THE Writer of the accompanying Remarks having been repeatedly consulted respecting the comparative advantages of different parts of the United States of North America, and more especially that region now familiarly known as the Western Country, either as a field for Emigration or Investment, offers the following sketch to the consideration of all who may feel an interest in the subject, as embracing a few leading and authentic facts relating to the statistics of the Valley of the Mississippi. These he wishes to be understood as more particularly applicable to the northern part of that country, commonly designated the Upper Valley of the Mississippi, for it is only that part which he can unreservedly recommend to the serious attention of a native of England or Scotland. Of it he will not be accused of speaking too favourably (indeed, he has purposely avoided what might seem an exaggerated style of panegyric,) by any one who has visited that region. For the yearly, and we may almost literally say daily, development of the resources of that region of country are such, and so rapidly are they turned to account by a people whose moral and physical energies are concentrated in a spirit of rivalry to this object, that even the American tourist, the more especially if he be an inhabitant of an Atlantic town, is often called
4upon to wonder and reflect on the change which the lapse of a year or two may have wrought in parts of the country at all remote from his immediate residence. The writer would more particularly address himself to a class of men, who, if accidently thrown out of employment, cannot, from the very nature of their occupation, be other than objects of pity — he means the working miners: and he is happy whilst speaking of a country possessing every desirable recommendation to the agriculturist, to urge upon the serious consideration of the intelligent practical miner, those parts of the following pages which treat of the lead mines of Illinois and Wisconsin. Mining, as a science, or as an art, is very imperfectly understood in the United States; and the services of an experienced miner of Cornwall, Derbyshire, or Wales, would be highly appreciated and richly rewarded, not only in working veins already found, but in discovering new ones. A mining district of considerable extent but recently entered upon at all, and the development of whose immense and undoubted treasures only needs the practised eye of experience, surely affords a stimulus to exertion, and the most well-grounded hopes of success to the hand of enterprise. If the writer distrusted his own judgment, he might quote in support of it that of several practical miners, whose opinion, derived from personal inspection, entirely coincides with his own, and who had returned to England with a view to a permanent removal to the lead mines of Illinois and Wisconsin.
A PECULIAR feature of America, and perhaps an objectionable one to an European, is its vast extent; and the seeming improbability of the parts more remote from the Atlantic soon becoming the seat of the civilized and refined comforts of domestic life, and of all those advantages incident to a densely settled and cultivated country. However justly this doubt may have been entertained a few years since, in respect to that part of the United States, to the consideration of which these pages are especially devoted, the most prejudiced minds are now compelled to feel and acknowledge, that there must be something peculiarly attractive in a country which seems to command the preference not only of the young and hardy yeomanry of the older and more settled States of the Union, who are daily flocking westward, but of men of all nations.
The valley of the Mississippi in its proper geographical extent embraces all that portion of the United States lying between the Alleghany and Rocky Mountains, the waters of which are discharged into the Gulf of Mexico through the mouths of the Mississippi. Under the general term of Western Country, as understood by Americans and Europeans,
6is moreover included a portion of the country bordering on the Northern Lakes, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and part of the district round Lake Superior. This vast country is watered by rivers, some of which only of third-rate magnitude extend a thousand miles, and is indented by lakes, whose size justly entitles them to the appellation of inland seas. In 1790 the whole population of the Western Country was only 237,084 souls, and in 1830 it had increased to 1,264,438, and the number at the present time exceeds five millions, which is more than the whole population of the United States in 1790. This amazing increase in population, and the strong tide of emigration, which is still rolling westward, swelled for the last six or seven years by immense additions from the countries of Europe, affords a fair, and reasonable basis, by which to estimate its future importance.
The exports of this country, either consumed in other parts of the United States or shipped abroad, far exceed the whole exports of the whole United States in the year 1790. They consist, principally, of cotton, tobacco, flour, wheat, pork, beef, hams and bacon, lard, butter, flax-seed, linseed oil, Indian corn and corn meal, wool, bees-wax, tallow, cheese, live cattle, horses, hogs, and various kinds of manufactures, such as sugar mills, steam engines, iron and iron-castings, cotton and cotton-bagging, hats, flint and window glass, cabinet ware, candles, types, beer, porter, whiskey, cooper's ware, cordage, &c. &c.
The exports of Tennessee alone in 1832 were $6,120,000. equal to Å1,200,000.
These consisted of —
|120,000 bales of cotton, valued at||$4,000,000|
|Indian corn and live stock||1,000,000|
|4,000 hogsheads of tobacco||120,000|
|Iron and Castings||800,000|
Kentucky exported in the same year $5,250,000, upwards of Å1,000,000. The surplus produce of the State of Ohio is above ten millions of dollars, (Å2,000,000) and the exports of Cincinnati alone (the capital of the state) in 1833 were valued at $5,000,000, (Å1,000,000,) and are now greatly increased.
The exports of Cleaveland, on Lake Erie, a town in Ohio of very recent origin, in 1833 were $1,794,000 (Å400,000) coastwise, and $250,000 (Å50,000) to places in the interior, and from the town of Huron $274,840. The aggregate exports of the above three States of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, in 1833 were $21,370,000 or upwards of Å4,000,000.
The population of Indiana in 1835 was stated to be half a million. In 1831 the value of the produce carried down the Wabash (in l,000 or 1,200 boats) was about $750,000 (Å150,000), and in 1834 it exceeded a million of dollars, or Å200,000. When to
8this is added the value of the exports from the other parts of Indiana, from Illinois, from Missouri, and the then Territory, now State, of Michigan, and the Territory of Wisconsin, the whole surplus produce of what we have called the Western Country in 1834 exceeded $30,000,000 (Å6,000,000,) being about 50 per cent. more than the whole exports of the United States in 1790.
