction of White river, below Vincennes. In low water, it obstructs the navigation very considerably. An act was passed in 1819, to raise funds for the purpose of improving the navigation at this place, by means of a canal. For more than 200 miles, the Wabash forms the eastern boundary of the state. The character of the lands bordering on it is similar to that on the Ohio and Mississippi, although the alluvions of the Wabash are more extensive, and the inundations more formidable. The bottoms of the Wabash are an intermixture of prairie and woodland. The principal tributaries of the Wabash, in this state, are the Big and Little Vermillion, Embarras, and Little Wabash rivers. As a navigable channel, the Wabash is a most important stream: its course seems to be almost artificially drawn to form a part of the line of commercial connexion between the Mississippi river and Lake Erie, by the most direct route.
The chief branches of this river in the state of Illinois, are the Embarras and the Little-Wabash. The Embarras rises in Champaign county: it runs at first south, and then south-east; and, after a course of about 140 miles, enters the Wabash about six miles below Vincennes. The country on the Embarras is of various qualities, though there is much good land. Towards its head the prairie greatly
34predominates, the timber being in groves, and in narrow strips along its banks. It soon widens to an extent of from two to six miles, and in the lower part of its course, frequently from eight to ten miles. Generally the prairies through which it flows are second-rate for more than half its length from its mouth. Its bottoms are inundated in very high floods. The main stream and its branches afford many good mill-seats.
The Little Wabash river rises in the large prairies towards the head-waters of the Kaskaskia, and, running south, enters the Wabash in the north-east corner of Gallatin county. It is about 110 miles in a direct line from its heads to its mouth, though about 150 miles, to follow its meanderings. It is navigable for flat-boats and small craft, at a full stage of water; about forty of the former leaving it annually, from Wayne and White counties, with beef, pork, corn, cattle, and some tobacco, for the New-Orleans market. The timber upon the banks of the Little Wabash is mostly heavy, and of a good quality, and is several miles in width. The country adjoining is fertile, but the bottoms are subject to inundation at high floods. Several valuable mills have been erected on this stream, in White county.
The Illinois, which gives name to the state, may be considered the most important river, whose whole course is in it. It is formed by the junction of the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers, near the towns of Dresden and Kankakee. Thence it flows nearly a west course, until a short distance above Hennepin: here it curves to the south, and then to the south-west. Passing Peoria, Pekin, Havanna, and Beardstown, it reaches Naples. Hence to its mouth, its course is mostly due south. It enters the Mississippi 20 miles above the Missouri. At high floods the river overflows its banks, and covers its bottoms for a considerable extent. The Mississippi, at extreme high water, backs up the Illinois about seventy miles to the mouth of the Mauvaiseterre creek.
The commerce of the river is extensive, and increasing with a rapidity known only to the rich agricultural regions of the Western States. Several steamboats are constantly employed in its trade, and many others make occasional trips: about thirty-five different boats passed and landed at Beardstown in 1836, making the arrivals and departures 450. The year 1828 was the commencement of steam navigation on this river.
Forty miles below the junction of the Kankakee and Des Plaines, the Illinois receives the Fox river from the north. Both above and below the mouth of this stream, there is a succession of rapids in the Illinois, with intervals of deep and smooth water. From the mouth of Fox river to the foot of the rapids is nine miles, the descent, in all, eight feet; the rock soft sandstone mixed with gravel and shelly limestone. Nine miles above Fox river, the grand rapids commence, and extend ten or twelve miles. They are formed by ledges of rocks in the river and rocky islands. The whole descent from the surface of Lake Michigan at Chicago to the foot of the rapids, a distance of 94Åº miles, is 141 87/100 feet.
At the foot of the rapids the Vermillion river enters the Illinois from the south, by a mouth of about fifty yards wide: it is an excellent mill-stream, and runs through extensive beds of bituminous coal. About 60 miles down the Illinois from the termination of the rapids, commences Peoria Lake, an expansion of the river, and about twenty miles in length by two in width. Such are the depth and regularity of the bottom, that it has no perceptible current whatever. Its waters are very transparent, its margin exhibits a beautiful scenery, and its surface is frequently covered with innumerable flocks of pelicans, swans, geese, and ducks. It also abounds with every variety of fish to be found in any of the western waters.
A few miles below Lake Peoria, the Mackinaw river comes into the Illinois on the east side from the south: it is about 100 miles in length, and is boatable a considerable distance. It rises in the prairie, near the eastern part of M'Lean county; and, running south-westwardly through Tazewell county, enters the Illinois about three miles below Pekin. About twenty-five miles below, and directly opposite the town of Havanna, the Spoon river enters the Illinois from the west: it is a beautiful stream, the most considerable of those which water the interior of the Military Bounty Tract. It is navigable only a short distance. It has a course of about 140 miles.
About eight miles above Beardstown the Sangamon river enters the Illinois from the east. It is one of the most prominent branches of the Illinois, and has a course of about 180 miles, with a boat navigation of 120 or 130 miles. From its position, and the excellence of its lands, it is one of the most important streams of the state. Crooked creek, next to Spoon river, is the most considerable stream that waters the Military Bounty Tract. From its volume and length of course, it deserves the name of river, but is mostly designated by the inferior title. It enters from the west, a few miles below Beardstown, and has a course of about 100 miles.
Below Crooked creek, and on the east side of the river, are Indian, Mauvaiseterre, and Sandy creeks in Morgan, and Apple and Macoupin creeks in Greene county: these are all beautiful streams, and meander through some of the best populated and fertile tracts of country in the state. M'Kee's creek, emptying on the west side, is the lowest of the tributaries of the Illinois of any note that waters the Military Bounty Tract: the land on this creek and its branches is excellent, and well proportioned into timber and prairie, which is gently undulating, and rich. The settlements are already large, and increasing from emigration.
In the Illinois river there are but few sand-bars and impediments of any consequence until we reach the Starved Rock, about one mile above the town of Utica. Here we meet with the first permanent obstruction, being a ledge of sandstone rocks immediately at the foot of the lower rapids, and extending entirely across the bed of the river. This point is 210 miles by the course of the Illinois from the Mississippi. The town of Utica may therefore be justly considered as the head of steamboat navigation of the Illinois river, although steamers at high water frequently ascend nine miles farther to Ottawa. The sum of 100,000 dollars has been appropriated by the legislature of the state to improve the navigation of the Illinois, which may be made good at all stages of the water.
For a great distance above its mouth, the river is almost as straight as a canal. It has in summer scarcely a perceptible current; and the waters, though transparent, have a marshy taste, to a degree to be almost unpotable. The river is wide and deep, and, for the greater part of its width, is filled with aquatic weeds, to such a degree that no person could swim among them. Only a few yards width, in the centre of the stream, is free from them. It enters the Mississippi, through a deep forest, by a mouth 400 yards wide. Perhaps no river of the Western Country has so fine a boatable navigation for the same distance, or waters a richer and more luxuriant tract of country.
On the banks of this river the first French emigrants from Canada settled themselves; and here was the scenery on which they founded their extravagant panegyrics upon the Western Country.
By the Chicago and Illinois Canal, now in progress, the waters of this stream will be united to those of Lake Michigan, and will form one of the most important links in the chain of internal navigable waters of the United States. Nature seems to have accomplished a great share of the necessary labour to effect at this grand improvement. The canal distance from the foot of the rapids to Lake Michigan will be near 100 miles.
The principal tributaries of the Illinois river are the Kankakee, Des Plaines, Fox, Spoon, and Sangamon rivers. These are all considerable streams, and are, after the Illinois, Kaskaskia, and Rock river, the most important in the state.
The Kankakee, or Theakiki, is the eastern head branch of the Illinois. It rises in the north-east part of the state of Indiana, two or three miles from the south bend of St. Joseph's river, from whence running in a westerly and north-westerly direction through the north-eastern part of Illinois, it unites with the Des Plaines and forms the Illinois, forty miles above the mouth of Fox river. The Kankakee has a course of about 150 miles, and is upwards of 200 yards wide at its mouth. The prairie country through which it passes is generally of good soil. This river was discovered at an early period by the French, and was one of the principal routes used by them in passing to the Mississippi. Navigation for small craft can be effected, in high stages of the water, from the St. Joseph's river into the Kankakee. The latter, for the first fifty miles of its course, flows through an extensive swamp.
The Des Plaints river is the northern head branch of the Illinois. It rises in Wisconsin Territory, a few miles west of the town of Racine, on Lake Michigan, and flowing through the north part of the state, it joins the Kankakee at the boundary line between La Salle and Will counties, where they form the Illinois river. The Des Plaines, in its course of 150 miles, runs generally over a bed of limestone. The country along its borders is populating rapidly, notwithstanding the apparent deficiency of timber. About forty-two miles above the mouth of this stream is a swamp connecting it with the Chicago river, through which boats of some burden have often been navigated into Lake Michigan. This route was used by the traders as a medium of communication between the great lakes and the Mississippi, from the first discovery of the country by Europeans; — this circumstance first suggested the idea of an artificial connexion by means of a canal at this point. In the bed of the Des Plaines, about forty rods above its junction with the Kankakee, there is a fossil tree, of a very considerable size. It is a species of phytolites, and is embedded in a horizontal position in a stratum of newer floetz sandstone, of a gray colour and close grain. There are fifty-one feet six inches of the trunk visible. It is eighteen inches in diameter.
The Fox river is one of the principal tributaries of the Illinois, and rises in Wisconsin Territory, about twenty miles north-west from Milwaukee, on Lake Michigan. Its general direction is south, inclining to the west; and, after a course of about 170 miles, it enters the Illinois river at Ottawa, 219 miles from the Mississippi.
At the rapids, five miles above its mouth, are extensive water-privileges. Here the river is from 80 to 100 yards wide. The rapids are sixteen feet descent, and both sides of the stream will admit of mills and machinery for three-fourths of a mile, with inexhaustible supplies of water. This stream flows through a fine prairie country, of a dark rich soil. Nearly the whole range of Fox river in Illinois is through unsurveyed land: for nearly the entire distance, it is thickly settled. Towns and villages are springing up as if by magic. Its chief tributaries are Indian, Somonauk, Rock, and Blackberry creeks.
The Sangamon is one of the most important tributaries of the Illinois: it enters that river about 100 miles above its mouth, and ten miles above Beardstown. It rises in the attached part of Vermillion county, and heads with the Mackinaw, the Vermillion river of the Illinois, the Big Vermillion, and other streams. Its length of course is about 180 miles, and it is navigable for small steamboats, when the waters are high, to the junction of the north and south forks, a distance from the Illinois of about 75 miles; and, at a small expense in clearing out the principal branches, they might be made boatable for small craft a considerable distance further than they have yet been navigated. In the spring of 1832, a steamboat of the larger class arrived within five miles of Springfield, and discharged its cargo. Arrangements are in progress for running permanently, this fall (1837), a small class steamboat from the towns on the Illinois to Petersburg, on the left bank of the Sangamon, and about 45 miles from its mouth.
All the streams that enter this river have sandy and pebbly bottoms, and clear and transparent waters. The Sangamon bottoms have a soil of extraordinary fertility, and rear from their rich black mould a forest of enormous sycamore and other forest trees; huge overgrown masses, towering to a great height above the head of the passer-by. The Sangamon river and its branches flow through one of the richest and most delightful portions of the great West. The beautiful and fertile prairies on its banks will afford range for thousands of cattle, for many years. The general aspect of the Sangamon country is level; yet it is sufficiently undulating to permit the water to escape to the creeks. It will soon constitute one of the richest agricultural districts in the United States, the soil being of such a nature that immense crops can be raised with little agricultural labour.
The principal branches of the Sangamon are the South Fork and Salt creek. The latter is a fine stream of about 90 miles in length: it heads near the main stream of the Sangamon, and receives in its course several considerable tributaries, of which the chief are Kickapoo and Salt creeks. The South Fork is about 70
37miles in length of course. It rises in Shelby county, and, flowing west and northwest, enters the Sangamon about seven miles east of Springfield.
Spoon river is a considerable tributary of the Illinois, and is the largest stream that waters the Military Bounty lands. It rises in the north-eastern part of the tract, and after a course mostly south-west, through the counties of Putnam, Peoria, Knox, and Fulton, of about 140 miles in extent, it enters the Illinois river by a mouth 40 yards wide, directly opposite the town of Havanna in Tazewell county, and about 125 miles from the Mississippi. The lands on Spoon river and its branches are considered among the most eligible for settlement in this section of the state; being high, undulating, well watered, and handsomely diversified with prairie and timber. Of the latter, large bodies line the banks of the river and its tributaries. They also furnish many excellent mill-seats. This stream can be navigated for only a few miles; but, at a trifling expense in clearing out the trees and rafts of timber, it might be made navigable for one-half of the year to the Forks. These, which are the principal head branches of Spoon river, are called the East and West Forks, and constitute, with the South Fork, the chief tributaries of this stream.
The East Fork rises in the western part of Putnam county, and, after a course of between 40 and 50 miles, is joined by the West Fork. There is much excellent land on this fork and its branches; prairie predominates, but it is generally dry and rich, with groves and points of timber, and many fine springs.
The West Fork rises in the south-east part of Henry county, runs a south-easterly course, and unites with the East Fork near the boundary line between Putnam and Peoria counties. The country adjoining is similar to that on the East Fork, except that the surface is more undulating. The timber is good, and in considerable bodies. Near the junction of these streams is much excellent timber, with a strip of fertile prairie between. Here is a considerable settlement, called Essex's Settlement, containing a grist and saw-mill, and a post-office.
The South Fork rises in Warren county, near the head of Ellison creek, runs a south-easterly course, and unites with the main stream about 50 miles from the Illinois river. Some of the best land in the state lies on this stream. This is frequently called the West Fork.
Coal, salt, lime, lead, iron, and copper, are among the known mineral productions of Illinois; but the soil has not yet been much explored for its hidden treasures. Coal, secondary limestone, and sandstone, exist in almost every quarter.
Lead is found in the north-western part of the state in vast quantities: the lead diggings extend from the Wisconsin to the vicinity of Rock river, and on both sides of the Mississippi. The Indians and French had been long accustomed to procure small quantities of the ore, but it was not until 1822 that the process of separating the metal was begun to be carried on. Since that time, up to the end of 1835, 70,420,357 pounds of lead have been made here, and upwards of 13,000,000 pounds have been smelted in one year; but the business having been overdone, the product has since been much less. In 1833, it was 7,941,792 pounds; in 1834, 7,971,579; and in 1835, only 3,754,290. This statement includes the produce of Wisconsin Territory, as well as of Illinois. The rent accruing to government for the same period, is a fraction short of 6,000,000 pounds. Formerly, the government received ten per cent. in lead for rents. Now it is six per cent.
A part of the mineral land in the Wisconsin Territory has been surveyed and brought into market, which will add greatly to the stability and prosperity of the mining business. It is expected that the mineral lands in Illinois will soon be in market.
Iron ore has been found in the southern parts of the state, and is said to exist in considerable quantities in the northern parts.
Native copper, in large quantities, exists in the northern part of the state, especially at the mouth of Plum creek, and on the Pekatonica. It is also found in small quantities on Muddy river, in Jackson county, and back of Harrisonville, in
38the bluffs of Monroe county. A shaft was sunk 40 feet deep in 1817, in search of this metal, but without success.
Silver is supposed to exist in St. Clair county, two miles from Rock Spring, whence Silver creek derives its name. In the early times, by the French, a shaft was sunk here, and tradition tells of large quantities of the precious metal being obtained. In the southern part of the state, several sections of land have been reserved from sale, on account of the silver ore they are supposed to contain. Marble of a fine quality is found in Randolph county. Crystallized gypsum has been found in small quantities in St. Clair county. Quartz crystals exist in Gallatin county.
Bituminous coal abounds in this state, and may be found in nearly every county. It is frequently perceived without excavation in the ravines and at the points of bluffs. Vast beds of this mineral exist in the bluffs adjacent to the American Bottom in St. Clair county, of which large quantities are annually transported to St. Louis for fuel. A rail-road is now constructing by a private company, from the bluffs to the ferry, six miles, for the purpose of transporting coal to St. Louis.
A large vein of coal, several feet thick, and apparently exhaustless, has been struck in excavating the Illinois and Michigan canal, a few miles below Ottawa. A bed of anthracite coal, it is said, has been discovered on Muddy river in Jackson county.
Muriate of soda, or common salt, has been found in various parts of the state, held in solution in the springs. The manufacture of salt by boiling and evaporation is carried on in Gallatin county, 12 miles west-north-west from Shawneetown; in Jackson county, near Brownsville; and in Vermillion county, near Danville. The springs and land are owned by the state, and the works leased. A coarse freestone, much used in building, is dug from quarries near Alton, on the Mississippi, where large bodies exist.
Medicinal waters are found in different parts of the state. These are chiefly sulphur springs and chalybeate waters. There is said to be one well in the southern part of the state strongly impregnated with the sulphate of magnesia, or Epsom salts, from which considerable quantities have been made for sale, by simply evaporating the water, in a kettle, over a common fire. There are several sulphur springs in Jefferson county, to which persons resort for health.
There are several kinds of wild animals in the state of Illinois: of these, the principal and most numerous are deer, wolves, raccoons, opossums, &c. Several species formerly common have become scarce, and are constantly retreating before the march of civilization; and some are no longer to be found. The buffalo has entirely left the limits of the state, and indeed all the settled parts of the Western Country, and is now found only on the head-waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries, and on the vast prairies west of the Missouri river. This animal once roamed at large over the plains of Illinois; and, so late as the commencement of the present century, was found in considerable numbers; and traces of them are still remaining in the buffalo paths, which are to be seen in several parts of the state. These are well-beaten tracks, leading generally from the prairies in the interior of the state to the margins of the large rivers, showing the course of their migrations as they changed their pastures periodically, from the low marshy alluvion, to the dry upland plains. Their paths are narrow, and remarkably direct, showing that the animals travelled in single file through the woods, and pursued the most direct course to their places of destination.
Deer are more abundant than at the first settlement of the country. They increase, to a certain extent, with the population. The reason of this appears to be, that they find protection in the neighbourhood of man from the beasts of prey that assail them in the wilderness, and from whose attacks their young particularly can with difficulty escape. They suffer most from the wolves, who hunt in packs, like hounds, and who seldom give up the chase until the deer is taken.
Immense numbers of deer are killed every year by the hunters, who take them
39for the hams and skins alone, throwing away the rest of the carcase. Venison hams and hides are important articles of export. Fresh hams usually sell at from 75 cents to $1.50 a pair, and when properly cured, are a delicious article of food.
There are several ways of hunting deer, all of which are equally simple. Most generally the hunter proceeds to the woods on horseback, in the day-time, selecting particularly certain hours which are thought to be most favourable. It is said, that during the season when the pastures are green, this animal rises from its lair precisely at the rising of the moon, whether in the day or night; such is the uniform testimony of experienced hunters. If it be true, it is certainly a curious display of animal instinct. This hour, therefore, is always kept in view by the hunter, as he rides slowly through the forest with his rifle on his shoulder, while his keen eye penetrates the surrounding shades. On beholding a deer, the hunter slides from his horse, and while the deer is observing the latter, creeps upon him, keeping the largest trees between himself and the object of pursuit, until he gets near enough to fire. An expert woodsman seldom fails to hit his game.
Another mode is, to watch at night, in the neighbourhood of the salt-licks. These are spots where the earth is impregnated with saline particles, or where the saltwater oozes through the soil. Deer and other grazing animals frequent such places, and remain for hours licking the earth. The hunter secretes himself here, either in the thick top of a tree, or, most generally, in a screen erected for the purpose, and artfully concealed, like a masked battery, with logs or green boughs. This practice is pursued only in the summer, or early in the autumn, in cloudless nights, when the moon shines brilliantly, and objects may be readily discovered. At the rising of the moon, or shortly after, the deer, having risen from their beds, approach the lick. Such places are generally bare of timber, but surrounded by it, and as the animal is about to emerge from the shade into the clear moonlight, he stops, looks cautiously around, and snuffs the air. Then he advances a few steps, and stops again, smells the ground, or raises his expanded nostrils, as if he ‘snuffed the approach of danger in every tainted breeze.’ The hunter sits motionless, and almost breathless, waiting until the animal shall get within rifle-shot, and until its position in relation to the hunter and the light, shall be favourable, when he fires with an unerring aim. A few deer only can be thus killed in one night, and after a few nights these timorous animals are driven from the haunts which are thus disturbed.
Many of the frontier people dress deer-skins, and make them into pantaloons and hunting-shirts. These articles are indispensable to all who have occasion to travel in viewing land, or for any other purpose, beyond the settlements, as cloth garments, in the shrubs and vines, would soon be in strings.
It is a novel and pleasant sight to a stranger, to see the deer in flocks of eight, ten, or fifteen in number, feeding on the grass of the prairies, or bounding away at the sight of a traveller.
The elk has disappeared. A few have been seen in late years, and some taken; but it is not known that any remain at this time, within the limits of the state.
The bear is seldom seen. This animal inhabits those parts of the country that are thickly wooded, and delights particularly in the cane-brakes, where it feeds in the winter on the tender shoots of the young cane. The meat is tender and finely flavoured, and is esteemed a great delicacy.
Wolves are numerous in most parts of the state. There are two kinds — the common or black wolf, and the prairie wolf. The former is a large fierce animal, and very destructive to sheep, pigs, calves, poultry, and even young colts. They hunt in packs, and after using every stratagem to circumvent their prey, attack it with remarkable ferocity. Like the Indian, they always endeavour to surprise their victim, and strike the mortal blow without exposing themselves to danger. They seldom attack man, except when asleep or wounded. The largest animals, when wounded, entangled, or otherwise disabled, become their prey; but in general they only attack such as are incapable of resistance. Their most common prey is the deer, which they hunt regularly; but all defenceless animals are alike acceptable to their ravenous appetites. When tempted by hunger they approach the farm-houses in the night, and snatch their prey from under the very eye of the
40farmer; and when the latter is absent with his dogs, the wolf is sometimes seen by the females lurking about in mid-day, as if aware of the unprotected state of the family.
The smell of burning assafœtida has a remarkable effect upon this animal. If a fire be made in the woods, and a portion of this drug thrown into it, so as to saturate the atmosphere with the odour, the wolves, if any are within reach of the scent, immediately assemble around, howling in the most mournful manner; and such is the remarkable fascination under which they seem to labour, that they will often suffer themselves to be shot down rather than leave the spot.
The prairie wolf is a smaller species, but little larger than a fox, and takes its name from its habit of residing entirely upon the open plains. Even when hunted with dogs, it will make circuit after circuit round the prairie, carefully avoiding the forest, or only dashing into it occasionally when hard pressed, and then returning to the plain. In size and appearance this animal is midway between the wolf and the fox, and in colour it resembles the latter, being of a very light red. It preys upon poultry, rabbits, young pigs, calves, &c. The most friendly relations subsist between it and the common wolf, and they constantly hunt in packs together. Nothing is more common than to see a large black wolf in company with several prairie wolves.
The fox abounds in some places in great numbers, though, generally speaking, the animal is scarce. It will undoubtedly increase with the population.
The panther and wild cat are occasionally found in the forests. The open country is not well suited to their shy habits, and they are less frequently seen than in the neighbouring states.
The beaver and otter were once numerous, but are now seldom seen, except on the frontiers.
There are no rats, except along the large rivers, where they have landed from the boats.
Wild horses are found ranging the prairies and forests in some parts of the state. They are small in size, of the Indian or Canadian breed, and very hardy. They are caught in pens, or with ropes having nooses attached to them, and broken to the saddle and harness. The French, who monopolize the business of catching and breaking these horses, make them an article of traffic; their common price is from 20 to 30 dollars. They are found chiefly in the lower end of the American Bottom, near the junction of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi rivers, called the Point. They are the offspring of the horses brought there by the first settlers, and which were suffered to run at large. The Indians of the West have many such horses, which are commonly called Indian ponies.
The gray and fox squirrels often do mischief in the corn-fields, and the hunting of them makes fine sport for the boys. It is a rule amongst the Kentucky riflemen to shoot a squirrel only through his eyes, and that from the tops of the highest trees of the forest. It is evidence of a bad marksman, for a hunter to hit one in any other part.
The gophar is a singular little animal, about the size of a squirrel. It burrows in the ground, is seldom seen, but its works make it known. It labours during the night, in digging subterranean passages in the rich soil of the prairies, and throws up hillocks of fresh earth, within a few feet distance from each other, and from 12 to 18 inches in height. They form these by removing the earth from their holes, by means of a pouch with which nature has furnished them on each side of their mouth; a dozen of these hillocks has been seen, the production of one night's labour, and apparently from a single gopher. The passages are formed in such a labyrinth, that it is a difficult matter to find the animal by digging. They are very mischievous in corn and potatoe fields, and in gardens they prey upon all kinds of bulbous roots. Their bite is said to be poisonous. The polecat is very destructive to poultry.
The raccoon and opossum are very numerous, and extremely troublesome to the farmer, as they not only attack his poultry, but plunder his corn-fields. They are hunted by boys, and large numbers of them destroyed. The skins of the raccoon pay well for the trouble of taking them, as the fur is in demand.
Rabbits are very abundant, and in some places extremely destructive to the young orchards and to garden vegetables. The fence around a nursery must always be so close as to shut out rabbits, and young apple-trees must be secured at the approach of winter, by tying straw or corn stalks around their bodies, for two or three feet in height, or the bark will be stripped off by these mischievous animals.
The ponds, lakes and rivers, during the spring and autumn, and during the migrating season of water-fowls, are literally covered with swans, pelicans, cranes, geese, brants, and ducks, of all the tribes and varieties. Many of these fowls rear their young on the islands and sand-bars of the large rivers. In the autumn, multitudes of them are killed for their quills, feathers, and flesh.
The prairie fowl is seen in great numbers on the prairies in the summer, and about the corn-fields in the winter. This is the grouse of the New-York market. They are easily taken in the winter, and when fat are excellent for the table.
Partridges (the quail of New-England) are taken with nets, in the winter, by hundreds in a day, and furnish no trifling item in the luxuries of the city market.
Bees are to be found in the trees of every forest. Many of the frontier people make it a prominent business, after the frost has killed the vegetation, to hunt them for the honey and wax, both of which find a ready market. Bees are profitable stock for the farmer, and are kept to a considerable extent.
Poisonous reptiles are not so common as in unsettled regions of the same latitude, where the country is generally timbered. Burning the prairies undoubtedly destroys multitudes of them.
The domestic animals are the same as elsewhere in the United States. The wild prairies, everywhere covered with grass, invite the raising of cattle. Many of the farmers possess large droves, and they may be multiplied to an almost indefinite extent.
The neat cattle are usually inferior in size to those of the old states. This is owing entirely to bad management: the cows are not penned up in pasture-fields, but suffered to run at large over the commons. Hence all the calves are preserved, without respect to quality, to entice cows homeward at evening. They are kept up through the day, and oftentimes without much pasture, and turned to the cows for a few minutes at night, and then permitted to graze through the night over the short and withered grass around the plantation. In autumn their food is very scanty, and during the winter they are permitted to pick up a precarious subsistence amongst fifty or a hundred head of cattle. With such management, is it surprising that the steers and cows are much inferior to those of the old states?
Common cows, if suffered to lose their milk in August, become sufficiently fat for table use by October. Farrow heifers and steers are good beef, and fit for the knife at any period after the middle of May. A cow in the spring is worth from twelve to twenty dollars. Some of the best quality will sell higher. Cows, in general, do not produce the same amount of milk, nor of as rich a quality as in older states. Something is to be attributed to the nature of the pastures, and the warmth of the climate, but more to causes already assigned. If ever a land was characterized justly as "flowing with milk and honey," it is Illinois and the adjacent states. From the springing of the grass till September, butter is made in great profusion. It sells at that season in market for about twenty cents, and in the interior of the state for twelve cents per pound. With proper care, it can be preserved with tolerable sweetness for winter's use. Late in autumn and early in the winter, sometimes butter is not plenty. The feed becomes dry, the cows range farther off, and do not come up readily for milking, and dry up. A very little trouble would enable a farmer to keep three or four good cows in fresh milk at the season most needed.
Cheese is made by many families, especially in the counties bordering on the Illinois river. Good cheese sells for eight and sometimes ten cents, and finds a
42ready market. The most important arrangement for the dairy business in Illinois, and especially for cheese-making, is to persuade a few thousand families, from the dairy regions of New England, to emigrate, and continue their industrious habits after settling here.
The beef of this state is the finest in the world. It bears the best inspection of any in the New-Orleans market. By the first of June, and often by the middle of May, young cattle on the prairies are fit for market. They do not yield large quantities of tallow, but the fat is well proportioned throughout the carcase, and the meat tender and delicious. Nothing is more common than for an Illinois farmer to go among his stock, select, shoot down, and dress a fine beef, whenever fresh meat is needed. This is often divided out amongst the neighbours, who, in turn, kill and share likewise. It is common at camp and other large meetings, to kill a beef and three or four hogs for the subsistence of friends from a distance. Limits can hardly be placed upon the amount of beef cattle that Illinois is capable of producing. A farmer calls himself poor, with a hundred head of horned cattle around him.
But little has been done to improve the breed of horses in Illinois: common riding or working horses average about fifteen hands in height. When the same attention is bestowed here upon raising the finest kind of horses that is given to the subject by the Pennsylvania farmer, that noble animal will be raised in the greatest perfection. Horses are much more used here than in the eastern states, and many a farmer keeps half-a-dozen or more. Much of the travelling throughout the western country, both by men and women, is performed on horseback; and a large proportion of the land-carriage is by means of large wagons, with from four to six stout horses for a team.
Breeding mares are profitable stock for every farmer to keep, as their annual expense in keeping is but trifling, their labour is always needed, and their colts, when grown, find a ready market. Some farmers keep a stallion, and eight or ten brood mares. Horses are more subject to diseases in this country than in the old states, which is thought to be occasioned by bad management, rather than by the climate. A good farm-horse can be purchased for fifty dollars. A great proportion of the ploughing in Illinois is performed by horse labour.
Mules are raised in Missouri, and are also brought from the Mexican dominions into Illinois. They are hardy animals, grow to a good size, and are used by some both for labour and riding.
Sheep generally thrive well in this country, especially in the older settlements, where the grass has become short, and they are less molested by wolves. But few are kept. The people from the south are more accustomed to cotton for clothing, than to wool, which sells for fifty cents per pound. Little is said or done to improve the breed of sheep, or introduce the Merino or Saxony breed.
Swine may be called a staple in the provision of Illinois. Thousands of hogs are raised without any expense, except a few breeders to start with, and a little attention to hunting them on the range, and keeping them tame. This kind of pork is by no means equal to that raised and fatted on corn, and in a domestic way. It is soft, oily, and will not bear inspection at New-Orleans. It usually sells for three dollars per hundred. Pork that is made in a domestic way, and fatted on corn, will sell for from four to five dollars, according to size, quality, and the time when it is delivered. With a pasture of clover or blue grass, a well-filled corn crib, a dairy, and slop-barrel, and the usual care that a New-Englander bestows on his pigs, pork may be raised from the sow, fatted, and killed, and weigh from two hundred to two hundred and fifty, within twelve months, and this method of raising pork would be profitable.
Few families in the west and south put up their pork in salt pickle. Their method is to salt it sufficiently to prepare it for smoking, and then make bacon of hams, shoulders, and middlings or broadsides. The price of bacon, taking the hog round, is about ten or twelve cents. Good hams command twelve cents in the market. Stock hogs, weighing from sixty to one hundred pounds, alive, usually sell for from two dollars to two dollars and fifty cents per head. Families consume much more meat in Illinois, in proportion to numbers, than in the old states.
Poultry are raised in great profusion, and large numbers of fowls taken to market. It is no uncommon thing for some farmers' wives to raise three or four hundred fowls, besides geese, ducks, and turkeys, in a season. Young fowls, butter, and eggs, are the three articles usually mustered from every farm for the market. Eggs, when plenty, as at the close of winter and spring, usually sell for ten and twelve cents per dozen.
This state, having a vast extent of the most fertile land, must of course raise with great ease all the articles to which her soil and climate are favourable, to an amount far beyond her consumption. All the grains, fruits, and roots of the temperate regions of the earth grow luxuriantly: the wheat is of excellent quality, and there is no part of the Western Country where corn is raised with greater ease and abundance. Garden vegetables of all kinds succeed well. No country can exceed this, in its adaptedness for rearing the finest fruits and fruit-bearing shrubs. Wild fruits and berries are in many places abundant, and on some of the prairies the strawberries are remarkably fine.
In most parts of the state, grape-vines, indigenous to the country, are abundant, yielding grapes that might advantageously be made into excellent wine. Foreign vines are susceptible of easy cultivation. These are cultivated to a considerable extent at Vevay, Switzerland county, Indiana, and at New Harmony on the Wabash. The indigenous vines are prolific, and produce excellent fruit. They are found in every variety of soil, interwoven in every thicket in the prairies and barrens, and climbing to the tops of the very highest trees on the bottoms. The French in early times made so much wine as to export some to France; upon which the proper authorities prohibited, about the year 1774, the introduction of wine from Illinois, lest it might injure the sale of that staple article of the kingdom.
Plums, in the prairies of various sizes, and flavour somewhat tart, grow in great abundance; their colour is generally red, and their taste delicious. In some locations, acres of these trees exhibit a surface of the colour of rubies: the quantities of fruit are prodigious; by some, two bushels a tree are yielded.
Crab-apples are also very prolific, and make fine preserves with about double their bulk of sugar. Wild cherries are equally productive. The persimmon is a delicious fruit, after the frost has destroyed its astringent properties. The black mulberry grows in most parts, and is used for the feeding of silk-worms with success. They appear to thrive and spin as well as on the Italian mulberry. The gooseberry, strawberry, and blackberry grow wild and in great profusion. Of nuts, the hickory, black walnut, and peccan, deserve notice. The last is an oblong, thin-shelled, delicious nut, that grows on a large tree, a species of the hickory. The pawpaw grows in the bottom, and rich timbered uplands, and produces a large, pulpy, and luscious fruit.
Of domestic fruits, the apple and peach are chiefly cultivated. Pears are tolerably plentiful in the French settlements, and quinces are cultivated, with success by some Americans. Apples are easily cultivated, and are very productive. They can be made to bear fruit to considerable advantage, in seven years, from the seed. Many varieties are of fine flavour, and grow to a large size. Apples, the growth of St. Clair county, have been measured that exceeded thirteen inches in circumference. Some of the early American settlers provided orchards; and they are now reaping the advantages. But a large proportion of the population of the frontiers are content without this indispensable article in the comforts of a Yankee farmer. Cider is made in small quantities in the old settlements. In a few years, a supply of this beverage can be had in most parts of Illinois. Peach-trees grow with great rapidity, and decay proportionably soon. From ten to fifteen years may be considered as the duration of this tree. The peaches are delicious, but they sometimes fail by being destroyed in the germ by winter frosts. The bud swells prematurely.
The cultivated vegetable productions in the field are Indian corn, wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, rye for horse-feed and
44distilleries, tobacco, cotton, hemp, flax, the castor-bean, and every other production common to the middle states. Indian corn is a staple production. No farmer can live without it, and hundreds raise little else. This is chiefly owing to the ease with which it is cultivated. Its average yield is fifty bushels to the acre. Oftentimes the product amounts to seventy-five bushels to the acre, and in some instances has exceeded one hundred. Corn is planted about the first of May. The white and yellow flint are the best adapted to the climate. When ready to gather in, the ears are commonly plucked off by the hand, hauled to the vicinity of the crib, and the people in the settlement invited to the corn-shucking. Ordinarily these gatherings end in sobriety and good feelings, but occasionally (if whiskey is plenty) they prove scenes of unbridled merriment. In slave-holding states, these annual corn-shuckings are the seasons of fun and frolic to the negro. A fat ox or cow, and two or three shoats, are killed, pones of corn bread smoking hot are brought forward, the bottle of whiskey circulates, and the woods and hills are made to ring with negro songs and shouts of merriment. It is the real harvest-home of the slaves.
Wheat yields a good and sure crop, especially in the counties bordering on the Illinois river, and through the northern parts of the state. It weighs upwards of 60 pounds per bushel; and flour from this region has preference in the New-Orleans market, and passes better inspection than the same article from Ohio or Kentucky. In 1825, the weavel, for the first time, made its appearance in St. Clair and the adjacent counties, and has occasionally renewed its visits since. Within the last two seasons, some fields have been injured by the fly.
Wheat is sowed about the middle of September; spring wheat, as soon as the ground can be ploughed in the spring. The harvest is about the middle of July, for winter wheat; for spring wheat, in August. Prairie ground is the best for this grain, the crop being sometimes 35 bushels; though about 25 is the average product in good seasons. The average price of wheat is one dollar to one dollar and twenty-five cents per bushel, varying a little according to the competition of mills and facilities to market. In many instances a single crop of wheat will pay the expenses of purchasing the land, fencing, breaking the prairie, seed, putting in the crop, harvesting, threshing, and taking it to market. Wheat is now frequently sown on the prairie land as a first crop, and a good yield obtained. Flouring-mills are now in operation in many of the wheat-growing counties. Steam-power is getting into extensive use both for sawing and manufacturing flour.
Oats have not been much raised till lately. They are very productive, often yielding from forty to fifty bushels on the acre, and usually sell at from twenty to thirty cents the bushel. The demand for the use of stage and travellers' horses is increasing. Hemp is an indigenous plant in the southern part of this state, as it is in Missouri. It has not been extensively cultivated, but wherever tried, is found very productive, and of excellent quality. It might be made a staple of the country.
Tobacco can be produced in any quantity, and of the first quality, in Illinois; the soil and climate being in every respect congenial to its growth.
Cotton, for many years, has been successfully cultivated in this state for domestic use, and some for exportation. Two or three spinning factories are in operation, and produce cotton yarn from the growth, of the country with promising success. This branch of business admits of enlargement, and invites the attention of eastern manufacturers with small capital. Much of the cloth made in families who have emigrated from states south of the Ohio, is from the cotton of the country. Flax is produced, and of a tolerable quality, but not equal to that of the northern states. It is said to be productive and good in the northern counties. There is an oil-mill to manufacture oil from the seed, in Sangamon county. The palma christi, or castor-oil bean, is produced in considerable quantities in Madison, Randolph, and other counties, and large quantities of oil are expressed and sent abroad. Sweet potatoes are a delicious root, and yield abundantly, especially on the American Bottom, and rich sandy prairies.
The cultivation of the sugar beet root, and the manufacture of the sugar, can without doubt be carried on to advantage in this state. Gentlemen who have had
45an opportunity of examining personally the land in France on which that root is grown, consider the prairie land of Illinois much superior for that purpose. In the former country, from eight to twelve dollars rent per acre is annually paid, and yet large profits are made. An acre of good land will produce 44,000 pounds of beet root, from which 2400 pounds of sugar can be extracted, which, at 10 cents a pound, amounts to 240 dollars per acre. The annexed extracts on the cultivation of the sugar beet root, are from a letter written by D. L. Childs, Esq., who went to Europe under the auspices of a company incorporated by the legislature of Illinois, with a capital of 200,000 dollars, for the purpose of introducing the manufacture of beet sugar into this state. The letter is dated from Arras, in France, Jan. 9th, 1837.
"The most interesting aspect of the beet sugar business, is its bearing upon agriculture and rural economy:
"1. It enriches the land both as an excellent substitute for fallowing, and as producing an immense quantity of capital manure.
"2. It has the latter effect in various ways, but principally by feeding a large number of cattle and sheep. The former are fatted in from three to three and a half months in a manner really superb. So fine specimens of beef-creatures are seldom seen in the United States, after six months of the best pasturing and stall-feeding. The sheep are fatted in six weeks. At the manufactory where I have been, they pay on an average about six louis for cattle, and sell them for about eleven. A louis is about $4.37. I suppose that this branch of the business would be quite as lucrative in the United States, where stock animals may be bought somewhat cheaper. This you see is doubling capital three times a year, with the help however of the pulp or pumice of the beet. This can be kept good any desirable length of time. It is sold here at 10 cents the cwt.
"3. The profit of raising the beets is very great, according to estimates which I have from intelligent sources. My data makes the net gain in France, after paying rent, ploughing, weeding, hoeing, digging, and preserving, 404 francs per hectare. This measure is a trifle over two English acres. Consequently the profit of cultivating beets on an acre, will be 202 francs, about $38. Can you wonder that land has risen from 50 to 150 per cent, in the districts of the sugar manufactories? The wages of labour for cultivating and manufacturing the produce of a hectare, amount to $56.81. This would give for 100 acres $2840 nearly; and for 400, which would be the quantity required for the largest establishments, $11,830, to say nothing of the proprietor or leaseholder, when he and the labourer are one and the same. In this case, besides getting pay for his labour, and the rent or interest of his land, he would receive the $38 profit per acre.
"The most material point in the culture of the beet root, is the manner of preparing the land. It must be ploughed eight inches deep at least, and this ought to be done in the month of August. Still, fine crops of beets have been obtained by breaking up grass-ground in the spring, immediately before the seeding. The land should be turned up handsomely, and all the grass and other vegetable matter fairly deposited underneath. Then it must be harrowed deep and fine, but the same way with the furrows. If the furrows be disturbed, it spoils or greatly injures the crop. The seed is to be sown in rows, 20 inches apart, on the top of the furrows, and the same way with them. No plough must enter after the sowing, but the land must be dressed from two to four times, according to its tendency to weediness, with the hand and hoe. The vegetable matters decay, and give their whole nourishment to the beets. I suppose these remarks may be of less consequence to the proprietors of rich prairies of the west, than to those of the lands in France, and in the northern and middle states of America. There can be no doubt, however, that the decomposition of fresh vegetable matter will afford a more active stimulus to vegetable life than old mould, however rich. The land for beets must be good, — but it may be too good. In this case, it will produce beets of an enormous size, but hollow and decayed, and affording less saccharine matter than smaller ones. Very poor land made rich by high manuring, is said to yield large beets, containing a great deal of potash and sal ammoniac, but very little sugar. At the first weeding, when the beets are about 1 or 1Ë inches high, they must be thinned so as to leave one plant to every 12 or 13 inches of row. If there be spaces where the
46seed has not come up, some of the plants pulled up should be transplanted into those spaces."
But little has been done to introduce cultivated grasses. The prairie grass looks coarse and unsavoury, and yet horses and cattle thrive well on it. It is well known that this grass disappears when the settlements extend round a prairie, and the cattle eat off the young growth in the spring. Consequently, in a few years, the natural grass no longer exists. To produce timothy with success, the ground must be well cultivated in the summer, either by an early crop, or by fallowing, and the seed sown about the 20th of September, at the rate of ten or twelve quarts of clean seed to the acre, and lightly brushed in. If the season is in any way favourable, it will get a rapid start before winter. By the last week in June, it will produce two tons per acre, of the finest hay. It then requires a dressing of stable or yard manure, and occasionally the turf may be scratched with a harrow, to prevent the roots from binding too hard. By this process timothy meadows may be made and preserved. There are meadows in St. Clair county which have yielded heavy crops of hay in succession, for several years, and bid fair to continue for an indefinite period. Cattle, and especially horses, should never be permitted to run in meadows in Illinois. The fall grass may be cropped down by calves and colts. There is but a little more labour required to produce a crop of timothy than a crop of oats: and as there is not a stone or a pebble to interrupt, the soil may be turned up every third or fourth year for corn, and afterwards laid down to grass again. A species of blue grass is cultivated by some farmers for pastures. If well set, and not eaten down in summer, blue grass pastures may be kept green and fresh till late in autumn, or even in the winter. The English spire grass has been cultivated with success in the Wabash country,
Of the trefoil, or clover, there is but little cultivated. A prejudice exists against it, as it is imagined to injure horses by aftecting the glands of the mouth, and causing them to slaver. It grows luxuriantly, and may be cut for hay early in June. The white clover comes in naturally, where the ground has been cultivated, and thrown by, or along the sides of old roads and paths. Clover pastures would be excellent for swine.
The climate of Illinois is such as would be naturally expected from the latitude. The thermometer does not range more widely here than in similar parallels east of the Allegheny mountains; nor perhaps as much so as in those districts beyond the influence of the sea-breeze. There is every day a breeze, from some quarter of the broad prairies, almost as refreshing as that from the ocean. The region is exempt, too, from the effects of the easterly winds, so chilling and so annoying along the Atlantic sea-board; but in lieu of them, there are frequently cold blasts from the prairies, sufficiently annoying to the traveller, when the mercury is at zero.
