ardin Qjerseyvilk 1982
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
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VOLUME V SPRING 1982 NUMBER 1
Reverend George Moore Comments on Nauvoo,
the Mormons, and Joseph Smith
Donald Q. Cannon
The Triumph of Mobocracy in Hancock County
Annette P. Hampshire
Ellis Parker Butler: Popular Humorist at the
Turn of the Century
Jeffrey J. Folks
Language Variation in the Military Tract
Foreign Ownership of Farmland in Western Illinois
Frank W. Goudy
Notes and Documents
Reviews of Books
Copyright 1982 by Western Illinois University
REVIEWS OF BOOKS
Roske, HIS OWN COUNSEL: THE LIFE
AND TIMES OF LYMAN TRUMBULL 93
By Roger D. Bridges
Primeau, BEYOND SPOON RIVER: THE LEGACY
OF EDGAR LEE MASTERS 94
By James Hurt
Pierce, MOLINE: A PICTORIAL HISTORY 96
By William Roba
Goldstein, MISSISSIPPIAN MORTUARY PRACTICES: 97
A CASE STUDY OF TWO CEMETERIES IN THE
LOWER ILLINOIS VALLEY
By Michael R. Beckes
REVEREND GEORGE MOORE
COMMENTS ON NAUVOO,
THE MORMONS, AND JOSEPH SMITH
Donald Q. Cannon
During the years 1841 to 1845 the Reverend George Moore had
extensive contact with Nauvoo, the Mormons, and Joseph Smith.
Studying his detailed and perceptive diary, one can gain meaningful
insight into the history of the Mormons during their residence at
George Moore (1811-1847), was born May 4, 1811 in Sudbury,
Massachusetts, and completed his public education in the schools
of Concord. Through his Concord boyhood and Harvard education
he established a close relationship with Emerson and Thoreau. In
subsequent years these men corresponded and exchanged ideas on
transcendentalism and other subjects. Following graduation from
Harvard Divinity School, Moore preached in Templeton, North-
hampton, and other Massachusetts towns. Having been ordained as a
Unitarian Minister he made a decision to move to Quincy, Illinois
as a missionary for the S.P.G. (Society for Propagating the Gospel
among Indians and others in North America). At that time, Quincy
was a small, beautifully-situated Mississippi River town composed
primarily of settlers from New England. In that hospitable setting
Reverend Moore became a successful missionary as well as the
pastor of the Unitarian Church. He was an eloquent speaker, he
wrote with a magnificent hand, and he was recognized with Emerson,
Alcott and Thoreau as a brilliant transcendental thinker. Tragically,
his career was cut short when he died of tuberculosis on March
As the foregoing biographical profile indicates, George Moore
was an unusually gifted individual. In consequence of his talents, and
by virtue of his location. Reverend Moore was in an ideal position to
observe and comment on Mormon Nauvoo. Indeed, it is likely that
Moore was one of the most perceptive observers of Later-day Saints
in the nineteenth century. His diary accounts contain information
which is of crucial importance to those who would truly understand
the Nauvoo era of Mormon History.
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
REV. MOORE COMMENTS ON THE MORMONS
During the years 1840-1845, George Moore made several visits
to Nauvoo, Illinois, faithfully recording in his diary the things he
observed. Following a visit to the city on Friday, June 3, 1842, he
Visited the Mormon Temple. The situation is beautiful, command-
ing an extensive view— about a half mile back from the river, on the
bluff— overlooking a large bend of the river— the city of Nauvoo— and a
fine prairie on the other side of the river. Dimensions, about 100 feet
by 70. The basement of this temple is laid— and in the basement is the
baptismal font, supported by 12 oxen. In this I learned that persons are
baptized for the dead, and for restoration to health.
Saw the basement of the "Nauvoo House", on the river bank,
near Jo Smith's house. Dimensions 120 feet by 100, or thereabouts.
This is to be 4 stories high— and of stone. 2
He was fascinated by the Mormon people and their customs.
Concerning a Mormon meeting and those in attendance he wrote:
"I don't know that I ever before saw such a congregation of stolid
faces. ""^ Moore then went on to say that most of the Mormons were
poor and many suffered for lack of the necessities of life.^ The
Minister from Quincy found the Mormon sermons boring, but appar-
ently never tired of writing about them. Concerning the sermons
during one meeting he wrote:
When I entered, one of their number was speaking about the Elder
and younger Son in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He made wretched
work as a Speaker— he hesitated— and what he said amounted to nothing
at all— he did not seem to know himself what he was talking about. But
he soon gave way to another— a man of about 50 years of age— who
spoke for nearly an hour at the top of his voice. There was but little
connexion in what he said. He would run from one subject to another—
just as an old Sailor will tell a long yarn, in which the great essential is
to keep talking. 5
George Moore had heard that the Mormons spoke in tongues and
he was most anxious to hear them practice this ancient custom. In
this desire, however, he was disappointed and had to rely on accounts
given by others.^ If he was disappointed in this interest, however,
he compensated for it by observing other gifts of the spirit such as
the gift of healing. Discussing the conversion of one of his parishion-
ers, Mr. Heywood, Reverend Moore reported on his miraculous
healing: "He then told me he had received that which was satisfac-
tory to himself— that Elder Hyde^ laid hands upon him, 'and prayed
over him, while he was suffering from a severe nervous head-ahce,
and the head-ache departed— and that he believed this was a miracle
wrought upon himself."^ Another Mormon told George Moore how
his withered leg was healed, and went on to describe how his wife's
crooked arm had been straightened.^ Clearly, in the mind of Dr.
Moore, the Latter-day Saints believed in and practiced faith healing.
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Concerning the so-called Mormon peep stone, Reverend Moore
had this to say: "At Nauvoo, they have what is called a 'peep stone,'
and two boys, who are believed to have the power of looking into
this stone, and seeing what people are doing at a distance, and of
discovering stolen and lost property. Many people in Nauvoo have
such implicit faith in this, that they go to see the peep-stone boys
as soon as they lose any thing. But I hear that Joe Smith gives no
countenance to this superstition. "^°
Like other nineteenth-century observers of the Latter-day
Saints, Moore saw parallels between Mormonism and Mohammedan-
ism. For example, he wrote that the Mormons believed in the idea of
an earthly paradise, which was one of Mohammed's great ideas.^^
Rev. Moore also believed the Mormons sought an outward, tangible
evidence of their beliefs, not just an inward spiritual manifestation.
This desire for outward show he observed in the Mormon propensity
for military parades and maneuvers— that is, the war games and
reviews of the Nauvoo Legion. ^^
As George Moore visited Nauvoo and shared the association of
Mormons, he also noted a pragmatic tendency. Because of their
financial difficulty they constantly looked for ways to save money.
Hence, the "strange" practice of performing marriages on the ice-
covered Mississippi. A Mormon Elder would accompany the bride
and groom to a point more than halfway across the river, and there
on the snow-covered ice, unite them in matrimony, thus avoiding
payment for a certificate in the Hancock County Court.^^
While George Moore's comments on Mormon beliefs and customs
are of interest, his most meaningful comments concern the conver-
sion of some of his parishioners to the Mormon faith. A careful
examination of Moore's observations indicates that he thought highly
of the people involved, but could not understand how they could
become Mormons. His comments about Mrs. Case^^ are a good
example of his high regard for her, but also show his disapproval of
her decision to unite with the Mormons:
Tuesday Evening, Sept. 13th (1842)
An event took place, this morning, which has occupied my mind
through the day. Mrs. Case, who is a member of the Episcopal Church,
but who has usually attended my church, was this morning baptized
into the Mormon faith. When I first heard of it, I was very much sur-
prized. And I determined to go at once and see her. I found her at
home— /t/sf returned from the river where she had been immersed by a
Mormon Elder. I conversed with her about the step which she had
taken— told her I thought she would see cause to regret it hereafter-
asked her if she knew anything of the recent disclosures of the corrup-
tions in the Mormon Church. But I found her full in the faith that the
Mormon Church is the true church. Mrs. Case is an excellent woman,
with a heart glowing with charity for all— She has read a good deal,
and is thoughtful and pious. But withal she has a mind easily biased —
REV. MOORE COMMENTS ON THE MORMONS
much taken with novelties— and in her universal charity is apt to excuse
sin, or rather the sinner. She has for some time been reading the book
of Mormon and several of the Mormon publications, and has had a
Mormon woman living with her, or visiting her home. But she has not
intimated to any of her friends, so far as I can learn, that she was
impressed with the truth of the Mormon faith, until last evening, when
she sent word to her sister that she intended to be baptized this morn-
ing and that if she wished to witness the performance of the rite, she
could. Her sister was taken by surprize— was troubled— called to see
her— and tried to dissuade her from her purpose for the present. But
no— she could not wait. It seems as though she must have some distrust
of her own convictions, for she has not consulted with any of her long-
tried friends. When I talked with her about this, she returned the reply
of fanaticism, "I take no counsel of flesh and blood, but of my Father
in heaven." Well, she has taken the step— a very rash one, as I believe—
she has the very best intentions in it, I doubt not— and I look upon her
as still as good as ever. I cannot but look upon her as very credulous—
and as having less judgment, nay less intelligence than I supposed. But
yet I would not say, she is wrong. What she regards in the Mormon
faith as good and pure I have no doubt is so— and placing her own
interpretations upon their views, I suppose she thinks she has received
new light. But she is a good and true woman— and I hope will yet be
guided into the truth, whether she finds it in the Mormon church, or
any other. ^^
When one of his deacons joined The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, Moore expressed similar concerns. That the course
of events troubled him is seen by the fact that his journal entries for
three consecutive days concern this matter. The relevant portions of
those entries follow:
Monday Evening, Dec. 19 (1842)
I little thought, when I was recording some causes of discourage-
ment, last evening, that I should be called upon, today, to record the
apostasy of one of the Deacons of my church. But so it is, as I am told.