The number of steamers on the western rivers, on 1st January 1834 was 230, measuring 39,000 tons; the annual expence of running them was $4,644,000 (Å1,000,000). The number of flat-bottom and keel boats for carrying merchandize in 1835 was 4,000, with a tonnage amounting to 160,000, making the whole tonnage on the western waters at that time about 200,000.
Recently the number of American steam boats on Lake Erie was thirty-one, whose average tonnage was about 343 each. The whole tonnage of the West in the year 1834 was about 230,000, exclusive of that of canal boats. In 1825 the exports from Cleaveland, coastwise, were only $50,000. (Å10,000.) and the imports $132,645. (Å26,000.) and in 1833 the former had increased to $1,794,000. (nearly Å400,000) and the latter to $4,700,000. (Å1,000,000) and in the same year its exports to Canada amounted to $250,000. (Å50,000.) Its population in 1830 was 1,076 and in January 1835 it was 4,200. Chicago, in Illinois, situated at the head of Lake Michigan, in 1832 contained only a few huts, and, in 1834, 180 vessels entered this port.
The following is an extract from a letter, dated November l5th 1836, at that place: — "I am now in a large hotel in Chicago, which has a population of 6,000 souls. I can scarcely recognize it as the same spot where a year or two since I walked over the unbroken prairie; the spacious street is now opened covered with carts and waggons. The imports of Chicago in this year have amounted in weight to 28,000 tons, and in value to upwards of $3,000,000. (Å600,000.) besides a vast number of emigrants, with their families, provisions, &c. 456 vessels have arrived, including 49 steam boats, 10 ships and barques; the rest brigs, schooners, and sloops. 127 waggons, loaded with merchandize, were counted in the main street in one day."
To secure the advantages of the great and growing trade of the West was one of the principal objects of some of the canals in the Atlantic States already completed or in progress; and New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, entered the lists of competition, and even Boston has endeavoured to improve her position in regard to it by a projected rail-road from Albany, in the State of New York, to that town.
Pennsylvania, it is believed, first formed and commenced a plan for uniting the Eastern and Western waters by an inland water communication. As early as 1790 the legislature of that State appointed commissioners to explore several routes for a water communication between the Delaware and the Lakes. The plan was not again resumed in earnest by Pennsylvania till 1825. In the mean time the State of
10New York had completed her great canal, connecting the waters of the Hudson with Lake Erie, and the immense trade immediately opened with the West by means of that great work, roused the attention of Pennsylvania to the subject, and excited the energies of that State to undertake and accomplish the most complete chain of canal and rail-road communication ever devised and executed in the same space of time.
The entire distance from Philadelphia, West, to Pittsburgh was not open for transportation till 1834, in which year the whole extent of canal navigation in Pennsylvania was 861 miles, and the cost of the same about $23,000,000. (upwards of Å4,000,000) and in that year the rail-roads of that State were in length about 418 miles, and their cost $7,000,000. (Å1,400,000.)
It is not intended, nor does it enter into the design of these pages, to give a particular description of the great works of internal improvement begun or completed by the States of New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, which are already published and known to the world: suffice it to say, that the two principal objects originally contemplated in making them have been accomplished, viz. — 1st. A safe internal water communication along or near the Atlantic Sea Board has been completed. Vessels may now go from the Hudson to the Delaware through the Rariton and Delaware canal — from thence through the Delaware and Chesapeake canal and Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk in Virginia, and from Norfolk through the Dismal
11Swamp canal to Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. 2nd. The Eastern and Western waters are now connected not only from the Hudson to Lake Erie through the State of New York, but also from the Delaware to the Ohio, and to the same lake through Pennsylvania; this has established an easy and intimate intercourse between the East and West, to the immense advantage of both.
The greatness and importance of the Valley of the Mississippi, and of the country immediately connected with it, are now generally appreciated by every class of society in America, and are engaging more and more the attention of the European capitalist and agriculturist. The variety and fertility of its soil — the number and excellence of its natural products — its admirable facilities for trade — the genial nature of its climate — and the surpassing rapidity in the increase of its population, sufficiently account for this: and the ratio of this increase must be progressively greater from year to year.
Among the reasons that suggest themselves why the population of this region must increase in future in a still greater ratio than it has hitherto done, may be mentioned —
1. The most perfect security is now enjoyed by all emigrants, both for their families and property.
2. The increased facilities of emigration, and the advantage of sure and certain markets for every species of production furnish a second reason why population in the Mississippi Valley will increase in a greater ratio than formerly. Before the purchase of Louisiana
12from France by the United States, the Western people had no outlet for their produce, and the chief mode of obtaining every description of merchandize, corn, salt and iron, was by the slow and expensive method of transportation by waggons and pack horses across mountains, and through almost impassable roads. Now every convenience and luxury of life is carried with comparative ease to each town and settlement, and produce of all kinds is sent off in various directions to every part of the world.
3. The facilities of trade and intercourse between the different sections of the Valley are now superior to those of most countries, and are increasing every year; and no country, it is believed, admits of such indefinite improvements in this respect, both by land and water.