The winter commences with December, and ends the second week of February. Its duration and temperature are variable; sometimes warm, and at others cold. The winters generally exhibit a temperature of climate somewhat milder than that of the northern Atlantic states. Snow rarely falls to the depth of six inches, and as rarely remains more than ten or twelve days. There are, however, occasional short periods of very cold weather; but they seldom continue longer than three or four days at a time. The Mississippi is sometimes frozen over and passed on the ice at St. Louis, and occasionally for several weeks together. The year 1811 was remarkable for the river closing over twice, — a circumstance which had not occurred before within the memory of the oldest inhabitant. What may be considered winter weather does not usually continue longer than from ten to twelve weeks; during more than half of which period, the ground frequently remains unfrozen.
Near the Mississippi, the wind often blows alternately from the north and south, producing a succession of snow, neither deep nor of long continuance, frost, sleet, and a relaxing mildness; when the beautiful red bird, the cardinal grosbeak, shows
47himself, and in singing, his charming lays resemble the lofty notes of the fife, being nearly as loud and as sonorous. From actual observation, Fahrenheit's thermometer, both at St. Louis and Harmony on the Wabash river opposite the southern part of the state, the mercury has sometimes fallen below zero.
It may be noticed, that in making observations with the thermometer, they are made too often almost exclusively whilst the sun is above the horizon, and therefore do not give the mean of all the astronomical day, but that of daylight only; and consequently the far greater number of places are represented as having a mean temperature too high. It is doubtful whether any part of Illinois has in reality a mean temperature of more than 54° of Fahrenheit, and that the mean of the whole state is not over 51°. From a series of observations made at St. Louis during the years 1817-18-19, the mean temperature of the different seasons was as follows: winter 34.53, spring 54.17, summer 74.34, autumn 60.77: mean for the whole year, 56.09. This will form a criterion for the southern half of Illinois. July is invariably the hottest month, and in a few instances the thermometer has been known to rise for a short time to 100°, and sometimes in June and August to 96°.
The rains which succeed the breaking up of the Mississippi generally continue at intervals through the greater part of February and March, and constitute what is called the rainy months. The first spring months are therefore frequently disagreeable and cheerless; and the emigrant who arrives in Illinois during this time forms a most unfavourable opinion of its climate; but as soon as the rains subside, he is delighted with the contrast. The forests now put forth their foliage, the prairies are covered with their brilliant carpets, and all nature around him appears to smile: he is fanned by a gentler and more fragrant breeze, and is covered by a bluer and more beautiful sky than those to which he has been accustomed.
The summers are warm, though during the sultry months the intensity of heat is modified by a free course everywhere afforded to a fine genial breeze, constantly giving to the atmosphere a refreshing elasticity. During this season, the appearance of the country is gay and beautiful, being clothed with grass, foliage, and flowers.
Of all the seasons of the year, the autumn is the most delightful. The heat of the summer is over by the middle of August; and from that time till December, there is almost one continuous succession of bright, clear, delightful sunny days. Nothing can exceed the beauty of summer and autumn in this country, where, on one hand, we have the expansive prairie strewed with flowers still growing; and on the other, the forests which skirt it, presenting all the varieties of colour incident to the fading foliage of a thousand different trees.
About the middle of October or beginning of November, the Indian summer commences, and continues from fifteen to twenty days. During this time, the weather is dull and cheerless, the atmosphere is smoky, and the sun and moon are sometimes almost totally obscured. It is generally supposed that this is caused by the burning of the withered grass and herbs on the extensive prairies of the north and west, which also accounts for its increased duration as we proceed westward.
Winds. — During the spring, summer, and autumn, south-westerly winds are the most prevalent; these are sometimes warm and arid, at others cool and humid. They seldom, however, cause heavy rains. In the spring and during the rise of the Missouri, they are from a more westerly direction, and rains are often more frequent. West and north-west winds prevail during the months of December and January. Although these are generally dry and piercing, they frequently accompany storms of hail and snow. North and north-east winds are comparatively rare. The latter usually bring heavy rains.
The more common diseases of Illinois are intermittents, frequently accompanied with bilious symptoms. Those which prove fatal in sickly seasons are bilious remittents. More than one-half of the sickness endured by the people is caused by imprudence, bad management, and the want of proper nursing. Emigrants from the northern states or from Europe will find it advantageous to protect themselves
48from the cool and humid atmosphere at night, to provide close dwellings, yet, when the atmosphere is clear, to have their rooms, and especially their sleeping rooms, well ventilated, and invariably wear thin clothing in the day, and put on thicker apparel at night or when exposed to wet.
Families are seldom sick who live in comfortable houses with tight floors and well-ventilated rooms, and who upon a change of weather, and especially in a time of rain, make a little fire in the chimney, though it may be in the midst of summer. There are but few cases of genuine consumption. Affection of the liver is more common. Pleurisies, and other inflammatory diseases, prevail in the winter and spring. Ophthalmia prevails at some seasons. Dysentery is not uncommon. Fewer die in infancy than in the old states.
In several parts of the west, and occasionally in Illinois, a disease prevails, which has received the appellation of "sick stomach," from its prominent symptoms, nausea and frequent vomiting, especially on taking exercise. It is also called "milk sickness," from an opinion that it is produced by the milk of cows, which have fed on some poisonous plant. It has likewise been ascribed to the water of certain springs, and to marshy exhalations. The cause, however, seems not to be exactly known, and the disease appears to be vanishing.
That the Western States are not unfavourable to human life, may be inferred from the unprecedented increase in their population. The number of inhabitants in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, is probably near four millions. Had they been unhealthy, it is quite incredible that in the short period of half a century, so great a number could have congregated within those commonwealths. Were the climate especially fatal to emigrants, the number cut off, and the number repelled, must have given a ratio of increase far beneath that which has actually existed. As to a seasoning or acclimation, it is doubtful whether in the temperate Mississippi states, it has any existence. At Cincinnati, it can seldom be perceived. When formidable and fatal diseases have prevailed, they have as often attacked those long resident in the city, as the ‘new comers;’ and nothing is more common, than to see persons arrive at all periods of the spring, summer, and early autumn, and still enjoy as good health as if they had entered its atmosphere at the winter solstice.
Travellers and ‘movers’ should be cautious against much journeying in September and early October, when bilious fevers prevail; for, however secure they might be, if they could be transferred, without a journey, to a western town, the usual process of reaching it in autumn, over land, the necessary mode when the waters are low, is apt to generate serious diseases.
There are seventy counties within the state, in sixty of which courts are held. In the others, the judge of the circuit where they lie is authorized to organize them, by appointing an election for county officers whenever in his opinion there are three hundred and fifty inhabitants within their boundaries. Their names, dates of formation, number of square miles, population according to the state census of 1835 (with the estimation of certain counties since formed, marked thus *), and seats of justice, are given in the following table.
|Counties.||Date.||Square Miles.||Population in 1835.||Seats of Justice.|
|Counties.||Date.||Square Miles||Population in 1835||Seats of Justice|
|Counties.||Date.||Square Miles||Population in 1835.||Seats of Justice|
The constitution of Illinois was formed by a convention held at Kaskaskia, in August, 1818. It provides for the distribution of the powers of government into three distinct departments, — the legislative, executive, and judiciary. The legislative authority is vested in a general assembly, consisting of a senate and house of representatives. Elections are held biennially, as are the ordinary sessions of the legislature. Senators are elected for four years. The executive power is vested in the governor, who is elected every fourth year by the electors for representatives, but the same person is ineligible for the next succeeding four years. The lieutenant-governor is also chosen every four years. The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, and such inferior courts as the general assembly from time to time shall establish. The supreme court consists of a chief justice and three associate judges. The governor and judges of the supreme court constitute a council of revision, to which all bills that have passed the assembly must be submitted. If objected to by the council of revision, the same may become a law by the vote of the majority of all the members elected to both houses.
The right of suffrage is universal. All white male inhabitants, twenty-one years of age, who have resided within the state six months next preceding the elections, enjoy the right of electors. Votes are given viva voce. The introduction of slavery is prohibited. The constitution can be altered only by a convention.
The whole ordinary annual expenditurse of the state are about 53,700 dollars. The revenue of the state is derived principally from land taxes. The tax on lands of residents goes into the county treasuries, for county purposes, while the tax on the lands of non-residents goes into the state treasury for state purposes. The quantity of land subject to taxation on the first of August, 1836, was 5,335,041 acres. And the quantity subject to taxation
In 1837 will be — 5,674,452
In 1838 — 5,902,127
In 1839 — 6,262,367
51In 1840 — 6,616,330
In 1841 — 7,837,218
And in 1842 about — 12,000,000
Lands sold by the general government are not subject to taxation under five years after purchase.
The greater portion of the unoccupied lands of the United States constitute the national domain, and is of course under the control of the general government. These lands consist of tracts of country ceded to the nation by the several states; of the lands in the territory of Louisiana purchased from France, and of those in Florida obtained by purchase from Spain. After thus acquiring a claim to wild lands, from the individual states or foreign powers, the Indian title to the soil is next extinguished, by purchasing it from the native tribes by whom it is respectively occupied.
The lands are then surveyed on an accurate plan, and according to a general system; afterwards they are offered for sale by proclamation of the President, and, by law, must be sold by public auction, the minimum price being one dollar twen-five cents an acre, ready money. One section in each township is reserved for the support of schools in the township, and all salt-springs and lead-mines are reserved from sale, unless by special order of the President. The minimum price of the public lands was at first fixed at two dollars per acre, one-half to be paid within thirty days, the residue one year after the sale; in 1800, the term of credit was very much extended, and in 1820 the purchasers were in debt to the government more than 22,000,000 dollars. At that period the present system of cash payments was adopted, under which the annual proceeds of the sales have increased from 1,167,225 dollars to 6,099,981 in 1834, to upwards of 12,000,000 in 1835, and in 1836 they had increased to the astonishing sum of 24,000,000 dollars. The increase of population in the Western States, the extensive introduction of steam-vessels on the rivers and lakes, and the increased facilities of intercourse and transportation by rail-roads and canals, have concurred with the extraordinary high price of cotton, in producing this wonderful result.
The surveys of the public lands of the United States are founded upon a series of true meridians which run north principally from the mouth of some noted river. These are intersected at right angles with lines running from east to west, called base lines. There are five principal meridians in the land surveys of the west. The "first principal meridian" is a line due north from the mouth of the Miami river, which also forms the boundary line between the states of Ohio and Indiana. The "second principal meridian" is a line north from a point on the Ohio river ten miles below the mouth of Little Blue river, in Indiana. The "third principal meridian" is a line due north from the mouth of the Ohio. The "fourth principal meridian" is a line due north from the mouth of the Illinois. The "fifth principal meridian" is a line due north from the mouth of White river in Arkansas.
Each of these meridians has its own base line, which forms the base of a series of surveys of which lines are made to correspond, so that the whole country is at last divided into squares of one mile each, and townships of six miles each, and these subdivisions are distributed with mathematical accuracy into parallel ranges.
The greatest divisions of land marked out by the survey is called a township, and contains 23,040 acres, being six miles square. The township is subdivided into thirty-six equal portions or square miles, by lines crossing each other at right angles. These portions are called sections, each containing 640 acres, which are subdivided into four parts called quarter-sections, each of which, of course, contains one hundred and sixty acres. The quarter-sections are finally divided into two parts, called half-quarter-sections, of eighty acres each; these again are under certain conditions sold in equal subdivisions of forty acres each, which is the smallest amount of the public lands disposed of by the general government. Any person, whether a native-born citizen or a foreigner, may thus purchase forty acres of the richest soil, and receive an indisputable title, for fifty dollars. The sectional
52and quarter-sectional divisions are designated by appropriate marks in the field, which are of a character to be easily distinguished from each other. If near timber, trees are marked and numbered with the section, township, and range, near each sectional corner. If in a large prairie, a mound is raised to designate the corner, and a billet of charred wood buried, if no rock is near.
Sections are divided into halves by a line drawn north and south, and into quarters by a transverse line. The half-quarter and quarter-quarter-sections are not marked in the field, but are designated on the plot of the survey by the Surveyor-General marking the distance on one of the ascertained lines, in order to get the quantity of such half-quarter-sections as exhibited by his plot of survey.
Fractional sections are parts of quarter-sections intersected by streams, confirmed claims, or Indian boundaries. The parts of townships, sections, quarters, &c. made at the lines of either townships or meridians, are called excesses or deficiencies. The fractional sections which contain less than 160 acres are not subdivided. The fractional sections, which contain 160 acres and upwards, are subdivided in such manner as to preserve the most compact and convenient forms. A series of contiguous townships, laid off from east to west, is called a range. These are numbered east and west from the principal meridian running due north and south. Townships are counted either north or south from their respective base lines.
Sections, or miles square, are numbered, beginning in the north-east corner of the township, progressively west to the range line, and then progressively east to the range line, alternately, terminating at the south-east corner of the township, from one to thirty-six, as in the annexed diagram:
The following will serve as a specimen of the nomenclature by which lots of land may be indicated in the system of the public land surveys: — The north-east division in the larger diagram, would be designated as Section one, say of Township four, in Range three, east from the third principal meridian, and would contain 640 acres. The smaller diagrams numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4, represent sections divided into portions of 320, 160, 80, and 40 acres each, respectively. The darkened division in No. 1 would be designated as the east half of Section one, of Township four, in Range three east from the third principal meridian, and would contain 320 acres; the darkened division in No.2 would be the north-east quarter of Section one, Township and Range as before, and would be a tract of 160 acres. The darkened division in No. 3 would be styled the east half of the north-east quarter of Section one, Township and Range as before, and would contain 80 acres; the darkened division in No. 4 would be the north-east quarter of the north-east quarter of Section one, Township and Range as before,' and would be a tract of 40 acres. This is the smallest portion of the public lands sold by the general government.
The foregoing explanation will serve to exhibit the simplicity of a system, that to strangers unacquainted with the method of numbering the sections, and the various subdivisions, appears perplexing and confused.
By this admirable system, all the townships and subdivisions are in regular
53mathematical forms, precluding the fruitful source of litigation, arising from the uncertainty of butts and bounds, in forms with curve, meandering or zigzag lines. These forms, so universal in farms of the old settlements, are not only difficult matters of adjustment between contiguous owners, and exceedingly inconvenient for fencing, but are unsightly and offensive to the eye. It is inconceivable that the beautiful square forms of the present land system should not have been suggested to the first settlers of the United States.
The land sales unite three essential objects; the right of selection by the highest bidder at the public sales, extreme cheapness at the private sales, and a title of clearness and unquestionable surety commensurate with the stability of the government. The convenience and excellence of this system constitute an essential element in the rapid population of the new states. The surveys connected with the third and fourth meridians, and a small portion of the second, embrace the state of Illinois. The base line for both the second and third principal meridians commences at Diamond Island, in the Ohio, opposite Indiana, and runs due west till it strikes the Mississippi, a few miles below St. Louis.
All the townships in Illinois, south and east of the Illinois river, are numbered from this base line either north or south. The third principal meridian terminates with the northern boundary of the state. The fourth principal meridian commences on the right bank, and at the mouth of the Illinois river, but immediately crosses to the east shore, and passes up on that side, (and at one place nearly 14 miles distant,) to a point in the channel of the river, 72 miles from its mouth. Here its base line commences and extends across the peninsula to the Mississippi, a short distance above Quincy. The fourth principal meridian is continued northward through the military tract, and across Rock river, to a curve in the Mississippi at the upper rapids, in Township 18 north, and about 12 or 15 miles above Rock Island. It here crosses and passes up the west side of the Mississippi river 53 miles, and recrosses into Illinois, and passes through the town of Galena to the northern boundary of the state. It is thence continued to the Wisconsin river and made the principal meridian for the surveys of the territory, while the northern boundary line of the state is constituted its base line for that region. A large tract of country in the north and north-eastern portion of this state is yet unsurveyed. This does not prevent the hardy pioneers of the west from taking possession, where the Indian title is extinct, as it is now to all lands within this state. They risk the chance of purchasing it when brought into market.
The public lands are laid off into districts, in each of which there is a land-office under the superintendence of two officers appointed by the President and Senate, called the Register of the land-office, and the Receiver of public moneys. The Register and Receiver each receive a salary of 500 dollars per annum, and a commission of one per cent, on the moneys paid into their office. In the state of Illinois there are ten land-offices in as many districts, open for the sale or entry of public lands.
The Land District of Shawneetown embraces that portion of the state, bounded north by the base line, east and south by the boundaries of the state, and west by the third principal meridian. Office for the entry and sale of lands at Shawneetown.
The Land District of Kaskaskia is bounded north by the base line, and comprehends all that part of the state that lies between the third principal meridian and the Mississippi. Land office at Kaskaskia.
The Land District of Edwardsville extends south to the base line, east to the third principal meridian, north to the line that separates the thirteenth and fourteenth Townships, north and west to the Mississippi. Land office at Edwardsville.
The Land District of Vandalia extends south to the base line, east to the line between Ranges eight and nine, east of the third principal meridian, north to the south line of Springfield district, and west to the Range line between Ranges second and third west of the third principal meridian. Land-office at Vandalia.
The Land District of Palestine extends south to the northern boundary of the Shawneetown district, west to the eastern boundary of Vandalia district, north to
54the dividing line between Townships sixteen and seventeen north, and east to the boundary of Indiana.
The Land District of Springfield extends south to Edwardsville district, east to the Palestine and Danville districts, and north and west to the Illinois river.
The Land District of Quincy embraces all the tract of country between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to the line between Townships twelve and thirteen north and west of the third principal meridian.
The Land District of Danville includes that part of the state to its northern boundary, which lies north of Palestine, to the line between T. 30 and 31 N. of the third meridian, and east of Springfield district.
North-west District is in the north-western portion of the state, and bounded south by the line between Townships twelve and thirteen north, on the military tract, and east by the line between Ranges three and four east of the third principal meridian, and north by the northern boundary of the state. Land-office at Galena.
North-east District is in the north-east portion of the state, and bounded south by the line between Townships thirty and thirty-one, on the third principal meridian, east by lake Michigan, and north by the boundary of the state. Land-office at Chicago.
The land, by proclamation of the President, is first offered for sale at auction, by half-quarter-sections. If no one bids for it at $1.25 per acre or upwards, it is subject to private entry at any time after, upon payment at time of entry. No credit is allowed. In special cases Congress has granted pre-emption rights, where settlements and improvements have been made on public lands previous to the public sale.
Pre-emption rights confer the privilege only of purchasing the tract containing improvements at $1.25 per acre, by the possessor, without the risk of a public sale.
All lands in this state, purchased of the general government, are exempted from taxation for five years after purchase. All lands owned by private citizens or corporate bodies, and not exempted as above, are divided by law into two classes for taxation, called "first and second rates". First-rate lands are taxed $3.20 per quarter-section of 160 acres per annum. Second-rate lands are taxed $2.40 per quarter-section, besides a county tax for roads. Resident and non-resident landholders are taxed equally.
Residents owning lands in the different counties may list the same and pay taxes in the counties where they reside, or in the auditor's office, at their option. Non-residents must list their lands in the auditor's office. Taxes of non-residents are required to be paid into the state treasury, annually, on or before the first of August. If not paid at that time, a delinquent list of all lands, owned by non-residents, on which taxes have not been paid, is sent to the clerk of the county commissioners' court of the county where the land lies, and a transcript of this list is to be published in some newspaper, printed within the state, at least sixty days previous to sale. If the taxes are not paid to the clerk of the county by the first Monday in March, so much of the land, as is necessary to pay taxes and costs, is sold at the seat of justice of the county.
Lands sold for taxes may be redeemed within two years from the time of sale, by paying to the clerk of the county, for the use of the purchaser, double the amount of taxes, interest, and costs for which the same may have been sold. Lands belonging to minor heirs may be redeemed at any time before the expiration of one year from the time the youngest of said heirs shall become of lawful age.
If persons have held lands in the Military Tract, or in the state, and have not attended to paying taxes for more than two years, the land is sold and past redemption, unless there are minor heirs. Every non-resident landholder should employ an agent within the state to pay his taxes, and take the oversight of his property. All deeds, conveyances, mortgages, or title-papers whatsoever, must be recorded in the "recorder's office" in the county where the land is situated. Deeds and title-papers are not in force until filed in the recorder's office. The words
55"grant, bargain and sell," whatever may be the specific form of the instrument in other respects, convey a full and bona fide title, to warrant and defend, unless express provision is made to the contrary in the instrument.
Those undertaken by the state are embraced in two divisions: the Illinois and Michigan canal, and the internal improvement system adopted by the legislature last winter.
The project of uniting the waters of Lake Michigan and the Illinois, by a canal, was conceived soon after the commencement of the Erie canal of New-York; and a board of commissioners, with engineers, explored the route and estimated the cost, in 1823. Provision, by a grant of each alternate section of land within five miles of the route, having been granted by Congress, another board of commissioners was appointed in 1829, a new survey was made, and the towns of Chicago and Ottawa laid off, and some lots sold in 1830. Various movements have since been made, but nothing effectually done.
At a special session of the legislature held in the winter of 1835-6, an act was passed for the construction of the Illinois and Michigan canal; the Governor was authorized to negotiate a loan on the faith and credit of the state, not exceeding $500,000, a board of three commissioners was organized, with full power to employ engineers, let contracts, dispose of property, and carry on the whole business, on behalf of the state. The dimensions of the canal were fixed as follow: Sixty feet wide at the top water-line, thirty-six feet wide at the bottom, and six feet deep. The irregular fluctuations or tides in the lakes, occasioned by the action of high winds, rendered the depth agreed upon indispensably necessary to insure a navigation of at least four feet.
This great work commences on the north fork of the south branch of Chicago river, four miles to the south-west of the city of Chicago (the river itself forming a deep and natural canal from this point to the harbour), and from thence extends to the Des Plaines river seven and a half miles, at a place called "the Point of Oaks." From thence down the valley of the Des Plaines to the running out of the lake level, 25 miles. On section 23, T. 36 N. R. 70, E. of the third principal division, the commissioners have laid out a town on state property, one mile square, called Lockport. Here are to be two locks, ten feet lift each, placed in conjunction, so as to create twenty feet fall, and an immense water-power from the surplus water drawn from Lake Michigan. Here, also, will be constructed a basin for three-fourths of a mile, and 120 feet wide. From Lockport the canal proceeds down the valley of the Des Plaines to Juliet, where it crosses by a dam; its line runs past Marseilles, and crosses Fox river by an aqueduct betwixt the main bluff and Ottawa. A navigable feeder will connect it with the rapids of Fox river, four miles above Ottawa, and extend through the town to the Illinois river, where a natural basin, of deep water, is at the mouth of Fox river. Below Ottawa, the canal passes down the right bank of the Illinois, near the bluffs of the Little Vermillion, and enters the Illinois river, in the corner of fractional section 21, in township 33, north Range one, east of the third principal meridian. To this point the Illinois is navigable for steamboats at all stages of water. A steamboat basin, or harbour, is to be constructed, and a large town laid off on section 15, near the termination of the canal. The whole length of the canal, including Fox river feeder, will be 100 miles and 28 chains, to which add Chicago river, of 5 miles and 44 chains, and it gives 105 miles and 72 chains for the entire length of the navigable line. The canal is estimated to cost 8,654,337 dollars.
The legislature, at its last session, authorized a survey of the Calumet, and the Sauga-nas-ke valley, with the view of constructing a lateral canal, to open a navigable communication from the main canal to the Calumet, from which it is expected a water communication will be made in the state of Indiana to the Wabash
and Erie canal.
The resources of the state to meet the cost of this stupendous work arise from the sale of town lots and lands along the line of this work. Each alternate section,
56along the line of the canal, and ten miles in width, has been granted by Congress for the purpose. During last year, 375 lots were sold in Chicago for 1,355,755 dollars. In Ottawa, 78 lots sold for 21,358 dollars. The unsold lands for canal purposes, belonging to the state, amount to 270,182 acres, which, including the town lots laid off, are estimated equal to the expense of the canal. Amount of sales for lands and town lots previous to 1833, $18,798 08Ë. The estimated value of the lots in the town of Lockport, and the town laid off at the termination of the canal, is one million and a half dollars. The remainder of the canal lands may be estimated at twenty dollars per acre.
The project of this canal is a vast enterprize for so young a state, but truly national in its character, and will constitute one of the main arteries in eastern and western communication. The work is going forward, and from five to eight years is the period estimated for its completion. Already commerce, in no small extent, is passing along that line. Merchants from St. Louis, from along the Illinois river, from Galena and the Wisconsin Territory, and especially from the Wabash river as far south as Terre Haute, bring their goods that way. Were a communication opened between the navigable waters, the distance from New-York to St. Louis would be passed in from sixteen to twenty days.
The following result is founded upon information gathered by the commissioners: — From New-York to Buffalo, 5 days. — From Buffalo to Chicago, by steamboats fitted for lake navigation, 8 days. — From Chicago to the foot of the rapids on the canal, estimating the speed at three miles an hour, 33 hours. — From the foot of the rapids to St. Louis, by steamboats, 48 hours. The whole distance can be passed over in sixteen days; but giving four days additional time, and the transportation on this route can be made in twenty days.
The commercial, and consequently the agricultural interests of the whole valley of the Mississippi, are concerned in the result of this undertaking. For whatever amount of produce is thrown off through this channel to the Canadas and New-York, it increases the advantages of a market for the commerce that floats down the Mississippi. The Missouri and the Wisconsin Territory are no less interested in opening this communication. In accepting the donation of land made by the general government, the honour and credit of Illinois are pledged for the success of this enterprize.
At the late session of the legislature (1836-7), an act was passed to establish and maintain a general system of internal improvement. It provides for a "Board of Fund Commissioners," of three persons, and a "Board of Commissioners of Public Works," of seven persons — one in each judicial circuit. The Board of Fund Commissioners are authorized to negotiate all loans authorized by the legislature on the faith and credit of the state for objects of internal improvement; to receive, manage, deposit, and apply all sums of money, and to manage the whole fiscal concerns of the improvement system. The Board of Public Works are authorized and required to locate, superintend, direct, and construct, on behalf of the state, all works of internal improvement which are or shall be authorized to be undertaken by the state (except the Illinois and Michigan canal, which is managed by a distinct board). Each member has specific charge of that portion of the works that falls within his own district. They are required to execute the works by letting out contracts, except in special cases. The Fund Commissioners are authorized to contract loans by issuing state stock at a rate not exceeding six per centum per annum, and to an amount not exceeding eight millions of dollars, redeemable after 1870.
The following are the works of improvement provided for: 1. The Great Wabash river in co-operation with the state of Indiana, in that part over which both states have concurrent jurisdiction; appropriated $100,000. 2. Illinois river, $100,000. 3. Rock river, $100,000. 4. Kaskaskia river, $50,000. 5. Little Wabash river, $50,000. 6. On the great western mail route leading from Vincennes to St. Louis, $250,000. 7. A rail-road from a point at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, via Vandalia, Shelbyville, Decatur, and Bloomington; — to cross the Illinois river, at the termination of the Illinois and Michigan canal, and from thence to Galena — appropriated $3,500,000.
8. A southern cross rail-road from Alton, via Edwardsville, Carlyle, Salem, Fairfield, and Albion, to Mount Carmel; whence it is expected a line will be extended through Indiana to New Albany, and become connected with the great rail-road chartered and surveyed from the Ohio river to Charleston, South Carolina. Also a rail-road from Alton to Shawneetown, to diverge from the aforesaid southern cross rail-road at Edwardsville, and pass through Lebanon, Nashville, Pinckneyville, Frankfort, and Equality. And further, a rail-road from Belleville, via Lebanon, and to intersect the road from Alton to Mount Carmel. This last will pass near Rock Spring, — appropriated, $1,750,000.
9. A northern cross rail-road from Quincy on the Mississippi river, to cross the Illinois river at Meredosia, and to Jacksonville, Springfield, Decatur, Sydney, Danville, and thence to the state line in the direction of Lafayette, Indiana, and thus form a line of communication with the great works in Indiana, and to the eastern states — appropriated, $1,850,000.
10. A rail-road from Alton, via Upper Alton, Hillsboro, Shelbyville, Charleston, Paris, and thence to the state line in the direction of Terre Haute, Indiana, where it will be connected with rail-road and canal communications through that state, both in an eastern and southern direction — appropriated, $1,250,000.
11. A rail-road from Peoria, via Canton, Macomb, &c., to Warsaw, on the Mississippi, at the foot of the Des Moines rapids — appropriated, $700,000.
12. A rail-road from Bloomington to Mackinaw, and thence two branches to the Illinois river; — one through Tremont to Pekin, the other to Peoria — appropriated, $350,000. An appropriation of $200,000 was made to those counties through which no rail-road or canal is made at the cost of the state, to be in a rateable proportion to the census of 1835, and to be applied in the improvement of roads, bridges, and other public works, by the counties.
The funds to meet the expenses of these plans are as follow: — The special fund for the purpose shall consist of all moneys raised from state bonds, or stock, or other loans, authorized by law; — all appropriations made from time to time out of the revenue of the state arising from land taxes; — all tolls and rents of water privileges and other tolls from the works when constructed; — all rents, profits, and issues, from lands to be purchased on the routes; — the proceeds of all donations of lands from the general government, or from individuals, companies, or corporations; — a portion of the proceeds of the surplus fund distributed by Congress; together with the net proceeds of all bank and other stocks subscribed and owned by the state, after liquidating the interest on loans contracted for the purchase of such bank or other stocks. A subsequent enactment authorized the fund commissioners to subscribe 2,000,000 dollars stock to the State Bank of Illinois, and 1,400,000 dollars to the Illinois bank at Shawneetown, by the creation of six per cent, stock. The net proceeds of this stock, after paying interest on the loans, will equal six per centum per annum, or produce an annual revenue to the Internal Improvement Fund of $180,000.
The interest of the state in all these works, all their proceeds, with the faith of the state, are irrevocably pledged for the payment of the interest and the redemption of the principal of all stock and loans for Internal Improvement. The improvement of the great western mail route from Vincennes to St. Louis, and the special appropriation to the counties, are to be provided for from the first loans made. The improvement of the rivers is to be for steam, keel, and flat boats; to be commenced at their mouths, and continued up as far as the appropriations admit. The rail-roads are to be commenced at their intersection with navigable rivers and commercial towns, and as soon as five miles of any one line is completed, the commissioners are required to place thereon locomotives and facilities of transportation, to establish tolls, etc.
Congress has made an appropriation to improve the navigation of the Mississippi at the rapids — a work of immense importance to the northern part of this state, and the Wisconsin Territory. The improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi should be regarded and urged as strictly a national work. There are two rapids in the Mississippi river, which, in times of low water, impede the progress of steamboats. One is near the mouth of the Des Moines, and adjoining Hancock
58county, where the water descends over sand-rocks twenty-five feet five inches in 11 miles. The other commences at Rock Island, and extends about 15 miles. The descent of the water in that distance is 21 feet 10 inches. In both of these rapids there are ledges of rocks, with intervals of deep water, extending across the river. The harbour at Chicago, nearly completed by the general government, will be of immense benefit to that place, and all the northern portion of the state. It will form one of the finest harbours in all the northern lake country. The National Road is in progress through this state, and considerable improvement has been made on that portion which lies between Vandalia and the boundary of Indiana. It runs from Vincennes in a south-westerly course to Vandalia, a distance of 90 miles. The road is established 80 feet wide. But little has been done on this road during the last two years. About $220,000 of appropriated funds now remain on hand, and arrangements are in progress to work out this fund during the present season. From Vandalia westward the road is not yet located, but the legislature of Illinois, with great unanimity, have consented to its passage through the state, only on the contingency that it shall pass Alton and cross the Mississippi, above the mouth of the Missouri.
Many companies have been incorporated for the construction of short canals, rail-roads, and turnpike roads. A rail-road from Naples to Jacksonville, now undergoing construction; — another rail-road from Jacksonville, via Lynnville and Winchester, to the Illinois river opposite Augusta. A third railway has been commenced from Chicago to the Des Plaines, 12 miles over level prairies, and designed to extend across the state to Galena. Another rail-road is now under contract and working from the Mississippi, opposite to St. Louis, across the American Bottom to the coal-mines in the bluffs of St. Clair county.
No state in the Union possesses such facilities for intercommunication by canals and railways, at so cheap a rate, and which can be so equally distributed to its population, as Illinois.
In the infancy of a state, little can be expected in machinery and manufactures; and in a region so much deficient in water-power as some parts of Illinois are, still less may be looked for. Yet Illinois is not entirely deficient in manufacturing enterprize. The principal salines of this state have been mentioned under the head of minerals.
Steam Mills for flouring and sawing are becoming very common, and in general are profitable. Some are now in operation, with four runs of stones, and which manufacture one hundred barrels of flour in a day. Mills propelled by steam, water, and animal power, are constantly increasing. Steam-mills will become numerous, particularly in the southern and middle portions of the state; and it is deserving remark, that while these portions are not well supplied with durable water-power, they contain, in the timber of the forest, and the inexhaustible bodies of bituminous coal, abundant supplies of fuel; — while the northern portion, though deficient in fuel, has abundant water-power. A good steam saw-mill, with two saws, can be built for 2000 dollars; and a steam flouring mill, with two runs of stones, elevators, and other apparatus complete, and of sufficient force to turn out forty barrels of flour per day, may be built for 6000 dollars.
The northern half of the state will be most abundantly supplied with water-power, and ordinary mills for sawing lumber and grinding grain are now in operation on the various streams. Probably in no part of the great West does there exist such an immense water-power, as is to be found naturally, and which will be created artificially along the rapids of the Illinois and Fox rivers, and the Illinois and Michigan canal. Incorporated companies with ample means are now constructing hydraulic works at Ottawa, Marseilles, and other points along the rapids of the Illinois. Fox river rapids have a descent of sixteen feet at Green's mills, four miles above Ottawa, with abundant supplies of water at its lowest stage; and the river itself, from thence to M'Henry county, is a rapid stream, with rocky banks, admirably suited for hydraulic purposes. On the Kankakee are some fine sites for
59water privileges. Rock river furnishes abundant facilities, especially at Grand Detour and Rockford. A company engaged in the establishment of a large town at the mouth of Rock river, has been recently chartered by the legislature, for the purpose of cutting a canal from a point on the Mississippi at the upper rapids, to Rock river, by which they expect to gain eighteen feet fall and immense hydraulic power.
It is expected that the improvement of the Kaskaskia and Little Wabash rivers, as provided for by the recent law of the state, will create valuable water privileges along these streams. Certainly, in connexion with the improvement of the Great Wabash river by the joint operation of Indiana and Illinois, hydraulic power to any desirable extent will be created. Such will be the effect, too, upon Sangamon and other rivers within the state. Des Plaines river, and also the Calumet, furnish extensive hydraulic privileges; and the surplus water provided by the construction of the Illinois and Michigan canal, and which may be conveniently applied to manufacturing purposes, is estimated to be equal to that required for running 700 pairs of mill-stones four and a half feet in diameter.
Incorporations for companies for various manufacturing purposes have been granted by the legislature within the last four or five years, some of which have been organized and commenced operations. The conclusion is, that Illinois will furnish as great facilities for manufacturing purposes, as soon as the circumstances and wants of the community shall call for their operation, as can be found in any western state.
Large quantities of castor oil are annually manufactured in Illinois from the palma christi, or castor bean. A number of presses for expressing the oil are in operation in Madison, Greene, Macoupin, St. Clair, Randolph, Edwards, and perhaps other counties. The most extensive establishment is at Edwardsville, where from thirty to forty thousand gallons are made annually.
A few factories for spinning cotton yarn have been put into operation in several counties on a small scale of from one hundred to two hundred spindles each. They are carried on by animal power on the inclined plane.
Coarse clothing from cotton is manufactured in the southern portion of the state, where the article is raised in small quantities. Woollen cloth, and jeans, a mixture of wool and cotton, is made for ordinary wear, as is cloth from flax.
Boat building will soon become a branch of business in this state. Some steamboats have already been constructed within its limits, along the Mississippi. It is thought that Alton and Chicago are convenient sites for this business.
There is in this state, as in all the western states, a large amount of domestic manufactures made by families. All the trades, needful to a new country, are in existence. Carpenters, wagon-makers, cabinet-makers, blacksmiths, tanneries, &c., may be found in every county and town. At Mount Carmel and Springfield, there are iron foundries for castings.
There has been a considerable falling off in the manufacture of whiskey within a few years, and it is sincerely hoped by thousands of citizens that this branch of business, so decidedly injurious to the morals and happiness of the community and of individuals, will entirely decline.
Ox-mills on the inclined plane, and horse-mills by draught, are common throughout the middle and southern parts of the state.
The Congress of the United States, in the act for admitting the state of Illinois into the Union, granted to it the section numbered sixteen in every Township, or one thirty-sixth part of all the public lands within the state, for the use of schools. The avails of this section are understood to constitute a fund for the benefit of the families living within the surveyed township, and not the portion of a common fund to be applied by the state for the general purposes of education. Three per cent, of the net proceeds of all the public lands, lying within this state, which shall be sold after the 1st of January, 1819, is to be paid over by the general government, and constitute a common fund for education, under the direction of the state
60authority. One sixth of this three per cent. fund is to be exclusively bestowed upon a college or university. Two entire townships, or 46,080 acres, selected from choice portions of the public lands, have likewise been given to education. Part of this land has been sold by state authority, and the avails funded at six per cent interest.
The amount of funds realized from these sources, and under charge of the state, (independent of the sixteenth sections,) is about $384,183, the interest of which is now distributed annually to such schools as make due returns to the proper authority. By a recent act of the legislature, a moiety of the "surplus fund", received from the national treasury, is to be converted into bank stock, and the income to be distributed to common schools. The income of the three per centum from the sales of public lands, will continue as long as there are public lands to be sold.
The unsold lands in this state belonging to the general government, may be estimated at 18,000,000 of acres. Were this sold at the present minimum price, it would produce $22,500,000, of which three per cent. would be 675,000 dollars. But it is highly probable that this immense domain will not all be sold at its present price; averaging it, therefore, at 75 cents per acre, it would amount to $13,500,000, of which three per cent belonging to this state, would give $405,000 for education purposes.
The amount of the sections numbered sixteen, and reserved for schools in the respective townships, was estimated by the commissioner of public lands, and reported to Congress in April, 1832, at 977,457 acres in Illinois. This tract is not usually sold until the township in which it lies is somewhat populated, and hence commands a higher price than other lands. The section in the vicinity of Chicago was sold in November, 1833, (after reserving twelve acres,) for $38,705. Other tracts in settled portions of the state have been sold for from five to ten dollars per acre. Estimating the whole at two dollars per acre, the value is $1,954,914.
|Present fund at interest||$384,183|
|Value of Seminary lands unsold,||20,000|
|Value of sections numbered sixteen,||1,954,914|
|Estimate of the three per cent. fund on all public land now unsold in the state, at 75 cents per acre,||405,000|
To this add the moiety of the surplus fund to be invested in bank stock and the income to be distributed with the interest on the school fund, equal to 318,500 dollars; but as it is liable to be demanded by the general government, it has not been considered as any portion of the permanent school fund. The funds and claims of Illinois for education purposes may be estimated at $3,000,000.
Provision now exists by law for the people to organize themselves into school districts, and to conduct the affairs of the school in a corporate capacity by trustees, and they can derive aid from public funds under control of the state. Upon petition from the inhabitants of a township, the section numbered sixteen can be sold, and the proceeds funded, the interest of which may be applied annually to the teachers of such schools within the township as conform to the requisites of the law. To some extent the people have availed themselves of these provisions, and receive the interest of the fund.
A material defect in all the laws that have been framed in this state, on this subject, has been in not requiring the necessary qualifications on the part of teachers, and a previous examination before a competent board or committee. Without such a provision, no school law will be of much real service. The people have suffered much already, and common school education has been greatly retarded by the imposition of unqualified and worthless persons under the name of school teachers; and were funds ever so liberally bestowed, they would prove of little real service, without the requisites of sobriety, morality, and sufficient ability to teach well on the part of those who get the pay.
A complete common school system must be organized, sooner or later, and will
61be sustained by the people. The lands, education funds, and wants of the country, call for it. Many good primary schools now exist, and where three or four of the leading families unite and exert their influence in favour of the measure, it is not difficult to have a good school. In each county a school commissioner is appointed, to superintend the sales of the sixteenth sections, loan the money, receive and apportion the interest received from this fund and from the state funds, receive schedule returns of the number of scholars that attend each school, and make report annually to the secretary of state.
The people in any settlement can organize themselves into a school district, employ a teacher, and obtain their proportion of the income from the school funds, provided the teacher keeps a schedule of the number of scholars who attend, the number of days each one is present, and the number of days each scholar is absent, a copy of which must be certified by the trustees of the district, and returned to the school commissioners of the county semi-annually. If the school is made up from parts of two or more townships, a separate schedule of the scholars from each township must be made out. The term "township" in the school laws merely expresses the surveys of 36 sections, and not a civil organization.
Several seminaries, and institutions for colleges, have been established, and promise success.
Illinois College is located in the vicinity of Jacksonville, and one mile west of the town. Its situation is on a delightful eminence, fronting the east, and overlooking the town, and a vast extent of beautiful prairie country, now covered with well-cultivated farms. The buildings are as follows: a brick edifice, 104 feet in length, 40 feet in width, five stories high, including the basement; containing 32 apartments for the accommodation of officers and students. To this main building are attached two wings, each 38 feet long and 28 feet wide, three stories high, including the basement; for the accommodation of the families of the Faculty. The chapel is a separate building, 65 feet long and 36 feet wide, two stories high, including rooms for public worship, lectures, recitations, library, etc. and eight rooms for students. There are also upon the premises a farm-house, barn, workshops for students who wish to perform manual labour, and other out-buildings. The farm consists of 300 acres of land, all under fence. The improvements and stock on the farm are valued at several thousand dollars.
Students who choose are allowed to employ a portion of each day in manual labour, either upon the farm or in the workshop. Some individuals earn $150 each, during the year. The library consists of about 1500 volumes. There is also a valuable chemical and philosophical apparatus. The year is divided into two terms, of twenty weeks each. The first term commences eight weeks after the third Wednesday in September. The second term commences on the Wednesday previous to the 5th of May; leaving eight weeks vacation in the fall, and four in the spring.
There are 42 students connected with the college classes, and 22 students in the preparatory department. Of this number, several are beneficiaries, who are aided by education societies, with a view to the gospel ministry. The Faculty of Illinois College consists of a Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy and Political Economy, who is also President of the Institution; a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and lecturer on chemistry; a Professor of the Greek and Latin languages, a Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, and an Instructor in the preparatory department. The pupils in the different classes are as follows: Senior, 3; — Junior, 11; — Sophomore, 12; — Freshman, 16; — Total Collegiate department, 42. In the Preparatory department, 22: Total, 64. The course of instruction is intended to be equal to the first-rate colleges in the eastern states.
Shurtleff College of Alton, Illinois, is pleasantly situated at Upper Alton. It originated in the establishment of a seminary at Rock Spring, in 1827, and which was subsequently removed. At a meeting held June 4th, 1832, seven gentlemen formed a written compact, and agreed to advance funds for the purchase of about 360 acres of land, and put up an academical building of brick, two stories high with a stone basement, 40 feet long, and 32 feet wide. A large stone building for
62a Refectory, and for Professors' and Students' rooms, has since been erected. A Preparatory school was commenced in 1833. In 1835, building-lots were laid off within the corporate bounds of the town, a part of which was sold, and a valuable property still remains for future sale. The same year, funds to some extent were obtained in the eastern states, of which the liberal donation of ten thousand dollars was received from Benjamin Shurtleff, M. D., of Boston, which gives name to the institution. Of this fund 5000 dollars is to be appropriated towards a College building, and 5000 dollars towards the endowment of a Professorship of Oratory, Rhetoric, and Belles-Lettres. Regular college classes are not yet organized. The Preparatory department is in regular progress and contains about 60 students. Measures are in progress to put up a large college building, and to complete the organization of the College Faculty.
Alton Theological Seminary is an organization distinct from Shurtleff College, and is under the charge of a Theological Professor, with seven or eight students, licentiates of Baptist churches.
M'Kendreean College, under the supervision of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is located at Lebanon, St. Clair county. It has a commodious framed building, and about 50 students in the Preparatory department, under the charge of two competent instructors.
M'Donough College, at Macomb, has just commenced operations. It is identified with the interests of the "old school" Presbyterians, as the Illinois college at Jacksonville is with the "new school" Presbyterians.
Canton College in Fulton county has recently been chartered as a college by the legislature, and is a respectable academical institution, and has 70 or 80 students. A literary Institution, modelled somewhat after the plan of the Oneida Institute in the state of New-York, is in progress at Galesboro', Knox county.
