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0/1 B RARY 






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I'linol? Historical Smef 

Solon Robinson, 1841 

Volume XXI 


Volume I 


HI. Constitution Making in Indiana (Volumes I and II), 
by Charles Kettleborough. (The Introduction, covering 
the period from 1816 to 1916, was reprinted separately.) 

III. Indiana as Seen by Early Travelers, by Harlow 

IV. The Play Party in Indiana, by Leah Jackson Wolford 
V. The Indiana Centennial — 1916 

VI. Gold Star Honor Roll 
VII. Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison 

(Volume I, Governors Messages and Letters), edited by 
Logan Esarey 
VIII. War Purse of Indiana, by Walter Greenough 
IX. Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison 
(Volume II, Governors Messages and Letters), edited 
by Logan Esarey 
X. A Sergeant's Diary, by Elmer F. Straub (Out of Print) 
XI. George W. Julian, by Grace Julian Clarke (Out of Print) 
XII. Messages and Letters of Jennings, Boon and Hen- 
dricks (Volume III, Governors Messages and Letters), 
edited by Logan Esarey 

XIII. Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County, Indiana, by 
Perret Dufour 

XIV. William Henry Harrison, by Dorothy Burne Goebel 
XV. Fort Wayne, Gateway of the West, 1802-1813, edited 

by Bert J. Griswold 
XVI. A Bibliography of the Laws of Indiana, 1788-1927, by 

John G. Rauch and Nellie C. Armstrong 
XVII. Constitution Making in Indiana (Volume III), by 

Charles Kettleborough 
XVIII. Indiana Book of Merit, compiled by Harry A. Rider 
XIX. Indiana Boundaries. Territory, State, and County, by 

George Pence and Nellie C. Armstrong 
XX. The Laws of Indiana Territory, 1809-1816, edited by 
Louis B. Ewbank and Dorothy L. Riker, with a foreword 
by Governor Paul V. McNutt 

i 1 

Floyd I. McMurray, Superintendent 


Christopher B. Coleman, Director 

Nellie C. Armstrong, Editor 



Edited by 

Herbert Anthony Kellar 

Director, McCormick Historical Association 
Chicago, Illinois 


Published by the 


Copyright, 1936 


Indiana Historical Bureau 
State Department of Education 







To My Mother 


The inception of the publication of writings of Solon 
Robinson came about in 1926 at a meeting of the 
American Historical Association at Rochester, New 
York. In the session devoted to an "Agricultural Who's 
Who in the Ante-Bellum Period," the statement of 
Herbert A. Kellar that Robinson was the most impor- 
tant agricultural writer of that period in the North met 
with general acceptance. Robinson's extensive travels 
in the South, also, his observations upon the plantation 
system, and his efforts to work up common agricultural 
interests in both sections were of national significance. 
The late Ulrich B. Phillips, of Yale University, whose 
judgment upon such matters commanded the greatest re- 
spect, in expressing his agreement with Mr. Kellar, urged 
the publication of Robinson's writings. His interest in 
the project continued down to the time of his last illness. 
There have also been recurrent suggestions in the Agri- 
cultural History Society that such a publication would be 
a valuable contribution to the history of agriculture in 
the United States. 

These considerations, together with the fact that Rob- 
inson was one of the leading pioneers of Indiana, led the 
Indiana Historical Bureau to decide on the publication 
of two volumes devoted to him and his writings. Mr. 
Kellar, previous to the meeting already referred to, had 
gathered together in the McCormick Historical Associa- 
tion Library, at Chicago, a large collection of Robinson's 
writings and was recognized as the leading authority 
upon the subject. He was accordingly asked to under- 
take the work. We are indebted to him for an important 
contribution to the history of Indiana and to the history 
of agriculture in the United States at large. 

Solon Robinson is not as well known in Indiana as he 
should be. Timothy Ball, in his History of Lake County, 



gave him much attention. A. F. Knotts, former mayor of 
Hammond, has also emphasized his importance. Outside 
the Calumet region, however, Robinson has been less 
known in Indiana than in other states where there has 
been more interest in agricultural history. After a short, 
but varied, career at Madison and at his projected town 
of Solon, he settled in the northwestern part of the state, 
and played an important part in the early development 
of the region near Lake Michigan. The experiences of 
Solon Robinson as a pioneer settler — a squatter, in fact — 
in Lake County, were typical of early life in northwest- 
ern Indiana. The history of settlement on the prairie 
land is quite different from that of settlement in the 
forests of the central and southern part of the state. 
No one was better qualified than he to describe it. He 
was also the founder of Crown Point. His writings are 
a memorial, therefore, to both the rural and town fore- 
runners of the present great industrial development 
along the southern bend of Lake Michigan. 

Solon Robinson was a man of varied talents. He wrote 
on many subjects and sometimes used the vehicles of 
fiction and poetry. The collection herewith presented is 
necessarily a selection made from a far larger body of 
writings. It is hoped, however, that the result will give 
the reader a satisfactory insight into the diversified ac- 
tivities of Robinson, as well as a knowledge of agricul- 
tural conditions and improvements urged before the 
Civil War. The period covered in these two volumes 
ends with Robinson's departure from Indiana and the 
beginning of his career as an agricultural editor. His 
later writings are more accessible, and it is hoped that 
they may be published under other auspices. The grow- 
ing interest in agricultural history — one of the many 
foundations for permanent agricultural improvement in 
the United States — leads one to expect a general use of 
the work of this pioneer agriculturist. 

Christopher B. Coleman, 
Director of the Historical Bureau 


IN THE course of a long and active interest in the his- 
tory of American Agriculture, I have been impressed 
with the personality and achievements of a group of men 
living for the most part in the ante-bellum period, whose 
whole-hearted and unselfish devotion to the cause of agri- 
cultural improvement won them national recognition in 
their own time. As a nation we shall be fortunate if in 
future we can point to the equals of such men as John 
Taylor of Caroline, John S. Skinner, Edmund Ruffin, 
Jesse Buel, Martin W. Philips, Thomas Affleck, Andrew 
Jackson Downing, John S. Wright, Benjamin P. Johnson, 
and last, but not least, Solon Robinson. Biographies of 
Taylor have been written by William E. Dodd and H. H. 
Simms, and Ruffin has his chronicler in Avery O. Craven. 
I take pleasure in presenting Solon Robinson of Indiana. 
You will find that he was a man of parts. 

Native of Connecticut, pioneer in southern Indiana, 
founder of Crown Point and leading citizen of Lake 
County, nationally known as an experimental farmer, 
traveler, lecturer, and writer on agricultural subjects; 
journalist, novelist, and short-story writer extraordinary, 
Robinson's career up to 1851, which is chiefly covered 
here, is so interwoven with the story of Indiana and the 
nation, as to present a fascinating panorama of Ameri- 
can civilization North and South. 

The preparation of this study has necessitated exten- 
sive research and not a little travel, including visits to 
the majority of counties in Indiana and regions farther 
afield, such as Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecti- 
cut, New York, Washington, D. C, and Florida. So many 
have contributed, both in large and small degree, to the 
final substance of the work that it is in truth a cooper- 
ative product. To mention all who have taken an inter- 
est in the undertaking would be impracticable. For in- 



spiration and early encouragement I am grateful to my 
good friend, the late Ulrich B. Phillips, of Yale Uni- 
versity. Lucile O'Connor Kellar has rendered more aid 
than any other one individual. Her industry, gift for 
research, and wise counsel in all the various stages of 
preparation have proved invaluable. Christopher B. 
Coleman, director of the Indiana Historical Bureau, has 
from the first recognized the importance of the work 
and has given unfailing support. Miss Nellie Armstrong, 
editor of the Bureau, has worked with me in the editing 
and arranging of materials, and Miss Dorothy Riker, 
also of the Bureau, has likewise aided in preparing the 
manuscript for printing. Miss Esther U. McNitt, of 
the Division of Indiana History and Archives, Indiana 
State Library, and her associates have answered in- 
quiries involving extensive research. Unflagging inter- 
est has been displayed by William J. Hamilton, librarian 
of the Gary Public Library, and his collection of mate- 
rial relating to Lake County has furnished records not 
found elsewhere. A. F. Knotts, of Yankeetown, Florida, 
kindly placed at my disposal documents and notes which 
contained unique data. Miss Claribel R. Barnett, libra- 
rian of the United States Department of Agriculture, 
lent rare volumes of periodicals, and others were sup- 
plied by the University of Illinois, and the John Crerar 
Library of Chicago. Mrs. Albert S. Field, of Brooklyn, 
Connecticut, made available early Robinson family rec- 
ords. To the descendants of Solon Robinson in Crown 
Point and Gary, Indiana, as well as to citizens of these 
cities, I am especially indebted for information and docu- 
ments. Charles and Martine O'Connor have assisted in 
research and copying. Lastly, I have had the loyal and 
able assistance of the members of my staff, Miss Loraine 
C. Weber, Miss Rose Oenning, Miss Marie Succo, and 
Miss Grace O'Brien, as occasion required. 

Herbert A. Kellar 

Chicago, Illinois 
November, 1935 



Introduction — Solon Robinson 3 

Documents — (Items printed in this volume are starred.) 

1825 Mar. 21 Robinson account or memorandum book, Norwich 
and New London, Connecticut. Harry Robinson 
Strait Collection 

1827 Sep. 28 * Advertisement: Lost Wallet. Daily Cincinnati Ga- 
zette, Sep. 29, 1827 45 

1830 Feb. 20 Robinson to register, Jeffersonville Land Office. 

Application for purchase of 80 acres, Jennings 
County. Department of Interior, General Land 

1831 Mar. 11 *Advertisement: Road Work. Madison Indiana Re- 

publican, Mar. 17, 1831 45 

Apr. 28 *Advertisement: Town of Solon. Ibid., May 5, 1831. 46 

1832 June 17 *Peculiarity of Oat Crop. Ibid., June 21, 1832 47 

Oct. 22 *Advertisement: Tavern. Ibid., Oct. 25, 1832 48 

1833 June 17 Notice of Murder of John Comer, sent by Robinson 

from Solon, Indiana. Ibid., June 20, 1833 
June 23 Capture of Murderer of Comer. Ibid., July 4, 1833 
Nov. 20 Advertisements: "Periodical Library." *"Madison 
Auction Room." Madison Republican and Banner, 

Nov. 21, 1833 48 

Nov. 28 Advertisements: "Madison Auction Rooms." *Auc- 
tioneer, Town or Country Sales. Ibid., Nov. 28, 

1833. • • 49 

Dec. 4 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." Ibid., 

Dec. 5, 1833 
Dec. 12 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." Ibid., 

Dec. 12, 1833 
Dec. 19 Advertisements: "Auction." *"Madison Auction 
Rooms. Notice to Delinquents." Ibid., Dec. 19, 
1833 49 

1834 Jan. 2 Advertisements: "Book Sale." "Land Wanted." 

"Farms for Sale." *"Madison Auction Rooms." 

Ibid., Jan. 2, 1834 50 

Jan. 9 Advertisement: "Saving Advice." Ibid., Jan. 16, 

Jan. 16 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." Sales 

to continue regularly after Jan. 20. Ibid. 




Jan. 23 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms. New 
Goods." Republican and Banner, Jan. 23, 1834 

Jan. 29 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms . . . 
Books." Ibid., Jan. 30, 1834 

Jan. 30 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." Ibid. 

Feb. 6 Advertisement: "Sale Friday and Saturday, Feb- 
ruary 7th and 8th." Ibid., Feb. 6, 1834 

Feb. 13 Advertisements: "Books." "Madison Auction 
Rooms." ""'Circulating Library." Ibid., Feb. 
13, 1834 50 

Feb. 27 Advertisements: "Book Auction." "New Goods." 
"To Milliners." Ibid., Feb. 27, 1834 

Mar. 6 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms. Book 
Auction." Ibid., Mar. 6, 1834 

Mar. 13 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." Ibid., 
Mar. 13, 1834 

Mar. 20 Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." No- 
tice of Robinson's intended absence. Ibid., Mar. 
20, 1834 

June 3 *Advertisement: "Madison Auction Rooms." Dis- 
continuing business. Ibid., June 5, 1834 50 

July 4 *"A Friendly Hint" to the stealer of Robinson's 

shirts. Ibid., July 10, 1834 51 

Dec. 16 *Description of Northwestern Indiana. Ibid., Jan. 

15, 1835 51 

1835 Feb. 25 ""Description of Northwestern Indiana, continued. 

Ibid., Apr. 30, 1835 57 

Mar. 1 Letter to M. T. Williams, Cincinnati, complaining of 

poor surveys, towns 32 and 36 north, range 9 west. 

Department of Interior, General Land Office, S. 

G. L. R., 20:233 
Mar. 6 Letter to M. T. Williams, Cincinnati, complaining of 

poor marking of surveys, towns 33-35 north, ranges 

7-9 west. Ibid., 20:153 
June 23 Letter to R. T. Lytle, Cincinnati, telling of poor sur- 
veying, towns 32 north, ranges 8 and 9 west. Ibid., 

Aug. 18 "Prospects Ahead." Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Sep. 

9, 1835 

1836 May 1 'Establishment of Lake C. H. Post Office. Printed 

circular with letter to Hamell and Hening. Solon 
Robinson Papers, Indiana State Library 65 

July 4 *Richard Fansher et al: Petition to the President. 

Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. . 66 

July 4 'Organization of the Squatters' Union, and Constitu- 
tion. Frank F. Knight Collection 68 


July 4 Robinson, register of claims, to Jacob L. Brown. 
Certificate of registration of land, Lake County. 
Gary Public Library 

1837 June 14 Solon and Milo Robinson, agreement with William 

Sherman for building of blacksmith shop. Strait 

July 12 *"Nutmeg Potatoes — Lake Superior Corn." Albany 

Cultivator, 4:101-2 (Aug., 1837) 76 

July 26 Letter to John Tipton. Indian reserves. Tipton 

Papers, Indiana State Library 
Aug. 2 "Corn Bread — Homminy, &c." Cultivator, 4:117 

(Sep., 1837) 
Aug. 29 *Remedies and Recipes; Circulation of Cultivator. 

Ibid., 4:132-33 (Oct., 1837) 77 

Sep. 22 Letter to J. Buel, accompanying specimens of soils, 

potatoes, corn, timothy seed, acorns of burr oak, 

crab apples. Ibid., 4:182 (Jan., 1838) 
Oct. 9 *"Beans and Buckwheat." Ibid., 4:147 (Nov., 1837) 79 
Nov. 4 *Shobonier Claim — Deposition and Affidavits. De- 
partment of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs.. 80 
Dec. 12 *Robinson Family Recipes. Cultivator, 4:198-99 

(Feb., 1838) 84 

1838 Mar. 4 *"A Proposition, to Facilitate Agricultural Improve- 

ment." Ibid., 5:60-61 (May, 1838) 87 

June 15 Letter to editor, discussing practicability of organ- 
izing national agricultural society. Frankfort 
Franklin Farmer, 1:364-65 (July 14, 1838) 

June 19 *"National Agricultural Association." Cultivator, 

5:109 (Aug., 1838) 90 

July 15 *" 'Where did he get his Education?' " Self-education. 

Ibid., 5:124 (Sep., 1838). ■ ■ • 92 

Aug. 1 *"U. S. Land Sales in 1838." Daily Cincinnati Ga- 
zette, Sep. 15, 1838, from La-Porte County Whig. ... 94 

Aug. 27 ""'Novel Premiums." Proposed for writers of agri- 
cultural textbooks. Cultivator, 5:141-42 (Oct., 
1838).-. 97 

Aug. 28 Letter to editor, urging need for agricultural school- 
books. Premiums to encourage their writing. 
Franklin Farmer, 2:53-54 (Oct. 13, 1838) 

Oct. 12 *"A Looking Glass." Description of a poor farmer. 

Cultivator, 5:174-75 (Dec, 1838) 100 

Oct. 15 "Experiment in Planting Potatoes." Ibid., 5:175 
(Dec, 1838) 

Nov. 17 Solon and Milo Robinson. Evidence of claim to 
160 acres of land in Lake County. Department of 
Interior, General Land Office 


Nov. 17 Solon and Milo Robinson to register La Porte 

Land Office. Application for purchase of 160 acres. 

Department of Interior, General Land Office 
Nov. 25 *"The Season in Indiana." Cultivator, 5:191 (Jan., 

1839) 106 

1839 Jan. 25 *"The Bur Oak." Ibid., 6:20 (Mar., 1839) 107 

Mar. 20 "Valuable Receipts." Logansport Telegraph, Aug. 

10, 1839, from Franklin Farmer 

July 18 *"How to increase the circulation of Agricultural Pa- 
pers — Subscribers' Duties." Cultivator, 6:121 
(Aug. 15, 1839) 108 

July ? " 'The Robinson Fund.' " Lots offered as premiums 
for agricultural writers now in county-seat town, 
Lake County. Extract of letter. Ibid., 6:88 
(July, 1839) 

Sep. 5 *"Plans of Farm Houses." Ibid., 6:164 (Nov., 1839) 112 

Sep. 23 ""'Mammoth Sunflower." Ibid., 6:166 (Nov., 1839). 115 

Oct. 20 "A Hint to the Publisher and Friends of the Culti- 
vator." Circulation. Ibid., 6:181 (Nov. 20, 1839) 

Dec. 14 ""'Letter from Solon Robinson, Esq." Tribute to 
Jesse Buel. Uniting of Cultivator and Genesee 
Farmer. Ibid., 7:19 (Jan., 1840) 117 

Dec. 15 ""'Burning Prairies, &c." Ibid., 7:33 (Feb., 1840).. 118 

1840 Jan. 24 * "Cheap Sheds for Cattle — cheap Gates — and other 

Matters." Ibid., 7:52 (Mar., 1840) 121 

Feb. 25 *Early Will. Strait Collection. 124 

Feb. 28 ""'Weather, Crops, &c. in Indiana." Cultivator, 7:64 

(Apr., 1840) .128 

Mar. 14 "Robinson's Improved Root Steamer." Sketch and 
explanation of new invention. Ibid., 7:92 (June, 

Mar. 15 ""'Hog Illustration— A True Picture." Ibid., 7:81-82 

(May, 1840) 129 

Mar. 27, *Plans for Harrison Convention at Tippecanoe. In- 

30 dianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal, Apr. 7, 1840. . . . 131 

Apr. 2 "A New Plan for a Bee-Hive." Cultivator, 7:99 
(June, 1840) 

Apr. 12 ""'Young Men's Convention." Lafayette Free Press, 

May 5, 1840 133 

Apr. ? Extract from letter urging attendance at Harrison 
Convention. Spirit of '76, Indianapolis, Apr. 25, 
1840, from La-Porte County Whig 

May 12?*"Ohl never will the boys forget 

The Twenty-ninth of May — " Campaign song 
for Tippecanoe celebration. Indianapolis Semi- 
Weekly Journal, May 12, 1840 135 



May ? Campaign songs: "The Bloodhound." Adaptation of 
"Star Spangled Banner." "Ye Democratic roaring 
writers." "But faith ye need nae wish for such a 
job." "Young Harrison lived in a cabin low." 
"Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances." 
*"Too Long Have We Felt the Spoilers Power." 
Herbert A. Kellar Collection. 136 

July 6 *" 'So Much for'— Berkshires." Cultivator, 7:129 

(Aug., 1840) 138 

July 13 *"Rust in Wheat." Ibid., 7:129 (Aug., 1840) 139 

Aug. 20 *"To Western Emigrants." Ibid., 7:162 (Oct., 1840). 140 

Aug. 20 *"Rust in Wheat, &c." Berkshires. Ibid., 7:163-64 

(Oct., 1840) 144 

Sep. 2 "Odds and Ends." Ibid., 7:173 (Nov., 1840) 

Oct. 20 "Dignity of Profession of Agriculture." Chicago 
Union Agriculturist, 1:5 (Oct., 1840) 

Oct. 20 *"To Western Emigrants— No. 2." Cultivator, 7:192 

(Dec, 1840) 146 

Nov. 1 *"To Western Emigrants— No. 3." Ibid., 8:19-20 

(Jan., 1841)... 149 

Dec. 4 " 'Fire on the Prairie,' " Daily Cincinnati Gazette, 
Dec. 18, 1840 

Dec. 27 ""'American Society of Agriculture." Urges forma- 
tion. Cultivator, 8:33-34 (Feb., 1841) 152 

1841 Jan. 28 Letter to John B. Niles, La Porte. Refers to self as 
"King of the Squatters." Sending Niles the Culti- 
vator. John B. Niles Papers 

Jan. 28 *"To Western Emigrants— No. 4." Cultivator, 8:53 

(Mar., 1841). 156 

Jan. ? "Young Men's Department." Exhortation to habits 
of observation and keeping of memoranda of farm 
activities. Union Agriculturist, 1:3 (Jan., 1841) 

Feb. 1 *'To Western Emigrants— No. 5." Cultivator, 8:97 

(June, 1841) 160 

Feb. 10 Letter recommending publication of letter of S. C. 
Sample of South Bend, on Union Agriculturist and 
breeding of hogs. Union Agriculturist, 1:18 (Mar., 

Feb. 18 *"American Society of Agriculture." Cultivator, 8:65 

(Apr., 1841) 164 

Feb. 18 "American Society of Agriculture." Asks opinion on 
proposed organization. Kentucky Farmer, 4:204-5 
(Mar. 20, 1841) 

Feb. 19 *"National American Society of Agriculture." Pro- 
posed organization. Union Agriculturist, 1:19-20 
(Mar., 1841). 166 




Feb. 20 "National American Society of Agriculture." Urging 
formation. Editorial approval. Cincinnati West- 
ern Farmer and Gardener, 2:126-27 (Mar., 1841) 

Feb. ? *"The Will: A Western Tale, from Real Life." In- 
dianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal, Mar. 19, 23, 26, 
1841, from Daily Cincinnati Gazette of Feb. 25, 26, 
and 27 168 

Mar. 4 *Female Influence. Censures agricultural societies 
for not admitting women to membership. Union 
Agriculturist, 1 :29 (Apr., 1841) 202 

Mar. 26 "Great Hail Storm." Daily Cincinnati Gazette, 
Apr. 7, 1841 

Mar. 28 *"Odds and Ends." Cultivator, 8:114 (July, 1841). . 203 

Mar. ? Horse Husbandry and Method of Grinding Corn. 
Union Agriculturist, 1:22 (Mar., 1841) 

Apr. 1 ""'American Society of Agriculture." Cultivator, 8:86 

(May, 1841) 207 

Apr. 2 *"A Journey Contemplated." Ibid., 8:100-1 (June, 

1841).. 212 

Apr. 2 *Comment on "Berkshire Hogs." Union Agri- 
culturist, 1 :36 (May, 1841) 214 

Apr. 13 Letter to editors, Western Farmer and Gardener. 
National American Society of Agriculture. In- 
closed: "Address to the Farmers of the United 
States," Apr. 1, 1841. Western Farmer and Gar- 
dener, 2:168a-68b, an extra, and 2:171-73 (Apr., 
May, 1841) 

Apr. 28 *"An Address . . . Before the Union Agricultural So- 
ciety, at Chicago, on the 28th April, 1841." Union 
Agriculturist, 1:36-37, 52-53 (May, July, 1841).... 215 

May 5 "Plan of a Farm House." Illustrated. Ibid., 1:44 
(June, 1841) 

May "The Importance of associate effort." Cultivator, 

8:103 (June, 1841) 

June 3 "National Agricultural Society." Letter asking 
help in promotion of project. New England Far- 
mer, 19:403 (June 23, 1841) 

June 3 "American Society of Agriculture." Letter asking 
financial support. New Genesee Farmer, 2:101 
(July, 1841) 

July 15 *"Odds and Ends— No. 3." Cultivator, 8:151-52 

(Sep., 1841).... 237 

July 16 "Blight or Rust in Wheat." Ibid., 8:147 (Sep., 1841) 

July 24 *"To the Friends of a National American Society of 
Agriculture Throughout the United States." 
Urging a meeting for organization. By Robinson 



and James M. Garnett. Farmers' Register, Peters- 
burg, Virginia, 9:476-77 (Aug. 31, 1841), from the 
National Intelligencer 239 

Aug. 6, ""'Traveling Memoranda— No. 1" and "No. 2," from 
8 La Porte and Logansport. Cultivator, 8:152 (Sep., 

1841) 240 

Aug. 12, ""'Traveling Memoranda— No. 3" and "No. 4," from 
22 Madison, Indiana, and Washington, Kentucky. 

Ibid., 8:163-64 (Oct., 1841). 243 

Aug. 24 Letter from Cincinnati on "National Society of Agri- 
culture." Visit to Kentucky. Enthusiasm there 
for project of national society and school. Western 
Farmer and Gardener, 2:276 (Sep., 1841) 

Aug. 25 Letter from Cincinnati. Comments on visit to Ken- 
tucky. Kentucky farmers should make more use 
of agricultural papers. Kentucky Farmer, 4:396 
(Sep. 4, 1841) 

Aug. 27 """Traveling Memoranda — No. 5." Cincinnati and 

vicinity. Cultivator, 8:179-80 (Nov., 1841) 252 

Aug. *Letter to John B. Niles, "Attorney Gen 1 to 'His 
Majesty the King of all the squatters.' " John B. 
Niles Papers 258 

Sep. 3 *"Letter from Solon Robinson, Esq.," in Ellsworth, 
Henry L., Appendix II, Washington, 1841. In- 
formation for persons desirous of immigrating to 
prairies 259 

Sep. 6 ""Formation of National Society of Agriculture. Rob- 
inson's report of meeting of September 4, at Wash- 
ington, D. C. Union Agriculturist, 1:71-72 (Sep., 
1841) 265 

Sep. 9 """Traveling Memoranda — No. 6," from Baltimore. 
Journey from Cincinnati. Cultivator, 8:196-97 
(Dec, 1841) 272 

Sep. 20 * "Letter from Solon Robinson. To the Editor of the 
Farmers' Cabinet." Philadelphia Farmers' Cab- 
inet, and American Herd-Book, 6:92-93 (Oct., 1841) 278 

Nov. 22 *"To the Editor of the Farmers' Cabinet. Advantages 

of Travel." Ibid., 6:178 (Jan., 1842) 282 

Nov. 27 "A Letter about Hogs." Western Farmer and Gar- 
dener, 3:74-76 (Jan., 1842) 

Dec. 10 """Something about Western Prairies." New York 

American Agriculturist, 1:14-16 (Apr., 1842) 284 

Dec. 10?*"Traveling Memoranda— No. 7." Delaware, Penn- 
sylvania, New Jersey. Cultivator, 9:35 (Feb., 1842) 290 

Dec. 15 *"Ag. Repository at Washington." Union Agri- 
culturist, 2:5-6 (Jan., 1842) 296 



Dec. 31 *"A Cheap Ice House, A good Cellar for Roots." 

Union Agriculturist, 2:15 (Feb., 1842) 299 

1842 Jan. 15 ""Traveling Memoranda— No. 8." New Jersey, 
Philadelphia, New York, Albany. Cultivator, 9:50 
(Mar., 1842) 301 

Jan. 22 *"Odds and Ends — By an Oddity." Union Agricul- 
turist, 2:24 (Mar., 1842) [Continuation, ibid., 
2:35 (Apr., 1842); not printed] 309 

Feb. 27 *"A New Source of Wealth for the Prairie Farmer. 
$100,000 of 'British Gold' Ready to be distributed 
in the West for 100,000 Bushels Timothy Seed." 
Ibid., 2:37 (Apr., 1842) 312 

Mar. ? ""'The Penitentiary System of the U. States." Nash- 
ville Agriculturist, 3:67 (Mar., 1842) 313 

Mar. ? *"Household Department." Coffee, Keeping Hams. 

Union Agriculturist, 2:30 (Mar., 1842) 316 

Apr. 13 Comment on the Farmers' Companion. Farmers' 
Cabinet, and American Herd-Book, 6:328 (May 15, 

May ? ""'Notes upon Articles in the Feb'y No." Cultivator, 

9:85 (May, 1842) 316 

June 8 ""'Letter from Solon Robinson." Extract. Pressure 
of work has prevented usual amount of corre- 
spondence. Ibid., 9:117 (July, 1842) 319 

June 30 * "Solon Robinson to Incog, about Hedging." Union 

Agriculturist, 2:67 (Aug., 1842) 320 

July 12 *"La Porte Co., &c." Ibid., 2:68 (Aug., 1842) 321 

Aug. *"A Present of Peaches." Ibid., 2:83 (Oct., 1842).. 323 

Aug. *"Fence, or No Fence?" Ibid., 2:84 (Oct., 1842). . . . 324 

Sep. 30 Letter to La Porte County Agricultural Society. 
Offers Berkshire pig for best tow frock. Quoted 
in part in Farmers' Cabinet, and American Herd- 
Book, Philadelphia, 7:167 (Dec. 15, 1842) 

Sep. ""'Sheep on the Western Prairies." American Agri- 
culturist, 1:237-38 (Nov., 1842) 326 

Oct. ? ""'Odds and Ends." Cultivator, 9:160 (Oct., 1842).. 329 

Nov. 1 ""'To Western Emigrants." Ibid., 9:193-94 (Dec, 

1842) 331 

Nov. 4 ""'Fairs in the West." American Agriculturist, 1:312- 

13 (Jan., 1843) 333 

Nov. 7 ""'The Non-Enclosure System." Union Agriculturist, 

2:99 (Dec, 1842) 337 

Nov. 25 *"To Western Emigrants." Cultivator, 10:17-18 

(Jan., 1843) 340 



Nov. 25 *"Cost of a Farm, and Raising Products on the West- 
ern Prairies." American Agriculturist, 1:338-39 
(Feb., 1843) 343 

Nov. ? *"Cheap Beef and Tallow." Ibid., 1:339 (Feb., 

1843) 347 

Dec. 9 *"To Western Emigrants." Cultivator, 10:37-38 

(Feb., 1843) 348 

Dec. 23 *"The Non-Enclosure System. Another Champion 

Forthcoming." Prairie Farmer, 3:27 (Feb., 1843) 357 
Undated *"Agriculture of Indiana." New York State Agricul- 
tural Society Transactions, 1842, vol. 2:221-23. ... 358 

1843 Jan. 25 *"Dinner at the next meeting of the N. Y. State Agri- 

cultural Society." American Agriculturist, 1:377 
(Mar., 1843). 361 

Mar. 21 *"Solon Robinson to Dr. Knapp." Nonenclosure 
system. Fairs on camp-meeting plan. Prairie 
Farmer, 3:87-88 (Apr., 1843) 363 

Mar. 23 Robinson to John B. Niles. State and national poli- 
tics. John B. Niles Papers 

Mar. 24 * "Western Farming." Cultivator, 10:81-82 (May, 

1843) 366 

Mar. 30 *"Weather in Indiana." Nashville Agriculturist, 

4:58-59 (Apr., 1843) 372 

Apr. 6 "News from the North. Snow 3 feet deep in April. 
Cattle in North Indiana starving to death." 
Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Apr. 18, 1843 

Aug. 17 *"Western Farming." Letter to "Richmond." Cul- 
tivator, 10:160 (Oct., 1843) 373 

Nov. 1 "Sheep on the Prairies & Other Matters." Ibid., 
10:197 (Dec, 1843) 

Dec. 20 *"Tobacco, Hemp and Wool vs. Wheat, Corn and 

Pork." Prairie Farmer, A.40A1 (Feb., 1844).... 376 

1844 Jan. 20 *"Letter from Solon Robinson." Cultivator, n. s. 

1:92-93 (Mar., 1844) 381 

Feb. 19 *"How to Save a Drowning Horse." Prairie Farmer, 

4:91-92 (Apr., 1844) 386 

Feb. 21 Letter to G. W. Ewing. Tracts of land in Lake 

County reserved to Be-si-ah. Ewing Manuscripts 
Mar. 6 *Robinson to Lake County. Account for rent, etc. for 

building used for county offices. Strait Collection 388 
June 16 *"Postage Tax, 'a plain view,' made plainer." Daily 

Cincinnati Gazette, July 10, 1844. 389 

July *"When, Where, and How to Get a Drove of Sheep." 

Prairie Farmer, 4:205 (Sep., 1844) 393 



Nov. 27 ""'Driving Sheep to the Western Prairies." American 

Agriculturist, 4:26-27 (Jan., 1845). • • • 397 

Dec. "Sheep on the Prairies, No. 2." Ibid., 4:55 (Feb., 

1845 Jan. 1- *"Notes of Travel in the West." Indiana and Illinois. 

11 Cultivator, n. s. 2:92-94 (Mar., 1845). 400 

Jan. 12- *"Notes of Travel in the West— No. II." Illinois. 

23 Ibid., n. s. 2:124-26 (Apr., 1845) 414 

Jan. 14 "Tour down the Fox Valley — Sheep — Orchards." 

Prairie Farmer, 5:36 (Feb., 1845) 
Jan. 22- "Agriculture of Southern Illinois." Springfield to 

28 St. Louis. Ibid., 5:68-69 (Mar., 1845) 
Jan. 24- *"Notes of Travel in the West— No. III." Missouri. 

28 Cultivator, n. s. 2:142-43 (May, 1845) 430 

Jan. 27 "Lead Mines of Missouri." Letter from Solon 

Robinson. Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Feb. 14, 1845 

Jan. 29- *"Notes of Travel— No. IV. In Missouri, Kentucky, 

Feb. 3 Tennessee and Missouri." Cultivator, n. s. 2:178- 

79 (June, 1845) 437 

Feb. 4- * "Notes of Travel in the Southwest— No. V." Ten- 

12 nessee, Mississippi. Ibid., n. s. 2:239-40 (Aug., 
1845) 445 

Feb. 12- *"Notes of Travel in the Southwest— No. VI." Mis- 

17 sissippi. Ibid., n. s. 2:271-73 (Sep., 1845) 450 

Feb. 17- *"Notes of Travel in the Southwest— No. VII." 

20 Mississippi. Ibid., n. s. 2:303-4 (Oct., 1845) 459 

Feb. 21- *"Notes of Travel in the Southwest— No. VIII." 

28 Mississippi. Ibid., n. s. 2:334-35 (Nov., 1845). . . . 466 

Feb. 22 *"Matters in Mississippi." Prairie Farmer, 5:114-15 

(May, 1845) 474 

Mar. 1-4 * "Notes of Travel in the Southwest— No. IX." 

Mississippi. Cultivator, n. s. 2:365-66 (Dec, 1845) 479 

Mar. 6 *"A Mississippi Plantation." Ibid., n. s. 3:31-32 

(Jan., 1846) 486 

Mar. 21 *"Bermuda and Cocoa Grass and Sheep in Missis- 
sippi." American Agriculturist, 4:143-44 (May, 
1845) 491 

Mar. 23 "Letter from Solon Robinson from Mississippi." 
Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Apr. 4, 1845 

Apr. 30 "Franklin College, Tennessee." Nashville Agricul- 
turist, 6:113-14 (Aug., 1845), from Southwestern 

May 2 *"The Reviewers Reviewed." Prairie Farmer, 5:152- 

53 (June, 1845) 495 



May 4 "Wonderful Discovery in Printing." Ibid., 5:155-56 
(June, 1845) 

May 8 "Drying Peaches in Mississippi." Nashville Agri- 
culturist, 6:117-18 (Aug., 1845), from Southwestern 

May 12 *"Mountains and Moralizing — Politics— Penitentiary 
and Peaches — and other things." Daily Cincinnati 
Gazette, June 4, 1845 499 

July 1 * "Letter from Solon Robinson — Something New — 
Improvements in the Typographical Art." Ibid., 
July 23, 1845 504 

July 6 "Letter from Solon Robinson— Crops in the Western 
part of Indiana." Ibid., July 22, 1845 

July 6 "State of the Crops." Extract of Robinson letter. 
Cultivator, n. s. 2:252-53 (Aug., 1845) 

July 26 *"New Harmony, la.— Rapp— R. Owen— The land 
about there, and a word of the olden time." Daily 
Cincinnati Gazette, July 30, 1845 507 

July 29 "Universal Typography — Letter of Solon Robinson, 
with further particulars of the new Discovery in 
making Typographical Plates." Ibid., July 30, 

Sep. 17 *"New York State Agricultural Show at Utica." 

Ibid., Sep. 27, 1845 511 

Sep. 18 *"New York State Agricultural Show at Utica."— 

Continued. Ibid., Oct. 1, 1845 514 

Sep. 25 "Agricultural Fairs." New-York Weekly Tribune, 
Oct. 4, 1845 

Oct. 6 ""'Advice to Western Emigrants." American Agricul- 
turist, 4:354-55 (Nov., 1845) 517 

Oct. 7 *"Will Indiana pay her Debts? — Canal Lands and 
Script. Taxes, &c." Disagrees with editor's 
opinion that Indiana will soon be among paying 
states. New-York Weekly Tribune, Oct. 18, 1845. . 521 

Oct. ll?*Address before National Convention of Farmers and 
Silk Culturists. Prepared by Robinson and two 
others. Baltimore American Farmer, 3d series, 
1:138-39 (Nov., 1845) 525 

Oct. 23 *"A Visit to a Yankee Plow Factory." American 

Agriculturist, 4:374-75 (Dec, 1845) 530 

Oct. *"Ice-Houses." Ibid., 4:345 (Nov., 1845) 533 

Nov. 1 * "Getting Through the World and the Cost thereof 
upon Eastern Rail-Roads and Western Steam- 
boats." Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Nov. 12, 1845. . 533 



Nov. 6 *"A November Voyage round the Lakes." Daily 

Cincinnati Gazette, Nov. 19, 1845 538 

Dec. 6 *"Scraps from My Note Book — No. 1." American 

Agriculturist, 5:56-57 (Feb., 1846) 544 

Dec. 10 *"Sheep on the Prairies— No. 3." Ibid., 5:83-84 

(Mar., 1846) 548 

Dec. 25 *"A Cheap Farm-House." Ibid., 5:57-58 (Feb., 1846) 553 

Index 559 


Solon Robinson, 1841 Frontispiece 

Mariah Robinson, probably about 1870 32 

Plat of Solon, Indiana. From original, in Recorder's Office, 
Jennings County 46 

Robinson Log Cabin, 1834-1882 58 

The Squatters' Constitution, 1836. Detail from a page of 
the original, in the possession of Frank F. Knight, Crown 
Point 74 

Plan of a Western Prairie Cottage 114 

Map Showing Lake C. H. From a Map of the State of In- 
diana compiled . . .by S. D. King (J. H. Colton, New York, 
1838) 352 

Solon Robinson, 1845 430 

Plan of Carriage House and Stable 489 

Show Ground, State Fair, Utica, New York, 1845. From 
New York State Agricultural Society Transactions, 1845, 
p. 7 512 

Front View and Ground Plan of Cottage 554 




Solon Robinson, born in Tolland, Connecticut, on Oc- 
tober 21, 1803, traced his descent from good pioneer 
stock. 1 Seventh in direct line from John Robinson, a 
respectable citizen of Sturton, Nottinghamshire, Eng- 
land, his earliest ancestor in America was the Reverend 
John Robinson, of Leiden, pastor of the Pilgrims. Con- 
cerning Isaac, son of the pastor, little is known beyond 
the fact that he was born in Leiden in 1610, and died at 
Barnstable, Massachusetts, in 1704, a span of existence 
which offers reasonable proof of a toughness of fiber 
superior to the privations of settlement in a new land, 
the rigors of winter in New England, the horrors of 
Indian attack, and the intolerances of theological con- 
troversy. Peter, offspring of Isaac, a weaver by trade, 
emigrated from Massachusetts to become one of the 
earliest settlers of Windham, Connecticut, where he died 
in 1740. 2 Peter the Second, born at Tisbury, Massachu- 
setts, in 1697, became a farmer near Windham, and in 
time achieved a considerable estate. Too old to serve in 
the Revolutionary War, he supplied clothing to the sol- 
diers and also acted as commissary to the Army. He 
was active until his death in his eighty-eighth year. 3 
Jacob, grandfather of Solon, who was born in 1734 and 
died in 1809, continued the family residence at Windham, 

1 For information concerning Solon Robinson's ancestry, see 
Robinson Genealogy ; Descendants of the Rev. John Robinson, Pas- 
tor of the Pilgrims, volume 1 (The Robinson Genealogical Society 
[Boston, 1926]). 

2 Ibid., 1:51-53; Connecticut Archives: Ecclesiastical, 1659-1789, 
vol. 4:doc. 107a. 

3 Robinson Genealogy, 1:58-59; Connecticut Archives: Militia Pa- 
pers, 1678-1788, docs. 1284a, 1284b, 1284c; ibid., Travel, 1700-1788, 
vol. 2:doc. 17; vol. 3:doc. 316b; ibid., Ecclesiastical, 1732, vol. 
4:117-19; ibid., Revolutionary War, 1763-1789, vol. 35:docs. 49a, 
249e; ibid., Windham Probate District Court Records, 1778, no. 



held the office of sealer of weights and measures, and 
was otherwise prominent in the community. A soldier 
in the Revolution, he, like his father, on occasion sold 
provisions to the Army. 1 

Jacob the Second, born at Windham in 1772, died in 
Tolland in 1809, surviving his father by only a few 
months. 2 On June 14, 1796, he married Salinda Ladd, 
of Coventry, born in 1772. Solon Robinson was the 
fourth of their five children. Jacob Robinson, at his 
death, left his widow with this sizeable family and very 
little property. 3 Two years later, Salinda married the 
more affluent James Robinson, a cousin of her first hus- 
band. 4 She lived only two years to enjoy her prosperity, 
and Solon became an orphan at the age of ten. 5 James, 
who had one child by Salinda, was henceforth appar- 
ently unwilling to support his stepchildren, and on 
March 15, 1815, Captain William Bottom, of Lisbon, 
whose wife was Jacob Robinson's sister, was appointed 
guardian for the young boy. 6 Solon helped on the farm 
and became skillful with tools through an apprentice- 
ship to the carpenter trade, an occupation which he 
was forced to discontinue because the work was too hard 
on his health. 7 In a poem written many years later, 

'Town of Windham, Connecticut: Family Records, 1756-1778, 
vol. 2:302; Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, 1763-1789, 
vol. 6: doc. 458a; vol. 35: docs. 49, 171; Tolland, Connecticut, Town 
Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1792-1850, p. 37. 

3 Robinson Genealogy, 1:145. 

3 Ibid.; Papers relating to estate of Jacob Robinson, 1809-1814, 
in possession of Mrs. A. S. Field, Brooklyn, Connecticut; Connecti- 
cut Archives: Stafford Probate District Court Records, Tolland, 
1810, no. 1805. 

* Robinson Genealogy, 1:145. 

5 Ibid. 

8 Connecticut Archives : Norwich Probate District Court Rec- 
ords, March 15, 1815, no. 9366. 

7 The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 3:454 (James 
T. White & Company, New York, 1893) ; The Cyclopaedia of Amer- 
ican Biography, volume 5 (New York, 1915) ; Knotts, A. F., "Solon 
Robinson. An Address delivered ... at Crown Point, August 27, 


Solon refers to his attendance at a little red schoolhouse 
near Lisbon, an accident in a sawmill in which he was 
nearly killed, a boyhood love affair with a pretty cousin, 
and to other incidents of that time. 1 We may surmise 
that the years of his sojourn with Captain Bottom, in 
part at least, were fairly pleasant. 

This stewardship came to an end in 1818, as a petition 
was made by Solon (for reasons not apparent) on July 
18, requesting that his uncle, Vine Robinson, of Brooklyn, 
Connecticut, be appointed his guardian. This request 
was duly granted. 2 A leading citizen of the community, 
a merchant, and a judge of the county court, Vine Rob- 
inson was noted for his integrity and intelligence and 
on several occasions represented his town in the legisla- 
ture. 3 His home at Brooklyn is still in existence, and is 
occupied at present by one of his descendants, Mrs. 
Albert S. Field. While it is not definitely known that 
Solon lived in this house, it is probable that he did, since 
his description of a New England kitchen of his boyhood, 
published in The Plow in 1852, corresponds so closely to 
one in the Field house as to be clearly recognizable. 4 As- 
sociation with his uncle's family in his formative years 
brought Solon into close contact with the best society 
that Brooklyn afforded, and it is perhaps due to hearing 
Vine Robinson's pronounced advocacy of the principles 
of temperance that we later find Solon a devotee of this 
cause. 5 

1 "Have You Forgotten When," written from Jacksonville, Flor- 
ida, to Mrs. Caroline S. Fitch, Anoka, Minnesota, November, 1876. 
Robinson bore the scars of the sawmill accident until his death. 

2 Connecticut Archives : Pomfret Probate District Court Records, 
Brooklyn, August 4, 1818, no. 3462. 

3 Vine Robinson was born in Windham, Connecticut, July 25, 
1767, and died in Brooklyn, Connecticut, January 18, 1843. Rob- 
inson Genealogy, 1:145-46. 

4 April, 1852, pp. 106-7; New York American Agriculturist, Oc- 
tober, 1851 (10:298-99). 

5 Lamed, Ellen D., History of Windham County, Connecticut 
. . ., 2:475-77 (Worcester, Mass., 1880). 


The data about Solon from the time Vine Robinson 
became his guardian in 1818 to 1830 is meager when con- 
trasted with the full record of his later life. Entries 
in an account book purchased in 1825 indicate that he 
was in Lisbon and New London, Connecticut, in that 
year, and already sufficiently interested in the history 
of his family to record genealogical information about 
them. 1 Tradition has it that he became a Yankee peddler 
about this time and wandered West. 2 

We know he was in Cincinnati in 1827, for on Septem- 
ber 29 of that year he advertised in the Daily Cincinnati 
Gazette for a lost wallet "containing all the Cash" he had. 
Eight months later, on May 17, 1828, to be exact, the 
same paper announced his marriage to Mariah Evans, 
of Philadelphia, daughter of Thomas and Keziah Evans. 3 
Mariah, born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on Novem- 
ber 16, 1799, was well educated for that day, and had for 
some time been a governess in the family of Joseph Jef- 
ferson. 4 Four years older than her husband, a woman of 
strong character and refinement, Mariah Evans was a 
worthy helpmate to Solon in the early years of his career. 
Just why and when the latter went to Cincinnati, how 
he became acquainted with Mariah, and what he did for 
a living in the Queen City are all questions of interest, 
but records and family tradition throw little light on 
these years. The Cincinnati Directory of 1829 lists him 
as a clerk, a fact which is consistent with family legend 
that he was a cashier in a theater. If this is true, it may 

1 Robinson Account or Memorandum Book, Norwich and New 
London, Connecticut, March 21, 1825, p. 5, in Harry Robinson 
Strait Collection. 

2 Verplank, Charlotte Wheeler (great-great-granddaughter of 
Solon Robinson), "Solon Robinson — The Founder," in Lake County 
Star, centennial edition, Crown Point, August 17, 1934; Knotts, 
"Solon Robinson." 

' The Cincinnati Gazette gives her name as "Mrs. M. Evans," but 
the Robinson Genealogy, 1:182-83, does not mention an earlier mar- 

4 Statement of Mrs. Cora Lincoln, Crown Point, April 8, 1929. 


account for his meeting with the lady who became his 

Robinson left Cincinnati early in the year 1830 and 
took up his residence in Indiana, where within little 
more than a decade he was destined to achieve fame and, 
if not fortune, at least a respectable livelihood for his 
family. Selecting Madison as his base of operations for 
the next few years, he soon became imbued with the 
craze for land so common in the West of that period. 
On February 20, 1830, he purchased at the United States 
Land Office at Jeffersonville, Indiana, eighty acres in 
Jennings County, lying about thirteen miles northwest 
of Vernon on the Columbus Post Road between Madison 
and Indianapolis. 1 Lease of an adjoining tract at Rock 
Creek Ford was added on May 3, by private purchase 
from one John Bradford. This second tract contained 
dwellings and stables, of which Bradford promised to 
give possession by June 10. 2 A post office was established 
at Rock Creek Ford on June 14, 1830, with Robinson as 
postmaster. 3 On March 11 of the following year, as 
road commissioner, Robinson advertised for bids to clear 
timber, bushes, and stumps for a ten-and-a-half-mile 
section of the Madison and Indianapolis State Road be- 
tween Sand Creek and Clifty. 4 

As early as April 15, 1831, Robinson had the Rock 
Creek Ford tract surveyed, divided into lots, streets laid 
out, and the whole recorded in the Jennings County re- 
corder's office as the town of Solon. 5 The first sale of 
lots, which was to take place on June 4, was widely ad- 
vertised by posters, handbills, and a prominent notice 

1 William Lewis, register, to Solon Robinson, February 20, 1830, 
Certificate No. 1898; and United States to Solon Robinson, March 
9, 1831, letters patent. General Land Office Records, Washing- 
ton, D. C. 

1 John Bradford to Robinson, May 3, 1830, agreement to transfer 
land, Strait Collection. 

' List of Indiana Post Offices, Indiana State Library. 

4 Post, 45. 

6 Deed Record Book B, p. 222. 



in the Indiana Republican of May 5. 1 Buyers were few, 
however, and the town of Solon remained as it had begun, 
with Robinson its chief resident. 

Lewis David von Schweinitz, naturalist and Moravian 
church worker, who visited the town of Solon on June 1, 
1831, and stayed at the cabin of Solon Robinson, evi- 
dently found his host an unusual individual and one not 
altogether to his liking. He records in his journal : "We 
had our breakfast in a building which externally was 
quite an ordinary cabin, built and roofed with logs. In- 
side, however, everything was very respectable and even 
elegant, as this building is the new town of Solon, the 
printed advertisements for which we had come across 
everywhere recently. We would have noted with pleas- 
ure the valuable library of the owner, if the atheist news- 
papers of Miss Frances Wright, lying about in profusion, 
and public effusions against clergy, temperance society, 
etc., had not shown how, even here, the lamentable reac- 
tion against the exaggerations of the times is producing 
its injurious effects and most sadly increasing the confu- 
sion of mind generated by religious contentiousness." 2 

Reluctant to concede the defeat of his plans, Robinson 
for some time fought valiantly to make his town a real- 
ity. That he was eventually convinced his talents lacked 
opportunity in Jennings County is suggested by an ad- 
vertisement in a Madison paper of October 25, 1832, 
extolling his virtues as a landlord and tavern keeper at 
Solon, but revealing that he continued there only because 
the individual who had agreed to purchase his "stand" 
had backed out. 3 

For another year Robinson lived in Jennings County. 
Only a few incidents of interest have come down to us 
for that period. On March 18, 1833, he acquired full 

1 Post, 46. 

2 Journey . . . to Goshen, Bartholomew County in 1831, 233-34 
(Indiana, Historical Society Publications, 8:no. 5, Indianapolis, 
1927) . 

' Post, 48. 


title to another tract of land bought at a tax sale on 
November 8, 1830. x The Indiana Republican on June 20 
and July 4 printed communications from Robinson con- 
cerning the murder of one John Comer of Rock Creek 
Township. To his second communication Robinson ap- 
pended the moral, "It seems to be the general opinion 
that whiskey, that curse of this land, was the primary 
cause of this black deed." 

As late as September 30, Robinson was listed as post- 
master of his town, 2 but by November he had left Jen- 
nings County to take up his abode in Madison. Here, as 
indicated by an advertisement in the Indiana Republican 
of November 21, he conducted an auction house, receiv- 
ing and selling goods on consignment. 3 His stock, as 
shown by numerous newspaper notices in the course of 
the next year, included furniture, clothing, musical in- 
struments, dry goods, and stationery. He also acted as 
agent for the sale of urban and rural property, cattle, 
and various frontier appurtenances. On occasion he sold 
books and served as representative for a periodical and 
circulating library. Evidently the Madison Auction 
Rooms were not always favored with cash or reliable 
customers, for on December 19, 1833, Robinson threat- 
ened in the Republican and Banner to publish a black 
list of "bidders, not buyers," particularly those who had 
taken goods away and had not paid for them. 

Owing to Robinson's ill health, the auction rooms were 
closed in the early part of January, 1834, but later in 
the month he again advertised sales, offering a wide 
range of opportunity to prospective buyers. Perhaps 
the most intriguing of these advertisements was one for 
"a large Invoice of splendid Jewelry, belonging to a 
widow lady about leaving the U. States, which must be 

1 Record Book C, 42-43, Recorder's Office, Jennings County. 

1 Register of All Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, 
in the Service of the United States, on the thirtieth of September, 
1833 . . . (Philadelphia, 1834). His compensation for the year 
amounted to $4.74. 

* Post, 48 ff. 


sold without reserve." 1 Our knowledge does not cover 
public answer to this ingenious appeal, but the presump- 
tion is that Robinson, as a good auctioneer, rose to the 
occasion and in due season provided the "wherewithal" 
for the lady's journey. 

February saw no lessening of these activities, either 
in number or in scope of property offered for sale, but 
on June 5, due to persistent illness, he announced a tem- 
porary discontinuation of the auction business and did 
not again resume this profession. 2 

Discouraged, perhaps, by failure to set the world afire 
with the town of Solon, and likewise by the confinement 
of town life and the effect of the damp climate of the 
Ohio River upon his health, Robinson now resolved to 
seek his fortune anew as a pioneer in northwestern In- 
diana. Accordingly, in the fall of 1834 we find the Robin- 
son family slowly wending its way with ox team and 
horses toward the lands bordering the southern end of 
Lake Michigan. The story of that journey, momentous 
for Solon and others to follow — how he found his first 
destination, Door Prairie, unsuitable for a new home, and 
how, by deflection as it were, he took up his abode in the 
region later known as Lake County — is told with interest 
and charm in his letters of December 16, 1834, and 
February 25, 1835, published in the Madison Republican 
and Banner. 3 

It is enough to say here that while Robinson was not 
the first to settle in that locality, he was among the first, 
and from the time of his arrival things began to hap- 
pen. Other settlers soon followed — among them Solon's 
brother Milo 4 — and the business of building log cabins, 
clearing land and planting crops, living, loving, and hat- 
ing, went forward seriously, if not merrily, on every 
side. A born leader of men for such a frontier com- 

1 Republican and Banner, Madison, January 23, 1834. 

2 Post, 50. 

3 Post, 51-57, 57-64. 

4 Milo Robinson was born March 13, 1801. He came to north- 
western Indiana in November, 1835. 


munity, Solon took a prominent part in almost every 
form of individual or corporate activity the settlement 
afforded for the next dozen years. 

In this he was doubtless notably aided by his wife. 
Although at the time of arrival in her new home she did 
not possess any extensive experience in frontier house- 
keeping, she had an education of a type many of the 
other women lacked. Her knowledge of simple medi- 
cine and nursing and ability to do fine sewing and em- 
broidery, combined with a spirit of helpfulness toward 
her neighbors, gave her prestige to such an extent that 
she was never willing to take up permanent residence 
elsewhere. 1 

A portion of the future Lake County had been ceded 
to the United States by treaty with the Potawatomi 
Indians in 1826 ; the remainder was added by the treaties 
of October 26 and 27, 1832. 2 When Solon Robinson and 
other individuals came to this region in 1834 they found 
government surveyors already at work, but for several 
years no resident had more than the tentative claim of a 
squatter, for the United States had not yet offered the 
land for sale. Aware of the fate of settlers in other 
frontier communities who had made the initial selection 
of fertile acreage, improved holdings, and later lost the 
fruits of their labor when speculators appeared at gov- 
ernment sales to bid in their lands at prices the settlers 
could not pay, Robinson resolved to guard himself and 
his neighbors from any such contingency. Accordingly, 
he called a meeting at or near his home on July 4, 1836, 
of all the inhabitants of the region to consider protective 
measures. Solon presided, became a member of the com- 
mittee which drew up the Constitution of the Squatters' 
Union, and was then elected register of claims. Four 
hundred and seventy-six individuals eventually signed 

1 Crown Point Register, March 7, 1872 ; statement of Mrs. J. J. 
Wheeler, April 8, 1929; Ball, Timothy H., Lake County, Indiana, 
from 1834 to 1872, 333-35 (Chicago, 1873). 

2 Kappler, Charles J. (ed.), Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties, 
2:273-77, 367-70, 372-75 (Washington, 1904). 


the constitution, and due to the careful work of Robinson 
and his associates in registering descriptions of squatter 
lands and in settling disputes over current possession, 
speculators found scant encouragement for carrying on 
their operations. 1 In March, 1839, when the official sale 
of lands took place at La Porte, all bona fide settlers who 
desired to buy their holdings at the regular price of $1.25 
an acre obtained them without competition. 2 Perhaps the 
attendance of Solon and his cohorts, well armed, helped 
to ease the situation. 3 This episode was to give Robinson 
the title, "King of the Squatters," a designation which 
everyone agreed he had fairly earned. 

Repeated effort to deprive Solon of his own land was 
one of the reasons which influenced him to organize the 
Squatters' Union. He had settled upon and improved 
part of section 8, township 34 north, range 8 west. 
Shortly after his arrival, William Butler, a Michigan 
land speculator, hired one Huntley to come from Twenty 
Mile Prairie and erect the bodies of three log cabins upon 
section 8. Difficulty was averted when Huntley, in return 
for a payment of $75, agreed to leave. Butler, upon 
learning that Shobonier, 4 a Potawatomi chief, had lived 
at one time where Solon was now residing, and, further, 
that Shobonier had had two sections reserved to him "at 
his village" in the Treaty of October 20, 1832, attempted 
to have this reserve located on sections 8 and 17. If this 

1 The Constitution is printed post, 69-76. 

2 This sale did not cover the holdings of Robinson and a few of 
the other very early settlers, since they had already acquired title 
by compliance with the existing preemption law and subsequent 
purchase from the United States before 1839. 

8 See Ball, Lake County, 1834- to 1872, 64-65; Goodspeed, Weston 
A., and Blanchard, Charles (eds.), Counties of Porter and Lake, 
Indiana, 405-12 (Chicago, 1882). 

* This was not the famous Illinois chief, known as Shabonee, 
Shaubena, Shaubenay, etc. A reserve was made to Shabonee in 
the treaty of July 29, 1829. Kappler (ed.) Indian Affairs. Laws 
and Treaties, 2:298. The reserve to "Sho-bon-ier, two sections at 
his village," was made in the Treaty of October 20, 1832. None 
of the land ceded by this treaty was in Indiana. Ibid., 2:353. 


move should prove successful, he planned to present a 
claim, real or fancied, against Shobonier, to obtain legal 
title to the land. Although Indian reserves under the 
treaty applied only to lands in Illinois, Butler evidently 
hoped that an exception might be made to allow location 
in Indiana. Shobonier's refusal to indicate the site of 
his village doomed the speculator's plan to temporary 
failure, but the Indian's removal, with others of his tribe, 
west of the Mississippi in 1836 offered further oppor- 

Associating himself with one John Mann, Butler then 
induced the register at La Porte to forward a petition, 
undoubtedly fraudulent, but allegedly representing Sho- 
bonier and signed by his mark, to the General Land 
Office, requesting the president to issue a patent to 
Shobonier for sections 8 and 17, township 34 north, 
range 8 west, in Lake County. The petition was refused 
on the ground that the reservee could not be granted a 
patent for these lands under the treaties of 1832, and 
had no power to convey title to anyone but the United 
States. In 1838 the same petition was presented to the 
War Department. Again there was a refusal to recom- 
mend a patent, although promise was given to locate 
Shobonier's village and secure to him his rights under 
the treaty. Robinson, aroused by these attempts, suc- 
cessfully enlisted the aid of Albert S. White and other 
Indiana members of Congress, and stated his case to 
officials in Washington in a petition printed in this vol- 
ume under date of November 4, 1837. Upon the fulfill- 
ment of preemption requirements, in conjunction with 
his brother Milo, in November, 1838, he legally purchased 
the land where he had originally settled. 

Robinson's friendly relations with Shobonier were un- 
doubtedly a factor in the defeat of Butler. The Indian, 
in common with other Potawatomi chiefs, had several 
temporary camps or villages, one where the town of 
Crown Point was later established, another at Cedar 
Lake, and a third on the Kankakee in Illinois. When 


Solon first came to northwest Indiana, he met Shobonier, 
then camping at Cedar Lake, was kind to him, gave him 
food and supplies, and otherwise acted as a good neigh- 
bor, with the result that the two became warm friends. 

Shobonier at the time of the Treaty of 1832 evidently 
had some thought of eventually returning to the Crown 
Point site, but when he learned that his reserve could 
only be located in Illinois, he became reconciled to 
Solon's residence on section 8; this explains in part his 
refusal to aid Butler. In gratitude to Shobonier for his 
attitude, Solon promised to donate a "Commons" where 
the Indians had formerly played ball and engaged in 
other sports — a promise which he kept when the town of 
Crown Point was governmentally established in 1840. 
This was the spot where, as Solon relates, Shobonier's 
children and grandchildren played ball while the pioneer 
and the Indian watched their fun and smoked the pipe of 
peace together. It was Shobonier who called Solon 
"Wyonett Tshmokeman." 1 

Shobonier, in May, 1839, sent a bona fide petition from 
beyond the Mississippi, through John Dougherty, Indian 
Agent, offering to sell his two sections, still unlocated, 
to the United States. This transaction covered a long 
period, until after Shobonier's death, but in 1852 an 
appropriation of $1,600 was finally made to cover the 
purchase of the two sections for the benefit of his heirs. 2 

1 "Wyonett Tshmokeman" is sometimes translated "Good Big 
Knife" or "Good White Man." This is on the authority of Joseph 
Nocktonick, Indian of the Potawatomi tribe, Mayetta, Kansas, 
and Chief Augustus, a Potawatomi of southern Michigan. J. 
William Lester to Herbert A. Kellar, April 26, May 4, 1929. 

2 Sources of information concerning the several attempts to de- 
prive Robinson of his land, including the Shobonier incident, are 
widely scattered. Of first importance are Robinson's deposition, 
with affidavits, November 4, 1837 (printed post, 80-84), and his 
statement in A. O. Luther Scrapbook, clipping from the Crown 
Point Register [1878-1880]. Likewise valuable are references in 
"The Will," and in his articles of December 16, 1834, and Feb- 
ruary 25, 1835, to the Madison Republican and Banner (post, 
168 ff., 51 ff. and 57 ff.) ; these are supported by additional 


The land which the Robinsons purchased in 1838 com- 
prised some 160 acres. Throughout his years in Lake 
County, Solon continued his interest in land transac- 
tions. Not only did he occasionally buy and sell land on 
his own responsibility, but he also acted with and for 
other individuals. For example, in 1844, with George 
Earle, he purchased and offered for sale a tract of 290 
acres. This real estate venture was active until 1847 
when the partnership was dissolved. 1 In 1843, Robinson 
became the representative of W. G. and G. W. Ewing, of 
Peru, Indiana, who had purchased large tracts of land 
in Lake County. Between that date and 1850, as their 
agent, he bought, sold, and traded for them as occasion 
offered. 2 Throughout the late thirties and forties he grad- 
ually increased his personal holdings in Lake County, and 

pertinent material in his historical romance Me-won-i-toc, 5-6, 
126-27, 131-32. Supplementing these papers are a number of 
records in the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 
Washington, D. C: Albert S. White to Joel R. Poinsett, Octo- 
ber 16, 1837; James Whitcomb to Albert S. White, October 14, 

15, 1837; Joel R. Poinsett to James Rariden, March 21, 23, 1838; 
Lewis Cass to John T. Douglass, June 25, 1836; Douglass to A. C. 
Pepper, April 30, 1838; Charles A. Harris to Douglass, January 
20, 1837; Sho-bon-ier [signed by mark] Petition to His Excellency, 
the President of the United States [June 7, 1837] ; Parks and 
Elwood to Luke Lea, July 29, 1851; Thomas H. Crawford to John 
Dougherty, July 7, 1839 ; Brief or Memorandum of Documents per- 
taining to Sho-bon-ier's Reserve, Washington, D. C, 1851; Office 
of Indian Affairs to Parks and Elwood, August 9, 1851. Other 
government records of interest are Jesse Jackson, Receiver's Office, 
La Porte, Indiana, Receipt No. 11715 to Milo and Solon Robinson 
for $200 for the northwest quarter, section 8, township 34 north, 
range 8 west, November 17, 1838; preemption certificate No. 11715, 
Land Office, La Porte, November 17, 1838; United States to Milo 
and Solon Robinson, June 25, 1841, letters patent. See also 
U. S. Statutes at Large, 10:20. 

1 Solon Robinson Account Book, 1840-1853. 

* W. G. and G. W. Ewing to Mr. Woods, February 17, 1843; W. G. 
and G. W. Ewing to Solon Robinson, February 18, 1843; Robinson 
to G. W. Ewing, February 21, 1844; Robinson affidavit, December 

16, 1850. Ewing Papers, Indiana State Library. 


in 1850 estimated these at 635 2/3 acres, with a value of 
approximately six thousand dollars. 1 

When Solon first settled in northern Indiana in 1834 
he called the region "Oakland county." The prairie sec- 
tion in the vicinity of his cabin soon became known as 
"Robinson's Prairie" and as such it appears on contem- 
porary maps. 2 

At the legislative session of 1835-36, Porter County 
was organized and Lake County formed from the western 
half of Porter and part of Newton. West Porter, or Lake, 
for judicial purposes, was attached to Porter County. 

On April 13, 1836, the board of commissioners of Por- 
ter County divided Lake into three townships, and or- 
dered each township to elect a justice of the peace. Solon 
Robinson, who lived in the central township, Clark, was 
elected justice for that district, an office which he held 
until the formal organization of the county. At the May 
session he is listed among the petit jurors of Porter 
County. At the same session he was made one of two 
overseers of the poor. Upon petition by Robinson to the 
commissioners, in July, 1836, additional territory was 
added to Clark Township. 3 

Lake County was organized under provisions of an 
act of January 18, 1837, effective February 15. 4 A vote 
for officers took place on March 28, resulting in Solon's 
election as county clerk, a position which he held until 
1843. The Robinson brothers erected a log building in 
which to hold court and the first session took place in 
October. 5 

1 Robinson Account Book, 1840-1853. 

8 Post, map facing page 352. 

' Hamilton, William J., Notes from record of County Commis- 
sioners, Porter County, made in 1933; Ball, Lake County, from 
1834 to 1872, 50-51, 204; Goodspeed and Blanchard (eds.), Counties 
of Porter and Lake, 418-19. 

'Laws of Indiana, 1835-36 (general), pp. 51, 84; 1836-37 (gen- 
eral), pp. 55-56. See Pence, George, and Armstrong, Nellie C, 
Indiana Boundaries . . ., 67, 550 (Indiana Historical Collections, 
volume 19, Indianapolis, 1933). 

5 Ball, Lake County, from 1834 to 1872, 51, 204-6. 


As county clerk Solon Robinson played an important 
part in the governmental life of the community. He kept 
his records with meticulous care and according to law- 
yers of present-day Lake County, they were written 
with a fullness, clarity, and neatness which has not been 

Establishment of a permanent county seat in Lake 
County was delayed for several years because so much 
of the land remained unsold. Finally, in 1839, the town 
of Liverpool was designated, but this aroused such dis- 
satisfaction among the citizens of Lake that the legisla- 
ture of 1839-40 ordered a relocation. The commissioners 
appointed for the purpose, in June, 1840, selected Lake 
Court House. 1 The site of the town, which was laid out 
at this time, included some forty acres of Robinson's 
land. This tract, with the holding of Judge William 
Clark, was divided into lots. Robinson generously do- 
nated half of his lots to the county for public use and 
added twenty acres adjoining for a like purpose. Lots in 
twenty acres retained by Robinson within the townsite, 
were then offered for sale, and in 1840, and subsequently, 
he sold a number of them. The selection of a name for 
the new county seat was left to the decision of George 
Earle, Solon Robinson, and Judge Clark, who chose 
Crown Point, and Lake Court House thereupon became 
Crown Point and has so remained to this day. 2 

A new mail route from Michigan City to Peoria, which 
passed through Robinson's Prairie, afforded Solon a wel- 
come opportunity in 1836 to become a postmaster for a 
second time. He applied to the Indiana senators, William 

1 See Shockley, Ernest V., "County Seats and County Seat Wars 
in Indiana," Indiana Magazine of History, 10:no. 1:34-35; Good- 
speed and Blanchard (eds.), Counties of Porter and Lake, 426-28. 

2 Ball, op. cit., 85-87 ; Robinson, Solon, "History of Lake County, 
1833-1847," in History of Lake County (Publication of the Lake 
County Historical Association, volume 10, Gary, 1929) ; statement 
of Robinson in A. O. Luther Scrapbook. The name Crown Point 
was adopted locally in 1840, but the post office designation was not 
changed until June 26, 1845. 


Hendricks, of Madison, and John Tipton, of Logansport, 
both of whom he knew well, and in March was appointed 
to the postmastership of Lake Court House, or, as it was 
usually written, Lake C. H. Postmaster's duties at first 
were light, consisting of occasional trips to Michigan City 
to take and bring back current accumulations. Financial 
returns, which were restricted to the proceeds of the 
office, were small, but the prestige and privileges at- 
tached to the position more than compensated for the 
obligations involved. 1 Robinson appreciated particularly 
the franking right which went with the office, and made 
such extensive use of it through his correspondence dur- 
ing the next few years, that the name Lake C. H. became 
familiar to thousands of farmers throughout the country. 
The duties of this office were capably performed, and 
Robinson's removal in 1843, because of his political affilia- 
tions, was publicly regretted by more than one editor of 
the agricultural periodicals to which he contributed. 

In the early years of his residence in Lake County, 
Robinson was an ardent Whig, actively interested not 
only in local politics, but also in national elections. On 
March 28, 1840, he presided over a senatorial convention 
in Valparaiso. Illustrating the spirit of the times, the 
convention adopted the resolution, "That we have our 
political log cabin already raised, that next August we 
will roof it in, that next November we will chink Loco- 
focos into the cracks, and that next March we will move 
into it." 2 Throughout the greater part of 1840 he sought, 
with success, to create favorable sentiment for General 
Harrison. In this connection Robinson wrote political 
articles and campaign songs, some of which were pub- 
lished in newspapers of the state. 3 With other Whigs 
from Lake and Porter counties he attended the famous 

1 Robinson, "History of Lake County, 1833-1847," op. cit., 42-43. 

2 Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana . . ., 210 
(La Porte, 1876). 

3 Spirit of '76, Indianapolis, April 25, 1840; post, 135, 136; manu- 
scripts of campaign songs in possession of H. A. Kellar. 


Log Cabin Convention at the Tippecanoe Battleground 
in May, and took a prominent part in the proceedings. 1 

Robinson had purchased a small printing press and some 
type, probably in 1836, and for several years published 
occasional handbills, and a newssheet written by himself. 
This sheet was variously known as the Western Ranger 
or the Great Western. He was a colorful figure at the 
Log Cabin Convention in 1840, riding about in a wagon 
with his press, printing and distributing to the crowd 
political songs which he had written for the occasion. 2 
The press was acquired by James S. Castle, of Porter 
County, in 1842, who used it to publish the first paper 
in that county, known as the Porter County Republican. 3 

With his brother, Milo, Solon opened a general store 
for trade with the Indians and white settlers living in the 
vicinity. His experience in the auction rooms at Madi- 
son now proved of value. At the outset Robinson's store 
did a thriving business, selling over three thousand dol- 
lars worth of merchandise in the winter of 1836-37. 4 
Milo Robinson's death from tuberculosis in January, 
1839, 5 ended the partnership, but Solon continued to 
operate the store until 1850. 6 Indians were the most 

'Journal of John Sutherland, La Porte, Indiana, part 2, May 
23 to 28, 1840, La Porte County Historical Society; Ball, Lake 
County, from 1834 to 1872, 87. 

2 Post, 136 n; Ball, Lake County, from 183 A to 18,72, 249; Illus- 
trated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana, 275 (Chicago, 

3 Goodspeed and Blanchard (eds.), Counties of Porter and Lake, 
67. Shultz-Gay, Deborah H., One of the Earliest Authentic His- 
tories of Porter County, Indiana from 1832 to 1876, 8 ([South Bend, 
1927]), and Illustrated Historical Atlas of Indiana, 275, give the 
date as 1843. 

4 Robinson, "History of Lake County, 1833-1847," op. cit., 44. 
"Ibid., 51. 

6 Robinson Account Book, 1840-1853. Timothy H. Ball in Lake 
County, Indiana, 1884 • • •, 128 (Crown Point, 1884), states that 
Robinson's store came into the hands of H. S. Pelton about 1840. 
This statement does not seem to agree with Robinson's accounts, 
although Pelton may have operated the store for him after that 


profitable customers prior to 1840, for many of the white 
settlers ran accounts which some of them were slow to 
pay or sought to default. The Indians, on the other 
hand, most of whom were Potawatomi, periodically 
brought in large quantities of cranberries and bundles 
of furs which they traded for articles of food, clothing, 
or ornaments. The cranberries were probably shipped 
by wagon to Peoria, Chicago, or Detroit. 1 Whether Rob- 
inson acted as an agent for John Jacob Astor and the 
American Fur Company, as one account states, or oper- 
ated independently in the sale of his furs, is not definitely 
known, but he had no difficulty in disposing of the many 
choice skins which came to him. 2 By 1840 even wander- 
ing bands of Indians had departed from the region and 
the fur trade ceased to be an item of importance. 

Robinson's accounts from 1840 to 1853 have been pre- 
served. An examination of the store record shows that 
he handled a surprising variety of stock and that much 
of his business was done on a barter and exchange basis, 
very little actual currency changing hands. Likewise 
noticeable is the detail and exactness of the bookkeeping, 
fractions of a cent being regularly noted and carried over 
on the accounts. Profits of the store after 1840 were 
small, but they afforded Solon and his family a com- 
fortable living. 3 

Von Schweinitz, in writing of his visit with Robinson 
in southern Indiana in 1831, criticised his host because 
of the presence in the cabin of atheistic and antitem- 
perance literature. 4 Possibly a natural curiosity about 
everything and a desire to be informed on such subjects 
led Robinson to assemble the writings to which Von 
Schweinitz referred. There is nothing known about So- 
lon's life to bear out the suggestion that he was ir- 
religious. It is true he did not attach himself to any 

1 Robinson, "History of Lake County, 1833-1847," op. tit., 44. 
1 Post, 65 n. 

3 Robinson Account Book, 1840-1853. 

4 See ante, 8. 


religious denomination, but there is abundant evidence 
to show that he had a deep and abiding faith in Deity. 
When the Reverend Hawley B. Beers, of the Porter 
County Mission, visited Lake Court House in 1837, Rob- 
inson offered his cabin as a place of assembly for several 
meetings. 1 In his address before the settlers of Crown 
Point in 1847, he recalled in detail the development of 
religious worship in the county and criticised his fel- 
low citizens severely for their backwardness in building 
adequate churches for public worship. 2 Again and again 
throughout his writings occur passages which indicate 
his religious faith. 

Solon was likewise a lifelong advocate of temperance, 
and in June, 1841, joined with Norman Warriner and 
Hervey Ball to organize the Lake County Temperance 
Society. Meetings held in the log courthouse were well 
attended. This society had considerable influence in the 
community until superseded, about 1848, by a Division of 
the Sons of Temperance. Robinson contributed to the 
support of these organizations and was a leading figure 
in their deliberations. 3 One of the first of the activities 
sponsored by the Temperance Society was a Fourth of 
July celebration in 1841, held in a grove at Crown Point 
and attended by some three hundred persons. 4 Robin- 
son's antipathy toward intemperance is reflected fre- 
quently in his writings, and there is no doubt of the 
sincerity of his convictions on this subject. 

Although handicapped by fragile health and recur- 
ring periods of illness (he suffered from a tubercular 
tendency all his life), Robinson was endowed by nature 
with a forceful personality, and the varied experiences 
he encountered on the frontier tended to develop social 
qualities which stood him in good stead when he later 

"Ball, Lake County, from 183 % to 1872, 51; Robinson, "History 
of Lake County, 1833-1847," op. tit., 47. 

2 Ibid., 43, 47-48, 50, 56, 57, 58. 

3 Ball, Lake County, from 1834 to 1872, 166; Goodspeed and 
Blanchard (eds.), Counties of Porter and Lake, 486. 

4 Robinson, op. tit, 54; Ball, Lake County, 1884, 127. 


became a public figure. He had little time for social 
amenities, yet when occasion offered could acquit himself 
with credit. As shown by his writings he liked the ladies 
and was popular with them as well. Among men he 
made occasional enemies because of the forthrightness 
and fearlessness with which he expressed his opinions, 
but with few exceptions the animosities he aroused were 
a credit to his character. Self-educated, for the most 
part, and naturally serious in temperament, he evidenced, 
when he chose, a dry humor and wit which made him a 
marked figure in any company. 

As befitted a son of New England, Robinson strongly 
advocated education, both general and agricultural. In 
1840, when the county seat was established at Lake Court 
House, he gave the community a lot for the erection of 
a school. 1 Careful provision for the future education of 
his children is an interesting feature of a will made in 
1840, and they received the best schooling he could 
provide. 2 

Solon's literary activities, other than his agricultural 
writings, were not as extensive before 1851 as after- 
ward. The political songs written in connection with the 
national election of 1840 were mostly doggerel verse, 
set to the meter of popular songs of the day, and 
although their subject matter is indicative of public con- 
cern with political events, they do not rank high as 
poetry. His first short story or miniature novel, entitled 
"The Will," appeared as a serial in the Daily Cincinnati 
Gazette, February 25-27, 1841, and the same year was 
reprinted in the Indianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal* This 
intriguing story, which portrays scenes in New England, 
events in the West leading up to and subsequent to the 
Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and concludes with pioneer 

1 Robinson, "History of Lake County, 1833-1847," op. cit., 53. 

2 The will is printed post, 124-27. Robinson's younger daughter, 
Leila, was sent to St. Mary's Academy, probably at Bertrand, 
Michigan. Leila Robinson in account with St. Mary's Academy, 
November, 1852-April, 1853. 

* Printed post, 168-202. 


conditions in Lake County at the period of its settlement 
in the early thirties, is based on firsthand experiences 
and displays an intimate knowledge of the Indian and 
the frontier. Several of the characters, such as General 
Harrison and Shobonier, were well-known figures of the 
time. "The Will," while it possesses some literary merit, 
is far more interesting for its general content than for 
plot or style. 

A story pertaining to Indian life, written before 1851 
under the title "The Last of the Buffaloes," has been lost 
to sight, possibly buried in an ancient newspaper file. It 
is to be hoped that some day this tale may be made avail- 
able, for, judging from "The Will," it should present a 
suggestive picture of civilization on the prairies prior to 
white settlement. 1 Record also exists of an Emigrant 
Guide entitled The Prairie Farmer, which was prepared 
and published about 1850. 2 It is a fair presumption that 
the guide contained a compilation or resume of a series 
of articles intended for the guidance of prospective set- 
tlers in the West which Robinson published in the Culti- 
vator, American Agriculturist, Farmers' Cabinet, and 
Prairie Farmer between 1840 and 1845. 3 

An address which Solon delivered before the settlers 
of Lake County at Crown Point in 1847 offers recollec- 
tions and observations on the genesis of a western county 
in the thirties and forties by one of its chief residents. 
Reasonably accurate in detail, and varied in content, 
this study of local history constitutes an informing rec- 
ord of the pioneer period of the Middle West, and has, 
ever since its appearance, been regarded as a basic docu- 
ment for the evolution of Lake County. 

Statement has been made that Solon Robinson was 
not a practical farmer. The Reverend Timothy Ball and 
others interested in Lake County history expressed this 

1 Ball, Lake County, from 183U to 1872, 282. 

2 No copy has been found. See post, 140 n. 

8 During this period Robinson published some twenty-one articles 
primarily designed for the guidance of emigrants. 



opinion, although they freely admitted his celebrity as an 
agricultural writer. With regard to the quality of what 
was produced on his own land, this assertion need not 
be taken too seriously if we may judge by the grateful 
acknowledgments of gifts of early potatoes, Indian corn, 
apples, and peaches presented to editors ; his introduction 
of Berkshire hogs in Lake County ; and detailed accounts 
of his experiences in raising, slaughtering, curing, and 
marketing hogs. On the other hand, it is certainly true 
that owing to the diversity of his pursuits in Lake 
County, and his long absences while traveling, he was 
not able to farm on an extensive scale. Many of his 
agricultural activities were of an experimental nature. 
However, his success with what he did undertake was 
marked, and if he had chosen to devote all his attention 
to tilling the soil there is little doubt that he could have 
earned his living by that occupation alone. 

The scope and variety of Robinson's experiments and 
investigations, reported from time to time in agricultural 
journals, is surprising. A method of curing beans, use 
of long manure, making saleratus and pearl ash, the 
washing and preservation of butter, grinding of corn 
meal, curing and pressing cheese, shearing sheep, raising 
oyster plant, development of a mammoth sunflower, 
building of a sod fence, insects injurious to crops, rust 
on wheat, planting of trees, farm implements, drainage, 
cultivating blue grass, production of sugar from beets, 
storing of grain and vegetables, innumerable recipes for 
cooking, observations on the weather, cultivation of 
flowers, feed for fattening cattle, home remedies for ill- 
ness, and veterinary aids, are some subjects that may 
be noted. 

Articles on rural architecture containing detailed plans 
for farmhouses, barns, fences, and gates, some of which 
represented structures built on his own land, others ob- 
served in use in various parts of the country, and still 
others, original with him, but untried, likewise came 
from his pen. In one instance he disclosed an inventive 


faculty, presenting to the readers of the Cultivator a de- 
scription and drawing of an improved root steamer of 
his own devising. Declining to take out a patent, he 
offered the utensil to the fanning public for any use 
they might make of it. 1 

An ardent protagonist of agricultural organizations, 
Robinson vigorously urged their cause on every possible 
occasion. When the Union Agricultural Society was 
formed at Chicago in 1840 by John S. Wright, James T. 
Gifford, 2 William B. Ogden, 3 and others, Robinson gener- 
ously gave his time for several years to assisting its ac- 
tivities. As official speaker at its annual meetings, pro- 
moter of the society in various sections of northern 
Illinois, judge at its fairs, and counselor at large, he 
rendered notable service in making the society an influ- 
ential force in rural improvement. 4 

Possessed of vision beyond his time, Solon waged a 
valiant crusade in the late thirties and early forties to 

1 Cultivator, 7:92 (June, 1840). 

2 James T. Gifford, the "Father of Elgin" (Illinois), born about 
1800; died August 11, 1850. Emigrated from New York to Illinois 
in 1835, and settled on the site of the present town of Elgin. 
Laid out the Galena Railroad as far as Belvidere. President of 
the Union Agricultural Society, 1842. Vice-president from Illi- 
nois of the National Agricultural Society, 1842. Contributor to 
Union Agriculturist, Prairie Farmer, and Cultivator. See Com- 
memorative Biographical and Historical Record of Kane County, 
Illinois . . . , 1014-26 (Beers, Leggett & Co., Chicago, 1888) ; 
Elgin Courier News, Centennial Edition, June 15, 1935. 

' William Butler Ogden, railroad executive, born June 15, 1805, 
in Walton, New York; died August 3, 1877. Elected to New York 
legislature, 1834. Moved to Chicago in 1835. First mayor of 
Chicago, 1837. Elected president of the Galena and Chicago 
Union Railroad, 1846, and of the Union Pacific Railroad, 1862. 
First president of Rush Medical College; charter member of Chi- 
cago Historical Society; state senator, 1860. See Dictionary of 
American Biography, 13:644-45. 

' The official publication of the society was the Union Agricul- 
turist and Western Prairie Farmer, the first number of which was 
issued at Chicago in October, 1840. Practically every issue had 
either a communication from Robinson, or some mention of his 
activities. See note on John S. Wright, post, 157 n. 


develop a national society of agriculture, which was de- 
signed to foster, in turn, a national agricultural school 
and journal. This project was one of the most interesting 
of his career. The story of his initiation of this venture, 
its gradual development and culmination in official or- 
ganization at Washington, and its subsequent failure, is 
covered in detail in the selections from his writings 
which appear hereafter, and need not be dealt with at 
length here. 1 

Robinson's pungent remarks on agricultural subjects, 
spiced with homely wit and humor, brought him consid- 
erable reputation as an orator. Beginning with 1840 he 
gave numerous addresses in widely separated regions of 
the country, at agricultural society meetings and fairs, 
and before other organizations interested in farm topics. 
The Union Agricultural Society at Chicago, the National 
Society of Agriculture, already mentioned, the Agricul- 
tural Society at La Porte, Indiana, the National Conven- 
tion of Farmers, Gardeners, and Silk Culturists, at New 
York City, the New York State Agricultural Society, the 
state legislature at Richmond, Virginia, and Franklin 
College in Tennessee, were among the organizations 
which obtained information and entertainment from his 

An Almanac sponsored by A. B. Allen & Company in 
1850 was compiled by "Uncle Solon." A northern edi- 
tion of this pamphlet, intended for farmers, and a south- 
ern edition, designed for planters, were published sepa- 
rately in New York in 1851. 2 

The desire to foster agricultural education was a driv- 
ing force throughout Solon Robinson's career. He urged 

1 The Albany, New York, Cultivator, the Franklin Farmer and 
Kentucky Farmer of Frankfort and Lexington, the Chicago Union 
Agriculturist, Cincinnati Western Farmer and Gardener, Nashville 
Agriculturist, Boston New England Farmer, Rochester New 
Genesee Farmer, and Petersburg, Virginia, Farmers' Register, 
are some of the agricultural periodicals in which the movement 
was discussed by Robinson and other agricultural writers. 

3 American Agriculturist, 9:261 (August, 1850). 


the formation of agricultural societies and attendance at 
their meetings and fairs, the preparation of elementary 
books on farming and their adoption in rural schools, 
the establishment of a national agricultural college, and 
the reading of agricultural books and journals by the 
general farming public. 

No better evidence of Robinson's vision and progres- 
sive spirit can be found than his strong advocacy of sci- 
entific practices which are truisms in our own day, but 
were daring and novel to the majority of farmers of his 
time. Ditching and draining of wet land; planting of 
grasses and terracing to prevent erosion of the soil; 
use of fertilizers such as lime, guano, marl, swamp muck, 
and animal manure; deep plowing; farm accounting; 
improvement of the breeds of livestock; development of 
superior varieties of seed through plant selection; adop- 
tion of new agricultural implements and machines; 
cultivation of trees, shrubs, and flowers; importance of 
balanced diet on human health ; need for adequate venti- 
lation in farm dwellings; better rural architecture; pro- 
tection of animals from the weather; diversification of 
crops; keeping of weather records; proper feeding of 
animals ; extension of railroads as an aid to agriculture ; 
improvement of fruit trees; and other ideas of similar 
character, at one time or another were all discussed and 
recommended for adoption. 

Some of his articles aroused heated dispute among his 
readers, and brought forth communication after com- 
munication supporting his ideas or strenuously denounc- 
ing them. The advisability of forming, immediately, a 
national agricultural society, a proposal of undoubted 
interest throughout the country ; the question of fencing, 
which vitally concerned settlers upon the prairie lands 
of the Middle West where lumber was scarce or unobtain- 
able (as a corollary, determination of which tree or shrub 
was best adapted for hedges) ; and the benefits of em- 
ploying guano as a fertilizer, were some of the contro- 
versial subjects. One of the bitterest, and at the same 


time most amusing, flurries among his readers resulted 
from an unfavorable account of the town of Woodburn, 
Macoupin County, Illinois, which appeared in one of his 
travel articles. The indignant citizens of that town 
pursued him for months with tart replies vigorously re- 
futing his statements. In vain the editor of the Prairie 
Farmer, in which the offending article appeared, sought 
to pour oil on troubled waters ; at last the argument died 
of its own weight. 

Solon sometimes varied his farm writings by dwell- 
ing on other topics; for example, he called attention to 
a new method of printing invented by Josiah Warren; 
passed judgment upon United States postal regulations, 
and advocated a flat rate for postage ; criticised the peni- 
tentiary system in Tennessee ; and stated his opinion that 
the state debt in Indiana would never be paid. The 
latter two contributions hurt the pride of the citizens of 
Tennessee and Indiana and in reply they informed him in 
no uncertain terms of the error of his views. 

Robinson's travel articles to and including those writ- 
ten in 1851 have been reproduced so fully that it is unnec- 
essary to offer more than general comment concerning 
them. Between 1841 and 1851 he made six major jour- 
neys and a number of lesser extent, during which he 
visited almost every state then in the Union and portions 
of Canada. Devoting his attention chiefly to rural dis- 
tricts, he presents a contemporary picture of rural 
America as seen by a shrewd and discerning commen- 
tator. We perceive the farming of the day, both 
North and South, in every aspect, ranging from methods 
reminiscent of Colonial times to those which would be 
a credit to our own era. Unlike most other travelers, 
Robinson customarily furnished names of individuals, 
places, and dates, a circumstance which adds infinitely 
more to our knowledge than a merely general or regional 
description. His itinerary was noted in current periodi- 
cals, with the result that his articles were eagerly awaited 
and read by thousands of farmers. So voluminous was 


the correspondence which came to Solon at these times, 
that he was physically unable to answer more than a 
minor portion of the letters addressed to him. Invita- 
tions to visit farmers and planters kept editors busy 
explaining the impossibility of satisfying all those who 
wished to see him. Notwithstanding the fact that there 
were many localities which Robinson did not visit, prob- 
ably no man of his time, particularly in the period from 
1840 to 1860, had a wider and more accurate knowledge 
of the agriculture of the United States. Taken as a 
whole, his acute observations form a record of great 
value for the social and economic historian. 

In 1845, while acting as traveling correspondent of the 
Cultivator, Robinson took subscriptions for that periodi- 
cal and for current books on farming. 1 Between 1849 
and 1850, when he was sending reports of his journeys 
chiefly to the American Agriculturist, he took orders for 
that magazine and for books on agricultural subjects pub- 
lished by C. M. Saxton, and also sold seeds, nursery 
stock, farm implements, and machinery for A. B. Allen 
& Company. 2 Guano, which was then being imported 
regularly by this firm, was added to his list in 1851. 3 
Close association with the Allen brothers in this period 
resulted in his appointment as assistant editor of the 
American Agriculturist in 1851, and although traveling 
much of the time he served in that capacity during the 
ensuing year. 

Because of the increase of their manufacturing busi- 
ness, in 1851 A. B. and R. L. Allen concluded to suspend 
publication of the American Agriculturist after the De- 
cember number and devote all their time to A. B. Allen & 
Company. After due consideration, and with the ap- 
proval and cooperation of the Aliens, Robinson deter- 

a Robinson Account Book, 1840-1853; Cultivator, n.s. 2:92 
(March, 1845). 

2 American Agriculturist, 8:333 (November, 1849); American 
Farmer, 3d series, 5:170 (November, 1849) ; Robinson business card 
of 1851. 

'Southern Cultivator, Augusta, Georgia, 9:70-71 (March, 1851). 


mined to enter the editorial field on his own account. 

Accordingly, the American Agriculturist in the fall of 
1851 announced that it would be succeeded by The Plow, 
A Monthly Planters' and Farmers' Journal edited by 
Solon Robinson, with offices at A. B. Allen & Company, 
and with C. M. Saxton as publisher. It was offered at 
fifty cents a year for twelve issues, in the belief that a 
reduction in price (the American Agriculturist sold at 
a dollar a year) would promote a sufficiently large circu- 
lation to more than cover the cost of the enterprise. 1 

The first number of The Plow, with the subtitle 
changed to A Monthly Chronicle of Rural Affairs, ap- 
peared in January, 1852. A major portion of the text 
for each issue was furnished by Robinson. Like many 
another, he soon discovered that he could work far better 
for others than for himself, and despite the high hopes 
and ambitions with which he entered upon this project, 
financial difficulties made it necessary to discontinue 
The Plow at the end of the year. 2 Solon's belief that a 
low-priced magazine would attract numerous subscribers 
was borne out by experiment, but the expense of publi- 
cation proved too great for even the extended circulation, 
and The Plow in its brief career failed to become self- 

In content, The Plow compared favorably with its 
contemporaries and was worth far more than the price 
asked. Robinson associated with himself as regular 
contributors John P. Norton, professor of Agricultural 
Chemistry at Yale, Dr. Antisell, chemist and geologist, 
A. B. and R. L. Allen, former editors of the American 
Agriculturist, and Lewis F. Allen, agricultural writer, 
practical farmer, and stock breeder. He relied, also, 
upon his large circle of agricultural friends for contri- 
butions, but while many responded, his appeal did not 
call forth all the communications for which he had hoped. 

1 American Agriculturist, 10:297 (October, 1851). The notice 
was repeated in November and December. 

2 The Plow, 1:357, 361 (November, December, 1852). 


Convinced by the financial failure of The Plow that 
frequency of appearance, not price, was the more impor- 
tant consideration, the Aliens and Robinson now con- 
ceived a plan to publish a weekly newspaper called The 
New-York Agricultor, A. B. Allen & Company acting 
as publisher and Robinson as editor. The formal notice 
of this project given in the November issue of The Plow 
indicates its ambitious character: 


A Weekly Journal, in Large Newspaper Form. 
Devoted to the interests of the commercial as well 


the market and kitchen gardener, and the florist; 
together with a complete summary of the most important 
Foreign and Domestic News. 

Published Every Saturday. 

Terms — Payable in Advance. 

One Copy $2 per annum " 

Wishing to retain the advantages of a monthly journal, 
A. B. Allen & Company proposed to publish at the same 
time The Farm and Garden. 1 The content was to be 
made up principally of selections from the pages of the 
weekly New-York Agricultor, and was to be edited by 
Solon Robinson and sold at one dollar. 

The plan possessed merit but required so much capital 
that in the early part of 1853 the New-York Agricultor, 
like The Plow, became a thing of the past. At this 
juncture Horace Greeley offered Robinson the position 
of agricultural editor on the New-York Tribune, and 
his acceptance began a mutually advantageous connection 
which lasted until his death in 1880. 

Robinson's decision to publish The Ploiv and his subse- 
quent association with the New-York Tribune necessi- 

'See The Plow, November, 1852, p. 329; December, 361. 


tated a residence in New York. This situation had an 
immediate and lasting effect upon his domestic affairs, 
for when he announced his intention of moving to New 
York, Mrs. Robinson refused to accompany him. She 
urged that she had made a home for him at Rock Creek 
Ford, at Madison, and, finally, at Crown Point, and 
did not wish to undertake the establishment of a new 
home. The responsibility of bringing up the children 
had fallen chiefly upon her because of her husband's long 
absences on agricultural tours; she had many friends 
at Crown Point, and objected to leaving a community 
where she was well and favorably known to begin 
life anew in a large city like New York, where she knew 
no one. Since she was then fifty-three years of age and 
had undergone the privations of frontier life, her position 
is understandable. 

Robinson, on the other hand, pointed out that the 
rigorous winters of Crown Point were a detriment to his 
health, which was none too good at best, that the com- 
munity no longer offered scope for his talents, and that 
only by living in New York could he take advantage of 
the opportunity to become an agricultural editor on his 
own behalf, a project which, if successful, might mean a 
fortune for all of them. Mariah would not yield, and 
Robinson, faced with a choice between abandoning an 
editorial career or going on with it at the cost of separat- 
ing from his wife, reluctantly chose the latter. From 
the viewpoint of his capacity for service to agriculture at 
large, there is no question but that he made a wise 
decision, but from the standpoint of human relations, the 
verdict is not so clear. 

By arrangement Mrs. Robinson kept the children with 
her, and on October 20, 1852, her husband made out a 
trust agreement assigning to her all his lands and prop- 
erty in Lake and La Porte counties. 1 In addition to this 

1 Solon Robinson, trust agreement with Mariah Robinson and 
David Turner, October 20, 1852; Ball, Lake County, from 1834 to 
1872, 281. 

Mariah Robinson 

[From a photograph probably made about 1870] 


settlement, he continued to give financial support to his 
family. It is a tribute to the urbanity of spirit of these 
two people that they continued to be friends. 

In 1871 Mariah Robinson was persuaded to bring 
divorce proceedings against her husband. According to 
one of her granddaughters, this action was taken simply 
to clarify the status of certain property. 1 Not long after 
this, on February 28, 1872, Mariah Robinson died at 
Crown Point. 

Enforced separation from his family following his re- 
moval to New York in 1852, did not prevent cordial 
relations between Robinson and his children; in fact, as 
the years elapsed, his friendly feeling toward them in- 
creased rather than otherwise. 2 

Solon and Mariah Robinson had five children — Solon 
Oscar, born in 1831; Josephine Salinda, 1833; Charles 
Tracy, 1836; Leila Gertrude, 1838; and Allen Downing, 
1842. 3 Allen Downing died during a scarlet fever epi- 
demic in 1843. 4 Solon Oscar, who married Sarah J. 
Evans, died at Crown Point in 1858, and left no children. 
Charles Tracy died unmarried in New York City, in 1861. 
Josephine Salinda, who married in turn Janna S. Holton, 
Charles G. McDuffie, and George F. Strait, and left de- 
scendants by each marriage, died in 1910. 5 Leila Ger- 
trude, who married F. S. Bedell, later became a promi- 
nent physician of Chicago. She died in 1914 without 
issue. 6 

Robinson's life in New York City from 1852 to 1868 
was devoted chiefly to writing. A series of short stories 

1 Statement of Mrs. J. J. Wheeler, Crown Point, April 8, 1929 ; 
Knotts, "Solon Robinson." 

'Letters: to Leila Robinson, October 16, 1857; to Charles T. 
Robinson, April 4, 1859; to Josephine S. McDuffie, July 25, 1860; 
verses, 1868-1879. Mss. in private possession. 

'Robinson Genealogy, 1:182-83; Ball, Lake County, 1884, 402-3. 

* Prairie Farmer, 3:118 (May, 1843). 

8 Statements of Mrs. J. J. Wheeler and Mrs. Cora Lincoln, of 
Crown Point, September, 1935. 

e Ibid.; Ball, op. cit., 402; A. O. Luther Scrapbook. 


which appeared in the Tribune in 1853 were published 
in 1854 in book form under the comprehensive title, Hot 
Corn: Life Scenes in New York Illustrated. Including 
The Story of Little Katy, Madalina, The Rag-Picker's 
Daughter, Wild Maggie, &c. with original designs, en- 
graved by N. Orr. This pathetic account of slum life in 
a large urban center aroused such public interest that 
over fifty thousand copies were sold within six months 
after it came from the press. 1 

His work as secretary of the American Widows' Re- 
lief Association, a local organization, was responsible for 
a treatise on The Economy of Food or What shall ive Eat, 
Being Useful Lessons for Rich and Poor including the 
Story of One Dime a Day. Popular edict soon shortened 
this title to "A Dime a Day," the name by which the work 
is usually known. It appeared first in the Tribune and in 
1856 was reprinted in pamphlet form. 

In 1867 Robinson also reprinted from the Tribune his 
well-known novel called Me-won-i-toc. A Tale of Frontier 
Life and Indian Character; exhibiting Traditions, Su- 
perstitions, and Character of a Race that is passing 
away. 2 This story, a revised and expanded version of 
"The Will," first published in 1841, was written in the 
Cooper tradition and is a good example of that type of 
novel. The content is of even greater interest than that 
of the earlier tale, and the style shows a distinct im- 
provement in literary craftsmanship. 

Economic planning for individuals, particularly those 
who lived in cities, continued to interest Robinson, and 
in 1873 he wrote How to Live: Saving and Wasting, or, 
Domestic Economy Illustrated. . . . The original story 
of One Dime a Day was reprinted in this book. While in 
New York he is said to have published a narrative called 

1 Derby, James C, Fifty Years among Authors, Books and Pub- 
lishers, 130-31 (New York, 1884) ; "Solon Robinson," in Bungay, 
George Washington, Off-Hand Takings; or Crayon Sketches of the 
Noticeable Men of our Age (New York, 1854). 

2 Me-won-i-toc ran as a serial in the Valparaiso Messenger, 1878- 


the Green Mountain Girls, no copy of which has been 
found. 1 

Two works of importance on agriculture were forth- 
coming during Robinson's residence in New York: a 
pamphlet entitled Guano, A Treatise of Practical Infor- 
mation for Farmers, published in 1853, and Facts for 
Farmers, written in 1863 and published in 1864, a book 
of encyclopedic character numbering over a thousand 
pages. The information it contained represented an ac- 
cumulation of data gathered by Robinson over a period 
of twenty years, and was based upon his personal ex- 
periences and observation of the operations of leading 
farmers and planters throughout the country, covering 
practically every phase of American agriculture. Over 
five hundred agriculturists were quoted as authority for 
the accuracy of his statements. This book was more than 
an enduring monument to Robinson's industry ; it proved 
to be a reference work so much in demand by agricultur- 
ists of his day as to warrant a translation into the Ger- 
man. 2 Hot Corn, One Dime a Day, Me-won-i-toc, and 
Facts for Farmers passed through several editions — a 
tribute to their popularity and value. Solon is said 
to have used the nom de plume "Blythe Whyte, Jr." but 
nothing has been found under that signature. 3 

The number of Solon Robinson's agricultural writings 
in the Nevj-York Tribune, many of which were not 
signed, are so numerous that only a few can be noted. 
The titles "Failure of the Peach Crop," "Perils of Prairie 
in Winter," "Cotton Gin and Presses," "Sugar Cane," 
"Rice Culture," "Orange Growing in Florida," "Produc- 
tion of Turpentine," "Home Grown Tea and Coffee," 
"Tar Making and Felling Trees," "Oaks, Cypress and 

'Ball, Lake County, from 1834 to 1872, 282. 

* Thatsachen fur Landwirthe sowie fur den Familienkreis . . . 
(New York, A. J. Johnson; Cleveland, 0. F. G. and A. C. Rowe, 

'Wingate, Charles F. (ed.), Views and Interviews on Journalism, 
363 (New York, 1875). 


Palmettos," and "Mountain Fruit Farm," offer some in- 
dication of their scope and variety. 

On occasion he voiced his views on other subjects, 
for example, "The New York State Agricultural Society- 
Museum," "Southern Poverty," "Gold Mining in Geor- 
gia," "State Legislation : A Remedy for Present Defects," 
and "The Political Situation South." 

Tiring of urban life, Solon removed in 1859 to a 
small farm of eight acres in Westchester County, some 
fourteen miles distant from New York City. Here he 
engaged in experimental farming, using information 
gained from his experiences as a basis for articles in the 

Robinson frequently shared in the activities of the 
Farmers' Club held each year in connection with the 
annual fair of the New York State Agricultural Society, 
and enlivened their gatherings by discussing "Guano 
vs. Barnyard Manure," "Improving Poor Land," "Ex- 
periments at the Westchester Farm," "Sheep," "Short- 
horn Cattle," "What Kind of Grapes Shall I Plant," 
"Draining," "Fence and Cattle Law of New York," "Fer- 
tilizers," "Timothy for Cattle," "Cutting Hay," and 
"Florida Products." He also participated frequently in 
the deliberations of the New York Farmers' Club, a 
branch of the American Institute of New York City, 
where he spoke on similar topics. 

As in the earlier part of his career, Robinson was 
often called upon to address farm organizations. Two 
speeches of interest were delivered, one before the joint 
Hampshire, Franklin, and Greene County Agricultural 
Society, of Massachusetts, in 1856, and one before the 
Greene County Agricultural Society, of New York, in 

Solon's arduous duties on the staff of the Tribune pre- 
cluded long-drawn-out journeys such as he had made be- 
fore 1853. Attendance at numerous agricultural society 
fairs was a necessity, and he found time to make occa- 


sional trips in the East and South. Florida especially- 
pleased him because of its mild climate. 

Intimate contacts with the agriculture of the South be- 
tween 1841 and 1860 gave him ample opportunity to view 
the institution of slavery at first hand. His articles on 
the operation of southern plantations, for the most part, 
refrain from the discussion of slavery in its controversial 
aspects — this topic was taboo with agricultural editors 
— but he was frequently asked to express his opinions 
concerning it. In the summer of 1849 he prepared one 
of the most thorough dissertations on the subject which 
had been written up to that time. This elaborate essay 
was subsequently published in the September and No- 
vember, 1849, issues of De Bow's Review, x with editorial 
comment by De Bow, the eminent southern economist and 
publicist. Robinson did not believe in the theory of 
slavery, but his views at this time were favorable to the 
actual working of the institution as he had observed it. 
He held that the negro was unable to function in a 
civilized country without supervision, and that his lot 
under slavery was far better than that of the lower 
classes of Europe, especially in England. Subsequently, 
as differences between North and South grew more and 
more sharply defined in the late fifties, and possibly in- 
fluenced by close association with Horace Greeley, Robin- 
son became more critical of slavery. During the war 
between the states he sided with the North, but took no 
active part in the struggle. He agreed with, and sup- 
ported, Greeley in his endeavors to bring about the end 
of the war by peace negotiations. During the Recon- 
struction Period, Solon became more than ever convinced 
of the hard lot of the negro in an alien land, and his 
humanitarian tendencies caused him to sympathize 
strongly with the efforts of the colored people to readjust 
themselves to changed conditions. 2 In some quarters his 

1 The Commercial Review of the South and West, 1849, pp. 
206-25, 379-89, hereafter cited as De Bow's Review. This essay 
will be reprinted in volume 2 of this publication. 