More than 20,000 miles of actual steam-boat navigation, with many hundred miles of canal navigation, constructed or commenced, attest the truth of this statement. It would occupy too much space to give a full and detailed account of the works of internal improvement, either finished or partly completed, in the Western country. The reader may form some idea of them from the remarks that follow, given on the spot, as evincing the tone of public sentiment on these matters in the States of Michigan and Illinois.
The following extract from the late annual message of the Governor of Michigan (which State, it will, perhaps, be recollected by some of our readers, was only admitted into the Union some two or three years since) addressed to the Legislature of the State, which
13assembled the 7th January 1839, is taken from the ‘Times’ (London) newspaper, and forcibly shews the enterprize of that infant state. It states "that the rail-roads arid canals commenced within the limits of Michigan embrace a distance of 1,109 miles, that the estimated cost of these great works is nearly eight millions of dollars: that the expenditure up to the first of January 1839 amounted to $888,300 (Å178,000); that 28 miles of the central rail-road from Detroit to Ypsilanti, the only work as yet finished so as to produce a revenue, have yielded to the state, in about ten months, $81,604 (Å17,000): that 28,751 passengers and 9,792,415 pounds of merchandize, in addition to 15,050 barrels of flour, have been transported on the road within that short time. That the same road, and all the other roads and canals, nearly all of which extend from Lake Erie to Lake Michigan, are in progress towards completion."
The following extract of a letter from the United States, recently addressed to a gentleman in this country, may not prove uninteresting: — "When the extended line of internal improvements now in progress in this State (Illinois) shall have been completed, a field for enterprise and investment, now only partially known to the capitalists of the United States and not at all to those of Europe, will be appreciated according to its deserts, and must necessarily and perforce be thrown open to the world. Enough is already done to rouse and excite the Western capitalists and speculators, who
14would fain discourage inquiry respecting the merits and advantages of that district of country to which I have before adverted, as extending from the North-west corner of this State into the Territory of Wisconsin, and embracing an extent of some fifty miles, more or less, and lying North and Northwest of the towns of Dubuque and Galena, which tract of country, is usually called and known as the Lead District, though copper is found as well in great abundance. The State of Illinois and the Territory of Wisconsin are too much awake to the immense advantages necessarilv resulting to their inland trade, and the individual prosperity of their citizens, from the developments of their secret treasures, not to throw open wide the door to enterprize, and encourage and facilitate, by as many channels as possible, the transmission of a mass of mineral wealth, acknowledged to be unrivalled in point of excellence and abundance in the United States."
We shall endeavour to give some account of the works of internal improvement referred to in the above letter, since their importance to the agriculturist of the Upper Valley of the Missisippi is incalculable.
The State of Illinois had already entered upon the great work of connecting Lake Michigan with the navigable waters of the Illinois River in 1836, and had received from Congress in aid of that undertaking a grant of every alternate section of the public lands on the route of the proposed canal, when, in 1837,
15the Legislature of Illinois adopted a general system of internal improvements, which will require several years for its complete execution, but the partial accomplishment of which must give a great impetus to the general prosperity of the State, and the territories adjacent to it. The Act of 1837 establishes a Board of Commissioners to manage the fiscal concerns of the public works, and a "Board of Public Works" to determine the routes and superintend the execution of such works as have been authorized by the Legislature, in concert with the Commissioners of the Michigan and Illinois Canal, which is under the controul of a distinct Board. The internal improvement fund consists of loans raised for the purpose of proceeds arising from the sales of lands given to aid the object, of rents and tolls obtained from any portion of the works constructed, of the Bank Stock owned by the State, and of a part of the surplus revenue distributed by the general Government among the several States: and the works themselves, with the faith of the State, are pledged for the payment of the principal and interest of the loan. The Michigan and Illinois Canal, now in progress, will extend from near Peru, below the lower Rapids of the Illinois, up the river and the Des Planes, and across the Portage between the latter and the Lake to Canal Port on the South branch of the Chicago, five miles from its mouth; length 96 miles, depth 6 feet, width at top 60 feet, estimated cost 8,654,337 dollars. A navigable feeder, 4 miles to Fox river, making the whole length 100 miles, is included in the estimate. A
16branch through the Sunganake Swamp to the River Calumet, and thence to the Northern canal in Indiana is also projected. The improvement of the channel of the Wabash, in connexion with Indiana, and the removal of obstructions in the beds of the Illinois, Rock River, Kaskaskia, and Little Wabash, have likewise been undertaken by direction of the State, and the necessary appropriations have been made for the execution of these works. This canal connects the Northern and central points of Illinois with Lake Michigan at Chicago.
By the Act of 1837 above referred to, the following rail-roads were directed to be undertaken, and appropriations were made for their construction.
1. The central rail-road to extend from the city of Cairo, at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi through Vandalia, Shelly Ville, intersecting the Illinois at the Southern, the termination the Michigan Canal, and from thence to Galena, about 460 miles, appropriation $3,500,000.
2. The South Cross rail-road from Alton through Edwardsville, Carlisle, Salem, and Fairfield, to Mount Carmel, and a second route diverging at Edwardsville, and extending through Nashville, Pinkney Ville, and Frankfort, to Shaunee Town, and a branch from Lebanon on the latter to Bellville, whole length about 320 miles, appropriation $1,600,000.
3. The Northern Cross rail-road, extending from Quincy through Mount Stirling, Mendoria, Springfield,
17Decatur and Danville to Covington in Indiana, length about 220 miles, appropriation $1,850,000.
4. The Alton and Terre-haute rail-road from Alton through Hillsbro', Shelby Ville, and Paris, to Terre-haute, length about 160 miles, appropriation $1,250,000.