He returned, today, from Nauvoo, where he was baptized into the
Mormon faith. This is a most strange delusion. And this step has been
taken by Mr. Heywood in a singular manner. He has surprised all his
friends by it. He has not intimated to any one that he was going to
change his faith. He has not conversed with any, so far as I know, in
whom he has been accustomed heretofore to place confidence. But,
all at once, by a visit to the Mormon City, has been suddenly converted.
I trust that he is sincere in this course, and that his sincerity will ere-
long, bring him back from his error, his delusion.
Tuesday, Dec. 20 (1842)
Called on Mr. Heywood. He told me that he had been baptized
into the Mormon faith. In the course of conversation, he professed
to believe that Joseph Smith is the best and purest being on earth, a
perfect human being, the prophet of the Almighty. I asked him what
evidence he had of this. He said he had seen and conversed with Mr.
Smith, and had heard the testimony of his friends and family who
ought to know him best. I asked for some stronger evidence. He then
told me he had received that which was satisfactory to himself— that
Elder Hyde laid hands upon him, and prayed over him, while he was
suffering from a severe nervous head-ache, and the head-ache departed,
—and that he believed this was a miracle wrought upon himself. I asked
for stronger evidence still. He then told me a story which Elder Hyde
JO WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
had related to him. Elder Hyde was in England, was called in to lay
hands upon, and pray over, a blind boy — he saw no effects fronn his
prayer— immediately left the house— on his arrival in the country, at
St. Louis, he met some individuals who told him the child had been
healed. Elder Hyde says that letters may be procured from England
certifying to this fact. This was the strongest evidence that Mr. Hey-
wood could offer for believing that Joseph Smith is the prophet of
God. I told him I regarded him as perfectly deluded, and that I believed
he would see cause to regret the step he had taken.
Thursday, Dec. 22 (1842)
Called upon Mrs. Heywood. Found her very unhappy in regard to
her husband's course. She said that he never intimated to her that he
had any intention of joining the Mormons. She regards him as a com-
plete dupe of Jo Smith. 16
Reverend Moore's failure or even inability to understand why
his members embraced the Mormon Church is shown in his com-
ments about the death of Mrs. Case.
Sunday, Dec. 17th (1843)
Mrs. Hanah L. Case died today— a most excellent Christian. She
formally worshipped with my Congregation, but more than a year since
united herself with the Mormons, and has remained firm in the faith of
Mormonism ever since. But the name by which she was called mattered
but little; she was a truly Christian woman, and has done much in this
place for the cause of our holy Religion. She was eminent for her
Charity, and her humility, and her deep and fervent piety. She died of
a lingering consumption, fully resigned to her heavenly Father's will.
May he who is the Father of the orphans guide and bless the three sons
Tuesday Evening, Dec. 19th (1843)
Was called upon, this afternoon to take part in the Services at the
funeral of Mrs. Case. I made the prayer, and read a hymn, and Elder
Hyde of the Mormon faith made a very long address about the resurrec-
tion of the body. This address seemed to me a tissue of errors and
absurdities from beginning to end. It was boisterous talk, and had
nothing in it that I could perceive calculated to give comfort to those
that morn. The gentle spirit of Mrs. Case must have been grieved if she
knew aught that was going on."
While he thought Mrs. Case was a good Christian, he clearly believed
she had been deluded by the Mormons. George Moore hoped his
former member found eternal happiness, but he was certainly very
skeptical about her future state.
During his visits to Nauvoo the Unitarian minister had an oppor-
tunity to visit with the prophet Joseph Smith. In his diary, he re-
corded their conversations as well as some character sketches and
physical descriptions of the Mormon Prophet. Moore's first meeting
with Joseph Smith occurred on Friday, June 3, 1842. He recorded
his visit with the Prophet in this manner:
Called on the "Prophet Jo Smith." His carriage was at the door,
and he was about going away, but he received me very kindly, and
asked me into his house. I remained about 10 minutes. He was very
HEV. MOORE COMMENTS ON THE MORMONS 1 1
communicative. We conversed about the golden plates, which he
professes to have dug up and translated into the Book of Mormon.
"Those plates are not now in this country," he said— "they were ex-
hibited to a few at first for the sake of obtaining their testimony-
no others have ever seen them— and they will never again be exhibited."
He showed me some specimens of the heiroglyphics, such as, he says,
were on the gold plates. He asked me if I was a Clergyman— and of what
denomination— and what were the fundamental doctrines of our faith—
on my telling him that we believed in divine Unity- in one God in one
person— he said, we don't agree with you there. We believe in three
Gods, equal in power and glory. There are three personages in heaven,
but those three are not one. I suppose, from what I hear, that Smith
makes it a point not to agree with any one in regard to his religious
opinions, and adapts himself to the person with whom he talks for the
time being ... He expressed a desire to have a long conversation with
me, but he had an engagement, and I was soon going away, so that we
could not have much conversation. Our interview was short, but
Besides commenting on the circumstances surrounding this conver-
sation and Mormon doctrine, the Quincy minister penned a physical
description of the Mormon Prophet. "This 'prophet' is a man of large
frame— tending to corpulency— has blue eyes, light complexion, one
or two of his front teeth gone— he has a rather benevolent expression
of countenance."^^ As he left Joseph Smith's home he noted the
As I came out, I found two large cannon, mounted in his yard.
Can this be a prophet of God, thought I, who must have cannon for a
guard, and must convert all his followers into soldiers— into a "Nauvoo
Legion"— and excite in them a warlike spirit? What a return is this to
Judaism, nay to Judaism, but to barbarism? And yet this imposter (for
I cannot call him any thing else) has his thousands of followers. Nauvoo
contains a population of from 5 to 10,000— being variously estimated—
and the converts to this system, if system it may be called, are coming
in by hundreds. How happens it that an ordinary man by such ordinary
means can exert such an influence and sustain himself? It is strange, it
is passing strange— it is wonderful— and yet so it is. It shows this most
certainly, that there is a great deal of credulity in man. 20
During another visit to Nauvoo, Moore heard the Mormon Prophet
preach. He noted that Joseph Smith made a report to his followers
concerning a trip he had made to Springfield. In the course of his
remarks the Prophet also counseled the Saints to "understand the
words of Scripture just as they read."^^
From the foregoing quotations, it is obvious that Reverend
Moore was impressed by the Prophet, found him to be a likeable,
sociable person, and certainly recognized his influence and leader-
ship ability. Moore was, however, not converted to Joseph Smith's
claims to divine authority. Furthermore, he had serious reservations
concerning the Nauvoo Legion and the military activities of the
Being personally acquainted with Joseph Smith and living just a
few miles down the Mississippi from Nauvoo, the Unitarian minister
12 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
was both an interested and timely observer of the events leading up
to the death of the Prophet. Consequently, on Sunday, June 23,
1844, he made the following entry in his diary:
At the present our whole community is excited in regard to the
Mormons. They have demolished a printing-press in Nauvoo, in viola-
tion of the laws of the States. Joe Smith, the Prophet, was arrested for
his act on a legal process, and was rescued by a writ of habeas corpus
issued by his own municipal Court. The whole community became
excited, armed themselves to support the civil officer in his duty, sent
for the Governor; and now seem determined to carry out the law.
Meantime, Nauvoo has been declared under martial law. The Governor
has arrived— ordered out several regiments of Militia— sent off for arms-
called upon the Mormons to send a Committee, unarmed, to Carthage,
there to be examined by him— the Committee appeared, and the investi-
gation was not satisfactory. Now, I am told, the Governor has sent 12
men to Nauvoo to arrest Joe Smith— and that the Mormons have laid
down their arms. Such are some of the rumors afloat here. Nothing is
talked of but the Nauvoo news. The Military Companies, instead of
attending Church this evening, have had meetings at their armories, and
are expecting to be called out in the morning to march to the seat of
war. I know not what will be the result of this excitement. May God in
his infinite wisdom so rule in the hearts of men as to subdue their evil
and revengeful passions, and to prevent any bloodshed (22
A few days later he wrote this about the death of Joseph Smith
and his brother:
Quincy, Friday Evening, June 28th
The war alarm has sounded through our city. At day-break, on
this morning, the bells were rung and the citizens called out to attend
a meeting at the Court house. The news had come down in the Boat
that Joe Smith and his brother Hyrum had been killed in the prison at
Carthage. Threats had been made by many of the Mormons to destroy
the towns of Carthage and Warsaw, and it was supposed that their
whole body might be infuriated so as to be ready to do anything. This
was stated at the meeting in the Court house. Also, that the Governor
went yesterday to Nauvoo with 60 men to see the Mormons and quiet
them, and to receive the arms of the State in their possession. Fears
were entertained for the safety of the Governor and his guard. It was
immediately determined that a force should be raised to go to the
protection of Warsaw. And at 9 o'clock about 300 troups left on the
Boreas for Warsaw. The Quincy Rifle Company— Quincy Guards (Ger-
man Company) — Irish Volunteers— and a Volunteer Company under
Command of Captain Johnson— all went off amidst much cheering for
"the Constitution and the Laws."
I never before witnessed so much excitement. And I have been
unable to keep quiet in the midst of it. Every thing in the morning
wore a warlike aspect. Even some apprehensions were expressed in
regard to the safety of Quincy. But news has come by boat, this Eve-
ning, that all was quiet at Nauvoo, that they had received the bodies
of the Smiths to bury them, that some of their leaders had advised
them in public speeches to keep quiet, and to make no attack upon
the property or lives of others. They will probably remain at Nauvoo,
and act on the defensive, if attacked.