Belvidere college, in Winnebago county, has been recently chartered, and an effort is about being made to establish a respectable literary institution in this new and interesting portion of the state. Several respectable academies and seminaries are also in operation, established chiefly by individual effort, where good schools are taught. Amongst these we notice the following, though some of equal importance may be overlooked.
The Jacksonville Academy is established for the convenience of those whose studies are not sufficiently advanced to enter the Preparatory department of Illinois College. The Jacksonville Female Academy is a flourishing institution. A respectable academy is in operation at Springfield; another at Princeton, Putnam county; a third at Griggsville; and a fourth at Quincy.
The Alton Female Seminary is an institution projected for a full and useful course of instruction, on a large scale, and is designed wholly as a boarding-school. The business of instruction will be in the hands of competent ladies. The system of instruction will be extensive.
The project of establishing a seminary for the education of teachers, at Waverley in the south-eastern part of Morgan county, is entertained by several gentlemen. A seminary is about being established in a settlement of Reformed Presbyterians in the eastern part of Randolph county. The "Reformers," or Campbellites, as some term them, have a charter, and contemplate establishing a college at Hanover, in Tazewell county. Thus, a broad and deep foundation is about being laid in Illinois for the promotion of education. Several lyceums and literary associations exist in this state, and there is in almost every county a decided expression of popular opinion in favour of education.
The Methodist Episcopal Church is the most numerous. The Illinois Conference, which embraces this state and a portion of Wisconsin Territory, in 1835 had 61 circuit preachers, 308 local preachers, and 15,097 members of society. They sustain preaching in every county, and in a large number of the settlements.
The Baptist denomination includes 22 associations, 260 churches, 160 preachers, and 7,350 communicants.
The Presbyterians have one Synod, eight Presbyteries, and about 80 churches, 60 ministers, and 2,500 members.
There are 12 or 15 Congregationalist churches, united in an association, and several ministers.
The Methodist Protestant denomination has one conference, 22 ministers, and 344 members.
The Reformers, as they term themselves, or "Campbellites," as others call them, have several large, and a number of small societies, a number of preachers, and several hundred members, including the Christian body, with which they are in union. They immerse all who profess to believe in Christ for the remission of sins, but differ widely from orthodox Baptists on some points of doctrine.
The Cumberland Presbyterians have two or three Presbyteries, twelve or fifteen preachers, and several hundred communicants.
There are two churches of Reformed Presbyterians, or Covenanters, one minister, and about 280 communicants, with a few families scattered in other parts of the state. There are also two or three societies of Associate Reformed Presbyterians, or Seceders.
In M'Lean county is a society of United Brethren, or, as some call them, Dutch Methodists.
The Dunkards have five or six societies and some preachers in this state.
There are several Lutheran congregations with preachers.
The Protestant Episcopal Church has an organized diocese, eight or ten congregations, and seven or eight ministers.
There are small societies of Friends or Quakers in Tazewell and Crawford counties; and a few Mormons, scattered through the state.
The Roman Catholics are not numerous. They have a dozen congregations, eight or ten priests, and a population between five and six thousand including old and young. A convent and boarding-school for young ladies is in operation at Kaskaskia. The Roman Catholics are mostly about the old French villages, and the labourers along the line of canal.
There is considerable expression of good feeling amongst the different religious denominations, and the members frequently hear the preachers of each other, as there are but few congregations that are supplied every Sabbath. The qualifications of the clergymen are various. A number of them are men of talents, learning, influence, and unblemished piety. Others have had but few advantages in acquiring either literary or theological information, and yet are good speakers and useful men.
In general there are as many professors of religion, of some description, in proportion to the population, as in most of the states. The number will not vary far from 40,000, or one to ten.
Extracted from Mr. Peck's "Emigrant's Guide."
Persons in moderate circumstances, or who would save time and expense, need not make a visit to the West, to ascertain particulars previous to removal. A few general facts, easily collected from a hundred sources, will enable persons to decide the great question, whether they will emigrate to the Valley. By the same means, emigrants may determine to what state, and to what part of that state, their course shall be directed. There are many things that a person of plain common sense will take for granted without inquiry, — such as facilities for obtaining all the necessaries of life, the readiness with which property of any description may be obtained for a fair value, and especially farms and wild land, that they can live where hundreds of thousands of others of similar habits and feelings live; and above all, they should take it for granted, that there are difficulties to be
64encountered in every country, and in all business; — that these difficulties can be surmounted with reasonable effort, patience, and perseverance; and that, in every country, people sicken and die.
Having decided to what state, and part of the state, an emigrant will remove, let him then conclude to take as little furniture and other luggage as he can do with, especially if he comes by public conveyances. Those who reside within convenient distance of a sea-port, would find it both safe and economical to ship by New-Orleans, in boxes, such articles as are not wanted on the road, especially if they steer for the navigable waters of the Mississippi. Bed and other clothing, books, &c. packed in boxes, like merchants' goods, will go much safer and cheaper by New-Orleans, than by any of the inland routes. I have received more than 100 packages and boxes from eastern ports, by that route, within 20 years, and never lost one. Boxes should be marked to the owner or his agent at the river port where destined, and to the charge of some forwarding house in New-Orleans. The freight and charges may be paid when the boxes are received.
If a person designs to remove to the north part of Ohio and Indiana, to Chicago and vicinity, or to Michigan or Green Bay, his course should be by the New-York canal, and the lakes. The following table, showing the time of the opening of the canal at Albany and Buffalo, and the opening of the lake, from 1827 to 1835, is from a report of a committee at Buffalo to the common council of that city. It will be of use to those who wish to take the northern route in the spring.
|Year.||Canal opened at Buffalo.||Canal opened at Albany.||Lake Erie opened at Buffalo.|
|1827||April 21||April 21||April 21|
|1828||" 1||" 1||" 1|
|1829||" 25||" 29||May 10|
|1830||" 15||" 20||April 6|
|1831||" 16||" 16||May 8|
|1832||" 18||" 25||April 27|
|1833||" 22||" 22||" 23|
|1834||" 16||" 17||" 6|
|1835||" 15||" 15||May 8|
The same route will carry emigrants to Cleaveland, and by the Ohio canal, to Columbus, or to the Ohio river, at Portsmouth; whence, by steamboat, direct communications will offer to any river port in the Western States. From Buffalo, steamboats run constantly (when the lake is open) to Detroit, stopping at Erie, Ashtabula, Cleaveland, Sandusky, and many other ports, whence stages run to every prominent town. Transportation wagons are employed in forwarding goods.
|Dunkirk, N. Y.||39||Cleaveland, Ohio,||30 193|
|Portland, "||18 57||Sandusky, "||54 247|
|Erie, Pa.||35 92||Amherstburg, U. C.||52 299|
|Ashtabula. Ohio,||39 131||Detroit, Mich.||18 317|
|Fairport "||32 163|
|St. Clair river, Mich.||40||Mackinaw||58 329|
|Palmer||17 57||Isle Brue||75 404|
|Fort Gratiot,||14 71||Fort Howard, Wisconsin Ter.||100 504|
|White Rock,||40 111|
|Thunder Island,||70 181||Milwaukee, W. T.||310 814|
|Middle Island,||25 206||Chicago, Ill.||90 904|
|Presque Isle,||65 271|
|Cuyahoga aqueduct,||22||Irville||26 158|
|Old Portage,||12 34||Newark||13 171|
|Akron||4 38||Hebron||10 181|
|New Portage,||6. 43||Licking Summit,||5 186|
|Clinton||11 54||Lancaster Canaan,||11 197|
|Massillon,||11 65||Columbus, side-cut,||18 215|
|Bethlehem||6 71||Bloomfield||8 223|
|Bolivar||8 79||Circleville||9 232|
|Zoar||3 82||Chillicothe||23 255|
|Dover||7 89||Piketon||25 280|
|New Philadelphia,||4 93||Lucasville||14 294|
|Newcomers' town,||22 115||Portsmouth, (Ohio river,)||13 307|
The most expeditious, pleasant, and direct route for travellers to the southern parts of Ohio and Indiana; to the Illinois river, as far north as Peoria; to the Upper Mississippi as far as Quincy, Rock Island, Galena and Prairie du Chien; to Missouri, and to Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Natchez and New-Orleans, is one of the southern routes. These are, — 1. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, by railroads and the Pennsylvania canal; 2. By the Baltimore and Ohio rail-road and stages, to Wheeling; or, 3. For people living to the south of Washington, by stage, by the way of Charlottesville, (Virginia,) Staunton, the Hot, Warm, and White-Sulphur Springs, Lewisburg, Charleston, to Guyandotte, whence a regular line of steamboats runs three times a week to Cincinnati. Intermediate routes from Washington city to Wheeling, or to Harper's Ferry, to Fredericksburg, and intersect the route through Virginia, at Charlottesville.
|Columbia, on the Susquehanna river, by rail-road, daily,||81||Petersburg||8||221|
|Frankstown and Hollidaysburg||3||247|
|By canal packets to|
|Bainbridge||11||92||Thence, by rail-road, across the mountain, to|
|Juniata river,||15||144||By canal, to|
The Pioneer line, on this route, is exclusively for passengers, and professes to reach Pittsburgh in four days, but is sometimes behind, several hours. Fare through, $10. Passengers pay for meals.
The Good Intent line is also for passengers only, and runs in competition with the Pioneer line.
Leech's line, called the "Western Transportation line," takes both freight and passengers. The packet-boats advertise to go through, to Pittsburg, in five days, for $7. Midship and steerage passengers in the transportation line, in six and a half days;--merchandise delivered in eight days. Generally, however, there is some delay. Emigrants must not expect to carry more than a small trunk or two, on the packet-lines. Those who take goods or furniture, and wish to keep with it,
66had better take the transportation lines, with more delay. The price of meals on board the boats is about thirty-seven and a half cents.
In all the steamboats on the western waters, no additional charge is made to cabin passengers for meals; — and the tables are usually profusely supplied. Strict order is observed, and the waiters and officers are attentive.
|Middletown, Pa.||11||Aurora, Ind.||2||491|
|Economy, "||8||19||Petersburg, Ky.||2||493|
|Beaver, "||10||29||Bellevue, "||8||501|
|Georgetown, "||13||42||Rising Sun, Ind.||2||503|
|Steubenville, Ohio,||27||69||Fredericksburg, Ky.||18||521|
|Wellsburgh, Va.||7||76||Vevay, Ind., and Ghent, Ky.||11||532|
|Warren, Ohio,||6||82||Port William, Ky.||8||540|
|Wheeling, Va.||10||92||Madison, Ind.||15||555|
|Elizabethtown, Va.||11||103||New London, Ind.||12||567|
|Sistersville "||34||137||Bethlehem, "||8||575|
|Newport, Ohio,||27||164||Westport, Ky.||7||582|
|Marietta ,"||14||178||Transylvania, Ky.||15||595|
|Parkersburg, Va.||11||189||LOUISVILLE, "||12||609|
|Belpre and Blannerhasset's Island, O.,||4||193||Shippingport, through the canal||2Ë||611Ë|
|Troy, Ohio,||10||203||New Albany, Ind.||1Ë||613|
|Belleville, Va.||7||210||Salt River, Ky.||23||636|
|Letart's Rapids, Va.||37||247||Northampton, Ind.||18||654|
|Point Pleasant, "||27||274||Leavenworth, "||17||671|
|Gallipolis, Ohio,||4||278||Fredonia, "||2||673|
|Guyandotte, Va.||27||305||Rome, "||32||705|
|Burlington, Ohio,||10||315||Troy, "||25||730|
|Greensburg, Ky.||19||334||Rockport, "||16||746|
|Concord, Ohio,||12||346||Owenburg, Ky.||12||758|
|Portsmouth (Ohio canal),||7||353||Evansville , Ind.||36||794|
|Vanceburg, Ky.||20||373||Henderson, Ky.||12||806|
|Manchester, Ohio,||16||389||Mount Vernon, Ind.||28||834|
|Maysville, Ky.||11||400||Carthage, Ky.||12||846|
|Charleston, "||4||404||Wabash river, Ky.||7||853|
|Ripley, Ohio,||6||410||Shawneetown, Ill.||11||864|
|Augusta, Ky.||8||418||Mouth of Saline, Ill.||12||876|
|Neville, Ohio,||7||425||Cave in Rock, "||10||886|
|Moscow, "||7||432||Golconda, "||19||905|
|Point Pleasant, Ohio,||4||436||Smithland , mouth of the Cumberland river, Ky.||10||915|
|New Richmond, "||7||443|
|Columbia, "||15||458||Paducah, mouth of the Tennessee river, Ky.||13||928|
|CINCINNATI, "||2||466||Caledonia, Ill.||31||959|
|North Bend, "||15||481||Trinity, mouth of Cash river, Ill||10||969|
|Lawrenceburg, Ind., and mouth of the Miami,||8||489||MOUTH OF THE OHIO RIVER,||6||975|
Persons who wish to visit Indianapolis will stop at Madison, Indiana, and take the stage conveyance. From Louisville, by the way of Vincennes, to St. Louis by stage, every alternate day, 273 miles, through in three days and a half. Fare, seventeen dollars. Stages run from Vincennes to Terre Haute and other towns up the Wabash river. At Evansville, Indiana, stage lines are connected with Vincennes and Terre Haute; and at Shawneetown twice a week to Carlyle, Illinois, where it intersects the line from Louisville to St. Louis. From Louisville to Nashville by steamboats, passengers land at Smithland at the mouth of Cumberland river, unless they embark direct for Nashville. In the winter, both stage and
67steamboat lines are uncertain and irregular. Ice in the rivers frequently obstructs navigation, and high waters and bad roads sometimes prevent stages from running regularly.
Farmers who remove to the west from the northern and middle states, will find it advantageous, in many instances, to remove with their own teams and wagons. These they will need upon their arrival. Autumn, or from September till November, is the favourable season for this mode of emigration. The roads are then in good order, the weather usually favourable, and feed plenty. People of all classes, from the states south of the Ohio river, remove with large wagons, carry and cook their own provisions, purchase their feed by the bushel, and invariably encamp out at night. Individuals who wish to travel through the interior of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, &c., will find that the most convenient, sure, economical, and independent mode, is on horseback. Their expenses will be from seventy-five cents to one dollar fifty cents per day, and they can always consult their own convenience and pleasure, as to time and place.
Stage fare is usually 6 cts. a mile, in the west. Meals, at stage-houses, 37 Ë cts.
|From Pittsburg to Cincinnati,||$10|
|" Cincinnati to Louisville,||4|
|" Louisville to St. Louis,||12|
And frequently the same from Cincinnati to St Louis, — varying a little, however.
A deck passage, as it is called, may be rated as follows: —
|From Pittsburg to Cincinnati,||$ 3|
|" Cincinnati to Louisville,||1|
|" Louisville to St. Louis,||4|
The deck for such passengers is usually in the midship, forward of the engine, and is protected from the weather. Passengers furnish their own provisions and bedding. They often take their meals at the cabin-table, with the boat hands, and pay twenty-five cents a meal. Thousands pass up and down the rivers as deck passengers, especially emigrating families, who have their bedding, provisions, and cooking utensils, on board.
The whole expense of a single person from New-York to St. Louis, by the way of Philadelphia and Pittsburg, with cabin passage on the river, will range between $40 and $45; — time, from twelve to fifteen days. Taking the transportation lines on the Pennsylvania canal, and a deck passage in the steamboat, and the expenses will range between $20 and $25, supposing the person buys his meals at twenty-five cents, and eats twice a day. If he carry his own provisions, the passage, &c. will be from $15 to $18.
The following is from an advertisement of the Western Transportation, or Leech's line, from Philadelphia: —
|Fare to Pittsburg,||400||6 Ë||$6. 00|
|" Cincinnati,||900||8 Ë||8. 50|
|" Louisville,||1050||9 Ë||9. 00|
|" Nashville,||1650||13 Ë||13. 00|
|" St. Louis,||1750||14||13. 00|
The above does not include meals.
|Fare to Pittsburg||400||5||$7. 00|
|" Cincinnati,||900||8||17. 00|
|" Louisville||1050||9||19. 00|
|" Nashville,||1650||13||27. 00|
|" St. Louis,||1750||13||27 00|
Emigrants and travellers will find it to their interest always to be a little sceptical relative to statements of stage, steamboat, and canal-boat agents; to make some allowance in their own calculations for delays, difficulties, and expenses; and above all, to feel perfectly patient and in good humour with themselves, the officers, company, and the world, even if they do not move quite as rapidly, and fare quite as well, as they desire.
Upon emigrating to this country, it would be well for an eastern farmer to throw off and forget many of his former habits and practices, and be prepared to accommodate himself to the nature of the soil, and the circumstances of the country; else he will throw away much labour uselessly, and expend money unprofitably. The first object is to find a suitable situation; or, in the language of the country, to locate himself. An entire stranger can hardly be expected to judge correctly in relation to soil, and the advantages and disadvantages of location. If he arrives in the dry season of autumn, he will be likely to select a level spot of prairie, with a deep black soil, determined to have rich land at any rate, and perhaps in the spring find himself ploughing in mud and water. If he looks at the appearance of the timber, he will probably be deceived, and overlook some of the best tracts. Advice from those who have long been residents in the country, would save many inconveniences in location.
No emigrant need deceive himself with the notion that he can find a spot which will combine all the advantages, and none of the disadvantages, of the country. On every spot he examines, some indispensable thing will appear to be wanting. Nor is it of any use for a man to travel the country to any great extent, to find as many natural advantages as may satisfy moderate desires. The best policy for an emigrant, after arriving in the Western Country, and fixing upon the district or county in which he intends to reside, is to settle himself on the first spot he finds that he thinks may answer his purpose, and resolve to abide there contentedly.
Let an emigrant purchase no more cattle, horses, hogs, &c., than those for which he has immediate use, unless it is for breeders, and calves, in the fall, at eight or nine months old: these are profitable stock to purchase. If an emigrant locate on the frontiers, or in the newly settled portions of the country, his first object will be to provide cabins for his family; and the less labour and expense in preparing these, the better. Let a man and family go into any of the frontier settlements, get a shelter, or even encamp out, call upon the people to aid him, and in three days from the start he will have a comfortable cabin, and become identified as a settler. No matter how poor he may be, or how much an entire stranger, if he makes no apologies, does not show a niggardly spirit by contending about trifles, and especially if he does not begin to dole out complaints about the country, and the manners and habits of the people, and tell them the difference and superiority of these things in the place whence he came, he will be received with blunt frankness and unaffected hospitality. But if a man begins by affecting superior intelligence and virtue, and catechizing the people for their habits of plainness and simplicity, and their apparent want of those things which he imagines indispensable to comfort, he may expect to be marked, shunned, and called in the way of sarcastic reproach, a Yankee.
A principal characteristic of the western population is a blunt, unaffected hospitality. They will make every stranger welcome, provided he will accept of it in their own way. But he must make no complaints, throw out no insinuations, and manifest an equal readiness to be frank and hospitable in turn. Enter whatever house or cabin you may, if it is the time of meals, you are invited to share a portion; but you must eat what is set before you, asking no questions, and making no invidious comparisons. Nor must you offer remarks on the accommodations you have had, or the unpleasant things you may have encountered at other places where you have tarried; as such remarks are considered as reflections upon the people, and those by whom you are now hospitably entertained will infer that you will thus slander them when you have departed.
When an emigrant has fixed his location, he next selects his building spot. Much will depend upon a judicious choice, in regard to health. An elevated spot of ground, remote from lakes and marshes, and where the air circulates freely from all points of the compass, is desirable. If a river bottom is chosen, the house should be as near the stream, on the highest ground, as is possible, without risk from the washing in of the banks. Settlements directly on the margins of the Mississippi and Missouri are healthy, compared with situations a few hundred yards distance, in the interior of the bottom. Where all other circumstances are equal, the south or south-west side of the timber is the most desirable, as throughout the heat of summer the winds are usually from the south-west and west, and the timber affords protection from the cold north-winds of winter. But an exposure to the north or north-west is far less disagreeable than would be imagined. In a very few years, by means of orchards and shade trees, sufficient protection can be had.
All confined places should be avoided, such as ravines, and even coves, or points of prairie surrounded by dense timber, unless an opening can be made immediately. The currents in the atmosphere appear to act on the same principles as currents in the water. Where eddies and counter-currents are formed, there impure vapour will concentrate. This is not only true in theory, but holds good in practical observation. When sickness prevails in a family, or a little settlement, the intelligent and observing physician immediately looks about for the cause; and if he detects nothing in the immediate vicinity to generate miasmata, he will probably discover circumstances that cause an eddy or a current of impure air, around the dwelling. The remark has been made by observant physicians, that severe sickness has prevailed in a family located at the head of a small ravine, while other families at a few rods' distance have entirely escaped. Physicians and philosophers have not yet determined the nature of that miasma which invariably produces yellow, bilious, intermittent, and other summer and autumnal fevers; but if it is a species of carbonic gas, as some think, it is heavier than the surrounding atmosphere, is more dense on low grounds and bottoms, and in ravines, and naturally concentrates in confined places. But whatever may be its nature as a remote cause of disease, it is enough for practical purposes to know, that any spot where the air is confined, as a cove in the timber or bluff, or where it is forced through a passage, as the head of a ravine, is always less healthy than a spot freely ventilated or on elevated ground.
Having fixed on the spot, the next step is to provide cabins or temporary buildings. These, and all other dwellings, should be so arranged as to promote ventilation in the summer. The door and other apertures should be opposite each other, the chimney at the end ; and if a double cabin or one of two rooms is designed, a space of 10 or 12 feet between them should be left, and roofed over. Forks may be set in the ground, and porches or sheds may be made on the sides, eight feet in width. The cost is trifling, and they add greatly to the coolness of the dwelling in summer, and its warmth in winter, besides protecting the body of the house from rains. Hundreds of cabins are made without a nail or particle of iron about them, or a single piece of sawed plank.
The first buildings put up are cabins made of logs, which are constructed after the following manner: Straight trees are felled of a size that a common team can draw, or, as the phrase is, ‘snake’ them to the intended spot. The common form of a large cabin is that called a ‘double cabin;’ that is, two square pens, with an open space between, connected by a roof above and a floor below, so as to form a parallelogram of nearly triple the length of its depth. In the open space the family take their meals, during the pleasant weather; and it serves the threefold purpose of kitchen, lumber-room, and dining-room. The logs of which it is composed are notched on to one another in the form of a square. The roof is covered with thin splits of oak, not unlike staves. Sometimes they are made of ash, and in the lower country, of cypress; and they are called clapboards. Instead of being nailed, they are generally confined in their place by heavy timber, laid at right angles across them. This gives the roof of a cabin a unique and shaggy appearance; but if the clapboards have been carefully prepared from good timber, they form a roof sufficiently impervious to common rains. The floors are made from
70short and thick plank, split from the yellow poplar, cottonwood, black walnut, and sometimes oak. They are confined with wooden pins, and are technically called ‘puncheons.’ If an emigrant can furnish a few pounds of nails, and a dozen panes of glass, he may add to his comforts; and if a saw-mill is near, and plank or boards cheap, he may save himself the labour of splitting puncheons or slabs for floors and doors. In addition to the cabin, he will need a meat-house, a corn-crib, and stables, all built of logs in the same rough manner. If an emigrant has plenty of money, and sawed lumber can be gotten conveniently, he may put up a frame barn as soon as he pleases. If he has not the advantage of a good spring, he should dig a well immediately, which will cost four or five days' labour, and will stand some time without walling. In making all these improvements, all cash expenses should be avoided as much as possible, unless a man has money to spend freely. The next step is to prepare a farm. If the settler locate himself in barrens, or in timbered land, he has to grub out the small growth, preparatory to ploughing; that is, dig them up by the roots with an instrument called a mattock. It is true, that land covered with bushes can be ploughed, and the stumps left in the ground, as well or better than in the north; but it will require more labour in the end to subdue the sprouts that will strive for the mastery, than to clear the land at once. It usually requires from three to six days' labour to grub an acre. The small growth in timbered lands is taken out in the same manner. If a settler has located himself in a timbered tract, which in this prairie country is wretched policy, he grubs up the small growth, girdles the trees, and puts in the plough.
Prairie land requires a strong team, and a large plough kept very sharp, to break it up thoroughly. This must be done well, and every particle of the sward turned over; or it had better be let alone.
Farms somewhat improved are almost daily exchanging owners, and a considerable spirit of enterprize has been awakened within a year or two past. The prices of farms and improvements vary greatly, and are influenced much by factitious and local circumstances. From St. Clair county northward, they average probably from five to ten dollars per acre, and are rising in value. In some counties, farms will cost from two to five dollars per acre. A farm in Illinois, however, means a tract of land; much of it is in a state of nature, with some cheap and frequently log buildings, with 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100 acres, fenced and cultivated. Good dwellings of brick, stone, or wood, begin to be erected. Amongst the older residents there have been but few barns made.
The want of adequate supplies of lumber, and of mechanics, renders good buildings more expensive than in the country parts of New-England or New-York.
Merchants' goods, groceries, household-furniture, and almost every necessary and comfort in housekeeping, can be purchased here; and many articles retail at about the same prices as in the Atlantic States.
The following table will exhibit the cost of 320 acres of land, at Congress price, and preparing 160 acres for cultivation or prairie land:
|Cost of 320 acres, at $1,25 per acre,||$400|
|Breaking up 160 acres prairie, at $2 per acre||320|
|Fencing into four fields, with a Kentucky fence of eight rails high, with cross stakes,||175|
|Add cost of cabins, corn-cribes, stable, &c.||250|
|Making the cost of the farm||$1145|
In many instances, a single crop of wheat will pay for the land, for fencing, breaking up, cultivating, harvesting, threshing, and taking to market. All kinds of mechanical labour, especially those in the building line, are in great demand; and workmen, even very coarse and common workmen, get almost any price they ask. Journeymen mechanics get two dollars per day. A carpenter, bricklayer, or mason, wants no other capital to do a first-rate business, and soon become independent, than a set of tools, and habits of industry, sobriety, economy, and enterprize.
Common labourers on the farm obtain from twelve to fifteen dollars per month, including board. Any young man, with industrious habits, can begin here without a dollar, and in a very few years become a substantial farmer. A good cradler
71in the harvest-field will earn from one dollar and a half to two dollars per day.
The most affectionate counsel (says Mr. Flint) we would give an immigrant, after an acquaintance with all the districts of the Western Country of sixteen years, is to regard the salubrity of the spot selected, as a consideration of more importance than its fertility, or vicinity to a market; to supply himself with a good manual of domestic medicine, if such a manual is to be found; still more, to obtain simple and precise notions of the more obvious aspects of disease, — an acquisition worth a hundred times its cost; and, more than all to a backwoodsman, to have a lancet and sufficient experience and firmness of hand to open a vein; to have a small but well-labelled and well-supplied medicine-chest; and to be, after all, very cautious about either taking or administering its contents, reserving them for emergencies, and for a choice of evils; to depend for health, on temperance, moderation in all things, a careful conformity in food and dress to circumstances and the climate, and particularly let him observe a rigid and undeviating abstinence from that loathsome and murderous western poison, whiskey, which may be pronounced the prevalent miasm of the country. Let every immigrant learn the mystery and provide the materials to make good beer. Let him also, during the season of acclimation, especially in the sultry months, take medicine by way of prevention, twice or thrice, with abstinence from labour a day or two afterwards. Let him have a Bible for a constant counsellor, and a few good books for instruction and amusement. Let him have the dignity and good sense to train his family religiously, and not to be blown about by every wind of doctrine in religion, politics, or opinions. Let his rifle rust, and let the game, unless it come into his field, live on. Let him cultivate a garden of choice fruit, as well as a fine orchard. Let him keep bees, for their management unites pleasure and profit. Let him prepare for silk-making on a small and gradual scale. Let him cultivate grapes by way of experiment. Let him banish unreal wants, and learn the master secret of self-possession, and be content with such things as he has, aware that every position in life has advantages and trials. Let him assure himself that if an independent farmer cannot be happy, no man can. Let him magnify his calling, respect himself, envy no one, and raise to the Author of all good constant aspirations of thankfulness as he eats the bread of peace and privacy."
The name which now belongs exclusively to this state was, during a great part of the last century, bestowed upon all that vast tract of country which lies north and west of the Ohio, and was derived from the Illini or Illinois, a tribe which appears to have possessed the country situated on the banks of the Illinois river. They were noted for their hospitality, generosity, and kind treatment of strangers. The name is said by Hennepin to signify a full-grown man. The first settlements within the present limits of Illinois, were, like those of Indiana, made by the French, and were the consequence of the adventurous enterprize of M. De la Salle, in search of the Mississippi. This traveller set out from Canada, in the year 1670, in company with Father Hennepin and a few followers, and, passing up the lakes to the head of Lake Michigan, descended the Illinois river. After remaining some time, he returned to Canada; from whence he set out with a number of volunteers in 1673, for Illinois, and shortly afterwards founded the settlements of Kaskaskia and Cahobia. Here La Salle left his colony, and descended the Mississippi to its mouth. At the commencement of the eighteenth century, the settlements in Illinois are represented to have been in a flourishing situation. The descriptions given by French writers of the country at this time, were of the most captivating kind; its beautiful scenery, fertile prairies, and supposed mineral wealth, were painted in glowing colours, and a new paradise seemed to open to Frenchmen on the banks of the Illinois.
At the termination of hostilities between the French and English, in 1763, the Illinois country, with Canada, was ceded to the British government: and in 1765, Capt. Sterling, of the royal Highlanders, took possession of Illinois. He was
72succeeded by Major Farmer, who was relieved by Col. Reed in 1766. The principal military post and seat of government during these changes, was at fort Chartres.
The administration of Col. Reed was extremely unpopular with the inhabitants, and is said to have been a course of military oppression. In 1768 he was succeeded by Lieut. Col. Wilkins, who established a court of justice amongst the people, and appointed seven judges to settle all matters relative to debts and property.
During the revolutionary war, the Virginia militia, under command of General George Rodgers Clarke, made an excursion through the Indian country, subjugated fort Chartres, Kaskaskia, and other posts on the Mississippi, and then conducted a successful expedition against Port Vincent, now Vincennes. This was in 1778. The same year, the legislature of Virginia organized a county in this remote region, called "Illinois," and appointed a magistrate over it with extensive powers, styled lieutenant-goveror. Timothy Demonbrun was appointed to this office. This territory was afterwards ceded by Virginia to the United States, and formed a portion of the North-western Territory, by whose authority the county of Illinois was divided, and the names of St. Clair and Randolph given. In 1800, it was included within the limits of Indiana territory, and at that time the country that forms the present state of Illinois contained about 3000 inhabitants. Many of the officers and soldiers that accompanied General Clarke in his expedition became enamoured with the country, returned with their families and formed the early American settlements. Other persons settled in Kaskaskia about the same time to engage in the Indian trade.
After the year 1800, the population increased considerably from emigration. In 1809, a territorial government was formed, and the population the next year amounted to 12,282. During the last war between Great Britain and the United States, Illinois, in common with other frontier districts, felt the calamities of warfare. The defence of the long line of frontier, from the mouth of the Missouri across the territory to Shawneetown, depended upon the energy and vigilance of the citizens, under the able and indefatigable governor, the late Ninian Edwards.
In 1812, the territory, which had been under the government of the governor and judges, entered upon the second grade of territorial government, with a legislature, and a delegate in Congress. In 1818, the constitution was framed, and Illinois was received into the Union as the twenty-second state.
The constitution of this state does not admit involuntary servitude, or the tenure by which masters hold slaves. Some unsuccessful efforts were made by the immigrants from the slave-holding states to have it amended to admit of slavery. The question was casually agitated in the papers, and a convention for the purpose was proposed. But the moderation and good sense of the people allowed this irritating investigation to sleep undisturbed. This great state, with unoccupied and fertile soil, to support millions of agriculturalists in affluence, must ultimately become populous and powerful.
By different treaties the Indians have ceded the whole of their territorial claim to lands in Illinois to the general government. The country experienced almost entire freedom from their depredations after the late war with Great Britain, until 1832. In that year the savages, under their celebrated chief, Black Hawk, committed many cruel murders, and for a time excited considerable alarm in the northern parts of the state; but being effectually reduced, the remnant have been since settled in the country west of the Mississippi river, and all apprehensions of danger from the same cause in future entirely removed.
Sketches of Each County in The State of Illinois.
ADAMS County is bounded north by Hancock, south by Pike, east by Schuyler and Pike counties, and west by the Mississippi river, which forms its boundary for about 36 miles: it was organized from Pike county in 1825, and contains about 800 square miles, or upwards of half a million acres, and is in length 30 miles, with an average breadth of about 25.
This county is well proportioned into prairie and timber land, and is inferior to none in the state in the quality and fertility of its soil. The population in 1835 was 7042, and consists mostly of industrious and enterprizing farmers. Its streams are Bear creek and branches, M'Kee's creek, Mill, Fall, and Pigeon creeks.
Its county town is Quincy, situated on a bluff of the Mississippi: it is the seat of the land office for the sale of the public lands north and east of the Illinois river, and is a place of considerable business. The other places in Adams county are Columbus, Clayton, Guilford, Fairfield, and Payson, which are all small villages. The latter, about 15 miles south-east from Quincy, is a thriving place, surrounded by a well settled country; it contains several stores, which transact a considerable amount of business.
ALEXANDER is the most southern county in the state, and comprises the peninsula situated between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. It is bounded north by Union, and east by Johnson county, on the west and south by the Mississippi, and south-east by the Ohio river; it is 24 miles long, with an average width of 18 miles; the area is about 378 square miles. This county is generally well timbered, and its soil fertile. It is watered by Cash river, a small stream emptying into the Ohio river seven miles above its junction with the Mississippi.
This county, although so favourably situated at the junction of two large and important rivers, derives from this circumstance little or no advantage. Here, where we should naturally expect to find a large and flourishing town, the entrepot of produce and merchandise passing to and from the north, east, south, and west, we have little else than the remains of a deserted warehouse. It unfortunately happens that at, and for a considerable distance above the junction of these streams, their banks are low, and subject to annual inundations; and such is the height to which the water rises on them, that they could not, without much expense, be made safe, and, far less, comfortable places of residence. The importance of a good town site immediately at the junction of these two streams, has for many years excited the attention of the enterprizing; and accordingly various plans have been suggested to accomplish this object by artificial means, but as yet without success. The population of this county in 1835, was 2050.
Its seat of justice is Unity, a small place lately laid out on Cash river. Trinity, Caledonia, and Napoleon, are villages on the Ohio river.
BOND County is watered by the Kaskaskia river and its tributaries. Its surface is generally level or gently undulating, and duly proportioned into timber and prairie. This county was taken from Madison in 1817, and was formerly more extensive than at present; its area is 360 square miles; length 20, and breadth 18 miles: it is watered by Shoal creek and its branches, and is bounded on the north
74by Montgomery, east by Fayette, south by Clinton, and west by Madison county. The population in 1835, was 3580.
Its seat of justice is Greenville, a pleasant village on the east fork of Shoal creek: it contains about 200 inhabitants. It has four stores, three taverns, three physicians, one lawyer, and mechanics of various trades.
BOONE is one of the most northern counties in the state. It is bounded on the north by Rock and Walworth counties of Wisconsin territory, south by Kane, east by M'Henry, and west by Winnebago county. It contains an area of 504 square miles, and is in length 24, and in breadth 21 miles, and was formed in 1837 from portions of Winnebago and M'Henry counties, and contains a population estimated at 600.
Most of the land in this and the adjoining counties, is yet unsurveyed, and of course has not been offered for sale by the general government. It is, notwithstanding, rapidly settling up with an enterprizing population. The soil is fertile, and well adapted to raising all the different kinds of agricultural produce common to this part of the state: the surface is mostly a rich undulating prairie, with a considerable quantity of timber scattered over the county, principally in groves and oak openings, of which the chief of the former is Norwegian Grove. Boone county is, for judicial purposes, attached to Jo Daviess. Its county seat is not yet laid off.
The only town in the county is Belvidere, a small settlement on the stage road from Chicago to Galena. It is in the western part of the county, on Squaw prairie, and has a delightful appearance. Near the town site is a mound, fifty rods long and about thirty rods wide, elevated seventy feet above the bottom lands of Rock river. On the top of this mound is the cemetery of an Indian called Big Thunder . He died about the period of the Sauk war in 1831 or 1832, and was placed in a sitting posture on a flag mat, wrapped in blankets, his scalping-knife by his side to cut the plugs of tobacco that are offered him. Over the body is constructed a covering of wood and earth, with an opening in front, where Big Thunder may be seen sitting, with his tobacco lying before him. The Indians still visit the place to replenish his stores of tobacco, whiskey, &c.
The citizens of this region are about to erect a college edifice on this spot, in a vault under which the bones of Big Thunder will repose unmolested. A charter was granted for the purpose at the recent session of the legislature.
CALHOUN County occupies the most southern part of the Military Bounty tract, and is a long narrow piece of land lying between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, about 37 miles in length, and from 4 to 12 miles in breadth, containing an area of about 264 square miles. On the rivers considerable tracts are subject to inundation, and in the interior are bluffs, ravines, and sink holes; still there are considerable portions of good land, and the bottoms furnish excellent range for stock. Cattle, beef, pork, corn, honey and beeswax are its exports. Coal in large bodies is found on the Mississippi in the southern part of the county.
Guilford, on the west side of the Illinois river, and about 15 miles from its mouth, is the seat of justice; it has been but lately settled, and is said to be well situated for business purposes. A company has been chartered to cut a canal from the Illinois river at Guilford, to the Mississippi, near Gilead; the distance does not exceed three miles, and by tunnelling a short distance under the bluff, it is said the work can be accomplished, and a steamboat canal constructed at comparatively small expense. This communication would save fifty miles navigation from the Illinois river to the upper Mississippi; and as the latter is elevated considerably above the former, would create an immense water-power, which is the object of the company. The other towns are, Gilead, the late seat of justice, three-fourths of a mile from, and Milan and Hamburg on, the Mississippi, and Belleview on Bay river.
CASS County is, next to Wabash, the smallest in the state. It was laid off from the north part of Morgan county in 1837, and contains a little more than seven
75full townships, or about 260 square miles. It is 29 miles in extent from east to west, and averaging about 11 broad. It is bounded on the north by Sangamon county, from which it is separated from the river of the same name, south by Morgan, east by Sangamon, and west by Schuyler, the Illinois river forming the boundary. The land is about equally divided into timber and prairie, the surface undulating, and the soil generally very rich. It is well settled, the population being estimated at about 6500.
The towns are Beardstown, Virginia, Monroe, and Richmond. The first is the seat of justice, and one of the most thriving places on the Illinois river; its commerce is extensive, and it is the depot for the produce of a large region of country. Virginia is a town lately laid off, nearly in the centre of the county, on the main road from Beardstown to Springfield, 12 miles from the former and 33 from the latter; the site is high and dry, partly prairie and partly timber, and very healthy. It contains already three stores, a tavern, a school for females, and another for boys a short distance from the town; a church, and several public improvements are in progress.
CHAMPAIGN County is bounded on the north by the attached part of Vermillion, on the south by Coles, east by Vermillion, and on the west by Macon and M'Lean counties, and is 36 miles in length, by 30 in breadth; area 1080 square miles. It is watered by the head streams of the Sangamon, Kaskaskia, and Big Vermillion. The county contains extensive prairies, indented with beautiful groves of fine timber, with a rich and fertile soil; it is well adapted to the growth of stock, and will prove undoubtedly a healthy region. This county was organized from Vermillion in 1833; inhabitants in 1835, 1045.
The county town is Urbanna, a small village, situated on the Salt Fork of Vermillion river.
CLARK County is bounded north by Edgar, south by Crawford, west by Coles county, and east by Wabash river and the state of Indiana. It is from 28 to 20 miles in extent from east to west, and 21 from north to south; area about 500 square miles. Its streams are, the north fork of the Embarras river, Mill Creek, and Big Creek. The surface is tolerably well proportioned into timber and prairie, with some first-rate soil, although the main part of it is but second-rate. This county was formed from Crawford, in 1819, and contained in 1835, 3413 inhabitants.
Its seat of justice is Marshall, on the National Road. The other towns are Darwin, Livingston, Martinsville, and Melrose. Livingston is on the National Road, 112 miles north-east from Vandalia, and 14 south-west from Terre Haute. It has three stores, three groceries, three taverns, one physician, two ministers of the gospel, various mechanics, and about 150 inhabitants.
CLAY County is bounded on the north by Jasper and Effingham, south by Wayne and Edwards, east by Lawrence, and west by Marion and Fayette counties. It is in length about 30 miles, and in breadth 21 miles, containing an area of about 620 square miles. Its streams are the Little Wabash and its tributaries. About two-thirds of the surface is prairie of an inferior quality. This county was formed from Wayne, Lawrence, Crawford, and Fayette, in 1824, and contained in 1835, 1648 inhabitants.
The towns are Maysville and Louisville. The former is the county town, and is situated in Twelve-mile Prairie, not far from the right bank of the Little Wabash river.
CLINTON County is bounded north by Bond, south by Washington, east by Marion, and west by St. Clair and Madison counties. It is 30 miles long, and 18 wide, with an area of 504 square miles. The streams which water this county are the Kaskaskia river, and its tributaries Crooked, Shoal, and Sugar creeks. It is about equally proportioned into prairie and timber land, with an undulating surface; the soil is mostly second-rate. Clinton was formed in 1824, from Washington and Bond counties, and contained in 1835, 2648 inhabitants.
76Its county town is Carlyle, a village of about 200 inhabitants, situated on the west bank of the Kaskaskia river, 100 miles from its mouth, and contains five stores, three taverns, and a grist and saw mill.
COLES County is situated in the eastern part of the state, and is bounded north by Champaign, south by Jasper and Effingham, east by Edgar and Clark, and west by Shelby and Macon counties. It is 48 miles long, and from 28 to 24Ë wide, containing 1233 square miles. It is watered by the Kaskaskia and Embarras rivers and their branches; these generally run over a bed of sand, and afford many good mill-sites. Most part of the land is excellent, in some parts prairie predominates, but in general the surface is well proportioned into prairie and wood land. This county was formed in 1830, from Clark and Edgar, and contained in 1835, 5125 inhabitants. Most of the settlements are of recent formation; but its agricultural productions must soon exceed those of any other county near the Wabash, and will find their way to that river for market.
The county town is Charleston, a village situated on the border of Grand Prairie, two and a half miles from, and on the west side of the Embarras river, containing about 200 inhabitants.
COOK County is bounded north by M'Henry, south by Will, east by lake Michigan and part of the state of Indiana, and west by Kane county; it extends from north to south 42 miles, and from east to west 33 miles, and contains an area of about 1220 square miles. It is watered by the Des Planes, Calumet and Chicago rivers, and embraces a tract of country tolerably level, of a rich soil, with large prairies, and the timber mostly in groves. This county was organized in 1831, and has been settled with great rapidity, numbering in 1835, 9826 inhabitants.
Its seat of justice is Chicago: the other towns have all been recently settled, and are quite small; they are Canal Port, Napiersville, Des Planes, Keepotaw, and Thornton.
CRAWFORD County is 21 miles long, and from 22 to 16 broad, and contains about 400 square miles. It is bounded north by Clark, south by Lawrence county, east by the Wabash river and the state of Indiana, and west by Jasper county. It contains a large proportion of prairie land, of which La Motte Prairie is a level and rich tract, well adapted to the growth of corn. The streams which water this county are tributaries of the Wabash and Embarras rivers; of the former are Raccoon, Hutson, Sugar, and La Motte creeks. Crawford county was laid off in 1816, and was formerly much more extensive than at present. It contained in 1835, 3540 inhabitants.
The seat of justice is Palestine, situated about three miles west of the Wabash river. Here are the offices of the receiver and register for the land district of Palestine: the inhabitants are about 220 in number. The other towns in the county are Le Roy, Hutsonville, and York. York is situated on the west bank of the Wabash river, about 50 miles by the stream above Vincennes, and in the northeast corner of the county. It contains four stores, one steam saw and flouring mill, and a population of about 300 inhabitants. Its exports amount to $40,000.
EDGAR County is bounded north by Vermillion, south by Clark, east by the state of Indiana, and west by Coles county. It extends from north to south 27 miles, and from east to west 25 miles; area, about 660 square miles. It contains much prairie land in the western and southern sections; the remainder is tolerably well timbered. The soil is in general fertile, and well adapted to the various productions of this state. Edgar was formed from Clark county in 1823, and contained in 1835, a population of 6668.
The chief town is Paris, the county seat, a pleasant village on the borders of a rich prairie, surrounded with good farms, with a population of 200 inhabitants. The other towns are Grand View, and Bloomfield; the former is a small village 12 miles south-east from Paris; it is on, and surrounded by, a beautiful rolling rich prairie.