5. The Warsaw and Bloomington rail-road, extending from Warsaw on the Mississippi through Macomb and Peoria to the central rail-road at Bloomington, with a branch from Mackinan to Pekin on the Illinois, whole length about 160 miles, appropriation $1,050,000.
The rail-roads undertaken by individual enterprize are the Chicago and Des Planes rail-road, 12 miles in length, a continuation of which to Galena is projected; the Jackson Ville and Augusta rail-road from the former place to the Illinois, opposite the latter, 24 miles; and the Rushville rail-road from that town to the Illinois at Erie 10 miles.
We have entered above into a more minute detail than may seem necessary, because repeated inquiries have been made of us respecting the State of Illinois, particularly its North Western part, its facilities for trade, internal communication, &c. by Englishmen and Scotchmen, both agriculturists and miners, some of whom had been across the Atlantic, and had returned to take over their families, and all of whom seem disposed to prefer the Northern part of Illinois and the Southern part of the Wisconsin Territory to any portion of the United States which they had
18visited. Few will dispute the soundness of their judgment, for, taken en masse, Illinois is allowed to be the finest land in the Union: and it is believed that no practical men, whether labourers or capitalists, (and to such only these remarks are addressed) who may contemplate emigration, or investment in that part of the Western Country, will complain of undue prolixity in the details just given.
4. A fourth reason why population will increase in a greater ratio than has hitherto been the case is derived from the increase of the population in the Atlantic States, and the greater desire for removal to the West, which among the younger portion of the Eastern people, especially in the New England States, has become a very strong and general feeling. At the close of the revolutionary war in 1783, the population of the whole Union but little exceeded two millions. Vast tracts of wilderness then existed in the old States which have since been subdued and from whence thousands of enterprizing men with their families are pressing their way westward. Two-thirds of the Territory of New York, large portions of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, and of Middle-Pennsylvania, to say nothing of the immense regions in the Southern States, were comprised in this wilderness. These extensive districts, now become populous, are now sending out their emigrants to the West. The emigration from Europe to North America in 1832, reached 200,000, a fair proportion of which settled in the Western valley.
The New York ‘Times’ furnishes the following statement of Emigrants who arrived at New York and Quebec during eight years.
|Years.||At Quebec.||At New York.|
|1829||. . .||13,356||15,064|
|1830||. . .||24,391||30,224|
|1831||. . .||49,250||31,739|
|1832||. . .||51,422||48,589|
|1833||. . .||22,062||41,702|
|1834||. . .||30,217||48,110|
|1835||. . .||11,580||35,303|
|1836||. . .||27,515||60,541|
It is a well-known fact that a very large proportion of the emigrants who arrive at Quebec, afterwards find their way into the United States, and ultimately settle in the Western country.
The number of emigrants who arrived at New York in the years 1837 and 1838 was enormous. In the former year the mayor of the city in a communication to the common council states as follows, "nearly 2000 emigrants arrive each week, and it is not likely many months will elapse before the number per week will be 3000."
5. A fifth reason why the increase of the future population will greatly exceed the past is derived from the increased confidence of the community in the general health of the country, the climate of which is now allowed to be, and more especially the northern parts, extremely fine and salubrious.
6. The fact now known and acknowledged by the people of the East, that there is a greatly increased
20amount of intelligence, and of excellent society which is every day becoming more densely knit together, is another reason and inducement to emigration; and when the Eastern emigrant finds, as he now does, that wholesome legislation, and the influences and injunctions of morality and religion are fully enjoyed and recognized, extending to him all he can ask in the enjoyment of his rights and the protection of his property in the West, the objection to emigration is diminished.
It may be added to that, the system of common schools, so successfully adopted in New York and New England, has been commenced, and the subject of general education is receiving increased attention every year. Colleges and other institutions are chartered, and noble and successful efforts are making by various literary and religious societies for the propagation and dissemination of sound education and religious truth.
To shew how rapid is the march of improvement in that country, and how forcibly it presents itself to the mind of one who was not a perfect stranger to the "far West," we will again give an extract from the letter of a gentleman, dated "Springfield, in the State of Illinois, 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
21erected in a country in which the hardy pioneer had at that time sprinkled a few log cabins. On the subject of internal improvements, the young giant of the west is making herculean efforts. A Bill passed the legislature of this State a few days since appropriating eight millions of dollars for railroads, canals, &c. works which when completed will cost twenty millions," &c.
In a country of such vast extent it is difficult, and would in all probability be useless, to attempt to point out to the European capitalist or emigrant, any particular spot or locality as particularly meriting his attention. Men are influenced by so many and various considerations, that what would be thought all important by one might perhaps be deemed worthless by another. The march of emigration from the Atlantic border has been generally nearly due West. Tennessee was settled by Carolinians, and Kentucky by Virginians; Ohio received the basis of its population from the States in the same parallel of latitude, and Michigan and the territory of Wisconsin are substantially peopled from New York. The cotton planters of the South have gone to Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Southern part of Arkansas, and Kentucky and Tennessee themselves only called into existence a few years since have sent their citizens over Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
Slavery holds nearly the same parallel in the West as it does in the East, and is receding South as it does on the Atlantic coast.
It is presumed most Europeans, and more especially
22the nations of Great Britain, would avoid the slaveholding states, and all the evils, moral and physical, attendant on the institutions and climate of a cotton and sugar-growing country. The planting region of the lower Valley of the Mississippi furnishes an immense market for the productions of the upper Valley. Indirectly the Louisiana sugar business is a source of profit to the farmers of Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as their agricultural produce and live stock, in vast quantities, go to supply these plantations.