The attack on Smith was first made, according to the report
which we have received, by Higbee, a seceding Mormon— the guard
of the prison resisted attack, but the mob forced their way into the
prison— and there killed Joe and Hyrum. The prophet fought to the last
REV. MOORE COMMENTS ON THE MORMONS 13
with pistols— rushed to a window in order to jump out— and fell head
long having received a shot in his head. It seems not to have been a
cold-blooded murder on the part of the people of Carthage. I know not
what to think of the matter. It was perfectly astounding when I first
heard of it. I sincerely trust that peace will now be restored. 23
Several things are of interest here. Obviously, Moore and other
non-Mormons were afraid of an attack by the Mormons. He also
called attention to the mobilization of troops to defend the commu-
nities and keep the peace. Moore's description of the assault on
Carthage Jail is similar to the most common accounts. It is interest-
ing, however, to note that he did not blame the people of Carthage
for the murder.
Commenting further on the reasons for the martyrdom. Rever-
end Moore wrote the following:
How truly did Jesus say, "They that take the sword shall perish
by the sword!" Smith has taken up the sword to defend himself— has
ever inculcated the war spirit among his followers— and now behold
the result! A dreadful and appalling result, but still the direct conse-
quence of his military system. If they (the Mormons) had been a peace-
ful sect, and had never used arms as a religious body, they would have
received ample protection in their religion. But how could this be
expected from an lmposter?24
Here, Moore blames the death of Joseph Smith on the Prophet's
military activities. In a sense, the Unitarian minister is suggesting
that the existence of the Nauvoo Legion may have caused the murder
of the Mormon Prophet.
Still interested in the Mormons, Moore continued to observe
them and to record his thoughts in his journal. Three months after
the Prophet's death, he wrote:
A glorious Autumn day. Would that I could say it has been a
glorious day at Church! But, instead of that, the peace of the Sabbath
has been broken by martial music. Soldiers paraded our streets at noon.
Our two independent Companies have again marched to Nauvoo. They
were ordered out by the Governor, and commanded to report them-
selves at Nauvoo on Wednesday next. I know not what to make of this
new move. It is conjectured by some that it is a political movement on
the part of the Governor. The pretence for ordering out the troops is
that the people of Warsaw have invited the people from the neighboring
Counties and from Iowa and Missouri to attend a grand Wolf hunt there
on Friday next, and have also notified the Mormons tfiat tfiey must
leave before ttiat time,— and that this Wolf hunt is a concealed move-
ment by which they intend to drive the Mormons out of the State.
Under this pretence the Governor has called out the troops from several
Counties, and they are now marching towards Nauvoo. What will be
the result of this movement time must determine. I fear that the very
attempt to obviate the difficulty, may bring on some collision. 25
In this entry the Unitarian minister reveals his knowledge of the
so-called "wolf hunts," which were really faintly disguised acts of
violence designed to harass the Mormons and eventually drive them
from the state of Illinois. From his comments it seems apparent that
14 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Moore recognized the true nature of the activities directed against
the Latter-day Saints.
During a visit to the state capitol in Springfield, Reverend Moore
attended a debate over the proposed repeal of the Nauvoo charter.
In his entry for January 1 1, 1845, Moore wrote that he "heard some
sharp shooting in the House upon the Mormon question. "26 a few
days later, while still in Springfield, he noted: "Heard discussion of
the questions whether the Nauvoo charter ought to be repealed, in
the House of Representatives. Mr. Babbitt, 27 a Mormon Representa-
tive, made a most famous speech, containing withal some passages
of considerable power."^ The debate over the repeal of the Nauvoo
Charter, which Moore described, had been going on for some time.
Opponents of the Mormons had tried to repeal the Nauvoo City
Charter even before the death of Joseph Smith, and finally suc-
ceeded in repealing the charter in January, 1845.^
For a five-year period the Quincy minister kept a faithful record
of his encounters with and observations of the Mormons at Nauvoo.
His diary tells us much of the significance concerning those people,
their founder, and the city they built. It is to be regretted that his
life was cut short in 1847. If he had not died then, perhaps George
Moore might have gone on to tell the story of the Latter-day Saints
and Brigham Young. As it is, we are indebted to Reverend Moore for
his comments on Nauvoo, the Mormons, and Joseph Smith.
Memoirs of Members of Tfie Social Circle in Concord, Second Series, (Cambridge:
Riverside Press. 1888), pp. 286-94; Kenneth Walter Cameron, The Transcendentalists and
Minerva (Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1958), II, 457-59; David F. V\l\\cox, Ouincy and
Adams County (Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1919), p. 551.
George Moore Diary, p. 105, George Moore's diary consists of six volumes, covering
the period 1828-1845. They are located at Harvard University Archives and the American
Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Parts of the diaries have been published
by Kenneth W. Cameron in Transcendental Epilogue (Hartford, Conn.: Transcendental
Books, 1965), Volume I. The diary volume covering the period Dec. 27, 1840-May 12, 1845
is the only volume referred to in this study. The original is in the American Antiquarian
Society. The author owns a microfilm copy. Hereafter it will be referred to as Moore Diary.
Moore Diary, p 8
Moore Diary, p. 9. See James B. Allen and Malcom Thorpe, "The Mission of the
Twelve to England, 1840-1841: Mormon Apostles and the Working Classes," BYU
Studies, 15 (1975), 499-526.
^Ibid, pp. 8-9.
Ibid. See Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966), VII, 557. Hereafter referred
to as HC.
Moore Diary, pp. 157-58. Heywood also told Reverend Moore that he had heard
Elder Hyde tell about how he had healed a blind boy in England. This is Joseph L. Hey-
wood. See note 16.
REV. MOORE COMMENTS ON THE MORMONS 15
Moore Diary, p. 179.
Ibid. p. 179. Many nineteenth-century Americans believed in super-natural qualities
associated with so-called peepstones, which were stones used in much the same fashion as
a fortune teller's crystal. Joseph Smith apparently used such a stone when he was employed
by Joseph Stowell, who had hoped to find buried treasures. Some observers have also
associated peepstones with the translation of the Book of Mormon. For further discussion
of peepstones, see Donna H\\\,Joesph Smith: The First Mormon (Garden City, NY: Double-
day, 1977), pp. 65-67, 73-74.
^^bid, p. 64.
Ibid. p. 105-06. For more information on the Nauvoo Legion, see Hamilton Gardner,
"The Nauvoo Legion, 1840-1845: A Unique Military Organ'\zat\on," Journal of the Illinois
State Historical Society, 54 (1951), 181-97.
Moore Diary, p. 175. According to James L. Kimball, Jr., the Mormons did not like
to pay the fee to Hancock County and consequently arranged, eventually, to issue marriage
certificates in Nauvoo. Therefore, any marriages on the ice would have been in the early
period and were also an exception to the rule. Interview with James L. Kimball, Jr., July
Hannah L. Case, born June, 1796 in Connecticut. Member of Quincy Branch. Went
to Utah in 1847.
Moore Diary, pp. 132-33. It should be noted that most of the Mormons who fled
from Missouri came to Quincy. Although Nauvoo became the center of the Church, Quincy
was also a major Mormon settlement in Illinois.
Moore Diary, pp. 157-58. Mr. Hey wood is Joseph L. Heywood. He was born in
Grafton, Worcester County, Massachusetts, August 1, 1815. Heywood moved to Illinois in
1858, eventually locating in Quincy. He joined the Mormon Church in December, 1842.
He served as a trustee of the Church in disposing of Mormon property in Nauvoo, remaining
there until 1844. He moved to Salt Lake City in 1848. Heywood served as bishop and as a
missionary in the LDS Church. He was a U.S. Marshall, and he died in 1910. Apparently
his wife changed her mind and was also converted to Mormonism.
Moore Diary, pp. 241-42
Moore Diary, pp. 105-06. For more information on doctrinal development of such
matters as the Godhead, see: T. Edgar Lyon, "Doctrinal Development of the Church During
the Nauvoo Sojourn, 1839-1846," BYU Studies, 15 (1975); and Van Hale, "The Doctrinal
Impact of the King Follet Discourse," BYU Studies, 18 (1978), 209-25.
Ibid., p. 106. On the night of March 24, 1832, Smith was dragged from his residence
in Hiram, Ohio, by a mob. When the mob tried to force him to take what he believed to be
poison, he broke the vial in his teeth but broke a tooth in the process. Thus, the reference
to a missing tooth. Joseph later had it repaired at the suggestion of John C. Bennett by
Moore Diary, p. 106. In this statement. Reverend Moore reveals his amazement
over Joseph Smith, but nevertheless tells of his essential skepticism toward the Mormon
leader's claims to divine direction.
Ibid., p. 178. For an additional reference to this same concept, see Joseph Fielding
Smith, comp.. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City; Deseret Book, 1974),
Moore Diary, pp. 265-66.
Moore Diary, pp. 266-67.
'^''ibid., pp. 267-68.
Moore Diary, p. 294. For further information on the wolf hunts see HC, VII, 45-47.
^^Ibid., p. 328.
fS WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
^^Almon W. Babbitt, born October, 1813, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, baptized
by 1833, served in Zion's Camp. President of Kirtland Stake in 1841. Arrived in Utah 1848.
Delegate to Congress in 1849. Killed at Ash Hollow, Nebraska, September 7, 1856.
^^Moore Diary, pp. 330-31.
^^David E. Miller and Delia S. Miller, Nauvoo: The City of Joseph (Salt Lake City:
Peregrine Smith, 1974), p. 186.