EDWARDS County is watered by the Little Wabash, Bon Pas, and their branches. It contains a considerable proportion of prairie land, most of which is very fertile. The prairies are principally small, high, undulating, and bounded by heavy timber; thus presenting every inducement to the agriculturist. It is on one of these that the English settlement formed by Messrs. Birkbeck and Flowers is located. This county is 22 miles long from north to south, and 16 from east to west, with an area of about 355 square miles. It was formed in 1814 from Gallatin, and is bounded north by Lawrence, south by White, east by Wabash, and west by Wayne county: inhabitants in 1835, 2006.
The county-town, Albion, is situated on a high and healthy situation, being little subject to those diseases which are so prevalent in many parts of this state during the summer and autumn. The surrounding country is very fertile, and is handsomely diversified with woodland and prairie; it contains about 200 inhabitants.
EFFINGHAM County is bounded north by Shelby and Coles, south by Clay and Fayette, east by Jasper, and west by Fayette county. Area, 486 square miles; length 24 miles, and breadth 21. It is watered by the Little Wabash and its tributaries, and contains good second-rate land nearly level. The bottom lands on the Little Wabash are tolerably rich, and heavily timbered. This county was taken from Fayette in the year 1831: its inhabitants in 1835 numbered 1055. Ewington, the county town, is on the National Road, 29 miles north-east from Vandalia, and is situated on the west bank of the Little Wabash river, on an elevated site, surrounded with timber.
FAYETTE County was created in 1821, and at the time of its first formation was nearly 200 miles in length, but has since been divided into several counties. It is bounded north by Shelby, south by Marion and Clinton, east by Effingham, and west by Bond and Montgomery counties. It is from 33 to 27 miles long, and 24 broad; and contains 684 square miles. It is watered by the Kaskaskia river and its tributaries, the principal of which in this county are Hurricane Fork, Ramsey's, and Beck's, on the west, and Hickory and Big creeks on the east. The banks of the Kaskaskia are generally low, and subject to inundation: a rise in this stream is frequently occasioned by slight rains, in consequence of the numerous tributaries. This, however, is only of short duration. There is in this county a heavy growth of timber along the Kaskaskia river and Hurricane Fork; there is also a good portion of prairie land. The soil is mostly second-rate. In 1835, the population amounted to 3638.
The Seminary Township is a settlement in the south-west corner of the county, being township five north and one west of the third principal meridian. It is a township of land, 36 miles square, granted by congress to Illinois for purposes of education. It has since been relinquished to the general government, and in place thereof, an equal quantity is to be selected from unsold lands within the state. The Kaskaskia river crosses its south-eastern part, and the Hurricane Fork runs through it near its western boundary.
It is proportioned into timber and prairie, contains much good land, and about 35 families.
The seat of justice is Vandalia, the present capital of the state.
FRANKLIN County is situated in the southern part of the state, and is bounded north by Jefferson, south by Johnson and Union, east by Hamilton and Gallatin, and west by Jackson and Randolph counties. It is 36 miles in length, and 24 in breadth: its area is 864 square miles. This county is watered by Big Muddy river and the branches of Saline creek. It is well timbered; the prairies are generally small and fertile; sand predominates in the soil. The banks of the streams are low, and subject to annual inundations. Franklin is similar in character and productions to the neighbouring counties; and is capable of being made a rich agricultural district. This county was organized in 1818, and in 1835 contained 5551 inhabitants. Frankfort, the county town, is a small village, situated on a tributary
78of the middle fork of Big Muddy creek, an elevated ground, on the main stage road from Shawneetown to St. Louis.
FULTON County is situated in the Military Bounty Tract, on the west bank of the Illinois river. It is bounded north by Knox and Peoria, south by Schuyler, east by Peoria, Tazewell, and Sangamon, and west by Warren, M'Donough, and Schuyler counties. It is in its greatest length 36 miles, and greatest breadth, 30; containing an area of 864 square miles. The streams which water it are the Illinois and Spoon rivers, and Otter and Copperas creeks. About half of the county is heavily timbered; the residue is rich undulating prairie. This county was laid off from Pike in 1825, and contained in 1835 a population of 5917. Lewistown, the seat of justice, is situated about six miles west of the Illinois river, and four miles north-east of Spoon river: it is surrounded with a heavy body of timber, and contains a population of about 200. The other towns are Tuscumbia, Middletown, Utica, Liverpool, Ellisville, Bernadotte, Farmington, and Canton: the latter is a thriving town, and the largest in the county. Liverpool is a small town recently laid out on the right bank of the Illinois, six miles above the mouth of Spoon river, and about twelve from Canton, of which it is the landing-place, and will be the commencing point for the Liverpool, Canton, and Knoxville rail-road.
Farmington is situated in the north-east corner of the county, 25 miles due west from Peoria: it was laid off in August 1835, and now contains between twenty and thirty houses, besides four stores, one physician, and a number of mechanics.
GALLATIN County is situated in the south-western part of the state: its greatest length is about 37 miles, with a medium breadth of 25; and its area is 750 square miles. It is bounded north by White and Hamilton counties, south by Pope county, east by the states of Kentucky and Indiana, and west by Franklin county. Situated as it is at the junction of the Wabash and Ohio rivers, its eastern boundary is washed by those streams. The interior is watered by Saline creek and its tributaries.
This county contains a large proportion of timbered land, which is particularly valuable on account of its contiguity to the salt springs: these are situated on Saline creek, about 20 miles above its junction with the Ohio river. The principal spring was formerly possessed by the Indians, who valued it highly, and called it the Great Salt Spring; and it appears probable, from a variety of circumstances, that they had been long acquainted with the method of making salt. Large fragments of earthen-ware are continually found near the works, both on and under the surface of the earth. They have on them the impression of basket or wicker work. These salines now furnish large quantities of salt for home consumption, as well as for exportation.
In a treaty between the United States, and the Delaware, Shawanee, Pottawatomie, Eel River, Weea, Kickapoo, and Piankasaw tribes, at Fort Wayne, on the 7th of June, 1803, this saline was ceded to the United States, with a quantity of land, not exceeding four miles, surrounding it, in consideration of which, the United States engaged to deliver annually to the said Indians, a quantity of salt not exceeding 150 bushels, to be divided among the several tribes in such a manner as the general council of chiefs may determine. For a number of years, it was possessed by the United States, with a reservation of 161 sections of land in the vicinity, the whole of which were ceded in 1818 to the state of Illinois, by whom it was leased to different individuals for about 10,000 dollars per annum. The works are situated on section 20, township 9, south range 8, east of the third principal meridian. Saline creek is navigable to the works, and the surplus salt is thus shipped to southern markets.
This part of Illinois is well adapted to the growth of stock: large amounts of horses, beef, pork, cattle, lumber, and tobacco, are sent out of the county. Gallatin county was organized in 1812: its population in 1835 amounted to 8660.
The seat of justice for this county is Equality, a town with a population of four or five hundred, on the east side of Saline creek. It is situated in the midst of the salt manufactories, fourteen miles north-east from Shawneetown. The latter
79is the principal commercial town in the southern part of the state. It is situated on the west bank of the Ohio river, about ten miles below the mouth of the Wabash.
GREENE County, on the Illinois river, is 41 miles in length, and 24 in breadth; area, about 900 square miles. It is bounded north by Morgan, south by Madison and Calhoun counties and the state of Missouri, east by Macoupin, and west by Calhoun and Pike counties, from which it is separated by the Illinois river. This is one of the richest districts in the state. Fine water-courses, a fertile soil, and contiguity to navigable streams, are some of the many advantages which it possesses. It contains a large proportion of timbered land, and is diversified with gently undulating prairies, some of which are beautiful beyond description. The banks of the Mississippi, in the southerly parts of the county, are generally composed of perpendicular cliffs, varying in height from 80 to 100 feet, consisting of horizontal strata of lime and sandstone, frequently imbedded in coal. The latter does not show itself at the face of the cliffs, but is found in great abundance a short distance from it. These cliffs commence at Alton, and extend along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to the northern part of the county; sometimes, however, receding several miles east, leaving a low and fertile alluvion, which is usually timbered on the banks of the river, and a prairie surface towards the bluffs. Greene county was erected from Madison in 1821. The inhabitants in 1835 numbered 12,274.
The Prairies in this county are generally very rich; fertile, and well settled: the principal of them are String, Macoupin, and Lorton's Prairies.
String Prairie lies between Macoupin and Apple creeks, commencing four miles west of Carrollton, and extending fifteen miles east, and from half a mile to three miles in width. It is a rich, level tract, and most of it in a state of cultivation.
Macoupin Prairie, in the southern part of the county, between the Piasau and Macoupin, is moderately undulating, rich, and rapidly settling. The road from Alton to Carrollton passes through this prairie.
Towards the Illinois river on the west, and the Macoupin creek on the east, are extensive bodies of fine timber. Emigrants from Vermont, and other northern and eastern states, are covering over this part of the county with fine farms. The settlement in the south part of this prairie is sometimes called South Greene.
Lorton's Prairie is on the north side of Apple creek, in the upper part of the county. It is a tract of excellent land, has good timber, and contains about eighty families.
Piper's Point settlement is 16 miles north-east from Carrollton, adjoining String Prairie, and the timber of Apple creek. The land is tolerably level, rich, and proportionably divided into timber and prairie. There are sixty or seventy families in this settlement.
Bluffdale is a flourishing settlement, ten miles west of Carrollton, and under the bluffs that overhang the Illinois bottom. The land is rich, dry, and beautifully situated for six miles in extent, under overhanging bluffs and precipices from which springs of "crystal waters" gush forth. The settlement is generally arranged along the bluffs from Apple creek to the Macoupin, from three to four miles from the Illinois river, and consists of fifty or sixty families. The settlement of Bluffdale has two stores, one grocery, one tavern, one minister of the gospel, and a Baptist congregation, one post-office, one school, and various mechanics.
Carrollton, the seat of justice, is situated nearly midway in the county. It is 35 miles from Alton, 106 north-west from Vandalia, and 887 from Washington City. It is surrounded by rich and fertile districts of country, densely populated. The other towns in the county are Whitehall, Albany, Newport, Bluffdale, Fayette, Greenfield, Jerseyville, Camden, and Grafton.
HAMILTON County is bounded north by Wayne, south by Gallatin, east by White, and west by Franklin and Jefferson counties. It is in length 24, and in breadth 18 miles; area, 432 square miles. This county is watered by branches of Saline creek and Little Wabash river, and contains about an equal proportion of
80prairie and timbered land: the soil is mostly second and third rate. Hamilton county was formed from White county in 1821, and contained in 1835 a population of 2877.
M'Leansboro', the seat of justice, is a small village of about 120 inhabitants, situated on high ground, on the head waters of the north fork of Saline Creek.
HANCOCK County is bounded on the north by Warren county and the Mississippi river, south by Adams county, east by M'Donough county, and west by the Mississippi. It contains near 800 square miles. It was formed from Pike county in 1825, but was not organized as a county for several years afterwards. In 1834, Hancock only gave 357 votes, and had a population of 1785 inhabitants; now, its population cannot be much short of 5000, and is steadily and rapidly increasing with enterprising farmers and industrious mechanics. Carthage, the county seat, was laid off about four years ago, on the borders of a large and beautiful prairie, known as Hancock Prairie, and about half a mile from the timber, skirting one of the head branches of Crooked creek. The population of Carthage must be now (July, 1837,) 350 or 400, with 40 or 50 houses. There are four stores, two public houses, one saddler, several carpenters, one or two shoemakers, two practicing physicians, three lawyers, one wheelright, two blacksmiths, two or three cabinetmakers, and three groceries. There are in Carthage a small society of Congregationalists, and one of Methodists, and one of Baptists in the vicinity; and, what is perhaps worthy of remark, they all hold meetings in the same house. There is a temperance society here, numbering forty or fifty members, and a female benevolent society, numbering ten or fifteen. There is also a good school generally kept here.
There are several other towns of some importance in Hancock county, among which are the following: Warsaw, five miles below the foot of the rapids, on the Mississippi, is thriving rapidly, and is destined to attain a high rank among the towns of the west. The advantages of its situation are obvious, being opposite the mouth of the Des Moines river, and the point of termination for the contemplated rail-road connecting the Illinois with the Mississippi. It has a steam-mill, several stores, and about 300 inhabitants. St. Mary's, Augusta, and La Harpe, are all flourishing towns, and are situated in the midst of excellent neighborhoods. The other towns are, Montebello, Commerce, and Apanooce, all on the Mississippi river.
HENRY County has been laid off, and the boundaries specified; but, for judicial purposes, it is attached to Knox county. It is bounded on the north by Rock river and Whiteside county, south by Knox, east by Putnam, and west by Mercer and Rock Island counties. It is thirty miles in extent from east to west, and the same in breadth, except at the north-west corner, where it touches Rock river: area, about 850 square miles. It is watered by Rock and Green rivers, and the head branches of Edward's, Pope's and Spoon rivers. This county contains some rich undulating prairies and groves, with a good deal of wet and swampy land; but generally it is not equal in fertility of soil to those around it. The population is small, amounting, in 1835, only to 118 persons.
Andover, Lagrange, and Morristown, are small villages, recently settled.
IROQUOIS County is 42 miles long, and 34 broad, containing an area of 1428 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Will county, south by Vermillion, east by the state of Indiana, and west by the attached part of Vermillion county. It is watered by the Iroquois river, and by Sugar and Spring creeks, and other tributaries of that stream. The surface of this county is mostly prairie, some of it very rich, with here and there sand ridges and plains. The timber is rather scanty, and is found chiefly in groves, and in strips along the water-courses. There are considerable settlements on the Iroquois river, and also along Sugar creek. The county was laid off in 1833, and contained in 1835, 1164 inhabitants.
Its seat of justice is Montgomery, situated on the south bank of Iroquois river. The other villages are Concord on the opposite side of the river, and Plato on the left bank of the same stream, and about fifteen miles nearly west from the former.
81Iroquois City has been lately laid off, near the centre of the county, and will probably become the seat of justice.
JACKSON County is in the southern part of the state, and is bounded on the west by the Mississippi river and part of Randolph county, north by Perry and Randolph, east by Franklin, and south by Union county. Its length from north to south is 24 miles, and from east to west from 18 to 28 miles. The area is about 565 square miles. It is watered by the Big Muddy river and its tributaries. The surface of the county is mostly timbered, although it contains many prairies. Muddy river, which meanders through the interior of the county, is navigable for a considerable distance, and affords to the inhabitants every facility for exporting their surplus produce. On this stream there is a saline or salt spring, where considerable quantities of salt are manufactured. A large body of excellent coal exists about twenty-five miles up this stream. The bed is said to be inexhaustible, and it is worked to some extent. This county was formed in 1816, and contained in 1835 a population of 2783 inhabitants.
The Fountain Bluff, frequently called the "Big Hill," in the south-west corner of the county, is a singularly formed eminence, or rocky bluff, on the river Mississippi, eight miles above the mouth of the Big Muddy river. It is of an oval shape, eight miles in circumference, and with an elevation of 300 feet. The western side is on the river, and the top is broken, full of sink holes, with shrubs and scattering timber. The north side is nearly perpendicular rock, but the south side is sloping, and ends in a fine rich tract of soil, covered with farms. East is an extensive and low bottom with lakes and swamps. Fine springs of limpid water gush out from the foot of this bluff on all sides.
North, and along the bank of the Mississippi, is dry and rich alluvion, with a line of farms known by the name of the "Settlement under the Bluff."
Brownsville, the seat of justice, is a small village, nearly in the centre of the county, and on the north bank of the Big Muddy river. It is about twelve miles by land, and twenty-five by water, to the Mississippi river. The population is about 120 persons.
JASPER County is bounded north by Coles, south by Lawrence and Clay, east by Crawford, and west by Effingham and clay counties. It is in extent from north to south 22 miles, from east to west 23, and contains an area of 506 square miles. This county was formed in 1831, and in 1835 contained 415 inhabitants. It is watered by the Embarras river and its tributaries, and also the streams flowing into the Little Wabash. It contains some fertile tracts, but much of both the prairie and timber land is level, wet, and of an inferior quality.
Newton, the seat of justice, is a small place, on the right bank of the Embarras river.
JEFFERSON County is situated centrally between the Mississippi and Wabash rivers. It was organized in 1819, and forms a square of 24 miles, with an area of 576 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Marion, south by Franklin, east by Wayne and Hamilton, and west by Perry and Washington counties. It is watered chiefly by the branches of the Big Muddy river, and also by streams flowing into the Skillet fork of Little Wabash river. The surface of the country is about one-third prairie; the remainder, timber. The soil is tolerable second-rate land. It was organized in 1819, from Edwards and White counties. The inhabitants in 1835 amounted to 3350.
There are several compact settlements in different parts of the county: the principal are, Moore's, Gun, Long, and Jordan's Prairie Settlements.
Moore's Prairie Settlement is from six to twelve miles south-east of Mount Vernon. It consists of about 75 families. The prairie is eight miles long, and from two to three miles wide. Some portions of it are flat and wet, and other parts dry and undulating.
Gun Prairie is six miles south of Mount Vernon. It is two miles long, and one wide. The land is good, and the settlement contains twenty families.
82Long Prairie is five miles west of Mount Vernon. It lies between the Middle and West forks of Big Muddy river, is tolerably fertile, and is four miles long and one mile and a half wide. The settlement contains forty families.
Jordan's Prairie, six miles north of Mount Vernon, is five miles long, and one mile and a half wide. The land is second-rate, and the settlement contains fifty families.
Mount Vernon, the seat of justice, is near the centre of the county, on a branch of the Big Muddy river. It is pleasantly situated, on the north side of Carey's Prairie, and surrounded with a considerable settlement. The population is about 150. It has six stores, three groceries, one tavern, two physicians, two ministers, a court-house and jail, a Methodist Episcopal and a Baptist society, besides various mechanical establishments.
JO DAVIESS County occupies the north-west corner of the state, and includes the best settled part of the lead-mine region within the limits of Illinois. It is bounded on the north by Wisconsin Territory, south by Whiteside county, east by the counties of Stephenson and Ogle, and west by Wisconsin Territory, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river. It comprised until lately all the country lying north-west of Rock river, but has been divided into several counties. It now extends from east to west from 34 to 15 miles, and from north to south 36, containing an area of about 950 square miles. Besides the Mississippi, it is watered by the Pekatonica, Fever, and Apple rivers, and Rush and Plum creeks, on which there are many good mill-sites. This is a rich county, both for agricultural and mining purposes. The surface is mostly undulating prairie, and occasionally hilly. Timber is scarce. Lead and copper are found in abundance, of which the first forms the chief staple and article of export. Jo Daviess county was laid off in 1827, and contained in 1835, 4038 inhabitants.
About twelve miles east of Galena, the surrounding country rises to the height of seven or eight hundred feet above the general level of the mining district. From the centre of this elevation, Mount St. Charles shoots up like a pyramid, 150 feet high. The base of the whole mount includes two or three square miles; the base of the pyramid is one-fourth of a mile in length, and 250 yards in breadth. Its top is long and quite narrow. The whole mound, as is the case with many smaller ones, is a natural formation.
Galena, the seat of justice of the county, is on the right bank of Fever river, a few miles from the Mississippi, and is the most important town in the lead-mine district.
The other towns are, Gratiot's Grove, about 15 miles north-east from Galena; Wapeto, at the falls of Apple river; and Savannah, on the east bank of the Mississippi river, at the mouth of Plum creek.
JOHNSON County is situated in the southern part of the state, and is bounded north by Franklin, south by the Ohio river, east by Pope, and west by Union and Alexander counties. It is from 31 to 25 miles in length, and in breadth 18, with an area of about 486 square miles. The interior of the county is watered by the heads of Cash river and Big Bay creek. The southern boundary is washed by the Ohio, the banks of which are generally fertile. Occasionally they consist of ledges of perpendicular rocks, which, by extending across the river, form what is called the Little and Grand Chain, so much dreaded by those who navigate this river. Near these, however, are pilots who are acquainted with the channel, and who generally conduct the boats through in safety. This county has a large proportion of level land, which is generally well wooded and inclining to a sandy soil. Some portions of it are but thinly populated, owing in some measure, no doubt, to the un-healthiness occasioned by the overflowing of the Ohio, and the marshes which exist near the southern boundary. Johnson county was organized in 1812, and in 1835 contained 2166 inhabitants. On the dividing line between this and the adjoining county of Pope, and on the left bank of the Ohio river, about ten miles below the mouth of the Tennessee river, stood Fort Massac, a military post of some importance in the earlier settlement of the country. A fort was erected here by
83the French when in possession of the western country. The Indians, then at war with them, laid a curious stratagem to take it. A number of them appeared in the day-time on the opposite side of the river, each of whom was covered with a bearskin and walked on all fours. Supposing them to be bears, a party of the French crossed the river in pursuit of them. The remainder of the troops left their quarters to see the sport. In the meantime a large body of warriors, who were concealed in the woods near by, came silently behind the fort, entered it without opposition, and very few of the French escaped the massacre. They afterwards built another fort on the same ground, and called it Massac, in memory of this disastrous event. In 1750 they abandoned the position. After the revolutionary war the Americans repaired or rebuilt it, and kept a garrison here for several years. The buildings are now destroyed.
There are, in different parts of the county, compact settlements, chiefly agricultural: these are named, Bridge's, Elvira, M'Fatridge's, and Buncombe Settlements.
Bridge's Settlement is about ten miles west of Vienna: it contains some tolerably good land. Population, about 60 families.
Elvira Settlement is on Lick creek, a branch of Cash river. It is about 15 miles north-west from Vienna, and contains 30 or 40 families. The land is rich and level.
M'Fatridge's Settlement is about 8 miles north-east from Vienna, on the old road from Golconda to Kaskaskia, and on the waters of Cedar creek. The surface is rather broken, and the soil thin. The settlement contains 50 or 60 families.
Buncombe Settlement is about eight miles north-west from Vienna: it contains 40 families. The soil is rather thin, broken, and rocky.
Vienna, the seat of justice, is a small village, situated about 13 miles north of the Ohio river, on the east fork of Cash river, and in the main road from Golconda to Jonesborough and Jackson, Missouri. It contains from 130 to 160 inhabitants.
KANE County is situated in the northern part of the state, and is bounded north by Boone and M'Henry, south by La Salle, east by Cook, and west by Ogle county. It was formed in 1836, and is estimated to contain a population of 1500, although no part of it is yet surveyed, and consequently has not been sold by the government. It contains an area of 1296 square miles, and is 36 miles in extent from north to south, and the same from east to west. Fox river extends through its eastern division, in a direction nearly south-west: the other streams are Mill, Blackberry, Rock, Somonauk, and Indian creeks, entering Fox river on the right-hand side; and Wabonsie and Morgan creeks on the opposite banks: on its western and north-western portion, it receives several smaller streams, and the south main branches of the Kishwaukee or Sycamore creek that enters Rock river. These are all good mill-streams, and already saw and flouring mills are built or in progress. The banks are usually skirted with pleasant groves of timber, occasionally interspersed with barrens only. There are for the most part contiguous settlements on all these streams; and in some places they are quite compact and pleasant.
A large proportion of the county is rich prairie, with some deficiency in the amount of timber, which is found mostly in groves: — the largest of these is the Big Woods. They lie on the east side, and adjoining Fox river, and are about 10 miles in length, and from two to four miles wide, containing about 30 sections of good timbered land. This tract (provided the surveys were run) would lie mostly in township 30 and 39 north, range 8 east from the third principal meridian. Its timber consists chiefly of white, black, yellow, and burr oaks, sugar maple, lynn or bass wood, black and white walnut or butternut, hickory, ash of various species, poplar, iron-wood, &c. The soil is generally a dark sandy loam, sometimes clay; generally a little undulating, but sometimes quite level. — The "Big Woods" is thickly settled on all sides, and the Four-mile Prairie, between that and Du Page river, is all claimed and considerably settled, as is the country opposite, betwixt Fox river and Blackberry creek, west.
The "Little Woods" is a tract of timber, about four miles north of Big Woods, also, on the east side and adjoining Fox river, divided from Big Woods by a gap
84of prairie, interspersed in places with little groves of small timber and barrens. It is about half the size of the latter; its timber and soil, similar; and is surrounded with compact settlements.
The whole range of Fox river in this county is thickly settled: towns and villages are springing up as if by magic. Commencing at the south end of Kane county, a few miles above the boundary, is the new village of Yorkville. The Fox river there, is to be dammed, and a saw and grist mill already contracted to be built. Opposite the Big Woods, dams are thrown across Fox river in five places, and saw-mills erected. At the prairie in the "Woods," three miles above the "Foot," at the Galena stage ford, is the pleasant village of Aurora. A flouring mill is here in operation. Lowell, at the "Head" of Big Woods, and Charleston at the "Foot" of Little Woods, are growing business places; have saw-mills on Fox river, and flouring-mills going up at the present season. Geneva, on the west bank of Fox river, and nearly equidistant from Lowell and Charleston, is a pleasant place, and the county seat of this county. At the "Head" of Little Woods, and five miles farther up, is the new village of Elgin. Here is a dam, and mills are building. Eight miles further, is a flouring-mill, nearly ready to run. On the whole, Fox river is one of the best, if not the best stream in the state for extensive hydraulic operations. It can easily be rendered navigable by slack-water, abounds with excellent quarries of limestone for building purposes, and beds of coal have already been discovered some miles above its mouth. The first white man's cabin erected in this county, was built in the vicinity of Big Woods, on Fox river, but three years ago last fall; and the principal settlements and improvements have been made within the last two years, and by a population from most of the states in the union. The predominant character, however, is eastern. As in the countries from whence they have emigrated, there is a diversity of religious sentiment. The Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist, are the most prevailing denominations; probably the former and latter are the most numerous.
KNOX County is in the Military Bounty Tract, and nearly central between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. It is bounded north by Henry, east by Peoria and Putnam, south by Fulton, and west by Warren and Mercer counties. It is thirty miles long, and from thirty to thirty-four in breadth, containing 792 square miles. This county is watered by Spoon river and its tributaries, and also by the head streams of Henderson's and Pope's rivers. The surface is generally prairie, moderately undulating, and of first-rate quality of soil, with considerable tracts of excellent timber along the water-courses. The inhabitants amounted in 1835 to 1600.
The seat of justice, Knoxville, is pleasantly situated at the head of Haw creek, a tributary of Spoon river, on a rich and elevated prairie. It was laid off a few years ago: it contains about 200 inhabitants, and bids fair to become a thriving inland town. The surrounding district is rich, and settling fast with industrious farmers. Hendersonville and Galesboro' are small villages, a few miles from Knoxville.
LA SALLE County comprises a fine tract of country, 48 miles in length, and from 48 to 36 in breadth, containing an area of 1872 square miles. It is bounded north by Kane and Ogle, south by M'Lean and the attached part of Vermillion, east by Will, and west by Putnam county. It is watered by the Illinois river and its tributaries, the Big and Little Vermillion, and Fox and Au Sable rivers; also by Mason, Indian, and Rock creeks. These streams run generally on a bed of sand or limestone rock, and have but little alluvial bottom lands.
La Salle, like most of the counties in the northern part of the state, is deficient in timber, but contains abundance of rich undulating, dry prairie, fine mill-streams, and extensive coal-beds, and must eventually become a rich country. Its situation will enable the people to send off their produce either by the Illinois river to a southern market, or by the lakes to the Atlantic section of the union. This county was organized in 1831, and in 1835 contained a population of 4754.
The Starved Rock, or Rock Fort, near the foot of the rapids, and on the right
85bank of the Illinois river, is a perpendicular mass of lime and sandstone, washed by the current at its base, and elevated 150 feet. Its perpendicular sides, arising from the river, are inaccessible. It is connected with a chain of heights that extend up the stream, by a narrow ledge, the only ascent to which is by a winding and precipitous path. The diameter of the top of the rock is about 100 feet: it is covered with a soil of some depth, which has produced a growth of young trees. The advantages which it affords as an impregnable retreat, induced a band of Illinois Indians, who sought a refuge from the fury of the Potawatomies, with whom they were at war, to intrench themselves here. They repulsed all the assaults of their besiegers, and would have remained masters of their high tower, but for the impossibility of obtaining supplies of water. They had secured provisions, but their only resource for the former was by letting down vessels with bark ropes to the river. Their enemies stationed themselves in canoes at the base of the cliffs, and cut off the ropes as fast as they were let down. The consequence of this was the entire extirpation of the band: many years afterwards, their bones were whitening on the summit. An intrenchment, corresponding to the edge of the precipice, is distinctly visible; and fragments of antique pottery, and other curious remains of the vanished race, are strewn around. From this elevated point, the Illinois may be traced as it winds through deep and solitary forests or outspread plains, onward to the Mississippi, until it disappears from the vision in the distance. In the opposite direction, a prairie stretches out and blends with the horizon.
On Indian creek, in the northern part of the county, a most horrible tragedy was enacted at the commencement of the Indian war of 1832. On the 20th of May of that year, fifteen persons belonging to the families of Messrs. Hall, Daviess, and Pettigrew, were barbarously massacred by the Indians. Two young ladies, Misses Halls, were taken prisoners, and afterwards redeemed, and two young lads made their escape. The bodies of men, women, and children, were shockingly mutilated, the houses of the settlers burned, their furniture destroyed, and their cattle killed — all in daylight, and within twenty miles of a large force of the militia. This was done by the Indians under the infamous Black Hawk. A portion of that band were exterminated during the same season by the combined forces of United States troops and Illinois militia, and the remainder dispersed over the prairies west of the Mississippi.
The seat of justice of La Salle county is Ottawa, at the junction of the Illinois and Fox rivers. This is considered a very eligible site for a commercial town. The canal now in progress of construction from lake Michigan to the Illinois river will pass through it, and add greatly to its prosperity. The other towns are Dresden and Kankakee, both at the junction of the Des Plaines and Kankakee rivers; Marseilles and Mechanicsville above, and Utica, Rockwell, Peru, and Enterprize, below, Ottawa: these are all on the Illinois. There are also Lowell on the Vermillion river, and Vermillionville, about a mile east of the same stream. Of these towns, Peru, on the north bank of the Illinois, and at the western termination of the Michigan and Illinois canal, bids fair to become of importance. Steamboats can reach it at all stages of the river; and on the completion of the canal, an easy and safe transmission to and from this place may be had at all times, except when the waters are bound with ice.
Marseilles is a post town on the north side of the Illinois river: at the Grand river, eight miles above Ottawa, a chartered company is engaged in constructing dams, mills, &c. Flour and lumber are made here, and the water-power is immense and easily commanded. The Illinois and Michigan canal will pass through it, and it already assumes the aspect of a bustling, enterprizing village.
LAWRENCE County, erected in 1821 from a part of Edwards and Crawford, is situated in the eastern part of the state, and adjoining Indiana, from which it is separated by the Wabash river. It has on the north Crawford and Jasper, on the south Wabash and Edwards counties, on the east the Wabash river, and on the west Clay county. From east to west its greatest extent is 31, and from north to south 19 miles; containing an area of about 560 square miles. This county is watered by the Embarras river and its tributaries, as well as by the head waters
86on the Bon Pas, and the Fox river of the Little Wabash. The banks of all these streams are low and subject to inundations. This is the case particularly with respect to the Embarras and the branches of the Little Wabash. It not unfrequently occurs, that the bottoms of those streams, which are more than two miles in width, are covered with from four to eight feet of water, so as to render them entirely impassable; of course, travelling during these seasons is rendered difficult and unpleasant. In the low prairies near the Wabash, there are quagmires, called by the common people purgatory swamps, or devil's holes; the surface of these appears dry and level, but it generally rests on quicksands. Over some of these, bridges and levees are now constructed. In a dry season, the water evaporates, and the ground becomes firm. A great proportion of the land in the interior, and at a short distance from the stream, is prairie, most of which is fertile. The inhabitants of this county, in 1835, amounted to 4450.
Lawrenceville, the county seat, is situated on the west bank of the Embarras river, about ten miles west of Vincennes, on the direct road to Vandalia, from which place it is distant eighty-four miles. It is on an elevated ridge, in the centre of a fertile and well-settled country, and contains three stores, two groceries, two taverns, and sixty or seventy families; the court-house is of brick, and is a respectable building. A saw and grist mill is in operation on the Embarras, adjoining the town. Lawrenceville exports annually to the value of about 50,000 dollars, and imports 30,000 dollars.
The other towns in the county are Stringtown, on the Embarras river, above Lawrenceville; Russellville, on the Wabash, in the north-east corner of the county; and Smallsburg, a few miles below Lawrenceville, on the Embarras. There are several populous settlements in different parts of the county; such as, Allison's Prairie, French, Lukens' Prairie, and River Precinct settlements.
Allison's Prairie, five miles north-east from Lawrenceville, is ten miles long, and five broad. The eastern part, towards the Wabash, contains some wet land and purgatory swamps, but the principal part is a dry, sandy, and very rich soil, covered with well-cultivated farms. Few tracts in Illinois are better adapted for the culture of corn than this. The population is about 200 families. This prairie was settled in 1816 and 1817, by emigrants from Ohio and Kentucky, and mostly of the religious sect known in the west by the name of Christians; and the settlement is sometimes called by that name. In a few years, death had thinned their numbers. The purgatory swamps, as they are called, around the prairie, had a deleterious influence, and retarded the progress of population. In later years, but little sickness has existed; and this settlement furnishes one of many evidences that upon the subjugation of the luxuriant vegetation with which our rich prairies are clothed, and the cultivation of the soil, sickly places will be changed to healthy ones.
French settlement, in the south-east part of the county, is ten miles from Lawrenceville. It is a timbered tract, and rather broken. Of the population, which consists of about sixty families, one-half are French.
The Indian Creek settlement is on Indian creek, a branch of the Embarras river, which rises in the prairies west, runs south-east, and enters that stream five miles below Lawrenceville. It has much good land in its vicinity, both timber and prairie, and a population of one hundred and fifty families.
Lukens' Prairie Settlement is in the south-western part of the county, from twenty to twenty-five miles from Lawrenceville. It has a population of from seventy to eighty families.
The River Precinct Settlement extends along the Wabash river, opposite Vincennes. It is on a rich bottom heavily timbered, and contains sixty or seventy families.
LIVINGSTON County was formed in 1837 from La Salle, M'Lean, and part of the attached portion of Vermillion county. It is in extent from east to west from 30 to 36 miles, and from north to south 30, and contains an area of 1152 square miles. It is watered by the Vermillion river of the Illinois, and its tributaries, which flow through the northern half of the county from south-east to
87north-west. This is a fine mill-stream of about 50 yards wide, and runs through extensive beds of bituminous coal. Its bluffs contain immense quarries of lime, sand, and some freestone excellent for grindstones. The other streams are, the Mackinaw and its branches, and some of the tributaries of Mason's creek. This county contains a large quantity of rich undulating prairie, and some fine tracts of valuable timber land, mostly oaks of various kinds, walnut, ash, sugar-maple, hickory, &c. The principal minerals are limestone and coal.
Its seat of justice is not yet laid off. The only towns in the county are Webster and Lexington: the former has been recently located in the north-west part of the county, about two miles south-west from Vermillion river. Lexington is situated about 18 miles north-east from Bloomington, on the road to Chicago.
The population of Livingston county is estimated at from 700 to 800.
MACON County is bounded north by M'Lean, south by Shelby, east by Champaign and Coles, and west by Sangamon county. It extends from north to south 39 miles, and from east to west 36, forming an area of 1404 square miles. It is watered by the north fork of Sangamon river and its tributaries; also, by some of the head branches of Kaskaskia river, and by Salt creek. This county is mostly covered with prairies, some of which are extensive, and in the interior level and wet, but generally dry, rich, and undulating, near the timber. Macon county was formed from the attached part of Shelby in 1829, and in 1835 contained a population of 3022 inhabitants.
Decatur, the seat of justice, is situated on the right bank of the North Fork of Sangamon river, and on the borders of an extensive, dry, and elevated prairie, about 70 miles north from Vandalia, and 770 from Washington City.
Clinton, 24 miles north of Decatur, and about half-way between that place and Bloomington, is a thriving town, and beautifully situated on the prairie, which overlooks a large district of country. The Salt creek timber approaches near the town on the south, from which it diverges in a north-eastern direction till it passes beyond the reach of vision. Both sides of the creek are well settled. The timber is excellent and sufficient, and the prairies beautifully rolling. The country adjacent will, of course, admit of dense settlement. Clinton is on the line of the Central rail-road, and probably in a short time it will become a county seat for a new county, comprising parts of the present counties of Macon and M'Lean. The convenience of the inhabitants of the country adjacent would seem to call, at a proper time, for such an arrangement. Of such importance has this town site been considered, that speculators from a distance have entered all the land in its neighbourhood. Clinton is among the few new towns which have started up in this town-speculating age, that will grow into importance. The site of the town, the heavy settlements around it, the beautiful, fertile, and healthy country adjacent, all seem to unite in demonstrating this truth.
Franklin, on Salt creek, about 20 miles in a north-north-west direction, and Murfreesborough, on the Sangamon river, 16 miles north-east from Decatur, are small towns, lately settled. Okau Settlement, in the south-eastern part of the. county, 20 miles from Decatur, lies on the West Fork of the Kaskaskia, and contains 20 or 30 families. Salt creek Settlement, 20 miles north from Decatur, consists of about 100 families. The land is good, with plenty of prairie.
MADISON County is situated in the western part of the state, and opposite the mouth of the Missouri river. It was organized in 1812, and at first was much more extensive than at present. It is bounded north by Greene, Macoupin, and Montgomery counties; south by St. Clair, east by Bond and Clinton, and west by the Mississippi river, which separates it from the state of Missouri. It extends in an east and west direction from 36 to 30 miles, and from north to south 24; area, about 760 square miles. This county, both on account of its soil and situation, possesses great advantages. Part of it lies in the American Bottom, which is a low alluvion of great fertility, but subject to inundation. It extends from the mouth of the Kaskaskia river to Alton, a few miles above the mouth of the Mississippi: above this, the bank is high, watered by fine springs, and contains building stone,
88and coal of the best quality. The interior of the county is generally elevated and undulating, though not hilly. On the banks of the Mississippi, below Alton, it is low and wet, and in many places very marshy. No soil, however, can exceed it in fertility. Upon ascending the bluff which bounds this bottom upon the east, there is a district of country which continues eastward to the Kaskaskia river, and is called the Table-Land. This is also very fertile, and is considered one of the most desirable tracts in the state. The banks of the streams which run through the interior of this county are generally well wooded, leaving between them prairies of considerable size, though very fertile, and very advantageously situated for settlement. Wheat, corn, beef, pork, horses, cattle, and almost every production of Illinois, are raised in this county, and find a ready market. Madison county, in 1835, contained 9016 inhabitants.
Monk Hill, situated on the American Bottom, is eight miles north-easterly from St. Louis. The circumference at the base is about 600 yards, and its height about 90 feet. On the south side, about half-way down, is a broad step, or apron, about 15 feet wide. This hill, or mount, was the residence, for several years, of the monks of the order of La Trappe, the most rigid and austere of all the monkish orders. Their monastery was originally situated in the district of Perche, in France, in one of the most lonely spots that could be chosen. They fled from the commotions of that kingdom to America, lived for a time in Kentucky, and came to Illinois in 1806 or 1807, and settled on this mound. They cultivated a garden, repaired watches, and traded with the people, but were generally filthy in their habits, and extremely severe in their penances and discipline. In 1813, they sold off their personal property, and left the country for France.
Ridge Prairie commences near Edwardsville, and extends south to St. Clair county. It is on the dividing ridge, between the waters that fall into the Mississippi west, and those that flow to the Kaskaskia east. Originally this prairie extended into St. Clair county as far south as Belleville; but long since, where farms have not been made, it has been intersected by a luxuriant growth of timber. Its surface is gently undulating, the soil rich, and is surrounded and indented with many fine farms.
Marine Settlement, between the east and west forks of Silver Creek, and 12 miles east of Edwardsville, was commenced in 1819. The settlement is large, and spread over an undulating, rich, and beautiful prairie, and is healthful and well watered.
Paddock's Settlement is on the Springfield road, seven miles north of Edwardsville. The prairie is undulating, fertile, and healthy.
Edwardsville is the seat of justice of this county, and is situated in the centre of a fertile, well watered, and well timbered district, settled with enterprizing farmers. It is 21 miles north-east from St. Louis, and 12 miles south-east from Alton.
The other towns are, Alton, Upper Alton, Collinsville, Troy, Chippewa, Clifton, and Randolph. The latter is situated at the mouth of the Piasau, on the Mississippi, about equal distance between Alton and Grafton. It is laid out above the Piasau, and betwixt that stream and the Mississippi, on table-land, above the highest floods. Abundance of limestone and good timber, water privileges and never-failing springs, a good landing for steamboats, and other advantages, are found here. Lots to the value of $20,000 have been sold this spring, and buildings are in process of erection, especially a large hotel.
Clifton is on the bank of the Mississippi, four miles above Alton, and has been recently laid out. Collinsville is situated in the south part of the county. It contains a store, a large mill for sawing and grinding, and several mechanics. A meeting-house, and Presbyterian church of fifty members, a large Sabbath-school, and a body of sober, moral, and industrious citizens, render this an interesting settlement. Chippewa is directly opposite the mouth of the Missouri, two miles below Alton, and has been but lately laid out. A steam-mill, and several other buildings, are now erecting.
MACOUPIN County is bounded on the north by Sangamon and Morgan, south
89by Madison, east by Montgomery, and west by Greene. It is 36 miles in length, and 24 in breadth; area, 864 square miles. The county is watered by Macoupin creek and its branches, as well as by the head-waters of Apple, Cahohok, Silver, and Piasau creeks, and Wood river. This is a fine agricultural country, settled by enterprizing and industrious farmers. The surface consists mostly of prairies, slightly undulating, of which the chief part is of an excellent soil, and contains a due proportion of timber, mostly along the water-courses. Macoupin county was organized from the attached portion of Greene county in 1829, and in 1835 contained a population of 5554 persons.
Carlinville, the seat of justice, is pleasantly situated in a handsome prairie, about two miles north-west from Macoupin creek: it is 35 miles north-east from Alton, and 55 miles north-west from Vandalia; containing about 350 inhabitants, with several stores, one grocery, two lawyers, and two physicians. The other towns are small, and but recently settled: they are, Girard, Staunton, Woodburn, and Brooklyn.
MARION County was formed from Jefferson and Fayette counties, in 1823: it is 24 miles square, and contains an area of 576 square miles: it is situated about midway between the Mississippi and Wabash rivers, and is bounded north by Fayette and Clay counties, south by Jefferson, east by Clay and Wayne, and west by Clinton and Fayette. Marion county is watered by the East Fork of Kaskaskia river and Crooked creek, also by the Skillet Fork of the Little Wabash and its tributaries. It embraces the southern part of the Grand Prairie, which constitutes about two-thirds of its surface: the remainder is timber, much of which is post oak. The soil is for the most part of second-rate quality, the surface slightly undulating, with some of the prairies level, and inclining to the west.
Walnut Hill Settlement is in the south-west part of the county, from 12 to 14 miles distant from Salem. It is on the Walnut Hill Prairie, and contains a population of about 75 families. Some parts of the prairie are tolerably good; others, rather flat and wet. It is about four miles long, and three broad. The population in 1835 amounted to 2844.
Salem, the seat of justice, is situated on the eastern border of the Grand Prairie, on the Vincennes and St. Louis stage-road: it is a pleasant village, of about 160 inhabitants.
M'DONOUGH County is situated in the Military Bounty Tract, and at nearly an equal distance from the Mississippi and Illinois rivers: it forms a square territory of 24 miles each way, containing an area of 576 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Warren county, south by Schuyler, east by Fulton, and west by Hancock. The streams which water this county are Crooked creek and its branches, Drowning Fork, Troublesome creek, Turkey creek, and others: most of these have good mill-seats for a portion of the year. The soil is chiefly a rich and fertile prairie, not excelled by any in this region. About one half of the eastern and northern part of the county is prairie; the remainder is suitably proportioned into timber and prairie. M'Donough county was laid off from Pike in 1825, but was not organized till 1829: in 1835, it contained 2883 inhabitants.
Macomb, the seat of justice, is pleasantly situated in a fertile prairie in the centre of the county, about two miles south of the Drowning Fork of Crooked creek. It contains a population of about 100 persons, and has three stores, and one grocery.
Carter's Settlement is near the south part of the county, 12 miles from Macomb, on the road to Rushville. The land is gently undulating, soil rich, timber and prairie proportioned, and an extensive settlement. It is in the south part of four north, two west, between the heads of Sugar creek and Grindstone fork. This is the oldest settlement in the county. Edmonson's Prairie, six miles south-west from Macomb, is from one to two miles wide, ten miles long, and contains 25 or 30 families.