The commerce of the upper country that concentrates at New-Orleans is amazing and, every year is rapidly increasing. Sixteen hundred arrivals of steamers took place in 1832, and the estimated number in 1835 is 2,300. In the northern half of the Valley the productions and the modes of cultivation and living are such as to characterize a large proportion of the population as farmers.
In some countries stock-farming has taken place of all other business. The Scioto Valley and other districts in Ohio, are famous for fine well-fed beef. Thousands of young cattle are purchased by the Ohio graziers, at the close of winter, of the farmers of Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. The Miami and White-Water sections of Ohio and Indiana abound with swine. Cincinnati has been the great pork mart of the Western country. 150,000 head of hogs have been frequently slaughtered there in a season.
In ascending to the upper Valley of the Mississippi the traveller comes to the fine states of Missouri, Illinois, and the Territory of Wisconsin, and to the
23native of Britain probably no part of the Western world can present such attractions as does this favored region. The Northern part of Illinois, and the Southern and South-Western parts of the Territory of Wisconsin, more especially, are unsurpassed in beauty, enjoy a fine, salubrious, and elastic climate, have a most prolific soil, abundance of clear and never-failing streams, affording excellent mill seats, and several navigable rivers. Some of these rivers, such as the Pekatonica, the Grant River and the Lefevre seem intended by Providence as natural channels for the conveyance of the valuable minerals found in this neighbourhood, to the great Mississippi, on which river they may be freighted down the Western Valley, or else go from Galena, or some point on the Galena and Chicago Union rail-road, to Lake Michigan, on their way to an Eastern market. Here is situated the tract of country generally known as the Lead Mine District, lying North of the town of Galena in the State of Illinois and Dubuque in the Wisconsin Territory, and extending it is supposed some fifty miles. This district of country is unrivalled in the whole of the United States for the abundance and variety of its mineral products.
The land in this district of country is what is known as the rolling or undulating Prairie of the Western country. From May to October these undulating or dry prairies are covered with tall grass and flowers. In June and July, they seem an ocean of flowers of various hues waving to the breeze. The prevalent tint of these flowers in the early spring is
24the color of the peach blossom, the next a deeper red, then succeeds the yellow and to the latest period of autumn, they assume a brilliant golden hue. These tall flowers and shrubs growing luxuriantly on the surface present a striking and delightful appearance. The undulations are so slight that to the eye the surface has the appearance of an uninterrupted level though the ravines formed by the rivulets indicate a considerable degree of inclination. These prairies are from one to six miles in width. They are intersected in every direction by strips of forest land advancing into and receding from the prairies towards the water courses whose banks are always lined with timber, generally of luxuriant growth. Between these streams, in many instances, are copses or groves of timber, containing from 100 to 2,000 acres, in the midst of the prairies like islands in the ocean.
The Lead Mine region in Illinois and Wisconsin, abounds with these groves. The first improvements are usually made on that part of the prairie or meadow which adjoins the timber, and thus we frequently see at the commencement, a range of farms circumscribing the prairie as with a belt. The writer before quoted, 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 smoothly enough furrow to furrow, to harrow and sow wheat. It is usual to sow and break
25it up in May, and to drop corn (Indian) 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 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 stock of Indian corn is most abundant, averaging 50 bushels, per acre; wheat, 25 to 30 bushels; Rye 25 to 35, and Oats from 40 to 60 bushels, per acre. Potatoes, Hay (Timothy), and all the different garden vegetables, yield most abundantly. A man can tend double the quantity of corn that he can in newly settled timber countries, there being no stump to obstruct the plough or hoe. The cost of breaking up an acre of prairie is from one dollar fifty cents to two dollars;
26cultivation." The natural 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. The butter made from this grass is excellent. Cattle and horses that have lived unsheltered and without fodder through the winter, and which are consequently much out of condition, after feeding on this grass are speedily changed into thrifty and sleek animals as if by a charm. Among the peculiarities of the mineral district is a description of country called ‘Barrens, or Oak Openings.’ The term ‘Barrens’ by no means indicates poor land (for on the contrary, these Barrens are generally a superior description of soil,) but 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 move uneven than the prairies and is covered with scattered oaks interspersed at times with pine. Hiccory and other forest trees spring from a rich vegetable soil, admirably adapted to the purposes of agriculture. They rise from a grassy turf seldom encumbered with brushwood but not unfrequently broken by jungles of rich and gaudy flowering plants, and of dwarf sumach. Among the ‘Oak Openings’ are found some of the most lovely landscapes of the West, and one may 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 us though planted by
27the hand of man, with strips of open meadow between: sometimes the openings are interspersed with numerous clear lakes whose borders shelve gently to the water, as evenly and smoothly as the most artificial efforts could have formed them, and with this addition the scene becomes enchantingly beautiful. The English traveller is always struck with wonder and admiration at features so unexpected in the landscape of a new country and can scarcely persuade himself that he is not riding through an ornamental park in his native land.