2 Cha/rleston Republican, April 8, 1867. 


outspoken views on this subject were disliked, but it was 
not his habit to suppress his convictions. 1 

In 1868, increasingly poor health induced Robinson 
to resign from his position as agricultural editor of the 
New-York THbune. Remembering pleasant days spent 
in Florida, he chose Jacksonville as his place of retire- 
ment. After fifteen years of association with the Tri- 
bune, he was unwilling to cut himself off entirely from 
the paper, and continued to send contributions until 
shortly before his death. The assertion has been made, 
and very possibly with truth, that much of the prestige, 
circulation, and popularity acquired by the New-York 
Tribune, particularly in the West and South, was due to 
Solon Robinson's connection and contributions. 2 

The last years of Robinson's life were spent for the 
most part in his home at Jacksonville, where he occupied 
his time with writing, a little speaking, and occasional 
visits to relatives. Frequently articles were contributed 

1 "The Political Situation South," New-York Tribune, October 
30, 1880. Susan Bradford Eppes, in Through Some Eventful Years, 
30-41 (Macon, Georgia, 1926), presents a scathing denunciation of 
Solon Robinson for abolitionist activities, asserting that in the 
year 1850 he visited the Bradford and neighboring plantations 
near Tallahassee, Florida, and under the guise of a guest at- 
tempted to incite slaves to run away. Mrs. Eppes' story, written 
from memory by one advanced in years, is not to be taken seri- 
ously; she has declined to answer letters asking for substantiation 
of her remarks, and independent investigation has failed to reveal 
corroborative evidence. Evidently she has confused Robinson with 
someone else, for his character is alien to such an action, and his 
writings on this subject are in direct contradiction to her state- 
ments. In a letter of March 23, 1851, written at Lexington, 
Georgia, to Mariah Robinson at Crown Point, Indiana, Robinson 
says, "I am more and more satisfied with the institution of slavery 
as one of the best for the negro race that could be devised, but I 
am fully satisfied that the opposition to it will dissolve the Union. 
No country was ever cursed with worse enemies than the aboli- 

2 Robinson Genealogy, 1:182-83; Ingersoll, Lurton D., Life of 
Horace Greeley, 130-31 (Chicago, 1873) ; New-York Tribune, No- 
vember 5, 1880. 


to the Florida Republican and the Sun and Press, both 
published at Jacksonville. Sometime during this period, 
he produced another novel, Osceola, or the Last of the 
Seminoles. This narrative about the famous chieftain 
has not been located, but is supposed to have appeared in 
the Florida Republican. 1 Robinson proved himself a good 
citizen of his adopted state, and consistently used his in- 
fluence to support measures for its welfare. 2 

Although the composition of poetry was distinctly not 
the foremost of Robinson's talents, as he was probably 
aware, writing of verse amused him in his leisure mo- 
ments, and his correspondence between 1868 and 1880 
contains numerous examples of his efforts in this direc- 
tion. Many of these poems were written to his children 
and grandchildren and show clearly his love and affection 
for them. As in the earlier verse, it is the subject mat- 
ter, not the style, which interests the reader. Philosophi- 
cal, kindly, and humorous, occasionally reminiscent of 
the experiences of his boyhood, they are indicative of the 
mellowness of his last years. 3 One poem relating to 
a visit to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 
in 1876, is a veritable catalogue of the exhibits and his 
reactions to what he saw on that occasion. 4 

On June 30, 1872, Robinson married Mary Johnson, 
formerly his secretary in New York. 5 In August, 1876, 
accompanied by his wife and her crippled sister, he 

'Knotts, "Solon Robinson." 

2 Jacksonville Sun and Press, November 4, 1880. 

1 Robinson wrote "To My Dear Grand Daughter, Bell Holton," 
May 13, 1868; "To My Grand Daughters, Christmas 1871"; "To 
my daughter," January 4, 1872; "Have you forgotten when etc.?" 
November, 1876; "A greeting to Lake county pioneers," July 25, 
1879; "My Seventysixth birth day greetings to my daughter, Mrs. 
Josephine S. Strait, Shakopee, Minnesota," October 21, 1879. 

4 "Can you enjoy a story told in homely rhyme," December 5, 

B Mary Johnson Robinson was born on June 18, 1834, in Mon- 
treal, daughter of Isaiah Bowen Johnson, of Canada and Vermont. 
Robinson Genealogy, 1:182-83; Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1872; 
statement of A. F. Knotts, 1921. 

6— 50109 


visited Crown Point for the first time in twenty-five 
years and was warmly greeted by his relatives and the 
populace in general. News of his arrival spread rapidly, 
and over three hundred residents of the county called to 
see the founder of Crown Point in the few days he re- 
mained there. 1 

By 1880 Robinson's hold on life had become precarious. 
In August of that year, however, he was able to make a 
visit to Parkersville, Pennsylvania, and a short tour of 
the southern states. 2 The presidential campaign of the 
fall aroused his interest, and, although his health was 
failing, he expressed the hope that he would live to see 
Garfield and Arthur elected to office. This wish was not 
fulfilled, for he died about three o'clock on the morning 
of November 3, 1880. 3 Thus came the end of a long 
career. Solon was buried in the old city cemetery in 
Jacksonville, and there he rests from his labors. 4 

Mrs. Robinson and her sister, Louise Johnson, con- 
tinued to live in the Florida home. 5 Robinson's estate 
was divided between his second wife and his descendants 
by his first wife. 6 The most valuable portion of his prop- 
erty, although his relatives were probably not aware of 
this fact, was a library of some sixty thousand volumes 

'Invitation to reception for Solon Robinson, August 21, 1876; 
clipping from Crown Point newspaper [August, 1876]. 

2 Robinson to W. A. Clark, August 22, 1880; "The Political Situa- 
tion South," New-York Tribune, October 30, 1880. 

8 Shortly before his death he remarked that if Garfield and 
Arthur were successful at the polls, he wished the nation's flag 
to be raised in front of his dwelling, even though he was ill. In 
accordance with this last request, his wife, when news of the 
Republican victory was assured, put up the American flag with a 
notice, "Solon Robinson is dead: 'being dead, he yet speaketh'." 
Jacksonville Sun and Press, November 4, 1880; New-York Tribune, 
November 5, 1880. 

4 Robinson was buried on lot 17, section 3. Statement of A. F. 
Knotts, 1921. 

s Ball, Lake Cotinty, 18.84, 403. 

6 Robinson to Josephine S. Strait, March 5, 1876; Knotts, "Solon 


of Americana, and many personal papers, representing 
a lifetime of careful collection. This library was given 
to his young grandson, Harry Robinson Strait. The 
boy's parents, not realizing fully the importance and 
value of the gift, and having no place to house it, left the 
collection in Florida. On May 3, 1901, the disastrous 
Jacksonville fire completely destroyed the home and the 
library. 1 In attempting to save some of her husband's 
possessions, Mary Robinson reentered the building, was 
trapped, and burned to death. 2 

Robinson possessed an unusual appearance and person- 
ality : tall and lanky in figure, with long hair and beard, 
deep piercing blue eyes and overhanging brows; at one 
moment his burning glance carried instant conviction of 
the flaming spirit within ; at another his eyes changed to 
a cool, quizzical, and humorous aspect, revealing the keen 
intelligence that governed that spirit. In his youth and 
early manhood he had red hair. Before he was 
thirty it turned white and this gave his presence added 
distinction. Those whom he met did not forget him. 3 

Solon Robinson's place in his day and time is secure. 
If one may evaluate him by a vivid personality and in- 
quiring spirit; an intelligent mind; strength and weak- 
ness of character; his activities as a pioneer; com- 
prehensive knowledge of his chosen field; vision with 
respect to farming improvements and generous endeavor 
to promote the welfare of his fellow men ; his informative 
and entertaining writings ; his wide circle of friends, both 
distinguished and humble ; and last, and most important, 
the influence he wielded through the exercise of these 
attributes; without question he ranks as one of the sig- 
nificant figures in the development of the United States 
in the nineteenth century. 

Herbert A. Kellar 

1 Ibid.; statement of Harry Robinson Strait, April 16, 1929. 
a Ibid.; Knotts, "Solon Robinson." 

8 Bungay, Off-Hand Takings, 186-89 ; Ball, Lake County, from 
1834. to 1872, 277-84; Knotts, op. cit. 


[Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization 
used in manuscript and printed sources 
have been retained. No attempt has been 
made to reproduce type fonts.] 

Advertisement: Lost Wallet 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Sep. 29, 1827 1 ] 

[September 28, 1827] 


I Lost a Pocket Wallet, and all the Cash I had was in 

it. The finder, will be rewarded for his honesty, if he 

returns it. 

Solon Robinson. 


Cin. Sept. 28, 1827. 

Advertisement: Road Work 

[Madison Indiana Republican, Mar. 17, 1831] 

[March 11, 1831] 



TAKE NOTICE all persons in want of Cash, that on 
Saturday the 2d day of April, at 12 o'clock precisely, 
at my house at Rock Creek Ford, Jennings county, I 
shall contract with the lowest bidder, without reserve, for 
the clearing out of all the timber and bushes within the 
original cutting of the road, which is 48 feet wide. The 
distance to be cleared out is 10 & a half miles, and will 
be offered in one or two jobs as the bidders prefer. 
Cash when completed, which must be by the first of 

I will also at the same time offer the job of clearing 
out all the stumps in a strip of 30 feet wide of the centre 

of said road. 

Solon Robinson, Com'r. 

Rock Creek Ford, Jennings co. 

March 11, 1831. 

1 This advertisement was repeated on October 1, 1827. 



Advertisement: Town of Solon 

[Madison Indiana Republican, May 5, 1831] 

[April 28, 1831] 


In the Town of 

Lately laid out, at Robinson's Stand, Rock Creek 
Ford, Jennings Co., in a central situation between Co- 
lumbus and Vernon ; 34 miles from Madison and 52 from 
Indianapolis. The scite is a beautiful situation, on high 
ground, and in a very healthy part of the country, afford- 
ing plenty of the purest cool water, at a depth not ex- 
ceeding 20 feet. 

There are fine settlements and good Mills convenient, 
and much excellent vacant land in the immediate vicinity 
— a fine stream of living water, running over a bed of 
lime rock, passes within a few rods of the town plat. 

Sixty-four lots are surveyed, 4 rods by 8, each of 
which is bounded on three sides by a street 48 feet wide, 
or alley 10 feet wide. 

The State Road, one of the greatest thoroughfares in 
the state, forms one of the streets, and a county road 

Ten of the Lots, I will donate to ten of the most use- 
ful mechanical trades; the first applicants for which, 
who produce good recommendations, will receive titles. 

Two of the lots, for a schoolhouse, and ten per cent of 
all the proceeds of the others, I will devote to the benefit 
of Education. 

One half of the remaining lots, will positively be sold 
to the highest bidder, on the day above mentioned, on a 
credit of 12 to 18 months. 

For further information, address. 

Solon Robinson, P. M. 

Rock Creek Ford, Jennings Co. la. 1 
April 28, 1831. 31. tds 

1 la., a common abbreviation for Indiana in the thirties. 

Plat of Solon, Indiana 

[From original in Recorder's Office, Jennings County] 


Peculiarity of Oat Crop 

[Madison Indiana Republican, June 21, 1832] 

Solon, la. June 17, 1832. 

Messrs. Arion & Lodge: — Through your paper I wish 
to mention, that the curious might cogitate upon it, a 
great natural curiosity that seems to prevail this year, 
perhaps universally. 

Strange and improbable as it may appear, there is on 
every leaf of the present growing crop of oats, a plain 
and handsome well proportioned letter B. 

The fears of the superstitious are considerably excited. 
Some are determined that B. stands for Burn — and the 
approaching comet is to consumate their prophecy. 1 
Others try to believe it stands for Blood — and the pres- 
ent sheding of the red fluid by the Indians, is sufficient 
proof to them, that they have hit upon the right sig- 
nification. 2 

Others, judging very reasonably from present appear- 
ances of the oat crop in this vicinity, think that it stands 
for Blast. 

Others still more reasonably think it only a curious 
freak of Nature. — For myself I give no opinion, but ad- 
vise every lover of nature's curiosities to repair to the 
oat field, examine for themselves and form their own con- 

Your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

1 The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge 
for the Year 1832, 24, mentioned the expected return of Encke's 
and Biela's comets in 1832 and of Halley's in 1835. 

1 The Indiana Republican carried weekly reports of the Black 
Hawk War. In June, 1832, Governor Noble issued a call for 150 
riflemen to guard the frontiers of Elkhart and St. Joseph counties. 
Ibid., June 14, 1832. 

Advertisement : Tavern 

[Madison Indiana Republican, Oct. 25, 1832] 

[October 22, 1832] 

A hint to Travellers, 

Respectfully shewing that I, 


"Pretty well known as a Landlord," 

ON the state road from Madison to Indianapolis, do 
still continue, (and in consequence of the person 
who bargained for the purchase of my stand having 
"backed out,") do still intend to continue to accommodate 
such of my friends as still intend to "put up" with the 
most comfortable accomodation that a "log cabin tavern" 
can furnish. 1 

Travellers will "now and then" find a little very good 
fresh Venison, and some other things, just fit to keep 
from starving. 

My house is at Rock Creek, 34 miles from Madison, 13 
from Vernon, 10 from Columbus. 

My charges are not very low — plenty of Cheaper places 
— "by their fruits ye shall know them." 

Solon, Jennings, co. Oct 22, 1832. 

Madison Auction Room. 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Nov. 21, 1833] 

[November 20, 1833] 


Auction Business 

In the room lately occupied by 



HE has just received from Cincinnati, several exten- 
sive consignments of Furniture, Clothing, Books, 
Dry Goods, &c. &c, which will be sold uncommonly low, 

1 See Introduction, 8, for a description of the cabin. 


at private sale — Due notice will be given in hand-bills of 
the first auction sale. 

Among the lots of furniture, are several splendid Ma- 
hogony Side Boards, Secretaries, Bureaus, carved and 
plain Bedsteads. Also, Chairs, Settees, Matrasses, 
Feather Beds, Bedding, Carpets, Kitchen furniture, &c. 

Consignments of every description will be received and 
disposed of at auction, or private sale, on reasonable 

Madison, la. Nov. 20th, 1833. 

Advertisement : Auctioneer, Town or Country Sales 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Nov. 28, 1833] 

[November 28, 1833] 


TENDERS his services as auctioneer, to attend sales 
of property of every description, in town or country. 
He believes himself well qualified as a salesman, to give 
general satisfaction. Charges moderate. 

N. B. Property of all kinds will be received at the 
Madison Auction Rooms, to sell at public or private sale. 
November 28th, 1833. 

Madison Auction Rooms. 
Notice to Delinquents. 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Dec. 19, 1833] 

IN the next week's Republican & Banner I shall publish 
a "Black List" of "bidders, not buyers," particularly 
those who have taken goods away and have not paid 
for them. 

Solon Robinson, Auc'r. 

Madison Auction Rooms 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Jan. 2, 1834] 

[January 2, 1834] 

OWING to continued ill heallth, the regular sales have 
been suspended for a short time. Any person hav- 
ing business with me, will find me, when not at the auc- 
tion room, at my dwelling, near the corner of 2d and 

West streets. 

Solon Robinson. 

January 2, 1834. 

Circulating Library 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Feb. 13, 1834] 

A COLLECTION of new and popular works will be 
be kept to loan out on the Cincinnati terms, at 
the Madison Auction Rooms. Solon Robinson. 

Bebruary 13. 875 

Madison Auction Rooms. 

[Madison Republican and Banner, June 5, 1834] 

[June 3, 1834] 
T N consequence of long sickness and continued ill health, 
■*- I am obliged to discontinue my Auction business for 
the present, 1 but having a quantity of goods on hand, 
my consignors, have ordered me to 

Sell them at a very great sacrifice. 
I will therefore, on to-morrow, Friday morning, at 9 
o'oclock, sell a great variety of valuable articles, consist- 
ing of Dry Goods, Hardware, Glassware, Cutlery, Fancy 
articles, &c. &c. in lots to suit dealers. 

Also, — One Splendid, Twenty-one-day, French Time 
Piece — a lot of Dutch Madder, and a small lot of dam- 
aged coffee. 

Solon Robinson, Auc'r. 

June, 3d, 1834. 

1 In the Republican and Banner for June 12, Robinson advertised 
his final sale, to be held June 17, 1834. 


A Friendly Hint 

[Madison Republican and Banner, July 10, 1834] 

[July 4, 1834] 

The gentleman who was so far from being "Indepen- 
dent," as to be under the necessity before "Independence 
day," of stealing two old ragged shirts from the line in 
my yard, is "respectfully informed," that after he has 
done celebrating his "glorious independence" in his bor- 
rowed shirts, if he will return them, I will give him 
cloth enough to make him two good substantial new ones 
— provided he will agree to "steal no more." 

Solon Robinson. 

Madison, July 4th, 1834. 

Description of Northwestern Indiana 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Jan. 15, 1835 1 ] 

Robinson's Prairie, Oakland Co., la. 
Dec. 16th, 1834. 

Messrs. Lodge & Patrick: — I avail myself of the pleas- 
ure and take the privilege of addressing you and through 
you some information not only of myself, but of the coun- 
try, that I hope will be interesting to my friends and 
acquaintances and many of your readers. 

Your first inquiry will be "where is the place you date 
from." It is the territory which forms the North West 
corner of Indiana — lying west of Laporte county and be- 
tween the Kankakee river and Lake Michigan. Being 
one of the first settlers, I have named it "Oakland 
county," as descriptive of most of the timber in it. 2 This 
Prairie having no other name, and I having moved the 
first white family on to it, has been called "Robinson's 
Prairie" by way of distinction. My location is 35 miles 
South West of Michigan city on the Old Sioux Indian 

1 Reprinted in Indiana Magazine of History, 4:66-70, and in Gary 
Evening Post, August 27, 1918, with comments by A. F. Knotts. 
* The region was officially named Lake County in 1836. 



trail, 1 leading in the direction of Peoria, Illinois; and 
about the same distance South East of Chicago, 2 and on 
the dividing ridge between the waters of the Lakes and 
Mississippi. I cannot give you an adequate idea of this 
country. To say it is rich and beautiful, is not sufficient. 
It is the first fine country I ever saw. I am now speak- 
ing of the north part of the state generally. You have 
heard the Door Prairie 3 described. Description gives 
you no idea of the real splendor of the green when it 
first breaks upon the view. I had seen many Prairies 
before ; but never such an one. My intention when I left 
Madison, was to have settled upon it. Knowing that it 
was only 2 or 3 years since it began to settle, I expected 
to find much vacant land. Instead of that it is nearly 
all claimed and already wears the appearance of an old 
settled country. Good frame houses and barns built 
and building, with such a multitude of stacks of hay and 
grain, that it looks like the great store house of the world. 
And yet with all this abundance, grain is already becom- 
ing high and scarce. The influx of "new comers" is 
beyond calculation. Land is rising in value most won- 
derfully, and yet when compared with some other coun- 
tries it never can reach a value sufficiently high to com- 
pare with its real worth. 

"Congress Improvements" are frequently sold on the 
Door Prairie from $500 to $2000 for quarter sections. 
Every emigrant's desire is to get upon the most valuable 
location he can find, so that his improvement will rise in 
value before the land comes into market, which will not 
be until next summer or later. Not finding a situation 
in Laporte county that suited me, I was at some loss 
what to do, when I accidentally met with the surveyors, 
just returned from their survey in this territory. They 

1 The Sauk Indian trail leading from Detroit, Michigan, to 
Peoria, Illinois. 

* Fifty miles would be more nearly correct. 

* Located in La Porte County and famous for its beauty and rich 


informed me that there was a large tract of country 
entirely unsettled, which was not only equally as fertile 
as the Door Prairie, but in other respects better. I im- 
mediately procured an Indian poney, furnished myself 
with provision and a blanket, took notes and a plat of the 
country from the surveyors, and in company with one 
other person started out on an exploring tour. I soon 
found the spots pointed out as first rate on my plat, and 
upon one of them made my pitch — returned to Laporte 
and procured hands to help build a cabin and moved my 
family on directly some fifteen or twenty miles beyond 
"the last house," and in one week after we camped upon 
this spot, I had a comfortable log cabin 18 feet square as 
well finished oft as could be expected thirty-five miles 
from a saw mill. I came on to this Prairie the 1st of 
November, at which time I could have said with the poet 
of Juan Fernandes, 

"I am monarch of all I survey, 
My right there is none to dispute," 

but now, there is about a dozen houses in sight, and nu- 
merous claims made for others, though as yet I have but 
one white neighbor within ten miles. This is an arm of 
the "Grand Prairie," and is most beautifully interspersed 
with groves of timber, which consist of white, black, 
yellow, red and bur oak, and great quantities of shell 
bark hickory and some other timber. Lakes, streams 
and springs are also plenty. In the grove where I have 
built there is an abundance of crab-apple, plum and 
cherry trees — and above all, there are great number of 
"Honey trees" in the country. The soil on this Prairie, 
is composed of twelve to eighteen inches of dry black 
vegetable matter on top, then from one to two feet loose 
clayey loam, under which is a hard pan of limestone 
pebbly clay. Stone is not plenty, though enough for the 
most necessary purposes can be obtained easily. Soft 
timber is scarce — rail and other timber abundant and 
excellent, and fuel the best I ever saw — particularly oak, 


which when perfectly green, will ignite as easy and burn 
as well as I ever saw seasoned hickory of sugar tree do in 
the south part of this state. As to the healthiness of the 
country I can only say that every body says it is so, and 
every body's personal appearance warrants the belief 
that the say so is true. The badness of my own health 
was my inducement for leaving the Ohio river, as then 
there seemed no prospect of my ever recovering it — here, 
I have become as hearty as I ever was in my life — com- 
pletely restored. I most earnestly wish that many of 
my friends could partake of the benefits of this country. 
The north end of Indiana will most certainly become the 
garden spot of the state. A very erroneous impression 
has been long impressed upon the public in regard to the 
country purchased of the Potawatamies in 1832, lying 
within this state. It has ever been represented upon the 
map of the state as one immense swamp — But instead of 
that being the fact, it is directly the contrary. Ten thou- 
sand acres of fine high dry Prairie, to one of swamp, is 
more correct. Nearly all the streams are bordered with 
marsh, on which grows the most luxurient crop of grass, 
which affords the greatest abundance of good hay to the 
new settlers. So that instead of being a detriment to 
the settlement of the country, it is the greatest advantage 
— and as the water of these marshes is generally pure 
spring water and no decaying timber on them they are in 
no way unhealthy. In fact there is no decaying timber 
here (the great source of miasma) even in the timbered 
land. It is all burnt up annually, as the Indians make it 
a point to fire the Phairies every fall, and all of the tim- 
ber here is so combustible that it burns so entirely as to 
leave no trace even of the stumps. — Perhaps this is the 
way that the Prairies are first made. 

There appears to be but few Indians now in the coun- 
try. There are three wigwams on the bank of a most 
beautiful lake 1 abounding in fish, geese, ducks and musk- 

1 Probably Cedar Lake. 


rats, about four miles from my house. The wigwams are 
built of sticks, and covered with long grass and flag 
matting, and are about ten or twelve feet in diamiter, 
with a small fire, and a great smoke in the centre, around 
which the family sit or lie, on a few skins or blankets. 
Superfluity of furniture, is not a sin which they are 
guilty of. It would be well for many of your readers 
who think they have not enough, to look into an Indian 
wigwam, and see the fact demonstrated, that, 

"Man wants but little here below, &c. 

And yet these are a cheerful happy people. Their dress 
usually consits of moccasins, broadcloth or buckskin leg- 
gins, a kind of kilt, and sometimes a shirt, and over all 
a blanket loosely thrown. They are frequently at my 
house to "swap" Suc-se-we-oss [Venison] for Buck-we-an 
and Quass-gun, [flour and bread] or Po-ke-min [Cran- 
berries] and Musquas skins, for Sum-ma [Tobacco] and 
Daw-mien [corn.] They are quiet and civil, but not quite 
so neat as might be. Their besetting sin is a love of 
whiskey — an awful curse that white men have inflicted 
upon them. I blush to say that there are men in Indiana 
that will strip an Indian of his last blanket for whiskey. 
They are fast falling before the sweeping pestilence of 
drunkenness. One of the coldest nights of this winter, 
one of the poor wretches lay out upon this Prairie, hav- 
ing pawned his best blanket for whiskey enough to mur- 
der him. I am certain this is one crime I never shall be 
guilty of. 

I take pride in being the Indian's friend. I have al- 
ready acquired among them the name of "Wyonett 
Tshmokeman," the english of which I will explain to 
you when you come to see me. 

Some person who would like to emigrite to the Pota- 
watamie country, are deterred from it by fear of the 
Indians. Such if once here would soon dismiss their 
fears. They are by no means unpleasant neighbors — 
besides it is probable that they will all leave the country 



in the course of next summer, for their new home west 
of the Mississippi. Others are deterred from emigrating 
in consequence of the land not yet being in market. No 
difficulty is to be apprehended from making improve- 
ments before purchasing. Congress provided for all of 
the settlers of 1833, at the last session, by a removal of 
the pre-emption law. No doubt the same favor will be 
extended to those who have settled since that time, at the 
present session of congress. If not, the claims of settlers 
are most singularly respected by common custom. For 
instance a person comes here and looks out a piece of 
land that suits him, he will perhaps lay the foundation of 
a cabin is [as?] "claimed" or located, and no person will 
interfere or presume to settle upon it without first pur- 
chasing the first claimant's right. There is a vast body 
of most beautiful country yet unclaimed in this purchase. 
Thousands of "first rate chances" may yet be had on this 
Prairie and in the groves adjoining. I have no doubt but 
that the rush of emigrants into "Oakland county," will 
be as great for three years to come, as it has been into 
Laporte county for three pears past. The growth of 
this country is, to an eastern or southern man, most won- 
derful. The majority of the inhabitants are Yankees; 
and those too who are not only comfortable, but "well to 
live." One good evidence of the good quality of the in- 
habitants is to be seen in the numerous school houses and 
the scarcity of grog shops. There is a great demand for 
mechanics. The communication with New York by the 
Lakes is so easy, that merchandize is not high, but labor 
and provisions of all kinds are quite so, when compared 
with prevailing prices on the Ohio river. 

Michigan city, which is the only landing place at pres- 
ent on Lake Michigan in this state, presents one of the 
most singularly rapid growths I ever knew. It is now, 
in reality a small city — one year ago it contained only 
three log cabins. There is much fine white pine timber 
near the city, and Trail croek affords good mill privileges, 
on which are several mills. 


Although this is a very level country, there are an 
abundance of mill privileges, on never failing streams, 
which possess the singular feature of never rising or fall- 
ing, except a mere trifle. 

If you think my present sketch may be interesting to 
your readers, I will probably give you a continuation of 
it hereafter. — Till then I remain 

Yours &c. 

Solon Robinson. 

Description of Northwestern Indiana, continued 

[Madison Republican and Banner, Apr. 30, 1835 1 ] 

Robinson's Prairie, N. W. part of Ind 
February 25, 1835 

Messrs. Editors: 

Your paper of Jan. 15, containing my former letter, 
has been some time received. I should have complied 
with your polite request for a continuance ere this, but 
that my "cabin" has been so constantly crowded with 
"land hunters," as to deprive me of an opportunity. — The 
present being an excessive "cold snap," has so froze up 
others that I have room to go ahead. Apropos, of cold; 
— although more North than your section of country, we 
do not suffer as much here as there, with cold. — It freezes 
harder, but the air is more dry and bracing, and less 
changeable. With the same clothing, a person will be 
more comfortable, except when crossing wide Prairies 
in a windy, or more particularly, snowy time. Then 
there is real danger. — Persons have sometimes become 
bewildered and lost in their course, and exposed to great 
suffering. Though there are but few, and probably none 
of the Prairies in Indiana so extensive or scarce of tim- 
ber but that they will be densely settled in a short space 
of time. But in Illinois, they become so immense that 
it cannot be expected that the central portions of them 

1 Reprinted in The Comet, Charlestown, Indiana, May 9, 1835, 
and in Gary Evening Post, August 27, 1918, with comment by 
A. F. Knotts. 


can ever be settled until timber has been cultivated, 
which no doubt could be very profitably done. Hedging 
will in time become a common and cheap method of fenc- 
ing, — but now it is far cheaper and easier to haul rails 
five or six miles (which is the greatest distance neces- 
sary,) than it is to clear off heavy timbered land to 
make a farm. 

On a Prairie, no preparation of the ground is neces- 
sary before ploughing. The first breaking requires a 
strong team — from three to five yoke of oxen. After that 
one horse will plough it, as the land is as mellow as a 
garden. The first, or "sod crop" is light — averaging of 
corn about 20 bushels — oats 30, wheat 25. An "old 
ground crop" will be double, and some assert threble. 
Potatoes, turneps, beets, melons, pumpkins, peas, onions, 
and almost every kind of vegetables, flourish well. The 
soil is too rich for fruit trees, — they outgrow themselves. 
I fear orchards will never do well. But we have an 
abundant supply of a good substitute: cranberries, 
plumbs, crab apples, some grapes, and plenty of wild 
strawberries of rich flavor, — all kinds of tame grass so 
far as tried appear to do well, so also of flax and hemp, 
and if not too far north the soil will produce the best 
crops of tobacco, and never become exhausted. The white 
mulberry has been tried, and will flourish. 

The cost of breaking up and fencing Prairie, where it 
lies contiguous to timber, is $3 per acre, and it has been 
proved by actual experience, that the first crop will pay 
for breaking, fencing, sowing, harvesting, &c, and leave 
a surplus to pay for the land. The present wholesale 
prices of produce in Laporte county are, for wheat, 50 
cts, corn 50, oats 37y 2 ; pork in the hog 31/2 to 4 cts., 
salted 6 to 7; beans and peas $2, and scarce; potatoes 
scarce, and for seed only, 50 cts. to $1 per bushel. 1 At 
Chicago, these articles bring about double these prices, 
and even higher. This town is growing more rapidly 
than any other that I know of in the United States, and 

1 Cf. post, 317. 

Robinson Log Cabin, 1834-1882 


is certainly destined to become an important city. It is 
so situated, both in respect to land and water, that no 
point can become a successful rival. A large tract of 
Indiana will be as much benefited in the growth of Chi- 
cago as Illinois. 

A project is now being canvassed for uniting the navi- 
gable waters of the Calimink river 1 with the Kankakee, 
by a canal. This is very feasible ; the route from a point 
where there is always four feet of water in the Calimink, 
to the Kankakee, will not exceed 25 miles, and Cedar 
Lake, which is a beautiful sheet of water three miles 
long and one or one and a half wide, is on the very sum- 
mit level. On the outlet of this lake are many very fine 
mill seats, and an abundance of the richest quality of 
'bog' Iron ore. And what I consider as a greater curios- 
ity than the "ancient mounds" and fortifications of the 
Western country, is the evident appearance of this ore 
having been worked, at a date corresponding with the 
date of all the extraordinary relics of a cultivated race of 
men having once inhabited the West. There is near the 
stream, and adjoining a bed of the Iron ore, a large bank 
or mound, entirely composed of cinders, bearing an exact 
resemblance to those thrown out of a modern furnace. 
When, or by whom, Iron was here manufactured, is a 
question never to be answered. Articles of earthern 
ware, among which are remains of Iron articles, are 
often ploughed up on the Door Prairie. 

The Kankakee, from where the proposed canal would 
intersect it to near South Bend on the St. Joseph, a 
distance of 70 or 80 miles, is more like a lake than river, 
and is navigable for steam boats drawing 3 feet water 
at all seasons. 

The Calimink is very incorrectly laid down on all 
maps I ever saw. The channel of the main stream runs 
west 30 or 40 miles, all the way navigable for steam 
boats, just back from the lake shore, (taking in several 
heavy streams from the South, the head waters of which 

1 Now known as the Calumet River. 


interlock with the waters of the Kankakee,) and empties 
into the Lake 12 miles south east of Chicago, and 1 mile 
and a half west of the Indiana line. The water within 
the bar is 25 to 30 feet deep, but over the bar there is 
sometimes not over 3 feet. There is also another mouth 
which can easily be made navigable, about a dozen miles 
west of Michigan City. No doubt good harbors and 
towns will be made at both mouths in time, as well as at 
several points at the head of deep water on several of 
the principal streams, forming good markets for the sur- 
plus produce of the adjoining Prairies. 1 

Nearly all of the land 10 or 12 miles wide around 
the South end of Lake Michigan is of very poor quality, 
and worthless except in places where well timbered. A 
round Chicago it is wet Prairie ; but a few feet above the 
level of the Lake, and the land is much like the flat beach 
land of the South. Forty miles west of Chicago is the 
"Fox river country," which is high dry Prairie, with 
rapid streams running over solid beds of limestone, on 
the banks of which are groves of good timber, though a 
very small supply for the great extent of open Prairie. 
South West of Chicago on the route of the Illinois Canal, 
on the Ouplane river, 2 it is also limestone country, with 
but little timber, but a supply of stone-coal. The junction 
of this river with the Kankakee forms the Illinois river. 
Some forty miles above the mouth of the Ouplane, on 
the East side and near the new and flourishing town of 
Juliet, 3 empties Hickory creek, which became so cele- 
brated in the "last Indian war." It was then an ex- 
treme frontier settlement, and far detached from any 
other. Far different is it now. 

From the mouth of the Ouplane the Kankakee is a 
fine rapid stream, with high banks, limestone bottom; 
high Prairie, but little timber, up to the Indiana line. 

1 Witness East Chicago, Indiana Harbor, Hammond, Gary, and 
Whiting, Indiana. 

2 Des Plaines River. 
"Joliet, Illinois. 


From thence up to near its source it has no banks; but 
little current; and in many places where it is 50 to 100 
rods wide, and 3 to 6 feet deep, it grows entirely over 
with grass, so as to check its current during the summer 
season, and cause it to be the highest at times when all 
other streams are the lowest. On each side it is bordered 
with marsh and timber with but one or two places 
where the dry land comes in on both sides opposite, so as 
to allow a road to cross. 

One of the largest tributaries of the Kankakee, is 
Yellow river, which comes in from the South East, cross- 
ing the Michigan road at Plymouth, forty miles north of 
Logansport. This is a fine mill stream — is bordered 
by excellent land, most of which is heavy timbered, the 
lumber of which in a few years will be transported by 
water into Lake Michigan, and also furnishing the 
Prairies through which a canal will pass, with building 
and fencing materials, and being furnished in return 
with lime, salt, iron, coal, &c. 

The country south of the Kankakee does not compare 
in fertility, or facility of market with that north, yet 
a great portion of it will be densely settled. Some of it 
will be valuable on account of timber. Iroquois river, 
(called in the country "Rockwise," and laid down on the 
late maps as the "Pickamink,") which empties into the 
Kankakee 15 miles west of the State line, is bordered 
with walnut and other valuable timber east of the State 
line, and affords excellent mill seats and sufficient water 
to take the lumber to a good market — the rich Prairies 

The whole of the Pattawattamie country, although 
long considered by many in the south part of the state 
as hardly worth purchasing, will eventually support a 
greater population, and add more wealth to Indiana 
than any other tract of the same size in any part of the 
State. Population, the very fountain of wealth to a 
new State, is flowing in here from Maine, New Hamp- 
shire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecti- 


cut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and a 
few from Virginia, and other Southern States. And 
should Congress, previous to the land sales, take judi- 
cious steps to prevent speculators from monopolizing 
the land, the same wealth will continue to flow into the 
State till we possess a "mammoth Bank" of wealth so 
"monstrous" that no power of "government" can "veto" 
it. If the pre-emption right of purchasing the quarter 
section on which all settlers reside at the time the land 
comes into market, is granted, it will prevent non-resi- 
dents from obtaining large bodies of land; a circum- 
stance which always injures the rapid growth of a 
country. If this land is not offered for sale till the sum- 
mer of 1836, there will probably be more actual settlers 
upon it, than were ever before known in any land district 
at the time of sale. 

I know from experience and observation, that a great 
many persons have a very incorrect idea of the forma- 
tion of a Prairie country. I will correct them: — The 
prevailing impression is, I believe, that it is a perfect 
level tract of land, destitute of timber; and that unless 
the soil is so loose and sandy as to render it invaluable, 
it consequently must be very wet. But such is not the 
case. Although there is level wet Prairie as well as 
timbered land, yet the general face of the country in 
this part of the State is more undulating than the heavy 
timbered land south of the Wabash. Not many miles 
from my residence, there is a tract of entire open Prairie 
that is really too hilly for pleasant cultivation. In the 
vallies run clear streams of water, over pebbly bottoms, 
often in channels more deep than wide, which are so 
overhung with the luxuriant foilage of the rich banks, 
as entirely to conceal the stream from view; and its 
presence is only known on approaching it, by the differ- 
ance in the appearance of the grass. All of these streams 
abound in fish, corresponding in size to the size of the 
stream; and in some of the small lakes, (even those 
having neither inlet nor outlet,) they are very large. 


Muskrats are also exceedingly abundant, and afford one 
of the principal sources of sustenance for the Indians. 
They eat the flesh and "swap" the skins to the traders 
for some of the necessaries and some of the imneces- 
saries of life. It is not to be wondered at that the In- 
dians dislike to leave a country so well adapted to their 
wants, and withal so pleasant to reside in. But the 
Chiefs of the nation seem to take the proper view of the 
subject. — They say their people cannot live in connec- 
tion with the whites ; and they are anxious, howmuchso- 
ever they dislike to leave "their own, their native land," 
to see every one of their tribe remove West of the Missis- 
sippi. How long they can live there undisturbed, re- 
mains to be told. It is my opinion that the people of 
the next century will talk of the Indians, as "a people 
that are supposed to have formerly inhabited this conti- 
nent." The Indians of this section of country have no 
fixed residence. I spoke of the kind of wigwam they live 
in, in a former letter. It is a mere temporary camp ; — 
the same family occupy perhaps a dozen different shops 
in a year. Some have ponies; others pack all their 
moveable property upon their shoulders, from one camp- 
ing place to another. In winter they generally select 
some romantically sheltered spot near a lake or stream; 
and in a very short space of time, a few poles, one end 
stuck in the ground, and the others tied together at top, 
covered with long marsh grass, furnish the family with 
as good a residence as they ever need or desire. In 
summer they reverse the order, camping upon the highest 
knobs and most airy points of groves ; sometimes, though 
rarely, planting a "small patch" of corn. In the spring 
season a great portion of them engage in making sugar. 
Adjoining the Door Prairie on the north, is a very large 
body of Sugar tree timber. The Indians have many 
excellent Sugar Camps there. They are well furnished 
with large copper and brass kettles, which at the end of 
the season they bury until wanted again. In the Terri- 
tory of Michigan, the Ottawa tribe of Indians furnish 


a considerable part of the sugar necessary for consump- 
tion. This tribe yet owns all the North West part of 

Indiana has now happily got all the Pottawattamie 
title extinguished, with the exception of some scattering 
reservations belonging to individuals. It is hoped the 
remainder of the Miami reservation may ere long, also 
change owners. This tract, though not large, yet lying 
as it does in a fertile and central part of the State, and 
contiguous to the Wabash and Lake Erie Canal, renders 
it of the utmost importance to the interest of Indiana 
that the Indian title be extinguished, even at a very high 
price. But it is not probable they will sell during the 
life of the present principal Chief, who is a half breed 
Frenchman of intelligence — influence, and great wealth 
— and greater anxiety to increase that wealth, which he 
can better do now than if the tribe should dispose of 
their land. 1 

And now having given you a communication suffi- 
ciently long to cover a length of time past, and having 
brought the time down since my date of 25th Feb. to 
25th March, I will close, and allow you to hope I may 
write oftener and shorter in time to come. When the 
Prairies become clothed with the verdant green and 
fragrant flowers, and the groves still more full than now 
of the spring birds, I will endeavor to sketch you a view 
of the picture. Till then, may you and your readers en- 
joy health and happiness, equal to that enjoyed by your 

Solon Robinson. 

1 Treaties of November 6, 1838, and November 28, 1840, extin- 
guished the remaining tribal holdings of the Miami in Indiana. 
John B. Eichardville was the principal chief. See Kappler (ed.), 
Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties, 2:519-24, 531-34. 


Establishment of Lake C. H. Post Office 

[Printed Circular, with A. L. S., Indiana State Library] 



A New County, called 'LAKE', has recently been 
formed in the North West corner of INDIANA, which 
includes the "extreme South Bend of Lake Michigan;" 
it is 16 miles wide & about 32 long. 

Near the centre of this County, 13 miles South of the 
Lake, 35 S. E. of Chicago, & 35 S. W. of Michigan City 
la., on a new mail route from which to Peoria 111., the 
P. M. Gen'l has just established a new Post Office called 
"Lake C. H.", to which all communications for me, or 
any other person you may know to be a resident of this 
County, particularly of that part of it called Robinson's 
Prairie, you will please forward direct to this Office. 
Respectfully Yours &c. 

Solon Robinson. P. M. 

N. B. You will also send all papers to this Office for 
Messrs Hammel & Henning — 1 

I send by Mr. Wells, 2 the bearer seven bundles of furs 
— containing each 50, except one bundle of Coon which 
has 29 Coon — 13 Muskrat & 1 Mink which with the 7 
Mink delivered makes up the bundle — The 3 bundles 
delivered, with them make up 500 — 100 of which are 

1 This note, written at the bottom of the printed circular, indi- 
cates one phase of activity at the general store which Robinson 
operated at Lake Court House. Mrs. L. F. Bennett, in Centennial 
Notes, 191G, in Scrapbook No. 1 of the Porter County Historical 
Society, says that Robinson was a John Jacob Astor fur trader, 
an interesting statement which I have not seen elsewhere, and 
have not otherwise been able to confirm. The trading establish- 
ment of Jeremiah Hamell and James L. Hening was not far from 
the site of Valparaiso, Porter County. Hamell represented Porter 
and Newton counties in the General Assembly, 1837-38. 

7 Probably Henry Wells, a prominent early settler of Lake 
County, and associate of Robinson. 


fall skins — 79 Coon — 8 Mink & the ballance I think first 
rate winter & spring Muskrat — 

I have some more on hand yet to pack & a hundred or 
two that I shall get if I ever find time to go to the Wig- 
wams after them — 

In haste yours &c. Solon Robinson 
[Addressed:] Messrs. Hammel & Henning Merchants 
— Morgans Prairie — Porter Co — 

Richard Fansher et al: Petition to the President 

[Ms. in Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs] 

[July 4, 1836] 

To the President op the United States — 

Most venerable Father — 

Thy children 
are oppressed and seek redress — Justice — simple jus- 
tice — 

In the fall of the year 1834 we sought for a home for 
our families on the public lands of our government & 
found one that pleased us, in the N. W. part of the state 
of Indiana — We have located upon section (17) 
seventeen in Town (34) Thirty four N. of Range (8) 
eight W. under the firm expectation of being permitted 
to purchase our homes when offered for sale by govern- 
ment — 

After enduring the privations & difficulties incident 
to the settlement of a new country & making comfortable 
houses and improvements to the value of more than a 
thousand dollars we have just been shocked & had our 
hearts wrung at the prospect of distress exhibited to us 
by the grief of our wives and children, on learning for 
the first time that an "Indian floating reservation" 1 had 
been located upon our homes and "approved of by the 
President" — 

1 See Introduction, 12 ff., and post, 80 ff. 


Must our hard earned homes be wrung from us by the 
cold blooded speculator & our families be driven forth 
again or will the President interfere in our behalf — 

We cannot believe that if there is any law that will 
sanction him in the performance of so blessed an act, 
that Andrew Jackson will ever suffer honest citizens of 
this republic to be trodden under foot by such gross in- 
justices — 

We most earnestly pray that the President will take 
our case into consideration & cause us to be informed 
of our fate at as early a day as possible — 

We are Proud of the glorious day & opportunity of 
subscribing our names as American Citizens — 
Lake Co. Ia. July 4. 1836 

Richard Fansher 
Peter Stainbrook 
Lewis Herlitz 1 
Thomas Clark 
Ransom Williams 
We the undersigned, neighbors of the above petitioners 
do certify to the facts as set forth & most humbly join 
our prayer that they may if consistent with law be re- 
lieved from their present unfortunate condition — 
W m Clark Solon Robinson — 

Calvin Lilley Henry Wells 

Samuel Hutchins Robert Wilkinson 

Sprague Lee Elias Myrick 

Adonijah Taylor John Keller 

W m Mirick W. W. Payne 

James Knickerbocker J. W. Holton 

Aaron Cox S. P. Stringham 

George Hornor E. J. Robinson 

Amos Hornor John Foley 

Lewis Dille Henry Myrick 

William S. Hunt W m A. W. Holton 

1 The signature here is apparently "Lewis Herlitz," although 
T. H. Ball says that Herlitz did not come to Lake County until 
1837 or 1838. 


Joseph Kinder 1 W m A. Purdy 

David Hornor J. B. Curtis 

John Knickerbocker Sam'l. D. Bryant 

Hiram Nordyke Jesse Bond 

Rusel Eddy Thomas Childers 

Alxr Clark Thomas Wiles 

Ambros Eddy Elias Bryant 

I certify that the facts set forth in the within petition 

are correct to my own personal knowledge — 

For reff erences of myself I would respectfully refer to 

the Hon. Senators of Indiana if in Washington — 

Solon Robinson, P. M. Lake Co. H. 
July 4 th 1836— 

Organization of the Squatters' Union 

[Ms. in possession of Frank F. Knight, Crown Point 2 ] 

[July 4, 1836] 
At a meeting of a majority of the citizens of Lake 
Co. held at the house of Solon Robinson on the 4 th of 
July, 1836, for the purpose of adopting measures & 
forming a constitution for the better security of the 
settlers upon public lands, Wm. Clark was unanimously 
elected to preside over the meeting and Solon Robinson 
for secretary — After hearing the object stated for which 
the meeting was called it was moved that a committee 
of five be appointed to report a constitution & rules 
for the government of the members of this union — 
Whereupon Henry Wells, David Horner, Solon Robinson, 
Thomas Brown, and Thomas Wiles, were elected. After 
due deliveration they reported to the meeting the consti- 
tution hereto anexed and recorded on page 4, 5, & 6 of 
this book which after being read by the secretary, was 
afterwards discussed, examined and finally adopted 

1 The original of this signature is not clear. 

3 Printed in Ball, Lake County, from 1834- to 1872, 39-48, and in 
Goodspeed and Blanchard (eds.), Counties of Porter and Lake, 
Indiana, 407-9. 



article, by article, being fully approved by a majority 
of the meeting — 

On motion, the meeting then proceeded to elected a 
Register & a board of three County Arbitrators — Solon 
Robinson being nominated Register, 1 & Wm. Clark, 
Henry Wells & S. P. Stringham being nominated Arbi- 
trators were all unanimously elected — 

After some further discussion the meeting informally 
adjourned — 


of THE 

Squatters Union 


Lake County, Indiana — 

Preamble — 

Whereas, the Settlers upon the public lands in this 
county, not having any certain prospect of having their 
rights & claims secured to them by a pre-emption law of 
Congress, and feeling the strong present necessity of 
their becoming united in such a manner as to guard 
against speculation upon our rights, have met & united 
together to maintain and support each other, on the 4 th 
of July 1836, and now firmly convinced of the justness 
of our cause, do most solemly pledge ourselves to each 
other by the strong ties of interest & brotherly feeling, 
that we will abide by the several resolutions hereto at- 
tached, (& to which we will sign our names,) in the 
most faithfull manner — . 

Resolved, that every person who braves all of the Article lot- 

dangers and difficulties of settling a new & unimproved 
country is justly entitled to the privilege heretofore ex- 
tended to settlers by congress, to purchase their lands 
at a dollar and a quarter an acre — 

1 Robinson's leadership in the formation and activities of the 
Squatters' Union won him the title "King of the Squatters" and 
naturally led to his subsequent election to important county offices. 

tion of 
rights — 



Article 2<* 
of purpose — 


Settlers only 
to be aided — 

Article 4 th 
Who are 
members — 

Article 5 th 
Officers — 

Elections — 

Article 6<* 
Duties of 
Register — 

What to re- 
cord — 

Resolved, that if congress should neglect or refuse to 
pass a law before the land on which we live is offered 
for sale, which shall secure to us our rights, we will 
hereafter adopt such measures as may be necesary effec- 
tualy to secure each other in our just claims — 

Resolved, that we will not aid any person to purchase 
his Claim at the land sale, according to this constitution 
unless he is at the time an actual settler upon gover- 
nment lands, and has complied with all of the requisitions 
of this Constitution — 

Resolved, that all the settlers in this County, and also 
in the adjoining unsold lands in Porter Co. (if they are 
disposed to join us,) shall be considered members of this 
union as soon as they sign this Constitution, and entitled 
to all its advantages, whether present at this meeting 
or not — 

Resolved, that for the permanant and quiet adjust- 
ment of all differences that may arise among the settlers 
in regard to their claims, that there shall be elected by 
this meeting, a County board of Three Arbitrators, and 
also a Register of claims, who also shall perform the 
duties of clerk to the county board of arbitrators, and 
also the duties of a general corresponding secretary — 
In all elections, the person having the highest number 
of votes shall be elected — 

Resolved, that the person who may be elected Register, 
(if he accept the office) shall take an oath or affirmation, 
that he will faithfully perform all the duties enjoined 
upon him — He shall forthwith provide himself with a 
map of the County, (which shall be subject to the inspec- 
tion of every person desiring it,) on which he shall mark 
all claims registered, so that it can be seen what land 
is claimed and what is not, and also a book in which he 
shall register every claimants name and the number of 
the land which he claims, when it was first claimed, and 



when the claimant settled upon it, and the date when 
registered, where the occupant was from, and any other 
matters deemed necesary for public information, or that 
the County board, may order — 

He shall give persons applying, all information in his 
power in regard to claims or vacant land, that shall be 
calculated to promote the settlement of 'the county — 
He shall also reply in the same manner to letters ad- 
dressed him on the subject — [provided the applicant 
pays his own postage.] — He shall attend all meetings 
of the county board, record their proceedings and per- 
form their orders — When required by a member, stat- 
ing the object, he shall issue notice to the County or dis- 
trict board, when, where, and for what purpose they are 
to meet — 

For every claim he registers Twenty five cents — And 
he shall if required give the claimant a certificate stating 
the number of the land, and when registered — 
For issuing notice to arbitrators to meet 12*4j c — For 
attending their meetings the same fees tha[t] are al- 
lowed them — For duties of corresponding secretary no 
fees shall be required — 

Strangers — 

board — 

Fees — 

Resolved, that it shall be the duty of every person when Article 7 th 
they sign this constitution, or as soon thereafter] as Dutl fsof 


may be, to apply to the Register to have the land he 
claims, registered (paying the Register his fe[e] at the 
same time) — Where the claimant now resides upon the 
land which he claims, his claim shall be considered and 
held good as soon as registered — Every sale or trans- 
fer of titles, sha[ll] be registered the same as new 
claims — 

Any person desirous of claiming any land now unoccu- How to 
pied, shall apply to have the same registered, and if he claim- 
is a resident of the county at the time he applies, resid- 
ing with, or upon any claim belonging to any other per- 
son or up [on] any land that has been floated upon by 
Indian or pre-emption claims, he shall be entitled] to 




may claim — 

Proviso — 

may claim 
for friends 
and How 

Claims — 

hold the claim he registers, while he remains a citizen 
of the county, provided, he sh[all] within thirty days 
after registering it, make or cause to be made some 
purminant improvem [ent] upon it, & continue to im- 
prove the same to the satisfaction of the County or dis- 
trict board of Arbitrator [s] 

Any nonresident who may hereafter be desirous to 
join this Union, shall first sign this constitution, and 
after registering his claim, shall proceed within Thirty 
days to occupy it with his family, or else make a a dur- 
able and permant improvement, either by building a good 
cabin for his residense, or by plowing; at least four 
acres, and then if he is not able to continue the occupancy 
of his claim either personaly or by a su[b]stitute, he 
shall apply to the arbitrators, stating his reasons for 
necesary absence, whether to move on his faimily, or 
whether for other purposes, and they shall certify to 
him wha[t] amount of labor he shall perform or cause 
to be performed within a given length of tim[e] to en- 
title him to hold his claim while he is absent, or for a cer- 
tain time, which when done & proved to the Register & 
entered of reccord, shall as fully entitle the claimant 
to his claim as though he resided on it — Provided, the 
board shall never grant a certificate to extend his ab- 
sense one year from the date, unless the claimant has 
performed at least one hundred dollars worth of labor 
on his claim, and satisfied the board fully that h[e] 
will within that time become an actual settler upon it — 

Any member of this Union may also register and im- 
prove claims for his absent freinds, as above provided, 
if he can & will satisfy the board (of the county or 
district,) that [the] identical person for whom he makes 
the claim will actualy become a settler & reside u[pon] 
it within the specefied time — 

Any person found guilty by the board of making 
fraudelent claims for speculating purposes, shall if a 
member forfeit his membership in this union, and for- 
feit al[l] right & title to hold the same and it shall be 



Fees of Arbi- 
trators — 

Article 8 th 
Board — 

tion — 

objections — 
decisions — 

declared confiscated & shall be sold as provided f[or] 
all forfeited claims in Article 9 th 

Every person requiring the services of the arbitrators, 
shall, if required, secure to them before they are bound 
to act one dollar & fifty cents for each days services of 
each & all other necesary Expense of magistrate, Wit- 
nesses, Register or other unavoidable expense — 

Resolved, that each congressional Township, or any 
settlement comprised in two or more townships contain- 
ing 20 members, may unite and elect a board of three 
arbitrators, who sh[all] possess the same powers to 
settle disputes (when applied to) within their district, 
that the co[unty] board have — And any member of 
that district may either submit his case, to the district 
or county board — The opposite party may object to 
one or two of the district board and call one or two of the 
county board or some disinterested member to sit in their 
places, provided he pays the extra expense so occa- 
sioned — All decisions of county or district board shall 
be final — 

Either of the parties, or the district board may require 
the Register to attend their meetings and record their 
proceedings — But if he is not present they shall certify 
their judgment to him immediately, and he shall register 
it as any other claim — 

Any member may also object to one of the county 
board, upon the same terms, and require one of a dis- 
trict board, or some disinterested member to sit in his 
place — The same proceedings shall also take place 
where one of the board are interested in the dispute — 
The district board may order district meetings, and the 
county board county meetings — 

Resolved, that the board of arbitrators shall as soon as Article 9th 
may be take an oath or affirmation before some magis- Duties of Ar- 
trate, faithfully & impartialy to perform all the duties 
enjoined upon them, not inconsistant with law, and that 
they will do all acts in their power for the benefit of 
members of this Union — 

bitrators — 



When to meet 

[May] re- 
oath — 
ment — 

claims — 
How dis- 

How used — 


Conduct — 

On being duly notified, they shall convene, and if they 
see proper, they shall make their acts a rule of court 
before some magistrate, according to the statute pro- 
vided for arbitrated cases — 

They may require the parties in the case to be tried, 
to be sworn, or affirmed, and hear arguments of parties 
or counsel, and finaly decide which party is justly en- 
titled to hold the claim, and which party shall pay costs, 
or damages — 

It shall be the duty of the County, or district board 
where the claim is situated, to take possession of any 
claim confiscated under the provisions of Article Seven, 
or any unoccupied non resident claim, the claimant of 
which has neglected to occupy or improve the same, ac- 
cording to the terms, and within the time specified in 
the certificate, and sell the same to some other person 
who will become a settler on it, keeping the money ob- 
tained for it in their hands [unless hereafter a Treas- 
urer shall be appointed] for a fund to defray any ex- 
pense that may be deemed necesary to maintain our just 
rights or advance the interest of the Union — And if a 
fund so accumulated shall not be requred for such pur- 
pose, the board shall use it toward purchasing land for 
any needy Widows or Orphan children, or needy mem- 
bers of this Union — 

Provided, that the board having jurisdiction, may ex- 
tend the time to any claimant holding a certificate from 
them, on application through the corresponding secre- 
tary, if the claimant can give them satisfactory reasons 
therefor, and they may also when they have sold a for- 
feited claim, if they deem it just & reasonable for good 
cause shewn, refund to the certificate claimant, the 
amount he had actualy expended upon it, and retain in 
the fund only the overplus that the same sold for — 

Any officer of this union, or any member, shall be dis- 
carded if convicted of gross neglect of duty, or immorral 
conduct tending to injure the character of the Union — 

J' U 

d*£> /u w^4*^^ Z> 1+^. tin. c^l 

fkat «*/~c u^t.'// vi^T jLc*-£ -^fc o 


/-•- j \-c&*u. J-it 

i-r*. «•» , f^uTt a. 



z.{&. aJSc 


CtAU. &a*Ja. KiAy 6. ftSJi J 


f °~$ 

The Squatters' Constitution, 1836 

[Detail from a page of the original manuscript, in the possession of 
Frank F. Knight, Crown Point] 


Resolved, that every White person capable of transact- Article 10th 
ing business, & making or causing to be made, an im- ?i^T s 
provement on a claim, with the evident design of becom- hold 
ing a settler thereon, shall be entitled to be protected in 
holding a claim on one quarter section, and no more — How much— 
Except, where persons holding claims on the Prairie or 
open Barrens, where the board may decide they have 
not sufficient timber to support their farm, shall be al- 
lowed to divide one quarter section of timber between 
four such Prairie claims — 

The board of arbitrators may require any person mak- [Claimant 
ing a claim to take an oath or affirmation that he intends m fy 
the same for actual settlement, or [if timber] use of 
his farm — 

No person settling in thick timber shall be allowed to [T]imber 
hold more than Eighty acres of timber, but shall be pro- claims— 
tected in a claim of Eighty acres on the Prairie — 

take oath- 

Resolved, that before land is offered for sale, that each Article nth 
district shall select a bidder to attend and bid off all Provision for 
claims, in the claimant's name, and that, if necesary, 
every settler will constantly attend the sale, prepared to 
aid each other to the full extent of our ability in obtain- 
ing every claimants land at goverment price — 

Resolved, that after the board of arbitrators have de- Article 12th 

cided that any indidual has obtruded upon anothers Howtoen - 

i ore 6 
claim, and he refuses to give the legal owner peaceable decisions 

possession, that we will not deal with, or countanance 

him as a settler until he makes the proper restitution — 

Resolved, that we will each use our endeavors to ad- Article 13** 
vance the rapid settlement of the County, by inviting our 
friends and acquaintance to join us, under the full assur- safety in 
ance that we shall now obtain our rights, and that it is improveing 
now perfectly as safe to go on improving the public land 
as though we already had our titles from goverment — 



Article 14 
amended — 

Resolved, that a meeting duly called by the county 
board, may alter and amend this Constitution — 

Lake Co. Ia. July 6, 1836— 
I do certify that the forgoing constitution as here re- 
corded is a true copy from the original draft reported 
by the committee, and adopted by the meeting, except 
slight gramatical alterations not varying the true sense 
of any article — 

Attest — Solon Robinson — Register 1 

Nutmeg Potatoes — Lake Superior Corn 2 

[Albany Cultivator, 4:101-2; Aug., 1837] 

Lake C. H. I a. July 12, 1837. 

Dear Sir — As soon as I can possibly find leisure, I 
intend to send you a description of the several kinds of 
prairie, as to appearance, vegetation and cultivation. I 
hope to send you "prairie flower seeds." 

I have (to us,) a rare kind of potatoes, called "nutmeg 
potatoes," which ripen in about six weeks, grow small, 
about the size, and as smooth as hen's eggs — very dry 
and rich — valuable for garden culture. Have you such? 
Also — Lake Superior Indian corn — which stools out like 
wheat, each branch bearing a small, short ear, of a redish 
yellow color. The stalks low, may be planted very close, 
and requires the shortest season of any other corn I ever 
saw to come to perfection. Perhaps it is not new to you. 

1 The signatures to the Constitution, only partially legible in the 
manuscript, have not been reproduced by Ball or other historians 
of the county. Additional names were appended as new mem- 
bers joined the Squatters' Union. There were at least two copies 
of the Constitution, for Robinson made a note of the transfer of 
twenty-eight signatures to the copy from which the above tran- 
script was made. 

3 This letter was Robinson's first contribution to the Albany 
Cultivator, and the beginning of his career as an agricultural 
writer. The Cultivator, one of the best edited and most widely 
circulated agricultural periodicals of its day, was established at 
Albany, New York, in 1834. By descent and combination it con- 
tinues today as The Country Gentleman, published at Philadelphia. 


Do you know what is meant by "Burr Oak?" The shell 
of the acorn being fringed or burred, and highly prized 
as feed for hogs. 

Yours, &c. Solon Robinson. 1 

Remedies and Recipes ; Circulation of Cultivator 

[Albany Cultivator, 4:132-33; Oct., 1837 2 ] 

Lake C H la August 29, 1837. 
J. Buel, Esq. 3 — Dear Sir — I conceive it to be a duty 
that each patron of the Cultivator owes, as much as pay- 
ment for the amount of his subscription, to communicate 
to you all such facts as he may deem important or bene- 
ficial to his agricultural brethren, that therefrom you 
may select such items as have not been, or that you may 
deem useful to publish. With this view I send you the 
following scraps: 

diseases of horses. 
Thistelow and Poll Evil, both of which I have known 
effectually cured, after breaking, by crowding a lump of 
pearlash or salseratus into the sore. If the first applica- 
tion is not effectual, repeat it. The patient should be 
thoroughly physicked at the same time. 

dysentery, bloody flux, cholera morbus, etc. 
If there is an "infallible remedy" in the world for any 
complaint the human system is subject to, there is one 

1 The Conductor of the Cultivator added the following comment : 
"Mr. Robinson will do us a particular service by sending us seed of 
the potatoes and corn, as well as of the prairie flowers. The bur, 
or overank oak, grows in most of the western states — is a beautiful 
tree, and is distinguished as having the longest leaves, often 15 
inches, and largest acorns, of any species of the oak." 

3 Reprinted in part in Franklin Farmer, Frankfort, Kentucky, 
1:61 (October 21, 1837). 

* Jesse Buel, 1778-1839. As founder, editor, and conductor of the 
Cultivator, Albany, New York, 1834-1839, he greatly influenced 
contemporary thought. See Dictionary of American Biography, 


for these complaints in a very strong tea made of the 
bark of the Sweet Gum, the scientific name of which is 
"Liquid Amber." It grows a large tree, is a native of 
southern latitudes, grows very abundantly on the high 
table lands of Ohio and Indiana, has a leaf like maple, 
and a ball somewhat like "Button Ball," or Sycamore, 
exuding a very aromatic white gum. I know the medi- 
cine to be almost invaluable. 


I venture to say not one in ten of the readers of the 
Cultivator, has ever heard of a receipt for so simple a 
piece of cookery. There is none more important. Try 
it. If it is an improvement, recommend it. Put three 
cups of rice into two cups of cold water, set it over a 
brisk fire, and after it commences boiling, let it stand 
eight minutes only — 'tis then ready for the table. In- 
stead of being a mass of unwholesome salve, it will have 
completely absorbed the water, leaving the grains sepa- 
rate, soft and excellent. 


I have tried the experiment this season on my garden, 
with most convincing success. Having a very retentive 
subsoil, I tried the plan of burying coarse dry straw 
under my beds of beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, beans, 
vines, and almost every kind of vegetable that I planted, 
to serve as an underdrain as well as manure. The effect 
has fully convinced one sceptic. I hope others will try it. 
This is the first time I ever saw straw used for manur- 
ing any crop, except potatoes. I have toiled many a day 
to rot it, so as to make it "fit to use for the next crop." 
How much knowledge to be gained for 50 cents a year! 
As a means of extending such valuable knowledge I ask 
a consideration of 



to extend the circulation of the Cultivator, or some other 
agricultural paper. It is this : — 

Make it an invariable rule, that every agricultural 
premium, should include a copy of such paper, which 
should be given by the person receiving the premium to 
some one who had never taken it — always taking it for 
granted that no one would ever get a premium unless 
he was a patron of some such paper And further, let 
those who are able and willing, raise a fund, say $500, 
for gratuitous distribution of the Cultivator, among those 
who are either unable or unwilling to pay, but who 
would be willing to read. Let every friend to the propo- 
sition subscribe such amount as he will give, as soon as 
it is ascertained that $500 can be raised. To begin, 
although I am poorly able to do it, I will subscribe $5. 
I hope it will not stand long alone. 1 

I am respectfully yours, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 

Beans and Buckwheat. 

[Albany Cultivator, 4:147; Nov., 1837] 

Lake County, la. 9th Oct 1837. 
J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir — The following simple and 
easy method of saving a crop of beans, is worth the 
price of ten years' subscription to the Cultivator, to every 
person that never practised it, who wishes to cultivate 
that valuable crop. By this method, beans may be 
planted in a field by themselves, may be pulled while 
the vines are entirely green ; and will be perfectly cured, 
no matter how wet the weather ; and what is more, need 
not be housed or thrashed until such time as may be con- 
venient. — This is the plan 

*The Conductor added a short note: "Mr Robinson's subscrip- 
tion is registered, and we shall be glad to see his proposition sus- 
tained. Should it be so, the names of the contributors to the $500 
fund will be published in the Cultivator." 


Take poles or stakes, (common fence stakes,) into 
your bean field, and set them stiff in the ground, at con- 
venient distances apart, which experience will soon show 
you, and put a few sticks or stones around for a bottom, 
and then, as you pull an arm-full, take them to the stakes, 
and lay them around, the roots always to the stake, as 
high as you can reach, and tie the top course with a 
string or a little straw, to prevent them from being blown 
off, and you never will complain again, "that you cannot 
raise beans, because they are so troublesome to save." 
They are the easiest crop ever raised, to take care of. 
Try it, and you will then know it, and thank me for 
telling you of it. Your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

N. B. Buckwheat is the best grain that grows, to keep 
through the winter in a stack. It's all a notion that it 
must be thrashed as soon as dry. Stack it — try it — it 
will keep. 

Shobonier Claim — Deposition and Affidavits 

[Ms. in Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs] 

[November 4, 1837] 
State of Indiana 


Lake County j 


Before me Milo Robinson, 

a Justice of the Peace for the 
County & State aforesaid, this 4th day of November 
A. D. 1837 personaly came Solon Robinson, and under 
his solemn affirmation, deposes & says that he is now & 
has been for more than three years last past, a resident 
upon Section 8 in Town 34 N. of Range 8 W. in the 
Laporte land district — that he was the first settler upon 
said Section — that he was well and intimately acquainted 
with the said Section 8 and also Section 17 in the same 
Town, in the year 1834 — that there was not then any 
"Indian Village" upon either of said Sections — that there 


was no indication that there ever had been an "Indian 
Villiage" thereon — and the only signs that Indians had 
ever resided there, consisted in three small patches of 
ground, in all not more than one acre, that had the 
appearance of having been planted in corn many years 
before, and were now much grown up with bushes & 
briars — There was no enclosures no cabins or wigwams, 
no graves, nor any thing else to indicate that an "Indian 
Village had ever been thereon — That he is well ac- 
quainted with Indian customs — has often seen and knows 
the appearance of Indian Villages — That he is well and 
intimately acquainted with an Indian known by the name 
of Sho-bon-ier, 1 to whom two Sections of land were re- 
served in the treaty of Tippecanoe of the 20 th of Oct. 
1832, lying & being situated within the state of Illinois, 
more than seven miles from said Sections 8 and 17, that 
after he had settled upon this land and made valuable 
improvements thereon he was threatened by one Butler, 
a white man who purchased an interest in the said reser- 
vation that he would get "old Sho-bon-nier to locate his 
reservation upon his improvements," and that he, this 
deponant thereupon applied to the Agent of Indian affairs 
at Chicago, in Illinois and was by him informed that the 
said Indian was aware that his reservation was not in 
the State of Indiana, that he the agent had directed the 
surveyor employed for that purpose to survey out & re- 
port his reservation — that the Indian had been with the 
surveyor, but from some reason had not yet pointed out 
the whereabouts of his village, and as the said agent 
verily believes because he never had any village, or any 
place called one — and that the said agent encouraged this 
deponant to go on with his improvements on the afore- 
said Section 8, and gave this depondant the papers hereto 
annexed by seal, by him officialy signed — 

And this deponant further saith that he sufficiently 
understands the Indian language to converse with the 

1 See Introduction, 12 ff. 


said Sho-bon-nier, that he has often been at his house & 
conversed upon the subject of his reservation, and that 
he never pretended that either of the aforesaid Sections 
were his reservations, or that his said "village" was on 
them, but always on the contrary, that it was at some 
other place frequently mentioning a place near the Illi- 
nois line, known in the Indian language as "Mus-qua-och- 
bis" (Red Cedar Lake) as the spot where he most wished 
to have his reservation located — And further that the 
said Indian is old and infirm and aparently short lived, 
and has emigrated to the west of the Missisippee river, 
and has no intention of settling upon his reservation if 
located — That the aforesaid Butler & one John Mann, 
also a white man appear to be the only persons taking 
or having an interest in the said reservation, and their 
great anxiety to locate it upon the said Section 8 arises 
from the fact that this deponant and others have made 
it valuable by their labor in making improvements 
thereon to the value of more than two thousand dollars 
And this deponant further saith, that placing full faith 
in the words of the treaty aforesaid & in the informa- 
tion of the Indian agent, as will appear by his certificate, 
and by the word of the said Sho-bon-nier himself that 
this was not his reservation, and trusting in the mag- 
nanimity & justice of the government of the United 
States, this deponant & others have incurred great ex- 
pense in improving farms on said Section 8, and have 
at their individual expense erected suitable & commo- 
dious buildings for the use of the County, (until the 
lands, therein shall be sold,) in which the courts are 
held & public business done, and that the location of 
the aforesaid reservation upon their said improvements, 
whereby they will be deprived of the right of purchaseing 
the land in the usual way will be an act of oppression 
upon humble citizens not warranted except upon the most 
clear principle of law & justice to the aforesaid reservee 
for his benifit alone — 


And further this deponant saith not — 

Solon Robinson 
Affirmed & signed 
before me at the said 
County this 4th day of 
Nov. 1837 — and the paper 
mention above hereto annexed 
in my presense — 
Milo Robinson 

Just. Peace 
The reservation of Two Sections of land to Sho-bon-nier 
by Treaty of 20 Oct. 1832 — must according to the pro- 
visions of the Treaty, be located within the limits of the 
tract of land ceded to the United States, by Said Treaty, 
and as no part of said Tract lies within the State of 
Indiana the location cannot consequently be made in 
that State 

Th. J. V Owen 

Ind. Agt. 

State of Indiana) 

Lake County ] ss * 

Also personaly came before 

me Justice as aforesaid, Luman A. 
Fowler, (Sheriff of said County) who being duly sworn 
deposeth and saith, that he also is acquainted with all the 
material facts set forth in the deposition of Solon Robin- 
son above written, regarding the appearance of their 
land on said Sections 8 & 17, in the year 1834, and the 
assertions of the said Butler, and old Sho-bon-nier and 
as to the improvemts made thereon &c. and from his 
knowledge of the deponant he verily believes the whole 
matter set forth to be true — And furthermore that he 
is not a settler upon either of the above Sections, & has 
no interest in any improvements thereon — 

Luman A Fowler 
Also personaly came William Clark, (one of the Asso- 
ciate Judges of Said County) Thomas Wiles & Stephen 
T. Stringham, (County Commissioners) Henry Wells, 



Hiram S. Pelton, Thomas Clark & Russel Eddy — Elisha 
J. Robinson. 

Severaly depose upon their oaths that they are acquainted 
with many of the facts above set out, and that they 
place full faith and reliance in the truth of the above 
deponants declareation 

In witness where of they hereunto set their hands & 
make oath before me 
at the County afore- 
said this 6th day of 
Nov. 1837. 

Milo Robinson 

Just. Peace 

W m Clark 
H. S. Pelton 
Henry Wells 
Russell Eddy 
Elisha J. Robinson 
S. T. Stringham 
Thomas Wiles 

' *3 CO 00 H 

g C « E- 

SS-2 2 5 
c = £*£ 

fi!J3 • 

3 .S * ^ M 

2.2 °t g 

13 o P a < 
C ~ ?0 

s f 

^ * ■_ 


u G 

M c 


c «3 
b o s oo 

w cy -•-» p 

h Q '« i« h 

State of Indiana l 
Lake County j ss - 

I Solon Robinson, Clerk of 
the Circuit Court of Lake County, certify that the afore- 
said Milo Robinson is an acting Justice of the Peace, fully 
authorised to administer oaths and take depositions &c — 
Witness my hand and seal as said 
Clerk this day of November 


Solon Robinson 

Robinson Family Recipes 

[Albany Cultivator, 4:198-99; Feb., 1838] 

Lake C. H. la. Dec. 12th, 1837. 

J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir. — I consider your items of 
matter relating to household economy, as the most uni- 
versally useful part of the paper. Thousands who pos- 
sess the raw materials in abundance, lack "the art of 
making a good dinner out of small means." The follow- 


ing simple recipes are valuable, in my family. If you 

find room for them, I hope they will prove so in many 

other families. 

Yours truly, Solon Robinson. 


Many of your readers are not aware of the value of 
buttermilk, in making biscuits. Let me tell them how to 
use it, I am sure they will thank me. 

Take a large table spoonful of sal aratus, (not pearl 
ash,) pulverize or dissolve the lumps, and put it into 
buttermilk enough to wet up a gallon of flour. Lard 
or butter may be added to make the biscuit short if re- 
quired. In summer it must be baked directly, or it will 
sour. In cold weather the dough may be kept. The bis- 
cuit will be very light, very sweet, very palatable, very 
nourishing, very wholesome, and a very considerable 
item of economy in the consumption of an article that is 
too often made food for hogs, when so valuable as food 
for man. Bonnyklauber will answer as a substitute for 
buttermilk. But the latter may be put up in jars, or a 
butter keg, in the fall, and kept till spring, by occasion- 
ally pouring off the water that rises on the top. No 
matter how sour it becomes, put in sal aratus enough 
and it will become as sweet as fresh yeast, and answer 
the same or a better purpose. 

While upon the subject, let me tell those who are not 
informed, the difference between 


Pearl ash is made from the lye of wood ashes ; it will 
make soap, and by the affinity it has for water, is very 
likely to dissolve and waste when exposed to the air; it 
gives food an unpleasant soapy taste when used in ex- 
cess, with lard or other greasy matter. 

Sal aratus is made from pearl ash, by a process that 
destroys the soapy principle, and the affinity for water, 
so that it will keep dry as well as chalk, &c. It is also 
much more valuable in cooking, on account of possessing 


in great excess the very principle of yeast, and produces 
the same effect upon bread when mixed in with acid, by 
which the gas that produces what the housewife calls 
"raising," is disengaged from the sal aratus and expands 
all those little cavities in a light loaf. 

The process of changing the pearl ash into sal aratus 
is very simple. It is effected by placing the pearl ash 
in sacks over the mash-tubs of a grain distillery during 
the process of fermentation, and by the great affinity it 
has for the carbonic acid gas that is disengaged from 
the meal, it becomes not only dryer, but is so much in- 
creased in weight as to pay a profit on the operation. I 
wish the whole process of distillation was of as great 
value to the world. 

As "economy in the house," is the active partner of 
"industry out of the house," I will add one more to your 
valuable list of cooking recipes. Though perhaps it is 
out of character for a "Hoosier" to tell a Yankee how 
to make 


"Grease the pie plate evenly and well, and sift fine dry 
corn meal, about as thick as you would make a flour crust, 
evenly over it, and then spread the prepared pumpkin 
over the meal crust, bake in the usual way, eat it warm, 
or before it is many days old." Be assured that such a 
pie is truly good, rich, healthy, economical. It can be 
prepared ready for the oven (the pumpkin being pre- 
viously stewed,) in five minutes, when "I wish we had a 
pie for dinner," is expressed. As "nothing to shorten 
pie crust" is required, it can be made after the "lard tub 
is out," and also when the good woman "wishes we had 
a little flour to make pies of our sweet pumpkins," and 
when the good man replies "my dear we can't afford it, 
flour is $10 a barrel." I beg of you to try it. If you do 
not pronounce it valuable knowledge, cheaply acquired, 
I never will trouble you again. 


A Proposition, to Facilitate Agricultural 
Improvement. 1 

[Albany Cultivator, 5:60-61; May, 1838 2 ] 

Lake C. H. la. 4th March, 1838. 

J. Buel, — Dear Sir, — What can, what must, what 
SHALL WE DO, to elevate the standing of the cultivators 
of the soil? There is "something rotten in Denmark," 
that needs all the energy of all the friends of agricul- 
ture, to eradicate from the community. A false pride 
pervades the land, and a false estimate is placed upon 
the value of that class of community, who are the very 
creators of, not only all wealth, but are the very basis 
and only foundation of all real wealth. What shall we do 
to bring about that happy state of society, that once per- 
vaded the Roman empire, when he who cultivated the 
soil took the first rank among all trades and occupations ? 
One of the very best things that the friends of this whole 
country can do, is to make the science of agriculture take 
that rank that shall induce merchants and professional 
men to seek to make their sons farmers, instead of that 
worst of all manias that now pervades the farming com- 
munity, and which induces the annual ruin of thousands 
of young men, by seeking to be what nature never in- 
tended them for. 

"Willie is so weakly we must make a doctor of him." 
"And John has such a faculty for trade, that his father 
intends to set him up. Besides you know, since he came 
home from school, he can't bear to go to work on the 
farm; and you know it 'ant so genteel as a merchant." 

J With this article Robinson began his famous crusade for a 
National Society of Agriculture, which resulted three and a half 
years later in the formation of such an organization at Washing- 
ton, D. C Although this society was short lived, chiefly because 
of failure to obtain for agriculture the Smithsonian bequest, it set 
forces in motion which culminated in the establishment of the 
United States Department of Agriculture in 1862. 

'Reprinted in Daily Cincinnati Gazette, September 18, 1838; also 
in part in Franklin Farmer, 1:305 (June 2, 1838). 



These expressions and sentiments must be weeded out 
of every farmer's family. And he who can devise how 
it shall be done, how to change the public sentiment, so 
as to make the farmer and the farmer's wife and sons 
and daughters proud of being such, will be more deserv- 
ing of the thanks of his country, than he who discovers 
how to destroy the grain-worm; for of a truth, this is a 
worm that is eating out the very vitals of community. 
It is the very cause of all the importations of wheat into 
the United States, and which have blotted our fair name 
as an industrious, agricultural nation. The commercial 
and professional part of society is overburthened with 
useless drones. The agricultural community are borne 
down with a consciousness that they are neglected by 
legislatures, and despised by the butterflies who flutter 
over them in British broadcloth, consuming the fruits of 
the sweat of their brows. And the mania that induces 
farmers to seek to ruin their offspring by seeking to make 
them genteel, unless soon counteracted, will do more to 
dissolve this Union, than high tariff and abolition united. 
An indolent mode of life, or a false pride, that makes a 
man ashamed to earn his own living with his own hands, 
is a fountain that will spread more seeds of corruption 
through the body politic, than all others. 

What then shall we do ? For do we can — Do we must, 
and let you and I say, do we will. Every thing must 
have a beginning. Suppose then that we begin with an 
endeavor to form an 

American Society of Agriculture, 

The leading principle of which shall be to elevate the 
character and standing of the cultivators of the Ameri- 
can soil; and whose members shall be pledged to the 
promotion of domestic industry, and particularly the 
growth of American wool and silk, by wearing manu- 
factures of such; and to the promotion of agricultural 
schools, and the establishment and gratuitous circulation 
of agricultural papers. 


And now, you being agreed with me, that a great good 
may be accomplished by such a society, the branches of 
which shall extend into every county of the Union, will 
you take it upon yourself to effect the first organization? 
Will you draft a constitution and nominate some gentle- 
man who will act as the first president? (I suggest the 
Hon. H. L. Ellsworth, Washington.) Make every editor 
of an agricultural paper, and such others as you think 
proper, vice-presidents. A treasurer should be appointed 
to receive voluntary contributions towards forming a 
fund to defray necessary expenses of printing, &c. and 
sending abroad agricultural publications, and printing a 
splendid certificate of membership, which fathers would 
exultingly show their children as a mark of honor. A 
corresponding secretary should be appointed in every 
county and principal town, who would be active in enlist- 
ing members, and communicating a mass of information 
to the principal secretary, &c. The grand object would 
be, to enlist such a mass of influential men in the society, 
that farming would become popular and fashionable, so 
that parents would no longer seek to get their children 
into a more fashionable or "more genteel employment." 

A great good could also be accomplished by annual 
meetings of such a society. The delegates from every 
state, not only bringing together a vast amount of useful 
information, but rare and valuable seeds from every part 
of the Union for mutual exchange, and also curious speci- 
mens of vegetable and mineral products, which in time 
would form a most curious and unique cabinet of natural 

If the project is not visionary — if it can be carried into 
effect, do not let it rest. Your standing and influence 
will give a weight to the matter, that I, an individual but 
little known, cannot command. But my humble exer- 
tions and small means will be freely given to roll the ball 
ahead, when once started. 

I think you can associate twenty gentlemen at least, 
with you in Albany, who will be willing to lend the 


influence of their names and form a nucleus, around 
which to form this great national bond of union and 

And if nothing else can be done, you can publish this 
communication, with an earnest request, that every pa- 
tron of the Cultivator would say to himself, something 
can, something must, something shall be done, to raise 
the character and standing of the whole agricultural 
community, and I will begin in my own family. I will 
teach my children that no other occupation is so profit- 
able, so honorable, or so "genteel," as that of a farmer. 

I do not often write so lengthy, but the manner in 
which you have honored my several communications, has 
led me to hope that I may still be useful, and I humbly 
hope withal, interesting to some of my agricultural 

I remain, most respectfully, your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 1 

National Agricultural Association. 

[Albany Cultivator, 5:109; Aug., 1838] 

Lake C. H. la. June 19, 1838. 
J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir — I cannot but feel a proper 
degree of pride to perceive what universal approbation, 
my proposition for an "American Society of Agriculture" 
meets with. Not pride for myself, because I happened 
to be the first to make the proposition ; but pride for my 
country, to perceive that there is so much of the true 
spirit yet alive in the land. I have received several let- 
ters and papers containing notices of the proposition, 

1 The Conductor of the Cultivator remarked: "Mr. Robinson's 
proposition meets our hearty approbation; and should it be favor- 
ably responded to by our cotemporaries who conduct agricultural 
journals, and whose opinions upon the subject we respectfully 
solicit, — we shall give it our cordial support, — and devise some 
means, if others do not do it, to organize an association, 'TO ele- 

American soil'." 


which indicate to my mind, that "something can be done." 
Organization is all that is lacking. That "must be done," 
and then the last affirmative in the proposition is sure 
to follow. For if all the friends to agricultural improve- 
ment are once united, "something will be done, to ele- 
vate the character and standing of the cultivators of the 
American soil." There is a charm in the very name of 
"The American Society of Agriculture," which is suffi- 
cient to enlist thousands. Something so ennobling in 
the thought of being known to be one of the members of 
such a union of all the most eminent agriculturists in the 
whole country, moved and actuated by one impulse, and 
mutually interchanging their views, experiments, im- 
provements, and newly acquired information. 

What an immense influence would this have upon the 
whole country. Look at the influence upon mechanics of 
the American Institute. 1 Greater still would be the in- 
fluence of such a union of agriculturists. Look at the 
influence of agricultural schools and pattern farms. This 
would be one great agricultural school upon a thousand 
pattern farms, the annual exhibitions from which would 
do wonders towards inciting others to go and do likewise. 

We cannot look to legislative action, for that encour- 
agement and protection which the agricultural interest 
is entitled to, until the tone of public feeling is further 
awakened to the importance of the subject, by the imme- 
diate action of the cultivators themselves, and until the 
subject can be made popular, and then it will lack no 

Can any plan be devised that will have a greater ten- 
dency to create that popularity than the formation of 
the "American Society of Agriculture?" If so, let it be 
done. I enrol myself one of its friends and supporters. 
But the time is fully come that "something can be done," 
and I shall lay my grey hairs sorrowing in the grave, if 
the whole country does not respond, "something must, 

1 See post, 526 n-27 n. 


something shall be done," and done quickly, to promote 
the great, and good object in view. 

Yours, &c. Solon Robinson. 

"Where did he get his Education?" 

[Albany Cultivator, 5:124; Sep., 1838] 

Lake C. H. la. July 15th, 1838. 

J. BUEL, Esq. — Dear Sir — This question, which has so 
often been applied to the writer of this article, has just 
been brought forcibly to mind by (for the first time) 
reading in your first volume, an address to young men, 
in which occurs this golden morsel : 

"Although we may be learned by the help of others, 
we can never be wise but by our own wisdom." 1 

That is our own exertion. There is also another 
article in the same volume on "Self-Education," by John 
Neal ; which is worthy of a republication in every paper 
in the union. 2 

It is a settled point that some of the wisest men who 
have adorned our country were self-educated. Mechanics 
and farmers have "found time" to acquire a useful edu- 
cation. Every one of them can still find time for the 
same purpose, if he will. It is self -exertion that acquires 
self-education. Who that perceives that the knowledge 
which his neighbor possesses, and which gives him such 
a decided advantage in the world, is within his own 
reach, that will not extend his hand for the golden 
treasure ? 

What shall we do to incite young men to exert them- 
selves to procure an education by their own exertions? 
For they can no longer depend upon government. Not 
one half of the states have even provided for the lowest 
grade of schools. And in those where the common school 
system is in the best operation, what except the veriest 

1 This axiom is quoted in a statement "To the Reader," in the 
Cultivator, March, 1834, p. 1. 
'Ibid., August, 1834, p. 72. 


rudiments, the mere A. B. C.'s of useful knowledge, can 
be learned.? Tis true this is a good foundation, but we 
want something to incite the community to add those 
elegant superstructures which ornament the world. We 
should have, we can have, shall I add, we will have, in 
every county and principal town in the United States a 
well founded agricultural school, in which young men 
and girls can acquire such an education as will be useful. 
Not a piano, French, Spanish or flower daub education, 
but one that will make the men scientific farmers and 
mechanics, and intelligent public officers and acting legis- 
lators, and the women fit to become the honored and 
husband-honoring wives of such citizens — who will never 
be ashamed to tell their daughters, that they obtained 
the education that has ever since rendered them orna- 
ments to society, in a manual labor school, where, by 
their daily toil, they earned their daily acquirements. 
But let not toil be construed slavery or drudgery, for 
that never should be in any family, and much more in 
a school. Useful and healthy labor, judiciously applied 
without slavish toil, should afford all the necessary means 
of enjoying life. If ever the false pride of labor hating, 
and the false and foolish, and for all practical purposes 
of life, the present prevailing system of fashionable edu- 
cation is improved, it will be by such schools. There is 
evidently a growing disposition towards improvement in 
the agricultural community; but until that disposition 
has grown to a greater maturity, the great ends and 
objects of the pioneer friends of improvement cannot be 
brought about. Would not the foundation of "An Ameri- 
can Society of Agriculture," be the means of increasing 
the little band of pioneers now in the field, until every 
town boasted of its useful agricultural school, and every 
legislature its majority of agriculturists, who would feel 
proud of being dressed, and elegantly too, in American 
silks and broadcloths? 

Such a body of men would not need to be petitioned, 
year after year, before they would enact laws for the 


purpose of preserving, improving and strengthening the 
base upon which rests the whole superstructure of civi- 
lized society. Fearing I am falling into a popular error, 
a tedious, lengthy list of words, I close abruptly. Your 

Solon Robinson. 

U. S. Land Sales in 1838. 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Sep. 15, 1838; from La-Porte 
County Whig] 

[August 1, 1838] 
Sir, The following is a list of the land Sales to be held 
this fall, in almost every land office in the west and south, 
and comprises about fifteon millions of acres of land — 
more probably than ever offered in any one year, since 
the foundation of the government. It is a blessed thing 
for this State, that the lands are taxable as soon as sold. 
The left hand column are the dates of the commence- 
ment of each sale, which continue open two weeks, or 
until the lands are all offered; and the right hand column 
contains the quantity of Townships, as near as can be 
ascertained. Each Township being 36 sections of 640 
acres each. 



Aug. 20, at Laporte 2 

Dec. 3, " " 35 

" 17, " " 30 

Oct. 8, " Vincennes, Isl. & fractions, 

Nov. 12, " Crawfordsville 19 


Sept. 3, at Danville 5 

Nov. 5, " " 21 

Sept. 3, " Vandalia, about 3 

" 17, " Springfield, 13 

Aug. 13, " Shawneetown, sev. fract'ns. 

" 13, " Quincy, 































New Orleans, 


























Little Rock, 





<< «« 










at Marion sev. fractions 




Bucyrus, " 












" 8, " Tuscaloosa, sev. fract'ns. 

" 22, " Sparta, 12 

8, " Oahaba, about 2 

Oct. 15, at St. Stephens 4 

1, " Huntsville, Isl. & fract'ns. 




" Denopolis sev. " 


" Montgomery, 



" Columbus, 



" Augusta, 



" Chocouma, 




" Detroit, 



" (Jenesee, 





at Ionia, several fractions, 







y 2 




St. Louis, 




































Du Buque, 






Green Bay, 





<< «« 















Mineral Point, 


In all 55 Sales, & Townships 660 

fractions not counted — as in some offices "Ionia," par- 
ticularly, there have been some vulgar fractions, that 
ought to be disposed of, as Government has been able 
to count them. 

Yours, &c, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. 
August 1st, 1838. 

P.S. Since making the above list, I see yet "one more" 
sale advertised on the 5th November, at St. Augustine, 
Florida, for the sale of 61 Townships; and on the 19th 
November, at the same office, another sale of 56 town- 

Making up a Grand Total of 57 sales, comprising 777 
Townships; an ominous row of "odd numbers." 


Novel Premiums. 

[Albany Cultivator, 5:141-42; Oct., 1838] 

Lake C. H. la. Aug. 27, 1838. 

J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir — Not being blest with an 
overplus of gold and silver, I propose to offer a "barter 
trade," to any one desirous of obtaining a premium, upon 
the following proposition: I am the owner of sixteen 
lots, in one of the numerous new towns of the west. It 
was laid out in 1836, about three miles from the head 
of Lake Michigan, on the great western thoroughfare 
which passes the head of the lake, between Chicago and 
Michigan city. — 1 About $20,000 worth of lots were sold 
at the first sale, at prices higher than they now are 
worth. — Yet I find from the assessment roll of 1838, 
now on file in my office, that the average assessed value 
of my lots, is $55 each. The Buffalo and Mississippi 
rail-road, and a branch from the Lake Erie and Michigan 
canal to the Illinois canal, have been surveyed through 
the place, so that property is more likely to rise than 
fall. However, such as it is, I freely give, and if worthily 
won, I hope it may rise in value as fast as similar prop- 
erty has done all over the great west. 

So, then, to the offer. I appreciate your remarks in 
the Cultivator, No. 6, on the great want of "Agricultural 
School Books." 2 Now to induce some one to begin a 
series of such elementary works, that will have a ten- 
dency to learn American youth such things as are the 
most important of all things for them to learn, that is, 
how to support themselves and families by the labor of 
their own hands, I offer, as a premium, five of the above 

1 Liverpool. From the spring of 1839 to the summer of 1840 
Liverpool was the county seat of Lake County. See Robinson's 
note on "The 'Robinson Fund,'" in the Cultivator, 6:88 (July, 
1839) ; Ball, Lake County, from 1834- to 1872, 155-56. 

2 See Buel's editorial on "Common School Libraries," in the Cul- 
tivator, 5:101. Robinson's suggestions here anticipated the wide- 
spread demand for such books which developed in the fifties and 
grew more pronounced following the creation of state agricultural 
colleges in the sixties. 


mentioned lots, to any person or persons who will pub- 
lish a series of five numbers of an "Agricultural School 
Library," to be submitted to, and approved by you, or 
any other gentlemen that you may associate with you for 
that purpose. 

And I will also give two of said lots, to any person 
that will publish another work, to be called, and to be 
what it is called, "The Farmers' Manual," to be also 
submitted to, and approved by you, and to contain such 
maxims and advice as will be useful to new beginners 
in agriculture, whether old or young; rules that will be 
useful to the wife as well as husband of such as are 
driven by necessity or choice from the employment in 
which they may have always been engaged, to take up 
the, to them, new employment of cultivation. 1 

Thousands are deterred from attempting to earn their 
own living, because they don't know hoiv to begin. Such 
would rejoice to have it in their power to procure such 
a book, as much as a navigator upon a strange coast 
would rejoice in procuring a new chart. 

And in addition to the premium, I will subscribe for 
ten copies of each work, and take the agency of selling 
them without commission. Will some one, more able 
than I am, add to the premium. 

And I will also give further premiums, to other ob- 
jects that you will point out as worthy, which will tend 
towards the same object. That is, the promotion of 
agricultural education ; for I am convinced that the great 
object in view must be accomplished upon the rising 

1 On August 28, Robinson wrote a similar letter to the editor of 
the Franklin Farmer, which appeared in the issue of October 13 
(2:53-54), with an enthusiastic editorial comment, and a promise 
of support to the amount of $100. An editorial in the Franklin 
Farmer of October 27 (2:70), proposed that the agricultural press 
of the country unite and guarantee a premium of $500 for the 
best works submitted in accordance with Robinson's proposal. By 
November, 1838, the fund, including Robinson's lots at a value of 
$440, amounted to $760. Cultivator, 5:150. Additions were re- 
ported in ibid., 5:185 (January, 1839). 


A thought strikes me of another work worthy of "a 
premium lot," — an Agricultural Dictionary; to be used 
not only as a necessary accompaniament to the series of 
school-books, but as an invaluable work in the hands of 
every cultivator. I venture to say, that there are not 
one half of the readers of the Cultivator, (and no paper 
uses less unintelligable phrases,) who are not often puz- 
zled to give the proper signification to necessarily com- 
mon words. — And to youth, the common names of soils, 
earths, and parts of plants, &c. are all Greek. To prove 
it, select fifty words that are found in every agricultural 
work, such as argillaceous, silicious, phosphate, sulphate, 
hydrate, carbonaceous, stamens, stolens, et cetera, (in- 
cluding the "et cetera,") and ask fifty of the first persons 
that you meet, to give you an intelligible definition of 
them, and see whether the answers do not demonstrate 
a very great necessity for our agricultural dictionary. 
If the publication of one cannot be induced, let me ask 
whether a page of your paper might not be profitably 
devoted to that purpose. 1 It is a great fault in all edu- 
cation, that we teach words without conveying any defi- 
nite idea of their meaning. 

One of the great benefits which I hope to live to see 
grow out of the formation of "the American Society 
for Agriculture," is an improved system of education 
throughout the whole country. I commend to your par- 
ticular notice an article in No. 51, of the Franklin 
Farmer, upon "Agricultural Education." 

What think you of a universal petition from all the 
friends of agricultural improvement and education in the 
U. S. to the next congress, for the establishment of a 
national agricultural school ? Are we so much more of a 

1 The Genesee Farmer began such a glossary in 1839. When the 
paper was combined with the Cultivator at the beginning of 1840, 
the "Dictionary of Terms" was carried over with a comment on its 
excellent reception. The numbers which had appeared in the 
Farmer were reprinted "to furnish it complete" to the readers of 
the Cultivator. See Cultivator for January, 1840 (7:11-12), and 
following numbers. 


warlike than an agricultural nation, that we endow a 
"military school," to the entire neglect of an agricultural 
one. Here, certainly is something wrong. "Something 
must be done," — who will say, "something shall be 
done," and make the first step towards it by printing 
and sending a petition over the country for that pur- 
pose? The little that can be, will continue to be done, 

by your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 1 

A Looking-Glass. 

[Albany Cultivator, 5:174-75; Dec, 1838 2 ] 

[October 12, 1838] 
J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir — When I was a boy, I can 
well remember how I used to be induced to wash my 
smutty face, by having a looking-glass held before my 
eyes. For the same purpose, I have extracted the fol- 
lowing picture of "a farmer," from the writings of that 
most eccentric and excellent writer, "Samuel Slick," 3 in 
the hopes that if any of your readers should happen to 
see any part of himself therein, that he will improve by 
the view. Here it is. 

«* * * That critter, when he built that wrack of 
a house, (they call 'em a half house here,) intended to 
add as much more to it some of these days, and accord- 

1 Buel expressed his approval of Robinson's proposal as follows : 
"The ardor and zeal displayed by our esteemed correspondent, in 
his several communications, published in the Cultivator — directed, 
as they are, to the substantial improvement of the mind and the 
soil, are worthy of all praise. And he has given above unques- 
tionable evidence of his sincerity, in the liberal offer he makes to 
subserve these noble ends. The mind must be enlightened before 
the soil can be improved. To second this generous proposal, we 
promise to add $20 to each of the six awards proposed in the above 
communication. How much will you add, philanthropic reader?" 

2 This article was reprinted in the Southern Cultivator of 
Augusta, Georgia, July 19, 1843 (1:113-14). 

8 Samuel Slick, of Slickville, a Yankee clockmaker, used as a 
character in the works of Thomas C. Haliburton. Introduced about 


ingly put his chimbley outside, to sarve the new part as 
well as the old. He has been too "busy" ever since, you 
see, to remove the banking put there the first fall, to keep 
the frost out of the cellar, and consequently it has rotted 
the sills off, and the house has fell away from the chimb- 
ley, and he has had to prop it up with that great stick 
of timber, to keep it from coming down on its knees al- 
together. All the winders are boarded up, but one, and 
that might as well be, for little light can penetrate them 
old hats and red flannel petticoats. Look at the barn; 
its broken back roof has let the gable eends fall in, where 
they stand staring at each other, as if they would like 
to come closer together (and no doubt they soon will,) 
to consult what was best to be done to gain their stand- 
ing in the world. Now look at the stock; there's your 
"improved short horns." Them dirty looking, half starved 
geese, and them draggle-tailed fowls that are so poor 
the foxes would be ashamed to steal them — that little 
lantern jawed, long leg'd, rabbit ear'd runt of a pig, 
that's so weak it cant curl its tail up — that old cow frame 
standing there with her eyes shut, and looking for all 
the world as tho' she's contemplating her latter eend — 
(and with good reason too,) and that other reddish 
yellow, long wooled varmint, with his hocks higher than 
his belly, that looks as if he had come to her funeral, 
and which by way of distinction, his owner calls a horse 
— is all "the stock," I guess, that this farmer supports 
upon a hundred acres of as good natural soil as ever 
laid out door. — Now there's a specimen of "Native 
Stock." I reckoon he'l imigrate to a warmer climate 
soon, for you see while he was waiting to finish that thing 
you see the hen's roosting on, that he calls a sled, he's 
had to burn up all the fence round the house, but there's 
no danger of cattle breaking into his fields, and his old 
muley has larnt how to sneak round among the neigh- 
bors fields o' nights, looking for an open gate or bars, 
to snatch a mouthful now and then. For if you was to 
mow that meadow with a razor and rake it with a fine 


tooth comb, you could'nt get enough to winter a grass- 
hopper. 'Spose we drive up to the door and have a word 
of chat with Nick Bradshaw, and see if he is as promis- 
ing as outside appearances indicate. 

Observing us from the only light of glass remaining 
in the window, Nick lifted the door and laying it aside, 
emerged from his kitchen parlor and smoke house, to 
reconnoitre. He was a tall, well built, athletic man, of 
great personal strength and surprising activity, who 
looked like a careless good natured fellow, fond of talk- 
ing, and from the appearance of the little old black pipe 
which stuck in one corner of his mouth, equally so of 
smoking; and as he appeared to fancy us to be candi- 
dates, no doubt he was already enjoying in prospective 
the comforts of a neighboring tap room. Jist look at em 
— Happy critter — his hat crown has lost the top out, and 
the rim hangs like the bail of a bucket. His trowsers 
and jacket show clearly that he has had clothes of other 
colours in other days. The untan'd mocasin on one foot, 
which contrasts with the old shoe on the other, shows 
him a friend to domestic manufactures; and his beard 
is no bad match for the wooly horse yonder. See the 
waggish independent sort of a look the critter has, with 
his hat one side and hands in his breeches pockets, con- 
templating the beauties of his farm. You may talk about 
patience and fortitude, philosophy and christian resigna- 
tion, and all that sort of thing till your tired, but — ah, 
here he comes. 'Morning Mr. Bradshaw — how's all home 
to day? Right comfortable, (mark that — comfort in 
such a place,) I give thanks — come, light and come in. 
I'm sorry can't feed your hoss — but the fact is, tan't bin 
no use to try to raise no crops, late years, for body don't 
git half paid for their labor, these hard times. I raised 
a nice bunch of potatoes last year, and as I could'nt get 
nothing worth while for 'em in the fall, I tho't I'de keep 
'em till spring. But as frost set in, while I was down 
town 'lection time, the boys did'nt fix up the old cellar 
door, and this infarnal cold winter froze 'em all. It's 


them what you smell now, and I've just been telling the 
old woman that we must turn too and carry them out of 
the cellar, 'fore long they'll make some of us sick like 
enough — for there's no telling what may happen to a 
body late years. And if the next legislator don't do some- 
thing for us, the Lord knows but the whole country will 
starve, for it seems as tho' the land now a days won't 
raise nothing. It's actually run out. Why, I should 
think by the look of things round your neighbor Horton's, 
that his land produced pretty well. Why, yes — and it's 
a miricle too, how he gets it — for every body round here 
said, when he took up that tract, it was the poorest in 
the town. — There are some folks that thinks he has 
dealings with the "black art," for't does seem as tho' 
the more he work'd his land, the better it got. 

Now, here was a mystery — but an easy explanation 
of Mr. Slick soon solved the matter, at least to my mind. 
The fact is, says Mr. Slick, a great deal of this country 
is run out. And if it warnt for the lime, marsh-mud, 
sea weed, salt sand, and what not, they've got here in 
such quantities, and a few Horton's to apply it, the whole 
country would run out and dwindle away to just such 
great, good natured, good-for-nothing, do-nothing fel- 
lows as this Nick Bradshaw, and his wooly horse, and 
wooless sheep, and cropless farm, and comfortless house, 
if indeed such a great wind rack of loose lumber, is 
worthy the name of a house. 

Now, by way of contrast to all this, do you see that 
neat little cottage looking house on yonder hummock, 
away to the right there, where you see those beautiful 
shade trees. The house is small, but it is a whole house. 
That's what I call about right — flanked on both sides by 
an orchard of best grafted fruit — a tidy flower garden 
in front, that the galls see to, and a most grand sarce 
garden jist over there, where it takes the wash of the 
buildings, nicely sheltered by that bunch of shrubbery. 
Then see them everlasting big barns — and by gosh, there 
goes fourteen dairy cows — as sleek as moles. Them 



flowers, honeysuckles and rose bushes, shows what sort 
of a family lives there, jist as plain as straws show which 
way the wind blows. 

Them galls, an't 'tarnally racing round to quiltin and 
husking frolics, their feet exposed in thin slips to the 
mud, and their honor to a thinner protection. No, no — 
take my word for 't — when you see galls busy about such 
things to home, they are what our old minister used to 
call "right minded." Such things keep them busy, and 
when folks are busy about their own business, they've no 
time to get into mischief. — It keeps them healthy, too, and 
as cheerful as larks. I've a mind w'll 'light here, and view 
this citizen's mprovements, and we shall be welcomed to 
a neat substantial breakfast, that would be worthy to be 
taken as a pattern by any farmer's wife in America. 

We were met at the door by Mr. Horton who greeted 
my friend Slick with the warm salutation of an old ac- 
quaintance, and expressed the satisfaction natural to one 
habitually hospitable, for the honor of my visit. He was 
a plain, healthy, intelligent looking man, about fifty, 
dressed as a farmer should be, with the stamp of "Home- 
spun," legible upon every garment, not forgetting a very 
handsome silk handkerchief, the work throughout of his 
oldest daughter. The room into which we were ushered, 
bore the same stamp of neatness and comfort that the 
outside appearance indicated. A substantial homemade 
carpet covered the floor, and a well filled book-case and 
writing desk, were in the right place, among the con- 
tents of which, I observed several Agricultural periodi- 
cals. I was particularly struck with the scrupulously 
neat and appropriate attire of the wife and two intelli- 
gent, interesting daughters, that were busily engaged in 
the morning operations of the dairy. After partaking of 
an excellent substantial breakfast, Mr. Horton invited us 
to walk over his farm, which, tho' small, was every part 
in such a fine state of cultivation, that he did not even 
express a fear of "starving, unless the legislature did 
something, to keep the land from running out." 


We bade adieu to this happy family, and proceeded on 
our journey fully impressed with the contrast between 
a good and bad farmer, and for my own part, perfectly 
satisfied with the manner that Mr. Slick had taken to 
impress it indelibly upon my own mind. 

Mr. Slick seemed wrapped in contemplation of the 
scenes of the morning for a long time. At length he 
broke forth in one of his happy strains. "The bane of 
this country, 'Squire, and indeed of all America, is hav- 
ing TOO much land — they run over more ground than 
they can cultivate — and crop the land year after year, 
without manure, till it is no wonder that "it's run out." 
A very large portion of land in America has been "run 
out," by repeated grain crops, and bad husbandry, until 
a great portion of this great country is in a fair way to 
be ruined. The two Carolinas and Varginny are covered 
with places that are "run out," and are given up as 
ruined, and there are a plagey site too many such places 
all over New-England, and a great many other states. We 
hav'nt the surplus of wheat that we used to have, in the 
United States, and it'll never be so plenty while there 
are so many Nick Bradshaw's in the country. 

The fact is, 'Squire, edecation is ducedly neglected. 
True, we have a site of schools and colleges, but they 
an't the right kind. That same Nick Bradshaw has been 
clean through one on 'em, and 'twas there that he larnt 
that infarnal lazy habit of drinking and smoking, that 
has been the ruin of him ever since. I would'nt give an 
old fashioned swing tail clock, to have my son go to 
college where he could'nt work enough to arn his own 
living, and larn how to work it right tu. 

It actilly frightens me, when I think how the land is 
worked and skinned, till they take the gizard out on't, 
when it might be growing better every day. — Thousands 
of acres every year are turned into barrens, while an 
everlastin stream of our folks are streaking it off "to the 
new country," where about half on 'em after wading 
about among the tadpoles, to catch cat fish enough to 


live on a year or two, actilly shake themselves to death 
with that everlasting cuss of all new countrys, the fever 
and agur. It's a melancholly fact, 'Squire, tho' our peo- 
ple don't seem to be sensible of it, and you nor I may 
not live to see it, but if this awful robbin' of posterity 
goes on for another hundred years, as it has for the last, 
among the farmers, we'll be a nation of paupers. Talk 
about the legislature doing something, I'll tell you what 
I'd have them do. Paint a great parcel of guide boards, 
and nail 'em up over every legislature, church, and school- 
house door in America, with these words on em in great 
letters. "The best land in America, by constant crop- 
ping, without manure, will run out." And I'd have 
'em, also, provide means to larn every child how to read 
it, cause it's no use to try to larn the old ones — they're tu 
sot in their ways. — They are on the constant stretch with 
the land they have, and all the time trying to git more, 
without improving any on't. Yes, yes, yes, too much 
land is the ruin of us all. 