M'HENRY County occupies the north-eastern corner of the state, and is bounded on the north by Walworth and Racine counties of Wisconsin Territory,
90south by Cook and Kane counties, east by lake Michigan, and west by Boone county. It contains an area of about 1100 square miles, and is in extent from east to west from 47 to 42 miles, and from north to south 24. It is watered by the Fox, Des Planes, and Chicago rivers and their branches, together with several small lakes, of which some have limpid waters in gravelly beds, with ridges of gravel and sand around them. Groves of fine timber are found along the lake shores and on the banks of the streams, and also distributed through the prairies. The county is well watered, the streams perennial, and the soil rich and covered with luxuriant herbage. The county is filling up rapidly with an enterprizing population, now estimated at from 1000 to 1200 souls. The seat of justice is not yet located. The only town in the county is M'Henry, situated on the west side of Fox river, and about 12 miles south of the northern boundary of the state. It is surrounded with excellent prairie and timber in groves, and oak openings or barrens.
M'LEAN County was organized in 1830, and was until lately one of the largest counties in the state. It is in extent from north to south from 48 to 24 miles, and from east to west from 12 to 42, having an area of 1296 square miles. It is bounded on the north by La Salle and Livingston counties, south by Macon and Sangamon, east by Champaign and the attached part of Vermillion, and west by Tazewell. The streams which flow through this county are the western branch of the north fork of Sangamon river, and the head-waters of Mackinaw, Sugar, Kickapoo, and Salt creeks; these all take their rise in the county, and furnish, when the waters are not too low, good mill-seats. A considerable portion of the eastern and northern part of the county is one vast prairie, with the surface elevated, moderately undulating, and the soil dry and fertile. Large tracts of fine timber land, beautifully arranged in groves of various shapes and dimensions, are found, from those of 15 or 18 square miles down to those of a few acres. Of the minerals, limestone and coal abound in several settlements; granite, in detached masses, or boulders, called by the settlers lost rocks, are plentifully scattered over the country, and are used for mill-stones. M'Lean county contained, in 1835, a population of 5311 individuals.
From Salt creek, 26 miles south of Bloomington, following the road from Decatur to the former place, the country is beautifully undulating. Elegant elevations for farms and dwellings are constantly arresting the attention of the traveller; and he only regrets that the beautiful country around him should remain in its native wilderness, while thousands upon thousands of farmers in the eastern states, — intelligent, industrious, and most excellent citizens, — are expending their best energies upon a comparatively sterile soil, for an almost bare support; while here, with the same application to business, they would secure competence and independence, and lay the foundation for the future wealth and happiness of their children. To secure these advantages, however, enterprize is necessary — sufficient, at least, to bring them hither. True, we cannot but appreciate the feelings which prompt them to remain on spots which are rendered almost sacred by the thousand associations which all generous hearts are sure to feel; but with the aspiring youth, or the father of a family, there are considerations of a still more elevated character, which might well lead them to seek to better their condition by emigrating to the west.
There are in the county several groves of timber, fertile and desirable tracts, well settled with an industrious and thriving population. The chief of them are Big, Blooming, Cheyney's, Dry, Punk's, and Randolph's groves.
Big Grove is formed of several groves of timber connected, for 12 miles in length, in the south-western part of the county, on the third principal meridian, and township 21 north. It is a fine tract of country, rich in soil and well timbered, on the Kickapoo creek. Bloomington, the county seat, is 18 miles from the heart of the settlement, which contains from 150 to 200 families.
Blooming Grove adjoins Bloomington. It is about six miles long from northwest to south-east, and varying in width from one to four miles, containing about 12 square miles of beautiful timber, with a large settlement of industrious farmers
91around it. Nearly all the land is already occupied with settlers, a majority of whom are from Ohio. Both timbered land and prairie are first-rate.
Cheyney's Grove settlement is near the head-waters of the Sangamon, in the east part of the county, twenty-three north, six east. This timber is an island in the great prairie of three or four square-miles, 25 miles east of Bloomington, and on the road to Danville. The population is 24 families.
Dry Grove is in township twenty-four north, range one east, and about six miles north of west from Bloomington, and lies at the head of Sugar creek. It is about 10 miles long from east to west, high, dry, and undulating, and contains a settlement of about 50 families.
Funk's Grove settlement is 12 miles south-west from Bloomington. The grove is roundish in form, contains about eight square miles, and lies on the main branch of Sugar creek. It has an excellent soil, fine water, and is monopolized by a family connection of the name of Funk, from Ohio, who raises large numbers of cattle.
Randolph's Grove, on Kickapoo creek, above Big Grove, is about 12 miles south from Bloomington. In shape it is almost circular, and is a valuable tract of land, containing limestone, and a population of about 40 families. The grove comprises about 12 sections of timbered land.
Bloomington, the county town, occupies an elevated position on the margin of a fine prairie, 120 miles north from Vandalia, and 820 from Washington City. The other towns in the county have been but lately laid off, and are as yet inconsiderable: they are, Hudson, Le Roy, Lytleville, Charleston, and Waynesville. The latter is in the south-west corner of the county, on the road from Springfield to Bloomington, and on the south side of the timber of Kickapoo creek. It has six stores, two groceries, two physicians, a Methodist and a Presbyterian society, a good school, and a charter for a seminary of learning. It has a fine body of timber on the north, and a rich, undulating, and beautiful prairie south. Population in the village, about 150.
MERCER County is situated in the northern part of the Military Bounty Tract. It lies north of Warren, south of Rock Island, west of Henry, and east of Louisa and Musquitine counties, Wisconsin Territory, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river. Edwards and Pope's rivers, and the north fork of Henderson's river, are the streams which water this county, along the Mississippi and the borders of its water-courses. There is a great abundance of excellent timber: its middle and eastern portions have extensive tracts of fertile prairies. Mercer was laid off in 1825, and contained in 1835 a population of 497 inhabitants.
The town of Mercer is located in the exact geographical centre, and with the express view of its becoming the county seat of Mercer county. It is situated mid-way between Pope's and Edwards rivers, which run through the county parallel to each other, and at this point are not more than five miles apart. The site is healthy and elevated, commanding a beautiful view of the surrounding country, which is as rich and well adapted to the culture of wheat, and indeed all kinds of grain as any in the state. The county is settling rapidly with a moral, industrious, and enterprizing population. The water-power afforded by Pope's and Edwards rivers is equal to that of any county in the state; a circumstance of much importance, not only on account of furnishing lumber for building, but for the erection of grain and flouring mills. There is one saw-mill now in operation within two and a half miles of Mercer, and several others will be built the approaching season, also within a few miles of the town. The situation of Mercer admits of convenient access to the timber, stone, and stone-coal, of both Pope's and Edwards rivers and their branches. Mercer is situated about 14 miles from New Boston, on the Mississippi; at which there is an excellent landing. It is also on the direct route from the latter place to Hennepin, and from Oquawka to Rock Island.
New Boston, the seat of justice, is the only other town in the county, and is situated at the Upper Yellow Bank, just above Edwards river, nearly opposite the mouth of the Lower Iowa, a considerable stream of the Wisconsin Territory, as extensive as the Illinois. This place has a good landing, and a fine harbour; and
92when the opposite territory becomes settled, it cannot fail to become a town of considerable importance, as it will be the commercial entrepot for a large extent of fertile country.
MONROE County, in the south-western part of the state, is situated north of Randolph, south of St. Clair, and west of the state of Missouri, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river. The interior of this county is watered by Prairie du Long, Horse, and l'Aigle creeks, and their branches. The western part, bordering on, and parallel to, the Mississippi river, is occupied by the American Bottom, a rich and fertile alluvion, subject to overflow from the river. East of this, the country is generally broken and hilly. On the eastern border of the county, there is a considerable proportion of good land, with a due mixture of timber and prairie. This is a rich county, and exports a considerable quantity of produce. Here is abundance of limestone, coal, and some copper.
Waterloo, the seat of justice of Monroe county, situated on elevated ground, about 12 miles east of the Mississippi river, is a small village of about 120 inhabitants. Columbia and Harrisonville are the only other villages. This county was formed out of Randolph and St. Clair in 1816, and in 1835 contained 2660 inhabitants. English settlement, in the eastern part of the county, contains about 40 families, among whom are a number of English Catholics. It is in township three south, and range eight west, on Prairie du Long creek.
MONTGOMERY County is situated north of Bond and Fayette, south of Sangamon, east of Macoupin, and west of Shelby and Payette counties, and extends in length from 36 to 21 miles, and in breadth from 30 to 24; containing an area of 954 square miles. This county is watered by branches of the north fork of the Sangamon river, also by Shoal, Macoupin, and Ramsey creeks, and their tributaries, It contains a considerable proportion of prairie land, which is generally high and undulating. It was erected from Bond county in 1821, and in 1835 the inhabitants amounted to 3740.
Hillsborough, the county town, is a healthful and thriving place, of about 300 inhabitants, on the main road from Vandalia to Springfield, 28 miles north-west from the former. It is situated in an elevated country, near the middle fork of Shoal creek.
MORGAN is the most thickly settled county in Illinois, and contained in 1835, which then included the lately created county of Cass, 19,214 inhabitants: the population is now estimated at 16,500. The county was formed in 1823, and is bounded north by the new county of Cass, south by Greene and Macoupin, east by Sangamon, and west by Pike and Schuyler, from which it is separated by the Illinois river. It is in length from 34 to 27 miles, and in breadth 27, containing an area of about 800 square miles. The Illinois river washes the western borders of the county. The other streams are Indian, Mauvaiseterre, Apple, and Sandy creeks, and their branches: these furnish many good mill-seats. This county is duly proportioned into timber and prairie, is well watered, and contains many extensive and well cultivated farms. There are also numerous mills for sawing and grinding, propelled by animal or water power, besides several large steam-mills. Emigration, attended with industry and enterprize, in a few fleeting years, has changed a region, that was until lately seen in all the wildness of uncultivated nature, into smiling villages and luxuriant fields, and rendered it the happy abode of intelligence and virtue.
The Diamond Grove is a most beautiful tract of timber, two miles south-west from Jacksonville. It is elevated above the surrounding prairie, contains 700 or 800 acres, and is surrounded with beautiful farms. Adjoining the above is Diamond Grove Prairie, south of, and adjacent to, Jacksonville. It is four miles in extent, with a rich soil, undulating, dry surface, and mostly covered over with fine farms. The English Settlement is situated west of Jacksonville, on Cadwell's, Walnut, and Plum creeks. There are about 100 families, mostly from Yorkshire, England, and farmers. They appear to be well pleased with the country, and to be
93accumulating property. The Jersey Prairie settlement is on a beautiful and rich prairie, in the northern part of the county, 10 miles from Jacksonville. The land is rich, timber adjoining excellent, the people moral and industrious, the settlement extensive, populous, and healthful.
Morgan county contains a number of towns. Of these, Jacksonville, the seat of justice, is the principal, and is one of the most thriving places in the state. The others are Meridosia, Naples, and Brussels, on the Illinois river; Princeton, Lexington, Franklin, Waverley, Exeter, Geneva, Lynnville, Winchester, and Manchester.
Meridosia is a place of considerable business. It is six miles above Naples, and 22 from Jacksonville. It is situated on an elevated sand ridge, with a good landing, when the water is not too low. Here are two mills, several stores, and near 300 inhabitants. The great rail-road, extending from the Wabash river across the state to the Mississippi, will pass through this town.
Winchester, 16 miles south-west from Jacksonville, is a thriving village, with a population of nearly 400. It was laid off in 1831, on elevated ground, and is increasing rapidly. It has several stores, and a number of mechanics of various descriptions. The Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists, have societies here. There are excellent lime and freestone quarries in the vicinity, and several mills. A rail-road from Jacksonville through Lynnville and this place, will strike the Illinois river opposite Augusta, in Pike county.
OGLE County is situated on both sides of Rock River, in the northern part of the state, and is bounded on the north by Stephenson and Winnebago, south by Putnam, east by Kane, and west by Jo Daviess and Whiteside counties. It is from 36 to 42 miles in extent from north to south, and 36 from east to west, and contains an area of 1440 square miles. It was formed in 1836 from Jo Daviess and a part of the attached portion of La Salle. Rock river passes diagonally through its north-western portion. Winnebago swamp and several other swamps are in its southern part. Pine, Leaf, Big Bend, and Dogs-head creeks, and several smaller streams, all of which empty themselves into Rock river, furnish good mill-seats. The timber is chiefly in groves, many of which are peculiarly beautiful, and of various shapes and sizes. Much of the surface is undulating, the soil calcareous, deep and rich, and the country is rapidly settling.
Stillman's run, formerly called Mud creek, is a small stream that runs west and enters Rock river a few miles below Sycamore creek, where, on the 14th of May, 1832, a battalion of militia, consisting of about 275 men, under the command of Major Isaiah Stillman, of Fulton county, were attacked, defeated, and eleven men killed, by a portion of the Indian army under the celebrated Black Hawk.
This county has been surveyed by townships, but is not yet subdivided into sections; the land, consequently, not in market. The flow of emigration is very great from all the states north of Tennessee. First-rate claims are selling from $500 to 10,000. Second and third rate claims can yet be made in great numbers, the county containing 1400 square miles, and two fifths only as yet taken up. About two-thirds of the land is prairie; the other, timber of superior quality. Population of county, 2000. It is said that there is no better watered country on our continent. Scarcely a mile square of land can be found without one or more fine springs upon it. The soil is adapted to all kinds of grain; corn, 75 bushels to the acre, without tending; wheat, 35 to 40 bushels; oats, 100. Of potatoes, the crop is almost incredible. Of three acres planted last year, the hills about two feet apart, the growth was so abundant as to force the potatoes out of the ground nearly as large as a pint measure. The crop was a thousand bushels.
Ogle county is connected in its representation with Jo Daviess and several other counties: its seat of justice is Oregon city, a flourishing town, situated on the bank of Rock River, 100 miles above the mouth. It was laid out in July, 1836, and one house then erected. There are now eleven, embracing three stores, one tavern, one grocery, and several mechanics' shops. Two saw-mills moved by water-power, are in the immediate vicinity, so that lumber may be readily obtained.
94All kinds, including pine, sell at the mills for 22 dollars a thousand. Pine creek, which contains a fine body of pine timber, is but three miles distant.
The following notice of Oregon city, and the country in its vicinity, is from the letter of a traveller, published in the New-York Star.
"This place of course (as well as others on Rock river) is in its very infancy; but a more lovely site for an important town could not have been selected, and soon the noise and clamour of steamboats and extensive traffic will give it life and animation. The bluff; which follows the river until it reaches the city, leaves it and falls back for a mile, forming the half of a circle, and meets it again just below in picturesque grandeur. The situation of Oregon itself has forcibly reminded me of Palermo, the capital of Sicily, surrounded on the land side by a chain of mountains, forming a complete amphitheatre, which has been poetically called the "Conco l'Ora" or Golden Shell. The banks of Rock river are not so high as those in the Sicilian landscape; but, contrasted with the wide expanse of country around, are quite as effective, and more rich in fertile charms. The swelling of the prairies, gemmed with wild flowers of every hue, — the stately forest, and valleys interspersed with shady groves on the opposite side of the river surrounding Hyde Park, from which we started the wild and bounding deer in great numbers, — form features rarely to be met with in a single glance of the eye, either in this or any other country; and amidst all these beauties,
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round."
This fairy-land was the scene of the bloody atrocities and human slaughter during the war of 1832 and '33, with the Sac and Fox Indians and the United States, conducted by the celebrated chief Black Hawk and the Prophet, who, after their capture, ceded the country east of the Mississippi to the United States, including the Rock river from its mouth, or nearly so, to the dividing line between Illinois and Wisconsin territory. Above this are scattered along the western shore of the river a line of mounds, more ancient than even the wild and fabulous traditions of the Indians. A hardy class of New-England settlers are now tilling these extensive plains. The Indian gardens are now grown up with tall rank weeds, and the war-cry is only heard beyond the Mississippi. The last of the savages left in May, 1836, and left a paradise indeed. Since I have seen this fair field, this noble river, I am no longer surprised that the Indian, whose eloquence is the poetry of nature, clung with such tenacity to this country, so passing lovely in itself; and containing their homes and the sepulchres of their dead warriors.
Dixonville is a town site at Dixon's ferry, on the south side of Rock river, about 90 miles from the Mississippi. It contains two stores, two taverns, one grocery, a steam saw-mill, ten or twelve families, and is a pleasant situation. Here, the stage-roads from Chicago by Napiersville, from Ottawa by Troy Grove, and from Peoria by Windsor and Princeton, all concentrate, and pass on to Galena. Rock river here is 208 yards wide, and is crossed by a rope-ferry-boat.
At the Grand Detour of Rock river, five miles above Dixonville, a town of the same name has been laid off; and by cutting a canal across the neck of the bend for a short distance, a valuable hydraulic power will be gained. An enterprising company is engaged in the project.
PEORIA County. — The following account was taken from the Peoria Register and North-western Gazetteer of April 8th, 1837; and, being written on the spot and inserted in one of the most respectable papers in the State, is in all probability an accurate representation. "This county holds a central position on the east side of the Bounty Tract, having Fulton and Knox on the west, Putnam on the north, and the Illinois river for its south-eastern boundary for a distance of 36 miles. It contains 13 entire, and 8 fractional townships of land, making in all a little less than 17 whole townships, 612 sections, 2448 quarter sections, or 391,680 acres. Of the 2448 quarters, 763 have been appropriated as ‘bounty lands,’ and mostly are held by speculators. A few are owned and occupied by actual settlers, and a
95very small part still remain in the hands of the original patentees. More than two-thirds of Peoria county is congress land (including what has been secured to settlers by pre-emption, as also the purchases made at the land sales,) and subject to entry in the land office at Quincy, at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre.
"The proportion allotted to ‘bounties,’ taking the military tract together, is seven-tenths of the whole; and, from the mistaken policy of those into whose hands the ownership has generally fallen, these bounty lands may be considered as virtually out of market; consequently they must remain to a great extent unsettled, until the owners are willing to be known through disinterested agents, or disposed to treat the emigrant with the same liberality he receives from government. But, fortunately for Peoria, her proportion of military land is small, and we may safely calculate that the tide of emigration will continue to flow in upon us with undiminished strength, for years to come. To the man of industry and enterprize we extend a hearty welcome to our rich and salubrious county, not doubting but an application of his perseverance in any part of it will insure an abundant reward for his toil.
"Peoria is well divided into prairie and timber land of about, equal quantities of each. To have a correct idea of the form, beauty, and peculiar adaptation of our prairies to farming purposes, the reader will recollect that five streams of no inconsiderable magnitude water this county, all of which, with the exception of French creek, run a southerly direction into the Illinois river. Snatchwine ("Elbow") passes through the north-east part of the county; Kickapoo, with its east, north and west forks, through the centre; and Lamarche and Copperas creeks through the west. Spoon river runs along near the northern border, and French creek has a westward course through the north part of the county. All of these streams are bordered by timber from one to two miles wide, (save the interval bottoms;) the prairies occupying the balance of the space between, and descending in delightful slopes towards the timber, from the dividing ridge in the centre. Thus it will be seen at a glance that the whole county is admirably divided into alternate tracts of timber and prairie land. No county in the state has more facilities for speedily enriching the industrious farmer than Peoria.
"Snatchwine, French, and Lamarche creeks, are good mill-streams for two-thirds of the year. The balance of the time they are, in ordinary seasons, too dry. An excellent grist and saw mill has been put up on the Snatchwine, and preparations are making for mills on the Lamarche. Kickapoo is an invaluable mill-stream, and furnishes a sufficiency of water at all times to carry one run of stone — for nine months of the year it is sufficient for two run below the ‘Forks.’ Some years since a flouring mill was erected on that stream, which is in successful operation still, within two and a half miles of Peoria village. Two saw-mills in the vicinity of the flouring-mill are in profitable business. There are two saw-mills above and one grist-mill below.
A very convenient bridge has been erected for some years across Kickapoo, four miles below the village. Three more bridges have been built where roads leading from Peoria westward and northward cross the Kickapoo. The stock for a bridge across the Illinois river at Peoria has been subscribed, amounting to fifty thousand dollars. Measures have been taken by the citizens of Peoria to erect it forthwith.
"Two steam saw-mills in this village, and one 12 miles below, in a finely timbered region, are in operation. A steam-mill six miles above here, and a saw-mill on Spoon river, in the north-west part of the county, are nearly completed.
"These constitute the mills and bridges of importance completed or in contemplation in the county of Peoria. They certainly indicate an increasing prosperity in this section of the country; a prosperity which the character of our soil, and the physical advantages we so eminently enjoy, are well calculated to sustain. Judging from personal observation in every corner of the county, the writer is of opinion that out of 2448 quarter sections of land in Peoria county, not more than 500 are unfit for cultivation by being ‘too wet, or broken and hilly.’ Nor would even half this number he so considered in any other state than Illinois. What is here looked upon as hilly barrens, would, on the east side of the mountains, be esteemed excellent arable land. But admitting that we have 500 quarters
96unsusceptible of cultivation, still we have 1948 which are tillable: these would support as many families in ease and comfort, or an agricultural population (allowing 10 persons to a family) of 19,480. It is not to be presumed that the farming interest of this county will ever comprise more than two thirds of its entire population; consequently, when we shall have settled all our good lands, and have 19,480 inhabitants engaged in agriculture, our whole population will amount to 30,000. In 1830, the number of inhabitants in this and Putnam counties, was 1310. Probably our own number was about 500. The population at present, in Peoria county alone, is estimated at 7000, consisting of emigrants from every state in the Union, from England, Ireland, Germany, and France. Nine-tenths of the whole are native-born citizens of the United States. Of these, probably a fourth are from New-England, the same proportion from New-York, a fourth from Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the remainder from other states. During the present season, we are receiving the greatest number of emigrants from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New-York. Those from the latter state come on generally by way of the lakes. From the other two states, emigrants usually reach here in steamboats by way of the rivers. At least two-thirds of the emigrants to this region, arrive by this last named route.
"In addition to the advantages of having an extremely well watered and fertile soil, we have inexhaustible beds of stone-coal, limestone and sandstone, in almost every part of the county. The Kickapoo and its branches, the Lamarche and Copperas creek bluffs, particularly abound in these important articles. Some of the stone on Kickapoo have, on trial, been found to make good grindstones, and a quarry has lately been discovered near the ‘Forks,’ which appears of superior quality. The stone-coal is said to be little inferior to that of Pittsburg, and is found in the bluffs of all the creeks and Illinois river. It is generally used for fuel at Peoria in winter; is hauled from one to three miles, and is worth 12 cents per bushel. The sandstone is of fair quality, and is used for the underpinning of buildings, for door and window sills, &c. Iron ore is also said to have been found in the county; and ‘floating’ mineral, supposed to contain zinc, has been discovered in various places. From some recent discoveries, and other strong indications, it is quite probable that the mineral resources of this county have been but very partially developed.
"The principal productions of the, soil are, wheat, corn, oats, rye, potatoes, beans, peas and flax, all of which arrive to great perfection. The average quantity of each, per acre, is as follows — wheat about 25 bushels, corn 65, oats 30, rye 35, and potatoes 300. Garden vegetables, of all kinds, attain a most luxuriant growth. Apples, pears, cherries, and plums, do well, but the winters are rather severe for the successful cultivation of the peach-tree. Wheat is worth, at this time, $1 75 cents per bushel, and very scarce. Corn, 50 cents; oats, 37 cents; potatoes, 33. Of the above named articles of produce, very little surplus for exportation is now raised in this county, owing principally to the unusual quantity required to supply the immense emigration constantly flowing in upon us. Nearly 140,000 pounds of pork, and 10,000 pounds of lard, over and above the amount required for home consumption, were shipped from this county, for the lower market, in February 1835. Besides the downward trade of the river, a considerable traffic in live cattle and hogs, was carried on with the Galena lead-mines.
"The landing places and places of deposit on the Illinois in Peoria county, are Peoria, Rome, Allentown, and Chillicothe. The three latter are inconsiderable points in the north-east part of the county, but possessing much natural beauty, and surrounded by a fine growing country. Peoria is situated at the outlet of lake Peoria, about equidistant from the north-east and south-west extremes of the county. This place has been so often described, and is so well known by every citizen of the state, that a particular notice of it here is deemed unnecessary. Suffice it to say, that had nature herself attempted to give any ‘nice touches and finishings,’ to what is already so perfect, she might have exhibited no additional evidence of skill.
"In concluding this description of Peoria county, the writer feels authorized to say, that in excellency of soil, abundance of water, timber, stone, stone-coal,
97limestone, freestone, &c. this county is unsurpassed by any portion of the Bounty Tract, and holds out, at this time, strong inducements to the emigrating farmer or mechanic to make this his permanent, his prosperous, his happy ‘home.’"
The seat of justice is the town of Peoria, now the most important place in the Military Bounty Tract: the others are mostly small villages, lately settled: they are, Rome, containing 15 or 20 houses, 18 miles north-east of Peoria, at the head of lake Peoria, on Illinois river; Chillicothe, 3 miles above Rome, on Illinois river, with about 30 houses and mills in the vicinity on Snatchwine creek; Detroit, on Illinois river, six miles above Peoria; Northampton, 25 miles north-east of Peoria, on the Galena and Chicago roads; Allentown, on Illinois river, between Rome and Chillicothe; Kickapoo, twelve miles west of Peoria; Hudson, nine miles west of Peoria; Kingston, on Illinois river, with abundance of stone-coal and building stone in its vicinity; Harkness, having excellent limestone for building, splendid prairie, and first-rate timber, 20 miles west from Peoria; Wheeling, two miles east of Harkness; Caledonia, one mile south-east from Harkness; Aurora, on the headwaters of Copperas creek, four miles south-east of Harkness; Charleston, 18 miles north-west of Peoria ; Lower Peoria, three miles from Peoria, and half a mile from Illinois river.
PERRY County is one of the smallest in the state, and is situated between Washington on the north, Jackson on the south, Jefferson and Franklin on the east, and Randolph county on the west. It is in extent from east to west 24, and from north to south 18 miles; containing an area of 432 square miles. The surface of the county is tolerably level, about one third prairie, and chiefly a good second-rate soil. It is watered mostly by the Beaucoup creek and its branches, and the Little Muddy creek which touches its eastern border: both these streams traverse the county from north to south. The agricultural products and exports are considerable for its population: they consist of the usual staples of this section of the state.
Elk Prairie lies between the little Muddy and Beaucoup creeks, and is about five miles in extent. It is dry and tolerably level; soil second-rate, and the settlement contains about 25 families.
Lost Prairie, seven miles west of Pinckneyville, is three miles long, and one mile and a half wide. It has a rich soil, high undulating surface, and a good settlement.
Pinckneyville, the seat of justice, is a small village, situated at the head of Four-mile Prairie, on the west side of Beaucoup creek. It is surrounded by a large settlement of industrious farmers, and contains a population of about 100 persons.
PIKE County is situated in the southern part of the Military Bounty Tract, and extends from the Mississippi to the Illinois river. At its first formation in 1821, it comprised not only the Military Bounty Tract, but likewise the whole of the state lying north of the Illinois river, and extending from the Mississippi to lake Michigan, and which is now divided into upwards of twenty counties. It is bounded north by Adams and Schuyler, south by Calhoun, east by Greene and Morgan counties, from which it is separated by the Illinois, and west by the Mississippi river. It varies in extent from east to west from 17 to 36, and from north to south from 24 to 30 miles, and contains an area of about 780 square miles. Pike county is washed on its western boundary by the Mississippi river, and on the eastern by the Illinois; in the interior it has the Snicartee Slough, which runs parallel to the Mississippi through the whole of its western border: this affords a steamboat navigation to the town of Atlas, at a full stage of water. It is also watered by Bay, Pigeon, Hadley, Key's, Black, Dutch Church, and Six-mile creeks, which fall into the Mississippi, and M'Kees, and others, which fall into the Illinois: these all furnish good mill-seats. The land in this county is various; much of it is gently undulating, with a good soil on the rivers. Considerable tracts are subject to inundation at the spring floods, particularly between the Mississippi and the Snicartee Slough. In the interior are considerable tracts of table-land, high, rolling, and rich, with a due proportion of timber and prairie. In a pleasant vale on Key's
98creek, is a salt-spring, 20 feet in diameter, which boils from the earth, and throws off a stream of some size, forming a salt pond in its vicinity. Salt has been made here, though not in great quantities. This county contained in 1833 a population of 6037 persons.
Pittsfield, the seat of justice, is situated on a high and healthful prairie, about 11 miles west of the Illinois river. The country around it is fertile, and proportionably distributed into timber and prairie, and is rapidly settling. The other towns are Montezuma and Augusta on Illinois river, Griggsville, Perry, Pleasant Vale, Kinderhook, and Atlas: these are all small villages, lately located.
Augusta is on the west bank of the Illinois river, 10 miles east of Pittsfield, and 22 miles from Jacksonville. It is opposite the termination of the Jacksonville, Lynnville, and Winchester rail-road, which is now under contract. Another company has been chartered to extend this line from Augusta, by Pittsfield and Atlas to Louisiana, Mo., whence another line of rail-road has been projected, and a charter granted by the legislature of Missouri, across to Columbia and the Missouri river.
Perry is situated on section twenty-one, township three south, three west. It has two or three stores, several families, and is a pleasant village, surrounded with a fine country, diversified with timber and prairie.
POPE County lies in the southern part of the state, and is washed on the south and east by the Ohio river, which separates it from the state of Kentucky; on the north, it is bounded by Gallatin, and on the west, by Johnson county. Its greatest length from north to south is 36 miles, and it varies in width from 30 to 11 miles. Its area is about 576 square miles. The interior of the county is watered by Big Bay, Lusk's, Grand Pierre, and Big creek. It is generally well timbered with all the variety of trees that abound in the southern part of the state. The surface is generally level, except on the banks of the Ohio. The soil is mostly sandy, but yields good crops. This county was formed from Gallatin and Johnson in 1816, and contained in 1835 a population of 3756. The natural curiosity, called the Cave in Rock, is well known to all the navigators of the Ohio river: it is situated on the bank of the Ohio, where the dividing line between Pope and Gallatin counties strikes the river, about 30 miles below the mouth of the Wabash. It a large cave, supposed by the Indians to be the habitation of the Great Spirit.
The following description of this cave is given by Thaddeus M. Harris, an English tourist, who visited it in the spring of 1803, — a writer who has done justice to the West in his descriptions generally. "For about three or four miles before you come to this place, you are presented with a scene truly romantic. On the Illinois side of the river, you see large ponderous rocks piled one upon another, of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some appear to have gone through the hands of the most skilful artist; some represent the ruins of ancient edifices: others thrown promiscuously in and out of the river, as if nature intended to show us with what ease she could handle those mountains of solid rock. In some places you see purling streams winding their course down their rugged front; while in others, the rocks project so far, that they seem almost disposed to leave their doubtful situations. After a short relief from this scene, you come to a second, which is something similar to the first; and here, with strict scrutiny, you can discover the cave. Before its mouth stands a delightful grove of cypress trees, arranged immediately on the bank of the river. They have a fine appearance, and add much to the cheerfulness of the place.
"The mouth of the cave is but a few feet above the ordinary level of the river, and is formed by a semicircular arch of about 80 feet at its base, and 25 feet in weight, the top projecting considerably over, forming a regular concave. From the entrance to the extremity, which is about 180 feet, it has a regular and gradual ascent. On either side is a solid bench of rock; the arch coming to a point about the middle of the cave, where you discover an opening sufficiently large to receive the body of a man, through which comes a small stream of fine water, made use of by those who visit this place. From this hole, a second cave is discovered.
99whose dimensions, form, etc., are not known. The rock is of limestone. The sides of the cave are covered with inscriptions, names of persons, dates, etc." The trees have been cut down, and the entrance into the cave exposed to view.
In 1797, this cave was the place of resort and security to Mason, a notorious robber, and his gang, who were accustomed to plunder and murder the crews of boats, while descending the Ohio. It still serves as a temporary abode for those wanting shelter in case of shipwreck, or other accidents, which frequently happen to emigrants. Families have been known to reside here for a considerable space of time. The rock is of limestone, abounding with shells.
Irish Settlement is on the Ohio river, about 15 miles above Golconda: it is on a rich alluvial soil, and contains about 100 families.
Lewis's Settlement is in the southern part of the county, above and opposite the mouth of Cumberland river. This is the oldest settlement in this part of the state, and contains 60 or 70 families.
Whitesides' Settlement is 12 miles west of Golconda, on Big Bay creek and the state road, and contains a population of 100 families.
Golconda, the county town, is situated on the west bank of the Ohio, at the mouth of Lusk's creek, about 80 miles above the mouth of the Ohio: it contains several stores, the county buildings, &c, and about 150 inhabitants.
PUTNAM County is situated on both sides of the Illinois river, the greater portion being on the western side of that stream. It is among the largest counties in the state, comprising an area of about 43 full townships, or 1548 square miles, and is 45 miles in extent from north to south on the eastern boundary, and 42 on the western, and from east to west 36 miles. The county is bounded north by Ogle and Whiteside, south by Tazewell and Peoria, east by La Salle, and west by Henry and Knox counties.
The streams which water this county are the Illinois and its branches, Bureau, Crow, and Sandy creeks, &c.; also, the head-waters of Spoon river, which traverse the western border: these furnish many excellent mill-seats. Some of the finest lands in the state are in this county: there are beautiful groves of timber, and rich undulating and dry prairies; a few tracts of prairie are level and wet, and there are some small lakes and ponds, and some swamps, in the northern part.
The timber comprises most of the varieties common to this part of the state: besides oaks of several species, there are black and white walnut, sugar-maple, blue, white, and hoop ash, elm, cherry, aspen, iron-wood, buck-eye, linden, locust, mulberry, &c. Various mineral productions exist, and are found in sufficient quantities: the chief are limestone, sandstone, freestone, and bituminous coal.
The religious denominations in Putnam county are Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalists: there is a county Bible society, a temperance society, a county Sunday School Union, a number of Sunday Schools, a county lyceum, and several other philanthropic societies. The towns are Hennepin, the seat of justice, for the county, Princeton, Windsor, Providence, Floria, Henry, Dorchester, Wyoming, and Lacon.
Hennepin is situated in the great bend of the Illinois, on the east side of the river: it is about 50 miles above Peoria. Its site is an elevated prairie, the surface gently ascending from the river, with an excellent body of rich land adjacent: steamboats ascend to Hennepin, at a moderate stage of the water. This place was laid out in 1831, and now contains ten stores, four groceries, three taverns, three lawyers, four physicians, a Presbyterian and a Methodist congregation, a courthouse and jail, a good school, and about 500 inhabitants.
Lacon, on the east side of the Illinois, 30 miles above Peoria, and 20 below Hennepin, is a thriving little town, built on the second bank of the river, and contains four stores, a large steam flouring and steam saw mill, and 150 inhabitants. The country in its vicinity, especially on the east side of the Illinois river, is well settled, and is a fine agricultural district, of which Lacon will be the place of business. There is in the vicinity of the town an abundance of fine timber, building-stone, and stone-coal. The state legislature recently passed acts for the location of three state roads to and through this place; two to connect with the ferry, and
100one running from north to south; — and also chartered the Lacon academy, and the Lacon manufacturing company.
Windsor is a small town on Bureau creek, 10 miles west from Hennepin, and on the main state road from Peoria by Princeton to Galena. It has two stores, two groceries, one tavern, one lawyer, one physician, one minister of the gospel, an about 100 inhabitants. A grist and saw mill are in the vicinity.
The subjoined notice of Putnam county is from a late number of the Hennepin Journal:
"Almost every county in the state has had its topography and history published to the world, in some one or more of the public journals of the day; while to ours, which is one of the most important in the northern part of the state, there has been nothing said; and at a distance, there are few who have heard that there is such a county in the state as Putnam. And in order to obviate this, and let the readers of the Journal at a distance know something of this region, and its progress of improvement, we will attempt a brief account of the history and topography of Putnam county.
"Putnam county was organized in the year 1831, but did not increase rapidly in population until after the termination of the Black Hawk war in 1832 and '33. But after the conclusion of hostilities, and when security was restored to the settler, immigrants came in from every quarter of the union, and spread over the country in every direction like a flood, so that nearly every grove of timber soon found an inhabitant of a very different stamp from the native red man, who, but a short time since, was lord of the grove and the prairie, and who roamed over these fair plains unmolested, having none to dispute his right to the soil, or disturb him in his scenes of pleasure at his wigwam, and enjoyments of the chase.
"And every year since has added large numbers to the enterprizing population who first planted themselves around the beautiful groves of Putnam; and so rapid has been the increase, that not only immediately around the groves is the settler found, but the large prairies to a very considerable extent are studded over with houses and farms, presenting to the eye of the beholder a scene of singular beauty and grandeur. Putnam county now contains about 1500 voters, and will in a short time, in point of population and political strength, vie with any county in the state, except the county of Sangamon. Putnam county is situated on both sides of the Illinois river, and composed of rich and beautiful undulating prairies, interspersed with fine groves of excellent timber, and abounding in bituminous coal of good quality, together with a sufficient supply of rock for building purposes, and is watered by a number of fine streams, possessing a large amount of hydraulic power, which on several of them is now pretty well improved, particularly on Bureau and Crow creeks.
"We have no hesitation in saying that Putnam county possesses agricultural and commercial advantages equal to those of any county in the state, and that it has as beautiful a surface and as rich a soil, with as good a supply of timber, as is found anywhere in the west. The land being dry and rolling, is pleasant and easy to cultivate, and yields to the industrious farmer an abundant reward for his labour, producing every thing incident to the climate in the greatest profusion, and with an ease to the cultivator that would appear almost incredible to the people of the states farther east, who are accustomed to a hard and sterile soil, when compared with ours.
"The inhabitants of this county are enterprizing and intelligent, having emigrated mainly from Ohio, New-York, and New England, and coming here with their accustomed habits of industry, they soon succeed in subduing these fertile prairies to a state of high cultivation. And such is the comparative ease with which land can be brought into cultivation, that the farmer will accomplish here in three years, what could not be attained in the timbered parts of Ohio and lndiana, with the same labour, in ten; which circumstance alone, when duly considered by him who is about to emigrate to the west to find a home, is an inducement imply sufficient to give a decided preference to a prairie country. And we would be glad to see the enterprizing citizens of the older states, particularly farmers and mechanics, coming in amongst us by hundreds, and purchasing the rich prairies,
101and spreading over them their luxuriant fields of grain, and herds of cattle and sheep, which will soon reward them amply for the labour and difficulties attending the settlement of a new country. On account of the great pressure in the eastern states, we anticipate a heavy emigration to the west this season, and as we have an abundance of room, we will welcome those who may come, hoping that they will find a desirable home amongst us."
RANDOLPH County is bounded north by Monroe, St. Clair, and Washington; east by Perry and Jackson, and west by Monroe county and the Mississippi river. Its greatest length is 29 miles, and greatest breadth 26; but it is rendered irregular by the curvatures of the Mississippi river, and contains an area of 520 square miles. This county is traversed by the Kaskaskia river and its branches, Horse, Nine-mile, and Plum creeks; also by St. Mary's and Gagnic creeks. At the mouth of the Kaskaskia commences the American Bottom, which extends along the banks of the Mississippi northwardly upwards of 80 miles. It is the most fertile tract of land in the state. Upon this the first settlements were made by the French of Canada. The villages still retain much of their antique appearance. Below the mouth of the Kaskaskia, the bank of the Mississippi is generally high and rocky, affording good sites for towns. In the interior of the county, the surface is frequently undulating, and sometimes hilly. Randolph is one of the oldest counties in Illinois, having been formed in 1795; and it contained in 1835 a population of 5695 individuals.
In the north-western part of the county are the ruins of Fort Chartres, a large stone fortification, erected by the French while in possession of Illinois. It is situated half a mile from the Mississippi, and three miles from Prairie du Rocher.
It was originally built by the French in 1720, to defend themselves against the Spaniards, who were then taking possession of the country on the Mississippi. It was rebuilt in 1756. The circumstances, character, form, and history of this fort, are interesting, as it is intimately connected with the early history of this country. Once it was a most formidable piece of masonry, the materials of which were brought three or four miles from the bluffs. It was originally an irregular quadrangle, the exterior sides of which were 490 feet in circumference. Within the walls were the commandant's and commissary's houses, a magazine for stores, barracks, powder-magazine, bake-house, guard-house, and prison.
This prodigious military work is now a heap of ruins. Many of the hewn stones have been removed by the people to Kaskaskia. A slough from the Mississippi approached and undermined the wall on one side in 1772. Over the whole fort is a considerable growth of trees, and most of its walls and buildings have fallen down, and lie in one promiscuous ruin.
Kaskaskia, the seat of justice, was formerly the seat of government of the territory of Illinois: it is situated on the right bank of the Kaskaskia river, seven miles above its junction with the Mississippi. The other towns are Prairie du Rocher, Chester, Liberty, and Columbus.
Prairie du Rocher is an ancient French village, in the north-west part of the county, on the American Bottom, near the rocky bluffs, from which it derives its name, and 14 miles north-west of Kaskaskia. It is in a low, unhealthy situation, along a small creek of the same name, which rises in the bluffs, passes across the American Bottom, and enters the Mississippi. The houses are built in the French style, the streets very narrow, and the inhabitants preserve more of the simplicity of character and habits peculiar to early times, than any village in Illinois. Prairie du Rocher in 1768 contained 14 families; the population at present is estimated at 35 families.
Chester, just below the mouth of the Kaskaskia river, on the bank of the Mississippi, is situated on an elevated strip of bottom land at the foot of the bluffs, and is a commercial depot for the country back. Exports by steamboats for 1836, $150,000; imports, $130,000. It has five stores, three groceries, one tavern, one physician, two ministers of the gospel, four warehouses, one steam saw and grist mill, one castor-oil factory, and 280 inhabitants.
Liberty is on the left bank of the Mississippi, about 10 miles below the mouth
102of the Kaskaskia river: it contains 150 inhabitants, has a steam, saw, and flouring mill, six stores, three groceries, two taverns, one minister of the gospel, and two physicians.
Columbus is near the Flat Prairie, in the north-east part of the county, 18 miles from Kaskaskia: it contains an academy and a congregation of Reformed Presbyterians or Covenanters, who have a resident minister and a respectable society.
ROCK ISLAND County is situated in the north-west part of the state, on both sides of Rock river, and is an irregularly shaped district, extending along the Mississippi, following the current of the stream, for upwards of 60 miles. It was organized from parts of Jo Daviess and Mercer counties in 1831, and contains at area of about 432 square miles. Its population in 1835 amounted to 616 individuals, but is now estimated at from 1200 to 1500.
The interior of the county is watered by Rock river, Copperas creek, Lake creek, &c. The soil along the Mississippi for 25 miles is alluvion, somewhat sandy, and rich: in the interior of the county, there is much good land between the water-courses, with some bluffs, knobs, ravines, and sink holes. South of Rock river, a portion of the county is rather inferior, with some wet prairie and swamps. Rock Island, in the Mississippi river, is in this county: it commences three miles above the mouth of Rock river, and is three miles long, and from one half to one mile wide, with limestone rock for its base. Fort Armstrong is on its south end: on two sides, the rock is twenty feet in perpendicular height above the river, and forms the foundation wall of the fort. A portion of the island is cultivated.
The towns in the county are Stephenson, the seat of justice, Rock Island City, Milan, Rockport, and Port Byron.
Stephenson is situated on the Mississippi, opposite the lower end of Rock Island, two miles above the mouth of Rock River, and about 330 above St. Louis. It has 20 or 30 families, and several stores, at which a considerable amount of business is transacted. The fine situation of this place, its natural commercial advantages, and the rapidly increasing population of the fertile country around it on both sides of the Mississippi, will no doubt render it in a short time one of the most considerable towns in this section of Illinois.
Rock Island city is laid out on a magnificent scale, at the junction and in the forks between Rock river and the Mississippi. In connexion, a company has been chartered to cut a canal from the Mississippi, near the head of the upper rapids, across to Rock river, by which, it is said, an immense hydraulic power will be gained. The town site, as surveyed, extends over a large area, and includes Stephenson the seat of justice.
Milan (formerly known as M'Neal's Landing) is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi, 12 miles above Fort Armstrong, and 90 below Galena. The town has a fine steamboat landing, and contains two stores, two taverns, a new one building, and a good school-house in progress of erection. There are four sawmills within a short distance, and twelve within ten miles.