The geological structure of the upland prairies in the entire peninsula comprehended between the Mississippi on the West, and the Illinois and Lake Michigan on the South and East, embracing all the Northern part of the State of Illinois, and the greater part of the Southern portion of Wisconsin Territory, is almost entirely the same; — that is, first, vegetable mould formed by the decomposition of grass upon the original clay soil, 8 to 30 inches deep; second, pure yellow clay, 3 to 8 feet; third, gravelly clay mixed with pebbles, 4 to 10 feet; fourth, limestone rock, 2 to 12 feet; fifth, shale covering a stratum of bitumenous coal, generally 4 to 5 feet thick; sixth, soapstone, then sandstone. The bed of limestone seems to be universally found 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. We quote again the words of a writer from the spot. "The bottom lands (that is the flat meadows) of these streams which are usually about a mile and a half
28wide, cannot be surpassed in fertility. Like the great American Bottom, (so called) below the mouth of the Illinois river, the fertility of the Upper Mississippi and its adjacent streams is indestructible. On such a soil, under proper cultivation, 100 bushels of Indian corn and 40 bushels of wheat to the acre can be raised with facility. With the most careless kind of culture where the farmers do not think of applying the hoe after planting, and even the plough through but once, the average corn (Indian) crop is about 50 or 60 bushels per acre. These bottoms are frequently interspersed with groves of timber, and altogether form as fine a succession of farm sites as the eye ever saw, or the heart can desire, and immediately at the back of these sloping bottoms is a dense foliage of stately timber, forming a rich bordering to the verdant picture below."
The settler may safely disregard an objection which has sometimes been made by superficial observers, to some prairie lands which have not much timber. Coal which exists in the Bluffs, so called, (that is the high lands or banks) of the rivers and streams in almost every part of the country, will be his fuel, and he will grow the hedge thorn and the black locust for his fencings. So soon as timber or orchards are planted they grow with unexampled luxuriance. A correspondent from Adam's county in Illinois writes thus: — Locust trees planted, or rather sown, on prairie land near Quincy, attained, in four years, a height of 25 feet, and their trunks and diameter of from 1 to 5 inches. These grow in close crowded
29rows, affording a dense and arboury shade. In a few instances, where the same kind of trees had been planted in a more open manner, they grow, in the same period to the thickness of 6 inches, and in from 7 to 10 years from their planting, have been known to attain sufficient bulk to make posts and rails.
The summer range for cattle in these upland prairies is inexhaustible, and the amount of excellent hay that may be made every season, almost without limit. Horses, cattle, and sheep can be raised here with but little trouble and expense, compared with that necessarily incurred in the Eastern States. The mildness of the climate in many parts not unfrequently relieves the owners from all care and expense of feeding them through the whole year, but it is generally advisable to do so 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 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 through the whole Winter on this food alone. It has also been frequently remarked that both horses and cattle usually fatten quite as fast in Spring and Autumn 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
30has been much esteemed at St. Louis and New Orleans, and generally considered of the finest quality.
Among the many agricultural products for the cultivation of which this country seems admirably adapted is 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 — "Last year he (Mr. P—) raised fifty tons of beets to the acre, and his crop is much better the present season. The manager of the farm says, it requires but little more labor to raise fifty tons of beets than fifty bushels of Indian corn, while the former is quite 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."
This letter shews that a new item of national wealth is about to be introduced into the Western Country. 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 expences, ranges from seven to eight pounds. The profits would be equally great in the United States; for though the price of labor is cheaper in France, the difference would no doubt be amply compensated by the superior fertility of the Western prairies, and
31the circumstance of dispensing with manure, which the depth and richness of the soil will render unnecessary for a long period. A considerable diminution of the annual profits in Europe consists in the expence of manuring the land, so as to make it sufficiently rich to produce a remunerating crop. In France from eight to twelve dollars rent per acre is annually paid, and yet large profits are made. An acre of good land will product 44,000 pounds of beet root, from which 2,400 pounds of sugar can be extracted, which, at 10 cents. a pound, amounts to 240 dollars (Å48.) per acre.
But little has been done until very lately to introduce the cultivated grasses into the upper valley of the Mississippi; but Timothy grass grows well, and produces heavy crops of hay for several years in succession, with proper cultivation, and clover and all the other European grasses grow luxuriantly.
The following Table will exhibit the cost of subduing 160 acres of prairie land: —
|Breaking up 160 acres prairie at $2 per acre||$320|
|Fencing into 4 fields with a Kentucky fence of 8 rails high, with cross states||175|
|Add cost of cabins, corn-cribbs, stable, &c. &c.||250|
Wheat yields a good and sure crop. It weighs upwards of 60 pounds per bushel. Winter wheat is
32sown 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, and for Spring wheat in August. The crop is frequently 35 bushels per acre; 30 may be pronounced the average. The average price is one dollar to 1 Åº per bushel, varying a little according to the competition of mills, and facilities to market. In many instances a single crop of wheat has paid the expenses of purchasing the land, fencing, breaking up the prairie, seed, putting in the crop, harvesting, threshing, and taking it to market. Wheat is frequently sown on the prairie lands as a first crop, and a great yield obtained. Common labourers on the farm obtain from 12 to 15 dollars per month, including board. A young man of industrious, steady habits, who begins without a dollar, in a few years becomes a substantial farmer. A good hand in the harvest-field will earn from a dollar and a-half to two dollars per day. Oats have not been raised till lately. They are productive, yielding from 40 to 50 bushels the acre, and sell from 20 to 30 cents. per bushel. The demand for them for food for stage and travellers' horses is much increasing, though the Indian corn still commands a preference with some. Hemp has not been extensively cultivated in the upper valley, but wherever tried has been found very productive, and of excellent quality.
The Indian corn, the pride and beauty of almost every part of the United States of America, is a staple production of the Western States. It yields 75
33bushels per acre, and in some instances has exceeded one hundred. It is planted about the 1st of May.
