Skip to main content

Full text of "Illinois and the West : with a township map, containing the latest surveys and improvements"

See other formats






1^^ Morris Library 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

CARL!: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois 










Entered according to act of congress, by A. D. Jones, 
in the clerk's office of the district court cf Massachusetts, 
anno Domini 1838. 


Printers— 17 School Street. 


I HAVE been induced to give the following pages 
to the public from a strong desire to give a correct 
impression on the public mind of things pertaining 
to the West, and particularly of that portion of the 
West embraced in Illinois. Various and contra- 
dictory reports of this land are in circulation 
throughout the Eastern and Middle States, and 
which are well calculated to puzzle and mislead 
the inquiring immigrant. The purpose of these 
pages is to disabuse the public mind of these false 
impressions. Having seen and heard what I have 
ivritten, and having withal taken the best advice 
with men upon the spot, I feel that I can confi- 
dently rely on my little book's being received as, 
at least, a correct and impartial directory. 


The "Appendix" has been collated with great 
care from the best sources, and many important 
corrections and additions that no other published 
statistics contain. The Map has been drawn from 
the best authorities, and contains surveys and 
improvements never before published, and may 
be relied on as more accurate than any other map 



Reasons for writing — Best route to New York — Odious 
monopoly between New York and Philadelphia — 
Railroad accident — Comfort on a canal boat — Portage 
railroad — River and mountain scenery — Pittsburg, - 13 


Sail down the Ohio river — Morals and Lynch law at 
the west — Cincinnati — Wreck of the Moselle, - - 22 


St. Louis — Immigration — Farmers immigrating — En- 
campment on the prairie — Rapid growth of trees — 
Debarcation of a raft at the mouth of the Ohio — Tim- 
ber at the west, ----.---30 


Mississippi river— Missouri river— Waters of the Mis- 
souri medicinal — Bluffs and bottoms on the Mississip- 
pi — Scene by moonlight, 40 


Tradition of the Piasau bird — Legendary lore of the 
west — The west once occupied by a race of giants — A 
race of pigmies — Strange beasts and birds — Appear- 
ance of tne Piasau bird— Description of it — Origin of 
its name — Fearful destruction by it — Its death, - - 50 



Illinois river — Peoria — Comfort on board a steam packet 
— Bribing the steward — Debarcalion of an immigrat- 
ing family at Naples — Bottoms unhealthy— A wise 
provision of nature — The west destined to greatness, 61 


Tremont — Respect paid to the Sabbath — Temperance- 
Fourth of July — Stump speeches — Barbacue in Mis- 
souri — False notions of western moralitj' — Travellers 
— Acqaintance with the people affords a solution to 
enigmatical appearances — Apology for personal elec- 
tioneering, ---------71 


Face of the country unique — Unlike New England — • 
Level but not flat — Oak openings and timber — Bluffs 
— Prairies — Climate — Unusual proportion ol fair days 
— Diseases, -- 83 


False opinion upon literature — A fifth-rate lawyer's 
chance of success at the west — Respectable share of 
talent in Illinois — Libraries and scholars in log cab- 
ins — Room for talent at the west — Preferment the 
result of worth and application — Provisions for educa- 
tion in Illinois — Illinois college — ShurtlefF college — 
Other colleges — Same liberal policy pursued in other 
new states, - - - - - - - -101 


Division of land at the West— Townships — Lesser divi- 
sions—Mode of numbering— Diagrams — Simplicity of 
the whole plan, - - 125 


Chapter for immigrants — False notions prevalent at the 
east — Conflicting reports — How to reconcile them— 
Home-sickness— Object of the book — Impartiality — 


Advice — Health — Some capilal necessary to success — 
But few wealthy — Too much praise of the west — Inju- 
rious to immigration — " Illinois in 1S37-8." a false text 
book — Let not the immigrant expect too much — Seek a 
healthy location — Be modest — Small change and small 
men — Thirty cents for a glass of heer — " Improve- 
ments" — Frame house and log cabin— Fencing and 
ploughing — Sod corn — Time to plough — Select good 
stock — Best season for immigration, - - - - 140 


Western fever — Rock river — Fish — Exploring commit- 
tee — Starting — A new mode of travelling — Incidents 
— How to make a city — Como, 165 


Facilities for travelling — Rise of property — Wabash and 
Erie canals — Productions of the soil — Ploughing and 
planting prairie — Beet sugar — Mulberry and silk — 
Hay — Ditching and fencing — Farms on shares — Profits 
of cultivation — Economy — Speculation — Wealth the 
product alone of labor, 182 

On trees, gardens, etc., ------- 197 


On Claims, pre-emption, etc. — Public Lands — Squatters 
— Associations for mutual aid and defence — Quantity 
of land to be claimed— Conditions of holding claim — 
Title, how to be obtained — Public sale — Simple ma- 
chinery — Policy of government, 224 

CONCLUSION, - , - - - - - - 230 



Reason for writing — Best route to New York — Odious mo-' 
nopoly Lelween New York and Philadelphia — Railroad 
accident — Comfort on a Canal Boat — Portage Railroad 
— River and Mountain Scenery — Pittsburg. 

Stkamboat Maine, Ohio River, > 
May 14, 1838. 5 

Having promised an occasional sketch 
from my pen during my absence from home, 
I seize the first moment of leisure that has 
presented itself since my departure, to redeem 
the pledge. On ground that has been so often 
traversed, and so repeatedly described, it 
cannot be expected that I should find much 
that is new or striking ; but there is, doubt- 
less a large portion of your community, to 
whom, if they be not new, my sketches may 
be interesting. Besides, on leaving New Eng- 
land, I was besought on all sides, to write con- 
cerning the " land of promise," towards which 


I had set my face ; and these general epistles 
will serve the purpose of numerous private 
ones — thus saving me much time and labor. 
Again, there is an increasing desire at the East, 
to know more about this great valley of the 
West, and every thing relating to it is eagerly 
read ; and it is desirable that men of differ- 
ent pursuits and tastes should give their indi- 
vidual impressions, that from the whole, r 
somewhat correct opinion may be formed o 
the various characteristics of the soil, climate, 
society, &c., of the West. 

Nor shall I write these notes by the way, as 
a traveller, but as a citizen. They will be 
miscellaneous^ and will be filled with matter 
relating to things in general ; and the circum- 
stance of their being filled while on the wing, 
will, I trust, be sufl^cient apology for their ex- 
tempore, unpolished character. 

I took the Stonington route to New York — 
a new one to me — which I found both pleas- 
ant and comfortable, and should certainly rec- 
ommend it to persons travelling from Boston 
to New York. I considered myself fortunate 
in falling in with two old friends on the way, — 


a circumstance which served, in no small de- 
gree, to banish the uncomfortable reflection, 
that every evolution of the clanking machinery 
bore me farther from my family and the land 
of my nativity. I wish I could say any thing 
in favor of the travelling accommodations be- 
tween New York and Philadelphia ; but con- 
scientiously I cannot ; and as I hate grumbling 
on the road, I shall say nothing on this point, 
only that a most odious monopoly exists there, 
which insults, at will, the whole public, and 
imposes beyond patient endurance upon the 
traveller whose ill fortune it may be to be 
thrown within their merciless grasp. 

At Philadelphia, we took the cars for 
Harrisburg, where we were to strike the 
eastern terminus of the Susquehannah Canal. 
At West Chester, about 16 miles from Phila- 
delphia, the locomotive ran against a dearborn 
containing a man wholly unconscious of the 
danger he was in. The cars w^ere going at 
the rate of twenty miles an hour, and the 
concussion was of course terrific. The horse 
was killed, and terribly mangled, the dearborn 
crushed to atoms, and the man thrown upon 


the track, and the wheels of the engine, tender, 
and one car passed over his right leg, literally 
crushing it to atoms. It was a horrible sight, 
and the whole of the passengers seemed to be 
utterly dumbfounded. The suffering man was 
soon drawn out and disentangled from the 
wreck of his carriage, and was fast bleeding 
to death, yet no one stepped forth to his help. 
I immediately went to his aid, examined the 
limb, apphed a tourniquet, and aided him to a 
house near the spot, where he was comfortably 
provided for, until the surgeon should arrive. 
I heard from him the day after — he was doing 
well. By this time the engine and tender, 
which were thrown from the track were re- 
stored, and we resumed our saddened way. 

At Harrisburg w^e took the canal boat, and 
travelled at the rapid rate of three miles per 
hour. Our boat was calculated to accommo- 
date thirty persons ; we had sixty jive — I leave 
it for you to judge of our comfort, adding 
only, that a portion of our number were of 
the lowest grade, and were exceedingly offen- 
sive in person and language. I need not say 
here, that whiskey was at the bottom of our 


discomfort. There were, nevertheless, a few 
on board, whose society repaid for all our 
evils. At Holidaysburg, we left the boat, and 
entered the cars by which we were to be borne 
over the mountains. 

The " Portage Railroad," over the Alle- 
ghanies, is a wonderful work, and exhibits in 
a surprising manner the amazing power of 
mind, and its vast superiority over the corpo- 
real world. Here we were whirled over a 
a high, rugged mountain, whose toilsome and 
dangerous ascent and descent, it but yester- 
day required more ueeks^ than it now does 
hours. The road consists of five inclined 
planes on each side of the mountain with their 
levels. The planes are from three fourths of 
a mile to a mile and a quarter in length, and 
the levels from one to sixteen miles. The 
short levels are furnished with horse power, 
the longer ones with locom.otives. The pas- 
sage is perfectly safe — so it appeared to me — 
and is full of interest. The scenery up the 
Juniata and Susquehannah had been wild and 
beautiful, but here it invested itself with the aw- 
ful and sutpendous. Now we were drawn up 


an inclination of thirtyfive degrees, at the rate 
of seven or eight miles per hour, by a single 
cord, and an entirely invisible power ; now 
were descending from our giddy elevation at 
the same rate, and anon winding our crooked 
way along some deep defile, or on the edge of 
some beetling crag that overhung an abyss 
which made the head swim that dared to 
glance below. On either hand, peak towered 
above peak, seemingly ambitious to overtop 
each other, sending back from their rugged 
sides, the echo, ten thousand times reduplica- 
ted, of the shrill and affrighting note of our 
steam-whistle, which it was necessary to keep 
in perpetual play throughout that dangerous 
course. On the summit level we dined — or 
rather went through the ceremony of eating, 
and paid for it very liberally. The amount 
of transportation on this railway is immense. 
There are tw^o tracks, and the engines are in 
continual operation. As one set of cars pass 
up, another attached to the same rope, (which 
moves like an endless chain, up one track and 
down the other) passes down and there is no 
cessation. It seems to me that when business 


is brisk, it can by no means answer the de- 
mands that will be made upon it. At the 
head of the last inclined plane on the west 
side, we passed through the. bowels of the 
mountain by a beautiful tunnel, which added 
to the variety and gave life to the scene. 
Once more packed in our canal boat, we 
floated down the Conamaugh, (the largest of 
the head waters of the Ohio, and which rises 
near the spot where we dined, and where it 
would have run through a gallon keg,) the 
Kiskiminitis, and the Alleghany rivers to 
Pittsburgh, where we arrived on Saturday 
evening, the fourth day from Philadelphia — 
albeit the agent promised us a passage of but 
sixty hours. The scenery down these rivers 
is exceedingly beautiful, and needed only the 
robe of spring to render it perfectly enchant- 
ing. But winter reigned among these hills, 
and scarce a green thing appeared for a hun- 
dred miles together. 

An observant mind will discover in every 
place some peculiar provision of the great 
Creator for its necessities. Salt is one of the 
most necessary articles of life, and were the 



vast country in this region dependent on the 
Atlantic shores for this indispensable conser- 
vative, it must be procured at great toil and 
greater cost. But here, the All-wise has hid- 
den the secret springs of life and health, and 
its inhabitants have but to sink a shaft from 
one hundred to two hundred feet, and obtain 
the purest salt water. All along the banks of 
these rivers we beheld these salt wells, with 
their steam engines pumping up the water into 
reservoirs where it was evaporated by fire. 
Here, too, beside these springs, in the moun- 
tain's side, protruding even to the surface, 
are exhaustless mines of bituminous coal, 
easily wrought, with which their fires are fed. 
Such is the command these salt works have 
over the market, that they can easily bring 
down the price of salt to one dollar, and even 
less, per barrel, at Pittsburgh. 

We entered Pittsburg over the Alleghany 
river, by a splendid viaduct, thirty feet above 
the surface of the river. As it was dark we 
lost the view of the city and its environs, 
which from that point is said to be very fine. 
In the morning I took a ramble on the wild 


hills which skirt the turbid Monongahela, and 
was enchanted with one of the most unique 
and varied prospects on which I ever gazed, 
out of which rises in the midst, this city of 
smoke and machinery, whose noise and Sty- 
gian odors penetrate the senses even at the 
highest altitudes of those towering bluffs. 

No one can look upon the locality of Pitts- 
burg for an instant and not be convinced of its 
commanding position. Situated at the con- 
fluence of the Monongahela and Alleghany 
rivers, whose junction forms the head of the 
Ohio, it must forever be a mighty thoroughfare 
through which the tide of immigration and bus- 
iness must pour with continual increase while 
our institutions continue. Nor in a commer- 
cial point of view alone is it important. To 
the Christian there is a moral relation between 
Pittsburg and the far West, which magnifies 
exceedingly the importance of this station. It 
appears to me that no small pains or expense 
should be incurred by the philanthropic to 
cause a healthful influence to go out therefrom 
into the fertile, but morally sterile, valleys 
which lie beyond. 



Sail down the Ohio River— Morals and Lynch Law at the 
West — Cincinnati— Wreck of the Moselle. 

St. Louis, Mo. May 24, 183f'. . 

I embarked in the steamboat Maine, Capt. 
Crawford, for St. Louis, and left Pittsburg at 
2 o'clock, P. M. on Monday, 14th inst. The 
Maine is a new boat, with state-rooms through- 
out, and a fine boat in all its appointments. 
The captain is an accommodating, gentleman- 
ly fellow, and being a large owner, keeps a 
vigilant eye on the whole concern. His pilots 
and engineers are sober, faithful men, and the 
passengers may rely on safety, as far as it de- 
pends on them. I would recommend to any 
of my eastern friends who are coming out here, 
to inquire for the Maine. Our sail down the 
Ohio was as delightful as a combination of 
pleasant circumstances could make it. The 
day was the first perfect spring-day I had seen 
this season, and the fields and forests on the 
river's side, had already begun to assume their 
summer garb, and were vocal with the music 


of their feathered tenants. I had often heard 
the praises of this majestic river sung, and had 
curbed my expectations lest I should be dis- 
appointed. The Ohio is a beautiful river. 
There are points on the Hudson and Connec- 
ticut, and other rivers of the East, which equal 
any thing I saw on the Ohio ; but its peculiar- 
ity is that it is all beautiful. There are no 
points bare of beauty ; but every mile is as 
rich in scenery as it was in verdure at the time 
of my passage down its " winding way." Not- 
withstanding the country in the neighborhood 
of this stream has long been settled, yet there 
are but few towns on the river's bank, or in- 
deed improvements of any kind, and, with the 
exception of here and there a break made by 
such as furnish the steamboats with fuel, the 
aboriginal forest bounded the prospect on either 
side. This is owing to its liability to inunda- 
tion at the season of the annual flood. 

The peculiar and various craft which plied 
up and down the Ohio, at the time of Mr 
Flint's first descent, have entirely disappeared, 
with the exception of the flat-bottomed boat 
and raft. These, indeed, we passed in great 


numbers, but they never, as formerly, return. 
At the mouth of the river, they are broken up 
and taken to St. Louis, or float on, down the 
Mississippi to New Orleans. We hauled up 
alongside one of these floating fields of timber, 
near the mouth of the Ohio, which afforded a 
study to any one disposed to look at nature 
and man under every new aspect that presents 
itself to him on his passage through life. I 
shall speak of this more particularly in its place. 
At almost every considerable place on the 
river, we stopped a short time to discharge or 
take in passengers or freight. I availed my- 
self of these occasions to go on shore and 
take a bird's-eye view of the towns and peo- 
ple thereof. Many of the towns I found beau- 
tiful ; and in all of them I witnessed the supre- 
macy of the utilitarian spirit, which, while it 
is rearing towns and villages all over the wil- 
derness west, is but too careless of the moral 
growth. The amount of grog-shops which 
curse every western town and city, would as- 
tonish every man from New England. As far 
as my knowledge extends, I do not think the 
average high, when I say, that in towns in every 


eighth, and in cities in every twelfth tenement, 
ardent spirit is an article of traffic. What can 
be expected of the morals of the west ? And 
yet, in justice I must acknowledge, that I 
have not seen half a dozen men drunk since 
I left Boston. Nor do I think that the tone 
of morality is at such low ebb as we have 
been accustomed to suppose. Indeed, in so- 
ciety, embracing not only the upper, but mid- 
dling classes, there is a high standard of mor- 
ality ; and gross violations thereof are by no 
means winked at. True, it is more chival- 
rous than christian, but it embraces the 
fundamental principles of honor, patriotism, 
integrity and charity. We find here the 
best materials to work upon ; rude and un- 
refined, they may be, but containing the ele- 
ments of the best social organization. 

Nor do the tidings of violence and wrong 
which are daily wafted to our ears from this 
far land, check my confidence in the redeem- 
ing virtue of the west. We abuse ourselves 
when we take these rough samples as speci- 
mens of the western character. We ought to 
reflect that the strange, and the cruel, and the 


bloody, are far more likely to reach us than 
the good, which is less notorious because it is 
less strange. And the reign of Lynch law 
here, is, by no means, to be taken as evidence 
of the lawlessness of the land, but otherwise. 
The country is large, wild, young, and sparse- 
ly settled, and it is, in many cases, exceed- 
ingly difficult to obtain justice at all ; and it is, 
nine cases in ten, only a sense of justice that 
erects this extra-judicial tribunal, whose de- 
cisions, however opposed to Goke and Black- 
stone, are generally such as these eminent 
jurists would have legally sanctioned. I say 
nothing for Lynch law — utterly and ever- 
more do I condemn it — but I do say that the 
specimens of which the west has been the 
theatre, do not, in my estimation, lower the 
standard of morality there, but the reverse : 
they find some apology in the circumstances 
alluded to above. Li the east, where the law 
is a perfect machine, working with exact nice- 
ty, at all times, and penetrating all the ramifi- 
cations of society, it is entirely a difierent 
thing. The burning of the Charlestown con- 
vent was ten thousand times more atrocious 


than the burning of a negro over a slow fire at 
St. Louis ; not intrinsically, but because of 
the more thorough organization of society, and 
the higher tone of morals prevailing at the 
east. I do not say that there is not a favora- 
ble comparison to be made between New 
England and the west, in point of morals, in 
behalf of the former, yet, I can but think 
there is a more unfavorable impression exist- 
ing among us respecting western morality 
than an examination into the subject will war- 
rant. These are my " first impressions," and 
I feel bound to give them publicity, because, 
in common with all Yankees, I have thought 
and spoken unjustly of this great and growing 
people. I may be deceived, and a longer 
residence here may disclose more of the de- 
pravity of the west, but I have charity to 
think less evil of my western brethren the 
more I see of them. This much I think I 
may safely say of the west ; an upright, indus- 
trious, civil man has nothing to fear from 
fraud, injustice, or Judge Lynch — a knave, 
every thing. 

We reached Cincinnati in exactly forty- 


eight hours from Pittsburg. We remained 
here until the next morning, which afforded 
me a fine opportunity to examine this "Queen 
City of the West." Among other places I 
visited the wreck of the ill-fated Moselle. 
It was a wreck indeed, one awful evidence 
among the many of the terrible power which 
lies buried in the bosom of each of the thou- 
sand boats which float on these mighty rivers, 
and which through the pride or carelessness, 
or malignity of one man, may belch forth 
their " deaths innumerable and miseries infi- 
nite." And yet it is astonishing how* our 
familiarity with danger diminishes our fears. 
I know not but, after the first day, I trod the 
planks of our boat as securely and carelessly 
as the floor of my own quiet parlor. The ex- 
plosion of the Moselle created a tremendous 
excitement, and produced a decided effect for 
good on the managers of steamboats. It was 
a general remark of those who were accus- 
tomed to travel up and down these rivers, 
that they had never seen boats managed so 
prudently as at the present time. The fact 
that the greatest waste of life occurs among 


the officers and hands of the boats, does much 
to insure safety to the passengers, especially 
when we reflect that nearly all accidents occur 
through sheer carelessees^-ofj^ilfulness. On 
the Moselle, the captain, mate, one clerk, 
both engineers, both pilots (every boat has a 
double set) and every hand were destroyed- 
Only a clerk escaped. 

30 «T LOUIS, 


St. Louis— Immigration — Farmers Immigrating — Encamp- 
ment on the Prairie— Rapid growth of trees — Debarcalioa 
of a raft at the mouth of the Ohio— Timber at the West. 

Alton, Illinois, June 3, 1838. 

St. Louis is the great starting point of the 
west. Hither from every quarter of the east 
and south, travellers and immigrants flock in un- 
counted numbers. Every hour of every day 
they are disembogued upon the beautiful levee 
of this city in scores on scores, seeking plea- 
sure and a home in this wondrous world just 
opening to them. From hence, every hour 
of every day witnesseth their departure ; into 
the interior of Missouri, up the Mississippi, 
Missouri or Illinois rivers, to the vast region 
of country which these streams pass through. 
An eastern man can have no idea of the tide 
of travel on these mighty waters, which are 
perpetually agitated with the paddles of those 
vast floating palaces vulgarly named steam- 
boats, every one of which is freighted with 


men, women and children, seeking a new 
home in this new world, and the multitude of 
which would actually astonish you as it has, 
oftentimes, me. And, perhaps, not half the 
tide of immigration pours through these chan- 
nels. Hosts of farmers with their families 
make their way across the country in every 
direction, in their own private conveyances. 
Already have I passed many a cavalcade of 
this kind, which has at once amused and aston- 
ished me. Would that I held the graphic 
pen of an Irving : — then would I sketch one of 
these sm generis cavalcades. Imagine one of 
those ''' low, long, rakish," wagons, peculiar 
to western Pennsylvania, drawn by from four 
to six noble horses, the near pole horse mount- 
ed by a ruddy, stalwart and happy fellow, 
whistling on his way, and keeping time with 
the crack of a whip which reaches the farthest 
horse in the team, and which no novice arm 
could wield, the stock of which is at least ten 
feet in length, with a corresponding extension 
of lash. In the small, puckered opening of the 
canvass in front, some half dozen faces peer 
out, of all sizes and of each sex. Prominent 


among this huddled group is the broad and 
complacent physiognomy of the lord of the es- 
tablishment, rejoicing in a width of brim which 
bids defiance to the rays of an almost vertical 
sun, and inhaling from a pipe of such figure 
and dimensions as utterly to defy description, 
long, sweet, and composing draughts of the 
" care-banishing narcotic." Pacing on before, 
or capering across the prairie, you behold the 
elder sons and daughters mounted each on a 
nag of noble blood, with an occasional foal 
trotting beside, whose business it is, not only 
to keep along on the way, but to care for and 
direct the movements of as motley a group as 
entered the ark of the patriarch. Neat kine, a 
score, of as many colors as the "ringed, streak- 
ed and speckled" kine of the banished Israel- 
ites : swine, as many, red, black, white and 
assorted, and a few fine, large sheep, with a 
sprinkling of colts, compose this nondescript 
gathering. Then put in single file some ten 
or twenty of these "families," and you have 
some idea of the imposing spectacle. But 
you should see all this motley multitude, just 
as they have encamped for the night. Horses, 


cattle, dogs, hogs and sheep spread over the 
prairie far and wide ; the wagons at conven- 
ient distance and grouped in a most neighborly 
method, each with its cheerful camp fire blaz- 
ing, and its camp-kettle sending forth its grate- 
ful steam and appetite-quickening odor, round 
which you behold the female inmates of each 
family busily engaged in supper preparations. 
Meanwhile the men liberate their dusty teams, 
and after rubbing them down, turn them loose 
upon the rich and unfenced pastures, or grease 
their axles, and repair any injuries sustained 
by the rough usage of the wilderness roads 
over which they have made, it may be, a haz- 
ardous and dangerous way. To fill up the 
picture, scores of happy children, glad to es- 
cape the dull monotony of their slow and toil- 
some march, mingle in clans, capering and 
shouting on the beautiful level, plucking the 
thousand wild flowers which bedeck their play- 
ground, or rolling in very plenary of joy on the 
luxuriant carpet which covers the whole space 
for many a mile around. 

These are colonies, who take out with them 
all the necessary articles of housekeeping; 


which are not easily obtained in a new and 
unsettled country, with plenty of cash to enter 
land and procure what they need, but cannot 
take along with them. When they find a place 
suited to their wants, and corresponding to 
their wishes, they make a halt, take immediate 
measures to secure the land, erect their cabins, 
plough their land, and find themselves at once 
at home. The edge of a prairie is generally 
selected, near the timber or " oak openings," 
as they are called, where wood for every pur- 
pose may easily be obtained. The soil gener- 
ally is better in proportion as you penetrate the 
prairie, and immigrants are just beginning to 
make the discovery that the central ground of 
a prairie, provided it be not too far from wood 
for present purposes, is altogether the best for 
cultivation, beauty of location and health. I 
say wood for '^ present''^ purposes ; for if a 
settler can but supply his immediate wants, he 
may plant and speedily obtain a forest in his 
immediate domain. The rapid growth of fruit 
and forest trees is indeed wonderful. I was 
recently at a new settlement in the midst of a 
large prairie about sixteen miles from Alton, 


to which from its altitude they have given the 
patriotic name of Bunker Hill. I saw in that 
lovely spot, locust trees, just two years from 
the seed twelve to fifteen feet high, and eight 
inches in circumference. I saw there, peach 
trees three years from the seed, loaded with 
fruit, some of which I should think would yield' 
bushels ; and apple trees, four years old from 
the seed, bearing a little fruit. In six years 
a farmer may raise from the seed a forest which 
will meet every want. The locust tree is 
found to be very easily wrought, and to pos- 
sess a durability which few western trees do. 
But I intend speaking more largely on this 
point elsewhere and now pass it by. 