The country in the vicinity is abundantly supplied with timber, limestone, and coal. There have been several boat-loads of coal taken from there this season to Galena, it being the nearest coal to that point yet discovered. The company who own this site obtained a charter at the last session of the legislature for a canal to run from Rock river to the Mississippi, terminating at this point, leaving Rock river at the head of the rapids, avoiding the only serious obstacle to the navigation of that stream by a canal of only four miles in length. This will open through Milan all the trade of the Pekatonica and Rock river country, which is one of the best agricultural districts in the state. The transportation of coal alone would make the stock of this canal good property, there being inexhaustible beds along the whole length of it. It is also surrounded with an excellent farming country, which is rapidly filling up with an enterprising population. Four colonies have settled back in Henry county; and this is their nearest point on the river, and the commissioners of some of them are interested in Milan.
Rockport and Port Byron are both situated on the left bank of the Mississippi river, and are small and recently settled places: the latter is in the northern part
103of the county, about 25 miles above the mouth of Rock river, and the former about seven miles below that stream.
SANGAMON County was formed from Bond and Madison counties, in 1821; and although considerably reduced from its original dimensions, is the largest and most populous in the state: it is 48 miles in extent from north to south, 42 miles from east to west on its southern, and upwards of 60 on its northern boundary; containing an area about equal to sixty full townships, or 2160 square miles. The county is bounded north by Tazewell and a small part of M'Lean, east by Macon, south by Montgomery and Macoupin, and west by Morgan and Cass counties.
The county of Sangamon, ever since its first settlement, has been justly esteemed the most desirable tract in the state, and it consequently has been settled with great rapidity. Previous to 1819, there was not a single white inhabitant on the waters of the Sangamon river: at the last census, the inhabitants numbered 17,573: they doubtless now amount to upwards of 20,000. The county is watered by the Sangamon and its tributaries: the chief of these are the south fork of Sangamon, Salt creek and its branches, Sugar and Kickapoo creeks: these all rise without the limits of the county. In addition, there are a number of small and beautiful streams which have their rise and course within the county; these empty into the Sangamon on both sides of the river, and furnish the inhabitants not only with excellent water, but with numerous valuable mill-seats, besides being lined with extensive tracts of first-rate timbered land.
The whole territory, watered by the Sangamon river and its branches, is an Arcadian region, in which nature has delighted to bring together her happiest combinations of landscape. With the exception of the creek bottoms, and the interior of the large prairies, it has a beautiful undulating surface, sufficient to drain the surface of surplus water, and to render it one of the finest agricultural districts in the United States. The prairies are not so extensive as to be incapable of settlement from want of timber. The Sangamon itself is a fine boatable stream of the Illinois, entering it on the east side, 100 miles above the mouth of the Illinois. All the tributaries that enter this beautiful river have sandy and pebbly bottoms, and pure and transparent waters. There is in this district a happy proportion of timber and prairie lands: the soil is of great fertility, being a rich calcareous loam, from one to three feet deep, intermixed with fine sand. The climate is not very different from that of the central parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the latitude being about the same. The summer range for cattle is inexhaustible. The growth of forest trees is similar to that of the rich lands in the western country in general. The proportion of locust, black walnut, peccan, and other trees that indicate the richest soils, is very great. All who have visited this fine tract of country admire the beauty of the landscape which nature has here painted in primeval freshness. So delightful a region was early selected by immigrants from New England, New-York, and North Carolina: more than 200 families had settled themselves here before it was surveyed. It now constitutes several populous counties, inhabited by thriving farmers.
And grassy nooks, 'neath beechen shade,
Where dance the never-resting hours.
To music of the bright cascade;
Skies softly beautiful, and blue,
As Italy's, with stars as bright;
Flowers rich as morning's sun-rise hue,
And gorgeous as the gemm'd mid-night.
Land of the West! green Forest-Land,
Thus hath Creation's bounteous hand
Upon thine ample bosom flung
Charms such as were her gift when the gray world was young!"
The prairies frequently contain fine groves of timber, some of which, from their appearance, have received the names of Elk-heart Grove, Buffalo-heart Grove, &c. These groves are generally elevated above the surrounding prairie, and are most advantageous situations for settlement. The inhabitants chiefly reside on the
104margins of the timber, extending their plantations to any distance into the prairie. Besides the groves above-mentioned, there are Irish Grove, Spring Island Grove Sugar Grove, &c.
Elk-heart Grove lies north of Sangamon river, and about 20 miles north-east from Springfield, in eighteen north, three west. It is a beautiful grove of timber, containing 600 or 700 acres, on the right hand of the great road leading to Peoria, Ottawa, and Chicago. The timber is oak, walnut, linden, hickory, sugar-tree, etc. The prairie adjoining is rich soil, rather wet, and furnishes fine summer and winter range for cattle. Several families are settled here.
Buffalo-heart Grove lies 14 miles north-east from Springfield, and six miles southeasterly from Elk-heart Grove, which it resembles. It is about three miles long, and one mile and a half wide, containing about four sections of timber, and 25 or 30 families. The rushes, which cover the prairies around, furnish winter food for cattle.
Irish Grove is on the road from Springfield to Peoria, 18 miles from the former place. It is two miles from Salt creek, and is three miles long, and one mile and a half wide, and contains a settlement of about 50 families. The land is good, and the timber is chiefly oak of various kinds.
Spring Island Grove is from 14 to 20 miles west of Springfield, on the road to Jacksonville. It lies at the head of Spring creek, and is an excellent timbered tract, surrounded with rich prairie, from six to ten miles long, and from two to three miles wide, and has a flourishing settlement. Many excellent springs are found in this tract of country.
Sugar Grove, in the north part of the county, is about 20 miles north of Springfield. It is a fine tract of timber surrounded with fertile prairie, about three miles long, and one mile wide, with a respectable settlement.
On the head-waters of Richland creek is a fine settlement of 50 or 60 families, in township seventeen north, seven west, and fourteen miles north-west from Springfield. The land is high, dry, undulating, and rich. Here is an excellent flouring-mill by ox-power, and a carding machine and clothier's works, for dressing cloth.
The products of Sangamon county are beef, cattle, pork, wheat, flour, corn-meal, butter, cheese, &c.; and soon will include almost every article of a rich agricultural country. The principal part of the surplus produce is sent from Beardstown; but much of its imports will be received, and its exports sent off by its own river, which has already been navigated by steam to the vicinity of Springfield, and when some of its obstructions are removed, will afford convenient navigation for steamboats of the smaller class.
The county seat of Sangamon is Springfield, one of the most thriving towns in Illinois, and recently selected by the legislature as the permanent capital of the state after the year 1840. The other towns are, Huron, Petersburg, New Salem, Salisbury, Athens, Sangamon, Berlin, Auburn, Edinburg, Rochester, Mechanicsburg, George Town, Mount Pulaski, and Postville. Of these, after Springfield, the most important are Athens and Petersburg: the former is about fifteen miles west of north from Springfield, and two from the Sangamon river; it contains several stores, one steam-mill for sawing and flouring, and about 75 families. Petersburg, situated on a beautiful dry prairie bottom on the west bank of the Sangamon river, and 22 miles from Springfield, contains seven stores and one grocery, a steam, saw, and grist mill, and 150 inhabitants. The river is navigable to this point for steamboats of 100 tons burthen, two such having already been navigated thus far. The natural advantages of Petersburg will no doubt make it in time a town of importance, and the place of export and import for Sangamon county. The first sale of lots took place in 1835, and these have in many cases been resold at an advance of from 100 to 600 per cent. New Salem, on the west side of the Sangamon, and 19 or 20 miles north-west from Springfield, has three or four stores, a grist and saw mill, and about 30 families.
It is proposed to erect a new county from the north-western part of Sangamon. This will contain about 15 full townships, or 540 square miles of surface, and will include within its boundaries 60 miles of the lower part of Sangamon river, with
105a part of Salt creek. It will be bounded north by Tazewell, south by part of Sangamon, and on the north-west by the north-east corner of Schuyler and the extreme south-east corner of Fulton county: from the two last it will be separated by the Illinois river. Its towns will be Huron, Petersburg, New Salem, and Athens, before noticed. No legislative action has yet taken place in relation to the above; but the great extent and rapidly increasing population of Sangamon county, will, no doubt, render a division of its territory necessary in a short time.
SCHUYLER County lies west of the Illinois river, which forms its eastern boundary, and separates it from Morgan and Cass counties; on the north are Fulton and M'Donough, on the south and on the west, Adams and Hancock counties. It extends from north to south 30 miles, and from east to west from 36 to 18; containing about 830 square miles. It is watered by the Illinois river, and by Crooked, M'Kee's, and Sugar creeks. Along the Illinois river is a considerable amount of land inundated at high floods, generally heavily timbered, which is the case with more than one-half the county. The middle and northern portions are divided into timber and prairie of an excellent quality. Along Crooked creek is an extensive body of fine timber. Sugar creek also furnishes another body of timber, eight or ten miles wide. Rich mines of iron ore have lately been discovered on Crooked creek. The towns in this county are Rushville, Mount Sterling, Erie, La Grange, Brooklyn, and Schuyler.
The county seat is Rushville, which is situated on a beautiful prairie, ten miles from the Illinois river, and about north-west from Beardstown.
Mount Sterling, 12 miles from the Illinois and 17 south-west from Rushville, is a thriving village of about 50 houses. It was laid off in the fall of 1833, but did not improve much until 1836: it now contains five stores, 3 taverns, a church, a school-house, a number of mechanics, and about 200 inhabitants. Coal of a good quality is found within one mile of the town.
SHELBY County extends 36 miles from east to west, and 30 from north to south, containing 1080 square miles; and lies north of Fayette and Effingham counties, south of Macon, east of Coles, and west of Montgomery and Sangamon counties. The population is now estimated at 6,500. It is watered by the Kaskaskia and its branches, also by the head streams of the south fork of the Sangamon and Little Wabash rivers. This county has a large amount of excellent land, both timber and prairie, with a good soil, and the surface moderately undulating.
Shelbyville, the County Town, is situated near the centre of the county, on an elevated site, on the west bank of the Kaskaskia river, 40 miles north-east of Vandalia, and about 60 south-east of Springfield. It contains several stores and groceries, and a population of about 250 inhabitants. The settlements around it are extensive, and the country fertile and productive.
ST. CLAIR County is bounded north by Madison county, south by Randolph and Monroe, east by Clinton and Washington, and west by Monroe county and the Mississippi river. It is from 12 to 30 miles in length and the same in breadth, and contains an area of about 684 square miles. This county is watered by the Kaskaskia river, and Silver, Richland, and Cahokia creeks; on the west, it is washed by the Mississippi. The surface is generally undulating, and sometimes hilly. The soil is various; much of it is first-rate, and is proportionably divided into timber, prairie, and barrens. On the banks of the Mississippi, the low and fertile alluvion of the American Bottom extends through the county, parallel to the river. Extensive coal-banks exist along the bluffs, from which St. Louis is partially supplied with fuel. This is the oldest county in the state, and was formed by the legislature of the North-Western territory in 1794: it then included all the settlements on the eastern side of the Mississippi. Its inhabitants in 1835 amounted to 9055.
Looking-Glass Prairie is a large, rich, beautiful, and undulating tract, lying between Silver and Sugar creeks, and on the eastern border of the county. It commences near the base line, in range six west, and extends northward about twenty miles into Madison county, and is from six to ten miles in width. Few prairies in
106the state present more eligible situations for farms than this. Extensive settlements are on its borders, and project into its interior.
Ogle's Prairie, five miles north of Belleville, is about five miles long, and from one to two miles wide, surrounded, and partly covered, with a flourishing settlement and fine farms. It is a rich, rolling, and fertile tract.
Union Grove is on the borders of Looking-Glass Prairie, and on the east side of Silver creek. The land is excellent, and the settlement extensive. It is sometimes called, Padfield's Settlement.
Belleville, the seat of justice, is a neat and thriving village, situated on elevated ground, 13 miles south-east from St. Louis. The other towns are, Lebanon, Illinois Town, Cahokia, and Prairie du Pont.
STEPHENSON County extends along the northern boundary of the state, and is in length from east to west 27, and from north to south 21 miles in extent; containing an area of 567 square miles. It was formed in 1837 from Jo Daviess and Winnebago counties, and is bounded north by Wisconsin Territory, south by Jo Daviess and Ogle, east by Winnebago, and west by Jo Daviess county. It is traversed by the Pekatonica (a fine navigable water, of about 80 yards in width) and its branches on the north, and the heads of Plum creek and other small streams in the south-west. The surface of the county is mostly a rich and undulating prairie, with tracts of hilly barrens and oak openings. The population is estimated at from 400 to 500, and is rapidly increasing. Its county seat is not yet established.
TAZEWELL County is bounded on the north by Putnam, south by Sangamon, east by M'Lean, and west by Peoria and Fulton counties, from which it is separated by the Illinois river. Its extent from north to south is 48 miles; from east to west, on the southern boundary, 45, and on the northern, 10 miles. Area in square miles, about 1220. Much of the soil is rich, with the surface undulating, in which prairie land predominates. On the bluffs of the Mackinaw and other streams, the land is broken, and the timber mostly oak. Tazewell is watered on the west by the Illinois river, and the creeks which flow into it; in the central and northern parts of the county, by the Mackinaw river and its branches; and on the south-east by Sugar creek, a tributary of the Sangamon river.
Tremont is the seat of justice, and is pleasantly situated in a beautiful prairie, almost half-way between Pekin and Mackinaw, ten miles from the Illinois river, and nearly in the centre of the county. It was laid off in 1835, and now contains several stores, about 70 houses, and upwards of 300 inhabitants. The other towns are Pekin, Wesley City, Havanna, Mackinaw, Dillon, Bloomingdale, Washington, Little Detroit, and Hanover.
Mackinaw, formerly the seat of justice of the county, is situated about eight miles east of Tremont. The situation is beautiful, and the scenery about the town highly picturesque. Mackinaw river, half a mile distant, furnishes a permanent and extensive water-power. The town contains about 100 inhabitants, and has five stores. The advantages which Mackinaw possesses have attracted the attention of speculators to this place, and large investments have been made in the town and its vicinity. The excellent and well-settled country around, the eligibility of the site, its important position on the great chain of internal improvements, — and, above all, its valuable water-power, so much needed in this section of the state, — must ultimately render this town a place of importance.
Havanna is on the Illinois, opposite the mouth of Spoon river. It has an eligible situation on a high sand ridge, fifty feet above the highest floods of the river, and is well situated to receive the trade of a pretty extensive country on both sides of the Illinois, it being on the great thoroughfare from Indiana, by Danville and Springfield, to the counties that lie to the west and north.
Washington is a handsome village in township twenty-six north, three west, and 14 miles north of Tremont. It is situated on the south side of Holland's Grove, on the border of a delightful prairie, and contains five stores, two groceries, four physicians, various mechanics, a steam saw-mill, and about 300 inhabitants.
UNION County is situated in the southern part of the state, and is bounded north by the counties of Jackson and Franklin, east by Johnson, south by Alexander, and west by the Mississippi river. Its greatest, length is 24 miles, and its breadth 18; area, 396 square miles. This county is washed on the west by the Mississippi river; the interior is watered by Big Muddy river, Clear creek, and the sources of Cash river. Much of this county is high rolling timber land — the soil is mostly second and third rate, with some rich and fertile alluvial bottom. It was formed from Johnson in 1818, and in 1835 contained 4156 inhabitants.
The Grand Tower is a perpendicular sand rock, rising from the bed of the Mississippi in the north-west corner of the county, and a short distance above the mouth of the Big Muddy river. The top is level, seventy or eighty feet high, and supports a stratum of soil on which are found a few stunted cedars and shrubs. Here are indications that a barrier of rock once extended across the Mississippi, and formed a grand cataract. The bed of the river, at a low stage of water, still exhibits a chain of sunken rocks. The "Devil's Oven," "Tea Table," "Back Bone," &c, are names given by the boatmen of the Mississippi to the singularly formed, abrupt, and romantic precipices that line the banks of that river in the vicinity of the Grand Tower.
Evans's Settlement is on the north side, and near the head of Cash river, and on the eastern border of the county. It has about forty families. Ridge Settlement lies on the road to Brownsville, and extends into Jackson county: It is a high, hilly, timbered tract of good land, well watered, and has from one hundred to one hundred and fifty families. Stokes's Settlement, in the eastern part of the county, near the head, and on the south side of Cash river, contains one hundred families. The surface of the land is rolling, and the soil good.
Jonesborough, the seat of justice, is situated in a high, rolling tract of country, nine miles from the Mississippi river. The surrounding country is undulating and healthful, containing several good settlements. It contains the county buildings, several stores, &c, and about one hundred and twenty inhabitants.
VERMILLION County lies in the eastern part of the state, and adjoining the neighbouring state of Indiana. It is situated north of Edgar, south of Iroquois, east of Champaign county, and west of the state of Indiana. Its extent from north to south is 42 miles, and from east to west 24; area, 1008 square miles. The Big Vermillion river, with its North, Middle and Saline Forks, and Little Vermillion river, water the county. There are large bodies of excellent timber along the streams, and rich prairies between them, the surface of which is undulating and dry, and the soil rich, deep, and calcareous. Large amounts of the agricultural produce common to Illinois are exported to the towns on the Wabash, and thence to New-Orleans. Salt, manufactured at the salt-works on the Saline fork of Big Vermillion, and six miles west of Danville, is also exported to the adjacent districts.
This county was organized in 1826, and in 1835 numbered 8103 inhabitants. Between this county and Iroquois on the east, and M'Lean on the west, and north of Champaign, extends a strip of territory mostly 18 miles wide and 48 in length, and comprising an area of 780 square miles, which has not yet received any distinctive appellation, but is at present attached to Vermillion county: it is nearly all prairie, some of it wet and marshy, containing the ponds and swamps giving rise to the Vermillion river of Illinois, the north fork of Sangamon, the middle fork of Saline river, and others. It is but thinly settled, and will probably remain so for some time to come.
Danville, the county seat of Vermillion, is situated on the left bank of the Big Vermillion river, on a dry, sandy, and elevated surface, surrounded with heavy timber on the east, north, and west, but open to the prairie on the south. The country around is populous, and the land rich. It contains a number of stores and groceries, several professional men, various mechanics, and the land-office for the Danville Land District; together with Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches, and about 350 inhabitants. It is a thriving town, and, on the completion of the Wabash and Mississippi rail-road, which will pass through it, will no doubt receive a great accession of business and population.
The other towns in Vermillion county are all small, having been but lately settled: they are George Town, Chillicothe, Greenville, Shepherds Town, and Salem.
WABASH County, the smallest in Illinois, is situated in the south-eastern section of the state, on the Wabash river. It was formed from Edwards in 1824, and lies south of Lawrence, east of Edwards county, and west of the state of Indiana. Its greatest length is about 22 miles, and breadth from 10 to 18 miles; area, about 180 square miles. This county is watered by the Wabash river on its eastern, and Bon Pas creek on its western border, and several small creeks in the central parts. It contains a considerable amount of good land, both timber and prairie, and a full proportion of industrious and thriving farmers. The inhabitants, in 1835, amounted to 3010.
Long Prairie settlement is 13 miles north-west from Mount Carmel. The land is undulating, and the soil second-rate. The population of the settlement amounts to about 25 or 30 families. The Timbered Settlement includes the north-east quarter of the county, and is ten miles from Mount Carmel. It contains 60 or 70 families. The timber is excellent.
The county seat, Mount Carmel, is situated on the west bank of the Wabash river, a short distance below the Grand Rapids, and nearly opposite to the mouths of the White and Patoka rivers of Indiana. It is 109 miles south-west from Vandalia, and 716 from Washington City.
Selma, adjoining Mount Carmel, is a new town, lately laid out. A number of lots have been sold, and some improvements have taken place.
WARREN County is in the western part of the Military Bounty Tract. It lies on the Mississippi river, north of Hancock and M'Donough counties, south of Mercer, east of Knox and Schuyler, west of Des Moines and Louisa counties, Wisconsin Territory. It is from 36 to 26 miles in extent from east to west, and 30 from north to south; and contains about 900 square miles.
This county was formed from Pike in 1825, and in 1835 contained 2623 inhabitants. It has a large amount of first-rate land, both prairie and timbered: the latter is supposed to comprise about one-fifth of the whole, and is generally well distributed. The most extensive forests are found on the Mississippi, and on Henderson river; but timber exists more or less on all the streams in the county. Much of the bottom-land that lies on the Mississippi is low, subject to inundation, and has a series of sand ridges back of it, with bold and pointed bluffs further in the rear.
The streams which water the interior of the county are Henderson river and its branches, also Ellison, Honey, and Camp creeks, which flow into the Mississippi, and the South and Cedar forks of Spoon river. Limestone exists in great abundance, and extensive beds of good stone-coal have been found in the eastern parts of the county. About five miles north-west from Monmouth, there has been discovered, and worked to some extent, a quarry of freestone, which is susceptible of a handsome polish, and answers well for the sills of doors and windows, tombstones, &c. Two or three grindstone quarries have been discovered, and are now all successfully worked.
Monmouth, the seat of justice, is situated in the prairie, two and a half miles south of the Cedar fork of Henderson's river. It was laid off in 1831, but advanced so slowly that until 1835 only seven buildings had been erected. It now contains 80 houses, and about 400 inhabitants. The land in the vicinity is very fertile, and produces abundantly all the staples of this region.
The other towns are Oquawka or Yellow Banks, Benton, and Shokokon, all on the Mississippi; Little York, Savannah, Bowling Green, Greenfield, Geneva, New Lancaster, and Olean.
Oquawka, or Yellow Banks, is a town recently settled. It is situated on the Mississippi river, about midway between the Des Moines and Rock Island Rapids, and is the principal depot for freight between those points. The town is laid out in two sections, on an extensive scale. The soil is sandy; and the surface, gently undulating, is sparsely covered with a stinted growth of oaks, extending to the
109bluff, two miles back. Henderson river, a fine stream for milling purposes, passes along the foot of these, and is crossed by a neat and substantial bridge. There are two large ware-houses in the town, one store, one grocery, two taverns, and several dwelling-houses. There is a good flouring and saw-mill about two miles distant; and a steam-mill is about to be erected.
The site of this place was sold by the original to the present proprietor for 200 dollars, by whom a fourth part of it was transferred last autumn to an enterprizing land dealer for 24,000 dollars, who has since realized from the sale of individual lots the full amount paid for the whole, and yet has parted with only a small part of his purchase. The lots sold a year ago have in many cases changed hands at an advance of one hundred per cent. The proprietors of the town purpose making a rail-road from hence to Peoria, on the Illinois river. By far the greater portion of this distance is over a nearly level prairie, admitting of the contemplated construction at a very moderate expense.
WASHINGTON County is situated between Clinton county on the north, Perry and Randolph on the south, Jefferson on the east, and St. Clair on the west. It forms a parallelogram of 30 miles in length and 18 in breadth, with an area of 560 square miles. This county is watered by the Kaskaskia river (which traverses its extreme north-west quarter), and its tributaries Crooked, Elkhorn, and Mud creeks; also by Beaucoup and Muddy creeks, which flow into Big Muddy river. The banks of all these streams are generally well timbered; but in the interior the prairies are extensive, and sometimes sterile. The surface is generally level, and the soil mostly second-rate. Some of the southern points of the Grand Prairie pass through the north-east corner of the county. It was organized in 1818, and in 1835 contained 3292 inhabitants.
Nashville, the seat of justice, is a pleasant village, 48 miles nearly south-east from St. Louis, and on the main road to Shawneetown. It is situated on a beautiful and elevated prairie, near the head of Little Crooked creek, two and a half miles south-east from the centre of the county. It has several stores and mechanics, a steam-mill, and a population of from 100 to 120.
The Grand Point settlement is on a creek about six miles north-east from Nashville, and contains about 20 families. The creek runs north, and enters Crooked creek.
WAYNE County forms a square of 24 miles each way, and contains an area of 576 square miles. On the north it is bounded by Clay county, south by Hamilton and White, east by Edwards, and west by Jefferson and Marion. The streams which water this county are Elm creek and Skillet Fork, both tributaries of the Little Wabash river. It is handsomely interspersed with woodland and prairie, and contains several saline springs. The soil is mostly second-rate. This county was organized from Edwards in 1819, and contained in 1835 a population of 2939 individuals.
Hargrave's Settlement is on the Prairie adjoining Fairfield, which is about seven miles long and two wide; rolling, and thin soil. Population about 100 families.
Herrington's Settlement, about eleven miles north-west from Fairfield, is on Herrington's Prairie, which is eight miles long and from two to four miles wide; surface rolling, soil second-rate; population about 50 families.
Hickory Hill Settlement is 18 miles west from Fairfield, and on the west side of the Skillet Fork. The land is a mixture of timber and prairie, soil second quality, and a population of about 50 families.
Indian Prairie lies ten miles north-westerly from Fairfield; surface level, soil of an inferior quality, with a scattering settlement of 15 or 20 families.
Martin's Creek Settlement is situated on a creek of the same name, five miles north of Fairfield. The settlement consists of 50 or 60 families. The creek is a branch of Elm river.
Fairfield, the seat of justice of Wayne county, is on the border of Hargrave's Prairie, 69 miles south-east from Vandalia, and 36 west from Mount Carmel. It contains several stores, a handsome court-house, and about 160 inhabitants.
110WHITE County is situated in the south-eastern part of the state. It extends from east to west from 27 to 22 miles, and from north to south 23Ë miles; containing a superficies of about 476 square miles. It is bounded north by Edwards and Wayne counties, south by Gallatin, east by the Wabash river, which separates it from the state of Indiana, and west by Hamilton county. The Wabash river washes the eastern boundary of this county, and the interior is watered by the Little Wabash and its tributaries. The banks of all these are generally well timbered; in the interior are many prairies, most of which are now well cultivated. A large amount of agricultural produce is annually exported from this and the adjoining counties to the southern parts of the Mississippi valley. White county was organized from Gallatin in 1815, and in 1835 contained 6489 inhabitants.
In the north-eastern part of the county is a bayou called Fox River that puts out from the Big Wabash, runs a few miles, and again enters that river. The late Morris Birkbeck, Esq., known as one of the English emigrants to Edwards county, and author of "Letters from Illinois" was unfortunately drowned in attempting to swim this stream on horseback.
The county seat, Carmi, is situated nearly in the centre of the county, on the west bank of the Little Wabash river, about 20 miles above its mouth, and 80 miles south-east from Vandalia. It is surrounded by land of a good quality, and is a flourishing village, containing several stores, &c, a neat court-house, and about 250 inhabitants.
WHITESIDE County was formed from Jo Daviess in 1836, and lies south of that county, north of Henry, west of Ogle, and east of Rock Island county and the Mississippi river. It extends from north to south 24 miles, and from east to west from 27 to 36 miles; containing an area of about 712 square miles. It is watered by Rock river, which passes through it from north-east to south-west, Little Rock river, Wood creek, &c. It has some tracts of heavy timber along Rock river and Little Rock, besides groves, copses, and bushy swamps. Some of its prairie land is flat, while other portions are beautifully undulating and rich.
One mile below Albany, the Marais de Ogee, or the Meridosia, puts into the Mississippi, or rather, as is the fact at present, the Mississippi runs through the Meridosia into Rock river. The Meridosia is a portion of bottom-land, from five rods to five miles in width, running from the Mississippi to Rock river in a direction nearly south, with a deep channel some part of the way. To the east of it, the bluff is covered with beautiful groves. The country in the vicinity of Albany, and along Rock river, is well known as being unsurpassed. Indeed, the whole country, except the swamps, is destined to support a dense population. Two years since, it was not known, and there were but a few individuals within its present boundary: now, it is estimated to contain a population of 1500 persons, a large majority of whom have been here but a few months.
The towns, or rather villages, in this county, have been only recently laid off, and are hardly yet settled. They are, Illinois City on Little Rock river, and Van Buren and Albany, both on the Mississippi. Albany was laid out last October, on the Great Eastern Bend of the Mississippi, thirty-five miles from Stephenson, and sixty from Galena. The town site, and the country in the immediate vicinity, are highly picturesque and beautiful, in some parts quite romantic. The landing is good, the water increasing in depth from the shore as half to one, until it is from twelve to twenty-five feet. From the river the ground rises at an angle of some twenty to thirty degrees, until it reaches the height of the surrounding country. One hundred and thirty-three blocks of lots have been laid off. Thirteen streets, in width from 66 to 100 feet, run at nearly right angles from the river. Liberal reserves are made for public benefit, for churches, and schools. There are now built and building some fifteen dwelling-houses, stores, &c, and twice that number under contract. A steam saw-mill, now erecting, will soon be completed, which will much facilitate building.
WILL County is situated in the north-eastern part of the state, and is bounded north by Cook, south by Iroquois, and west by La Salle county; on the east it has
111Lake and Newton counties, Indiana, from which it is separated by the eastern boundary of the state. It is in length from north to south on the western side 42, on the east 30 miles, and varies in breadth from east to west from 12 to 38 miles; and containing an area of 1320 square miles. It was formed in 1836, and is estimated to contain 3500 inhabitants.
The streams which water this county are the Kankakee and its tributaries, also the Des Plaines and Du Page, together with some branches of the Calumet river and Mason creek. Much of the land is of first-rate quality: there are prairies of considerable extent, and a good deal of timber in many parts, lying chiefly in groves, and along the banks of the rivers and creeks. The Illinois and Michigan canal will pass through the county in a south-westerly direction along the valley of, and parallel to, the Des Plaines river.
In the north-west part of the county, on the west bank of the Des Plaines river, and about 16 miles above its junction with the Kankakee, is Mount Joliet. It is in the midst of a large plain, covered in summer with short, thin grass, and which bears striking marks of having been once inundated. Its size is variously estimated. Beck, in his Gazetteer, states, "It is three or four hundred yards in length, north and south, and two or three hundred in breadth, east and west, and is in the form of a pyramid." Several gentlemen, who have passed this mound without stopping particularly to measure it, have estimated its length one mile, its breadth, at the base, half a mile, and its height one hundred and fifty feet. It appears to be an immense pile of sand and pebbles, similar to the sand ridges along the Illinois river. This name was given by the companions of Joliet, who visited this country in 1673.
About two miles below Mount Joliet, and on the same side of the river, there is a similar elevation called Mount Flathead. It extends near two miles in length; the north end is rounded — the south end irregularly shaped — its contents sand, gravel, and coarse pebbles, worn smooth by water friction.
The towns in Will county are all of recent origin, and mostly small: they are, Juliet, the seat of justice, Plainfield, Lockport, Winchester, Lancaster, &c.
Plainfield is in the north-west part of the county, about nine miles from Juliet, and on the direct mail road, nearly half-way between Chicago and Ottawa. It is beautifully situated on the east side of the Du Page river, on a fine and undulating prairie, and contains about 400 inhabitants. It has two stores, two taverns, several mechanical trades, a Methodist and a Baptist congregation.
Lockport is a town site lately laid off on the Illinois and Michigan canal, at the termination of the lake level, thirty-four and a half miles from Chicago. Here will be two locks established, each of ten feet lift, which will give twenty feet fall for the immense quantity of surplus water that can be brought from Lake Michigan, equal to 10,000 cubic feet every minute, after supplying the canal, and making full allowance for leakage, evaporation, &c, enough to drive 234 pairs of millstones, four and a half feet diameter. A large town, and extensive manufacturing operations, will doubtless arise here, as soon as the canal is completed. Near this place, the Des Plaines river has fifteen feet fall. Adjoining to Lockport, the town of East Lockport has been lately laid off.
Winchester is on the right bank of the Kankakee river, about nine miles from its mouth, and eighteen nearly south from Juliet. It is at the junction of Fork creek with the Kankakee, and is a lately settled town, containing only a few houses, a store, a tavern, two saw-mills, &c. Yankee Settlement is in the northeast part of the county, from six to eight miles north-east from Juliet. It is in a rich undulating prairie, and contains a considerable population of thriving and industrious New England farmers. Emmettsburg is on the left bank of the Des Plaines river, and on the line of the Illinois and Michigan canal, a few miles north of Juliet. It is a settlement inhabited by Irish and German Roman Catholics.
WINNEBAGO County is one of the most northern counties of Illinois, lying immediately south of the state line. It is bounded north by Rock and Iowa counties of Wisconsin Territory, south by Ogle, east by Boone, and west by Stephenson county. It extends from east to west 24, and from north to south 21 miles,
112containing an area of 504 square miles. It was formed from Jo Daviess and the attached portion of La Salle county, in January 1836; from which parts of Stephenson and Boone counties have since been detached.
The county extends on both sides of Rock river, which traverses it nearly from north to south, and furnishes an immense water-power, especially at the rapids, where the town of Rockford, or Midway, is laid off: here there are mills, storehouses, and dwellings erecting. The other streams are the Pekatonica or the Peekatonokee and its branches, which also abound in good mill-seats. The lands granted to the Polish emigrants by Congress are situated in this county. There is much excellent land here: the timber is in groves and detached portions, and the prairies undulating and abundantly rich. This, in common with all the northern counties, is filling up rapidly with an industrious and enterprizing population. The inhabitants of Winnebago county are estimated at from 1200 to 1500.
Its seat of justice is not yet established, but will probably be fixed at the town of Winnebago, just laid out. This town is on the west bank of Rock River, on a beautiful, high, and dry prairie, about half-way between Galena and Chicago. The river is navigable to this place for steamboats, and a free ferry is established. Some buildings are now in progress of erection.
BUREAU County, to be formed from the northern part of Putnam county, will be bounded north by Whiteside and Ogle, south by Putnam and Coffee, east by La Salle, and west by Henry county. The streams which traverse this district are the head branches of Spoon river, and Bureau and Little Bureau creeks: these are all beautiful clear streams, and furnish excellent mill-seats. It contains fine tracts of land, beautiful groves of timber, and rich, undulating, and dry prairies. There are several considerable settlements in this region of country, inhabited by industrious and thriving farmers.
The county seat will probably be at Princeton: this place is about ten miles north-west from Hennepin, the seat of justice of Putnam county: it was located by colonists from Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1833; contains a post-office of the same name, and is in the heart of the Bureau Settlement, which is in a flourishing condition, and surrounded by a considerable body of rich and fertile land.
COFFEE County will be formed from Putnam, Knox, and Henry counties, chiefly from the former: it will be bounded north by Bureau and Henry, south by Peoria, east by Putnam, and west by Henry county. This district consists chiefly of beautiful rolling prairies, which contain a great amount of excellent land, with much valuable timber, scattered in groves and along the banks of the larger streams. It is watered by the main and western branches of the Spoon river, and their tributaries.
The towns, which are both quite recent and small, are La Fayette and Wyoming: the latter, situated on the east bank of Spoon river, will probably be the seat of justice. It is about 35 miles north-north-west from Peoria, on the road from that place to the mouth of Rock river.
DE KALB will contain the western part of Kane county. This tract is mostly a fine undulating prairie country, with a rich soil, and but sparingly wooded. The
113timber is chiefly in groves and scattered portions of oak openings; resembling that of the adjacent counties, of which oaks of various kinds, sugar-maple, Walnut, white and black, hickory and ash of different species, are the principal varieties. The streams all furnish excellent mill-seats, and in some of them saw and flouring mills are already built. They are Rock, Somonauk and Indian creeks, all branches of Fox river, and the southern tributaries of Sycamore or Kishwaukee creek, which runs into Rock river. The county will be bounded by Boone on the north, and La Salle on the south, Kane east, and Ogle west.
MICHIGAN County, to be formed from the western part of Cook, will be situated north of Will, south of M'Henry, east of Kane, and west of Cook counties. The rivers which run through this district are the Des Planes and its branches on the east side, and the Du Page on the west. It is a fine region of country, in which the streams are perennial, and the soil rich and covered with luxuriant herbage. The surface is tolerably level, with large prairies, and the timber in groves scattered through them and along the banks of the streams.
The towns in this district are small, and of recent formation: they are, Napiersville, Warrenton, and Lyons. The first-named place is situated about 24 miles west-south-west from Chicago, and contains about 250 inhabitants, four stores, a saw and grist mill, and a school. The country around is dry, with an undulating surface and rich soil. Warrenton is four miles north of Napiersville. Lyons is on the Des Plaines river, about twelve miles north-west from Chicago: it contains a tavern, saw-mill, and a few dwelling-houses.
Sketches of The Cities and Principal Towns in The State of Illinois.
The City of ALTON is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi river, two miles above the Missouri, 18 miles below the Illinois river, and about 1200 from New Orleans. This place was laid out in 1818, but it is only within the last three or four years that public attention has been turned to it as an emporium of trade.
Up to the year 1832, it contained only two or three dozen houses and a steam-mill: in that year the State Penitentiary was erected here. The population is now estimated at 2500, and the number of houses is 300. Since the spirit of improvement began, it has met with nothing to retard it: but employment has been given to every building mechanic that could be procured. A large proportion of the buildings are of the most substantial kind, — massive stone ware-houses. Many of the private residences are of finely wrought stone or brick, and highly ornamental, though the larger portion of both business and dwelling-houses are temporary frames of one story. The streets are generally 40 and 60 feet wide, and State street (the principal one running at right angles from the river) is 80. The rates of building are as high, probably, as in any part of the union; yet rents are much higher in proportion; every house bringing from 15 to 30 per cent, upon its cost, including the price of the lot.
The following enumeration will give some idea of the business of the place: There are 20 wholesale stores, one of which imports directly from Europe, beside 32 retail stores, some of which sell also at wholesale. The various branches of the mechanic arts are also carried on, though the greater portion of the articles used is brought from abroad. There are here eight attorneys, seven physicians, and eight clergymen, attached to the following denominations, viz: three Protestant Methodist, two Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Episcopal, and one Episcopal Methodist. These have a church for each denomination, some of which, in their appearance, would do credit to the oldest towns in the west. There are four hotels, and two others building; one of which, of stone, will be 60 feet by 175. Besides these, there are nine boarding-houses, all of which are crowded with sojourners, either temporary or permanent. The public institutions are a bank (branch of the State Bank of Illinois), insurance office, lyceum, masonic lodge, lodge of independent odd fellows, and two schools. The lyceum attracts the greater portion of the young men of the town, who engage in the public discussion of questions, and hear lectures from gentlemen of science, who are also its members.
There are two temperance societies, one on the total abstinence plan, which is the most popular, and is daily becoming more so. There are four newspapers, viz: the Alton Spectator, Alton Telegraph, Alton Observer, Temperance Herald.
The legislature of Illinois have memorialized Congress repeatedly to have the great national road, now constructing through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, cross the Mississippi at this place; and sanguine hopes are entertained that the wishes of Illinois in this particular will be duly regarded. Building mechanics of all kinds are constantly wanted. The following wages are paid: bricklayers, 2.50 to 3 dollars per day; stone-masons, 2 to 2.50; labourers, 1.50. Where the men are boarded by the employer, a deduction of 50 cents per day is made from these rates. Board at the hotels is 3 to 4 dollars per week, without lodging; for lodging, 1 to 1.50 additional: at the boarding-houses, 2.50 to 3, lodging included. Brick at the kiln sell for 7 to 9 dollars per 1000; pine boards, 25 to 40 per 1000, (they are brought from the Ohio river); wood for fuel, $3 per cord; coal, 20 cents per bushel. The latter is obtained from the hills, one mile in the rear of the town; and both wood and coal can be got for very little more than the cost of cutting, digging, and hauling. The comparatively high price at which both sell, will furnish another evidence of the high prices of labour, and assure eastern labourers, who are working at this season of the year for 40 cents a day, that here they may soon realize a little fortune.
This city is surrounded for several miles in extent with one of the finest bodies of timber in the state, from which vast quantities of lumber may be produced. Bituminous coal exists in great abundance at only a short distance from the town. Inexhaustible beds of limestone for building purposes, and easily quarried, are within its precincts. A species of freestone, easily dressed, and used for monuments and architectural purposes, and that peculiar species of lime, used for water cement, are found in great abundance in the vicinity. The corporate bounds extend two miles along the river, and half a mile back. The city plat is laid out by the proprietors upon a liberal scale. There are five squares reserved for public purposes; and a large reservation is made on the river for a public landing and promenade.
The prices of lots in Alton depend upon their location. Best business stands command 400 dollars a front foot; lots more retired, for private dwellings, from 100 to 50, and 25. Stores rent from 1500 to 400; dwelling-houses, from 600 to 200. Some of the stores do a very large business, their transactions amounting to half a million dollars a year: others sell to the amount of 200,000 dollars. Clerks and professional men only are not wanted. Of all these, there seems to be no scarcity in any part of the west.
Eight steamboats are owned here in whole or in part, and some of them are heavily freighted at each departure with the exports of the town alone. These exports must increase as the back country continues to fill up. To add to its resources, two rail-roads will shortly be made, one leading to Springfield, 70 miles, the stock of which has been subscribed; the other leading to Mount Carmel, on the Wabash, the stock of which has been taken in part. Land, five miles back of the
115town, sells at from 10 to 40 dollars per acre, according to the improvements. At a greater distance, it is much cheaper, and settling rapidly. The productions are wheat, corn, beef, pork, horses, and cattle. Real estate has risen in Alton more than 1000 per cent, within two years. The inhabitants are principally from New York and New England; and this may be said of all the business men, with two or three exceptions. Next to these in number, are Virginians. The natural surface of much of the town site of Alton is broken by bluffs and ravines; but the enterprize of its citizens and the corporation is fast removing these inconveniences, by grading down its hills, and filling up its ravines. A contract of 60,000 dollars has recently been entered upon to construct a culvert over the Little Piasau creek that passes through the centre of the town, over which will soon be built one of the most capacious and pleasant streets. Since its settlement, the citizens of Alton have enjoyed as good health as those of any river town in the west.
The market is well supplied with provisions from the back country; prices, those of St. Louis. The meats and vegetables are excellent, and cultivated fruit is pretty abundant. The wild fruits are plums, crab-apples, persimmons, pawpaws, hickory nuts, and pecons. Wild game is also abundant, viz: deer, pheasants, prairie hens, partridges, with the various kinds of water-fowl. The fish are cat, perch, and buffalo.
Such is a hasty view of Alton as it now is. Its rapid growth is an evidence of what enterprize can effect in contending against Nature herself. Scarcely a town site could have been selected on the Mississippi originally more unpromising in its appearance; and yet in five years, probably, it will attract the admiration of every beholder. Already the "little hills have fallen on every side;" the valleys have been raised; and within the time mentioned, the city will present to the spectator from the river the idea of a vast amphitheatre, the streets ranging above each other in exact uniformity, while from each mountain top in the distance will glitter the abodes of wealth and independence. The foundations of its prosperity are laid on the broad basis of public morals and Christian benevolence. Its churches are its most prominent and costly edifices, and claim the tribute of praise from every beholder.
How beautiful they stand!
The honours of our native place,
And bulwarks of our land.’
No people cherish the sentiment conveyed in these lines more than do those of Alton: not a town in the Union, of its population, has been so liberal in its contributions to every measure of Christian benevolence. The amount subscribed the present year probably exceeds 10,000 dollars; one item in which is the subscription, by two gentlemen, of 1000 dollars each, to employ a temperance lecturer for this portion of the state. In addition to this, one of the same gentlemen has given 10,000 dollars towards the erection and endowment of a female seminary at Monticello, five miles north of the town, to the superintendence of which a most accomplished lady has been called from the celebrated institute at Ipswich, Massachusetts.
BEARDSTOWN, the seat of justice for Cass county, is situated on the east bank of the Illinois, and about 90 miles from the mouth of the river. It is one of the chief places of import and export on that stream, and is at the head of navigation for the largest class of New-Orleans steamboats. It is never overflowed, and the landing is excellent.
The town, which was laid off in 1829, and then contained but one log cabin, has now 200 dwelling-houses, frame and brick, and a population estimated at 1000. It has thirteen stores, eight groceries, one drug-shop, two tanneries, two forwarding houses, two steam flouring-mills, one distillery, one brewery, and three pork establishments. Of master mechanics there are four house-carpenters, one cabinet maker, two blacksmiths, one silversmith, three tailors, one baker, one turner, one bricklayer, stonemason and plasterer, one wagon maker, one shoemaker, three coopers, and one barber. It has one church only, which is occupied by the
116Methodists, though there is sometimes Presbyterian worship in town. There is an insurance company here. A fair proportion of the houses are two stories high, and all, with three exceptions, are frame, mostly painted white; — the exceptions are those of brick. The streets are 80 and 60 feet wide.
The exports are considerable, and consist of corn, pork, hides, and whiskey. Flour was exported a few years ago; but is now as high here as at New-Orleans, all that can be made being required for home consumption. The chief article of export is pork, of which, in the winter of 1835-8, 12,000 head were put up; in the succeeding winter (the last), 15,000. Two hundred were frequently slaughtered in a day. Corn, about seven years ago, sold generally at 12Ë cents per bushel; the price now is 30 cents.