Although you will find a thousand more good things 
among the writings of "The Clockmaker," I hope you will 
not look for a literal copy of the foregoing. And if ever 
this meets the eye of the writer of the "Sayings and 
doings of Samuel Slick," I beg him to excuse me for the 
liberty I have taken with his own language. I remain 

your agricultural friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. Oct 12, 1838. 

The Season in Indiana. 

[Albany Cultivator, 5:191; Jan., 1839] 

Lake C. H. Ind. Nov. 25th, 1838. 
It is worthy of note that the drouth still continues in 
this section of the country to a distressing degree. The 
old adage, that, "winter never with rigour sets in, till the 
swamps with water are fill'd in," is completely falsified. 
The general character of the weather eight months past 
has been thus : — April cold and dry ; May warm, without 


a single shower; June hot, with two or three days about 
the 10th, of excessive rains and scalding hot; July and 
August constant sunshine and south wind that engen- 
dered much sickness; September and October continued 
dry sunshine, with two or three small showers and as 
many drizzly days, but not rain enough to prevent a 
complete exhaustion of springs, ponds, streams and 
marshes, &c. 

November, the first days, warm and pleasant, Sunday 
night the 4th a snow fell about three inches — the 5th, 
6th and 7th misty, and snow melted and came off exces- 
sive cold, destroying great quantities of potatoes and 
turnips; then moderately cold until the middle of the 
month, when the cold increased, and Sunday the 18th 
was a most severe cold day, freezing the ponds over, 
strong enough to bear a man. Since then it has been 
moderate, but now, the 25th, is again very cold. Cattle 
have required feeding all the month, and in many places 
water for stock is very difcult to be had. 

This has been a season of suffering in the west. 
Yours &c. Solon Robinson. 

The Bur Oak. 

[Albany Cultivator, 6:20; Mar., 1839] 

Lake C. H. la. Jan. 25, 1839. 
J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir — Your note of the 31st. ult. 
is received. I shall send a box or bunch of the Bur oak 
acorns to you for your own use and distribution, at the 
first opening of navigation in the spring. If they will 
grow, I shall feel proud of having introduced a new va- 
riety of tree, and a good one, into your section of country. 
The tree requires a very strong soil. I am now using in 
my family, pork fatted upon the Bur oak acorns, which 
is to all appearance as good as corn fed, except it is 
more dry and less inclined to fry out much fat. The 
timber, too, when seasoned, is the most solid and strong 
of all oaks. The tree, when in foliage, is one of the most 
beautiful in the forest, though it does not grow com- 


monly in "thick timber;" but it is found covering very 
large tracts of land called "barrens," an intermedium be- 
tween prairie and timber ; after growing so isolated as to 
have the appearance of a scattering orchard and having 
a strong resemblance to the work of man. You may 
travel miles before the country is settled, through these 
"barrens" with a carriage, without any obstruction. In 
these barrens the trees never grow large — the soil being 
deep, the roots are situate so far below the surface that 
they offer no obstruction to the plough, and these barrens 
are often ploughed without removing the timber. I re- 
main your friend truly. Solon Robinson. 

how to increase the circulation of agricultural 
Papers — Subscribers' Duties. 

[Albany Cultivator, 6:121; Aug. 15, 1839] 

Lake C. H. la. July 18, 1839. 
My Friend — This is to you — I see you about to pass 
over and not read this article — you don't like the title! 
It an't interesting to you, do you say? Look again — 
look at the signature, — did you ever see my name to an 
article in this paper that did not interest you? There 
now, you see I am an old acquaintance. No. Well, then 
you did not take the last volume of the Cultivator. The 
more's the pity. Thousands who read that, will remem- 
ber me right well. They will expect something interest- 
ing as soon as they see this article is from their old 
friend. I beg of them, as well as of the publisher, a 
thousand pardons that I have neglected them so long. 
My conscience has not been easy for months. I knew 
I had not done my duty. For when a man, particularly 
a friend to agricultural improvement, knows that he has 
a talent to be useful and interesting in his writing ; that 
by a little light labor of his pen, that he can lighten the 
labor of his fellow laborers, he neglects his duty if he 
neglects to do it. You need not call me an egotist, be- 
cause I say that I know I have that faculty. Thousands 


have told me so; and I now here tell you that I have 
neglected my duty. Reader, have you neglected yours? 
did you write a letter to your paper, and because it was 
not published, say you would never write another? Did 
you say further, that you would never subscribe for the 
paper again? Shame on you then, — Oh! you was only 
angry a few minutes, — you're over it now, and think 
yours the best paper in the world. You think you made 
an hundred dollars more off of your farm last year in 
consequence of taking it. So do I. I'll tell you another 
thing that I think. I think that the readers of the Albany 
Cultivator alone, made $50,000 more in their various 
occupations last year in consequence of reading it; 
and equally so of the New-England Farmer, 1 — The Gen- 
esee Farmer, 2 — the Franklin Farmer, 3 — the American 
Farmer, 4 and so on of every good farmer's paper, in 
just proportion. There is another thing I think; that the 
increased value of those readers' farms is twenty times 
the above sum. There is another thing I think; think, 
why, I know it. I know it by my own feelings. I know 
that the increased happiness of those readers was worth 
twenty times more than all the increase of property. 
Suppose then that the circulation was doubled, — yes, but 
don't every body subscribe that wants to, now? No, not 
half. But you can get them to — and it is your duty to 
do it; you an't able to pay for any papers to give any. 
Who asked you to do it? There is your neighbor Jones 
that always is reading yours when he can get a chance, 
and who never has a dollar that he thinks he can spare 
to pay the subscription ; would be glad to take the paper 
and pay you in chopping wood. Now do you think you 

1 New England Farmer, published at Boston, Massachusetts. 
Established 1822. 

2 Genesee Farmer, published at Rochester, New York. Estab- 
lished 1831. 

"Franklin Farmer, published at Frankfort, Kentucky. Estab- 
lished 1837. 

* American Farmer, published at Baltimore, Maryland. Estab- 
lished 1819. 


did your duty last year? you know you had a two dollar 
bill, and it cost you some trouble to get it changed when 
you sent for yours ; you might just as well have sent for 
two copies and let Jones have had one. He would'nt have 
lost them two fine old sheep if he had read the Cultivator ; 
because he would have seen that ruta bagas were just 
what they wanted. But poor man ; did'nt know it. There 
is your neighbor Williams too; you had some dealings 
with him, and he would have been glad to have taken 
the paper from you, "in the way of trade ;" "because that 
would not be paying out money," though you paid it to 
him. Now you know that he lost nearly all his first 
planting of corn by the insects, birds, &c. ; and then came 
up to your house to "get the receipt out of the paper 
how to doctor the seed." But then it was too late to re- 
plant; so he planted beans. Did you ever see a finer 
crop? Got nicely ripe and pulled and hung up on the 
scattering corn, lugged out to the fence, and stone heaps, 
&c. to put up to dry. Well, there came on a long warm 
rain; and poor man, he lost the whole of them nearly, 
more than an hundred bushels. Do you remember when 
he came to your barn, and the conversation? "Did'nt 
you lose your beans, neighbor Thomas, that warm rain?" 
says he in perfect astonishment, "I saw you pulling them 
the same day I did, — and mine were the ripest. Why 
bless me, how bright they do thrash out. Now in God's 
name, do tell me how you saved them?" 

"Why, I read it in the Cultivator more than a year 

"Good heavens, 'twould have been worth more than an 
hundred dollars to me." 

"So it was to me — and then it's so easy and simple; 
take a parcel of stakes, — I took old bean poles out of the 
garden, — out into the field and stick 'em round, and put 
a few stones or sticks at the bottom, and then pull the 
beans : no matter how green they are, and stack them 
up with the roots touching the stalkes until you get high 
enough; and then tie the top course with a little straw 


or a string, and the trouble is all over; they will cure as 
well as a shock of corn, and injure less." 

"Well now, I have always intended to take that paper, 
— but I never had a dollar to spare at the right time to 
send for it." Now my friend, do you think you did your 
duty? If you had, would you not have sent for a paper 
for each of these neighbors, and in a manner compelled 
them to take them? 

I got five and twenty into circulation "in the way of 
trade;" can't you? don't be mistaken, — I mean you. — 
Can't you get one; just one more subscriber; it is your 
duty. Nothing can sustain this government but an im- 
provement in her agricultural branches. I don't know 
how many hundred millions of dollars we are in debt. 
We? Yes, WE. You and I, and every producer in the 
government. On that debt annual interest must be paid. 
Must be paid by a tax on agriculture. Let it be mystified 
as much as it may, 'tis the only way whereby under 
heaven that it can be paid. 'Tis the farmer that pays for 
every rail-road and canal, whether useful or not; and 
when farmers are so much in debt, it is time they were 
improving the means to get out. How can they improve 
without they gain knowledge? How can they gain knowl- 
edge unless they read? How can they read unless they 
are provided with papers or books. How can some of 
your neighbors provide themselves, unless you assist 
them? Then for once attend to this solemn duty. Don't 
let your conscience rest one day, until you have procured 
one more subscriber to this paper. And if you can't 
procure a subscriber, send yourself and procure another 
set, (20 if you are able,) and distribute them among 
your neighbors; you will soon see the leaven work; the 
corn will come up, the beans will be saved, and you will 
rejoice at the end of the year, as you think to yourself, 
"how much good I have done with so small a sum." And 
here I make you a proposition. At the end of the year 
if you are dissatisfied that you have followed my advice, 
write to the publisher and your money shall be refunded 


to you. He will endorse this proposition for me I guess. 

And this reminds me, the last of my "extra" numbers 
is used up "in the way of trade;" add another to my list, 
I must keep one on hand; 'tis my duty; 'tis the way I 
make up my list of subscribers — and it is certainly a 
large list for a place so new, where all are poor and new 
beginners in life. 

But the effects are visible. There are no "Nick Brad- 
shaw's" in this settlement. 

There are some other duties that "we owe one an- 
other," but my letter is already too long. I shall write 
again. In the meantime think of the duties here pointed 
out. Can you deny them to be truly stated? Then in- 
stead of thinking, be up and doing; and truly you shall 
meet your reward. Most truly your agricultural friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Plans of Farm Houses. 

[Albany Cultivator, 6:164; Nov., 1839] 

Lake C. H. la. Sept. 5, 1839. 

Hon. J. Buel — My worthy friend — I am much pleased 
with some of the plans in your last (August) number. 
That to which you have awarded the premium, certainly 
is a very convenient house for any family, farmer or 
other occupation: and I certainly think that that single 
number of the Cultivator is worth more to every person 
expecting to build, than all he ever has or ever will pay 
for the paper. 

That the "bump of design and constructiveness," is 
not possessed by a very large majority of mankind, I 
think is, or can be fully attested, by viewing the thou- 
sands of piles of brick and mortar, and lumber, called 
dwelling-houses, throughout the country. It seems to 
me, that if the builders of a great many houses which I 
have seen, had put all their art and skill in play to make 
them mconvenient and uncomfortable, they could not 
have succeeded better to their wishes. 


But the truth is, that men would rather build a con- 
venient than an inconvenient house, if they knew how; 
but unfortunately they cannot tell how their own design 
will suit, until the house is built and tried. And where 
is a farmer to find good plans of farm buildings? Can 
you tell, sir? I think not. For in all the architectural 
designs that ever I have examined, I never have found 
them. And yours is the first paper that ever I have seen 
such very useful things published in. I hope you will 
continue the good work. And I hope every one of your 
readers, whose wife thinks he has a very convenient 
house, will furnish you at least the ground plan : so that 
out of a great variety, you might select the best for publi- 
cation, and out of these certainly every person, by adopt- 
ing one plan, or parts of several, could always suit his 
own taste better far than he could do by adopting an 
original design of his own. I think it will be conceded, 
that you cannot fill a portion of the Cultivator with more 
useful matter than such drawings. I hope the additional 
expense to you will not deter you. 

To begin, then, I offer you the ground plan of my own 
house. It is not of so much consequence to give the ele- 
vation, unless where a detailed bill of expense is given. 

You have heretofore given a great many excellent 
plans of out buildings, &c. ; that ought also to be con- 
tinued. No one is fully aware how valuable such plans 
are, until he commences building himself, and then he 
sees the want of them. Furnishing farmers with good 
cheap plans will also tend to prevent another error that 
some have committed — that is, building a house so big 
that the whole farm, stock and cash, are sometimes all 
swallowed up in the house, before it is completed. 

It is said that the author of the Declaration of Ameri- 
can Independence, swallowed up $70,000 in building a 
"great house," which has been since sold with 200 acres 
of land, for $2,500, and now stands a monument of the 
lack of any proper design in the builder. We all know 
that the owner died, lacking that independence that he 


declared all ought to enjoy. This great misshapen mass 
of materials, was the great cause of his pecuniary em- 

Then let all builders beware, that they do not build a 
house so big that they cannot live in it, nor so good that 
when done they cannot use it. I remain, as usual, your 
friend, Solon Robinson. 

Plan of a Western Prairie Cottage. — [Fig. No. 42.] 




I IptJfl Od « 



d g d 

T V. 



aa ,w, I d 

d 5 » 

2 d 



Yard set iyi/h trees 


Cistern U 

Jatc _ JJale, j 



1. Spare room in the southeast corner of the house, 
16 by 16 feet. 

2. Common family room, eating room in summer, and 
cooking room in winter, situated in the centre of the 
house, so as easily to be kept warm; 15 by 18 feet. 

3. Bed-room, 9 by 11 feet. 

4. Wood shed in winter and wash shed in summer, 
10 by 21 feet. 

5. Pantry, 7 by 9 feet. 

6. Room for soap, meat, &c. 7 by 10 feet. 

7. Kitchen, 12 by 14 feet. 

8. Kitchen fire-place. 

9. Open passage, to give light to west windows of 
common room, 6 by 9 feet. 

10. Chamber stairs. 


11. Buttery, 9 by 16 feet, excepting stairway. 

12. Parlor stove. d. Doors. 

13. Cooking stove. w. Windows. 

In the draft, I have sketched the position of the well, 
cistern, garden, yards, &c. which I consider as a neces- 
sary part of the "fixings" about a farmer's house. — Upon 
our soil, cellars under the house are not admissible; and 
in my opinion, should never be made under a dwelling- 
house, only in very dry soils, and then ahvays kept clean. 

My house is built of hewn logs, but the same plan might 
be adopted in using any material. It is esteemed a very 
convenient house, without a foot of waste room. 

The south part is a story and a half, the ridge running 
east and west; the other part one story, the ridge run- 
ning north and south, and roof extending down over the 
kitchen. The woodshed is a "lean-to" on the north end. 

I am much in favor of one story farm houses. They 
are much easier for the good woman, and I believe the 
extra cost of roofing is fully saved in several ways. The 
frame need not be near as strong for a single story, par- 
ticularly in a windy situation; and comfort and conveni- 
ence never should be dispensed with by a farmer for 

If you think the plan would be of sufficient interest to 

your readers to warrant its publication, and if I could 

ever be assured that it added an hour's comfort, or saved 

a dollar of expense to one of them, I shall be happy to 

think I have given it. I hope you will be furnished with 

numerous other plans, so that all tastes may be suited. 

Your friend, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 

Mammoth Sunflower. 

[Albany Cultivator, 6:166; Nov., 1839] 

Lake C. H. la. September 23, 1839. 
J. Buel, Esq. — Dear Sir — Enclosed I send you a few 
seed of what appears to me as a remarkable prolific sun- 
flower, and also as illustrative of the fact, that all of our 


domestic plants may be greatly improved by care in 
selecting seed. I have practised for several years past, 
saving seed from the principal head on the most prolific 
stalk, and last year I thought I had nearly arrived at the 
heighth of bearing power, when I had a stalk with forty 
heads. But the seed which I now send you, is from a 
stalk with sixty-five seed heads, which grew in my garden 
the present season. I venture to say there would have 
been at least ten more heads, but another stalk grew so 
close on one side that it prevented the branches from 
spreading in that direction. 

Perhaps however, that all this, to you may not be in 
anywise remarkable or worth notice, but to me, and 
others who have seen it growing, it is considered so. — 
It is a well known fact that parsnip and carrot seed, and 
probably many others of similar branching kind of 
plants, should only be saved from the principal head. 
And it seems reasonable to me, that every vegetable may 
be improved by care in selecting the seed, as easily as I 
have improved this sunflower. 1 

Many may ask what is the use of raising the sun- 
flower? I reply that it is worth as much or more than 
corn, and is exceedingly healthy to feed all domestic 
animals, and particularly hens and horses, and whenever 
it is raised in sufficient quantities to warrant it, oil mills 
will be built that will create a good market for the seed. 
And if no other use than mere ornament was made of 
it, I should much rather see it growing in waste corners, 
than useless noxious weeds. I hope you will do me the 
favor to plant a few of the seeds that I send you, if for 
no other purpose, that when you look upon their growth, 
it may be a happy memento to you that there is one 
other than yourself, that rejoices in every improvement 
he sees made in the agricultural pursuits of a country, 
that must soon degenerate below the regard of some of 
her warmest friends, unless the present awakening 

1 Robinson here sets forth a doctrine which later formed the 
basis of operation for many distinguished plant breeders. 


spirit of improvement, is made to assume an ever waking 
watchfulness throughout the whole community. 

I am proud to subscribe myself one of your agricul- 
tural friends. Solon Robinson. 

Letter from Solon Robinson, Esq. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:19; Jan., 1840] 

[December 14, 1839] 
Editors of the Cultivator: 

Doubts and fears came over my mind, on seeing the 
announcement of the death of that most useful, and one 
of the greatest friends of the agricultural community, 
the late editor of this paper. 1 But could I be assured of 
life until such time as my memory would be crowned 
with such honors as this nation have universally poured 
out of sorrowing hearts upon his, I would ask no greater 
fame, or proud memorial for my children, than he has 
left for his. May the mantle of their father rest upon 
them, and may they be possessed of that fathers' meek- 
ness to wear it becomingly. No doubt but it troubled his 
last moments, as to what should be the fate of his darling 
journal. Whether it would be able to sustain life when 
its heart was taken away, or whether it would follow 
him to that cold and silent tomb. How it must have 
brightened his mind at that dark hour, could he have 
foreseen the present bright prospects, that are now dawn- 
ing anew upon this paper. No step could have been taken 
by those into whose hands it fell, so well calculated to 
carry out the good intentions of its founder, as this one 
of uniting it with the Genesee Farmer. A consolidation 
of interest will create an expansion of usefulness. The 
business is arranged so late, that perhaps many at a dis- 
tance will not be able to become acquainted with the fact 
in time to partake of the benefits the present season, but 
I am sure that much good will come of the union. 

1 Judge Jesse Buel, editor of the Cultivator, died at Danbury, 
Connecticut, October 6, 1839. The Cultivator and Genesee Farmer 
were consolidated at the beginning of 1840. 


Enclosed I send you a list of names which I shall hold 
myself responsible for, though I have not had an oppor- 
tunity of seeing many of the persons. 

I wish those who are anxious to extend the circula- 
tion of the paper, would act a little more upon my recom- 
mendation in the November No. 1 Induce people to take 
the paper, money or no money — I will advance the money, 
and take my pay of subscribers in anything that grows 
by cultivation. 

Friends of agricultural improvement, common schools 
and common sense, be up and doing — doing good — cause 
this paper to circulate — to be read — and those that read, 
must, will, shall improve. And upon your death bed you 
will remember with gratitude, the founder of this paper, 
and I hope also with ample reason therefor, the present 
editors, that they have been the means of not only in- 
creasing your own happiness, but of enabling you to do so 
much good to so many of your fellow creatures. 

Let every subscriber who is able, take two papers, one 
to preserve and bind, and one on purpose to lend. Let 
them also be introduced into common schools. 

Gentlemen editors and proprietors, my best wishes are 
with you Most respectfully, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., Dec. 14, 1839. 

Burning Prairies, &c. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:33; Feb., 1840] 

[December 15, 1839] 
Editors of Cultivator — I have just read an account 
in the "Christian Keepsake, Philadelphia," of the "burn- 
ing of a prairie, and a whole family that perished in the 
conflagration," that is going the round of papers that de- 
light in the marvellous, and which is calculated to create 

1 "A Hint to the Publisher and Friends of the Cultivator," sug- 
gesting that the commission for securing subscribers be a postage 
allowance. Cultivator, 6:181. 


a very erroneous impression in regard to a prairie coun- 
try. Such tales as this are vastly amusing to us who 
dwell upon the great western prairies ; but to those who 
know naught of them, it is a wonder how we escape from 
such "a vast sea of fire," as they suppose annually "rolls 
in terrific grandeur," over the whole face of the country. 
Let me assure you that all these wonderful fire stories 
are more smoke than fire. 

The idea of burning men, oxen, wagons, horses, and 
every thing that happens to be in the way, belongs to 
the great humbug family. 

The soil of prairies is as diversified in character as 
that of a timbered country, varying from dry and hilly, 
to deep and miry swamp. The great body is dry, tillable 
land, and in a state of nature, is covered with a thick 
short grass, that would, if closely mowed, afford about 
three-fourths of a ton to the acre. When dry and dead 
in the fall of the year, it is very easy to burn, and will 
make just such a "sea of fire" as would a late mown piece 
of timothy meadow. Unless the wind is blowing with 
great fury, it is easy to extinguish, by beating it with a 
bush, board, shovel, or even an old hat; and a man can 
pass across the line of fire with all ease, or ride through 
it, or run away from it. I have often done each, and I 
have seen hundreds of miles of rail fence built upon the 
prairie, through which the fire passed annually, without 
setting it on fire, except in rare instances. 

'Tis only in the great marshes, where horses or wagons 
can not travel, and consequently can not be consumed, 
that the numerous poetical descriptions of "a burning 
prairie" have any application. Upon some of these grow 
a very rank growth of vegetation, six or eight feet high 
in places, but generally about equal to a very good piece 
of mowing meadow, which makes a great fire, and would 
endanger the life of man or beast to come in contact 
with it. The space between the wet and dry land affords 
the best grass for hay. In this county in particular, the 
quality is excellent, and if well put up, cattle and sheep 



will eat it in preference to timothy or red top. The dry 
prairie also affords good hay, but very tedious gather- 
ing. The common marsh hay is no better than the "bog 
meadow hay" of the east. For a grazing country, none 
can be superior to this. Prairie grass beef, butter and 
cheese, is equal to any other for sweetness and richness ; 
sheep are ever fat. Hogs, I cannot tell what they would 
do, for there are no animals here but would disgrace the 
name. Horses do not do well upon prairie feed, summer 
or winter ; but the way we can raise oats and wheat upon 
our prairie land, is more wonderful than all the great 
fires that I have ever seen. It seems to be the delight 
of some writers to propagate error; but no person who 
has ever traveled over a prairie country, will believe that 
man or beast ever lost life in the "great conflagration" 
of dry grass which covers the land, which will not aver- 
age more than six inches high. If the growth was very 
great, it could not be turned under with the plow at mid- 
summer, which is the time that it is sought to be done 
by every good farmer. 

Speaking of plowing, reminds me that it may be amus- 
ing to eastern readers, to hear a description of a "prairie 
plow." Fancy, then, a plow share weighing 1251bs., the 
beam fourteen feet long, attached to a pair of cart wheels, 
to the tongue of which are hitched from three to seven 
yoke of oxen, turning an unbroken sod, eighteen to 
twenty-six inches wide, and sometimes a mile in length, 
and you have a picture of "breaking prairie," more true, 
and more interesting than some accounts of a "burning 

The sod of the prairie grass is very tough, and some- 
times full of the roots of a diminutive bush called "red 
root," that are exceeding strong, and which require a 
sharp plow and strong team. A great fault, in my opin- 
ion, in breaking prairie, is not plowing deep enough. I 
have seen thousands of acres plowed only from two to 
three inches deep. If the season is wet, the sods will 
rot, but if dry, they become hard, and are in the way 


for years. Corn is often planted by dropping in every 
third furrow as the plowing proceeds, and singular as it 
may appear to eastern cultivators, often produces twenty 
bushels to the acre without any after culture. Oats and 
wheat are often harrowed in upon the sod, and produce 
good crops. If plowed deep, that is, five or six inches 
at first, it is best to put in the second crop without dis- 
turbing the sod. The necessities of the new settler 
should be the only excuse for breaking prairie early in 
the spring, or late in the fall ; and above all, the new set- 
tler should not attempt too much the first year. But the 
land is so inviting, that he often overtasks himself, and 
gets a large field in crop, but half fenced, and undue 
exertion and exposure of health brings on an attack of 
that universal malady in all new countries, the ague, and 
he is left worse off than ever any emigrant was from 
the "awful effects of a burning prairie." 

For the amusement of some of your eastern readers 
who have forgot "auld lang syne," I intend in my next 
to illustrate life in a log cabin. 

Respectfully, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. Dec. 15, 1839. 

Cheap Sheds for Cattle — cheap Gates — and 
other Matters. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:52; Mar., 1840] 

[January 24, 1840] 
"A merciful man is merciful to his beast." 

Editors of the Cultivator — I wish your correspond- 
ent, "L. A. M.," would write his name in full. Not that 
it would add value to his valuable essays upon sheep 
husbandry ; but a man, possessed of such benevolent feel- 
ings towards the brute creation, must be a valuable ac- 
quaintance : and one great advantage, derived from such 
a work as the Cultivator, or your late Genesee Farmer, 
is, that it adds many valuable acquaintances to our pres- 


ent stock, from which a reciprocal benefit is often de- 
rived. 1 Now, sirs, if were passing through Tompkins 
county, I should no more think of passing the house of 
"L. A. M." (if I could find him out,) than I should 
think of passing my own brother. Indeed, all the pio- 
neers in agricultural improvement should feel like broth- 
ers. Money could not buy the enjoyment I have derived 
from circumstances which have grown out of my corre- 
spondence with agricultural papers. If flattering eulo- 
gies can advance one's happiness, the few trifling efforts 
of mine to be useful, have certainly increased my happi- 
ness, in a manner that riches cannot afford; and I hope 
the happiness of "L. A. M." may be increased, by know- 
ing that there is one who appreciates his merciful feel- 
ings towards domestic animals, as shown in his com- 
munication in the January number. 

The temporary protection to cattle, noticed by "L. 
A. M.," or something similar, is all that can be given 
in a new settled country like many parts of the West. 
And here, it often pains me to see such a want of fore- 
thought, want of energy, want of mercy towards stock, 
or else a most lamentable want of "the know how." If 
it is the want of "know how," I should be happy to be- 
stow knowledge, gratis. I have good, warm stabling for 
some forty head of cattle and sheep, that did not cost ten 
dollars. The sides are built with rails laid up in pens 
about two or three feet wide, supported of course by 
cross pieces, and the space filled in with old hay, straw, 
turfs, or small bushes with the leaves on, until the requi- 
site height is attained, and then covered with poles; rails, 
and coarse hay. Any quantity of hay for covering can be 
had in a prairie country, for a small amount of labor. A 

1 Lewis A. Morrell, of Tompkins County, New York, had been a 
contributor to the Genesee Farmer. His article "Management of 
Sheep — No. 8" appeared in the January Cultivator, 1840 (7:15), 
the first number issued after the consolidation of the two papers. 
Morrell was one of the founders of the Tompkins County Agricul- 
tural and Horticultural Society. Cultivator, March, 1840 (7:42). 


small ditch or bank on the upper side, keeps the water 
from the bank inside, which, well covered with straw, 
makes an excellent floor. Such a stable will last with 
slight repairs, three or four years; and yet how many 
expose their whole stock, winter after winter, by the 
side of a stack on the open prairie, where the north-west 
wind sometimes blows almost hard enough to take their 
hides from their backs, were it not for the natural ad- 
hesiveness between "skin and bone." Others make vast 
improvement upon such "tender mercy," and shut them 
up in a "log stable without chinking or daubing," with 
two rails crosswise for a door, and through which the 
wind whistles loud enough to break the heart of a man 
possessed of a tithe of the kind feelings of "L. A. M." 
Here, fed upon a scanty allowance of prairie hay, (which, 
by-the-bye, is good or bad, as it is cut and cured,) the 
poor creatures drag out a miserable existence. And, do 
you inquire, do they live ? Yes, sometimes : for nature, 
more provident than their cruel masters, provides them 
with a coat of hair, that would do honor to "Nick Brad- 
shaw's wooly horse." In the spring, the cows bring 
forth a poor "runt of a calf" — the owner curses the bad 
breed of bulls, and the wife wonders why her cows don't 
give milk like some of her neighbors. The sheep, like 
the cattle, shed their winter coat, and without the trouble 
of shearing; furnishing, however, a rare opportunity 
for the exercise of industry to the "wool gatherers." 

Can a man be a good man, who so treats his domestic 
animals? I fear such treatment is not confined to this 
country. If agricultural schools are ever established, I 
hope one of the first principles taught, will be that "a 
merciful man is merciful to his beast." 

But enough of cheap stables, sheds, &c. Now, about 
Cheap Gates. I write for the poor — the new beginner. 

I have some two dozen gates on my place, and not a 
scrap of iron, except the nails, about them. I can make 
and hang one, cheaper than I can made a set of bars. In 
fact, I would not have the latter on my farm. 


The hanging post of the gate projects two or three 
inches below the bottom slat, and is rounded off to a 
point which stands in a hole bored about an inch deep 
in a block, set nearly even with the surface next to the 
post which the gate hangs to, or if that post is hewed, 
a shoulder may be left, in which a hole can be bored 
with a very short handle auger. The top of the hanging 
post projects six inches above the upper slat, and is made 
round, and is kept to its place by a tough hoop, nailed 
to the gate post. I can make and hang two or three such 
gates in a day, and the expense is very trifling. When 
a hinge breaks, it is easily repaired without running to 
the blacksmith. I consider a gate, "a labor-saving piece 
of machinery," and I think none would do without them, 
if they knew how cheap they could have them. 

There is another great labor-saving machine, that I 
am astonished how any farmer can do without. It is 
the humble wheelbarrow. If this was some new inven- 
tion, every one would be running after it — at all events, 
when he used it. 

Forgive me, if I have become tedious, and accept the 

kind respects of your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake Court-House, Ind'a, Jan. 24, 1840. 
Robinson : Early Will 

[Ms. in Harry Robinson Strait Papers, Gary] 

[February 25, 1840] 

This is the last Will and testament of Solon Robinson 

of the County of Lake and State of Indiana — 

Item 1 st It is my will that my wife, Mariah Robinson, 

should be my Executor, and that she may appoint any 

person whom she may elect as her co-executor, to do 

which she is hereby fully authorised — Should my wife, 

however, die before proving this will, I appoint my 

oldest son then living at my death, if he is 21 years of 

age, and resident near my family, and possessed of a 

good education and a fair moral character; which the 


Probate Court shall enquire into before granting him 
letters of executorship — 

Item 2 d In default of either of the aforesaid executor- 
ships it is my will that the Probate Court appoint 
some disinterested, judicious moral man, who will be 
willing to serve as such, and also as guardian of my 
children — 

Item 3 d If my wife is my executor, I do not desire that 
she should make any inventory of my effects whatever, 
but that she should dispose of any, all, or any part of 
my personal property, or real estate, deeds for which 
I hereby authorise her to make, or cause her co- 
executor to make, and with the avails of such property 
sold, or with money on hand, or debts due me, pay all 
just and honest demands upon me or my estate, if 
possible, within one year from my death — 

Item 4 — If my son, or a stranger administer upon my 
estate, I desire a complete and perfect inventory made, 
at fair cash prices, and that each of my children be 
allowed to select all such articles as they desire, which 
shall not be sold until it is found necessary to do so 
to pay my debts — Such as is not so selected may be 
sold at any time and manner that my executor may see 
fit, and if real estate, execute deeds therefor — And if 
found to be adviseable, sell all, and pay all my just 
debts — 

Item 5 — After paying all demands upon my estate, I 
leave the disposal of the remainder, first, to my wife 
during her widowhood, for the purpose of her own 
support, and my children — and particularly to give 
each of them a good common school education — If she 
marries, I give her unconditionaly one half of all the 
property that may then be in her possession, (after 
having discharged all my debts) a true inventory of 
which I require to be made and filed in the Probate 
Court, and I charge the judge therof to see this part 
of my will executed — After selecting her share, I 
charge her co-executor if then acting as such, or an 


administrator to be appointed by the Court, to take 
charge of the remainder, to be sold and the avails put 
at interest, or to be kept, or divided, as may seem best 
for the equal benefit of my children, in supporting or 
educating them during their minority, and then divid- 
ing the residue equaly among all of them, possessed of 
a good moral character — Provided that if the girls 
should either of them before arriving at the age of 21 
years, be married to a poor, industrious moral me- 
chanic or farmer, she shall be immediately entitled to 
her share — If one of them marry such a man, and the 
other marry a rich man, or one well able to live with- 
out his wife's portion, she who marrying the first 
named, shall be entitled to the portion of both — And 
in case of my sons, if either become established in any 
mechanichal or agricultural employment, before the 
age of 21, and is possessed of a good, steady, sober, in- 
dustrious character, it is my wish that he be invested 
with his share of my estate, and that neither of my 
children should ever be invested with such share until 
they prove such a character before the Probate Court, 
and have the same entered of record — And in case of 
such disability to receive his or her portion at the 
age of 21 years, I wish the guardian having possession 
thereof, to invest that share at interest, in periods of 5 
years, until that disability is removed, or in case of 
death in the party previously thereto, Then that share 
shall go for the benefit of the children of the deceased, 
or in default of children, to the other brothers & 
sisters, or their children — 

Item 6 th In case of the death of my wife taking place 
during her widowhood, after paying all her debts, out 
of my property in her hands, then the residue to be 
disposed of as above provided in item fifth — 

Item 7 th Such advances of property or money as she 
shall make to either of my children during their mi- 
nority, or after they begin to act for themselves, shall 
be counted as a portion of the share finaly coming to 


them provided she shall be under no obligations, except 
of her own free will and accord to make any dividend 
or advances to them, only as before provided in case 
of her again marrying — my object being, that during 
their minority, she should maintain the same control 
over my children in all things, that I now do myself — 
And that during her life time, that she should main- 
tain the same control, and exercise all the rights and 
immunities that I now do over my property — And in 
doing so, and accepting the provisions of this will, that 
she shall relinquish all other rights or claims to my 
estate — I view a wife, as a joint partner in business, 
entitled to control the property, and bound to pay the 
debts of the death dissolved partnership — 

Item 8 — It is my wish that the least possible expense 
compatible with a decent observance of the forms and 
ceremonies of society, be made about my funeral, and 
that no change whatever be made in the dress of my 
surviving relatives on account of my death — The only 
monument that I wish should mark my burial place, 
is a fruit tree planted by the hands of each of my 
children, at proper distances from my grave, and such 
fence as may be necessary to protect their growth — 
Thus as I decay and turn to earth, 
That something good may have a birth — 

Item 9 th I hereby revoke and anul all former wills, by 
me at any time or place before made — And I confirm 
this my present and last will with my hand and seal 
at Lake Court House in the County of Lake and State 
of Indiana, this twentyfifth day of February Eighteen 
hundred and forty, in presence of the undersigned 
witnesses, to whom I have made known that this is 
my last will — 

Solon Robinson — [Seal] 

John H Bradley 
Sam l C. Sample 
Signed in the presence of the 
testator & of each other 

Weather, Crops, &c. in Indiana. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:64; Apr., 1840] 

[February 28, 1840] 

Editors of the Cultivator — Heavy peals of thunder 
are now rattling over our heads. This has been a re- 
markable month. But little snow has fallen, and none 
laying on the ground. The weather has been, for some 
days, much like April or May — frost nearly all out, and 
ground so dry that some plows have been started. This 
is very unusual for so high a latitude as 41-2, even in 
the West. The months of December and January were 
very steady cold, and good sledding nearly the whole 
time. The first snow fell while the ground was yet soft ; 
consequently, the roots of the wheat have been kept in 
fine order, and the crop now is exceedingly promising. 
There is still an immense quantity of the last crop in the 
hands of the growers, at 50 cents a bushel. 

As the great Western Prairies began to furnish this 
staple to the east, it will soon be time for farmers there 
to turn their attention to other products. For, as here 
no regard is paid to the preservation of the quality of the 
soil, while its present quality lasts the eastern farmer 
cannot compete with the western wheat grower. 

You would suppose that some imagine that this soil 
can never deteriorate, to see them moving their stables 
to a new location, on account of the accumulations of 
manure, and setting fire to immense piles of straw "to 
get it out of the way." But such are the facts. You 
can easily imagine how long the best soil will last under 
such a system of cultivation. 

The December number of the Cultivator is just re- 
ceived. I cannot speak in too exalted terms of him whom 
so many thousands will delight to keep in remembrance, 
by looking upon his fine intellectual face. 1 

My warmest wish, gentlemen, is that you may be 
enabled to fill his editorial chair, with honor and credit 

1 An engraved portrait of Jesse Buel, late editor of the Culti- 
vator, was sent out with the December issue. Cultivator, 6:193. 


to yourselves, and satisfaction to his numerous admirers. 
And when the time comes that we shall have nothing but 
your likeness to look upon, may you enjoy that most 
enviable of posthumous fame, that the world are now 
bestowing upon your much lamented predecessor. And 
so far, I am in candor bound to say, the evidence is 
strongly in your favor. 

I remain your devoted agricultural friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake Court-House, Feb. 28, 1840. 

Hog Illustration — A True Picture. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:81-82; May, 1840 1 ] 

[March 15, 1840] 

Messrs. Editors of Cultivator — We are all of us 
willing to show forth any thing that will illustrate any 
favorite theory, or favorite breed of cattle that shows 
to our own advantage. Would it not be equally useful if 
we were equally willing to illustrate the reverse of the 
picture? I think it would. And, therefore, I offer the 
following true picture of the profits of that universal 
breed of hogs, that covers the face of our country, to the 
exclusion of a better breed. 

When I settled in this new country a few years ago, 
I determined that I never would be the owner of any 
of that vile race of animals which infest the country, 
and which, before the discovery of the name of "land 
sharks," used to be known by the name of hogs. But 
being unable to procure any thing worthy of the name, 
the force of circumstances made me the owner of several 
breeding sows in the winter of 1837, then running in 
the woods. With a force of dogs, men and guns, I 
caught and brought them home, and confined them in a 
lot, where I kept my cattle upon prairie hay. I found 
no difficulty in wintering these wild animals which I had 
bought for hogs upon the same. In the spring, they 
"multiplied and replenished" the woods. In the fall there 

'Reprinted in Franklin Farmer, Lexington, Kentucky, 3:301 
(May 16, 1840). 


was not sufficient "mast" [i. e. acorns and nuts] to fatten 
them; and I was not so green as to undertake making 
pork of them with corn, and they lived to multiply 
another season. 

The next fall, mast was plenty, and "wood hogs" were 
fat. I now had "from fifty to one hundred head," but 
fat hogs in the woods will die; and when killing time 
came, I could only lay violent hands on eighteen. Only 
one-half of them were fit to be called pork. I still had 
a large "claim" upon hogs in the woods; but last fall 
I could only muster some ten or a dozen "fit to fatten;" 
and these I let a neighbor, not so well experienced in 
hogology as I was, have to "fat at the halves." By strong 
exertions, he succeeded in making a pen stout enough to 
keep them upon a continual trot around it, without find- 
ing an outlet. Here, after eating and wasting in the mud 
more than fifty bushels of corn apiece, he brought me my 
half of "hog meat." Another neighbor being destitute, 
and this looking to him "as though it might be eatable," 
I told him to take it, and we would never quarrel about 
the price or mode of payment ; and I bought my "pork" 
for my own use. 

But this is not the end of my hog speculation. I still 
had five shoats, and upon them I determined to try what 
good keeping would do. Accordingly, I "caught them," 
and put them in a good warm pen, composed of an eating 
room, a sleeping room, and a retiring room. Nearly 
every day have I furnished these (permit me to say, 
devils) with good dry straw, and nearly every night have 
they slept in a wet, filthy bed. The straw they have eat 
and scattered through the pen, and all the filth that they 
should have left in the outside room, they have deposited 
in their beds. Whoever knows me, knows that no do- 
mestic animal of mine, ever lacks food; and it has not 
been spared upon these in the pen. Forgive me, but I 
can't call them hogs. Ruta bagas, beets, potatoes, bran, 
and house slops, including the milk of two cows, all win- 
ter, have not been spared. 


Reader, is the feed and care thus bestowed, worth one 
cent a head each day? Then from the first of October 
to this time is 166 days. I offer you a speculation. Give 
me one dollar each, and the animals now ten months old, 
are yours; and I will give you my bond with good se- 
curity, that, so far as I am concerned, you shall have a 
perfect monoply of all the breed, from this time, hence- 
forth and forever. 

I have written to Mr. Allen, 1 at Buffalo, for a pair of 
hogs, and I shall send to Mr. Bement, 2 at Albany, for 
another pair, by the first opportunity. 

Will either of these gentlemen, or some other, publish 
a reverse to my picture? 

I am a most sincere hater of alligators and landpikes. 3 
Your friend, Solon Robinson. 

Lake Court-House, la. March 15, 1840. 

Plans for Harrison Convention 

[Indianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal, Apr. 7, 1840] 

Lake C. H. Ia., March 27, 1840. 
Messrs. Douglass & Noel: 

I have seen the suggestion to postpone the meeting 
upon the Tippecanoe battle ground, until the 4th of July. 4 

1 Anthony Benezet Allen, born in Hampshire County, Massa- 
chusetts, June 24, 1802; died January 12, 1892. Founder of the 
American Agriculturist in 1842 with his brother, Richard L. Allen. 
Agricultural writer and implement manufacturer. See Dictionary 
of American Biography, 1:185-86. In the Cultivator, June, 1840 
(7:96), he made an amusing response to Robinson's ax-ticle. See 
post, 138-39, for Robinson's description of the Berkshire hogs sup- 
plied by Allen. 

2 Caleb N. Bement, of Three Hills Farm, Albany. Born 1790; 
died at Poughkeepsie, New York, December 22, 1868. Agricultur- 
ist, inventor, publicist. See Dictionary of American Biography, 

3 The Cultivator for January, 1840 (7:12-14), contains "A Chap- 
ter on Swine" with illustrations that fully justify Robinson's feel- 
ings toward "alligators and landpikes." 

4 Robinson took an active part in the national election in 1840, 
supporting William Henry Harrison. 


'Tis a happy idea. It will suit us here in the North, 
exactly. We could not attend in May, but in July, we 
will attend. I wish to alter the notice in one other re- 
spect — instead of the "young men's convention," let it be 
ALL men. Let the central committee officially invite our 
friends from Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan, to 
join in the great festival. Let the officers and soldiers 
of the battle of Tippecanoe, be particularly invited to 
attend. Gentlemen I want to be there — I do not want my 
gray hairs to exclude me; for in this cause, I feel that 
I am still a "young man." 

I shall go with my tent and camp equipage, prepared 
for a seige — and advise every one to do so, that can. 

No doubt however that ample provision will be made 
for accommodation upon the ground. As the field is in 
the vicinity of Lafayette, there will be no trouble about 
subsistence. Come on then — come young — come old — 
come all. Let us have a national jubilee worthy the time, 
place, and occasion. Dont let us be out done by the Buck- 
eyes. If they had 20,000 in their convention let us have 
30,000. Let every "log cabin" in the state send at least 
one delegate to the "log cabin candidate's" convention. 

Let us make it known abroad, that the Hoosiers, can- 
not, and will not be out done. Let us invite the Hero of 
Tippecanoe to be present. 

Gentlemen, I am no "Bank Aristocrat," I am an humble 
occupant of a log cabin, and I have been all this day 
grubbing bushes; for notwithstanding I am an "office 
holder," I am not able to Swartivout 1 a Price from it 
sufficient to support all the occupants of my log Cabin. 

Lake C. H. March 30, 
I have just returned from the Senatorial Convention, 
and notwithstanding rain and mud, the attendance was 
full of the most enthusiasticly devoted friends of Har- 

1 Samuel Swartwout was appointed collector of the port of New 
York by Andrew Jackson. He later defaulted and fled to Europe. 


rison and reform. 1 The convention adjourned to meet 
en massee on the Tippecanoe battle ground — We were 
divided in opinion as to the most suitable day, whether on 
the 29th of May or 4th of July, but agreed unanimously 
to abide the decision of the Central committee, as to the 
most suitable day. 

All are persuaded that the 4th of July is the best day, 
and the only fear is whether it would produce a greater 
meeting on that day or not. All are determined that, 
take place when it will, it shall be a meeting of all men, 
instead of a meeting of young men — And throughout 
the counties of La Porte, Porter and Lake, all are deter- 
mined that Indiana shall beat Ohio — that the thousands 
upon the battle ground on the 29th of May or 4th of July, 
can, must, and shall exceed the thousands at the Ohio 

Young Men's Convention 

[Lafayette Free Press, May 5, 1840] 

Lake C. H., la. April 12, 1840. 
Mr. J. D. Smith : — 

Dear Sir — I see that the Central Committee of Tippe- 
canoe County, have resolved to afford all the facilities 
in their power to accommodate the immense host, that 
will encamp on the Old Battle Ground the last of next 
month. I fear very much that you have no just concep- 
tion of the numbers, that will be there. 

From the best and most extended information that I 
can obtain, I cannot compute the number at less than 
30,000. — From the north, we shall come pretty well pre- 
pared for the field. 

I would suggest, however, one item to our friends in 
Tippecanoe, that would add greatly to the comfort of the 
camp, particularly if it should rain, and which can be 

1 Robinson was presiding officer at the convention which was 
held at Valparaiso on March 28. Packard, History of La Porte 
County, 210. 


furnished with little or no expense if timely prepared. 
This is, an abundance of new Straw. I hope your Com- 
mittee will urge on their farmer friends, to preserve and 
send in a supply. 

I hope an abundance of grain and provisions will be 
upon the ground for sale. I suggest that you make an 
early publication that such will be the case. 

I would also suggest, that the order of encampment 
should be marked out, and the programme published, and 
Marshals to attend to the arrangement. 

This would afford convenient facilities for finding the 
delegations from different counties, and prevent any 

I offer these suggestions, not in the spirit of dictation, 
but in the feeling of a most ardent devotion to the cause, 
and as hints that may enable your committee, to add 
greatly to to the comfort of those who may in a measure 
be considered in the light of guests of yours. 

Tho' personally a stranger to you and the members 

of your committee, yet there are times which should 

make all the 'log cabin boys' feel like brothers, and as 

such with affectionate regard, I am most respectfully, 

Your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 1 

1 After commenting on Robinson's valuable suggestions, the editor 
continued: "We are authorized by the Whig Central Committee 
of our county, to say that active and energetic measures are now 
in progress to secure, for those who may attend the Convention, 
as great an amount of comfort as practicable for so large an 
assemblage as may be expected on that occasion. The 'Log Cabin 
Boys' of our town have made arrangements to build ... as early 
as the 15th inst., a huge 'Cabin' for a store house for provisions 
and baggage: and a committee . . . has been appointed to collect 
and store . . . such provisions and other necessaries as our citizens 
may see fit to contribute. And we have no doubt that the other 
suggestions of our 'Log Cabin' brother will be attended to by the 
Farmers of this and the adjoining counties. We know that they 
have an abundance, and to spare, of better provisions than it was 
possible to furnish to the soldiers in the campaign of 1811." 


"Oh! never will the boys forget 
The twenty-ninth of May — " 

[Indianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal, May 12, 1840] 

[May 12, 1840] 
TUNE — The Mariners Wife. 
Now we are sure the time is set, 

And now we're sure we'll go, 
Is this a time to feel regret, 
For old Tippecanoe? 

There'll be shouts and songs and glee, 

There'll be luck for all, 
There'll be happy times you'll see, 
While rolling the ball. 
Is this a time to feel regret, 
When we are on the way? 
Oh! never will the boys forget 
The twenty-ningth of May 

There'll be shouts, &c. 
Rise up and buckle on your pack, 

And saddle up your steed, 
Let nothing now, the cause hold back, 
Come meet us on the mead. 

There'll be shouts, &c. 
The Sailor he will bring his Brig, 

The Printer too his Press, 
And there'll be song and dance and jig, 
In every kind of dress. 

There'll be shouts, &c. 
The farmer, he will bring his spade, 

Mechanic's show their skill, 
With emblems of their happy trade, 
The Loco-foco's kill. 

There'll be shouts, &c. 
And there upon the battle field, 

Will sound again the drum, 
And there while high our shouts are peal'd, 
Then may this song be sung. 

There'll be shouts, &c. 



And if the words you should forget 

The poet he'll be there, 
With other songs and tunes all set, 

To while away dull care. 

There'll be shouts, &c. 

And while he lives, with songs and glee, 

Will celebrate the day, 
And while we live, remember'd be 

The twenty-ninth of May. 

There'll be shouts, &c. 

From the "Log Cabin poet" of Northen Indiana. 

Too Long have We Felt the Spoilers Power 1 — 

[Ms. in H. A. Kellar Collection] 

[May ?, 1840] 
Blue bonnets o'er the border 

Brave log cabin lads, arise to glory, 
Now's the time your bonds to sever, 
Subtreasuryism 2 yawns before ye, 
Strike the blow, and 'twill die forever! 
Let not those hireling bonds affright ye, 
The day is ours, come pass the word around 
Remember tis Harrison invites you, 
To meet him on that "bloody battle ground" — 

1 It is possible that this was one of the campaign songs which 
were distributed at the Tippecanoe Battleground celebration of 
May 29. The Indianapolis Spirit of '76, June 6, 1840, in a long 
article describing the convention, devoted a paragraph to "LAKE 
County. The Boys of the North turned out nobly in response to 
the appeal of one of her citizens whom we observed in his wagon 
which contained the printing press of the "Great Western," busily 
engaged in distributing Harrison melodies, as they were rapidly 
struck from the press which was in constant motion. A banner 
also appeared — 'The log cabin boys of Lake County are coming.' " 

* Robinson refers to Andrew Jackson's attack on the United 
States Bank and the subsequent proposal to establish the sub- 


Too long have we felt "the spoiler's" power, 

Too long have we bowed down to a master, 

At length's arrived the trying hour, 

To break our chains or rivet them faster — 

Up, up and away, see the foe's around us, 

Let all who loath the "specie order," 1 

Come join our standard, our hope is boundless, 

We'll send to the ranks of the foe, disorder — 

The great Van Buren did boasting say, 

That "in the footsteps of the hero he'd follow," 

Let his words prove true, and we'll help him on his way, 

Till he rests in the dark region of "sleepy hollow" — 

For Harrison the brave, the Cabin boys will go, 

As men who for liberty fight in good order, 

Our war cry, "the grave" or "our country we'll save," 

When we meet on the Tippecanoe border — 

In treacherous hands our country has fallen, 

The dark soul of Benton 2 has cause to repent it, 

But to "expunge" them, 3 the people now call on, 

The brave, the honor'd, the free, and true independant, 

To rally around our "log cabin" standard, 

And march to the battle in strength & in good order, 

And play the rogue's march till we drive back the 

Of the Treasury plund'rers, far over the border — 

1 An order of secretary of the treasury, July 11, 1836, directed 
that payment for public lands (except in certain cases in Vir- 
ginia) be made to government agents in gold and silver only. 

2 Thomas Hart Benton^ born Hillsboro, North Carolina, March 
14, 1782; died Washington, D. C, April 10, 1858. Senator from 
Missouri, 1821-1851, and representative, 1853-1855. See Dictionary 
of American Biography, 2:210-13. 

1 This refers to a resolution introduced into the Senate by Benton 
to erase from the Journal the censure concerning the bank contro- 
versy passed by the Senate on Andrew Jackson, March 28, 1834. 
First introduced in 1834 and passed January 16, 1837. 

"So Much for" — Berkshires. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:129; Aug., 1840'] 

[July 6, 1840] 

Friend Tucker 2 — You have probably judged from the 
tenor of some of my former communications, that we 
were cursed in this part of the country, with a species 
of wild animals, called hogs ; and also of my intention to 
take some steps to convince my fellow-citizens, that they 
were entirely mistaken in the article. I am happy to 
state to you, that I have been eminently successful. The 
witnesses which I have introduced to prove my case, 
have, by a speaking, though dumb, eloquence, convinced 
the most sceptical. 

In short, I received a few days since from A. B. Allen, 
Esq. of Buffalo, the first pair of Berkshire pigs ever seen 
in this country; and had I introduced an African lion, 
I verily believe it would not have excited more curiosity. 
They have been visited by hundreds, who had read the 
description and seen the picture of them, every one of 
whom believed it to be an overwrought description and 
picture; and every one of whom is now convinced, that 
"the half had not been told them." Were the pair that 
I have as prolific as a swarm of bees, I have already had 
more applications for pigs than I could supply. 

This, sir, is the benefit of demonstrating to the eyes of 
the people the advantages of improvement in agriculture, 
in stocks and implements of husbandry. This is one of 
the fruits of agricultural journals. What a lesson may 
every day be learnt by examining these fruits. It is a 
lesson that should teach every philanthropic mind, how 
much good he may do his country by a little exertion 
to extend the reading of such journals, by the easy 
method which I have several times pointed out before. 

And it is a positive duty that every friend to agricul- 

1 Part of this letter is quoted in an article on "Hogs," credited 
to the Kentucky Farmer, which appeared in Cincinnati Western 
Farmer and Gardener, 2:9-10 (October, 1840). 

2 Luther Tucker and Willis Gaylord began their joint editorship 
of the Cultivator in January, 1840, succeeding Judge Jesse Buel. 


tural improvement, owes to himself and his country, 
to take immediate measures to introduce improved stock 
into his neighborhood. 

Let those that are now able, set the example, and those 
that are less able will surely follow. 

We are all creatures of example ; influenced by the cir- 
cumstances with which we are surrounded ; and say what 
you will about "rich and poor," the poor look to the rich 
for example, and it is the positive duty of the rich to see 
that they have such examples as American freemen ought 
to follow. Reader ! I speak now directly to you ! Mark 
the fearful responsibility that I fix upon you! Let not 
another day pass over your head, till you inquire whether 
you are not able to extend the reading of an agricultural 
journal in your neighborhood? Is there not one poor 
laborer who would willingly work a day or two for you, 
if you would procure the paper for him? Are you not 
able to procure a pair of the improved breed of pigs, or 
some other stock, and introduce it into your neighbor- 
hood? You will soon see the leaven work; and it will do 
your heart good, to see the smiles and hear the congratu- 
latory expressions that will welcome your efforts in a 
good cause. 

Try it my friend ; you never will curse the good advice 
of your old friend, Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la, July 6, 1840. 

Rust 1 in Wheat. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:129; Aug., 1840] 

[July 13, 1840] 
Almost total failure of Crop in Northern Indiana 

and Illinois. 
Messrs. Editors — One month ago, could you have seen 
this fertile region of too rich land, you would have seen 

1 The origin of rust was long unknown. In recent years it has 
been discovered that it originates in a fungus attacking the leaves 
of the common barberry. This is now known to be the aecidiospore 
stage of the red and black rust (Puccinia graminis) found on 
wheat, oats, and other kinds of grain and also certain species of 


the greatest prospect of a great wheat crop that you ever 
saw. But that short month has been a succession of 
warm showers and hot sun, and the most universal blight 
has fallen upon us that I ever saw or heard of. It is not 
a piece here and there, but it is everywhere. Thousands 
of acres will never be cut, and such as will be, will barely 
pay the cost. Some fields are already rotten and stink- 
ing. It is only here and there a field can be found that 
will afford seed. There is yet much old wheat in the 
country, or the prospect would be still more gloomy than 
it is. 

All other crops hereabouts look well. We must eat 
corn dodger and potatoes, and drink "hard cider," and 
have hard times one year more. 

In haste, I am your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 
Lake C. H. la. July 13, 1840. 

To Western Emigrants. 1 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:162; Oct., 1840] 

[August 20, 1840] 
Messrs. Editors — If many of the intelligent persons 
who emigrate from the Eastern States to the "Great 
West," could look a few years only into futurity, they 
would greatly profit by it, not only to themselves, but 
to the country. Will 'any of those who intend in future 
to emigrate, profit by the kind hint of a friend? 

Instead, then, of bringing with you many cumbrous 
articles of furniture that will be almost useless in such 
a residence as you must necessarily inhabit in a new 
country; or at any rate, such as you can well dispense 

1 The Emigrant's Complete Guide to the United States . . ., 72 
(London: William Strange; Leeds: Alice Mann, 1850), contains the 
following note: "Another excellent book on Prairie Farming is 
published by Solon Robinson, of Indiana, and also may be had at 
New York, on landing. It is entitled, The Prairie Farmer." No 
copy of this work by Robinson has been located. It is likely that 
it consisted of reprints or a resume of articles like the one pub- 
lished here, which first appeared in agricultural periodicals. 


with in a "log cabin ;" let me honestly advise you to bring 
the worth of it in "Berkshire pigs," "Durham bulls," 
"Leicester sheep," and other improved, machinery, that 
will add much more to your wealth and comfort, than 
mahogany side-boards, tables and chairs, and gilt looking 
glasses. I do not object to these things in their proper 
places — but the place for them, is not in a house com- 
posed of rough logs, having the cracks between them 
"chinked" with rails, and "daubed" with mud; having a 
floor made of "puncheons," that is, plank split out of 
logs, the roof covered with "shakes," or "clapboards," 
about four feet long, laid upon round poles; the chim- 
ney built without stone, brick, or mason, composed of 
sticks and clay — the door of split boards, with wooden 
hinges and latch — for such are some of the "fixins" of 
a log cabin — and in such a dwelling-place has many a 
good family lived comfortably, contented, and happy, 
while earning the means to provide a better one — and in 
such an one has been many a good piece of furniture 
spoiled by an exposure, which such articles are not calcu- 
lated to endure. Besides, such articles run much more 
risk of loss and damage on the passage than a cage of 
Berkshire pigs. 

Let me earnestly advise every person intending to emi- 
grate to the west, particularly the northern parts of 
Indiana and Illinois, to which water communication is 
so cheap, safe, and convenient, to dispose of all articles 
of luxury, that are unsuitable to the situations they will 
be likely to be placed in, for a few of the first years of 
their new habitation, and invest the proceeds in valuable 
stock, and improved fanning implements, with a variety 
of the best seeds ; and my word for it, they will find their 
account in it. 

A word more, honestly spoken. Although the inhabi- 
tants of all new countries are anxious to see it settle fast, 
and urge their friends and acquaintance to "come west," 
without distinction, there are many that come who are 
entirely unfit for "new settlers." An able general selects 


a small portion of a large army for pioneers, because of 
the peculiar fitness of that small part for that arduous 
and important service. It is my opinion, that a much 
smaller portion of the community are fit for pioneers in 
settling a new country. Too little heed has been paid to 
this important fact, in the great rush for the west, a few 
years past. Thousands have rushed forward with the 
bright vision of an "el Dorado" before them, to find noth- 
ing but disappointment, loss of property, vexation of 
mind, and consequent loss of health, and sometimes loss 
of life ; all attributable to their own heedlessness, rushing 
headlong into a situation that nature, education, and 
habit, had totally unfitted them to occupy. Let not my 
western readers say, that I would discourage the settle- 
ment of the country; I always have, and always will, 
encourage the thousands who have, and who would better 
their situations, by emigrating from the old states to the 
west. But let every person disposed to emigrate, first 
seriously inquire whether he would better his situation 
or not. Let him lay open to himself, and more particu- 
larly to his wife and children, if such he have, a complete 
picture of the case ; and don't let him forget to point out 
all the shades as well as bright spots in the picture. To 
a large portion of the new settlers of a new country, 
there is an indefinable charm in "making a beginning" 
in an uncultivated wilderness, and causing it to "blossom 
like the rose," that lends life a pleasure, and overbalances 
all difficulties. 

Happiness, and not wealth, should be the aim of all; 
though no man should allow himself to be happy, without 
he is doing some good in the world — promoting the hap- 
piness of his fellow creatures, as well as himself. And 
to such dispositions only, will my present advice be avail- 
ing; but to such, I hope it will avail so far as to make 
them inquire, when they are preparing to emigrate, 
whether they will not be likely to contribute to their own 
wealth and happiness, and that of their fellow creatures, 
by following some of my present advice. 


I believe I could advise who would be likely to benefit 
themselves by emigration, but that would be advice 
thrown away. But I hope the advice to all emigrants, 
to bring with them some choice selections of stock, as 
the most profitable investment of money that they could 
make, will not be entirely lost. 

Here is a vast country of the richest soil, not one-tenth 
part cultivated, forming a pasture for stock equal to your 
eastern clover fields, and susceptible of supporting im- 
mense herds, making tons of beef, butter, cheese, and 
pork, with small labor, and no interest upon the cost of 
valuable land. But we are lamentably deficient in stock ; 
in half a dozen counties, there are not half a dozen pairs 
of Berkshire hogs. In fact, hereabouts is the ivorst breed 
of hogs I ever saw in any country. Sheep are of the 
coarse common kind, with no means of improving them; 
and although it is supposed by many, that sheep require 
a hilly country, I never saw sheep do better in any place 
than in this prairie country. But with a good breed, we 
also need a good breed of shepherd's dogs, for the prairie 
wolves are very troublesome. These are a species be- 
tween the wolf and fox. They are somewhat larger than 
the largest kind of fox, and "bold as the devil." At this 
season of the year, the sheep need constant watching in 
the day time, and close yard at night. There are none 
or very few big wolves, or other troublesome animals. 
Sheep and cattle are easily wintered on native grass, 
and the country is entirely free from disease among 
flocks. If, then, men grow wealthy upon stock farms 
that are worth $100 an acre, what would we do here 
with the same kind of stock, where a man may get 80 
acres for $100 ; with an unbounded range of common for 
pasturage? For dairy farms, a prairie country is re- 
markably fine; the native grass producing the richest 
kind of milk, and the fattest and richest beef I ever saw 
on grass alone. But of pork, I will only say that it 
cannot be made of the animals common to this country. 
Come, then, old and young, rich and poor, male and 


female, all who sincerely believe after mature reflection, 
that you can better your condition by emigration, and 
you shall find a wide and fertile country ; but be sure you 
bring every one of you, an improved pig, or sheep, or 
cattle, or plow, or other implement, and that you cultivate 
the soil in an improved manner, and you will improve 
yourselves and neighbors. 

And now I hope you may improve by the advice of your 
old friend, Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., Aug. 20, 1840. 

Rust in Wheat, &c. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:163-64; Oct., 1840] 

[August 20, 1840] 
Messrs. Editors of Cultivator — In my hasty note of 
July 13th, published in the Cultivator this month, I gave 
no particulars — I had even forgot that I had written, 
until I read it in the paper, and also the excellent article 
upon the subject of rust in wheat. At the same time 
my attention was drawn to a new and singular theory 
of the cause of rust, published in the Laporte paper, 
which I have cut out and enclosed.* You will see by 

* Our Wheat Crop. — This year is without a precedent in regard 
to the failure of our wheat cr&p. The committee which was 
selected to ascertain the probable number of acres of wheat grow- 
ing in this county, reported that there were not less than 25,000. 
This estimate in my opinion, was not an exaggerated one. Now 
had this come in as well as we had anticipated or hoped, we should 
have had 500,000 bushels of wheat in our county; 100,000 bushels 
of this would have been sufficient for our seed and consumption, 
and the residue we might have disposed of. This at 50 cents per 
bushel, would have brought into our county $200,000. This sum 
would have liquidated an immense amount of debt; but owing to 
the fly, army-worm and rust, our wheat has been measurably de- 
stroyed; and in lieu of our having five hundred thousand bu- 
shels, we shall not have one hundred thousand, and this will be of 
a very inferior quality. So it will readily be perceived that we 
have sustained a very considerable loss. It is natural for us to 
inquire into the cause of this stupendous failure. My views on 
this subject were published in the Laporte "Herald" last summer. 
I shall therefore merely reiterate them. That the fly was the cause 


that what an immense crop was on the ground in that 
single county; in a county too, that the land was pur- 
chased of the Indians in 1832. 

Some of the best fields have been cut, but the grain is 
poor stuff. Some of it does not weigh more than 30 lbs. 
to the bushel. I have correct information 150 miles 
south and 100 miles wide, east and west, all of which is 
a most fertile wheat soil, and immense crops were on 
the ground, and almost entirely blasted. There are, how- 
ever, some good crops of spring wheat, though very little 
of it improved kinds. 

This is certainly the greatest loss by rust that I was 
ever acquainted with. And in all this vast extent, I don't 
think there is a barberry bush. So that is not the cause. 
That the fly is the cause, as advanced by the Laporte 
writer is something new, and I must doubt the correct- 
ness of the theory. 

But what is the cause? There is one fact worth notic- 
ing, that fields situated in places sheltered by woodland 
suffered least. And even by the side of fences, where 
in the fore part of summer the wheat was the most rank 
and luxuriant, it was much better than in the middle of 
the field. Why was it so ? Was it not owing to the more 
rapid growth in June, of that which was the most back- 

of the rust in our wheat this year, I do not entertain a doubt. I 
have examined my own, and divers of my neighbors' stubble fields 
very faithfully, and the conclusion to which I have come is, that 
every spear of wheat in which the fly deposited its nit, last fall, 
was killed. They survived until the warm weather ensued in the 
spring, when they died. From this bunch of dead wheat, there 
sprang up new shoots or stalks, in like manner as they would come 
up around the trunk of a sapling which had been girdled. I have 
enumerated as many as 20 dead spears in one bunch. Now, for 
the wherefores of the rust. These new shoots came forward with 
amazing rapidity; consequently they accumulate an undue quantity 
of sap; and the stalks having more juice than it was possible 
for them to retain, and the extension became so great, that the 
sap was forced out at the spiricle or pores; the premature death 
of the stalk ensued and a consequent shrinking of the berry. This 
juice or sap being of a glutinous substance, adhered to the surface 
of the stalk and became a kind of rust. — Laporte Whig. 


ward in May? The weather was very "muggy," and the 
wheat grew uncommonly fast, so much so that the com- 
mon expression among those not well acquainted with 
the theory of rust, said that "the stalks grew so fast that 
they bursted and let out the juice and that turned to a 
red mould," &c. — and the same thing appears to be ad- 
vanced by the writer of the enclosed article. 

It is an important inquiry, "what is the cause of rust 
in wheat?" But a much more important inquiry, "what 
can be done to prevent it?" 

More than a million of dollars is lost to the culti- 
vators in this rusty district, by this calamity. If you 
or your correspondents can offer advice as to how to 
guard against a future loss, it will be highly acceptable. 
Most respectfully your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Note. — My young Berkshires continue to improve and 
excite as much curiosity as ever. It is a good evidence 
of a disposition among the people toward improvement, 
to see their curiosity excited by good stock when intro- 
duced to their notice. 

Lake Court House, la. Aug. 20, 1840. 

To Western Emigrants — No. 2. 

[Albany Cultivator, 7:192; Dec., 1840] 

[October 20, 1840] 
Messrs. Editors — Since reading my first article of 
advice to emigrants, I have concluded to risk throwing 
away a little more advice, and shall endeavor to point 
out "who would be likely to benefit themselves by emi- 
gration." 1 

1 There is a marked similarity between Robinson's views on 
immigration to the West, as expressed here and in his articles of 
November 1 and December 9, 1842, "To Western Emigrants," and 
the views of Jacob Schramm, a German immigrant to Indiana in 
1835. See Vonnegut, Emma S. (ed.), The Schramm Letters, writ- 
ten by Jacob Schramm and members of his family from, Indiana 
to Germany in the year 1836, 281-83 (Indiana Historical Society 
Publications, ll:no. 4, Indianapolis, 1935). 


Young hearty men, married or single, mechanics, or 
laborers in agricultural employments, who with an untir- 
ing industry are unable to "get ahead in the world," if 
they emigrate to the west, and pursue the same indus- 
trious course, will find their situation improved by the 
change. But let no one come here with the expectation of 
finding wages higher, provisions low, land so cheap that 
he can get an 80 acre farm for $100, and consequently 
that he will be able to acquire an independence with little 
or no exertion on his own part. True, land is cheap — it 
is hardly possible to imagine a soil more rich, but land 
bought of the United States at $1,25 an acre, is not a 
cultivated farm. 

And although it is easy to bring dry prairie land into 
cultivation, it requires a persevering industry on the part 
of the settler, sometimes accompanied with great priva- 
tions and hardships for himself and family; and in this 
case, "a bad beginning" does not "make a good ending." 

Thousands, who were "well to do in the world," in the 
eastern States, and who on an old improved farm would 
have continued "well to do," have had their minds highly 
excited by overwrought pictures of "a paradise of a 
place" in the west, and without stopping to inquire 
whether they were fit for pioneers, have rushed upon the 
shipwreck of their hopes, health and happiness of them- 
selves and families. 

Upon the other hand, thousands are toiling from year 
to year as tenants or owners of some barren little spot, 
who might with similar industry in this country, become 
large and wealthy farmers. For what their own little 
farm or other spare property would sell for where they 
are, they might procure a farm for themselves and each 
child around them. A farm, did I say? No, not a farm, 
only the raw material out of which to manufacture one, 
by long and constant toil. But then that toil is cheered 
and supported by the constant exciting pleasure that an 
industrious man always feels while "making improve- 
ments," while creating new things. But I have known 


many emigrants to this country, who were totally in- 
capable of making the necessary improvements to render 
themselves comfortable, and after a few months of vexa- 
tion and trouble, after exhausting almost everything they 
possessed, have returned to the place from whence they 
came, to curse the country and discourage others from 
emigrating, who under the same circumstances, would 
have laid the foundation of a fortune for themselves and 
children. Had some of these disappointed seekers after 
the paradise of their distorted vision, first inquired 
whether they were at all fitted to perform the pioneer 
duty of a new settlement, they might have saved them- 
selves much money and vexation. Let the emigrating 
disposed person, then seriously inquire whether he is 
going to benefit himself or not ; above all things, let the 
wife and daughters know what they have to go through 
in a new country. I have known some that have come to 
the west with high wrought fancies of romantic felicities, 
who have removed to weep with bitter disappointment; 
such do not make happy, contented, good citizens. But 
had they "known the worst at first," they would have 
met it with fortitude; and enjoyed life in a log cabin, 
better, perhaps, than they had formerly done in a large 
mansion house. 

Let those who are unwilling or unable to bear hard- 
ship, or who are unwilling to humble themselves to a 
residence in a log cabin, remain where they are a little 
longer. The west is no place for pride or laziness ; we 
want industrious farmers and mechanics; we don't care 
how poor a man is, if he is industrious, he cannot remain 
poor. We are also glad to see the wealthy come too, 
particularly when he brings along a lot of choice stock, 
as many of late do. 

There is one more class of inhabitants that we need; 
that is, able and efficient teachers of common schools. 
It is one of the difficulties that all new countries labor 
under, the want of good schools. Dollars and cents are 
of so much more importance to many men, than the edu- 


cation of their children, that they are unwilling to incur 
any extra expense; and in many cases, the difficulty of 
obtaining a teacher without taking any trouble, keeps a 
neighborhood destitute of a school for a whole season. 

But enough at present; in my next, I have some idea 
of drawing a picture of "making a new settlement in the 
west," for the amusement of emigrants, or those that 
intend to be such. Your old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake Court House, la., Oct. 20, 1840. 

To Western Emigrants — No. 3. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:19-20; Jan., 1841] 

[November 1, 1840] 
First Night on the Prairie. 
Messrs. Editors — In my last I proposed to give some 
account of the manner of making a new settlement. 
Although the subject is not exactly such an one as is 
calculated to add to the knowledge of those who are seek- 
ing for something new in agriculture, it may be one from 
which a numerous class of your readers may gather 
something new to them, and I hope sufficiently interest- 
ing to add to their amusement of a long winter evening. 
And that, you know, is a strong inducement towards 
causing many to read; and that should always be a 
prominent object, to make a paper amusing as well as 
useful, — in fact the two should be constantly blended. 
The most useful articles are too often too dry to attract 
the attention of the hard laboring man. An occasional 
article then, which will amuse as well as instruct, and 
which will tend to "lighten labor" by adding an hour of 
enjoyment to the toil-worn laborer, will certainly have 
answered a good end — such is my present purpose — but 
if you consider it out of character for your journal, you 
know how to dispose of it without giving offence to a real 
friend. But to those who intend to set their faces west- 
ward, I think an old settler's experience will be interest- 
ing. I will begin with the First night on the Prairie. 


It was the last day of October 1834, when I first en- 
tered this "arm of the Grand Prairie." 1 It was about 
noon of a clear delightful day when we emerged from 
the wood, and for miles around, stretched forth one broad 
expanse of clear, open land. At that time the whole of 
this country scarcely showed a sign that the white man 
had yet been here, except those of my own household. 
I stood alone, wrapt up in that peculiar sensation that 
man only feels when beholding a broad rolling prairie 
for the first time — it is an indescribable delightful feel- 
ing. Oh what a rich mine of wealth lay outstretched 
before me. Some ten miles away to the south-west, the 
tops of a grove were visible — toward that, onward rolled 
the wagons, with nothing to impede them — the road was 
broad — the grass (which some think grows so high as to 
impede travel,) only a few inches long, except in creeks 
and wet places. Just before sundown we reached the 
grove and pitched our tent by the side of a spring. What 
could exceed the beauty of this spot! Why should we 
seek farther? Here is every thing to indicate a healthy 
location, which should always influence the new settler. 
And here let me caution the emigrant always to beware 
locating upon the banks of streams. After enjoying 
such a night of rest as can only be enjoyed after such a 
day, the morning helped to confirm us that here should 
be our resting place. In a few hours the grove resounded 
with the blows of the axe, and in four days we moved 
into our "new house." 

"Dear me," do I hear some parlor-loving wife of an 
expectant emigrant say, "where did you get your boards 
to build it with?" My good lady, we were 40 miles from 
a saw-mill, and of course the house was built and finished 
off complete without a sawed board about it, and but very 
few nails, nor a brick or stone. The sides were round 
rough logs, not even the bark taken off, laid up by notch- 
ing the corners together, the cracks well filled with clay, 

1 Grand Prairie was located south of the Kankakee marsh and 
timberland in what is now part of Newton and Jasper counties. 


the chimney all clay and sticks ; the roof, floors, and door, 
all made of split boards, and the tables, bedsteads, and 
cupboards, all of the same materials. 

"Oh dear! I never will go to the west, if I have got 
to live in such a house as that. Why, it ain't as good as 
our hog-pen — and only one room!" 

No mam, only one room — and we were very glad to get 
that just as winter was setting in upon us, 15 miles from 
neighbors, 40 miles from mill, store, farm, or post office. 
One room 16 feet square, in which have lodged 16 per- 
sons, other emigrants like ourselves, night overtaken in 
winter, without other shelter, and in which my family 
spent a happier winter than I ever expect to see again. 
And although not as costly, madam, as your aristocratic 
hog pen, yet I can assure you, that even you could live 
comfortable in such a house, and if you come to the west, 
as you are now thinking of, you will be very likely to 
live in a similar one — and you will be very comfortable 
too, and if I should happen to call on you, you must not 
think you could not make me comfortable too, although 
you had but "one room." 

"No neighbors — so lonely" — do you say. No, I assure 
you, we were not lonely — never less so than that winter. 
In the first place, there is a dozen "honey-trees" to be 
cut and taken care of, and as there is no fruit nor vege- 
tables, the deficiency is to be made up with cranberries. 
Then there is the venison, geese, ducks, grouse, quails, 
and squirrels, &c, to dress and eat; and once in five or 
six weeks we had "the news" from the post-office. There 
was no lack of employment in doors or out — no loneli- 
ness — no repining. We all came here with a full knowl- 
edge of what we had to do and expect, and so there was 
no disappointment. 

And my dear reader, when you come to the west, don't 
expect too much; humble yourself to new and strange 
things that your new circumstances will induce. And 
take my advice, if you cannot humble yourself to make a 
beginning in a humble log cabin, you had better wait 



where you are, until some better pioneer has made a 
beginning for you. Don't come here to be miserable, for 
generally we are a happy race, "full, fat, and saucy;" 
and some of us, after we have got a "good beginning," 
get a little lazy. Corn and hogs will grow without much 
work, and "hog and hominy" will support life ; and "who 
would work when he was able to do without it?" If you 
answer that you would, and that you and your family can 
"make a beginning" in a log cabin, you may start for 
the west. But don't forget the advice I gave you in my 
first number, and don't forget your well meaning old 
friend "the squatter." 

Solon Robinson. 
Lake C. H., la., Nov. 1, 1840. 

"American Society of Agriculture," 

"To elevate the character and standing of the cultivators 

of the American soil." 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:33-34; Feb., 1841] 

[December 27, 1840] 

Messrs. Gaylord 1 & Tucker — My worthy friends — 
You and many of your readers, will recollect the article 
published in No. 3, vol. 5, May, 1838, upon this subject. 2 
It was designed to call the attention of the public to the 
subject, and Judge Buel, in a note says — "Mr. Robinson's 
proposition meets our hearty approbation; and should it 
be favorably responded to by our cotemporaries who con- 
duct agricultural journals, and whose opinions upon the 
subject we respectfully solicit, — we shall give it our cor- 
dial support, — and devise some means if others do not do 
it, to organize an association," for one of the noblest 

1 Willis Gaylord, born Bristol, Connecticut, in 1792 ; died at 
Camillus, New York, March 27, 1844. Agricultural editor and 
writer. Associated with Luther Tucker as joint editor of the 
Cultivator, 1840-1844. See Dictionary of American Biography, 

2 Ante, 87-90. 


purposes ever devised, having in view the sole object 

TIVATORS of the American soil." 

Well, so far as I am able to judge, the proposition met 
with an almost universal approbation. The article was 
extensively published in the papers of the country. The 
comments of many editors were highly flattering. From 
the tone of the press, and numerous private letters, I 
felt strongly encouraged that this great beneficial pro- 
ject to this nation was about to be accomplished. I pic- 
tured to myself one of our happy meetings, when the 
friends of agricultural improvement from every State, 
county and principal town in the United States, should 
be joyfully interchanging heartfelt greetings with each 
other — not only exchanging sentiments, but valuable in- 
formation, rare and curious productions of nature, and 
valuable seeds — storing up in our minds a fund of happi- 
ness for all our after life. But alas, that one year has 
gone, and another is fast going, and not one mighty 
spirit has stepped forward to say this thing can, this 
thing must, this thing SHALL, be done. Even the en- 
couraging echoes that responded from all parts of the 
Union to the first proposition, have died away, until not 
one faint echo meets my ear. Shall I despair to wake 
them again, under such discouraging circumstances? No 
— I am well aware that the whole energy of the public 
mind, has lately been engrossed by another and exciting 
subject. 1 But now there is a calm, there is room, — room 
to do good — and should I meet with one single echo to my 
second attempt to awake the public to the importance of 
this great proposition, that will some day assuredly 
shower blessings upon this agricultural nation, I shall 
not feel as though I had written in vain. 

Messrs. Editors, let me reiterate my first text — "some- 
thing can, something must, something SHALL," may I 
add, something will be done, and that speedily, "to elevate 
the character and standing of the cultivators of the 

1 The presidential campaign of 1840. 


American soil;" for such is the object and aim of the 

"American Society of Agriculture," — "as I understand 

•i. >> * * * * 

An oasis in a desert! Not with greater pleasure did 
ever weary traveler over burning sands, meet with an 
oasis, a bright, green, shady spot, abounding in cool 
springs, than I met with the letter of that good old Vir- 
ginian, in your last number, just as I had written thus 
far. His invocation shall not be entirely in vain — I will 
"once more sound my trumpet," and before the echoes die 
away, I will sound it again and again, until its blast 
shall wake up "all the true lovers of American Hus- 
bandry, to a cordial cooperation in the promotion of a 
project, which I verily believe, if once achieved, would 
become more and more popular with the American peo- 
ple, in all time to come." 

How true it is, my worthy friends, that "the bonds of 
that cordial brotherhood which should forever unite us, 
would be strengthened, by annually bringing together the 
distant members of our great agricultural family." How 
much they have already been strengthened through the 
columns of agricultural papers. How does my heart 
yearn to take that good man by the hand whose letter 
I have just been reading, and am now commenting upon. 
There is no kinsman among my numerous clan, whom I 
would sooner meet, or from whom I should expect a 
warmer welcome, than from such a man, as his writings 
indicate James M. Garnett to be. 1 If the perusal of a 
letter from a stranger produces such feelings, surely 
"our bonds of brotherhood would be strengthened," by a 
closer communion. This alone should be cause sufficient 

1 Garnett's letter of November 9, 1840, to which Robinson refers, 
appeared in the Cultivator, 7:190 (December, 1840). James Mer- 
cer Garnett was born on June 8, 1770, in Essex County, Virginia, 
and died April 23, 1843. He was a member of Congress, an agri- 
cultural writer, and a promoter of agricultural societies. He 
served as first president of the National Agricultural Society, 1841. 
He established a girls' school and was active in educational im- 
provement. See Dictionary of American Biography, 7:156-57. 


to encourage us to persevere in the formation of a Na- 
tional Society. 

How to begin, is the only obstacle. I disagree with 
Mr. Garnett, about looking to members of Congress to 
make an organization ; they never would do it. How then 
shall we begin? We need not wait for a farther expres- 
sion of public sentiment; for as Mr. Garnett says, "the 
project received such high commendation throughout 
the country," it is evidence to my mind that the majority 
are in favor of its "speedy execution." Thus, then, let 
the beginning be. I will take the responsibility to order 
it, and you, gentlemen, must endorse it, or suggest a 
better one. You must name a committee of 20 of the 
most active friends of the cause in the vicinity of Albany, 
to meet at your office on that memorable day, the birth- 
day of Washington, to nominate the officers pro. tern, of 
the American Society of Agriculture; such committee 
will not fail to attend. Such men as they will nominate 
for officers, will not refuse to act. These officers, so far 
as may be convenient, by meeting, and otherwise by cor- 
respondence, will organize the Society. They will draft 
a "bond of union," and bye-laws for the orderly conduct- 
ing meetings and uniting members. They will fix upon 
a time and place for the first meeting, and publish an 
invitation to all the friends of agriculture to meet. At 
that meeting, a constitution would be adopted, and offi- 
cers elected. 

The residence of the first officers is not important, so 
they are men who will lend their energies to put the ball 
in motion, for once in motion, it will never cease to roll. 
Each one should be immediately apprised by the nominat- 
ing committee, of the appointments, and in his turn 
should accept the appointment, that it might be pub- 
lished. A small fund will be necessary to defray postage 
and printing expenses; and as soon as the treasurer is 
appointed, I shall forward ten dollars as a contribution, 
and I hope a few others will do likewise. If you, or any 
of your readers have aught to say against this plan of 


organization, say it now or never. But above all things, 
let my friends Gaylord & Tucker, bear the fact in mind, 
that the whole responsibility now rests upon them to 
make a beginning of the organization. Let them not 
shrink from the honorable responsibility with which I 
have autocratically invested them; but proceed at once 
to name and publish the names of the committee, includ- 
ing themselves. 1 

When the officers are nominated, should they fail to 
perform their duty, they must expect to hear loud blasts 
from the trumpet of friend Garnett, and your most hum- 
ble, though devoted friend of American agriculture. 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., Dec. 27, 1840. 

Note. — Information — Many persons having read my 
communications, have written to me private letters, and 
often taxed themselves with postage. To persons so dis- 
posed, I would say, that I do at present, and have for 
many years past, held the office of Post Master. 

To Western Emigrants — No. 4. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:53; Mar., 1841] 

[January 28, 1841] 
Messrs. Editors — By sundry assurances from un- 
known friends, that my articles have answered some of 
the purposes for which they were written, I am encour- 
aged to continue. Even if they did no other good than to 
be the moving cause of bringing "two Durham cows" 
from my native state of Connecticut, to feed upon our 
boundless pastures, I should be satisfied. I hope Mr. 
Allen will give the required information, as to cost of 
freight, &c. And here I will take the liberty of saying 
to all persons desiring information connected with the 

1 Gaylord and Tucker declined to assume the responsibility as- 
signed here, on the ground that there was not yet sufficient in- 
terest to make such a movement successful. Cultivator, 8:27 
(February, 1841). See also their editorials in the April issue 
(8:57), and June issue (8:89). 


great cause of improvement in agriculture, upon any 
branch within the extensive knowledge of A. B. Allen, 
or his brother, R. L. Allen, 1 of Buffalo, that they have 
but to ask, and they will receive. If they wish similar 
information from Chicago, address John S. Wright, 2 
Esq. Editor of the "Union Agriculturist." 

No emigrant need fear any difficulty in bringing along 
cattle and hogs. Several of the masters of steamboats 
on the Lakes, seem to take great interest in the shipment 
of choice stock to the West. I have had three lots of 
pigs, shipped from Buffalo to Chicago during the last 
summer, in the sole care of the master of the boats, and 
from the appearance of the pigs on arrival, they must 
have been treated like cabin passengers. In fact, none 
but a brute could maltreat a Berkshire pig. 

In the shipment of furniture, emigrants need advice. 
Great care should be taken in packing everything in the 
most compact manner, in barrels and boxes, strongly 
hooped and nailed; and very plainly marked with full 
directions. The freight upon the canal is charged by the 
pound. Upon the Lake, and upon storage in ware-houses, 
it is charged by the barrel bulk. The best way is to con- 
tract in New- York or Albany, for the whole charge of 

1 Richard Lamb Allen, born in Westfield, Massachusetts, October 
20, 1803; died September 22, 1869. Agricultural editor and manu- 
facturer of farm implements. Wrote a number of agricultural 
books. Brother of A. B. Allen and L. F. Allen. Dictionary of 
American Biography, 1:205-6. 

2 John Stephen Wright, born July 16, 1815, at Sheffield, Massa- 
chusetts; died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 16, 1874. 
Agricultural editor and manufacturer of farm-implement machin- 
ery. Selected as editor of the Union Agriculturist, founded by 
the Union Agricultural Society in 1840. Several years later 
Wright purchased the periodical from the society, and changed 
its name to the Prairie Farmer. This magazine is still published 
at Chicago. Wright was much interested in educational matters 
and in the expansion of trade and commerce in Chicago. He was 
an influential figure in the Middle West for many years. A 
sketch of Wright is to appear in a forthcoming volume of the 
Dictionary of American Biography. 


transportation clear through, and pay it, and take a re- 
ceipt, specifying the contract completely. If you have a 
family, you will have enough to look after, without 
watching your freight all the journey. Many articles are 
lost, through the carlessness of the owners. Articles are 
sold every year in Chicago, "for freight and charges," 
that never had any mark upon them of owner's name or 
destination. You cannot be too careful. Be economical, 
prudent and good natured upon your journey. Avoid 
haste and hasty words, although often provoked, and be 
determined to have a pleasant journey, and my word for 
it, you will have. And at whatever sacrifice, be sure to 
settle all your business before you start. For I have 
found out that "money to come from the East," is a very 
snail of a traveler ; it but rarely overtakes the emigrant ; 
and as for "going back after money," you can earn two 
new dollars here while you can hunt up one old one there. 

If it be possible, always fix upon some definite spot for 
your location before you start — and when you arrive in 
a new settlement, beware of sharks. Be careful to settle 
in a healthy spot, although the soil should be less rich. 
Nothing disheartens the new settler so much as a season 
of sickness in the first year; and it is often brought on 
by great imprudence. 

One prevailing fault among new settlers, is undertak- 
ing too much the first years. I have known many to 
completely prostrate themselves in a vain endeavor to 
fence and cultivate forty acres with strength only suffi- 
cient for ten, and after months of toil, finally compelled 
to witness the destruction of the whole crop, in conse- 
quence of their inability to "finish the fence." Not only 
the loss of crop, but a severe fit of sickness, brought on 
by over-exertion and exposure. For probably, while toil- 
ing at the field, the finishing of the house has been put 
off, and at last when placed in a situation to require a 
comfortable shelter from storms and winds, there is noth- 
ing of the kind. I have personally known much suffering, 
and sometimes death, to arise from such circumstances. 


How much better to make a small beginning. To be 
sure and make the cabin as comfortable as possible, for 
at the best, it is to a family that have never been used to 
the like, but a temporary convenience, generally occupied 
more through necessity than choice. Not but that a log 
house can be made most completely comfortably, and I 
have often seen those of a very rough exterior, which 
showed the highest degree of neatness within. But there 
is such an anxiety among many emigrants to get a large 
farm, that the dwelling is neglected. This is all wrong; 
it is much better to have a "little land well tilled," and 
a house, if not "well filled" inside, at least have all the 
cracks in the outside well filled, if you expect to keep the 
wife, 'well willed." Many an ague fit is brought upon the 
new settler by the unusual exposure to which they sub- 
ject themselves in an unfinished log cabin, with all the 
cracks open, perhaps without door or window, and but 
half a chimney, and sometimes without floor or fire-place. 
Such a change from all former usage cannot be submit- 
ted to with impunity, although in the summer time, and 
though it be merely for that indefinite period, " 'til I get 
over my hurry." The fact is that an industrious man 
upon a new place, where everything is to be created by 
the work of his own hands before it can be called a 
farm, is never over his hurry. And I am sure that I 
shall have all the female part of my emigrating friends 
upon my side, when I insist that it should always be the 
first thing to do, as I am sure it is the first duty of the 
emigrant, to make the dwelling house as comfortable as 
the circumstances will possibly admit. If a man will 
expose his own health, he is bound by the strongest ties 
to protect that of his wife and children at all times, and 
doubly so, when he has brought them away from the 
thousand comforts that they have been reared to, "to 
begin a new home in the wilderness." And although the 
new settler's log cabin is necessarily a rough uncouth 
looking dwelling, it can with a very small amount of 
labor, be made tight, warm, comfortable and pleasant. 


How many of my readers now dwelling in their hand- 
some mansion houses, will, as they peruse this, look back 
to the positive happy days that they enjoyed in a log 

That many of their descendants who are disposed to 
partake of the bounties that nature has provided for the 
industrious man in the Great West, will yet enjoy life 
in the same kind of humble habitation, is the sincere wish 
of their humble log cabin friend. Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. Jan. 28, 1841. 

To Western Emigrants — No. 5. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:97; June, 1841] 

[February 1, 1841] 


Messrs. Editors — And you my kind readers, who have 
read my previous numbers, if you think I am becoming 
prolix, lay the present one aside. I was led away in my 
last number from the subject which I was prosing upon 
in No. 3. 1 I told you of the first night on the prairie, but 
I have not yet told you of many other nights and sunny 
days that I have spent here. The month of November, 
around the head of Lake Michigan, (which is in lat. 41, 
38,) is usually a mild pleasant month. Such was the 
month that followed "the first night on the prairie." This 
was indeed propitious to the newly arrived emigrants, 
for there was much to do to prepare for the expected 
rigors of an approaching northern winter. 

There was neither hay nor grain within many a long 
mile, for man or beast, and to one accustomed to look 
upon the gloomy side of things, the prospect of making 
a new settlement under such circumstances would have 
looked gloomy enough. But an emigrant to the West 
should not be one of that cast of temper. He should be 

1 The two articles are printed ante, 149 ff., 156 ff. 


able to look beyond the many discouraging circumstances 
attending the beginning of his new mode of life, to the 
bright prospect of the future. There was but one fleet- 
ing moment of gloom resting with me during the first 
winter. The first month had been spent in the numerous 
duties of preparation for winter, and the beautiful sunny 
days of November had given place to cold and snowy 
December, when it became apparent that the little maga- 
zine of provisions must be replenished, and that right 
speedily. And although "delays are dangerous," yet, 
waiting better weather, delay was made to that point, 
that upon calculation proved the stock on hand barely 
sufficient to supply the five or six days that it would take 
to make the journey where a supply could be obtained, 
and return again while there was yet a little left. So 
a trusty and persevering messenger was dispatched, with 
due, though little needed caution, to hasten his return. 
The weather again was mild and pleasant, and our spirits 
all buoyant and bright as the winter sunshine, as the 
cheerful cheering notes of the departing teamster's joy- 
ous morning song floated away upon the breeze, that 
swept unobstructed over miles of prairie, now blackened 
by the annual fires, to a somber hue, and cheerless winter 

Never were such appetites seen before, as those which 
daily diminished the fast failing stock of provisions of 
our little family in the wilderness. Before them I kept 
a cheerful face, but oh, how my heart sunk within me on 
the evening of the fifth day, as I descended from a tall 
tree which I had climbed to try to discover the expected 
team. For I easily perceived that the weather had been 
such as to ice over the unbridged streams, though I 
feared not sufficient to pass over a wagon. On this even- 
ing, too, I was still further pained by the arrival of some 
hungry wanderers, to whom hospitality could not be 

On the sixth day, the only neighbor within a dozen 
miles, came to borrow a little meal. He looked upon the 


bottom of the empty barrel and turned homeward with 
his empty bag. The knife had scraped the last bone 
for breakfast, and the next resource was a small bag of 
wheat bran, which made very palatable batter (not bet- 
ter) cakes, though they would have been better, but that 
the lard was gone, and butter was, in those days, among 
the unknown things. Bran cakes and cranberries, sweet- 
ened with honey, then were sweet diet. Although the 
owner of a gun that rarely failed to perform good serv- 
ice, it seemed that every living thing in the shape of 
game had hid up in winter quarters. 'Tis true, that I 
suffered a degree of nervousness, that might have ren- 
dered my hand too unsteady to endanger the life of game, 
if it had come in the way ; not that I heard one word of 
repining or fear, nor that there was any immediate dan- 
ger of actual starvation ; yet the thought was not a pleas- 
ant one, to think I had brought a wife and children into 
a wilderness to suffer, even through fear of want. 

On the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth days, anxious 
and watchful eyes scanned the prairie by day, and tended 
beacon fires by night, for this precaution was necessary, 
as there was nothing to guide the expected teamster 
home, should he undertake the perilous passage of the 
prairie just at night fall. It was about midnight of the 
last day, and I had tired of watching, and had lain down, 
but not to sleep. The question of "what is to be done?" 
was working up some horrid visions before me, when my 
ear, which had grown remarkable quick of late, caught 
a faint sound like steps upon the frozen ground. Sen- 
tinel upon his post never started quicker than I. The 
sounds grew more and more perceptible, but there was 
nothing like the rumbling of wheels. For the first time, 
then, did the deep seated anxiety of the good wife and 
mother show itself. Hope was fast sinking, when the 
well-known voice of the ever cheerful teamster was borne 
along the midnight air. How little do we know how to 
appreciate trifles, until placed in trying situations. What 
joyful sounds! But the joy was soon damped, as it be- 


came manifest that he drove a team without a wagon. 
Where was that? was the first question. "Fast in the 
river, a few miles back on the prairie." "Do you know 
we have nothing in the house for your supper?" "I 
expected so, and so I brought along a bagful; here is 
both flour and meat." 

Reader, can you imagine yourself for one moment in 
my situation? Can you realize that the happiness of that 
moment was sufficient to pay for many weary, watchful 
days of anxiety? No, you cannot realize that, until ex- 
perience teaches you. Happiness is only realized by 
contrast with misery. And it is because the emigrant's 
life is full of such exciting scenes, and because the days 
of pleasure are long remembered, when those of pain 
are buried in oblivion, that induces thousands annually 
to add themselves to that irresistible wave of western 
emigration, that is rolling onward to the Pacific Ocean. 

The happiness of the teamster too, was such as he will 
never forget. For he had endured a night of actual peril. 
When the ice gave way under the wagon, it became neces- 
sary for him to plunge into the water to extricate the 
team, and when he reached the lone log cabin, his outer 
garments were frozen stiff, and in a short time he 
would have become an immoveable mass of ice, and per- 
haps have sunk to his final rest upon the bleak prairie. 

Those who have seen a real log cabin fire of hickory 
logs, may picture to themselves a scene in the first cabin 
of the first settler, in the first winter on the prairie ; and 
those who have never seen such a scene of real com- 
fort, must imagine as best they can, a picture of such a 
scene as was realized in that cabin on the night of the 
return from "the first trip to mill." 

Such scenes of excitement, of pain and pleasure, often 
occur to the western emigrant. I have in memory's store 
many that may or may not yet be told ; but for the pres- 
ent, I will leave those who have perused this, with the 
sincere wish that they may ever enjoy their fast fleeting 
moments of life in a splendid mansion, with as great a 


zest, as a portion of life has been enjoyed in a log cabin, 
by their old friend, 
Lake C. H., la., February 1, 1841. Solon Robinson. 

"American Society of Agriculture." 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:65; Apr., 1841] 

[February 18, 1841] 

Messrs. Gaylord & Tucker — The February number 
of the Cultivator is before me, and I have read your rea- 
sons for "declining to assume the responsibility which 
your friends had assigned you, at least, for the present." 

I am willing, and do freely acknowledge, that your 
means of information are such as to enable you to come 
to a more calm conclusion upon the subject than I can, 
and perhaps your reasons are cogent, though I hope not 
conclusive, to all the friends of a National Society. I 
cannot regret the conclusion that you have come to, for 
it is the very one to cause the matter to be discussed; 
and the case is of that importance, that it should not be 
acted upon rashly. I am ready to admit, "that a failure 
would be a serious calamity;" but I am not ready to 
admit, or even believe that there are so few "men of 
public spirit, friends to agriculture, and alive to the in- 
terest, prosperity, and honor of the country," as you 
seem to fear. I believe that there are at this time 
"enough of such men to be found," who, notwithstanding 
they are "widespread," from "Maine to Georgia," would 
lend sufficient energies "to render such an enterprise 
certain of success." 

I am happy to see you admit the utility of such a so- 
ciety — in fact, I don't know that that is denied or 
doubted by any one — the only point at issue, then, is, as 
to the proper time to commence the organization. This, 
then, is the sole question for the friends of the cause to 
answer : Shall the organization of a National American 
Society of Agriculture, be undertaken in the year 1841? 

Readers, correspondents, friends of the project, one 
and all, speak, yea or nay. If the answer be in the 


affirmative, I will show you ways and means to "set the 
ball in motion." The thing can, if you say it must, it 
SHALL be done. But remember that the worthy editors 
of this paper are doubtful of the feasibility of the under- 
taking, and their opinion is entitled to consideration ; but 
if we conclude to "soberly rely upon ourselves, and our 
own resources," and are likely to succeed, they will come 
to our aid with the power of Hercules; and so will the 
editor of every agricultural journal in the Union — so 
will every legislator, for the project will be "popular." 
No doubt your correspondent speaks truly when he says, 
"if we are to have a National, or American Society of 
Agriculture, it must be got up by farmers themselves." 
Shall we, the present generation, have it — shall the ar- 
dent and devoted friends of a cause that seeks "to elevate 
the character and standing of the cultivators of the 
American soil," have an opportunity of meeting one an- 
other, upon a spot so consecrated as that will be, where 
such an union of hands and hearts would take place. 
How ardently do I long to see such a meeting of such 
men as will compose such a society. Such a meeting will, 
sooner or later, take place, for it is the nature, dis- 
position and education of the people of this country, to 
assemble together to discuss important questions. Is any 
question now before the people, so important as improve- 
ment in agriculture? Does not the wonderful extension 
of the number and circulation of agricultural journals, 
show that the public mind is deeply agitated upon the 

And now friend Garnett, what say you 7 1 What says 
old Virginia? What says old Kentuck, through friend 
Stevenson, 2 of the Kentueky Farmer? And upon "sober 

1 Garnett, in a letter of February 17, 1841, to Robinson, printed 
in the March issue of the Cultivator (8:48), condoled with him 
over the refusal of Gaylord and Tucker to sponsor the move for 
a national organization, and proposed a new scheme for starting 
the society. 

'Thomas B. Stevenson, born 1803; died 1863. Agricultural 
writer and speaker of great power. Editor of the Franklin 
Fovrmer, later the Kentucky Farmer, Frankfort, Kentucky, and 


second thought," what say Messrs. Gaylord & Tucker? 
If monthly "agricultural soiries" are so pleasant and use- 
ful, how much more so would be a grand National Con- 
cert. 1 

And with anxious hopes to live to be one of the per- 
formers at that "concert," I remain an unwavering 
friend to speedy action, and yours, with respect and es- 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. Feb. 18, 1841. 
"National American Society of Agriculture." 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 1:19-20; Mar., 1841] 

[February 19, 1841] 

John S. Wright Esq. — Dear Sir. You will see by the 
Feb. No. of the Cultivator, that the subject of the forma- 
tion of such a society, is again under discussion. 2 You 
will probably recollect that my first article upon the sub- 
ject, published in May 1838, 3 met with much approba- 
tion. The late political storm having subsided, I felt that 
now was a proper time to commence the organization of 
a society, the object of which should be, by forming "a 
bond of brotherhood among all the friends of agriculture 
throug-out the United States," "to elevate the character 
and standing of the cultivators of the American soil." 

You will see also, that the respected editors of the Cul- 
tivator, admit the utility of such a society, but express 

of several newspapers, notably, the Cincinnati Atlas and Cincin- 
nati Chronicle. See Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky, 
2:561 (Collins & Co., Covington, Ky., 1874). He favored the for- 
mation of a national agricultural organization. Kentucky Farmer, 
4:204-5 (March 20, 1841). 

'The February Cultivator (8:29), contained an editorial under 
the heading "Agricultural Soiree," listing Robinson and other 
popular agricultural writers, and pointing out that their writ- 
ings were equivalent to a monthly meeting of agriculturists, and 
were, moreover, open to all subscribers, no matter how separated 
by distance. 

2 See ante, 152-56. 

3 See ante, 87-90. 


fears that the time has not yet come to commence the 
organization — that the friends of the measure are so 
wide spread, that there would be a fear of failure of 
being able to bring the friends of the measure together 
to form an association 'worthy of the name and object.' 
You will see that the great benefits likely to result from 
the formation of a National Society, are admitted by all, 
and that the point at issue is, when is the proper time 
to commence. 

Many of the friends of the project are in favor of the 
present time. They are anxious while they are in active 
life, to witness the commencement of a society that has 
such noble ends in view. They are anxious before they 
are called to that great meeting that all must attend, to 
have the opportunity of meeting the friends of Agricul- 
tural improvement from every portion of our Union, met 
together in what may be aptly termed a Congress of 

But more I presume, are anxious to undertake without 
due deliberation, and a reasonable prospect of success. 
I am therefore anxious for your opinion, and that of the 
friends of the agriculture generally in the West, whether 
the signs of the times for the year 1841, are propitious 
to the object of commencing the organization of this 
great National Society. 1 — Don't say, let us wait for the 
East to move — this is a project worthy the enterprise of 
the great West. 

The farmers must never expect legislative encourage- 
ment, either State or National, until they rely more on 
themselves. They must first move in their own cause 
until it becomes popidar to support their interest, and 
they will then find plenty of Legislators, ready to aid it 
"to the death." 

We are creatures of excitement, and apt to sink into 
inactivity without it. Does not the agricultural com- 
munity of the United States need rousing? Can any plan 

1 Wright expressed his approval of organization in the number 
of the Union Agriculturist which contained Eobinson's letter. 



be devised better calculated to arouse and excite them 
than would a great National meeting of a National Agri- 
cultural Society. 

If the plan of present action meets with favor, I have 
an idea of enlisting as a Missionary in the cause, and 
"going forth through the land seeking to do good." I 
think I would "blow my trumpet" so loud that it would 
disturb the slumber of some of the sluggards, if it did 
not entirely awake them. I remain most respectfully, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. February, 19, 1841. 

The Will: 
A Western Tale, from Real Life 1 

[Indianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal, Mar. 19, 23, 26, 1841 2 ] 

[February ?, 1841] 
You, sir, being a man of extensive legal knowledge, 
are well aware of the great importance of that instru- 
ment which is rightly called a last will, because men 
are prone to defer the execution of so great and solemn 
a duty until the last moment, and often then it is too 
late. I wish I possessed the power to indite such an 
article as would impress indelibly upon the minds of my 
readers, the great and imperative duty of attending 
to this one duty of life, while yet in the vigor of intellect. 
Perhaps the recital of a little tale, which I have had in 
my mind for several years, may not only serve to amuse 
some of your readers, but it may awaken in the minds 
of a few, the necessity of attending to this duty now. 

At the battle of Tippecanoe, in 1811, where more true 
courage and chivalrous gallantry were exhibited by that 
Spartan band, than could now be found in the entire 
ranks of all the villifiers of the leader of the heroes who 

1 This is the first of Robinson's numerous stories and novels. As 
far as known, it never appeared in book or pamphlet form. The 
background and plot idea were used again in Me-won-i-toc (New 
York, 1867), but with many changes in characters and story. 

* The Indianapolis Semi-Weekly Journal reprinted "The Will" 
from the Daily Cincinnati Gazette of February 25, 26, and 27, 1841. 


bled upon that dreadful day — there was, notwithstanding 
the happy results of the battle, many a widow and or- 
phan left to mourn the hard fate of husbands and fathers. 
How much, sir, it is impossible to say how much, the 
"Great West" owes to the results of that battle. Then, 
the battle ground was an extensive march into the In- 
dian country. Now, it is in the heart of the rich and 
populous state of Indiana. Not far from the spot where, 
less than thirty years ago, the bones of heroes lay bleach- 
ing in a savage wilderness, is the flourishing town of 
Lafayette, a steamboat port on the Wabash. And nearer 
still runs the Wabash and Erie canal, one of the great 
links of union between the "father of waters" and the 
great inland seas of North America. Far, far beyond 
what was then the border of civilization, now flourish 
cities, towns, villages, and all the accompanying arts and 
improvements of civilized life. You, sir, can well remem- 
ber where the "Far West" then was. Can you tell where 
it now is? 

Is it to be wondered at, that the keen sagacity of the 
Indian made a desperate attempt to place a barrier to the 
impending wave that he saw rolling westward, on the 
banks of the Tippecanoe ? Is it to be wondered at, that 
when the Indian saw that barrier broken down, that he 
then viewed, and has since viewed it impossible for him 
to erect a barrier strong enough to stop the rolling wave 
of white men? Is it to be wondered at, that the immense 
number who now compose that wave, which has rolled 
over and far beyond that battle field, should feel a strong 
disposition to do honor to the names of the heroes of that 
(for the great West) great day? 