Besides the modes of immigration above de- 
scribed, there are others by which thousands 
every year are transferred to the West. I 
mean the raft and flat boat. Down all the 
streams which feed the Ohio, float daily im- 
mense rafts of timber and flat boats, peopled 
with immigrants. These sail down the current 
to the mouth of the Ohio, and there they are 
broken up, put on board steamboats and taken 
to St. Louis, from whence their contents are- 


distributed over all the country, and the people 
thereof seek their destination by the usual 
methods. It was my good fortune to witness 
the debarcation of one of these rafts. It oc- 
curred at mid-day on the Sabbath, within a 
few miles of the mouth of the river. It con- 
sisted of three distinct rafts, lashed together 
for mutual aid and convenience, making one 
grand concern, of about two hundred feet in 
length and about sixty wide. At each end, 
were three immense oars, or rudders, by which 
the unwieldy mass was guided. On this raft 
were several families, with every appointment 
of the western immigrant. In the centre stood 
a rude but comfortable shantee, at once a par- 
lor, kitchen, bedroom and storehouse. The 
funnel of a capital cook-stove pierced the 
rough roof, and the outsides of its walls were 
hung with a mixed tapestry of meats, sporting 
apparatus, and every variety of male and female 
wearing apparel. Its interior I did not see, 
but judging from the many articles of conven- 
ience and even luxury which issued therefrom 
in its evacuation — a process which I witnessed 
with peculiar emotions — there must have been 


no small share of real comfort and enjoyment 
within those rude walls, during the three long 
weeks of their tortuous passage from the head 
waters of the Monongahela. Horses, dogs, 
ploughs, wagons, the anvil, bellows and other 
appurtenances of a smithy, and every imple- 
ment of husbandry, were scattered about in 
wild disorder. Twenty men, half as many 
women, with a due proportion of children, all 
neatly clad in their Sunday suit, and apparently 
quite intelligent, comprised the reasoning por- 
tion of this wonder. Their unlading and em- 
barkation on board our boat, was to me a nov- 
el, picturesque and impressive sight. Oh, 
how I longed for the pencil of a Hogarth, that 
I might transmit to paper that interesting scene! 
There lay that giant raft, tethered to the roots 
of the tall, dark cottonwood trees that spread 
their thick branches quite across it, like some 
dreamy sleeper unconscious of all the bustle 
on its ample back. The thick canebrake on 
shore swarmed with the numerous passengers 
who were glad of a chance to set foot on land, 
and the natives who had come to witness the 
scene, who were calling to each other in cheer- 


ful tones, from the midst of the tangled cane, 
and answered by the shrill bark and howl of 
the canine sharers in the sport. At length 
the last article was safely deposited, the bell 
warned those on shore of our readiness to de- 
part, the last straggler crossed the plank when 
it was drawn in, and the word heartily given, 
" all right," the boat swung round and fell into 
the current, and with a farewell pufF from our 
steam pipe, and a cheer from the three young 
men left on the raft to break it up, we once 
more ploughed our rapid way. 

The raft was composed entirely of pine 
plank and shingles, and was variously estima- 
ted at from five to fifteen thousand dollars, 
when it should reach St. Louis. Pine timber 
grows no where at the West, until you reach 
the extreme upper waters of the Mississippi ; 
consequently, it bears a very high price and 
finds a ready market. The cottonwood, 
lynn and cypress are here the only substi- 
tutes which I have seen, and which are found 
only on the heavy bottoms of the rivers. 
Their texture is very similar to our bass and 
white poplar, and can easily be wrought into 


smoothness. Black walnut abounds here, 
and is generally used for boards for covering 
houses, and for fences ; but its rich and vari- 
egated surface is generajly covered up with a 
rascally coat of whitewash or paint. But the 
oak — king of the forest — is the staple article 
of lumber, and most generally used, where we 
in the east use the white pine. There are 
here also, the maple and white walnut, (but- 
ternut,) which are partially used for these 
purposes. The growth of wood is very rap- 
id, and consequently it is less hard and dura- 
ble, as well as more easily wrought. For in- 
instance, black walnut is as readily wrought 
as northern pitch, or hai'd pine. 



Mississippi River — Missouri River — Waters of the Missouri 
medicinal — Bluffs and bottoms on the Mississippi — Scene 
by moonlight. 

Alton, Illinois, Jpne 7, 183S. 

I LEFT St. Louis in the steam-packet Eagle 
on Monday, May 27, and made the trip to 
Alton in four hours. Distance twentyfive 
miles. I am thus particular, that my readers 
may have some idea of the rapidity of the cur- 
rent in the Mississipi. The Eagle is one of 
the swiftest boats on the river, and often ac- 
complishes the downward trip in half the time 
it requires to ascend the same distance. 
Indeed, the river, below the mouth of the 
Missouri, is one continuous succession of 
rapids. The water boils, and surges, and 
eddies as if it were passing over a wild and 
rocky bed, whose rough points project near 
the surface, instead of a smooth and muddy 
bottom, with scarcely any where, except on 
the sandbars, less than ten, and often more 
than fifty feet of water. Above the mouth of 


the Missouri the river becomes more placid 
and its current much less rapid, although it is 
even here a bold and rapid stream. The 
Missouri, as every school-boy knows, after 
the Ohio, is the largest tributary to the father 
of waters, larger, indeed, than the main branch 
which retains its name. The Missouri is an 
anomaly among rivers. For thousands of 
miles it pursues its eccentric course, pouring 
its turbulent and muddy waters through a vast 
and various region, wild and beautiful as itself, 
swallowing up many large streams in its 
course, yet scarcely by them all, diluted from 
its thick, milk-colored consistence, which it 
not only retains throughout all its sinuous 
course, but which in the might of its sway, it 
separately maintains, for a long course in con- 
junction with the Mississippi, and infuses 
itself throughout the whole stream, and gives 
the color and character to that mighty river, 
until it is swallowed up by the sea. And, 
indeed, it seems to struggle hard for its inde- 
pendence even here ; coloring, as it does, the 
waters the gulf for many a league beyond its 



It was, interesting as it was wonderful to us, 
as we crossed and re-crossed the stream on our 
upward way, to mark the exact line of sep- 
aration between these two rival rivers. Side 
by side they flow on in their individual inde- 
pendence, each seeming unwilling to assimi- 
late with the other, and striving to oust each 
other from the course — the clear waters of 
the Mississippi slightly tinged with green, 
glancing from its bright surface the rainbow 
sparkles of sunlight, more brillant than any 
gems ; and the Missouri, dull, stern, opaque, 
beautiful but in its awful grandeur, tumbling on 
its wild way as if conscious of the respect it 
receives, and its superiority to its rival, 
which, ere long, is destined to be vanquished, 
and all its bright and beautiful hues swallowed 
up in its own dark and beauty-defacing waters. 
The water of the Missouri is esteemed by the 
people residing on its banks, and those of the 
Mississippi, a great luxury, and is much pre- 
fered, in all its muddiness, to the clearest 
spring-water. It is said to be much more 
healthy ; and many affirm that it is a sove- 
reign remedy for dispepsy. It has a very 


palatable taste, when iced, to a stranger, 
even, and when he has overcome his repug- 
nance to its color and consistency, he prefers 
it to the more hmpid water of the Mississippi. 
On unacclimated persons it acts as a powerful 
purgative, and produces, unless checked, 
great depletion. But on the resident it oper- 
ates as a gentle and agreeable aperient. When 
the river is high, as in a freshet, the water is 
very thick and white, being full ot exceed- 
ingly fine white sand which it has brought 
from the upper regions of Missouri ; but it 
readily settles when at rest — which is greatly 
aided by a httle corn -meal thrown into it — ■ 
and becomes comparatively clear, appearing 
as if it were slightly tinged with milk. 

Above the mouth of the Missouri, the Mis- 
sissippi is changed to a comparatively placid 
stream, and to my apprehension, a much more 
beautiful one. From the mouth of the Ohio 
on the Illinois side up to Alton, with one or 
two exceptions, there is an unbroken wild of 
timber. This is the far-famed "American 
bottom," so rich and exhaustless in its soil, 
but so deletereous in its climate as to be 


Utterly uninhabitable save by those born upon 
the spot. This bottom is from a mile to seven 
and eighth in width, and consequently, utterly 
defies the discovery of the beautiful bluffs be- 
yond, by the passers up and down the river. 
This continuous waste of forest, with its trees 
kissing the very wave, this dull, unvarying 
monotony wearies the eye, and gives a stran- 
ger the idea, that the w^iole country below St. 
Louis, it> an unbroken and uninhabitable level 
— a more incorrect conclusion, than which, as 
the sequel of these letter will show, could not 
have been formed. 

On the Mississippi side, on the contrary, 
there are continual approaches of the bluffs to 
the very bank of the river. These bluffs are 
composed of limestone, and often tower per- 
pendicularly to the height of a hundred feet. 
They assume all imaginable forms, and the 
regularity of the various layers of these im- 
mense piles of rock, almost forces the conclu- 
sion, that the masonry is of earthly design and 
execution. In some places immense pillars 
of regular form and masonry rise to a great 
height, and seem designe4 for the base of some 


Stupendous fabric not yet completed, or else 
which is frittered away by the wearing passage 
of time, until it has disappeared forever ; or 
overthrown by some mighty convulsion — not 
mighty enough to remove the base, eternally 
anchored — its ruins have been swept away 
.by the devouring current which rolls resist- 
lessly at their feet. Sometimes the tops are 
crowned with a lofty growth of timber, among 
which the buzzards build their nests, far out 
of the reach of men. From these giddy 
eyries, startled by the puffing of our laboring 
boat, they wheeled beautifully out in scores to 
give us a passing look, and std^ping often to 
take a nearer survey — even then far beyond 
the reach of the many shot that were sent 
after them by several sportsmen on board, and 
at which they did not flutter a feather — they 
rose majestically and swept away to their in- 
accessible hiding places. Many of these 
rocky prominences were partially crowned 
with shrubs and flowers — others naked as the 
rock of Gibraltar, with rude shot-towers on 
the top. At the time we sailed up the river, 
our eyes were regaled with the thousand hues 


of the countless wild flowers which luxuriated 
in the clefts of the rock far out of the reach 
of mortal hand, or the rude hoof of the graz- 
ing cattle which sometimes peered at us from 
the top of the precipice which was level with 
the rich and boundless pastures through which 
they range at will. Among others I discov-. 
ered three varieties of phlox, the showy scar- 
let fireweed, the splendid tradescantia, and 
the yellow and white mocassin flower, the 
latter the most beautiful of the floral tribe. 

Occasionally were to be seen, between the 
openings of the blufls, small prairies already 
cultivated, (Y(9tn which the ground rose in 
gentle acclivity to the top of the bluffs, af- 
fording the most lovely spots for human habi- 
tation. These sites, interspersed with lofty 
trees, so beautiful and fitting for a home, so 
rich and fertile, and withal so heahhy and so 
full of all natural dehghts, are, most of them, 
but the resting place of those " cattle upon a 
thousand hills," which screen themselves in the 
luxuriant shade from the scorching beams of 
an almost vertical sun. A few of these have 
been already seized on by men of wealth and 


taste, and before many years they will all be- 
come the delightful centres of home-attrac- 
tions, and spots of loveliness on the shore of 
this rolhng flood of waters. 

Above the mouth of the Missouri the bluffs 
change to the opposite shore, and the same 
dull, level bottom prevails upon the Missouri 
side, which has so long wearied the eye upon 
the Illinois side. Akon is situated at the foot 
of and upon the first bluffs on this side of the 
river ; and from thence up far above the mouth 
of the Illinois river, they continue in their broken 
and unequalled beauty. Nothing of the kind 
can exceed the solemn beauty and grandeur 
of these rugged highlands when seen from the 
river by moonlight. I have sat for hours upon 
the rear guard of our creeping boat to gaze at 
their illusive beauties. It requires no poet's 
imagination to people them with light and hfe, 
with form and color. Nay, it requires a 
sterner philosophy than I possess to rob them 
of their ideal charm, and to resolve all that 
scene of constantly changing beauty and of 
life, to piles of dull, insensate limestone. 
Noj no. Sunlight might have dissipated the 


" dear, delusive dream," but that false, fickle 
light, " reflected, not originated," — pale, 
thin, impalpable — forbade the sacrilegious 
thought, that those beauteous temples, domes, 
spires and turrets, were aught else than the 
visioned things they seemed. No wonder that 
the now banished Indian, filled these heaven- 
struck temples with the bones of their fallen, 
when their silent canoe glided down this 
stream so noiselessly, that the sleeping swan 
was undisturbed by the paddle's dip, and the 
unaffrighted deer drank from its limpid wave 
in conscious security. No wonder that they 
peopled these wild caves with spirits of the 
air and of their deprated braves. How many 
a wild shriek has rung through these tassella- 
ted arches as the husband and father was borne 
thither from the gory field of fight and fame ! 
How have those wild rocks been wet with the 
maternal tear, and their echoes broken with 
the lover's sad lament ! Are ye not peopled, 
ye deep and solemn aisles ? Dressed up in 
your wild and gorgeous beauty, are ye not 
animate with the thoughts and doings which 
never die ? And was I wrong, when, from 


ihy pillared courts, bursts of sweet music, such 
as earthly harps never emit and mortal voices 
never chant, seemed to float around, above, 
below, and fill my soul with peace and heaven? 
Away, thou dull philosophy, that fain would 
rob us of these " angel visits," and make all 
the scenes of this work-day world, dark and 
thorny as its sun-ht paths ! 



Tradition of the Piasau Bird — Legendary lore of the West— - 
The West once occupied by a race of giants — A race of 
pigmies — Strange beasts and birds— Appearance of the 
Piasau Bird — Description of it — Origin of its name— Fear- 
ful destruction by it — Its death. 

Alton, Illinois, June 10, 1833. 

I SPOKE, in my last, of the curious legen- 
dary lore which one has doled out to him by 
the "old settlers" of the West. Much of 
this is singularly enough connected with a 
most antique race of men, unlike and superior 
to the red man, and speaks of a time and age 
greatly superior to the present in its physical 
organization — when the men were Anakims, 
and the behemoth strode over these prairies, 
monarch of the plains. What are the men of 
this pigmy age to the colossal warriors of 
those undegenerate times — our Lilliputian 
beasts to the monstrous and outre extraver- 
sions of those fecund eras ? Strange men and 
stranger beasts occupied this fertile vale, and 
of all the wild and wonderful adventure of that 


unwrought age, eternal silence claims the 
whole, save here and there a dreamy legend, 
growing out of the imperishable mementoes 
they have left behind. I seem to behold, as 
I look back through the mist of the past, a 
fearful void — waste on waste and darkness 
unrelieved — with here and there a projecting 
point, misshapen and scarcely real, — yet full 
of fearful beauty and strange deformity. In- 
numerable mounds of earth, cast up with 
wonderful care and toil, of various dimensions 
and shapes, plainly the work of men's hands, 
from which, from time to time, have been 
disembowelled relics of an unknown and near- 
ly civiHzed race — caverns in the rugged and 
beautiful bluffs which hang over all the wild 
rivers of the West, full of the bones of a triple 
race of giants, dwarfs and men of common 
stature, and of beasts such as are now extinct, 
curious in their form and gigantic in their pro- 
portions — those huge and misshapen fragments 
of granite, called boulders, scattered sparsely 
enough over these boundless champagnes, 
placed there, saws double, by human exertion, 
for some, to us, unimaginable purposes — 


skeletons of the mastodon and behemoth, dug 
out from surprising depths below the present 
surface of the soil — these, with the legends of 
animals belonging to no known tribes or races, 
monstrous abortions of nature — fish, fowl and 
beast, commingled in hideous proportions — 
all, all amuse and confound, baffle conjecture 
and bar all access to those arcana, so rich in 
hidden knowledge, so impenetrable to human 
ken ! What a strange world we live in, and 
how insignificant the part we individually act 
therein. What an untold, unimaginable tale 
of other times should we read, could we but 
explore the sealed pages of the past ! And yet 
the future may be as monumentless of our 
times and acts, vaunted and puffed up as we 
are in our own imaginations, as the present of 
the past ! 

But what has all this to do with the tradition 
of the Fiasau Bird 9 Much, as the sequel 
will show. It will serve to throw light upon 
the story, and give it substance, tangibility. 

Time out of mind, the powerful tribe 
which dwelt in the region of country in the 
neighborhood of Alton, was called the IHini, 


or Illinois, and from which the present state 
derives its name. This tribe extended far 
and wide, and numbered many thousand war- 
riors whose valor and craftiness ensured them 
success over all their enemies. Their hunt- 
ing grounds extended for many a league below 
and above the location of their city, which 
was situated upon the bold bluffs now re- 
sounding with the busy hum of life and labor 
from the growing city of Alton. Thence to 
the waters of the Wabash in the east, they 
held unlimited sway, and ranged the unbroken 
forests and unfenced prairies freely and fear- 
lessly as the stag and buffalo which they hunt- 
ed. There they lived and triumphed, multi- 
plying and increasing in wealth and power, 
fearless of invasion and commanding the res- 
pect and exciting the envy of each lesser 
tribe around. No warriors so brave, no hor- 
ses so beautiful and fleet, no hosts so invinci- 
ble, as those of the Illinois. 

In the midst of their prosperity, in the 
reign of the illustrious Owatoga, chief to this 
warhke tribe — whose name to this day is ut- 
tered with the profoundest reverence by every 


Indian warrior, and whose virtue and noble 
daring they emulate — many, many hundred 
moons before the oars of the white man dip- 
ped in the curling wave of the " Father of 
Waters," they were terrified with a fearful 
visitation from the Great Spirit. There ap- 
peared upon the inaccessible bluffs, where it 
made its home, an immense and hideous 
animal, half bird, half beast, which, from the 
circumstance of its having wings, they called 
the Piasau Bird. This name, like all Indian 
names, is significant of the character of the 
monster which it designates — it means " the 
man- destroying Bird.'''' This bird is de- 
scribed as being of gigantic size, capable of 
bearing off with ease in its talons, a horse or 
buffalo. Its head and beak were like those 
of a vulture, with eyes of the most dazzling 
brilliancy ; its wings black as the raven and 
clothed with thunder, making a most fearful 
noise in its heavy flight ; its legs, four in 
number, and talons hke those of a mighty 
eagle ; its body similar to that of a dragon, 
ending with a tail of huge dimensions like to 
a scorpion. Its body was gorgeously colored 


with every hue, and in its flight It made a most 
imposing spectacle, inspiring terror, awe and 
wonder. Such was this strange visiter who 
had taken up its abode in their sacred cHfFs ; 
and while their priests were studying the 
omen, whether it should be for good or for 
evil, all doubt was dissipated by the sudden 
descent of the bird into their midst, which 
seized one of their bravest warriors in its tal- 
ons and bore him as a prey to its wild eyrie 
in the rocks. Never again was the unfortu- 
nate victim seen by his friends. But the 
sacrifice was not complete. Brave after 
brave, and women and children not a few, 
were borne off in succession by the fierce de- 
vourer, whose appetite seemed but to be whet- 
ted to a keener set, the more it tasted of hu- 
man blood. 

Such was the fearful state of things, when 
the brave Owatoga, chief of this mighty tribe, 
sought out his priests, and with them retiring 
to a secret place, fasted many days, and with 
all the mummery of their religion, sought the 
will of the Great Spirit. At length, in a 
trance, it was revealed to Owatoga, that the 


terrible visitant, who had hitherto eluded their 
utmost sagacity, might be destroyed. The 
mode was this. First, a noble victim was to 
be selected from among the bravest warriors 
of the tribe, who by religious rites was to be 
sanctified for the sacrifice. Secondly, twenty, 
equally as brave, with their stoutest bows and 
sharpest arrows, were to conceal themselves 
near the spot of sacrifice. The victim was 
to be led forth, and singly to take his stand 
upon an exposed point of the rock, where the 
ravenous bird would be likely to note and seize 
upon him. At the moment of descent the 
concealed warriors were to let fly their arrows, 
with the assurance that he would fall. 

On the day appointed, the braves, armed 
agreeably to the instruction of the vision, 
safely reached their hiding place, which com- 
manded a full view of the fatal platform. The 
name of the victim had been kept profoundly 
secret, up to the sacrificial hour. Judge, 
then, the consternation, when, dressed in his 
proudest robes, Owatoga appeared at the head 
of his tribe, himself the voluntary victim. The 
tears and shrieks of the women, and the ex- 


postulatlons of all his chiefs availed nothing ; 
he was bent upon his solemn and awful 
purpose. "Brothers and children," he ad- 
dressed them, waving his hand in which he 
held a short wand, and which procured for 
him instant and profound audience, "the 
Great Spirit is angry with his children. He 
hath sent us this scourge to punish us for our 
sins. He hath demanded this sacrifice. Who 
so fit as your chief .'' The blood of my heart 
is pure. Who will bring any charge against 
Owatoga ? Many moons have I been your 
chieftain. I have led you to conquest and 
glory. I have but this sacrifice to make, and 
I am a free spirit. I am a dry tree, leafless 
and branchless. Soon shall I sink upon the 
wide prairie and moulder away. Cherish and^ 
obey the sapling that springs up at my root. 
May he be braver and wiser than his sire. 
And when the Great Spirit smiles upon you 
and delivers you, forget not the sacrifice of 
Owatoga. Hinder me not — I go forth to the 

With a calm and proud brow walked forth 
the doomed leader of the mighty Ilhnis, and 


took his station on the appointed spot. Soon 
was the ill-omened bird seen hovering over the 
place, and after wheeling about for a few 
moments high above the head of the devoted 
chief, nearing at each gyration the unquailing 
victim, suddenly he came thundering down 
towards his prize. In an instant, the barbed 
arrows from twenty sure bows buried them- 
selves to the feather in the body of the common 
foe, and he fell quivering, and dead at the feet 
of the noble chieftain — himself escaping un- 
scathed ! 

Unbounded joy and rejoicing succeeded the 
eventful day. Owatoga was borne to the 
council-room of the village in triumph, and 
each one gave himself up to the wild tumult of 
joy which everywhere prevailed. After due 
deliberation, it was determined to perpetuate 
the event by engraving the picture of the 
Piasau Bird upon the smooth-sided limestone 
cliffs, which tower above the river. There it 
was done, and stained with the fast and fade- 
less colors, whose subtle compounding the 
Indian only knows, and which remain plainly 
visible to the present day. The spot became 


sacred from that time, and no Indian ascended 
or descended the Father of Waters for many 
a year without discharging his arrow at the 
image of the warrior-destroying Bird. After 
the distribution of fire-arms among die Indians, 
bullets were substituted for arrows, and even 
to this day no savage presumes to pass that 
magic spot without discharging his rifle and 
raising his shout of triumph. I visited the 
spot in June (1838) and examined the image, 
and the ten thousand bullet-marks upon the 
cliff seemed to coroborate the tradition related 
to me in the neighborhood. So lately as the 
passage of the Sac and Fox delegations down 
the river on their way to Washington, there 
was a general discharge of their rifles at the 
Piasau Bird. On arriving at Alton, they went 
on shore in a body, and proceeded to the 
bluffs, where they held a solemn war-council, 
concluding the whole with a splendid war 
dance, manifesting all the while the most 
exuberant joy. 

This is the tradition of the *' Piasau Bird," 
which seems to have been handed down from 
father to son through remote periods of anti- 


quity. That such a monster ever existed, I 
cannot vouch — that its image is engraven upon 
the rock I know ; and that the aforesaid 
monster should have existed in flesh and blood, 
is not more strange than other " real fictions" 
of this wondrous valley. But I give it to my 
readers as I found it — they must draw their 
own conclusions. It is, I think, worthy to 
be snatched from decay, and deserves to be 
recorded for the edification and instruction of 
the world. Tradition is the only history of 
those early times, and soon, in this utilitarian 
world, even these vestiges of a great and 
wonderful race will be swept into oblivion, if 
no one be found, with pious care, to rear 
them into a monumental pillar of history. 



Jllinois River — Peoria — Comfort on board a Steam Packet 
— Bribing the Steward — Debarcation of an immigrating 
family at Naples — Bottoms unhealthy — A wise provisiorr 
of Nature — The West destined to greatness. 

Peoria, Illinois, June 20, 1838. 
I ARRIVED at Peoria, June 9, at three 
o'clock, A. M., in the steamboat Ashley, 
Capt. Sweeny. This is a new boat and a 
regular packet, plying between St. Louis and 
Peru once a week each way. Capt. S. is a 
very affable, courteous and careful boat-mas- 
ter, keeping a vigilant eye on every depart- 
ment of his boat ; now giving orders to the 
fireman, now the engineer, anon the pilot, and 
then the hands. I have never seen a man 
more devoted to his business, and in whose 
hands I would sooner trust myself as the 
master of a boat on the western waters. I had 
waited at Alton during fortyeight long, weary 
hours for a boat bound up the Illinois river — 
many had passed bound up the Mississippi 
and Missouri rivers — when at last, late in the 


evening, just as I was about to abandon ray 
;post of watching for the night, the Ashley 
-made her appearance, crowded with passen- 
gers, and loaded to the guards with freight. 
Several passengers were waiting, like myself, 
and the appearance presented on going aboard, 
was poorly calculated to give us any idea of 
comfort. We learned, of course, that all the 
berths were long since taken up, -and that we 
must take our chance with some sixty others 
at rough-and-tumble on the cabin floor. By 
a little management, and a bribe of a quarter- 
dollar to the steward — an important person- 
age in such a case, and whose good will, once 
secured, well repays the cost — I obtained a 
snug corner, where with my saddle-bags for a 
pillow, I passed a tolerable night. 

Previous to retiring, we were serenaded 
with several songs, by some three or four ex- 
cellent voices. The effect of music in such 
a place and at such a time on the mind of one 
alive to the sweet influences of concordant 
sounds is indescribable. As I sat on the rail 
of the guard, and heard the sparkling and 
troubled water rushing beneath me, and cast 


my eyes upon the fairy and delusive spec- 
tacles of the; lime-rock bluffs — elsewhere 
described in these letters — and listened to 
the old and familiar melodies, my heart melted 
within me, and all tlie harsh and jangling dis- 
cordancy of life, seemed turned to harmony 
and peace. 

" There's no place like home ! " 

How did that truism, repeated for the mil- 
lionth time, thrill through and through me, 
swelhng and sounding in my inner ear, long 
after those vocal chords had died upon the 
waters, and no sound assailed the outward ear, 
save the clanking of the laboring engine, and 
heavy breathings of the sleepers around me ! 
At all the landings along the river, we put 
out freight or passengers, so that we were 
able to secure a comfortable berth for our 
second night and last on board the Ashley. 
At Naples and Meridosia we witnessed busy 
preparations for the construction of a railroad: 
from each of these places across the country 
east to the Wabash. Large piles of lumber 
and rails lay upon the ground, the latter just. 


discharged from a New Orleans boat. Naples 
35 quite pleasantly situated, and must become 
a place of considerable importance from its 
proximity to Jacksonville and Springfield, the 
iatter of which is to be the seat of govern- 
ment in 1840. I was much amused while 
watching the landing of a party of our passen- 
gers, immigrants from North Carolina. It con- 
sisted of two families, with every appurtenance 
of necessity and comfort. They were bound 
to a tract they had recently purchased in the 
neighborhood of Jacksonville. There were 
two noble, spirited bays, one of which fell 
overboard in landing him, and which could 
only be accomphshed by backing him over the 
planks. Then there were a neat barouche, a 
buggy, a light wagon, and four farm wagons; 
each for two horses. Besides, tliere was a 
full compliment of "household stuff," among 
which I discovered a piano. Add to this, a 
year's stock of groceries, and other nicnacs 
of luxury, and a very vivid idea of comfort in 
their wilderness home was presented to one's 
mind. They appeared to be in high spirits, 
and an air of genteel breeding and intelligence 


g^ve the impression that the true otiwn cum 
dignitate was in store for these fortunate emi- 
grants in this land of milk and honey — of fair 
skies and a balmy atmosphere. Our boat was 
speedily under way again, and as we passed 
our departed companions, we waved them a 
merry adieu, and wishing ihem all manner of 
happiness in their new home, vie proceeded 
on our voyage. 

We reached Peoria at daybreak, and were 
roused from our unquiet slumbers to go on 
shore. Here I left our thronged boat, which 
immediately proceeded on her way up the 
river to Peru and Hennipin, above which no^ 
boats run in the lower stages of the water. 
As I design to speak of toivns in another chap- 
ter, I shall defer what I have to say of Peoria 
until then. 

I believe I have elsewhere remarked, that 
nature seems to have been exceedingly lavish 
of her provisions for the comfort of man on 
this portion of the world. Certainly the or- 
iginal curse seems to have fallen here more 
lightly than upon any other portion of our 
earth I. have seen or read of. There is here,. 