THE TRIUMPH OF MOBOCRACY IN
HANCOCK COUNTY 1844-1846
Annette P. Hampshire
The story of the Mormon conflict in Illinois has been outlined
many times and serves as a classic example of the arousal of public
hostility against a separatist religious sect. A close study of the pri-
mary sources, particularly the press, enables one to go beyond the
outline and beyond a catalogue of complaints against the Mormons
and an adjudication of them, to catch a glimpse of the social proc-
esses at work in Hancock County, Illinois at that time.^ Many writers
have concentrated their attention on the middle years of the Illinois
period, 1842-1844, dealing with the rise of moral and religious
objections to Mormonism and the events leading to the killing of the
prophet Joseph Smith in Carthage jail.^ It would be a mistake to
leave the analysis of the conflict at 1844 as if the exodus of the
Mormons was somehow the inexorable conclusion to the scenario.
Important social processes were at work after 1844 and this paper
seeks to document one such process, namely the break down of
a workable consensus as to the legitimacy of state authority. By
state authority I refer to the authority of the governor and other
officials duly elected by virtue of the system laid down within the
What is revealed by a return to the texts is that such a decline
was not a series of neat steps beginning with a period of respectful
obedience and ending with anarchical collective violence. The process
was more one of an awkward meandering between the use of legiti-
mate vehicles of social control and use of collective and/or individ-
ualistic violence. This meandering or vacillation in the use of legiti-
mate authority occurred in conjunction with a process of erosion
of consensus as to what indeed was legitimate authority. The vacilla-
tion between "legal" and "extra-legal" means of action was itself
an attempt to test the boundaries of effective legitimate action in the
context of the Mormon question. The growing diversity of interests
and tendered solutions made it more difficult to achieve any new
consensus as to what was both effective and legitimate authority.
18 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
In outlining this process I wish to stress the changing relationship
between the agents of social control and the gentile, or non-Mormon,
population of Hancock County and its environs, rather than the
more often rehearsed relationship between the Mormons and the
gentiles, important though this may be.
The questions posed by the later years of the Mormon conflict
in Illinois, 1844-1846, therefore, are not fully answered by reference
to original causes of the conflict. This is principally because what one
is witnessing is not just a straightforward conflict between Mormon
and gentile but the response of the agents of control, and the citizens
of Hancock County, to a direct challenge to the efficacy of formally
constituted authority. The challenge as posed by the anti-Mormons
was essentially unstable because it was supportable only by the con-
tinued use of intimidating violence. The failure of the state to
enforce its version of legitimate authority in the face of this chal-
lenge, however, led to the rise and triumph of mobocracy— the
temporary supremacy of the mob. It was a mob which sought to be
organized and to define for itself a legitimate basis of authority in
popular support. The vacillation between legal and extra-legal means
of pursuing the conflict may have been necessary to maintain such
popular support. The rationale of the anti-Mormons was that they
were defending the integrity of their community and its institutions
from Mormon dominance. They would, therefore, have to show
some respect for the community's legal institutions when it could
not clearly be shown that they were under Mormon sway.
There are four themes which run through the events of the
period and characterize the trend toward loss of potency of formal
authority."^ First, the authority of the state and its officers was per-
ceived to have lost any credibility as an instrument of impartial
justice. The rhetorical accusation levelled against Governor Thomas
Ford, that he was pro-Mormon, became a self-fulfilling prophecy
as the anti-Mormons stepped up their campaign and Ford intervened
to defend the Mormons. Secondly, in attempting to enforce the
authority of the state, its agents showed themselves to be ineffective
on three fronts. In terms of physical enforcement of state authority.
Ford was unable to overawe the "Wolf-Hunters" of late 1844. In
judicial terms the state was not able to demonstrate impartial
strength in the staging of the trials of the accused assassins of Joseph
and Hyrum Smith. Similarly, in legislative terms, when offering
repeal of the Nauvoo City Charter as a panacea for the conflict, the
state could not enforce its decisions within the Mormon community.
The third of the four themes is the emergent strength of the anti-
Mormons. The anti-Mormons became progressively more effective
in the areas of physical enforcement and the use of the judicial
process for their own ends. They were able both to organize their
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 19
own Structures of enforcement independent of those of the state
and use state structures to the detriment of the goals of state officers.
Fourth, and most crucial, was the growing willingness of the agents
of control to accept the anti-Mormon definition of the situation.
In so doing state officers acknowledged their own weakness and lack
of authority. By allowing the goal of Mormon removal to attain
practical expression the agents of control were admitting that they
either could not or would not defend the Mormon community as
they would other communities within the state. In so doing the
agents of control were also recognizing the power of the anti-
Mormons and conferring at least de facto legitimacy on their organi-
zation and its goal.
Following the storming of Carthage jail and the killing of its
captives, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Governor Ford was faced with
a dilemma. He had to choose between rigorously seeking out those
responsible and thereby risking further unrest, and openly ignoring
due process of law by not intervening. It is evident from Ford's
apologetic delivered before the State Legislature in December, 1844,
that he had little confidence in his ability to proceed decisively.
While he wished to indemnify the honour of the state by arresting
the murderers, he did not think it necessary to proceed with the
full rigor of the law.^ Ford may, however, have been under some
pressure from fellow Democrats to make arrests.^ Even so. Ford
did not act until after the electorate had returned Democratic
and/or pro-Mormon candidates to Congress, to the General Assembly
and to the local offices of County Commissioner, Coroner, and
Sheriff, in the August elections.^ The latter three officers, especially
that of County Commissioner, were vital to the security of those
suspected of the killings, as their incumbents would choose the
grand and petit jurors at any forthcoming trial. There was only one
explicitly anti-Mormon County Commissioner.^ Ford, a Democrat
himself, could now feel confident of some support from local offi-
cers in any attempt he should make to arrest and try those believed
to have been involved in the killings.
Before Ford could make any decisive move, however, the anti-
Mormons, perhaps anticipating that he would shortly attempt to
serve writs, called a "Military Wolf Hunt." The leading anti-Mormons
invited the militia captains of Hancock County, neighboring coun-
ties, and possibly other states, to assemble with their companies
directly for the hunt.^ Ford interpreted the Wolf Hunt as a provoca-
tive, and only thinly disguised, ruse to provide an opportunity for
anti-Mormons to disturb the public peace, destroy property, and take
the lives of citizens, particularly Mormon citizens. He therefore
called out the militia on September 18, 1844.
The anti-Mormon press seized the opportunity to ridicule Ford.
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Governor Thomas Ford. Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Library.
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 21
The initiative was now clearly with them: they could demonstrate
Ford's bad judgment in over-reacting to what they could define as
a routine social event and thereby cast him in the role of provocateur.
The principal anti-Mormon newspaper, the Warsaw Signal, denied
that any handbill inciting Missourians to take part in an extermina-
tion of the Mormons had been circulated^ and went on to ridicule
the Governor for sending two-and-a-half thousand troops to deal
with so few "citizens."^° Others assigned political motives to Ford's
actions, interpreting the militia call as yet another unsubtle demon-
stration of his willingness to protect the Mormons in order to court
the Mormon vote." Ford's humiliation was made that much more
severe by his inability to muster the complement of militia volun-
teers he had called for. Although he called for twenty-five hundred,
he could only muster four hundred and seventy-five.^^ He was even
denied the opportunity to strike a decisive blow against the anti-
Mormons. When his troops, under Hardin and Baker, approached
the anti-Mormon Wolf Hunters, they dispersed. ^-^
Ford marched his troops to Augusta where, according to the
Warsaw Signal, he would not let them talk to the citizens for fear of
their becoming converted by anti-Mormon propaganda. Ford was
portrayed in the press as a man of uncertain temper, a man who
resorted to the use of spies to gain information about the citizens
of Hancock. The Warsaw Signal openly admitted its willingness to
defy the Governor, maintaining that the citizens had every right to
hold an encampment. Ford was so personally unpopular that he was
hung in effigy at Lima, in Adams County. ^"^
Ford was not perceived to be an effective or objective upholder
of justice in the Mormon camp either. The Mormons did not fully
share the gentile view that Ford and his officers were their cham-
pions. While cooperating with the Governor in some respects, they
were apprehensive, sensing his inability to stem the growing tide
of anti-Mormonism. The Church was also faced with the leadership
crisis created by the death of Joseph Smith and the rivalries between
such contenders for the succession as Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon,
and J. J. Strang.
With the dispersal of the would-be Wolf Hunters, Ford was left
with no tangible adversaries. He therefore addressed himself to the
task of arresting those believed to have been involved in the killing
of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. ^^ An earlier attempt had been made
to arrest Thomas Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal, but Sharp had
refused to go with the arresting officer. Ford's present attempt to
arrest the accused served only to demonstrate his lack of command
and the bargaining strength of the accused. Ford had intended to
cross to Missouri to the anti-Mormon encampment there and make
his arrests. One of his officers. Colonel Baker, however, refused to
22 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
join this expedition and encouraged others to do the same. Ford
did not have absolute authority over his officers, and he was very
much aware of this: by virtue of the State Constitution he was
unable to dismiss a militia officerJ^ Baker was confident enough in
his own authority to himself visit the anti-Mormon camp and arrange
terms for the surrender of the accused. While Ford had originally
sought to arrest J. H. Jackson, Thomas Sharp and Levi Williams,
only the latter two surrendered and then only on the understanding
that they would be admitted to bail to await a hearing before the
next term of the Circuit Court at CarthageJ^
The main business to be brought before the October session of
the Court was hearing the cases against the ''Expositor Rioters"^^
and against those accused of killing the Smiths. The members of the
Nauvoo City Council who were charged with the destruction of the
Expositor, their witnesses, and others soon encamped outside Carth-
age. At the same time, a group of Indians moved into the vicinity.