But few have a correct idea of the importance attached 
to that battle, by the Indians, because in their nature 
they are so taciturn, that they rarely communicate their 
ideas to those whom they look upon as enemies. But 
once gain their confidence, and they will pour out their 
feelings in the strongest manner. It was my fortune to 
gain that of an old Indian who took a conspicuous part 


in that battle, and hear him, while the tears rolled down 
his furrowed cheeks, depict the unhappy result of that 
day to the red man. — The eulogies that he bestowed upon 
the character of the commanding General, would put to 
blush the detractions of some savages who were but 
papooses at that time. It was to this Indian, also, that 
many of the incidents of the fallowing tale are owing. — 
Let the savage detractors of savage character, blush when 
they attempt to picture the Indian character as void of 
the finer feelings of human nature — or else let them 
boldly assert that this tale is naught but fiction. But 
to the matter. 

Just before the march of "the army," as the small 
command of General Harrison was then termed, from the 
old port of Vincennes, on the Wabash, to the memorable 
field of Tippecanoe, there arrived at that port two of the 
adventuresome seekers of fortune, from that great nurs- 
ery of western emigrants, New England. 

Abel Atwater, was born on she banks of the Connecti- 
cut, and although then scarcely thirty years of age, had 
already worn the weeds of widowhood. A lovely and 
interesting wife had left him one son, and a mournful 
and melancholy heart. Circumstances attended her death 
that made her loss much more poignant than it otherwise 
would have been to him. It was before the general appli- 
cation of the invention of those great machines, which it 
now seems as though they were intended by some evil 
genii, as great destroyers of the human race. War, 
pestilence, and famine, have sunk to insignificance, when 
compared to modern steamboats. At this time the only 
conveyance through Long Island Sound was by "packet," 
which depended upon that fickle mistress of their move- 
ments, the wind. 

At the earnest request of Atwater, his wife and child 
took passage in one of those to visit her friends in New- 
York, and to transact some important business for him, 
as, by an accident, he was rendered unable at that time 
to leave home. Off the mouth of Connecticut river, the 


sloop was becalmed for a whole day. In the evening 
a breeze sprung up, and after running a few miles, and 
when near the "old hen and chickens," while all hands, 
except one at the helm, were at supper, a sudden alarm 
was felt, by the sudden upsetting of the supper; and 
amid the roar of the sudden squall which had struck 
the vessel, and the screams of those in danger, the cap- 
tain seized an axe and sprung up the companion way with 
the intention of cutting away the mainsail halyards, but 
he found them already loosened, and the helmsman over- 
board with them in his hands, struggling for life. And 
before he could be got in and the sail secured, the sloop 
drifted upon the extensive flats along that shore on beam 
ends. Here, within sight of the lights of numerous farm 
houses, and scarcely a mile from some of their comfort- 
able firesides, commenced one of those horrible nights 
only known to those who have experienced the awful 
horrors of such an awful situation. I say the night com- 
menced, for with the exception of the writer of this 
article, one sailor, and the infant of Mrs. Atwater, that 
night has never found an end to its dreadful darkness 
to the crew of that vessel. One by one the stoutest hearts 
failed. When succor came with the morning sun, the in- 
fant was found securely lashed upon the dead bosom of 
its mother, and ready to smile upon its deliverers. Per- 
haps some of my readers may think before they find 
the end of this narrative, that it would have been better 
the child had died with his mother. But so it was not 
deemed. — The child, with the corpse of its mother, was 
conveyed to the house of a fond father, and now bereaved 
and almost distracted widower. Grief seized him for 
her own. And to avoid scenes rendered painful to his 
sight, he brought his business to a close, and departed for 
the "Far West," then supposed to be on the banks of the 
Ohio river. His son was taken into the family of his 
wife's parents, and an ample estate settled upon him as 
the only heir. And he is not the only child that has been 
spoiled under similar circumstances. 


On the banks of the beautiful Ohio, Atwater found a 
resting place to his rambling; and at length, after having 
acquired an ample fortune, he again joined his hand with 
one of the beautiful daughters of Virginia. A few weeks 
only after the event, Atwater, in company with a friend 
who I shall call Scott, started on an exploring expedition 
still farther west, and as has been stated, arrived at Vin- 
cennes a short time before the battle of Tippecanoe. 
Fired with the enthusiasm that pervaded all classes, and 
perhaps urged by the commander-in-chief, to whom he 
had a letter of introduction, Atwater proposed to his 
friend to join the army as volunteers for the campaign 
that was to bring peace to the then border of civiliva- 
tion. The proposal was readily accepted, and two more 
brave hearts were added to the little band of gathering 
heroes. Their spirits remained in the highest state of 
exhileration during the preparation and march, until the 
evening before that battle where so much blood of true 
heroism was spilled. Then, amid the hopes, fears, and 
natural excitement as to what the morrow might disclose 
of the policy and intention of the Indians who professed 
so much friendship for their "Great White Father," and 
surprise that he should come in battle array among his 
red friends, a cloud suddenly came over the serene hori- 
zon of their minds. 

With a dispatch sent forward to the General, came a 
letter to Atwater from his much loved wife, in answer 
to one he had written to her announcing his present in- 
tention. It was evidently written under the oppression 
of a gloomy foreboding that her husband was destined 
to meet the same horrid death from the tomahawk of a 
savage warrior, that had been dealt upon her father 
and two brothers. But with that noble, chivalrous feel- 
ing, so common to the fair daughters of America, she 
offered him, dear as he was to her young heart, with a 
pure invocation to the God of battles, a willing sacrifice 
to his country's honor, for his country's good. Much 
would I like to copy that letter here, but there are those 


yet living, that might object. But what gave him most 
concern of all, was a note added to the letter, and evi- 
dently much blotted with the tears of suffering beauty, 
which I venture to copy. It is as follows: 

"My Dear Husband — Should it be the will of God, 
that I never should have the happiness to behold your 
face again, I have a sure prompting from nature, that 
ere another year rolls round that I shall possess an image 
of that face, which I can press to my own throbbing 
heart. Oh! it shall be my unceasing prayer, that the 
Great God of peace and war may protect you in peace. 
But should it be otherwise, Oh ! may He be with you and 
your noble hearted and heroic General, in the darkest 
hour of battle, and may He be, as I am sure He will, the 
kind protector of your widow and orphan. 

"Oh! forever remember your own dear 


Never, since the day when the corpse of his first wife 
was brought suddenly into his presence, had he suffered 
such intense agony as he now felt; to add to the horror, 
the prophetic forebodings of his wife, as to the horrid 
fate that awaited him, involuntarily instilled itself into 
his own mind. For a moment the thought rushed upon 
him, to seek the General, who had already shown him 
uncommon favors, and ask for a discharge; but the 
thought was soon banished from his mind by the fear of 
disgrace in the eyes of his brave companions, who had 
treated him already with such marked respect and es- 
teem, and he determined to meet death sooner than dis- 
grace. — With his mind harrowed with so many unwel- 
come reflections, he cast himself upon his blanket on the 
ground to await the return of Scott, who was on duty, 
with whom he might converse upon the matter of his 
wife's letter. 

Having spent the whole of the preceding night in the 
saddle, nature soon overcame the distress of his mind, 
and he sunk into an apparent slumber. I say apparent, 
because in fact the agony which he suffered while the 


whole denoument of this tale was unravelled to him in a 
dream, was, as he soon informed Scott, more dreadful 
than his waking- thoughts. His first object after waking, 
was to obtain pen, ink, and paper, and to indite a few 
lines, of which the following is a literal copy, committed 
to paper by the light of a burning brand : 

"In camp on the Tippecanoe River, Indiana Territory, 
Aug. 23, 1811.— This is my last Will and Testament: 

"To my son, Fortune Atwater, I give all my property 
in the state of Connecticut, and no other. To my wife, 
Emily Atwater, I give all my property of every descrip- 
tion in the states of Ohio and Virginia, or elsewhere, 
during her natural life : — Provided, that if she have issue 
of a son or daughter, then I give one-half of all said 
propertey to such child at maturity, and the other half at 
the death of my wife, and if she have no issue, then I 
give the whole to my wife in fee simple forever. I ap- 
point my said wife and my friend Daniel Scott, Execu- 
tors to this my last Will." 

This instrument was duly signed, sealed and witnessed, 
and thus safely deposited in a very common appendage 
to a western traveller, "a pocket in a shirt." He then 
wrote a farewell letter to his wife, in which he stated 
the contents of the will, and gave that to Scott, with 
a solemn injunction to him, should he fall during the 
campaign, to take charge of his Will and see it faith- 
fully executed. While they were still talking over the 
matter, and Atwater had grown more cheerful and pleas- 
ant, the astounding and unsuspected thrilling war whoop 
of that dreadful night attack of the Indians, struck upon 
their ears. A moment more, and Atwater was upon his 
horse. "Farewell, Scott — a long farewell!" — and he 
stooped forward and seized him by the hand, which he 
wrung with an almost death grasp, while he repeated 
"remember my wife — and as you would that God should 
protect you, so protect my unborn child." "All of which, 
I most solemnly promise" — repeated Scott; and that 
faithful promise, registered in blood upon the battle-field 
of Tippecanoe was faithfully kept. 


The horrors, carnage, and finally, the glorious victory, 
which was won upon that field, are familiar to all. 

Perhaps of all scenes that civilized man is called upon 
to encounter, that most trying to the nerves, and one 
which requires the most cool fortitude, is a night attack 
of Indians. It was the "fortune of war," that at the 
battle of Tippecanoe, both General and men possessed 
this quality in an eminent degree. But it is not my 
object to illustrate upon that battle, and have only men- 
tioned it in connection with the actors of my little drama. 
I have exhibited them upon the scene on the evening 
previous to the battle, and attempted to depict the mental 
suffering of one of them. On the evening after, I must 
change that suffering to the other. Wounded and dis- 
consolate, he sits silent and alone. In vain has he 
sought among the living and dead for his friend. At- 
water is among the missing. The carcase of his horse 
was found where the hottest of the fight took place, about 
daylight, but no sign of his body. The next day brought 
no relief to to the painful suspense, whether he was dead, 
or in a worse situation — a captive among the Indians. 
However disfigured his body might be, Scott hoped to rec- 
ognize it by one mark. He wore upon the middle finger of 
his left hand a curious ring — the wedding ring of his first 
marriage. He knew that it was there when he went into 
battle, for he saw him gazing at it while writing his Will. 
— And it was so small that it could not be withdrawn 
from the finger, and had Indian cupidity discovered it, 
the knife would most likely have been put in requisition 
to obtain it, and left the mark of a lost finger upon the 
hand that wore the ring. But no such mark was found, 
and if he was a captive, no hope could be entertained of 
recovering him — for the Indians withdrew to their im- 
penetrable fortress in the swamps towards Lake Michi- 

With what disconsolate heart did Scott return, a few 
weeks afterwards, to the dreary house of his lost friend, 
to mingle his manly tears with those of his weeping wife. 


Time rolled on his ceaseless course, and among other 
things brought the image of the lost husband in the 
form of a fair daughter, who, at the suggestion of Scott, 
was christiened "Indiana." 

After years of mourning, without the least tidings of 
Atwater, his widow accepted the heart and hand of her 
noble-minded friend, and became Mrs. Scott. Knowing 
the contents of the Will, they acted upon the principles 
of it, though the original being lost, they could not do so 
in all the "legal forms by law provided." Indiana, like 
the state whose name she bore, grew in strength and 
loveliness — and like that state, too, she loved and honored, 
and ever will honor one of the heroes of the Tippecanoe. 
Scott to her was a father — she knew no other. Peace and 
prosperity smiled upon them without alloy, until about 
the time she reached her maturity, when a most sudden 
and unexpected shock came upon them. 

The son of Atwater had visited them once, a few years 
before, since when they had not seen or heard but little 
of him, and that little not much to his credit. Dissipa- 
tion and its attendant vices were fast dissipating his 
ample fortune ; but the thought never entered their peace- 
ful habitation that he intended to lay claim to any part 
of their possessions, until they were astonished one morn- 
ing by an early visit of a person who never before had 
had the honor to visit them in an official capacity, and 
whose appearance now indicated that he did not come in 
a private one. 

In vain did Scott rack his brain to think who, why, 
or for what, the sheriff could have a writ for him. And 
even after the sheriff handed the writ to him endorsed, 
"Atwater vs Scott and others," he was still at a loss until 
the lively Indiana cried out, "the dream — the dream. Oh, 
my poor father's dream upon the fatal battle-field." 
Alas ! too true, that dream was about to be realized. The 
dissipated, profligate young Atwater, having spent his 
own estate, had commenced suit to eject the second w'fe 
and child of Atwater, from theirs. Could he do it? A 


moment's reflection convinced the acute, penetrating 
mind of Scott that, at least, there was much danger, and 
so he expressed himself to the anxious inquiries of his 
wife and the lovely Indiana, whom he loved as an only- 
child. But, they would not torment themselves without 
cause, and he immediately started to consult "one learned 
in the law." To him he laid open the whole case. His 
advice was honest. He had better compromise with the 
claimant, and for a gross sum get a quit claim to his 
right. This plan was adopted, and gave hope, and hope 
gives relief while it lasts. But it was of short duration, 
for a return of mail brought an answer from Atwater's 
Attorney in a neighboring town, "that the only terms of 
compromise were ten thousand in cash, and" — here Scott 
hastily rose and handed the letter to Indiana, with the 
remark, that the rest concerned her. Never before in her 
life had she seen such a settled gloom upon her dear 
father's face. She took the letter and read — "and no 
compromise will be accepted, until Indiana is united to a 
person whom the plaintiff will name, if his very kind 
offer is accepted." She was not a girl to faint on such an 
occasion, although the proposal was most shocking, for 
she well knew that the husband to be named for her was 
no other than the stinking carcase of one of those At- 
tornies who disgrace the profession — and no other than 
the writer himself, who had been thrice rejected, and no 
doubt now was at the very bottom of this suit, and had 
procured the plaintiff to institute it. Calmly she re- 
turned the letter to Scott, remarking that she was willing 
to do any thing that would add to the happiness of her 
parents. Never, then, will you accept this proposal. We 
will be reduced to beggary first. But, said the kind 
hearted girl, why talk of beggary? Surely I can claim 
an equal share of the property with my dear brother, and 
with that we can all live comfortable. But the thought 
of being obliged to give up one-half to the gratification 
of the profligate habits of young Atwater, or the gloating 
rascality of his Attorney, was gall and wormwood to 


Scott. Not but the half would still be sufficient, but how- 
could he reconcile himself to become dependant on the 
bounty of his Indiana, in his old age. 

But what could be done. The day of trial was fast 
approaching, and although he would have made another 
attempt at compromise with the heir himself, if he could 
have found him, yet he could not bring himself to the dis- 
gusting task of making any proposal to his Attorney. 
Excitement among the people ran high in his favor, for 
he was much esteemed; but what would that avail him 
in law. There were two points only, and they were weak 
ones, his Attorney advised him, in his favor: Atwater's 
Attorney might neglect to prove the identity of the 
claimant, and that he was then living for no one expected 
that he would then be present; or he might neglect to 
bring evidence to establish him as the legal heir of Abel 
Atwater. Futile hope. Why did not the thought occur 
to them, that he might raise an objection on his part, to 
the legal right of Indiana, to the inheritance of the lost 
hero of Tippecanoe. At length calmness settled upon 
their minds, and they began to make arrangements to 
make a virtue of necessity, and quietly yield to the im- 
pending fate that hung over them, and give up one-half 
of all their posoessions, to be scattered to the four winds 
of heaven by the debauched, profligate heir, and his 
worthy coadjutor, his Attorney. 

Through his attorney, Scott made the proposition, and 
received for an answer, that nothing short of the whole, 
"together with all the rents, issues and profits thereof, 
or one half, and the hand of Indiana, would now be re- 
ceived." This time he did not communicate the answer 
to his wife or Indiana. But gloomy forebodings settled 
upon his mind, as to the result of the trial. Indiana, 
though she was no believer in dreams, could not drive the 
impression from her mind, that she should yet escape 
from the coils of the monstrous serpent in which her 
father had seen her entwined. — This serpent, Atwater 
dreamed, had the body, fetid breath and forked tongue 


of his species, but the head and face of his son. He had 
enfolded his lovely Indiana, whom he found grown to 
womanhood, in his deadly folds, and was about to crush 
her to death, when suddenly a great noise approached 
from the West, and an aged Indian stood before the 
monster, and slowly unrolled a sheet of paper, on which 
were written these words : 

"The last Will of Tippecanoe." 

Liks the magic of a weak magician, when the magic of 
a more mighty one is brought to bear upon his enchant- 
ment, the coils of the serpent slowly unwound from his 
child, and were about enclosing around the form of his 
respected General, when his lovely Indiana rose in all 
her magesty and loveliness, and placing her foot upon 
the neck of the serpent, took the General by the right 
hand, and suddenly he stood a tower of strength before 
them, while the magic serpent slowly dissolved into thin 
air. Such was a portion of the dream mentioned as hav- 
ing passed through her father's mind on the eve of the 
battle, in which he was lost, and she could not divert 
her mind from the belief, but that she should yet escape 
from the coils that were drawing around her now. 
Happy would she have been if she could have impressed 
her own buoyant hopes upon the minds of her parents. 
To them, however, the result looked far different. 

And at length when the day arrived, Scott prepared to 
attend court, with a mind bordering upon insanity. 

Indiana insisted upon accompanying him, but her pres- 
ence, nor the warm and cheering greeting of every ac- 
quaintance, could not bring back the wonted smile upon 
his countenance. Many a heart wept for them, as they 
approached the crowded court, and well had they cause 
to weep, for they were the friends of the poor. Many 
a devoted soul declared "that Providence had placed 
wealth in their hands, as instruments to dispense bless- 
ings around them, and never would such faithful servants 
be forsaken." And the same class declared, that an inci- 
dent that took place that morning was one of the special 


interpositions of that same good Providence, in their 

A stranger traveling through the village, while upon a 
smooth road, and without any apparent cause, broke one 
of the axeltrees of his carriage, which necessarily de- 
tained him through the day. In fact it was with the 
utmost difficulty that he could prevail upon a mechanic 
to do his work, so anxious were all classes to witness the 
"great trial." Finding so much excitement prevailing, 
his curiosity was also excited, and, by the kindness of 
the landlord he was introduced to a gentleman of the 
bar, who promised to accommodate him with a seat with- 
in the bar — a respect often tendered to strangers in the 

During the progress of the case it was discovered that 
no point had been neglected by the complainant; among 
other things he denied the right of Indiana, as heir to 
any part of the estate of Abel Atwater, and openly de- 
nounced her as a bastard. Here the coils of the serpent 
thickened. Scott flew to his wife for the "marriage cer- 
tificate." Records of marriage at that time were not kept 
as they now are. Mrs. Scott knew the time and place 
they were married well. A difficulty had arisen with her 
step mother in regard to the wedding, and they went to 
the house of the Rev. Mr. Ives in the next town, and there 
in presence of his wife, and some twenty slaves, were 
married. Ives and his wife were both dead, long since. 
Old Dinah, one of these same slaves, then living with 
them, and some dozen more remembered the time well. 
But, though one would as soon doubt his own existence 
as doubt the world of Old Dinah, she was a negro — a 
slave — and her testimony in a Court of Justice was not 
evidence. Mrs. Scott also knew that a marriage certi- 
ficate was given; that Mr. Atwater put it in his pocket- 
book — the same pocket book that he took with him — and 
which was undoubtedly with him on the field of battle. 
With a still heavier heart than before, he returned to the 
Court. Just then his council had been called on for rebut- 


ting evidence. What had they to offer. The fiendish writh- 
ings of the serpent counsel of the claimant, were visible 
to all, and had "lynch law" been as much in practice at 
that day, as it has since, his own personal safety might 
have been endangered. All seemed to sympathise with 
the defendants, even the Court itself; for when there 
seemed no hope for them, the Court asked the counsel 
"if they had no witness to prove that Atwater had ever 
acknowledged this girl as his child?" "No — He never 
saw her ; she was born eight months after her father left 
home." — "Then the Court cannot perceive how it can 
avoid pronouncing judgment in favor of the plaintiff, 
however much it might be urged by private feelings to do 
otherwise. We have no doubt of the legitimate birth of 
this interesting young lady now before us, yet in the 
absence of all legal testimony of the past, we are most 
painfully constrained to pronounce a judgment that will 
make a record to the contrary." 

This last shock was too much for the nerves of Indiana. 
To lose her inheritance was enough; but to be branded 
with bastardy, without the power to refute it, seemed 
too much for delicacy to bear. In the agony of the mo- 
ment she stretched out her hands, while she groaned 
aloud. The stranger mentioned before, had manifested 
a most uncommon interest throughout all the proceedings, 
as circumstances had been developed, which the reader 
has been made acquainted with; even so much so as to 
draw the attention of every person to his actions. But 
when Indiana extended her hands, one of them came al- 
most in contact with his eyes, and he could contain him- 
self no longer. Springing from his seat, he caught the 
hand in his, and while gazing upon it, exclaimed, "By 
heavens, the ring!" Like a sudden explosion, was this 
short expression ; the first effect of which is to strike all 
dumb for an instant, and then louder and louder grows 
the hum of a thousand anxious voices. Indiana screamed 
with the sudden and strange words. — Scott was the first 
to speak : "Sir, in pity tell, what know you of that ring?" 


The Court partaking of the sudden, new and singular 
excitement, begged the gentleman to explain. Indiana 
had suffered him still to retain her hand, still looking 
upon the ring. It was her mother's wedding ring, a plain 
gold one, having on one side two hearts and two 
hands united, and was a fac simile of one her father 
always wore, and which had been the wedding ring of 
his first wife, which he drew from her finger after her 
shocking death. "I have," said the gentleman, "within 
a few months past, seen a ring exactly like that, in a 
place that, since I have heard the statements here to-day, 
has excited the most intense curiosity in my mind. — 
While attending the Treaty of Tippecanoe, made last fall 
with the Pottawattamie Indians, for the purchase of all 
their lands in the north part of Indiana, I observed upon 
the finger of a young squaw a ring exactly like this. 
Pray, lady, let me see the inside of this. No, not exactly 
like this. The initials and date of the engraving were 
different; but in every other respect the same. Being 
considerably acquainted with the language, I offered to 
buy the ring. I made offer after offer until the girl was 
strongly tempted to part with it, and cast an imploring 
look towards her mother for leave to do so. The old 
squaw said no. I urged her to give her reasons. She 
seemed to be in a communicative mood, and told me to 
sit down and listen. The substance of what she said was 
so strongly impressed upon my mind, I never can forget 
it. "More than twenty years ago," said she, "we were a 
powerful nation, and as proud as powerful; the waves 
of whitemen came rolling into our country, and upon the 
banks of this river, two days ride from here, our warriors 
attempted to stop the wave. As well might we attempt to 
stop the waves of this river. A great white Chief came 
up the Oubasche, with a little band of soldiers, and 
offered to have a talk with our wise men. 

"The old men wanted to talk — the young men wanted 
to fight. We will fall upon them, said they, before the 
next sunrise, and he never shall shine upon one of them 


again — their hated carcases shall not know where they 
now sleep. The old men feared ; but the young men would 
not listen to their fathers, and the Great Spirit was angry 
at them for their disobedience, and guided the bullets of 
the white men to their hearts. The sword of him who 
wore that ring, entered the heart of my oldest son. His 
father would have taken his scalp, but I begged that he 
might be given to me in the room of my son. He was 
wounded and faint, or we could not have tamed him, for 
he was as wild as the catamount, and strong as the bear. 
I took him to our wigwam on the banks of the Lake of 
Musquash, and there for more than twenty moons did I 
nurse and feed him, and taught him to speak our lan- 
guage; but our great medicine man could not heal his 
wounds, and the Great Spirit called him away. He was a 
good white man, and if all were like him, the Red men 
might live in peace. He told me that he had two squaws 
— that one of them was buried in the great salt lake, away 
where the sun rises — and that the other one lived on the 
banks of the Beautiful River, and that if one of our 
young men would take that ring and a little bit of paper 
covered with a good talk, to his squaw she would load 
him with dollars. But we were at war with the whites, 
and no one dared to go. One moon before he died, he 
took his papers that were covered with his talk, and care- 
fully wrapped them up in deer skin, and hollowed out a 
little hole in the side of a rock, and put them in, and made 
a plug of cedar wood and drove it in, to keep them safe 
until the Great Spirit should send his young child to 
find them. Every time the water grows hard, when the 
sun goes far off, I go upon it and sprinkle the rock with 
blood, and pray to the Great Spirit to send his child to 
unlock the talk from the rock; and when the sun comes 
back, I go out in my canoe upon the water, and listen to 
the good spirit of my white son, as he sits upon the rock 
bathing his feet in the water, waiting for his child to 
come. But now my people have sold their land to the 
white man, and I fear we shall be driven away beyond the 


great father of waters, before the time comes. This ring 
he bade me keep, and whenever white men were near us, 
to wear it so that they might see it. For one day there 
will come one with such a ring as this upon her hand, to 
seek his grave, and then we should show her the rock 
and the Great Spirit would be glad. White stranger, 
money cannot buy that ring from the wife of She-val-ya. 
But when you shall find a white squaw with such a ring 
as that upon her hand, come you with her to our wigwam, 
and the Great Spirit shall make your heart glad, and the 
hearts of his red children. Stranger, wherever you go, 
remember the ring." 

"But we will not go away beyond the great river," 
said the old man. "I have claimed a reservation of what 
our white father calls two sections of land, and I will 
have it upon the banks of our beautiful lake; and we 
will not go away until the Great Spirit sends the white 
man's child with the ring." 

The truth of this wild tale was impressed upon my 
mind by the stern refusal to part with the ring ; but that 
I ever should see its counter-part, was the farthest thing 
from my mind, or I should have taken more pains to have 
ascertained where these Indians might be found again. 
However, as the old man is one of the reservee's of the 
treaty, I presume he can be easily found. With breath- 
less and intense anxiety was this strange narrative 
listened to, and with the deepest emotions of pleasure 
and high wrought hopes, by all except one individual in 
that crowded room. He saw a distant prospect that his 
own villainy and revenge might yet loose its object, and 
he earnestly, but vainly battled against the application 
of the defendant's counsel for a new trial, which they 
claimed on the ground of newly discovered testimony. 
And when the Court made the order granting the new 
trial, it was in vain that the sheriff and sheriff's officers 
cried order at the top of their voices; it only served to 
add strength to that universal shout of exultation and 
thanksgiving, that rose up to heaven. — The Court im- 


mediately adjourned, to allow the people to give free vent 
to their feelings, as well as to enjoy the same pleasure 
themselves. Indiana was almost overcome with her 
emotions; and to the anxious inquiries of her father, 
Scott, she could only reply, "see, see, my father, see, the 
serpent's folds unwinding." 

The stranger, whom I shall call Western, was now 
under no trouble to find mechanics ready to repair his 
carriage, and, had it been necessary, to furnish an entire 
new one, many a hand would have been found ready for 
the work. But he was not permitted to depart suddenly. 
Although his business was of the most urgent nature, 
Scott could not allow him to leave the place until he had 
visited his wife and narrated over his "Indian story," 
and written down every particular that could possibly be 
of interest to him. Perhaps, however, Scott alone, would 
not have been able to persuade him from his onward 
course, but in this case he had more powerful counsel 
than in the case in court. 

The blandishments of Indiana were irresistible; and 
the "Great Western," was retained for a short time. 

It was rather a dangerous undertaking, too, for a 
young man of such prepossessing exterior and well stored 
. mind as he possessed. For the heart of Indiana was yet 
untangled, and from gratitude and friendship, it is but 
a short step to love. And ere young Western left the 
hospitable roof of Scott, that step was taken. It was 
agreed that whenever that old wedding ring should be 
recovered, it should again be put in use. It was found 
by conversation with him, that Scott and his father, a 
brave Kentuckian, fought side by side at the battle of 
Tippecanoe. It was also settled before he left, that on 
his return from the east, he should stop and they would 
fix upon a time to visit the northern part of the state 
of Indiana, in search of the grave and Indian friends of 
Atwater. And notwithstanding all the representations of 
Western, of the wild unbroken wilderness, and all the 
wants of the comforts of civilized life, Indiana deter- 


mined that she would accompany him and Scott, and 
never give back or mourn the fatigue, until she had 
moistened the grave of her father with her tears. 

In the meantime, young Atwater's Attorney, in his 
turn, became uneasy at the result of the next trial. — He 
now, on the part of the claimant, renewed the proposal 
for a compromise. He even offered to take less than half 
the value of the property. Scott would, perhaps, have 
closed with this offer, but Indiana firmly resisted, declar- 
ing that however dark the prospect, she yet humbly be- 
lieved the whole of the dream of her father would be ac- 

Finding his proposals rejected, he returned to his vil- 
lainy, as natural as "the hog to his wallow." His first 
attempt was to bribe one of the negroes about the house 
to rob Indiana of her ring. Failing in this, he determined 
to have one made exactly like it, and with the means of 
that, work one of the worst of deceptions upon the In- 
dians, and obtain possession of the papers ; one of which 
he had no doubt was the Will made upon the battle 
ground of Tippecanoe, and which, if ever in possession 
of Indiana, would forever ruin his chance upon the prop- 
erty, as he had ascertained that the witnesses were yet 
living, and besides the hand writing was such that it 
could never be disputed. With this end in view, he wrote 
to Washington to ascertain in what part of the state the 
reservation made by the treaty to an Indian called Sho- 
val-ya, was situated. How he was astounded when in- 
formed by the war officer "that no such name appeared 
upon the treaty." Weighing every one in his own bal- 
ance, he immediately pronounced Western a villain and 
imposter, and his whole story a vile fabrication, got up 
and contrived by the defendant's counsel, merely to get 
a year or two more time to make way with the property. 
"And now I recollect," says he, "how darned coolly 
they sat and listened to the infernal lie of their dirty 
tool." And with this comfortable persuasion, he settled 
his mind to patiently await the "law's delay ;" fully satis- 


fied that, finally, he should be able to make himself ample 

His bravado in regard to the falsehood about the reser- 
vation, soon came to the ears of those he would make his 
victims, and caused no little uneasiness in their minds. 
Scott also wrote to Washington, and received for answer, 
that there was no such Indian name known to the Depart- 
ment, and the only one on the treaty which began with 
"Sho," was that of "Sho-bon-nier, for two sections of land 
at his village" — which, as it was upon a treaty for lands 
entirely in the state of Illinois, could not be the one of 
which he sought information. This greatly shook the 
faith of Scott in the whole story. Not so with Indiana. 
To her, "love lent his potent aid," and she declared her 
firm belief that this mist would yet clear away. In the 
mean time, however, the period fixed by Western for his 
return had expired, and they heard no tidings from him, 
and now an occasional cloud could be seen upon the brow 
even of the gay and cheerful Indiana. 

In this "melancholy mood," I shall leave the actors of 
this drama of real life, while I shift the scene to a distant 
land and introduce new characters upon the stage. 

And now the writer cannot bring his tale to a close, 
without speaking more of himself than is his wont to do, 
because he becomes an actor himself, and if a shade of 
egotism should discover itself, my readers must forgive 
and forget, nor set down aught in malice. 

The purchase made by the United States at the treaty 
of Tippecanoe, in October, 1832, embraces a vast extent 
of country. The greater part of all that tract north of 
the Wabash river, now composing more than twenty 
populous counties in Indiana, together with a large body 
of land north of the St. Joseph river in Michigan, and 
also an untold quantity in the north-east part of the state 
of Illinois, was included. Out of this the Indians made 
some two hundred "reservations," of all sizes and shapes, 
from a quarter section, to a whole township, to all man- 
ner df jaw-breaking Indian names, located upon rivers, 


creeks, and lakes, the Indian names of which required 
an equal exercise of jaws. Besides these "permanent lo- 
cations," there were a great number of "floating reserva- 
tions," to be afterwards located by the reservee's, or by 
that numerous class of "reservation speculators," who 
were able to obtain the right from the individual Indians, 
in the way of "a fair business transaction." Need I say 
that one of the ingredients in these transactions, was 
neither cold water nor honesty. And here let me mention 
one of the good traits in President Jackson's administra- 
tion, which was an after determination to refuse his sanc- 
tion to all treaties having these "supicious looking reser- 
vations" embodied in them. At the date of this treaty, 
this great tract of country, composed of some of the 
richest soil in the world, covered in part with unbroken 
forests, and interspersed with those native fields of wav- 
ing grass, which cover the beautiful rolling prairies of 
the West, contained scarcely a trace of civilization. 

Has magic waved her wand over this land? No. But 
the native enterprize of our national character and the 
roving disposition of our population, united with the love 
of emigration and excitement incident to the settlement 
of a new country, as well as the hope and expectation of 
bettering their condition in life, has filled — no, not filled, 
but scattered — an enterprizing and thriving population 
over the whole of that region, so few short years since, a 
savage wilderness. Where then rose the lone wigwam, 
composed of sticks, rushes, and grass, now stand cities, 
towns, villages, mills, farms, and all the paraphamalia 
of the white man. And where are the late inhabitants? 
Ask our government! Or ask the wind, the wave, or 
silent earth. A remnant of them would have continued 
upon their "reservations," but "treaties," made with 
whom, or when, or where, the Great Spirit only knows, 
found their way to Washington, and these, too, have been 
hunted down, if not by "blood hounds," of the canine race, 
by those but a small remove in the scale above; their 
corn-fields trampled under the feet of armed men and 


horses, and their wigwams, yea, their holy houses of 
worship, sacrilegiously burnt before their eyes, their 
property seized and sold "under the hammer," and them- 
selves surrounded and forbidden to mourn. — Aye, for a 
whole hot summer day, forbid to ask or seek for water, 
while they were driven from their homes and graves of 
their fathers, far away beyond "the great river." 

Will retributive justice ever be visited upon this nation 
for national sins? If so, then wo to the day, when it is 
showered upon it. But enough of this digression. Who- 
ever has travelled over the north part of Indiana, knows, 
and whoever has not, may know by casting his eye upon 
the map, that it abounds with a vast number of small 
lakes. And in such an extent of territory, uninhabited 
throughout a great portion of it, how hopeless must have 
been the task of finding an individual Indian, without any 
fixed habitation, though it might be known that his prin- 
cipal place of residence was upon the banks of some one 
of those numerous lakes, the Indian name, or rather, 
some one of its names, might be known. But how much 
more hopeless would be the task, if the name of that In- 
dian who was sought, had been misunderstood, or for- 
gotten. But let the faithful seeker after truth never de- 
spond, however dark the path before him, for "truth is 
mighty and shall prevail." Let him persevere with a 
firm reliance on the justness of his cause, and the end 
shall be equal to the means used to accomplish his object. 

The writer of this article is one of those who helped 
to fill up the territory above spoken of. Two years after 
the date of the treaty, I pitched my tent upon a beautiful 
glade of blue grass, upon the east side of a pleasant grove 
of hickory, burr, oak, crabapple, and plums, and on the 
border of a gently undulating prairie, stretching away 
to the east for several miles, where late, and for a long 
time before, had been a favorite habitation of the natives 
of this delightful country. On the same ground, where, 
for many years had been the Indian's garden, still flour- 
ishes that useful appendage to every farm-house. — 


Though perhaps cultivated now with more taste and care, 
yet its products then were as sweet to the occupants as 
now. Here, "fifteen miles from neighbors," with such 
comforts as a "log cabin," in such a situation affords, and 
with but few luxuries of life, not even a mug of "hard 
cider," past an eventful and pleasant winter. Not far 
away from my cabin, was one of those clear and beauti- 
ful little lakes, which are interspersed through all the 
country, and upon its borders were several of the wig- 
wams of the late owners of the soil. During one of my 
peregrinations around its banks, which were several 
miles in extent, I discovered upon a most beautiful knoll, 
shaded with a thick cluster of red cedars, an "Indian 
grave," upon which it seemed as though unusual care and 
attention had been bestowed — stones to form a mound 
around the sleeper of the last long sleep, had been brought 
from the foot of the hill, the rocks of which were con- 
stantly washed by the serge of the lake, and made fit 
music for so mournful and solemn a place. Well knowing 
the habits of the Indians to be like the whites, to congre- 
gate their dead together, my curiosity was excited at this 
lone grave. While I sat deeply musing on many matters 
that this grave brought to mind, I discovered a canoe 
upon the lake, and in it an old squaw, paddling directly 
for the spot where I was seated. When she came ashore, 
she knelt down and devoutly crossed herself, as if she 
stood upon holy ground. I may here remark that the 
relics of the early religious instruction, so extensively 
bestowed upon the Indians, by the French Catholics, in 
the first exploration of the West by that people, are still 
distinctly visible. After thus performing her devotions, 
she approached the grave where I stood. At first she 
seemed terrified at finding the sacredness of that spot 
intruded upon by the feet of a stranger, and him, too, a 
white man. To quiet her fears, and I must own, also, to 
gratify my own curiosity, for once in my life I played the 
hypocrite. Quick as thought, I knelt down by the side 
of the grave, uncovered my head and left the long grey 


locks, (which sometimes create confidence and respect in 
a stranger,) stream to the wind, and devoutly crossing 
myself, I motioned her to approach. She no longer hesi- 
tated, but come and knelt down opposite to me, and, as I 
judged, murmured a prayer to the Great Spirit, in which, 
from my imperfect knowledge of the language, I supposed 
she was thanking him for his goodness in sending me to 
my brother's grave. This I subsequently ascertained was 
the fact. For from the striking resemblance in form and 
feature to him who was there buried, such she supposed 
me to be. When she arose she took me by the hand and 
motioned towards the canoe, but until we had left this 
sacred spot, she deigned not to open her lips except in 

Then by sign and speech, I understood that she wished 
me to cross the lake with her to her wigwam; and not- 
withstanding the utter dread I have had since one dread- 
ful night in youth, to all witchcraft, and particularly an 
Indian canoe, my curiosity overcame my fears, and I 
permitted myself to be guided entirely at her pleasure. 
When we arrived at the wigwam, a few words from her 
to the Indian, called forth expressions of marked re- 
spect, surprise and joy, at my arrival ; I saw that I was 
enveloped in mystery, and determined patiently to await 
coming events, to clear it up. After sundry unfoldings 
of cloth and twine, the old squaw produced a small sil- 
ver snuffbox, on the lid of which was engraved "A. A. 
Hartford, 1796," and in the inside, carefully packed in 
fur, was a much worn gold finger ring, on one side of 
which "two hearts and two hands were joined;" and on 
the inside were engraved, "A. A. to P. W.," and a date 
which was so much worn I could not make it out. The 
initials, time, and place, on the box, instantly called to 
mind one whom I had known while a lad, and had not 
known or heard of since a short time after the death of 
her who might have worn that ring upon her wedding 
day. That day or her maiden name, I knew nothing of, 
but her death scene could never be blotted from my mind 


while reason holds her sway, so long as the tide flows 
through the sound of Long Island. It was my own hands 
that lashed her and her cherub child to that fatal vessel, 
where she perished, and upon her cold breast that child 
lived. Years had past since this scene and these actors 
in it had passed before my eyes. No wonder, then, that 
now it was called up in a manner and place so singular, 
that it should have overpowered my manly faculties, and 
so completely absorbed every other sense, that while the 
tears rolled down my cheeks, I should have entirely for- 
gotten that other and anxious eyes were gazing on mine. 
My actions had a tendency to confirm first impressions 
upon these rude people, and perhaps might have profitted 
by keeping up the deception. 

But I had made up my mind when I settled in this 
country, where I expected to be surrounded by these 
people, that in all my intercourse and dealings with them, 
I would preserve a different course. But it was no little 
trouble for me to convince them that I was not the one 
they had supposed me to be. However, by the dint of a 
little French, which the old man, (being himself half 
French,) understood, a little Indian, a little English, and 
much gesticulation, I at length succeeded tolerably well 
in making myself understood. And by the same signs, 
I learned who the occupant of the "grave among the 
cedars" was, and many other particulars, that, could 
they have been known to some of the characters that have 
been introduced to my readers, would have been of vast 
importance to them. But then I knew not that such char- 
acters lived ; and therefore the scene of this day, uncon- 
nected with other parts of this tale, were uninteresting 
to any but myself, and to none but my wife did I ever 
mention it. Having established a friendship with this 
family upon a firm basis, I informed them where my 
"wigwam" was, and invited them to return the visit. 
Gaining the confidence of the old man, who was a kind 
of a village chief, and had been a noble warrior, gained 
the confidence of the whole village with it, and was ulti- 


mately of no little advantage to me. For whether I de- 
served the appellation or not, I soon became extensively 
known among the Indians as the "good che-mo-ko-man." 
A short time after the above interview, the old man came 
to my house with a paper written by the Indian Agent 
at Chicago, and intended as a cautionary notice to those 
persons about settling in this section of country. The 
substance of the notice was, "that Sho-bon-nier, a French 
Indian, and who was also called Chevalier, (pronounced 
Sho-val-ya,) was entitled to a reservation of two sections 
of land at this village, near the lake of Red Cedars, and 
that persons making improvements near them, should be 
careful not to get on this reservation before it should be 
surveyed and located." Here was another piece of intelli- 
gence, in the spelling and pronunciation of this name, 
of little interest to me, that if it could have been known 
to those deeply interested, would have saved them months 
of toil and painful anxiety. But their toilsome wander- 
ings, which at times seemed like the wandering of an 
ignis fatuus, draws to a close. 

One cold snowy night in December which had suddenly 
come on from a warm day, while we were gathered 
around that most cheerful and pleasant of all places, on 
a cold winter night, the broad log heap fire of a warm log 
cabin, one of the sons of old Sho-val-ya stopped in to tell 
me just before dark he saw a wagon about six miles off 
on the trackless Prairie, heading towards my wigwam, 
and that "two men and one squaw, may be so freeze to 
death." In five minutes more, and the broad glare of a 
torch of dry hickory bark threw its strong rays of light 
far away through the mist of driving snow, while ever 
and again the sudden flash and loud report of a pair of 
muskets, spread their light and sound for miles around. 
Who that ever has been in distress upon the ocean, or 
upon the ocean-like prairies of the west, bewildered and 
lost, that will not feel the light and sound of this descrip- 
tion of welcome signals, penetrating to the innermost 
recesses of his heart. So felt those wanderers upon that 


night. When every hope had fled, and they were en- 
deavoring so to arrange themselves as in the best possible 
manner to prevent the intense suffering that awaited 
them, a sound breaks upon the stillness of night — another 
and another. "Some other miserable beings, like our- 
selves in distress. No ! See, yon glare of light" — and the 
sweet voice of an exhausted female form cheers her com- 
panions onward, with the expression of her unshaken 
faith, that "Providence still guides our steps." Oh the 
faith, hope, love, and charity that endureth all things, 
and conquereth all things, dwelleth in the breast of a 
virtuous woman. 

Welcome was that cheerful fireside to three suffering 
fellow-creatures, that night — and as welcome were they 
made to partake of its comforts as though it had been 
their own. In fact, throughout the west, (perhaps it is 
so in all new countries,) hospitality is not only a virtue, 
but the exercise of it becomes a pride, which all seek 
to gratify. The recipients of hospitality on this even- 
ing, were an old man, who had seen some sixty years come 
and go, and whose head was not whitened by the snow 
that had lodged upon it, but whose limbs were stiffened 
by cold and fatigue to that degree that he had to be lifted 
from the wagon, and a young man of some less than half 
his age, whose young and active blood had not been 
effected by the cold, and a female still younger, who called 
the old man father, and seemed to show a sisterly affec- 
tion towards the young man, though the appellation of 
"Mr." to his name, told that he could not claim that 
honor. She was much overcome with the cold and fa- 
tigue, and it is probable she would have found an end to 
her sufferings on that night, and might have had her 
final resting place by the side of the tenant of the "cedar 
grave," if it had not been for the care of one who had 
been taught to call that tenant "his white brother." Still 
more deeply was she impressed with the idea that provi- 
dence had a special care over her and her friends, when 
told that no lights would have been made, or guns fired, 


if it had not been for the information given by that In- 
dian. Her first thought was to make him some ample 
reward. Little did she think how soon she would add 
more joy to his mind than wealth could give him. The 
first care of those in whose hands the wanderers found 
themselves, was to furnish them such refreshments as 
their humble abode afforded; after partaking of which 
the natural enquiries were made of them as a matter of 
course, considering the inquirers were from the land of 
universal inquisitiveness ; as to where they were from, 
where they were going, and why they were here in this 
unfrequented place, unless they were "land hunting," 
which from their appearance being so different from the 
usual appearance of that class, was hardly probable. 

"Not so improbable," replied the old man, "as you 
might suppose. For months past we have been 'land 
hunting.' We have searched the north part of Indiana 
with the most untiring perseverance, we have endured 
cold, hunger, and fatigue; we have slept in wigwams, 
woods, (and casting his eyes around to scan the cheap 
comforts of his present resting place,) and in some white 
men's houses not as comfortable as yours is this night, 
and never until this night, has my heart failed me." 
"But, father, do not let it fail yet. Surely we have 
had another evidence this night that we may yet perse- 
vere a little longer." "But, my dear girl, we are now 
nearly at the extremety of hope; we have sought and 
searched almost every lake and every pond of Indiana, 
and every reservation that we could hear of, and as yet, 
no tidings, no hopes of finding what we seek. Often have 
we been sent after an ignis fatuus, which, ever recedes 
as we approach, as yet, and where shall we inquire again? 
we have not been able to find an individual who knew an 
Indian of that name, nor one who in any respect answered 
his description, who had a reservation of land, of any 
other name; we have not even found a lake with rocky 
shores, nor among all the wild and uncouth Indian names, 
we've heard not one that sounded like the name of that 


one we sought. My child, we have been deceived — grossly 
deceived — wickedly, wantonly imposed upon by a foolish 
tale ; and to morrow I will set my face homeward ; I will 
be the victim of deception no longer." "But, father, my 
dear father, surely you cannot think that he, that noble, 
generous, kind hearted man who just left the room, is 
guilty of deception? that he has imposed upon us?" "I 
cannot answer. I would rather lose my right hand than 
know it to be so; but I now wholly despair. Never be- 
fore has the scene looked so awfully dark to me." 

"Then trust, hope, and pray a little longer. Remember 
that just before the dawn is deepest darkness. Perhaps 
even to-morrow the dawn may burst unexpectedly upon 
us. Never have I seen you so sunk in despair; it must 
be owing to your great bodily sufferings this evening. 
You must not attempt to go further, that is true, you shall 
remain under this blessed roof for a few days, and we 
will go on without you, I shall not fear to leave you 
here, and as to myself, I will waive false delicacy upon 
so holy an occasion as seeking a father's grave. But 
what, you too in despair" — addressing the young man 
just then entering, with a face that clearly indicated a 
heavy heart within. "Then am I indeed a poor unhappy 
orphan." And her own heart at length, after buffetting 
difficulties almost innumerable, for many months, without 
one tear, now burst forth like a pent up fountain of pure 
pearls, pouring forth from a diamond reservoir, falling 
upon an alabaster basin. 

The reader has already discovered who these charac- 
ters are, and can understand their language. To me, 
then, it was strange and unaccountable. It was clear 
that the old man, though so called, was not her father. 
Could it be possible that the allusion to her "father's 
grave" had any connection with that among the cedars. 
Curious conjectures passed rapidly through my mind. 
The old man had become calm. The girl's heart seemed 
ready to burst, and sympathy of the young man showed 
his was any thing but stone. 


"You spoke of seeking a Lake," said I addressing the 
old man." "Yes." "And do you know the name?" 
"Alas, I think it has neither name nor existence ; it is like 
those singular illusions upon the burning sands of Africa, 
we never can reach it. The Indian name is said to be 
something that sounds like Mus-qua-ock — or some such 
thing, though really I do not think it would be very easy 
to translate into English." "Nothing more easy, sir," I 
replied, "the name signifies the Lake of Red Cedars, and 
it is only a few miles — " Here a sudden start behind me 
from the young lady, who seemed suddenly electrified at 
my words, interrupted my sentence; and next an excla- 
mation of surprise from my wife, who was bending over 
her, and the wild cry as she held her hand in hers, "the 
ring — the ring — look — 'tis the same." Winter as it was, 
had a sudden peal of loud thunder reverberated over the 
house, the electric fluid could not have produced a more 
sudden and wonderful effect upon the inmates, than did 
these simple words. 

To the three strangers under that roof, they were full 
of import and meaning. To two of them, the similarity 
of sound, and sudden excitement on beholding that ring, 
were so similar to such sounds and such a manner of ex- 
pression, to those which once before had broken upon 
their ears in the same wild startling manner, that if they 
had ever doubted the truth of their companion, those 
doubts were now forever removed. Connected with the 
translation of the name of that Lake, those words told 
to them, that the beacon light which had a few hours be- 
fore guided them to a place of comfort for their bodies, 
had also guided them to a place of joyful relief to their 
minds. Their hurried and confused questions were as 
rapidly answered as language could convey the desired 
intelligence. The double name of the Indian had caused 
them great difficulty, and to the inquiry why none of the 
Indians seemed to know him by the name mentioned in 
the "treaty," the answer was easy. They had always 
pronounced it according to the spelling, when in fact 


according to the French patois, "nier" had the simple 
sound of "a" or "ya," so that "Sho-bon-nier" when 
spoken, was "Sho-bon-^." 

Fatigue, care, sleep, and suffering were banished from 
beneath that roof that night. A thousand questions and 
answers, pro and con, had to be asked and given, until 
all the facts well known to the reader, were made known 
to each questioner and listener in that little group, and 
until each with each other had exhausted the subject, 
none sought repose. 

Before the morning sun showed himself in all his 
gorgeous splendor, known only to those who have seen a 
winter sunrise upon a broad and clear prairie, one of 
those sudden changes, so common around the vicinity 
of Lake Michigan, both summer and winter, had taken 
place in the surrounding atmosphere, as if in glorifica- 
tion of the sudden change from clouds, darkness and de- 
spair that had taken place within that dwelling. And 
long before I had shaken off the effect of the last night's 
late hours from sleep bereft, he was pouring forth his 
warm and cheering rays in sparkling effulgence. The 
fire was still burning cheerfully upon the broad hearth, 
and before it sat one of the young children of old Sho- 
val-ya, patiently waiting what seemed to him the wanted, 
though tedious sloth of white men, to wear off, without 
his dis- disturbing it. He had come with an earnest 
message from his father for me to visit him that morn- 
ing, and showed me by signs that he wished me to bring 
with me an augur that was hanging against the wall of 
the cabin. He said something about whitemen, the pur- 
port of which I could not understand, but seemed grati- 
fied when I assured him that I would certainly attend 
the summons. Accordingly I took a hasty breakfast, and 
arranging for my new friends to follow, I took my gun 
and walked ahead. I found the old Indian gloomy and in 
deep distress. He motioned me to a seat before him, and 
taking out his tobacco and pipes, filled one for himself and 
another for me, without speaking a word. And in the 


same silence we both puffed away, until the little pent-up 
wigwam was so full of smoke, that one unaccustomed to 
such an atmosphere, might have found respiration rather 
difficult to his effeminate lungs. He then motioned to me 
again, and we both knocked out the ashes from our pipes 
in a little heap between us. He then looked up to the 
smoke, slowly ascending through the little apperture at 
the top of the wigwam, and for the first time since my 
entrance, spoke — 

"So fades the red man away. But a few short months 
ago, and they filled all this land, so that there was no 
more room. Now, what remains of them?" And he 
pointed to the little heap of ashes upon the ground be- 
tween us. I could not restrain a sigh — perhaps a tear. 

"The first death blow was struck by your great war 
chief, on the banks of the Tippecanoe. Then the toma- 
hawk was raised and it could not be burried. Better had 
it been for us, had it not then tasted blood. But our 
young men were then like a heard of young buffaloes, 
and they could not be tamed. A great war chief came 
also among us, whose blood came not from the blood of 
our fathers. And with him came his brother, who was a 
great medicine, but his spirit was not from the good 
Manito. And he worked conjurations among us, and 
bade us strike your women and children, and our sweet 
father that wears a red coat, and lives away beyond the 
Salt Lake, would give us many guns and plenty of 
powder, and that we should drive your race from our 
border. For a time his words proved true. But the 
Great Father of your people loved war, and he sent the 
great war chief who laid his hand so heavily upon us on 
the Tippecanoe, and our warriors could not stand before 
him. The blood of the strange war chief then for the 
first time mingled with the blood of our people, and the 
earth drank up both together. Then your people sent 
away their Great Father who loved war, to his own wig- 
wam, and another came to your great council house who 
loved peace. After him came another who would have 



taught his red children how to read, and how to raise 
corn, but your people would not that he should, for they 
said the red man had too much land, and that they must 
give it to their white brothers. And they drove the Great 
Father away from their council house, because he had a 
white heart ; and they called the Grizzly Bear to be their 
Great Father; for they said the Buffalo are yet plenty 
beyond the great river, and he will send the red man away 
there to hunt them. And we will raise corn upon all his 
land. And one hand of the Great Bear is lead — and he 
has laid it upon his red childred heavily. But he has an- 
other hand of iron; and when the red men are ground 
down to the dust with the weight of the leaden hand, 
then will he lay the hand of iron upon his own children, 
and they will groan with the weight. And behind the 
Bear, smelling in his footsteps, cometh the Fox. He is a 
weak animal. He will not lift the heavy hands of the 
Bear from his white nor his red children. After the Fox, 
will come a great War-Chief. He has smote the red man 
when in war — but when he comes to be their great White 
Father, he will do them good. I will live to look up from 
beyond the great river and see that day, and then will I 
die in peace." "But my brother, I replied, will not go 
away. This is his land, and he will live and die upon it, 
and be buried with his fathers." "No. The little Father 
at Chicago, has sent me a talk that the white men who 
bought our lands have spoken with a forked tongue — and 
I cannot have my land here. The paper that it was 
marked on, does not speak as I spoke. I will have no 
other; I will go away. I wanted to stay until the white 
fawn came to seek the grave of her father, and take away 
his talk from the rock. But the good Manito does not 
listen, and I cannot stay until she comes. I cannot leave 
the talk there — white men will steal. Yesterday they 
were there and scraped away the moss that hid the cedar 
wood. To-morrow, or when I am away, they will come 
and whittle away the wood, and carry away the talk. I 
will take it away and put it in your hands, and you shall 


keep it until the white fawn comes, for I know she will 
come. A white owl came last night and sat upon the 
cedars over the grave, and spoke three time. 'Twas to 
tell him that sleeps there, that after three snows more, 
his child would come." "But, perhaps," said I "she will 
come sooner. Perhaps the voice of the owl was to waken 
him, to tell him that his child was coming there. Perhaps 
she is coming now. I will go out again and speak to my 
Manito, and inquire when she will come." Knowing that 
the Indians were in a proper mood to produce an effect 
upon them, I determined to have a little dramatic scene. 
I had heard the wagon approaching before I went out, but 
then all was still. I stepped over a little knoll and found 
the party waiting word from me. I soon arranged busi- 
ness with them and returned to the wigwam. "What 
says the Manito?" "He says" — and I stopped and filled 
our pipes again — "he says that if ever you see her who 
wears the ring, you will see her after this pipe is burnt 
out, and before the smoke has blown away" — and again 
we sat in imperturbable silence — and again we filled the 
wigwam with smoke. The old squaw, I believe, fully 
expecting to see what her eyes had so long and anxiously 
looked for in vain, brought out the ring and sat rubbing 
it, and chanting a low hymn or prayer to propitiate the 
Good Spirit to smile on her at this time. At length the 
old man knocked the ashes from his pipe, and looked 
anxiously at me — then at the fast receding smoke — then 
all eyes were turned towards the blanket that formed the 
door, as a slight rustling sound was heard outside. — At 
this moment I gave the blanket a sudden jerk, and there 
stood the "white fawn," her right hand, upon which was 
that magic ring, extended towords the group, and by her 
side stood Western, whose form and features were in- 
stantly recognized as the white stranger who had listened 
to their tale at the treaty of Tippecanoe, and there 
promised to search the wide world through, until he 
found the wearer of that ring, and brought her to them. 
How little did he then expect, ever to hear the wild shouts 


of joy that now rent the air and rang piercing through 
his ears. 

Reader — you can finish this tale. The Will which you 
have read — the marriage certificate which was lost, were 
found. The ring which bound the plighted faith of In- 
diana to Western, graced her finger; and that, that late 
was there, is now a holy relic in an Indian wigwam, 
far beyond the Mississippi. 

Fortune Atwater died, as many a "spoiled child" has 
died before — a sot. His Attorney still disgraces the pro- 
fession he belongs to. Scott has made his Will, as 
reader, I hope you will do. Part of the old Indian's 
prophesy in regard to our "Great Father," has already 
come to pass. That the rest of it may speedily come to 
pass, is "the last Will and dying request of a 

"Citizen of Indiana." 

Female Influence 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 1:29; Apr., 1841] 

[March 4, 1841] 
Female Influence. — ^here is another error, a fatal 
error, into which your Society, 2 like their thousand and 
one predecessors, have fallen. 

Vain and foolish man ! Hast thou forgotten that thou 
wert born of woman? Are not the farmers' wives and 
daughters suitable and proper members of Agricultural 
Societies ? 

I hope your Society will take an early opportunity to 
amend this error. Enlist the female portion of society 
in your cause — enroll them honorary members. Have a 
suitable medal, or engraved certificate of membership 
prepared, that will make them anxious and proud to pos- 

1 Robinson showed an appreciation of women's rights in advance 
of many of his contemporaries. Possibly he was influenced by the 
writings of Frances Wright, which Von Schweinitz mentions hav- 
ing seen in his cabin at the town of Solon in 1831. Journey . . . 
to Goshen, Bartholomew County, in 1831, 233-34. 

2 Union Agricultural Society, of northeastern Illinois. 


sess it, and you will soon see the good effects. If they 
do not take an active part in the business of the asso- 
ciation, they will form "a power behind the throne, 
greater than the throne itself." They will attend your 
meetings, and listen to your addresses; and they will 
make such meetings "popular" — and can you effect any 
good unless they are popular? 

In my address, which I hope to have the pleasure of 
delivering before your Society next month, I shall assume 
"the grey head's privilege," although it belongs to me 
more from looks than years, and lecture you further upon 
this subject. And I most earnestly hope that a goodly 
portion of my hearers will be composed of "man's first 
and best gift of Heaven." No word shall be heard among 
the few that I will use on that occasion, to offend the ear 
of female delicacy. ********* 

Solon Robinson. 1 

Odds and Ends. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:114; July, 1841] 

[March 28, 1841] 
Refined vs. Common Sugar. — It is worthy of inquiry, 
whether it would not be more economical to use more 
refined sugar in our families. Common brown sugar is 
generally about two-thirds the price of refined. For 
many domestic purposes, I am satisfied that refined sugar 
is the cheapest. Will some one better acquainted with 
the subject, give us their opinions? 

Maple vs. Cane Sugar. — What is the relative strength 
in saccharine, between common brown sugar and com- 
mon maple sugar? It is the prevailing opinion that the 
cane sugar contains some 25 per cent the most saccharine 
matter. Is it so? Will some one who has the means of 
trying the experiment, do so, and report facts? 

1 The editor, in a lengthy comment on the extract of Robinson's 
letter which he published, avowed the "most exalted opinion of 
the supremacy and magic influence of female sway," and approved 
the suggestion that women be made honorary members of the 
Union Agricultural Society. 


Sugar vs. Pork. — If sugar and pork are the same 
price, which is the cheapest food for a family? Many 
persons who buy their meat, are excessively penurious in 
their purchases of sugar, under the impression that they 
cannot afford it. I am confident that they are mistaking 
their own interest. Besides, sugar, particularly for chil- 
dren, is a much more healthy diet. That is, when not 
used to excess. 

Change of Diet. — This is a subject upon which by 
far too little attention is paid. Human aliment is often 
productive of health or sickness, and consequently of 
human happiness or misery. Children in particular, re- 
quire a constant change ; but the change should be a ju- 
dicious one. I wish that many of the able medical men 
who read your paper, would make communications to it 
upon the subject of human diet. 

Washing Butter. — I venture to assert without fear 
of contradiction, that no family eat sweeter butter than 
mine, either new or old, and my wife always washes 
her butter thoroughly in cold water. The object of wash- 
ing butter is to divest it of all the particles of buttermilk. 
If the cream or milk has made bonny-clabber, there will 
inevitably be small particles of it distributed throughout 
the whole mass of butter, and unless they are entirely 
removed in some way, that butter will most certainly 
become rancid. Working the butter in cold water will 
dissolve all these particles of congealed milk, and the 
water is easily worked out, or should a few drops remain, 
it will unite with the salt and form pure brine. If there 
is any other manner by which the butter can be freed 
from the milk more easily, I should like to know it. 

My butter, although "spoil'd by washing it," when 
packed in a pot or keg, with a clean cloth pressed on the 
top, and a little brine on the top of that, say half an inch 
deep, will keep a year, as sweet as ever unwashed butter 
was, is, or can be kept in any manner whatever. These 
are facts. Now let us have the facts in opposition to the 
cold water system. 


I do not wonder that so many object to washing butter, 
for it is a lamentable fact, that there is a great antipathy- 
existing against the use of cold water, either as a bever- 
age, or for ablution. 

Tea and Coffee. — Will somebody tell me what is the 
value of these articles, as diet? Will somebody tell me 
whether the use of tea and coffee adds to our health or 
happiness, or length of life, or whether we enjoy our 
meals any better than we should do if we had always 
been accustomed to drink water? 

Chess. — [See Dictionary signification.] — "A difficult 
and abstruse game." "Abstruse — hidden, obscure, diffi- 

Now, if we did not know that the lexicographer in- 
tended to explain the meaning of the game of chess, the 
readers of the agricultural papers for a year or two past 
would suppose that he had intended it to allude to the 
abstruse game of disputation, that has been carried on 
about chess, and upon which, I presume, that a majority 
of the readers have come to the conclusion, that the sub- 
ject is a very abstruse one. 

Curing and Pressing Cheese. — A neighbor of mine 
has been in the habit for several years of stacking his 
cheese in a hay stack. He takes them as soon as they 
become firm, and making the stack some three or four 
feet from the ground, as smooth and level as it can be, 
puts on a course of cheeses, being careful that they do 
not touch each other, or come too near the edge, and then 
builds on the hay two or three feet, and then another 
course of cheeses. In this situation they finish curing, 
and are preserved from frost until spring. The plan is 
new to me, but perhaps not so to your readers. At all 
events, it is worth trying. I would recommend any per- 
son, however, to try it only on a small lot at first, until 
he satisfied himself personally that the plan is a good one. 

Shearing Lambs. — I have satisfied myself by experi- 
ence, that it is not profitable to shear lambs. 


Oyster Plant, or Salsify. — It is surprising that so 
few persons cultivate this delicious vegetable. They are 
planted and cultivated similar to carrots or parsneps, 
and like the latter, may be suffered to remain in the 
ground through the winter, and dug in the spring as soon 
as the frost is out of the ground. They are cooked in 
different ways. One is to boil them in clean water, and 
mash them and mix with flour into batter and fry them. 
Another, to cut them up in small mouthfuls, and after 
boiling soft, make a gravy of flour, butter, &c. and add 
to them, and really they are a rich substitute for oysters. 

School Books. — There is a criminal fault existing in 
community, not only in the quality of the matter of 
school books, but in the manner that they are printed. 
I have of late observed several school books, printed 
with a very small type, upon poor blue looking paper, 
and in every particular bore a near relationship to "Pin- 
dar's Razors." No good man would be guilty of publish- 
ing such books for the use of children. It is a down right 
robbing of their honest rights. It is sufficiently painful 
for a child to learn to read out of good round fair print. 
To illustrate, I beg you to put this article in such type 
as should only be used for children's reading books. It 
is of no consequence that it takes more paper. That 
article is cheap, and for school books, should always be 
of the best quality. And I hope every man who reads 
this article, will hereafter reflect when about to purchase, 
that in buying one of these made-to-sell cheats, he is 
about to do a positive wrong to his child. Buy none but 
the best. See that the type, paper, and binding are good. 
And finally, be assured that this good advice is given by 
one ardently devoted to the cause of education and human 
improvement, and your old Indiana friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., March 28, 1841. 


American Society of Agriculture. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:86; May, 1841 1 ] 

[April 1, 1841] 
An address to the farmers of the United States; to every 
friend of agricultural improvement; to every citizen of 
the United States who desires to see elevated the 
character and standing of the cultivators of the Amer- 
ican soil. 

Most respected and most respectable friends and 
brothers, give me your attention for a few fleeting mo- 
ments; your humble brother, who now addresses you, 
published a suggestion about three years ago, for the pur- 
pose of arousing your attention to the subject of form- 
ing a National Agricultural Society ; that suggestion was 
then responded to with a hearty good will throughout the 
country. But action upon the subject has been over- 
whelmed by the political whirlwind that has swept over 
our country. In the first lull of the succeeding calm, the 
proposition to form such a society has been renewed, and 
with one exception, has met with a cheering "God speed 
the project." None doubt the utility of the proposed 
society, yet doubtless there are many who would like to 
see the object, end and aim of the society more fully ex- 
plained. To such I now offer some of my views, and in 
doing so, invite you all to give yours; for this is one of 
the objects of a National Society to interchange our 

Many warm friends of the measure, who are anxious 
to see the society in operation, cannot see how it is to be 
organized. They say, "No doubt if once organized, it 
would daily increase in strength and usefulness ; but it is 
like a great complicated piece of machinery, of great use 
and value when once in motion, but difficult to start." 
Now, to me there is no difficulty in the way. All that is 
wanted is a few active engineers to put the machine in 

1 Printed also in Cincinnati Western Farmer and Gardener, 
2:168a-68b, an extra (April, 1841) ; in ibid., 2:171-73 (May, 1841) ; 
and in New Genesee Farmer, 2:83 (June, 1841). 


motion. Immediate and decided action of a few of the 
active friends of agricultural improvement, who must 
assume the responsibility to act as engineers as well as 
pioneers for the whole Union ; and having once given the 
society an existence, it will flourish and increase in 
strength just as our political Union has done. 

The following plan of organizing the society is sug- 
gested to your consideration : 

Let as many of the friends of the project as can be 
induced to do so, meet at the city of Washington, on some 
day of the autumn of 1841, (the particular day to be 
hereafter fixed,) and there form a constitution for the 
society, and elect officers, to wit: a president, a vice 
president for each state, a recording secretary, a general 
corresponding secretary, and a corresponding secretary 
for each state, county, city and principal town in the 
United States, a treasurer, and probably a publisher of 
a national paper, to be called the Journal of the American 
Society of Agriculture. 

The first officers will hold their offices until the next 
annual meeting, which should be held at the capital of 
that state which had furnished the greatest number of 
members at the time when the president of the society 
should issue his proclamation to convene the second meet- 

The place of each annual meeting should be fixed at 
the preceding one, in some state other than the one 
where it was then held, so as to give the members in 
each state an easier opportunity of attending. 

As in the formation of all such associations it is neces- 
sary to have some cash funds, are you willing to donate 
"a mite" to accomplish this great national object? 

If so, an opportunity will hereafter be offered you to 
do so. Upon some of you I hope to make a personal call 
for that purpose, should it be thought advisable, after 
due reflection, to proceed in the organization; therefore, 
I pray you to give this subject your serious consideration. 

If you should aid in the formation of this society, will 
not your children "rise up and bless you?" For one of 


the first objects of the National Agricultural Society- 
should be to connect with it a "National Agricultural 
School." 1 

Not such a "National School" as is the only one we now 
have, which has, with too much truth, been called "a 
nursery of aristocracy" — where the humble son of a 
farmer is rarely admitted, and if admitted, what is he 
taught? Not how to cultivate his mother earth, and 
make her sons glad ; not how to increase life, but the art 
of destruction, the trade of blood!! Such is now your 
only national school. 

Such will not be the only one, in a few short years, if 
you will lend your energies to form a National Society, 
whose motto will be, "to elevate the character and stand- 
ing of the cultivators of the American soil." For when 
once organized, you will soon show a united force of 
many thousands, whose voice will be heard in the halls 
of congress, demanding our birthright. Be assured we 
shall be heard. "Let all our energies be concentrated, 
and we can do any thing in the power of man; but di- 
vided and scattered as we are, we spend our forces, as 
it were, drop by drop; whereas, union would make us 
mightier than a torrent" We can, shall we say we will 
form such a torrent as will overwhelm our political 
rulers, unless they will do justice to the agricultural class 
of the community. 

As soon as the National Agricultural Society is formed, 
let us ask Congress to appropriate the "Smythsonian 
fund" of half a million of dollars to establish a National 
School. If we unite as we should do, our "torrent" will 
be too strong for time-serving politicians to resist. 

I look upon the National Agricultural School as the 
greatest blessing to flow from the National Society. 

1 Francis H. Gordon, of Clinton College, Tennessee, in a letter of 
January 2, 1841, to the editors of the Cultivator, suggested con- 
necting a national agricultural school with the proposed national 
agricultural society. Cultivator, 8:52 (March, 1841). James M. 
Garnett seconded the proposal in a letter of March 16, 1841. Ibid., 
8:79 (May, 1841). 


But the Journal of the Society will also prove of im- 
mense advantage. It will embody a vast amount of mat- 
ter, useful and interesting to every cultivator in the 
Union. The most carefully prepared tables of the pro- 
ductions of the earth, from every section of the Union, 
will be kept constantly before the reader, totally different 
from those vehicles of deception, and often fraud upon 
the farmer, called "prices current." It is by the quantity 
produced, and the probable demand therefor, that we can 
understand whether it is for our interest to sell our crops 
now, or store them up. At every meeting there would 
be numbers from every state in the Union, as ready to 
impart as receive information. 

"All the inducements of the business of a National So- 
ciety, a National Fair, and a National School," and the 
honor of being a member of such a society, would be 
enough, I think, to make us all feel that it would be a 
greater honor to be elected a state delegate to one of the 
annual meetings of the National Society than to be 
elected a member of Congress. 

It cannot be expected in this short address, that I 
should point out all the good that would flow from the 
action of the proposed society. But if we are convinced 
that the effect would conduce to the interest and happi- 
ness of the great mass of agriculturists of the Union, let 
us act, and with spirit too. 

And now, my friends, one and all, do you approve of 
the plan of organization? Speak out boldly if you do 
not. And if you do not object, the leading friends of the 
measure will fix upon a day for the first meeting, and 
proceed in the manner proposed. 

There has been an argument raised against organizing 
such a society at present, "because the public mind has 
not been sufficiently instructed, and does not sufficiently 
appreciate the advantages of such an association to ren- 
der it successful." 1 

1 See editorial in Cultivator, 8:27 (February, 1841). 


Now it is on this very account that the friends of the 
proposed National Society wish to see it established, that 
the operations thereof may wake up an excitement 
throughout our "wide scattered population," that shall 
be the moving cause of changing the "condition of the 

It is also argued that the failure of several state and 
county societies is proof that a national one must fail 

Let me ask if this is a valid argument? This short 
quotation, in my mind, is sufficient to knock the whole 
force of the argument into nonentity: "Divided and 
scattered as we are, we spend our forces as it were, drop 
by drop, whereas union would make us mightier than a 

The object of all state and county societies has been of 
a local nature. Their existence has been known only in 
their own locality, and they have been too weak in num- 
bers to command legislative aid. Who can tell what 
would have been the effects if all the members of all the 
local societies in the Union had been attached to one Na- 
tional Society? If all the exertions of all these societies, 
collectively and individually, had been concentrated upon 
one object, would it not have formed a "torrent" as 
mighty, comparatively speaking, as the thundering Niag- 
ara. If the nation, instead of individuals, had received 
all the light of the intelligent minds that have been de- 
voted to these local societies, would it now be said "that 
the public mind was not sufficiently enlightened to ap- 
preciate the advantages to be derived from a National 
Society?" If all the money that has been devoted "drop 
by drop" upon "model farms" and local schools had been 
concentrated, should we not now have an institution 
worthy the great country we inhabit? 

If our population is scattered ; if "long distances inter- 
vene between the most efficient friends of agricultural 
improvement," so much the more need of forming such a 


society as shall draw them together in "one strong bond 
of brotherhood." 

Is it a fact "that the time has not yet arrived when 
such an association can be organized with a reasonable 
certainty of success?" If such is the fact, I am disap- 
pointed in the character and energy of my countrymen. 

Once more I call upon you to answer me this ques- 
tion; am I so disappointed in your character? 

Do not refuse your countenance to the measure because 
it does not originate in high places. For "if we are ever 
to have a National Society of Agriculture, it must be got 
up by the farmers themselves;" & as one of that class I 
now address you. 

If the present attempt at organization fail, the matter 
may be considered as decided for the present generation. 

The only question then is, shall the matter sleep until 
you and I are past waking? 

I am a devoted friend to present organization of a 
National Society of Agriculture, and a National School, 
that will elevate the character and standing of the cul- 
tivators of the American soil, And your friend and 

Lake C. H., la., April 1, 1841. Solon Robinson. 

A Journey Contemplated. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:100-1; June, 1841] 

[April 2, 1841] 
Messrs. Gaylord & Tucker — I now have it in con- 
templation to make an extensive agricultural tour during 
the coming summer, and it would be a great pleasure to 
me, and I have reason to believe it would be equally so to 
some of your readers, to form a personal acquaintance 
with them as far as practicable; and as I shall "take 
notes," and you will "print them," it may also conduce to 
our mutual improvement. I have, therefore, thought 
proper to make this public announcement of my intention 
and route. All communications addressed to me before 
the 1st of August, at this place, upon the subject of the 


journey, or requiring business done on the route, will be 
attended to. I shall also be glad to communicate with 
the friends of agricultural improvement at the following 
places, and I shall call upon the following named persons, 
with whom any information for me may be left, viz: 
Friend Willets, 1 Editor of Indiana Farmer, Indianapolis ; 
Hon. John Sering, 2 Madison, la.; Thos. B. Stevenson, 
Esq., Editor Kentucky Farmer, Frankfort; Messrs. Af- 
fleck 3 & Hopper, 4 Editors Farmer and Gardener, Cin- 
cinnatti, 0. ; Hon. H. L. Ellsworth, 5 Commissioner Patent 
Office, Washington; James M. Garnett, Essex co., Va. ; 

1 See post, 244-45. Jacob S. Willets, coeditor with J. W. 
Osborn, and later editor, of the Indiana Farmer, Indianapolis, 1837- 
1841 ; thereafter general agent in Indiana for the Cincinnati West- 
ern Farmer and Gardener. Corresponding secretary, Indiana Horti- 
cultural Society. See Western Farmer and Gardener, 2:168 
(April, 1841) ; letter to John B. Niles, March 24, 1841, in Niles 
Papers, Indiana State Library. In 1840 Willets opened a school 
for girls and small boys at his home in Indianapolis. Indiana 
Farmer, n. s. 1:86 (June, 1840). 

1 John Sering settled in Madison in 1810 or 1811. Proprietor of 
one of the first stores, and owner of first cotton mill. Postmaster, 
1818-1843. Cashier of Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank. Agent for 
state, for a time, on Madison and Indianapolis Railroad. In Indi- 
ana senate, 1828-29 to 1831-32. Indiana Magazine of History, 
6:145, 147; 12:224, 229; 16:318; "Hoosier Listening Post," in 
Indianapolis Star, February 28, 1928. 

'Thomas Affleck, born July 13, 1812, in Dumfries, Scotland; 
died December 30, 1868. Editor of Cincinnati Western Farmer 
and Gardener, and other agricultural papers. Prominent planter 
in Mississippi and Texas. Operated the first sawmill and grist- 
mill in Texas. Interested in meat packing. See Dictionary of 
American Biography, 1:110-11. 

4 Edward James Hooper, editor of the Western Farmer and 
Gardener, 1839-1840, 1844-1845. Horticulturist and author of 
Hooper's Western Fruit Book (Cincinnati, 1857). 

5 Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, born November 10, 1791, in Windsor, 
Connecticut; died December 27, 1858. Lawyer, agriculturist, busi- 
nessman, and politician. First United States commissioner of pat- 
ents. See Dictionary of American Biography, 6:110-11. A de- 
scription of his Indiana farm will appear in volume 2 under the 
heading "Western Agriculture — Corn Cobs," July, 1847. 


G. B. Smith, 1 Esq., Baltimore, Md. ; James Pedder, 2 Phil- 
adelphia, Pa.; P. Sather, 3 Esq., Broker, 164 Nassau- 
street, New-York. I shall also visit Stonington, Ct. ; 
Providence and Boston. 

At Albany I shall not only see you, gentlemen, but, I 
trust, many good friends. Returning, I shall visit Utica, 
Rochester, and at Buffalo, sans ceremonie, I shall invite 
myself to partake of the hospitality of A. B. Allen, Esq. 

I hope to be able to give some information about mat- 
ters and things in the West, to those of my agricultural 
brethren with whom I may chance to meet, and I expect 
to gather a great fund of useful information for my own 
use, and that of others, at some future time. Among 
other things, I intend to satisfy myself whether it is yet 
time to form a "National Agricultural Society." 

I intend to take the journey at that season of the year 
when I can witness and compare the growth of crops 
between different sections, and see the improved stock to 
the best advantage, and I hope I shall have occasion to 
speak highly of every portion of the route. I remain 
with much respect, 

Solon Robinson, [Post-master.] 

Lake C. H., la., April 2, 1841. 

Berkshire Hogs 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 1:36; May, 1841] 

[April 2, 1841] 
Berkshire Hogs. — Experience is an excellent teacher 
— as I have been taught a little I will impart it to others 

1 Gideon B. Smith, Baltimore, Maryland. Contributor to Farm- 
ers' Register. Editor of the Silk Journal, Baltimore. 

2 James Pedder, born July 29, 1775, in Newport, Isle of Wight, 
England; died August 27, 1859. From 1840 to 1843, editor of 
Farmers' Cabinet, published in Philadelphia; about 1844 became 
corresponding editor of the Boston Cultivator and in 1848, resident 
editor, which position he held until his death. See Dictionary of 
American Biography, 14:387-88. 

8 Peter Sather, uncle of an immigrant who died in Lake County 
and was buried near Cedar Lake. Ball, Lake County, from 183& 
to 1872, 210-12. 


engaged in breeding pigs. Great care is necessary with 
this breed, to guard against the temptation to use them 
too young. They are so large and fine at eight or ten 
months old, that many suppose they are plenty big 
enough to breed. It is a great mistake. The boar should 
scarcely be used until twelve months old, and then but 
sparingly until eighteen. A sow should never be allowed 
to have pigs until a year old, and then only in warm 
weather — and it would be better that they were sixteen 
months old — nature cannot be forced with impunity. The 
period of gestation in a sow is exactly sixteen weeks. 
Now of my experience — I had two sows last fall on the 
passage from Albany, got with pig at about four months 
old. On the first day of January, one of the coldest of the 
season, one dropped seven and the other two, and as the 
sows had little or no milk, and were too young to mind 
their pigs, all died in spite of all that human care 
could do. 

Yesterday another sow, just one year old, dropped 
eight pigs. She is one of the kindest, most careful, and 
sensible hogs I ever saw; and as the weather is warm, 
the pigs are all as lively as could be wished. It is char- 
acteristic of Berkshires, that they are great breeders, and 
fine milkers. But do not be tempted to use them too 
young. But above all things, do not be tempted to do 
without them. Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., April 2. 

An Address 

Delivered by Solon Robinson, Esqr., before the Union 

Agricultural Society, at Chicago, on the 28th 

April, 1841. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 1:36-37, 52-53; May, July, 1841] 

My friends! or rather, I would say, brethren, — a 
blessed union of brothers, devoted to a blessed cause — to 
improvement in one of the most blessed pursuits on earth. 
And for that purpose you have united yourselves under 



the excellent motto, "In union there is strength" — and 
your object, "to improve the soil and the mind." Well, 
in the language of the father of American freedom, "I 
know of no pursuit in which more real and important 
service can be rendered our country, than improvement 
in agricultural pursuits." 

But before I proceed, allow me to explain why I, a 
stranger to most of you, have set myself up as a teacher 
among you. To many of you I am perhaps known by 
name, as one who is ardently devoted to that cause which 
shall tend to improve the condition, and elevate the stand- 
ing of the cultivators of American soil. And although 
at all times willing to lend all my energies to that object, 
I reluctantly accepted the flattering invitation to address 
your Society, because I know my own ability. However 
capable of instructing or amusing my fellow-laborers 
with my pen, I am unused to making a speech — I there- 
fore claim your kindest indulgence; my promise is not 
to make my present effort interesting, but only that "I 
will try." 

You have met here, I hope, not for the sole purpose of 
listening to what the humble individual before you has 
to say, but for mutual instruction and improvement. 
Let us enquire then, how the greatest good can be done 
to the greatest number? If there is strength in your 
union, how shall that strength be used? Surely not for 
our individual aggrandizement. No! For I am morally 
certain, from my own knowledge of some of the leading 
individuals of your Society, that the great desire of their 
hearts is upon a scale as noble, and grand, and broad as 
the great plain which stretches away before us farther 
than the eye can reach. 

Cast your eyes with me for a moment over this great 
natural field, and fancy if you can, what untold riches 
lie hid beneath its surface. 

Is it not an object worthy the highest ambition of man, 
to lend his energies towards the promoting of a cause, 
the object of which is, to turn all this unproductive native 


wildness into cultivated fields of golden grain, and to 
cover nature's great pasture with lowing herds, and con- 
sequently filling up this great space of wild waste, with a 
population of happy human souls? 

This is what we now want. We want to transplant 
thousands of our hard-toiling brethren, who are sweating 
away their lives upon the old worn out hills of New Eng- 
land and Europe, and plant them in our great Western 
garden. And it should be one great object of this So- 
ciety, to encourage emigration. Not in words alone, but 
our acts should tend to shew the great benefits to be de- 
rived. Plain true statements of the present condition 
of the country should be published. Show them the thou- 
sands of acres of land as rich as heart could wish, lying 
waste all over our country. It is true that the "first 
choice" is occupied, but what of that. Let industry and 
economy, such as may be seen upon the plains of 
Flanders, or among the bogs of Ireland, and cliffs of 
England, old or New, be devoted to the worst land in our 
country, and its occupants would soon become independ- 
ent — or comparatively so; for absolute independence is 
neither attainable or desirable — all classes must live by 
and for each other. But there is a degree of comparative 
independence that the cultivators of a rich soil always 
may possess, and which is within the reach of every citi- 
zen of this Republic, who is of sound body and mind, 
and who has a disposition to claim it, particularly in a 
region where nature has made such ample provision for 
the new beginner. But there has, in my opinion, been 
a fatal error committed by many of the first emigrants to 
this country, in an over anxiety to accumulate too much 
of a good thing. 

It is evident that no man can cultivate such large 
tracts as many have been anxious to possess, of such a 
soil as ours. It were better by far that our uncultivated 
lands were occupied by hardy and industrious laborers, 
whose every stroke of plough, hoe or spade, would add 
intrinsic value to it, than to lie dormant, waiting some 


hoped for rise in value. It is a subject well worthy of 
our careful inquiry, whether our greediness has not 
driven many good citizens to look further, without faring 
better, while we have fared worse. Our settlements are 
too sparse, and we ought to use all honorable means to 
invite emigrants to fill up our waste lands. To do this 
we must be more liberal. 

Scarce as timber now appears in our prairie country, 
if it could be fairly distributed, it would be sufficient to 
increase our population to ten times its present numbers. 
Is there any one will presume to doubt that that would 
fail to increase the value of land to ten times its present 
intrinsic value? And there are other benefits that would 
attend upon an increase of our population, which we can- 
not enjoy while dwelling so isolated, scattered over such 
a wide surface of country, which is far — far more im- 
portant than boundless wealth. 

I need not tell you what benefits I allude to; for the 
little monitor in the breast of every parent whose loca- 
tion has prevented him from partaking of the benefits 
of the village school, will speak to him in tones that he 
cannot keep still, and tell him that his children are grow- 
ing up into manhood, destitute of the first rudiments of a 
common school education. 

He cannot hide that "still small voice" with the sooth- 
ing salvo to the mind of the miser, that he is "Lord of all 
I survey," while he stretches his eye over his vast domain 
of a thousand uncultivated and unproductive acres. Be 
assured, such a man owns too much land. It would have 
been far better for him, individually, and far better for 
society, if he had "claimed" no more land than he needed 
for cultivation, and that the remainder had been occupied 
by some of the thousand emigrants who have passed by 
in seach of a "wider opening" further West. 

Are there any here who suppose that all this waste 
land will forever lie waste? Let them look back to their 
own native hills — there is no waste, and useless land 
there; and but a few short years would roll away into 


eternity, before you might say the same of this country, 
if an enlightened and liberal course was adopted toward 
that numerous class who are destined to earn their bread 
under that primeval malediction upon Adam and his race. 

I assert with the utmost sincerity of belief, that the 
Grand Prairie can, and will be eventually cultivated to 
good advantage, entirely without timber for fuel, fence, 
or building. The earth itself will afford the best and 
cheapest materials for the whole. 

Do you imagine that this is too great a change — too 
improbable ever to be brought about? 

Look back a few years. What was this country then? 
And what may it not be a century hence? 

I fancy there are some here, who can look back to the 
time, for it is but a short stretch of memory, when the 
City of Chicago, consisted of yon little stockade, and its 
handfull of soldiers, and a few humble log cabins around 
it. And what has wrought this mighty magic change, in 
the little space of time comprised in the tenth of a cen- 
tury. Is it your most beautiful inland sea whereon rides 
those great castles moved by steam, which weekly float 
into your, I am sorry to say unfinished harbour? Is it 
the enterprise of your merchant princes, or princely 
merchants ? 

No — No. Allow me to impress it upon your minds, 
that all this wonderful change has been wrought more 
by that humble little machine, which, when a boy, I often 
went whistling after, than by all the wealth of merchants, 
or power of steam, or great facilities of navigation, 
though all these are auxiliaries to this wonderful magi- 
cian's wand that has converted the wilderness into a 
city, in so short a space. And would you hear the name of 
this wonderful machine — it is the Plough. What would 
have been your city now, if it had not been for this 
magic wand of the husbandman? Why the sentinel 
would have still kept watch upon his post, to guard a 
few Indian traders against surprise from their cus- 
tomers. And occasionally a solitary vessel, wandering 


over a waste of waters, would have cast her anchor op- 
posite the mouth of your useless and unapproachable 
river, and after the tedious operation of discharging her 
little cargo, she would have gone away empty. 

But the husbandman came and he looked upon an 
almost boundless extent of soil, which was not surpassed 
in fertility by the garden of Eden, and his arts soon drew 
forth the riches of the earth, and lo ! in the place of the 
lowly cabins, up springs this great and growing empo- 
rium of the West. Husbandmen, brother farmers, let 
us take credit to ourselves, for that which is our due. 
Remember as you follow the plough, that if it had not 
been for that, and your humble occupation, the waving 
grass would have still continued to wave over all this 
vast field — this rich soil would have still remained un- 
productive and useless, and this now flourishing city 
would have been among the unknown things. This is 
the magic of agricultural improvement. What a mighty 
blaze hath a little spark kindled. Now, if you have the 
power to kindle such a blaze from so small a spark, what 
can you do if you lend your united strength to fan the 
blaze already kindled. While I am holding up the work 
of the magician's wand before you, let me carry you 
magicly forward for fifty years — a period that looks to 
those youths before me, almost interminable — but to 
yonder grey headed father, oh how short. 

Can you fancy the time when the plough instead of the 
autumnal fires, shall have blackened all this green pas- 
ture — when the succulent corn and golden wheat shall 
move where now waves the coarse and useless prairie 
grass. Can you fancy to yourselves, that if the few little 
patches of cultivated ground within your district, can 
have been the moving cause of raising up all these fine 
mansions around us in the place of the Indian's wigwam, 
what will be the effect that will be produced when the 
whole of this vast expanse before us is brought under the 
dominion of the plough. Can you fancy to yourselves the 
time when all the buildings now composing this city, 


would be hardly sufficient for store houses for the surplus 
grain of this fertile region? Sir, you need not look at 
me doubtingly. Will the change from the present to that 
time be so great as the change from the past to the pres- 
ent has been? 

If the improvements in agriculture are permitted to go 
on — if the spirit that now animates the agricultural com- 
munity — if the spirit that has brought us together this 
day shall continue to expand for a few years to come as 
it has for a few years past, your field will continue to 
expand — your city will continue to expand — your com- 
merce will continue to expand — and you, my friends, yes, 
you within the short compass of your lives, will become 
the proudest key holders on earth — for you will hold the 
keys of the great granary of the world. 

Am I enthusiastic? Is my picture over-wrought? 
There are some who will say so. For there are some who 
fancy that the world is now at the very height of perfec- 
tion, and that in future, all things must retrograde. But 
there are those in this assembly that can follow my fancy 
through coming years, and thro' coming events. There 
are those here who never stop your mouth when you offer 
instructions upon their pursuits, with those potent words, 
"you can't tell me anything about farming. I want none 
of your book-farming about me." There are those here, 
who are not only willing to learn, but willing to impart 
such knowledge as they may posses, to their brethren. 
It was for the benefit of mutual improvement that your 
Society was formed. It is for that that you meet to- 
gether. And there is nothing better calculated to pro- 
mote agricultural improvements, particularly in a coun- 
try so sparcely settled, as social intercourse: pleasant 
agreeable meetings. You become acquainted with one 
another. You learn something new. You, perhaps, be- 
come acquainted with some new and valuable agricul- 
tural implement. You see, and seeing is knowing, that 
there are improved breeds of cattle, sheep and hogs, 
particularly the latter. For no man, however blind and 


prejudiced he may be, can look upon the beautiful Berk- 
shire, without acknowledging that he is a superior animal 
to the long-nosed landpikes of our country. 

I feel it to be my duty to urge the fact strongly to your 
notice here, that I am convinced that this is the first kind 
of stock that we should attempt to improve. Our country 
is new and mostly unprovided with comfortable shelters, 
and suitable keeping for an improved breed of cattle. 
And our pecuniary means are not generally sufficient to 
enable us to walk before we creep. But there is no 
farmer in the bounds of your Society, too poor to pro- 
vide himself with a pair of pigs. And all have the means 
of comfortable keeping. And no one would hesitate one 
moment after he had become acquainted with the im- 
provement. And the only way of making them ac- 
quainted, is for those that are already convinced, to take 
early measures to introduce them to the notice of their 
doubting neighbors. You may talk to a man until you 
are hoarse and he is deaf, or you may read to him until 
you are blind, about the good qualities of improved cattle 
and hogs, and, I know by experience, that it will not all 
have so much effect upon him as one view. 

Since I have provided myself with Berkshire hogs, I 
have an easy argument, "Look for yourself." And none 
look and doubt. All are converted to the belief at once, 
that a Berkshire hog is no humbug. There are many 
other good varieties, that are a decided improvement 
upon the common kind. But all I wish to point out at 
present, is, that our stock of hogs can be improved 
easier than any other kind of stock while our country is 
so new as it is at present. 

There are some too proud or obstinate, but few who are 
too wise to learn. And if you learn no other fact from 
me this day, I beg you to remember, that such meetings 
as this are well calculated not only to add to your general 
information, but to improve the morals of community. 
If then you had no other object in view, how important 
is it that you continue thus to persevere in well-doing. 


Do not be discouraged because you see such a lethargy 
among the cultivators of the soil. It is so much the more 
your duty, who are awake to the true interest of our 
country, to endeavor to rouse up others. We are all 
creatures of excitement. We require something to stimu- 
late us to action. Let the ambition to do good to your 
fellow-laborers stimulate you to excite others. You have 
already taken the first and most important step towards 
spreading knowledge among the agricultural community 
of Northern Illinois. You have established, and I ar- 
dently hope you will support, a spirited agricultural 
paper. There is nothing that can, that has, that will, still 
continue to elevate the character and standing of the 
cultivators of American soil, to so great a degree as a 
general diffusion of papers among them, which are solely 
devoted to their pursuits. 

It should then be a moving object with every member 
of this Society, to endeavor to diffuse these papers among 
the farming community. Every merchant and mechanic 
in this city, if he could see his own interest, would take 
an active part in all the objects of your Society. Improve 
the mind of the farmer, and he will add improvement to 
his farm. And every acre that is added to cultivation, 
adds wealth to the merchant and mechanic. For with- 
out the farmer, neither of them could exist. Tis true 
they are mutually dependent on each other, but agricul- 
ture is the base upon which all other occupations are 
dependent. But that pursuit has been neglected and de- 
graded, and those who are engaged in it have been looked 
upon as an inferior portion of the community. Let it 
be our object then, to rescue this most noble of all pro- 
fessions from its degraded state, and give it a proper 
elevation in society. Let us endeavor by all means in 
our power, to convince our agricultural brethren who 
are inclined to look upon our efforts with jealousy, that 
our object is to benefit them. 

Let me urge you to continue the meetings of your 
Society more frequently. Carry them into every county, 


and use every means to get the people to attend and 
learn the object. You surely can always find volunteers 
to deliver an address, that will tend to lighten the weary 
toil of industry, and give an hour of instruction and 
amusement to an audience of farmers. But, above all 
things, let me urge this solemn fact upon your notice, 
that as you hope to prosper, you must interest the female 
portion of society. No cause can prosper without them. 
You have only to look at the political history of this 
country for a few years past to be convinced of that 
fact. It was the slander and abuse heaped upon the 
wife of Andrew Jackson, that enlisted female influence 
in his favor and placed him in the Presidential chair. 
It was because Martin Van Buren was a very good sort 
of a "ladies' man" that placed him there. And no good 
democrat will dare to doubt that it was female influence 
alone that elected him who had scarcely reached the 
pinnacle of glory, before the Great Leveler of all men, 
laid him as low as the most humble among us. 

And without that same kind of influence, your Society 
might as well cease vain efforts, for I repeat, you cannot 
succeed. Secure her aid and your cause will triumph. 
Can you not offer sufficient inducements to them to secure 
their attendance at the meetings of your Society? 

If the premature frostiness of age had not fixed a 
forbiding aspect upon me, 1 I would venture to suggest 
that the very name of your Society should act as a 
talisman upon the minds of the younger portion to in- 
duce them to come forth. They too, may here find 
inducements to form such a "union," as no society can 
exist without. 

I think, that if you would make your meetings popular, 
that your speaker and his subject should be selected as 
well to instruct and amuse the fairer portion of creation, 
as those who style themselves "lords," and too often 
"lord it" over the weaker class of their fellow creatures. 

1 Solon Robinson had red hair which turned white before he was 
thirty. At the time of this address he was thirty-seven. 


I very much regret that I have not the fire and energy 
of youth, or at least the power to make myself more 
interesting to this goodly number of my fair hearers, 
who have complimented me by their presence here to-day. 

But permit me to assure them, that although I may be 
lacking in the soft blandishments of a "ladies' man," I 
am a husband and a father, and I sincerely hope I am a 
philanthropist ; and until I forget the love and duty that 
I owe to the former, and my anxiety to promote the 
latter, may I never forget the pleasure that the smiles of 
beauty have afforded me this day. 

Gentlemen, I beg you to be assured of the solemn truth 
which used to be a guiding text of the celebrated John 
Randolph, that, "if we were deprived of the influence of 
female society, we should soon degenerate into a mass 
of brutes." And in this country, where our scattered 
population are deprived of many opportunities to enjoy 
such society, it should be one of the leading objects of 
this Society, to promote and foster that holy, happy 

You should also bring your children with you. Teach 
them while young. Remember that early impressions 
are almost indelible, and, therefore, be careful that what 
they see and hear should be of the right kind. 

At the exhibitions of the stock and farming imple- 
ments, and farm products, and household manufactures, 
their young curiosity will be particularly excited, and 
their minds impressed with useful things. 

In your list of premiums, you may usefully add a few, 
particularly calculated for competition among the youths 
of your Society. 

But above all, do not forget to be truly liberal in your 
offers to induce a laudable competition among your wives 
and daughters. 

I would particularly recommend that your most liberal 
offers should tend to the encouragement of the manufac- 
ture of household cloth, and don't let them forget that 
they may still appear lovely in a homespun dress, of wool, 
flax, or silk. 


Although it is not expected that they are going to take 
an active part in the dry details of your business opera- 
tions, I do say, and I say it with the utmost seriousness, 
from the strong convictions of experience, that one enter- 
prising woman engaged in our cause, will do more to 
promote the objects which this Society has in view, than 
ten ordinary men. 

And certainly there is no part of the community more 
deeply interested, than the wives and daughters of farm- 
ers. We wish to make them feel the importance of their 
station in society. We wish to elevate the whole agri- 
cultural community to that degree, that they shall feel 
proud of the name of "farmer's wife." We wish to see 
our girls so educated that they never will blush to hear 
themselves called "farmer's daughters." 

Let it be an object dear to the heart of every member 
of this Society, to weed out every vestige of that feeling 
which sinks the farmer below the very first grade of 
society. Let us constantly impress upon their minds that 
they hold the same relative position to all other classes 
that yon climbing orb does to the rest of our planetary 

Withdraw the genial rays of the sun from our earth, 
and what a cold and useless world would it be. Let the 
humble tillers of the soil cease their operations, or let 
them cultivate only what would be barely sufficient for 
their own subsistence, and what would be the condition 
of all other classes of society? Can you not perceive 
that they are as dependant upon us as we are upon the 
sun? Can you not perceive that we are, and of right 
ought to be considered, the pillars and support of civilized 
society ? 

Why is it then, that such a false and unnatural state 
of things has existed, and does now exist, though to a 
less degree than heretofore, that makes us ashamed of 
our honest employment? Why do the farmer's daughters 
seek to connect themselves in that most holy of all con- 
nections, with those who are strangers to the ways of 


their father's household? Why do the farmer's sons seek 
to escape from their healthy occupation, and spend the 
bloom of their life at an employment only fit for some 
delicate female, measuring tape and calico behind the 
merchant's counter, or perhaps stooping over the physi- 
cians' mortar, and crowding into every class and kind 
of employment, and often into no employment at all, 
while the rich and teeming earth is ever inviting them to 
dig for a golden treasure that is always found by them 
that seek? Tis because a false estimation has been 
placed upon the different classes of society. False edu- 
cation, and pernicious ideas of respectability, have been 
permitted to flourish to the great detriment of the whole 
body public. 

"The youth of our day, unlike the ancients, seem to 
count it an honor to be delicate and effeminate, rather 
than hardy, manly, and daring in the field of enterprise 
and usefulness" which should be their highest ambition, 
thus to seek deserved honor and fame. 

I do most earnestly assure you that I am fully con- 
vinced that here lies the first stumbling block in the way 
of improvement in agriculture. 'Tis a universal blight 
that has fallen upon the farming community. 'Tis the 
effect of a false and pernicious system of education, or 
rather a total want of such an education as is fit for the 
cultivators of the soil. By the term education, I do not 
mean solely what is taught within the school-room; but 
what is taught by the existing state of society; and by 
which many of our youth are brought up in the way 
they should not go. 

"There is a vast room for amendment in our character 
as a people; and, although the improvement of agricul- 
ture, as an art and a science, is the chief object of this 
Society," it may usefully devote somewhat of its attention 
to the improvement of the farmer, as a man and a 
citizen. "Too little attention has been bestowed on this 
department, even by the agricultural press." "Let the 
farmer be aroused to take a higher view of his own dig- 


nity and character, and be urged to appreciate more 
highly his own importance, both as a cultivator of the 
soil, and as a citizen. Let him apprehend more correctly, 
his own right and duties, and interests, as a member of 
the great producing class of community, and he will 
soon take that action which will result in improving the 
whole country." To effect this great and good moral 
reform, you must begin with the rising generation. 

You must look into your school-houses. — There is the 
proper place to begin to cultivate the mind. 

Verily, it is a truth, that "the schoolmaster is abroad." 
Our good old teacher has been abroad of late years, in 
truth, and sadly has his place been filled with those who 
have taught us aught but such lessons as our ancestors 
were wont to learn. 

Oh! what a field of usefulness invites cultivation 
from your Society. One of the first steps we should 
take, should be to bring about a better system of edu- 
cation. A system, suited to, and suitable for the agri- 
cultural class. Were can you now send your children 
to learn to be farmers? Numerous schools and colleges 
exist, but what do they teach? Divinity, law, physic, 
and foppery!!! But where, and echo answers, where, 
are your agricultural schools? Do your common dis- 
trict schools even, ever teach the first rudiments of the 
first lesson, that civilized man must learn? — That is, to 
till the earth. What are your common school books ? Is 
a treatise upon the most useful science in the world, 
ever found in your school-room? Let my answer wound 
no man's feelings, for the fault is not his, but that of a 
faulty education. 

Your teachers are too often young men whose false 
education has taught them that it is disgraceful to work ; 
whose pride compels them to seek such genteel employ- 
ment as will enable them to flourish a little season of a 
butterfly existence; and they are too often employed to 
teach your children, solely because they will do it cheap. 
Under such circumstances, will your children grow up to 


a life of usefulness? Your exertions to improve your 
stock and your farms are praiseworthy. Does it ever 
occur to our minds that we might improve ourselves? 
Is it not necessary for us to try to improve our system 
of education? Cannot your Society engraft a model 
school upon your proposed model farm? Surely it is a 
subject worthy of your serious consideration. 

Cannot we improve the present taste and fashion of 
society? Here let me read a short extract from a journal 
called the "New York Mechanic." 

"Ma, why were those men turned out of the assembly 
room last night? 

"Because, my dear, they belong to the lower class : the 
one being a farmer, and the other a mechanic. 

"But ma, I thought the farmers were the most useful 
people in the world, and that all other people were de- 
pendent on them for the means of living. 

"True, my child, they are useful people, but they have 
to work for a living, and the assembly was composed of 
the rich, or, at least fashionable people who do not have 
to work. And besides, farmers are not in general so 
refined in their manners, as the lawyers and merchants. 

"But why was the mechanic turned out seeing he was 
very polite and well-dressed. 

"It was for the reason that he belongs to the lower 
class, and works for a living as I mentioned before. 

"But I suppose, Ma, that nearly all the articles of 
which their splendid supper was composed, were pro- 
cured from the farmers; and I am sure that nearly 
every thing else which they had in the hall, the furniture, 
decorations, and even the raiment of the company, and 
the hall itself in which they danced, was produced by 
mechanics. If, then, the first class of people are so en- 
tirely dependant on the farmers and mechanics, with 
what propriety can they set themselves up so much above 
them, and exclude them from their society? 

"That, my dear child, is a privilege which the rich and 
fashionable have always enjoyed from time immemorial, 


and will never be induced to relinquish it. And as they 
control a large proportion of the property and money 
of the community, and the farmers and mechanics are 
dependant on them for patronage and employment, they 
claim the right of superiority and exclusiveness. 

"But, suppose now, Ma, that all the farmers and all 
the mechanics should combine and agree that they would 
not work for, nor sell anything to the fashionable class, 
how long do you think they would maintain their supe- 
riority? or what course would they take? 

"The presumption is, at least, that such a thing will 
never occur, because the working classes are too fond 
of the money which they are continually receiving from 
the rich, to willingly offend them; but if such a thing 
should take place, I suppose the rich and fashionable 
would also combine, and by their superior influence in 
the government, they would immediately procure a law 
to be passed, by means of which they would take the 
produce of the farmer by force, and would compel the 
mechanics to work, or punish them by imprisonment, or 
otherwise, for their obstinacy. 

"But as the farmers and mechanics constitute a very 
large majority of the population of the State, why could 
they not elect such men to represent them in their legis- 
lation, as would favor their cause, and prevent the pas- 
sage of any such laws? 

"The difficulty in doing this, would be as at present, a 
want of unity and concert. The rich understand this, 
and by the influence of their money, and concert in their 
actions, they always contrive to procure the election of 
men of the first class, so that all, or nearly all, of the 
laws that are enacted, are calculated to strengthen their 
systems of influence, and keep the working classes con- 
tinually in a state of partial subjection. Poor people, 
and those in moderate circumstances, are prone to court 
the favors of the rich, and instead of helping to build 
each other up, are found pressing each other down, and 
will frequently favor the cause of the rich against that 


of one of their own class. It is not so with the rich: 
he is never known to favor the cause of a poor man 
against the rich; and on this circumstance principally 
depends the safety of the first class, in the attitude which 
they have assumed, relative to the working classes, and 
which there is not, nor is there likely to be, sufficient 
concert and unity among the working classes to remove 
or overthrow." 

Now, is there not "straight forward common sense" 
in that? But are you willing to acknowledge that "farm- 
ers and mechanics are the lower class" of society? 

Are you "afraid to offend the rich and the fashion- 
able?" Who made them rich and fashionable? Who 
gave them the right to assume to themselves all the 
honors, profits, and magnificent enjoyments of "fashion- 
able life?" 

Does the God of nature make envious distinctions, and 
decree that he who cultivates the earth shall bow himself 
a slave to him who reapeth where he soweth not? Is it 
wrong that the cultivators are compelled by the decrees 
of "fashionable society," as now constituted, to stand 
aloof, nor dare to show their faces in the wedding cham- 
ber, because their backs are not covered with a proper 
wedding garment? 

If what the present state of society called the "first 
class," are so entirely dependant on the farmers and 
mechanics, with what propriety can they set themselves 
up so much above them, and exclude them from their 
society ? 

Far, far be it from me to endeavor to set one class of 
society in array against another. Such is not my present 
object; but it is to call your attention to an existing state 
of things, and then ask you if we have not the power to 
apply the remedy. 

And the remedy that I would apply, is not to pull 
down that class of society to our level, but to build ours 
up. Let us by all possible means endeavor to elevate the 
character and standing of every cultivator of American 



soil. And every good man in society, will certainly lend 
us his aid to accomplish so desirable an object. The 
first step to be taken by those most actively engaged in 
this work, must be to gain the confidence of that class 
of society that we would benefit. The next, to raise the 
standard of education, and furnish them with the means 
of improving their minds, by increasing the circulation 
of agricultural journals among them. — But above all 
things, to teach them to place more confidence in them- 
selves. "The farmers and mechanics constitute a very 
large majority of the population of the State, why could 
they not elect such men to represent them in their legis- 
lation, as would favor their cause?" 