66 A WISE pnovisioN 

in unequalled proportions, the richest variety 
of local inducements to the busy and restless 
spirit of man to plant himself and be at home. 
No richer soil, no blander climate, no greater 
variety of beautiful landscape, no more ex- 
haustless mines of wealth and comfort beneath 
the soil, does any section of the same extent 
in the wide world afford. But all this has not 
struck me more than the provision and fore- 
sight of nature in respect to this, the El 
Dorado of her demesnes. In all my course 
up the rivers of this country, I have admired 
the providing care of the great Creator, in the 
apparent evils which every immigrant has 
noticed. How often have I heard the remark 
of the traveller as he gazed upon the rank 
herbage of the rich bottoms, through which 
these mighty rivers sweep their resistless 
courses, '' What a pity it is that these regions 
are so uninhabitable ; that there is so much 
disease and death in these fertile bottoms." 
And such is the impression any one would re- 
ceive who makes his way through the west 
only by her river courses. But let him re- 
flect that were all the borders of these rivers 


healthy and habitable now, long ere this had 
they been occupied with that busy, intelligent, 
migrating race, who, for this reason, have 
been compelled to settle themselves abroad 
over these beautiful prairies and woodlands, 
and resort to measures from which are ta 
spring, not only the wealth and physical- 
power of this vast creation, but the moral im- 
pulses which are to guide her republican 
councils ; to give vigor to her noble schemes 
of internal improvement ; character to her 
generous educational provisions, and a higher 
and purer tone to her social and moral rela- 
tions. Instead of a thread of civilization and 
improvement — doubtful in its moral tenden- 
cies, and depraved in its physical elements — - 
seen here and there upon the mighty arteries 
of this vast body of life and light, we have the 
beautiful, moral picture of a vast multitude of 
sober, industrious, primitive husbandmen, 
scattered over the interior, pursuing their 
simple but profitable occupations, with far less 
temptation to sin and inducement to idleness. 
It is here, if any where, the moral impulse 
must be awakened and strengthened, and that 


too, before the soft luxuries of a prosperous 
'Commercial community shall disseminate their 
unnerving and licentious influences. Born and 
reared in these secluded homes of industry, 
economy and morality, the men who are des- 
tined to assume the control of the coming and 
eventful tide of affairs will grow hardy in in- 
tegrity, and bring to their important duties a 
moral sense of right, which will augur well to 
the destinies of this great nation — especially 
to that portion of it which embraces these 
mighty and almost boundless savannahs. 

In due time, the indomitable force of mind 
will conquer all the diiSculties which now pre- 
vent the river settlements, and then we shall 
see a busy and hardy race swarming the bor- 
<iers of our streams, and sustained by the 
densely peopled back country, from which 
streams of life and wealth will pour through 
the whole extent of our country. For it is 
no idle dream, but the basis of a tangible 
reality, which holds forth this promise. Our 
country can never become so densely peo- 
■ pled, but that, with suitable culture, Illinois, 
with as large a tract of country on the oppo- 


sfte side of the Mississippi, can fully meet 
every demand made upon her granaries, pro- 
vided agriculture were to be neglected every 
where else in our borders. But as I intend 
to enlarge upon this idea in another place, I 
shall for the present pass it over. 

There can be no doubt but the diseases 
peculiar to these bottom lands owe their origin 
to something else than their proximity to the 
rivers, because there are spots on these very 
streams, not excelled for their healthful influ- 
ences in the world. The unhealthiness of 
these portions of country arises from the 
decay of a superabundant vegetable growth. 
But when the foot of improvement shall have 
planted itself there firmly, having expelled the 
cause step by step as it approached, this evil 
will be overcome and a location on the banks 
of the Illinois or any of the western rivers, will 
be as healthy and safe as one among the annually 
shorn meadows of the beautiful Connecticut. 
Why not ? Nothing can exceed the clearness 
and salubrity of the atmosphere on these 
rivers ; stirred, as it is, through the live-long 
spring and summer, by the never-failing morn- 


ing breeze, and purified by an almost unfailing 
evening thunder-shower, succeeding each 
other with nearly the same regularity that day 
succeeds to night. 

Nor is the period spoken of so remote as 
may at first be imagined. A stranger, on 
going through the interior of this state, is 
struck, less with the natural wonders, which 
arrest his course at every step, than by the 
^amount of country already occupied by flour- 
ishing residents. Go where he will, he can 
scarcely get out of sight of " improvements" 
— as they are technically called in the west 
— or the sound of new ones going on. Not 
only are the borders of the " timber '"' dotted 
with farms, but busy villages, and other farms 
are springing up in the very heart of the prai- 
ries, where not a tree or shrub, or even spring 
of water tempts the emigrant in his weary 
journey to encamp for a single night. And 
when we reflect that all this has been accom- 
plished by the " magic of enterprise," and 
nearly all within a half dozen years, who shall 
say he shall not live to witness the fulfilment 
of the the prophecy and gaze with his own 
.eyes on the " Munchausen Vision," realized. 



Tremor.t — Respect paid to the Sabbath — Temperance — 
Fourth of July — Slump Speeches — I^arbacue in Missouri 
— False notions of Western Morality — Travellers — Ac- 
quaintance with the people affords a solution to enigmati- 
cal appearances — Apology for personal electioneering. 

I REACHED Tremont Wednesday morning 
before breakfast — having taken the stage for 
that purpose at Feoria — the 10th of June, 
and became immediately domiciliated in the 
'^^ Tazewell Hotel," kept — and for a western, 
tavern,^ remarkably well kept — by Capt. H. 
B. Sampson, a native of Duxbury, Mass., 
and for years a shipmaster from that port, 
I found several acquaintances here, by whom^ 
I was soon made acquainted with nearly the 
"whole population of this social corporation. 

Tremont is the shire town fbr Tazewell 
county, and is situated in a delightful prairie, 
1 mounded on the east and south by a large belt 
o f forest, on the Mackinau creek, and on the 
nc )rth and west, by another on Dillon's creekj 
an» i called ''Pleasant Grove." The " tim- 


ber " — ^as all forests are here called — is dis- 
tant from the village, from one and a half to 
three miles, and is plainly visible on every 
hand from the point at which I am now 
writing. Tremont is on the east side of tlie 
Illinois river, and distant in a direct line about 
-seven or eight miles. Pekin, nine miles dis- 
tant, is the landing place for all merchandise 
coming up the river and destined for this 
place. Tremont is beautifully laid off in 
-squares, with streets of an hundred feet in 
width, running at right angles with each other 
— parallel to the sectional hues by which the 
whole state is divided into townships and sec- 
tions. In the centre of the town ten acres are 
thrown into a public square, with a broad 
street passing through its centre each way, 
cutting it into four equal sections. These are 
intended to be enclosed with a neat, white 
paling, which will no doubt be accomplished 
whenever the times improve. With a real 
public spirit which has marked nearly all the 
actions of this intelligent colony, they have 
planted ornamental trees along the lines of 
these squares, which already beautify, and will 


one day be a great ornament to the place. 
On all sides of this area, but chiefly on the 
western and northern sides, the dwellings, 
stores, offices and workshops are scattered, 
giving the town an extended aspect entirely 
unlike anything at the east. The buildings 
are frame, and generally painted white, which 
gives an exceedingly neat and pleasant aspect, 
as contrasted with the deep and brilliant green 
of the prairie which enbosoms it. 

The character of the place is New Eng- 
land, there being three quarters of the popu- 
lation from that section of our country. There 
are besides a very intelligent class of citizens 
from New York, Kentucky, and other places 
in the Union, whose sectional feelings are all 
merged in the general interest. Indeed I 
have rarely ever witnessed less of this power- 
ful influence than appears in this village. For 
a high moral tone of feehng, temperance, 
good order, industry, public spirit and real 
intelligence, I believe Tremont not to be 
surpassed in the whole west, and rarely equal" 
led in our country towns at the east. A brisk 
business is here driven with the neighboring 


farmers, who have "located" themselves all 
along the line of the prairie in the edge of the 
" limber." One of the most pleasing features 
of this place is the respect paid by its inhabi- 
tants to sabbath institutions. There is yet no 
church in the place — measures are on foot 
by the Unitarian parish for the erection of one 
the ensuing winter — but there is a very con- 
venient schoolhouse which the various de- 
nominations occupy alternately on the Sab- 
bath ; and there is never a Sabbath without 
some religious service. The Episcopalians 
are fitting up a room which they will occupy 
exclusively, and when the church alluded to 
shall be erected, the place w^ill be abundantly 
provided with places for pubhc worship. 
There is a kind and generous feeling cherish- 
ed by each sect to all the others, which would 
do much toward destroying any intolerant feel- 
ings, were not the influence of the clergy — 
to their shame be it written — used to draw 
closer and tighter the narrow lines of secta- 

I have seen no place of its size in the west 
where there is so little intemperance as in 


Tremont. There is a respectable temperance 
society here, and it has been my pleasure to 
be present at two of their meetings — which are 
held monthly through the year — where I was 
edified and instructed with repiarks of gentle- 
men appointed to address us on those occa- 
sions. A "celebration of Independence" 
was got up here for the present anniversary of 
the " Declaration," by the young men of the 
village — and on temperance ground. No ar- 
dent spirits or wine were on the table during 
dinner, although every individual was permit- 
ed to furnish it after the cloth was removed at 
extra expense. It was a very cheering sight 
to witness the predominence of tumblers over 
wine glasses on the table, more than half the 
company toasting in pure cold water. Nor 
did I perceive any lack of inspiration or want 
of edge in the toasts manifested in the water- 
drinkers. Indeed the most uprorious man at 
the table was a water-drinker — it was the 
generous ebullition of a happy spirit. Nor 
did I witness a single istance of undue excite- 
ment by wine in one of the company. All 
was orderly, though somewhat noisy, and 


everything passed off without an angry word 
or an unkind feehng. The dinner was pre- 
ceded by the usual services. The oration 
was a very respectable performance, and the 
music did great credit to the young men of 
Tremont. An ode written for the occasion 
by a resident lady — a very clever perform- 
ance — was sang to the tune of the " Bonny 
Boat " with great spirit and taste. After the 
regular toasts, many voluntary ones were 
given. Two, alluding to the delegation from 
Tazewell county, in general assembly, called 
up two candidates who were present, thus re- 
solving the civic assemblage to a pohtical 
caucus — into which, however, it must injus- 
tice be said, that no party politics were per- 
mited to enter. It was the first opportunity 
I had been afforded of listening to a " stump 
oration," and I was not sorry for the change. 
There was something in the frank naivette of 
the first speaker, a plain, Kentucky farmer, 
which pleased me, and a straightforwardness 
in his homely "speech," which showed the 
honest and skilful politician. He was suc- 
ceeded by a physician, who, although he did 


well, did no better than his unread prede- 
cessor. It strikes a New Englander oddly 
enough to hear a man talk as familiarly of his 
political plans and purposes, of what he has 
done and can do, and will do, "if he be 
elected," and of his entire devotion to the in- 
terests of those he addresses, as if he were in 
his own castle. Our spouters were repeat- 
edly interrupted with shouts of applause, and 
calls from individuals among the throng for an 
expression of opinion on some pohtical ques- 
tion. It is considered the privilege of any of 
his constituents, while in this attitude, to de- 
mand of the electioneering candidate, his 
opinion on any question which may agitate the 
community ; and he feels bound to give it. 
It is the custom in many parts of the west to 
appoint a place and time when the opposing 
candidates for office may be heard by all the 
inhabitants of that section, on the questions of 
policy pertaining to their duties. It is not 
uncommon, on such occasions, to assemble 
the whole county or precinct : to roast a 
whole ox, and to provide every luxury the 
season can afibrd. A friend of mine, who re- 


cently attended one of these barbacues in Mis- 
souri, gave me an interesting account thereof, 
which I will briefly transfer to these pages, as 
a piece of information, and as affording an op- 
portunity to make some remarks on the moral 
aspect which the custom presents. 

The barbacue was served in the edge of a 
most beautiful " timber " — I like this western 
word — on the margin of a clear, rapid creek. 
On a level spot near the creek, was a table 
and seats for the politicians. Here the candi- 
dates addressed the people, answering each 
other and defending themselves as best they 
were able. The audience meanwhile huddled 
closely round the speakers, cheering and put- 
ting questions and encouraging their candidates 
by the most familar expressions : — " Good," 
" right ; " " go it colonel ; " " give it to 'em 
John,'" "hurra," etc. etc. At a httle dis- 
tance above and just beneath the overhanging 
grove, a level spot had been selected for the 
dancers. The grass and inequalities removed, 
the whole space strewed with saw-dust, and 
constantly occupied by men, women and chil- 
dren to the music of a discordant fiddle, most 


discordantly sawed. Here were the wives 
and daughters of the candidates, ready to give 
their hand to any of the " dear people," who 
should solicit it for a contra-dance or a waltz. 

Higher up in the grove were the " booths," 
places, where liquors of all kinds were freely 
distributed, and all kinds of gambhng going 
forward, the whole presenting a scene of ani- 
mation, bustle noise and clamor, such as noth- 
ing but a western barbacue could parallel. 

All this strikes a stranger, and especially 
one from New England, as not only peculiar 
but full of all moral evil, and leads to the hasty 
conclusion that the purity, not only of elec- 
tions but of personal virtue, must be sadly 
affected thereby. And I feel that I should be 
doing the moral sense of this community great 
violence, were I to present the picture I have 
above drawn to my eastern readers without 
giving the impressions eyewitnessing and ac- 
quaintance with the actors therein have made 
upon ray own mind. Well do I know that a 
very vague and utterly false estimate of the 
morality as well as the literature of the west 
is held by the majority of the people at the 


east, and I feel it my duty for one to do my 
part towards disabusing them thereof. No 
eastern man of reflective mind can spend a 
few weeks even, in society here, and not un- 
dergo a thorough change in the estimate 
brought by him from his home. As most of 
our travellers have done, whose ''impressions" 
have been received ai the east as current ac- 
counts, a man may pass through the west in 
her steamboats and stages, stopping only at 
the hotels of her thoroughfares, and know ab- 
solutely nothing of the internal structure of 
society, or the character of those who make it. 
No man can judge rightly of a place or a 
ceremony peculiar to it with the dust of travel 
on him. Fatigued, disgusted with the deten- 
tions of unavoidable delays, and provoked 
with bad accommodations in crowded hotels, 
he looks on everything around him and com- 
pares it all to the quiet and order and thrift of 
his tidy home — his comparisons are necessa- 
rily against the scenes of their origin. Besides 
in this way most of the bad, little of the good, 
falls under his observation. But let him plunge 
aside from the great thoroughfare and rest 


himself in the secluded scenes where a lone 
national or sectional character is to be truly- 
studied, and he will speedily find occasion to 
change the whole opinion he may have thus 
prematurely formed. Here he will find an 
apology for much that was shocking, and a 
solution to that which was before enigmatical. 
And here he will find the explanation of 
these public exhibitions, spoken of above, and 
which I purpose to consider in this con- 

There can be no doubt but that these poli- 
tical gatherings are productive of much evil 
in the gross, but it must be remembered that 
that which strikes us as the most prominent 
evil attending them, is not and cannot be con- 
sidered as attached — part or parcel — to the 
political institutions of the west. Gamblers 
and blacklegs and bullies there are every 
where, and they are ever on the alert for a 
gathering — no matter whether it be a horse- 
race at the south, a barbacue at the west, or 
a militia-muster or a camp meeting at the east. 
Gambling and dissipation are not the results^ 
they are but excrescences which attach them- 


selves to any large body from which they can 
most readily draw their nutriment : and they 
ought no more to be called the legitimate off- 
spring of a political caucus here, than of a 
camp-meeting in New England. Each is the 
occasion^ merely, of the evil, and ought no 
more to be denounced therefor, than the 
establishment of an extensive, commercial 
city for the hcentiousness which it is the oc- 
casion of concentrating within its walls. 

With this premission, the first consideration 
that presents itself to one's mind is, that this 
custom originated in necessity, and the cir- 
cumstances of that necessity are not sufficient- 
ly obviated to permit a different course. 

It is but recently that the means of circu- 
lating intelligence have become anything like 
adequate to the necessities of the people 
in the west. Presses were few and far 
between, and except through the thorough- 
fares, there was scarcely a post-route any- 
where throughout this vast region. The peo- 
ple were sparsely scattered over a wide extent 
of untravelled territory, and had no other 
means of obtaining information of what v/as 


going on beyond their peaceful hamlets than 
by gathering together at some point — gener- 
ally a distant post-office — and there impart to 
and glean from each other their scanty stock 
of intelligence. Such meetings naturally 
enough suggested the political gatherings now 
considered, as the only way by which the 
people could be informed of what was going 
on in the country, and what were the political 
views of those who asked for office at their 
hands. And this necessity , in many places at 
the west, is yet far from being obviated. 
It ought not to be forgotten that there is a vast 
difference between the east and the west in 
the means of conveying and circulating intelli- 
gence. While it requires but two or three 
days to circulate information through the 
whole length and breadth of New England, 
almost as many months are here necessary, 
and then many and many a settler on his coun- 
try's frontier, as deeply interested as the mer- 
chant who pores over his pile of daily papers 
in his country's weal or woe, has no mode of 
informing himself but by mounting his horse 
and riding ten, twenty, and even fifty miles to 


a post-office or a political gathering : and this 
not as many times in a year as the merchant in 
one single week. When this country shall 
have become as densely peopled as Pennsyl- 
vania or Massachusetts and her facihties for 
disseminating information as great, this custom 
may be abolished. 

But that this abolition is necessary or desi- 
rable, I am by no means persuaded : that the 
custom may be reformed, and its evil excres- 
cences removed with advantage there is no 
doubt — -nor is there any more room for doubt 
that in due time this wholesome exorcism will 
be affected. But it seems to me to be ex- 
ceedingly proper that candidates for office 
should be permitted to speak for themselves. 
Assailed as they are sure to be on every hand 
with abuse, vilification and misrepresentation, 
there seems to be a fitness in appeahng directly 
to the understandings and hearts of those 
whose interests are confided to their hands. 
Here they can meet their accusers face to 
face, and forever silence, by a frank avowal of 
their views and intended course of conduct, 
the cabal which their opponents have raised. 


Be it remembered that these gatherings are 
composed of men of all political creeds, who, 
with their respective candidates have come up 
hither to try their strength in fair expository, 
argumentative combat. It does seem to me 
that the " dear people " would be far more 
likely to come at truth and think for them- 
selves by thus hearing both sides of the ques- 
tion than, as with us, by poring exclusively 
over a print devoted to but one interest, and 
that there would be far less danger that men 
would prevail over principles. And this is a 
second consideration worthy reflection in this 
connection. — T have but one more reflection 
to throw out on this topic. It is this. The 
licentious aspect of these assemblies has no 
foundation in reality. The promiscuous as- 
sembHng of men and women is never the ne- 
cessary cause of licentiousness. And there 
is no more danger in these meetings than in 
any other meeting composed of the sexes for 
any convivial purpose. Custom sanctions 
promiscuous assemblies at the east in the ball- 
room, and the drawing-room, and the lyceum, 
and other places of public resort, and no 


thought of evil attaches to them. In like man- 
ner a barbacue is sanctioned by custom in the 
west, and every lady who attends them passes 
without reproach or suspicion : and the slight- 
est insult offered to her would be resented and 
punished on the spot. That they are entirely 
free from danger, no one supposes ; but so 
neither are any assemblages of the kind, and 
the same objections lie against all alike. 
A stranger sees with foreign eyes, and many 
things which appear monstrous, lose all their 
shocking aspects by familiarity. 

And on the whole, I am led to think that 
the general principles involved in these politi- 
cal caucuses ai^e sound and may be safely 
adopted in all parts of our country. They 
have already undergone essential changes, and 
the advanced state of refinement which is 
rapidly approaching will so modify them that 
most of what is objectionable will be removed. 
They will then become what now they pro- 
fess to be, merely meetings for political pur- 
poses. And what better opportunity could 
be afforded for a fair discussion of any great 
national or sectional question ? What better 


calculated to act as a moral check upon the 
licentiousness of a party press ? What fairer 
chance for the people to arrive at the real po- 
litical views of the men who claim their suf- 
frages, and to ascertain the opinions and 
doings of those of opposite opinions ? 



Face of the country unique— Unlike New England— Level 
but not flat— Oak Openings and Timber— Bluffs— Prairies 
— Climate — Unusual proportion of fair days— Diseases. 

Tremont, Illinois, July 1, 1838. 

Much has been said and written about the 
face of country, climate, soil, etc., of Illinois, 
but after all, no true impression has been 
conveyed to eastern people thereof. For my 
own part, I found myself quite at fault, 
although I had taken especial pains to inform 
myself both by reading and conversation with 
those who were well acquainted therewith. 
And I believe it utterly beyond any one's 
power to give any description of the face of 
the country, which shall convey anything like 
an adequate idea to a stranger. . It is perfectly 
unique — totally unlike, in general and in detail, 
anything in New England. It is called a level, 
flat country, and it is, compared to the eastern 
states, but not as level as it has been 
described. Its prairies,' in particular, have 
been represented as exceedingly flat and even. 


?ind we have supposed an area of from ten to 
fifteen or thirty miles of an unbroken plain, 
with no elevations or depressions, more than 
are met with on our extensive salt marshes. 
But the country is all unequal — not precipi- 
tous — -and the prairies present a continual 
change of tables and sloughs, while the " tim- 
bers" are broken by high knolls and deep 
ravines. Besides, I had supposed that the 
tables in the rolling prairies all ran in parallel 
lines and equal distances from each other, 
whereas they are of all sizes and shapes, and 
lay in every direction in the same prairie, 
thereby affording a greater variety, and greater 
facilities for cultivation, etc. etc. The timber 
on the " bottoms," is dense and heavy, and 
tangled with a most luxuriant growth of vines, 
shrubs, briars, and rank grass. These bottoms 
are on all the rivers and creeks, skirting the 
prairies and making beautiful belts running in 
every direction through the country. Besides 
these, there are the "barrens," or "oak 
openings," as they are called, which are com- 
posed of large trees of the various kinds of 

oak, hickory, maple, elm, etc. These trees 



are quite sparsely scattered around, making g 
most beautiful park, entirely free from under- 
brush, and the ground is cov^ered with a luxuriant 
growth of grass and flowers. The openings 
are all on unequal — nay, broken ground— high 
abrupt hills and gentle swells, alternated by 
deep precipitous ravines or most picturesque 
valleys of perfectly easy access even with a 
carriage. Nothing can exceed the beauty of 
these unique forests^no art or man's device 
could have accomplished on so grand a scale 
a work so perfectly splendid and enchanting. 
The soil of these barrens is a fine silicious 
loam and not more than from eight inches to 
eighteen in depth, but rich, and well adapted 
to produce the lighter grains and corn, with a 
careful culture. The secret of the openings 
lies in the annual conflagrations which pass 
over all the prairies and barrens of the west. 
This yearly burning consumes all the new 
trees and shrubs, and leaves the ground entirely 
unencumbered. The old trees, likewise, are 
annually diminishing in number. Scarcely a 
tree but is marked with fire, and when once 
the bark is penetrated by the fire, and the 


wood of the tree seared, the fire takes a 
readier and deeper hold thereon, until at last 
it overpowers and destroys it, and the tree falls 
with a startling crash, and generally consumes 
before the fire dies out, unless a violent rain 
extinguishes it, and leaves it for food for the 
next annual passage of the devouring element. 
I beheld many a line of ashes, marking the 
spot where the entire trunk of a massy oak 
was consumed the previous autumn. 

These barrens are the resort of birds of 
various note and plumage, and all the wild 
animals found in this country, such as wolves, 
deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, etc. etc. 

The "bluffs" are abrupt elevations, gen- 
erally in the immediate neighborhood of, and 
are to be found, I believe, on all the rivers and 
on each side. Generally they approach the 
river, but upon one side in a place, while on 
the opposite lie the heavy timbered bottom 
lands from a mile to six in width. In the 
course of twenty, sixty, or an hundred miles, 
the bluffs and bottoms change sides — or, to 
speak more accurately, the river changes to 
the other side of the bottom, which is 


bounded on each side by these bluffs. These 
bluffs are from one hundred to two hundred 
feet high, intersected with deep ravines at 
right angles to the river, and are composed of 
limestone, which often forms bold perpendic- 
ular cliffs of great height and regularity. The 
bluffs are generally crowned with " oak 
openings," and present to the traveller as he 
passes up and down the river, a most pictu- 
resque and charming scene. 

And what shall I say of the prairies — those 
immense sea-fields, clothed with their heavy 
robe of green, and dotted and slashed with 
gold and azure, vermilion and orange, white 
and violet, reflected from flowers of every 
size and shape, bewildering the traveller with 
their intense beauty, their rich and endless 

The prairies are of two kinds, and are 
distinguished as rolhng and flat. The roUing 
prairies are gently and irregularly undulating, 
having swells of twenty to sixty feet high, and 
of all lengths and breadths ; between which 
are sloughs, called in the dialect of the place 
" sloos.^^ They are low and swampy, and 


are of the same character of similar places in 
New England meadows called runs. If a 
small ditch be carried through these ^^sloos,^^ 
a fine running stream will be produced, which 
will last nearly or quite the year round, afford- 
ing plenty of water for cattle. There is 
scarcely a prairie without this kind provision 
of nature. These prairies are beautiful to the 
eye of a stranger, but their unbroken monot- 
ony tires the senses, especially when covered 
with the decayed growth of the former sum- 
mer, clothed with a garment of snow, or 
blackened by the recent conflagration. Ex- 
travagant stories of the luxuriant growth of 
the grass have been circulated at the east, as 
indeed everything pertaining to this wonderful 
country has naturally enough assumed an 
exaggerated tone. In the bottom prairies, 
the grass occasionally reaches the top of a 
man's head as he sits on his horse — a rank 
coarse grass unfit for the purposes of feeding 
— but in the common open prairies from two 
to three and a half feet is a fair averge ; in the 
sloughs it often exceeds this by a foot or even 


These prairies, as well as the barrens and 
bottoms, afford exhaustless ranges for cattle, 
horses, and swine, and the prairies abundant 
grass for the scythe, all without cost or labor 
of fencing. The prairie grass is coarse, but 
greatly loved by cattle, and makes, when well 
cured, an excellent fodder for the winter. 

Climate. — Illinois has almost every variety 
of climate, embracing, as it does, in its extent, 
five and a half degrees of latitude. In the 
southern portions of the state, the climate is 
exceedingly mild, and favorable to the pro- 
duction of all kinds of fruits and products, 
which delight in a warmer climate. The 
winters are short, and the frost rarely locks 
up the streams for niore than a fortnight at a 
time. The summers are hot and enervating, 
the sun being exceedingly powerful and op- 
pressive at noon-day. The climate of middle 
Illinois is truly delicious. From May to 
Christmas there are scarcely any frosts, and 
the hottest days of summer are rendered tol- 
erable by a never-failing south-westerly breeze, 
often productive of showers, which cool and 

WINDS. 9i5 

purify the atmosphere. One of the most de- 
Hghtful features of this climate, is its cool 
nights. Though the mercury may range 
above 90° throughout the day, it may sink to 
60° before morning, and often lower. This, 
of course, makes it exceedingly necessary 
to be careful of exposures in the night air, as 
such sudden changes produce tremendous 
dews, which prove deleterious to health. Of 
this more in its place. In the northern part 
of the state, although the summers and au- 
tumns are all that ever poets dreamed of, the 
winters are exceedingly severe. Not from the 
amount of snow, or intensity of cold, as on 
account of the prevailing, piercing, overpow- 
ering north winds, which keep up an almost 
perpetual blast, owing to the open state of the 
country. These north and north-westerly 
winds prevail from December to March, all 
over the state^ and from the latter month to 
Christmas, the south or south-westerly winds 
prevail. These latter winds are dry and 
exhilarating, and produce an agreeable sensa- 
tion on the whole frame. One striking and 


delightful peculiarity of this climate is, the 
large proportion of fair over stormy days. 
Indeed there may be said to be almost no 
storms during the summer and autumn. Show- 
ers are of almost daily occurrence, but no 
storms. I have seen but one stormy day in 
twelve weeks prior to writing this article, 
near the middle of July. Meteorological ob- 
servations taken by a celebrated physician in 
the state for the years 1834, 5, 6, give the 
following proportion of fair days in the year, 
which certainly pronounce this land a bright 
and sunny one. 