The anti-Mormons immediately accused the Mormons of using the
Indians and their own supporters to overawe the court. A public
meeting of the citizens of Hancock County was convened to con-
sider what action should be taken. The meeting, which both Thomas
Sharp and Levi Williams addressed, resolved to ask Judge Thomas to
adjourn the court as soon as it was ascertained that there was an
armed body of Indians and Mormons in the area. It offered the
explicit challenge to the court that should it fail to adjourn upon
receiving such information, the citizens would deem it their duty
to collect a force to protect themselves.
Ford, anticipating trouble, had given the Mormon Nauvoo Legion
permission to protect the court under the direction of the sheriff.
Such a partisan, and therefore volatile, alliance of governor. Legion
and sheriff against anti-Mormons was not made operational. It did,
however, serve to illustrate Ford's perception of the situation as one
in which the anti-Mormons were the aggressors and in which the state
should and could ally with the Mormons. Ford's lack of impartiality
was made explicit through such actions. Judge Thomas refused to be
intimidated by either side and presided over the Grand Jury, which
indicted nine of those accused of the murder of Joseph Smith and
eleven Mormons accused on the charge of riot arising out of the
destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor. ^^
The integrity of state officers and their ability to impartially
protect the citizens of the state were further impugned by the revela-
tion of the alleged complicity of state officers in the killing of the
Smiths. In late 1844 Senator J. C. Davis was arrested, in Springfield,
by Sheriff Deming. A Select Committee of the Senate, however,
ordered Deming to release Davis, much to the chagrin of the Mormons
who interpreted the act as legislative endorsement of the murder of
MOBOCRACV IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 23
their Prophet. The anti-Mormons also expressed their distrust, inter-
preting the arrest of Davis as an attempt to stifle his activity in the
Senate in connection with the repeal of the Nauvoo City Charter.
It was also reported that Ford feared Davis would encourage invest-
gation into his part in the events leading to the deaths of the Smiths.
There was some controversy in the gentile press over alleged threats
by G. T. M. Davis that those accused of killing the Smiths would
expose Ford's complicity in the affair if Ford went ahead with the
The Legislature was well aware of the anarchy which was devel-
oping in Hancock County and its environs. Repeal of the Nauvoo
City Charter, proposed before, now seemed to offer hope of an
institutional rather than a violent solution. It was hoped that by
depriving the Mormons of their civil and judicial authority, the
legitimacy of which had long been contested by anti-Mormons, their
alleged abuses of such authority would stop and the anti-Mormons
would thereby be appeased. The bill to repeal the charter was intro-
duced into the Senate in December, 1844, was passed by the House
in January 1845, and was approved by the Council of Revision in
the same month.
The Mormon reaction to repeal left both gentiles and officers
of state in little doubt as to the virtual futility of legislative action.
The Mormons considered repeal to be unconstitutional— a depriva-
tion of their basic rights. They therefore continued much as before;
elections for city officers proceeded as usual. On February 3, for
example, all those nominated by the Twelve for municipal office
were elected.^ The Mormons did become more introverted and
defensive vis a vis the gentile world. This extended to resistance to
"gentile law" in the form of "gentile process." In the Nauvoo Neigh-
bor of April 23, 1845, John Taylor advised the people of Nauvoo
to resist the service of civil process for debt. Law was now becoming
a matter of partisan definition: it was either "gentile law" or "Mor-
mon law." Preparations also continued for the physical defence of
Nauvoo. Work on the arsenal in Nauvoo continued, and ammunition
and artillery were brought into the city.
Thus the repeal of the Nauvoo Charter did not inspire any con-
fidence in the effectiveness of the Legislature or its agents. Anti-
Mormon invective against the Legislature in particular and politicians
in general remained as vituperative as ever. Repeal was in no way
seen by the anti-Mormons as a basis for a re-approachment or alliance
between formal authority and themselves. Informal gentile networks
of enforcement were now emerging in competition with formally
constituted authority in the bid to contain Mormon power. The
Warsaw Signal, ever a center of anti-Mormon agitation, had, in late
1844, opened its columns to those who wished to present their
24 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
evidence of instances of Mormon thievery. It provided a nucleus
around which anti-Mormons could sustain a network of communica-
tion. Meetings were frequently held to take stock of the evidence
presented concerning Mormon thievery and to consider strategies
to suppress "the depredations of the Saintly Brotherhood of Nauvoo
. . . ." The citizens of Hancock and Henderson Counties, for example,
met and resolved to form a committee of vigilance to watch the
public road for marauders and deemed it correct to discontinue all
intercourse with the Mormons as they were considered enemies of
the state. ^
As if to test their strength against the agents of control, the anti-
Mormons began a campaign of intimidation against certain individ-
uals. Discrete, covert acts of violence were committed which could
not always be substantiated and the perpetrators rarely detected.
This, as it was probably hoped, would have the effect of discrediting
the agents of control in the eyes of the Mormons and adding weight
to the realization that they could not be protected while they
remained in Hancock County. In February, for example, the Warsaw
Signal reported that the "old citizens" of Pontoosuc had driven
Mormons from an island upon which they were believed to have
stored stolen property.^'* Those non-Mormons who aided the Mor-
mons or their supporters were also subjected to intimidation. An old
citizen called Howd swore an affidavit claiming that he was attacked
by anti-Mormons after supplying corn to Backenstos.^^ General
Deming, at this time Sheriff, noted in his letters of late 1844 and
early 1845 that he was subject to the constant threats of the anti-
Mormons.^^ The attackers for the most part were successful in
preserving their anonymity. How numerous they were is impossible
to say. A gentleman signing himself "Fabius" in the State Register
claimed that the work of intimidation was carried on by a highly
organized but numerically small group of fanatics:
This assassin faction cannot marshall more than 80 men in the
county. Yet by an efficient organisation of lynch committees in the
precincts, secret societies pledged to furnish money and do any act
that these lynch officers shall require, by frauds, arson and threatened
destruction of property they assume an importance and exercise an
influence over many that submit to their arrogance rather than provoke
their enmity. 27
May, 1845 was the date set for the trial of those indicted at the
October hearing. Perhaps because of this and the apparent success of
their tactics so far, the anti-Mormons, in the form of the Carthage
Greys,^ dared to openly threaten Backenstos, who had sat in the
House of Representatives of the State Legislature and had spoken
in favor of retention of the Nauvoo Charter, with violence if he did
not leave the county by a certain time.^ Violence and intimidation
were also attributed to the Mormons. Tales reached the Niles Na-
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 25
Anti-Mormon Leader Thomas Sharp.
26 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
tional Register that a Mr. Madison had been driven from Nauvoo by
ruffians carrying knives.'^^
The anti-Mornnons were clearly rejecting those state officials
whom they believed had been put in office by Mormon votes.
Disrespect and disregard for the powers vested in those offices,
formerly expressed in rhetorical form in the press, were voiced open-
ly in a new defiance of officers' powers of arrest. Due process of law
was disregarded: arrests were swiftly followed by daring rescues and
connived escapes as the protagonists attempted to arrest strategic
members of the "enemy" camp. A man called Eaton, for example,
heralded by the anti-Mormon press as chief of the bogus (i.e. coun-
terfeiting) factory in Nauvoo, was arrested on a warrant issued by the
Governor of Illinois following a requisition by the Governor of New
York. He was later rescued by a gang.-^^ The Mormons also tried to
make arrests, notably that of John Elliott. ^^ Elliott, despite the
protection of the Mormon William Marks, was arrested on February
11, 1845 on the charge of murdering the Smiths. He was brought
before Justices in Nauvoo and committed to Carthage jail to await
the next term of the Circuit Court. The Warsaw Signal took the
opportunity to castigate the proceedings as unjust and pointed out
that one of the prominent witnesses brought against Elliott was
Brackenbury, whose mother was connected with the Mormons.
Brackenbury, who was expected to testify for the prosecution at
the forthcoming trial of those indicted for the killing of Joseph
Smith, was arrested for perjury in March; the Mormons said that
was a ruse to prevent him from giving evidence. With Mormon
protection Brackenbury was able to evade injury at the hands of
the anti-Mormons. Elliott, for his part, managed to escape for a
short while. Walter Bagby, a prominent anti-Mormon, noted in a
letter of March 1845 that there was considerable excitement over
the whole affair and attempts were then being made to secure
Elliott's release on a writ of habeas corpus.'^^ The air of tension
and violence was tightened by the brutal murder of a Mr. Miller
and his son-in-law, Henry Liecy, in Iowa, little more than a week
before the onset of the trial. The culprits were believed to have
been the Hodge (or Hodges) brothers from Nauvoo.^"*
The May court term saw the use by anti-Mormons of both brute
intimidation and partial acceptance of the form and procedure of the
law. More than half the jurors were Mormons, although few leading
Mormons appeared as witnesses. "^^ The defendants were able to
secure their discharge through two main strategems. First, they
overturned the original panel of jurors. The defendants presented
two affidavits charging the county commissioners, the sheriff, and
his deputies with prejudice, consanguinity, and partiality in their
arrangement of the panel of jurors. Judge Young agreed to overturn
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 27
the panel and appoint elisors, or substitute selectors, to choose a
new jury.^^ New jurors were selected with the courtroom full of
armed anti-Mormons, with the inevitable consequence that most of
the new jurors selected were anti-Mormon.^^ The second ploy of the
defense counsel was to impeach the evidence of the major prosecu-
tion witnesses. One such witness, named Daniels, was accused of
accepting money from the Mormons to testify against the defend-
ants.^^ The defense was helped considerably by the prosecuting
counsel, Josiah Lamborn, who reinforced the view of the defense
that the three principal prosecution witnesses, Daniels, Graham, and
Brackenbury, were unreliable. "^°
The Mormons were totally disgusted with the verdict of the
court, which ordered the acquittal of those accused of the murder
of Joseph Smith, and indeed, they had taken little note of the trial
after the original array of jurors had been quashed. '^^ They were now
convinced that the law was no longer an instrument of impartial
justice. For them it was little more than the tool of the anti-
A further blow to the stability of formally constituted authority
was the loss of Deming as Sheriff. Deming became involved in an
argument with Dr. Marshal of Warsaw, the County Clerk, over the
entry of a piece of land following a tax sale. The argument became
violent and Deming shot Marshal, killing him. Deming believed that
the incident had been staged by anti-Mormons. The citizens of Han-
cock were clearly against him, and it was with difficulty that they
restrained themselves from "cutting him to pieces.'"^^ Deming was
indicted for the killing of Marshal, but died before coming to trial.