The navigation of the river is obstructed by ice, from one to two and a half months in winter. During the last season, the suspension continued the latter period. The last boat left, Dec. 5th; the first arrived, Feb. 21st. The departures and arrivals of steamboats in the year 1836 amounted to 450. The prices of freight from St. Louis and Alton vary from 25 to 75 cents per 100 lbs., according to the state of navigation.
Of the inhabitants, the much greater portion are males. From its situation on the Illinois river, and very nearly in the centre of the state, families collect here in the winter and remain till the spring, when they scatter throughout the country. As a winter residence it is very agreeable, the soil being sandy, and of course never muddy; but in the summer and fall, the fever and ague prevails to some extent. Since 1834, however, the health of the place has improved considerably. The inhabitants are from all the states of the union.
Dwelling-houses, containing two rooms and a kitchen, rent for one hundred dollars a year. The cost of building them is about $500. To this may be added the cost of the lot, which is from 200 to 500 more. Lots fronting the river sell at about 30 dollars per front foot; on Main street, from 18 to 20.
The view from the river is imposing, and the general appearance of the town exceedingly attractive. The river bank, for two or three miles in length, and one in width, is eight or ten feet above high-water mark. Beyond this is a narrow slough, or sloo, which is about to be drained by an incorporated company; two and a half miles further, commences a fine, rich, cultivated prairie, which extends five miles to the bluffs. Some farms upon it have been sold at forty dollars per acre, and sixty has been offered for others and refused. The price of improved farms beyond the bluffs is from ten to twenty dollars per acre.
Beardstown is the terminating point of the contemplated Beardstown and Springfield rail-road, and the Beardstown and Sangamon canal.
BELLEVILLE is a flourishing town, and the seat of justice of St. Clair county. It is situated on the east bank of Richland creek, four miles east of the bluffs which bound the American Bottom, and 15 miles east of St. Louis, 71 miles south-west from Vandalia, and 843 from Washington. It is surrounded with a rich and extensive agricultural country, and a fine body of timber. It is in the centre of the Turkey Hill Settlement, which is one of the most flourishing in the state.
Belleville is a place of considerable business, and contains a number of stores and groceries. The public buildings are, a handsome court-house of brick, finished in a superior style, a brick jail, a clerk's office, a public hall which belongs to a library company, and a framed Methodist house of worship. It has two select schools; one for boarders, half a mile distant.
There are two large merchant steam flouring-mills, with six pairs of stones, a brewery, a steam distillery, a wool carding machine, eight carpenters, one cabinet maker, five blacksmith's shops, one tinner's shop, two silversmiths, three wagon makers, one turner and wheelwright, two shoemaker's shops, one millwright, two coopers, two saddlers, two tailors, one bakery, one high school, one common school, a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and a Methodist congregation, and about 700 inhabitants, of whom about one hundred are Germans, twenty French, and the residue Americans. There are three lawyers, four physicians, four resident ministers of the gospel, and a printing-office, which issues the "St. Clair Gazette."
BLOOMINGTON, the seat of justice for M'Lean county, is situated on the margin of a fine prairie, in the midst of a beautiful and fertile district. The town is on the north side of Blooming Grove, which comprises a large and valuable tract of timber, of all the varieties of the country desirable for building, consisting chiefly of lime, maple, ash, oak, and black and white walnut.
Bloomington has eight or ten stores, which do a general and extensive business, three groceries, two taverns, two lawyers, three physicians, an academy for young gentlemen, which is highly commended, and an institution for the education of young ladies; also two steam-mills, a Presbyterian and a Methodist meeting-house and ministers, a number of various mechanics, and an intelligent population of about 700.
This town is a point on the great central rail-road, &c.; and, surrounded as it is by a most desirable farming country, must increase in importance with its age. The facilities for building furnished by the steam saw-mills situated in the town, must be felt in the rapid growth of the place. It can scarcely be considered a compliment to say of Bloomington, that it is among the most beautiful towns in Illinois.
CAHOKIA is a post-town in St. Clair county, three-fourths of a mile east of the Mississippi river, and five miles south of St. Louis. It is one of the oldest settlements in the state. The Caoquias, a considerable tribe of the Illinois, had, for a long time previous to the discovery of the Mississippi, made it a resting place, probably on account of the game with which the river and the ponds in the vicinity abounded. We have no distinct account of the first settlement of this place by the French; but it is probable that it occurred shortly after La Salle descended the Mississippi in 1683. Pleased as some of his followers were with the apparent ease and happiness which the savages enjoyed, it is probable that they chose rather to remain among them, than return to their own country. Instances of this kind are frequently mentioned by Tonti and Hennepin; and as the object of the adventurous La Salle was to settle and civilize the country, their choice seldom met with opposition. Father Charlevoix, who visited this place in 1721, observes: — "I was astonished that they had pitched upon so inconvenient a situation (being so far from the river), especially as they had so many better places in their choice; but I was told the Mississippi washed the foot of that village when it was built; that in three years it has lost half a league of its breadth, and that they were thinking of seeking out another habitation," — The Indians gradually abandoned Cahokia, as the French settlers increased: they were, however, always on the most friendly terms with them.
In 1766, Cahokia contained forty families; and at the commencement of the revolution, their number had increased to about fifty, which is about their present number. The majority of the houses are built of pickets, one story high: they generally have piazzas on every side, and, being whitewashed on the outside, have a lively appearance. Here is also a Roman Catholic chapel, in which service is regularly performed. The inhabitants are principally French. These preserve all their ancient manners and customs; with few exceptions, they are poor, indolent, and illiterate. The utmost extent of their industry is to raise a few acres of corn, and procure a few loads of prairie hay.
By an act of Congress passed in 1788, 400 acres of land adjoining the village was granted to each family; and by a subsequent act, the lands used by the inhabitants of Cahokia and Prairie du Pont in common, were appropriated to the use of said inhabitants, until otherwise directed by law.
Both the Spanish and French governments, in forming settlements on the Mississippi, had special regard to convenience of social intercourse, and protection from the Indians. All their settlements were required to be in the form of villages or towns; and lots of a convenient size for a door-yard, garden, and stable-yard, were provided for each family. To each village were granted two tracts of land at convenient distances, for "common fields," and "commons."
A "common field" is a tract of land, of several hundred acres, enclosed in common by the villagers, each person furnishing his proportion of labour, and each family possessing individual interest in a portion of the field, marked off, and
118bounded from the rest. Ordinances were made to regulate the repairs of fences, the time of excluding cattle in the spring, and the time of gathering the crop and opening the field for the range of cattle in the fall. Each plat of ground in the common field was owned in fee-simple by the person to whom granted, subject to sale and conveyance, the same as any landed property.
A "common" is a tract of land granted to the town for wood and pasturage, in which each owner of a village lot has a common, but not an individual right. In some cases, this tract embraced several thousand acres. The "common" attached to Cahokia, extends up the prairie opposite St. Louis.
This place formerly enjoyed, on account of its proximity to the Indians, an extensive and valuable fur trade; but at present it has few or no advantages, and from the number of decayed and deserted houses appears to be on the decline. The situation, although somewhat elevated, is damp and disagreeable: in high water, it is frequently inundated. The Americans seldom pass a season without suffering from the effects of the miasma, arising from the ponds in the vicinity. The French, whether on account of their being inured to the climate, their manner of living, or from their possessing more hardy constitutions, are little affected by it, but generally enjoy good health. Coal is found in the vicinity of this place. Its discovery was singular, and is thus noticed in Breckenridge's View of Louisiana: "Some years since, a tree, taking fire, communicated to its roots, which continued burning for some time. Upon examination, they were found to have passed through a bed of coal. The fire continued burning until it was completely smothered by the falling in of large masses of incumbent earth."
CANTON is a pleasant and thriving town in the north-east part of Fulton county, on the main road from Lewistown to Peoria, 15 miles north-north-east of the former, and 25 south-west from the latter, and about 10 miles from the nearest point on the Illinois river. The town is situated on the borders of a large prairie, and has eight or ten stores, a number of industrious mechanics, and a due proportion of professional men; also, a large academy, recently chartered by the legislature as a college: this is a respectable institution, under the direction of competent officers, and contains 70 or 80 students. The population of Canton amounts to from 500 to 600. The country around is high, undulating, fertile, and healthful, with a proper mixture of timber and prairie.
This town will be intersected by two rail-roads; one of which will extend from Peoria on the Illinois, to Warsaw on the Mississippi river, opposite the mouth of the Des Moines river: length, upwards of 100 miles. The other will commence at Liverpool, on the Illinois river, 12 miles from Canton, pass through the latter, and terminate at Knoxville, the county seat of Knox county. Extent, about 40 miles. The completion of either or both of these public improvements will add greatly to the prosperity and importance of Canton. The prairie on which the town is located commences near Spoon river, and runs northward, dividing the waters that fall into Spoon river on the west, from those that enter the Illinois on the east, till it becomes lost in the interminable prairies on Rock river. At Canton it is from two to three miles in width, dry, undulating, and inexhaustibly rich. Further north, it becomes inferior.
CARROLLTON, the seat of justice of Greene county, was laid out in 1821, and is situated about half-way between Alton and Jacksonville, being 35 miles from the former and 36 from the latter place, and 10 miles east from the Illinois river. This is a flourishing and pleasant town, lying on the borders of String Prairie, between Macoupin and Apple creeks, in the midst of a beautiful level country, with a rich soil, suitably proportioned into timber and prairie, and densely populated with industrious and thriving farmers. Improved farms around Carrollton sell for ten, fifteen, and twenty dollars per acre. The houses are framed or of brick, built in a plain but convenient style.
Carrollton has a population of about 1000 inhabitants, with seventeen stores, six groceries, two taverns, seven lawyers, six physicians, four ministers of the gospel, two male and two female schools, two steam flouring-mills, two steam saw-mills,
119and one tannery. The court-house is neatly built of brick, forty-four by forty-six
feet, two stories, with a handsome spire. The religious denominations are Baptists, Methodists, Reformers, and Presbyterians. The first three have houses of worship, and the latter are preparing to build.
The city of CHICAGO is the largest place in the state of Illinois, and has grown up almost entirely within the last seven years. It is the seat of justice for Cook county, and is situated on the west side of lake Michigan, at the mouth of Chicago river, and at the eastern end of the Illinois and Michigan canal. Its growth, even for western cities, has been unexampled. In Dr. Beck's Gazetteer, published in 1823, Chicago is described as a village of 10 or 12 houses, and 60 or 70 inhabitants. In 1832, it contained five small stores, and 250 inhabitants; and now (1837) the population amounts to 8000, with 120 stores, besides a number of groceries; of the former, twenty sell by wholesale. It has also twelve public houses, three newspapers, near fifty lawyers, and upwards of thirty physicians.
Chicago is connected by means of the numerous steamboats, ships, brigs, schooners, &c, that navigate the great fresh water seas of the north, with all the different trading ports on lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie, and especially with Buffalo, to and from which city various lines of regular packets are constantly departing and arriving. Some of the steamboats are of great power and burthen. The James Madison, built last winter at Erie, Pennsylvania, expressly for the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Buffalo trade, on her first trip in May of the present year, carried over 4000 barrels freight, and upwards of 900 adult passengers, besides a large number of children; and the receipts for the voyage were estimated at 18,000 dollars. It is intended to have this vessel leave Chicago and Buffalo every 18 days. The James Madison is 185 feet in length, 31 feet beam, and 45 feet in width on deck including the guards, 12 feet depth of hold, 720 tons burthen, and propelled by a high-pressure horizontal engine of 180 horse power.
The merchandize imported into Chicago in the year 1836 amounted in weight to 28,000 tons, and in value to upwards of three millions of dollars, beside a vast number of immigrants with their families, provisions, &c. There arrived in the same year 456 vessels, including 49 steamboats, 10 ships and barques; the rest, brigs, schooners, and sloops. During the last winter, 127 teams, loaded with merchandize for the country, were counted in the street in one day.
The Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, and Roman Catholics, each have houses of worship. There are likewise one or more insurance companies, fire companies, water-works for the supply of water from the lake, several good schools, and a respectable academy. A large ship-yard has been commenced near the city. An extensive brewery, a steam saw and grist mill, and a large furnace, are all in successful operation. The building of an Academy of Fine Arts is likewise contemplated, and measures are about being taken to obtain for it a collection of paintings. The care which the original surveyors took to give the prairie winds a full sweep through this city, has distinguished it as the most healthful place in the western country, and has made it the resort of a large number of people during the sickly season. The natural advantages of the place, and the enterprize and capital that will concentrate here, with the favourable prospects for health, must soon make this the emporium of trade and business for all the northern country. The completion of the canal will give Chicago a water communication with all the principal cities in the country: the high prices given for produce, and the ready market, will make it the grand resort of the western farmers.
Chicago is built on level ground, but sufficiently elevated above the highest floods to prevent overflow; and on both sides of the river, for a mile in width, along the shore of the lake, the land is a sand-bank: but back of the city, towards the Des Plaines river, is a rich and fertile prairie, and for the first three or four miles dry and elevated. The following description of the country in the vicinity of this place is from the pen of Mr. Schoolcraft:
"The country around Chicago is the most fertile and beautiful that can be imagined. It consists of an intermixture of woods and prairies, diversified with gentle slopes, sometimes attaining the elevation of hills, and irrigated with a number
120of clear streams and rivers, which throw their waters partly into lake Michigan, and partly into the Mississippi river. — As a farming country, it unites the fertile soil of the finest lowland prairies, with an elevation which exempts it from the influence of stagnant waters, and a summer climate of delightful serenity; while its natural meadows present all the advantages for raising stock, of the most favoured part of the valley of the Mississippi. It is already the seat of several flourishing plantations, and only requires the extinguishment of the Indian title to the lands, to become one of the most attractive fields for the emigrant. To the ordinary advantages of an agricultural market-town, it must hereafter add that of a depot for the inland commerce between the northern and southern sections of the union, and a great thoroughfare for strangers, merchants, and travellers."
Along the north branch of the Chicago, and the lake shore, are extensive bodies of fine timber. Large quantities of white pine exist in the regions towards Green Bay, and about Grand river in Michigan, from which lumber in any quantities is obtained, and conveyed by shipping to Chicago. Yellow poplar boards and plank are brought across the lake from the St. Joseph's river. The mail in post-coaches from Detroit, arrives here tri-weekly, and departs for Galena, for Springfield, Alton, and St. Louis, and for Danville and Vincennes.
The United States has a strip of elevated ground between the town and lake, about half a mile in width, on which Fort Dearborn and the light-house are situated, but which is now claimed as a pre-emption right, and is now in a course of judicial investigation.
Fort Dearborn was for a considerable period occupied as a military station by the United States, and garrisoned generally by about three companies of regular troops; but the expulsion of the Indians, and the rapid increase of settlements at all parts of this region, have rendered its further occupancy as a military post unnecessary: in consequence, the troops have been recently withdrawn. It consists of a square stockade, inclosing barracks, quarters for the officers, a magazine, provision store, &c, and is defended by bastions at the northern and south-east angles.
During the last war with Great Britain, this place was the scene of a most foul and bloody tragedy. In 1812, in consequence of the disgraceful surrender of general Hull at Detroit, it was determined to abandon the fort. A number of the troops, shortly after leaving it, were inhumanly murdered by the savages, who lay in ambush on the margin of the lake.
The following account of this affair is extracted from M'Afee's History of the late war in the western country. "On the morning of the 15th (Aug.) at sunrise, the troops, consisting of about 70 men, with some women and children, marched from the fort with pack-horses in the centre, and captain Wells with his Indians in the rear. They had proceeded about a mile from the fort, when the front guard was fired on by the savages, who were posted behind a sand-bank on the margin of the lake, and in a skirt of woods which the party were approaching; the rest of the country around them being an open prairie. At the same time, they saw a body of Indians passing to their rear, to cut off their retreat to the fort. The firing now became general, and the troops, seeing nothing but death and massacre before them, formed in line of battle, and returned the fire of the enemy with much bravery and success, as they slowly retreated in the prairie. The Indians made several desperate efforts to rush up and tomahawk them; but every charge was repulsed by the firmness of the troops, who fought with desperation, determined to sell their lives as dear as possible. Captain Wells being killed, his Indians retired from the party and joined the others. Several women and children were also killed; and our ranks were at last so reduced, as scarcely to exceed twenty effective men: yet they continued resolute, and stuck together, resolved to fight while one remained able to fire. But the Indians now withdrew some distance, and sent a small French boy to demand a surrender. The boy was captain Heald's interpreter, who had run off to the Indians at the commencement of the action. He advanced cautiously; and Mr. Griffith, who was afterwards a lieutenant in a company of spies in colonel Johnson's regiment from Kentucky, advanced to meet him, intending to kill him for his perfidy. But the boy declared, that it was the only way he had to save his life, and appeared sorry that he had been obliged to act in
121that manner. He then made known his business; the Indians proposed to spare the lives of our men, provided they would surrender. The proposal being made known to the surviving soldiers, they unanimously determined to reject it. The boy returned with this answer to the Indians; but in a short time he came back, and entreated Mr. Griffith to use his influence with captain Heald, to make him surrender, as the Indians were very numerous. The captain, his lady, and Mr. Griffith, were all wounded. He at last consented to surrender; and the troops having laid down their arms, the Indians advanced to receive them; and notwithstanding their promises, they now perfidiously tomahawked three or four of the men. One Indian, with the fury of a demon in his countenance, advanced to Mrs. Heald, with his tomahawk drawn. She had been accustomed to danger; and knowing the temper of the Indians, with great presence of mind, she looked him in the face, and smiling said, "Surely you would not kill a squaw." His arm fell nerveless; the conciliating smile of an innocent female, appealing to the magnanimity of a warrior, reached the heart of the savage, and subdued the barbarity of his soul. He immediately took the lady under his protection. She was the daughter of general Samuel Wells of Kentucky. The head of captain Wells was cut off, and his heart was cut out and eaten by the savages.
"The Indians having divided their prisoners, as usual in such cases, it was the fate of captain Heald, his lady, and Mr. Griffith, to be taken by the Ottawas on the lake beyond the mouth of the river St. Joseph. Their wounds being severe, they looked upon destruction as inevitable; but Heaven often smiles when we least expect it. Griffith had observed a canoe, which was large enough to carry them; and they contrived to escape in it by night. In this frail bark they traversed the lake 200 miles to Mackinaw, where the British commander afforded them the means of returning to the United States." After the war, this fort was repaired, and again taken possession of by the American troops; since which time, it has always been, until lately, occupied by a garrison.
DECATUR, the seat of justice for Macon county, is situated on the west side of the North Fork of Sangamon river, on the borders of an extensive prairie, and on a dry, elevated, and healthful site. This place contains at present a population of about 300 or 400, and promises eventually to be one of the first inland towns in the state. Its future growth and greatness are predicated on the surest grounds. It is so far from any river towns, that it can never be overshadowed by their prosperity ; while the internal improvements now going into effect, must place it in the first rank as an interior trading town.
The rail-road from the Mississippi to the Wabash, which, by the act of the last session, is to take precedence of the other rail-roads in the time of its construction, is to pass through Decatur; this place is also a point in the great central rail road, which is to connect the Ohio with the northern part of the state. Decatur, being thus at the intersection of these two rail-roads; being also far in the interior, and in the midst of a section of country fertile and rapidly increasing in population, enjoys every advantage for a first-rate trading town. It is probable that no town in the state will be more, and hardly any one as much benefited by the present system of internal improvements, as Decatur. The place too is decidedly healthy, it is in a rich and important county, and surrounded by extensive settlements.
The town contains several stores, and has a number of mechanics and professional men.
EDWARDSVILLE, the seat of justice for Madison county, is on the south bank of Cahokia creek, and is pleasantly situated on the high ground which bounds the American Bottom. It is in the centre of a fertile and healthful country, well watered and timbered, and gently undulating; presenting at once to the agriculturist a most desirable place for residence. The vicinity of the town is settled with thrifty and enterprizing farmers.
Edwardsville is composed of the old town, laid out in 1815; and the new town, which was laid out about five years afterwards. It is situated 21 miles north-east
122from St. Louis, on the Springfield road, 12 miles south-east from Alton, 55 from Vandalia, and 836 from Washington city. It has a court-house and jail of brick, a land-office for the Edwardsville district, seven stores, two taverns, two physicians, four lawyers, a castor-oil factory, various mechanics, and about 400 inhabitants. Here is also an academy and a commodious building. The Baptists and Methodists have each a house of worship. The inhabitants are generally industrious, intelligent, moral, and a large proportion professors of religion.
GALENA is the principal town in the lead-mine district in the north-west part of the state, and the county seat of Jo Daviess county. It is pleasantly situated on Fever river, a few miles above its mouth, and has a population of about 1200 inhabitants, with 18 or 20 stores, a dozen groceries, 4 taverns and hotels, a printing-office that publishes a weekly paper, called the Gazette, four lawyers, three physicians, two schools, two ministers of the gospel, a pipe and sheet lead manufactory, a flour and saw-mill, a gunsmith, silversmith, saddler, tailor, several carpenters, blacksmiths, brick and stone masons, &c.
This place was first settled in 1826, and was originated by the extensive and rich lead-mines in its vicinity. It was an outpost of between 300 and 400 miles advance into the wilderness north of St. Louis. The amount of business transacted here is very considerable, as it is the place of import and export for an extensive and rich region of country. There is constant intercourse kept up by means of steamboats with St. Louis, New-Orleans, Louisville, Cincinnati, &c.
Fever river, on which Galena is placed, is navigable at all times for steamboats of any size; and in high water two miles above, for this distance it is deep and sluggish. Above this point it runs with a swift current over a rocky and gravelly bottom, is full of fine fish, and, like all the streams in this region, it is fed with perennial springs. This river rises near the Platte mounds, in Wisconsin Territory, in two branches, the East and West forks, runs a south-westerly course past Galena, and enters the Mississippi seven miles south of that place.
In the East Fork settlement, which is twelve miles east from Galena, the timber is scarce, but there is much excellent prairie, and the lead-mines are the best in Illinois. Population of farmers and miners, about fifty families.
On the West Fork or main creek is a considerable settlement, and some good farms. The alluvion on the stream is fine, and there is a tolerable supply of timber. This settlement is eight miles in a direct course, and twelve miles the travelled way north-east from Galena.
Fever river has been incorrectly called Bean river (Riviere au Feve, Fr.) Its proper name has been derived from two traditionary accounts. The first is, that in early times the Indians were carried off by a mortal sickness, supposed to be the small-pox. This circumstance gave rise to the name of another creek now called Small Pox. The other tradition, and the correct one, is, that it derived its name from a French trader by the name of Le Fevre, who settled near its mouth.
GRAFTON, in the southern part of Greene county, is a thriving town, containing about 500 inhabitants. It is on the north bank of the Mississippi river, two miles below the mouth of the Illinois, 24 miles south of Carrollton, 15 miles north-west from Alton, and ten miles north from St. Charles in Missouri. The town is situated on an elevated strip of land under the bluffs, and has a good steamboat landing. Several islands in the Mississippi make this point the real junction of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, as to navigation.
The country a few miles back is rich, and becoming densely populated. This place must soon become a thoroughfare for travelling from the Sangamon country across the Mississippi to St. Charles, and the regions along the Missouri river. It has a post-office, several stores and ware-houses, and promises to be a place of considerable business. A charter for a rail-road from this place through Carrollton to Springfield has been obtained, the company organized, and a portion of the stock taken. A chartered company is about to erect a splendid hotel.
JACKSONVILLE, the seat of justice for Morgan county, is situated about 22
183miles east of the Illinois river, and one and a half miles south of Mauvaiseterre creek. This town was laid off in 1825; but it is only within the last three or four years, that its present advancement can be dated. Its site is a broad elevated knoll, in the midst of a beautiful prairie, and, from whatever point it is approached, few places present a more delightful prospect. The neighbouring prairie is undulating, and is accounted uncommonly rich and fertile even in this land of fertility. It is mostly under high cultivation, and in its northern and western edge is environed by pleasant groves.
Jacksonville contains a population of about 2500, with 16 stores, several groceries and druggists' stores, two hotels, and a considerable number of mechanics of various trades; also eleven lawyers and ten physicians. It has one steam flour-mill, one saw-mill and two oil-mills, a manufactory for cotton-yarn, two carding factories, a tannery, and three brick-yards.
The public square in the centre of the town is of noble dimensions, occupied by a handsome court-house and market, both of brick; and its sides filled up with dwelling-houses, stores, offices, a church, bank, and hotel. From this point radiate streets and avenues in all directions. The public buildings, in addition to the court-house, are a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Methodist, and a Congregationalist church, a lyceum, a mechanics' association, a male and female academy, and a county jail.
There are two printing-offices that publish weekly papers, the Patriot, and the News, and also a book and job printing-office with a book-bindery attached, and a monthly religious periodical.
Illinois college is situated on an eminence one mile west of the town, formerly known as Wilson's Grove. The site is delightful: in the rear lies a dense clump of oaks, and in front is spread out the village with a boundless extent of prairie beyond, covered for miles with cultivation. Away to the south, the beautiful wild flowers flash as gaily in the sunlight, and wave as gracefully when swept by the breeze, as centuries ago, when no eye of civilized man looked upon its loveliness. Connected with the college buildings, are extensive grounds; and students, at their option, may devote a portion of each day to manual labour in the work-shop or on the farm. Some individuals have, it is said, in this manner defrayed all the expenses of their education.
JULIET, the seat of justice for Will county, is situated on both sides of the River Des Plaines, at the point where that stream is crossed by the Illinois and Michigan canal, about 16 miles above its junction with the Kankakee river, and 40 miles south-west from Chicago. This town has been laid off only a few years, and has already a population of about 600 persons. Its position on the canal will add much to its commercial importance, and increase its business facilities; while its great command of water-power will render it a suitable place for carrying on various branches of manufacture. It has fourteen stores, two groceries, one drugstore, three taverns, a saw and grist-mill, various mechanics, six lawyers, five physicians, a Methodist and an Episcopalian society.
KASKASKIA is the seat of justice of Randolph county, and was formerly the capital of the Territory of Illinois. It is situated on the right bank of the river of the same name, seven miles above its junction with the Mississippi, from which it is about three miles east. It is near the southern extremity of the American Bottom. The first settlement made here was by the French of Canada, shortly after the visit of La Salle in 1683; and so long as the French continued in possession of the Illinois country, Kaskaskia was its capital, and was flourishing and populous. When Charlevoix visited it in 1721, it contained a Jesuit college, the ruins of which only remain. In 1763, this place, as well as the country east of the Mississippi, was ceded by France to Great Britain. In 1766, it contained about 100 families, which number it retained until the revolutionary war. In 1778, the fort situated on the east side of the Kaskaskia river was taken by Col., afterwards Gen., George Rogers Clarke. After that time, and until within a few years, this town continued gradually to decline; owing chiefly to the ordinance of 1787, which
124prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude in what was then denominated the North-Western Territory. The slave-holders were disposed to preserve this species of property, and in order to do it effectually, they abandoned their ancient habitations, and joined their friends in the new dominions of Spain, on the west side of the Mississippi.
At present this place contains about 60 families, a majority of which are descended from the French. The houses are scattered over an extensive plain; and the greatest proportion are built of wood, in the French style. Many of them have fine gardens in front and rear, which give them a rural appearance. Here is a Catholic church, a court-house and jail, and a land-office for the sale of public lands in this district; also a nunnery and a female boarding-school.
On the east side of the river, directly opposite the town, the bluffs approach the river, and continue parallel with it to its junction with the Mississippi, when they follow the course of that stream in a southerly direction, and terminate thirty-five miles above the mouth of the Ohio, forming the southern boundary of the highlands on the Mississippi. From the town to the junction of the Kaskaskia with the Mississippi, there is a body of land, called "the Point," which is low, and subject to inundation, but well timbered. It abounds in wild horses, many of which are annually caught.
By an act of Congress, passed in 1788, a large tract of land was granted to the different French villages on the east side of the Mississippi, and a separate tract to the inhabitants of Kaskaskia, to be used as a common. It is situated on the Mississippi, and contains twenty thousand acres. It is under the direction of the trustees of the town, in conformity with the special acts of the legislature.
LEBANON is in St. Clair county, and is beautifully situated on the west bank of Little Silver creek, about 20 miles east from St. Louis, 12 miles north-east from Belleville, 59 from Vandalia, and about 831 from Washington City. The town is located on the edge of a small prairie. The streets cross each other at right angles, and are from 60 to 70 feet wide. It is on elevated ground, surrounded with a beautiful, populous, and well cultivated district of country, and on the Vincennes and St. Louis stage-road.
Lebanon has a steam-mill, for manufacturing grain; an ox-mill, for flouring, on an inclined plane; a post-office, two public houses, several stores, one grocery, three physicians, mechanics' shops of various kinds, and about sixty families. M'Kendreean College is located in the immediate vicinity of the town. It is under the supervision of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is a commodious frame building, with about fifty students in the preparatory department, under the charge of two competent instructors. The Methodist society embraces the largest proportion of the religious community about Lebanon. There is a large society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a small society of the Methodist Protestant Church.
MOUNT CARMEL was laid off in 1818, by Rev. Thomas S. Hinde, of Ohio, with the view of establishing a moral, temperate, and industrious community. It is the seat of justice for Wabash county, and is situated on high ground on the west bank of the Wabash river, and just below the junction of that stream with the White river of Indiana, about 80 miles from its mouth by water, 109 south-east from Vandalia, and 716 from Washington City. This place is immediately below the Grand Rapids of the Wabash river, the prospective improvement of which is thought to give it peculiar importance as a place of business. The country around is high, undulating, healthy, and contains an extensive settlement of industrious farmers. The court-house and jail are brick. The Methodist society, which is large, has a house of worship.
In Mount Carmel are ten stores, two groceries, two taverns, and a third in course of preparation, one stationed preacher and four local preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, one German Reformed preacher, two physicians, one steam-doctor, three lawyers, and from 1000 to 1200 population. The religious denominations are, Methodists (Episcopal), Evangelical Lutherans, associated with the
125German Reformed, Presbyterians, some Baptists, and Episcopalians — three steam-mills, one ox tread-mill, mechanics and trades of various descriptions, a foundry for castings for machinery, &c. The commerce of this place is considerable, and from the 31st of March to the 12th of April, 1837, 26 steam-boats arrived and departed.
NAPLES, the most commercial town in Morgan county, is on the east bank of the Illinois river, two miles above the mouth of the Mauvaiseterre creek, and 22 miles west from Jacksonville. It is laid off on a level prairie at the foot of a sand ridge, and above ordinary high water. It is in a most delightful situation, with good landings for steamboats. There are one or two first-rate hotels in the town, and some large wholesale stores. Several saw and grist steam-mills, together with its contiguity to the surrounding timber, afford ample facilities for building; its free ferry across the river; its daily line of stages to Jacksonville; the many additional buildings to be erected this season; and the acknowledged enterprize of its inhabitants, all go to make up a flourishing town, and hold out solid inducements to capitalists.
The commerce of Naples is considerable. In 1835, the arrivals and departures of steamboats were 302. The exports in produce, during the same year, amounted to nearly one million of dollars. A rail-road to Jacksonville is now in progress of construction, and will soon be completed, as arrangements were made to lay about half a mile of rails every week during the present season. Naples contains about 600 inhabitants.
OTTAWA, the seat of justice for La Salle county, was laid off by the canal commissioners, in 1830, at the junction of Fox river with the Illinois, and is thought by many to be an important location for business. It is laid off on both sides of the Illinois river, about 80 miles south-west from Chicago, 175 nearly due north from Vandalia, and 219 miles from the mouth of the Illinois river. The country around is pleasant, undulating, and well adapted to farming. The timber is in small quantities, chiefly in groves; the prairie land generally dry and rich soil.
At the town site, the water of the Illinois is deep, and the landing convenient. Steamboats reach this place in the spring, and at other seasons when the water is high.
Below, for the distance of eight or nine miles, are rapids and shoals, formed by barriers of sand and limestone rock. Ottawa has eight or ten stores, two taverns, three physicians, five lawyers, and 75 or 80 families. Large additions have been made to the town plat, by laying off additional lots on lands adjoining. It is expected a lateral canal from the Illinois and Michigan canal will pass through the town to the Illinois river. This, by means of a feeder to the rapids of Fox river, will open a navigation into Kane county. Fox river is susceptible of improvement by slack-water at a small expense, into the Wisconsin Territory, and from thence by a short canal of fifteen miles may become connected with Milwaukee. Hence Ottawa may be regarded as one of the most important sites for commercial business in the state. Near it dams are already projected across the Illinois river, and an immense water-power thus created. The Ottawa Republican, a weekly paper, is published here.
PEKIN is in Tazewell county, and on the east side of the Illinois river, 12 miles below Peoria, and 158 miles from the mouth of the river. The landing is tolerably good at a moderate stage of the river, but too shoal at a low stage.
Pekin contains twelve stores, three groceries, two taverns (and a splendid hotel building by a company), seven lawyers, four physicians, four ministers of the gospel, one drug-store, three forwarding and commission houses, two houses for slaughtering and packing pork, one auction house, a printing-office which issues the Tazewell Telegraph, and about eight hundred inhabitants.
There is also one steam flouring-mill that manufactures two hundred barrels of flour per day, a steam saw-mill and two steam distilleries, an academy, and a common
126school. The religious denominations are Presbyterian, Methodist and Unitarian, which have houses of worship.
PEORIA is situated on the west side of the Illinois river, at the foot of Peoria lake, and about 170 miles from the mouth of the river. It is the county town of Peoria county. The situation and country in the vicinity are thus described by Dr. Beck, in his Gazetteer of Illinois and Missouri :—
"The situation of this place is beautiful beyond description. From the mouth of the Kickapoo or Redbud creek, which empties into the Illinois, two miles below the old fort, the alluvion is a prairie, which stretches itself along the river in a north-westerly direction three or four miles. The shore is chiefly made up of rounded pebbles, and is filled with springs of the finest water. The first bank which is from six to twelve feet above high-water mark, extends west about a quarter of a mile from the river, gradually ascending, when it rises five or six feet to the second bank. This extends nearly on a level to the bluffs, which are from sixty to one hundred feet in height. These bluffs consist of rounded pebble, over laying strata of limestone and sandstone, rounded at the top, and corresponding in their course with the meanders of the river and lake. The ascent, although steep is not perpendicular. On the bluffs the surface again becomes level, and is beautifully interspersed with prairie and woodland.
"From the bluffs the prospect is uncommonly fine. Looking towards the east, you first behold an extensive prairie, which in spring and summer is covered with grass, with whose green the brilliant hues of a thousand flowers form the most lively contrast. Beyond this, the lake, clear and calm, may be seen emptying itself into, or by its contraction forming, the river, whose meanders, only hid from the view by the beautiful groves of timber which here and there arises, can be traced to the utmost extent of vision."
Peoria now has twenty-five stores, two wholesale and five retail groceries, two drug-stores, two hotels and several boarding-houses, two free schools and an incorporated academy, two Presbyterian houses of worship and congregations, one Methodist, one Baptist, one Unitarian, and one Episcopal congregation, six lawyers, eight or ten physicians, one brewery, two steam saw-mills; the usual proportion of mechanics, a court-house and jail, and a population of from fifteen to eighteen hundred, which is rapidly increasing. The "Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer" is issued weekly, by S. M. Davis, Esq. The religious people of this place have contributed no less than about twenty-three thousand dollars, the past year, for philanthropic purposes. There are four lines of stages leading from Peoria, viz.: one to Galena, Sundays Tuesdays, and Thursdays distance 160 miles, fare $12; one to Chicago, same days, distance 160 miles, fare $12; one to Springfield, same days, distance 70 miles, fare $6; and one to Knoxville, on Thursdays, distance 46 miles, fare $4. Some of these are fine Troy post-coaches; others are open wagons, on lifeless springs, which do very well on smooth ground in dry weather.
The old village of Peoria was situated about one mile and a half above the lower extremity or outlet of the Peoria lake. This village had been inhabited by the French, previous to the recollection of any of the present generation. About the year 1778, or 1779, the first house was built in what was then called La Ville de Maillet, afterwards the new village of Peoria, and which has recently been known by the name of Fort Clark, situated about one mile and a half below the old village immediately at the lower point or outlet of the lake. The situation being preferred in consequence of the water being better, and its being thought more healthful, the inhabitants gradually deserted the old village, and, by the year 1796 or 1797, had entirely abandoned it, and removed to the new village.
The inhabitants of Peoria consisted generally of Indian traders, hunters, and voyagers, and had long formed a link of connexion between the French residing on the waters of the great lakes and the Mississippi river. From that happy facility of adapting themselves to their situation and associates, for which the French are so remarkable, the inhabitants of Peoria lived generally in harmony with their savage neighbours. It appears, however, that about the year 1781 they
127were induced to abandon the village, from the apprehension of Indian hostility; but soon after the peace of 1783, they again returned, and continued to reside there until the autumn of 1812, when they were forcibly removed from it, and the place destroyed, by a Captain Craig, of the Illinois militia, on the ground, as it was said, that his company of militia were fired on in the night, while at anchor in their boats before the village, by Indians with whom the inhabitants were suspected by Craig to be too intimate and friendly. The poor inhabitants, being thus deprived of shelter, fled for refuge to the different villages on the Mississippi.
In September, 1813, General Howard marched with about 1400 men from Portage des Sioux, for Peoria. The regulars who manned the boats, arrived and commenced building a block-house, which they named Fort Clark, in honour of Gen. George Rogers Clark. General Howard, with his mounted rangers, ascended the Mississippi as high as Two Rivers, and then crossed over to the Illinois. By this judicious plan, the whole frontier was swept of the enemy, who was continually harassing them.
On the 29th of September, the general arrived at Fort Clark. The Indians had attacked it two days before, but Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas, who commanded, gave them so warm a reception, that they soon retired. It was concluded that they had gone to Gomo's town, about thirty miles distant. The general immediately made arrangements, and marched the next morning to attack it. When he arrived, he found the enemy had taken to the water, and ascended the Illinois. He burnt the village and two others, and remained in the vicinity for two nights. He then inarched back to Peoria, to assist the regulars in building Fort Clark, which had been commenced and named previous to his arrival.
With considerable labour, they cut and hauled the necessary timber across the lake, and the fort was in a complete state of defence in twelve days. While they were engaged about the fort, Majors Christy and Boone were detached on separate commands. The former was ordered to ascend the river, in two armed boats, to the foot of the rapids (about 80 miles), to ascertain if the Indians had embodied, or formed any new establishments in that quarter. Major Boone was sent over in the direction of Rock river, to collect every necessary information concerning their traces, &c. Both these officers returned in five or six days, and reported that the enemy had fled on all points.
Soon after this, the weather became cold; and, as no provision had been made for a winter campaign, General Howard determined on returning, and accordingly took up his line of march on the 15th of October, leaving a small garrison in the fort. About the termination of the war, Fort Clark was abandoned by the Americans; and, a short time afterwards, it was burnt by the Indians, as they assert, through the instigation of the traders.
QUINCY, the seat of justice of Adams County, is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi river, about 125 miles above the mouth of the Illinois by water, 193 miles north-west from Vandalia, and 974 from Washington city. This town is only twelve years old, and now has a population of about 1500. It stands on a beautiful elevation, 125 feet above the limestone-bound shore of the Mississippi. It commands a fine view of the river for five or six miles in each direction, and has one of the best steamboat landings to be found on the Mississippi. The first cabin erected on the site of this town is still in existence, and affords, by contrast with the newly erected habitations, a pleasing example of the progress and refinement of the place.
Quincy contains an enterprizing and intelligent community, suitably impressed with the importance of religious and moral habits, among whom the principles and practice of temperance generally prevail. In the town there are about 25 stores, four or five land-offices, including the United States land-office for the sale of public lands in the Quincy district; three taverns, several gunsmiths, blacksmiths; and cabinet shops, besides a number of other mechanics, eight or nine lawyers and five physicians, also two steam saw-mills and a flouring-mill. The public square is large, and may be made as beautiful as Washington Square in Philadelphia. On the east side of it, a brick court-house is nearly completed, at an expense of 20,000
128dollars. The religious denominations are Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, Episcopalians, German Lutherans, and Roman Catholics. The Methodists and Congregationalists have each erected churches, and the Baptist and Episcopalian societies are now building places of worship. The sabbath-schools are exerting an important influence on the rising generation: of daily schools, there are several of respectability.
The annual exports of flour and pork amount to about $100,000. Many new buildings are rising, indicative of an increase of wealth and prosperity. The prairie in the vicinity of the town is beautifully rolling and rich, and the whole county forms one of the best agricultural districts in the state. There are generally at Quincy about 300 arrivals of steamboats in the year, and there is no impediment to the navigation of the river at any time, except by the freezing of the Mississippi, which generally continues only for a brief period.
Property has increased, in a short period, from 100 to 1000 per cent, in value. With all its natural and moral advantages, Quincy must increase, and eventually become a place of importance.
RUSHVILLE, the seat of justice for Schuyler county, is situated in the central part of the county, at the south end of a beautiful prairie, ten miles from the Illinois river at the nearest point, and twelve from Beardstown. The settlements around are large; and the town itself exhibits a quietness and neatness in its external appearance, which is highly pleasing to the traveler.
This town was laid out in 1827, when the county was formed, and two years afterwards contained only seven houses: they now amount to near 400, with a population of about 1200 persons. It contains five churches, twelve stores, besides several groceries and other establishments, a considerable variety of mechanics, (more of whom are much wanted,) and a number of professional gentlemen. The court-house is of brick, two stories high; and the people have erected a brick school-house. Good building stone, and plenty of coal, are found in the vicinity. A rail-road from Rushville to the town of Erie on the Illinois, ten miles in length, is contemplated: most of the stock has been subscribed. This improvement will give Rushville all the advantages of a river situation, free from the diseases to which some of the river towns are subject.
SHAWNEETOWN occupies a beautiful situation on the western bank of the Ohio river, nine miles below the mouth of the Wabash, and 120 above the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Its distance from Pittsburg by water is about 900 miles, and from New Orleans about 1200.
The town stands on a level plain, and embraces a view of the river of two or five miles in each direction. There was formerly a village of Shawnee Indians at this spot; but it was forsaken before the whites attempted a settlement, and no vestige of it now remains, except two small mounds. A few cabins were afterwards built by the French traders; but these had also disappeared, and the ground was covered with bushes when the present town was established. As recently as the year 1808, there was not a house on the ground. In February 1812, an office for the sale of public lands was established at this place; and in March 1814, an act was passed by Congress, providing that two sections of land adjoining Shawnee Town should be laid out into two lots, streets, avenues, and outlets, and sold in the same manner as other public lands.
The bank of the Ohio at this place has a gradual ascent, but is subject to inundation at the extreme floods. Between the town and the bluffs the surface is still lower, and more frequently submerged. Though no considerable sickness has prevailed in this town for some years past, it cannot but be regarded as less healthful than the more elevated portions of the state.
Shawnee Town is the principal commercial place in the southern part of Illinois, and a good deal of business is transacted both in the wholesale and retail line. It has eight or ten stores, several groceries, two public houses, and 600 or 700 inhabitants. The land-office for the district is in this place; and there is a printing-office, which publishes a weekly paper called the Illinois Advertiser. There is
129likewise a bank here, which was chartered by the territorial legislature, and which has recently recommenced doing business, after a suspension of several years.
SPRINGFIELD, the seat of justice of Sangamon county, is very nearly in the centre of the state of Illinois; being 197 miles a little west of north from the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and 185 miles due south of the northern boundary of the state, 114 miles west of the eastern boundary, and 91 east of the Mississippi river. The town is situated four miles south of the Sangamon river, on the border of a beautiful and extensive prairie, adorned with excellent and well-cultivated farms, and stretching away on every side to the blue line of distant forest.
Springfield was laid out about fifteen years ago: but for nine or ten years, it contained only a few scattered log cabins. All its present wealth or importance dates from the last six years. Its geographically central situation fits it most admirably for the future capital of the state; while its location by nature in the heart of the most fertile region in the western country, and the important public works contemplated to intersect it, cannot fail of rendering it a place of extensive business and crowded population.
The public square, a green pleasant lawn enclosed by a railing, contains the court-house and a market, both fine structures of brick; and the sides surrounding the square are lined with handsome edifices. Many of the buildings, however, are small; and the humble log cabin, the abiding place of some of the first settlers, not unfrequently meets the eye. Among its public structures are a jail, and houses of worship for two Presbyterian churches, one Baptist Reformer, one Methodist, one Episcopalian, and one Baptist society, all of which have ministers and respectable congregations.