Fair diys. 



















These observations were made in Hancock 
county, in latitude about 30° 40' north, and 
nearly in the centre of the state, north and south. 
It is certainly a striking proportion of sunny 
days, — and it cannot be wondered at, that this 
should be called a mild and delightful chme. 

Health, Diseases, c^c— With regard to the 

ftEALTir, r)IS£ASES, ETC. 97 

health of Illinois, I am on the whole Incfined 
to believe that a more salubrious climate does 
not exist in the United States. On the river 
bottoms, and in wet places,' particularly in the 
lower latitudes, it cannot be doubted there is 
much unhealthiness ; but in the higher and 
drier regions, I do believe there is far less 
disease and death than in any spot in NeW 
England. And besides, in the most sickly 
parts, the diseases are far fewer in number, 
and yield to a proper treatment with more' 
certainty than at the east. And still more, 
nine tenths of the disease is induced by care- 
less exposures which at the east would pro- 
duce most fatal results. Great care is here 
necessary, to preserve the person from bilious 
attacks and fever and ague, and the utmost 
promptitude in the application of medical 
means, but those means rarely fail to produce 
the happiest results if seasonably applied. 
The most common type of disease is bilious. 
Lung fevers, pleurisy, influenza, dysentariesy 
consumption, and almost all chronic diseases, 
—if, indeed, I except rheumatisms are rare 


here, unless they have been inherited or con- 
tracted at the east. In my chapter containing 
hints to emigrants, etc., I shall give some di- 
rections with regard to the regimen necessary 
for unacclimated persons taking up their abode 
in Illinois. In what I have here said I have 
not trusted fully my own judgment, but have 
consulted several skilful physicians on the 
spot, and men who would not be hkely to de- 
ceive me in this respect ; and I think any one 
at all acquainted with the subject will find my 
statements conformable to their observations 
and experience. 

Water. — One of the greatest bugbea)^ of 
this place and which is always brought up in 
conjunction with IlHnois, is its water. I know 
not how many stories I heard of the celete- 
rious qualities, and the disgusting properties of 
the water in Ilhnois. Indeed I had made up 
my mind to undergo a severe privation in this 
respect, being a great water drinker and in- 
dulging in scarcely any other beverage, and 
expected to taste of nothing during my so- 
journ here, but a muddy, brackish, nauseating 
mixture of iron, lime, coal, slime, and the 

WATER. 99' 

quintessence of vegetable decomposition. 
Whereas, the truth is, I have not passed a 
drop of disagreeable, distasteful water through 
my lips since I entered the state. The most 
crystal waters of the Green Mountains do not 
excel the limpid, clear, cool, delicious waters 
of Illinois. The country, in all its broken 
portions, abounds with springs, in quality and 
quantity not to be surpassed in the world, and 
in the middle of the largest prairies the same 
dehcious beverage, cold almost as ice, may be 
obtained by sinking a well a few feet beneath 
the surface. It is true that all the waters of 
the west are strongly impregnated with lime, 
which renders them somewhat hard, but one 
soon becomes so accustomed to it as never to 
notice it. It is also not to be denied, that it 
acts medicinally on the emigrant. But this is 
far more salutary than injurious, if it be not 
too freely indulged, and it soon ceases to ex- 
ert any undue influence on the system. I 
have never hesitated to indulge freely in its 
use after the first fortnight, and I have never 
experienced the slightest inconvenience there- 
from.. Indeed I do not believe so large a- 

100 WATER. 

tract in New England or the Middle States 
can be found of the same extent with Illinois, 
which produces so much pure water and so 
easily obtained. 



False opinion upon literature— A fifthrate lawyer's chance of 
success at the West — Respectable shars of talent in Illi- 
nois — Libraries and scholars in log cabins — Room for 
taleat at llie West — Preferment the result of worth and 
application — Provisions for education in Illinois — Illinois- 
College — Shurtleff CoUege^ — Other Colleges — Same libe- 
ral policy pursued in other new states. 

A VERY false opmion of the literatare and" 
molality, as well of the opportunities for educa- 
tion at the west, prevails to such an extent 
among well informed people at the east, that 
I deem it not inexpedient to devote a chapter 
to these subjects, by which I hope to promote 
justier and more favorable views. I suppose 
it is generally understood in New England^ 
that the large towns and cities in Illinois and 
other parts of the west, are tolerably well 
supphed with hterary men in all the pro- 
fessions. But it is as generally supposed that 
the smaller inland towns and villages, and es- 
pecially the agricultural portions, are exceed- 
ingly destitute of talent or literature. Such, I 

know, was in some degree my own impres- 

102 TALENT. 

sion ; and I well remember hearing a fifth-rate 
lawyer, in Boston, who was making arrange- 
ments for quitting the place where promotion 
was beyond hope, speak of his expectations 
of success here in such a manner as plainly 
showed that he expected nothing less than a 
judgeship or a seat in congress : whereas, 
he will find himself as much a fifth-rate lawyer 
here as in Boston. The truth is, there is as 
fair a proportion of talent in Illinois, as in any 
other state in the Union in proportion to its 
population. There are, it is true, but a very 
few minds of the highest order — men who 
are marked as the leaders of our repubhc, or 
stars of the first magnitude in the literary 
galaxy of America — but there is an unusual 
amount of very respectable, clever talent ; 
there are a large number of men whose hterary 
and classical acquirements fit them for every 
office, and would make them ornaments of any 
society in North America* Nor are they to 
be found alone in our larger towns, they are 
very liberally strewed over all the soil of this 
great and growing state. In travelling through 
the country, one will meet with a well thumbed 


and select library in the log cabin, aiid listen to 
discourse on any topic in that rude home 
which would give spirit and life to an assem- 
blage in a Bostoii drawing-room. Already 
there is a sufficient amount of literary talent in 
Illinois to fill with ability and success any 
chair of professorship in any educational 
institution, or any office of trust in the gift of 
the people. But all this talent is not available .^ 
Much of it is withdrawn from active life, and 
is to be met but in the seclusion of agricul* 
tural hfe. Yet there is enough for any present 
exigency^ and as the fi^eld of action enlarges 
itself, the whole ground will be covered by 
immigration, or the annual graduations from 
their own literary institutions. 

Indeed, a man of respectable talents coming 
from the east or south finds here many and 
powerful competitors, and will have to work 
his way to favor or wealth in his profession, 
much as he would elsewhere. It is true 
there is less competition because there is a 
wider field, the facilities are multiplied and 
multiplying, instead of being nearly exhausted, 
as is the case in the east. A young man of 


enterprise and a small capital, whether in law, 
medicine, engineering, surveying, or in the 
mercantile business, stands a much fairer 
chance to succeed in either here, than any 
where east or south, because not only is his 
field larger and competition less, but new 
sources of wealth and power are developed 
every day, and more and more. But the 
same talent, tact and industry are requisite 
here as elsewhere. The difference is, he 
must succeed here, elsewhere he may. 

Let no young man intending to pursue 
either of the above professions, set his face 
westward with. the false impression that a small 
modicum of talent or education and a careless 
devotion to his business will secure him either 
3. competence or honor. He will suffer sad 
disappointment. On the other hand let no 
young man hesitate an instant, who has a fair 
share of talent and tact, and whose patience 
will enable him to endure, and disposition to 
prosecute, the labors necessary to success. 
He can but succeed — fame and wealth, with 
a fair proportion of enjoyment, are here in 
Store for all such, provided all this be accom- 

&GHaoLs, I05i 

panied with an integrity of purpose which no 
temptation can seduce, and perseverance 
which no disappointment can overcome. I 
intend to devote a larp;er space to mechanics 
and farmers with hints to emigrants in gene- 
ral, in which will be found some interesting 
matter respecting labor, produce, prices, trav- 
elling, settling, etc, etc. 

The following hints respecting education in 
Illinois I have derived from sources entitled 
to much credit, and may be relied on as quite 

The congress of the United States, in the 
act for admitting the state of Illinois into the 
union upon equal footing with the other west- 
ern states, granted to it the section numbered 
sixteen in every township, or one thirtysixth 
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 authority. 
One sixth of this three per cent, fund, is to be 
exclusively bestewed upon a college, or uni- 

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 author- 
ity and the avails funded at six per cent inter- 

The amount of funds realised from these 
sources, and under the 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 incoiae of the three 


per centum from the sales of public lands, will 
continue as long as there are public lands to be 

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 percent, would 
be 675,000 dollars. 

But it is highly probable that this immense 
domain will not be sold at its present price ; 
we will put the average value at seventyfive 
cents per acre, or $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 six- 
teen, and reserved for schools in the respec" 
tive townships, wasestimated by the commis- 
sioner of public lands, and reported to con- 
gress in April, 1832, at 977,457 acres in 

This tract is not usually sold until the town- 
ship in which it lies is somewhat populated, 
and hence commands a higher price than other 
laudsr The section in the vicinity of Chicago 


was sold in November, ISSS, (after reserving 
twelve acres,) for j^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 six* 
teen, 1,954,914 

Estimate of the three per cent. 
fund on all public land now unsold 
in the state, at seventyfive 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 govern- 
ment, I have not considered it any portion of 
the permanent school fund. 

The funds and claims of Illinois for educa- 
tion purposes may be estimated at three mil- 
lions of dollars. 


But it is sincerely and ardently hoped that 
the patriotism, foresight, intelligence, and 
liberality of congress, after reducing the price 
of the pubHc lands to the actual settler and 
cultivator, will be manifested in applying all 
future proceeds to the object of common 
schools, by some equitable apportionment 
amongst the several states of the Union. 
Hitherto these lands have been pledged for 
the payment of the national debt. That being 
now accomplished, I cannot but hope this 
question will be settled to the entire satisfac- 
tion of all parties, by a consecration of the net 
proceeds to the noble, beneficent, and truly 
national purpose of educating every child in 
the Union. Such a disposition of the public 
domain would reflect more honor on this na- 
tion, and tend more to its aggrandisement, than 
a hundred wars or a thousand victories. It 
would provide for a triumphant conquest of 
human ignorance, and carry joy and gladness 
to millions of hearts. 

Notwithstanding the liberal provision in 
funds and lands for education, little has yet 
been done by the legislature in providing a 


system for common schools. A law was 
framed in 1825, providing for school districts 
to become incorporated, by the action of the 
county commissioners' courts, upon a petition 
of a majority of the qualified voters of any 
settlement. The voters in each district, by a 
majority of votes, could levy a tax not exceed- 
ing one half per centum on property, and 
appoint trustees and other officers to manage 
the business. 

This feature of the law was soon made 
unpopular, and a subsequent legislature repeal- 
ed that portion that authorised the levying of 
a tax, and made other modifications, by which 
it remains on the statute book as a matter of 
very little value. 

The preamble to this law establishes beyond 
controversy, the great principles for legislative 
authority and aid for common schools. It 
reads thus : — 

"To enjoy our rights and liberties, we 
must understand them ; — their security and 
protection ought to be the first object of a 
free people ; — and it is a well established fact 
that no nation has ever continued long in the 


enjoyment of civil and political freedom, 
which was not both virtuous and enlightened ; — 
and believing that the advancement of litera- 
ture always has been, and ever will be the 
means of developing more fully the rights of 
man ; that the mind of every citizen of every 
republic, is the common property of society, 
and constitutes the basis of its strength and 
happiness ; — it is considered the peculiar duty 
of a free government, like ours, to encourage 
and extend the improvement and cultivation of 
the intellectual energies of the whole : There- 

" Be it enacted, efc." 

Provision now exists by law for the people 
to organise 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 

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 qualifica- 
tions on the part of teachers, and a previous 
examination before a competent board or com- 

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 unquahfied 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 requi- 
sites of sobriety, morahty, and sufficient ability 
to teach well on the part of those who get the 

A complete common school system must be 
organised, sooner or later, and will be sustain- 
ed 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 favor of the 
measure, it is not difficult to have a good 

In each county a school commissioner is 
appointed to superintend the sales of the six- 
teenth 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 organise 
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 cer- 
tified by the trustees of the district, and return- 
ed to the school commissioners of the county 

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 

The term '"township" in the school laws 
merely expresses the surveys of thirtysix sec- 
lions, and not a civil organization. 

Several seminaries, and institutions for col- 
leges, have been estabhshed and promise 

Illinois College.^ — This institution is located 
in the vicinity of Jacksonville, and one mile 
west of the town. Its situation is on a de- 
lightful eminence, fronting the east, and over- 
looking the town, and a vast extent of beauti- 
ful prairie country, now covered with well 
cultivated farms. 

This institution owes its existence and 
prosperity, under God, to the pious enterprise 
of several young men, formerly members of 
Yale College in, Connecticut. Most of its 
funds have been realised from the generous 
donations of the liberal and philanthropic 

The buildings are as follows : a brick edi- 
fice, one hundred and four feet in length, forty 


feet in width, five stories high, including the 
basement ; containing thirty two apartments for 
the accommodation of officers and students. 
Each apartment consists of a sitting room, or 
study, fourteen feet by twelve, two bed rooms, 
each eight feet square, two dress closets, and 
one wood closet. The basement story em- 
braces a boarding hall, kitchen, store rooms, 
etc. for the general accommodation. 

To this main building are attached two 
wings, each thirtyeight feet long, and twenty- 
eight feet wide, three stories high, including 
the basement ; for the accommodation of the 
families of the faculty. 

The chapel is a separate building, sixtyfive 
feet long, and thirtysix feet wide, two stories 
high, including rooms for public worship, lec- 
tures, 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 matiual labor, and other out build- 

The farm consists of three hundred 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 labor, either 
upon the farm or in the workshop. Some 
individuals earned one hundred and fifty dollars 
each during the year. 

The library consists of about 1,500 volumes. 
There is also a valuable chemical and philo- 
sophical apparatus. 

The year is divided into two terms, of 
twenty weeks each. The first term commen- 
ces 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 fortytwo students connected with 
the college classes, and twentytwo students in 
the preparatory department. Of this number, 
several are beneficiaries, who are aided by 
education societies, with a view to the gospel 
ministry. A considerable number more are 

The trustees of the college are Rev. Ed- 


ward Beecher, President ; Hon. Samuel B. 
Lockwood, John P. Wilkinson, Esq., Wil- 
liam C. Posey, Esq., Rev. Messrs Theron 
Baldwin, John F. Brooks, Elisha Jenny, 
WiHiam Kirby, Asa Turner, John G. Bergen, 
and John Tillson, Esq., Rev. Gideon Black- 
burn, D. D., Gov. Joseph Duncan, Col. 
Thomas Mather, Winthrop S. Gilman, Esq., 
Frederick Collins, Esq.; Nathaniel Coffin, 
Esq., Treasurer and Agent ; Rev. J. M. 
Sturtevant, Secretary ; Jeremiah Graves, su- 
perintendent of the farm. 

Faculty. — Rev. Edward Beecher. , A. M., 
President and Professor of Moral and Intel- 
lectual Philosophy and Political Economy. 

Rev. J. M. Sturtevant, A. M. Professor of 
Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and 
Lecturer on Chemistry. 

Truman M. Post., A. M. Professor of the 
Greek and Latin Languages. 

Jonathan Baldwin Turner., A. M. Profes- 
sor of Rhetoric and Belles Letters. 

Reuben Gaylord^ A. B. Instructor in the 
preparatory department. 

Classes. — Senior, 3 ; Junior, 11 ; Sopho- 


more, 12 ;. Freshman, 16. Total Collegiate 

department, 42 

In the Preparatory department, 22 

The course of instruction is intended to be 
equal to the first rate colleges in the eastern 

Shurtleff College of Mon, Illinois, is pleas- 
antly situated at Upper Alton. It originated 
in the establishment of a seminary at Rock 
Spring, in 1827, and which was subsequently 

At a meeting held June 4th, 1832, seven 
gentlemen formed a written compact, and 
agreed to advance funds for the purchase of 
about three hundred and sixty acres of land, 
and put up an academical building of brick, 
two stories with a stone basement, forty feet 
long and thirty two feet wide. A large stone 
building for a refectory, and for professors' 
and students' rooms has since been erected. 
The Rev. Hubbel Loomis commenced a 
Preparatory school in 1833. In 1835 build- 
ing 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 

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 five thousand dollars is to be ap- 
propriated towards a college building, and 
five thousand dollars towards the endowment 
of a Professorship of Oratory, Rhetoric and 

Regular college classes are not yet organ- 
ised. The Preparatory department is in reg- 
ular progress and contains about sixty students. 

Rev. IVasJiington Leverett, A. M. Profes- 
sor of Mathematics, and Natural Philosophy. 

Rev. Zenas B. J^ewman, A. M. Principal 
of the Preparatory Department. Measures 
are progressing to put up a large college 
building, and to complete the organization of 
the college faculty. 

Alton Theological Seminary^ is an organi- 
zation distinct from ShurtlefF College. Rev. 


Lewis Colby, A. M.,"isTheological Professor, 
with seven or eight students, licentiates of 
Baptist churches, under his charge. 

JWcKendreean College, under the super- 
vision of the Methodist Episcopal church, is 
located at Lebanon, St. Clair county. It has 
a commodious framed building, and about 
fifty students in the preparatory department, 
under the charge of two competent instruct- 

McDonough 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 re- 
cently been chartered as a college by the leg- 
islature, and is a respectable acedemical insti- 
tution, and has seventy or eighty students. 
Rev. G. B. Perry, A. M., formerly pastor of 
the Spruce street Baptist church, Philadel- 
phia, has recently been elected president of 
this institution. 

A literary institution, modelled somewhat 
after the plan of the Oneido Institute in the 


State of New York, is in progress at Galesboro, 
Knox county, under the supervision of the 
Rev. Mr Gale and other gentlemen. 

Belvidere College, in Winnebago county, 
has been recently chartered, and an effort is 
about being made to estabHsh a respectable 
literary institution in this new and interesting 
portion of the state. 

Several respectable academies and semina- 
ries are also in operation, established chiefly 
by individual effort, where good schools are 
taught. Amongst these we notice the follow- 
ing, though some of equal importance may be 

The Jacksonville Academy, conducted by 
Messrs Charles E. Blood, and Charles B. 
Barton, A. B. is established for the conveni- 
ence of those whose studies are not sufficiently 
advanced to enter the Preparatory Depart- 
ment 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 

The Mon Female Seminary^ is an institu- 
tion projected for a full and useful course of 
instruction, on a large scale, towards the es- 
tablishment of which Benjamin Godfrey, Esq., 
will contribute fifteen or twenty thousand dol- 

It is located at Monticello, a little more 
than four miles from Alton, on the borders of 
a delightful, elevated prairie, and is designed 
wholly as a boarding school. The business 
of instruction will be in the hands of compe- 
tent ladies. The system of instruction will be 
extensive. The Rev. Theron Baldwin will 
exercise a general supervision over the insti- 
tution, and lecture on scientific and religious 

The project of establishing a seminary, for 
the education of teachers at Waverly in the 
southeastern part of Morgan county, is enter- 
tained 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 contem- 
plate estabhshing a college at Hanover, in 
Tazewell county. 

Thus a broad and deep foundation is about 
being laid in this state for the promotion of 

Several lyceums and literary associations 
exist in this state, and there is in almost every 
county a decided expression of popular opinion 
in favor of education. 

It vv^ill be seen by what precedes that Illi- 
nois has already done nobly in the cause of 
education. The provisions thus made, it is 
true are not all available, but they form the 
basis on which is hereafter to rise a structure 
that shall reflect great honor on the men who 
had the disposal of her early destinies, and 
which shall be a " bright, particular" crown 
of glory to their sons forever. 

This liberal policy, it is presumed will be 
followed by all the new states and the territo- 
ries. It is a pleasing reflection to a mind de- 
voted to the best interests of humanity, that 
this vast and beautiful region, so bountifully 


provided for in all natural resources, so admi- 
rably adapted to growth and greatness — des- 
tined as it is, to become the home of millions 
on millions of our children and children's chil- 
dren — is also, in the liberal and just poHcy of 
its early settlers, provided with the true and 
permanent conservative — the salt of educa- 
tion — which is to keep up a wholesome moral 
tone in society, and fit these myriads, not only 
to act well their part in life, but to help fashion 
them for glory and immortality. 



Divisioa of land at the West— Townships— Lesser Divisions 
— Modeof numbering— Diagrams— Simplicity of the whole 

Nothing can be simpler than the method 
adopted by the general government, by which 
the new states and territories are divided. 
The whole country is surveyed by " meridian 
lines j'^ running due north and south. These 
are intersected by '^base lines^'''' running at 
right angles ; or east to west. Parallel to 
these lines the whole county is divided into 
townships of six miles square invariably. 
These townships are merely geographical dis- 
tinctions, and have nothing to do with corpo- 
ration lines. A township is a tract of country 
six miles square ; a town or corporate territo- 
ry, whose municipal affairs are managed by 
the inhabitants of such territory exclusively, 
has nothing to do with these merely trigono- 
metrical lines, but is of such extent and shape 
as may be desirable ; embracing a part of one 


township, or parts of several, where they 
unite, and are incorporated by an act of gen- 
eral government. A village or city is a town, 
and such, if incorporated, conducts its own af- 
fairs, while the resident in the same township, 
if out of the corporate limits, is subject 
to the county administration of the law. I 
am thus particular, because the system is so 
unlike that at the east, where every township 
is in fact a town, and subject to the 
same municipal regulations as the village 
or city which may chance to be in the 
township . 

But in order that my readers may under- 
stand the simplicity of western surveys, and 
disposition of the lands throughout the west, 
I will transfer a more minute description there- 
of, to these pages, and for which I am mainly 
indebted to Peck's Gazetteer of Illinois, — a 
work, by the way, containing much valuable 
and practical knowledge to the immigrant, 
whose eye is fixed on Illinois. 

In all the new states and territories, the 
lands which are owned by the general govern- 
ment, are surveyed and sold under one gen- 


eral system. In the surveys, ^^ meridian j^^ 
lines are first established, running north from 
the mouth of some noted river. These are 
intersected with " base " lines. 

There are five principal meridians in the 
land survey^ in the West. 

The '^ First Principal Meridian ^^ is a 
line due north from the mouth of the Miami. 

The " Second Principal Meridian " is a 
line due north from the mouth of Little Blue 
river in Indiana. 

The '' Third Principal Meridian ^^ is a 
hne 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 the Arkan- 
sas. Each of these meridians has its own 
base line. 

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 terifiinates whh 
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 fourteen miles distant,) to a 
point in the channel of the river, seventytwo 
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 Mis- 
sissippi at the ujjper rapids, in township eight- 
een north, and about twelve or fifteen miles 
above Rock island. It here crosses and passes 
up the west side of the Mississippi river fifty- 
three 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 

Having formed a principal meridian with 
its corresponding base line, for a district of 
country, the next operation of the surveyor is 
to divide this into tracts of six miles square, 
called ^ townships. ^^ 

In numbering the townships east or west 
from a principal meridian, they are called 
^'rmigeSj^^ meaning a range of townships ; but 
in numbering north or south from a base line, 
they are called ^Hownships.''^ Thus a tract 
of land is said to be situated in township four 
north, in range three east, from the third prin- 
cipal meridian : or as the case may be. 

Townships are subdivided into square miles, 
or tracts of six hundred and forty acres each, 
called " sections.^^ If near timber, trees are 
marked and numbered with the section, town- 
ship, and range, near each sectional corner. 
If in a large prairie, a mound is raised to des- 


ignate the corner, and a billet of charred wood 
buried, if no rock is near. Sections are 
divided into halves by a line north and south, 
and into quarters by a transverse hne. In 
sales, under certain conditions, quarters are 
sold in equal subdivisions of forty acres each, 
at one dollar and twentyfive cents per acre. 
Any person, whether a native born citizen, or 
a foreigner, may purchase forty acres of the 
richest soil, and receive an indisputable title, 
for fifty dollars. 

Ranges are townships counted either east 
or west from meridians. 

Townships are counted either north or south 
from their respective base lines. 

Fractions are parts of quarter sections 
intersected by streams or confirmed claims. 

The parts of townships, sections, quarters, 
etc. made at the lines of either townships or 
meridians are called excesses or deficiencies. 

Sections, or miles square, are numbered, 
beginning in the northeast corner of the town- 
ship, progressively west to the range line, and 
then progressively east to the range line, 
alternately, terminating at the southeast corner 



of the township, from one to thirtysix, as in 
the following diagram : 

6 5 





































Half Sec- 
tion, or 
320 acres. 

do. or 160 

I Eighth 
do. or 80 

■— P Sixteenth 
■— i— Ido. or 40 

By the above diagrams it will be seen that 
every purchase is easily found and defended. 
Patents as they are called, i. e. deeds from 
the government land office, are given and 
boundaries mentioned in that patent conforming 
to the lines of survey. Thus, a township is 
numbered from a certain meridian and base. 
Thus, Springfield — which in 1840, is to be- 
come the seat of government — is situated 
(see map) in township in range sixteen north 
from the base hne, and in range five from the 
principal meridian west. 

* Appropriated for schools in the township. 


The sections are found by simply commen* 
cing at the northeast corner of the diagram as 
above and running west and east alternately 
until the section designated is reached. Sup- 
pose twenty : it is thus described. Section 
twenty, in township — east — north or, as the 
point from the base and meridian may be. 

The divisions of sections are numbered in 
the same manner. Thus, a half section is 
always formed by running a line through the 
centre of the section north and south. The 
eastern half being the first half section^ the 
western the second half section. The lesser 
divisions are numbered from the north-east 
corner, and called first, second, third, fourth^ 
&c., quarter, eighth, or sixteenth. Eighths 
are usually called " eighties,^^ and sixteenths, 
^^ forties,''^ sixteen forties making a section. 

I have been thus particular in this account 
of the surveys of public lands, to exhibit the 
simplicity of a system, that to strangers, unac- 
quainted with the method of numbering the 
sections, and the various subdivisions, appears 
perplexing and confused. 

A large tract of country in the north, and 

Land ofFicErs. ISS 

iiortheastern portion of this state is yet unsur-' 
veyed. 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 

Land Offices and Districts. — ^^There are 
ten land offices in Illinois, in as many districts y 
open for the sale or entry of public lands. 

The Land District of Shaioneetown, embra- 
ces that portion of the state, bounded north 
by the base line, east and south by the boun- 
daries of the state, and west by the third prin- 
cipal meridian. 

Office for the entry and sale of lands at 

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 princi- 
pal meridian, north to the line that separates 


the thirteenth and fourteentli townships nwth^ 
«nd west to the Mississippi. 

Land office at Edwardsville. 