"The difficulty in doing this, would be at present, a 
want of unity and concert." 

Why have you called your Society, "The Union Agri- 
cultural Society," except it be for this very purpose? 

Until such time, the farmer must look for but little 
Legislative aid. You must first make the pursuit of agri- 
culture fashionable, and you will soon find votaries. 

You must task your minds to the greatest effort, to 
weed out that pernicious blight that has fallen upon the 
agricultural community — that mania that pervades and 
fixes a disposition upon the minds of the farmers sons 
and daughters, to escape from the toil of cultivation of 
the soil, under the false and fatal delusion that any other 
employment, or even a life of idleness, is more respectable 
than that of their fathers. 

Teach them that industry, honesty, and irreproachable 
moral conduct, is the true standard of respectability. 

Wealth, dressed in silk and broadcloth, does not create 
worth. And here let me remark, that the same false no- 
tions of respectability, have produced ruinous conse- 
quences to the farmer, in the article of dress. How few 
of us are to be seen now-a-days, in a good substantial 
homespun coat. How many sheep, let me ask, are now 
within the limits of this Society? With a soil, unsur- 
passed in the world, in suitableness for flax and hemp, 


who cultivates, who spins, who weaves their own family 
linen? None, or at least but few. And the reason why, 
is given, "that we can buy so cheap." True, the flimsy 
articles of the day, like Pindar's razors, made to sell, 
can be bought cheap. But who partakes of the profit of 
your surplus produce, that you must exchange for these 
cheap articles? 'Tis not the farmer. Rely upon it, if the 
farmer would be prosperous, his whole family must rely 
more upon their own resources. They must raise more 
wool and flax, and the banished spinning wheel must be 
again recalled. And in all things he must rely more upon 
his own exertion to improve his condition. He must take 
the conduct of his most vital interests into his own hands. 
It is idle to suppose, that legislation, as at present con- 
ducted, will ever be for his benefit. But there is a won- 
derful change coming over the farming community. 
Thousands are already aroused to think ; and it is a char- 
acteristic of the farmers of our country, if they begin to 
think, they begin to act. 

Your Society is the basis upon which Union will build 
a noble fabric. I entreat you to persevere until you rally 
around this little nucleus every good man, of every pro- 
fession, within your chartered limits. 

You have already done much, and you have much more 
to do, but you have much to encourage you. No doubt 
you can already see the fruit of the little seed which you 
undertook to cultivate a few months ago. 

Let me once more entreat you to persevere. Your com- 
munity are scattered over a wide field — strangers to one 
another — strangers to the country, even; and you can 
hardly imagine the good effects that will be produced by 
promoting acquaintance and friendly feeling, which can 
be done in no way that can be devised as well as by your 
frequent meetings. The farmers will soon become in- 
terested; your orators will find ready listeners; and all 
know that the matter of a public address sinks into the 
mind far deeper when heard from the speaker than when 


I regret my own inability to do my subject and my 
audience justice, but you must take the will for the deed. 
Before I close, I have a few words which I earnestly wish 
I had sufficient power of eloquence to indelibly impress 
upon the mind of every youth in America. I earnestly 
wish that I could rouse up in your minds, the same de- 
gree of pride that now fills my bosom. No one would 
believe me, if I should assert that I do not feel proud of 
the honor this day conferred upon me. And why? Young 
man ! you, the humble hard toiling son of a farmer, who 
feel, as you hear or read the effusions of eloquence and 
knowledge, and what you suppose to be long sought and 
hard gained learning, which you think is far beyond 
your means of acquiring, listen to me for one moment. 
Do you feel that you would be proud too, to occupy my 
present condition ? Does your heart ever yearn after the 
means of acquiring that knowledge, which you deem en- 
tirely beyond your reach, and which you believe would 
tend to elevate your character and standing in society? 

I do assure you, it is all within your own reach. No 
one of you were born in more humble circumstances, or 
spent or are spending a youth of harder toil, than I, an 
orphan-boy ; and all the advantages that I ever possessed, 
are within the reach of every one. Bow down your mind 
to the determination to acquire sufficient knowledge to 
make yourselves useful members of society, and with the 
exception of only a few months of a common country 
school, your own firesides afford you all the facilities that 
I have had. 

Oh, how much prouder should I feel, if at some future 
day, I might be able to listen to the eloquence of some 
one of the present youths of this Society, who had ac- 
quired the power to rivet the attention of such a respect- 
able audience as have honored me with their attention 
this day, by the same unaided exertion of his own mind, 
and particularly if I should hear him say that he was in- 
duced to make that exertion by what I have here said to 
him, and that it had been the means of raising him to 


that degree of honor and fame which is ever within the 
reach of him who will earnestly court the lovely Goddess 
of Learning, who is now hovering over your lowly cabin, 
with an open book in one hand, and a crowning wreath 
of Fame's bright flowers in the other, earnestly inviting 
you to peruse the pleasant pages of the one, and ever 
wear the fascinating enjoyment of the other. 

There are many now before me, to whom nature and 
education has been more bountiful, and if I have been 
enabled to mount one of the steps of the temple of Fame, 
it is because I have been more persevering in self-exer- 
tion, in acquiring the ability to add to my own happiness, 
while I am endeavoring to do good to my fellow creatures, 
which I humbly hope I have done in some degree, this 
day. And as I hope to live, I hope to be blessed with the 
ability to do much more. And I most particularly hope 
that what I have here addressed to youth, may encour- 
age them to exercise their abilities to acquire knowledge. 
Be assured it is not a toilsome task that I urge upon you. 
You will find it a path of roses. You will find pleasure 
increase with every step as you press onward. But you 
must never expect to reach that point beyond which you 
can go no farther. You may forever continue to ascend 
the temple of learning, without danger of reaching that 
point where you might stop and mourn that you could 
ascend no higher. And it is the first steps only that are 
rugged. The higher you ascend, the more easy is the 
way. The farmer's occupation, and the calm and quiet 
of a country fireside, are congenial to the developement 
of the human mind, and if we can arouse the youth to 
make sufficient exertion to overcome the first rugged 
steps, they will be sure to ascend till honor, fame and use- 
fulness crown their efforts. — How great are the induce- 
ments of every enlightened member of society, to actively 
unite his efforts with ours in the great and good cause 
of human improvement. 

I pray you to forgive the little egotism of my allusions 
to myself, for I have only done so to illustrate my argu- 


ment, and endeavor to incite others to go and do like- 

There are many now before me, who, by a little self- 
exertion, may raise themselves to a proud eminence, and 
from which they will often have occasion to look down 
with the same feelings of deep and respectful gratitude, 
for the respect and honor of their fellow-men, that I now 
do upon those before me. 

And finally, my young friends, while you go on in im- 
provement in agricultural pursuits, be careful also to 
improve your own minds. Provide yourselves with means 
of study. Make it a matter of pride, to subscribe to 
some agricultural or scientific journal. Club together in 
every village or settlement, and procure a small library. 
You will soon acquire an appetite for reading that can- 
not be cloyed. 

There are many more things that I would gladly say, 
but I am fearful that I have already become tedious to 
my hearers. 

I will close with the expression of a fond hope that I 
may be able to enjoy the privilege and pleasure of many 
more pleasant meetings with this Society : though rather 
as a hearer than a speaker. 

And if you, my friends, have but a tithe of the same 
feelings that I now have, you will be well assured from 
this day's scene of the good effects to be derived from 
such social and pleasant intercourse together. 

I assure you, that I shall leave you with the most 
lively and pleasant recollections of this day, and I humbly 
trust the remembrance of it, and of the new ac- 
quaintances and friendships here found, will ever remain 
as a pleasant memento in my mind, of one of the good 
things derived from "The Union Agricultural Society of 


Odds and Ends — No. 3. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:151-52; Sep., 1841 1 ] 

[July 15, 1841] 
Post and rail fence, or board fence with posts set in 
the ground, can never be made to be durable upon our 
prairie land. The soil is so rich, deep and loose, that in 
the spring of the year the posts will be continually "on 
the lean." In my opinion, the best way to make such 
fence is to use posts with heavy butts sawed square and 
set on the ground, and make the fence crooked, like the 
common rail fence. It will be much more durable, and 
the loss of the land in the fence corners is a small item 
where land is so plenty and cheap as it is in the West. 

"Sod Fence." 
Upon this subject I have bought some wit — my conclu- 
sions are, that all attempts at fencing with sods, or banks 
of earth upon such a loose friable soil as ours, is buying 
wit too dear. The only fence that can be made of the 
earth, must be made in the earth. A deep well made 
ditch may answer a good purpose for a fence, and in al- 
most all places, will be a lasting benefit to the land. But, 
eventually, the "Chinese system" must be adopted upon 
all of our large prairies. Whole tracts of country will 
be cultivated without fence. There are now upon the Con- 
necticut river many thousand acres of land enclosed in 
one common field, and cattle when permitted to run at 
large are tended by a shepherd. The same plan must be 
adopted on the Western Prairies. 

Secret of Soap Making. 

Many persons are much troubled to make soap come; 
but there is no art or mystery or "luck" about the busi- 
ness. The whole secret consists in having strong lye — 
and it must be strong. If the ashes are clean, the soap 

1 Reprinted in Nashville Agriculturist, 2:248-49 (November, 


will come without using lime. If the ashes are made 
from dirty chips, or burnt upon a clay hearth, lime in 
the leach at the rate of one quart to the barrel of ashes, 
may be used to great advantage. If lime cannot be pro- 
cured, boil down the lye until there are coarse grains of 
salts in the bottom, then pour off the lye and throw away 
the salts. It will 'spoil your luck' to attempt to make 
soap with the salts in the kettle, for it is the salts of 
earth, not ashes. If your lye is strong, and you put in as 
much grease as it will dissolve, you will have soap 
whether it is put in hot or cold. 

"Why is it that the love of flowers takes such deep hold 
of the heart?" Why! Why it is because they are the 
emblems of love. Show me one who does not feel his own 
heart expand as he watches the expanding beauties of 
some delicate flower, and you will show me one who 
knows nothing of that pure and perfect affection of the 
heart which binds the human family together. Teach 
your children to love and cultivate flowers. 

Next to the love of flowers is the love of birds. — Teach 
your children in mercy to spare the nests of the harmless 
little birds, and if you have a heart to be thankful, it 
will rise up in union with the little songster's carol, to 
think your lot is cast in such a pleasant vale of flowers 
and singing birds. These are some of the many things 
provided to lighten the toil of labor, and it is only a viti- 
ated taste acquired from a false system of education, that 
prevents us from deriving a great deal of happiness from 
such small accompaniments of the journey of life. 

Shade Trees. 
What a singular and unaccountable strange thing it is, 
that those who settle in forests wage a war of extermina- 
tion against every tree, not even leaving a single one for 


shade for man or beast. Look at his log cabin, standing 
alone in the bright broad glare of sunshine, with nothing 
upon which the morning larks could perch but a stump 
near his window, to wake him with her cheerful cheering 

What a perverted taste has that man who builds his 
house upon the open prairie, and for years lives on in his 
solitary black looking prison, with not a single green 
and waving branch to add to the look of cheerfulness and 
comfort to his abode. Is it possible that his children can 
grow up to be good citizens and never know the youthful 
luxury of a gambol under a green shade? 

Reader, go plant a tree. And when the birds come and 
rest in its branches and pour forth their melody, it will 
be more soothing to thy mind than ever was that cup to 
which so many resort to sooth the cares and troubles of 
life, and which is the cause of sending so many to that 
dark shade from which they can see no gleam of sun- 
shine, or have no lovely melody of the pleasure inspiring 
birds, or see the expanding beauties of the love inspiring 
flower. But teach your children to love these innocent 
sources of happiness, and they will have less temptation 
before them to seek pleasure where they will find ruin. 

Lake C. H., la., July 15, 1841. 

Solon Robinson. 

To the Friends of a National American Society 
of Agriculture Throughout the United States. 

[Petersburg, Va. Farmers' Register, 9:476-77; Aug. 31, 1841 1 ] 

[July 24, 1841] 
Felloiv-Citizens : — The object of the present address is 
to ascertain whether there is, at this time, a sufficient 
number of the friends of this great measure in our Union 
willing to lend their influence to warrant the call of a 
primary meeting to organize such an institution. Should 
the indications appear favorable, a committee of the 
friends of the cause will take upon themselves the re- 

1 Reprinted from the National Intelligencer. 


sponsibility of naming a time and place for the meeting. 

We earnestly hope that some of you will promptly lend 
your own names, and procure a few others in your vicin- 
ity of such persons as desire to promote American Hus- 
bandry : and that you will transmit them by mail in time 
to reach Washington by the 10th of August, addressed 
to H. L. Ellsworth, esq., Commissioner of Patents, for 
Solon Robinson. 

We remain, fellow citizens, your agricultural friends 
and humble servants, 

Solon Robinson, of Indiana. 
James M. Garnett, of Virginia. 

July 24th, 1841. 

Traveling Memoranda — No. 1. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:152; Sep., 1841] 

Laporte, Indiana, Aug. 6, 1841. 

Editors of Cultivator — I am now fairly on my great 
Agricultural Tour. I left home yesterday. The roads 
are dry and fine, for we have had but little rain of late ; 
yet crops have not suffered much. The wheat, of which 
there is an abundance of the very best quality, is nearly 
all in stack or barn, and many are already thrashing and 
getting it to market at 68 cts. a bushel, under the im- 
pression that it will be no higher. 

Oats in the north of Indiana are not a full crop this 
year, but corn, potatoes, and other things, give great 
promise generally. It has been an excellent season for 
the farmer to secure his hay and grain. But few showers, 
and many cool days and nights. 

You will recollect that last year we suffered an almost 
universal blight in wheat. A very few pieces are affected 
this year, and as a matter of course, a very large crop 
will be put upon the ground this fall. 

There is a new improvement in the thrashing machine 
in operation here. The thrasher is mounted upon wheels, 
and is drawn through the field, and the bundles taken 
from the shooks, thrown into the machine, and the straw 


scattered over the ground, the chaff blown out, and the 
grain deposited in a box, nearly clean enough for the 
mill, as the machine moves along through the field. It 
appears to operate well, and is a great saver of grain, 
time and labor. 

The contrast between this "go ahead" way of getting 
out grain and the old fashioned flail, is not however so 
great as the contrast between this country now and ten 
years ago. Then, an Indian wild, an unbroken, broad 
waste of prairie and timber : Now, a succession of smil- 
ing fields, and happy homes of an industrious and thriv- 
ing population. 

Michigan City, often mistaken at the east for a Michi- 
gan town, is in this county. It is the only shipping port 
in the state of Indiana upon Lake Michigan. Vast quan- 
tities of wheat have been, and still more vast quantities 
of wheat and other products of one of the richest soils 
and most arable land in the world, of which the five or 
six contiguous counties are composed, will continue to 
be shipped from this port. 

I am sorry to say that the farmers' prospects of realiz- 
ing a profit upon pork this fall are very poor. So many 
packers lost money from their last fall operations, that 
but few will be tempted into the trade the coming fall. 
I am sorry for this, for I like to see the farmer well 
remunerated for his labor, and I am anxious that he 
should soon get rid of his land-pikes and alligators at 
such prices as will enable him to buy a better breed, of 
which there is a lamentable deficiency. The same remark 
is applicable to stock of all kinds. 

But I must close and press forward on my long jour- 
ney, and I hope I shall be able to meet with many inci- 
dents that will be interesting to those who have become 
familiar with the name of their old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 


NO. 2 
Logansport, la., Aug. 8, 1841. 

Editors Cultivator — Under the new order of post 
office regulations, adopted by Postmaster-General Niles, 
the stage lays over here this day, (Sunday,) and to that 
you may ascribe the reason why you get a line from 
me now. 

This town is situated upon the Wabash river, and the 
Wabash and Erie canal, now in operation from Lafayette 
(the head of steamboat navigation on the Wabash,) to 
Fort Wayne, passes directly through the heart of the 
town. There is also a large mill stream, called Eel river, 
empties in here, and that and the Wabash afford an 
immense mill power, which will at some day build up 
a great manufacturing town at this point. The land 
in the vicinity is of unsurpassed richness, covered in its 
native state with heavy timber; and owing to the fact 
that the land lately owned by the Miami Indians lies 
immediately across the river, the forest still remains in 
primeval grandeur. Over the rivers and canal are some 
fine bridges. The whole is one of the sudden, but here 
substantial, creations of the west. I find here a few, 
and compared with the numbers and wealth of the place, 
too few, subscribers to agricultural papers. The Culti- 
vator, I believe, has the greatest number of subscribers; 
but instead of 20 it should be 200; and I most respect- 
fully suggest to the citizens, that to make the circulation 
up to that number, would make the county of Cass $2,000 
richer every year. There is not that attention paid to 
agriculture here that should be. There is a small society, 
but little action. Last fall, the society made a most 
laudable attempt to import a lot of Berkshire pigs. They 
were very unlucky. The pigs were landed in cold weather 
on the wharf at Chicago, and afterwards on the beach 
at Michigan City, and several of them either starved or 
froze to death, and those that came to hand have not 
done credit to the breed. The purchasers complain of 
the breeder, that he did not send a good lot, or else they 


were too young, or badly put up, or something. At all 
events, it was a very unlucky piece of business for all 
parties concerned, and has tended to put back the im- 
provement in hogs here for several years. From expe- 
rience, I am bound to advise all my friends to order no 
pigs shipped to the west in the fall of the year, and to 
take none at any time less than 8 or 10 weeks old. It 
is charged against the dealers in Berkshires that they 
make sale of every living pig, and under the reputation 
of selling their own stock, that they buy up and send off 
some very inferior pigs. Such conduct is highly criminal, 
and I mention it here publicly, that if any person knows 
of such conduct, that he come out under his own name 
and state the facts. And on the other hand, that the 
breeders may be aware of the charges. Hogs are the 
first and most easy stock to improve, and I think the most 
important, particularly in this great corn country. 

The crop of corn here this year will be much injured 
by a great drouth, which I am told, however, is much 
more severe farther south. Wheat is only raised for 
home consumption, as at present there is no outlet for it. 
Probably in the course of next year, the canal will be 
open to Lake Erie, when you will have the whole Wabash 
Valley in competition in the wheat market. Success 
attend it. It can be profitably raised here at 50 cents a 
bushel. Oats are much injured by the drouth. There 
will not be over half a crop. Hay is not much injured, 
because it is not much cultivated. 

But I must not dwell too long on the way. So adieu 

Solon Robinson. 

Traveling Memoranda — No. 3. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:163-64; Oct., 1841] 

Madison, (la.) Aug. 12, 1841. 
Editors of Cultivator — The road from Logansport to 
Indianapolis, 70 miles, lies through a country of mostly 
level clay land, covered with a great growth of timber 


and but little improved and the road less improved. In 
fact it appears as though the settlers of that region con- 
sider it a total loss to work upon the highway — at all 
events they build but few monuments to prove the 

As I progressed south, I became more and more sen- 
sible of the effects of the severe drouth. In many places 
corn will not yield a bushel to the acre, and pastures and 
meadows, where such things happen to exist, would burn 
like tow. 

There is a great defect in agricultural knowledge in 
this part of the world, or we should find more attention 
paid to the cultivation of grass and stock. Around Indi- 
anapolis, there are some slight indications of improve- 
ment in this respect. But the fact that an agricultural 
paper was not adequately supported at that place, proves 
that the country is more rich in soil than any thing 
else. 1 It is painful to learn that the agricultural society 
at the seat of government of such a state as Indiana, 
after struggling through a brief existence, now sleeps 
too sound to be awakened by the ordinary cries of a 
community suffering for the want of a better system of 
agricultural education. 2 

1 See ante, 213, for a note on J. S. Willets, editor of the Indiana 

'In 1835 the General Assembly passed An Act for the encour- 
agement of Agriculture, which set up a state board of five mem- 
bers appointed by the governor for five-year terms, and provided 
a formidable list of duties but no appropriation. The act provided 
that there should be held every December in Indianapolis, a meet- 
ing of the state board and delegates from the county societies, "to 
be known as the annual meeting of the state agricultural society 
of Indiana." Laivs of Indiana, 1834-35 (general), 90-91. Willets, 
in the Indiana Farmer, n. s. 1:161 (January, 1841), said on the 
subject: "Five years have now elapsed since the passage of the 
law and the appointment of the state board. The board com- 
menced their duties with a promptitude that deserves the praise 
of the community, and would have continued in active operation, 
had only a small sum been appropriated" to defray expenses. The 
February issue of the Indiana Farmer, n. s. 1:177-78, reported a 


The editor of the Indiana Farmer, after having actu- 
ally sunk his own small fortune in the attempt to do good 
to his fellow creatures, was compelled to abandon the 
enterprise. Oh, Indiana! when will she arouse from 
her lethargy? 

Between Indianapolis and Madison, 80 miles, the coun- 
try is older and more improved, and in places not so bad 
and in others worse affected by the drouth. 

Like a great many individuals, this state of late years 
has been so engaged in "great works," that minor ones 
have been much neglected. Consequently, whoever has 
occasion to travel by stage here, must make up his mind 
to have a great deal of riding for a little money. Not 
but what the charges per mile are ample, yet in crossing 
miles of pole bridges, one gets a vast amount of per- 
pendicular movement without any extra charge. Strange 
as it may seem to Yankee ears, and as discreditable as 
it is to Hoosier enterprise, in traveling 250 miles upon 
one of the most prominent stage routes in the state, I 
did not see the indication of a tithe of $250 worth of 
work having been done upon the roads this season. I 
therefore have a suggestion to make to agricultural so- 
cieties; that they offer a premium to that road district 
which shall keep the roads in the most perfect repair 
during the year. Nothing gives more character to a 
country than good roads. And I am firmly impressed 
with the belief that with very few exceptions, good com- 
mon roads are more advantage to the farming community 
than rail-roads. Between Vernon and Madison is one 
end of a rail-road between the capital of the state and 
the Ohio river. 

It is a good piece of work, but poor stock to the state, 
and not half as useful to the people as a good turnpike 
would be. But I found it a great relief in traveling, 

meeting in the Hall of Representatives on February 9, 1841, to 
consider the best means of promoting the agricultural interests of 
the state. The establishment of a state agricultural society was 


after having undergone so much perpendicular motion 
upon the more common "rail-roads" of this country. The 
face of the country between Vernon and Madison is un- 
even and rocky, and all the streams are at right angles 
with the course of the track, and the general level of 
the country several hundred feet above the Ohio, so that 
the grade from the town to the top of the hill is a very 
expensive one, and is not yet completed. 

Madison is a fine flourishing town, and what is no 
little to the credit of several of her merchants, I found 
the well read numbers of the Cultivator upon their 
desks, and some fine Berkshire pigs in their yards. 

What a proud satisfaction it would be to me to be able 
to say the same of every business man in my dear 
adopted state. There I witnessed another creditable 
indication of an improving state of society, in a very 
large temperance meeting at which I saw "female influ- 
ence" fully exerted in a most glorious cause. 

But fear of becoming prolix, warns me once more to 
say adieu, 

Solon Robinson. 

No. 4. 
Prospect Hill, near Washinton, Ky. 
Aug. 22, 1841. 
Editors of Cultivator — For ten days past, I have 
been in such a busy interesting scene, that my memo- 
randa have fallen behind; but to-day I am domiciled in 
the house of Judge Beaty, 1 and enjoying one of the many 
real Kentucky welcomes that I have found in this free- 
hearted state, with an opportunity to bring up my notes. 

'Adam Beatty, born at Hagerstown, Maryland, May 10, 1777; 
died June 9, 1858. Lawyer, farmer, and agricultural writer. Con- 
tributor to Kentucky Farmer and other agricultural periodicals. 
Published a book of essays, Southern Agriculture (1843) ; revised 
edition issued (1844) under title, Essays on Practical Agriculture. 
See Dictionary of American Biography, 2:99-100. 


I wish my readers to understand that I am no flatterer 
of persons, and that in speaking of them, I only wish to 
show what a good, kind, noble feeling exists among agri- 
cultural brethren, which is forming a "band of brother- 
hood" that will prove a blessing to this nation. 

I took the Frankfort stage at Madison early in the 
morning of the 14th, and after being detained waiting 
for the horse ferry boat till nearly sun rise, we were at 
length on board, when the cry of "the fog is coming," 
brought every eye towards a great dark mass that seemed 
to be rolling down between the high hills that bound the 
river on each side, like some mighty avalanche, threaten- 
ing to overwhelm everything in its way. Crack went the 
whip, and the poor horses had to suffer for the drowsy 
tardiness of their masters ; for strange as it may appear 
to strangers, so sudden does the fog come on here, that 
we had scarcely time to make the passage of the river, 
which the great drouth has rendered but a diminutive 
stream, before the fog settled down so thick that no ob- 
ject could be distinguished across the water, and any at- 
tempt to make the passage at such a time is not only 
fruitless, but sometimes dangerous. It not unfrequently 
happening, that the boat after a toilsome attempt, comes 
back to the same shore it left an hour before. 

From Madison to Frankfort, 52 miles, the country is 
extremely hilly, and at present, parched with drouth to 
a distressing degree. 

The town of Newcastle, which is a large country town, 
has but one small spring, and no wells, and the stream 
that usually supplies the town, as well as nearly all the 
cisterns, is quite dry. Much of their water has to be 
hauled several miles. The town is situated in a valley, 
and upon a limestone rock, that as yet has defied all at- 
tempts to penetrate through to water. In the settlement 
of a new country, slight circumstances induce the settle- 
ment of a place that afterwards grows into a town. Here, 
it was the fine spring, convenient and ample for the first 
settlers, but insufficient for the present population. 



Frankfort, the capitol of this capital state, is upon the 
east side of the Kentucky river, 50 miles from the Ohio, 
surrounded by wild, high, rocky, and romantic hills, and 
is a very different spot from what modern taste would 
select for a city. Here the beginning was induced by a 
favorable location upon one of the hills for defence 
against the Indians, and upon the "great Buffalo tract" 
that ranged through "from Limestone to Beargrass," 
now the flourishing cities of Maysville and Louisville. It 
may be interesting to some, that I should mention, that 
in the first settlement of Kentucky, the whole surface 
was covered with a thick cane brake, and the only method 
of passing through the country with any ease or rapidity, 
was to follow the Buffalo trails, or along the beds of 
creeks. Now that dense vegetable mass has entirely dis- 
appeared from the face of the country, except now and 
then a farmer has had the good taste to preserve a little 
patch as a memento of olden time. Olden time! did I 
say? Why some of the first settlers of Kentucky, yet live 
upon the land they won through a long struggle with the 
aboriginee, who fought manfully to retain his favorite 
hunting ground. 

When I arrived in Frankfort, I ordered the stage to 
set me down at the door of Thomas B. Stevenson, the 
energetic editor of the Kentucy Farmer. Much to my 
own, and more to his regret, his wife had left home 
that morning on a distant visit, and when I arrived, I 
found him also absent; but I found "the way prepared;" 
my name was familiar to the servants, and I went into 
possession of comfortable quarters with a feeling of free- 
dom and pleasure that I always feel when I know I am 
welcome, and which I was sure of here, even before I 
saw the index of it upon the fine open manly countenance 
of my friend when he came in shortly after my arrival. 

I spent a couple of days at Frankfort very agreeably; 
saw some fine stock and farms in the neighborhood, took 
note of the noble improvements of the Kentucky river, 
by which the state is making a slack water navigation 


from the great coal, iron and timber region on the head 
waters, to the Ohio river; also visited the Penitentiary, 
and took particular notice of the great bagging manufac- 
tory; examined the fine specimens of beautiful marble 
that abound in the hills : and on the evening of Monday, 
the 16th, by special invitation went out on the Lexington 
rail-road, five miles, to the plantation of Robert W. Scott, 1 
Esq. one of "nature's noblemen," dignified and improved 
by a location in "glorious old Kentuck." 

In Mr. Scott, I found one of the best specimens of "a 
lawyer turned farmer," that I have ever met with. In 
his wife, I found those delightful charms that make a 
wife lovely. It is impossible for me to speak of this city 
bred pair, retired to and enjoying the comfort, content- 
ment and happiness only to be found upon a farm, as I 
feel that the amiability of their character deserves. But 
their remembrance is impressed upon my heart, and 
forms one of those links of union, "that can, that must, 
that will" be made to exist between the friends of agri- 
cultural improvement. 

Mr. Scott's farm is a perfect illustration of what may 
be done upon worn out land, by the improved system of 
husbandly. His farm is in a high state of cultivation — 
every acre, woodland and all, yields a good interest upon 
the valuation of $60 per acre. The entrance to every 
lot is through a well hung, self-shutting and fastening 
gate, and every lot numbered with conspicuous figures 
upon the gate post. 

Not a bush, or weed or brush, or old rotton log is per- 
mitted to disfigure the beautiful lawn-like blue grass pas- 
tures, which are covered by some of the finest specimens 
of Durham cattle in the state. 

The greatest cultivated crop is hemp. Here for the 
first time, I witnessed the operation of the hemp cradle ; 
and although I had looked upon it as a doubtful improve- 

1 Robert W. Scott, of Locust Hill, six miles from Frankfort. 
Noted livestock breeder. See Cincinnati Western Farmer and 
Gardener, 2:241-42 (August, 1841). 


ment, I am bound to say, after conversing with the pro- 
prietor, and more particularly with the field hands, that 
it is a decided improvement, and a highly useful agricul- 
tural implement. 

After spending one of the most agreeable days of my 
life, I took the evening train of cars, and arrived in Lex- 
ington, Tuesday evening about dusk. The distance from 
Frankfort to Lexington, 28 miles, over a very rough rail- 
road ; the cars propelled by horses. 

I had no sooner registered my name at the hotel, than 
I found sundry old acquaintances, not of me personally, 
but by name. 

Around Lexington, the garden of Kentucky, I visited so 
many fine plantations, and met with such a universal 
hospitable reception, that I should become prolix and 
tiresome to you and your readers, were I to go into par- 
ticulars. I however spent a night with William P. Curd, 
the great Berkshire hog breeder of Kentucky. His fine 
farm is 2 1/2 miles south of the city, and is a part of the 
original plantation originally settled by his grandfather. 
He has about thirty full grown Berkshires and several 
fine Irish graziers. Five of his Berkshires are imported. 
Old Ben Shaker, a monstrous hog, is yet active and vigor- 
ous. Mr. Lossing's old Maxima and her companions had 
just arrived and looked full as well as could be expected 
after so long a journey in such hot weather. Mr. C. has 
one Berkshire barrow that will weigh near a thousand 
pounds. He finds ready sales for pigs at $30 a pair. On 
Thursday, Mr. Curd took his buggy and drove me up to 
Dr. Martin's, 1 where I experienced the mortification of 
finding him absent from home. We were however, very 
politely received by his son, and after spending a few 
hours among the doctor's numerous hogs and cattle, we 
took the road in the cool of a very hot day towards Lex- 
ington. By previous arrangement, I stopped at the de- 

1 Dr. Samuel D. Martin, Colbyville. Breeder of livestock, par- 
ticularly hogs. Frequent contributor to Western Farmer and Gar- 
dener. See 2:255-57 (August, 1841). 


lightful mansion of Richard Pindle, 1 Esq. whose planta- 
tion adjoins that of the Hon. Henry Clay. 

Mr. Pindle is another fine specimen of a lawyer farmer, 
he still following his profession. In the morning, after 
examining his own and the adjoining plantations, and 
the beautiful show of fine stock, Mr. Pindle took me in his 
carriage, and spent the whole day upon those unrivaled 
plantations, that abound in that most beautiful and un- 
rivaled country around Lexington. 

I have taken copious notes of many things that gave 
me great pleasure that day, but I have already spun this 
letter out to such a length, that I must beg permission, if 
what I have written should prove interesting, to refer to 
those notes at some future time. 

There is one fact that I must not omit to mention, that 
speaks volumes in favor of the prosperity of this city 
and the high state of improvement of the country; and 
that is, that nearly every one of the roads diverging from 
Lexington, is a complete Macadamized turnpike. 

Upon one of these, the Maysville road, I started yester- 
day at 4 o'clock in the morning, and after passing over 
some 60 miles of a very fine country, (excepting the cele- 
brated "Blue lick knobs,") I was set down at 1 o'clock, 
P.M. at the mouth of Judge Beaty's lane, and calling one 
of his black boys from a neighboring hemp field, to take 
charge of my baggage, I walked up to the house, which 
according to Kentucky fashion, is situated in the middle 
of a 450 acre tract, about a half mile back from, and out 
of sight of the road. I found a venerable, good looking, 
intelligent old man, enjoying his book after dinner, under 
the shade of a noble old elm in the yard, and at once ap- 
proached and announced my name, and in five minutes 
I was as much at home as though under my own roof — 
and here let me and my readers take a short rest from 
the labors and remarks of their old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

1 Richard Pindell, conductor of the Franklin Farmer in 1840. 

Traveling Memoranda — No. 5. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:179-80; Nov., 1841] 

Cincinnati, O., August 27, 1841. 

Editors of Cultivator — My last was written from 
"Prospect Hill, the name of Judge Beaty's farm — a name 
that, to eastern people, who build their houses upon a 
bare hill, so as to be seen of the world, would appear 
very inappropriate, for the prospect does not extend 
beyond his own farm. And here let me remark that a 
traveler upon the great thoroughfares of this state, never 
sees the best part of Kentucky. The best houses are 
located back from the road, and the way of approach to 
them is generally through one of the woodland pastures 
that add such great beauty to Kentucky scenery; and 
it is no uncommon thing that the only approach to a 
large plantation lies through one or two other planta- 
tions. The inhabitants preferring private to public roads, 
and not seeming to view it as any serious inconvenience 
that they have to pass a dozen gates between the mansion 
and the public road. But their gates are such as that too 
numerous class who bave been "putting up the bars" 
all their lives, without getting the gap stopped, might 
examine and pattern after with profit. 

Judge Beaty's name has lately become well known as 
a writer of several essays upon Kentucky agriculture, 
and a letter upon the profits of the hemp culture upon 
his own farm. The Judge also keeps 4 or 500 fine wool 
sheep, and which appeared in very good condition, and 
what appeared very singular to me, he takes no trou- 
ble whatever to prevent breeding in-and-in, and stoutly 
maintains that the importance of constantly crossing is 
entirely overrated. Although I could not defend my 
theory by example, of the deleterious effects of breeding 
in and in, yet I could not become a convert to the Judge's 

One thing I learned from the long experience of the 
Judge and many others, that the hemp crop, although 
such a heavy one, does not exhaust the soil. He also 


thinks that water rotting may be profitably adopted in 
many places. 

Having spent just such a time as agricultural brethren 
should always spend together, my friend ordered his 
carriage to the door early on Monday morning, and took 
me into Maysville, six miles, in time to take the morning 
boat for Cincinnati, which is about 60 miles below. Al- 
though this is "the river of beauty," it is now so sunk 
below the level of the rich bottom lands upon its banks, 
that we were more interested in viewing our remarkable 
proximity to the bottom of the stream, than looking at 
the farms along the shore, except those which are ele- 
vated upon the sides of the ranges of high hills that 
every where hem in the valley of almost all the great 
western streams. It may be interesting to some, that I 
should say that the Ohio varies 60 feet, from low to high 
water. The bottom lands are very broad and level, and 
in the great flood of 1832, were covered in many places 
from hill to hill, producing such devastation and distress 
as only can be known to the "dwellers upon the mighty 
waters." This great and flourishing city of the west, is 
built upon the "first and second bottom," the upper level 
being some 60 feet higher than the first, which was found 
by the flood of 1832 to be several feet too low, for the 
whole of its broad surface was completely submerged, 
so that large steamers traversed the most populous and 
business streets. Having formerly been a resident here, 
when I first came to the west, I was enabled after an 
absence of a dozen years, to realize the magic like change 
that is so rapidly going on throughout the Great West. 
I wish I could truly say that it was in all cases a change 
that brought a great increase of human happiness in its 
train. But until men cease to look for wealth and happi- 
ness in connection only, and for honor and respectability 
only in towns and cities, we must expect to see crime 
and degradation as the accompaniments of what we are 
prone to call "great improvements." 

But amid all the change that I see here, I find one 


"that can, that will, that must," produce an increase of 
happiness — the blessed and blessing giving spirit of tem- 
perance has hovered over this spot. The fruits of the 
visit of this lovely goddess are visible here, as they are 
every where that the inhabitants of city, town, country, 
or farm, encourage her to alight as she flies over our 
country. As another evidence of improvement, allow 
me to say in connection with this subject, that although 
only a few years have elapsed since fashion dictated that 
every gentleman in this region should keep his sideboard 
loaded with liquor, yet during my visit to Kentucky and 
this vicinity, I have not, in one single instance, seen such 
a thing, and in only one instance have I been solicited to 
take a glass of wine, which, as the host did not partake 
of himself, went the round of our circle and from the 
room untouched. 

But enough of moralizing — now to business. Early in 
the morning after my arrival in Cincinnati, I made near 
my distant acquaintance with my friends Affleck and 
Foster, 1 the editor and publisher of a very neat monthly 
journal in pamphlet form, devoted to the pleasing task 
of elevating the character and standing of the cultivators 
of the American soil, and directly afterwards, I received 
an invitation which I accepted from Mr. Wm. Neff, 2 to 
take a seat in his carriage, and in company with Mr. 
Affleck, visit his farm about seven miles out, on the turn- 
pike leading towards Indiana. Mr. Neff is a gentleman 
of fortune, retired from the business of a merchant, and 
has taken this very pleasant method of amusing himself 
by doing good to the cause of agricultural improvement 
in every branch of it that he undertakes. 

Here I found a very extensive and beautiful stock of 

1 Charles Foster, editor and illustrator, Cincinnati Western 
Farmer and Gardener, 1841-1842. 

1 William Neff, near Cincinnati. Packer. Vigorous supporter 
of Robinson in the formation of a national agricultural society. 
Breeder of shorthorns. See Western Farmer and Gardener, 
2:234-35 (July, 1841). 


Short Horns, which the great drouth that prevails here- 
abouts has brought into the stable for feed, as Mr. Neff 
has determined for the purpose of getting them more 
generally introduced into common use through the coun- 
try, to offer the whole lot at auction a few days hence, 
on a long credit, and is, therefore, obliged to feed them, 
to keep them in a fit condition for sale. He also has a 
very fine lot of hogs, of the Berkshire and Irish Grazier 
breeds. Mr. Neff is an extensive pork packer, and al- 
though he prefers the Berkshire for his own use, yet 
thinks that among a people that make pork, as Pindar 
did his razors, to sell, without regard to quality, that a 
larger breed would be more profitable. 

Mr. Neff is also a successful cultivator of the grape, 
though by no means to so great an extent as Mr. Long- 
worth 1 of this city, who is probably one of the largest 
vintners in the Union. 

I saw on Mr. Neff' s farm a specimen of hedge, of the 
Osage Orange, that for beauty, and probably will also 
be for usefulness, before any other specimen of hedge 
that I have ever seen in this country. As soon as this 
is sufficiently grown and proved, Mr. Neff will give some 
account of it that will be useful to others. After spend- 
ing a delightful day, we rode into town fully impressed 
with the truth of the saying, that 

"God made the country, and man made the town ;" 
or in other words, that the beauty, comforts, and enjoy- 
ments of a country life are far superior to those of the 

The 25th I spent in that very busy occupation of see- 
ing every thing, but more particularly in examining the 
great extension of the city, and great increase of manu- 
facturing establishments, all of which indicate an im- 
proved state of agriculture, for we must constantly bear 

1 Nicholas Longworth, born January 16, 1782, in Newark, New 
Jersey; died February 10, 1863. Lawyer, real-estate operator, 
and patron of the arts; chiefly distinguished as a horticulturist for 
the introduction of new varieties of grapes and strawberries. See 
Dictionary of American Biography, 11:393-94. 


in mind that that is the foundation stone of all commer- 
cial and manufacturing prosperity. 

If your limits would permit, I would give you a long 
chapter upon the subject of the pork business alone. 

Hog killing, and pork packing, and bacon smoking, is 
carried on here to an extent almost surpassing belief. I 
am sorry to say that all those engaged in it the last year 
are likely to suffer great loss by the depression of prices. 
And the farmer is destined to suffer this year, as the de- 
pression will now affect the article in his hands. A gen- 
tleman well acquainted and well informed in the business, 
thinks that pork will not nett the farmer this fall more 
than 1 1-2 or 2 cents a pound. I also visited the markets 
here, as I look upon them as affording a pretty fair index 
of the surrounding country. I need not have been told 
that the country had suffered for want of rain — the vege- 
table productions, particularly potatoes, showed that. 
Peaches, which I have often seen sold in this market for 
12 cents a bushel, are now few and far between at one- 
fourth that sum a piece and as poor as they are dear at 
that. Total destruction of the germ of this fruit took 
place last winter, throughout the west. 

Apples are also very poor this season. Speaking of 
fruits and vegetables, reminds me of a new enemy of 
man which has made its appearance this summer in some 
parts of Kentucky in great quantities. It is a black, or 
in some, black with lead colored stripes, bug or fly, about 
half or three-quarters of an inch long and said by those 
acquainted to belong to the cantharides family, which is 
very destructive upon potato tops and many other green 
and tender plants. 

Last evening I was called upon by a well known friend 
of agriculture, Mr. John J. Mahard, 1 with a most cordial 

1 John J. Mahard, Jr. Contributor to the Western Farmer and 
Gardener and the Prairie Farmer. Chairman, Farmers' and Me- 
chanics' Agricultural Society, Hamilton County, Ohio. For a de- 
scription of his farm see Western Farmer and Gardener, 2:233-34 
(July, 1841). He later moved to Illinois, living near Springfield. 
Prairie Farmer, 4:254 (November, 1844). 


invitation to ride with him to his farm about seven miles 
N.E. from the city, where I found probably the largest 
and best stock of Berkshire hogs in Ohio. Mr. M. per- 
sonally superintends his farm and breeding stock, and 
also his pork packing and shipping house in the city. I 
was highly pleased with him and his family, and his 
stock and farm, and would gladly have spent another 
day under his hospitable roof, but having already en- 
gaged my passage in the fast mail for Baltimore this 
day at 11 o'clock, I was compelled, as I have often been 
of late, to forego the pleasure of a more lengthy visit 
where I was made to feel that I was welcome — welcome 
too, not as a friend or personal acquaintance, but one 
who has, I am bound to believe, become favorably known 
by name, to many of the readers of the Cultivator, as a 
friend to agriculture. 

The river is too low to admit of steamers ascending 
to Wheeling, and, therefore, in a few hours I shall be 
on my way through the great and fertile state of Ohio, 
right sorry that time will not allow me to take notes by 
the way. Anxiety to reach Washington during the pres- 
ent session of Congress, will also prevent me from adopt- 
ing a slower mode of locomotion, and passing through 
Pennsylvania, and accepting the public invitation which 
I have just seen in the August number of the Cultivator, 
to visit Mr. Wm. P. Kinzer, 1 and whom I now thus pub- 
licly and cordially thank and assure that if it ever comes 
in my way to become personally acquainted with him, I 
shall not neglect it. And although it is not in my way of 
business to "deliver lectures on agriculture," or to "pre- 
pare myself," except upon the spur of the moment, for 
anything, yet I hope when we do meet, that my Pennsyl- 
vania friend will find that my conversational powers are 
not entirely lacking. 

1 William Perm Kinzer, Spring Lawn Farm, Pequea, Pennsyl- 
vania. Farmer, agriculturist. He included his invitation to Rob- 
inson in a letter advocating a national agricultural organization. 
Cultivator, 8:136. 


And now, Messrs. Editors, I have only time to say, that 
I shall continue to furnish my "memoranda," as I pro- 
gress along my tour, which you must administer to your 
readers in "broken doses," taking great care not to pro- 
duce a surfeit. And I wish you to give early notice to 
all who are determined to follow my notes through my 
journey, that they may make early preparation to renew 
their subscription to your paper, as I am fully persuaded 
that I shall find so much matter to interest me, that I 
shall be wholly unable to crowd it into a compass that 
will allow you to get it into the present volume, without 
crowding out some more useful and valuable matter. 

I remain your's and your readers' old acquaintance and 

Solon Robinson. 

Letter to John B. Niles 

[John B. Niles Papers, Indiana State Library] 

[August, 1841] 
To John B. Niles 1 Esq. Attorney Gen l . to "His 
Majesty the King of all the squatters" — 

Most worthy and 
much respected subject — 

The fact is well known to you that the palace never 
has "the string of the latch pulled in," but unfortunately 
in this "squatting country," those who "first squat upon 
claims" hold a "pre-emption right" to them as long as 
the soil remains — 

You are also aware that those two "old settlers," Nisi- 
prius & the Forks, "have squatted" upon the only spare 
room and two spare beds in the pallace, and unless you 

^ohn B. Niles, born West Fairlee, Orange County, Vermont; 
died July 6, 1879. Lawyer, jurist. Professor of chemistry, Indi- 
ana Medical College, La Porte, 1840. Attorney for Lake Shore 
and Michigan Southern Railroad, 1851-1879. See Biographical 
History of Eminent and Self-Made Men of the State of Indiana 
. . . 2 :dist. 13:46 (Western Biographical Publishing Company, Cin- 
cinnati, 1880). 


can "jump one of their claims" or "buy a right," your 
chance for "making a settlement" is but "a poor claim" — 

To gain 'quarters' then, you must enter into a treaty 
of amity with John H. that him and John B. may lie 
together, we all know they will do that seperately — 

I am most respectfully and graciously pleased to sub- 
scribe myself your soverign — 

Solon — 

Letter from Solon Robinson, Esq. 

[Ellsworth, Henry L., Appendix II, pp. 21-27, Washington, 1841 1 ] 

Washington City, September 3, 1841. 
Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth : 

Dear Sir : I have the honor and pleasure to acknowl- 
edge your communication of the 1st inst., and as I learn 
from the conversation which we had yesterday upon the 
subject, that your object is not solely for your own grati- 
fication, but for the purpose of conveying useful infor- 
mation to our fellow citizens, and particularly to those 
who are desirous of emigrating, or of investing funds in 
the great and growing West, I will endeavor to answer 
your inquiries with all the candor that the public have 
given me credit for, at the same time I will be as brief 
as the nature of the case will admit. 

As your inquiries relate principally to prairie lands, 
let me premise that I am and have been for a number of 
years a resident upon the western prairies, and have 
made many careful observations; and to do away with 
any impression that might arise in the minds of those not 
familiarly acquainted with me, that according to the 
fashion of these humbugging days, I am puffing my own 
wares, I wish to premise further, that I have not an 
acre of land for sale. 

First, then, you inquire about fencing. 

1 Extracts from this letter, dealing with fencing, were reprinted 
in the Cultivator, 9:42 (March, 1842). 


Many attempts have been made to fence with earth, 
and nearly all fail — Cause; the sods are piled up like 
laying stone wall, and in two or three years, the whole 
fence is a pile of the softest fine manure. Others have 
tried to pile up earth and sod it over with the native 
sods. But these rarely succeed; the grass dies, and the 
bank being too steep, slips down in spring, and there 
being no rails on top the cattle soon form a path over. But 
if some cheap plan of making a bank two or three feet 
high, from the bottom of a ditch on each side, with a 
gradual slope, which would soon grass over with blue 
grass sowed upon it, can be adopted, in which bank-posts 
with two or three rails just like the old fashioned yankee 
post and rail wall fence — it will be complete. 

Your second and third questions relate to prairie grass 
and hay. 

The quality of prairie grass is as various as of domes- 
tic grasses. Of the section of country where I live, 
(which is near the South end of Lake Michigan,) I will 
say that no grass in the world is better adapted for sum- 
mer keeping of cattle and sheep. Grass in immense 
abundance, can be selected for winter feed, which if well 
put up, is as good as timothy or red top. In fact, there 
is a kind of grass which I deem the original red top, 
growing wild, and affording two or three tons per acre. 

In answer to your fourth question, I must say, that 
the soil upon the prairies of the West is as diversified as 
in any other section of the country; but that generally 
speaking it is adapted to the culture of all the true 
grasses. Whether timothy and blue grass will grow upon 
the unploughed ground, may be best answered by assur- 
ing you, that whenever you find an old Indian village or 
much used encampment, you will find the ground covered 
with blue grass, growing most luxuriantly, and in some 
places white clover; and wherever timothy seed is scat- 
tered along roads, or in pastures, it grows readily. 

Part of the fifth question is already answered. The 
blue grass will flourish by cultivation, and afford excel- 


lent pasturage long after the winter sets in, even in the 
latitude where I live, which is about 41V&°. 

I can hardly answer your sixth question. It is diffi- 
cult to tell which kind of stock is the most profitable 
where all kinds are, and might be upon a large scale much 
more so. I will state facts and you may draw conclu- 
sions. Cattle can be wintered for $2 a head, and sheep 
for less than one fourth of that, even now, when we lack 
the advantage of fall pastures. The wild grass springs 
remarkably early in the spring, but it fails early in the 

Seventh : The best mode of feeding crops of any kind, 
upon a large or small scale, is to gather them and feed 
them to stock in a suitable situation. 

Eighth: I have no experience upon the subject, but I 
have no doubt that a section of land upon the prairie, not 
more than three or four miles from timber, can be well 
enclosed in the manner I have spoken of, at less than 50 
cents per acre. The saving in the quantity of rails will 
be about two-thirds. 

Rails cost, delivered upon the ground, about $2 per 

Ninth: The one year old cattle can be purchased at 
about $3 per head, and the cost of keeping is above stated 
at $2 per head, a year. If sold in the same country as 
where purchased, the price would be correspondingly 
low, of course. The price of cattle now, where I live, is 
for cows from $10 to $18; four year old steers, $30 to 
$45 ; working oxen $40 to $60 ; sheep $1 50 to $2 ; but 
they can be purchased and driven there from Ohio, in 
large lots, for about half that sum. Being remarkably 
healthy on the prairie, and costing so little for keeping, 
of course they are profitable. 

Tenth: I cannot say what would be the value of land 
thus fenced for several years, but I know that pasturing 
prairie land improves the value of it amazingly for all 
other kind of cultivation. 

Eleventh: Is answered in the ninth. 


Twelfth : There is no diffuculty in procuring water for 
stock. It is found existing naturally in great abundance, 
in streams, springs, ponds and lakes; and when those 
are not sufficient, it can always be procured by easy 
digging wells, or artificial ponds can be made very cheap 
in clay soils, in the same manner that vast quantities of 
cattle are watered in Kentucky. 

Thirteenth: A good comfortable cabin, such as thou- 
sands live in at the West, will cost from $50 to $100, 

Fourteenth: One man can tend 30 acres of corn well, 
and "sorter tend" 60 or 70, the product varying from 30 
to 80 bushels to an acre. 

Fifteenth: Generally speaking, the quality of the soil 
in the Wabash valley is fully equal in every point of 
view, in its native state, to that of either the Ohio, Miami, 
Sioto, or Muskingum. It only needs the same cultivation 
to develop its riches. 

Sixteenth : The present advantages of market in those 
valleys over the Wabash are very considerable, but it re- 
quires but a glance upon the map, to show you that just 
as soon as the Wabash and Erie canal is finished, say in 
1842 or 3, that the whole of the upper Wabash valley will 
be nearer to New- York market than either of the others. 

Seventeenth : I cannot see why the Wabash valley will 
not support as dense a population as either of the others. 
Nearly the whole surface is susceptible of cultivation, and 
a healthy climate, with the exception of that one com- 
plaint, the ague, that pervades almost every new settled 
country in the world. 

Eighteenth: I cannot see why the land should not 
eventually become as valuable in the Wabash valley, as 
in any other part of the great and fertile West. 

Nineteenth : The price varies from $5 to $10 per acre, 
owing to locality. There is no tract of land in Indiana, 
that would not pay a good interest upon cultivation at 
more than $10 per acre. 


Thus I have gone through with your inquiries, and in- 
stead of considering it burthensome, I have done it with 
great pleasure ; and did not the business I have on hand 
crowd upon me, I should feel disposed to go on at con- 
siderable length with remarks upon the western country. 

Permit me, however, to say, that it is an open door, 
through which every industrious man may walk into the 
temple of wealth, honor and fame. There is yet a vast 
quantity of the richest kind of soil to be had of Govern- 
ment at $1,25 an acre, in the State of Indiana, and with- 
out prejudice on account of my own residence there, I 
cannot but believe it is the best western State or Terri- 
tory for the eastern emigrant to settle in. Our laws are 
uniform and good; our climate mild and healthy, and 
even without our system of internal improvements, which 
is only suspended for a short period, we have great 
facilities of navigation to send off our surplus produce. 
But above all, you may see that upon the great prairies 
that abound in the northwestern quarter of the State, 
cattle can be raised to maturity at a very low rate, and 
they could then be driven to the eastward to market on 
foot, for an expense, say from $2 to $5 per head. 

In answer to the question which your friend asked me 
yesterday, "what would I advise a person owning a large 
tract of land in Indiana to do with it?" I will answer, I 
would advise him to procure some honest, industrious 
poor man with a family, build him a house, and fence 
his land, if prairie, or if timbered land, "make a deaden- 
ing," and stock it with cattle, and as fast as they tramped 
the soil, sow it with cultivated grasses. The growth of 
his stock would soon pay for the improvement on the 
land, and that improvement would double its value, and 
make it more saleable, because it would be in a state 
ready for the work of the emigrant upon his coming into 
the country. 

There is another way that land owners might do, and 
which would be beneficial to themselves and their fellow 
creatures. Let them unite together, and put one half 



their land in a kind of common stock, at low prices, and 
take steps to encourage emigrants to go on and settle 
these lands, and if required, give the poor emigrant a 
credit, and let it be understood that he could have his 
choice of all the lands in the stock by settling on them at 
a price fixed. His improvements on the land bought 
would certainly enchance the price of the unoccupied lots, 
and would be the means of selling the whole. Unless 
land owners will adopt some course to get settlers upon 
their lands they may lay idle for many years, and prove 
an unprofitable stock. The land owners certainly have 
it in their power to enhance the value of their land, and 
at the same time confer a lasting benefit upon their fel- 
low creatures, if they will adopt measures to have the 
land settled upon. While it remains in its natural state 
it cannot rise in value ; it is settlement upon and around, 
with all the et cetera of roads, mills, towns and schools, 
that makes land in a new country rise in value. 

To the emigrant desirous of settling upon and improv- 
ing Government land, especially under the inviting pro- 
vision of the new land bill, you may see that there is yet 
an immense quantity of such land yet to be found in 
Indiana, and some of it cannot be exceeded in beauty or 
fertility in the world. 

Having made this letter already much longer than I 
intended, I will close with this assurance, that any in- 
formation my residence and long acquaintance in the 
West will enable me to give, or any service that I can 
render to promote the settlement and improvement of 
the country, or the happiness of my fellow creatures, will 
be rendered as freely as this answer has been made to 
your several inquiries. 

I only regret that the great haste in which I have done 
it, has prevented me from making it more interesting to 
you and your friends. 

I have the honor to be, 

Most respectfully, your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 


Formation of National Society of Agriculture 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 1:71-72; Sep., 1841 1 ] 

[September 6, 1841] 
Address to the Friends of this Measure throughout 
the United States. 

Having arrived in Washington city, upon my proposed 
tour of observation, and having found by personal inter- 
view and extensive correspondence, an almost unbounded 
desire among the Agriculturists of the country that a 
National Society should be formed at an early day, it was 
concluded to call a few of the leading friends of the 
cause together for consultation. 

Agreeably to notice given on the morning of the 4th 
inst. a very respectable meeting of real friends, was held 
in this afternoon in the great entrance hall of the Patent 
Office : every facility for that purpose having been most 
cheerfully afforded by the Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, 
Commissioner of Patents, of whom the country can truly 
boast a most decided friend of agricultural improvement. 

The following are minutes of the proceedings : 

"The meeting was called to order by the Hon. Mr. 
Ellsworth, who stated to the assemblage that Solon Rob- 
inson, Esq., of Indiana, was then present — and that as 
Mr. Robinson was looked upon as the original projector 
of the measure upon which those present had met to con- 
sult, he moved that the meeting be organized by calling 
Mr. Robinson to the chair. The motion being seconded 
by Mr. Callan, 2 was put by Mr. Ellsworth, and carried 
by acclamation. Whereupon Mr. Robinson took the chair, 
and after offering his thanks to the meeting for the 
honor conferred upon a stranger in the city of Washing- 
ton, at the solicitation of several gentlemen present, Mr. 

1 Printed also in Tippecanoe Journal and Lafayette Free Press, 
Lafayette, October 13, 1841, and in part in Albany Cultivator, 
8:153 (October, 1841). See also Western Farmer and Gardener, 
3:4 (October, 1841). 

2 John F. Callan, druggist and seedsman, Washington, D. C. 


Robinson, before taking his seat, briefly stated the object 
of the present meeting to be a mere primary one, for the 
purpose of consulting together upon the expediency of 
calling a general meeting of all favorable to the object 
of organizing a National Society of Agriculture, and 
should those now here present deem it expedient, to fix 
upon a time, and adopt some preparatory steps towards 
forming a constitution. Where-upon J. F. Callan and 
John A. Smith, 1 Esqrs. were appointed Secretaries of 
this meeting. 

The following resolution was submitted by Mr. Ells- 
worth, and after several gentlemen had expressed their 
views very freely, it was unanimously 

Resolved, That the interest of Agriculture imperiously 
require the co-operation of its friends throughout the 
Union, to concentrate their efforts by the formation of a 
National Society, for the promotion of National Industry, 
and "to elevate the character and standing of the cul- 
tivators of American soil." 

On motion af the Hon. A. 0. Dayton, 2 it was 

Resolved, That [blank] be a committee to prepare a 
draft of a Constitution for a National Society of Agricul- 
ture, to be submitted to a meeting of the friends of such 
a society, from all parts of the Union, to be held at the 
city of Washington on the second Wednesday of the en- 
suing session of Congress. 

On the motion of the Hon. T. S. Smith, 3 it was Re- 
solved, That the chairman fill the blank in the last reso- 

'John A. Smith, of Washington, D. C. Possibly the John A. 
Smith who in 1819 sold an acre of ground containing several 
springs to furnish fire protection for the capitol and drinking 
water for members of Congress. Bryan, W. B M A History of the 
National Capital . . ., 2:239 (New York, 1914). Letter from the 
Public Library, Washington, D. C. 

2 Aaron Ogden Dayton, of Washington, D. C. Died at Phila- 
delphia, 1858. Assigned to the Diplomatic Bureau of the State 
Department, and for many years preceding his death fourth audi- 
tor of the Treasury Department. 

s Possibly Truman Smith, representative from Connecticut. 


lution with the name of one gentleman from the District 
of Columbia, and one from each State and Territory. 

On the motion of Mr. Ellsworth, Resolved, That the 
name of the chairman of this meeting be added to the 
committee for framing the constitution. 

The chairman announced the names of the following 
gentlemen as the committee: 

Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, District of Columbia; Hon. 
James M. Garnett, Virginia; Hon. Chilton Allen, 1 Ken- 
tucky; Hon. Oliver H. Smith, 2 Indiana; Hon. Thomas S. 
Hind, 3 Illinois; Hon. Lewis F. Linn, 4 Missouri; Hon. 
Francis H. Gordon, 5 Tennessee; M. W. Phillips, Esq., 

1 Chilton Allan, born Albemarle County, Virginia, April 6, 1786 ; 
died September 3, 1858. Lawyer, legislator, president of the State 
Board of Internal Improvements, Kentucky. Representative in 
Congress, 1831-1837. See Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky, 

J Oliver H. Smith, born October 23, 1794, near Trenton, New 
Jersey; died March 19, 1859. Author, attorney, representative, 
and senator from Indiana. See Biographical and Genealogical 
History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana, 
1:245-46 (Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899); Woollen, 
William Wesley, Biographical and Historical Sketches of Early 
Indiana, 196-203 (Indianapolis, 1883). 

s Reverend Thomas S. Hinde, Mount Carmel, Illinois. Contrib- 
utor to the Cultivator and the Western Farmer and Gardener. 
Pioneer advocate of agricultural education combined with collegi- 
ate study. Advocate of a government department for agricultural 
and manufacturing interests. See Cultivator, 7:153 and 8:14. 

4 Lewis Fields Linn, born November 5, 1795, near Louisville, 
Kentucky; died October 3, 1843. Senator from Missouri. Physi- 
cian. See Dictionary of American Biography, 11 : 282-83. 

8 Francis H. Gordon, Clinton College, Tennessee. Corresponding 
secretary of the Tennessee State Agricultural Society, 1841-42. 
Contributor to the Nashville Agrictdturist and the Albany Culti- 
vator. Especially interested in the culture of silk and in agri- 
cultural education. A vice-president of the National Society of 
Agriculture. See Cultivator, 8:52 (March, 1841); Nashville Agri- 
culturist, 2:61-62, 238, 252, 255-56 (March, October, November, 
1841), 3:209 (August, 1842). 


Mississippi ; Hon. Dixon H. Lewis, 1 Alabama ; Hon. Alex 
Mouton, 2 Louisiana; Hon. Wm. S. Fulton, 3 Arkansas; 
Hon. Augustus C. Dodge, 4 Iowa; Gov. James D. Doty, 5 
Wisconsin; Hon. William Woodbridge, 6 Michigan; Wm. 
Neff, Esq, Ohio; Wm. P. Kinza, Esq., Pennsylvania; Ed- 
mund D. Morris, Esq., 7 New Jersey; Dr. James W. 
Thompson, Delaware; Hon. John S. Skinner, 8 Maryland; 

1 Dixon Hall Lewis, born August 10, 1802, probably in Dinwiddie 
County, Virginia; died October 25, 1848. Lawyer. Representa- 
tive and senator from Alabama. See Dictionary of American Biog- 
raphy, 11:209-10. 

2 Alexander Mouton, born November 19, 1804 ; died February 
12, 1885. Governor of Louisiana and United States senator. Law- 
yer. Interested in railroads and agriculture. Op. cit., 13:295. 

3 William S. Fulton, born June 2, 1795, in Cecil County, Mary- 
land; died August 15, 1844. Lawyer, governor of Arkansas Ter- 
ritory, and senator from Arkansas, 1836-1844. Fought public 
land manipulation. See sketch in Shinn, Josiah H., Pioneers and 
Makers of Arkansas (Genealogical and Historical Publishing Com- 
pany, Little Rock, 1908). 

4 Augustus Caesar Dodge, born January 2, 1812, in Ste. Gene- 
vieve, Missouri; died November 20, 1883. Senator from Iowa. 
Minister to Spain. Interested in western lands. See Dictionary 
of American Biography, 5:344. 

6 James Duane Doty, born November 5, 1799, in Salem, Wash- 
ington County, New York; died June 13, 1865. Politician and 
speculator in western lands in Michigan and Wisconsin. Member 
of Congress from Wisconsin. Superintendent of Indian Affairs 
and governor of Utah Territory. Op. cit., 5:390-91. 

6 William Woodbridge, born August 20, 1780, at Norwich, Con- 
necticut; died October 20, 1861, at Detroit, Michigan. Lawyer, 
governor of Michigan, 1840-1841, and senator from Michigan, 
1841-1847. See American Biographical History of Eminent and 
Self -Made Men . . . Michigan Volume, dist. 1 : 156-58 (Western 
Biographical Publishing Company, Cincinnati, 1878). 

7 Edmund Morris, born August 28, 1804, Burlington, New Jer- 
sey; died May 4, 1874. Newspaper editor. Wrote Ten Acres 
Enough for Intensive Gardening (1844). Experimented with silk 
culture. See Dictionary of American Biography, 13:204-5. 

8 John Stuart Skinner, born February 22, 1788, in Maryland; 
died at Baltimore, March 21, 1851. Established the American 
Farmer, 1819, the American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, 
1829, the Farmers' Library and Monthly Journal of Agriculture, 


Hon. Edmund Deberry, 1 North Carolina; Hon. Francis 
W. Pickens, 2 South Carolina; Hon. Wm. C. Dawson, 3 
Georgia; Gov. Call, 4 Florida; Caleb N. Bement, Esq., 
New York; Solomon W. Jewett, Esq., 5 Vermont; Hon. 
Levi Woodbury, 6 New Hampshire; Hon. George Evans, 7 
Maine; B. V. French, Esq., 8 Massachusetts; William C. 

1845, The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil, 1848. Edited numer- 
ous agricultural books. Interested in improvement of livestock, 
particularly thoroughbred horses. See sketch by Myrtle Helfrich 
in the Baltimore Sunday Sun, February 17, 1935, pp. 10-11; also 
Dictionary of American Biography, 17:199-201. 

1 Edmund Deberry, born August 4, 1787, Montgomery County, 
North Carolina; died December 12, 1859. Member of Congress 
from Lawrenceville and Mount Gilead, North Carolina. Lamb's 
Biographical Dictionary of United States, edited by John Howard 
Brown, 2:401 (James H. Lamb Company, Boston, 1900). 

2 Francis Wilkinson Pickens, born April 7, 1805, in St. Paul's 
Parish, Colleton District, South Carolina; died January 25, 1869. 
Lawyer. Minister to Russia, 1858-1860. Confederate governor of 
South Carolina. Southern planter. See Dictionary of American 
Biography, 14:559-61. 

8 William Crosby Dawson, born January 4, 1798, in Greene 
County, Georgia; died May 5, 1856. Lawyer. Representative and 
senator from Georgia. Ibid., 5:154-55. 

4 Richard Keith Call, born 1791, in Prince George County, Vir- 
ginia; died September 14, 1862. Soldier, lawyer, statesman. Ap- 
pointed governor of Florida Territory, March, 1841. 

B Solomon W. Jewett, Middlebury, Vermont. Authority on live- 
stock, particularly sheep. Active in New York State Agricultural 
Society. Contributor to Albany Cultivator, Prairie Farmer, New 
England Farmer, and American Agriculturist. 

Levi Woodbury, born Francestown, New Hampshire, Decem- 
ber 22, 1789; died Portsmouth, September 4, 1851. Jurist and 

7 George Evans, born in Hallowell, Maine, January 12, 1797 ; 
died in Portland, Maine, April 6, 1867. Lawyer; representative 
in Congress, 1829-1841, senator, 1841-1847. 

8 Benjamin V. French, Braintree, Massachusetts. Vice-presi- 
dent, Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Active in Norfolk 
County Agricultural Society. Contributor to Transactions of the 
Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, New England Farmer, Amer- 
ican Agriculturist, and other periodicals. 


Chapin, Esq., 1 Rhode Island; Hon. Thomas B. Osborn, 2 

On motion the meeting adjourned. 

Solon Robinson, Chairman. 

J. F. Callon, ) 

John A. Smith, } Secretaries. 

Washington City, Sept. 4th, 1841. 

By this, my friends, you will see that the ball is now 
fairly in motion. I hope I have been fortunate enough 
in making a selection upon the spur of the moment, of 
the gentlemen named as a committee, to secure the serv- 
ices of such as will act promptly for the good of this 
great cause. I hope that they will interchange views 
with one another, and at the day appointed for the meet- 
ing to organize the Society, I hope they will come to- 
gether, and have the satisfaction of meeting the largest 
body of the real friends of agricultural improvement ever 
collected together. 

I most earnestly hope that every individual friend of a 
National Agricultural Society, whom bounteous nature 
has provided with the means, will attend the first meet- 
ing. I hope every Agricultural Society in the Union will 
send special delegates to the National Society. 

I have and shall recommend that the price of mem- 
bership be fixed very low, as the great and grand object 
is to enlist a great number in this bond of brotherhood, 
and by concentrated effort of mind more than with 
money, to produce a happy effect upon society. 

1 William C. Chapin, Providence; Rhode Island, son of Deacon 
Josiah Chapin, banker, and cotton and cotton goods merchant of 
Providence, who also engaged in extensive farming near Pawtucket. 
Became a partner in his father's firm in 1839 and carried on his 
business after the latter's retirement in 1844. See sketch of 
Josiah Chapin in The Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative 
Men of Rhode Island, pt. 1:222 (National Biographical Publishing 
Company, Providence, 1881). 

2 Thomas Burr Osborne, born in Weston (now Easton), Con- 
necticut, July 8, 1798; died September 2, 1869. Lawyer. Repre- 
sentative from Connecticut, 1839-1843. 


A large meeting at the organization is highly impor- 
tant, to give tone and effect to the measure, and to en- 
courage one another. It is probable also that steps will 
then be taken to found an institution where a course of 
scientific and agricultural lectures will be delivered every 
winter, free to every farmer's son or daughter in the 
United States. 

Many of my friends have expressed a wish that the 
first meeting might be held in the present autumn. But 
it is thought by those with whom I have advised here, 
that the time of a session of Congress would be the most 
interesting. In fact, every freeman of this country ought 
to have the opportunity at least once in his life, of visit- 
ing the Capitol of his country, at such a time. There is 
then enough to be seen and learned, sufficient to repay 
all the trouble and expense of such a visit. 

The Patent Office alone is the greatest and best mu- 
seum of useful curiosities in the Union. 

The Hall of Manufactures, 273 feet long, will be filled 
with ten thousand curious and wonderful things. It is 
already worthy of great interest, and before next winter 
will be much more so. 

No doubt manufacturers and mechanics will take ad- 
vantage of the time of the meeting of the Friends of a 
National Society of Agriculture, to make exhibitions 
that will be sufficient to induce great attention, and from 
which a mass of useful information will be gathered. 

I cannot but look upon the first meeting of the friends 
of a National Agricultural Society as an epoch in the 
history of my country that will long be remembered. 

I hope all of my correspondents to whom I have prom- 
ised information upon this subject, will take this address 
as particularly addressed to them. And I hope that every 
paper in the United States that is friendly to that inter- 
est which is the base of all others, will make known to its 
readers what is now doing for the promotion and organ- 
ization of this Society. I am confident that every agri- 
cultural paper will afford the information to its readers, 


and I hope in particular, that every editor of such papers 
will attend the first meeting. 

From Washington, I shall continue my tour through 
the Eastern States, and I hope to have a personal inter- 
view with many of my agricultural friends. 

But above all things, let all remember, "now is the 
time" for them to say that "something can, something 
must, something shall be done," to advance the interest 
of agriculture in the United States. 

Be assured that I remain your earnest agricultural 
friend, Solon Robinson. 

Washington City, Sept. 6th, 1841. 

Traveling Memoranda — No. 6. 

[Albany Cultivator, 8:196-97; Dec, 1841 1 ] 

Baltimore, Sep. 9, 1841. 

Editors of Cultivator — Once more I am ready to 
make another memoranda for the perusal of the readers 
of the Cultivator. How I could dilate upon the subject 
of the great change that 40 years have wrought upon the 
face of Ohio. How the dense forest has given way be- 
fore the hand of persevering industry, and laid open im- 
mense fields of the richest of soil to cultivation, and in- 
crease of wealth and happiness. But notwithstanding 
the splendid mansion now occupies the site of the lowly 
log cabin, I cannot believe that there is more real enjoy- 
ment within, than the owner used to feel while gathered 
around the broad blazing fire of the settler's new home. 
It is the contented and cheerful mind that finds enjoy- 
ment in whatever situation his lot may chance to be cast. 

What a wild uncultivated waste was this fine region 
40 years ago. Even 15 years since, how we used to toil 
along the muddy roads of Ohio, the stage often to the 
axles in the soft, wet soil, and the passengers not unfre- 
quently called upon to lend the strength of Hercules to 
lift the vehicle into an upright position. Now the road 

1 Reprinted in part in American Farmer, Baltimore, 2d series, 
3:252 (December 29, 1841). 


from Cincinnati to Columbus is nearly all Macadamized, 
and from thence, or rather from Springfield to Wheeling, 
we roll in ease and comfort, at great speed, along the 
great National road that was designed to connect the 
east with the far west. As an evidence that the roads 
are not quite impassable, I have only to state that I took 
the "fast mail" at 11 o'clock on Friday at Cincinnati, and 
on Monday night I slept at the "relay house," nine miles 
from Baltimore, traveling by stage all the way, except 
the short distance from Frederick to the junction of the 
Washington City Road. 

The passes of the almost impassable Alleghanies, have 
been made passable, and are daily passed by a host of 
passengers with great speed, if not great safety ; for the 
truth is, that fear of accident does not seem to be a part 
of the composition of the drivers over these dangerous 
mountain roads, for they crack the whip and rattle down 
the long declivities much after the manner that we are 
all heedlessly rattling through the world. We are all 
sure to reach the end of the road, but not always "right 
side up with care." 

It was with no small degree of interest that I looked 
upon these hills piled on hills. For 16 years I had been 
treading the fertile plains of the west, and in all that 
time had not seen an eminence worthy of the name of 
mountain. Here were old acquaintance that should never 
be forget. And here upon every little spot of level 
ground was perched the hut of a hardy mountaineer, as 
blythe, as happy and contented as him who could count 
his thousands of acres of far more fertile and feasible 
soil of the west. I could not but ask, "why do you toil 
here upon these rocks and hills?" and yet perhaps I 
should do wrong to urge them to give up situations, with 
which they are content, for the more promising plains 
that spread out invitingly and uncultivated away beyond 
the "beautiful river." 

Of my doings at Washington in regard to the contem- 
plated National Society, you are acquainted. Of the state 


of agricultural improvement around the capital of our 
country, I cannot speak encouragingly. In fact, to me, 
the quality of the soil presents a very forbidding aspect. 
By far the greatest portion of it looks to me as though 
it would cost more than it would come to, to put it into 
a good state of cultivation. The "skinning system" seems 
to have been thoroughly practiced here, where originally 
there was but little to skin, until the fertility has been so 
completely skinned from the soil, that I should think the 
present cultivators would find some difficulty in raising 
enough to keep their own skins full. 

But there are some noble and spirited friends of agri- 
cultural improvement in and around Washington, among 
whom Mr. Ellsworth stands foremost. While I was there, 
he was engaged in an experiment of making a cheap 
machine for making a ditch and bank fence, of which 
the public will hereafter hear something. He is constant 
and unceasing in his efforts to promote the agricultural 
interest of the United States, and has partially suc- 
ceeded in converting the Patent office into an agricultural 
bureau. He has purchased a few acres of the "vacant 
lots," which abound upon the original great plat of this 
to be great city, for the purpose of trying different kinds 
of seeds, and making experiments and illustrations in 
farming, for the benefit of the community. His plan of 
distributing seeds throughout the country has been of 
great advantage to the country, at small cost to the gov- 
ernment. Every friend of the measure should feel it a 
duty to forward to him for distribution, a small quantity 
of every rare seed that he may possess. And I hope that 
every friend who attends the first meeting of the Na- 
tional Agricultural Society on the 15th Dec. next, will 
at least take his pockets full of such seeds as he may 
happen to possess, for the purpose of exchange. 

Washington city, like a great many other great things 
in this great country, was begun on too great a scale. I 
judge from appearances, that the citizens are not strong 


advocates of "internal improvements," so far as their 
own corporation is concerned. 

The public buildings are the great, I may say the only 
ornaments of Washington. To me the Patent office pos- 
sesses the greatest interest. Independent of the models, 
nearly all of which that were burnt having been replaced, 
there is the great "Hall of Manufactures," in which it 
is designed to exhibit specimens of all kinds of manu- 
factures of the United States, forming one of the most 
interesting collections in the country. It is also in- 
tended to exhibit specimens of every known kind of agri- 
cultural implement, from the earliest ages to this time; 
also a collection of all kinds of grains and seeds. 

The Smithsonian collection of curiosities, and also that 
of the exploring expedition, together with the gallery of 
Indian portraits, are now exhibited in this building, 
forming in the whole, an extensive free museum. 

From Washington to Baltimore, along the line of the 
rail-road, the land is mostly miserably poor and unculti- 
vated. It is surprising to see what a mass of human 
beings daily pass over this road. If half of our agri- 
cultural population pursued their calling with the earn- 
estness that multitudes of men and women seem to pur- 
sue some ignus fatuus over stage route, rail-road and 
steam-boat route, they would accomplish wonders. 

It was a lovely pleasant day that I arrived in this busy 
city, celebrated for its monuments and pretty women. 
The thriving appearance of Baltimore, indicates a thriv- 
ing state of agriculture in the vicinity. Among the 
ornaments of the place I cannot omit to mention the 
beautiful and romantic resting-place for the dead, which 
I had an opportunity of visiting during a ride with 
Robert Sinclair, Jr., 1 out to the nursery of his father 
at Clairmont, at which place I found improvement 
strongly developed. I also found a hearty welcome, and 

1 Robert Sinclair, Jr., well-known manufacturer of agricultural 
implements, Baltimore. Had a large southern trade. Contrib- 
utor to the Cultivator, American Farmer. 


all the "trimmings," to make my visit interesting. Be- 
sides his flourishing nursery business, Mr. S. has a very 
snug cocoonery, which he finds quite profitable. Having 
made free use of lime upon his worms this season, he has 
found them quite healthy. Mr. Sinclair, Jr. has in the 
city one of the most extensive agricultural ware-houses, 
perhaps in the U. S. A large portion of the implements 
that he sells are manufactured under the same roof and 
in such a manner that he can warrant them good. From 
the polite attention bestowed upon me, a stranger, I am 
warranted in the conclusion that my agricultural friends 
who have occasion to send orders to this establishment 
for any kind of implements or seeds, will be done by as 
they would be done unto. 

Another of the pleasant days of my life was that in 
which I made the acquaintance of Mr. Sands, 1 the pub- 
lisher of the American Farmer, the oldest agricultural 
paper in the Union. To him and his lovely family I am 
indebted for a very pleasant visit — such an one as 
thousands of the friends of agricultural improvement of 
the present day delight to interchange with one another. 
Mr. Sands, although grown up in a city, and I might say 
in a printing office, appears more like a plain unassum- 
ing farmer than anything else. He is not only an advo- 
cate, like nearly all the leading agriculturalists, of 
temperance, but is also the publisher of a temperance 
paper. The principal circulation of the Farmer is at 
the south, and I earnestly hope will long continue to be 
commensurate with its and its worthy publisher's worth. 

I also visited Mr. Hussey's 2 manufactory of his cele- 

1 Samuel Sands, for many years editor and publisher of the 
American Farmer, Baltimore. 

2 Obed Hussey, born in Maine in 1792 ; died in 1860. Invented a 
machine for reaping grain in 1833 which he manufactured at Balti- 
more from 1838 to 1858. In that year he sold his patents and re- 
tired from active business. Hussey was Cyrus Hall McCormick's 
earliest and most formidable rival in the period when both men 
were endeavoring to educate the public to the value of their ma- 
chines. Hussey's machine was in reality more of a mower than 


brated and valuable reaping machine. This machine is 
beyond doubt a very useful implement for the farmer, 
particularly upon very smooth land, such, for instance, 
as the western prairies. There is, however, in the west a 
new harvesting machine that bids fair to do away with 
machines for reaping. It is a machine that actually 
gathers the grain out of the heads of the standing grain, 
as clean as it can be thrashed by a machine, leaving the 
straw standing in the field. I had seen the model of the 
machine at Chicago last spring, and most unexpectedly 
to-day I met with my friend Wright, editor of the Chi- 
cago Agriculturist, who informs me that the machine has 
been completed and used during the late harvest, and 
that it operates to perfection — with three horses, gather- 
ing from 10 to 15 acres of wheat a day. 

Baltimore also boasts of another lately invented ma- 
chine, that appears to me to be one that will prove of 
immense advantage to the community. This is "Page's 
Saw Mill." 1 The saw is a circular one, and it may be 
driven by horse or any other power, and is so portable 
that a mill large enough to saw a log two feet through 
and twelve feet long, with all the apparatus can be put 
into a two horse wagon, and taken into the woods and 
with the assistance of two men, set up and set to work 
in less than two days, and with the power of the two 
horses. I dare not say how much lumber it will cut per 
day, but think that you will be satisfied with a thousand 
feet, although the patentee would not be. In fact, no in- 
vention has met my eye that seems better calculatd to be 
useful to the agricultural community than Page's port- 
able saw mill. 

a reaper, and subsequent development of that machine was based 
on the principles of his device. See Dictionary of American Biog- 
raphy, 9:431-32, 11:607-9. 

1 George Page, inventor and manufacturer of a portable sawmill 
propelled by a portable steam engine. See Cultivator, 9:59-60 
(April, 1842). 


Here as elsewhere wherever I go, I find an earnest 
spirit pervading all the friends of agricultural improve- 
ment, that speaks in cheering tones that our cause is in 
the ascendant. 

To-morrow morning I shall again roll along toward 
new scenes, some of which I hope will prove sufficiently 
interesting to induce me again to communicate with you. 
Till then, accept the good wishes of Solon Robinson. 

Letter from Solon Robinson. 
to the Editor of the Farmers' Cabinet. 1 

[Philadelphia Farriers' Cabinet, and American Herd-Book, 6:92-93; 

Oct., 1841] 

[September 20, 1841] 
After spending a week in and about your city, I can- 
not bear to leave it without a parting word to the many 
warm-hearted friends that I have found here. I am one 
that holds that self-esteem is a virtue, for it is that 
which makes us all proud of doing good. It is that which 
makes me proud of the reception that I have met with 
among a very large number of the agriculturists of this 
vicinity. But it is not a kind of self-esteem that makes 
me proud of the honour conferred upon me personally, 
for I am a stranger, personally unknown, even by charac- 
ter, except by my writings; but on account of the cause 
that I advocate have I been most flatteringly received 
wherever I have been. Oh, sir, the spirit of improve- 
ment is abroad. That "band of brotherhood" that I long 
to see cementing us all together, is forming. That joyful 
day is coming, when all the agriculturists of the land will 
feel as though they belonged to one family, and that their 
occupation was, and of right ought to be, the most 
honoured of all others. 

On Tuesday last, I paid a visit to several of the farms 
upon the far-famed Brandywine hills of Westchester. If, 

1 James Pedder. See ante, 214 n. 


Nebuchadnezzar-like, I am ever "turned out to grass," 
may it be upon such fat pastures as I saw there. At the 
farm of Samuel Worth, 1 I found a most beautiful drove 
of Ohio oxen — fine, large, red, and upon such grass I need 
not say, very fat. This I find is a common practice, to 
drive lean oxen from Ohio, to take on a coat of Pennsyl- 
vania fat; and from this source comes the fine juicy beef 
with which your fine market houses abound. Many of 
these same cattle are driven into Ohio while quite young, 
from still further West, so that the places of their 
nativity and death are often a thousand or more miles 
apart. And as the great West improves, her almost 
boundless pastures will furnish an everlasting supply for 
the Eastern markets. 

At the farm of Joseph Cope, 2 I found an excellent 
specimen of South Down sheep, and a choice Durham 
bull, selected by himself in England. It would do some 
of our Western farmers (slovens, rather,) good to visit 
this farm, to see a place for every thing, and every thing 
in its place, in doors and out. For be it known that there 
is one within the house well worthy of the name of 
"Farmer's Wife." 

At the farm of Paschall Morris, 3 we — I forgot to say 
that in this excursion, I was accompanied by Caleb N. 
Bennet, 4 of Albany, whom I met in Philadelphia — we saw 
much to admire. A farm under a high state of improve- 
ment — a beautiful lot of short-horns — Berkshire hogs, 

1 Samuel Worth (born Chester County, Pennsylvania, December 
6, 1779; died August 20, 1862), probably a descendant of Thomas 
Worth who emigrated to Pennsylvania at the time of William 
Penn. The Worth family devoted their time principally to agri- 
cultural pursuits. Historic Homes and Institutions and . . . 
Memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania, 1:190 
(Lewis Publishing Company, 1904). 

2 Joseph Cope, of East Bradford Township, Chester County, 

s Paschall Morris, of Allerton Farm, East Bradford Township, 
Chester County. 
' 'Caleb N. Bement. 



and Bakewell sheep — a very neat dairy house, with a 
churn driven by horse-power. Mr. Morris makes butter 
for the dignitaries of Washington, and here, let me assure 
them, that they may be assured of the perfect neatness 
of the manufactory. Mr. Morris is a young Philadel- 
phian of wealth and intelligence, who has devoted him- 
self to a noble pursuit; and his lovely wife is a sweet 
flower, that adorns her pleasant home, and makes the 
visiters at her hospitable mansion feel "at home." I have 
neglected to mention that we arrived in the evening at 
Westchester, the delightfully situated seat of justice of 
Chester county, and were soon visited by Dr. Darlington, 1 
a well-known agricultural writer, with a cordial invita- 
tion to breakfast which we accepted; after which the 
Doctor drove us over to Mr. Morris', but was prevented 
by official engagements from spending the day with us. 
He however, transferred us to good hands, and a good 
carriage, in which Mr. Morris spent the day, until late 
in the evening. And his acts of kindness, similar to 
which are now everywhere to be seen among the "strong 
bond of brotherhood" which is forming among the 
friends of agriculture, did not end with that day, for at 
an early hour the next morning, his carriage was at the 
door to take us down to the agricultural fair, at Wilming- 
ton, whither we were also accompanied by Joseph Cope. 
But the limits of this letter will not permit me to re- 
cord the high praise that I intend to do hereafter, to 
Wilmington; not so much on account of the display of 
stock and implements, as upon the ennobling spirit that 
seemed to pervade the whole population. The Horticul- 
tural exhibition, which is connected with the Agricultural 
Society, showed the power of "female influence," and the 
room in the evening, showed a greater amount of female 

1 William Darlington, born April 28, 1782, at Dilworthtown, 
Chester County, Pennsylvania; died April 23, 1863. Noted bot- 
anist and horticultural writer. See Dictionary of American Biogra- 
phy, 5:78-79. 


loveliness than is often to be met with upon such occa- 

The excellent dinner of the Society, from which "all 
intoxicating liquor" was banished, was one of the most 
pleasant of my life. After dinner, we partook of the 
"real old Virginia hospitality" of Dr. J. W. Thomson, 1 
the President of the society ; and in the morning I had to 
deny myself the great pleasure that I should have enjoyed 
in spending a few days among the large circle of friends 
that I found, (although a stranger,) in Delaware. Both 
at Westchester and Wilmington, the subject of organis- 
ing the National Society of Agriculture, was taken up 
with enthusiasm, and approving resolutions passed and 
delegates appointed. 

I beg you to assure the numerous friends of agricul- 
tural improvement in and about Philadelphia, whom I 
was prevented from visiting on account of my pressing 
engagements, that I duly appreciate their good wishes 
for the success of the cause I am engaged in ; assure them 
also, that success is on the high road to prosperous com- 

Towards you and your readers, I remain most respect- 
fully your friend — in the language of the lamented and 
honoured Buel — 

"With affectionate regard," 

Solon Robinson. 
Philadelphia Sept. 20, 1841. 

1 James W. Thompson, M. D., native of Virginia, and graduate 
of the University of Virginia. Began practice of medicine at 
Wilmington, Delaware, in 1830; member of State Medical Soci- 
ety, 1828; president, 1841. President of State Agricultural So- 
ciety; president of Agricultural Society at New Castle, Delaware, 
1842. Contributor to Farmers? Cabinet, 1842. Died, 1882. 
Genealogical History of the State of Delaware, 2:1278 (J. M. 
Runk & Co., Chambersburg, Pa., 18991- 


To the Editor of the Farmers' Cabinet. 
Advantages of Travel. 

[Philadelphia Farmers' Cabinet, and American Herd-Book, 6:178; 

Jan., 1842] 

[November 22, 1841] 

Worthy Friend. — I believe that you will be gratified 
to hear that I am once more in the enjoyment of the com- 
forts of home; for however it may be less splendid than 
many of the mansions in which I have enjoyed hospitality 
during the past summer, it is yet a happy home — the 
home of the wife of my bosom, and the children of our 
love. It is the home of those who had, for many days 
before my arrival, been anxiously looking and praying 
for my safe return ; for at this late season of the year, a 
voyage around our northern lakes is always attended with 
anxiety, if not danger. But at length I came in health, 
and found health, and an abundance of joy! It is good 
for a man to be separated from his family occasionally, 
merely to enable him and them to enjoy the great gratifi- 
cation of meeting after a long absence. 

You will please assure your family, that the joy of 
meeting my own wife and children, has not crowded out 
an affectionate remembrance of them, and therefore you 
will make my best respects to them. I hope it will be 
long before they do, or wish to, forget their old friend of 
the Western Prairies. 

My late tour through the United States has formed 
many links with my heart, that will always vibrate to the 
tune of sweet and pleasant sensations. I am well per- 
suaded that I return home a better man than I left; at 
all events, a wiser one. I have formed a great many new 
and excellent acquaintances, and I have seen a good share 
of what every man ought to see — that is his own country, 
at least before he yearns after foreign ones. My oppor- 
tunity to learn a great deal that will be useful to me 
through life, has been greater than many travellers, be- 
cause my association has been with the nobility of the 


land — the cultivators of the soil. I have seen and ob- 
served the different kinds of soil, and mode of cultivation, 
and the different kinds of stock, and their adaptation to 
different sections of the country. I have carefully exam- 
ined a great many improved implements of husbandry; 
and above all things, I have observed that there is an 
evident spirit of improvement abroad that has, and that 
will elevate the character and standing of the agricul- 
tural population of the United States. I have found a 
strong evidence of this good spirit in the cordial manner 
that I have everywhere been received throughout my 
journey. I had no claims from political notoriety or offi- 
cial station to draw attention, but everywhere I found 
myself known and welcomed, as a friend of the agricul- 
tural interest of the country, in a manner that astonished 
me not a little. I have often asked myself the question, 
What have I done to cause all this ? It is true that I had 
devoted a share of the talent which nature had endowed 
me with, for the benefit of my agricultural brethren ; but 
I did not feel that on that account I merited the honour 
and respect which I have met with. But let this fact en- 
courage others to do likewise. Let them bear in mind 
that a good reputation, so easily earned is worth their 
attention, and will prove of a value that cannot be com- 
puted in dollars and cents. I have reason to hope, al- 
though I may never meet a return in that currency for 
the time and money spent during the past summer, that 
I have done some good. I have aided in awakening the 
public mind to pay more attention to the best interest of 
the country; and I am fully persuaded, if agricultural 
writers would take the trouble to make themselves more 
personally known, that they would increase their own 
usefulness, while adding days of pleasure to their lives. 
I reached home on the 13th instant, by way of the lakes, 
from Buffalo to Chicago, having had rather a rough pas- 
sage, though not more than could be expected at this late 
season of the year. I hope to be able, after I recover 
from the fatigue of my journey, to let you and your read- 


ers hear from me occasionally. I remain with respect 

and esteem, 

Your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 1 

Lake Court House, Ind., Nov. 22, 1841. 

Something about Western Prairies. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 1:14-16, Apr., 1842] 

[December 10, 1841] 
To the Editor of the American Agriculturist. 

In addition to your note, suggesting that eastern read- 
ers are ever anxious to learn facts about the "great 
West," I have received a great number of inquiries, some 
of which I will answer through your columns. 

And although the matter may not be altogether upon 
the science of agriculture, it may be such as will induce 
scientific reading, in the contents of agricultural jour- 

In my late tour through the Eastern States, how often 
I heard the exclamation, "I do wish I could see a prairie !" 
"How do they look?" "Ah, well ! I shouldn't like to live 
on one, they are so level." "An't it very troublesome get- 
ting about through the tall grass?" "How do you plough 

Notwithstanding that others, as well as myself, have 
often, both publicly and privately, answered these and 
many other similar questions, "the demand is increas- 
ing," and the public are "like as two peas," to my little 
children, with their, "do now father, tell that story 

In the first place then, my dear reader, I also wish you 
could see a prairie. You would feel as you never felt be- 

1 The editor excused himself "for making public a private com- 
munication," on the ground that he "knew not how to debar his 
[Robinson's] friends . . . from the perusal of a document so 
honourable to the head and heart of the writer." He concluded 
with the wish that Robinson might "long continue an ornament to 
his country, a treasure to his neighborhood, and a blessing to his 


fore. You would feel as I once did, when for the first 
time I stood upon the edge of the prairie upon which I 
now reside. "It was about noon of a beautiful October 
day, when we emerged from the wood, and for miles 
around stretched forth one broad expanse of clear, open 
land. I stood alone, wrapt up in that peculiar sensation 
that man only feels when beholding a broad rolling 
prairie for the first time — an indescribable delightful 
feeling. Oh, what a rich mine of wealth lay outstretched 
before me." 

And although that was seven years ago, yet almost the 
whole of that mine of wealth still holds its hidden and 
unsought for treasures. No plough or spade has broken 
the sod of ages ; no magician has appeared with the hus- 
bandman's magic wand and said to the coarse and use- 
less grass that has grown for centuries, "Presto, be 
gone," give place to the lovely Ceres with her golden 

And here, methinks I hear some reader exclaim, "Well 
now, I guess it an't so plaguy rich a'ter all, or it would'nt 
lay there uncultivated." Little does he know or think as 
he digs in the corn among the stones of New England, 
what vast quantities of such land lie waste in the West, 
and how few there are there to improve them ; and what 
is worse, how indolent a great portion of that few are. 
Talk of the country being sickly, why the worst epidemic 
that ever raged in any country, is that idleness which 
fixes itself, incubus like, upon the whole population of 
an extraordinary fertile soil. 

I am sorry that I am not able to answer the second 
question, even satisfactorily to myself. But who that 
ever undertook, ever satisfied his inquirers as to how a 
prairie looks, while in a state of nature. The reason is 
that there is nothing analogous, to which one can com- 
pare it, in a thickly settled country. But suppose that 
the reader fancies the country with which he is best ac- 
quainted in an old settled country, entirely destitute of 
buildings or fences, or in fact any mark of civilization, 


with all the hills reduced so as to make a gently rolling 
surface, the woodland to remain as it is, and the entire 
surface of cleared land covered with grass — that upon 
the upland thick and short, and in the low lands one or 
two feet high, and in the swamps four or five feet, and 
he may have a very faint idea how a prairie looks. 

So you see they are not so "very level." Gently un- 
dulating, applies to all prairie countries within my knowl- 
edge. Sometimes, though rarely, hills occur that are too 
steep to cultivate conveniently, and sometimes rocky 
bluffs. But a general characteristic in this region is des- 
tituteness of stone, except a few boulders of granite, that 
have come from parts unknown. 

The streams are most generally muddy bottoms. The 
timber in the groves or islands that abound throughout 
this sea of grass, is most commonly short, and grows thin 
upon the ground, without underbrush, except at the 
edges, where the hazel bush seems to be the advanced 
guard, and is constantly encroaching upon the prairie. 
There are large tracts of timber land called "barrens," 
which are about half way between prairie and timber 
land — the tree standing apart like an orchard, and the 
ground covered with grass, the sod of which is much less 
tough than that on the prairie. 

One very prominent feature of a prairie, I should men- 
tion, and that is the constant and ever varying succes- 
sion of flowers from spring till fall. 

A singular and false notion prevails about the height 
of the grass, and that it must be difficult getting about. 
It is not even difficult for a sheep, as the grass never 
grows high enough upon the dry land to impede or hide 
them. Near the banks of streams, or in marshes, it is 
like going through a field of oats or wheat. And it is in 
such places that grass is cut for hay — some very good — 
some good — and some that the less said about, the smaller 
the sin committed. 

But as for pasturage, no country can excel this. The 
milk, butter, cheese and beef attest the rich juiciness of 


the feed. But we lack the beautiful blue grass pastures 
of Kentucky, for fall feed. Even now, near the middle 
of December, notwithstanding we have had a hard fall 
for this country, this grass is green and good. Even 
timothy or red top would yet afford "a good bite." 

The next wonder is about ploughing. And if, my dear 
reader, you who have ploughed so many acres of green 
sward with old "Duke & Darby," could only see a "prairie 
team," you would wonder still more. 

Fancy upon a level smooth piece of ground, free from 
sticks, stumps and stones, a team of four, five, or even 
six yoke of oxen, hitched to a pair of cart wheels, and 
to them hitched a plough with a beam fourteen feet long, 
and the share, &c. of which weigh from sixty to one hun- 
dred and twenty-five pounds, of wrought iron and steel, 
and which cuts a furrow from sixteen to twenty-four 
inches wide, and you will figure the appearance of a 
"breaking team" in operation. If you ask me if this is 
necessary, I can only tell you that I suppose it is, for it is 

I do believe though, that a smaller plough and less 
team would be better for the land, though it is said it 
would be more expensive ploughing. It is true that the 
sod is more tough than can be believed by those who have 
never ploughed it. It requires the plough to be kept very 
sharp, and for this purpose the ploughman is always 
provided with a large file with which he keeps a keen 
edge as possible upon the share and coulter. 

Such a team ploughs from one to two acres a day, 
usually about four inches deep, which is not near down 
to the bottom of the roots, so that the sod turned up 
affords but a scanty covering for grain that is sowed 
upon it at first, yet very fine crops of wheat are raised 
in this way. It is also a common practice to break up 
in the spring and drop corn in every second or third 
furrow, and from which twenty or thirty bushels to the 
acre are often gathered, nothing having ever been done 
to it after planting. It takes two or three years for 


these sods to become thoroughly decomposed, and then 
the soil is of a light, loose, black vegetable mould, very 
easily stirred by the plough, but of a nature that it ad- 
heres to the plough in a troublesome manner. In fact, 
no plough has ever been found to keep itself clear; and 
the ploughman is generally obliged to carry with him 
a small wooden paddle, with which to clear off the adher- 
ing mass of dirt upon the mould board With this excep- 
tion, the prairie soil is generally one of the easiest in the 
world to till, and of course remarkably fertile. 

By far the greatest portion is based upon a sub-soil 
of clay, though in many places the sub-soil is sand or 
gravel, and there are large tracts of which the surface 
is of this material. The streams are often broad and 
nearly covered with vegetable growth, in some instances 
to that degree that sheets of water many rods wide 
actually burn over during the autumnal fires. 

Notwithstanding the many "interesting accounts of 
burning prairies," the fire upon a dry prairie in a calm 
time does not blaze as high as it would in an old stubble 
field. But in the marshes or wet prairies, it sometimes 
rages with most magnificent grandeur. 

There is one more question often asked, that deserves 
some notice; and that is, "How is this land ever to be 
fenced?" This is a question that deserves serious con- 

The settlements already made are upon the smaller 
prairies, the centre of which are not more than four or 
five miles from timber, or along the border of "the Grand 
Prairie," taking care not to extend out beyond the reach 
of convenient woodland. But there are many places 
where the groves are barely sufficient to furnish the land 
most contiguous, and vast tracts of prairie are to be 
found ten or fifteen miles from timber. That these tracts 
will forever remain uncultivated, cannot for a moment 
be thought of. That timber can be planted and raised 
in abundance is certain. It is equally certain that they 
can be fenced with ditches, and perhaps with hedges, 


though the experiments that have as yet been made in 
the United States to enclose land with hedges have gen- 
erally proved failures. 

The most feasible plan, it seems to me, would be to 
enclose large tracts by ditching, and cultivate the land 
without division fences, even between many occupants. 
Such is the mode in many parts of Europe, and more 
particularly in China. Or this kind of land could be 
profitably improved by grazing herds of cattle and sheep 
under the care of shepherds. Houses of a most com- 
fortable kind can be built of clay without burning into 
brick, and the expense of hauling lumber for roofs and 
inside work would be trifling. The only difficulty would 
be fuel. In many parts of the West coal exists in abun- 
dance, and where that is not to be had, the expense of 
hauling wood over a smooth and nearly level country 
would not be a serious obstacle. It is also thought that 
peat will be found abundant. 

At present, however, there is an abundance of unoccu- 
pied land so convenient to timber as to be easily fenced 
in the common way, with Virginia or worm fence, and 
the oak timber of this region is very durable. 

I have heretofore published several articles of advice 
to western emigrants, which I have much reason to be- 
lieve have been well received by the public, and I have 
received many earnest solicitations to make further re- 
marks upon the same subject. But my present letter has 
become too long to do it now, but if my health is spared, 
I hope to have the will and ability to do so hereafter. 

In the mean time, permit me to say that although I am 
a new correspondent to your new paper, yet I hope you 
may so meet with public favor as to be able to write 
yourselves down to the public as I do now, 

Your old friend, 
Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., Dec. 10, 1841. 


Traveling Memoranda — No. 7. 

[Albany Cultivator, 9:35; Feb., 1842] 

[December 10 ?, 1841] 

Editors of Cultivator — On the 13th of November, I 
brought my long agricultural tour to a close, in that most 
pleasant of all other places, to the fond husband and 
father, home. It will be gratifying to you, and a great 
number of your readers, I am well assured by the kind 
treatment I met with among them, to learn that I reached 
my "home in the west" in safety, and found my family 
in health and comfort. 

You are aware that it was my intention again to 
leave home about this time, to attend the first meeting 
of the National Agricultural Society at Washington, on 
the 15th of this month. But circumstances beyond my 
control, one of which is a severe cold, contracted during 
my tempestuous voyage round the lakes, have induced 
me reluctantly to forego this duty and pleasure — that is, 
the pleasure of the hope of doing good, which would have 
overbalanced all the fatigue of a winter journey, if my 
health had been such that I had dared risk the under- 

My tour through the United States forms an era in 
my life that I may reflect upon during the remainder of 
my time, with more interest than I can upon any other 
period of my life. It has given me the strongest assur- 
ance that a spirit has been awakened throughout the 
country, within a few years past, that is calculated to do 
more good than all the political vagaries which have of 
late agitated the world. 

The inquiry is in every man's mouth, "what shall be 
done to improve the agricultural interest of the country?" 
The extensive and increasing circulation of agricultural 
papers, the increasing interest in attendance upon the 
fairs of agricultural societies, all speak well for the cause 
of the farming interest, the first and best interest of this 
at present great, and to be greater, agricultural country. 
I have been made aware that great good could be accom- 


plished by public spirited individuals traveling as I have 
done through the country, stirring up and awakening 
the lethargic feeling of the farmers, and urging them to 
arouse themselves to take the stand in the first rank of 
society, that their occupation entitles them to hold. The 
prejudice against "book farming" is fast giving way to 
a growing anxiety after scientific knowledge, as appli- 
cable to the cultivating the soil. 

I have been astonished at the interest manifested to 
become acquainted with one who had no claims to notice 
except as an agricultural writer; and proud as I may 
justly feel of the honors heaped upon me wherever I 
went, I am only proud on account of the convincing 
proof it gives me of the noble disposition of my country- 
men to honor those who are devoted to the object, and 
who ardently desire to see improvement in the bulwarks 
of society, rapidly increasing. 

Rapid increase of wealth, in speculation or stock job- 
bing, does not always indicate the best state of morals 
in society. But show me a community rapidly increasing 
in wealth by improvement in agricultural pursuits, and 
I will insure you that the morals of that community are 
in a healthy state. 

But I forget that my moralizing does not continue my 
journey, and that there are sundry small items in my 
note book, that may be more interesting to your readers 
than my present writing. 

My letters which you have published have been dated 
at various points on the road, but as I have progressed 
more rapidly in my traveling than in my writing, I 
must now make up lost time at home. As I passed 
along, I saw so much to interest me, that my letters un- 
avoidably run into particulars, perhaps tediously lengthy. 

My last, I believe, was from Baltimore. From thence 
I took the Philadelphia rail road, which passes over a 
great deal of poor, level country, and an uncommon num- 
ber of long bridges. At Wilmington, I visited Dr. Lock- 
wood and Dr. J. W. Thompson, two prominent friends of 


agriculture, as I find to be more often the case among 
physicians than any other profession. 

Dr. Thompson is President of the Agricultural Society, 
and to his energetic exertions, in a considerable degree, 
may be attributed the great good that has been effected 
by this society. The power of one man to accomplish 
wonders is indeed wonderful. By the judicious use of 
manure, marl, and lime, the poor worn out farms of this 
part of Delaware have been doubled in value within a few 
years past, and now show a state of fertility that was 
considered impossible for them ever again to attain, after 
having been "skinned" for more than a hundred years. 

I visited one of Dr. Thompson's farms, upon which I 
saw a peach orchard of an hundred and fifty acres. He 
also keeps one hundred cows, for the purpose of raising 
calves for the Philadelphia market. As soon as one calf 
is taken off, another, which is purchased for the purpose, 
is put on. Some of the cows had two calves, and some 
calves had two cows. This way of using milk he finds 
very profitable. 

While viewing his peach orchard, I learned a fact well 
worth the attention of all peach growers. Let the trees 
branch as much as possible from the ground, and never 
cut off a limb that is broken down by an overload of 
fruit. If it hangs on by wood enough to keep it alive, 
let it lay, and it will sprout up next year most luxuri- 
antly, and then produce the finest kind of peaches. 1 The 
ground between the trees is kept well plowed. 

Around Wilmington there is a good deal of thorn 
hedge, but it does not generally look flourishing. But 
the general state of agriculture does, as I was still more 
convinced by what I subsequently witnessed at the Fair 
of the Agricultural and Horticultural Societies, which I 
attended on the 15th of September. At this fair, I saw 
Mr. Canby's celebrated Durham cow, Blossom, that gave 

1 Commentator, in his review of the February Cultivator, took 
exception to this advice about peach trees, and advocated judicious 
pruning. Cultivator, 9:79 (May, 1842). 


36 quarts of milk a day, and 17 lbs. of butter a week. 
Although a fine looking cow, I have seen many others 
that, for appearance only, would take the premium. 
There was also exhibited a common cow, and a very ordi- 
nary looking one too, that afforded 15 lbs. of butter a 

As an evidence of the flourishing condition of this 
Society, I will mention that they have a considerable 
fund on hand, out of which their annual dinner is pro- 
vided, free for all members and invited guests, among 
whom I had the honor to enjoy one of the most agreeable 
public dinners that I have ever partaken of. And the 
pleasure was not a little heightened by the presence of 
the lovely goddess of Temperance. 

I saw here the sample of sugar made from corn stalks, 
and became acquainted with the manufacturer, and 
heard him describe the process, of which much has been 
published of late. I am inclined to think that this is not 
all humbug. Should it be found successful on further 
experiment, the advantage to the west will prove incal- 
culable; for here the corn can be sown broad-cast, upon 
cheap land, easily cultivated without manure, and yet 
produce a great crop. 