The town contains excellent schools for both sexes, and an academy: there are also nineteen dry-goods stores, one wholesale and six retail groceries, four public houses, four drug-stores, one book-store, two clothing stores, eleven lawyers, eighteen physicians, including steam-doctors, one foundry for casting, four carding machines, mechanics and trades of various descriptions, and two printing-offices, from which are issued weekly the Illinois Republican, and the Sangamon Journal.
By a recent act of the legislature, Springfield is to be the permanent seat of government after 1840; and an appropriation has been made of $50,000, and commissioners appointed to build a state-house.
UPPER ALTON is a delightfully situated town in Madison county, built on elevated ground, two and a half miles back from the river, and east from Alton. The situation of the town is high and healthy. The country around was originally timbered land, and is undulating: the prevailing growth consists of oaks of various species, hickory, walnut, etc.
Upper Alton was laid off by the proprietor in 1816; and in 1821, it contained 50 or 60 families. In 1827, it had dwindled down to a few, from several causes. But since the commencement of Alton, the flourishing mercantile town on the river, it has experienced a rapid growth, and will doubtless continue to advance proportionate to the progress of the town and country around. There are eight stores, five groceries, two lawyers, five physicians, mechanics of various descriptions, a steam saw and flour mill, and about 300 families, or 1500 inhabitants. The Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, each have houses of worship. The Baptist and Presbyterian houses are handsome stone edifices, with spires, bells, &c, and provided with ministers. There are seven or eight ministers of the gospel, residents of this place, some of whom are connected with the college and the Theological seminary; — others are agents for some of the public benevolent institutions, whose families reside here. Good morals, religious privileges, the advantages for education in the college, and in three respectable common schools, with an intelligent and agreeable society, make this town a desirable residence.
VANDALIA, the capital of the state, and the seat of justice for Fayette county, was laid out in 1818, by commissioners appointed for that purpose, under the
130authority of the state. It is situated on the west bank of the Kaskaskia river, about 82 miles north-east from St. Louis, 138 north of the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and 781 from Washington City. The site is high, undulating, and was originally a timbered tract. The streets cross at right angles, and are 80 feet in width. The public square is on elevated ground. The public buildings are, a state-house of brick, and sufficiently commodious for legislative purposes, unfinished ; a neat framed house of worship for the Presbyterian society, with a cupola and bell; a framed meeting-house for the Methodist society; another small public building open for all denominations, and for schools, and other public purposes. There are in the town two printing-offices that issue weekly papers, the State Register and the Free Press, four taverns, eight stores, two groceries, one clothing store, two schools, four lawyers, four physicians, one steam and one water saw-mill, one minister of the gospel, and about 850 inhabitants. Near the river the country generally is heavily timbered, but a few miles back are extensive prairies. The national road has been permanently located and partially constructed to this place.
Vandalia will continue to be the capital of Illinois until the year 1840; after which period, as decided by a late act of the state legislature, the seat of government will be removed to Springfield, in Sangamon county, where the sum of $50,000 has been appropriated to build a state-house for the accommodation of the legislature, and for other public purposes.
WHITEHALL is a recently settled town in the northern part of Greene county, on the main road from Carrollton to Jacksonville, about 10 miles north of the former place, and 12 miles east of the Illinois river: it is in the midst of a fertile and well-settled tract of country, and contains nine stores, two groceries, two taverns, three physicians, one school, and an incorporation for a seminary, a steam-mill in the vicinity, framed houses of worship for Methodists and Baptists, and 600 inhabitants.
WINCHESTER is situated in Morgan county, 14 miles from Naples, and 16 from Jacksonville. Its population is already estimated at 600; and it enjoys the advantages of good schools, mills, and manufacturing establishments. It was laid off in 1831, on elevated ground, and is a thriving town, increasing rapidly, has several stores, and a number of mechanics of various descriptions. The Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists, have societies here. It has excellent lime and freestone quarries in the vicinity, and several mills.
Winchester is one of the chief points on the line of the rail-road from Jacksonville to Augusta on the Illinois river. A distance of seven and a half miles on this road, from Winchester to Lynnville, is now under contract, and in a state of great forwardness.
The following letter from the Hon. H. L. Ellsworth, superintendent of the patent office at Washington City, gives a better idea of the cost of cultivating the western prairies than we have before seen, and we think our readers generally will be pleased with a perusal of it. — Sangamo Journal. Washington, Jan. 3, 1837.
Dear Sir — You doubtless expect some further statement than has been received respecting the investment made for you in the valley of the Wabash. A desire to meet my son, who was daily expected from Lafayette, has delayed my writing
131until this time. And now, let me say, generally, that the west has grown, and will continue to increase beyond the most sanguine calculation. Nor will any action of the general government materially check the advancement of the lands which are judiciously located on the great western canals or rail-roads. Very little is yet known of the valley of the Wabash. Although the fertility of the soil is unequalled, few have ever seen this country. The reason is obvious; there is no communication with it; and hence, speculators and settlers have passed around it, going west, either by the Michigan lake, or by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Five thousand persons left Buffalo in one day to go up the lake, and yet not one went into the valley of the Wabash. A slight inspection of the maps of Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, will show a direct route to the Mississippi from the west end of Lake Erie, to be up the Maumee, and down the Wabash valley to Lafayette. It may, therefore, be considered certain, that when the rail-road from St. Louis to Lafayette is completed, the great travel from the Mississippi valley to the east, will be by the lakes, through the Wabash and Erie canal, the shortest and quickest route by several days. A person at the mouth of the Ohio will pass up to St. Louis, then take the rail-road and canal to Lake Erie, in preference to following the meanders of the Ohio river in a steamboat. Can there be a doubt on this subject? — What time will be occupied on this route to New-York? Not exceeding six days. From St. Louis to Lafayette (240 miles), one day may be allowed; from Lafayette to the lake, at the rate of 4Ë to 5 miles on the canal (now in operation considerable part of the way), forty-eight hours; and from the lake to New-York city, via rail-road (now commenced), not exceeding two days.
What changes this must make in the value of property on the route! The value of land depends on the fertility of the soil and the facility of transportation. From a personal inspection of the western states, during six months past, I am fully convinced the Wabash valley has the best soil and most favourable climate. In the latitude of Philadelphia, you avoid the extreme of great heat in summer, and of cold in winter, and also avoid the danger of early frosts, so prevalent in higher latitudes. You may ask, what will be the markets for Indiana? I answer, New-York and New-Orleans, the former by the Erie canal, and the latter by the Wabash river (navigable to Lafayette for steamboats), and by the rail-road above-mentioned to St. Louis; also Montreal, by the Welland canal. A choice of all these markets, equally accessible, is presented to farmers on the Wabash valley, who possess a great advantage over Michigan and Wisconsin, in the early navigation of the Wabash river. The produce of this valley can by this river pass down to New-Orleans in flat-boats, free of tolls, and be transported to Charleston, Baltimore, New-York, and Boston, six weeks before the New-York canal opens. — This early market may be estimated at a good profit in business.
You may ask if the Wabash and Erie canals will surely be completed? Undoubtedly they will. Indiana and Ohio are pledged to complete them. Nearly all is now under contract, and government has given lands adjoining sufficient to finish the same without any expense to the states.
As like causes (other things being equal) produce like effects, it will not tax your credulity to believe, that the rich lands on the Wabash valley will equal those on the Ohio, New-York, and Pennsylvania canals, which vary from 25 to 60 dollars per acre. Is it possible that lands yielding 40 bushels of wheat, 70 of corn, 60 of oats, and 450 of potatoes, and distant only ten or twelve days transportation from New-York or New-Orleans cities, can be less than $50 per acre?
In making selections, I have, when practicable, procured both prairie and timber, though I am sure there has been a common error to pass the rich prairie because timber cannot be found adjoining at the government price. Under this belief many settlers have, to their sorrow, entered the timber and left the prairie, because they supposed nobody would enter that without possessing the timber. The prairie has been entered lately. And such is the facility for raising timber on prairies, by sowing the seed of black walnut and locust, that the desire for timber land has diminished. Those who doubt the comparative value of timber land, will do well to consider that 12 dollars is a fair price for clearing timber land. Timber land, when cleared in the usual manner, is left incumbered with stumps
132and roots, fatal obstacles to labour-saving machines. $12,000 will be required to clear 1000 acres of timber land; whereas the 1000 acres of prairie can be put in tame grass without ploughing.
A prairie farm may be put in complete cultivation at from $3.75 to $9 per acre, according to the computations of my son Edward, who has been extensively engaged in cultivating the prairie for the last year. From a personal examination of the land in France, and on the Wabash valley, I feel no hesitation in pronouncing the latter decidedly the best for the beet sugar manufacture. In France, eight, ten, and twelve dollars per acre are paid for rent, and yet great profits are made. An acre of good land will yield 44,000 pounds of sugar beet, from which 2400 pounds of sugar can be extracted, which, at ten cents per pound, amounts to 240 dollars per acre.
In England, paper is now made from the residuum of beets, after the saccharine matter is extracted. An application for a similar patent is now pending in the patent office. The sample of paper exhibited is very good, and the rapidity with which the paper is made, must reduce materially the price of the article. Many labour-saving machines are introduced to aid in the cultivation of new lands. In a few years it is probable that ploughing on smooth lands will be effected by steam, and even now mowing and reaping are successfully done by horse-power.
Such are the profits of cultivation, that I would advise all who can to improve some part of their lands. A small improvement will repay expenditures, and greatly enhance the value of the whole investment. Three benefits may be expected: 1. The crops will pay expenses and yield a great profit. 2. The land cultivated and the land adjoining will be advanced several hundred per cent. 3. If stock is put on the farm the same is numerically increased, and greatly enhanced in value by improving the breed.
Either of these considerations is sufficient to justify cultivation and guaranty a large return. I might mention the successful cultivation of hay in the west — from one and a half to two tons is a fair crop. This can be cut and pressed without any labour-saving machines at two dollars per ton: and if the grass was cut by horsepower, the expense would be still less. The profits on one hundred heifers at five dollars, might easily be supposed. Fifty breeding sows would probably bring 700 pigs per annum, and by these means a large farm could be stocked with little capital advanced.
Hay at New-Orleans varies from 20 to 50 dollars per ton. An average for the last three years may be thirty dollars. The cost of floating down hay in flat-boats to New-Orleans may be eight dollars per ton.
There is a practice mentioned by Mr. Newell, and highly recommended by others, of putting in hay-seed without ploughing the ground. This is done by burning the prairie grass in the spring, and harrowing in the seed. The seed catches quick and grows well. Blue grass especially succeeds in this way, and the grass will sustain stock all winter without cutting hay or fodder for them. A large drove of horses was kept last winter at Indianapolis on blue grass, on the open fields, at the small expense of one dollar per head per month.
From personal examination, I am convinced that ditching and hedging, as practised in Holland, England, and France, almost entirely, and successfully adopted in Illinois, is cheaper than rails. The general complaint of the earth crumbling by frost is prevented by sowing blue grass seed on the sides. Mulberry trees might be raised on the slope of the ditch, with great profit. Indeed, such is the rapid growth of the mulberry in these rich prairie lands, that the purchase of this land at $1.25 an acre, and planted by these trees alone, would in a few years be highly valuable. Such is the extent of the prairie, that woodland will always be valuable for timber. The woodland is also rich, and fine for cultivation; and if trees under a certain diameter are cut, a fine grazing farm may easily be made, and the good timber preserved. Similar pastures are found in Kentucky; these yield $3 profit per acre annually. It may be asked, how can non-residents best cultivate their lands? I would remark, that it is customary to rent land (once broke and fenced), for one-third of the crop, delivered in the crib or barn. At this rent the tenants find all.
133I would advise to employ smart enterprising young men from the New England states, to take the farm on shares. If the landlord should find a house, team, cart, and plough, and add some stock, he might then require one-half of the profits of the same. I would advise to allow for fencing or ditching a certain sum, and stipulate that the capital invested should be returned before the profits were divided. A farmer could in this way earn for himself from $700 to $1000 per annum, on a lease for five years. The second year a mowing machine might be furnished, if one hundred acres were seeded down to tame grass. Mast for swine is found in great abundance, and the number of hogs could easily be increased to one thousand by adding to the number of breeding sows.
Corn is so easily raised that it is found advantageous to turn hogs into a field of this grain without gathering it. It has long been the practice in New-York to raise oats and peas together, and turn in the swine to harvest the same when ripe. Experiments this summer in Connecticut show a great profit in raising spring wheat and oats together, and feeding out the same to hogs. I have omitted to say that good bituminous coal is found in the valley of the Wabash. The veins are from five to ten feet thick, and a large wagon-load will supply one fire for a year. Salt is also manufactured in large quantities and superior in quality to the Kenhawa salt.
Farmers in Indiana and Illinois are now successfully inclosing their farms by ditching, which has cost from fifty to seventy-five cents per rod. The laws of the states of Indiana and Illinois compel the owners of lands adjoining to pay one half of fencing, whenever they make use of, or derive any benefits from the fences of their neighbour. This lessens the expense of fencing one-half.
If it be asked what are the profits of cultivation? I answer, if the land is rented for five years, the profits accruing during this period will repay the capital advanced in the commencement, with twenty-five per cent, interest per annum, and leave the farm worth twenty dollars per acre at the expiration of the lease. Probably the profit will be much greater. Yours, respectfully, H. L. Ellsworth.
The six following letters from the pen of a talented young Philadelphian, a correspondent of the editor of the Pennsylvania Inquirer and Daily Courier, appeared in the columns of that gazette during the spring of the present year, under the title of "A Rambler in the West." They are beautifully written, and possess more than ordinary interest for those anxious to acquire information relative to the Western County, more particularly the state of Illinois.
The Journey — The "Far West" — A Prairie on fire — Alton — Chicago.
Vandalia (III.), Jan. 29, 1837.
I promised you, my dear P —, when I left our good Quaker city, that I would give you some account of my wanderings. I had intended long ere this to have complied with my promise, but circumstances which we cannot control have hitherto prevented me from discharging that pleasing duty. I design now, however, to present you with a short account of my rambles.
The morning was cold and lowering, and the rain was descending in torrents, when the carriage arrived which was to convey me on my journey. It was truly
134a cheerless morn, and the streets through which we passed were almost deserted, save where here and there a single pedestrian, wrapping himself in his cloak, defied the "peltings of the pitiless storm." I need not say that the lowering appearance of the heavens tended in any degree to elevate the spirits of the youthful adventurer, who was leaving the scenes of his early days — the home of his youth — the thousand sweet associations of friends and "fatherland," on a tour of experiment to a new and almost unsettled country. But I had determined that the feelings of regret and despondency, so natural to the occasion, should not have a lodgement in my bosom — for experience had fully convinced me that they produce no beneficial results, but were oft-times productive of serious injury. Brushing away a hasty tear, which, in spite of all my philosophy, lingered in my eye, I bounded into the car with, apparently, a light and joyful heart. The door closed, and soon the last glimpse of my much-loved city faded from my view. After bestowing my hearty benedictions on it and the many kind friends its walls contained, I applied myself to the accomplishment of my purposes. I was anxious to obtain a knowledge of the country through which I passed, the character of its population, the nature of its soil and climate, and that mass of valuable information which travel alone can furnish.
My course lay through the line of internal improvements of the State of Pennsylvania, which are truly creditable to her citizens, and without much delay I arrived at Pittsburgh, whose business and activity indeed surprised me. I entered one of the noble steamers which crowded her wharves, and was soon proceeding at a rapid rate over the calm and tranquil waters of the "Beautiful River." Away we flew over its glad waters, and soon the spires and steeples of St. Louis peeped over the distant hills. I thought, upon my arrival there, that I was approaching the "far west;" but when I mentioned west, I was laughed at, and was pointed to that immense region which stretched far beyond the Mississippi, and was told, that when I traveled week after week, and thousands upon thousands of miles in that direction, I would then be approaching the confines of the "Great West." I was inclined to be discouraged; but being determined to visit the Illinois country, before attempting that arduous journey, I was soon on another boat, and ploughing the dark and troubled waters of the rapid Mississippi. The day I left St. Louis was peculiarly fine — one of those days in autumn when summer seems to linger on earth, as if unwilling to yield to Boreas' chill and nipping blast.
The scenery on the banks of the river was truly grand and sublime. Large jets of rock obtruded far into the stream, and reared their mighty heads almost to the clouds. So regular were they in their proportions, and so nicely chiselled, it seemed as if dame Nature had built for herself, in this western world, a huge and mighty castle, with lofty columns and frowning battlements, defying the skill of man to rival its majestic grandeur. Whilst enjoying the sublimity of the scene, night threw her mantle over the earth, and the "sentinel stars set their watch in the skies" — when suddenly the scene was lighted by a blaze of light illuminating every object around. Lo, it was the prairie on fire. Language cannot convey, words cannot express to you the faintest idea of the grandeur and splendour of that mighty conflagration. Me thought that the pale queen of night, disdaining to take her accustomed place in the heavens, had dispatched ten thousand messengers to light their torches at the altar of the setting sun, and that now they were speeding on the wings of the wind to their appointed stations. As I gazed on that mighty conflagration, my thoughts recurred to you, immured in the walls of a city, and I exclaimed, in the fullness of my heart,
As over the grass sweeps the magnificent blaze
The world cannot boast so romantic a sight —
A continent flaming 'mid oceans of light."
I arrived early on the following morning at Alton, which is a flourishing and thriving place, and presents a busy appearance. With its situation I was much pleased, but more gratified with the enterprize of its citizens. Every one here was active and industrious — there were no loungers — no idlers — no "loafers" to be seen. Every one seemed engaged in some occupation, and was pursuing it with
135industry and zeal. Large stores — as large as those which adorn our eastern cities
— were building on the water's edge; dwelling houses of all sizes were springing up, and the hum of busy industry was sounding through the streets. I left this city with regret, being compelled to pursue my journey. After a very pleasant ride through a most delightful country, I arrived at Chicago.
Chicago is, without doubt, the greatest wonder in this wonderful country. Four years ago the savage Indian there built his little wigwam — the noble stag there saw undismayed his own image reflected from the polished mirror of the glassy lake — the adventurous settler then cultivated a small portion of those fertile prairies, and was living far, far away from the comforts of civilization. Four years have rolled by, and how changed that scene! That Indian is now driven far west of the Mississippi; he has left his native hills — his hunting grounds — the grave of his father — and now is building his home in the far west, again to be driven away by the mighty tide of emigration. That gallant stag no longer bounds secure o'er those mighty plains, but startles at the rustling of every leaf or sighing of every wind, fearing the rifles of the numerous Nimrods who now pursue the daring chase. That adventurous settler is now surrounded by luxury and refinement; a city with a population of over six thousand souls has now arisen; its spires glitter in the morning sun; its wharves are crowded by the vessels of trade; its streets are alive with the busy hum of commerce.
The wand of the magician or the spell of a talisman never effected changes like these; nay, even Aladdin's lamp, in all its glory, never performed greater wonders. But the growth of the town, extraordinary as it is, bears no comparison with that of its commerce. In 1833, there were but four arrivals — or about 700 tons. In 1836, there were four hundred and fifty-six arrivals, or about 60,000 tons. Point me if you can to any place in this land whose trade has been increased in the like proportion. What has produced this great prosperity? I answer, its great natural advantages, and the untiring enterprize of its citizens. Its situation is unsurpassed by any in our land.
Lake Michigan opens to it the trade of the north and east, and the Illinois and Michigan canal, when completed, will open the trade of the south and south-west. But the great share of its prosperity is to be attributed to the enterprize of its citizens: most of them are young — many there are upon whose temple the golden lock of youth is not darkened; many who a short time since bade adieu to the fascinations of gay society, and immured themselves in the western wilderness, determining to acquire both fame and fortune. And what has been the result? — While many of their companions and former associates are now toiling and struggling in the lowly vale of life, with scarcely enough of the world's gear to drive away the cravings of actual want — the enterprizing adventurer has amassed a splendid fortune — has contributed to build up a noble city, the pride of his adopted state, and has truly caused the wilderness to bloom and blossom like the rose. Such are always the rewards of ever daring minds.
Peru, (III.) Feb. 4,1837.
I resume my narrative.
The next point to which my attention was directed was Peru. This place will unquestionably become one of the greatest inland towns in the West, and second only to Chicago. A traveler riding through would smile if you were to tell him that this place was destined to become a city. One humble tenement is all it boasts, and a stranger would be apt to imagine, when you told him that a town was laid out there, and that lots were commanding from $1000 to $2500 apiece, that the speculating fever was raging with all-pervading influence. But upon careful examination and mature reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion above stated.
Peru is situated on the Illinois river, at the head of river navigation, and is the point of termination of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
136This canal, when completed, will be the most splendid project of internal improvement in the Union. Its dimensions are sixty feet wide at the top water line — 36 feet wide at the bottom, and six feet deep — the estimated cost of which is nine millions. This is a great link in the grandest chain of internal improvements known in the world — "it unites the Mississippi with our inland seas, the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the Gulf of Mexico, and the Rocky mountains with the Atlantic coast." Where can be found a work of internal improvement more important than this?
Besides, the great central rail-road from the mouth of the Ohio terminates here. It is situated in the midst of a most fertile region, abounding in grain, in coal, in iron, and in hydraulic power. These things being considered, is it wrong to suppose that a large inland city will here arise? For myself I have no doubt of the fact, and would stake my reputation on the result. And but a few short months ago, the land there was entered by an enterprizing Pennsylvanian, (one who, by his business talents, enterprize, and unspotted reputation, has amassed a munificent fortune, and who can be pointed to as a distinguished example of the success which attends well-directed efforts) for a dollar and a quarter per acre — now it will readily command from 5000 to 10,000 dollars per acre.
I assure you, my dear —, I have often wished as I was roaming over this beautiful country, that you were with me, to view this scene in all its glory, to cast your eyes over a boundless tract of land, on which stern Winter has cast his fleece-white mantle, to feel the west wind blowing on your cheek, and to experience that thrill of pleasure which the sight of those grand and mighty prairies alone can bestow. But perhaps you will see them at a more propitious period. Come, when Flora casts her garlands over the land, — Come,
Knit with the graces and the hours in dance,
Leads on the gentle Spring."
Come, when the prairie flower is in blossom-- come when "the rank grass is waving in billowy pride." Come when the chain that now binds these sluggish streams is loosed, and hear them laugh and merrily sing as they journey on to the ocean. Come then and view this rich, this growing, this flourishing country — examine its resources. See the field that is opened for enterprize and talent — look at the laurels which can be gained by exertion here, reflect on its increasing greatness, and the influence it is destined to exert upon our common country; and my word for it, a city life will lose its charms, and you will, without a sigh, bid it farewell, take up your staff, and come and pitch your tent in the great — the growing — the mighty — the boundless West.
A Snow-Storm on the Prairie.
Peoria, (Ill.) Feb. 8, 1837.
The dreary winter on his frozen wings;
Beneath the low-hung clouds, the sheets of snow
Descend, and whiten all the fields below."
Such was the burden of my song when I awoke from a most refreshing slumber, and saw large white flakes descending, and the whole country covered with the snowy garb of winter. It is oft-times a very pleasant employment to watch the progress of a snow-storm, but then you must be sheltered from its violence, for I assure you, you cannot at all sentimentalize when you are breasting its fury, and have a long and dreary journey before you. However, this morning I was in a peculiarly good humour, and disregarding the solicitations of my friends, who begged me to remain until the storm had abated, I determined to resume my journey. Soon the merry jingle of the sleigh-bell announced to me that my vehicle was at the door of my friend's hospitable mansion — into it I sprung with
137joyous gaiety, and away we flew over the broad and boundless prairie. My noble steed seemed to feel a new excitement as he inhaled the fresh morning breeze, which lent life and vigour to every nerve.
A prairie is most beautiful in "the spring time of year," for then it is a garden formed and cultivated by nature's hand, where spring the clustering flowers which bloom in rich luxuriance, and "shed their fragrance on the desert air." But when stern winter casts her mantle over the earth, and binds the streams in icy fetters, then a prairie is a spectacle, grand and sublime, and will well repay for the hardships and privations of Western traveling. I was compelled, however, to ride against the wind, which whistled around and blew directly in my face. So violent was the storm that I was almost blinded by the thick flakes that were dashed directly in my eyes. Had I acted with prudence, I should have discontinued my journey, and made myself comfortable for the remainder of the day at the log hut where I dined — but I determined, in spite of wind and weather, to reach Peoria by night. Whilst progressing quietly on my way, gray twilight extended her evening shades on earth. Still I drove on, anxious to reach my point of destination. Not a single star peeped out from the heavens to shed its light on a benighted traveler. The storm increased in violence, and the cold winds whistled a wintry tune. I now found I had strayed from the road, and here was I on a broad prairie, without mark or mound, and had lost the trace, which was ere now covered by the falling snow.
Unfortunately I had left my compass behind, and now I was on a broad sea without a chart or compass, and without one stray light in the heavens whereby to direct my course. The mariner, when tossed upon the billows of the stormy ocean, has at least the satisfaction of knowing where he is, for the needle will always point to the pole, and his chart will tell him of the dangers in his path — but the weary traveller, who has lost his way on a Prairie, is on a boundless sea, where he cannot even tell the direction he is pursuing, for oft-times he will travel hour after hour, and still remain at nearly the same point from which he started. Had even one accommodating star beamed in the heavens, I should not have been the least disconcerted, for then I could have some object whereby to guide my steps. But all the elements combined against me, and I assure you my feelings were by no means comfortable. Memory ran over the sad history of the numerous travellers, who had been overtaken by night, and been buried in the falling snow; many who had started in the morning full of gay hopes and buoyant anticipations, who, ere another sun had risen, had found a cold and solitary grave — arrested in their course by the chill and icy hand of death. Alas, thought I, how true it is,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return —
Or climb his knee, the envied kiss to share."
Insensibly I felt a strong inclination to sleep — I had always heard that this was a dangerous symptom, and if I yielded to its influence, my life would certainly be lost. I endeavoured to shake off the drowsy feeling. Never before have I experienced such a strong inclination to sleep. Never before did I exert myself more to keep awake. I halloed — I shouted — I beat my breast to preserve animation, and tried every method to prevent my yielding to the drowsy influence. My noble horse was almost exhausted, and I myself began to despair of reaching a place of shelter — when suddenly a ray of light beamed upon the snow, and shed a shadow around me. Encouraged by this favourable token, I urged on. My jaded steed also seemed to know that he was approaching a place of shelter, for he quickened his pace, and shortly afterwards I discovered at a distance, a small log-hut, from whose window beamed a broad blaze of light. Soon was I at the door, and warmly welcomed by the kind owner, who shook the snow from my garments, and gave me a seat before a blazing fire.
Oh, how delightful was the sense of security as I sat sheltered from the wintry blast, and listened to the tales of the inmates, many of whom had, like me, been overtaken by the storm, and now were relating the events of their journey. I have passed many delightful evenings in the course of a short but eventful life — I have
138been at the festive board, where the wine-cup was pushed merrily around, and song, and laughter, and merriment abounded — I have mingled in the society of the gay — I have been
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."
But never have I passed a more happy evening than in the small and narrow cabin of that Illinois farmer.
Peoria — Illinois — The West.
Peoria, Feb. 8, 1837.
Early on the ensuing morning I arrived at Peoria. Peoria is situated on the Illinois river, and is in very truth a most beautiful site for a town. A few miles above, the river expands in a lake, upon the banks of which it is situated. The approach to the town is through alternate wood-land and prairie. It is the county-town of Peoria county, and has a bright prospect of rapidly increasing. It now has a population of fifteen hundred, and boasts of a large and commodious courthouse and several fine mansions. It commands at all seasons an unbroken water communication with St. Louis, and is situated in a most delightful country. Its trade now is brisk, but it will increase in a ten-fold degree upon the completion of the Illinois and Michigan canal.
The highly respectable and talented author of "A Winter in the West," in one of his letters in 1834, expresses the following sentiments in reference to this work: "The State of Illinois, judging from the progress already made, will not complete the canal for half a century. The want of capital is here so great, as almost to seal up every outlet for enterprize, though they present themselves on every side, and our eastern capitalists are so completely ignorant of the prodigious resources of this region, that it will be long ere this defect will be supplied." To a part of this assertion we are obliged to enter our dissent, while to a part we will most cordially assent.
There exists no doubt on my mind, that this great and important work will be completed in five years; which, considering the immense magnitude of the undertaking, is certainly a short time. Every effort is now making to hasten its completion. A large part of it is under contract, and labourers are at work upon a considerable portion of the line. The Commissioners are men of acknowledged talent and integrity, and there is every reason to believe that the state, feeling a just and praiseworthy pride in the construction of this grand link in the chain of internal improvements, will urge its immediate completion. But we do agree with the author referred to, that our eastern capitalists are completely ignorant of the resources of this region.
Eastern capitalists cannot realize the great opportunities that every day present themselves for safe and profitable investment, and the great returns received for capital invested. With many the opinion is prevalent, that the accounts received through the medium of the press, are but the "puffs" of adventurous speculators, who by this method "crack up" their property, with the design of defrauding innocent purchasers. That this system has been most extensively pursued, cannot be denied; but that this country is destined to advance most rapidly in the scale of importance, and that investments judiciously made now, will insure a great profit, can be shown to the satisfaction of any reasoning mind.
Take out your map, and look at this noble state; look at its geographical situation, between 37 and 42 deg., N. lat.; see the mighty Mississippi rolling its swift and turbid current along the western borders; look at the Wabash pursuing its silent way along the eastern side; see the "Beautiful River" washing the southern boundary; and look at that calm and placid stream, so properly denominated "a natural canal through a natural meadow," dividing the state and extending far and wide its fertilizing influence. What portion of our country is better watered or
139more capable of commanding a great hydraulic power? Reflect upon the face of the country and the nature of its soil. Here are no high and barren hills, or thick and dense woodlands, but broad and rolling prairies.
The state of Ohio will, at the next census, rank the third state in the confederacy; I mean as regards wealth and population — and yet what immense labour was required "to clear" a large portion of her territory, and then, at her early settlement, we had but a capital stock of six millions of souls. And if Ohio in thirty years rank as the third state in this Union, I ask what time will it require for a state to stand beside her — where the ground is already prepared by nature's hand for the farmer — when we have a capital stock of over thirteen millions, and when the facilities for emigration are ten-fold increased. Besides, Illinois contains a larger quantity of rich land than any other state, and therefore can maintain a large agricultural population, which is the great basis of national wealth. These things being considered, can we doubt that ere long these beautiful prairies will be adorned by the home of the settler — will re-echo the shrill whistle of the ploughman, as he "homeward plods his weary way," or the glad and joyous song of the reaper, as he gathers in the golden harvest?
Can we doubt that, ere long, Illinois will stand among her sister states — "her brow blooming with the wreath of science, her path strewed with the offerings of art, her temples rich in unrestricted piety," her prairies waving with the fruits of agriculture, her noble streams bearing upon their bosoms the produce of every clime, her borders filled with a rich and thriving population, attached to the institutions of our fathers; lovers of rational and enlightened liberty, and reflecting honour and glory upon our common country. But I must pause; my eyes grow heavy — my candle has almost burnt to its socket — and I must bid you good night. For now,
And soft approach the balmy hours of sleep."
The East — The West — Enterprize — Agriculture.
Springfield, (III.) Feb. 27, 1837.
Here am I at the neat and pretty town of Springfield, a place of considerable trade, and containing a truly kind and hospitable population. The journey from Peoria to Springfield was most delightful. The air was pure and balmy — the heavens were blue — the roads were in fine order, and the "tout ensemble" was (to use a western term) "gorgeous." I am now snugly ensconced in a comfortable room, and intend to entertain you with a few detached and unconnected thoughts — and I will commence by saying, that the period of the year is fast approaching, when the tide of emigration rolls to the western world. As soon as the streams that now are bound by winter's chain, are loosed — as soon as the noble steamers, that "walk the waters like a thing of life," are plying up and down our rivers, the numbers of emigrants who will come to this land of promise, will far exceed that of any previous year. It is not merely the oppressed and afflicted of foreign climes, who have left their native hills for this land of peace and plenty; but many of our most enterprizing citizens, actuated, some, by a desire to improve their fortunes, and others by that truly American spirit — the love of rambling (for we are truly a migratory people,) will forsake their own comfortable homes, to examine the prospects of this much talked of, much written of, and far-famed country.
That those who possess sufficient intelligence, to appreciate and understand the advantages of this country, and a spirit of enterprize that will support them under the privations they must necessarily encounter, will be charmed and gratified with their western tour, I have no doubt; nor do I question that Illinois, in the progress of another year, will rank among her citizens, many of the most intelligent and enterprizing of our sister states. That this country possesses advantages of a most important character, and offers many attractions to the youthful adventurer — to him
140who would acquire both fame and fortune, can, I think, easily be shown, and I would present a few considerations tending to illustrate the subject.
And I will premise by saying, that there is no truth more evident to the reflecting mind, than that in this transatlantic world, every one must be the architect of his own fortune — no matter what course of life is adopted, be it professional or mechanical, the basis upon which every hope of future eminence must rest is, diligent, untiring, persevering application. Assuming this fact as granted, I would refer to the superiority of the western portion of our continent over the eastern, as regards the acquisition of wealth — professional eminence — political distinction, and the opportunity offered of exercising influence on society and the destinies of our common country.
As respects the acquisition of wealth--the great basis of all wealth is the agricultural interest, and that country must be the richest, which is the most capable of supporting the largest agricultural population. Land, rich and fertile soil, is the foundation of a nation's glory. It is true, that commerce tends much to enrich a people, and large, nay, immense fortunes, have been made in the pursuit of trade. But who does not know the mutations of trade? — who is not cognizant of the fluctuations of commerce? Who is ignorant of the fact, that he who is engaged in commercial transactions may today be master of thousands, and roll in splendour and luxury, and tomorrow be a bankrupt, and know not where to lay his head? Do you seek for the evidence of this fact? Go to any of our large cities and inquire, and you will find the sad truth written in indelible characters, so plain that he who runs may read.
Now none of these mutations and fluctuations afflict the agricultural or producing class of society — no panics or pressures occur among them — a stormy sea cannot swallow up their earnings, nor a raging fire destroy the toil of years. The seed is dropped into the ground, and, "He who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," sends the genial sunshine and refreshing showers, and the ripe and yellow harvest awaits the labourer's gathering.
Now, land in the western world is rich and fertile, and I will venture to say, that the soil of one of the prairies is more productive than any soil in your much loved state, not even excepting the far-famed Lancaster county, where the toil and labour of many years has been expended in improving it. This rich and fertile soil can be entered at $1.25 per acre, or bought "second-hand" for from $2.50 to $3.50 per acre. And it has been proved by actual experiment, that an enterprizing settler can break and sow 80 acres, and from the profits of his crop can realize a sufficient sum to enter and pay for his land; thus in one year, by the toil and labour of his hand, acquiring a fee-simple title to a fine and improving farm. In what portion of the eastern states can this be done? "I pause for a reply." Again — wealth will be acquired by the natural increase of the country.
This whole region (particularly the states of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin Territory,) is filling up with great and unexampled rapidity. The increase of the country is truly wonderful, and one who has not witnessed it can scarcely believe it. The growth and prosperity of Chicago may be taken as a fair example of the unprecedented increase and advancement of the country. Cities and towns spring up in every quarter, and a mighty tide of emigration is rolling far and wide its fertilizing influence.
A small sum of money now judiciously invested, will increase in a ratio not even dreamed of by an eastern capitalist. Speak to them of the advantages of this region, and they smile, and tell you, you are exercising the powers of a fertile imagination. They manifest the same incredulity as was exhibited by the eastern monarch, when told by the philosopher, that he came from a country where water became congealed, and bore upon its bosom, men, and horses, and chariots. The monarch was indignant, that any one should attempt (as he supposed) to impose upon his good sense and experience; for he had been sunned in a burning clime, and there the streams were never bound by winter's chain, but were ever rolling their turbid waters, and yet the philosopher's tale was no less true than strange --and so it is with our eastern capitalists — they can form no idea of the increase and unexampled advancement of this country, for it is unparalleled in the annals of the
141world; and although they sometimes think they are very wise in discrediting our statements, they are only acting from a principle of human nature, (which is truly illiberal and narrow,) to disbelieve any thing that is contrary to their preconceived opinions, and has never occurred under the observation of their senses.
But judging of the future by the past, and can we have a better lamp to our steps than that of experience? What may we not anticipate from the increase of this country? It seems but yesterday that the whole valley of the Mississippi was a wilderness, untrodden, save by the moccasin of the red man, where the silence and solitude of nature was unbroken save by the shriek of the wolf, or the cry of the majestic eagle,
Now, as if by work of enchantment, mighty states have there arisen, powerful in wealth and population — sisters of a common confederacy, and reflecting honour on our common country — cities and towns have sprung up like stars above the horizon, and the whole scene is alive with the industry and enterprize of man. Why, I ask, will not land in Illinois be as valuable as in any portion of the Atlantic states? Why will not land along the borders of the Illinois and Michigan canal command as high a price as that upon the Erie canal? The soil is far more productive, requires less toil to prepare for the hand of the farmer, and the market for produce is far superior to any in the east. Does any one pretend to say that lands in any portion of the west will ten years hence be sold for $1.25 per acre? if so, he arrives at that conclusion by a process of reasoning which I cannot understand. To the mechanic — to the labourer — to the working classes of society, this fact offers great encouragement; for here they can earn large wages, and the small sums which they invest will increase most rapidly.
Again, wealth depends upon economy. It is the prudent, saving man, and not the prodigal, who acquires a fortune; — a penny saved is a penny earned, was the maxim of a wise philosopher, and its truth has been fully tested. Now, in a new country, fewer temptations are in your path — fewer opportunities for wasting and squandering the wealth earned by your labour — fewer inducements are presented for the exhibition of extravagances and prodigality, than in our large eastern cities, where luxury is the reigning vice — where man strives as the object of his highest ambition, to outrival his fellow man in the magnificence of his equipage, the extravagance of his table, and the brilliancy of his entertainments.
These considerations, then, the low price of rich and fertile soil, the certain and great increase of the country, and the want of opportunities for the display of extravagance and prodigality, exhibit, in a faint degree, the superiority of the western country — the young and rising west — over the over-populated and already exhausted east. If then wealth be the object of pursuit — if the acquirement of a fortune be the " ultima thule" of your wishes, here is the field upon which to commence your efforts--a field already ripe with the golden harvest, and only waiting the labourer's gathering.
The Acquisition of Wealth — Young Men and Old — Advantages of the West.
Jacksonville, March 3, 1837.
In my last, I endeavoured to exhibit the superiority of the Western Country over the eastern, as regards the acquisition of wealth. Unfortunately for us, the desire for wealth is the ruling passion of our nation — a passion developed in early life sanctioned by parental admonition, and strengthened by each advancing year — almost the first principle instilled into the youthful mind, is the importance of wealth, and almost the first object to which the youthful energies are directed, is the acquisition of a fortune. We will not stop to show the pernicious influence which this universal worship at the shrine of Mammon has upon the morals, the literary taste, and the intellectual greatness of our people. We will not stop to
142exhibit the dangerous tendency of this money-making spirit, to destroy those nice distinctions between right and wrong — to vitiate the public taste — to impair the force of native intellect, and to delay the glorious triumphs of the mind.
This fact we will leave to an abler pen, confident that our feeble efforts would be of little avail in checking that ardent and earnest desire for wealth so prevalent through the land. But there are those to whom, in speaking of the advantages of a new country, we can point to higher and nobler inducements than the mere acquisition of worldly goods — many who are engaged in the noble employment of cultivating and improving the human intellect, and desire a broad and ample field upon which to exert the energies of that immortal mind with which Providence has blessed them.
To those we would speak in the language of affectionate regard, and would endeavour to convince them that, if they desire distinction in that branch of science to which their attention has been directed — if eminence in their profession is the object of their wishes, that they have only to summon up moral courage to enter boldly on a scene of action which will inevitably lead to happy and glorious results. But they must be endued with the spirit of lofty determination and noble resolution — a determination that will brave all obstacles — a resolution that will support them under all privations — not that weak and sickly resolution that every difficulty discourages, and every obstacle disheartens; but that bold and manly resolution which, fixing its eagle eye upon the topmost height, determines to reach the destined mark, and, like the thunder-bearer of Jove, when storms and tempests beat around, soar higher and loftier, and sustains itself by the force and sublimity of its own elevation.
Among the number of advantages which the West has over the East, may be enumerated the following: —
1. In the East, the professions are monopolized by the older members — in the West, the responsible duties of the professions are confided to the young men.
2. In the West, greater inducements for the acquisition of a fortune being held out by the farming or agricultural interest, and great privations having necessarily to be encountered, the number of professional men is fewer than at the East, and consequently the field is more ample.
3. In a new country, every thing being to build up and construct, greater opportunity is offered for the exercise of professional talent.
4. The tendency of a new country being to develop and bring forward youthful talent, exerts a highly favourable influence upon boldness, force, and originality of intellect.
In illustration of the first proposition, we need but appeal to the experience of every young professional man. How few, how very few, even of our most active and intelligent young men can, in our large eastern cities, earn a respectable livelihood! One or two of the most eminent and experienced monopolize the most important and lucrative portions of the business. The community look up to them with confidence, for they believe their minds are matured by wisdom and ripened by experience, and the young men are permitted to remain in almost total inactivity.
Here and there an instance may occur of a young man of high and noble endowments entering boldly into the arena, and, by the force of his intellect and the brilliancy of his talents, commanding a large share of public patronage; but for one who thus happily has burst the fetters which confine and restrain the youthful intellect, how many have toiled and struggled in the lowly vale of life, then "dropped into the tomb, unhonoured and unknown!" — The aged and experienced will not confide their business to youthful heads, for they cannot realize that those whom a few short years ago they dandled on the knee, or saw engaged in the simple and artless amusements of early childhood, are prepared to discharge the high and responsible duties appertaining to a profession.
Now, in the West the population is mostly young, consisting chiefly of youthful adventurers, who have left their peaceful homes with the determination to reap the advantages of a new country. A young professional man has enlisted in his behalf, not the cold and sordid influence of those whose feelings have been chilled
143by a contact with a selfish world, but the warm and glowing feelings of early youth. He is there surrounded not by the aged fathers of the profession — those whose brows are silvered over by the frosts of time — not the experienced soldiers who have conquered over and over again in the fight, and advance to the contest confident of success; but he beholds himself surrounded by his equals — his companions and associates, each striving to gain the prize of public approbation — each struggling to win the pure and spotless laurels which will crown the victor's brow.
In illustration of the second proposition, we can only add, that there can be no doubt that if the acquisition of wealth be the object of pursuit, greater inducements are held out by the farming and agricultural interest. A professional life is at all times a life of toil, and he who aspires to its highest honours must remember that they are only to be attained by untiring unremitting effort. The pecuniary emoluments are small compared with other occupations of life, and he who desires professional eminence must not expect to reap the same amount of this world's good as he whose soul is engaged in the pursuit of trade.
Now an enterprising emigrant, when he leaves his native village, as he turns to take the last lingering look of the home of his affections — as he beholds the spire of the village church, where so oft he has worshipped the God of his fathers, glittering in the morning sun, the last wish which animates his bosom, is the hope of some not far distant day, returning to the scenes of his childhood, where every object brings some sweet association, laden with the fruits of his toil. In fine, it is wealth that he hopes to attain, and it is the prospect of reaping golden fruits which enables him manfully to endure the privations to which he is subjected. He arrives at the land of promise, and examines the prospect of improving his fortune which the country affords. He finds that the tiller of the soil is the one who reaps the most productive harvest, and no matter what profession he may have adopted, — no matter what branch of science may have hitherto occupied his attention — he relinquishes its pursuit — forgets the obligations his profession imposes on him, and forsakes his calling to assume the manly and independent, but at the same time more profitable employment of the farmer.
But few, few alas! of professional men of the proper stamp and character emigrate to a new country. It is the hardy yeoman and independent mechanic who has the moral courage to emigrate to a new but growing country. The young professional man is unfortunately too attached to the comforts of a city life. He loves his ease too much to think of forsaking the attractions and fascinations which have thrown their spells around him, and he will content himself with wasting and squandering the precious hours of youth, (which are truly the wealth of future remembrance,) in the pursuit of the phantom pleasure, which will forever, like Creusa's ghost, fly from his embrace. In the East the professions are over-stocked, and it is indeed distressing in our large eastern cities to see the large number of professional young men, without any employment to occupy their time — frittering away the powers of their intellect, and acquiring habits that will inevitably tend to prevent attaining either standing or eminence in their profession — when if they would only listen to the voice of reason, and obey its dictates, they might have the certain prospect of advancing the character of their profession — being useful to society — exercising influence on our country, and building up a name
And be each purer soul's high resting place."
But I find if I continue the subject now, I shall be obliged to trespass on your limits. Adieu.