The Land District of Vundalin extends 
^outh to the base line, east to the hne between 
ranges eight and ume^ east of the third princi- 
pal meridian, north to the south hne 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 Shaw- 
neetown district^ west to the eastern boundary 
of Vandalia district, north to the dividing hne 
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 hne between town- 


ships 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 be- 
tween T. 30 and 31 N. of the third meridian 
and east of Springfield districts 

JSTorthwest District is in the northwestern 
portion of the state, and bounded south by tha 
line between townships twelve and thirteen 
northy 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. 

J^Tortheast District is in the northeast por- 
tion, of the state, and bounded south by the 
line between townships thirty and thirtyone,, 
on the third principal meridian, east by lake 
Michigan, and north by the boundary of the- 

Land office at Chicago. 

The officers in each land district are a reg- 
ister and receiver, appointed by the president 


and senate, and paid by the general govern- 
' ment. 

The land, by proclamation of the president, 
is first offered for sale at auction, by half quar- 
ter sections. If no one bids for it at one 
dollar and twentyfive cents per acre or up- 
wards, it is subject to private entry at any 
time after, upon payment at the time of entry, 
No credit is allowed. 

In special cases congress has granted pre- 
emption rights, where settlements and iiil- 
provements have been made on public lands 
previous to the public sale. 

Pre-emption Rights confer the privilege 
only of purchasing the tract containing im- 
provements at one dollar and twentyfive cents 
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 taxa- 
tion for five years after purchase. 

All lands owned by private citizens or corpo- 
rate bodies, and not exempted as above, are 
divided by law into two classes of taxation, 
called '^ first and second rates.^^ First rate 


lands are taxed three dollars and twenty cents- 
per quarter section of one hundred and sixty 
acres, per annum. Second rate lands arer 
taxed two dollars and forty cents per quarter 
section, besides a county tax for roads. Res- 
ident and non-resrdent landholders are taxetJ 

Residents owning lands in the different 
counties may Hst the same and pay taxes in 
the counties where they reside, or in the au- 
ditor'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 whi^h taxes have not 
been paid, is sent to the clerk of the county 
commissioners' court of the county where the 
knd lies, and a transcript of this list is to be 
published in soma 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 mucb 


of the land, a5 is necessary to pay taxes and 
costs, is sold at the seat of justice of the 

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. 

The following particulars may be of use to 
non-resident landholders : 

1. If persons have held lands in the mihtary 
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. 

2. Every non-resident landholder should 
employ an agent within the state to pay his 
taxes, and take the oversight of his property. 

3. All deeds, conveyances, mortgages, or 
title papers whatsoever, must be recorded in 

DTE EDS, ETC. 139' 

ihe-^^ recorders office, ^^ in the county where • 
the land is situated. Deeds and title papers 
are not in force until filed in the recorder's 

4. The words ^'- 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 m 
the instrument. 

[See revised laws of Illinois, of 1833,, art,. 
'^'^ recorder," page 510*] 



'Chapter for Immigrants — False notions prevalent at the 
east — Conflicting reports — How to reconcile them — 
Home-sidcness — Object of the book — Impartiality — 
Advice — Health — Some capital necessary to success — 
But few -wealthy — Too much praise of the west — lujuri- 
-ous to Immigration — "Illinois in 1837-8," a false text 
book — Let not the Immigrant expect too much — Seek a 
healthy location — Be modest — Small change and small 
men — Thirty cents for a glass of beer — " Improvements " 
— Frame house and log cabin— Fencing and ploughing — 
Sod corn — Time to plough — Select good stock — Best 
reason for Immigration. 

There prevails at the present time an 
intense anxiety at the east to know something 
^more of Illinois ; because there are multitudes 
who are desirous of fixing their own quarters 
here, or have friends who have already plant- 
ed themselves in the fertile valleys of Illinois. 
Most contradictory reports are in circulation 
respecting this land of promise, and all ex- 
tremely exaggerated, according to the tastes 
of the reporters. A man comes out here to 
explore. He is delighted with the country, 
makes a purchase -and starts for the east to 


bring out his family to his new home. His 
reports of this land of promise are extrava- 
gant : the soil is richer than the manure at the 
east ; everything grows without culture or 
care, and wealth and ease flow in golden 
streams over all the land, beneath unclouded; 
skies, and in a clime shaming Italy. He in- 
duces another to come out to this El dorado. 
His is a different temperament, easily an- 
noyed, hardly pleased, a dear lover of home, 
travel and change to him a bore. He comes 
out with his expectations tip-toe. He ex- 
pects to luxuriate in Arcadian groves and 
lovely little cottages which peep out from 
flowers and odorous shrubs, while he is rav- 
ished with- the wild music of ten thousand- 
birds. He looks for ease and happiness and 
supposes that toil is at an end. He arrives, 
disgusted with the voyage, fretful and weary, 
and curses the folly that led him from his 
home. He finds his cottage a plain log; house, 
naked as if the soil were incapable of bearing 
a shrub, and his sleep is 7wt soothed by the 
merciless hum of the moscheto, the barking of 
an hundred dogs, the tinkling of a half dozem 


<jracked cow-bells and the constant grunt and 
squeal of hogs beneath his window, to say 
nothing of those innocent but somewhat 
troublesome httle bed-fellows which are gen- 
erally so valiant in maintaining their right to 
the places they have so long occupied. Per- 
haps it is a rainy reason, and the mud, of the 
consistency of putty and as slippery as snow, 
interdicts all intercourse with remote neigh- 
bors. Everything is unlike home, and in his 
state of mind well calculated to compare there- 
with unfavorably. His wife — if he have one 
— is downcast and feverish, making tearful 
allusions to the comforts they bave foolishly 
left behind. The children fret, and to crown 
all, they are all more or less affected in health 
by the change in climate and the fatigue of 
travel they have undergone. In one word, 
they are all thoroughly home-sick^ and as soon 
as they can, they pack up and return to New 
England, entirely disgusted with the west. Of 
course his report of the country is as ex- 
travagantly unfavoi^ahle as the former was un- 
justly laudatory. He saw nothing here but 
iwhat was evil. No society, no comfort, 

cdNrLrcTiNG reports. 143^ 

flo health — -everything fihhy, inconvenient, 
sickly. Hence, in one circle you will find the 
wildest ideas of the richness of soil, salubrity 
of climate, and beauty of scenery, and the 
ease and surety with which a complete com- 
petence can be obtained ; and in another the 
entire picture is reversed. 

This state of things requires that a carefuljr 
candid statement should be made — > that things' 
should be represented as they are, without de- 
preciation or exaggeration. Such is the ob- 
ject of this little book — such the object of 
the advice intended to be given in this chapter 
and which I shall give, as nearly as I can, 
without any prejudice for or against Illinois 
and the west. I would by no means advise a 
promiscuous immigration, for I beheve there 
are multitudes who would not improve their 
condition by changing it. I would say to the 
FARMER who is out of debt, well located, 
finding a market readily for all he produces, if 
he be laying up something for the future and 
the rigid climate is favorable to his health and 
that of his family, stay where you are, be con- 
tent with ''v/ell enough," and let ^^ better" 

143: -SOME CAPITAi. 

^lone, I would say to the mechanic whose 
ifun of business is good and whose health is not 
-affected by so northern latitudes, you are do- 
ing well, — a change to Illinois might not mul- 
tiply your comforts or increase .your wealth. 
And such would be my advice to the merchant 
^nd professional man. 

But to men of either of these professions, 
not established, or whose health is sapped by 
the fierce winds of the north and east, I would 
say, on certain conditions go to the west : and 
these I will consider. 

There can be no doubt in my mind, that 
persons who find the winters of New England 
too severe for their health, will find the most 
favorable results from changing to the salubri- 
ous climate of southern and middle Illinois. 
Nor do I beheve that they will be more likely 
to fall victims to the diseases incident to the 
climate of that state, after one or two years, 
than if they were born on the spot. And if 
they provide themselves with the same com- 
fortable dwellings and clothing they have en- 
joyed at the east, the risk of acclimating is so 
slight as not for an instant to be considered. 
But more of this in its place. 


Neither can there be any doubt, that with a 
proper prior knowledge of the country and its 
resources, a small capital to commence with, 
and a Yankee resolution to persevere, any one 
may eventually succeed here. I say eventu- 
ally, for one of the principal faults of opinion 
respecting this country is, that every one who 
comes out here will become rich in a very 
short time. No greater mistake exists. Now 
and then a lucky speculator, or town-builder, 
has made his thousands by the turn of a die, 
but by far the majority of immigrants are those 
who go on to their farms, or work at their 
trades, and pass whole years in diligent appli- 
cation before they find themselves possessed 
of a competency. Their riches accumulate 
gradually — rapidly compared to the same 
causes at the east — and require unremiting 
exertions. Let not him come out here who 
proposes and expects to enrich himself in 

One other consideration. At the west, as 
at the east, wealth blesses — if wealth be 
proved a blessing — but the few. No com- 
munity exists where all are rich alike, and the 


climate of Illinois possesses no peculiar magic 
to alter the constitution of society. Poor 
men there are, and ever will be, here, as else- 
where — men who have either no faculty or 
no disposition successfully to apply them- 
selves to the business they undertake. Hence 
there will ever be those who go to the west 
with high hopes, and return disappointed and 
chagrined, as poor as they went and as they 
are ever doomed to be. But I would here 
say that this country affords the means of a 
livelihood to any enterprising young man dis- 
posed to endure the sacrifice required qf him, 
and willing to wait the due time of success. 
He can hardly plant himself amiss. Whether 
at the south or north or in the centre of the 
state, let his business be what it may, he can 
scarcely fail of success, if he keep his eyes 
open, and his hands occupied. 

I have taken special pains to gather from 
various section of the state and from intelli- 
gent, candid, influential individuals such hints 
as I thought might be useful to such of my 
fellow citizens in the east as determine to 
'' pitch their tent " in the new world I have 


recently explored, and which have recom- 
mended themselves to my own judgment, and 
I have given them with no httle diffidence as 
they so evidently clash with much that has 
passed for the last three years as valuable and 
correct. The truth is, in the slang phrase- 
ology of the times, the ''west," and particu- 
lar portions of it in particular have been 
" cracked up " beyond what it ever was, and 
most false impressions given of Illinois, espec- 
ially in New England. This course has been 
exceedingly injudicious and injurious to the 
best interest of the whole country. Thousands 
on reaching the State, have been disappoint- 
ed, and have either returned in a state of com- 
plete disgust, or tarried because they had too 
much pride to return. I could particularize, 
were it not invidious, and were I not deterred 
by a disposition to do no injury to any partic- 
ular place or places. Perhaps I should fail of 
doing justice to Illinois, or the east, did Inot 
warn the latter to be aware how they place 
too much rehance on the representations of a 
book which has received a most extensive cir- 
culation, and which has done an injury to im- 

148 ILLINOIS IN 1837 — 8. 

migration in the end, from which it will not 
soon recover. I mean a book bearing on its 
covers the imposing title of " ILLINOIS IN 
1837 — 8." It is full of exaggerated state- 
ments, and high-wrought and false-colored 
descriptions, and cannot safely be rehed on as 
a text book or gazetteer. It contains some 
valuable statistical information, and a few val- 
uable hints to immigrants, but so mixed up 
with false statements, and exaggerated des- 
criptions as not to be trusted by an inexperi- 
enced hand. I could instance as a specimen 
of its incorrectness, the account of one river 
town, which is described as having, among 
other things, 4 houses of public worship, with 
settled ministers, and an academy, with about 
2000 inhabitants ; whereas, there is not one 
meeting-house or minister, and nothing but an 
ordinary school, with only about 300 inhabi- 
tants. I allude to this as a specimen^ merely 
to show that it is a book not to be trusted. 
And I do not set up myself as censor, or as 
being better able to judge, than the compilers 
of this book ; but only as more impartial and 
unprejudiced, and as being far more likely to 

ADVICE. 149 

give an uninfluenced opinion, than one having 
large interests in the western lands. 

But to the advice. And first, when any- 
one has made up his mind to remove to the 
Westj let him be careful and not cherish too 
great expectations. Let him recollect that 
the only safe path to competency, is a labori- 
ous one, and that in every clime it has its 
cares, losses and disappointments. Whatever 
be his business, he must be devoted to it and 
be content with a moderate accumulation o^ 
profits. The labors of the merchant, the phy- 
sician, and the mechanic, are as arduous in 
Illinois — nay more so — as in New England. 
And so are those of the husbandman, for the 
first three years, and after that his task will be 
much hghter than that of his brother farmers 
who till the reluctant soil east of the Allegha- 
nies. Besides, he will be a singular Yankee, 
if he do not suffer dreadfully, for the first six 
months — perhaps for a year — that most un- 
comfortable of all diseases, home-sickness. He 
will meet with many deprivations, such as want 
of society, uncomfortable houses, coarseness 
of provisions, want of sympathy, languor, occa- 


sioned by the process of acclimation, remote- 
ness from a post office and store, and the en- 
tire absence of many of the little comforts 
which belong to every decent New England 
home — all this and more if he goes into a new 
place. And all this is less endurable by the 
female immigrant, because her labors and cares 
are increased, and she has less abroad to call 
off her thoughts from the ever present causes 
of her dissatisfaction. These are some of the 
evils, stated without aggravation, which await 
the new settler in the new world, and which 
sometimes make the heart sick, and cause it 
sigh for the land of its early years. But all 
this can be endured, and it seldom continues 
more than a halfyear — it does in a (ew ca- 
ses. One soon gets accustomed to this life, 
and very generally I have found after that time 
a stronger attachment for the land of their adop- 
tion had supplanted that of their birth. In nine 
cases out often, no persuasions would induce 
the immigrant to return, and in equal propor- 
tion those who have returned at all, have re- 
turned within the first year. Let not him, 
therefore, who has not philosophy sufficient to 


undergo with a cheerful spirit, one year's en- 
durance of home-sickness J and all the sacrifices 
and discomforts of a cabin life in a new coun- 
try, venture on the experiment — he will make 
but a poor pioneer, and will never " make his 
way'''' at the west. Again, if he has decided 
to come, let him seek the advice of some one 
he can confide in, and whose knowledge of 
the country will constitute him a good advi- 
ser, and then let him go with all his household 
stuff and family, with the determination of stay- 
ing and liking. Let him take with him as few 
articles of furniture as he can possibly get 
along with — and he will not want many un- 
less he is going to a large town — and these 
cheap and substantial. Let him take all the 
necessary hollow ware, glass ware, crockery, 
etc., well packed in barrels, or hogsheads, as 
they will be far less likely to be broken, than 
in crates or boxes. Likewise his bedding, 
and a liberal stock of clothing of all descrip- 
tions, as all these are to be obtained at a much 
cheaper rate and of a better quality than where 
he is going. But all bulky and heavy furni- 
ture, such as bedsteads, bureaus, chairs, etc., 


had better be procured in some western city 
or town near his destined location. Above 
all, let him furnish himself with a choice li- 
brary, and subscribe for a well conducted fam- 
ily newspaper, published near the spot of his 
late residence. There is no imagining how 
many weary and desolate hours may by these 
trifling provisions be lightened and relieved. 
I would add here, that he ought to furnish 
himself with a duplicate set of tools necessary 
to carry on his profession, as they are of a 
poor quality generally, at the west, and bear an 
exorbitant price. This hint will be as valuable 
to the farmer as the mechanic. He will find it 
the best and most economical method to send 
his bulky and heavy articles by water, via New 
Orleans, shipped at the nearest port,and carefully 
marked and directed to be forwarded by some 
forwarding house in that city to any spot near his 
proposed residence. His clothing, packed 
closely in tight trunks should be taken with him, 
although they may cost a trifle as " extra bag- 
gage." Above all let him not forget to insure 
his property, and procure a life-preserver for 
every member of his family. Hundreds of lives 


would be annually saved by this trifling but in- 
valuable precaution. 

When he reaches a comfortable spot near 
the place of his intended location, let him 
leave his family, go and spy out the land, for 
it will not do to trust exclusively to the opin- 
ion of even a friend. And this suggests anoth- 
er important hint which I will here throw out : 
which is, that he do not expend too much time 
in selecting a spot. 

Many whogo to the west, sadly miss it, 
in spending too much time in '' viewing the 
country," as it is called. The consequence 
often is, that they become dissatisfied, when 
they do fix themselves, and in every difficul- 
ty they recur to other places they have seen, 
and imagine they would be better off there 
than where they are. This begets restless- 
ness, which puts an irrevocable veto on pros- 
perity and happiness. I have been told that 
this is a trait in many of our New England 
men, and that the consequence is, they are 
shifting from pillar to post, without profiting 
themselves, or gaining the respect of those 
around them. 


There are a few things essential in select- 
ing a place of residence ; the rest can be made 
what one wishes it. This apphes particularly 
to the immigrant farmer — as the professional 
man and mechanic will go where they can ob- 
tain the best business — health or no health, 
comfort or discomfort. The first of all is, let 
the choice of a home fall upon a healthy spot. 
No matter whatever other advantages may be- 
long to the farm, if it be in a sickly place, woe 
to the man who planteth himself there. A 
mechanic or professional man may place his 
family in a healthy situation, while he is ex- 
posed, and sometimes can hie away from the 
pestiferous atmosphere, and breathe a pure and 
invigorating air. Not so the farmer. He and his 
are tied down to the spot, and cannot break away 
therefrom sufficiently often to shake off the in- 
fluence of disease and death. And he must 
not trust to the word of residents — they are 
too much attached to their own neighborhood 
and too desirous to increase it, to allow them 
to give an unbiased opinion, however desirous 
they may be to do so. As a general rule, a 
situation near the rivers — if indeed 1 except 


Rock river, Its tributaries, and the Mississip- 
pi above the mouth of Rock river — is un- 
healthy, although far less so than is generally 
supposed at the east. An elevated, open sit- 
uation, admitting of a free current of air, and 
sheltered from the north blasts of winter by a 
belt of forest, is the most desirable location 
for a farm, and is usually healthy. Beware of 
low, flat, wet prairies ; one might as well be 
in the American Bottom. When he has found 
such a place, he has but one more inquiry to 
make. Is it conveniently near a good market ? 
And when these two things are gained, let him 
not hesitate to fix himself. The soil is good 
enough any where, and he will be about as 
likely to succeed in one place as another. I 
would, however, advise a northern New Eng- 
lander not to pitch upon a location too far 
south, as the trial of acclimation must neces- 
sarily be severe. 

Once more. Too many of our young men, 
on coming into Illinois, suppose that the su- 
perior advantages of education and society, 
which they have enjoyed at the East, give 
them a right to assume a superiority (see my 


chapter on " Literature,, etc.") over those 
among whom their lot is cast. Let me 
warn every one going west, to be on his 
guard in this respect. Talent and education 
are respected there, but an ostentatious and in- 
vidious display of them, will insure the deep- 
est contempt, and sink him who is guilty of it 
to the base level he deserves. The original 
population in Illinois is made up by immi- 
grants from Kentucky, Virginia, and the Ca- 
rolinas, and they have brought all their high- 
souled feelings with them. A man of modest 
worth is sure to meet with deserved respect 
and confidence — a blusterer and pompous fel- 
low sinks into immediate and deserved insig- 
nificance. When a young man has determin- 
ed to plant himself in the west, let him put 
on no airs, let him mingle freely and familiar- 
ly with his neighbors, assuming no superior- 
ity, and he will find them ready to serve him 
to any extent with their voice, their purse, 
and their lives ; and being shrewd to discover 
merit, will draw it out and reward it. I would 
indeed warn him against imbibing the — it 
must be confessed — too slovenly spirit of the 


west in the management of their business ; 
let him adhere to the economical, industrious 
habits to which he lias been trained — they 
are as invaluable here, as anywhere — but let 
him mingle freely and unsuspiciously with his 
neighbors, and while he sinks his manners to 
their level, strive to bring up their habits, by 
a successful example, to the New England 
standard. Still once more. In the land of 
the puritans, where every cent of a livelihood 
is wrung out of the flinty soil by the sweat of 
the brow, the shrewdest calculation is neces- 
sary to obtain a competence, and a cent as- 
sumes an importance in business transactions, 
which astonishes a western and southern man. 
Every thing here is conducted on an enlarged 
scale. In times of prosperity, money flows 
freely, and no man, be he in ever so moderate 
circumstances, stickles for a trifle of change 
in a bargain. It is considered decidedly 
mean. In the same spirit, nothing less than a 
fourpence ha'penny is in use, as change — 
called in the language of the country a "pc- 
ai/ttne," and generally abbreviated to "|)ic." 
Thus, " one pic," " two pics," etc. The 


next smallest piece is a '•'■bit.''' Any piece 
of silver larger than a "pic," and smaller than 
a quarter dollar, is a " bit," and passes at the 
value of eight to the dollar, or twelve and a 
half cents. Dimes are called " short bits," 
but pass at the same value of a " long bit," or 
twelve and a half cents ; and so a half dime 
for a " picayune." It seemed passing strange 
to me, at first, and very much like a species 
of swindling, when, having purchased nine- 
pence worth of any thing, to receive in change 
for a dollar, but seven dimes — seventy cents, 
— thus making — on board the boats — thirty 
cents for a tumbler of small beer ! But I was 
too wise to demur, and I soon found that my 
dime would purchase me as much of any good 
thing as a "long bit." 

I mention these things to guard those who 
propose going west, against committing them- 
selves by haggling for a (ew cents in a bargain. 
A mean, niggardly — or as it is here emphati- 
cally called, a "picai/wne" disposition, "damns 
its possessor to everlasting fame." Nothing is 
lost by adopting the enlarged spirit of the west, 
and in the end every thing gained. 


It would be my advice to a man of slender 
capital, who intends to pursue agriculture, to 
purchase a farm on which some " improve- 
ments " have been made. If he goes out into 
a new spot, he may get the land much cheap- 
er, it is true, but he will find that before he 
gets his house built, his land ploughed and fen- 
ced, his farm will cost him nearly as much as 
he can (often) purchase one for, with the hke 
advantages. It will take two years to accom- 
plish it. This time may be saved, and the 
crops from the improved farms will often pay 
its whole cost in one year, generally in two or 
three at farthest. Such farms may be occa- 
sionally found in market, the occupants hav- 
ing been seized with a desire to go still far- 
ther west, or for some other reason not mili- 
tating against the land or location. 

But if he go on to new ground, he can, by 
industry and perseverance, in three years have 
every comfort and even luxury the climate can 
afford, to the end of which I will lend him a 
httle aid with my advice. 

His first object will be to put himself up a 
shelter. If he be in the neighborhood of a 


sawmill, and especially if he be remote from 
timber, let him put up a "frame house," in 
preference to a " log cabin." The expense 
of the former will be but a trifle more, and has 
every advantage over the latter. Besides, in 
a short time, the UmbeY luasted in a log house, 
will, if sawed into lumber and sold, more than 
pay the difference of expense. But a house 
he must have, and if lumber is not to be had, 
he must content himself with a cabin. And 
this he can make quite comfortable, by filling 
the interstices of the logs with chinks of wood 
plastered outside and inside with clay or mud, 
after the fashion of the country. 

His next object will be to get a patch of 
land broken up, ready for seed. The true 
time for breaking the prairie is from the mid- 
dle of May to the last of July. If it be well 
broken, and laid even, and be permitted to he 
unmolested until the succeeding spring, the 
ground will be exceedingly friable and mel- 
low, and the sod will have thoroughly rotted. 
Whereas, if it be broken in the autumn, after 
the grass is ripe, or if it be disturbed after 
being turned over, the sod will be exceeding- 


ly tough and troublesome for years after. So 
that nothing will be gained by ploughing the 
autumn before. 

After the ground is broken in the spring, 
corn, oats and spring wheat and rye, may be 
sown upon the surface with a fair prospect of 
a good crop, unless the season should chance 
to be an exceedingly dry one. An average 
crop of " sod corn," as it is called, is about 
40 bushels to the acre ; and of oats 40, and 
of wheat or rye 30 to 35 bushels. If it should 
be a dry season, the crop will be considerably 
less. The manner of planting " sod corn " 
is usually to drop the seed while ploughing, into 
every third furrow. A better way is to use 
an axe or some other such instrument, after 
the ground is turned, by which an aperture is 
made in the sod, and not through it. Into 
this drop the seed, knock a little soil into it, 
and the work is done. Nothing more is re- 
quired until it is fit for harvesting, as the sod, 
for reasons above stated, must not be disturb- 
ed. Very few weeds will start the first year, 
and no grass^ if the ground be well ploughed. 
I have known fifty acres treated in this way, 
14 # 


to yield fortyfive bushels, on an average, to the 
acre, and first rate corn. 

It requires four yokes of oxen to break up 
the prairie, and costs about three dollars per 
acre. After the first year, a stout horse will- 
do the ploughing. 

When the settler has got in his seed and 
fenced it, let his attention be given to the erec- 
tion of a barn and granary. He can get along 
without them in the southern and middle parts 
of Illinois — some do get along thus in the 
northern part, but miserably — but he will find 
it much to his advantage to have a good barn 
and granary. If he have a tolerable crop, and 
a fair amount of stock, he will find his full pay 
for his labor, in one or two years. The mice, 
moles, squirrels, gophars, and other vermin 
will eat and spoil much of his out-door-stack- 
ed crop, and his cattle will come out in the 
spring stinted and poor, and be constantly de- 
preciating in size and quality from year to 

I need not say here that the labors devolv- 
ing on a new settler are arduous and often dis- 
heartening. Work and but little apparent re- 


ward, are the portion of the first year. But 
he will find himself at the har\^est of the sec- 
ond, if he be but industrious, possessed of a 
comfortable home and enough to eat and drink, 
and from this time he may lay aside a snug 
sum every year, from the excess of his crops 
and stock beyond his own consumption. 

It would be well to have a few sheep of the 
best breed. They find the finest pasturage in 
this country, and if protected from the attacks 
of the wolves, will be found extremely ser- 
viceable, as woollens of all kinds bear an ex- 
ceedingly high price. Sheep ought to be fol- 
ded every night, and guarded through the day 
by a well trained dog. They are easily taught, 
and make a very faithful shepherd. 

One more hint I would here throw out. In 
stocking your farm with swine — a very im- 
portant consideration at the west — be careful 
to select a fine and approved breed. If the 
settler purchase the long-snouted, long-legged, 
long-eared, and lank-sided species, which too 
much abound, he will sadly miss the figure. 
Such he can never fatten — they are like Jo- 
seph's lean kine — ever eating and ever poor. 


In conclusion, I would say, that it is my 
firm conviction that any young man who is 
about commencing life as a farmer, or any el- 
derly man who has sons whom he wishes to 
educate to this honorable branch of industry — 
that such, if they have a small capital, enough 
to pay for their land, defray the expenses of 
going out, and to obtain farming tools, and a 
small stock, can do no better than go imme- 
diately to the west. 

With regard to the best season for a far- 
mer to go out, there are various opinions. — 
If he can go out in the spring, and early enough 
to get in a crop, he can get along through the 
summer, and have leisure ere winter approach- 
es, to put up the necessary buildings on his 
land, and find himself quite comfortable, but he 
will have to work very hard. If, on the oth- 
er hand, he go out in the autumn, he can be 
getting up his house, preparing his fencing 
material, etc. etc., and be ready to plough and 
plant when the spring opens. He ought to go 
out early in September, and earlier, if he can. 
For routes, etc., I refer the reader to the Ap- 



Western Fever — Rock River— Fish — Exploring Committee 
— Starting — A new mode of travelling — Incidents — How 
to make a city — Como. 