It was painful to me that I had no spare time to spend 
with the numerous interesting acquaintances that I made 

I left this delightful town the next morning after the 
fair, in company with several gentlemen who formed a 
delegation from the Philadelphia Society, to interchange 
civilities with their Delaware friends. This is exactly 
as it should be: it keeps up friendly social intercourse, 
and tends to increase knowledge and happiness. The 
visits, too, of distinguished strangers, at such a time, 
serves as a most valuable stimulant to incite praise- 
worthy exertions. This is a matter well worthy the 
attention of all agricultural societies. Send delegations 
to visit one another. 


While in Philadelphia, I met with our mutual friend, 
C. N. Bement, and with him visited several places of 
interest, including the Wilmington Fair. We also visited 
Westchester, and enjoyed the hospitality of Dr. Darling- 
ton, known as one of the most scientific writers on agri- 
culture. We also visited the Paschal Morris' and Joseph 
Cope's farms, as well as many other of the highly culti- 
vated farms of the Brandywine hills. 

Mr. Cope is known as an importer of Durham stock 
and South Down sheep, a beautiful lot of which he had 
on hand. I look upon this as the best breed of sheep for 
general use in the country. Those desirous of purchas- 
ing, may depend upon the genuine article from Mr. Cope. 

Mr. Morris is a large breeder of Durhams. We saw 
here a horse power churn, which makes 100 lbs. of butter 
at one operation. The apparatus is simple and cheap. 
Any person desirous of obtaining information about it, 
will find by making application to Mr. M., that he is a 
"gentleman farmer" — which means a man of intelligence, 
and who is always ready to devote his time and abilities 
to the promotion of improvement among his brethren. 

I wish he would also publish a description, and his 
opinion, of a wheat sowing machine that we saw at his 

At one of the farms which we visited, I was struck 
with the appearance of a fine lot of fat oxen, fed entirely 
upon grass, which is one of the most luxuriant and 
profitable crops that grow upon these hills. These oxen 
are driven, while lean, from the north part of Ohio, and 
no doubt many of them had while young been driven 
from the interior of Indiana or Illinois to Ohio, there 
used for work while in their prime, and then driven to 
Pennsylvania to eat up the surplus grass, and in turn 
to be eaten up by the surplus population of Philadelphia. 

At the same farm, I saw a very simple and cheap 
apparatus that forces water forty or fifty rods, up a 
steep hill, to the house and barn. A lever, about twenty 
feet long, with a weight at one end and a water box at 


the other, is hung in the stream, and covered over with a 
roof, around which, in winter time, straw is placed to 
prevent freezing. While the end of the lever upon which 
is the box, is up, a stream of water runs in, and the 
weight of that overbalances the weighted end of the lever, 
and down goes the box, striking a pin in its descent that 
opens a valve and lets out the water, when up it comes 
for a new supply, each movement of the lever making a 
stroke of a force pump that sends the water in one 
perpetual, never tiring stream up the hill. 

Instead of feeling as though we were troublesome visi- 
tors, seeking our own gratification, we were everywhere 
made to feel more like one affectionate brother visiting 
another. We were assured that our hosts rather con- 
sidered it an honor than a burthen to entertain us. Oh ! 
how I wish agricultural brethren would extend the cus- 
tom of visiting one another. Much good and much pleas- 
ure would come of it. 

After our return to Philadelphia, we went, in com- 
pany with the excellent editor of the Farmers' Cabinet, 
a short trip into New Jersey, and at the farm of 
Mr. Edward Tonkin, 1 about fourteen miles from Camden, 
saw some of the finest specimens of fat Durham oxen, 
I venture to say, in the United States. Mr. T. is a large 
breeder of Durhams, and has done what but few breeders 
would do, that is, to alter some of his best bull calves 
for the purpose of showing what can be done with this 
breed of cattle for beef. He also has one spayed heifer. 
These beeves are now about five years old, and it was 
the opinion of several gentlemen present that the largest 
ox would weigh 3,000 pounds. They are to be fed 
another year. Taken together, they are one of the most 
beautiful shows of fat cattle I ever saw. 

On our return, we visited the old "Haddonfield house," 
built of bricks and timber imported from England. We 
now look upon the importation of bricks as ridiculous. 

1 Edward Tonkin, of Clarksboro, near Woodbury, Gloucester 



When shall we get our eyes open wide enough to see that 
many of our present importations are more ridiculous, 
and more detrimental to the best interests of the country? 

This house, still in a good state of preservation, is 
owned by a gentleman by the name of Wood, who owns 
"those chickens" that can eat corn off of a flour barrel 
standing on end. They are tall subjects. 

I was surprised to learn that in this state, so cele- 
brated for peaches, the trees have entirely failed. New 
Jersey peaches are now no more. 

And now, my dear readers, if you are as tired of read- 
ing as I am of writing, you will be glad that I come here 
to an abrupt close — promising, however, that you shall 
again hear from your old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., Dec. 1841. 

Ac Repository at Washington. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:5-6; Jan., 1842] 

Lake C. H., la., Dec. 15, 1841. 

Dear Sir, — You are well aware of the deep interest 
that the Hon. H. L. Ellsworth, Comr. of the Patent Office, 
takes in all matters that tend to "elevate the character 
and standing of the cultivators of the American soil," as 
well as the interest of the mechanics and manufacturers 
of our country. 

The following is a copy of a note addressed to me while 
at Washington, during my late and interesting agricul- 
tural tour through the United States. And as this is the 
day upon which the friends of a National Agricultural 
Society, meet at Washington to form a Constitution, 
which meeting I have been prevented from attending, 
mainly in consequence of a severe cold which I contracted 
during my passage home in November, on our Northern 
lakes, I feel as though I could not better employ myself, 
than in drawing public attention to the subject of the 
letter, which follows: 


"Washington City, Sept. 6, 1841. 
"Hon. Solon Robinson : 

"Dear Sir, — I cannot permit you to leave us without 
expressing to you my warmest respects, for the interest 
that you take in the subject upon which you are now 
making your tour of observation. It would be extremely 
gratifying to me to be able to accompany you. I am sure 
that it will be not only interesting to yourself, but to all 
the friends of the best interests of our country with 
whom you have the pleasure of meeting. 

"I am happy to know that you are received as you de- 
serve to be, wherever you go. Permit me again to solicit 
your aid, as opportunity may offer, to aid the Commis- 
sioner of Patents in those two much cherished objects, 
viz : a collection of samples of manufactured articles from 
every establishment in the United States ; including, espe- 
cially, all agricultural implements used in this country. 

"The collection of all these things, when they will be 
exhibited to the public, exactly in the form in which they 
are used, will not only be interesting but highly beneficial 
to individuals. 

"I wish also to collect samples of all kinds of grain, and 
seeds, not only for exhibition, but distribution. 

"It is the object of the National Gallery, to form one 
of the most interesting collections that ever was brought 
together; and if public spirited individuals will second 
the efforts of the Commissioner, it will soon be accom- 

"Agents in different sea-ports, (see circular of last 
spring) will receive and forward articles free of expense. 

I have the honor and pleasure to subscribe myself, your 

agricultural friend, 

H. L. Ellsworth." 

Whether I was "received as I deserved to be," I cannot 
say ; but certain it is, I was everywhere received with dis- 
tinguished honor and cordial good feeling, and no where 
more so than by that enthusiastic friend of agriculture 
whose name I have just written. 


And now will "public spirited individuals second the 
efforts of the Commissioner?" I am sure they will if 
they learn more of the object. And for information upon 
this point, let me state, that a large portion of the new 
Patent Office building is appropriated to the purpose of 
holding and exhibiting samples of all kinds of articles 
manufactured in the United States, as well as the growth 
of all kinds of grain, flax, hemp, silk, &c.&c, with speci- 
mens of seeds of all kinds, all neatly arranged in glass 
cases, labelled to show where manufactured or grown. 

For example, what could be more interesting to the 
agriculturist, than to view in one case, not only the grain, 
but the growth of all the varities of Indian corn from 
every State in the Union. The "Hall of Manufactures" 
occupies the whole of the upper floor in one room, 274 
feet long ; the capacity of which will be further increased 
by a gallery on each side along the whole length. When 
completed and filled according to the original design, it 
will form one of the most interesting museums in the 
world, free to every visitor at our national capitol. In 
the basement story, extensive rooms are appropriated to 
receive every known implement of agriculture, in full 
size. Here will be seen every variety of plow, from that 
of the ancient Eqyptian, to that of the most approved 
model of the present day. 

It is presumed that every manufacturer will avail him- 
self of the opportunity to exhibit specimens of his goods 
or implements. Although the West is young in manufac- 
turing, she can furnish some of the noblest specimens of 
the growth of her rich soil. 

Let us then prepare to furnish a good supply of West- 
ern products. Of course there will be some duplicates, 
out of which the best will be selected for exhibition. 

It would also add to the interest to send specimens and 
descriptions of the soil in which the articles grew. 

Every person who has examined the models in the Pat- 
ent Office, will perceive at once how much more interest- 
ing will be a show of agricultural implements in full 


size. Every manufacturer of such implements would be 
doubly paid for the article furnished, as it would be one 
of the best advertisements that he could possibly make. 
Every member of Congress, who had the least regard for 
the interest of his constituents, would visit the Hall, and 
obtain a fund of information by examination and com- 
parison, which he could communicate to the farmers in 
his district. And here let me remark, that the time is 
rapidly approaching when the mere political hack, will 
find it so much to his interest, that he will pay more at- 
tention to the wants of this class ; yea, this immense ma- 
jority of the people in this government. 

It was my intention to have commented somewhat upon 
the present contents of this national museum; but as I 
am getting tiresomely lengthy, I will defer it till another 

In the meantime I remain yours, and the readers' of 
your paper, humble servant and friend, 

Solon Robinson 

A Cheap Ice House, A Good Cellar for Roots. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:15; Feb., 1842 1 ] 

[December 31, 1841] 
My worthy friend — You ask for more communica- 
tions. Now the fact is that my name has become so com- 
mon in agricultural papers, that I have reason to believe 
that something new from some new writer, would be 
much more interesting to readers, and that when they 
see my name they will exclaim, "what Monsieur Tonson 
come again," and pass over this hackneyed name with 
the well founded belief that no new thing can come from 
such an old fountain. But I will once more run that risk. 
Many persons are deterred from putting up ice, be- 
cause they cannot afford to build an ice house. If they 
will try the following plan, which by the by is not origi- 

1 Reprinted in Richmond Southern Planter, 7:7-8 (January, 


nal, but has been used in days of "auld lang syne," "down 
in old Virginia," and proved to be a good thing, they need 
not be afraid of the expense. 

Select a spot upon rising ground where the surface 
water will run off, and strike a circle 12 feet across and 
set a circle of strong stakes about 5 feet high and one 
foot apart — saw off the upper ends even and square — set 
another circle of stakes 4 feet distant all round, the same 
height, but they need not be quite so close to one another 
— leave a space on one side about two feet wide for a 
door way and set stakes or nail boards on each side so 
as to make a passage to the inside space — put strips 
across the inside space from the tops of the stakes, suffi- 
ciently strong to hold up a stack of hay. 

Now take prairie hay, or some of the superabundant 
straw that all western farmers waste or burn up, "to get 
it out of the way," and tramp the space between the 
stakes full and as tight as possible, taking care to raise 
it a foot or two above the top of the stakes, then make 
a complete round stack that will shed water, tapered from 
the outside stakes to the centre. To make a ventilation, 
nail 4 boards about 5 or 6 inches wide together; let two 
of them be one foot the longest, and set this box up as a 
stack pole, and nail a cap on the top of the two long 
pieces. If this give too much ventilation stuff straw in 
one end. Hang two tight doors, made to shut upon 
woolen listing. 

This "hay stack ice house," that any farmer can make 
in two days will keep ice two years. Of course the size 
may be varied. The ice should not be laid upon the 
ground, but upon some rails covered with straw — or a 
bed of straw would be better — a slight ditch should be 
dug around outside to drain off the water that drips 
down. With slight repairs it will last years. 

Now, besides being a good ice house, it would make one 
of the cheapest and best winter store houses for turnips 
&c, convenient to the cattle yard, that can be contrived 
when the soil will not admit of making cellars under our 


buildings. And in all damp climates, cellars under dwell- 
ings are a positive nuisance — complete hotbeds of pesti- 
lential miasma. 

There is one more purpose for which the fabrick may 
be used. Cobbet, who deprecated the use of ice, in speak- 
ing of an ice house in his "Cottage Economy," 1 says if 
you are tired of it for that use, it would make one of 
finest nests for young pigs in the winter, that could be 

Now I do not entirely deprecate the use of ice; but I 
believe like all other good things it is often used to ex- 
cess — and I certainly think that tea, coffee, and milk, are 
used too much in this country, to say nothing of that 
other thing that is so often used "to make the water taste 
better." Strange taste. And if we all drank more cold 
water and less "warm drink," our health would be de- 
cidedly better. 

Therefore I think that a cheap plan to make water 
more palatable, must be advantageous in these cheap 

Solon Robinson 

Lake C. H. la., Dec. 31, 1841. 

Traveling Memoranda — No. 8. 

[Albany Cultivator, 9:50; Mar., 1842] 

[January 15, 1842] 
Editors of Cultivator — While in New Jersey I 
learned one fact that I was not aware of, but I am not 
certain but I may have mentioned it in my last letter, 
that the Peach tree which has heretofore afforded such 
a large income to the cultivators in this state, has almost 
entirely failed. This is a great loss to the people — for it 
seemed as though this tree flourished better than any 
other crop upon their light sands. It is impossible for 
those unacquainted with the fact, to conceive what an ad- 
vantage the owners of such land have derived from marl. 

1 Cobbett, William, Cottage Economy . . . (London, 1826). 


Some of the most valuable land opposite Philadelphia is 
that upon the "reclaimed meadows," from which the tide 
has been dyked out at great expense, and which requires 
great care and sometimes great expense to keep in repair. 
Mr. Benjamin Cooper, at Camden, informed me, that one 
break in his embankment, cost $500 to repair. I hope if 
there are any who may envy those who live in situations 
that seem better adapted than their own to make farm- 
ing profitable, that they will bear in mind that the most 
favored locations are not always the most profitable, for 
there are a great many out-goes, that the small farmer 
of the interior would not only find burdensome, but ruin- 
ous. For instance, the cost of the fence and dykes on 
Mr. Cooper's farm, would buy an equal number of acres 
where I live, of better soil, and fence, plow and sow the 
whole to wheat, and put up comfortable farm buildings. 
If we could see and know more of one another, we should 
learn to be more contented and happy in our humble situ- 

It was lamentable to witness the waste of land and 
wreck of fortunes around Philadelphia, which the Morus 
multicaulus mania produced. Patches of the trees are 
yet to be seen on many farms, but little that looks as 
though the owners ever intended to convert them into 
their only proper use, the feeding of silk worms. 

Fifteen miles above Philadelphia, on the banks of the 
beautiful Delaware, I saw another great waste of wealth, 
in Mr. Biddle's 1 "great forcing house," [not the bank] 
where he boasts that he can produce grapes every month 
in the year. Such vast outlays of money upon such ob- 
jects, are not so creditable to the owner as many of the 
small and almost unknown improvements in farming and 
farming implements that we find in every neighborhood. 
For instance, at Camden, I saw a new drill barrow, lately 

1 Nicholas Biddle, born January 8, 1786, at Philadelphia; died 
February 27, 1844. Litterateur, scholar, statesman, financier, and 
agriculturist. Had a fine estate called "Andalusia" on the Dela- 
ware. See Dictionary of American Biography, 2:243-45. 


patented by Mr. Jones, 1 which I consider preferable to 
any other that I have seen, and which will prove of more 
advantage to the cultivators of the soil, than all Mr. Bid- 
die's acres of glass hot houses, although he can boast that 
he raised the finest grapes in the world. Again, the im- 
provements that Mr. Edmund Morris of Burlington, has 
made in the manner of feeding silk worms, will be the 
means of producing more real wealth and happiness in 
the world, than all the "forcing houses" [banks included] 
in Christendom. His manner of destroying the vitality 
of the worm in the cocoon is so simple and easy, that I 
am surprised that it is not universally adopted, as it must 
be known to most silk raisers. In the roof of his cocoon- 
ery he has a large window, enclosed by a small close 
room, in which the cocoons are placed, and the heat of 
the sun is so great as to kill the grub quite as effectually 
and with less trouble than baking in an oven. 

Mr. Morris is one of those worthy friends of improve- 
ment that deserve to have their names kept before the 
readers of all agricultural papers. And the way that he 
knows how to welcome a friend, is the same that I have 
found in so many hundred instances during the summer 
of 1841, and which has tended so much to make me feel 
proud of 

"My own native land." 

Burlington is one of the most delightful towns in the 
United States — And reader, I beg you to remember why ! 
Every house has its garden, and every street its shade 
trees. And now, as you hope to have your name remem- 
bered with a blessing by future generations, promise me 
that ere another summer sun comes, parching up the 
earth, that you will make one little green spot where you 
have planted at least one tree. 

At Trenton, I saw, to me, a new kind of crop. Cayenne 
pepper is cultivated to considerable extent, and being 

1 Possibly this is the drill barrow of William Jones and H. C. 
Smith described and illustrated in the New York American Agri- 
culturist, 5:276 (1846). 


dried is ground in a common grist mill, put up in barrels, 
and brings about 20 cts. a pound. The grinding costs one 
ct. a pound. Even at the present low price, it is found a 
very profitable crop, easily cultivated, and will grow upon 
any rich soil. 

From Trenton to New-York, I had a night ride over 
that much traveled rail-road, as my anxiety to be at the 
State Fair at Syracuse compelled me to push forward, 
leaving many of the beauties of New Jersey unseen ; but 
as a Sunday intervened, I took that only opportunity to 
visit a most delightful spot, and met with a most hearty 
welcome from that excellent friend of agricultural im- 
provement, Mr. Charles Downing 1 of Newburgh. A beau- 
tiful work upon Landscape Gardening, lately published 
by his brother A. J. Downing, 2 has rendered the name 
familiar to the lovers of rural scenery in this country. 
I had not the pleasure of meeting the author, but from 
what I saw of his excellent nursery, and tasteful man- 
sion, I was satisfied that he was such a man of taste as 
would confer lasting benefits to the country, if he and 
those like him would write much more for the gratifica- 
tion and information of their fellow citizens. From my 
acquaintance with Mr. Chas. Downing, I am confident 
that those who desire to order trees from his well filled 
nursery, will be well satisfied to be assured of finding 
him a gentleman of integrity, and that they will find the 
trees exactly as he recommends them, which is a small 
matter of information that may be useful to some of 
your readers, and one that I hope the lovers of good fruit 
may profit by. 

Charles Downing, born July 9, 1802, at Newburgh, New York; 
died January 18, 1885. Pomologist, horticulturist, and author. 
See Dictionary of American Biography, 5:418-19. 

2 Andrew Jackson Downing, born October 30, 1815, at Newburgh; 
died July 28, 1852. Landscape gardener, architect, horticulturist, 
agricultural editor and writer. Downing's Treatise on the Theory 
and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America, 
went through many editions. Op. cit., 5:417-18. 


In passing along the North River, the eye of the lover 
of delightful country residences, meets with constant 

It ought to convince us of the folly of crowding our 
sons into "a genteel situation" in a city, to see such a 
large portion of them make a wreck of all happiness, and 
sink in poverty into an early grave, while the few whom 
fortune favors with the mass of wealth that would not 
suffice the mass of citizens if equally distributed, are to 
be found escaping from the city and spending their 
wealth in ornamenting the banks of this beautiful river ; 
thus proving that in looking for real social enjoyment of 
life, the country is ever preferable to the city. There is 
much food for reflection and profitable application in that 
trite old proverb, that, 

"Man made the town, but God made the country ;" 

and those that love Him, ought to love to cultivate, im- 
prove and beautify the works of his creation, and to be 
more happy and contented amid the georgeous beauties 
of nature, than in the artificial atmosphere of a crowded 

And now, Mr. Tucker, I come to the time when I first 
had the pleasure of meeting you face to face, although 
we had long been acquainted — and although it may not 
be particularly interesting to you, it may to some other 
of those acquaintances of mine who I am in the monthly 
practice of meeting in your columns, to describe some of 
the things with which you are already familiar. 

I will therefore address myself to them — I landed at 
Albany, upon one of those delightful days in the last of 
September, for which the autumn of our country is so 
justly celebrated, for affording the most beautiful 
weather imaginable. 

After depositing my baggage, (and here let me ob- 
serve that I am one of those old fashioned men who do 
not scruple to "carry my own bundle,") and reading a 
few letters from that place which I am never able to for- 


get, and which every man that has "a home" should ever 
remember, I undertook to find some one in this strange 
place that was not altogether a stranger to me, although 
I was personally unknown to all. It was no easy matter, 
for all my agricultural friends seemed to be actively en- 
gaged in busy preparation for the approaching carnival 
at Syracuse. Mr. Tucker had took himself off from his 
office, and was as busy among bulls and boars, and horses, 
hogs, sheep and cows, superintending their embarkation 
on board the rail-road cars, as though to that vocation 
he had been "well bred." After seeing "all right" for 
an early start the next morning, I soon found myself 
quite at home in his house, where we were soon joined by 
Mr. Bement, and at peep of day were seated in a cab or- 
dered over night to take us out to the rail-road at the top 
of the inclined plane, a mile or more from the city; for 
be it known that the Albanians have not the most conven- 
ient rail-road arrangements in the world. 

Our trip to Syracuse was a proud one — twenty-four 
cars loaded with stock, and to which was attached a pas- 
senger car occupied by Messrs. Tucker, E. P. Prentice, 1 
Van Bergen, 2 Bement, Chapin, 3 and several other gentle- 
men who owned the stock, or were interested in some 
way — the day very pleasant, and the novelty of such a 
train exciting more interest and attention than perhaps 
ever was bestowed upon any train that ever passed over 
the route, and our company all being in a high flow of 

1 Ezra P. Prentice, of Mount Hope, near Albany, breeder of 
livestock. President, New York State Agricultural Society, 1850. 
See description of his farm in Cultivator, n. s., 2:43-44 (February, 
1845). An engraving of the residence faces page 41. 

2 Judge Anthony Van Bergen, Coxsackie, New York. President, 
Greene County Agricultural Society, 1840. One of the best farm- 
ers on the Hudson, according to the Cultivator, 8:176 (November, 
1841). Vice-president, New York State Agricultural Society, 

3 Heman Chapin, East Bloomfield, Ontario County, New York. 
Livestock breeder. Active in New York State Agricultural 


spirits, without being excited by ardent spirits, all tended 
to make the trip one to be long remembered. 

Another fact that should be remembered is, that the 
rail-road companies between Schenectady and Utica, and 
between Utica and Syracuse had tendered the use of the 
roads to the State Society, and all the agents and con- 
ductors seemed to evince a most laudable zeal in getting 
their unusual fare safely through. I am satisfied that 
this praiseworthy effort of those gentlemen of Albany 
and vicinity, who exerted themselves so much in getting 
up this show, will tend much to wake up the sleeping 
energies of the country, to the importance and benefit of 
paying more attention to agricultural fairs. 

Of the proceedings of the fair, it is not necessary to 
speak, as that has already been published, but the recep- 
tion that I met with there was such as to convince me 
that the labor of those who devote themselves to encour- 
age their brethren in the spirit of agricultural improve- 
ment, will be sure to meet with an ample reward from 
them whenever they have an opportunity to show their 

One of the marks of respect of which I feel justly 
proud, was one of the most elegant pitchforks that ever 
I saw, and which has been universally admired by the 
thousands who have seen it, that was presented to me by 
and in the name of the State Agricultural Society of New 
York, by H. S. Randall, esq., 1 Cor. Sec'y of the Society, 
of Cortland Co., where it was manufactured, by Mr. 
Lewis Sanford. I also was presented with one of Barn' 
aby & Moore's premium side hill plows, which has also 
been much admired by all who have seen it since it has 
been in my possession. I was also presented with another 
premium plow, but as I failed to receive it before I left 
Buffalo, I will take another occasion to speak of it when 

1 Henry Stephens Randall, born May 3, 1811, Brookfield, Madi- 
son County, New York; died August 14, 1876, Cortland. Agricul- 
turist, educator, author, authority on sheep. See Dictionary of 
American Biography, 15:347-48. 


it arrives. The Side Hill Plow is already described in 
the Cultivator, 1 and I have no doubt will supersede all 
other plows for that purpose; this one also working ad- 
mirably in all kinds of plowing. 

Although some appeared to be disappointed in the 
quantity of Stock that was exhibited, I think that, con- 
sidering this was the first effort of the State Society, all 
ought to be well satisfied, as the great object was gained 
in the strong interest manifested among ten thousand 
people who were present. No doubt that another year 
will produce one of the greatest fairs ever had in this 
country, if the same enthusiastic spirit then manifested 
continues to exhilarate the mass of New York farmers, 
of which you may well be proud, for I fully believe that 
no section of our country can make a display of such a 
mass as was seen at Syracuse, of more respectable "well- 
to-do-in-the-world" looking people. 

There are a great many small matters that I might 
dwell upon, and which would prove interesting, but I find 
myself getting over the ground so slowly, that I must 
needs pass them over for the present, and again take my 
seat in the car attached to the great stock train, upon 
the evening of the first day of October, spending a very 
cool night upon the road, and arriving in Albany for 
breakfast, on my way to Boston. 

Although time and space are almost overcome by rail- 
road facilities between distant places, yet now time and 
space forbid me from giving a description of Mr. Pren- 
tice's farm near Albany, and the beautiful stocks of Short 
Horns and South Down Sheep, which I saw there; but 
I will assure my readers that if they wish to purchase 
they will find Mr. P. a gentleman whose word may be 
depended on, and his stock exactly what he may recom- 
mend. Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., Jan. 15, 1842. 

'See Cultivator, 8:176 (November, 1841), Barnaby and Mooer's 
side hill plow. 


For the Western Farmer's "Own Paper." 
Odds and Ends — By an Oddity. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:24; Mar., 1842] 

[January 22, 1842] 

If we should pick up all the useful odds and ends that 
we meet with among the ?mpublished items of our life, 
we might often publish a useful chapter. But whether 
useful or not, you are welcome to a few of such odds as 
happen to occur to my mind at present, and I hope that 
some of your readers will find them useful to their ends. 

Farming tools. — What a miserable policy it is to buy 
the lowest priced articles, for they are not the cheapest, 
and yet it seems to prevail to an almost universal extent. 

I can find hundreds of plows now among farmers in 
this section of country, that are scarcely superior to the 
ancient Egyptian plow, formed of a crooked stick of 

A few years since, a cargo of rakes were brought to 
Chicago from Ohio, "fair to look upon," and withal cheap, 
that for all practical purposes were not worth the cost 
of freight. 

Pitchforks that are now most commonly found for 
sale, are only worthy the name of a brittle stick, with a 
brittle piece of iron stuck in one end of it. The "last 
sad remains" of thousands of them can now be found 
upon the premises of those who have mourned over their 
early decay, instead of mourning over their own folly 
at purchasing the cheap articles, instead of paying their 
own village smith for a real good article, and thereby 
encouraging "domestic manufactures." 

And here let me recommend your Society to offer 
premiums for all kinds of "home-made" farming tools. 

Matches. — I don't mean to make the girls blush at the 
idea that I am going to offer them some sage recommen- 
dations upon this subject, though I cannot help remark- 
ing that I think it would be well for them to pay a little 
more attention to this matter, and if some of them would 


"pay attention" to the editor of this paper, it might 
relieve him from his own native modesty that prevents 
him from paying attention to them upon the subject of a 
match, instead of matches in general. My present rec- 
ommendation is to every housekeeper to keep matches, 
of which there are three sorts, all of which are articles 
of household economy. The friction match, which can 
be bought cheaper than made in small quantities, often 
saves the cost a thousand fold in one day, by doing away 
the necessity of "keeping fire." When in N.Y. last sum- 
mer, boys were hawking them through the streets of an 
excellent quality, "7 boxes for sixpence." If any of my 
readers are troubled with one of those pests of a neigh- 
borhood, the race of which is not yet extinct, I advise 
them to procure a quantity of those cheap matches, and 
give a box to every customer that comes "to borrow a 
little fire," which, like most of the race of borrowers, 
they never intend to pay. In fact you may consider 
yourself extremely lucky if you get rid of the nuisance 
without a coal dropt upon the floor, or perhaps carpet, 
by which you are damaged to the amount of not only 
seven boxes of matches, but 7 times 7. As it is useless 
to recommend one of those habitual fire-borrowers to 
expend a whole cent in the purchase of a box of matches, 
I repeat the advice to furnish them gratuitously. 

Then there are brimstone matches, made of pine splin- 
ters, or little strips of paper, having one end dipt in 
melted brimstone, and which any child of ten years old 
can make enough in one evening to last a family ten 
months, I consider as an almost indispensible article 
among the comforts of housekeeping. Whenever I see 
a person puffing away a vast amount of breath and 
patience in an almost vain endeavor to light a candle 
with a coal, I wonder whether that person is a great 
admirer of "labor-saving machinery." If not, I am sure 
that the labor-saving of a little brimstone match, the 
cost of which is so small that it cannot be enumerated, 
would be a sufficient argument. 


And finally, about those paper matches, I shall illus- 
trate in my own way. "Now I du wonder what them 'ere 
little bits of twisted paper are for, that I always see 
stuck up in a tumbler on Mrs. R.'s mantle shelf." "Well 
now, I can't say exactly, but I guess as how they're jist 
for ornament, for you see a whole parcel of shells there 
too, not a bit of use in the world." "Why now you're 
both wrong. I was just as much puzzled as you till I 
was there t'other night, when I went to snuff the candle 
with them awkward iron things, and not being used to 
'em I put it out. So I went to work to light it, and all 
I could do I could hardly get a coal out of that plaguey 
stove, and I do wonder what folks keep stoves for, the 
pesky things. So after I had e'en-a-most burnt myself 
up, and almost melted away the candle, and dropt a right 
smart chance of grease, one of the little girls came in, 
and dear me, says she. Mrs. Blowhard, says she, why 
did'nt you take a match; and with that she whip'd out 
one of them little twisted papers, and would you believe 
it, she lighted the candle in less than no time. And so 
you see, that's jist what they are for, and I declare now 
if they an't the handiest things I ever did see, and I 
have told my old man that he must take a newspaper, 
if for nothing else they'll be so nice to make matches of." 

Facts are stubborn things, but not half so stubborn 
as those who persist in burning their fingers at the 
"pesky stove," and their noses over a coal, and their 
temper over the "right smart chance of grease spots," 
when it would be so easy to have a few little twisted 
pieces of paper stuck in a tumbler on the mantle shelf, 
notwithstanding Mrs. Blowhard and her gossips might 
think they were "more for ornament than use." 

These are small matters, you may say, but recollect 
that the comforts of life are made up of small matters. 

Solon Robinson. 1 
(To be continued) 

1 The editor added the following "Note. — We disclaim the author- 
ship of the heading of this communication, Mr. R.'s 'oddity,' it 



A New Source of Wealth 

for the prairie farmer. 

$100,000 of "British Gold" 

ready to be distributed in the west for 

100,000 Bushels Timothy Seed. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:37; Apr., 1842] 

[February 27, 1842] 
Mr. Editor — I have received letters from one of the 
largest agricultural ware houses in the Eastern cities, 
in which the proprietors state that they are ready to 
contract for any quantity of timothy seed that can be 
purchased at Chicago, at one dollar a bushel. 

Is it not worth the attention of farmers? I do not 
believe there can be any better crop raised, and if they 
will make early preparation, they can soon supply the 
world, and the crop requires a comparative small amount 
of labor, I should like to make arrangements to buy 
twenty thousand bushels next fall at Chicago. Can I 
do it? Who says yes? We want the money to put in 
circulation. And it will add permanent wealth to the 

Yours, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 
Lake C. H. la. Feb. 27, 1842. 

seems to us, consists in his devotion to the advancement of agri- 
culture, and in this he is unquestionably odd. Would there were 
more such 'oddities!' 

"Mr. R.'s remarks to the ladies under the head of 'matches,' 
should receive their attention, particularly that part where he 
alludes to their writing for the paper. This silence cannot be 
owing to their not being requested to write, as Mr. R. suggests, for 
in every No. or two, a request has been addressed to them par- 

The remainder of the article was published in the Union Agri- 
culturist, 2:35 (April, 1842). It dealt with hedging, ditching, 
blue grass, etc. 


The Penitentiary System of the U. States. 

[Nashville Agriculturist, 3:67; Mar., 1842] 

[March ?, 1842] 
To the Editors of the Tennessee State Agriculturist: 1 

Gentlemen : — Neither you nor your readers should 
turn away from the caption of this article, under the 
impression that it is not an Agricultural subject, and 
therefore inappropriate to your pages, or because it 
comes from one without the borders of Tennessee, and to 
you and your readers a stranger. 

My present ideas are awakened by the remarks of Mr. 
Kezer 2 in your January No., where he calls attention to 
the fact of the State "collecting all the rascals, thieves, 
villains and murderers, that come within our borders;" 
(he should have added, provided they do not escape the 
penalty of the law, through the influence of money, and 
subtle technicalities of a Statute that is as a sealed book 
to the common class of community,) "placing them in a 
large manufactory, supported in part by the very taxes 
wrung from honest labor." 

If the latter part of this assertion is true in regard to 
Tennessee, it is not in many other States, for there, the 
whole object, end and aim, of the penitentiary system, 

1 The Agriculturist was begun in 1840 and continued until Au- 
gust 1, 1846. Tolbert Fanning, editor, 1840-1844, was interested 
in agricultural advancement and imported some of the best breeds 
of stock. In 1843 he opened an agricultural school on his farm 
near Nashville which was the forerunner of Franklin College, 
chartered in 1844. Among contributors to the Agriculturist were 
Dr. John Shelby, for whom Shelby Medical College was named, 
and Dr. Gerard Troost, a native of Holland, who spent a year at 
New Harmony before going to Nashville in 1827. He was pro- 
fessor of chemistry and geology at the University of Nashville, 
1828-1850. Dictionary of American Biography, 6:268-69; Clayton, 
W. W., History of Davidson County, Tennessee . . ., 231, 285 
(Philadelphia, 1880) ; Tennessee Historical Magazine, 2d series, 

3 T. Kezer, Esq., president of the Nashville, Tennessee, Mechan- 
ics' Association. A practical mechanic interested in lecturing and 
raising the standard of regard for mechanics as a profession. 


seems to be, not the punishment or reform of the con- 
victs, but how much money the State can make out 
of them. 

Whether this great error arises out of the pernicious 
dispositions of our nature, or out of a mistaken notion 
what constitutes punishment, I cannot say — but it cer- 
tainly appears as though the whole penitentiary system 
of the Union, was based upon this abominable idea, that 
labor is 'punishment. Great God of nature! Can this 
be true — No, it is as false, as those legislators are false 
to the true interests of the great body of laborers whose 
rights are sacrificed by bringing the labor of thieves, 
villains and murderers into competition with the honest 
mechanic, by sentencing convicts to "the punishment of 
hard labor" in our State prisons. Punishment indeed! 
Go to these convicts and ask them if labor is a punish- 
ment — they will tell you that they look upon the privilege 
of coming forth from their gloomy cells to labor in the 
cheering light of day, as one of the greatest blessings. 

I have visited many penitentiaries in my day, and I 
always have found the convicts well fed, well clothed, 
well lodged, and cheerfully performing their labor, and 
in fact better off than I have often found honest industry 
outside the walls. It is a common thing in some States, 
to farm out these convict laborers, to contractors who 
will pay the greatest bonus to the State Treasury, thereby 
bringing convict labor in direct competition with the free 

What is the remedy, do you ask? Plain and clear as 
the light of day. Blot out of your statute book that cursed 
slander upon a great majority of the laborers of this 
country, that labor is a punishment. Cast out from the 
yard and work-shops of your penitentiaries, every manu- 
facturing implement, and sentence your convicts to that 
most terrible punishment that all dread, a life of idleness, 
solitary and alone, without a single musical sound of the 
mechanic, or the human voice, where they would never 
be cheered with the sight of their fellows in iniquity, and 


depend upon it villains would then be punished, and dread 
your State prisons, which as now conducted should be 
rather called State asylums. Then tax the honest, labor- 
ing part of the community to pay for punishing crimi- 
nals, and my word for it they will pay the tax more 
cheerfully than they now look upon this system of 
abominable State monopoly, and convict competition with 
all the mechanical trades. 

Depraved indeed must be that mind, and anti-Ameri- 
can that heart, that could wish to see the present system 
entailed upon us, merely because a few dollars were 
brought directly into the State treasury, by the labor of 
convicts, when if the whole field was thrown open to the 
competition of unpunished labor, the great body politic 
would be made ten times richer, and the guilty would be 
really punished. 

Gentlemen of the Nashville Mechanic's Association, 
friends and brothers ! You have opened a battery upon 
this worst of all monopolies that afflicts and disgraces 
our common country, and degrades the honest artizan 
below the level of "a penitentiary gentleman boarder;" 
and I beseech you never to spike your guns or pull down 
your flag of justice, till you have driven every felon to 
his solitary cell, and cast out the "legion of devils," in 
the shape of mechanical implements, in the great State 
manufactory, where criminals are punished with labor, 
and you are disgraced by being placed in competition 
with "villains, thieves and murderers." x 

Let your watchword be, "We can, we must, we WILL, 
elevate our character and standing in society," and you 
shall not lack, at least one volunteer, while the ability to 
wield a pen remains with your humble servant and 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake Court House, Ind., March 1842. 

1 For comment on this article see the Agriculturist, 3:136-37, 
157-58 (June, July, 1842). 

Household Department 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:30; Mar., 1842] 

[March ?, 1842] 

Coffee. — If you would have it good, roast it in a cov- 
ered vessel, or in the oven of a stove, but don't burn it. — 
The grains should never be black. 

Keeping Hams. — This is one of the easiest arts in 
housekeeping, and yet I hear of no one complaint more 
than this. "How do you keep your hams?" is an every 
day question. Perhaps the easiest and cheapest way is 
the one which I have last adopted. Take common cotton 
sheeting and make a bag large enough for the ham to 
slip in quite loose, put it in when well smoked, and be- 
fore the meat bug makes its appearance in the spring — 
tie the mouth of the bag around the string of the ham, 
so that it will hang by that, while the bag hangs loose 
around it — hang them up in a cool dry room, and you 
can have as good bacon as I have 18 months old, without 
a worm, or the least waste, and scarcely any trouble, 
and the bags will answer a good purpose year after year. 

Solon Robinson. 

Notes upon Articles in the Feb'y No. 

[Albany Cultivator, 9:85; May, 1842] 

[May ?, 1842] 

Styptic. — One of the most efficacious that I ever tried 
is common gun powder, reduced to a very fine powder 
and applied to the wound. The ingredients composing 
that article appear to be in the proper combination to 
have a speedy and good effect. It is better than puff 
ball, and more easily procured at all times. I have known 
it applied so as to reach a deep wound, (the cavity where 
a tooth had been drawn for instance,) with the best 
effect, by putting a little of it in a quill and forcing it 
into the wound by blowing. 


Making Pork. — Mr. Cornell, 1 (page 33,) says he can- 
not make pork at $3.50 per cwt., with corn at 50 cents, 
potatoes 20 cents. But if all should cease making pork 
under these circumstances, pork would rise and corn 
would fall. What is the remedy? for we want to know 
out here in the West, being in just such "a fix." The 
price of pork at Chicago this winter has been from $1 
to $2.25. A great portion of the hogs being of the land- 
pike variety, being great consumers and small porkers, I 
do not think they have averaged more than $1.50 per 
cwt. Corn in the same market, 60 pounds to the bushel, 
25 cents. Oats, 18. Potatoes, I cannot say what at Chi- 
cago; but here, 40 miles from there, plenty at 12!/o cents; 
and corn, 16 cents ; oats, 14 cents. Now at these prices, 
I am confident that every man who has put his grain 
inside of these long legged, lantern jawed swine, has lost 
money. But — and here I am "stalled." If it had not 
been for this immense "waste of grain," could it have 
been sold, even at these prices? It certainly does appear 
to me that it would be a beneficial remedy to have a bet- 
ter breed of hogs more generally diffused through the 

And I too am certain that we never shall be wiser by 
reading of such experiments as Mr. Cornell alludes to; 
but we should be wiser if several gentlemen would take 
a lot of pigs and measure and count the cost of every 
article of food from weaning till butchering time, and 
give the result to the public, as to the breed, age, cost, 
weight, &c. 

I suggest to agricultural societies to offer premiums 
for such detailed experiments. It would be far more 
beneficial than it would be to publish to the world that 
Mr. Prentice owned the best bull or the best boar at the 
fair, while at the same time everybody knew that Mr. 

1 Ezra Cornell, Ithaca, New York; born January 11, 1807; died 
December 9, 1874. Capitalist. Founder of Cornell University. 
Interested in agriculture. See Dictionary of American Biography, 


Stay-at-home had a much better one that was not there, 
and consequently could not get the premium. Let the 
premiums be — not for the biggest bull, for if that was 
not a bull, it would be a boar; but let them be for those 
who produced the most beneficial and useful examples 
for their fellow citizens to follow. In this way we would 
soon learn how many bushels of corn it took to make a 
hundred of pork, instead of hearing how much more an 
old sow weighed after she had drunk a bucket of swill 
than she did before. We want more facts and less 

"A Stone Scraper." — When I was a boy and lived 
in stony Connecticut, I used to have the back ache and 
sore fingers, "picking up stones." And as it was always 
considered an "endless job," I suppose they are not all 
picked up yet, particularly as there was when I left them 
a great many small ones; and since then, I have seen a 
great many small men grow into large ones, (in their 
own opinion.) I don't know but some of those small 
stones have grown large enough to be operated upon by 
that stone scraper described by Mr. Bowman, 1 (page 34;) 
and for the benefit of some of those Yankee boys' backs 
and fingers, to say nothing about the sythes and conse- 
quent grindstone turning, I want some of them to try 
that scraper, and see if it will answer to pick up stones 
with ; because if it does, I know my name will be blest by 
the rising Yankee generation for making the suggestion 
for their especial benefit. I would try it myself ; but as a 
matter of geological information to those same Yankee 
boys, I will inform them that out here on the prairie, they 
could'nt find pebble stone enough on a thousand acres to 
make a "right smart chance of a sizeable sort of a stone 

"Cream Pot Cattle." — It is with feelings far from 
being allied to pleasure that I read the result of the sale 
of this stock of cattle in friend Bement's letter, (page 
36.) Hundreds of far less valuable cattle have been im- 

1 James L. Bowman, Brownsville, Pennsylvania. 


ported at great expense. "Far fetched and dear bought," 
is all the recommendation required by some. Alas, for 
my worthy old friend, Colonel Jaques; 1 his stock was 
"domestic manufacture;" and who would purchase that 
in these anti-tariff times? I knew the colonel was em- 
barrassed, and I deeply regret to hear that he has been 
sacrificed too. His efforts to do good were worthy a bet- 
ter fate. I am at this time in good health, and as com- 
fortable as could be expected, in one of the muddiest 
winters that you ever saw. If I do not get stuck fast, 
you will again hear from Solon Robinson. 

Letter from Solon Robinson. 

[Extract; Albany Cultivator, 9:117; July, 1842] 

[June 8, 1842] 

"I have received several letters, enquiring why I have 
discontinued my correspondence to the Cultivator. I 
assure you that it is not in consequence of any disinclina- 
tion on my part. I am as anxious to gratify those of my 
friends, who are pleased to read my communications, as 
they can be to read them; but a great pressure of busi- 
ness has wholly prevented me during this spring. I have 
been so hard at work that I have been obliged to forego 
the pleasure that I always feel when engaged in contrib- 
uting my share of instruction or amusement to my fellow 

But I assure you, and you may assure your readers if 
you see proper, that the time is not far distant when, I 
hope, many of your readers will be pleased to see again 
the familiar name of their old friend 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., June 8, 1842. 

1 Colonel Samuel Jaques, Ten Hills Stock Farm, Charlestown, 
Massachusetts. Bement commented with considerable irritation 
on the small attendance and low prices at the Colonel's sale. 

Solon Robinson to Incog, about Hedging. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:67; Aug., 1842] 

[June 30, 1842] 
Dear Sir — I have long intended to make some reply to 
Incog upon his remarks in the May No., accusing me of 
inconsistency about hedging, &C., 1 but circumstances have 
till now prevented. 

I do not wish to discourage any one from trying experi- 
ments in hedging. I have no doubt that something will 
yet be found to answer; but, after witnessing so many 
failures with the thorn, why should I continue to believe 
that they will prove otherwise on the prairie? I grant 
there are several kinds that flourish wild in our country, 
but will they flourish when trained in a hedge? I have 
not tried them: who has? I still repeat, "that all at- 
tempts at fencing, with sods or banks of earth, in such 
a loose friable soil, is buying wit too dear." But I still 
believe that a ditch can be made so as to form a good 
fence, and not very expensive. So can a fence be made 
by embankment, when the ground is well set in blue 
grass. — This I have tried. For my own part, I cannot 
see the 'discrepancy' in the two articles, written at dif- 
ferent dates, which Mr. Incog sees. Neither have I 
changed my views in regard to fencing since I first set- 
tled upon the prairie, except to deprecate the use of 
sods, and doubt the success of thorn hedges. 'The 
grounds of my advice' have been already given ; and, for 
still stronger grounds, I beg to refer Incog to the article 
of 'Commentator,' page 78, of the last May No. of the 
Cultivator, the author of which I happen to know to be 
a man that never puts forth opinions at random. 

There is another view that I have about fencing which 
I have often expressed, and now do so again ; and I ven- 
ture to say that Incog, unless he really belongs to the 
family of the Incogatives, will not attempt to deny. It 

'Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:44. Incog was the title under 
which M. L. Knapp wrote for each issue of the Agriculturist a 
review of the preceding number. See post, 363 n. 


is this : The time will come when all those 'millions of 
acres of land, sustaining no material for fences,' will be 
cultivated, and that, too, without fencing. 

The present generation may 'maul and haul' rails to 
their heart's content, and perhaps the next generation 
will follow in the footsteps of their fathers ; but the time 
will come when the grand prairie of Illinois will be 
brought under the dominion of the husbandmen, without 
the aid of fence. I assert it now, as my sincere belief, 
that, if a law having that object in view were to be now 
enacted, it would ultimately prove of more benefit to the 
state than would a present of ten millions of dollars. 
And I believe, Mr. Editor, that this is one of the most 
important questions that can be discussed in your col- 
umns, and I hope the opponents of the 'no-fence system' 
will pick up the gauntlet that I now throw down, 1 and 
if I cannot sustain my side of the question, why — I will 
ask you to help me. 

I remain yours, &c, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., June 30, 1842. 

La Porte Co., &c. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:68; Aug., 1842] 

[July 12, 1842] 
Dear Sir — Since I returned from our late pleasant 
tour through a portion of your state, 2 I have visited La 

1 The challenge was taken up in the February number of the 
Prairie Farmer. See post, 363-66. 

2 On June 14, Robinson and John S. Wright, editor of the Union 
Agriculturist, arranged for a tour of several days through the 
northeastern Illinois counties in the interests of the Agriculturist 
and the Union Agricultural Society of that region. Meetings 
were held at Naperville, Aurora, Elgin, Coral, and Crystal Lake. 
Where sufficient notice had been given, good crowds assembled 
to listen to Robinson's addresses, and numerous subscriptions were 
secured for the Agriculturist. Among the more prominent of Rob- 
inson's listeners were "S. Johnston," probably Spencer Johnson, a 
well-known grain and dairy farmer, a New Yorker by birth, who 


Porte co. There is a very good feeling pervading the 
farming community there, that will produce a very fine 
fair next October. 

There was considerable alarm existing among the 
wheat growers during the first week of this month, on 
account of a slight show of rust; but I think it will not 
injure the crop. I believe early sowing is the best remedy 
to prevent this terrible scourge of the farmers in this 

The army worm did considerable damage in La Porte 
co. this season. Many fields of timothy were entirely de- 
stroyed, and some fields of corn swept clean. 

I visited your friend, John I. Crandall, and found a 
very pretty daughter of his engaged in feeding a lot of 
silk worms. They feed from the common white mul- 
berry. It is much more hardy than the morus multi- 
caulis, and furnishes foliage earlier in the season. — Mr. 
Crandall has a very large quantity of the trees, and could 
furnish many other persons with a stock. 

Those farmers in La Porte who used the locomotive 
threshing machine last year, are much pleased with it. 
This machine passes through the field, thrashing as it 
goes along among the shocks, and scatters the straw over 
the ground. If this straw is then plowed in, it will un- 
doubtedly be of great advantage to the soil. 

I also saw a new kind of fanning mill building at La 
Porte, upon an entirely new plan, that appears to me 

had moved to Kane County in 1837 (Commemorative Biographical 
and Historical Record of Kane County, Illinois, 775 [Beers, Leggett 
& Co., Chicago, 1888] ) ; James T. Gifford, of Kane County, presi- 
dent of the Union Agricultural Society, and contributor to the 
Prairie Farmer, Albany Cultivator, and other periodicals; and 
Edward W. Brewster, later an officer of the Union Agricultural 
Society, and at the time, postmaster of Little Woods, Kane County. 
In reporting the tour, Wright said that traveling with Robin- 
son made money "a needless commodity," that his talks were "all 
of the right character, plain and practical and no two alike," and 
that he would like to print extracts of them if Robinson would 
write them out. Apparently Robinson failed to do this. For 
Wright's report, see Union Agriculturist, 2:61 (July, 1842). 


will prove a very valuable improvement. These mills are 
only about half the size and price of the old-fashioned 

There is an improving disposition in La Porte to raise 
more wool and flax, and to encourage domestic manufac- 
tures. This is all-important; for, at present, the whole 
county is so dependent upon the wheat crop, that a fail- 
ure of that brings ruin in its train, and they have no 
resources to fall back upon. It is now about ten years 
since this county began to settle. Some of the oldest 
farms already begin to show considerable fruit. 

At a meeting of the friends of the agricultural society, 
July 4, I accepted an invitation to attend their fair in 
October; and a resolution was passed to give you a spe- 
cial invitation, which I hope you will accept, together 
with a large delegation from Illinois, who would meet 
with a hearty welcome among the warm hearts of La 

Nothing is better calculated to promote good feeling 
between different sections of the country than an inter- 
change of visits during the season of agricultural fairs. 

The shades of evening admonish me to make this ram- 
bling epistle no longer. 

Yours, friend, Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., July 12, '42. 

A Present of Peaches. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:83; Oct., 1842] 

[August, 1842] 
Mr. Editor: Herewith you will receive a small com- 
pliment, in the shape of a little box of peaches, from my 
garden ; not that I suppose peaches will be any rarity to 
you, but I wish to offer the strongest possible argument 
in favor of growing this fruit in this section of country. 
I regret that I had not an apportunity to send some a 
week or ten days past, as the specimen would have been 
far superior ; the best of my fruit having ripened earliest, 
is all gone. However, such fruit as I now send, is cer- 


tainly worth cultivating. Let me repeat the word, culti- 
vating, with an emphasis ; for it is a most miserable and 
fatal error to suppose that peach trees can be stuck down 
in any by-place, and produce good fruit without cultiva- 
tion, in this latitude. 

There is another fact worth noticing in this fruit : the 
trees are all seedlings. I know of some who have neg- 
lected to set out trees, because they said it was of no use 
to set them until they could get grafts. 

The trees are five years old. As to my way of culti- 
vating them, I do not think it necessary to intrude upon 
the notice of others, unless they request it. 

I have, of necessity, been obliged to send those I have 
to you while hard, and of course you will not get them 
in that perfection that you would to take them mellow 
from the trees. But, if you will give me a call in the 
tourse of the present week, I will give you such a feast of 
sugared peaches and rich sweet cream, as you cannot 
get in such perfection at any other place within forty 
miles of Chicago. 

I doubt whether I shall be able to make a trip, as 
talked of, in Illinois, before the Fair. But of that, more 
anon. Your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., August, 1842. 

Fence, or No Fence? 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:84; Oct., 1842] 

[August, 1842] 
Mr. Editor: The following very important decision 
has been made by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, in 
an action that was brought to recover damage committed 
by cattle suffered to run at large, without being under 
the charge of a keeper. I have no doubt but that the 
same rule of laws is as applicable in Illinois and Indiana 
as in New Jersey ; and if enforced, it would make a very 
material point in favor of the advocates of cultivating 


land without fences, while we confine the stock within 

It seems in the New Jersey case, the defendant plead 
that he was not liable for damage, because the plaintiff 
had not a 'lawful fence' along the highway, when the 
cattle broke in. But the court decided that the 'act to 
regulate fences extends only to owners of adjoining 

2d. 'Owners of land are not bound to erect statute 
fences along the highways running through their lands 
to protect themselves against trespasses committed by 
cattle suffered to run at large, and pastured upon the 

And the reasoning of the court is as sound as the de- 
cision. For they say, 'Why should a landlord be sub- 
jected (after it may be) to the onerous expense of put- 
ting up a lawful fence to protect himself against the 
cattle of a man living at a distance from him, whose land 
(if he have any) does not join him; and who, instead 
of keeping his cattle upon his own close, chooses to pas- 
ture them upon the highway, to the great annoyance of 
all his neighbors and every traveler. [Not even except- 
ing the traveler upon railroads, where cattle are not only 
a very great annoyance, but often endanger the lives of 
passengers.] Between such landholder and the owners 
of cattle running at large, there should be no mutuality 
in requiring the former to surround his lands by such 
a fence as the statute deems a lawful one between ad- 
joining owners.' 

Now, this I call as sound legal doctrine as ever ema- 
nated from a court of justice. For it is not justice that 
a whole neighborhood should be compelled by law to fence 
against all the unruly bulls that you, in a spirit of spite 
and ill-will, might see proper to turn out upon the com- 
mon. But I am willing to meet the advocates of free 
suffrage to every four-footed beast and unclean goose, 
upon the halfway ground; that is, upon a half fence. I 
am willing to build a fence that will keep well-bred neat 


cattle on the right side, (or, rather, on the wrong side,) 
if that portion of community who are on the wrong side 
of this question will only keep in confinement their small 

But enough of this now. I earnestly entreat the 
farmers of Northern Illinois to attend the Fair at Aurora, 
on the 19th and 20th of October, and then, among other 
things, we will have a 'big talk' upon this question. 

I remain, a strong advocate of the system of cultivat- 
ing the prairie without fence, and your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., August, 1842. 

"Sheep on the Western Prairies." 

[New York American Agriculturist, 1:237-38; Nov., 1842] 

[September, 1842] 
Gent. — The article in your September No. under the 
above title, 1 was the first one read by me, and it is of so 
much importance not only to the West but to the East 
also, that I wish to corroborate the statements of Mr. 
Murray, and add some of my own. 

Sheep can now be purchased for even less than the 
price he names. 2 The distance to drive, which is of some 
importance to a person who would like to look into the 
business, would be from 100 to 200 miles, and the best 
time to drive, directly after shearing, or about the middle 
of September. 

There are hundreds of situations where a man might 
keep a thousand or two head of sheep for many years, 
without buying more than 40 acres of land, costing $50 ; 
and this merely for a home for the flock, as "Uncle Sam," 
the greatest landholder in the world, has no objection to 
our pasturing his big prairies. There are sundry such 

1 The article summarized a communication from James Murray, 
of Buffalo, on the subject of his sheep farm in La Salle County, 
Illinois. American Agriculturist, 1:176-78. 

2 Murray had purchased 1700 head of sheep in Ohio and Indiana 
at 75 cents to $1.00 a head. 


capital situations in this county, only 40 miles from Chi- 
cago. The cost of stocking such a business would be 
about thus : — 

Forty acres of land, $50 

A comfortable log cabin, two rooms, 50 
A fence, ten rails high, around the land, (which 
will keep out prairie wolves,) 6,400 rails — 3,600 
rails for yards, &c. making 10,000, delivered in 

fence, 100 

A small stable for cow and horse, 25 

Another small building for storehouse, &c. 25 

A well of first rate water and pump, 30 

1,000 sheep, delivered on the spot, at $1 each, 1,000 

Any quantity of hay required at $1,50 a ton, delivered 
in the stack, and oats at 121/2 cts. a bushel, or corn 16 
cents. Board and wages about the same as mentioned by 
Mr. Murray, 1 though I think that item would be a trifle 
lower, say $10 a month for wages, and board in a family 
on the premises would not cost over $1 a week. The 
item of salt costs $1,25 to $1,50 a barrel in Chicago, and 
50 cents transportation: hauling the wool to Chicago 
25 cts. a hundred pounds. 

No doubt about the hogs destroying the snakes — if 
they do not eat them, as some doubt, they certainly eat 
the eggs. You give a wrong impression to those not well 
versed in the subject, when you say "land can be had 
for government price, say $1,25 to $4 an acre*" &c. 
Government land is always $1,25 an acre. Improved land 
can be bought of individuals from 3 to 10 dollars an 
acre, according to location and value of improvements; 
often it can be had for less than the improvements cost ; 
such is the condition of those now in debt. 

*$4, was intended to express the price of improved land, which 
would save several of the items of building and fencing enumerated 
above. — Ed's. 

1 Murray estimated the cost of board and wages of a shepherd 
at $16 a month. 



The natural grass of the prairie it is no wonder that 
Mr. Murray prefers, because it is, either green or dry, 
better for sheep than the best of timothy, and the sheep 
also prefer it. There are a great many weeds which 
they are very fond of. His plan of seeding prairies is a 
good one. 1 The picket fence mentioned, though not a 
very expensive one, is not necessary. 

The cost of breaking prairie, although it seems low, is 
nevertheless not so low by 25 cents an acre as it can be 
done in this county. If I was going to cultivate prairie 
for sheep, I should sow a good deal of rye for winter 
pasture, and save a great deal of hay. 

If I was breaking sod in June and July for wheat, I 
would plow five inches deep and no matter how wide, 
say 20 or 24 inches, and be careful to lay every furrow 
flat over; this gives a good quantity of loose earth to 
harrow in the wheat upon, and by the next spring after 
the wheat comes off, it will plow up tolerably easy, 
though not mellow ; it will take two years to rot. 

If I was plowing in August to plant in the spring on 
the sod with corn, 2 1-2 or 3 inches would do well ; the 
sod will rot sooner than when plowed deeper. If I was 
plowing in the spring to sow oats on the sod, I would 
plow 3 1-2 or 4 inches deep. The furrow slice should 
always be turned completely bottom up, and lay until 
rotten enough to harrow to pieces when plowed again, 
let that be longer or shorter, which will depend a good 
deal on the time of year it was broken. You must under- 
stand that a "sod crop of corn" is planted by dropping 
the seed in the furrow or by cutting holes in the sod to 
drop the seed in, and that it cannot be cultivated, as the 
top of the sod is as dry and hard as a side of sole leather. 

On a sheep farm I should not adopt Mr. Murray's four 
course system. My plan would be to sow rye or oats 

1 Murray suggested first the gradual burning of the wild grass, 
beginning in June. White and red clover, redtop, timothy, or 
bluegrass seed were then to be sown, and after a shower, sheep 
driven over the field to trample in the seed. 


and grass at every sowing — or turnips and grass occa- 
sionally, for fall feed. But it is not necessary here to 
have rich feed to fatten up the sheep previous to winter, 
for they are always fat. 

In the article to which I allude, and in this, are many 
facts that ought to open the eyes of wool growers in the 
Eastern states, for if the business should be undertaken 
at the West exclusively, those who pasture upon land 
worth $100 an acre cannot compete with those that pas- 
ture upon land worth ten shillings an acre, and free from 
tax for five years. 

I intend shortly to give you another article upon this 

subject and other things appertaining to the cultivation 

of the prairies of the great and growing West. 1 I hope 

also to become more intimately acquainted with your 

readers the coming winter. In the mean time I am yours 

and their friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. Sept., 1842. 

Odds and Ends. 

[Albany Cultivator, 9:160; Oct., 1842 2 ] 

[October ?, 1842] 
Scrap Book. — If young men, I have a good mind to 
say young women too, who lack wherewithal to amuse 
themselves during the long evenings of winter, would 
procure a few quires of paper, (that called "post office 
paper," is suitable,) and stitch them neatly together, and 
commence saving scraps from the newspapers, and past- 

1 The editor expressed his hope "for the punctual fulfilment of 
his promise" and continued: "We have been a little apprehensive 
from his long silence on agricultural matters, that he had taken 
to politics or some other fashionable pursuit, or was lost in a 
cane-brake; or mayhap, had taken a bear prisoner, as the Irish- 
man took the six grenadiers, who proved themselves such undis- 
ciplined captives, that they not only would'nt go at Pat's bidding, 
but even prevented the doughty hero's going himself." 

2 Reprinted in part in the Dollar Farmer, Louisville, Kentucky, 
1:110 (January, 1843). 


ing them in, they would in the course of a few years 
gather a large bundle of Odds and Ends, more interesting 
perhaps than mine, although my first lot have proved 
interesting enough to cause them to be copied into many 
other papers. What a gratification to think I have been 
able to interest and amuse my fellow creatures, and 
lighten the toil of the laborer — to enable them to improve 
the mind, as well as the soil. 

Storing small Grain. — You in the east, who have 
large barns and graneries, and convenient saw mills and 
lumber yards, cannot conceive the difficulty that you 
might encounter when settled on a new farm in the west, 
forty miles from a saw mill. How would you store a few 
hundred, or a few thousand bushels of thrashed grain? 
Easy enough, if you only knew how — so could Careless 
have sealed his letter, if he had only known how. I will 
tell you how, and when you emigrate to the west, don't 
forget. Take fence rails and lay down a floor, a little 
from the ground, and build up the sides by notching 
straight rails so they will be steady, and then take fine 
straw or hay, and tramp a layer smooth upon the floor, 
and caulk the cracks between the rails, and pour in the 
grain, and stack some straw over the top to keep out the 
rain, and your grain will keep better than in a close 
granery, and not waste a bushel in a hundred. 

Buckwheat may be thrashed upon just such a rail 
pen, covered over with rails, much better than upon the 
ground; the grain falling through the rails into the pen 

A love of Reading, is one of the passions, which like 
all other passions not so good, grows by what it feeds 
on; and that parent who can, and does not furnish the 
means of whetting an appetite so salutary, when well 
directed, is guilty of the grossest injustice to his children. 
Newspapers are the mustard of food suitable for such 
appetites. Reader, do you take one? 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., 1842. 


To Western Emigrants. 

[Albany Cultivator, 9:193-94; Dec, 1842] 

[November 1, 1842] 

Readers of the Cultivator — My old Friends — During 
the last six or eight months you and I have held but little 
intercourse. To be candid, I did not imagine that my 
name would have been so much missed, as I am induced 
to believe it has been by what I am told in a great many 
letters that I have received. It is true, I had begun a 
"traveling memorandum," that I intended to have con- 
tinued throughout all my journey, and brought you with 
me in imagination over the great northern lakes, and set 
you quietly down in the chimney corner of a comfortable 
and happy "log cabin home," where we could have looked 
back over the varied scene, and called up to view the 
many new acquaintances, and looked upon their various 
modes of cultivating the earth, and the many different 
ways of enjoying the fruits thereof, and then endeavored 
to find from observation where was the greatest amount 
of human happiness; for there, be it East or West, is 
the place to seek a new home. 

Now I should have accomplished all this, and I am well 
assured should have added a little to your happiness, and 
thereby to my own; but I undertook to drive too much 
team. The consequence was, the connecting chains broke, 
and although I tried to "toggle" the broken links, it 
would not do, and there I have been stuck fast ever since. 

Reader, let me here inquire whether you have under- 
taken, during the last summer, "to drive too much 
team?" Because, if you have, I am pretty sure there is 
"a link broken" somewhere. This is only another mode 
of repeating to you what I have often said before about 
cultivating too much land. I don't mean that, exactly, 
either; because you cannot cultivate too much. But do 
you cultivate it, or only own it? A great many of my 
eastern acquaintances want to emigrate to the West "to 
get more land." 


Well, if that is all you want, I pray you come on. Here 
is plenty of land — good land, and cheap ; and if to be the 
owner of 2,000 acres of good land will make you and 
your family happy, aye, even happier than they now are, 
why just bring along $2,500 and you can be the owner of 
two thousand acres of good land; beautiful land. But 
what is it worth without cultivation? Why just what 
half of your present farms are worth that are as uncul- 
tivated as the western prairies. That word "your" is 
wrong; because I am addressing myself to the readers 
of the Cultivator, who have, a great many of them, 
adopted an improved mode of cultivation. But I will say 
the farms of many of the uneasy spirits of the eastern 
states, who want to emigrate to the West merely because 
they want to get more land. Don't understand, by what 
I say, that I am opposed to emigration. No; like all the 
first settlers of a new country, I want to see it fill up; 
but I want it filled by a class of inhabitants that will feel 
every day, and every member of the family, as though 
they had bettered their condition by removing from the 
old homestead to a new and uncultivated spot. 

How often do I see and hear the reverse of this. How 
often do I feel sorry for the fate of the feeble old grand- 
father and mother, who have been induced to quit all 
the comforts of the old homestead to seek for "more 
land ;" to get a "bigger farm" in the wilds of the Great 
West. Singular and strange delusion, that bare acres 
of land constitute a farm. Let the old man stay at home ; 
and let the young man, with a constitution made to en- 
dure toil and hard fare, come here and spend a few 
years of industry, actually cultivating the rich soil in- 
stead of doing as most of us do — "deviling over," and he 
will be sure to create a home, that to him in his old age 
will be as highly cherished as that of his father was. 

The article under the head of "Western Farming," in 
the Oct. number, 1 speaks to the men of capital at the East 

1 Cultivator, 9:154. 


in words of truth, and shows them what may be done at 
farming on the prairies on a large scale. But men who 
are able to do likewise, are able to live anywhere. But 
there is one thing certain; there is no more certain way 
in which they can invest their capital. Yet such are not 
the kind of emigrants that are the most likely to improve 
their condition so as to create an increased amount of 
happiness for their families; which I still argue should 
be the moving cause of every mover to the West. There 
never was a more favorable time for the emigrant than 
the present. During the rage of the speculation fever, 
many persons contracted debts that they are totally un- 
able to pay without selling their farms ; so that improved 
land can now be bought for a lower price than used to 
be paid a few years since for the bare "claim," before 
the land had been purchased of government. Stock and 
provisions are also low; and it requires far less capital 
now for the new settler to make a successful beginning 
with than it did a few years ago. But enough for the 
present. In my next, which I promise not to delay be- 
yond reason, I intend to answer, in detail, a great variety 
of questions which have been asked me during the past 
summer, which will be interesting to the western emi- 
Lake C. H. Nov. 1, 1842. Solon Robinson. 

Fairs in the West 

[New York American Agriculturist, 1:312-13; Jan., 1843] 

[November 4, 1842] 
Gent. — Will it interest your readers to hear how we 
"do up" things in the prairie region of the west? I have 
just attended two: — The first at La Porte, la., Oct. 13, 
14. La Porte is one of the new counties of Northern 
Indiana, which have sprung into existence within the 
last ten years. It adjoins Lake Michigan, and has a port 
and unfinished harbor, called Michigan City, from which 
an immense quantity of wheat goes down the lakes; 


mostly to the Canada market. The county has an exten- 
sive prairie called "Door Prairie," one of the very finest 
for all kinds of grain, but not equal to those of a more 
clayey soil for grass. The county, although destitute of 
mountains, hills, and dales, yet abounds in good mill 
seats, upon never-failing streams, many of which are im- 
proved by fine flouring mills. 

The show of stock was small, but indicating that the 
spirit of improvement has at length begun to show itself 
in the west. There were some good Durhams, and im- 
proved native cattle, and several fine samples of Merino, 
Saxon, and South Down Sheep — and the gentlemanly 
Berkshire was there in his pride and beauty. The exhibi- 
tion of butter, and cheese, and household manufactures 
was such as plainly to show, that that portion of the com- 
munity which is the life of all our agricultural societies, 
had here lent their good works to promote the good cause 
in good order. 

There was also a show of fine fruit, such as no one 
could expect in so new a country, unless he well knew the 
remarkable productiveness of our soil. 

But the proudest part of the show was of the human 
species — men, women, and children — old and young, of 
all classes and occupations, turned out to make this what 
every agricultural fair always should be, a most joyous 
farmer's festival — an annual public thanksgiving. And 
as public drinking is out of fashion, a public dinner was 
substituted. The tables being arranged in one of those 
beautiful Bur-oak groves which are only to be found in 
this country of groves and prairies, were covered with a 
profusion of good things furnished by the hundreds of 
fair hands who graced the feast by their presence. The 
whole scene being enlivened by what should always ac- 
company such a festival, a fine band of music, volun- 
teered for the occasion. 

It was a day, as all such should be, well calculated to 
promote and increase the general stock of human hap- 


I reached home from the La Porte Fair on Saturday, 
and on Monday I started again to attend the Fair of the 
"Union Agricultural Society," of Northern Illinois, held 
at a place called Aurora, on Fox River, 40 miles west of 
Chicago, on the 19th and 20th of October. This "Union" 
is formed out of nine of the northwestern 1 counties of the 
state, almost the entire population of which, has been 
made up of eastern emigrants since the time of the al- 
most forgotten "Sack War," of 1832, when General Scott 
struck terror to the Indians, and the cholera struck ter- 
ror to his army. 

"What a change" in ten years! Those of the magic 
lantern are scarcely more magical. Then the food of the 
little army had to be brought from the lower lakes and 
carried upon pack horses across the great desert between 
Lake Michigan and the Mississippi. Then a steamboat 
had never visited the little garrison and trading post of 
Fort Dearborn, now the flourishing city of Chicago, 
whose harbor is crowded with steamers, ships, and 
schooners, full freighted up with emigrants and mer- 
chandize, and down with wheat and other products of 
the rich soil of the vast land of unsurpassed fertility, 
lying around the head of Lake Michigan. 

Now every grove is surrounded with highly cultivated 
farms. The streams abound with fine mills, manufac- 
tories and villages. The country is intersected with 
roads, and the streams are crossed with bridges, while 
splendid stage coaches career over them in every direc- 

While addressing the audience at the late Fair, I 
could not avoid drawing the comparrison between the 
encampment of Indians upon the same ground ten years 
ago, who never broke the soil in search of sustenance, 
and the six thousand happy, healthy, smiling, intelligent 
cultivators of the earth then gathered together to enjoy 
the "farmers' holiday." 

1 The Union Agricultural Society was composed of counties from 
the northeastern part of Illinois. 


Talk no more about the magnitude of your eastern 
fairs, unless at such a time as your late one at Albany, 
you can muster at least one hundred thousand. 

Here too, some plan in regard to a public dinner was 
adopted as at La Porte; and I had the satisfaction of 
sitting down to a most sumptuous dinner with three 
thousand guests j 1 one-third of whom, were the wives and 
daughters of Illinois farmers. This, sirs, is a specimen 
of the spirit that is abroad upon the prairies of Illinois. 
And this too, in a country that is still looked upon by your 
eastern readers, as a vast wilderness, sparsely settled 
by a demi-civilized race of inhabitants. 

I presume after what I have said of the "gathering of 
the people," I need not assure you that the other part 
of "the show" was highly creditable to the society. I 
must not forget, as I have been a strong advocate of hav- 
ing music at all agricultural fairs, to tell you that here 
too, the company were enlivened not only by one but 
two bands of music, both cheerfully volunteered for the 
occasion, while in the procession floated nine appropriate 
banners, one for each county embraced in the society. 

The officers and members were distinguished by 
badges, and the marshals by wands peculiarly adapted 
to the occasion, for they were immense stalks of Indian 

But enough upon this subject. I only wished to let you 
know that we can do something else here in the west 
beside raising wheat at 40 cts. a bushel. 

It is my intention soon to give you an article descrip- 
tive of this prairie region. 

1 This statement called forth a comment from the editor : "Three 
thousand guests at table certainly beats our state show at Al- 
bany, and fully equals the number who sat down to dinner at the 
meeting of the English Royal Agricultural Society, at Liverpool. 
But we hope to come up to this number next year at Rochester, 
and that Mr. Robinson, and many of his prairie friends will be 
there as partakers in the good things which will undoubtedly be 
provided for the occasion." 


Be assured Messrs. Editors of my personal esteem, 
and earnest hope for the success of your journal. 
I remain yours, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 
Lake Co. H., la., Nov. 4th, 1842. 

The Non-Enclosure System. 

[Chicago Union Agriculturist, 2:99; Dec, 1842] 

[November 7, 1842] 

"Judge Robinson" — "Judge" him not — but judge his 
arguments upon the non-enclosure system. 
Mr. Editor — I have neglected so long to notice an arti- 
cle in your September No. that it may now be out of 
place. But I cannot accept the title of "Judge," so hon- 
estly bestowed upon me by "F. West," 1 which I suppose 
means "far West, as no local habitation is given with 
the name. I beg to assure friend West and all others that 
I claim no title, civil or military; and though in conse- 
quence of my holding the office of clerk of the courts 
of my county, or that of Postmaster, I am sometimes 
called 'Squire, I am in no wise proud of the title — I must 
prefer the plain cognomen given to me by a Connecticut 
mother, whose memory is always called pleasantly to 
mind whenever my friends address me by the familiar 
name of Solon — particularly if, as did Incog lately, they 
prefix thereto a "God bless you." And I have no doubt 
that succeeding generations will bless my name and that 
of every other of the advocates of the non-enclosure sys- 
tem. For however those that are now settled around the 
groves, with plenty of timber and other "fixens" upon 
the present plan, may honestly (self -interestedly) differ 
with us in opinion, the time will come when the majority 
will be able to see that our system will produce the great- 
est good to the greatest number, and that is one of the 
benefits which I conceive cannot be estimated in dollars, 
even if the term millions be used. 

'"The Non-Enclosure System," Union Agriculturist, 2:75. 


No, friend West, I do not wish to make use of ambi- 
guity, nor remain non-committal ; neither do I ever at- 
tempt the "beauty of diction" or "elegance of my pe- 
riods," in any of my communications. 

I do mean "if the plan were carried into effect," that 
it would actually benefit the present inhabitants of the 
State of Illinois in the aggregate, more than a present of 
ten millions of dollars would if placed in the State treas- 
ury to-morrow. For it would increase the population 
of the State so that all the vacant lands would be im- 
proved and become valuable in a few years, so that a 
very small per cent, tax equally divided among such a 
vast and rich population, would enable the State to re- 
deem her ruined credit, and remove the stigma, that in- 
cubus-like, now rests upon and will soon blast her fair 
fame. 1 

I am willing to allow that it might temporarily injure 
a man, if any such can be found, "with 90 head of cattle, 
horses, sheep and hogs, and 60 acres of plowing;" but 
even to him I do not believe it would prove a permanent 
injury. It would of course decrease the amount of that 
individual's stock; but who will doubt but that there 
would be a far larger amount of stock, and that too of a 
better quality, in the State when all the vacant land was 
improved. And the owners of timber land need not fear 
a decrease in the value of their property. Every stick 
would be needed for fuel and building — far more than it 
is now for fencing. There would not be so much com- 
plaint about the low price of grain if it could be raised 
without the expense of fencing. There is another heavy 
tax that begins to be seriously felt, and will be more and 
more so, as our fencing gets old and more easily ignited, 

Entanglement of state finances and the internal improvement 
system in Illinois had brought about a state of hopeless confusion. 
The state was defaulting on her interest, and her bonds were far 
below par. There had been considerable talk of repudiation. See 
Pease, Theodore C, The Frontier State, 1818-1848, 231-33, 302-15 
(Centennial History of Illinois, volume 2, Chicago, 1919). 


and that is our annual fires, which will continue to bring 
destruction upon us as long as there is such a vast 
amount of prairie that must and will remain uncultivated 
until we are willing to adopt a more "benevolent and 
patriotic" course towards the thousands of emigrants 
that are constantly passing by because there is no more 
room. Yes sir, you may place it if you please upon this 
narrow basis, that alone of "benefitting the poor settler, 
and I will still advocate the measure. 

Unless some plan is devised to obviate the calamity, 
the dread one must fall upon the State, of seeing thou- 
sands of children grow up without the advantage of 
schools, churches and many other of the benefits of civi- 
lization. For in the isolated locations and sparse settle- 
ments these advantages cannot be had. But, allow the 
land to be tilled without fence, and how soon would 
neighborhoods fill up and all the other advantages of 
social life follow. Is not this something "tangible, that 
can be fairly understood?" Then let the "gauntlet" be 
taken up, and let the chivalrous knight bring forward 
facts and arguments that will tend to show that the 
present plan is better than the proposed one, and that a 
greater number of human beings enjoy a greater amount 
of happiness, under the "mauling and hauling system," 
than they would under the system of universal benevo- 
lence that would invite every poor man who had nothing 
but a spade to help himself with, to come and settle along 
side of us, and plant and eat, and no man's hog should 
make him afraid. 

There are several other persons whose objections I had 
intended to notice, but I fear I should be squatting upon 
too big a claim in your columns, and therefore I will 
quit mauling for the present. 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H., la., Nov. 7, 1842. 

To Western Emigrants. 

[Albany Cultivator, 10:17-18; Jan., 1843] 

[November 25, 1842] 
Another "Trip to Mill." — Fatal effects of venturing to 
cross cm unsettled Prairie in a stormy night. 

Editors of the Cultivator — How often I have been 
asked by my eastern friends, whether my account of the 
"first trip to mill," published in your paper in June, 
1841, 1 was "founded on fact." These inquiries show how 
little you that dwell in cities and densely populated 
places, know of the hardships and perils of life that the 
pioneer endures. "How little do we know how to ap- 
preciate trifles until placed in a trying situation." 

In that article, I spoke of the danger of life to the 
teamster, who attempted the perilous passage of the 
prairie in a cold winter night. I also spoke of the beau- 
tiful weather of November, usual to this region. Just 
such weather was the first part of the present month, 
but what a change suddenly came over the face of nature 
— a change that brought desolation into the cabin of an 
afflicted emigrant. 

The reader of the narrative I am about to give, will 
undoubtedly say that there was a great lack of prudence 
and forethought in the emigrant, and it is upon that 
point that I wish him to be advised, and not attempt to 
buy his knowledge with an experiment that may cost 
him his life. 

The 16th of November was a delightful sunny day. 
"I think," says Mr. W., 2 (one of my neighbors, for he only 
lived a dozen miles off,) to his wife, "that I will go to 
mill to-day, it is so pleasant." "I wish then you would 
go down the river, for they make the best flour there, 
and as wheat is only worth three shillings a bushel, we 
can afford to eat good flour." 

The wagon was loaded, and away he went, under the 

1 Ante, 160-64. 
1 William Wells. 


full expectation of being again by his own fireside on 
the evening of the next day — the distance being upwards 
of 40 miles. 

He was a stout robust man, in the prime of life, inured 
to fatigue, and so fearless of cold, and so deceived by the 
appearance of the weather, that he left home thinly clad, 
and totally unprepared to resist the rigor of the storm 
that came on next day. 

On the next afternoon he started back with the inten- 
tion of driving home that night. Just at sundown, he 
stopped to warm at a house, from which to the next, it 
was 8 or 10 miles across a bleak prairie, without a bush 
to shelter or tree to guide. His course was east. Here 
a most furious southwest snow storm came upon him. 
Who can picture the horrors of that night? Little did 
the wife and children of the doomed emigrant think, as 
they gathered around their warm hearth, what the hus- 
band and father was then suffering. During all the next 
day, the storm raged with unabated violence. The cold 
was intense, and the snow filled the air so as to veil 
all objects in obscurity. 

But they did not look for "the return from mill" on 
this day, but towards the close of the next, eyes were 
anxiously strained in that direction ; yet the night passed, 
and he came not. The next was the sabbath — usually a 
day of rest and thanksgiving in that household. Doubt 
not, many an anxious prayer went up for the safe return 
of their best and absent friend. 

Night closed upon saddened hearts, full of fearful 
forebodings. Can you fancy the horrors that haunted 
the pillow of the good wife all that night. See how she 
starts at every sound. Do you remember I told you in 
the article I have before alluded to, how remarkably 
quick my ear had become. Fancy the same of hers. How 
anxiously she listened for the cheering sound of that well 
known voice — how the childlike inquiry of the early 
morning, grated upon her ear — "has father come yet — 
why, what has become of him?" 


While a consultation is holding during the day, as to 
"what shall we do;" "hadn't we better go after father," 
a noise is heard at the door. " 'Tis he — there's the 
horses." No — a stranger enters. He inquires "is Mr. 
W. at home?" "No." "Hain't he been back from mill 
yet?" "No ! and do tell us where did you get his horses?" 
They came up to my house yesterday morning, with 
halters and collars on, and I thought they had got away 
from him, and perhaps he had come on home." 

"Oh! then he has perished in the storm." "No, for 
then the horses would still have been attached to the 

Ah! thou blessed comforter, hope, that never lets the 
heart sink whilst thou in thy faintest form holds forth 
a single ray. There was dread fear, but hope prevailed, 
until a messenger, with utmost speed, had learned when 
he left the mill, and traced him up until the spot was 
reached where he was last seen alive. Then hope forever 

On Tuesday, the fifth day after he was lost, a strong 
force of men and boys, dogs and horses, were spread 
over the prairie, searching in every direction, between 
the groves, near the road he should have passed. To- 
wards night, some of the foremost of those who had 
spread away to the north some 6 or 8 miles, raise a shout, 
and away they course at top of speed, toward a small 
black speck seen in the snow. 'Tis the lost man's wagon. 
He had missed his road, and after wandering, no one 
knows where or how, had fallen into another road lead- 
ing to the north, and upwards of 20 miles between 
houses. Here lay the harness upon the ground, cut 
from the horses. The reason why he had been compelled 
to stop, was plain. The bolt that held the doubletree 
on the wagon, was lost. The bags had been set up in 
the wagon to break the face of the storm, and a bed 
made of bran, but no one occupied it now. 

Experience and necessity teaches the pioneer of the 
wilderness to discover tracks and "signs," where an un- 


accustomed eye would fail. 'Twas such an eye that got 
upon the lost man's trail and followed it near eight 
miles, where he had pitched forward upon his face — the 
strong man struggling with the stronger one of death — 
can you doubt which prevailed? 

Oh how sad, how solemn, how different was this re- 
turn, from that one before depicted to you, from "the 
first trip to mill." Then, all was joy and gladness in the 
emigrant's cabin; now, the wail of wo is poured out in 
sorrow over the rigid frozen corse, whose next and only 
trip will be to the dark and silent grave. 

Reader! the motto of this paper is, "to improve the 
soil as well the mind!" I have given you a subject to 
improve upon. May you ever be prepared with care and 
prudent foresight, to guard against the storms that are 
likely to beset your path through life; and while you 
gather around your winter firesides, musing over this 
melancholy tale, let your hearts soften towards those 
who are buffeting the adverse and chilling blasts of life, 
and stretch forth the helping hand ere they fall into that 
cold embrace from which no human hand can warm them 
into life again. 

I hope many of you have not forgotten that old friend 
of yours of the Western Prairies, and who you will recog- 
nise, when I tell you that I am still the same 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la. Nov. 25, 1842. 

Cost of a Farm, and Raising Products on the 
Western Prairies. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 1:338-39; Feb., 1843 1 ] 

[November 25, 1842] 
No, no, gentleman, "your old friend" is not "lost in 
a canebrake," 2 nor yet in a snow storm ; although one of 

1 Reprinted in Farmers' Cabinet, and American Herd-Book, 
7:322 (May 15, 1843), in Prairie Farmer, 3:44-45 (February, 
1843), and in London New Farmers' Journal, May 22, 1843. 

2 See ante, 329 n. 



my neighbors has been within a week past, and actually- 
perished, and that too, in November, in latitude 41i/2°- 
He was on a "trip to mill," and got lost on a large prairie 
on the night of the 16th inst., and perished in one of the 
most severe storms ever known at this season, since the 
country was settled. 

Little do you know in your "thick settlements," what 
the pioneers of these "new settlements" have to endure. 
Not that there is much danger of being "taken by a 
bear," as the only one that ever ventured into "these 
diggings," fell a victim to my rifle. As to my "taking 
to politics," I cannot tell what may happen, as I have 
known many instances of insanity, "about these days." 
You will have received "late information from the prai- 
ries," before this, which will tell you that the fire of im- 
provement is spreading. The staple commodity of the 
prairies has always been wheat ; and the price heretofore 
has been so high, that the cultivators have entirely over- 
looked the necessity of providing, while they may, for a 
different state of things; consequently the great reduc- 
tion in price has fallen heavily upon this region. It will 
not now command over 38 cents in the Chicago market, 
and although under the operation of some of the beau- 
tiful theories of our politicians, coarse wool is equally 
depressed, yet when you take into consideration that a 
vast amount of wheat has this season been hauled into 
Chicago from 100 to 200 miles, the difference in trans- 
portation is so great as to appear at the first glance, 
vastly in favor of wool. 

But I would not wish to be understood as advising the 
prairie farmer to turn his attention to wool alone. I 
stated some facts in my communication in the November 
number of your paper, 1 for the purpose of showing East- 
ern men what can be done with a little capital on the 
Western prairies, in sheep business, unconnected with 
any other branch of farming. The farmers in general 

1 Ante, 326-29. 


turn their attention too much to one object. At one 
time it is wheat — again pork — and so on. And the grand 
difficulty is the great want of capital. On this account 
they are compelled to submit to forced sales. They are 
unable to hold over a crop. In fact, if able, they have yet 
to learn how wheat can be kept in stack, as at present 
they are unable to find storage for the grain after thresh- 
ing. Will you, Mr. A. B. A., 1 who has seen and can tell, 
please to enlighten them upon the subject — yes, the sci- 
ence of stacking grain as practiced in England. 2 

You hear complaints of the low price of beef. Do you 
know how low it can be produced? I believe you are 
advised that no finer beef was ever eaten than that made 
upon prairie grass. Let me tell you the actual cost. I 
can buy calves at $1 50 each. I have and can hire them 
wintered until four years old, for $1 50, each winter. 
Here, then, I can have the finest fat steers four and a 
half years old, for $7 50 a head — cows, of course, at the 
same cost, including a couple of calves. The cost of sheep 
growing, Mr. Murray and myself have already stated. 3 
As you are whole hog men, I will give you a few items, 
and leave it to you to "cypher out" the actual cost of 
western pork. In the first place, pigs are a spontaneous 
production. Corn on the farm, the present year, and 
perhaps it is about an average, within fifty or sixty miles 
of Chicago, is not worth over 121/2 cents a bushel. Oats 
8 to 10 cents, and potatoes less. And they being so low, 
I will not pretend to fix a price upon beets, rutabagas, 

1 A. B. Allen. 

2 Allen appended the following note to Robinson's article : "Agree- 
ably to Robinson's request, we have given on page 335 of this 
paper, the best method of English stacking which fell under our 
observation while abroad. It is the same which we have fre- 
quently seen practiced in our own country, with the exception of 
the stone, or cast iron blocks, for the foundation of the stack to 
rest upon, which are a sure guaranty against rats, or mice get- 
ting at the grain." 

3 Ante, 326-27. 


carrots, &c, but they can be raised cheap. The summer 
feed costs little or nothing, and as often as every other 
year, hogs will get fat upon the mast, which our oak and 
hickory groves produce abundantly. The next question 
that I expect your eastern readers to ask, is, Can prairie 
farmers raise grain at these prices? I will state a few 
facts, and they shall draw conclusions. 

The first cost of land is $1 25 an acre. The first plow- 
ing we generally count as cost, though erroneously. This 
is worth $1 50 an acre; or to be better understood, I 
will state differently. Prairie land is abundant at gov- 
ernment price ; but timber is mostly in second hands and 
is held higher. A quarter section of Prairie, that is, 

160 acres at $1 25, is $200 

Timber, say 40 acres, which is more than enough, 

at $3, 120 

Breaking up the prairie, at 1 50, 240 

Fencing it into four lots, eight rails high and 
stakes, 960 rods, or 3 miles, 15,366 rails at 1 ct. 
153 66; 3,840 stakes, at l/ 2 ct. 19 20, 173 

A good comfortable double log cabin, such as first 

settlers generally occupy, 50 

Other small buildings and temporary sheds, 50 

Average cost of a well with pump, $30, with buck- 
ets, $15, 15 
I will add to cover contingencies, such as half an 
acre of land well paled in for garden, a cow yard, 
hog pen, and other "fixings," 72 
This makes the cost of the farm, independent of the 
woodland, just $5 an acre — the total, $920 

Here, then, are 160 acres of as rich soil as it is possible 
to imagine, all ready for the emigrant to take possession 
of and put in a crop, for the sum of $800. The first crop 
of corn will average about 15 bushels; in oats, about 20 
bushels ; in wheat, about 10 bushels ; potatoes about 150 ; 
turnips, or rutabagas, 300; buckwheat, 25; beans, peas, 
millet, pumpkins, mellons, &c. &c. "a right smart chance," 


and some of the latter, as big "as a good sizeable boy 
can tote." The second crop will be some better, though 
the sods will yet be in the way of cultivation. After this 
you have a deep, loose, rich black soil, which as you do 
unto it, so it will do unto you. The practice generally 
adopted is to take the skin and starve the body — burning 
straw and wasting manure — "running over" four times 
as much land as can be cultivated. In my statement of 
prices, I have taken this county (the Northwestern one 
in Indiana) for a basis. In others there may be a slight 
variation. Both in this State and Illinois, Missouri and 
Iowa Territories, there are thousands of locations to be 
had at about the rates stated. 

If such "information from the prairies" is such as 
you want, you can be furnished from time to time by 
"Your old friend," Solon Robinson. 

Lake Co. H., la., November 25, 1842. 

Cheap Beef and Tallow 

[New York American Agriculturist, 1:339; Feb., 1843] 

[November ?, 1842] 
As an illustration of the virtue of prairie grass for 
making beef, allow me to state that I killed a cow the 
past fall, entirely grass fed upon the prairie, the quarters 
of which weighed about 140 lbs. each, hide 72 lbs., and 
she made 110 lbs. of clean tried tallow. 1 

The common selling price of such a cow alive, is about 
$8. Solon Robinson. 

1 The editor was not impressed. He commented: "If this is all 
the Hoosiers have to offer, we think they are bound to strike their 
'banners,' and reverse their 'corn-stalk wands' before their eastern 
rivals; for Mr. Ambrose T. Grey, of Pine Plains, Dutchess County, 
has recently killed a cow grass-fed also, which gave 180 lbs. rough, 
making 160 lbs. of tried tallow. We are not advised of the weight 
of hide and four quarters of Mr. Grey's cow." 


To Western Emigrants. 

[Albany Cultivator, 10:37-38; Feb., 1843] 

[December 9, 1842] 

Messrs. Eds. of the Cultivator — Everything con- 
nected with the subject of emigration to the west, has 
become interesting to a vast number of your eastern 
readers. Enquiries have become so numerous that I 
propose to answer publicly, the following questions, 
which, with a great many others have been made to me, 
and which I now select from a file of letters, a good deal 
bigger than "a piece of chalk." 

I select promiscuously as they come up : 

1st. "What is the price of land ; can any be bought at 
government price?" The price of government land is 
$1,25, payable in specie or treasury notes, at the Land 
Office in the District where the land lies — a District is 
from 50 to 80 miles square. The purchaser receives a 
certificate of purchase, and afterwards obtains a patent 
from the President. In this section of the state, there 
is much prairie land now subject to entry, and some tim- 
ber land, though the best timber is generally taken up, 
and is held from $2 to $10 an acre. 

Many tracts of improved land can now be bought for 
less money than the cost of making the improvements; 
because men are in debt and cannot pay without selling 
their farms. 

"Please give me some of the prices of stock?" 

Cash prices are low: Horses $40 to $90; six yr. old 
Oxen, $35 to $50 ; four yr. old, $25 to $35 a yoke ; three 
yr. old Steers, $6 to $10, each ; two yr. old, $5 to $7 ; one 
yr. old, 3 to $5; Calves, $1,25 to $2; Cows, $6 to $10; 
Sheep, common, $1,25 to $1,75; Hogs, Landpike variety, 
are so cheap that stealing them is no longer petit lar- 
ceny; Hogs, Berkshire, and other improved breeds, "just 
as you can light of chaps," at prices to correspond with 
the present price of pork, which is from $1 to $1,70 pr. 
cwt. ; Turkeys, 20c. each; Hens cannot be sold by the 


single one, for we are a centless people, and have no 
silver coin small enough to express the value. 

"What is the price of a variety of farming imple- 

Never heard of anybody in this new world having a 
variety, unless he borrowed them. Can't answer that 
question. I guess they are about 50 pr. ct. dearer than 
at Albany — except Plows. Some excellent ones are made 
at Chicago and Michigan City, and other places in this 
region, nearly as cheap as at the east. 

"Would it be advisable to bring household goods and 
kitchen utensils along with us?" 

Yes, those that are actually necessary — that is if your 
route is mostly by water. But you had better bring a 
wagon, plow, harrow, cultivator, drill or wheel barrow, 
than a side-board, bureau, bedstead or chairs; but above 
all things, don't bring the piano ; swap it off for a spin- 
ning-wheel. We are fond of music, but we want the 
right kind in the right place. In the winter, a string of 
sleigh bells, and in the summer, a dinner horn; and I 
have noticed that a piano in a farmer's house, . always 
effects his daughter's lungs, so that she cannot call her 
father to dinner with that good old fashioned musical 

Beds and bedding, and abundance of woolen clothing, 
iron-ware, a small lot of crockery, well packed, tinware, 
particularly the milk pans, as this is "a powerful" coun- 
try for milk, and table furniture, and all the "small fix- 
ings," about a house, may be brought by the emigrant to 
advantage. Don't bring lumber, nor pay freight upon 
articles that you will not immediately want in your new 

"Would it be desirable to bring grains for seed, and 
what kind?" 

Yes. It is always desirable by way of change and for 
experiment in a new place. Bring a small lot of every 
thing that grows for the good of man; and if you don't 
want them yourself, give to your new neighbors; it will 


show a good trait of character, and they will repay you 
for your liberality, ten fold. 

"Is it generally healthy?" 

This is the most important of all questions. I answer 
that I do sincerely think the prairie country, generally, 
is a very healthy one; yet all new countries are subject 
to fever and ague, and portions of the west, particularly 
near large streams, have been severely afflicted. 

Where I live myself, it is high rolling prairie, and 
groves, clayey soil, and pure well water, and is decidedly 
healthy. I believe that all similar situations are equally 

"Can the dairy be made profitable?" 

I will give the data for each one to answer this ques- 
tion according to his own notion of "cyphering." 

The price of Cows, I have given. Cost of summer feed 
nothing but salt. The winter feed will be fully paid by 
the calf. The price of keeping being only $1,50. The 
prairie grass produces the best of milk, for butter and 
cheese. The average price of the former, I think, is 
about 7c. and the latter 4c. Upon this data, can the 
dairy business be made profitable, I think, is easily an- 
swered in the affirmative. 

"What would be the expense of transportation of a 
horse team on the lakes, or traveling expense by land?" 

The passage of a horse from Buffalo to Chicago, is the 
same as a cabin passenger. Last season, $18. The ex- 
pense by land for a pair of horses with a moderate load, 
I think, will average three cents a mile. 

"Is the land stony, if so, what kind of stone?" 

No, not generally. There are scattered boulders of 
granite all over the prairies, and some parts of Illinois, 
for instance at Juliet, 40 miles west of this, the land is 
underlaid with limestone. 

"What kind of wood is most prevalent?" 

Oak of various kinds; next hickory. In some places 
beech, poplar, ash, walnut, sugar maple, &c. &c. abound. 


"What is the price of a good farm wagon?" $60 to 

"Of harness?" Common double harness, without 
breeching, $16 to $20. The country is so generally level, 
breeching is but little used. 

"Can good prairie lots be got, and wood handy?" 

Yes. There is as good prairie as any man need ask 
for, now lying in sight of my window as I write, subject 
to entry at $1,25, and good oak timber within two miles, 
for $5 an acre. 

"Are good common school teachers, in good demand, 
and at what price?" 

Now, if the word "good" governs teachers, I can't tell. 
The article is seldom found in this market. If the word 
"common" governs teachers, I would answer that they 
are tolerably plenty, and common enough in all con- 
science. The price $10 to $20 a month. 

I think that the west is in need of an importation of 
good teachers of common schools. If they did not meet 
with good encouragement, it would show an uncommon 
degree of inattention to the best and only means of im- 
proving our condition as a civilized, moral people. 

"Can I better my condition by removing to the west? 
I am blood and bone a farmer. Myself and wife are 43 
years of age. We have two boys, 18 and 20; two girls, 
14 and 16; two boys, 9 and 11, and two girls, 2 and 5; 
and we wish to settle where we can keep the family near 
together. I have a good horse team ; good farming tools 
and dairy utensils, and some good stock, and but very 
little money?" 

Yes; you are particularly well calculated to make a 
first rate "blood and bone" western emigrant. No matter 
if you have no money, you can rent land very low, and 
will soon be in a condition to let land instead of hiring 
it. I say come on, you and all that are under just such 
circumstances, particularly if those boys and girls are 
"blood and bone" farmer's sons and daughters. 


"Where is "Lake C. H?" as I cannot find it on any 

It is to be found on Colton's map of Indiana. 1 It is 
the county seat of Lake county, Indiana, the North West- 
ern county of the State, and embraces the head of Lake 

"I suppose the prairies are generally level and the land 
inclined to wet. Of course the streams are sluggish?" 

I suppose no such thing, and of course you are greatly 
mistaken in each and all of your suppositions. The land 
is generally gently undulating; sometimes hilly and not 
inclined to wet, and the streams afford an abundance of 
excellent mill sites. 

"Have you any stone coal?" 

Not in this part of the State. The nearest is on the 
Illinois river, 50 or 60 miles west. 

"What kind of people, that is where from, is your sec- 
tion of country settled with?" 

Mostly from the eastern states; some Canadians; a 
good many of the best class of Germans, and a few Eng- 
lish and Irish. 

"What is the condition of the country as to morals and 

Well, now that's a poser. You forget that it is con- 
trary to the generally received opinion at the east, that 
either exist at the west. I will allow that some of us are 
no better than we should be, for we have taken the bene- 
fit of the Bankrupt act, and cheated our eastern creditors 
a little, but we shall pay up, (when Clay is elected Presi- 
dent) and we do sometimes send you a little spring wheat 
mixed with winter wheat; but we imagine that you don't 
know the difference, and ought to be thankful that we 
don't mix buckwheat. But we always pay our debts, 
(public ones excepted,) when we can't help it, and we 
don't get trusted, where we've no credit. Upon the whole, 
we are a moral people, and if we are not a religious one, 
it is not because we don't pretend to be. 

1 See detail from Colton's map, facing this page. 

Map Showing Lake C. H. 

[From a Map of the State of Indiana Compiled . . . by 
S. D. King (J. H. Colton, New York, 1838)] 


"Does your country abound in fish and game?" 

I am sorry to say it does; because where it is abun- 
dant there is always a class of inhabitants that are too 
lazy to work, who perform twice as much labor in tree- 
ing a coon in a hollow stump, or following a tad pole 
through a swamp, under the idea of catching a fish, as 
they would in earning a good living off the land, instead 
of letting their families suffer for food, while they are 
eternally "out hunting." 

In all my hunting and fishing, the greatest game I ever 
caught was the fever and ague, which if I had kept on 
dry ground, would never made game of me. 

If you ask the question, with an idea of coming here 
to follow it as a business, I beg you will stay away. 

For occasional recreation, I have no objection, and the 
opportunity for that is good here. Deer, geese, ducks, 
prairie hens (grouse) and some other kinds are abun- 
dant; fish of the best quality, and some very large size, 
abound in lakes and streams. 

Now, here comes a questioner that I am tempted to 
introduce in his own language. He writes from Dela- 
ware : 

«* * * * * * * * * * * j therefore want to know some- 
thing of your section of country, and the west generally. 
I wish to move to the west if I could be satisfied that I 
could make a living for myself and family, easier than I 
can here, or with a better prospect for the future. Here- 
abouts, the "skinning system" has been going on so long, 
that our farms are pretty much in the same situation 
you say in your traveling memorandum, that the land is 
near Washington City — to improve it, would cost more 
than it would come to, and although we manage by skin- 
ning the land, to keep our own skins full, it is not so with 
our stock, for in the spring they often bear a close re- 
semblance to some of Kit Cornhill's wooly breed of 
horses. Now, can a poor man, in the prime of life, with 
a healthy wife and children, all inured to labor, make a 


living in your country, and where would be the best place 
for him to settle?" 

I think I have already answered the first part of this 
question, but I repeat that he can more than "make a 
living." There is an Irishman in my neighborhood, who 
last year an abundance of vegetables, and much more 
raised wheat than he needed for his family, almost en- 
tirely with the spade. The "best place to settle" for a 
poor man, is in any good healthy neighborhood of prairie 
farms — plenty of such locations in North Indiana and 

"How many bushels of corn, wheat, oats, &c, can two 
hands and two horses make in a season, doing other nec- 
essary work on the farm?" 

That's more than I can tell — don't think the experi- 
ment was ever tried in this or any other country where 
the means of subsistence are so easily procured; par- 
ticularly when the natural indolence of mankind pre- 
dominates over the artificial habit of industry. Let every 
man answer for himself, how much he can raise in a 
rich, loose, mellow soil. Let no man say how much he 
will do. 

"What is the average price of grain?" 

That question is more feasible. I think in the Chicago 
market, for the last two or three years, the following is 
a fair average : — Wheat 60c, Corn 21c, Oats 19c, Timo- 
thy seed 1.50., Flaxseed 87^»c, White beans 56c, Peas 
62i/ 2 c, Barley 37i/ 2 c, Potatoes 12i/ 2 c, Onions 37i/ 2 c 

"Is your land clay, sand, or black loam?" 

Each and all in different places, sometimes on the same 
farm. The latter is the most prevalent. 

"I wish you to state the advantages and disadvantages 
of your country?" 

I have already stated many of the advantages and per- 
haps shall some more, as other questions arise. One of 
the disadvantages you may see in a late communication 
of mine, of a settler who froze to death while crossing 


a large prairie on a trip to mill. 1 You will also find 
many other disadvantages that emigrants have to en- 
counter in settling a new country, detailed in my former 
articles of advice to emigrants. 

But the greatest disadvantage of all, is the extreme 
fertility of the soil. And if you have energy of character 
enough to overcome this, you will overcome all others, 
and find more advantages than disadvantages. But 
don't forget, that in all countries, the ease of procuring 
subsistence is apt to beget indolence. This is the great 
and almost only danger in the west. 

"What is the wages of farm laborers and carpen- 

Average $10 a month; 50c. a day. Carpenters $1 a 

"Is it necessary to clear up your wood land of under 
growth for pasture?" 

In some groves when the country is first settled, there 
is little or no under growth ; but by keeping out the fires, 
it soon springs up very thick, so that it would be neces- 
sary to grub out the under growth. Generally speaking, 
however, the growth of timber should be constantly and 
carefully promoted, and then in fifty years there would 
be more timber in the prairie region than now. 

"Is your county well watered?" "Can you get wells 

Yes, to both questions. Where I live, wells are from 
15 to 60 feet. The first 5 easily spaded, then a very hard 
compact bed of clay to within 10 or 12 feet of the bottom, 
then fine beach sand. Stock water is obtained in creeks, 
ponds and springs; but as the country becomes thickly 
settled, a great many farms will have to form basins in 
the clay after the manner much practiced in Kentucky, 
or obtain stock water from wells. The water in wells is 
pure, that is, clear, and very durable. It is generally 
what is termed hard. 

1 Printed ante, 340-43. 


Throughout nearly all the prairie region, good water is 
easily obtained by digging; 90 feet is the greatest depth 
I know of. 

"Which is the best time of year to emigrate?" 

If your route lies by way of the lakes, start from the 
eastern states in May, June, July, August or September, 
not later. You should arrive at your destination before 
November, at all events. May and June, are undoubtedly 
the best months for traveling. In moving, emigrants 
often suffer great exposure, which they notice but little 
at the time, but which sows the seeds of fever and ague, 
which comes upon them in their new home, and makes 
them discontented with the country, and sometimes 
drives them back whence they came, when a little more 
care, prudence and foresight, would have saved a world 
of misery. 

At whatever period you move, be careful of the health 
of your family. Above all things keep your temper, and 
you will be likely to keep your health. Don't be in too 
much of a hurry, and be sure to get ready before you 
start. That is "the best time to emigrate." 

"If I should purchase an entire new tract, what would 
be the probable expense of a comfortable dwelling and 
barn, and other preparations for cultivating." 

The first breaking up of the prairie is generally 
counted in the cost of preparation; that is $1.50 an acre; 
rails, one cent each; count 16 or 18 to every rod, and 
calculate the expense of any size lot you wish. A com- 
fortable log cabin with two rooms, can be built for $50. 
A frame house li/ 2 stories high, 20 by 30 feet, from $250 
to $300. A log barn, 18 by 40, $40. Of course there are 
several other items of expense that I cannot give ex- 
actly here, such as a well, cellar, garden fence, yards, 
sheds, &c. &c. that cost labor and not money. 

And just so with this article. It will only cost you 
the labor of reading it, and if it does you no good, you 
have the satisfaction that it did not cost you much money. 


And now I again have the pleasure of subscribing 
myself your old acquaintance and agricultural friend. 
Lake C. H. la. Dec. 9, 1842. Solon Robinson. 

The Non-Enclosure System. 

Another champion forthcoming. 

By Solon Robinson. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 3:27; Feb., 1843] 

[December 23, 1842] 

In a recent letter from A. B. Allen, editor of the Amer- 
ican Agriculturist, N. Y. he says: "I intend to take up 
the subject of prairie fences soon. I go against fencing 
the prairies in lots — it is the greatest folly conceivable. 
Dogs, taught for the purpose, can and do effectually 
guard cattle and sheep; and even hogs in Europe are 
completely under their control. The only fear in adopt- 
ing the plan here, is, that there are too many lawless 
people in our new countries, whom it would be harder 
to bring under discipline and subjection than the cattle, 
on introducing so beneficial a measure — still I will give 
one or two short articles soon. Fencing of any kind is 
a needless and useless expense, and a most onerous and 
enormous tax upon the industry of the country, and no 
doubt is the great stumbling block that deters thousands 
of poor men, who would make the best of citizens, from 
settling on the rich prairies of the West." 