The elections in August saw the office of Sheriff filled by the
pro-Mormon Backenstos. The old citizens of Hancock were aggrieved
at what they considered to be the continued disenfranchisement of
established gentiles by the alien, authoritarian, theocratic Mormon
"brotherhood" in Nauvoo. The electoral system had failed the
gentile anti-Mormons and stood as a vehicle for the enhancement of
Mormon power and influence in "their" county. On September
15th the anti-Mormons took the direct action of driving out those
pro-Mormon officers who were elected in August. Ethel E. Rose,
Treasurer and Assessor, together with Chauncy Robison, County
Recorder and School Commissioner, were ordered to leave town by
some eight to ten men, and they did."^^
In the face of the evident weakness of the agents of control,
the anti-Mormons were becoming more direct and violent in their
intimidation of Mormons and were seeking less specific justification
for their actions. In September, 1845, an anti-Mormon meeting held
to discuss ways of overcoming Mormon property trustee arrange-
ments, which prevented the execution of legal judgments on Mormon
28 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
property pooled among the Mormons,^^ was fired upon. The attack
was blamed on the Mormons, and as one document indicates, "prepa-
rations were immediately made to take revenge. Accordingly, on
Wednesday night, an attack was made on what is known as Morley's
settlement, in the vicinity, and two or three houses burned . . . .'"^
By Sunday it was estimated that as many as sixty Mormon houses
in various parts of Hancock had been destroyed.'*^ Levi Williams
was believed to have been at the head of the "burners.'"'^
The response of Backenstos to this situation was so dubious and
partisan that it led the governor to declare a state of insurrection and
forced him to intervene. Thus both the citizens and the executive
were impugning the integrity of elected local officers, declaring them
unable to enforce the law they had been elected to uphold or to
abide by it themselves. Backenstos and his men were held responsible
for the deaths of an anti-Mormon, Franklin Worreli,"^^ and Samuel
McBrainey (or McBracking),^ whom Backenstos believed had been
involved in the "burnings." He then swooped upon Carthage with
an armed force. One citizen, Jason H. Sherman, stated in an affi-
davit that Backenstos entered the town with about four hundred
men and placed guards at strategic points to prevent the citizens
from escaping. Also, according to Sherman, he placed a garrison of
some fifty men in the courthouse. ^^ The county was in a virtual
state of occupation. Backenstos issued passes to those whom he
considered to be on legitimate business so that they would be pro-
tected by his posse from molestation by the mob or their spies.^°
The governor ordered a force led by Hardin to intervene. When
Hardin arrived, Backenstos' posse was dismissed, and Hardin ordered
that no armed force of more than four men was to assemble any-
where in the county. Hardin became the immediate source of author-
ity and, as such, attempted to investigate the prima facie causes of
unrest in the area and apprehend the culprits. Hardin and his troops
marched into Nauvoo to search for one Phineas Wilcox, who was
presumed to have been abducted while visiting relatives in the city.
While there Hardin, together with W. B. Warren, Stephen A. Douglas,
and J. A. McDougal, conferred with the leaders of the Mormon
Church concerning the possible removal of the Mormons from the
state. ^^ Brigham Young, as requested, confirmed the Mormon
intention to remove, outlining the details in writing.
The negotiation of the removal of the Mormons by the gover-
nor's agents was highly significant in so far as it demonstrated the
acquiesence of the agents of control in the anti-Mormon goal of
vicinal separation. It also signified the capitulation of the agents of
control— in other words, their withdrawal from the obligation to
protect the Mormons qua citizens of the state. The transfer of
initiative to the anti-Mormons was perhaps symbolized by the
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 29
meeting of the "Nine County Convention" on October 1, 1845, in
Carthage. Representatives from nine counties, excluding Hancock,
which believed that they had a vested interest in the outcome of the
conflict, met to ortanize their response to the situation, quite inde-
pendently of any formal agent of control. Thomas Sharp, in his
manuscript history, emphasized that the gentiles who attended were
non-partisan in their bid for control, both political parties being
represented at the convention. The convention organized itself
into various committees. One committee busied itself with collecting
affidavits from citizens detailing Mormon "outrages" over the past
few years. Another committee under Colonel Singleton of Brown
County put forward a plan for the military organization of gentile
defenses: all those who wished to volunteer to support the proceed-
ings of the convention were to form military companies and report
themselves to a Military Committee at Quincy by November Ist.^^
The convention resolved that while it would endeavor not to hinder
the Mormon exodus, it would stand ready to act in the event of any
breach of the agreement. The assumption of the roles of supervisor
and legitimate defender of gentile citizen interests by the anti-Mor-
mons is epitomized through this convention. The separation of their
fulfillment of these roles from any cooperation or coalition with
formally constituted agents of control is also clear. The anti-Mor-
mons did follow through their publicly expressed right to supervise,
and the convention remained an autonomous form of anti-Mormon
organization. As the spring of 1846, the time of expected Mormon
departure, drew closer, preparations for removal were closely ob-
served by the anti-Mormons. In early April, for example, J. H.
Sherman, A. Hamilton, and S. Comer visited Nauvoo to ascertain the
stage that removal preparations had reached.^
During the winter of 1845-1846 a peace-keeping force was main-
tained in Hancock County under the command of Major William
Warren. Warren's force, amounting to two companies, was, however,
unable to prevent the continuance of covert acts of violence against
individuals. It was becoming both impossible and impolitic to exe-
cute the law with any rigor— impossible in such cases as the shoot-
ing of Edmund Durfee, who was killed while trying to put out the
fire in a Mormon friend's hayrick, which had been started by an
arsonist. Arrests were made but witnesses were extremely difficult
to obtain as many feared that to testify would put their own lives
at risk.^'* The Mormons, finding Warren's force inadequate, made
their own arrangements to patrol "threatened areas" in small com-
panies. The Mormons had become increasingly introverted since
removal had been posed as "the" solution, their prime concerns now
being to execute the sacred duties of completing the Temple and
performing as many Endowment Ceremonies within its walls as
30 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
possible. ^^ Quick and efficient removal of the Mormons was the
main reason why execution of the law was becoming impossible for
reasons of expedience. Warren was in possession of writs against
the Twelve for "treason," but he did not serve them. Similarly, Ford
did not assist the U.S. Marshal to obtain custody of those Mormon
leaders indicted at the December term of the Circuit Court of the
U.S. for the District of Illinois on the charge of counterfeiting the
coin of the United States.^ Each refrained from acting in order not
to detain the Mormon leaders and thereby risk slowing down the
Warren was not, however, without support. There was, during
the winter of 1845-1846, a shift in the alignment of parties to the
conflict. The more moderate anti-Mormons were calling a halt to the
violence, isolating the more extremist wing of anti-Mormon feeling.
A meeting of the citizens of Carthage in November, 1845, for
example, deprecated the burnings and killings, pledged support for
Warren, and proclaimed it the duty of all anti-Mormons to keep the
peace. ^^ Similar calls to refrain from hostilities, at least until June,
were made at meetings in Brown and Henderson counties.^
An entirely new group was also now in formation. As the Mor-
mons sold their property and began the trek West, "new citizens"
moved into Nauvoo with obvious vested interests in defending the
city and their newly acquired property within it. This new group
became an object of harassment by ultra-anti-Mormons. In their
struggle to protect themselves the new citizens did not receive the
full and active support of the governor. Ford was gaining a reputa-
tion for deliberately pursuing a policy of studied inertia. It was re-
ported in the Sangamo Journal of May 7, 1846 that he had written
to the Mormon representative Almon Rabbitt to the effect that
should the Nine County Convention wish to enforce Mormon re-
moval he could do little about it. Indeed, when a force of three to
four hundred anti-Mormons mounted an abortive attack on Nauvoo
in June,^^ the new citizens responded by appointing their own
"Committee of Public Safety," consisting of fifty persons, and re-
solving to appeal to the Nine County Carthage Convention for aid
to restore peace. There was, therefore, a tacit acceptance of the
impotence of the governor and recognition of the effective organiza-
tion, if not the legitimacy, of moderate anti-Mormonism as repre-
sented through the Nine County Convention. Given the irresistible
trend of events, it became increasingly acceptable that the combat-
ants should inevitably and appropriately fight it out between them-
selves outside the framework of established authority and without
the intervention of its agents.