A New-England-man can have but a 
faint conception of the rage existing at the 
west for '^ improving^ ^ the country, as it is 
significantly called. New farms, new towns, 
new railroads and new canals, are continually 
projecting, and you cannot fall upon a knot of 
a half dozen persons anywhere, but the burden 
of their conversation is of some new project 
or other. Indeed the whole conversation at 
the west is racy — it smacks of the soil. 
And as, when the western fever rages at the 
east, it receives its name from the point of 
country to which it tends, as the Ohio fever, 
the Illinois, or Michigan, or Wisconsin fevers, 
— so here in Illinois, there are various por- 
tions of the state which have drawn the 
attention of immigrants and speculators. Rock 
River is the present attraction. Thither are 
flocking such hosts of immigrants, as must 


soon densely people the wild and beautiful 
tracts of country bordering that stream. 

Rock river rises in Wisconsin territory, 
about 40*^ 30' north, immediately southwest of 
Winnebago Lake, and after a very sinuous 
course of three hundred miles — two hundred of 
which is in Illinois, in nearly a south-westerly 
direction — it enters the Mississippi river in 
latitude about 41° 30' north. This stream, 
with the exception of one or two obstructions, 
in the shape of rapid>, is navigable for nearly 
two hundred miles from its mouth. One of 
these rapids lies about three miles from its 
mouth, and on which government is now ex- 
pending a liberal sum of money. When this 
obstacle shall have been removed, as it will 
be in one or two years, the river will be 
navigable for steamboats of light draught, at 
any stage of water, to the upper rapids ; 
about ninetyfive miles from its mouth by the 
river's course, although but about fifty by 

The country bordering on this stream, is 
allowed, on all hands, to be one of the finest 
and most fertile in the whole west, as well as 


possessing the most salubrious climate. It is 
principally open, high, undulating prairie, 
abounding with fine springs of the purest 
water, although rather sparsely wooded. The 
river is liberally fed with large rushing tribu- 
taries, which flow into it at convenient dis- 
tances for the hydraulic purposes of the 
country. Besides these, almost every mile 
in its course, it is cooled by most abundant 
springs, which gush from its banks in a pleni- 
tude which surprises the observer. The 
current is very rapid, and the waters clear as 
chrystal. It is a sight to make one leap with 
delight, as he gazes for the first time on this 
beautiful stream. Its wild rush of waters, 
tumbhng, foaming, sparkling, as it passes over 
its rocky bed, its clear, bright waves reflecting 
the minutest object that lies upon its bottom, 
and ploughed by countless shoals of pike, 
catfish,* redhorse or perch, each weighing 
from three to ten pounds, not to speak of 
lesser fry, — all this is a sight to gladden the 

^ The catfish sometimes weighs 150 lbs. 


eye, and give a most vivid idea of health and 

It is but a few years since this whole tract 
w^as the possession of the red man. It is al- 
ready occupied by one of the most thriving 
and enterprising communities in the whole 
country, so that it is next to impossible to 
obtain land near the river, without having it 

It was to this land of promise my attention 
was turned, in company with some half dozen 
others, with a view to a permanent residence. 
We had taken the precautionary step to send 
on an exploring committee, who had se- 
lected a site, and made a most favorable 
report ; all which decided us to take immedi- 
ate measures to establish ourselves in our 
claims.* Accordingly w^e hired a man to 
take us the whole distance to and from the 
land of promise, in a two horse w^agon, — a 
large, coarse, lumbering box, seated directly 
on the axle, with no kind of springs to our 

* The reader will understand this expression, by refering 
to ray Chapter on the subject of Claims, Preemption,. 


seats, and a heavy piece of canvass over our 
heads painted black, so as to absorb and 
transfer to those who swekered beneath it, 
the scorching rays of an almost vertical sun. 

We started from T on Tuesday, July 

17, (1838), five in number, beside our Dutch 
Jehu, in fine spirits, full of health and hope. 
There were two engineers among our number, 
and we were liberally supplied with instru- 
ments suitable to survey and lay out our lands. 
When we were at last mounted to our seats — • 
a task much less easily imagined than per- 
formed, let me assure my reader, as he might 
be convinced by clambering up once and down 
again, as we had to do, some hundreds of 
times on our journey, — I found mine allotted 
on the luggage, and which I discovered to be 
anything but comfortable, as soon as our 
heavy omnibus rattled along its way. It was 
just such a day as was best calculated to make 
our ride an uncomfortable one. The road 
was dry and dusty, and the wind just strong 
enough on our larboard quarter, as a sailor 
would say, to keep us in the cloud of dust we 
raised. Add to this that the mercury rose in 


the shade to 103° of Fahrenheit — not forget- 
ting our springless seats, — -and some idea may 
be had of our discomforts. Nevertheless we 
contrived to amuse ourselves, and as we were 
determined to be happy, we made the best of 
it, and passed the day cheerfully. 

Our route this day lay along the western 
bank of the Illinois river. From Peoria, the 
river, for several miles above, expands to a 
lake of from one to three miles in width ; and 
the current is so sluggish as scarcely to be 
perceptible. This lake is lined on either side 
by heavy bottoms, densely timbered, and is as 
yet unoccupied, save in a very few places by 
settlers. It is a beautiful spot to look upon, 
in its primitive and unbroken wildness, but the 
idea of disease and death lurking in every 
ripple and concealed beneath every leaf, drove 
from my mind all idea of beauty, and con- 
verted the whole into one vast cemetery, 
beautiful in its external show, but the reposi- 
itory of dead men's bones. How anybody 
can be persuaded to reside here, is to me a 
mystery. We were hailed by a feeble voice, 
as we passed a cabin on the banks of this lake, 


requesting us to stop. It came from a pale, 
emaciated woman, who told us she was the 
only icell person in the family, that they 
were "all down with the fever." She wished 
us to call on the doctor and send him to their 
aid, as she could not leave the sick ones long 
enough to go herself. 

Our road through the timber was exceed- 
ingly rough and tiresome. Road it ought not 
to be called, track is a fitter name. Not a 
tree had been fallen, and every one went 
hither and thither among the trees, in search 
of a better path, as his judgment dictated or 
his horse inclined. Large and deep holes, 
still filled with water, whose surface was 
thickly coated with green slime, continually 
obstructed our way. Into these were we oc- 
casionally obliged to plunge, much to our own 
annoyance, and that of our poor animals, who 
were ready to sink under the intense heat. 
In the middle of our afternoon's route, we 
drew up on the banks of the lake and re- 
freshed ourselves and our horses at a cool and 
limpid spring, which some thoughtful person 
had excavated in the sandy shore. We 


reached a wild and broken spot sometime 
before sunset, having travelled about thirtyfive 
miles. There was one small but neat house, 
whose sign, fantastically painted, told us was 
an inn, and one other building, apparently 
intended for a store, but as yet unfinished and 

I have seen no spot in Illinois having so 
many natural features of New England char- 
acter, and, as we were all Yankees, the sight 
was naturally enough refreshing. This pic- 
turesque spot, we learned to our surprise, was 
a regularly laid out town, bearing the imposing 
cognomen of Northampton. The house was 
kept, at that time, by a Mr Hamblin, whose 
kind attentions soon obliterated the remem- 
brance of our toilsome ride. 

Unrefreshed by a sleepless night, we re- 
sumed our hard and springless seats in our un- 
comfortable vehicle, early the next morning, and 
after a ride of about six miles through a beau- 
tiful country of open woodland, everywhere 
changing from beauty to beauty, we reached 
the borders of a vast prairie, over which we 
were to make our way, for fifteen weary miles, 


without encountering any human habitation. 
Having taken a cooling draught fronn a spring 
near at hand, we launched upon this land-sea. 
Our road was a good one, but the burning 
rays of the sun, uninterrupted by a single 
shade, made our lot uncomfortable in the ex- 
treme. There is something very hke being at 
sea in the sensations one feels in the midst of 
these vast prairies. Not a tree or shrub dis- 
turbs the unbroken waste of green. Grass, 
grass, grass, on every hand, interspersed only 
with flowers and tall weeds. I have said 
elsewhere, that the idea cherished at the east, 
that these prairies are an unbroken level, is a 
mistaken one. Were it so, they would ne- 
cessarily become either lakes, or impassable 
swamps. They are completely broken up 
into hill and dale — on a miniature scale, it is 
true, — but nevertheless of sufficient altitude 
and depression to give a great variety to trav- 
elhng, and sometimes to form tedious, and 
even dangerous, ascents and descents in the 
road. Sometimes these ascents are of a mile 
in length. Between all these ridges, water 
may be found, and generally running streams, 


though obscured by the rank growth of grass. 
These sloughs, or '' sloo's,^^ in the language of 
the place, are generally muddy, and, in wet 
seasons, exceeding bad in crossing ; as but 
very few. and those only which are otherwise 
impassable, are bridged. They serve, how- 
ever, to form an agreeable variety to the 
traveller, and a comfortable retreat from the 
fierce blasts of winter to the wild beasts that 
range these boundless fields. Besides which, 
they afford constant water to the herds which 
graze there, and springs beside which the 
benighted traveller may encamp with comfort 
and safety. The grass in these ravines, grows 
to a great height. It is coarse, and unfit for 
feeding. While the traveller is passing 
through them, he can see but little farther 
than a sailor from the " trough of the sea,'* 
and the situation is not wholly dissimilar ; 
but when he reaches the height of the mound 
above him, his vision is often unlimited save 
by the horizon. 

About midway in this prairie, we encoun- 
tered a log cabin, which had been erected 
there for the accommodation of travellers ; in 

boyd's grove. 175 

one word, a tavern. But it was now aban- 
doned, the occupant finding but poor encour- 
agement. It must have been a most uncom- 
fortable residence, with not a tree within ten 
miles, and neighbors equally as remote. 

As it is, it serves admirably for a shelter to 
an immigrating family which chances to be 
overtaken by a storm — a not uncommon cir- 
cumstance in the fairest day upon the prairies, 
— or by the closing in of night. Fires were 
burning when we entered the cabin, the rem- 
nant brands of a travelling caravan, which we 
bad passed an hour ago, on their way south- 

A little before noon we reached " Boyd's 
Grove," a belt of timber separating this prairie 
from another which lay in our afternoon's 
course. Here was our dining-place. One 
solitary cabin constituted the entire settlement, 
and the only one to be encountered until we 
should have passed another prairie, for which 
we prepared ourselves after dinner and repose. 
I had been bruised and jolted to my heart's 
content, and I set my wits to work to make 
the remainder of my ride less intolerable. 


I succeeded in procuring a bit of old dirty rope, 
by which I suspended a board from the bows 
of the wagon-top, and thus made me quite an 
easy swing-seat, on which I performed the 
remainder of the ride with much less fatigue 
and pain. The heat continued exceedingly 
oppressive all through this day. We had an 
hundred times sighed for a shower, and as 
often expressed our wishes relative thereto, 
for we were nearly overcome with the exces- 
sive heat, our jaded animals were beginning to 
lag most seriously, and our driver's patience 
completely exhausted. We had nearly crossed 
the prairie, when our wishes were fully real- 
ised ; for there came a most copious shower 
of rain, driven by a fierce wind, and we were 
most delightfully "cooled off." The rain 
penetrated our frail covering, and speedily 
wet us to the skin, making us exceedingly taci- 
turn, until the clouds, lifted by the wind, 
suddenly let out the sun upon a scene of beauty, 
snch as would make a stoic break out in ex- 
clamations of surprise and delight. 

We speedily emerged from the prairie, and 
after passing through a slight belt of forest, 


came into a small prairie, in which is situated 
the beautiful and thriving town of Princeton, 
in Bureau county. 

This village, scarce three years old, has 
the appearance of much thrift, and is sur- 
rounded on all sides with the best cultivated 
farms I have seen in the State. Hundreds, 
nay, thousands of acres were actually groaning 
under the burden of their crops. The wheat, 
either just bound up in sheaves, or just ripe 
for the sickle, presented a rich contrast with 
the dark green of the corn, which was now 
fully grown, standing ten and twelve feet in 

Our ride the next day was without incident, 
save that we saw innumerable prairie hens, 
and some sand-hill cranes. These latter birds 
are very large and strong, and, when irritated, 
are no light match for a stout man. They 
walked about very majestically, and apparently 
without any fear. I also saw a snake hawk, 
with a moderate sized reptile in its bill. It 
flew so near us that we could perceive the 
writhing of the serpent, as it was firmly held 
in the beak, and triumphantly borne off by its 


winged victor. We reached Dixonsville, 
on Rock river, a little after noon, where we 
concluded to pass the night, as the day had 
been excessively hot. In the evening we 
sauntered along the banks of the river, and 
came suddenly and unexpectedly upon a spring 
of great beauty and power. It gushed out 
from the rocks beneath the bluff and afforded 
a stream sufficient to carry a small mill. It 
boiled out from openings in the lime rock, with 
great force, and was so cold to the touch that 
we could not endure to immerse our hands in 
it for a half minute without extreme pain. 

Our route now lay down the western bank 
of the river, which we crossed in a self-mov- 
ing ferry. The air was delightfully fresh and 
cool, having been purified during the night 
by successive thundergusts, and our enjoy- 
ment was indeed keen, as we rode onward 
through one of the most beautiful regions of 
country that can be found in the west. We 
reached the place of our destination a little 
after noon, when we immediately set about 
the purposes of our mission, which was to lay 
out upon the river a town site, and as many 

COMO. 179 

farms as our land would ^allow. I ought to 
have said before this, that we had formed an 
association of twentyfour members, and had 
taken measures to secure our claim on the 
spot where we now were, containing between 
three and four thousand acres. This tract 
lies on the west side of Rock river, at the 
junction of the Elk Horn river, a stream suf- 
ficient, at the driest season, for driving all the 
machinery necessary to build up a large town. 
Of the beauty and advantages of this point I 
shall not trust myself to speak, for two rea- 
sons — -first, I have a personal interest therein, 
and should scarcely obtain credit for unbiased 
description ; and secondly, because its surpris- 
ing beauty would be credited by no one who 
had never visited the spot. Why should I 
waste time or stationery to no good effect ? 
We succeeded in laying off our town and farms 
to the satisfaction of the whole association, 
and christened it with the brief and round- 
sounding name of Como. We derived it 
from the spot, it having once been the favorite 
residence of an Indian chief of that name. 
There is a lake and city in Italy of the same 


name, famous for its being the exile home of 
the banished Queen Carohne. 

The division of property took place before 
we left the place, and the choice money- 
resulting therefrom was sufficient to erect a 
fine mill, build a ferry-boat, throw a bridge 
across the Elk Horn, etc. etc., so that we 
expect to have a town, in fact, and not on 
paper. Every member of the association is 
pledged to build a tenantable house within 
eighteen months, and each one intends to be- 
come an actual resident. The country is 
rapidly filling up in that neighborhood, and 
mechanics, farmers, traders, and laboring men, 
will find it to their advantage to settle in the 
neighborhood. The mill is already in process 
of building, and a number of buildings, for 
purposes of trade, residence, and mechanical 
pursuits. Como is situated five miles below 
the second rapids, and seventeen below Dix- 
on's ferry. A state road is laid out, and will 
be opened in the early spring (of 1839), 
leading from Peoria to Galena, and passing 
directly through the principal street of the 
town, which must draw almost all the northern 


and southern travel, being nearer than any- 
other route, by some dozen miles between 
the two points. And when the rapids, below 
and near the mouth shall be removed — as will 
soon be the case, the work actually going on, 
— steamboats can pass up to the place, except 
during the reign of frost. 

But I have said more of the place than I 
had intended, and leave it, with the hint to 
such as may propose to visit that section of 
country, that it may not be amiss to give it a 
passing look. 

Nothing new occurred on our homeward 
route, save that we saw a beautiful stag bound 
along the road before us, and plunge into a 
neighboring corn-field, where he was hid from 
our view. Thp weather was exceedingly jn- 
like that we had experienced in our upward 
journey, being dehghtfully cool and pleasant. 




Facilities for travelling— Rise of property — Wabash and Erie 
Canals — Productions of the soil — Ploughing and planting 
prairie — Beet Sugar — Mulberry and Silk— Hay — Ditcliing 
and fencing — Farms on shares — Profits of cultivation — 
Economj'— Speculation— Wealth the product alone of labor. 

I KNOW not how I can better embrace the 
whole caption of this chapter, than by trans- 
mitring to these pages, in this place, the entire 
letter of the Hon. H. L. Ellsworth, Superin- 
tendent of the Patent Office, in Washington, 
in answer to one containing questions relative 
to husbandly at the west. I shall take the 
liberty, however, of adding notes as I go 
along, because I think the letter calculated to 
give, though a fair, not a perfect representation. 
Some of the honorable gentleman's statements 
will be found, I fear, somewhat wide of the mark. 
I had thought best to write a chapter on these 
subjects, but believe that by giving my own 
impressions in notes, while the text is made to 
express another's, the reader will be better 
able to draw sound and correct inferences. 


It will be seen, on reading, that it was intended 
to apply principally to the valley of the Wa- 
bash, but is equally applicable to all parts of 
Illinois, and the West generally. Cut up as 
this whole country will soon be, with railroads 
and canals — not to mention those superior 
water-courses nature has placed there, — there 
will be but few portions of the country where 
there will be no facilities for transportation 
such as are recognised in this letter. 

Washington, Jan. 1, 1837. 

Dear Sir, — You doubtless expect some 
further statement than has been received, re- 
specting 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 until 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 railroads. Very little is yet known of the 

134 TRAVEL. 

valley of the Wabash. Although the fertility 
of the soil is unequalled, (1) 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 in- 
spection of the maps of Indiana, Ohio, and 
Illinois, will show a direct route to the Mis- 
sissippi from the west end of Lake Erie, to be 
up the Maumee, and down the Wabash valley 
to Lafayette. It may, therefore, be consid- 
ered certain, that when the railroad 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 

Note 1. — The vallej'- of the Wabash has, doubtless, a rich 
and fertile soil, but in this, it is in no way peculiar. There 
is a preference in the soil of the West, but there are very 
few sections where the soil is not sufficiently good to war- 
rant a location upon it for purposes of tillage. 


Ohio will pass up to St. Louis, then take the 
railroad 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 ? — A¥hat 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 La- 
fayette to the lake, at the rate of 44- to 5 miles 
on the canal (now in operation considerable 
part of the way), fortyeight hours ; and from 
the lake to New York city, via railroad (now 
commenced), not exceeding two days. (2) 

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 fa- 
cility of transportation. From a personal 

Note 2. — When the projected rail roads and canals shall be 
completed, perhaps this route will be chosen hy some — never 
by the majority : and for this reason, that they can never suc- 
cessfully compete with the steamboats in point of cheapness 
of fare. It will be far more expeditious and safe, and those 
who care but little for the expense will doubtless go by this 
route. But the bulk of western travel arises from immigra- 
tion, and the bulk of immigrants will seek the cheapest rome, 
— that never lies over land where there is good water car. 


186 ROUTES. 

inspection of the western states, during six 
months past, I am fully convinced the Wabash 
valley has the best soil and most favorable 
climate. In the latitude of Philadelphia, you 
avoid the extreme of great heat iu summer, 
and of cold in winter, and also avoid the dan- 
ger of early frosts, so prevalent in higher 
latitudes. (3) 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 railroad 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 

Nots 3. — With regard to latitude, I should advise as a gen- 
eral thing, that immigrants seek the climate in the West, most 
similar to that in which they have been reared. It will gen- 
erally be found better, perhaps, to go one degree further south. 
Of course, this does not apply to invalids. 


lo 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. (4) 

You may ask if the Wabash and Erie canals 

Note 4. — It may not be irrelevant to put in a note in this 
place ; giving some information relative to markets in Illinois. 
On all the great water courses, St. Louis and New Orleans are 
the great focuses to which nearly all the surplus produce 
will go. Rock river, at least the upper part of it, Fox river, 
and the whole neighborhood of the lake and the great canal 
which is to connect the Illinois with Lake Michigan, form an 
exception to this general rule. To all this region, embracing 
the northeastern part of Illinois, the northern part of 
Indiana, the northwestern part of Michigan, and the south- 
eastern part of Wisconsin, the northern markets, via the 
lakes, offer the greatest inducements, and must eventually 
attract and monopolize the largest portion of the productions 
of these territories. Bui, at present, there is a home market 
for all this region. It is a fact, wnrthy of recollection, that 
bread stuffs are annually imported into the region in large 
quantities, there not being enough raised to meet the con- 
sumption- This is owing entirely to the immense tide of 
immigration which is constantly pouring in there, and con- 
suming, like a cloud of locusts, all that is raised and much 
more. In the summer of 1833, prior to the time of harvest, 
every thing bore the highest prices. Flour, Sl4, corn, $1 CO, 
potatoes, $2, and so on through the whole list of prices cur- 
rent. And this market will continue for years to come ; and 
long before the production shall exceed the consumption, an 
easy and cheap egress to the northern and southern markets 
will be afforded to the producers. 


will surely be completed ? Undoubtedly they 
will. Indiana and Ohio are pledged to com- 
plete them. Nearly all is now under contract, 
and government has given lands adjoining 
sufficient to finish the same without any ex- 
pense to the states. 

As like, causes (other things being equal) 
produce like effects, it will not tax your cre- 
dulity to beheve, that the rich lands on the 
Wabash valley will equal those on the Ohio, 
New York, and Pennsylvania canals, which 
vary 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 ? (5) 

In making selections, I have, when practi- 
cable, procured both prairie and timber, 
though I am sure there has been a common 
error to pass the rich prairie because timber 

Note 5. — Already lands in the vicinity of large towns and 
even small villages, in various parts of the state of Illinois, 
command from $20 to S30 per acre, for the purpose of agri- 


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 prai- 
ries, by sowing the seed of black walnut and 
locust, that the desire for timber land has 
diminished. Those who doubt the compara- 
tive value of timber land, will do well to 
consider that twelve dollars is a fair price for 
clearing timber land. 

Timber land, when cleared in the usual 
manner, is left incumbered with stumps and 
roots, fatal obstacles to labor-saving machines. 
Twelve thousand dollars will be required to 
clear 1000 acres of timber. land, whereas the 
1000 acres of prairie can be put in tame grass 
without ploughing. (6) 

Note 6. — The prairie grass, although most firmly and 
densely knit together at its roots, is very easily destroyed. 
V7hen recently burned over, a large harrow drawn across it 
a few times, will effectually kill the grass, and the seed of 
tame grass will take root in its place without ploughing, and 
bear very abundantly. 


A prairie farm may be put in complete cul- 
tivation at from $3,75 to $9 per acre, accord- 
ing to the computations of my son Edward, 
who has been extensively engaged in cultivat- 
ing the prairie for the last year. From a 
personal examination of the land in France, 
and on the Wabash valley, I feel no heshation 
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 beat, from which 2400 pounds of sugar 
can be extracted, which, at ten cents per 
pound, amounts to 240 dollars per acre. (7) 

In England, paper is now made from the 
residuum of beets, after the saccaharine matter 
is extracted. An application for a similar pa- 
tent is now pending in the patent office. The 

Note 1 . — As far as my observations have extended I am 
convinced that the last estimate, as above, of 89 per acre is 
qnite little enough, and from that to $12. This, of course in- 
cludes buildings, fences, etc. etc. There can be no doubt 
but that the whole extent of the West, will be found favora- 
ble to the production of the sugar beet, and that the man- 
ufacture of sugar will ere long reach the full demand made 
for that necessary article in household economy. 


sample of paper exhibited is very good, and 
tiie rapidity with which the paper 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 probable that ploughing on smooth 
lands will be effected by steam, and even now 
mowing and reaping are successfully done by 

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 numeri- 
cally increased, and greatly enhanced in value 
by improving the breed. 

Either of these considerations is sufficient 
to justify cultivation and guaranty a large re- 
turn. I might mention the successful cultiva- 
tion of hay in the west — from one and a half 

192 HAY. 

to two tons Is a fair crop. This can be cut 
and pressed without any labor-saving machines 
at two dollars per ton ; and if the grass was 
cut by horse-power, 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 ad- 

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 New- 
ell, 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 cut- 
ting 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 Hol- 
land, 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 sow- 
ing 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 wood- 
land 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 three 
dollars profit per acre annually. It may be 
asked, how can non-residents best cultivate 
their lands ? I would remark, that it is cus- 


tomary 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. 

I would advise to employ smart enterpris- 
ing 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 cer- 
tain sum, and stipulate that the capital invested 
should be returned before the profits were di- 
vided. 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 abun- 
dance, and the number of hogs could easily 
be increased to one thousand by adding to 
the number of breeding sows. (8) 

Note 8. — I have been often asked how a young man who 
could raise no capital could get along at the West. The an- 
swer is had above. I know of many persons who would be 
glad to furnish a farm at the halves for three or five years. 
That is to say, they will furnish wild land, timber for a house, 


Corn is so easily raised that it is found ad- 
vantageous 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 har- 
vest 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 su- 
perior in quality to the Kenhawa salt. 

Farmers in Indiana and Illinois are no^ 

farming utensils, part or whole of the stock, for one half the 
produce and increase of stock, deducting, of course, the con- 
sumption of the family, thus renting a farm. For mere 
rent, a farm of 100 acres is as good as one of two, unless the 
tenant has boys to cultivate more ; as he will find that 100 
acres will be all he can manage well and profitably. And 
he would do far better to confine his labor to a much smaller 
field. As for pasturing, he may have, anywhere thousands 
of acres of prairie in common with his neighbors. No mat- 
ter who owns it, it is public pasture until it be fenced, which 
will not be for many years to come. 

196 FENCES. 

successfully inclosing their farms by ditching, 
which has cost from fifty to seventyfive cents 
per rod. The laws of the states of Indiana 
and Illinois compel the owners of land adjoin- 
ing to pay one half of fencing, whenever they 
make use of, or derive any benefits from the 
fences of their neighbor. This lessens the 
expense of fencing one half. 

If it be asked what are the profits of culti- 
vation .'* 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 twentyfive 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 

Yours respectfully, 

H. L. Ellsworth. 

TREES. 197 

On Trees, Gardens, etc. 

Stories are current at the east of the 
gigantic size of trees at the west, which lead 
many to suppose that the largest trees found 
in New England are mere pigmies in compar- 
ison. This impression is very much like 
others which have no other foundation than in 
imagination. The trees on the heavily tim- 
bered bottoms of the rivers, often grow to an 
enormous size, and generally the trees are 
larger than in New England ; but the differ- 
ence is far less than many imagine. I have 
not seen half a dozen trees at the west, which 
could not be readily matched in the white pine 
forests of Maine, although it can scarcely be 
doubted, that could the largest of the pines be 
transplanted to the rich soil of the bottoms in 
question, they would nearly double their 
present gigantic proportions. Cottonwood 
and sycamore trees are the largest that are 


produced at the west, and sometimes reach 
an amazing size. 

The growth of bottom lands consists of black 
walnut, ash of several species, hackberry elm 
(white, red and slippery), sugar-maple, honey- 
locust, buck-eye, catalpa, sycamore, cotton- 
wood, pecan, hickory, mulberry; several oaks 
— as, overcup, bur-oak, swamp or water oak, 
white, red, or Spanish oak ; and of the shrub- 
bery are red-bud, papaw, grape-vine, dog- 
wood, 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 con- 
verted 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, cleared 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. And 
yet I have seen, in more than one instance, 
trees thus hollowed out by nature, converted 
not only into casks and bins, but into out- 
buildings, such as pig-styes, well-houses, etc. 
The uplands are covered with various spe- 
cies 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 bot- 
toms. The black walnut is much used for 
building materials, and cabinet work, and sus- 


tains a fine polish. The different species of 
oaks, wahiuts, haekberry, and occasionally 
hickory, are used for fencing. 