Among the indigenous fruits may be mentioned the plum, which grows in great abundance. The color is generally red, the flavour somewhat tart, but delicious. In some places the quantities of this fruit are prodigious. Wild cherries are abundant, but are only fit for making a liqueur. The persimmon is a delicious fruit after the frost has destroyed its astringent properties, as is also the pawpaw. The black mulberry grows in most parts, and is used for the feeding of silk-worms, which appear to thrive as well as those fed on the Italian mulberry. The gooseberry, strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry grow wild, and in great profusion.
Of the nuts the hiccory, black walnut, and Peccan deserve notice, which last is a native of Illinois, and very delicious.
Coal, salt, lime, lead, iron, and copper are among the mineral productions of this country; but the soil has not yet been extensively 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 of Illinois, and in that part of Wisconsin adjacent to it, in vast quantities. Native copper in large quantities is found on the Pekatonica, and also on the Grant and Cincinna rivers, and at Mineral Point, and other localities on or near the Pekatonica, mines of the richest character are wrought with industry and success. Copper ore has already been raised from these mines to a considerable
34extent; and from a lead mine lower down the same river, one individual shipped nine flat boats, containing 1,200,000 lbs. of lead, in one season. This mineral is found in large quantities in this region of country, insomuch that thousands are attracted there to work in the mines at Mineral Point, Dubuque and Galena, which last mentioned places, though of recent origin, have become thriving towns. This ore is easily worked, and yields 75 per cent. of pure lead. The annual product of these mines has fluctuated for the last five years from 4 to about 13 millions of pounds. The rich mineral wealth and resources of this part of the Upper Valley of the Mississippi, give it an important claim to the attention of the capitalist, apart from its immense agricultural advantages, its beautiful rivers, never-failing-streams, and a climate which cannot be surpassed, if equalled, for salubrity, in the whole extent of the United States. The lead district lies on both sides of the Mississippi, and extends East as far as the Pekatonica. To the English or Scotch settler, accustomed to a cool and bracing climate, and to hardy labour, no part of the United States affords a more inviting field for industry than this; and the farmer or the capitalist who may be induced by its rich agricultural resources and mineral treasures to embark his labour or capital in the development of these advantages, cannot fail to perceive that, in its advantageous position on the Mississippi, and its immediate contiguity to some, and its accessibility to all, of the works of internal improvement above referred to, it possesses rare facilities of
35communication with the remotest points of the north and south, the east and west.
Dubuque, finely situated on a gently sloping prairie, already contains a population of about 1,500 souls. Numerous smelting furnaces, and a white lead factory, employ a large proportion of the inhabitants. A weekly newspaper is printed in Dubuque, and there is a bank and three churches.
Several villages in the mining district, which have been built within the last few years, are already beginning to wear a busy and thriving appearance; in Grant and Iowa counties the influx of population is so rapid, that Cassville, Sinapee, and other towns as yet unknown to geographers, are already advancing into importance, and Mineral Point, which was a few years ago nothing but a collection of miner's huts, has now its market, church, and well filled stores: there has also been lately established there a weekly newspaper, and it is one of the seats of the Circuit Court of Justice.
The climate of the Western States is very similar to that of the same latitudes on the Atlantic Sea Board, though exempt from the effect of the easterly winds, so chilling and annoying there.
The early spring is not unfrequently disagreeable and cheerless, and the emigrant who arrives at that season is apt to form an unfavorable idea of the climate, but so soon as the rains of February and March subside he is delighted with the contrast. The summers are warm, though the intensity of the sun's rays is tempered by the free and genial breeze constantly
36giving 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 finest; the heat of the summer is over by the middle of August, and from that time till December there is almost a continuous succession of bright, clear, and sunny days. Nothing can exceed the beauty of an expansive prairie strewed with flowers, still bright and fresh, skirted by forests as with a fringe, presenting all the varieties of color incident to the fading foliage of a thousand different varieties of trees. The gorgeousness of this colouring must be seen to be appreciated, and the English writers on America all express their admiration of this peculiarity and beauty of the American forest in the autumn. About the middle of October, or beginning of November, and sometimes later, the Indian summer commences, and continues from fifteen to twenty days. During this season the atmosphere is hazy, and the sun and moon are obscured. During the spring, summer, and autumn, South-westerly winds are the most prevalent, — these seldom bring rain. In the early spring, and during the rise of the Missouri, they are from a more westerly direction, and rains are more frequent. West and North-west winds prevail during the months of December and January; North and North-east winds are rare; the latter usually bring rain. The woods and prairies of the Wisconsin Territory abound in game of every description, grouse or prairie hen, pheasants, partridges, wild turkeys, and
37deer; the latter are so abundant, that few of the settlers think of sitting down to dinner without a venison steak.
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, as before mentioned, they may be multiplied to an almost indefinite extent. The neat cattle are usually inferior in size to those of the old States, but this is entirely owing to bad management: the cows are not penned up in pasture-fields, but suffered to run at large over the open prairies, and, if suffered to lose their milk in August, become sufficiently fat for the table 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 12 to 20 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, but this again is to be attributed to the causes already assigned. If ever a land might be justly characterized as flowing with milk and honey it is the Western country generally.
From the springing of the grass till September, butter is made in great abundance. It sells at that season in market for about 20 cents. (about 11d.) per pound.