This is multum in parvo — and coming from the source 
it does, is worth much more than twice the amount from 
you or me. Mr. Allen has probably traveled more in 
this country and Europe than any other of the prominent 
agricultural writers of the day. I hope he will tell us 
some things that he has seen of tending cattle and sheep 
by shepherds and dogs in the different parts of Europe 
that he has visited. 

Lake C. H., la., Dec. 23, 1842. 


Agriculture of Indiana. 
By Solon Robinson, Lake Court House. 

[New York State Agricultural Society Transactions, 1842, vol. 


Whether I can make an article worthy of a place in 
your next volume of the "Transactions," I am not cer- 
tain. But "I'll try" to answer the third inquiry as ap- 
plicable to my own vicinity, the north western part of 
Indiana. I must first give you an idea of the "prominent 
features" of the country. 

This is the prairie region. The word prairie is French. 
The general impression, at least in the eastern States, 
is, that it means meadow ; and that meadow means "level, 
wet, grass land." This impression is wrong; prairie 
means a country bare of trees; and in my opinion, it is 
the natural state of the land as left when the "great 
waters" receded from it. For instance, if the Falls of 
Niagara were swept away, the bed of Lake Erie would 
be a prairie. In time it would grass over — the timber 
would encroach upon the edges — the seeds of some trees 
would be wafted by the wind to the center, and others 
carried by animals, and by and by groves would spring 
up here and there, dotting the sea of grass like islands 
in the sea of water. 

None will suppose the bottom of the lake level, neither 
are the prairies; they are as commonly undulating as 
any other land; neither are they generally wet. In this 
particular the soil varies as much as it does in any part 
of the State of New- York. That is, from the extreme 
of deep morass, covered with a growth of coarse grass 
and weeds, twelve or fifteen feet high, to the gravelly or 
sandy barren knoll — and here the word "barren," sug- 
gests an idea. 

Large tracts of land in the prairie region are covered 
with a growth of scattering timber, void of undergrowth, 
and frequently not unlike an orchard or artificial park, 
the ground covered with grass; and these tracts are 


called "barrens;" but why so called, when the soil is of 
the best quality, I cannot explain. 

Between the above extremes of quality of prairie land, 
there is of course almost every variety of soil suited to 
the wants of the husbandman. There is one universal 
characteristic — that is a deep, strong, grass sod, and a 
mellow, loose, black vegetable mold. This has a depth 
varying from five inches to five feet, and a substratum 
varying from loose sand and gravel, of unknown depth, 
to that of the stiffest yellowish clay, slightly mixed with 
slate and sand gravel, or rather scales, and some few of 
lime, which is of uniform compactness after leaving the 
surface four or five feet, and requires to be dug up with 
a mattock. This bed of clay uniformly rests upon beach 
sand or gravel; it varies in thickness from one to sixty 
feet; such is the character of the greatest portion of 
prairie land. This clay land being almost impervious to 
water, requires deep plowing and surface draining, and 
will then grow wheat with the least labor or cost of any 
other land in the world. 

Of course the same description of land will produce 
all the other small grains and grasses (excepting a few 
that flourish best in sand,) in untold quantities. 

Indian corn upon this variety of soil is only a medium 
crop. But roots of every description usually cultivated 
for feed in this latitude, and particularly Irish potatoes, 
(what an Irish bull to call them so,) grow with great 
luxuriance and richness. 

The natural grass of the prairie makes the best beef 
ever eaten, and remarkably fine butter and cheese; it is 
also good for hay. There is no description of land upon 
which sheep do better. The outlet for the superabundant 
productions that the immense tracts of prairie in this 
region are capable of producing, is through the northern 
lakes and New-York canals, and down the St. Law- 
rence, &c. 

"The present condition of agriculture" in this region, 
is such as you might expect in a country not a dozen 


years of age, as it regards the works of civilized lif°, 
when you bear in mind that all infants must "creep 
before they walk" — and that but a small portion of the 
first settlers in any new country ever read. 

The great object, apparently, of the great portion of 
the cultivators, is to cultivate — no not cultivate — but to 
plant the greatest quantity of land with the greatest pos- 
sible amount, not of labor and attention, but of the care- 
less, slovenly, skinning system; raising grain to waste 
and straw to burn ; moving barns to get away from the 
manure; sowing wheat in November, to prove how easy 
it will die in March; sowing, and consequently reaping, 
wheat and chess in equal quantities, just to see how easily 
it can be separated in a good winnowing mill; keeping 
cattle in winter for the purpose of getting hides to tan 
in the spring. 

But understand me, this is not the universal system, 
for "the spirit of improvement" is rapidly developing. 
Improvvements in stock, tools and husbandry begin to be 
seen ; farmers begin to think and read, and educate their 
children to be proud of, and able to maintain the dignity 
of their calling. 

Now, sir, having told you something of the "condition 
and prominent features" of this region, need I say a word 
as to "the prospects of agriculture" upon the great, rich 
prairies of the West? 

It appears to me that every discerning reader will dis- 
cern that the prospects of agriculture are almost incom- 
prehensible. Who can imagine the amount of the pro- 
ductions that the thousands of uncultivated acres will 
bring forth, when all are brought under the dominion of 
the husbandman who shall cultivate the land with scien- 
tific skill? 

You, in the Empire State, should prepare for the com- 
ing events, the shadows of which you may now see dimly. 
If you intend to compete with the prairie farmer, who 
cultivates land of surpassing fertility at a cost of only 
a few shillings an acre for the purchase, you must break 


down your rail-roads and fill up your canals, or else we 
can deliver wheat at your own doors for 50 cents a 

I will not attempt to say what, but I will ask you, what 
we can afford to raise wool for in a country where the 
summer pasturage costs nothing, and in a climate where 
the sheep will winter nine-tenths of the time upon rye 
and blue grass pasture. 

What we can afford to raise beef for, you can easily 
"cypher up on the slate," when I tell you that I can buy 
calves at $1.50 each in the fall, and I can hire them win- 
tered by contract for four years, at $1.50 each per year, 
making four year old steers cost $7.50 each, and as fat 
as grass can make them. 

I might go on with details ; but I do not think it neces- 
sary. I think I have said enough to occupy all the space 
that one individual should occupy in the pages of your 

Dinner at the next meeting of the N. Y. State 
Agricultural Society. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 1:377; Mar., 1843] 

[January 25, 1843] 
Messrs. A. B. & R. L. Allen : 

Well, and so you "hope to have three thousand guests 
at an agricultural dinner at Rochester, at your next 
State Fair." 1 Then let me tell you how, — you must 
adopt the western fashion, and have a free dinner. It 
is easily got up, and no one feels the expense. Let a few 
of the spirited friends of these great holidays and farm- 
er's festivals, in the vicinity of Rochester meet together, 
a few weeks before the Fair, and appoint a "dinner com- 
mittee," whose business it shall be to see that a suitable 
spot of ground is selected, and tables and seats built of 
rough boards, that any lumberman will lend for the oc- 
casion, — and so will some crockery merchant, who desires 

1 See ante, 336 n. 


the custom of the farmers, lend the necessary articles, 
while a few bolts of cotton sheeting, that will be readily 
donated by the merchants, will make very good table 
linen, though I would much prefer to see the tables cov- 
ered with a real home-made flaxen cloth. And now for 
the substantials, wherewithal to crown the tables, and 
furnish forth the joyous feast, that will be a real "thanks- 
giving dinner" to the twice told three thousand happy 
human beings who will partake of it. 

Let the word once go forth, that the farmers, and the 
farmer's wives, and sons and daughters, are going to 
provide the feast, and my word for it, you will see such 
a display of good things as you never saw collected to- 
gether at one dinner party before. Even many of the 
dwellers in the city will be aroused by the excitement and 
novelty of the scene, and pour forth their contributions 
of delicacies, that will serve by way of desert to the more 
substantial viands of the farmers. This is the only plan 
of a public dinner that affords an opportunity for all 
parties, classes, and sexes to meet together in the full, 
free, unrestrained enjoyment of life. Every farmer 
should bring his family, for those who furnish the good 
things should also be present. 

This is the kind of dinner, and this is the way that so 
great a number met together at our great dinner in Illi- 
nois, which I have mentioned in the article to which your 
note referred to, is appended. 

There was a little incident at that dinner, which I 
should like to see imitated at every similar one. Two 
daughters of a very repectable farmer, appeared in beau- 
tiful woollen shawls, entirely the work of their own 
hands, even from the rearing of the lambs that produced 
the fine wool, to the last finishing stroke of the excellent 
fabric. They were publicly complimented at the table, 
and the association of ideas in my mind at the time, 
tended much to heighten the natural beauty of their 
faces, which showed much good sense in every feature. 
And such incidents will often happen, and be commented 


upon and patterned after, if such occasions are given to 
bring them to light. I look upon these great family din- 
ners as one of the very best features in our agricultural 
shows. These are shows of human nature. They ought 
to be fostered and encouraged. 

Addresses, conversations, toasts and sentiments, at 
such a time, make deep impressions upon the mind. And 
if you wish me "and others of my prairie friends to be 
with you and partake of the good things" at your next 
State Fair, you must get up a public dinner after our 
fashion. Try it; it will go well and do good. 

Your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake Co. H., la., Jan. 25, 1843. 

Solon Robinson to Dr. Knapp. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 3:87-88; Apr., 1843] 

[March 21, 1843] 
My Worthy Friend: I might make many excuses 
why I have not answered your letter addressed to me in 
the February number of the Prairie Farmer. 1 I have 
often set a time for doing it, but more pressing business 
has prevented. Among other things I have had to im- 
prove this "6 weeks sleding in March," and when one has 
been out all day in such weather as we have had up here, 
next door neighbor to the North Pole, he is quite unfitted 
for writing in the evening. To day I took up the paper 
to begin, and sat down and wrote a couple of temperance 
hymns — for so ran my mood — probably in consequence of 
having been deeply engaged in that cause at a meeting 
yesterday. And now having begun, I glance my eye into 
the very next column, and there behold myself and all my 

1 Dr. M. L. Knapp, Waynesville, De Witt County, Illinois. Ac- 
tive in Union Agricultural Society. Contributor to the Union 
Agriculturist under the pseudonym "Incog.," and contributor to 
Prairie Farmer and the Cultivator. The letter mentioned was 
written after meeting Robinson at the Aurora fair, in October. 
Prairie Farmer, 3:42-43. 


coadjutors in the non-enclosure system, upset with a cart 
load of pigs and tea, into a sea of crocodile tears, and our 
fine fabric which we had raised for the benefit of un- 
born millions, and for the purpose of enriching us poor, 
miserable, half-acre farmers and naked prairie specula- 
tors, all stove to smash, by one blow of the big fist of 
brother Churchill. 1 

Then again in the same paper, Mr. West has knocked 
me down with my own gauntlet, though certainly in a 
much more gentle, (I might say genteel) manner than 
the Avon farmer. 2 Again in the March number I have 
the power of Socrates against me. 3 Really, Doctor, in- 
stead of asking help from me, you should gallantly come 
to my aid. And those other gentlemen who are so anxious 
to take a tilt with me, must give me time to mount. All 
in due time. If you or they knew half the business actu- 
ally pressing upon me, you would only wonder how I am 
able to answer half of my correspondents in any reason- 
able time. 4 

And now to your third question. I do certainly think 
that the plan of holding Fairs upon the camp-meeting 
system is worthy a trial. I have no doubt it would at- 
tract many merely for the novelty as well as the economy 

1 Alfred Churchill, Avon, Kane County, Illinois. Contributor to 
Prairie Farmer. Patented a harvesting machine, March 16, 1841. 
He characterized the no-fence system as a no-sense system. Prairie 
Farmer, 3:43. 

2 F. West wrote from Du Page County, Illinois, on December 12, 
1842, chiding Robinson for his delay in "reducing the subject" of 
nonenclosure to a tangible form. Ibid., 3:25-26. 

'Socrates Rand, of Cook County. Ibid., 3:60-61. 

4 The discussion of the nonenclosure system continued to receive 
a considerable amount of space. See the articles of M. L. Dun- 
lap, J. I. Crandall, and D. C. Underbill in the Prairie Farmer, 
3:118-20 (May, 1843). Robinson was prevented from answering 
by the illness of his children and the death of one. Ibid., 118. 

5 The editor deleted part of Robinson's letter dealing with the 
assumption of state debts by the general government, holding dis- 
cussions of such questions undesirable in an agricultural periodical. 


of the thing. Then there would be the advantage of hav- 
ing the people more together for the purpose of address- 
ing them, or for transacting any business. No one 
would be obliged to stay at home on account of his in- 
ability to bear the expense; and it might be much more 
agreeable than being quartered in a tavern where a large 
sized man has to be compressed like a bale of cotton to 
fit him to occupy the small space allotted to his share. 
If this system should be adopted, the Fairs ought to be 
holden earlier in the season, while the weather would be 
more mild. The greatest objection seems to be the want 
of means for the society to furnish the "big tent." But 
if, as you hint, an admission fee of sixpence were charged, 
it certainly would put them in funds for that purpose. 
But I do not urge the adoption of the plan as a hobby of 
my own — I merely wish to inquire whether it would not 
be of the greatest benefit to the greatest number. Per- 
haps others can show insuperable objections to the plan. 
I hope it will be discussed. 

I regret to say to you that I have written this in great 
haste, without devoting that attention to the subject, 
particularly that part of it relating to State indebted- 
ness, that the magnitude of the question demands. You 
truly remark that no subject can be of more interest to 
the farmer than this. 

I ought to have taken you to task for laying on your 
compliments so thick ; but let it pass for what it is worth, 
considering where it comes from. 

Accept, my dear Doctor, the assurance of my warm 
respects, for your labors in trying to elevate the char- 
acter and standing of the cultivators the American soil. 
I am most respectfully your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Note to the Editor. — I beg leave to assure those gen- 
tlemen who have entered the lists against the non-en- 
closure system, that I will not avoid them entirely, but 


will try to meet them manfully. So they must not be im- 
patient at unavoidable delays. 
Lake C. H. la. March 21, 1843. 

Western Farming. 

[Albany Cultivator, 10:81-82; May, 1843] 

[March 24, 1843] 
To my friend of Richmond Co. N. Y. 1 — Your letter in 
the March No. of the Cultivator, has been near three 
weeks on hand. I would have made more haste to answer 
it, but since it was written, you must have seen my article 
in the February No., in which I have anticipated some 
of your inquiries. 2 And I hope you have also seen the 
American Agriculturist, published in New- York city, in 
which you will find some more information upon the sub- 
ject of farming in the west. 3 

I am now writing upon the 21st of March; a clear 
sunny day, and the thermometer in the shade, 25° below 
the freezing point; and the latitude 41° 30'. [By the by, 
there is an error of 9° in the statement of your lati- 
tude.*] The ground covered with snow, and I should 
now be gliding over it after a load of pine timber near 
the beach of the lake, only that I was taken slightly un- 
well after I had got my horses harnessed for a start — 
to that you owe my present occupation. This is a very 
unusual hard winter, and the people are learning a les- 
son of dear bought experience. For notwithstanding the 
fact that hay of a most excellent quality, equal to timo- 

* This was a typographical error. It should have read "Lat. 
40°, 30', N."— Eds. 

1 Richmond, pseudonym of Dr. Samuel Akerly, New York. Born 
1785; died July 6, 1845. Contributor to, and reviewer of, the 
Cultivator, 1841-1845. Also wrote under signature of "A Practi- 
cal Farmer." Akerly, a retired physician formerly prominent in 
New York City, attracted much attention with his writings, but 
the editors concealed his identity until after his death. See obitu- 
ary, Cultivator, n. s. 2:252 (August, 1845). 

2 Ante, 348-57. 
'Ante, 343-47. 


thy, may be made in any desired quantity, as fast as a 
man can cut it upon smooth clean ground, at the rate 
of two or three tons to the acre, they did not provide 
enough for this very severe winter, and the cattle are 
actually starving to death at this time. Even the ashes 
of ten thousand tons of burnt straw won't save them; 
neither will the cornstalks that have been safely pre- 
served for spring feed, any more than keep them alive. 

"What, do you say that cornstalks are not good rich 

"Oh no! I said no such thing. I said they had been 
carefully preserved, and would have told you where, but 
you interrupted me." 

"Pray then, tell us how you preserve cornstalks in the 

"Yes, I will — that is, how thousands of acres are pre- 
served — by letting the corn stand just where it grew. 
And such fields as are not gathered by the hogs in the 
process of fatting, are gathered as wanted through the 
winter, and thus are the stalks preserved for the cattle 
in the spring. 'Rich feed,' ain't it?" 

And now if I tell you how corn is planted sometimes, 
your skeptical neighbor can reduce his figures. 

And firstly, of the first crop on the prairie. The sod is 
very tough, and is generally broken from 3 to 6 inches 
deep, and 16 to 24 wide, turned over flat by a plow drawn 
by 4 or 5 yoke of oxen, 11/2 to 2 acres a day. In every 
second or third furrow the corn is dropped near the 
shoulder, and the next slice turned over upon it. This 
produces a middling crop with no after culture whatever. 
Again, in old land, the ground being furrowed out for 
the rows sometimes one and sometimes both ways, the 
seed dropped in the furrow is covered by passing along 
another light plow, and as soon as planting is done, then 
commences the after culture, or rather, I should say, the 
plowing of the ground, and which culture is almost en- 
tirely completed with the plow. No manuring, no hoe- 
ing, or but very slight, no harvesting in many cases, that 


being attended to by the hogs, no saving of stalks for 
fodder, and as the land is as mellow as your garden, and 
as free from all obstruction to the plow, is it to be won- 
dered at even by your unbelieving neighbor, that corn 
can be raised by the hundred of acres, upon such a sys- 
tem, upon such land, without "a regiment of men and 

And in regard to wheat, it does not require a regiment 
of men or teams, to put in 800 acres of wheat, upon land 
as mellow as an ash heap, where the plowed lands are 
a mile or more long without turning; and as the seed time 
runs through a space of near two months, so the harvest 
runs about half that length of time; and as to when it 
is housed, I would answer that during the last fall, thou- 
sands of acres of wheat were thrashed by a kind of ma- 
chine that is fitted upon wheels and drawn about the 
field by 4 or 6 horses, tended by three men, one of whom 
takes the sheaves from the ground or the shooks, and 
pitches them up to the feeder while passing along, and 
the straw and a great portion of the chaff is blown upon 
the ground, while the clean wheat is deposited in a reser- 
voir, which when full, is expeditiously emptied upon a 
sheet of canvass, and from thence is taken by a wagon 
to the barn; so that the barns instead of having to hold 
the sheaves, are only required to store the grain. And 
thousands in this new country, who farm on a large 
scale, have not even a barn for that purpose, but depend 
upon a rail pen with the cracks corked with straw, or 
some other equally primitive mode of storage. 

And those who do not thresh their wheat immediately 
after cutting, stack it in the field or some convenient spot 
for threshing, where, if it is well put up, it will keep far 
better than in any barn. And the way the straw is dis- 
posed of, I have hinted at in the first part of this letter; 
and many contend that it is the best way, as it is not 
wanted for manure, and cannot be consumed by cattle 
in ordinary seasons, and certainly not as quick as by fire. 

That this is the best system of farming, or that all 


these things are universally practiced in the west, I shall 
not assert, but that they are to a great extent is true. 

It would seem to you wonderful to see so much good 
soil lying waste — and wicked to see so much good soil 
wickedly cultivated — extravagant to see so much grain 
grown for no other apparent purpose but for the pleasure 
of seeing it grow, without deriving any profit from the 

The question is sometimes asked, if land is so cheap 
and good and easy to cultivate, why don't the western 
farmers all get rich? 

I have already answered this, but I will repeat; it is 
in consequence of the extreme fertility of the soil. I am 
not going to undertake to tell why it is so, but so it is, 
that when the whole land is so cheap, so easily culti- 
vated, and so productive with so little labor, mankind 
will grow indolent, and do not accumulate wealth as fast 
as you do who have to dig and delve among the "rocks 
and stones, bushes and briars, and stumps," and then 
manure your land at an expense for one year, that equals 
the value of the rent of an acre of land here, equally 
fertile as yours after receiving the manure, for more than 
seventeen years. 

And although we can raise corn and oats here for six 
cents a bushel, better than you can at 56 cents, we cannot 
compete with you on account of transportation. But in 
articles of more value, we do, and might to a much 
greater extent, if we cultivated our soil as you do yours. 
It is an incontrovertible fact, that you "expend more 
labor with less profit," than we do. And I believe it is 
an equal fact, that you make more profit out of your 
labor; for you are compelled to be more industrious. 
But again, you are compelled to spend a greater amount 
of your profits to provide for your artificial wants, in 
the artificial state of society in which you live. For my 
own part, I am willing to plead guilty to a love of indo- 
lence, and for that and some other reasons, I love this 
country. But I don't want any more to come here solely 


because they are indolent; there is enough of us of that 
kind now. But if you, or any of your neighbors, who till 
your little farms, and till them well, would like to till 
more and till better, but cannot where you are, I pray 
you come here. 

But one thing I beg of you : notwithstanding I would 
like to see you practice a little different from what I 
have described, try to forget before you come here, that 
you ever spent 18 days works, besides the two teams, 
planting seven acres of corn, or in the whole work of 
raising the crop, 871/2 days; lest you should happen to 
mention it, as it would certainly injure your character 
as a man of truth. 

Let me see how it would answer here to spend 871/2 
days upon 7 acres of corn. 

Wages, 50 cents a day, or about an average of 
$10 per month, or including board, I suppose 
50 cents a day is a fair price, so that 871/2 
day's work at 50 cents a day, is $43 75 

The crop of 7 acres of corn, at a fair average, 
50 bushels to the acre, 350 bushels, at 121/2 
cents a bushel, $43 75 

A nicely balanced account, saying nothing about the 
team work and husking. 

And again, "seventeen dollars an acre for manuring." 
Don't tell that to us, while moving our barn to a "clean 
spot," to get away from the yard where we lost the old 
red cow, mired in the dung. 

Let me see what would $17 do here. Why, as I said 
before, it would pay the rent on 17 acres of land one 
year, or one acre 17 years, well fenced and under what 
we call good tillage. Or it would purchase upwards of 
I31/2 acres of soil, more fertile than yours after being 
thus manured. Or it would purchase one acre, and more 
than half build a comfortable log cabin upon it. 

Now you see it is as difficult for us to understand 
your operations in farming, as it is for you to under- 
stand ours. 


But if you (by you, I mean eastern farmers generally,) 
and particularly your book farming hating neighbor, 
will take a journey through the west, there will be no 
more doubts expressed as to the magnitude of western 
farming. But which produces the most, (not wealth, 
but happiness,) I am unable to answer. 

And now, sir, I hope what I have hastily thrown to- 
gether, may give you some pleasure and satisfaction, 
for it is because I am induced to believe from a great 
number of similar complimentary notices to yours, that 
I have been able to please if not instruct my readers, 
that I have continued to make myself acquainted with 
you, through the agency of our common friend the Cul- 
tivator, and which I would most particularly recommend 
my new acquaintance, to whom you have introduced me, 
to subscribe for and read, and if he learns nothing more, 
I hope he will become so well acquainted with me, as to 
be able to rely upon what I may assure him is the truth. 
And not only this particular individual, but some thou- 
sands of other New- York farmers, are in duty bound to 
subscribe for this paper, and at this time, because it is a 
New-York farmer's paper, particularly devoted to their 
interest, and because the support from other states has 
materially fallen off this year, through sundry causes, 
and the New- York farmers alone ought to have sufficient 
pride to give the paper patronage enough to enable the 
publishers to maintain its present high standing. 

And now my friend having written you a, long letter, 
allow me to find one fault with yours: — it is anony- 
mous — this is wrong ; you should have given your name ; 
you have written nothing but what you might be proud 
to acknowledge; besides, you have the advantage of me; 
to you I am almost personally known; and if I knew 
your name, and should by any chance be placed in a 
situation where I could knock at your door and receive, 
(as you may at mine,) the welcome "walk in," I have no 
doubt but I soon should become actually known. Thus 
our acquaintance and friendship is extended, whereby 


the agricultural interest is cemented together. This is 
one of the great benefits of agricultural papers ; think of 
it in future. And now I will subscribe myself your friend, 

Solon Robinson. 
Lake C. H. Ind., March 24, 1843. 

Weather in Indiana. 

[Nashville Agriculturist, 4:58-59; Apr., 1843] 

[March 30, 1843] 
To the Editors of the Tennessee State Agriculturist : 

Gentlemen : — Your March No. has just come to hand 
— I have opened upon your article "Work for the Sea- 
son" — "Oats if not sown should be put in immediately" — 
"Irish Potatoes should be put in the last of March," &c. 
&c. Heavens! Where am I, and where does that paper 
come from mocking me with visions of warm spring. I 
look abroad upon the face of nature spread out in gran- 
deur before me. The broad rolling prairie stretches 
away some 7 miles in view from my window. In view 
did I say — rather it was in view last summer — "sow Oats 
immediately" I read again. Verily they are nearly all 
sown already — sown where they will need no "brushing 
in." — "Put in Potatoes" — Oh yes, that we did last Sep- 
tember, and since the middle of November, we have 
hardly seen the ground where we put them in. And 
those that have seen it are the worst off, for where the 
ground is not covered with snow, it has frozen solid as 
your mountains, Potatoes and all. Fancy to yourselves 
if you can while sowing your Oats, that here, the snow 
is more than two feet deep where it lies level, and a 
violent Northeast snow storm now raging. So your ad- 
vice for March, 1843, is not suited to this latitude. Never 
before since the country has been known by white men, 
has such a winter as this been known. Such a universal 
cry for hay, straw, grain or anything that will keep the 
life in cattle. And the supply is nearly exhausted — 
many cattle have already perished, & thousands more 
must die. It seems a very cruel death two, in such a 


land of universal plenty. This calamity is not confined 
to a small district of country, but extends over all the 
north of Indiana and Illinois, and throughout Michigan 
and Wisconsin, and probably much farther. And through- 
out the greatest portion of this famished region, the 
timber is mostly oak and hickory, so that keeping the 
cattle alive upon browse, is out of the question. 

It is a gloomy time — the storm rages worse and worse 
as night approaches. What a night for starving cattle — 
without food & without shelter — for a great portion of 
the sheds and stables have been covered with prairie 
hay, which grows so abundant here, and those have 
been stripped to furnish feed — I have allowed some of 
my neighbors to strip the covering from some sheds of 
mine that had been on three years. 

This picture will form a striking contrast with your 
section of country, and ought to tend to make your citi- 
zens more contented and happy, and cease to repine at 
trifling misfortunes. You shall hear from me again when 
we "sow Oats." 

Your friend, Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. IncL, March 30, 1843. 

Western Farming. 

[Albany Cultivator, 10:160; Oct., 1843] 

[August 17, 1843] 
To MY friend "Richmond" — Your communication in 
the August No. of the Cultivator, 1 as well as your private 
letter to me, have both been read with pleasure. Your 
detailed statement of the advantage of manuring, must 
certainly be useful to all eastern farmers, and the time 
will come when the same system will have to be adopted 
in the west ; but at present, it is a mooted point whether 
manuring our prairie soil will pay the expense. My own 
opinion is, that for corn and potatoes it will, and for 

1 A letter from Oakland Farm, Richmond County, New York, on 
the "difference of farming in Eastern and Western parts of the 
United States." Cultivator, 10:132. 


small grain it will not. It is a fact that wheat, oats, rye, 
&c. grow without manure extremely luxuriant in favor- 
able seasons. In this vicinity, our wheat is extremely 
likely to winter kill — generally by heaving out; but last 
winter it was to a very great extent killed in another 
way, which I will describe. The ground, previous to the 
January thaw, was but little frozen, and the wheat re- 
mained green under the snow, which was melted off, and 
by a sudden change to severe cold, was formed into a 
complete coat of ice over the level surface, so as to ex- 
clude the air from the wheat, killing entirely thousands 
of acres, while the roots remained firm in the ground. 
Where the snow remained on the ground, as it did in 
hollows and uneven land, or where wheat had been sown 
among corn and the stalks left standing, the wheat lived 
and produced one of the finest crops ever raised. Many 
persons, finding the crop dead in the spring, harrowed 
in spring wheat without plowing, and thus in all instances 
where it was sown early, obtained a good yield. It is a 
common and good practice, to sow wheat among corn in 
this country. It is also a good practice, and almost the 
only sure one, to plow the ground in the fall for spring 
wheat, and harrow it in early in the spring as can be 
done. The reason of this is, that our spring usually opens 
late, and the surface of the land is too wet to plow, but 
the seed can be harrowed in, although in the mud. 

The surface of the prairie is composed of the fibers of 
the grass roots, 6 or 8 inches deep, which when rotted by 
two or three years cultivation, is so soft and friable, that 
when wet, it much resembles in consistence, wet leached 
ashes; being as easily displaced when you set your foot 
upon it, and of course when dry, unless baked together, 
as it sometimes is in dry weather, it is very easily 
plowed. When well cultivated it is exceedingly fertile; 
but how long it will remain so under the "skinning" sys- 
tem, is a problem yet to be solved. My own opinion is, 
that we might even now, take some useful lessons from 
some of the manure making farmers of the east. 


Although we can raise our crops with far less labor 
and expense than you have shown that you can do, there 
are but few articles that we can compete with you in 
your market. The expense of hauling in wagons over a 
long road, or rather over a long distance void of roads, 
except such as nature has provided ready made, and the 
long lake and canal transportation, is a bar to almost all 
kinds of our produce except wheat. But there is one 
other product fast coming into fashion here, that we can 
compete with you, and that is wool : unless our wild and 
almost insane free trade advocates, shall finally succeed 
in making this country, as far as all manufactures are 
concerned, a dependant colony of Great Britain. The 
prairie region possesses such cheap facilities for wool 
growing, and the cost of transportation so comparatively 
small when compared with the value, that you cannot 
possibly afford to raise wool at the same price, where 
you manure your land at such an expense as you have 
stated, or even a tythe of that sum, taking into account 
an interest of $3 to $6 an acre upon the cost of your 
land. Here, summer pasturage will cost the attendance 
of the shepherd and salt used — nothing more — and the 
winter keeping I can hire done with all proper attention 
and feed, for 25 cents a head. The great difficulty in the 
way of western farming, which will continue to increase 
with the increased productions of grain, will be the cost 
of transportation to an eastern market; and unless the 
raising of wool, flax, hemp, silk, and other light articles 
of value, shall be added to our products, you will grow 
rich with your expensive manuring system, while we 
shall barely "hold on," without materially improving our 
condition of happiness, and undoubtedly our land must 
deteriorate in fertility. If, and that if is often in the 
way — if we could ship beef in the late fall or early win- 
ter months, we could win your gold for quantity, and 
golden opinions for quality, for we could well afford to 
sell the best article for two cents a pound. 



Pork can be made to advantage here, but it can be 
made to much greater advantage farther south, where 
Indian corn is "the great crop," and grows with such 
luxuriance as would astonish an eastern man. The Wa- 
bash and Erie canal which is now completed, will open 
an outlet for an immense amount of this article, or the 
pork grown from it. 

If I thought it would be interesting to our mutual read- 
ers, I would willingly increase the length of this letter, 
but my sheet is full, and as in the operations of Tyler- 
ism I have lately lost the franking privilege, I must close 
— for I cannot afford to pay double postage. I hope you 
will continue the correspondence, until our friend Tucker 
cries, hold, enough. With sentiments of respect and 
brotherly kindness to you, and numerous other of my 
friends and acquaintance made through the columns of 
the Cultivator, I remain the same 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. la., Aug. 17, 1843. 

Tobacco, Hemp and Wool vs. Wheat, Corn and Pork. 
By Solon Robinson. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 4:40-41; Feb., 1844] 

[December 20, 1843] 

"Tobacco! Faugh! Why, do you smoke?" 

"Yes I smoke !" 

"Why, I thought you were a temperance man !" 

"Well, and so I am I hope, in most things — I use alcho- 
hol in all shapes — only as a medicine; and I use tea and 
coffee in the same way; and I use tobacco" 

"As a medicine too, I suppose." 

"No ; I can't conscientiously say that I use it as a medi- 
cine — and still, long habit has made it a luxury, and al- 
most a necessary to me." 

And so it is to many thousands of our fellow creatures. 
And it is a point yet to be decided, whether it is noxious 
or innoxious to the human system ; and if we do and will 


use it, we ought to raise it. I do not intend to argue the 
point whether it is right or wrong to raise an article from 
which mankind derive no benefit. For more than twenty 
years, I have occasionally indulged in the luxury of the 
pipe, and sometimes I think it is medicinally beneficial to 
me. So I used to think of tea and coffee — that I could 
not do without. But I have proved myself wrong there. 
I now am convinced I am better in health, while making 
use of cold water as my only drink. Long habit has made 
many unable or unwilling to do without those articles of 
luxury, and so it has of tobacco. Now tea and coffee we 
cannot raise here in the West, (though we might use sub- 
stitutes equally good,) but we can and ought to raise all 
the tobacco that is used here: our soil and climate will 
produce it just as certain as it will produce a crop of 

What a smoke it would raise, if it were only known 
what a vast number of bushels of wheat which we ship 
from Chicago alone, or products thereof, are returned to 
us in this one article. Put that into your pipe, Messrs. 
Editors, and smoke it. 

And so of hemp. Why, a man hereabouts, though liv- 
ing upon a rich hemp soil, if he took it into his head to 
indulge himself in the luxury of hanging himself, would 
fain have to do it with an imported rope. 

Do we not all deserve a touch of the "rope's end" for 
our neglect of this one branch of profitable industry? 

"Why, will hemp grow here in the North!" exclaims 
some open-mouthed wonder-hunter. 

I don't know whether it will or not, but I have heard 
that the article is grown "just across the ferry," in a lit- 
tle place called Russia — that is not quite a tropical coun- 
try I believe. 

And further, it is but a few weeks since I saw where 
an excellent crop had been taken from the ground in 
Jasper county, Indiana, about 50 miles South of the head 
of Lake Michigan. The soil was just such as abounds 
in all our prairie lands. The owner told me that owing 


to the drouth, the stalks were short, but well linted, and 
prove as heavy as an average Kentucky crop, and af- 
forded him a much greater profit than wheat. And he 
also assured me that he was raised in a hemp field, and 
had tried it here so as to be satisfied that it was a much 
more certain crop than wheat, corn or oats. 

And the most of us who have been several years in 
this country, are pretty well satisfied that the wheat crop 
in northern Indiana and northern Illinois, is not quite so 
certain as some other things are in this life — particularly 
the certainty of the end of it. 

But I have come to the conclusion that a few more 
failures of the wheat crop will not prove lastingly inju- 
rious to the West, for it will at length drive us to learn 
the fact that there is a great deal of grass burnt up, that 
might just as well be eat up, and if eaten by the right 
kind of animals, it would exhibit to us one of the wonders 
of nature — prairie grass turned into Wool. And what is 
so very remarkable, that but few have as yet discovered 
it, this very wool will make just as warm cloth as that 
which grows in Vermont. And another remarkable won- 
der will in time be discovered here; and that is, that 
water in this country is just as good to turn a wheel to 
spin wool and weave cloth, as it is in New England, and 
that the wool will work just as well without taking a 
trip round the lakes, and I suppose that we could just as 
well find the spinners and weavers in "hog and hom- 
mony" here as there ; and although it is said that rum is 
better for a sea voyage, I don't know that flour and pork 
are very much improved by that operation. 

But we have run after strange idols. Idols of wheat, 
corn and pork. For years we have thought of sending 
nothing else to the eastern market, since we have quit 
sending town lots there for sale. And what hath it prof- 
ited us? While we have been selling our wheat and pork, 
we have been buying our leather: yes, for we send our 
hides "down East" to be tanned. Our wool, and that 
manufactured even into stockings — for knitting is not 


fashionable; our ropes, and even our bags to carry our 
wheat to market in ; and our 

"Yes, and our tobacco." 

Rightly said. Yes, and our tobacco. And what don't 
we import in return for our wheat? And if the sea- 
son prove bad and the crop fail, then we go ragged, 

"Smoke on credit." 

Right again. And not only smoke on credit, but some- 
times smoke our creditors most confoundedly. 

And let me tell you, that we never shall smoke the pipe 
of peace, while we rely so much upon one single article 
of export, and depend upon buying almost all else that 
we eat, drink, wear and 


Yes, and smoke — for smoke we will, and therefore 
ought in that, as well as hemp and wool, to smoke "home- 
made," and wear home-spun," and 

"Hang ourselves with a home-made rope." 

Exactly: "and thereby hangs a tale," that cannot be 
too often told to prairie farmers. But I suppose that the 
critical personage who appears in this tale to be every 
now and then inclined to slip in a question or remark, 
by way of sarcastic objections to my argument, would 
say that this country is yet too new to expect such things. 
Perhaps it is ; but it is not too new to begin to raise wool, 
hemp, flax and tobacco, to tan our own hides, make our 
own ropes, and a score of other things. It certainly is 
not wisdom for us to rely so much upon one single kind 
of produce, which, if it fail, all fails. I have heard some 
farmers say that they intended to get a flock of sheep as 
soon as there were factories to work up the wool. Let 
me say to such, that the sheep must come first, and the 
factories will follow as a natural sequence. Last fall, 
pork was so low that many determined not to attempt to 
raise only for family use. Now they mourn because 
they have no pork to sell; and yet, in fact, they could 
better afford to sell at last fall prices than this, because 


the crop of corn and other grain is this year a very light 
crop. For my own part, I intend to try to make wool my 
principal crop, until I prove it to be as bad a business as 
Mr. Jewett of Vermont would like to make us believe 
that it will be. 1 

When I find leisure to write again, I think I will pub- 
lish "my experience" in sheep buying, with notes and 
references, admonitions and advice, for the benefit of 
those that would go and do likewise. 

I hope the Prairie Farmer will not set me down as a 
wilful deserter, because I have not furnished copy for 
the printer more frequently of late. I have my reasons, 
and they are weighty ones. Firstly, I prefer to read the 
writings of others rather than my own ; and secondly, I 
have been for several months past, as busy as was a 
neighbor of mine once, who sent a child to call the hired 
man from his work to make a fire, "because father was 
so busy." The man as in duty bound made haste to obey 
orders, but was greatly amused when he found that the 
great and important matter which kept his employer "so 
busy," was, that he was sitting in the corner smoking. 
But, — and remember that — he raised his own tobacco. 

And now, Messrs. Editors, if there is any good in this 
article, you may give tobacco credit for one good, for 
had it not been that I had taken my pipe after supper to 
finish a hard day's work with the quieting luxury of a 
smoke, my anti-smoking friend would not have made use 
of the words that commence this article, and from which 
the whole matter has grown — somewhat like the little 
cloud of smoke around my pipe — enjoyed by few, dis- 
gusting to many, and fated soon to fade away, as we 
shall do some coming day. 

I remain as ever, your friend — in smoke. 

Lake C. H., la., Dec. 20, 1843. 

1 Robinson refers to an article "Sheep on the Prairies," by S. W. 
Jewett. Cultivator, 10:149 (September, 1843). 


Letter from Solon Robinson, 
to his friend richmond of staten island. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 1:92-93; Mar., 1844] 

[January 20, 1844] 

Much Respected Friend — Your letter in the Culti- 
vator of the present month, 1 has been read with much 
pleasure by me, and I hope equally so by the thousands 
of readers of that paper : who I also hope will be pleased 
to meet their old friends and acquaintances in the new 
dress that friend Tucker has very properly put on. This 
method that you have adopted of interchanging facts with 
one another as individuals, seems to me to be a very fa- 
miliar and happy way of conveying useful and amusing 
information to the public. Your letter too is a most com- 
plete illustration of my own theory, that if we will it our- 
selves, we can always find an abundance of material, out 
of which to work up a letter that is not only entertain- 
ing, but conveys much useful instruction. To me it 
sounds like the conversation of an old acquaintance from 
the land of my birth : 
The land of rocks, and hills, and gravelly knolls, 

Stone walls, and wells, where "oaken buckets" swing; 
Where rivers rapid run, and where tide water rolls, 

And back on mem'ry's page the scenes of childhood 

For among the rocks and hills of Connecticut, I was 
born. Although you probably thought little of doing so 
when you wrote, yet your letter conveys much geological 
and geographical information. It tells me too, that some 
of the inhabitants of my native state, like many others 
of all other states, are actually advancing backwards in 
civilization, when they strike from their vocabulary an 
ancient historical name, because it is Indian, and sounds 
barberous in our delicate ears. But we differ in taste. 
Now to me, 

1 This long letter described a "visit to see the Improvements on 
the farm of Mr. Morris Ketchum, at Westport, in Connecticut." 
Cultivator, n. s. 1:33-35. 


There's music in the soft sounding name of "Saugatuck," 
While "Westport" harshly sounds of traffic, trade and 
truck. 1 

But from your description, I judge that Mr. Ketch um 
in the improvement of his farm, has advanced the other 
way; and I doubt not that it would be useful for some 
western farmers, who do not now even do as much as 
Mr. K. used to do, make the value of a new pair of boots 
a year, to visit his farm and learn a lesson of improve- 
ment. But far as your country is in improvement be- 
hind what it may and will profitably be brought to, it 
will be many, many years before ours will be what yours 
now is. The west is so vast in extent and fertility, and 
we are so prone to run over a great deal, instead of culti- 
vating a little land, that I despair of a life long enough 
to see real improvement begin, much more be brought 
to that successful issue which you have so pleasingly de- 
scribed upon the farm of Mr. Ketchum. 

Over a vast extent, in the region of country where I 
live, stone walls will never be built for fencing ; for there 
are no stones except scattering boulders, principally 
granite, which have been wafted here upon their ice 
boats, from a far distant, and to me unknown locality, 
and lie scattered wherever their frail conveyance melted 
beneath the rays of a warming sun. These stones as they 
lay upon or near the surface, are a little detriment to the 
plow, but are easily removed, and will always be valuable 
to the owner of the land, and well worth his care in col- 
lecting and laying up till time of need. And in some 
large districts, even this small supply of such a useful 
material, is entirely lacking. Even where most plenty, 
they are of such a rough uneven shape, and exceeding 
hard quality, that I would defy the superior accomplish- 
ments of the celebrated Yankee stone wall builder, whom 
you mention, to lay them into a decent looking stone wall, 
fire place or well; so they are seldom used except for 

1 Westport lies on the Saugatuck River, and was first named 
for it. 


underpinning. In the first settlement of the country, 
when brick cannot be obtained, a very good fire place and 
hearth is made by pounding clay a little damp, into a 
compact mass, the shape that is required for the fire 
place, while the chimney is built of sticks and clay, which 
if well done, costs but little labor and lasts for years. 
But that is more than I can say of the wooden walls of 
wells, for at first they give our "hard water" a very 
ancient and bilge water like smell, and by the time that 
is well over with, the wood begins to decay, and which I 
have no doubt is one of the many removable causes of 
sickness which is wrongly charged to the unhealthiness 
of the climate. Also the sinful carelessness in which a 
great portion of the inhabitants permit themselves to live 
in cold, open, damp, uncomfortable houses, is the cause 
of many a day of suffering from fever and ague. Your 
profession, as well as long experience, has taught you 
what all had ought to learn, that we are less liable to 
take cold and contract disease when "camping out" in 
the open air, than we are while living in what we are 
pleased to call a house, through the walls and roof of 
which, the old cat and all her kittens can go without let 
or hindrance. And in such houses, a vast majority of 
the inhabitants of the west stay, and not only for a sea- 
son, but year after year, using water from such wells, 
or what is more common, from some hole in the ground 
that is familiarly called "the spring," (on account I sup- 
pose of the frogs that spring into it,) and occasionally 
going without bread, because it is too much trouble to 
go to mill; doing without potatoes, because they were 
to busy to dig them before they froze up ; doing without 
pork half the year, notwithstanding they had a thousand 
and one hogs, but they were in the woods, and did'nt come 
up; and as a substitute, living upon fresh beef, green 
corn and unripe wild fruits, and ten thousand et ceteras 
of the fever breeding family, and as a most natural con- 
sequence, shaking with the augue so much of the time 
that they have no time to build stone walls, drain peat 


swamps, build barns and houses, and of course they have 
no money to devote to improvement of lands, while there 
is so much land for sale, every spare dollar is devoted to 
a further accumulation of acres, to lie like those already 
owned, idle, untilled and unproductive ; or if tilled, quan- 
tity and not quality of tillage, seems to be the very height 
of ambition among western cultivators. 

Do not think that this is an over-wrought picture. It 
is not a week since I visited one of my friends who owns 
fifty cows, whose good wife had to make an excuse to 
mine that she had no cream for her coffee. And this 
arose wholly from the prevailing western epidemic — 
carelessness. And do not imagine that your friend Solon 
is a singular exception to this all-pervading disease. 

Although my log cabin is rather "aristocraticly com- 
fortable and convenient," and my well is walled with 
brick, with a pump, &c, and I never was out of pork 
and potatoes since my first winter here, yet I have some- 
times looked in vain for my hogs in the woods, and 
bought land when I had much better been improving 
that already owned; yet I keep clear of the fever and 
ague, and candidly believe that this country is generally 
as healthy as all new countries usually are. The soil is 
extremely productive, yet it must be acknowledged that 
few of us at the end of the year are any better able from 
the profits of farming, "to buy a new pair of boots," 
than your friend Ketchum used to be, while pursuing the 
same careless, skinning system of farming. It is true, 
that manuring our soil produces but little present advan- 
tage, but the time will come when the waste of it will be 
seen. One reason, perhaps the greatest one, why a more 
stable system of farming is not pursued in this country, 
is because that not one person in a hundred feels as 
though he was working for himself and children ; such is 
the universal all-pervading disposition to change. There 
is no certainty if a man makes improvements this year, 
that he will enjoy them next; for the fashion of "selling 
out," and making a new location, is so strong, that no 


one can resist it; so that it may be said that nearly the 
whole of the western population are afloat, with sails un- 
furled and anchors tripped, and ready to be off with the 
first favorable breeze that blows. If then you ever travel 
through the west, bear this in mind, that it may serve as 
an explanation why you see so few, such solid and per- 
manent improvements as those you have described upon 
the banks of the Saugatuck. How seldom will you see a 
synonym of these good roads that you mention, while 
traveling over this country. For the same neglect of im- 
provement is painfully visible upon the roads as upon the 
farms. But you must also bear in mind that we are yet 
in our infancy, and that every thing is to be created 
anew. That in buying a farm, you get a perfect naked 
piece of smooth prairie, covered with a thick strong sod, 
that requires a strong team of three or four yoke of oxen 
to break up to advantage; and this sod requires several 
years to rot before it becomes perfectly mellow for till- 
age. And how much is required beside the breaking up 
of the ground before such a tract of land is justly enti- 
tled to the appellation of farm. What a different aspect 
will this country present when it has been so long settled 
as that you have described. Vast tracts of the prairie 
will be cultivated, but without fence, and timber will be 
grown for fuel and building. The locust that you men- 
tion, grows most luxuriantly upon this soil. No doubt 
that and other timber can be grown to great advantage 
and profit. Some of the numerous marshes will also be 
found to afford combustible turf; and through a great 
part of the Illinois prairies, stone coal can be conven- 
iently obtained. But I must close, for my sheet is full, 
and the loss of the franking privilege warns me not to 
tax my friends with a double postage while that upon a 
single sheet is exorbitantly high. I thank you for your 
sympathy for my removal from an office that I endeav- 
oured to use for the public good. Shall I hear from you 
again soon? I remain your friend, SOLON ROBINSON. 
Lake C. H. la., Jan. 20, 1844. 


How to Save a Drowning Horse. 
By Solon Robinson. 

[Chicago Pravrie Farmer, 4:91-92; Apr., 1844] 

[February 19, 1844] 

To the Editors of the Prairie Farmer: Cruelty to any 
animal is a sin — and cruelty to so valuable an animal as 
the horse, is a sin of such magnitude as to require the 
severest reprehension. 

Now gentlemen, I put the question to you, and through 
you to those who are guilty, if a man is in possession of 
a secret remedy for saving the life of such an animal, and 
fails, neglects, or refuses to communicate it to the pub- 
lic, is he not guilty of this sin? During the last week, 
I had the misfortune to get a pair of horses into the 
Calumet river, by breaking through the ice, and thus los- 
ing one of them. 

Since the accident, I have been tantalized with the in- 
formation communicated to me by at least half a dozen 
individuals, that I might have saved my horse with the 
greatest ease — "if I had only known how." No doubt of 
it. But if they knew how, why in the name of benevo- 
lence did they not publish the fact to the world long since, 
that I might with ten thousand others learn how; and 
thereby not only save my valuable horse, of which I was 
doatingly fond, but also save me the horror and wretched- 
ness of seeing an excellent animal perish in agony before 
my eyes, without being able to render the least assistance. 

The only excuse offered is, "Why, I thought everybody 
knew it." It is too much the case, that we neglect to pub- 
lish our own knowledge of small matters, and content 
ourselves with the same excuse. I pray for a radical 
change in this disposition, particularly among farmers. 
Let us be assured that there is no fact, however trifling, 
that is useful to ourselves, but what would be useful to 
others, "if they only knew how." And be assured there 
are others that would be glad to learn. 

Now the manner of getting a horse out of the water 
onto the ice, as I now learn for the first time in my life, 


appears so rational that I desire to publish it, and call 
upon all that know by experience, to state if it be a good 
remedy, so that the whole world may know, instead of 
keeping such valuable information locked up in their own 
breasts. For my own part, I am sure that if I had ever 
heard or read of it, I should have remembered it; and in 
the emergency in which I lately found myself placed, 
should have practiced it, and if it proved successful, it 
would have saved me more than $60 in property, besides 
much injury to my own health, and bodily suffering, not 
to say anything of mental agony. 

The manner of saving the horse as stated to me, is 
thus: If the edge of the ice is not firm, break it away 
until it is, and if it is very smooth, so that you cannot 
stand firm, take a blanket, buffalo skin, or in want of 
them, pull off a coat or cloak and dip it in the water and 
spread it on the ice where you want to stand; then take 
a rope, or chain, or bridle rein, and put around the 
horse's neck, and twist it so tight that it will entirely 
stop the breath. The horse will flounder and float quite 
on the top of the water, when by a sudden pull, one man 
can drag him on to the ice without scarcely any injury, or 
danger to himself or horse. Of course, as soon as he gets 
upon his feet, he should be put into violent exercise, to 
prevent taking cold. 1 

Now accidents like mine, are exceedingly common in 
this country, where we are obliged to travel over un- 
bridged streams, while the country is in its infancy and 
roads are such as nature made them. I have myself lost 
two horses in the same way, and have known of the loss 
of several others, since I have lived at this place. And 
yet I am told that this method of saving horses, has been 
practiced this forty years. And yet I knew it not ; and I 

1 The editor bore witness to the efficacy of this method, desig- 
nating it "perfectly feasible in most cases. . . . Two men will effect 
it in this manner; or even one strong, cool headed man, if he 
knows how. The operation is aided by running a plank or rail 
under the shoulder of the animal, so as to turn him somewhat on 
his back, as his legs are apt to catch against the edge of the ice." 


venture to say that there are at least forty of your 
readers as ignorant as myself. 

Again I call upon those "that know" to speak ; and not 
by their guilty silence, longer practice "cruelty to domes- 
tic animals." 

In consequence of my accident, I am at present sick, 
sore, and sorry. 

Lake C. H., la., Feb. 19th, 1844. 

Robinson to Lake County 

[Typewritten copy in possession of Harry Robinson Strait, Gary] 

[March 6, 1844] 
The County of Lake Dr. To Solon Robinson Cr. 
For seven years rent of Clerk's office — at $25. a yr. $175- 
For the rent of buildings the use of County Com rs 
Circuit Courts, Probate Courts, Jail & Jury rooms, 
previous to the location of County seat in 
June 1840, 3V4 years at $50 a year— 162.50 

15 benches for court house — 15. — 

2 tables " " " 6.50 

1 Do. for Clerk's office— 6.— 

1 Black walnut book case for elk. office 8. — 

1 Writing Desk & book case for " " 5. — 
Cash paid Henry Wells for stove & pipe for 

elk office 8. — 
Cash paid S. F. Gale Dec. 7. 1843. for i/ 2 ream 

of paper — 2.50 
Cash paid for one bottle blue ink. 2 of black 

and 1 of red. — .88 

Cash paid for postage — .32 

2 county maps furnished auditor Feb. 20. 1844 — .75 
Making writ of Election for Justice of Peace in 

place of Taylor — .50 
Making certificates of allowances to Jurors, 
bailiffs and associate judges Feb. Term 

1844 Lake Circ. ct. —.50 

Solon Robinson 391.45 

Crown Point March 6. 1844- 


Postage Tax, "a plain view," made plainer. 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, July 10, 1844] 

Lake C. H. Ia. June 16, 1844. 

Messrs Editors. — Some two or three years since I 
gave my views upon the subject of reducing the postage 
upon letters, which was favorably received. May I again 
intrude upon your columns. This subject is one of such 
vast importance to the "poor mothers" of the country 
that I am surprised that the press generally take so little 
interest in the matter. 

The little paragraph in the Gazette, May 30th, headed 
"a plain view," is so plain that any reflecting mind that 
will carry out the time of reasoning, naturally, induced 
by that article, must cry out against the odious and 
abominable postage tax now inflicted upon this country 
by our "Democratic Government." 

And that article has further shown me that I am guilty 
of doing unto others, that is those "poor mothers," not 
as I would be done by, because I have not continued to 
raise "an outcry against it." 

From a long experience as postmaster, I am able to 
speak advisedly upon the subject, and I do say that I 
know that many, very many are restrained from holding 
friendly intercourse with distant connexions, solely on 
account of the exhorbitant rates of postage. And I have 
forwarded a great many letters to General Post Office as 
"dead," (though not half so dead to all generous emo- 
tions as our rulers are,) because the persons, and some 
of those actual poor mothers, were unable to take them 
out. I speak the honest conviction of my heart when I 
say, that I fully believe that all country post offices would 
mail ten times as many letters at a universal postage of 
5 cents, as they now do : and take the Union through, and 
I as surely believe that in less than two years the number 
would be more than five times as many, and would conse- 
quently increase the revenue, instead of decreasing it; 
particularly if the system of prepaying was adopted. And 
this system I think should be adopted after giving six 


months' or a year's notice for the community to prepare 
for the change. In fact my plan would be to admit noth- 
ing whatever into the mail bags until it had the impres- 
sion of the post-paid stamp upon it. This would unload 
the mail of tons and tons of matter that is transported 
hundreds of miles to be used for wrapping paper. This 
is fact, as every postmaster in the country can verify. 
In the year 1832, as Agen of the Postt Office Department, 
I was examining several post offices in Indiana, 1 and in 
three offices in the county of Clark, I found more than 
ten bushels of "public documents" that had been sent 
there by Gov. Jennings, when in Congress, and deemed 
of so little importance by those to whom they were ad- 
dressed that they would not take them out, though "free." 
And although I am in much more of a reading community 
here, many free documents have remained uncalled for 
and went to waste paper, while lots and lots of Legisla- 
tive documents and newspapers every year are marked 
"dead" because the owners will not pay the tax to make 
them live. 

So, sirs, I would make every thing mailed pay. Let all 
the public offices that now frank, charge the money paid, 
with day of date and cause, and let that account be a 
matter of record, and pass the ordeal of the proper Audi- 

I would, instead of allowing "a limited number of 

'The Post Office Department in a letter of May 26, 1832, in- 
structed Robinson to act in concert with Daniel Kelso in detecting 
depredations on the mail. In December, 1832, Robinson appeared 
as a witness in the case of the United States v. William C. Keen, 
postmaster at Printer's Retreat, Switzerland County. The case 
was dismissed at that time for lack of evidence but Keen was 
later tried and convicted on a charge of secreting a letter con- 
taining two bank notes. On December 22, 1832, Robinson was 
asked to return his commission for investigating the mails. Order 
Book of the Federal District Court of Indiana, in Federal Build- 
ing, Indianapolis; Postmaster General, Letter Books, vol. Y, pp. 
427-28; vol. Z, p. 1, in Post Office Department, Washington, D. C; 
Final Record Book, United States Circuit Court, Federal Building, 
Indianapolis, 2:392-97. 


franks to members of Congress," allow them a fixed sum 
for postage — say $50 a year. It would do away with a 
world full of corruption, carried on under cover of frank- 
ing privilege. The editors of some half-starved news- 
papers, who transact all their business upon the credit 
system, will of course cry out against pre-paying for their 
own papers. But the system will redound greatly to the 
advantage in a short time, of all well established papers. 
True it will greatly reduce the "exchange list," and so it 
should, as nine-tenths of it would be cut off at any rate, 
if the editors were even obliged to pay postage on the 
papers that they receive, and which they never read. 

The new system would work so much easier than the 
present unwieldy machine, that all post masters of the 
small offices might well afford to dispense with the frank- 
ing privilege, and in all larger offices, with a part of the 
compensation. The cost of one half the clerks, too, in all 
larger offices, as well as in the General Post Office, would 
be dispensed with, and as a still further reduction in ex- 
penses, all the great mail contracts would be taken at 
least 10 per cent less, and those from Washington 50 
per cent less. 

Letters of course would increase — lumbering, unsound, 
and often unreadable matter, would cease to be mailed. 

The circulation of newspapers in their own vicinity 
would greatly increase, and decrease upon long distances, 
even allowing the tax to remain as it is ; which, however, 
I would regulate equally upon all printed matter, by the 
square foot of surface, without regard to distance. 

This thing of a scale of prices for a certain scale of 
miles, is a great humbug. When a letter is once deposited 
in the Post Office, 49-50 of all the trouble and expense is 
incurred upon sending and delivering it 5 miles, that is 

There should be but one price upon all letters mailed, 
so far as regards distance, and that price should be so low 
as to do away with the prevailing disposition that now 
exists among all classes, to "cheat the P. O." 



I do not expect to see a reform of this great national 
abuse, during the present Congress, for whoever heard 
of those now calling themselves "Democrats," feeling a 
disposition to do anything for the relief of the needy 
members of our community; but let the next Congress 
be elected with this express understanding, let the watch- 
word of the Whigs be "Reform of the P. 0. Department." 
Of course the Locofocos will oppose it, but if Editors will 
take hold in the right spirit, we can carry it. 

I make this bold assertion, and would willingly pledge 
my life upon it, that if Congress will repeal all Post Of- 
fice laws, and charter a private company for that pur- 
pose, that the community shall be better served with mail 
accommodation, than they now are, for 5 cents postage 
on all letters, and 1 cent on all papers, or an equal amount 
of printed matter of that in the Cincinnati Gazette. This 
is fact, perfectly indisputable fact — and to the shame of 
our "democratic" government, be it said, that they main- 
tain an odious monopoly, that makes this a fact, and by 
means of which thousands of American Tnothers are actu- 
ally legislated out of the privilege of even hearing from 
an only child. 

It is "a case of wrong, so palpable," that it ought to 
kill any political party, that has the power and not the 
will to abolish the wrong. 

Let the watchword then be in all coming Congressional 
elections, "Down with the P. 0. monopoly, a reform of 
its abuses." 

Perhaps I have said enough, I cannot well say more; 
for this sheet is full, and I cannot afford to pay two shil- 
lings for the privilege of putting a wrapper over it. It 
is for the same reason that you do not more frequently 
hear from me. The abominable postage tax upon all the 
warm impulses of the heart, is calculated to dry them up, 
and make bad citizens of those that would be good if 
properly encouraged. 1 I remain most respectfuly, your 
old friend, S. R. 

1 From 1816 to 1845 postage on a single sheet of paper not going 
over 30 miles was 6 cents; not more than 80 miles, 10 cents; not 


When, Where, and How to Get a Drove of Sheep. 

By Solon Robinson. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 4:205; Sep., 1844] 

[July, 1844] 

To the Editors of the Prairie Farmer: A long con- 
tinuation of feeble health is my excuse for not commun- 
ing with your readers for some months past. And I 
should not attempt it now, only that I promised you when 
at your office a few weeks since, and that the informa- 
tion I have to give is wanted now (for I am not as well 
as when I last saw you.) 

You state that particular information is wanted as to 
where a person shall go to buy sheep — when and how to 
go — the expense — cost of sheep, &c.&c. 

The best information I can give is my own experience, 
and advice founded upon that experience. 

The nearest point where sheep can be bought to good 
advantage, is in some of the central counties of Ohio ; dis- 
tance from Chicago, 300 miles; the route, by La Porte, 
South Bend, Goshen, and Fort Wayne, la., Wiltshire, St. 
Mary's, Sidney, Urbana, Springfield, &c. ; or else from 
St. Mary's bear more east through Logan, Union, and 
Delaware counties of Ohio. Another route is through 
Michigan by way of Toledo, into the northeastern part 
of Ohio, which will increase the distance and cost of 
sheep, but generally speaking give a better quality — that 
is to say, a finer wool breed ; leaving the word better for 
future discussion. 

more than 150 miles, 12% cents; not more than 400 miles, 18% 
cents; for greater distances, 25 cents. Robinson's views on postal 
reform were carried out in part not long after he wrote this 
article. In 1845 postmasters of various large cities were permit- 
ted to issue 5- and 10-cent stamps at their own expense, and in 
1847 the national government began the sale of 5- and 10-cent 
stamps. Beginning with 1851 the rate was reduced to 3 cents 
for a distance up to 3,000 miles and in 1850 prepayment was re- 
quired. In 1863 the 3-cent rate was established for all distances 
and free delivery was begun in some of the larger cities. 


I left home last year the last of August, with one man 
and a boy 12 years old ; I was absent 37 days, and brought 
in about 800 head of "good common" sheep, that is, an 
average of about half-blood Merinos. I bought in Cham- 
paign and Clark counties, on the waters of Mad River. 
The prices varied from 50 to 87 1/2 cents, and averaged 
upon the 500 which I bought myself, 66% cents. The 
other part of the drove were bought by the man who 
drove in company with me, and I have not the cost. I 
sold a part of the wool from this purchase when last in 
Chicago at 3514 cents, and according to that, the aver- 
age price would have been about 31 cents upon the whole 
clip. The average weight of the fleeces is 5% lbs. Drove 
sheep never yield as much wool the first year as after, 
especially when poorly wintered. The average cost of my 
sheep at home was 81 V2 cents each, which includes all 
the expense of three hands and three horses, going, buy- 
ing, and extra help at times, and the expense of one addi- 
tional horse on the return, except about a quarter of the 
total expense out, which was borne by the man in com- 
pany with me as his proportion. This average also in- 
cludes all lost sheep, but does not include my own time. 
We will therefore add 37 days time of one man and boy, 
and three horses and wagon, including wear and tear of 
all the "fixings" at $1.25 a day, $46.25— less than 10 cents 
a head, while the actual cash expense was a fraction over 
10 cents, but including losses, 14%, ; so that it may safely 
be said that one can go from Chicago to Ohio and bring 
in from 500 to 800 head of sheep, at 25 cents a head, and 
that a good lot will cost less than 70 cents a head. 

Now as two very important questions will be asked 
by every reader who has any notion of buying sheep, I 
mean to ask them and answer them myself. 

First, What is the need of all these horses and wagon ? 
and next, With them and hands, how do you contrive to 
travel at an expense of less than $1.50 a day? 

First, then, When starting for a drove from here, I 
would have a good light two horse wagon, a feed trough 


attached behind; a good tent, made of 30 yards cotton 
drilling; 2 buffalo skins, 3 blankets, 1 horse-bucket, 1 do. 
for drinking-water, 1 tea-kettle, (as men will drink cof- 
fee, and so will I when on the road where I am obliged 
to make the water bitter to destroy a worse taste,) 1 cof- 
fee-pot, a pound of ground coffee in a little bag, a frying- 
pan, a small pot, 6 round tin plates, 3 cups, 3 knives and 
forks, a little pail for butter, a wooden box for sugar, a 
few other small fixings in the provision chest, 40 lbs. 
of bacon, a week's supply of bread, a bag of potatoes, two 
or three bags of oats, a trunk of necessary clothes, (old 
ones,) an axe, an auger, a little spare rope and a few 
leather strings — and I am ready for a start. Rain or 
shine I would sleep dry and warm in my tent, which is 
made, when set up, in the shape of the roof of a house, the 
ridge supported on a pole placed upon two posts about 
seven feet long, sharpened and stuck into the ground ; the 
bottom is fastened with pins, one gable end closed and the 
other open towards the fire — cooking my own supper and 
eating it from a broad board held up on 4 sticks stuck 
in the ground, and partaking of all the comforts and con- 
veniences that an "old camper" always knows how to 

I would take with me a man and boy, and a saddle and 
bridle, but no saddle horse, because I could purchase one 
there for $25 or 30 that would bring $40 at home. In 
driving sheep, a good dog or horse is very necessary; the 
average distance should not be over ten miles a day, if 
yarded at night; or thirteen miles if pastured at night. 
The expense of the baggage waggon and horses and 
driver is much less than it would be without them, be- 
sides the great convenience of having a wagon along, 
which enables one to camp wherever wood, water, and 
feed can be had at night, without being obliged to "push 
ahead" to a tavern. 

Two good drivers can drive from 500 to 800, though 
three are much better, and sometimes actually necessary. 

I find on looking over my memorandum, that I was 


nine days traveling last summer, before I commenced 
buying, with three hands and three horses — cash out, 
$5.61, including horse-shoeing and wagon-repairing — all 
the horse-feed purchased, and nearly all the provision 
taken from home. I spent about a week in buying, and 
hired an extra hand at a dollar a day, which with the 
cost of collecting and keeping sheep &c. is all included, as 
before stated, in the average expense per head. I was 
3 weeks on the road home — 800 sheep, 4 horses, 3 hands, 
and about half the time 4 hands to board, and the ex- 
pense for every thing was $35.04, averaging $1.66 3 /4, a 
day, and grain enormously dear on account of the scar- 
city occasioned by a great drouth. The actual cost of 
driving 800 average per head 4% cents, and the adding in 
time of men and horses, not over 9 cents a head. The 
larger the drove, the less average per head expense. 

A short piece of advice about keeping, and I have done 
bleating about sheep. Before you start to buy, be pre- 
pared for keeping. Sheds are necessary — but more par- 
ticularly good "wind breakers," and dry yards. If situ- 
ated upon clay prairie, the yard must be made dry by 
ditching and the use of straw. Sheep are loth to leave 
the grass in the fall, even after all nutriment is gone 
from it. Be careful that you do not let them get poor at 
this season. Put them up and if they refuse hay, give 
them sheaf oats ; fed in boxes well constructed there will 
be no loss. If you keep the sheep fat the first part of the 
winter there is no danger. Prairie hay does not agree so 
well with sheep the first winter, and they will need more 
nursing with grain, turnips, tar, salt, sulphur, copperas, 

The best paint for marking sheep is dry Venetian red. 
It combines with the oil of the wool and is indelible. A 
thief stole twenty five from me and tried his best to cover 
up the mark with tar — but it would not do — the guilty 
blush was there. 

Another much neglected thing about keeping sheep 
must be attended to — that is, poisoning the wolves. A 


drachm of strychnine (the extract of nux vomica or "dog 
butter") costs $1.75 and will make 175 doses. No matter 
if it kills a few dogs too — they have killed more sheep 
for me than ever wolves did. 

Do n't forget to shut up your own bucks from July 1 to 
Nov 15, and make wethers of every other man's that run 
at large. And above all, do n't forget to get the sheep. 
And do n't forget the good advice of your old friend. 

Lake C. H., la., July, 1844. 

Driving Sheep to the Western Prairies. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 4:26-27; Jan., 1845] 

[November 27, 1844] 
I have already written "Advice to Western Emi- 
grants," as well as some information upon the subject of 
keeping sheep in this prairie country, "Cost of a Prairie 
Farm," &c, for which see Vol. I. of the American Agri- 
culturist. 1 I now propose to furnish your eastern readers 
a guide-board, to direct those vast flocks of sheep whose 
heads are turned westward to stock the prairies; and 
these I will start from the Western part of New York, 
and drive them to the north-western corner of Indiana, 
and there put them into winter-quarters. 

I will suppose a flock of 1000 sheep, with a large pro- 
portion of ewes, at least three-fourths, and about 30 good 
rams. I will also suppose the lambs yeaned about the 1st 
of April, and shearing over the 1st of June. 

"Then up and away with jingling bells, 

Over the hills and through the dells; 

The prairie land is far away, 

But full of grass and sweetest hay." 

But first of all, before you start, get ready. And like the 

member who spoke upon the "hog law," who remarked 

that "he ought to know something of 'em, for he was 

brought up among them," I would also have you during 

the drive as familiarly connected with the sheep as he 

1 Printed ante, 343-47. 


was with the hogs. Every night you must lie down with 
the flock, and with them rise in the morning. To do this 
then, first of all, before you start, I say again, get ready. 
Shall I tell you how? "Yes!" Well then — first procure 
a good stout, steady, quiet yoke of oxen. "Ha ! ha ! ha ! ! ! 
to drive sheep with, hey ! Why, confound the fellow, he is 
going to plowing among the stones of his old native 
state." Oh, no ! I am going to tell you how to drive sheep 
with a yoke of oxen ; to which I wish you to attach a good 
substantial wagon, with a box 14 feet long, having boards 
about one foot wide projecting out over the wheels, to 
support the cover, and thereby make more room inside, 
which is to form a house in which you will cook, eat, and 
sleep for the next two months. In the forward part you 
will have a small light cooking-stove, with all your dishes 
of tin; a table with folding legs (the projecting board 
upon each side forming seats) ; and upon a platform 
made level with the projecting boards you will have 
ample room and space for a bed for yourself and three 
hands, while underneath you have stowage room for 
trunks, &c. 

Procure for yourself a cheap saddle-horse, which you 
can turn out upon grass at night, or tie to the wagon and 
feed, and two dogs, and with three steady, sober young 
men, and then, after provisioning your ship, you are 

Of course, you will not neglect to put on board an axe, 
a water bucket, and sundry "small fixings," that will 
enable you to live without committing that heinous sin — 

You must, particularly at first, and on dusty or muddy 
days, drive slow — not over ten miles — increasing as the 
weather and roads are fine, to 15 miles. Upon rainy days, 
don't expose yourself, and hands, and flocks, to disease 
and death, merely because "it is such hard work to lie 
still." Keep quiet — drive slow — let the sheep graze — 
and be sure that you get up in the morning, and put the 
sheep to eating the dew — rest an hour at noon, and al- 


ways stop, the sun an hour high. And above all things 
before you start, procure an account of the sufferings of 
the prisoners confined in the black hole of Calcutta, and 
whenever you are tempted, "to save trouble," to shut 
your flock up at night in some dirty little yard, just read 
that account before you do it. Give them at night ample 
room to spread themselves. 

After you have got a little out of the settlements, you 
need not seek for a lot at night at all Here now your 
horse comes of use. Ride ahead, and select some good 
spot for your camp; place the wagon, and gather the 
flock around it, and with a little salt tell them that is 
their home. Then let them graze till dark, and then herd 
them all up around "home," and they will soon lie down, 
and your dogs under the wagon will take care of the rest 
till morning. You have no idea how cheap you can travel 
in this way. The expense on the road will not amount to 
$1 50 a-day. 

A few sheep will fall lame. These and any sickly 
lambs, should be at once disposed of for what they will 
fetch; as they tend to detain the whole flock, and soon 
cost more than they come to. 

I would advise that the flock should be of a medium 
grade of wool, and all strong young sheep. If a finer 
grade of wool is desired, let the bucks be selected for that 
purpose. A larger per cent, of loss always takes place 
the first year, than after — and fine wool grows upon the 
most delicate carcass. This mortality the first year is 
owing to the fatigue of driving, and some difference of 
climate and soil, and a very great difference in the feed, 
both green and dry. 

I will suppose this flock has arrived at the end of its 
long journey in the month of August, and that you desire 
to establish winter-quarters upon an entire new plan, or 
at least upon some small improvement, that you may pur- 
chase. I would prefer a location of prairie land adjoin- 
ing timber, having the timber with plenty of brush on 
the north and west side as a wind-breaker. 


After your arrival, the flock must be in the constant 
care of one hand and the dogs, or for lack of dogs he 
must have a horse, as the sheep feel a constant restless 
disposition to find the outside fence of the "big paster." 
They must also be put up at night as near the house as 
possible, and even then a little sneaking prairie wolf will 
sometimes creep in and make a little mutton, — though a 
good dog will keep them off, and they are fast growing 
few and far between. They are easily destroyed by poi- 
son, the best for that purpose being strychnine, which is 
the concentrated poison of mix vomica. One grain is suf- 
ficient to produce death in any of the canine race, or 
other noxious "varmint." It may be administered by put- 
ting it in pieces of meat just large enough for a mouth- 
ful; or otherwise it is a very good way to put lumps 
of lard upon chips, and put the poison in the centre, 
and then place the bait around the sheep-fold fence, or 
in any other place likely to be visited by the wolves. The 
big wolves are not prairie settlers. Sometimes, though 
very rarely, a sheep is bitten by the massasauger, a small 
black rattlesnake, and then, for aught I know, you will 
soon have a dead sheep. In my next I shall speak of win- 
ter-quarters. 1 Solon Robinson. 

Lake Court House, la., Nov. 21th, 1844. 

Notes of Travel in the West. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:92-94; Mar., 1845] 

[Covering January 1-11, 1845] 
January 1, 1845 — My old acquaintances, the Editors 
and readers of the Cultivator, I hope will be pleased to 
see that I have risen with the sun, who shines forth this 
morning with all the beauty and much of the warmth of 
a May morning, not only to wish them a single "happy 
new year," but with the intent of devoting many weeks, 

1 Robinson's second article, on winter quarters for sheep, ap- 
peared in the February issue of the American Agriculturist 
(4:55). It is not reprinted. 


perhaps months, in daily intercourse, and agreeable con- 

In my card introductory, which I have printed for the 
occasion, I announce myself as "Traveling Correspond- 
ent of the Cultivator," and in that capacity I hope to 
make my notes of travel, as I proceed through the South 
Western States, somewhat interesting to both Eastern 
and Western readers. 1 

So far, this has been a remarkably mild and pleasant 
winter; almost without snow, and no very severe cold 
weather ; and now the warm sun bids fair to carry off the 
little ice already formed. Bad weather for the growing 
wheat, which does not look so well as it did last year, and 
so far as my observation extends, there are not as many 
acres growing. 

Now, Messrs Editors, and you my dear old friends who 
have so often told me that you delighted to read my let- 
ters from the West, let me in fancy seat you by my side 
in my buggy, wrap you in Buffalo skins to protect you 
from the prairie blast, give the word to a pair of excel- 
lent mares, (by the bye, I always prefer mares for work,) 
and we will leave the home of your old friend upon this 
new day of a new year, and in the course of our long ride, 
we shall see many things that will be new and strange to 
you as well as me. The top of the ground is slightly 
thawed, and has the appearance and consistency of a 
first rate article of "paste blacking," ready prepared for 
use ; and although we may get an over supply on coats as 
well as boots, be not alarmed ; it will "rub off when it gets 
dry;" and even if it did not, it will not give us a very 
singular appearance, for in this respect, all men (trav- 
elers) are equal. 

The first object of importance that meets our view, is 

1 Luther Tucker had announced in the January issue, 1845 (n. s. 
2:10), Robinson's proposed tour of the southwestern states, "for 
the purpose of procuring information and promoting the interests 
of 'The Cultivator'." 


a new church, crowned with the cross, 1 that tells us that 
we are in the midst of a thriving settlement of Prussian 
Germans, thousands of whom are annually occupying the 
tens of thousands of vacant acres of land in this country. 
They are generally men of but moderate means, and con- 
tent themselves with second rate land, and conduct their 
farming operations upon a small and rude plan, and 
adopt the improvements in agriculture of their go-ahead 
Yankee neighbors with slow caution. Yet there are some 
things that we may learn of them. If they do not go over 
as much ground, they generally do it better. They almost 
universally use oxen instead of horses ; and what is more, 
you will find their rude log stables plastered up with mud, 
so that they are as warm and comfortable as their own 
dwellings, and comparatively more neat; for it must be 
said that the inside of their houses often presents such 
an appearance in regard to neatness and comfort, as 
would be "shocking" to some of my down East lady 
friends, who look upon a log cabin at best, as a name 
synonymous with every degree of discomfort. 

Eight miles from home, we cross the western line of 
Indiana, and enter upon the eastern borders of the great 
prairie State of Illinois, over hills, and through ravines 
and deep dells, that will give the lie to that preconceived 
idea that the dwellers upon our broad prairies, inhabit 
one vast level plain. This part of the State (Will 
county,) is thinly timbered, and dotted with farms, all 
of which have sprung into existence within the last ten 
years, at which time I knew it as one vast wilderness. 
I spent the night in the hospitable mansion of Dr. Hitch- 
cock, late postmaster of "Crete," but who, like many 
others of the devoted friends of agricultural improve- 
ment, who never abused the franking privilege, but some 
times used it to advance that science, has been thrust 
aside to make room for a more active politician. I visited 

1 Ball mentions a Catholic chapel built on Prairie West, a few 
miles west of Lake Court House, in 1843. Lake County, from 
1834 to 1872, 88. 


the Doctor some two years ago, and found him in a very- 
small log cabin, standing upon an unenclosed waste of 
prairie; and now I find him in a snug frame house, sur- 
rounded by a large well enclosed farm. Most of his fence 
is laid straight, the ends of the rails fastened by short 
blocks, which he prefers as a saving of timber, (a very 
important item) to the common worm fence. I objected 
to this, as less substantial than worm fence, but he as- 
sures me that when well staked, and with heavy riders, 
the wind has no effect upon it, and being straight, he 
can plow closer, and thus give his fields a better appear- 
ance. His lady-like eastern wife, is just such an one as 
is calculated to make the "new home in the West" com- 
fortable. I found the whole house carpeted with the 
most beautiful rag carpet I ever saw, all the work of her 
own hands. 

The 2d of January, like the day previous, was another 
lovely day, for which I was thankful, as I had a dozen 
miles across an open unsettled prairie, which must long 
remain unsettled, unless cultivated without fence, or else 
by some as yet undiscovered method of fencing; for the 
settlements are already as much extended from the 
groves upon each side as circumstances will admit, and 
the experiment of sod fence, I look upon as a total fail- 
ure. Twelve miles from Juliet, 1 we strike the "Hickory 
Creek Settlement," one of the oldest in this part of the 
State, possessing a fine body of timber, good mill privi- 
leges excellent prairie, and many well improved farms, 
the new houses and barns upon which show a thriving 
Yankee population; there are but few orchards coming 
forward, and in many cases where houses are situated 
upon the bleak prairie, there is not a tree or shrub vis- 
ible. This is a neglect that I cannot too highly censure. 
Neither can I too highly censure an almost equal neglect 
to make good roads through so good a country. 

Juliet. — This town is situated upon the "Riviere des 
Planes," (a good sized mill stream,) 40 miles south-west- 

1 Joliet. 


erly from Chicago, and containing about 1,500 inhabi- 
tants, many of whom, are to all appearance, "hanging 
on" to the long deferred hope that the Illinois canal that 
follows the bank of the river, and divides this wide 
spread straggling village, will soon be recommenced, and 
restore them to that prosperity that originally built up 
the place, and in fancy made many rich, and in reality 
made more poor. The village is situated upon a most 
sterile limestone rock, covered with barely soil enough 
to sustain a little grass, and every thing around shows 
evident signs, that through this mile wide valley, once 
rolled Niagara's mighty flood, at that period of long past 
time before the waters had passed the northern boundary 
at the heights of Queenston, and the thunders of the 
great falls were as yet unheard and unknown. 

One of the most creditable things that I can say of 
Juliet, or of her half and half dead and alive population, 
is that during the last summer one of her enterprising 
citizens, (the Hon. J. A. Mattison, 1 ) has put in operation 
a small woolen manufactory, containing at present four 
sattinet and one broadcloth loom and other machinery, 
all finished and operated in the best manner. By the way, 
I would here say to you that this good firm, fine home- 
spun suit that you see I am dressed in, was colored and 
dressed at this establishment. As such manufactories 
are real blessings to this "to be" great wool country, I 
hope the proprietor will be greatly blessed in his under- 

After finishing some business that detained me 24 
hours here, I set off in the afternoon of the 3d, to visit 
one of the largest farms that I know of in this part of 
the State, situated about 14 miles westerly, most of the 
way across open prairie. Unlike the two previous pleas- 
ant days, this was one that would give us an idea of what 
a "gentle prairie breeze" was like. The first two or three 

1 Joel Aldrich Matteson, born August 2, 1808, at Watertown, New 
York; died January 31, 1873. Governor of Illinois, 1853-1857. 
Dictionary of American Biography, 12:410-11. 


miles lay between the river and "bluff," a high bank of 
limestone rock, composed of flat layers from one inch to 
one foot thick, and affording a most inexhaustible sup- 
ply of materials for building and fencing, but as yet little 
used for the latter. As I passed up a ravine through this 
bluff, and came out upon the high prairie, with the wind 
"dead ahead," and blowing most beautifully strong and 
cool, I almost wished myself again by my own warm 
hearth, and the enterprise that I have undertaken, com- 
mitted to other hands, supported by a stronger constitu- 
tion. Here, when the wind blew almost strong enough 
to start the hair off my horses, were situated several 
farms, miles away from timber, treeless, barnless, shed- 
less and shelterless for cattle, which stood drawn up into 
the smallest possible dimensions, under the lee side of a 
rail fence, while the owner was perhaps complaining that 
"this is not a good country for cattle." 

Passing a little grove, and less village, called Plain- 
field, on a stream called the Du Page, and upon which 
there are many fine farms, I struck out again upon the 
prairie, where I found a variety of what the people are 
pleased to call roads, none of which seemed to lead toward 
that point of compass that I thought I ought to go, and 
therefore I concluded that I would not follow either, and 
boldly struck off upon the trackless prairie just at sun- 
down, for a four miles drive. Taking, as I have often 
done before, the wind for my guide, which unlike some 
friends at some other time, this time proved unchanging, 
and conducted me safely to my point, without accident, 
except a slight harness break, while performing that very 
common feat in this country, jumping a deep creek, be- 
fore the era of roads and bridges. 

After my cool ride, I met with a warm reception in the 
very comfortable cabin of Major Wm. Noble Davis, (Au- 
sable-grove, Kendall county, Illinois,) whose farm is sit- 
uated about 2 miles from that beautiful stream, the well 
known and oft described Fox river, and 40 miles from 
the great commercial point of all this country, Chicago, 


The Major, (I insist upon giving him his rather question- 
able title, as he as well as every body else hereabouts, 
insist upon bestowing upon me the title of "Judge,") lo- 
cated upon this lovely spot about ten years ago, and by 
the purchase of an "Indian Reserve," secured about 500 
acres of timber, that is now worth from $30 to $50 an 
acre. To this he has added about 1500 acres of as fine 
rolling prairie as fancy could wish, about 1100 acres of 
which is under substantial rail fences, mostly divided 
into lots of 80 acres each, all having suitable watering 
places for stock, which in the shape of horses, hogs, cattle 
and sheep, particularly the latter, abound in proportion 
to the size of the farm. Indeed, I believe he intends in 
time to make a sheep farm that will produce an amount 
of wool that will make some of the down east 100 acre 
farmers look with wonder, and wonder if such things 
can be. He has one little patch of Kentucky blue grass, 
of 160 acres. He has as yet but one barn, but that is 
a most noble one ; but let me tell you, his cattle and sheep 
are not under the necessity of lashing themselves to the 
fence to keep from blowing away, for he has erected 
"cheap sheds" enough to shelter every hoof. He intends 
in the course of a couple of years more to get the re- 
mainder of his prairie under fence and in cultivation or 
seeded down to grass, and then with a well fenced 1500 
acre farm — well what then do you think he intends to 
do? why, then he intends to build a house and get mar- 
ried. For be it known, and ye down east marriageable 
girls take notice, that this Illinois grandee is not yet a 
very old batchelor, only 36, fine looking, full of life, and 
as soon as he can get a nice, "snug little farm" ready, will 
also be ready to give you a call. But not till after "the 
new house advent." For be it known to his thousand 
and one eastern acquaintances, that he now lives in a 
log cabin that would be a rare show to some of his Broad- 
way friends. 

Major Davis has introduced some fine improved horses, 
cattle and sheep, the benefits to the country from which, 


will be long felt by others as well as himself. He has also 
set an example in the way of fruit trees, well worthy to 
be followed. As I have so many individuals to notice, I 
cannot of course, spend too much time individualising 
stock and improvements. 

On Saturday, I intended to have gone on my way re- 
joicing, but who ever escaped from the Major with only 
a one night visit, (he studied hospitality in a southern 
latitude,) and that, connected with a slight indisposition, 
brought on by the strong lime water of Juliet, not only 
kept me over Saturday, but there also I took a Sabbath's 
quiet rest. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Major drove me up to Os- 
wego, 2 1 /o and Aurora, 7 miles, two flourishing villages on 
Fox river, at both of which the river, as well as at num- 
erous other places, affords the best of water power, and 
at the latter is one of the best finished flour mills of 4 
run of stone in the State. 

Here we visited a picket fence making machine. The 
pickets are sawed by a circular saw, out of boards, and 
then passed through a set of cutters that round and 
sharpen them, and are put in girts also bored by a ma- 
chine, and these lengths are set up crooked like worm 
fence, without posts, being held at the corners by one of 
the pickets passing through each girt, and as it is sold at 
75 cents a rod, will answer well to fence prairie, where 
rails cannot be had for a less cost. But as it takes 14 
rails to make a rod of as good fence, it is easy to calcu- 
late which kind of fence will be the cheapest. At pres- 
ent, while we cultivate so poorly, and do not average 10 
bushels of wheat to the acre through a series of years, 
we cannot afford to pay 75 cents a rod for fencing, be- 
sides the cost of hauling and putting up, and then as 
most of us do, carelessly risk its being burnt by the an- 
nual fires that destroy thousands after thousands of rails 
every year. 

Many of your Orange county readers will be interested 
to hear that I visited an old resident of that county, by 



the name of Townsend, who with several of his children, 
live in the same grove with Major Davis, and own about 
3,000 acres of fine land. 1 From Mr. Townsend I first 
learned that fowl meadow grass, which is one of the most 
valuable kinds that I am acquainted with for wet prairie, 
is indigenous to the country. By conversation with the 
old gentleman, I also became satisfied of what I had long 
believed, that what we call "blue grass," is a different 
article from what is known at the east by the same name. 
The eastern blue grass he thinks much the best. Neither 
of the kinds are profitable to cultivate for hay, but for 
fall and winter feed, particularly for sheep, exceedingly 

I ought to have mentioned before, for the benefit of 
others who are beginning to make sheep farms, the man- 
ner which Major Davis constructs "cheap sheds" — two 
rows of posts about 15 feet apart are set up to sustain 
poles laid up in the same form of a log cabin roof, and 
small poles or brush laid on to sustain a covering of hay 
or straw, and the back side is completely filled with rails 
set up slanting and also covered, which not only makes a 
nearly tight roof, but a complete wind breaker, that will 
pay the cost in one winter. He fodders his sheep without 
racks. His method is this. The ground being well cov- 
ered with straw, the sheep are driven into another yard, 
whilst the wagon, loaded with hay, is driven in the empty 
yard and the hay laid in rows. The sheep being now let 
in, commence taking their places without running over 
the hay or wasting more than when it is fed in racks or 
boxes, and none gets in the wool. I believe it promotes 
the health of sheep to allow them every pleasant day to 
have a range in the bushes. I have no doubt but that 
many who have driven sheep to this country during the 

1 Isaac Townsend, with his brother-in-law, Charles A. Davis, 
began purchasing land in this region in June, 1835. He invested 
heavily in a manufacturing enterprise consisting of a sawmill, 
furniture factory, wagon shop, and blacksmith shop. Letter of 
Mrs. Maude E. Henning, Little Rock Township Public Library, 
Piano, Illinois. 


last summer, will find it a bad speculation before spring. 
It was the worst of seasons to drive, and drove sheep 
never get through the first winter without great care and 
some loss at best; while there are tens of thousands 
brought here without any kind of forethought of prepara- 
tion for shelter or comfort, except what they may gather 
from a poor supply of prairie hay and such shelter as 
they can find under a rail fence, or upon the open wild 
waste. Such conduct is reprehensible, as not only cruel, 
but as a wicked waste of the lives of such valuable ani- 
mals. This is a good sheep country I shall insist, until 
convinced by proof to the contrary ; but they cannot live 
upon prairie wind, and sleep in knee deep prairie mud. 

On Monday, I passed on my way down Fox river, cross- 
ing at a very poor county town of a very good county, on 
a very good bridge, but one that is only good in very cold 
weather, as I witnessed higher up the same stream last 
week, as it failed on a warm day, and let a pair of horses 
and wagon through ; but by which I had an opportunity 
of witnessing the operation of getting a horse out of a 
hole in the ice, by drawing a rope tight round his neck 
until he chokes and floats to the top of the water. I 
stopped this night with an old farmer from Lycoming 
county, Pennsylvania, who had sold a comfortable "old 
homestead," and in his old age sought a "new home in 
the west;" and what do you think he has found? a fac 
simile of his mountain streams and clear springs, and 
tall trees and useful rocks? Oh no: he has got none of 
them. But he has bought 400 acres of land — rich land — 
200 of prairie, and 200 that is neither timber or prairie, 
plow land or meadow, but covered with a growth of small 
oaks, fit only for fire wood, while his rails must be hauled 
from 3 to 6 miles, and cost $2,50 or $3 a hundred. 

The whole tract cost $3 an acre, 50 acres under im- 
provement with poor buildings, destitute of water, and 
several attempts to get good well water, have failed at 
70 feet deep. And for such a home as this, the "old home- 
stead" was parted with. I mention this circumstance, to 


show that emigrants do not always better their situation, 
when they leave substantial comfort in the east to pursue 
a vision of acquiring numberless acres of wild land in the 
west, however rich the soil of those acres may be. 

Ten miles north of Ottawa, is "Indian creek," now oc- 
cupied by a flourishing settlement, where, in 1832, the 
few inhabitants then there were the victims of the "Black 
Hawk war." Here is a body of good timber, which is the 
nearest timber to that town. The space between this set- 
tlement and Ottawa, being unoccupied prairie. Four 
miles above Ottawa, there is about 20 feet fall over a 
rocky bed of the Fox river, partially occupied by a saw- 
mill and flouring mill of five run of stones, and a woolen 
manufactory of 4 satinet, and three broad looms, &c. As 
such manufacturing establishments are as yet so rare, 
although so much needed, I like to note all that come in 
my way. Here too, appears to be the northern boundary 
of the great coal field of Illinois. The abundance of coal 
that exists in the Illinois river valley is of immense im- 
portance, and more so on account of the scarcity of wood 
— coal at Ottawa is worth about 5c. a bushel, but it is 
not of first rate quality, being dug near the surface of 
the ground in the river bottom. By the bye, I wish you 
to notice that this phrase "river bottom," does not mean 
the bottom of the river, but what Eastern readers under- 
stand as "interval." 

Ottawa is situated on the Illinois at the mouth of Fox 
river, and head of steam navigation in high water, and 
having been settled and built up during the canal fever, 
also contains many "hangers on," and from present ap- 
pearances in the legislature, they are destined to hang on 
some time longer, before the canal is completed. And I 
would also here caution many of your down east readers, 
who have purchased land along the line of this canal at 
high prices under the expectancy of its early completion, 
that they are also "hanging on" to a very brittle prospect 
— and for my own part, until I see some vigorous meas- 
ures taken to complete this important work, which when 


done will relieve the state from one portion of her debt, 
I shall believe that she does not intend ever to pay any 
part of it. There is a Court House at Ottawa, built when 
the whole country were building castles on credit, at an 
expense of $36,000. As an evidence of very uncommon 
taste in this treeless country, I notice the yard set with 
shade trees. As usual in all western towns, where land 
was so dear and scarce, the streets are narrow and lots 
small. Even the principal hotel, to save room upon the 
surface of such valuable lots, has its dining room below. 
I attended a thinly attended scientific lecture at a neg- 
lected looking Mechanic's hall ; at which I did not wonder, 
as all interest and conversation seems to be centered upon 
"canal! canal! canal!" 

On the 8th of Jan. I ferried the Illinois in a most vio- 
lent snow storm, and amid floating ice, being impelled 
to do so by the prospect that in an hour more all chance 
of crossing would be at an end, except upon the ice, which 
in several instances had already caused the loss of sev- 
eral teams this winter; and of the two dangers I chose 
the least and got safe over. But not so at an unbridged 
creek, three miles along the river road, where the ice 
gave way and gave me an upset into the water, mud and 
ice. That such a creek on such a road so near such a 
town, should remain for years unbridged is not singular, 
for whoever knew little works attended to where great 
ones, like this great canal, absorbed all minds. But for 
my consolation for my misfortune, I was assured that 
hundreds had met with worse ones at the same place. 
The great neglect of roads that manifests itself through- 
out this country, goes far towards creating a prejudice 
with strangers against any new country they are passing 

I spent the night with a very intelligent farmer by the 
name of Baldwin, at "Farm ridge" on the Vermillion. 
Here is a settlement of Connecticut farmers, who have 
brought abundance of enterprise and industry with them, 
as is manifest by the appearance of good houses, barns 


and orchards. The only thing lacking to make this lovely 
land very desirable, is timber which is here, as every- 
where, too scarce. The Vermillion, however affords ex- 
cellent mill sites, and abounds in coal of good quality. 
The coal is in three beds, the lower one in the bed of the 
stream. The banks are high bluffs of clay, coal and lime- 
stone. Vermillionville is one of those many towns in the 
west where people have learned by sad experience that 
they cannot live upon a little "7 by 9" town lot. Though 
many have moved out, there are some enterprising citi- 
zens left, one of whom is the new postmaster, Dr. Bul- 
lock. 1 

The nature of the soil along the Vermillion, is from 1 
to 3 ft. black loam, then several feet clay, then sand, in 
which is found water. Natural curiosities in such a 
country are scarce, but near the mouth of the Vermillion 
are two — one, the "Deerpark," is a chasm in the rocks 
several hundred feet deep, a few rods in width and half 
a mile long, having an opening next the stream, into 
which deer used to wander after a "salt lick," and fall 
an easy prey to the Indians. The other is the celebrated 
"starved rock" on the Illinois, noted in history as the 
spot where a small tribe of Indians were driven by an- 
other tribe and besieged till starvation alone conquered 
the bravest of the red braves. From the Vermillion I 
passed over a dozen miles of beautiful country to Gran- 
ville, a fine little town in Putnam co. beautified by a hand- 
some church and a very excellent school. Spent the night 
with a Mr. Ware from Massachusetts, 2 who with his 
brother have set their neighbors an example in farming 
and improved stock worthy of imitation. 

During this day's ride I passed a "long ditch" in the 
woods at Cedar point, which I was informed, was "the 

1 Dr. James T. Bullock came to Illinois in 1836, and was a suc- 
cessful physician at Vermillionville for forty years. He died in 
1875. History of La Salle County, Illinois . . ., 2:103 (Inter-State 
Publishing Co., Chicago, 1886). 

1 Probably Ralph Ware, contributor from Granville to the agri- 
cultural reports of the Patent Office. 


great Central Rail Road of Illinois," that was to lead 
from Galena, crossing the Illinois at the termination of 
the canal at Peru, to the great city of Cairo, at the mouth 
of the Ohio. Six miles southeast of Granville, is "Mt. 
Palatine," a Baptist settlement and school, four miles out 
upon the wide prairie, solitary and alone, so far as re- 
gards timber. 

Near Magnolia, which is a nourishing new town, 8 
miles from the Illinois river, in which for the want of 
water power, steam is used, I spent a night with a Mr. 
Patterson from Pa.; and from his English shepherd, I 
learnt that he esteems bran slops, the best food for sheep 
dropping lambs in winter; and the condition of those on 
hand went far to prove it. As some criterion of the price 
of land in this vicinity, I learnt the sale of a 200 acre 
farm, about 80 improved, 60 timber and balance unen- 
closed prairie, with very moderate buildings for $2500 
— the seller being bound for that new "Eldorado," of our 
restless population, the Oregon territory. 

At Magnolia, I saw the first sugar maple; the timber 
northward being mostly oak. Upon Mr. Patterson's land, 
I also witnessed the astonishing increase of timber, when 
kept from fire — a matter not sufficiently thought of in 
this country — a country where tens of thousands of acres 
of rich soil can never be fenced except by growing the 

From Magnolia to Washington, I passed over some 
poor, uneven, barren, much uncultivated prairie, few and 
poor mill streams, through the very poor county town of 
Woodford co. (so named perhaps to indicate that the 
county is not all prairie) to the latter town, which lies 
about 10 miles east of Peoria, where I saw a large steam 
mill in operation, and a very extensive pork house, and 
other evidences of a prosperous state of things. Here 
after many days of beautiful winter weather, I encoun- 
tered in the afternoon of January 11th, a furious snow 
storm with a head wind too strong to beat up against, 
which drove me into quarters with a homesick Kentuck- 


ian, who was longing to return to his "own native land" 
— and here, after our rambling ride, my dear readers, 
we will rest until the morrow when you shall again "go 
ahead" with your old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Notes of Travel in the West — No. II. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:124-26; Apr., 1845] 

[Covering January 12-23, 1845] 

My Dear Readers — The violent snow storm that drove 
us into quarters last night, like violence of all kinds, soon 
spent itself, and having given place to a clear cold day, 
seat yourselves by my side, and we will roll away to 
the south, and notwithstanding that the wind is "dead 
ahead," and blowing a fine fresh breeze, we shall beat up 
against it with ease, though not with so much comfort as 
you might desire. The first dozen miles, you may ob- 
serve, after leaving the grove of fine timber on our right, 
is too level and "wettish" to be desirable. But here we 
come to the beautiful village of Tremont, (the county 
seat of Tazewell,) with its handsome courthouse and 
church; but what interests us more, is to see that the 
sons of New-England, who settled and still flourish here, 
so far departed from the fashion of this country, that 
they have given wide streets and large building lots, 
many of the occupants of which have still farther de- 
parted from fashion, as we can plainly see by the multi- 
tude of shade and fruit trees that surround and beautify 
their dwellings. We will not call, though tempting signs 
hang out, for we are told that notwithstanding the beauty 
of the place, old King Alcohol, here holds undisputed 
sway. If this, "an o'er true tale" should be, I hope the 
Tremontonians will rouse themselves to break the ty- 
rant's rule. 

In the valley of a stream called Mackinaw, that winds 
through broken sandy hills of stunted timber growth, we 
witness the first marks of that great flood that desolated 


thousands of western acres. The little cabin is alone 
standing; all else is swept away. As we rise again upon 
the 25 mile wide prairie, which our road lies across, we 
see five miles ahead, a most enormous frame house, which 
was built, (all but putting together,) in Rhode Island, 
and now stands a monument of a bad speculation, tower- 
ing its three or four stories far above the half dozen little 
tenements below, that rise from the town of Delavan, a 
name that sounds familiar in the ears of all teetotalers. 1 
This town was projected for a "colony;" whether it 
was a part of the project that the colonists should live 
without wood, I am not informed, but certes there is 
but little in sight, and that little far away to the west, 
while eastward lies untold miles of prairie, and south- 
ward along our road a long 12 miles will bring us to an 
only house, with just about timber enough to fill an old 
fashion New-England fire-place, but for eight miles more, 
there is no one to claim a share of this poor pittance of 
fuel or interfere with this ocean of prairie. To day we 
cross several creeks that would be good mill-streams, but 
unfortunately there is neither fall or good banks. The 
bridges are dilapidated by the high water and natural 
quick decay of timber in a damp climate, and the roads 
such as nature made them, with but little labor from this 
non-road-working community. The night we'll spend at 
what is somewhat rare, a comfortable country inn, at a 
small specimen of a village called Middletown, so called 

1 In 1833 an association was formed in Providence, Rhode Island, 
for the purpose of establishing a temperance colony in the West. 
Three years later the company issued stock to the amount of 
$25,000 and appointed a committee to lay out a town on the Illi- 
nois prairies, which was named for Edward Cornelius Delavan, 
of Albany, New York, reformer and publisher of temperance jour- 
nals. Holdings (160-acre farm and town lot 300 feet square) 
were sold at auction in Providence. The Delavan House, men- 
tioned by Robinson, was the first building erected, and there Wil- 
liam Crossman, agent for the company, settled with his family in 
October, 1837. The Delavan House became important as a hotel 
for stage passengers from Springfield to Peoria. Letter from 
Ayer Public Library, Delavan. 


perhaps because like many others, it is in the middle of 
a middling sized prairie, 20 miles north of Springfield, 
the capitol of the Sucker State. From whatever cause 
this name for the State originated, I doubt not that many 
who have been "suck'd in" by the private speculations of 
individuals, as well as by the wild projects of internal 
improvement that have suck'd in so many millions of 
dollars, will think the name an appropriate one. 

Indications of a change of soil are visible to day. The 
timber is such as is commonly found on the alluvial bot- 
tom lands of the west. Maple, elm, black-walnut, ash 
and buckeye, interspersed with oak, the prevailing timber 
further north. And a still greater indication shows by 
the absence of barns and other "yankee fixings," that 
show the yankee thrift of character, that a population of 
corn-growing, hog-feeding, corn-bread and bacon-eating 
southerners are in the majority in this latitude. Our 
eastern built carriage, with two wheels in the rut upon 
one side, while the other two are jolting upon a rough 
ridge, tells us that we are in a country of "wide track 
wagons," driven with the "single line" as we see, by a 
teamster seated upon one of the horses. And why should 
it be different? Did not their father's so drive before 
them ! ! 

In the bluff of the Sangamon river, (5 miles from 
Springfield,) which is here a good mill stream, and so 
used, where it has been dug out to form a road to a fine 
new bridge, we see the rock in every state of formation, 
between soft clay and hard limestone. From the river 
to near the town, the road lies over a tract of very poor 
sandy hills, full of gulleys and covered with brush, that 
probably never will again be worth as much money as 
it was valued at a few years ago, when Springfield was 
"going to be" a London or Pekin, in the eyes of men, that 
in counting dollars, discarded all figures below millions. 

Now, on this 12th day of January, 1845, at Springfield, 
the capital of the State of Illinois, it is a mild sunny day, 
more like May than midwinter, and a drouth prevailing 


like midsummer. In fact, it was so dry last fall, that not 
half the seed sown grew, and many of the wheat fields 
look as bare as naked fallow. Whether it will grow in 
spring, is yet to be proven. My opinion is, that it would 
be good policy to sow it now with a seeding of spring 
wheat. Many of the corn-fields that I have passed, bear 
ready evidence of the prevailing rains of the spring and 
early part of summer. In some of the fields, on flat 
prairie, the crop was not worth gathering, while in others 
of drier soil or more rolling land, the crop was a good 
one for this country of untold richness of soil, say 30 
bushels to the acre ; and even that in many instances we 
see still in the field, for such is western farming. 

Now curiosity may perhaps inquire for a description 
of this capitol. If I give one, it must be of briefer space 
than the scattering town of 3 or 4,000 inhabitants, who 
mostly occupy poor buildings, upon small, dirty, treeless, 
grassless, gardenless lots, upon long unpaved level streets, 
which are never very muddy, unless more than knee 
deep; which it is not improbable they should be, as the 
town is upon a wide plain of soft loamy soil, with no 
outlet for accumulating water, unless sent off "by the 
rail-road," which is so thoroughly out of repair at this 
time, that that would prove a poor sewer, except of the 
people's pockets. 

This rail-road, from hence to Meradosia (65 miles) on 
the Illinois river, is another of the links of that endless 
chain that was to bind the State in love together, but has 
bound them in debt forever. It is already so dilapidated 
that mules have been substituted for locomotives, and as 
it fails to pay expenses, it must shortly go out of use for 
want of repair. 

Another monument of by-gone Illinois riches, is the un- 
finished ill constructed State-house, built of cut stone, of 
a hard sandy limestone quality, at an expense of a quar- 
ter of a million of dollars. It is 80 by 120 feet, of two 
extremely high stories above the basement, (which is 
useless on account of dampness;) and contains a hall for 


the 120 members that represent the 99 counties of the 
State, a Senate of 41 members, and a Supreme Court of 
9 judges, which by some is thought to be supremely 
ridiculous; a very large library room with very few 
books, except Illinois lows, and office rooms for Secre- 
tary and Treasurer of an empty treasury, but is almost 
totally lacking in what is most wanted, rooms for com- 
mittees. The masses of stone and half finished columns 
that lie around, the unhung doors and unplastered rooms, 
show that the work was suddenly checked at a point that 
shows the whole work was done upon "borrowed capital." 
Of the members of the house I shall say nothing, ex- 
cept to beg you as you look upon and listen to them, not 
to consider them as a body, although large, a fair sam- 
ple of the moral worth and intelligence of the inhabitants 
of the State. The appearance of the Senatorial body is 
highly respectable, and is presided over by one of the best 
presiding officers I ever saw; Col. Mattison, a Senator 
from Juliet, whose woolen factory I mentioned, I met 
with here, and owe to him my warmest thanks for every 
effort in his power extended cordially to me to further 
the object of my mission. I also was treated with great 
respect by many other Senators and representatives, who 
seemed fully to appreciate the benefits that would accrue 
to the agricultural community, if they could be induced 
to read good agricultural papers, and to talk, think and 
act upon the business of their every day life. I spent 
three days amid this congregated wisdom of Illinois, from 
which I hope some good may arise ; and should have held 
a public meeting to talk to the few farmers in the Legis- 
lature, but I found that self-interest, party tactics, and 
Mormonism, 1 so completely absorbed every other inter- 
est, that such plain common sense matter as improvement 
in agricultural pursuits, had no possible chance in such 

'The Mormons were driven out of Missouri in 1838. In 1839 
they established themselves at the site of Nauvoo, Illinois, and 
secured a charter from the legislature. This charter was repealed 
by the legislature of 1845 and the next year the Mormons were 
forced to leave the state. See Pease, The Frontier State, 340-62. 


an excited community. Our friend Wright of the Prairie 
Farmer, was also at Springfield, engaged in a noble effort 
to get an improvement in the present very defective com- 
mon school law of Illinois. An uphill business — reminds 
me something about casting pearls before a certain kind 
of animals. 