Timber grows here with amazing rapidity, 
consequently it perishes sooner. The vari- 
ons kinds of oaks are softer than at the east, 
and will not endure, in the same exposures, 
more than two thirds as long. The wood is 
coarse and porous, and readily ignites while 
even in its unseasoned state. 

Perhaps the black walnut is the most valu- 
able tree, answering, as it does, for all kinds 
of cabinet work. Although not more prized 
at the west than mahogany at St Domingo, it 
is in very high repute in the eastern cities, for 
the purposes above-named, and generally bears 
a higher price than mahogony. This tree 
bears a large round nut, much prized by 
many . The white walnut is mentioned above. 
I need but to say that this is the New Eng- 
land butternut. Hickory is very abundant, and 
is used for building and fencing. Whenever 
other timber can be procured, this should be 
passed over, as the wood-worm, or borer, in- 


variably sets up his claim to it, and fills the 
house with the dust he makes. 

Sugar maples grow to a large size, and are 
highly prized for their saccharine properties. 
Many families have no other sweetening in 
their house than this produces. Ash is abun- 
dant in many places, though by no means 
generally to be met. It is far inferior, in 
toughness and elasticity to the eastern ash. 

The pecan, or pecaun, is valuable only for 
its fruit — being a pleasant-flavored nut, in the 
esteem of most persons. 

The papaw bears a fruit resembling some- 
what, when perfectly ripe, the ripe cucumber. 
Its flavor is not dissimilar to a scantily sweet- 
ened custard, or an over-ripe muskmelon. 
It is sometimes called the custard tree. Its 
fruit is wholesome and palatable. 

The plum abounds, and yields its fruit in 
the richest profusion. Its fruit is palatable — 
something like the Canada plum, — and makes 
a delicious preserve when cured in the sugar 
produced from the maple. 

The red-bud is remarkable only for its fiery 
appearance when it is putting forth its leaves. 


In a bright sunshine, a forest freely sprinkled 
with the red-bud, resembles a forest on fire, 
so briUiant are its scarlet buds. 

Grapes are produced in the wildest profu- 
sion and the greatest perfection all over the 
country, as far as my observation extends. 
Foreign grapes are easily engrafted on the na- 
tive stock, and do well. A great deal of 
wine is made from the wild grape every year. 
We were told of one man who made twenty 
barrels in one year. 

There is, also, the crab, or Siberian apple, 
the fruit of which makes a very palatable pre- 
serve. One valuable property of this tree is, 
that it makes a fine stock on which to engraft 
the common apple. Apples have thus been 
raised the third year in considerable quantities. 

Peaches, plums, nectarines — indeed all 
kinds of stone fruit, — do well, and arrive at 
maturity in a wonderfully short space of time. 
A man who sets himself down in an entirely 
new place, can have as much fruit of all kinds 
as he wishes in four or five years. I would, 
by all means, advise emigrants to take out 
with them all kinds of fruit seed, and in plenty. 


The peach stone may be cracked, and the 
meats carefully preserved, and thereby a great 
deal of weight and balk saved : and they will 
come up quicker. Beside, they can be sown 
in the spring, and will come forward as rapidly 
as if they had been planted, in the stone, the 
autumn before. No matter how many trees 
he may have, they will always bring cash and 
a high price. Many persons are driving a 
profitable business by growing fruit-trees for 
the market. 

By all means let the settler sow, immedi- 
ately, a nursery of black locust. In three 
years' time they will afford quite a shade, and 
greatly adorn a plantation on the prairie. Be- 
sides, the trees make a capital hedge for fence, 
and in six years his thicket will afford him 
fuel and railing for fence. 

Common chestnuts, also, do well. They 
come up readily, and thrive well. It might 
be well for the immigrant to take a bushel or 
two out with him. 

In this connexion, as well, perhaps, as any 
where, I may suggest to immigrants to take 
out with him all the varieties of garden seeds 


he can obtain, and let him be sure, among the 
first things he does, to subdue a small patch of 
ground for a garden. Everything that grows 
well in New England, grows better at the 

Fruit-trees, suitable for transplanting, can 
generally be had at all the large towns on the 
Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Whoever is 
going out in the spring, will do well to take a 
few dozens along with him. The cost is no- 
thing, in consideration, to the pleasure derived 
from having fruit one or two years earlier, 
of which by this means you are sure. 

I see no good reason why the white pine 
may not be readily and successfully introduced 
into any place in the west. I would recom- 
mend, to any one w^io may go from a pine 
neighborhood, to gather a quantity of pine 
burrs, or apples, and make the experiment. 
Should it be crowned with success, it would 
afford the projector a splendid profit, as ever- 
greens are brought from an immense distance, 
and bear an exorbitant price. 

The mulberry has been introduced with 
success into Illinois and Missouri, and there is 

SUGAR BEET, * 205 

110 reason why it may not be extensively and 
successfully cultivated anywhere in moderate 
latitudes at the west. 1 would recommend 
every one to carry out a few seeds of the 
mulberry. He will have land enough to sow 
them upon, and they will take tolerable care of 
themselves ; in a few years he may find them 
valuable. At any rate, they will serve to or- 
nament his grounds. 

In this connexion I would touch on some 
other things not irrelevant. The enterprise 
which sends out our young men to the west, 
prompts them to " try their hand" at almost 
anything which holds out a fair chance of suc- 
cess. Thus, already, do we witness experi- 
ments in almost all the projects of the day 
relating to agriculture. Thus we see men 
essaying their fortunes by raising broom-corn, 
mulberries and silk, sugar beets, wine-grapes, 
etc. etc. There can be no doubt that all 
these will succeed in the west, if they will 
anywhere. The sugar beet, for instance, has 
been introduced into Illinois, and cultivated on 
an extensive scale. Sugar is generally brought 
from New Orleans, and is retailed at from 


twelve and a half cents to thrice that sum. 
Illinois must, at no remote period, produce 
sugar from the beet, not only for home con- 
sumption, but for exportation ; and she may- 
well hope to compete successfully with the 
cane-growing districts. Her soil is precisely 
the one the beet delights in, especially towards 
the northern part of the state. Beets not only 
grow to an enormous size, but yield a larger 
quantity of saccharine matter than anywhere 
east of the Alleghanies. Every farmer might 
easily raise his own " sweetening," at a tri- 
fling expense, compared to what it shall cost 
him to get it from New Orleans. The ex- 
pense of the necessary machinery is trifling — 
almost any farmer might manufacture a grinder 
and a press which would answer the purpose ; 
and the pulp — which is the best article to 
mingle with meal for the fattening of cattle, — 
will repay the cost of raising and harvesting. 
The whole process is very simple, merely 
requiring a little care and judgment, and can 
readily be learned from any of the many 
treatises on that subject. 

Here, too, it might be well to suggest the 


propriety of taking out a duplicate, or even 
triplicate, set of farming and garden tools. 
They will be found much cheaper in Boston 
or New York, or even in Pittsburg and Cin- 
cinnati, than at St. Louis, Alton, or Chicago. 
I have elsewhere spoken of other articles of 
husbandry and household stuff and need not 
here repeat it. 

It may not be amiss to place in this chapter 
a few remarks on lumber, buildings, etc., as it 
is closely connected with the growth and 
character of trees. I have already said there 
was but little pine timber at the west. The 
borders of the Michigan Lake, and the upper 
water of the Mississippi, are exceptions to this 
rule. Throughout lUinois, with the excep- 
tion of that part immediately bordering on 
Lake Michigan, pine lumber is scarce and 
costly. At St. Louis it is from $50 to $60 
per M. ; at Peoria from $60 to $70, and at 
any of th^ inland towns enough more to pay 
for carting. In the Rock river county, it is 
worth from $75 to $90. So that, to any but 
those of property, it is entirely out of the 
question to use pine timber in building. The 


wood of the country must be substituted. 
Ordinarily, lumber, which grows on the spot, 
is from $25 to $35 per M. at the mill. 
Lumber, however, is fast falling, and will con- 
tinue to do so as fast as the facilities for its man- 
ufacture and transportation increase. When 
the great Michigan and Illinois canal shall be 
completed, the price of pine lumber an3^where 
on the Illinois river, and as far down as St. 
Louis, on the Mississippi, will be reduced 
from fifty to seventy per centum. 

I am satisfied that those persons who go 
from the east, and who propose to put up a 
frame house at the west, would find it to their 
advantage to buy their windows all glazed, and 
their doors all finished, and perhaps their floor 
boards and finishing stuff, where they are, — or 
else at Pittsburg or Cincinnati, — and have 
t|pem well and closely packed, and shipped to 
the nearest point of water communication. 
They will cost no more, certainly, and will 
be much better than can be found in the 
neighborhood of their location. 

I should also recommend the erection of 
Jrame houses, where lumber can be obtained 


suitable for the purpose. Frame houses are 
far more comfortable, and present a much 
more comfortable appearance. I have seen 
many very comfortable log houses, but such 
invariably cost more than a frame house of the 
same size. In some places lumber is not to 
be obtained at all, and in such cases the only 
shelter must be the log cabin. These may 
be made tolerably inhabitable with pains. 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 ten or twelve 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 

They 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 w^ealher ; 
■and it serves the threefold purpose of kitchen, 
himber-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 b)^ 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 im- 
pervious to common rains. The floors are 
made from short 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 bis comforts ; and if a 
saw-mill is near, and plank or boards cheap, 
he may save himself the labor of splitting pun- 
cheons or slabs for floors and doors. In ad- 
dition to the cabin, he will need a meat-house, 
a corn-crib, and stables, all built of logs In the 
same rough manner. 

I will close this miscellaneous chapter with 
some remarks on animals, which may be as 
useful to the raiser of stock, as pleasing to 
the sportsman. I have gleaned them from 
the best authorities. 

There are several kinds of wild animals in 
the state of Illinois : of these, the principal 
and most numerous are deer, wolves, raccoons^ 
opossums, etc. etc. Several species formerly 
common have become scarce, and are con- 
stantly retreating before the march of civiliza- 
tion ; and some are no longer to be found. 
The buffalo has entirely left the Hmits of the 

212 DEER. 

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 Ilhnois ; and, so late 
as the commencement of the present century, 
was found in considerable numbers ; and tra- 
ces 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 inte- 
rior 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 up- 
land plains. Their paths are narrow, and re- 
markably 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 appeal's to be, that they find pro- 


tection in the neighborhood of man from the 
beasts of prey that assail them in the wilder- 
ness, and from whose attacks their young par- 
ticularly 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 for 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 seventyfive cents to one 
dollar and fifty cents 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 horse- 
back, in the day time, selecting particularly 
certain hours which are thought to be most 
favorable. 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 uni- 
form 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 
neighborhood of the salt-licks. These are 
spots where the earth is impregnated with 
sahne particles, or where the salt-water 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 ibeir beds, approach the lick. Such 
places are generally bare of timber, but sur- 
rounded by it, and as the animal is about to 
emerge from the shade into the clear moon- 
light, he stops, looks cautiously around, and 
snufFs the air. Then he advances a few steps, 
stops, 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 
favorable, 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 indispensa- 
ble to all who have occasion to travel in view- 


ing 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 

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 flavored, and is 
esteemed a great dehcacy. 

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 de- 
structive 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 endeavor to sur- 
prise 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 wound- 
ed, 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 defencless 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 farmer ; 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 unprotect- 
ed state of the family. 

The smell of burning assafoetida has a re- 
markable 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 odor, 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 labor, 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 color it 
resembles the latter, being of a very light red. 
It preys upon poultry, rabbits, young pigs, 
calves, &c. The most friendly relations sub- 
sist 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 neighbor- 
ing states. 

The beaver and otter were once numerous, 
but are now seldom seen, except on the fron- 

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 monopoHze the business of 
catching and breaking these horses, make 
them an article of traffic ; their common price 
is from twenty to thirty 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 com- 
monly called Indian ponies. 

The gray and fox squirrels often do mis- 
chief in the corn-fields, and the hunting of 
them makes fine sport for the boys. It is a 
rule amongst the Kentuckyrifle men 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 labors 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 twelve to eighteen 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 have been 


seen, the production of one night's labor, and 
apparently from a single gophar. The passa- 
ges 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 potato 
fields, and in gardens they prey upon all kinds 
of bulbous roots. Their bite is said to be 

The polceat is very destructive to poultry. 

The raccoon and opossum are very nume- 
rous, 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 taken 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 win- 
ter, 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 

The ponds, lakes and rivers, during the 
migration season of water-fowls, are hterally 
covered with swans, pelicans, cranes, geese, 
brants, and ducks, of all the tribes and varie- 
ties. 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 luxu- 
ries 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 

224 CLAIMS. 


On Claims, Pre-emption, etc — Public Lands — Squatters- 
Associations for mutual aid and defence — (Quantity of land 
to be claimed — Conditions of holding claim— Title, how 
to be obtained — Public Sale — Simple machinery — Policy of 

I HAVE been asked repeatedly to explain 
the nature of claims, pre-emption rights, and 
the various parts of the machinery by which 
settlers on government land are protected, and 
the title to their land secured. 

Certain tracts of land in the northern part of 
Illinois and the adjoining states and territories, 
are as yet out of the market. Some of them 
are not surveyed at all, others have been sur- 
veyed by the government board of engineers. 
These lands belong to the United States. 
From time to time certain portions of this 
land are brought into market, at which time all 
tracts of land not entered agreeably to the ex- 
isting pre-emption law, are put up at auction 
and sold to the highest bidder. 

These lands are generally all taken up long 


before they are brought into market. The 
people thus occupying the government land 
are denominated " Squattersj^^ in common 
parlance — in law "• Settlers." So soon as 
some half-dozen men have settled themselves 
down in a neighborhood, and laid claim to the 
soil, or more appropriately, to the right of 
pre-emption — they form themselves into an 
Association, each member signing a constitu- 
tion by which they pledge themselves to abide. 
This constitution decides the manner in which 
claims shall be made in the territory — it 
embraces the quantity of land and the condi- 
tions on which it shall be held. They thus 
become necessary to each other, and stand by 
each other, while if any one of the Associa- 
tion fails to fulfil his part of the mutual con- 
tract, they permit and encourage any one to 
"Jump" or supersede him, and defend him 
therein. Formerly when land was more plen- 
ty, each member was permitted to claim 640 
acres (or a section, one mile square) of prairie, 
and 160 acres of woodland, called always at the 
west, '-'•timber.'''* Associations are reducing 


the quantity one half, i. e. 320 and SO acres, 
as above. 

The conditions of holding the claim ai'e in 
all cases, I believe, that the settler or claimant, 
shall first sign the constitution and become a 
member of the Association. Then he shall 
plough a distinct furrow completely round his 
claim, or stake it out in a plain and durable 
manner. Then within a hmited period he 
shall break up a certain portion of prairie (say 
20 acres) and fence it, and put up a suitable 
house for habitation. But all this is nothing 
unless he become an actual resident. He may 
put an agent thereon, and thus hold it, if the 
agent be trustworthy ; but if that agent be 
unfaithful and lay claim to said tract, unless 
the actual claimant come and take possession, 
the agent enters into the right and holds it as 
his own claim. 

These lands are held by mutual consent and 
the forbearance of government, which has 
indeed encouraged this kind of immigration. 
The setders have no title whatever, and in 
conveying them only give a quit-claim to the 
right of claimance. The title is to be obtain- 


ed when the land shall have been bought of 
government, and directly under the seal of the 
United States. The purchaser only pays for 
the claim, he must defend it and secure his 
land when it comes into market, as the first 
occupant would have been obliged to do. 
But he is protected in the same manner by 
the Association, one of which he becomes on 

Many have supposed that much difficulty 
exists in thus claiming lands, and that it is a 
dangerous piece of business. But I can assure 
my reader, there is not the least danger of 
losing title or life. Every thing relating to 
the whole business is understood in the whole 
community, and the mutual laws which they 
have framed for their own management are 
sufficient, in the absence of all other law, as 
must necessarily be the case there, to restrain 
all violence and to protect each settler in his 

Although there may seem to the stranger to 
be a deal of complication in this machinery, 
yet I can assure him it is extremely simple ; 
and that every one knowing, as he does, the 


exact method of its operation, there is seldom 
any derangement at all, and never sufficient to 
affect the whole machine. No one who goes 
there would dream from actual acquaintance* 
but that every thing was ordered by a well 
regulated civil police — as indeed it is, only it 
is not supported and administered by govern- 
ment. I have seen no where more orderly, 
industrious, intelligent, peace-seeking inhabi- 
tants than I found among these same " squat- 
ters.''^ They are mainly from New England 
and the Middle States, with a " fair sprink- 
ling," from the south. There have passed 
several pre-emption bills in favor of the settlers 
upon government lands, but none of which are 
as liberal as they deserve to be. The policy 
of goverment has been, hitherto, liberal 
towards the original settlers, but of late a nar- 
rower policy seems to have prevailed. 

A pre-emption law, framed alike favorable 
to government and the settler, would be a 
great and mutual blessing, and the time is not 
remote, I hope, when such an one shall be 
devised and successfully carried through both 
branches of the national legislature. 


The intention of a pre-emption bill is to 
protect the actual settler from the assaults of 
the mere speculator, so that he may have the 
right to enter and pay for his land before and 
in preference to any one else, at the govern- 
ment price of ^1,25 per acre. 




Having made arrangements with our Rock river 
Jebu, the Dutchman of former notice, to take me to 
Peoria, punctual to the time he roused me from my 
sluriihers at an hour before dawn, and mounting 
again our lumbering vehicle I bade adieu to the 
pleasant little town of Tremont, where 1 had 
formed many pleasant acquaintances, and with 
whom my parting would have been far more pain- 
ful but for the conviction that I should ere long 
again press their friendly hands. We found the 
morning air delicious, and enjoyed it with a double 
zest as the clear calm rising of the sun portended a 
hot and sultry day. We reached the river and 
having roused the ferryman, we embarked " to 
cross the ferry." While our man of the boat tug- 
ged at the rope by which he drew us over the slug- 
gish stream, w.-^ chatted with him of matters pertain- 
ing to his vocation. He told us that it was mighty 
sickly there, every body had " the chills and fever." 
By every body we suppose he meant those in the 
same employment as himself, as his knowledge could 
have extended but little further. 1 was struck with 
the air of pride with which he boasted of his own 
iron health. "These suckers^' — a term applied 
generally to settlers in Illinois — " are a tame race 
— they can't bear a mighty severe scraghin. Why, 
where I was raised, in old Kentuck, ifa man should 
ketch the chills he'd be laughed at. Why, 1 could 
lie in this river every night and not be sick, I reck- 
on. But let a gende dew fall on a sucker, and 


crack — he's got the shakes." He had no oyjinion 
of the country at all, and recommending him to 
turn right about face for " old Kentuck," we made 
our way to the boat, which was advertised to start 
at eight o'clock, A. M. We were under weigh at 
ten. Our sail up the river was without other inci- 
dentSjthan were afforded at the various places where 
the boat stopped, arising from the spirited manner 
in which the elections were going on. Throngs 
came on board the boat to learn the result below, 
and to give us information relative to their own 
district. Throughout our whole course the Van 
Buren ticket prevailed. This was attributed, on 
the part of the Whigs, to the free votes of the Irish, 
who were there in great numbers, on the rail-roads 
and the canals. Certain it is, that many thousand 
alien votes were cast on one side or the other, and 
it was generally supposed that they were thrown 
into the popular scale. There is a section in the 
constitution of Illinois, which confers the right of 
suffrage on any man over twentyone years of age, 
who shall have resided in the state six months. 
And this extends alike to foreigners and native 
citizens. It strikes me as a deficiency in that con- 
stitution, and the effects were plainly visible in the 
late election. It was said and generally known 
that the Irish cast in that state alone over jive thou- 
sand votes. These votes decided the election. 
Now it matters not on which side they voted — 
they plainly had the power to take the management 
of affairs from the hands of the large majority, by 
aiding the minority. Were they naturalized, or 
even settled, there would be no injustice. But of 
these five thousand voters, perhaps not five hundred 
of them will ever remain in the state — they will 
migrate to any spot where their labor may be de- 
manded. It was, doubtless, a patriotic principle 


which prompted the framers of that constitution to 
make such a liberal provision, and had it been con- 
fined to native citizens of the United States, had 
been well enough, but it seems palpably evident, 
that there is no justice in permitting aliens, men 
who have not a farthing at stake, who have nothing 
to lose and no more to gain, to manage the affairs 
of those who are owners of their native soil, and 
whose whole interests are thus taken out of their 
hands and put beyond their own disposal. It is to 
be hoped that some future legislature will see the 
unjust operation of this law and so change its ac- 
tion, that none, at least, but such as have some 
stake at issue, shall have the right of suffrage. 

It certainly exhibits a fearful state of things, 
when such men, not only aliens, but men of the 
greatest ignorance and the most degraded charac- 
ter, can be brought to bear with the same power 
on the destinies of our nation, as the same number 
of intelligent and patriotic citizens. It is a sad 
conviction which has fastened on the public mind 
by actual demonstration, that these hordes of aliens 
are at the entire disposal of each and every designing 
demagogue, in an overgrown and dominant party. 
Who can doubt that $20,000 would have BOUGHT 
every one of those 5000 votes? And what is 
$20,000, when oiiice and reputation are at stake 
with a whole party — especially when that party is 
driven to desperation by having just played a ruin- 
ous game. I make no application of these hypoth- 
eses — I say not that such things have ever been 
done ; but it seems clear that a n)ost unholy perver- 
sion of the public funds might thus be made, and a 
tremendous support be thus purchased to a wicked 
and anti-national coalition: — and it does seem that 
this subject cannot be brought before the injured 
citizens of this populous and growing state — 


which is becoming a very Hercules of the west and 
the Union, already casting aside its swaddling 
bands — too frequently, or too forcibly. 

We reached Peru, which, at the lower stages of 
water is at the head waters of steamboat navigation, 
about dark. Peru is destined to become a large 
town. The great northern and southern railroad 
crosses the Illinois river at this junction. This will 
carry an immense travel through the place. It is 
likewise situated at the junction of the great canal 
which is now in a state of forwardness. This 
canal, which is to be on a grand scale and of suffi- 
cient size for small steamboats, connects the waters 
of Lake Michigan, and through them the waters of 
all the great chain of lakes, with the Mississippi, 
via the Illinois river. Thus bringing the whole 
southern and northern trade to a focus in this spot. 
Peru is said by many to be unhealthy, which the 
residents on the spot stoutly affirm to be highly 
libellous. Still I need further proof that it is not 
generally unhealthy on that river — not so sickly, 
however, that it need be shunned by those who are 
disposed and determined to take care of their health. 

A.S we rode through the rich bottom which lies 
on the west bank for many miles up the river, 
and which is annually flooded with water, we 
could not but be struck with the wonderful growth 
of vegetation. The moon was at its full, and pour- 
ed a flood of light upon the scene turning the night 
almost into day. The weeds and grass on either 
side of the way — the road was just wide enough 
for one carriage — was even with the top of the 
coach, shutting out our vision as effectually as if 
we had been encased within u'alls of stone, lu 
these bottotns swarm such hosts of musquitoes as 
New England men never dreamed of. They fairly 
made it difficult to breathe, and silence was imposed 



from very fear of inhaling them with our breath. 
They were not to be endured ; and hot as it was, we 
closed the curtains, and smoked them out with 
cigars — the .only mode of riddance. However, 
we soon reache<l the high prairie, and were no more 
disturbed by ibis kind of vermin. Midnight found 
us at Ottawa, which, seen though it was, by moon- 
light and at the hour of midnight, presented a beau- 
tiful and even brisk appearance. We vStopped to 
change horses at a new and splendid hotel, and 
took meanwhile a birds' eye view of the place. 
This is the head of steamboat navigation at high wa- 
ter, and can always be reached with boats of the 
smaller class. We noticed a large block of brick 
buildings, three stories high nearly finished, and 
many others in every stage of advancement. This 
is a very thriving place and has been built up with 
a magic that can but astonish any one. 

We were awakened at daylight from a refresh- 
ing slumber — do not fancy, gentle reader, that 
because you cannot sleep sweetly on your beds of 
down, that a stage coach on a western prairie is no 
place to invite successfully the drowsy god, for it 
is a great mistake. Do you ask for proof? Go, 
as I did, ride three hundred miles in heat such as 
you little wot of, on a bare axletree, with no other 
spring beneath you but the earth and solid white 
oak and iron. Then make one of a (^orps of engi- 
neers, and tramp for eight or ten consecutive days, 
over burning prairies, through bogs and ^ens and 
tangled grass, through wood and dale — then if you 
would not sleep in a western stage coach, you will 
ask for proof in vain. Soundly and sweetly did / 
sleep, until, as I was saying, we were aroused from 
our slumber at daylight, by the falling of one of our 
horses, which was thoroughly "done up" and unfit 
to proceed further. So our coachee — a mere boy 


and as unfit to have care of even the miserable 
hacks which dragged us along at the rate of three 
miles per hour, as a tinker the care of the human 
system — turned him loose, and proceeded to our 
next relay with his team of three, which could not 
be induced to exceed the pace of a smart snail. 

We reached the beautiful town of Juliet a little 
before noon, and had a good opportunity of seeing 
the wonders of the place. For miles before we 
reached Juliet, the limestone formation projected 
to the surface of the ground, which was strewed 
over with the broken fragments of the rock. I 
noticed also, an unusual number of 6owZ^er5 scatter- 
ed all around. This is the height of land between 
the lake and the river in the line of the canal, and 
the valley of the Des Plaines river. It is twenty- 
five feet only, above the water level at Peru, and 
consequently the whole line of canal of one hundred 
and seventy miles will require buttwo locks each of 
thirteen feet; and each in this place. Here appears 
to have formerly been the most formidable barrier 
to tbe descent of the waters of the great lakes, and 
here seems to be abundant evidence that at some 
very remote period the waters broke over this 
bound, and carrying away all the earth left the 
naked rock nearly as we find it. The road along 
the channel thus made by the waters lies upon a 
ridge of limestone twenty feet above the level of the 
valley, and from fifty to two hundred feet in width, 
and for a mile or two in length. The surface of the 
road is very much like that of a roughly paved 
street. Paralell to this road and near the town 
there is a beautiful and very regular mound of solid 
limestone covered with a thin coat of soil. It is 
half a mile in length, fifty feet high, and nearly, as 
I should judge, three hundred feet wide at the base. 
The mound is as regularly formed as if it had been 


made by hand, and this has led many to the hasty 
conclusion that it was indeed the result of manual 
effort. But a moment's examination where the 
mound has been broken will show the regular lay- 
ers of limestone just as they were placed by the great 

Juliet possesses many advantages, which, in 
spite of the rugged nature of the soil in the imme- 
diate neighborhood, must cause it to increase 
most rapidly. Manufacturing is already intro- 
luced, and the vast amount of building material, 
.vill greatly aid in building up the place. Most 
jeautiful quarries of limestone — a coarse white 
iTiarble — lie beneath the immediate soil. I saw a 
large number of huge and beautiful blocks just 
quarried, and which were intended for the locks on 
the canal. I noticed several rich blocks of stores 
and dwelling houses built with the rough limestone 
which gave a very business like air to the place. 
Besides, Juliet is as delightfully situated as any 
town I saw at the west. We reached Chicago late 
in the afternoon, quite willing to exchange our 
dusty stage-coach for a berth on board one of the 
capacious lake boats. 