Before the final debacle there was one last attempt to use the
law and its officers to settle a Mormon/anti-Mormon dispute which
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 31
illustrates the complete collapse of "objective," consensual law, and
the presence of two enforcement systems, each separately legitimized
in terms of the vested interests of the respective combatants. Some
Mormons had been harvesting wheat on the farm of a man called
Rice, when they allegedly began behaving badly, taking oats from a
Mr. Lofton. They were summarily whipped and sent back to
Nauvoo.^° Upon their return to the Mormon city, a posse was
mustered which proceeded to the house of Major McAuley, capturing
him and James W. Brattle. The anti-Mormons retaliated by capturing
five Mormons, while a further Mormon posse attempted to even the
score by capturing fifteen additional anti-Mormons.^^ It was firmly
believed that the governor would not intervene.^^ Writs were sworn
out for the arrest of some citizens of Nauvoo who were believed to
have participated in the mutual capture of hostages, principally
Pickett, Clifford and Furness.^ Pickett resisted arrest on the grounds
that to submit would be to place his life in danger. Deputy Sheriff
John Carlin, therefore, called out a posse to take him. Anti-Mormons
began to assemble in support of Carlin, while pro-Mormons main-
tained that Carlin was not legitimately appointed, that he was no
more than an anti-Mormon "regulator" sheriff.^ Judicial chaos was
compounded by the intrusion of Special Constable John C. Bidamon
who attempted to arrest various anti-Mormons who were in armed
array near Green Plains, principally Levi Williams, George Thatcher
and George Bachman.^^
Finally, in desperation, the citizens of Nauvoo applied to Gover-
nor Ford for a major of militia to restore order. Ford, aroused out
of his apathy once again by force of circumstance,^ ordered Major
Parker to Hancock with ten men from Fulton County and authority
to raise volunteers to swell his force. Parker's brief was to ascertain
how many persons in Nauvoo were Mormons, to assist any peace
officer with proper warrants to make arrests, and to protect Nauvoo
against attack. The logic of Parker's position was, therefore, one
aligned against the anti-Mormons rather than one in which he was
an objective and impartial enforcer of the law. Parker duly ordered
those who had assembled under Carlin to disperse. The anti-Mormons
were, however, confident enough and sufficiently well organized
to openly defy Parker. So Carlin resisted and was supported in his
action by some of the citizens of Adams, Hancock, Warren and
Henderson counties who published their disapproval of Parker's
interference, which they considered to be "unwarrantable" and
Clearly the anti-Mormons were now going beyond mere assertion
of legitimacy towards a position in which they felt able to use an
assumed legitimacy as a platform from which they could impugn
the legitimacy of the formal agents of control. The latter acknowl-
32 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
edged the de facto legitimacy of the anti-Mormons when they
entered into negotiations with them with a view to drawing up peace
proposals. Carlin's posse, now swelled to about eight hundred men
and now under the command of James W. Singleton, however, re-
fused to agree to the terms Parker and Singleton negotiated. Single-
ton resigned his command and Thomas Brockman, a Campbellite
preacher from Brown County, took over command of the anti-
Under their new commander the anti-Mormon forces marched to
Nauvoo on September 10th, making their camp about three miles
from the Temple.^ Ford, upon the representation of Mr. Bideman,
had ordered Major Flood, of Adams County, to raise an additional
force to suppress the outbreak. Flood, however, declined to act as
directed because he believed that any force he might be able to raise
for the defences of Nauvoo would be more than matched by the
"rioters." He made an attempt to mediate peace but this failed. He
therefore handed over his authority to the people of Nauvoo, who
elected B. Clifford to command them. Thus came the explicit
acknowledgement by one of Ford's agents that he could do nothing
but capitulate in the face of anticipated popular support for the
After a few days of skirmishing a battle took place on September
12th, For the anti-Mormons this was no riot, nor the action of a
rabble, but an honorable encounter, a significant battle demanding
strategy, dutiful execution, and the pride of service— as George Rock-
well's account of the event shows:
In forming the line of battle on that day, the Warsaw Rifle Com-
pany was divided into two, and deployed out on the right and left to
scan the cornfields and bushes, and prevent the army from falling into
ambush. As 2nd in command of the Company, I had command of the
left wing. We received the first fire of the enemy in a cornfield, and
stood our ground manfully, returned their fire, advanced and drove
them from their position .... The General says we did more execution
than any Company in the field except the artillery. When orders were
given to retire, we were the last on the field and in good order I had the
honor of bringing up the rear."^
The Mormons, new citizens, and the agents of control had lost.
The last Mormons eventually left Hancock County in 1847. "Moboc-
racy" had triumphed over institutional authority. But it was not the
triumph of a moment of spontaneous uprising— a sudden surge of
vengeful revolt. It was the culmination of a process of disillusion-
ment with the agents of control and a fitful transfer of initiative,
efficacy and legitimacy of purpose to the anti-Mormons of Hancock
County and its environs.
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 33
There are many valuable primary sources for this period, particularly the newspapers,
which have not, in the author's opinion, been used to the full. See also the Deming Letters,
the Thomas Sharp and Allied Anti-Mormon Papers, Broadsides in the Chicago State Histori-
cal Society, and the Thomas Bagby Letters.
Many accounts of the Illinois period are contained in biographies of Joseph Smith—
e.g., F. M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 2nd ed. (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1971) and
D. Hill, Joseph Smith, the First Mormon (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 1977). Such
biographies obviously do not cover the last years of the Mormon occupation of Nauvoo in
any detail. Other studies are more concerned with the city of Nauvoo itself, its social and
political organization, and therefore, pay less attention to the gentile population of Hancock
County— e.g., D. E. Miller and D. S. Miller, Nauvoo, the City of Joseph (Salt Lake City:
Peregrine Smith, 1974); R. B. Flanders, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana:
Univ. of Illinois Press, 1965).
These are themes and not stages, becoming stronger or weaker at different times dur-
ing this period and do not in any way necessarily follow each other chronologically.
"Message from the Governor, in reaction to the Disturbances in Hancock County,
Nauvoo Neighbor, 1 Jan. 1845, p. 2, col. 5.
The State Register (Springfield), a pro-Democratic Party newspaper, was at pains to
make excuses for Ford's torpidity. See, for example, "Mormon Affairs," 20 Sept. 1844,
p. 2, col. 2.
See T. Gregg, History of Hancocl< County, Illinois (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman,
1880), p. 450; T. C. Pease, Illinois Election Returns 1818-1848 (Springfield: Illinois State
Historical Library, 1923), pp. 147 and 390, for the election results.
D. H. Oaks and M. S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press,
1975), p. 46.
It is difficult to say with any certainty whether "Wolf Hunt" was a code term for
night riding against Mormons, as R. B. Flanders in his Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi
(Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1965), p. 323 suggests. The Nauvoo Neighbor mentioned an
anti-Mormon hunt of this kind in its February 28, 1844 issue ("Wolf Hunt," p. 2, col. 5.),
although it was not clear who or what was to be hunted. The September encampment
could have been intended as little more than an opportunity for militia companies to get
together and swap military tips. Such gatherings were held in other areas, according to one
correspondent ("N"), of the /l/ro/7 Telegraph: "The Mormons and Gov. Ford," 5 Oct. 1844,
p. 1, cols. 1-2. T. Gregg, in his The Prophet of Palmyra (New York: J. B. Alden, 1890),
pp. 293-94, stated that the September encampment was called for by the officers of several
Rumors were circulating that the anti-Mormons had enlisted the aid of "some thous-
ands of the Missourians" in their allegedly nefarious plans. See "Later," Niles National
Register, 5 Oct. 1844, p. 68, col. 1.
^"^"The Last Humbug," Warsaw Signal, 25 Sept. 1844, p. 2, col. 1.
"The Anti-Mormon War," Sangamo Journal, 26 Sept. 1844, p. 2, cols. 1-2; and
"Further Remarks— the Mormon Difficulties," cols. 2-3. The pro-Ford and anti-Ford presses
spent some time arguing about the exact number of troops Ford had sent to the scene,
respectively trying to diminish or enhance the presumed buffoonery of the event.
See Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ed.
B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1948-1951), VII, 310.
Indeed the Governor had reviewed the Nauvoo Legion in case it should prove necessary to
call it into service as part of a peace keeping force.
See E. Everett, "Reminiscences of the Mormon War in Illinois," lllmois State His-
torical Library Publications, 10, (1906), 184, for an account of the "Wolf Hunt" from the
34 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
point of view of a member of the Quincy Riflemen ("militiamen" mustered by Governor
Ford), and for the statement that some arrangement was made between the protagonists
to avert confrontation.
For Ford's account see Governor Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois (New York:
S. C. Griggs and Co., 1854), pp. 364-65; for the anti-Mormon view see "History of the
Latest Mormon War-Chapter 1," Warsaw Signal, 9 Oct. 1844, p. 2, cols. 1-2, and 16 Oct.
1844, (not headed), p. 2, col. 4.
The anti-Mormons believed that this had been Ford's original aim in calling out the
militia. Ford admitted the truth of this in his History of Illinois, p. 367.
Ford, History of Illinois, p. 366.
See the Thomas Sharp and Allied Anti-Mormon Papers, "Agreement of Counsel,"
[Ms. 4], Western Americana Collection, Yale University; "History of the Latest Mormon
War-Chapter II," Warsaw Signal, 9 Oct. 1844, p. 2, cols. 2-3.
The term "Expositor Rioters" refers to those allegedly involved in the destruction
of the first and only edition of a schismatic anti-Mormon newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor.
See D. H. Oaks, "The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor," Utah Law Review, 9, (1965),
In "Mormon Affairs," the State Register of November 1, 1844, p. 2, col. 2, stated
that eight were indicted on the charge of murdering Joseph Smith, and "seven or eight"
were indicted on the charge of riot arising out of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor.
J. H. Jackson was not indicted for the murder of Joseph Smith.
^^"George T. M. Davis," State Register. 8 Nov. 1844, p. 2, col. 2: "To the Public,"
Alton Telegraph, 26 Oct. 1844, p. 3, cols. 2-3.