Much has lately been done to improve the breed of horses. Some farmers keep a stallion and eight or ten brood mares, the latter being a very profitable
38stock, as the cost of their keep is a mere trifle; their labor is always needed, and their colts, when well grown, always command a ready market. A good farm horse can be purchased for 50 dollars (Å10.) A great proportion of the ploughing of the West is performed by horse labor instead of that of the Ox, which latter animal seems to be generally preferred for that species of labor in the Eastern States. Mules are reared in parts of the country; they are used for labor and reared for sale for the southern market of the United States, also for Cuba and the West Indies, at an immense profit, insomuch that the writer of these lines was once informed by a gentleman of New York of his intention of investing his whole spare capital in rearing mules on the Western prairies. The breed of sheep has not been improved by the introduction of the Merino or Saxony breed, nor can it be said that it has yet been satisfactorily shewn that they can be raised with the same advantage as other stock. Hogs are a staple of the West, and Cincinnati, in the State of Ohio, as has been before stated, is the great mart for them in the West. The slaughtering of hogs is an immense business in that town, and excites the attention of travellers from the wonderful and almost incredible expedition with which the animal is slaughtered and prepared for market in the shape of pork. Thousands of them are raised without any expense, except a few breeders to start with, and a little attention to keeping them tame. This kind of pork, made from animals that have been running wild in the prairies, is by no means equal to that
39raised and fatted in a domestic way. It is soft and oily, and will not bear inspection; at New Orleans and other markets on the Mississippi, and elsewhere, it usually sells for $3. a hundred-weight, whilst domestic pork will sell from 4 to 5 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 or English farmer bestows on his pigs, pork may be raised from the sow, fatted and killed, and weigh from two hundred to two hundred and fifty pounds within twelve months.
Few families 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. per pound. Good hams command 12 cents. in the market. Stock hogs weighing from 60 to 100 pounds alive usually sell for from two dollars to two dollars and fifty cents. per head.
The following extract from a letter of the Honorable H. L. Ellsworth, of Washington, gives a correct idea of the cost of cultivating the Western prairies, and we think any readers feeling an interest in the subject will be gratified with a perusal of it.
The letter is dated "Washington, January 1st 1837. Is it possible that lands yielding 40 bushels of wheat, 70 of Indian 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
40than 50 dollars (Å10.) 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. Under this belief many settlers have to their sorrow entered
A prairie farm can be put in complete cultivation at from $3.75 cents. to $9. per acre, according to the computation 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 in 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
41rent, and yet great profits are made. An acre of good land will yield 44,000 pounds of sugar beet, from which 2,400 pounds of sugar can be extracted, which, at ten cents. a 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 here. The sample of paper exhibited is very good, and the rapidity with which it is made must reduce materially the price of the article. Many labor-saving machines are introduced to aid in the cultivation of new lands. In a few years it is possible 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 parts of their lands. A small improvement will repay expenditure, and greatly enhance the value of the whole investment. Three benefits may be expected: — 1st, the crops will pay expenses and yield a great profit; 2nd, the land cultivated and the land adjoining will be advanced several hundred per cent.; 3rd, 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 guarantee a large return. I mention the successful cultivation of the hay in the West, from 1 and a-half to 2 tons in a fair crop.
42This can be cut and pressed without any labour-saving machinery at 2 dollars per ton; and if the grass were cut by horse power the expence would be still less. The profits of one hundred heifers, at five dollars, might easily be supposed. Fifty breeding sows would probably bring seven hundred pigs per annum, and by these means a large farm could be stocked with little capital advanced. The price of hay at New Orleans varies from 20 to 50 dollars (Å4. to Å10.) per ton; an average for the last three years may be 30 dollars (Å6.) The cost of floating down hay, in flat boats, to New Orleans, may be 8 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 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 Indianopolis on blue grass, in the open fields, at the small expense of one dollar per head per month.
"From personal examination, I am convinced that hedging and ditching, as practiced in England, Holland and France, and successfully adopted in Illinois, is cheaper than rails. Mulberry trees might be raised on the slopes of the ditch with great profit. Indeed such is the rapid growth of the mulberry tree in these rich prairie lands, that land
43planted with 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. It may be asked, how can non-residents best cultivate their farms? I would advise to employ smart enterprizing young men, from the New England states, to take the farms in shares. If the landlord should find a horse, cart, team, 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 and ditching, a certain sum, and stipulate that the capital invested should be returned before the profits are divided. A farmer would, 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 100 acres were seeded down to tame grass. Meat for swine is found in great abundance, and the number of hogs could readily be increased to one hundred by adding to the number of breeding sows.
"Indian 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, shew a great profit in raising spring wheat and oats together,
44and feeding out the same to hogs. Farmers in Indiana and Illinois are successfully enclosing their farms by ditching, which has cost from fifty to seventy cents. per rod, or 5 Ë yards. The Law of those States compel the owners of lands adjoining to pay one half of fencing, when they make use of or derive any benefit from the fences — this lessens the expences 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 25 per cent. interest per annum. Probably the profit will be much greater."
With the present possession and prospective control of advantages such as have been partially stated in the foregoing pages, it is not a difficult task to determine the future condition of this country; and few who have ever visited it have failed to understand and appreciate its peculiar advantages. If the agricultural interest be the great basis of all wealth, that country must be the richest which is most capable of supporting the largest agricultural population.
The rich and fertile soil, the temperate and healthy climate, and the vast mineral products of this country, particularly of that part of it last referred to, have excited an earnest and intense interest among the people of the United States of America — an interest which will never flag till the whole of the Valley of the Mississippi shall become one garden; and such it is becoming with great and unexampled rapidity.