I was very agreeably disappointed in Chicago. 
It is true that it lies on a dead level, and but a few 
feet above the waters of the lake on whose banks it 
is situated. But it is as regularly laid out as the in- 
dentations of the lake and river would permit, and 
there is a taste manifested in the buildings which 
might be profitably imitated in other western cities. 
The country around Chicago for many miles is a 
dead level prairie, doubtless once the bottom of the 
lake. This prairie is often completely inundated 
in the s|)ringj and the travelling exceedingly bad 
nearly the year round. Notwithstanding these 
disadvantages, Chicago has grown up into its pres- 


ent condition — the largest town in Illinois — in an 
unprecedented manner. From a dirty village of 
twenty hamlets it has in four years grown into a 
large, handsome, city ; where a vast amount of 
business is done, and every day increasing. Situ- 
ated as it is at the western end of the lake, and the 
upper terminus of the great canal, it can but thrive 
and continue to outstrip its ambitious neighbors. 

I spent one day in Chicago, and had a fair oppor- 
tunity of examining it minutely. We found two 
steamboats bound through the lakes to Buffalo, be- 
tween which existed a spirited competition, th& 
captain of each oflfering to carry some dozen of us 
lower a great deal than the other. The regular 
fare is twenty dollars. We engaged on board the 
New England for fifteen dollars, although the other 
boat offered to carry us for ten. We preferred our 
boat, however, and had no occasion to regret it 
afterward, as she proved to be, though rather slow, 
a very safe and comfortable sea-boat. 

We reached Michigan city in the middle of the 
afternoon, but could not get within a mile of it 
except by our yawl. Having freight to deliver, we 
were obliged to send it ashore in a scow. I had 
heard much of this place, and was exceedingly dis- 
appointed in it. It can but prove a splendid fail- 
ure. We left the place just before dusk, and in 
two hours after we come to the mouth of a small 
creek, wheie we wooded. We reached St. Josephs, 
by daylight and while the boat was taking in wood 
we took a ramble on shore. After the luxury of a 
bath in the limpid waters of the lake, we strolled 
through the town, which is beautifully built on the 
bold and high shore of the lake. It is a thriving 
j)lace, and destined to be a large town, having a 
vast back country to sustain it. 

At five o'clock, P. M. next day, we entered 


Maiiitou Bay, in one of the smaller islands of that 
name. Mauitou signifies God, in the Indian tongue, 
and the tradition is that the Indian's evil spirit, or 
devil, resided here. The bay is more beautiful 
than any thing else of the kind I ever saw. It is 
three miles broad, in the form of a crescent, and is 
sheltered at its mouth by the great Mauitou island. 
It will afford some idea of the grand size of these 
lakes, when I say that in this bay of this lesser 
island, the combined navies of America and Eng- 
land might ride at anchor in jjerfect safety and 
convenience. The water near shore is very bold 
and clear as crystal, and a seventyfour might 
easily anchor within half her length of the shore. 
The shore is lined with limestone pebbles of a 
small size, and presents one of the clearest and 
most beautiful beaches I ever beheld. It was 
perfectly enchanting and irresistible, and the boat 
had not been moored ten minutes before the whole 
body of passengers were scattered over the beach 
picking up stones and shells, and bursting into con- 
stant exclamations of delight. 

This evening was as calm, mild and delightful as 
poet ever wrote of and afforded a fine contrast to 
the evening previous, in which we encountered a 
terriffic thunderstorm. I was delighted with the 
chance afforded, to witness a storm on the lake. 
These storms are often dangerous, and come up so 
suddenly as mock all preparation. We luckily 
entered the mouth of the Grand river just as the 
storm struck us. We lay there in perfect peace, 
and looked out upon the troubled waters of the 
lake as they were illumed by the almost incessant 
flashes of lightning, which were more various and 
beautiful than any similar exhibition I had ever 
witnessed. Terrific jjeals of thunder broke in rapid 
succession over our heads, and the wind howled 


through our rigging and the trees on shore as if it 
would annihilate us. 

We passed through the straits of Michilimacinac, 
just after daylight, which are so wide as scarcely to 
admit of seeing one shore from the other. Here 
we took leave of the beautiful Michigan, and 
plunged into the dark waters of the turbulent Hu- 
ron. We passed a cou|)le of hours at Mackinaw, 
a place of some commerce, and a very important 
military point in reference to these lakes. We ran 
up the steep hill to the fort, now deserted and still 
as a tomb, and from a point in the bastion had a 
most enchanting view of the lakes and neighboring 

We had feasted, in anticipation, for days, on the 
trout and white-fish of this place, so famous every- 
where ; nor were we disappointed. Several fine 
trout, weighing each fifteen or twenty pounds, were 
purchased, and were served for a day or two, at 
dinner and breakfast, in fine style. 

Our sail down the lake was a flight. We had a 
perfect gale astern, and spreading all our canvass, 
and putting on all steam, we ran the whole length 
of Huron in less than a day, a distance of nearly 
three hundred miles. We reached Detroit before 
dark next day, and waited there for freight and 
passengers, until ten o'clock next morning. 

Detroit is, in all its peculiar characteristics, an 
eastern city. It was peopled and built up by east- 
ern men, in eastern style, and the habits of the east 
prevail above those of the west. It is a growing 
place, and destined to become one of the largest of 
western cities. It will be an exceedingly important 
station, in case of any difficulties arising between 
our nation and the Canadas. We here first per- 
ceived the hostile spirit which, I am sorry to say, 
prevails all along the Canadian line of our frontier. 


Detroit lies on the St. Clair river, just at the foot 
of the lake of the same name. It is but a mile 
across the river to the Canadian shore, and although 
the better informed and more intelligent do all they 
can to cultivate and establish good feelings, the 
thoughtless and designing are constantly seeking 
and obtaining opportunities to stir up and increase 
the feud already existing between the two shores. 

At the mouth of the St. Clair river, we passed 
Amherstburgh, where there is a fort and a body of 
troops stationed. These were under review as we 
passed, and presented a very imposing appearance, 
their scarlet uniform and brilliant weapons glanc- 
ing and flashing in the sunlight. There was an 
evident disposition on board our boat, to insult 
them, but it was utterly frowned down by the ma- 
jority. Before noon, we passed the three sisters, a 
line of three islands — they are not grouped — at the 
northern part of Lake Erie. We sailed directly 
over the battle ground of the gallant Perry, whose 
brilliant victory added real glory to the American 
arms in the late war. We passed the brig *' Queen 
Charlotte," which was among the trophies of that 
engagement. She is a neat, trim craft, and nearly 
the sole survivor, as I was told, of that bloody 
affray. Sic transit, etc. 

We made but a short stay at Cleaveland, but 
enough to show us the peculiar beauty and advan- 
tages of the place, which, in point of commercial 
location, is scarcely exceeded by Buffalo. We 
reached Buffalo, in a soaking rain, at day-light, 
just one week after leaving Chicago, having trav- 
ersed nearly twelve hundred miles of fresh water 
in one boat ! 

Our stay at the growing town of Buffalo, was so 
short, that I had not time to take more than a fly- 
ing view of the place. Coming as we did from the 


west, where a tolerable tavern is a god-send, we 
were fully prepared to enjoy the luxuries of a Buf- 
falo hotel, surpassed, as the Buffalo hotels are, by 
no others in the United States. They are perfect 
palaces, and the best of them will not suffer a whit 
by being put in comparison with the Aster and 
Tremont houses. 

We took the railroad for Niagara, and were 
trolled over that rascally road in shabby cars, by 
horse power, the locomotive being out of repair. 
We reached the Cataract House, on the banks of 
the St. Lawrence, and had time, previous to dinner, 
just to catch a glimpse of the falls. 

I am not going to describe these tremendous and 
most glorious manifestations of Him, " in whose 
hand are all the corners of the earth." This won- 
der of Nature has been too often described to need 
a repetition of it in this humble volume, even did I 
not feel that the subject would mock my attempt. 
I shall merely give some of my " impressions" 
while on that hallowed spot — a spot where the 
Almighty seems to have been pleased to produce a 
concentration of the awful, grand, and beautiful. 
In no spot are to be found, so happily blended, op- 
posing features. In the midst of a flat and level 
country, lies this stupendous cataract, in order to 
form which, the channel of the river below the 
falls has been torn out of the solid rock, for miles, 
to the depth of from 160 to 300 feet, and a quarter 
of a mile in breadth. Here, too, is found the quiet 
repose, hushed by the muffled roar of the falling 
sea of waters, in the very midst of the wild scene, 
and on the very verge of the precipice over which 
they take their frightful leap. Here dwells the 
bow of promise, holding perpetual sway over the 
mad torrent — like the benignant smile of peace, 



sanctifying the desolations of the human heart* 
J^ut 1 have not time to muhiply tropes. 

I heard much of the disappointment of visitors- — 
the fails were not so grand as they had been led to 
expect. Such persons would have been disap- 
pointed, had they found, instead of the actual 
" miracle of Omnipotence," a fall, from the moon, of 
all the waters of the ocean ! /, too, was disap- 
pointed — most happily. I shall never, never forget 
the first inipressson. I took my course from the 
hotel — and I advise every one who visits them for 
the first time, on the American side, to do the same, 
— direct to the stairway which leads to the foot of 
the falls on the American side. To the roar of the 
mighty flood I could not close my ear, but I obsti* 
nately shut my eyes against all lesser views, 
determined to receive my first impressions from 
some prominent point. It is hard work to do so. 
Oh, how I longed, yet dreaded, to look abroad 
while on that way, which seemed an hundred 
times as long as it really was ! but I kept my eye 
perversely bent upon my very feet, not catching a 
glimpse, until the full view opened upon my aston- 
ished vision. And such a vision ! 1 see even now 
—I ever shall see it, — that awful torrent, just leap- 
ing from its fearful height, as if it were reluctantly 
forced therefrom, int» the boiling abyss, which 
danced in very madness of joy to embrace it. 
Awful and beautiful ! How sublime were the 
impressions of that first half-hour, and which all 
my after-wonde rings and delight could not weaken, 
and which I devoutly pray may never be absent 
from my soul, whenever my thoughts turn to Thee, 
great wonder and glory of His hand who bade thee 
roll and bow thus in homage to His will ! 

I visited all the famous points of this everywhere 
imposing scene, and everywhere was filled with 

"the grim ferryman." 243 

new wonder and delight ; but at every point, I in- 
voluntarily returned to my first impressions, as to 
my first love, as the most beautiful and imposing. 
Not even my pilgrimage to " Termination rock," 
behind the sheet of waters, so eloquently and 
graphically described by Miss Martineau, made 
such impression as the first act in the scene. I 
advise every one to go behind the sheet, and take 
his " certificate " from the polite Mr Starkie, v^ho 
furnishes the guide. For several reasons I would 
advise every visitor to put his foot on " Termination 
rock." First, it is the fashion — others, great and 
beautiful, lad and lass, have been there. Secondly, 
it affords a rare shower-bath — which every dusty 
traveller requires, — not to speak of the sport of 
equipping. Thirdly, ho will not have to take 
"impressions" second-handed — surely they can 
never be conveyed. Fourthly, because — but these 
are enough — go, reader, to the chaotic spot, or go 
not to Niagara ! 

Not the least interesting part of the visit is the 
passage of the river across the ferry, " with the 
grim ferryman " which travellers " write of." 
The staunch boat dances like an egg-shell over the 
boiling flood, and requires a strong and steady 
arm to keep it free from the rocks which project 
everywhere above the surface, and to prevent its 
being swept down the rushing current. Such an 
arm had our oarsman — a stout, handsome, black 
fellow, who seemed to be formed and designed for 
this very purpose. I have seldom seen a finer 
specimen of bone and muscle, and I hope Miss 
Martineau's enjoyment in the study of his face — as 
fine an African specimen as I ever beheld — a very 
Othello — was as great as mine. 

The view from the Canadian bank amply repaid 
us for our toilsome ascent up the winding pathway 


leading thereto from the ferry. We were reminded 
of our alien position on being requested, by a Brit- 
ish sentry, to record our names both on reaching 
and leaving the Canadian shore. After admiring 
the falls from Table rock, and all other interesting 
points, we clambered up to the Heights, and wit- 
nessed the fine encampment of British troops 
stationed there. We were treated with perfect 
civility, and regaled with some excellent music 
from the well-disciplined band belonging to the reg- 
iment. By the time we had re-crossed this modern 
Styx, and ascended, for the twentieth time that day, 
the precipitous bank, we were glad to eat our sup- 
per and seek our beds. 

From the falls there is a railroad to Lockport, 
where passengers are transferred to the canal- 
boats, and, passing on through Rochester, Syra- 
cuse, etc., reach Utica on the morning of the third 
day, in season to take the cars for Albany. An- 
other route is, by railroad or stage to Lewiston, 
thence to Oswego, via Lake Ontario, in steamboat, 
and thence by stage to Utica, seventyfive miles. 
We were beset by the agents of each line, who had 
a real battle — of words — in our presence. Some 
of our party were in a great hurry to get on, and 
decided to go via Rochester, etc. The agent for 
the other route pledged his word that we might 
spend a whole day more at the falls, and he would 
still deliver us in Utica twelve hours in advance of 
those who had decided for the other route, and in 
season to take the night train, that we might reach 
Albany in time for the morning boat for New 
York. So I concluded, in company with my travel- 
ling companion, once more to put my faith in a 
" stage agent," albeit I had so often been guUedhy 
them. One other inducement was, that the fare 
should be several dollars less. 


We took the stage for Lewiston, in preference to 
the raih'oad. Let every lover of the wild and 
beautiful do so. The driver was a very accommo- 
dating fellow, and drove us to the " whirlpool" and 
" devil's hole," at each of which ])laces he per- 
mitted us to dismount and take a brief survey, and 
we reached the boat at the same time with the cars. 
This is owing to the roundabout route of the rail- 
road, for we left Niagara at the same hour. The 
fare is the same, and the traveller has a fine view 
of all the interesting points on that wild and match- 
less river. I would advise all visitors at the falls 
to take this route. 

Our boat pushed off late in the afternoon, and 
gave us a fine opportunity to view the towns and 
forts on either shore, as we passed them in rapid 
succession. In our rear rose the wild heights so 
memorable for the fall of General Brock, vvhose 
monument, of beautiful proj)ortions, towered above 
every object and stood in bold relief against the 
darkening sky. On our left was the small town of 
Lewiston, with its sentry " walking his lonely 
round" with shouldered musket, and as fierce a 
look of defiance as the pacific state of the times 
would permit. Before us opened, in perfect beauty, 
the broad waters of the unruffled lake, reflecting 
aslant the rays of the setting sun, and appearing 
almost a sea of fire. A band of music on board, 
served to give life and variety to the scene, and the 
evening closed in as one would wish to die, calm 
and glorious as an angel's coming or a saint's de- 

We entered the snug little harbor of Oswego 
a little after sunrise, with banners waving, and the 
band playing "The Campbells are coming." This 
is one of those beautiful and thriving towns which 
have grown uj) by magic in the state of New 



York, since the impulse imparted to her commerce 
and manufactures by the great father of that state, 
the illustrious De Wilt Clinton, whose name ought 
to be engraven on every lock of her endless canals, 
and every milestone on her railroads. After a sub- 
stantial breakfast, served in Boston style by a 
Boston host, and discussed in true style by a Boston 
company, we packed into our "Troy coach," and 
set off in a buzz, which augured well for the day's 
result. We had seventyfive miles of road before 
us, to be despatched before nine in the evening — 
and such a road— and this commencement put us 
in fine spirits, and served to banish in part our 
fears that we should not accomplish the predictions 
of our " lying agent." Nor did we. Recent rains 
had rendered the bad roads worse, and we encoun- 
tered crabbed drivers, who, I believe in my heart, 
delayeil us intentionally, and rejoiced in our dis- 
comfiture. However, we reached Utica in safety, 
sometime before midnight, and had eight liours 
sweet repose before our friends, who had left Ni- 
agara twenty four hours in advance of us, reached 
the city. 

After all, I would recommend the route I came. 
Certainly a day and a half is clearly gained, and 
several dollars in expense, not to count a fine 
night's rest in the boat, and another at Utica. The 
seventyfive miles of road is bad enough, in ail con- 
science, but it is only one day's ride, and can very 
well be borne. Indeed it is preferable to canal 
riding at any rate. And generally the stage 
reaches in season for the evening train in which 
passengers can go on directly to Alban3\ I attri- 
bute our failure altogether to the surliness and 
self-importance of several of the drivers, who de- 
serve to be turned out of employment. 

I was astonished with the magnitude of Utica, 


as well as other inland towns of the " empiro 
state." Its wide and cleanly streets, and business- 
like blocks of stores, give it a tidy and thrifty aspect, 
and augur a general prosperity. 

Our ride through the narrow and picturesque 
valley of the Mohawk, over the Utica and Schenec- 
tady railroad, was a very pleasant and rapid one, 
and we entered Albany in season to take the eve- 
ning boat and have some hours to spare. Never 
before have I been carried through the water as 
the Swallow steamer carried me. She is most 
appropriately named ; she is the swiftest of boats. 
We were snugly moored to the steamboat pier, in 
New York, before day-light. At four o'clock, 
P. M., we entered that fine sound boat, the Massa- 
chusetts, and, at an early hour next morning, I set 
foot once more on New England soil. We were 
whirled over the railroad to Boston, in a short 
space of time, and I found myself once more in the 
bosom of my family. I have run thus rapidly over 
the journey home, because it has so often been 
described, and I could not find it in my heart to 
write about that which is perfectly familiar to 
every schoolboy. 

In conclusion to my labors, in bringing this 
little book before the ftublic, I have a few general 
reflections to utter, which may serve to illustrate 
my purpose and expectation. I have attempted 
this task, heaven knows, not from a vain desire to 
appear before the pul)lic as an author, for I am 
well aware of the extremely loose manner in which 
this work has been thrown together. Most of it 
was written while" on the wing" of travel, and the 
pressure of other duties have entirely prevented 
such revision as I should have been glad to bestow 
upon it. But I have written for two objects : 


First, to gratify a numerous circle of friends, who 
have closely besieged me with questions innumera- 
ble about that land of promise which I have explored, 
and who take a deep interest in all that pertains 
thereto, and whom I can best and most easily gratify 
liy this method. And secondly, because such crude 
and false notions of the west have attained in New 
England, that a candid, fair exposition of that coun- 
try was greatly demanded. Already has the tide 
of immigration passed into " Illinois and the west," 
in such immense streams as to astonish him who be- 
holds it; and thattideisdestined toswell toan almost 
indefinite extent. The next year (1839) will prob- 
ably exhibit such an immigration as no one year 
before has ever exhibited. Why should it not? 
There are tens of thousands in the thickly peopled 
portions of the United States, who, although they 
may be able to gain a bare subsistence, must do it 
with much toil and sacrifice, and be perpetually 
harassed with the reflection that should sickness 
overtake them, or, at last, when old age must, they 
and theirs, for whom they live alone, must suffer 
and come for support upon the cold charity of the 
world, or the hard pittance of the pauper. Immi- 
gration is, to him, what it was to the Israelitish 
brickmakers in Egypt — a certain good for an un- 
certain one, a competence for subsistence, a pros- 
pect of plenty for a penurious old age. 

There are other multitudes who have inherited a 
delicate constitution, and in whom the incipient 
seeds of death are early fanned into vigorous and 
fatal action by the bleak east winds of New Eng- 
land. Unless they have protracted beyond all 
hope their stay in the, to them, deadly climate of 
the north, the latitude of the south-western stales 
is the very one where these seeds will not be likely 
to germinate. I have known many, whose delicate 


State of health indicated incipient consumption, 
who, upon removing to Illinois, have become 
hearty and robust, and every pulmonary symptom 
has long since disappeared. To such I would say, 
try it. Tarry not in these bleak latitudes until it is 
too late, as thousands do, and, when all hope is 
abandoned, vainly expect relief from the milder 
influences of lower latitudes. Let the very first 
and repeated symptoms of pulmonary attack be the 
sounding note of your departure. The prospect of 
life and health are multiplied a thousand times in 
the removal. 

Besides these, there are many farmers who have 
sons growing up around them, whom they have 
dedicated to the toilsome and honorable occupation 
they have themselves pursued. They are unable 
to apportion them at the north, where, poor as the 
soil is, it bears an exorbitant price. They must 
either be turned out from home early in life, and 
taken from all the watchful care so necessary to 
their youth, or, left a burden upon the household 
until of age, they must then be turned out upon the 
world, and trust to the winds and waves of for- 
tune, which may waft them on to competency and 
virtue, and which may bear them away to utter 
and hopeless poverty and irreclaimable vice. To 
such an one the west holds out the most powerful 
inducements. If he can dispose of his farm 
at a fair price, he can appropriate it to the 
greatest possible advantage. He can procure land 
enough to employ all his boys, and that to the 
greatest profit, and when they shall become men, 
he can apportion and settle them all around him, 
where, with industry and good conduct, they may 
attain to opulence and respect. 

Then there is the mechanic — whose only stock 
in trade is his chest of tools and his skill, — he 


can find no better place than the west to " set up 
for himself." Carpenters, joiners, mill-vvrights, 
brick-layers, stone-masons, blacksmiths, painters, 
shoe-makers, hatters, tailors, and all those whose 
labor is requisite in building up a new country — 
these, each and every, can do well at the west ; 
can do better, doubtless, than to remain at the 
east, where every trade is crowded. 

Beside these, there are the merchant, the law- 
yer, the physician, and the schoolmaster, who will 
find an ample field for their powers — which are 
cramped, it may be, where they are — and with 
a good prospect of a fair and generous remu- 

Illinois is destined to be a great state — great in 
her political and moral influence, as well as in 
her physical resources. It is to be made thus 
through foreign influence — the influence of immi- 
gration. It is altogether a mistake, which too 
many entertain, that the west is filled up with 
mere renegadoes and speculators — men whose for- 
tunes have failed them in the east, with all hope 
of reparation ; or whose enormities have exiled 
them from the moral community of New Eng- 
land. Bad men there are, and speculators, but 
the majority of the population is made up of men 
— young men — of great enterprise and business 
tact, who, while they are laboring for their own 
emolument, are doing somewhat, and not a little, 
for the institutions of their adopted country, and 
the permanence of social virtues in the society 
they help to compose. A thriftless man — one who 
has not the ambition to help himself at home, — 
will not seek the west, because it requires too 
much enterprise to do so. Or, if he goes there, 
finding labor and sagacity as necessary there as 
elsewhere, he becomes disgusted, and returns 

THE END. 251 

again to his old home, vvhere he will stand a 
much fairer chance to succeed in idleness and 

What I have uttered in the foregoing pages, 
has no claim to infallibility. It is the calm con- 
clusion of a mind alive to a desire to utter truth 
in a sober guise, and if I shall have influenced 
any one to his good I shall be abundantly re- 
warded in the efforts I have put forth. 


Routes — Conveyances — Prices — Hints — Note. 

To one who has determined to visit the west, a 
few directions, as to the best routes, etc., will prove 
a valuable desideratum. When the Ohio river is 
up, I would recommend, to persons ^oing on with 
families, the route via Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Cin- 
cinnati, etc. Where there are no children, I should 
recommend the route from Philadelphia via Balti- 
more, and over the National Road by stage to 
Wheeling on the Ohio river. 

When the Ohio river is low, a better route would 
be from New York to Albany, thence to Utica, and 
by stage to Oswego, by boat up the Ontario to 
Lewiston and Buffalo, and through the lakes to 
Chicago. It will be a boisterous route after the 
middle of October, and somewhat dangerous. 

One valuable hint to travellers is, to make one 
trunk answer for the whole luggage, and that as 
small as possible. Take as few things as can be 
got along with, and thus save tnuch real vexation, 
loss of time, and money. 

The following table I have carefully collated 
from the published tables of various guide books 
and maps, and have taken the liberty to correct 
several important errors which have occurred 


From New York to Philadelphia, via steamboat 
and railroad, fare $3 and $4, raeals extra. From 
Philadelphia to Pittsburg, via railroad and canal, 
fare $12, meals extra. From Pittsburg to St. Louis 
or Alton, via Ohio and Mississippi rivers, fare $20, 
or $25, meals included. From St. Louis or Alton, 
via Illinois river, to Peoria, $b, meals included. 
Through, from Boston to Pittsburg, in six days ; 
Cincinnati, eight days ; St. Louis or Alton, twelve 
to fourteen days. A single person, without extra 
baggage, can get from Boston to St. Louis for 
about $50. It cost me $49. This covers all neces- 
sary expenses ; fares, tavern bills, meals, porterage, 
hack hire, etc. etc. 

From New York to Albany, via Hudson river, 
fare $3, meals extra. From Albany to Utica, via 
railroad, $4, meals extra. From Utica to Oswego, 
stage, fare $S, meals extra. From Oswego to 
Lewiston, via Lake Ontario, fire $4, meals in- 
cluded. From Lewiston to Buffalo, railroad, fare 
$1,50. From Buffalo to Chicago, via the lakes, 
fare from $15 to $25, meals included. From Ciii- 
cago to Peoria, via Ottawa and Peru, stage and 
steamboat, fare $10, meals extra. Again, from 
Utica, via canal and railroad to Buffalo, through 
Syracuse, Rochester, Lockport, etc., fare from 
$10 to $12, including meals. In the winter, from 
Buffalo, by stage, to Chicago, fare about $50, ex- 
clusive of meals. 

Individual-! who wish to travel through the inte- 
rior of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Mis^gouri, etc., 
will find that the most convenient, sure, economi- 
cal, and independent mode is on horseback. Their 
expenses will be from seventyfive cents to one 
dollar fifty cents per day, and they can always con- 
sult their own convenience and pleasure as to time 
and place. 


Stage fare is usually six cents per mile, in the 
West. Meals, at stage-houses, are thirtyseven and 
a half to fifty cents. 

Those wishing to go west in as economical a man- 
ner as possible, can get there for about half the 
cost of the above enumerated fares. The forward 
car in all the trains of railroad travelling, is half 
price. A deck passage on all boats may be secured 
on exceedingly easy terms. By the payment of 
four, five, or six dollars, and occasional aid in 
" wooding up " at the stopping places, a man may 
get from Pittsburg to St. Louis, and at this rate 
elsewhere. By putting in provisions at the large 
towns and taking a deck passage, and the cheap 
(transj)ortation) line between Philadelphia and 
Pittsburg, I have known individuals go from 
Boston to St. Louis at a cost of not more than ^18. 

" 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 twentyflve cents a meal. Thousands pass up 
and down the river as deck passengers, especially 
emigrating families, who have their bedding, pro- 
visions, and cooking utensils on board. 

Immigrants and travellers will find it to their 
interest always to be a little skeptical relative to 
statements of stage, steam and canal-boat agents j 
to make some allowance in their own calculations 
for delays, difficulties, and exjienses ; and above 
all, 10 feel perfectly patient and in good humor with 
themselves, the oflicers, company, and the world, 
even if they do not move quite as rapidly, and fare 
quite as well as they desire." 

Note.— My manuscript has so far exceeded my calcula- 
tions, that I am obliged to condense the Appendix to a much 
smaller compass than I at first intended. But a small edition 
of the book is issued, and should its sale so far afford evi- 
dence of its requirement, another edition will be speedily 
issued, with such emendations and additions as may make it 
a sure and full text-book, to all persons interested in the growth 
of the west.