There are a few good buildings in the "city," one of 
which is the defunct State bank, built of the same mate- 
rial as the State House, from a quarry about 8 miles dis- 
tant — also a stone church. There is a large plow manu- 
factory here, which makes about 2,000 a year, with 
wrought iron mould-boards, which are not equal how- 
ever to those made wholly of steel at Chicago. There 
are two furnaces for small castings, that use iron from 
Tennessee, and coal to melt it with from Philadelphia; 
the coal of Illinois, which is abundant within a few miles, 
not being fit for that purpose. 

This is an old and rich country, with good soil and tim- 
ber, yet there is a great deal of uncultivated land. There 
are some orchards, but as the country has not been set- 
tled more than 20 or 25 years, people must be excused 
for not having fruit, as it takes a great many years to 
get that, when there are no trees set out. 

As an evidence of the rapid growth of timber, I was 
told of one 80 acre lot that was cut off nine years ago, 
and will now afford fifteen cords to the acre, mostly oak. 
This kind of wood is worth about $1,25 a cord in Spring- 
field. Wheat here, as well as all along the road from 
Ottawa, is worth about 50 cts., corn 20 cts., oats 15 cts. 
And every where through this part of the State, there is 
one universal cry of no money, and very poor crops for 
two years past, which I can readily believe, and will also 
add that they will be so for two years to come; for no 
system of farming like that almost universally followed 
here, will ever afford the farmer good crops. Although 
he may raise a great many bushels of corn, and keep a 
great many poor hogs, horses and cattle to eat it all up 
in the winter, which they must do for lack of any other 


kind of feed, he will still cry "no money;" and still go 
on in the same way, for he will not inform himself of a 
better system. His rotation of crops is corn, weeds, hogs, 
mud and corn. His reading, if indeed he happen to be 
one who reads at all, consists of a very brief insight of 
one book, and one well con'd paper of the one party in 
whom he places all faith. In such a community, better 
informed men are out of place, and all their innovations 
looked upon with jealousy, and their better success from 
better management, with envy. 

On the morning of Jan. 16th, I intended to leave 
Springfield, but was detained by a thunder shower till 
evening, when I drove out on the St. Louis road over wet, 
uncultivated prairie, 5 miles to "Lick creek timber," an 
excellent body of good land, good farms and fine timber. 

Notwithstanding this is an old county, that is old for 
this young country, there is an abundance of uncultivated 
land, and that too within gun shot of the capital. On 
most of the creeks and ravines, coal is found in abun- 
dance. The streams through this part of the State are 
sunk in deep hollows, and run between high, steep, muddy 

At a poor deserted looking village called Auburn, I met 
with a rare sight — an actual live nursery of well assorted 
fruit trees, cultivated by the Rev. Wm C. Greenleaf, a 
very worthy Presbyterian minister, whose talents not 
being appreciated sufficiently to support his declining 
years, has turned his well cultivated mind to the culti- 
vation of trees, and for which he finds more persons will- 
ing to pay, than he does for preaching, which they prefer 
to have of a cheaper quality. Mr. G. is trying a hedge of 
native thorn; and will give the result when ascertained. 
Like all well educated gentlemen of his profession, he 
takes an active interest in agricultural improvement, and 
uses his influence to extend the circulation of agricultural 
papers. By his advice, I called upon one of his neigh- 
bors, upon a farm upon which he keeps 100 head of cat- 
tle, and a "right smart chance" of hogs, but they are 


dying with the kidney worm, and he made a "bad crap ; 
it was so powerful wet in the spring that the crap got 
right smartly in the grass ! and then again it got dreadful 
dry," and so with all these misfortunes, he felt too poor 
to subscribe for a paper. I hinted that if he had taken 
one, he would have found a receipt to cure the kidney 
worm, and thus have saved fifty dollars worth of hogs. 
But "he reckoned these ere papers told a heap of lies;" 
and so to save the poor man's conscience as well as hogs, 
I told him to give the latter sulphur, which if I had given 
him the medicine as well as advice, perhaps he would 
have done. 

After leaving this fair specimen of a large majority 
of the settlers of this country, I entered just at sundown, 
upon a 20 mile prairie, intending to drive five miles to the 
first and only house, and spend the night; but as I ap- 
proached, one unacquainted with such scenes, might have 
fancied that instead of a country tavern, he was nearing 
an army encampment ; as it required no great stretch of 
fancy to convert a score of white wagon covers into 
tents, and the noise of a dozen families of emigrants, into 
that of a small detachment of "la grand armie." Indeed, 
such scenes in the west are by no means uncommon. 
There is one of the roads that enter Chicago, upon which 
I have seen 300 wagons pass in a day, and that not a rare 
sight, but one often seen. 

Finding in the present case, that if I remained I must 
content myself with a very small portion of a bed, and 
my horses with a birth by the side of a rail fence, I soon 
concluded to "put out" and brave the terrors of a threat- 
ening snow storm upon a prairie 15 miles across, as upon 
the other side lay the town of Carlinsville, the seat of 
justice in Macoupin county. I am of opinion that if that 
fellow who is astonishing the "down easters," fiddling 
the "solitude of the prairie," had been with me this eve- 
ning, that he would have been able to play the tune in 
much greater perfection. Perhaps he might add, 


"Oh solitude, where are the charms 
That emigrants see in this place; 
Better stay on their own little farms, 
Than own all this horrible waste." 
And he might add another stanza to a lone tree stand- 
ing solitary and alone in the midst of this ocean of land, 
like a sentinel watching alone over the solitude of the 
prairie, which is more profound than the solitude of the 
darkest forest. 

No doubt many of my eastern readers would have hesi- 
tated long, and rather put up with lodging "three in a 
bed," sooner than undertake the passage of such a prairie 
in the night. But we soon get used to it, and as in the 
present instance, get through it in good order, and by 
contrast are able to reap double enjoyment by the side 
of a good fire in a good inn. The town of Carlinsville, 
like many others in the west that grew up like Jonah's 
gourd, when men forsook the cultivation of the soil to 
grow suddenly rich in town lot speculation, now shows 
in the dilapidated appearance of tenantless houses, that 
it would have been better for many if they had been 
content to pursue a steady, though slow, yet certain road 
to comfortable independence which surely attends the 
careful cultivation of a good soil. 

During this day's drive, after leaving Carlinsville, I 
witnessed the rapid increase of timber that is every 
where taking place in the prairie country, where pro- 
tected from fire. Though during the past fall, in con- 
sequence of the great drouth that followed the great 
flood, immense damage, not only to the young timber, 
but in the destruction of fences, has been done through- 
out the whole of my journey. And this drouth still 
continues, so much so that the few mills that are to be 
found in this part of the State, are almost useless, and 
settlers complain of "long trips to mill." The roads, 
even in the beds of streams that are sometimes impassi- 
ble, (where bridges are not, and that is every where 
when it is possible to "get along" without them,) are 


dusty, and the land in fine order for plowing, though I 
perceive but little of it doing. And would you know 
why? Why, is it not winter? And who ever heard of 
plowing in the winter, in a country where we are above 
such vulgar business as working when we are not obliged 
to. And another reason is that most of the cultivated 
land is every year in corn, and much of that is not yet 
gathered, and besides the stalk fields are the main de- 
pendance of half the farmers in the country for win- 
tering the stock. And under such circumstances, not- 
withstanding the favorable nature of the weather for 
plowing, if they even had a disposition to do it, they can- 
not avail themselves of the opportunity. But you will- 
say they might be otherwise employed; getting up wood 
for instance. Beg pardon, but you don't know "our 
folks," — they are waiting for sledding. 

But there are many exceptions to this waiting kind of 
population, one of which I witnessed at Chesterfield in 
this county of Macoupin. There were not only orchards 
and barns, but beautiful groves of locust around the com- 
fortable houses, at one of which I found a dairy of 70 
cows; and at almost every house a file of the Cultivator 
or Prairie Farmer, a paper in high credit in this State. 
And reader, where do you think this intelligent and en- 
terprising population were from : I shall not tell, but if 
you are a yankee, you can easily "guess." I found one 
of them busily engaged building a new barn, which he 
assured me he was incited to by reading my remarks 
upon the subject of the want of this indispensible farm 
building in the west. I hope my remarks, and the con- 
trast that I shall exhibit to them between good and bad 
farmers, that I meet with upon my present tour, will also 
excite many others to make improvements. 

And here is one example by way of contrast — I spent 
the night in the cabin of one who had become familiar 
with my name in the Cultivator, and felt great pleasure 
in extending a warm welcome to the best he had, to one 
he had long looked upon as an old acquaintance and 



friend. He is a physician, whose practice required him 
to keep two horses, and where do you think he kept them 
during the inclemency of a wintry storm? In the stable, 
do you say. Well, it was in a large one, then, which na- 
ture alone had any hand in building. For no other had 
he, and therefore in the morning, I had no scruples of 
conscience against bringing my horses out of the corner 
of the fence where they had spent the night, and hitching 
on to the carriage for a 14 mile drive over a bleak prairie, 
facing a south-east snow storm, to a little town in the 
same county called Woodburn, where I spent the balance 
of the Sabbath in very comfortable quarters for both 
man and beast. Now, I shall not mention the name of 
this really good man, though to us he has an odd way of 
showing his goodness to the good creatures created for 
his use, but that is all owing to his "brought'n up" in a 
section of the United States that "I reckon" you will not 
wish me to tell you lies south of that celebrated line of 
Mason and Dixon. 

I found my host, (Dr. Grimsted,) a very intelligent 
Englishman, who, together with many of his countrymen 
of the same stamp, have settled in and about this place, 
which is located upon good prairie, scarce of timber, in- 
convenient to mills, and possesses rather too great a share 
of that kind of "go-day, come-day" population, which fill 
the southern part of Illinois with a class of men that are 
content to live not only without stables, but without 
many of the other comforts that constantly surround the 
cabin of the eastern emigrant; the contrast between 
which and their own, will do more to urge them forward 
to do likewise, than all the agricultural papers in the 
world ; for them they never read. 1 

Three miles from Woodburn, is the village or rather 
settlement of "Bunker hill ;" where I found a monument 

1 This rather uncomplimentary description of Woodburn pro- 
voked a defense from the postmaster, Jonathan Huggins. See 
Cultivator, n. s. 2:205 (July, 1845). Robinson wrote a somewhat 
similar article to the Prairie Farmer (5:68-69, March, 1845) which 
also brought forth a contradiction (5:82-83, April, 1845). 


as noble and enduring as that which overlooks the city 
cf Boston. It is a monument of industry, enterprise and 
yankee perseverance that has within a few short years 
converted a wide tract of rich rolling prairie, although 
not very convenient to timber or mills, into one of the 
most flourishing communities and highly improved farms 
that I have seen in the State. The location is undoubtedly 
a healthy one, well water convenient and good, but stock 
water upon the surface, I judge not so. There is more 
grass, more fruit trees, more barns, more good houses, 
more scholars at school, and more readers of agricultural 
papers in this eight year old settlement, than there is in 
some of the oldest settlements in the State, where the 
population is double. 

I took dinner with Moses True, 1 who is a worthy fol- 
lower of his great namesake, in regard to perseverance, 
and whom I wish I could induce some thousands of his 
fellow-citizens to take as a pattern of the True way to 
acquire a comfortable independence in the cultivation of 
the soil. He showed me a flock of 200 wedder sheep fat- 
tening for the St. Louis market, 40 miles distant. He 
intends fattening about this number every year, as he 
finds it one of the most profitable of his farming opera- 
tions. His flock consists of about 800 at this time. I 
have also noticed several other flocks to-day, and also 
a disease called the sore mouth, which is affecting several 
flocks. If you will publish a cure if known, it will oblige 
many in this part of the country. In the course of a two 
hours drive after leaving this place, where every thing 
looked as though created but yesterday, one might sup- 
pose that he had indulged in an unconscious nap, and 
awaked in "the old settlemeets," so great is the change. 
For here we are amid old buildings, old farms and 

'Moses True arrived at the site of Bunker Hill, Illinois, on 
Christmas Day, 1835. It was then a wild prairie. In January, 
1836, he opened the first store in Bunker Hill; his cabin was the 
first hotel in the town. See Walker, Charles A. (ed.), History of 
Macoupin County, Illinois, 1:105 (S. J. Clarke Publishing Com- 
pany, Chicago, 1911). 


orchards of old trees, one of which, containing 1200 bear- 
ing trees, (owned by Gershom Flagg, 1 Esq., brother of 
your Comptroller of State,) upon a large and excellent 
farm in Madison county, 30 miles from St. Louis, where 
he has resided 27 years, 25 of which in the same log 
cabins, which are his castles still, and in which I met 
a kind of welcome not to be measured by outside appear- 
ances. He has about 500 acres in cultivation, and is still 
adding more; and keeps about 100 head of cattle, with 
horses and hogs to match. His orchard of excellent 
grafted fruit brings him in some $2,000 a year, most of 
the fruit of which he sends to New-Orleans. He keeps 
10 or 15 yokes of steers at work, which, as soon as he 
gets well broke, are offered for sale, and bring remuner- 
ating prices. He is reputed so, and is undoubtedly rich, 
and I will also add, proud. But it is proud of living so 
long in a house that has been of so little expense to him. 
All of his out-buildings, and they are very extensive and 
convenient, are of the same primitive description. In- 
deed, he says that he has never used a brick or shingle 
upon the place, but if I may judge from appearances, he 
is now preparing to do so shortly. He is not waiting for 
sledding. Every thing around him is on the go-ahead 
principle, except the house, and that is going to decay. 
And when we look abroad over the towns, cities and 
farms extending hundreds of miles away to the north, 
and think that this very house when built, was the 
"frontier settlement," the very outpost of civilization, 
it is easy to imagine that it is time for it to pass away. 
At the time Mr. Flagg settled here, he was looked upon 
by his neighbors in the "thick woods," as little better 
than a crazy man to undertake to cultivate the prairie, 
when it was evident it would not produce crops, other- 
wise it would have produced timber. 

1 Gershom Flagg, Madison County, Illinois. Pioneer settler and 
farmer. Contributor to Prairie Farmer. His "Pioneer Letters," 
edited with introduction and notes by Solon J. Buck, are printed 
in Illinois State Historical Society Transactions, 1910, pp. 139-63 
(Springfield, 1912). 


Over a rough uncultivated tract, mostly timbered, I 
went to the somewhat famous town of Alton, or rather 
towns, for there are three of them, Upper, Middle and 
Lower; and all covering as rough and uneven a surface, 
extending up mountain sides, and back a mile or more 
over other mountain sides, from the river, that part being 
Upper Alton. Here is the college, several good churches 
and fine dwellings, but no mercantile business. Middle 
town is a collection of good dwellings, mostly occupied 
by men doing business in the lower town. Here I noticed 
a dwelling surrounded with a garden in high cultivation, 
a plain indication of the owner's mind, who I found on 
acquaintance, though engaged in other pursuits, highly 
interested in agricultural improvement, and whose name, 
Moses G. Atwood, 1 will call to the mind of Mr. Tucker, 
reminiscences of the days when they were both sticking 
type away down in New-Hampshire. 

At the lower town is the Illinois penitentiary, several 
fine churches, one busy business street — there is no room 
for a second one — and a tavern, the Franklin House, that 
is worthy of patronage. From Alton to St. Louis is 25 
miles, down the far famed American bottom — an im- 
mense tract of land that was covered, and in some places 
greatly injured, by the great flood. But it never was 
under that kind of a state of cultivation which would 
satisfy any man who had an aspiration above a "hog and 
hominy" kind of existence, and was willing to have the 
"shakes" half the year, for permission even to enjoy that 
much. I believe I met with a fair sample of half of the 
inhabitants, in an individual who had lived upon the same 
farm 40 years, and has not an acre of grass or fruit tree 
in the world, but can brag of raising more and bigger 
corn than all the rest of creation, "Old Kaintuck" in- 

I asked him why he did not raise grass? "Well, he did 
sometimes think on't — and he tried it about 30 years ago, 

1 Moses G. Atwood, born April 14, 1785, at Woodbury, Connecti- 
cut; died February 5, 1867. Breeder of Merino sheep. 


but it did'nt do well." And why don't you set an orchard? 
"Well, I reckon may be I will some day — did set out a few 
trees once, and they grew powerfully, but the cattle soon 
destroyed 'em." And no wonder, for they were set in 
"the big field," the eternal corn field. Fences are much 
swept away, and probably the barns with them, for they 
are not to be seen now, although the little old miserable 
dwellings, like the owners, hang on. The land in many 
places is much grown over with bushes, mostly crab- 
apple, which abound by the million. The bottom is nine 
miles wide, and is bounded on the east by a very high 
clay bluff, that bears evident marks high up its face, that 
here once run a mighty current. There are also many 
mounds upon the bottom that show the same appearance, 
and that the stream gradually wore down this immense 
mass of clay to the present level. 

During the flood, the ferry was nine miles wide ; now 
less than a ninth of that, which I crossed upon the 22d of 
January, 1845, on a steam ferry boat, and upon a beauti- 
ful sunny day as we need wish for in May. The two 
boats at this ferry are almost constantly crowded with 
produce and market wagons from 60 or 70 miles back 
in Illinois, coming to St. Louis. The old part of this 
city was built upon an abrupt rocky bank, and in addi- 
tion to its outward wall, many of the old Spanish houses 
were separately walled in like a strong fortification. 
Some vestiges of these, and the old Spanish houses, still 
remain, but are fast giving way to the spirit of improve- 
ment, every where visible. But the town suffers one 
monstrous inconvenience in the narrowness of the streets. 
Some of the main business streets being barely wide 
enough to allow two wagons to pass. It is a place of 
immense businesss, constantly on the increase. The lead 
and fur traders alone employing great capital, and a vast 
agricultural country above, that draws its supplies 
through this place, create a vast trade. 

The land around the city is not under good improve- 
ment ; which is probably owing to the want of good title : 


much of it being an old Spanish grant for a public com- 
mon. All the land between the city and Jefferson Bar- 
racks, and even below, is in the same condition, being 
claimed as a common of the town of Carondalet, a little 
miserable collection of old Spanish or older French 
houses, a few miles below St. Louis, and is one of the 
oldest French towns in the west. This common land 
remains unsettled, and the timber having been cut off, 
is now grown up to bushes; and in the vicinity of such 
a city has a very unsightly appearance. Jefferson Bar- 
racks, by the expenditure of a few wagon loads of Uncle 
Sam's money, has been made a beautiful spot amid this 
wilderness of Spanish spoliation and French frivolity, 
both of which classes had rather live on frogs and to- 
bacco, and spend their time in drinking and dancing, 
than in growing rich by the cultivation of the earth. 

The old Spanish and French citizens in St. Louis, for 
a long time successfully resisted the spirit of improve- 
ment that pulls down to build up ; and the old grants of 
land to this class of citizens, some of which are still un- 
settled, have been a great detriment to the improvement 
of this part of the State of Missouri. 

From St. Louis to the Merrimac river, 18 miles, the 
road lies over a succession of clayey hills, and for 14 
miles after leaving the city, scarcely any improvements, 
and them but poor. Soon after crossing this stream, we 
begin to enter the great mining district of Missouri, and 
find ourselves climbing rocky mountain sides, picking 
our way along some mountain stream that winds between 
high precipices of perpendicular rock. Oh what a 
change. What a contrast from the boundless and com- 
paratively level prairie, where the eye found no limit but 
the horizon, to this pent up prison of rocky grandeur. 

The prairie land behind me lies, 

That boundless realm of grass and hay. 

The mountain rocks before me rise, 
With nought to cheer my toilsome way. 


Yes, I have something to cheer me on my way; and 
that is, that what I see and take note of, may give pleas- 
ure to those, who in imagination, accompany on his tour, 

their old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Notes of Travel in the West — No. III. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:142-43; May, 1845] 

[Covering January 24-28, 1845] 
At the close of my last communication, I think we had 
just begun to get among the mineral hills of Missouri. 
And what can we find in this rugged, uncultivated, and 
almost uncultivatable district, to interest the readers of 
an agricultural paper, when the only staple is that same 
heavy commodity with which guns and brains are some- 
times alike loaded? I have to hope that my present 
leaden article, may not be thought to emanate from a 
brain overfilled with that substance, or that I shall in- 
fuse such a quantity of the arsenical vapor that arises 
from the smelting furnaces, into this letter, that I shall 
kill off my friends who have traveled with me thus far. 
But we must proceed. These rocky hills and mountain 
sides have to be climbed, before we can reach that rich 
and sunny southern clime where we hope to find more 
matter of a practical kind to interest the agricultural 
reader. I wish I had been favored with that branch of 
education that ought to be taught in all schools, and I 
would give you here an interesting view of an "old Span- 
ish house" that I passed this day, January 24th. There 
are many of these old houses yet to be seen in this coun- 
try, but they are fast disappearing. This one was only 
different from many others, that it must have belonged 
to one of the aristocracy of olden times. It was perhaps 
an hundred and fifty feet long, one story high, elevated 
upon high stone pillars, a wide portico the whole length, 
under which were the several entrances to the different 
apartments; that into the center hall, being fitted with 
very wide, massive paneled doors, the windows small, 

Solon Robinson, 1845 


roof steep and ornamented by three high peaked pro- 
jections or turrets, in the face of which were small win- 
dows or loop-holes, that look as though designed to recon- 
noitre for savage foes that might be lurking in the ro- 
mantic valley of this location. The vallies of this region 
are all fertile, and ever will continue to be, while the 
limestone hills continue to disintegrate and send down the 
best of manure. Col. Snowden, a gentleman whom I met 
with to-day upon one of these rich bottom farms, tells 
me that he raises as fine hemp as he ever raised in Ken- 
tucky. I also was informed by Dr. Cooley, (with whom 
I dined,) another gentleman in the same valley, who lives 
upon an "old grant," that the long and continued crop- 
ping of this land had no perceptible effect upon it. In 
buying an "old grant," a man has a great advantage over 
one who enters land surveyed by the United States, be- 
cause the old settlers having no rigid rules to confine 
them to straight lines, have run them in all kinds of 
curious angles so as to make up the amount of their 
claim entirely of the best lands contiguous. 

At Hillsboro, the County seat of Jefferson county, I 
very unexpectedly met with a warm friend of agricul- 
tural improvement, who not only reads himself, but in- 
duces others to subscribe for such papers; and yet this 
man is not a cultivator himself, but as is often the case, 
is a much more efficient friend of every thing that tends 
to improve the condition of that class than they them- 
selves are. The reason is soon told. He reads — and what 
is all important, he knows just enough to know that he 
yet can learn more. The most difficult class to contend 
with, being those that already know so much that they 
cannot be taught any more. This gentleman, John S. 
Matthews, Esq. clerk of the county, has a very fine cabi- 
net of minerals, nearly all of which he has collected him- 
self. It was here that I saw some beautiful specimens 
of shell marble, quantities of which exist in the neigh- 
boring hills, and which might be profitably worked. He 
also showed me some specimens of cannel coal of excel- 


lent quality, from the Osage river, where it has lately 
been discovered, and will prove of great value to the 
prairie region of the west, it being much lighter for 
transportation, and answering in the place of charcoal 
for mechanical purposes. 

Mr. Matthews informs me that the oak ridges of this 
country, which are at present but little cultivated, are 
very fertile, and the north sides invariably the most so; 
and that they produce as great a burthen of blue grass as 
any land that he is acquainted with. Here then is another 
"good country for sheep." Yet none are here, for no one 
has money to buy sheep in a country where silver turns 
to lead; and often stays turned. For although fortunes 
are sometimes made by mining, yet taken as a class, the 
miners are not as well off in the world, as those who fol- 
low the slow and sure road to comfortable independence 
in the cultivation of the earth. Jan. 25th, I visited one 
of the largest mining establishments in this part of the 
State, and at present yielding probably the most lead for 
the amount of labor employed, of any one in the United 
States. It is known as the "Mammoth Diggings," and 
is situated in Jefferson county, 55 miles south-west of 
St Louis. The method of hunting for mineral is this: 
a man goes upon any land where the external appear- 
ances indicate mineral ; in fact it is often found in small 
quantities upon the surface, and commences "prospect- 
ing," that is, digging holes 3 or 4 feet in diameter, and 
more or less deep as the prospect induces, and if he dis- 
covers lead, then he goes on "proving" until he finds 
whether it is worth following, or till the lead give out. 
The whole country is full of these prospect holes, some of 
which prove barren, and in others, the miner discovers 
mineral enough to pay him for his labor, but the "pros- 
pect is too poor" to induce him to penetrate into the solid 
rock below the earth and loose stones near the surface, 
and he abandons that spot and goes to another, in the 
hope of eventually making a "discovery," which will lead 
to quick and certain fortune. 


But in this, as I will soon illustrate, as in agriculture, 
it often happens that a steady and untiring perseverance 
in the "old diggings," continually turning up the earth 
a little deeper, would lead to more certain fortune than 
an abandonment of the old and familiar ground, for a 
new beginning upon an untried soil, when like the des- 
perate gambler, we place all upon the cast of a single 
die. At this "Mammoth Digging," some poor fellow 
about 15 years ago, was within a foot of his fortune; but 
he was a surface skimmer, and knew not the value of 
subsoiling ; and so he missed the crop that since has been 
made. But to explain. Some 18 months since, a boy 
in the neighborhood, who was out "prospecting" among 
the rugged hills, begun digging out one of these old holes, 
and in a little time discovered the "blow out" of the mine 
beneath. This lead being followed up, and the earth and 
rocks removed a few feet further, opened into a cave 
lined all around the sides and arch with immense masses 
of ore, to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds, 
and so pure that it yielded 75 to 80 per cent of pure lead. 
And here again is a lesson to encourage perseverance; 
for after this cave was exhausted, the work was sus- 
pended for some time, till at length a small lead was dis- 
covered, that lead into a second cave of equal size and 
richness, and from that to a third one still better, and 
when I visited the diggins, a single blast of powder had 
thrown open a passage into a fourth cave which by some, 
was supposed to contain 200,000 pounds, but I think that 
amount may be divided by two, which still leaves an im- 
mense mass to be exposed to one view. The opening of 
the cave is in the side of a hill, and the descent so gradual, 
that the ore is brought to the surface in wheel barrows, 
where it is cleared of the adhering rock, called by the 
miners "tiff," a white metallic substance which I am un- 
able to name correctly. It is probably a corruption of 
tufa. It is then hauled to the furnace, where the opera- 
tion of smelting has been so simplified within a few years, 
that I believe I can "tote" fuel enough to melt a thousand 


pounds of lead. The fuel is dry cedar chips and char- 
coal, which is mixed with the broken mineral in a furnace 
holding a bushel or two, and the fire kept in blast by a 
blow-pipe, driven by a steam engine. In other locations, 
water power is used. The extent this digging has pene- 
trated into the hill, is about 200 feet, and there is no 
telling how long they will continue to discover other 
caves. At other diggings, caves have been found in 
larger numbers, but lesser size, and much further from 
the surface. 

Some diggings are dry, others so wet as to require a 
steam engine to pump out the water. Large quantities 
of mineral have been found in different places in "clay 
diggins" near the surface. This mineral clay is almost 
red, very unctuous and very productive. The ore in the 
clay is in detached cubular masses. In the caves, in 
globular form — in the rocks, in sheets, varying from the 
thickness of this paper, to two feet, and these veins are 
sometimes followed down into the rocks by blasting an 
hundred feet deep, always with the exciting hope of find- 
ing a mass. Many of these mines have been worked for 
a long time. Those at a place called "old mines," for 
forty years, by the French residents who still occupy 
the place, and from the appearance, in the same log 
cabins they did at first. But those at "Riviere La Motte" 
in Madison county, are the oldest, there being still an un- 
settled claim upon the tract, by the heirs of Rino, 1 a 
Frenchman, who was here in the employ of the king of 
France in 1723, but as is now supposed, looking for sil- 
ver instead of lead. There is a large amount of business 
done at these mines by a poor looking population who 
work without the hope that animates the class in other 
places, as here they are all tenants, and have to give the 
proprietors of the tract of land, which is I believe 3 miles 
by 6, one-tenth of all their earnings. There is now here 
ten smelting furnaces for lead, and one or two for copper 
are building. Cobalt, nickel, and manganese ores are 

1 Philippe Francois Renault. 


also found here. The south-western part of Missouri is 
rich in mineral wealth, but shows few examples of agri- 
cultural wealth; and the mining population are of that 
class that every thing that comes light goes lighter, and 
they live to day, and live poor too, with no thought of 
the morrow. Now although money may be sometimes 
easier made by mining than farming, it is an uncertain 
business, and does not seem to produce so good a state 
of society as that old fashioned mode of making a good 
living at least, in the cultivation of the earth. But the 
business withdraws an immense amount of labor from 
cultivation, and profitably employs a large amount of 
capital, and furnishes a market for all the surplus prod- 
uce of the few farms in the mining region. I must not 
forget to mention one of this class who I found in the 
vicinity of the Mammoth Diggings, Willard Frissell, Esq. 
whose rich and well cultivated farm has enabled him to 
live free from the temptation of mining some of the rich 
mineral hills which skirt the fine bottom land that he 
has in cultivation. Having long been a reader of the 
Cultivator, I found myself warmly welcomed as an old 
acquaintance, and rested with him over a lovely sunny 
day, the last Sabbath in this month. But I have to 
charge this man, and I doubt not the charge will fit many 
other readers, with a failure to profit by what he has 
read. His only water is "toted" up a long steep hill to 
the house from a spring at the foot, when right by the 
side of that spring runs a stream of water, that if ap- 
plied as directed by Mr. Bement, would bring a constant 
supply from the spring to the house and as "time is 
money," would save enough every year to pay the ex- 
pense. Reader — I mean you, don't apply it to your 
neighbor — have you profited by what you have read, any 
better? If not, now is the right time to do so. If you 
have no spring to make run up hill ; I'll bet a bucket of 
cool water you have a well as hard as lime can make it, 
and no cistern to make your wife look so good natured 
"wash day." 


Jan. 27th. A warm spring-like rain detained me 
nearly all the forenoon. This is the first "sprinkle" since 
I left home, which proved rather a hard one in the course 
of the day; for lured by false appearances, I undertook 
to drive a dozen miles over a road that the very thoughts 
of is enough to make the bones ache, of one who is ac- 
customed only to the smooth prairie roads. But patience 
and perseverance accomplished the task and before the 
next morning, the rain turned to snow, and for the first 
time this winter, coated all nature in a white mantle 
about two inches deep, that soon melted in the morning 
sun, making as fine a compound of snow and mud and 
water as ever was mixed together. At Old mines, I saw 
as fine a young apple orchard as ever grew, proving what 
might have been proved long before, that the country is 
well adapted to raising fruit as well as lead. The owner 
also showed me the benefits of manure as well as lime, 
upon this limestone soil. By the use of lime, the finest 
crops of grass can be raised, and many of the hill sides 
could be set with fruit trees, that are unfit for cultiva- 

Potosi is the county seat of Washington county, built 
of course like all other towns, upon seven hills ; for here 
there is not level ground enough to build scarcely one 
house, much more a town upon. At this place I was 
shown a well dug through a bed of lead ore, and was 
assured that this mineral never injures the water, all of 
which must come more or less in contact with it. Near 
Potosi, I visited the farm of John Evans, a good English 
farmer, who has proved that fruit trees, grass and sheep, 
will flourish in this part of Missouri, if they can have a 
chance. At a Frenchman's where I staid over night, I 
learned a new way to build a barn in a country where 
saw mills are few and very far between, as is the case 
here. I will describe it for the benefit of new settlers in 
general, and some folks in particular. 

A row of cedar posts, being first grooved on each side, 
are set in the ground about five feet apart, and in these 


grooves are fitted puncheons of any convenient width, 
the edges resting upon each other, which forms the sides 
of the barn. Upon the top of these posts, the plates and 
roof are put. The partitions are all made in the same 
way, so that there is no sawed stuff and no nails except 
in roof and doors, and it makes a very good cheap build- 
ing. The grooves are cut in the posts by a tool made on 
purpose, shaped like an adze. The plan is worthy the 
attention of new settlers in many situations that I know 
of. It will answer very well for making "cheap sheds" 
for some of the prairie flocks and herds. And now, my 
dear friends, while I take another rest, let me beg you 
to have patience, we travel slow, but we have much to 
see, and life I hope will be long enough to see it all. So 
once more, I am affectionately your old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Notes of Travel — No. IV. 

In Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. 

By Solon Robinson. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:178-79; June, 1845] 

[Covering January 29-February 3, 1845] 

If I mistake not, my last communication closed while 
we were yet in the lead region of Missouri, and as I wish 
to keep up a continuous narrative of all our wanderings, 
I shall take up the yarn as near as possible where it was 
last broken off, which I think was the 28th of January. 

On the 29th, I passed through the town of Farmington, 
the name of which for once, intimates something of the 
country around it. During the morning ride, the road 
continued over the same description of hilly poor land 
that it had for several previous days, and the appearance 
of the inhabitants corresponding with the country. But 
in the vicinity of this town, the land is good, but the 
dwellers therein lack the go-ahead spirit always observ- 
able around a settlement composed of "down-easters." I 
observed but little good stock of any kind, though from 


the appearance of the old orchards, it is evident that 
somebody had been a long time here — not long enough 
however to trim the fruit trees. In fact, while speaking 
of this, I find a great many persons who contend that 
peach trees are better without trimming. Of this, I can- 
not say, but I certainly shall continue to trim mine, com- 
mencing in the nursery. 

I don't know but I mentioned before, that the red 
unctuous clay that is found with the lead, appears to be 
conducive to the healthy growth of fruit trees. Who can 
tell what is the fertilising quality it contains? The ap- 
pearance of wheat still continues unpromising — and mills 
few and far between. 

It may interest some of your readers who keep a memo- 
randum of the weather, that I should give occasional 
notes of the state of it at different times and places, so 
that by reference, they can make comparisons. This 
then, has been a fine sunny day, and mud fast drying up. 

Jan. 30, I passed Mine-la-Motte, situated in Madison 
county, the oldest worked lead mines in the United States. 
A tract of land, I believe 3 miles by 6, is owned, or rather 
held under a somewhat doubtful title, (the claim being 
disputed by the heirs of Reno, who was here in 1723,) 
by a company who lease out the right of mining for one- 
tenth of all the ore dug, and also the privilege of buying 
all the miner's ore at a given price. Notwithstanding 
these terms are considered hard by the miners, there ap- 
pears to be a large number of them engaged, and some 
eight or ten smelting furnaces in operation, and two 
erecting for copper, which is also found here. Cobalt, 
manganese and nickel, are also found, but not worked. 
The land looks as poor as poverty, and shows but little 
cultivation, and that of a corresponding quality, and if 
I may judge from the appearance of the miserable little 
block log cabins, and squalid children, the whole popula- 
tion would be far better off if they were settled upon 
some of the thousands of uncultivated acres of rich 
prairie lying waste within a few day's journey of their 


present abode. Much of the lead ore here found, is what 
is termed "dry bone mineral," and is intimately mixed 
with the dirt overlying the blue ore. To prepare it for 
smelting, it is taken up, dirt and all, and hauled in ox- 
carts to a stream, where, in a place fixed for the purpose, 
the dirt is washed out by a somewhat tedious operation. 
It also requires a different and hotter furnace to smelt it 
than the blue mineral. Until within five or six years it 
has been considered worthless. It now yields about 55 
per cent of lead. What vast quantities of "dry bones" 
are still thrown away by farmers as worthless; and if 
they would not yield 55 per cent on the labor necessary 
to prepare them for manure, they are still too valuable 
to be thrown away. 

After leaving this last mining tract, and passing over 
a few miles of equally poor land, we came to Frederick- 
ton, the county seat of Madison, around which is some 
excellent land, and I am sorry that I cannot apply the 
same term to its cultivation ; but I must speak of things 
as they are, and not as I would like to see them. Here 
it was my intention to have taken a route leading into 
Arkansas, but finding that to do so I must make a long 
detour to the south-west, on account of impassable 
swamps that would lay between me and the Mississippi ; 
I took the road to Jackson, and passed over about forty 
miles of as miserable country, as one seeking after such 
a tract, could wish to find. It is very hilly, some of 
which are covered with pitch pine, and only along the 
banks of the streams are found a few settlers, who with 
few exceptions, it may be said, rather stay than live. 
After passing a long, lonely road, from the few houses 
upon which, it seemed as though the inhabitants had died 
or run away, I arrived long after dark, at a place where 
I had been told I should find the only "house of entertain- 
ment" upon the road. * * * 

"And would'nt I like something warm and good for 
supper?" asked my landlady — I certainly should — and it 
length it came. Oh ye epicureans, what a treat! Wild 



turkey and venison, say you — a right new country sup- 
per? I can almost hear your lips smack now But let 
me tell you, the supper consisted of seven small pieces 
of pork ribs for four persons, and a "power" of very 
coarse corn bread, and some muddy looking warm water 
called coffee, free from any adulteration of cream and 
sugar, and no other eatable thing on the table. And of 
this I eat, not having then seen the kitchen, which I 
afterwards did; and the negro cook. / did'nt stop for 
breakfast, though I did for lodging, and slept quite com- 
fortably under my two buffalo skins : but in the morning, 
although I stopped at the "stage-house" for breakfast, 
the only improvement was, that had I been compelled, 
for want of food to "kiss the cook," it would have been 
altogether more agreeable than the evening before. If 
possible, the house was worse. It is an old saying that 
"one half the world don't know how the other half live." 
I wish they did. I think they would be more contented 
and grumble less. And I wish the other half knew how 
they lived themselves; I think they would live better. 
In truth, I think it would be beneficial to us all to know 
a little more how the other half of the world live, and 
by comparing the situation of others by our own, try to 

But I must leave moralising over poor suppers and 
worse breakfasts, and jump over these poor hills and 
down along the banks of a stream whose waters look as 
though somebody had spilt their milk in them, and when 
within a mile of Jackson, the county seat of Cape Girar- 
deau, we seem to strike an entirely different region of 
land; and the first good looking place after leaving the 
hills, I find belongs to a Mr. Criddle, 1 an old Virginia to- 
bacco planter, who is very successful here, and has of 
his last year crop now on hand, about 40,000 lbs. He, 

1 Jesse Criddle, born Cumberland County, Virginia, December 17, 
1782; died near Jackson, Missouri, June 16, 1861. Moved to Mis- 
souri in 1840 to join an elder brother, Edward, and a son, John B. 
Criddle. Letter from Public Library, Jackson, Missouri. 


as well as many other subscribers, would like the Culti- 
vator to give a price current of several leading articles 
in several eastern cities. Mr. Griddle's land is rolling, 
yellowish clayey soil, and produces hemp as well as 

The town of Jackson is on a hilly location, 12 miles 
from the river and contains several good buildings; the 
court-house, bank, &c, and has a land office, in one of 
the officers of which, Mr. Davis, I found a very warm 
friend of agricultural improvement, and through his as- 
sistance and information, some dozen of the spirited and 
intelligent gentlemen of this town became subscribers to 
the Cultivator. If the U. S. government had the same 
liberal views that this one of her officers has, they would 
not only graduate the public land to a grade that it 
would sell at, but much of the land that I have passed 
over between here and St. Louis, they would give away 
to whoever would take it, and be well rid of it at that. 
Indeed, as much as Missouri has been boasted of for rich- 
ness of soil, it is a fact that many do not seem to be aware 
of, that the south half of the State contains vast tracts 
of mountainous barren soil that is scarcely inhabitable, 
and will undoubtedly so remain for a long time. True, 
it has great mineral wealth. The celebrated "iron moun- 
tain" lies only a few miles west of the route I traveled, 
and although only some 40 or 50 miles from the Missouri 
river, yet the impediments in the way of making an easy 
mode of transporting this richest of all iron ore in the 
known world, has hitherto kept it in the deep forest 
buried. And our government is not one to lend much 
aid to those who buy her lands, whether to improve the 
science of agriculture or develop mineral wealth. But 
let us jog on. Though before I leave Jackson, let me 
say that from experiment of several of the citizens, they 
find the valley land best for orchards, and old rotten wood 
the best manure. The hill land appears too dry in sum- 
mer. I have noticed several orchards that were planted 
by the French, that are 40 or 50 years old — and don't 


look as though they had been trimmed in all that time. 
The question is often asked me, "should orchards be cul- 
tivated in other crops?" I answer yes, always, until the 
trees get big enough to take care of themselves. Grass 
is injurious to young trees; though for the matter of 
that, I don't think it is likely to injure them in this part 
of Missouri; there is not enough raised to injure any 
thing. Wheat still looks poor — has the appearance of 
having just come up. 

From Jackson, I traveled the "dividing ridge;" all the 
waters to the north and west, instead of running toward 
the Missouri, run away from it and spread out in the 
swamps of Arkansas. After leaving the ridge about a 
dozen miles from Jackson, we have a swamp five miles 
across, through which the water run ten feet deep dur- 
ing the high water of last summer, not finding its way 
back again to the river until it had wended its way per- 
haps 200 miles through the swamps. This water leaves 
the river a few miles below Cape Girardeau, in conse- 
quence of the high bank that formerly kept it in its chan- 
nel, having been washed away during the last season, 
proving very injurious to many who found themselves 
suddenly in possession of a new water power upon their 
farms — rather an uncontrolable one to be sure — that in- 
stead of serving to grind their corn, served them with 
notice that they could not have any to grind. 

Across this swamp the road is partly through, not 
over, a very soft black soil, and partly over a raised 
causeway only 8 feet wide, and upon which, if two wag- 
ons were to meet, I suppose one would have to drive over 
the other, as there is but one chance in several miles to 
drive round. 

From here to Benton, the land improves, and there are 
some good farms; those of Mr. Hutson and Mr. Allen, 
clerk of the county of Scott, being the best in appear- 
ance. Crops, corn and tobacco. Benton is a town that 
would not do much honor to the gentleman for whose 
honor it was named. * * * Although it was night, I hur- 


ried past the town, and out to a farm house, where I felt 
much more comfortable. Here I found plenty of corn, 
and about 40 head of horses to consume it, and of a 
breed very common in this part of the State, which I 
wish I could give you an accurate idea of. They are 
generally light sorrel, with white face and feet, about 
15 hands high, with legs bigger than a deer, that sup- 
port a body in proportion to the legs. In winter they 
run in "the lot," and eat corn out of a hollow log, and in 
summer they run wherever they can to get away from 
the hordes of flies and musquitoes that infest the swamp 
where they are sent to "range for themselves." The cat- 
tle in this part of the State are of the same order, and 
kept in the same manner. Now corn is an excellent rich 
grain to make pork, but if it is suitable food to mana- 
facture bone and muscle from for young stock, then Pro- 
fessor Johnston 1 and many others know nothing about 
science. It is however a fact that where the most corn 
is fed and little else, there I find the "scrub breed" in 
the highest state of scrubbiness. 

At this last stopping place, I found some excellent 
sweet potatoes, the first vegetable that I have seen upon 
the table since I left St. Louis; and the owner assures me 
that the whole secret in keeping sweet potatoes is to keep 
them dry and ivarm. Mind, warm — not hot. He packs 
them in sun dried sand. This section of country still 
shows the marks of the earthquakes of 1811. In fact, 
there have been slight shocks every winter since — some- 
times the earth cracks open and blows out quantities of 

Feb. 2, which, bear in mind, was the first Sunday, was 
a mild, clear, pleasant day, here in Missouri, a few miles 
west of the mouth of the Ohio river. How was it with 
you, reader? 

This day in a 20 mile drive over mostly poor sandy 

1 Professor James F. W. Johnston, of Edinburgh, Scotland. Dis- 
tinguished agricultural chemist. Author and traveler. Lectured 
in the United States in 1849-50. 


black oak barrens, and across a small sandy level prairie, 
I passed through a couple of miles of Cypress swamp, 
along a road the like of which would be a curiosity in any 
civilized country. I do not blame the inhabitants here 
for not making a better road, for if I may judge from 
their looks, they will soon need to travel but a short road, 
and that upon a conveyance that never jolts the rider. 
Although much of this county is very rich, and produces 
great crops of corn and some wheat, yet there is so much 
swamp that it is decidedly sickly. 

On Monday, and in a dull, gloomy and rainy day, I had 
to drag through 14 miles more of swamp and overflow- 
ing land to reach the Missouri j 1 and this is the only road 
by which half the inhabitants can reach Benton, their 
county seat. And over this same road, the emigrants 
from Kentucky, Tennessee, &c, going to Missouri and 
Arkansas, have to drag their loads of "plunder." I met 
many of them in wagons, in North Carolina carts, and 
on pack horses — the latter being generally packed with a 
most liberal supply of children and their mothers — "I 
reckon" — and as it "takes all sorts of folks to make a 
world," I am constrained to think that some of those I 
met are some of the "all sorts." "The ladies" in particu- 
lar, riding in a very primitive way, such as was common 
before the invention of side-saddles, looked a good deal 
"sorter like" the coarse filling with which the great west- 
ern web of wilderness is woven. 

After a toilsome day's work of 18 miles, I was under 
the necessity of stopping 2 miles short of the ferry at the 
"iron banks," where I was to cross the Missouri. It had 
been my intention to have gone from Benton to New Mad- 
rid, by which I should have avoided these 16 miles of 
swamp, but I learned that if I crossed at New Madrid, 
that I should be caught in a trap in a district of country 
lying between there and Memphis, that is known as the 
"shakes," from having been shaken by earthquakes into 

1 Here and in the following paragraph, Robinson obviously meant 
the Mississippi River. 


sundry very uninteresting goose ponds. And from New 
Madrid down on the Arkansas side to opposite Memphis, 
there is "no road nor nothing." The only good highway 
— high enough some times — in the country, is the Mis- 
souri, but not a very good carriage road. 

Notes of Travel in the Southwest — No. V. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:239-40; Aug., 1845 1 ] 

[Covering February 4-12, 1845] 

On the 4th Feb. Mr. R, crossed the Misssissippi, at the 
"Iron Banks," marked on the maps as Columbus, Ken- 
tucky, built between the river and a hill some 200 feet 
high, composed of clay, lead and iron stone, and up which 
the road leads to an entire change of soil and descrip- 
tion of country from that on the opposite side of the 
river. Here the face of the country is quite broken ; soil 
rich clay; timber, beach, sugar, poplar, oaks, hickory, 
dog-wood, &c. — all of which indicate a good strong soil, 
and good grass land; yet it is not here, notwithstanding 
this is the blue grass state. 

But here is not to be found the same kind of popula- 
tion that is to be found in the blue grass and stock rais- 
ing part of Ky. The crops here are corn enough to eat 
and feed through the winter, and tobacco enough to sell 
to buy the few necessaries required. The farms are 
small and houses generally poor, and here as in Missouri, 
always something out of order — stables without doors — 
farms without gates — and whole neighborhoods without 
a good head of cattle, horses, hogs or sheep. There is in 
this part of Ky., an abundance of most excellent land, 
tolerably heavy timbered, that can be had for about $2 
an acre, out of which excellent farms could be made. 

On the 5th, Mr. R. passed into Tennessee — the land 
similar to that described yesterday. The best buildings 
are the towering tobacco houses, in which the crop is 

Reprinted in Nashville Agriculturist, 6:129-30 (September, 


hung up, as soon as it is cut and wilted, where it hangs 
to dry, and is then "fired." 

The great pest in the cultivation of this crop, are the 
worms that prey upon the leaves, and unless destroyed, 
will destroy the crop. The eggs are deposited by a miller 
almost as large as the humming bird, and very much re- 
sembling it in movements, upon the upper and under 
side of the tobacco leaves, from the time it is about half 
grown till it matures. These hatch and grow "powerful 
quick," and eat "powerfully," and have all to be picked 
off by hand; though some have trained turkeys to per- 
form a part of the work. In cutting up the crop, the 
laborer seizes the stalk with one hand, and splits the stalk 
nearly to the ground with a stout butcher knife, then cuts 
it off and throws it in piles to wilt, which it will do in a 
few hours, when it is hauled to the house and hung across 
sticks in the upper tier and so down till the beams are 
full; when it is sufficiently dry, large fires are built on 
the ground so as to give as much heat as possible with 
little blaze or smoke. This is a dangerous operation and 
accidents often happen. After it is thus cured, it hangs 
till a wet spell moistens it so that it can be handled to 
strip, or if the room is wanted, it is taken down and 
bulked away to make room for the next cutting. The 
crop avarages about 800 lbs. to the acre, worth 2i/ 2 to 
3c, and 2 to 3 acres to a hand. As a matter of course 
when tobacco is the general crop, the land is rich; yet 
generally speaking the people do not appear so in this 
part of the country. 

Although here is nothing but corn and fodder, yet stock 
looks better than in Missouri. Pretty good oxen with 
miserable yokes and bows, are worked upon more miser- 
able carts In fact all the farming implements are of 
the roughest kind — even brooms, that indispensible arti- 
cle with a yankee housekeeper, are not to be found, un- 
less you are pleased to denominate that miserable little 
switch of broom straw with which you see a negro pok- 
ing about the floor as though looking for dropped pins 


rather than sweeping, by the name of broom. Perhaps 
you may think the floors are all carpeted — on the con- 
trary I never saw the first one of these household com- 

This district is a natural "eccalobion" of swine, and 
needs no artificial hog hatching machine to encourage the 
natural increase of pigs. With little feeding and less 
care, particularly when "mast" is plenty, they live, move 
have their being, independent of their owner, but who 
nevertheless is dependent on them for his living. 

The western district of Tennessee contains an abun- 
dance of most excellent land, yet covered with the native 
growth of forest trees, mostly oak, except upon creek 
bottom land, and occasionally upon small tracts of up- 
land; where all the kinds of timber usually found upon 
the richest alluvial land of the west, grow in the great- 
est luxuriance; requiring a great deal of hard toil to 
prepare it for culture, but affording an assurance to the 
husbandman that when once cleared, he will have a soil 
that no judicious system of culture can ever wear out. 
But I am sorry to say that that system however, is not 
pursued generally, as can be seen in the fact after a few 
years of "skinning," it becomes too poor to produce a 
good crop of tobacco, and therefore the tobacco planter 
is annually making additions of new land instead of try- 
ing to keep up the fertility of that which was first cleared. 
Tobacco is a very ameliorating crop, and leaves the land 
in fine condition, particularly for wheat; which crop 
however, is but little cultivated, for two reasons — first, 
the tobacco crop in "wormy time," requires every pair 
of hands on the plantation that is able to crush a worm, 
at the very time too when the wheat needs an equal 
amount of care to save it from total destruction by the 
weevil, which often destroys the crop even after it has 
been thrashed and cleaned and stored away. And sec- 
ondly, the tobacco is a more certain crop in growth and 
sale for cash, which is the grand desideratum, and which 
will be sure to prevent the cultivator from bestowing any 


care towards the improvement or preservation of his 
soil in a country where new land can be purchased so 
cheap as it can here, when that first cleared will no 
longer produce his favorite crop. 

On the 7th of Feb., between Dresden and Jackson, 
Tenn., I began to leave the tobacco and enter among the 
cotton plantations, the soil becoming more sandy and 
light, though not showing much more appearance of 
wealth until within the precincts of the latter town, 
which is beautifully situated upon a plain, and contains 
some 1,500 inhabitants, and many handsome mansions; 
a very fine court house and a college and a flourishing 
female school. Leaving this place a short distance from 
the town, we cross the "Forked Deer Creek," over a toll 
bridge and high clay turnpike over a two mile wide bot- 
tom, subject to overflows, and covered with beech timber, 
which if cleared off and set with grass, I ven-[ture] to 
say would prove more profitable land than some of the 
upland. I notice generally that the bottoms are the last 
to be cleared, but time will prove their value. Out of 
this stream, the cotton from this region is sent in flat 
boats to the Mississippi. Between this town and La- 
grange, the last town in Tenn., the land grows more and 
more sandy, and when badly cultivated, is very liable 
to wash into gullies; some of which, particularly by the 
road side, becomes perfectly unmanageable. Passed fine 
cotton plantations, and some very good and some I think 
very poor land, covered with small black oak timber, and 
crossed the Hatchee river, which in high water is navi- 
gable for steamboats, and like nearly all the streams in 
this country, having a wide overflowable bottom. We are 
now fairly entered upon the cotton region, that being the 
all engrossing crop of this part of Tennessee, and of 
which I expect hereafter to have much to see and say as 
I proceed south. 

This, 9th of Feb., four miles south of Lagrange, upon 
a very warm sunny day, I crossed the Mississippi line. 
The grass to-day looks green and spring like, and plum 


trees are leaving, and peach buds are just ready to burst 
into blossom. Much land shows that there has been a 
good deal of a kind of work done that people really seem 
to be in sober earnest when they call it "plowing." The 
weather is more like May than February. Birds and 
frogs making meloby — grass growing — flowers blooming 
— gardens making, etc. 

From here to Holly Springs, the county seat of Mar- 
shall co., and a flourishing fine town, the land grows hilly 
and sandy, and bottom lands more swampy. The upland 
timber mostly black oak, interspersed with white oak and 
hickory, and much of it uncultivated. Some fine farms — 
horses good — cattle poor and sheep poorer. In the course 
of the day after passing Holly Springs, I met with the 
first stone that I have seen since leaving the mountains 
of Missouri. It is a kind of redish sand and iron stone, 
and has the appearance of being of volcanic origin. 
Passed Oxford, the county seat of Lafayette co., and 
crossed the Tallahatchie river, (I like these Indian 
names,) which is also another high water steamboat 
stream, with wide bottom uncultivated beech land, upon 
which grass instead of trees ought to be growing. Saw 
mills through all this region being scarce, and lumber 
from $1.50 to $2.50 per hundred, nearly all the houses 
are built of logs. Near the south line of Lafayette, 
crossed the "Yokenatuffa," (a very pretty name when you 
get used to it,) across a beech bottom, with a liberal 
sprinkle of the beautiful holly. 

On the 12th day of Feb., in Yallabusha county, I saw 
peach and plum trees in full bloom, and garden peas and 
potatoes up, and oats sowing. And here in one field I 
saw 20 one horse, or one mule plows, skinning the sur- 
face of this light, loose, fine, sandy soil, and sending it 
on a voyage of discovery to the gulf of Mexico. And as 
in this country I am going to initiate my readers into the 
arcana of a cotton plantation, I will here part company 
with them, under the assurance that the country we are 
yet to ramble over will afford an abundance of incidents 


far more interesting than that which which we have 
hitherto visited ; and I humbly hope that I may be able so 
to collect and arrange those incidents that you will be 
pleased to continue to give a monthly welcome to the 
familiar face of your old friend, 

Solon Robinson. 

Notes of Travel in the Southwest — No. VI. 1 

[Extract; Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:271-73; Sep., 1845 2 ] 

[Covering February 12-17, 1845] 
Finding so little of the spirit of improved husbandry, 
and so few with whom I could feel as though I was with 
old acquaintances, the pleasure of a circumstance that 

1 The editor prefaced this article with a summary of the intro- 
ductory part of Robinson's letter: "On the 12th day of February, 
the date of his letter, the peach and plum trees in the part of the 
country from which he writes, (the north portion of Mississippi,) 
are in full bloom. He states that the region is quite new, it being 
'the much talked of Chickasaw purchase,' and that the people live 
mostly in log cabins. The land is described as being generally good 
for cotton, but in Mr. R.'s opinion, an investment of more than 
37 cents per acre, for a large portion of it, would not prove profit- 
able, on account of the extremely low price of cotton. The course 
of cultivation generally practiced, is represented as very deteriorat- 
ing. The land is mostly hilly, and by injudicious management, is 
said to be greatly injured by washing. Mr. R. says he passed a 
field in the north part of Yallabusha county, in which he saw 
'twenty plows, each drawn by a single horse or mule, and some of 
them pretty poor at that.' This land, he says, 'was to be planted 
to corn without any further plowing, and this certainly was not 
two inches deep in the average.' The soil is said to have been 
originally about six inches deep, but by this mode of barely 
'scratching' and loosening the surface, it is in many cases nearly 
all washed away, leaving the fields cut up by deep gullies. But 
that this wasteful cultivation, which Mr. R. so much deplores, is 
by no means universal, will appear from his description of some 
beautiful and well-managed plantations — to one of which he intro- 
duces us by a relation of the following pleasant incident, which, 
though somewhat elongated, we think our readers will be inter- 
ested to peruse in his own language." 

'Reprinted in Nashville Agriculturist, 6:161-63 (November, 


happened to me on this evening cannot be realized by my 
readers, by any description that I can give ; and can only 
be judged of by other travellers who after toiling de- 
spondingly through darkness and difficulty, suddenly find 
themselves by the warm hearthstone of a new found and 
unexpected friend. 

The day had been warm and balmy as a New-England 
mid May day, the roads good from the effect of good 
weather. The blossoms, as I have before remarked, mak- 
ing the air fragrant; garden vegetables green growing 
in luxuriance ; while hundreds of negro laborers, busy in 
the fields, made the world seem gladsome with their 
cheerful laugh and jovial song. Yet amid all, I could not 
feel gladsome myself, for I could not but see ruin follow- 
ing in the footsteps of such a system of cultivation as I 
too frequently witnessed. In this mood of mind, I passed 
Coffeeville, the county seat of Yallabusha, just before 
sun down, and as the town, which is built upon almost 
as many hills as ancient Rome, offers but little induce- 
ment to a stranger to spend a night, I passed on with 
the intention of stopping at some rode-side house, a mile 
or two on ; but after passing that distance and seeing no 
more pleasant prospect ahead, I made inquiry of a pass- 
ing negro, and was assured that I should find no stop- 
ping place "this side of Tom Hardiman's, and dat was 
six mile mighty bad road," which I was bound to get 
over or stick fast in, with a tired team and in a dark 
night. On, on, I went, over hills, stumps, gulleys, 
streams, mud, and in the expectancy of a very poor sup- 
per. How I was at length disappointed! Although I 
found the house a low log cabin, built after the universal, 
never varying pattern, of two rooms with a broad hall 
between, I was struck with surprise, and at once im- 
pressed with the idea that I should find something out 
of the common course of things within. Reader, would 
you know why I received this impression in advance, and 
that so suddenly, and only from the glimpse I caught by 
candlelight, as the host advanced to answer my call. 


Here it is. From the house, yes, from that rude, block 
log cabin to the front gate, extended a neat arbor for 
the support of twining flowers, climbing vines and roses. 
Did you ever see such an outward sign, without feeling 
at once assured that taste, intelligence, neatness, and com- 
fort dwelt within? At all events I found it true in this 
instance. In far less time than usual, when waiting upon 
a negro cook, I was seated at the supper table. The neat- 
ness and profuse variety of the dishes with which it was 
loaded, were rendered still more palatable by the pres- 
ence of just such a woman as might have been expected 
from the outside sign which I have mentioned, and the 
beauty of whose face was undoubtedly improved by the 
healthful glow that she had acquired that very day by 
her personal superintendence of the cultivation of her 
flowers. But weary as she may have been, and late as 
was the hour, she did not feel herself at liberty to neg- 
lect the tired and hungry traveller; and I ate a far bet- 
ter supper that night in "Tom Hardiman's" log cabin, 
than I had before eaten in far better houses, where bet- 
ter things might have been looked for, only that the lady 
did not cultivate a flower garden. 

Although I am no great believer in clairvoyance, I cer- 
tainly witnessed here a wonderful case of "guessing," 
considering the guesser was a Tennesseean instead of one 
of the "guessing nation." 

During supper I observed that I was undergoing a 
most rigid scrutiny by Mr. Hardiman, who on observing 
that I noticed him, began to excuse himself by saying 
that he was struck by a very singular impression which 
he could not account for, and he had been examining my 
face to see if he could not recognize the features of "an 
old acquaintance," whom he had never seen or known, 
except as he had seen his features in his letters to the 
Cultivator and other agricultural papers ; and though he 
had never received any intimation that the person he 
alluded to was in that part of the U. S., he was irresist- 
ibly impressed with the idea that I was the man. 


My curiosity was excited; my toilsome evening's ride 
was not forgotten, but looked back upon with pleasure. 
I had at length found an "old acquaintance," and I did 
not hesitate to ask him "who he took me for?" And 
when I assured him that I was the very individual he 
had guessed I was, I have never met with a warmer re- 
ception or apparently given more pleasure by a visit to 
any real old acquaintance in my life. Somewhere along 
toward the last end of the night I laid down to take a 
nap, and in the morning after breakfast, saddle horses 
were brought to the door, upon one of which I spent the 
forenoon in looking over the plantation and examining 
the first specimens I had seen of "side hill ditching," and 
"horizontal plowing," of which I shall speak further 

Mr. Hardiman has discovered a fact that the former 
proprietor of the place was not aware of, and I speak 
of it here because there are a great many others who 
have not yet discovered it. And that is, that land lying 
at the foot of the hills, that receives all the soil that is 
worked down from them, if once cleared of timber and 
brush and brought into cultivation, will actually produce 
cotton. True, it does require a little more labor to clear 
it than it does the thin timbered and thinner soiled hills ; 
and another thing, it wont wear out, and give the owner 
an excuse to migrate. When Mr. Hardiman first com- 
menced, he was laughed at by some of his neighbors for 
trying to cultivate a swamp. But a few ditches to 
straighten the branches and lead off the standing water, 
soon proved how much more valuable this kind of neg- 
lected land is, than the poor washing hills. Here I saw 
another curiosity. Hands employed scraping every hole 
and corner around the buildings and yards for manure. 

The food for the field hands is all cooked at the kitchen, 
and dealt out with out weight or measure, and they have 
all the bacon, corn bread, and vegetables that they need. 

At dinner to-day, Feb. 15, I feasted upon some of the 
largest and best heads of lettuce I ever saw, grown in 


the open air, and a greater variety of vegetables than I 
have seen since I left St. Louis, one of which was 
the Jerusalem artichoke, which, boiled and mashed up 
like turneps, makes an excellent dish. I presume many 
of your eastern readers do not understand that the 
Jerusalem artichoke is a kind of vegetable that they 
have long been acquainted with, and which can be found 
in some by-corner on half the New England farms. They 
are a valuable crop, being raised for hogs. Mr. Hardi- 
man has raised Irish potatoes from the same seed, for 
eight years, and thereby proved that it is not necessary 
to get new seed from the North every year, " 'cause it 
runs out." He plants in November, and they ripen in 
May, but he lets them remain through the summer in 
the hills. 

One fact in regard to his management of negroes might 
be pursued by parents toward children, as well as mas- 
ters towards servants. He keeps them at home; and he 
very rarely has occasion to punish. 

Having learned that the name of the post-office here 
was "Okachickama," I found by reference to a memo- 
randum, that I was in the neighborhood of another old 
acquaintance, John T. Leigh, Esq., 1 and in the afternoon 
we rode over to his house, and found him reading the 
S. W. Farmer, where he had just discovered that I was 
on my way to Mississippi, and expressing his regret to 
his family that he should not probably meet with me, as 
he lived off of any leading road. His astonishment and 
pleasure may be "guessed" at, when Mr. Hardiman in- 
troduced the very individual whose name was then upon 
his lips. 

I had only come for a short call. / stayed two nights. 
Who ever escaped Virginia hospitality in less time. How 
these meetings and joyous welcomes, and show of re- 
spect from every member of a family, do sink into the 

1 John T. Leigh and his wife, Martha Townes Lee, are mentioned 
in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, 1:117 (Chi- 
cago, 1891). 


heart and search out every kind feeling, and strengthen 
every emotion that prompts in the labor of doing good, 
and promoting the happiness of our fellow creatures. 
What other recompense can be so dear to one devoting 
time and talents to increase the knowledge, and conse- 
quently add joy to the mind of his universal brethren, 
as such interviews as the one I have just described and 
am now describing. Have patience with me, my north- 
ern friends, if I appear tedious, but I am anxious to 
paint you a picture of a Mississippi planter, in which you 
may see all the little minutiae of his household; so dif- 
ferent, so wonderfully different from your own. 

Mr. Leigh works about 35 field hands, including black- 
smiths, carpenters, spinners, and weavers ; the latter only 
working in the field in "picking time" — that is, when the 
cotton is ripe and ready to gather, which in the way of 
hurry, answers to the time of your harvest. He owns 
about ninety negroes, old and young, all of whom live in 
families by themselves, in very comfortable log cabins, 
some of which are neatly furnished and provided with 
household matters and things, and others that are ex- 
actly the reverse, and look just like some white folks' 
houses. These families have a weekly ration of three 
and a half pounds of bacon, clear of bone, for each 
member, except small children, who are furnished with 
food in proportion to size and numbers. About a peck 
and a half of meal is also given, and more, if they can 
use it without waste, and sweet potatoes, turneps, 
squashes, onions, green corn, and various other vegeta- 
bles, as well as melons and peaches, by untold quantities ; 
and all show by their looks that they are full fed and 
well clothed. 

"The quarters," that is the place where the negro 
cabins stand, are away from the dwelling house, and are 
so arranged as to be in sight of the overseer's house, so 
that he can always have an eye to anything going wrong. 
For negroes, like children, want a deal of careful watch- 
ing at all times. 



When the hands go to their work in the morning, all 
the children are taken to the nursery, where they are 
taken care of and fed by a woman who does nothing else. 
Women never go to the field until the child is a month 
old, and from then till weaning time, return to nurse 
them at stated times. Hands either take their breakfast 
and dinner to the field with them, or have it sent out in 
little tin buckets, kept for the purpose. 

Mr. Leigh has 640 acres of land in cultivation, includ- 
ing about 80 acres taken up in yards, gardens, orchard, 
&c. Of the balance, he puts 200 acres in corn, 60 or 70 
acres in oats, and the remainder in cotton, upon which 
he made for the last three years, from 125 to 135 bales 
a year. [A bale of cotton is always 400 lbs.] He put up 
last year, 16,000 lbs. of bacon, for the use of the planta- 
tion, and intends in future, to keep up a supply. This 
being the first year of the ten since the commencement of 
the plantation that it has provided its own meat. 

He still continues to clear some land every year, and 
particularly to clear up all the "hard spots" that were 
left at the first clearing ; straightening the crooked chan- 
nels of branches, and filling up and cultivating the old 
channels ; draining little ponds, &c. But what is of vast 
importance and necessity for every Mississippi farmer 
to learn and practice, he has the whole plantation under 
a complete system of hill-side ditches, by which he wholly 
prevents the light soil from washing away, and adds 
greatly to the value of the land, and the annual amount 
of the crops. 

Now if any body should ask "what are hill-side 
ditches?" I have to say, that the whole of all the numer- 
ous hill-sides are ditched with one or more ditches, as 
may be necessary to take up and carry off all the falling 
water, almost on a level, and winding round till an out- 
let can be found to discharge it without injury to the 
land. These ditches are laid off by a level, and are in- 
tended to remain permanent fixtures; and all the plow- 
ing has to conform to their shape, and as a matter of 


course, utterly annihilating "straight rows." This great 
and indispensable improvement upon Mr. Leigh's farm, 
was done by his very intelligent son, Randolph, who until 
the present year has had the sole charge of overseeing 
the plantation; thereby proving, that one rich planter's 
son could make himself a useful member of society. I 
wish I could say all sons were like this estimable young 
man — particularly my own. In this connection, I must 
not forget to mention Mr. Leigh's son-in-law, Dr. Town, 
whose plantation is adjoining, and cultivated under the 
same system, and which he wholly oversees himself. 

Mr. Leigh works 17 mules and horses, and three yoke 
of oxen ; has about 200 hogs, 50 head of cattle, 70 sheep, 
which are sheared twice a year, and from which he makes 
all the light negro clothing, — he also makes all the cotton 
clothing used. 

He hauls his cotton about seven miles, where it is 
shipped on steamboats in high water, upon the Yalla- 
busha river, which empties into the Yazoo, and thence 
into the Mississippi, above Vicksburgh. All his supplies 
come through the same source, even a year's stock of 
flour, which he gets from Richmond, that being the only 
kind that will keep good through the summer. Who can 
tell why? It is important to Ohio millers, whose flour 
can always be had considerably cheaper. 

Mr. Leigh has what but few others in this region have, 
an abundance of stone. It is a mixture of iron and sand, 
very hard, and is found in layers, with natural smooth 
fractures, that fit it for building purposes. It stands fire 
when the edge is exposed to the heat, but if reversed from 
the position that it is found in, it scales off and flies all 
over the house like grape shot. 

Mr. Leigh is very successful in keeping his sweet pota- 
toes packed in cotton seed, in a well ventilated room; 
and as a very strong evidence that his negroes do not 
suffer much want for food, I observed that this potatoe 
house had no fastening to prevent them from helping 
themselves if badly pinched with hunger. 


Now I think I hear some of my eastern fair readers 
exclaim, "Well now, I do wish he would tell us what sort 
of a house this Mississippi nabob lives in? — very splen- 
did, I dare say. Oh, I wish I could see it." Well, madam, 
it is a common double log cabin, with a hall between. 
"Why, you don't mean to say, that a man with such a 
farm, and so many negroes, lives in such a house as 

Oh yes I do, and very comfortably and nicely he does 
live too, for he has a wife — ah, a wife, madam : not a 
mere piece of household furniture, such as your boarding 
school bred farmer's daughter will make — totally unfit 
for a farmer's wife. "Well now, do tell me where they 
all stay in such a house as that?" Why, madam, there 
is another cabin back in the yard — that is the kitchen — 
no matter that it is so far off the eating room — it is 
Mississippi fashion; and there are plenty of negroes to 
run back and forth; and here is another building — that 
is the smoke house ; and there is another, that is the store 
room ; and there are two or three more, those are lodging 
rooms. No matter that they are ten rods from the 
house — it is the fashion — and as for that, convenience 
and comfort is ten times worse sacrificed every day, than 
it is in these household arrangements. True, such ar- 
rangements would not suit us at the north, but here use 
and negro labor make the difference. I have seen in 
more than one instance, the wood pile more than 40 rods 
from the house, and "the spring" twice that distance — 
two inconveniences that a yankee could never put up 
with. He would sooner have "the well," as well as the 
wood pile, both in the road, right in front of the door of 
the house, that almost stands in the road too, to say 
nothing of all the carts, plows, and sleds, also in the 
road, "between the house and barn," it is so convenient. 

But we have much more yet to see of Mississippi life ; 
and circumstances compel me to take a hasty leave of 
this fine family — this "fine old Virginia gentleman," — 
and now for a little season I again bid you a kind adieu. 

Solon Robinson. 


Notes of Travel in the Southwest — No. VII. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:303-4; Oct., 1845 1 ] 

[Covering February 17-20, 1845] 
Once again, my friends, I come with my monthly greet- 
ing. Well, where parted we company last? Let us re- 
flect. We had just visited Mr. Leigh, and given a slight 
sketch of his method of farming, which I have italicised 
to give the term a contradistinction from that of planting 
— the latter term meaning only the cultivation of cotton. 
But before leaving Mr. Leigh's neighborhood, I must no- 
tice that I was on President Polk's plantation, and earn- 
estly hope that his cultivation of Uncle Sam's big planta- 
tion will be as well managed under the overseership of 
Mr. Polk, as his Mississippi cotton plantation is reported 
to be. The next point of interest that I visited was 
the plantation of Capt. Wm. Eggleston, of Holmes 
county, who is one of the good farmers of Mississippi. 
He is a Virginian, from Amelia county, and having an 
introduction from his friend, Mr. Leigh, I met with a 
very hearty reception. 

The 17th of February was an uncomfortably warm 
day. The peas in Captain E.'s garden several inches high, 
lettuce in full head, and other things in proportion. Cap- 
tain Eggleston has about 1,400 acres of land under culti- 
vation, and upon which live 20 whites, and 150 blacks, 
70 of which are field hands ; about one-third of his land 
is kept in corn and oats, the proportion of corn being as 
two to one. He keeps up a continued rotation of crops, 
and puts all the manure that he can upon the corn, which 
averages about 25 or 30 bushels to the acre ; plants corn 
and sows oats in February. He is now working 43 
mules and horses, and 28 oxen, and makes 560 bales a 
year, which he has to haul 10 or 12 miles. He also raises 
all the grain and meat required upon the plantation, 
feeding his negroes at the rate of SYo lbs. clear bacon 
per head per week, with about a peck and a half of 

1 Reprinted in part in Augusta, Georgia, Southern Cultivator, 
3:169 (November, 1845). 


corn meal, besides vegetables and fruit, melons, &c. Like 
Mr. Leigh, he gets his flour from Virginia, and asserts 
that no other will keep well through the summer. 

I saw in his garden some very fine fig trees, which as 
far north as this produce remarkably well. Peaches are 
unfailing, but with grapes he has not been successful. 
Apples are not a southern fruit, yet many are attempt- 
ing their cultivation. And now a word of Captain Eg- 
gleston's system of cultivation. His place is all hilly, 
thin, oak land, very light soil, that melts away in water 
not quite so easy as salt or sugar ; and yet he has scarcely 
a gully upon the whole farm; but he has more than 20 
miles of side hill ditches, which are so constructed that 
they take up all the surface water before it passes far 
enough over the ground to form gullies. 

While riding over the plantation, I found one of the 
overseers engaged, with a large force of hands, laying 
off and making ditches upon some new ground, it being 
a rule never to put in a second crop until the land is 

I will attempt a description of the very simple instru- 
ment used as a level. It consists first of an upright 
standard about five feet high, the lower end sharpened 
to stick in the ground, and about a foot above is a 
shoulder, upon which rests a frame made of thin cross 
bars, tennoned at each end into uprights, about four feet 
long, one bar at top and one at bottom, and one in centre, 
with holes through which the upright passes, and upon 
which it plays freely. This standard being set in the 
ground and a plum line brought to rest upon a scale pre- 
viously graded to the required fall of the ditch, the oper- 
ator sights along the middle bar until it strikes the 
ground at the point where he would commence the ditch, 
and then moves it round the face of the hill he wishes 
to circle, having the various points marked as far as he 
could extend the view from that point. And here I can- 
not refrain from mentioning a very remarkable fact 
which I saw, and which Captain E. assured me that he 


had often witnessed, but could not account for. He had 
a negro boy — not a very remarkably bright one either — 
about a dozen years old, who being stationed at the start- 
ing point of the ditch, would start upon a smart trot 
around the face of the hill, and when he had gone as 
far as he thought necessary to strike a stake, he would 
stop, and never four feet out of the way. Query, had 
he a water level in his head? How can his leveling fac- 
ulty be accounted for? I wish some political levelers 
had as happy a faculty of always being right. 

When the line is thus staked off, the same boy walks 
back upon his track, picking up the stakes, while the 
overseer guiding a horse drawing a slightly marking 
plow held by another hand, follows on, and thus makes 
the line of the ditch for the big plow that follows, and 
in turn is followed by hands with hoes until the ditch 
is completed. 

The alteration that I would recommend in this instru- 
ment, would be to substitute a spirit level for the plumb 
line, as on a windy day the line is too much affected. 

This level upon hilly land is much preferable to the 
rafter level, and is as easily made. 

As before remarked, the rows have to conform to the 
ditches, however crooked, and the manner of plowing is 
to lay off the rows in the first instance, the middles often 
being left unbroken until after the corn is planted, and 
perhaps up. Captain Eggleston's plan is to plow deep 
directly under the corn, and plow shallow while tending 
the growing crop. His motto is to plow deep for all 
crops. He assures us that since he has adopted the level 
system of ditching and plowing, that in addition to the 
advantage to the land, that his crops are better and the 
soil improving instead of deteriorating. 

All of his mechanical work is done by his negroes 
upon his plantation. He has two negro carpenters that 
he occasionally hires out to others at the rate of $40 
apiece per month. He estimates that he has ten miles 
of plantation roads, and 20 miles of rail fence, more than 


half of which is to fence against other folks' cattle in- 
stead of his own; and this fence has all to be renewed 
once in seven years, as in this humid climate that period 
is the length of durability of rails. What an enormous 
tax! And with the enormous waste of timber going on, 
how long will it be before all the rail timber is exhausted? 
What is to be done then? What is to be substituted? 
It is time this matter was thought of even amid the 
forests of Mississippi. There is another matter that 
ought to be thought of too by every cotton planter. What 
are they going to do when the supply of basket timber 
is exhausted, as it already is in some parts of the state? 
Will they send to the north for these indispensable 
articles? Well, so be it. We are ready to furnish you, 
and we will soon learn that you cannot pick cotton with- 
out baskets. I advise you to commence immediately the 
cultivation of Ozier Willow. It will grow upon all your 
creek banks, and it will make a more handsome and 
valuable fringe than many that I have seen in the middle 
of your fields. There is another article that grows al- 
most spontaneously upon some of the rich bottoms and 
waste corners of your plantations, that would bring 
money if sent to market; and that is red pepper, the 
grinding of which you can do in your own mills, and 
pack in your empty flower barrels — try it. You can get 
the willow from New-York; I don't know in particular 
from where, but I will venture to name my friend, 
Charles Downing, nurseryman, Newburgh, whose honesty 
I have great faith in. 

And begin in time to husband your resources for fenc- 
ing. Don't pursue a course that I witnessed a few days 
ago. Deadening good rail trees within the proposed 
enclosure to stand and rot down, and going outside among 
the standing timber and cutting down the trees for 
rails, and for the reason that by so doing it saved the 
trouble of clearing up the tops within the field — those out- 
side could lay undisturbed to rot. 

Leaving Captain Eggleston on the 18th, the first plan- 


tation I passed was one that once had been a very fine 
one, of comparative level and rich soil, now in utter 
ruins: cause — debt, law and taxes. Fences, buildings 
and land all in ruins ; the former rotted and fallen down, 
and the latter gullied away. In the midst of all this desola- 
tion, an ancient mound reared its lofty head, looking still 
more the lonely monument of an extinguished race than 
it would when met upon the wild waste where civilization 
had not yet set its more enduring mark. Even here upon 
this monument the hand of the white man had been, and 
exposed to view the interior, "full of dead men's bones." 

After passing Lexington, the county seat of Holmes, 
which is rather a pleasant-looking town, we begin to leave 
the hilly country, and find one, though of the same 
kind of soil, much more level, and showing more good 
farms, upon several of which I saw large forces busy 
planting corn. Cotton seed is much used for manuring 
corn, sometimes spread broadcast and sometimes put in 
the drill with the seed, which is generally planted in drills 
and covered with the plow. 

From a Mr. Adams, whose hospitality I partook of this 
night, I learned that hot ashes are a very effectual remedy 
for what is generally called "the damps" in wells. They 
appear to absorb and neutralize the gas — so he says. It 
is easily tried. Mr. A. is a great economist of manure, 
and plows his land upon the level system, but without 
ditches, which Captain Eggleston says, upon side hills 
is worse than straight up and down. Mr. Adams' land 
is, however, comparatively level. 

February 19th, I passed through the town of Benton, 
the county seat of Yazoo, and which is so superior to its 
namesake in Missouri, both in appearance and character 
of its inhabitants, that one or the other ought to change 
its name, and principally though for the reason that 
papers directed to one often get astray to the other. I 
regret that the anxiety that I began to feel to reach Log 
Hall, prevented me from making a stop at this town and 
forming more close acquaintance with some of the many 


friends and readers of the Cultivator that in a very 
short visit I found here. It was then my intention to 
return, which circumstances prevented. Although I 
would not make distinctions among friends, yet I may 
be permitted to signalise Mr. Jenkins, the P. M., and 
Wm. Battel, Esq., whom I found most active and anxious 
to encourage the reading of agricultural papers. 

A few miles west of Benton I called upon John M. 
Cullen, who has invented, as he thinks, an improved 
cotton scraper — it being a small piece of steel attached 
to a plow in such a manner that he can "bar off" and 
"scrape" at the same time. I witnessed a trait in Mr. 
Cullen's character that I desire to mention, together with 
the wish that others would do likewise. 

He owns a pond, which is the only watering place for 
teams upon the road for a long distance, and which he 
necessarily had to enclose; but instead of shutting the 
public out, he has gone to considerable expense to pro- 
vide for their accommodation, and has put up a sign of 
"Bethesda," the meaning of which Bible readers will 

But let us go on with our wonders. To-day I first 
met with the "Spanish moss" regions, which, contrary 
to the opinion entertained by many, that it only grows 
upon trees in swamps, is found equally abundant upon 
the hills. I don't know that it shows any preference in 
the kind of tree it grows upon, for it is not a parasite; 
that is, so far as I could observe, it appears to have no 
connection with the tree, but hangs loosely upon the 
limbs, sometimes hanging down two or three feet. Its 
color is silvery grey, and when all the trees in the forest 
are thickly covered, it gives a curious appearance. Al- 
though at the north we esteem it valuable for mattresses, 
etc., it is here but little used. 

This evening I crossed the "Big Black," a stream large 
enough for steamers in high water, but for want of im- 
provement but little used. It runs through a wide, rich, 
overflowable bottom, entirely uncultivated. During two 


days ride I passed land that was not yet clear of timber, 
that had been worn out and thrown out of use. This bot- 
tom land would be more enduring. 

In this region of the state there is great difficulty in 
getting wells, while streams and springs are few and 
subject to dry up ; and though every body ought to have 
cisterns and artificial ponds, yet every body has not, 
and none that I have met with seem to be "fixed," but 
are ready to sell out and hie away to Texas, or some 
other place "further west." 

February 20th I travelled on a very broken and poorly 
cultivated part of Madison and Hinds counties; passed 
several "gone to Texas" plantations, the appearance of 
which give the country a desolate look. 

Enquiring for Dr. Phillips, 1 I found that "a prophet 
is not known in his own country," and that if a man 
wishes to distinguish himself "among some folks," he 
must turn politician, instead of becoming a writer for 
agricultural papers. However, most that I inquired of 
seemed to know that the Doctor lived somewhere, though 
the exact where they could not tell, and for which latter 
piece of ignorance I did not much blame them after I 
knew myself, for a more out of the way place can't well 
be thought of. Knowing that his post-office address was 
"Edwards' Depot," I easily found that, but I cannot say 
that the seven miles from there was so easy to find in the 
night, or so pleasant to drive over; but perseverance 
accomplished the task, and I found the Doctor and his 
family so much more pleasant than the route to his place, 

1 Martin Wilson Philips, born June 17, 1806, Columbia, South 
Carolina; died February 26, 1889. Southern planter, agricultural 
editor, and writer. Made his plantation, "Log Hall," famous 
through his agricultural experiments and writings. Editor of the 
South-Western Farmer, Philips' Southern Farmer, and, for a short 
time, of the Cultivator. Interested in education for women. Dic- 
tionary of American Biography, 14:537-38; "Diary of a Missis- 
sippi Planter, January 1, 1840, to April, 1863" (Franklin L. Riley, 
ed.), in Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, 10:305- 
481 (1909). 


that with the reader's permission who has traveled thus 
far with me, we will tarry a while and partake of heart- 
felt hospitality while resting from the fatigue of our 
thousand miles journey. And now for another short 
month, dear reader, a kind adieu from your old friend 

and fellow traveller. 

Solon Robinson. 

Notes of Travel in the Southwest — No. VIII. 
Visit to Warren county — Vicksburgh — Hill-side culti- 
vation — Orcharding — &c, &c. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:334-35; Nov., 1845] 

[Covering February 21-28, 1845] 
Well, dear reader, are you rested? so am I, and so, 
if you please, we will go ahead again. During a rest of 
four days at Log Hall, the residence of Dr. Phillips, I 
have eaten more vegetables than during the four weeks 
that I have been on the road from St. Louis. 

Leaving the examination and description of the Doc- 
tor's plantation till another day, let us mount our horses 
and take a ride over Warren county, and visit the city 
of the "Walnut Hills," the far-famed town of Vicksburgh. 
This county is one of several similar ones along the 
Mississippi river, and presents a most singular forma- 
tion. It is called hilly, but I think the word side-hills 
would convey a more correct idea. It seems to me, from 
careful examination, to have been a deposit of alluvium 
two or three hundred feet deep. At the bottom, coarse 
gravel, then fine, then sand, and then a deposit some 
ten or twelve feet deep, of fine silex, lime and shells ; now 
a bed of rich marly loam, above which is the fine alumina 
that was held longest in solution. After this deposit had 
lain long enough to form a stratum of limestone under- 
neath, it was apparenty disturbed by an earthquake, 
which left the surface in the most uneven condition of 
any tract of country I have ever seen. I saw many side- 
hills in cultivation lying at an angle of 45 degrees, and 
singular as it may appear, although there is not a level 


farm in the county, until the present season, side-hill 
plows have been almost unknown. Those of Barnaby & 
Mooer's, that I have seen, are entirely too large. If 
they will make a light, one-horse size and send them here, 
they will find a market. The few now in use are the 
tumbling shares. 

If any of my readers are anxious to know how such 
steep hill sides can be cultivated, they must come and 
see — I cannot tell them. There are many farms that do 
not contain a spot of level land large enough to build a 
house upon; but the fertility of the soil is so great and 
so inexhaustible while it remains unwashed away, that 
it has tempted men to overcome difficulties that never 
would have been encountered upon poorer land. Although 
the cultivated hill-sides are much steeper and more num- 
erous than those of Capt. Eggleston, yet I believe the 
same system could be adopted to save this excellent soil 
from utter destruction. Though it does not appear to 
wash away quite so easily as the lighter lands up north, 
yet I find places here gone past all redemption, and 
worthless for every purpose except Bermuda-grass pas- 
tures, over which nothing could range but sheep and 
goats. In fact the whole country looks more suitable 
for a sheep range than for anything else, and in no part 
of the United States could wool be raised to better ad- 
vantage. Of the feed for them I shall speak hereafter, 
and as to the deterioration of the wool on account of 
the climate, I have only one word to say, and that is 
"fudge!" If any one chooses to contend for the contrary, 
I will bring witnesses. 

We left the Doctor's place for our ride on the 25th 
of February, which was so hot that it was very uncom- 
fortable. On account of the high water in the Chitta- 
loosa, the Indian name for the "Big Black," and a much 
better one, to my notion, we had to go a round about way. 
We passed during the day, in our twenty miles ride to 
Vicksburgh, some very good plantations, and as is almost 
universal in the state, all well fenced, and but very few 


good dwellings. The cause, I have heretofore spoken of 
— difficulty of getting lumber — mill streams are among 
the things wanted. 

Vicksburgh is built on the face of a bluff that rises 
from the river 200 or 300 feet high, and which is broken 
into sundry other bluffs and ravines, and these are mul- 
tiplied by lesser ones wherever the water can get a chance 
to gully out the soft friable soil. The town contains a 
very quiet and peaceable set of order-loving inhabitants 
notwithstanding the bad name that they got a few years 
ago, by a very summary way of ridding themselves of a 
pack of gamblers, robbers, and murderers. It is a place 
of considerable business, though not half as much as it 
was. The railroad from here to Jackson cuts off a good 
deal of trade. The town is situated at the bottom of a 
great bend of the river, and as there is no high land 
on the opposite side, fears have long been entertained that 
the everchanging stream might make a "cut-off' across 
the narrow part of the bend, and thus leave the town 
"alone in its glory." Greater changes than this have 
taken place. "The Walnut Hills" settlement and fort, 
near which the present town is built, has an ancient and 
historical name. It was settled by the old French ex- 

About dark we left town with the intention of riding 
out to a friend's house, about four or five miles — Missis- 
sippi miles, and over Mississippi roads, and through, I 
can't tell how many, Mississippi gates — more than we 
were able to find by negro directions, in a dark night, 
till near midnight. Late as it was, we were met at the 
gate in southern style — a guest never thinking of enter- 
ing the house without this little ceremony. 

Before pushing ourselves off in the morning, we took 
a stroll over the farm, and the greatest curiosity wit- 
nessed was the possibility of raising a crop upon such 
a wonderful uneven surface. Among the small curiosi- 
ties was an alder tree eight inches in diameter, and a 
sumach fifteen inches in diameter. And I was assured 


that this latter was used abundantly on the Yazoo river 
for rail timber. It grows tall and straight. I visited 
upon this place a heavy cane-brake. If it is thought 
by any of my readers that cane only grows upon low, 
wet land, let them think more correctly. All these hill- 
sides were originally covered with an immense growth 
of cane, now fast disappearing from the country. It 
grows so thick upon the ground as to make it difficult 
to penetrate. I was unable to learn the period of time 
it requires to come to maturity, or whether there is any 
certain time. A few years ago, I think in 1830, nearly 
all the cane in this part of the country seeded. It then 
dies. The seed bears a slight resemblance to oats, and is 
about as nutritive. All kinds of stock are fond of young 
cane, and it is by the constant cropping that it is so 
rapidly destroyed. Its want of durability renders it of 
little value, though it is often used to make drying scaf- 
folds for cotton. But all scaffolds except folding ones, 
are nothing but a makeshift. 

The next place that I shall take notice of, is that of 
R. Y. Rogers, 1 five miles from Vicksburgh, and from 
whom we met a most hearty welcome, and enjoyed a 
pleasant night visit. Mr. Rogers is one of the best 
farmers in the state — that is, upon a small scale, and 
that he does not raise a pound of cotton, affects not the 
truth of the assertion. For reduced by shipwrecks and 
other misfortunes from an abundant competency, to one 
pair of hands, he did not hesitate to use them. I ven- 
ture to say that with his two or three negroes, and mar- 
ket-cart, which carries every thing he raises to Vicks- 
burgh market, he makes more clear cash than some 
planters do with 200 or 300 negroes. It will be recol- 
lected that 20 to 30 bushels of corn per acre is about the 
average yield here; but Mr. Rogers has succeeded in 
raising 90 bushels per acre on his steep side-hills. He 
however turns his attention chiefly to marketable vege- 

1 R. Y. Rogers, contributor to the agricultural reports of the 
Patent Office. 


tables, and having but little competition, he reaps the 
benefit. I saw tomatoes in his garden to-day, Feb. 27, 
a foot high. 

Within a short time past, Mr. Rogers has established 
a milk-selling business in town, and reduced the price 
from 40 to 25 cents per gallon. He assured me that it 
used to be sold for two dollars per gallon. After a most 
pleasant visit with this very intelligent gentleman and 
his lovely wife, he accompanied us as far as Col. Heb- 
ron's, 1 where we met Dr. Bryant 2 and several other 
gentlemen, and partook of one of the most sumptuous 
dinners that I have yet seen on my journey. And when 
we take into account the long distance between the house 
and kitchen, which Dr. Phillips and myself computed at 
twenty rods, it appears a still greater wonder how such 
a dinner could have been gotten upon the table in one day. 
This wide separation of the house and kitchen, is only 
an extreme of a very extraordinary fashion. If a similar 
fashion prevailed in Yankee land, we should hear of 
sundry enactments to "encourage the building of rail- 
roads" between the two points. I will just mention that 
among the standing dishes at Col. H.'s dinner, was one 
of his three year old hams. 

Col. H. is earnestly engaged in a system of culture 
that I should like to see more universally prevalent here, 
where it can be followed with such pleasure and profit, 
and for which the lands of Warren county seem so well 
adapted. I allude to orcharding. Col. Hebron, Dr. Phil- 
lips, and several others, are making extensive efforts to 
supply the New-Orleans market, particularly with 
peaches. In a small way, this has already been done at a 
most enormous profit. Raising fruit and cotton will work 
well together; for the great hurry with the cotton crop 
is in picking time, which is long after the fruit season 

1 Colonel John L. Hebron, native of Virginia. Moved to Mis- 
sissippi about 1820. Widely known as the proprietor of the La 
Grange nursery and fruit orchard, containing 11,000 bearing trees. 
Died about 1862. Letter from Vicksburg Public Library. 

2 Nathan Bryant, Bovina, Warren County. Planter. 


has passed. Many planters will not plant fruit trees only 
for their own use; in fact many of them not even that, 
so that the few who do engage largely in the business 
will be in no danger of over supplying the demand, and 
may be assured of ready sales at great profits. Peaches 
in this vicinity ripen the last of May and through June, 
July, and August. What is to hinder supplying all the 
up-river towns with early peaches ? As soon as sufficient 
quantities can be produced to make it an object, arrange- 
ments can be made to put the fruit in Cincinnati market 
in five days from the picking. Of course all nearer 
towns would be supplied, and this too, several weeks 
earlier than the orchards in the immediate vicinity would 
do. Not only peaches can be produced in the greatest 
abundance at such an early day, but various other kinds 
of fruit. I have not the least doubt but that more money 
can be cleared with forty acres of orcharding and four 
hands, than with ten times the quantity of land and labor 
devoted to cotton. Besides the immense profits arising 
from the sale of green fruit, a vast amount may be 
realized from drying it. Every plantation has plenty 
of hands, old and young, that could be devoted to this 
business, which are now worth little or nothing for any 
other purpose at this season of the year. I do not ask 
farmers to abandon their other crops for fruit, but that 
they make it an auxiliary. And I would like to suggest 
to Mississippi wives that if they will put up a few tons 
of their surplus fruits in the form of such rich and most 
beautiful preserves as I have eaten at several of their 
tables, they could be sure of a ready market in New- 
Orleans at 25 cents a pound at least. A nice little sum 
of extra "pin money" might thus be accumulated every 
year, independent of the cotton bales. Will Mississip- 
pians consent to make money at this business of raising 
fruit? If they do not, and that right soon too, I will 
take it upon myself to recommend some of the experi- 
enced fruit growers of the North to go down and do it 
for them. They will have no fear of ill health upon your 



Warren county hill-sides, and will soon show you how 
the thing is done. As for "glutting the market," it may 
do for your children to talk about that — the present gen- 
eration will not live to see it. The market can never be 
glutted nor the culture rendered entirely unprofitable, 
till the price is reduced to ten cents a barrel, and then 
hogs can be fattened on them. Col. Hebron told me he 
realized ten dollars a barrel for peaches last year. 

I cannot urge this subject too strongly upon the atten- 
tion of Warren county citizens — I cannot urge it too 
strongly upon the planters to become farmers in the true 
sense of the word. I cannot urge it too strongly upon 
Warren county farmers to become shepherds and orchard- 
ists if they wish to see their hill-sides descend unim- 
paired in fertility to their children, instead of descend- 
ing to the Gulf of Mexico and the gulf of destruction! 
Orchards, Bermuda grass, and wool, can all grow upon 
the same soil, while soil and owners will continue to grow 
rich. At present, if the owners are enriched, the soil 
is not. 

But there are a good many other things that southern- 
ers might learn economy in. And one of the first things 
to learn is, that out of their own staple we furnish them 
almost every manufactured article, for which they pay 
us for carrying the raw material from the gin and press 
we built for them, done up in our bagging and rope, and 
sewed with our twine and needles, drawn upon our 
waggons by our horses in our harness, over roads made 
with our plows and hoes and spades, to our steamboats, 
and upon that to our ships; not forgetting to let our 
commission merchants have a good share of "skinnage ;" 
And then after manufacturing, to return it in the same 
way to exchange for more of the raw material; by all 
which means we constantly keep a raw spot in your 
feelings; but it is not yet sufficiently "galled" to teach 
you to become home manufacturers — the only healing 
salve that you will ever find to cure the festering sore of 
"such low prices for cotton that planters cannot live by 


it." Would you adopt a more prosperous course? Quit 
planting as you understand it, and become farmers as 
we understand it — raise upon your farm every thing as 
far as possible that you eat, drink, wear, and use, and 
never buy an article of cotton goods except it is of home 
manufacture — that is, manufactured in the country 
where the raw material grows — and never bale your 
cotton in anything but cotton baling made from cotton 
not worth sending to market in any other shape. Get 
up and keep up agricultural associations, and give pre- 
miums to that farmer who shall come the nearest to 
raising everything he consumes, and to him who will 
exhibit the greatest proportion of his negroes clothed in 
plantation manufacture throughout — and above all things 
else, read and support agricultural papers. 

After leaving Col. Hebron's plantation we passed over 
another of those great ulcers upon the face of this rich 
country, a tract of worn out and "thrown out" land, — 
gullied to death — a frequent sight that the traveller can- 
not avoid. Then crossing the railroad at "Bovina," a 
name without a town, but a place that has lately been 
selected for a site for a cotton factory which I hope will 
cause the name long to be remembered — then after the 
fashion of this country, having ridden through sundry 
plantations, and more than sundry gates, and along a 
"bridle path" to a new ferry over the Chittaloosa, and 
through "the swamp," we reached Log Hall, by hard 
riding, just in time to save us the necessity of spending 
the night upon a road I should think might be impassible 
in the dark, and it is next thing to it in day light. But 
this is one of the ways to get to the worthy Doctor's, and 
the others are not much better. So we will not attempt 
to get away again till morning. 

Again adieu, Solon Robinson. 


Matters in Mississippi. 
By Solon Robinson. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 5:114-15; May, 1845] 

[February 22, 1845] 
Messrs. Editors: To you who know of my wander- 
ings, it may not seem very surprising that I date from 
this place, but to some of your readers it may not be 
amiss to assure them in advance, that I am that "same old 
coon" whose communications have so often been dated 
from "Lake C. H. Indiana." And how shall I make this 
communication interesting to my friends up near the 
north pole? Why first I will tell you what farmers are 
doing in this latitude now in this month of February. 
First then, many are busy planting corn! "Planting 
corn!" I think I hear some of you say, while chopping 
a "hole in the ice" to water your team preparatory to 
doing a day's work sledding up wood. "Planting corn!" 
Why where is the fellow, at the equator? Let's have the 
map. Ah! true; Mississippi does run pretty well down 
south, but not quite to the equator. But next, where is 
"Log Hall," where they are planting corn while we are 
having such "nice sleigh rides," and hardly thinking of 
the far off time when we shall be engaged in the same 
occupation ? 

Well my friends, I will tell you all about it, if you will 
wait on me as patiently as nature compels you to do for 
the coming of that time promised to all climes, "seed 
time and harvest." 

"Log Hall," is in Hinds county, near the centre of the 
State north and south, about 20 miles from Vicksburgh, 
and is the residence of Dr. M. H. Phillips, one of the 
editors of a most excellent agricultural paper, the South- 
western Farmer, published at Raymond in the same 
county, and besides, a writer and correspondent of the 
Cultivator and several other agricultural papers, and a 
gentleman who has done more than any other individual 
in the south towards "the improvement of the soil and 
the mind," and is untiring in his efforts "to elevate the 


character and standing of the cultivators of the American 

And he is one of the very few Southern planters who 
ever read or think, or improve upon the same plodding 
system that so generally prevails amongst those that 
never elevate their own minds above a cotton bale and a 
curse upon the low price that that same bale now brings 

But to return to our subject of corn planting, which 
is now, and as I have observed for several days past, has 
been in actual progress in the counties north of this. 
And the weather is much like our most beautiful May, 
warm, dry and sunny, with an occasional thunder- 
shower — but no frost. Peach trees I saw in full bloom a 
week ago, one hundred and fifty miles north of this 
point, which is about latitude 32, or about ten degrees 
south of Chicago. The winter, (in fact they have had 
no winter,) has been a continuation of beautiful sunny 
days. In fact since the date of my last letter, I have not 
had but one stormy day to hinder me from traveling and 
the ground never frozen except a few mornings. The 
roads in this State — which by appearance and descrip- 
tion, are worse when bad, than any thing that ever was 
heard of in the vicinity of Chicago, even — are now very 
fine, excepting always the continual succession of hills 
upon hills, that have knocked all my theory of Mississippi 
being a State of comparatively level land, into "a cocked 
hat," and the said cocked hat into the "middle of next 
week." Besides the alluvial lands upon rivers, I am now 
convinced that there is no level land in the north part of 
the State ; and this hilly land is the most inclined to wash 
and gulley that I ever saw. And the system of cultiva- 
tion generally pursued is of that kind which may properly 
be denominated the "leveling system;" and differs only 
from the system of some politicians, that of "making the 
rich richer and the poor poorer," that in this case it 
makes both the rich and the poor land poorer, and the 
owner poorer than either. 


But I did not intend in this letter to say much about 
cultivation, only as regards time and comparison between 
this climate and ours. 

I stated before that peach trees were in bloom. In 
truth many of them have shed their bloom, and so have 
plumb trees, while many of the early trees are putting 
out leaves — the morus multicalus for instance, (a row 
of them now being in sight,) are full of leaves as big as 

a piece of paper. The swelling buds of the oaks, 

the prevailing timber, show that the forest will soon be 
clothed in green, as it now is in grey, by the super- 
abundance of long flowing silver grey Spanish moss. The 
finest large lettuce grown in the open air I am feasting 
upon every day, and might have been a week ago, only 
that it is forbidden by law in Mississippi (the law of 
indolence,) ever to eat any kind of vegetable matter ex- 
cept "hog and hominy." But of this and much more, 
shall I not write it down in my "notes of travel." 

Plowing is mostly done, if indeed it is not a slander 
upon the name to call that operation ploiving, which 
scratches the ground over about an inch and a half deep, 
with a "sorter of a thing-um-bob" falsely called a plow, 
drawn by another sorter of a thing-um called a horse. 
And here while speaking of plows, let me advise friend 
Pierce to send a fair sample of his Steele plows (with 
the lowest cash price that they can be delivered at 
Vicksburgh,) to Dr. Phillips, who will give them a fair 
trial and report thereon in the Southwestern Farmer, and 
I have no doubt will open a market for the sale of these 
plows greater than he can supply. I would recommend 
friend Gifford also to send one of his Elgin plows. The 
demand for good light two horse plows, is greater in 
Mississippi than anywhere else within my knowledge, 
and in my opinion Illinois can furnish her with plows 
that the world can't beat. At all events let the trial be 
made. Many plow makers have sent samples to Dr. Phil- 
lips for trial, and certainly they cannot be put in better 
hands. And let me here state that the Doctor, as well 


as many other good farmers, does not put his land 
through the scratching operation and call it plowing. 
His standing order is to plaw deep; a short piece of ad- 
vice as applicable and almost as much needed in Illinois 
and Indiana as it is in Mississippi. In fact upon many of 
our wet prairies, we shall have to use subsoil plow before 
we shall be fully successful in raising good crops in wet 

Another evidence of the climate and season here I 
"stop the press" of my lecture upon plowing to answer. 

Dr. Phillips has just brought in several stalks of as- 
paragus 15 and 18 inches in length above the surface of 
the ground. Only think of that, but don't weep, because 
you are not a resident of the "sunny south." For be as- 
sured I can and shall by and bye tell you things about 
this same sunny south that will make you still more con- 
tented to continue to live and enjoy life in our cold and 
snowy, but healthy north. At all events if we do not 
enjoy these early garden vegetables, we have no mus- 
quitoes cousining around our ears in February, and while 
the snow is flying and merry sleigh bells jingling, we do 
not hear the remark from the "gude wife" that some of 
us have, and some editors that I know of ought to have, 
"how bad the flies are getting." 

Instead of the music of the bells, here is the music of 
the birds and bees and frogs; not forgetting the lanbs, 
gamboling over the green pastures of "winter grass," an 
indigenous growth of the country, as valuable and im- 
portant in this latitude as our native prairie grass is to 
us in the north. Indeed we may yet find so formidable 
a rival in the sheep business among the Mississippi 
farmers, that they may "draw the wool over our eyes" 
before many years, but not however until low prices and 
over production has rubbed the cotton out of theirs. 

In truth I have no doubt that sheep will do well here 
and would now be more profitable than the everlasting 
and unchangeable cotton crop, that with some excludes 
almost everything else, even the comforts of life. And 


here let me correct an error that prevails to some extent 
at the north about the luxurious and extravagant man- 
ner of living in this cotton growing region. 

You nor I, Messrs. Editors, never saw a table set in 
our houses for hireling or even a beggar, with so little 
variety of eatables as I have often found in public houses 
and on plantations where negroes were as "plenty as 
blackberries." Instead of palaces, log cabins, that among 
the yankee race would be considered anything but "com- 
fortable," and the living, whew ! let us say no more about 
it. The very thought makes me feel thankful that my 
present resting place is not among that order — else my 
visit would be a short one. Whenever you hear any of 
our northern friends complaining of "hard fare" in a 
new country, beg of them to follow my footsteps to the 
south, and if they don't return to their own homes per- 
fectly cured of grumbling, they are certainly incurable, 
and I shall not undertake to prescribe for their malady 
again. Notwithstanding what I have stated of early 
vegetables and warm winter weather here now, and to 
me the singular appearance of persons going about bare- 
foot and without coats, and as I sit writing in a room 
with windows all open and the family enjoying the cool 
shade of the piazza, I know from what I have seen some 
frosty mornings, that they suffer more with the cold 
than we do in our frozen country. There we are tem- 
pered to the storm — here a chilling blast seems to search 
them to the heart. An atmosphere at 30 degrees seems 
colder than it does with us at zero. And then the heat 
of summer is undoubtedly more severe, certainly harder 
upon the constitution of man than are the rigors of a 
northern winter to the inhabitants of the north. 

I would like to say something to our Abolition friends 
of what I have seen in traveling through Missouri, Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, but it is a subject that 
must be kept out of your columns. But at some con- 
venient time after my return, I should be pleased to "tell 
my experience" before any audience that would be pleased 


to listen to a new tale upon a new subject from your old 

Log Hall, Mississippi, Feb. 22, 1845. 

Notes of Travel in the Southwest — No. IX. 

By Solon Robinson. 

Mississippi — Visit to Mr. North, Ed. S. W. Farmer — 

and Mr. Gibson. 

[Albany Cultivator, n. s. 2:365-66; Dec, 1845'] 

[Covering March 1-4, 1845] 
"There is no rest for the wicked" — and so, as Dr. P. 
and myself both belong to that family, we are off upon 
the morning after you and I, my dear reader, last parted 
company, and our first object is to visit friend North, of 
the South Western Farmer, at Raymond. We found him 
in his office sticking type, for to that was he bred. Would 
you know what manner of man is this southern editor? 
He is perhaps forty years old — six feet high — slim built 
— has a very intellectual face and keen eye — and withal, 
has the organ of benevolence so large that he would 
gladly see all mankind as happy as himself. To say that 
he was pleased to see me, conveys but a faint idea of the 
real enjoyment that my vi