See C. M. Thompson, "The Illinois Whigs Before 1846," University of Illinois Studies
in the Social Sciences, 4, (1915), 105-06; "Illinois Legislature," Alton Telegraph, 1 Feb.
1845, p. 3, col. 3.
History of the Church, VII, 370. Legally the Mormons could now only organize
their city under the general law governing the incorporation of towns. This law was clearly
difficult to apply to a large city like Nauvoo, as it stipulated that city limits extend for only
one square mile. Ford could only advise Brigham Young to make a number of incorpora-
tions to cover the extent of Nauvoo. It appears that Young did make some moves to incor-
porate at least part of Nauvoo on this basis. See On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of
Hosea Stout 1844-1861, ed. J. Brooks (Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press, 1964), I. 29;
History of the Church, pp. 399-400.
Public Meeting," Warsaw Signal, 1 Jan. 1845, p. 2, cols. 3-4. The Mormons denied
the allegations and pledged to increase the police force in Nauvoo and to ferret out criminals.
See "Stealing," Nauvoo Neighbor, 9 Jan. 1845, p. 2, col. 4; "The Voice of Nauvoo!" Times
and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1845, pp. 773-75. See also. Letter of Ann Pitchforth to "My Dear
Father & Mother," postmarked April 23, 1845, Special Collections, Brigham Young
The term "old citizens" was used to denote the gentile population of Hancock
County and its environs. It was used in contradistinction to Mormon and pro, or Jack,
Mormon and did not necessarily mean that the persons so described had lived in the area
for a long period.
"From the State Register," Nauvoo Neighbor, 14 May 1845, p. 2, col. 5.
See the M. R. Deming Letters covering this period, Illinois Historical Survey, Univer-
sity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Hancock Affairs," State Register, 24 Apr. 1845, p. 3, col. 3.
The Carthage Greys had been on duty at the jail when the Smiths were killed and
were believed to have been party to the events of that day.
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 35
For an outraged response to this, see "The Carthage Greys," State Register, 11 Apr.
1845, p. 2, col. 5.
"Mormon Troubles," Niles National Register, 24 May 1845, p. 180, col. 3. Niles
National Register was a Maryland paper. There were many stories concerning the alleged
activities of a "whistling and whittling brigade," a band of youths who would surround an
unwelcome visitor to the city of Nauvoo and proceed to whistle and whittle with large
bowie knives until the unwanted guest left the city.
"A Rescue," Sangamo Journal, 16 Jan. 1845, p. 3, col. 4.
John Elliott had attended various anti-Mormon meetings and had previously been
arrested by the Mormons for his alleged role in the kidnapping of a Mormon called Avery.
For details of this arrest see "The Late Arrest," Warsaw Message, 3 Jan. 1844, p. 1, col. 4;
p. 2, col. 1.
Letter of Walter Bagby to "Dear Sister," 9 Mar. 1845, Rogers-Bagby Papers, King
Library, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Three of the Hodge brothers, Amos, William and Stephen, were sought for the
crime. The latter two were indicted, found guilty and eventually hanged. There was some
debate in the press as to whether the Hodges were Mormons. While there is little doubt that
the Hodge family had connections with the Church, there is no direct evidence that the
two brothers who were convicted were members of the Church. See History of the Church,
VI, 149; VII, 627, regarding Abraham Hodge's association with the Church (the father of
the brothers). For Amos Hodge's connection with the Church see History of the Church,
VII, 135. In July another brother, Erwin Hodge, was clubbed and stabbed to death. See
E. Bonney, The Banditti of the Prairies or the Murderer's Doom (Philadelphia: T. B. Peter-
son & Brothers, 1855), especially pp. 27-48.
Many leading Mormons such as Brigham Young remained in hiding to avoid the
service of writs which were reported to be circulation. History of the Church, VII, 408.
Oaks and Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, pp. 101-02, offers the view that such a decision
on the part of Judge Young was unprecedented. Governor Ford in his message to the Illinois
Legislature in December, 1846, maintained that the anti-Mormons were quite entitled to
have the array quashed. See Record of the General Assembly of Hancock County 1839-
1853, Illinois State Archives. The elisors were Thomas H. Owen, a Jack-Mormon, and
William D. Abernethy, an anti-Mormon.
Ford, History of Illinois, pp. 368-69.
See the evidence of Thomas English and C. Gorrell, Manuscript of the Testimony
of the Witnesses in the Joseph Smith Murder Trial, May 19-28, 1845, n.p.. Mormon Collec-
tion, Chicago Historical Society.
Brackenbury and Daniels were later explicitly accused of perjury. See "Communica-
tion," Sangamo Journal, 1 Aug. 1845, p. 2, col. 3. There is some speculation in current
work that Lamborn may have been bribed. See D. Hill, Joseph Smith the First Mormon,
The trial of those accused of the murder of Hyrum Smith, scheduled for June 24th,
was dismissed for want of prosecution.
Letter of Walter Bagby to "Dear William," 2 July 1845, Rogers-Bagby Papers, King
Library, University of Kentucky Libraries. See also Letters of M. R. Deming of 24 June
1845 and 1 July 1845, Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Thomas Shrap, 'Driving Out the Jack Mormons," Manuscript History of the Anti-
Mormon Disturbances in Illinois, n.p.. Western Americana Collection, Yale University.
This meeting was held at a School House near Green Plains. See The History of
Adams County, Illinois (Chicago: Murray, Williamson & Phelps, 1897), p. 113, concerning
the reason for holding the meeting.
36 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Thomas Sharp, Chapter 1. (No title). Manuscript History of the Anti-Mormon Dis-
turbances in Illinois, n.p.. Western Americana Collection, Yale University.
"More Troubles in Hancock," Alton Telegraph, 20 Sept. 1845, p. 2, col. 5. George
Rockwell in a letter of September 23, 1845 gave an estimate of forty to fifty dwellings
destroyed. See Extracts from the Letters of George Rockwell to his Father, Kansas State
Others later sought for their participation were Joseph Harneys, Joseph Lamberth,
Mat(t)hew Hines, Garson Orr, John Howell and Mr. Brackenridge, a lawyer. Their names
appear on a printed form requesting the detention of suspected arsonists, dated October 1,
1845, Mason Brayman Papers, Chicago Historical Society.
Franklin Worrell was hailed as an anti-Mormon martyr and, according to Thomas
Sharp's narrative. Chapter 2 "Murder of Worrell," he was killed whilst investigating the
burning of Mormon property. Worrell had been a member of the Carthage Greys and Ser-
geant of the Guard at Carthage jail when the Smiths were killed. He was related by marriage
to anti-Mormon Thomas Gregg. Backenstos was indicted for the murder of Worrell at the
October term of the Circuit Court was later acquitted at Peoria.
Samuel McBratney was murdered by a posse under the presumed leadership of the
Sheriff and Bishop Miller while passing through Bear Creek Settlement with a party of the
"burners." George Rockwell issued a writ against Backenstos for murder. See Letter of
George Rockwell to his Father, 23 Sept. 1845, Kansas State Historical Society. Also Letter
of J. M. Grout to the Rev. Charles Hall, 1 Dec. 1845, American Home Missionary Society
Collection, Amistad Research Centre, New Orleans.
Affidavit of J. H. Sherman, dated 2 Oct. 1845, in Thomas Sharp, "Printed Matter,"
Manuscript History of the Anti-Mormon Disturbances in Illinois (sheet labelled "8"),
Western Americana Collection, Yale University.
For one example, see "Pass from Backenstos for the safe passage of Mr. Baker,"
dated 23 Sept. 1845, Hardin Collection, Chicago Historical Society.
The question of Mormon removal had been put forward earlier by a Committee
from Quincy, Illinois; and as early as September 9th, 1845 the Council of Fifty had met and
resolved to send out a company of one thousand five hundred men to the Great Salt Lake
Valley. History of the Church, VII, 439.
See Thomas Sharp, "The Convention, Manuscript History of the Anti-Mormon
Disturbances in Illinois, p. 10, Western Americana Collection, Yale University.
"From Hancock County," Sangamo Journal, 30 Apr. 1846, p. 1, col. 6.
See Letter of Richards to Brayman, 18 Nov. 1845, Mason Brayman Papers, Chicago
"Endowments" were ordinances of the Church involving important Temple rituals.
They were associated with purity, power, and priestly authority. They had evolved from
the Kirtland, Ohio, period of Mormonism and were progressively administered to a larger
number of the faithful. Perhaps the most explicit reference to them comes in a Revelation
of January 19, 1841, especially v. 39; see Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124. For other
mentions, see History of the Church, II, pp. 197, 287, 309, and 431; V, p. 412; VI, p. 98;
VII, pp. 479, 541, 556, 567, 570, and 579. The secrecy born of the sacredness of the rituals
led to speculation as to what "really went on." Specifically, whether the ceremonies were
licentious or culled from Masonic ritual. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints believes that the Endowments were not introduced by Joseph Smith but by
See Records relating to the Indictment in Illinois of Brigham Young and other
Apostles of the Mormon Church on charges of Counterfeiting, 1845-1848, Records of the
Solicitor of the Treasury, National Archives, Record Group 206.
MOBOCRACY IN HANCOCK COUNTY 1844- 1846 37
"Proceedings of a Meeting of the Citizens of Carthage," dated 18 Nov. 1845, Mason
Brayman Papers, Chicago Historical Society.
"The Mormons, Alton Telegraph, 2 May 1 846, p. 2, col. 4.
The anti-Mormons maintained that the force they had assembled was for peaceful
purposes to ensure speedy Mormon removal and that the threat of violent action was initi-
ated by Backenstos, subsequent to the anti-Mormons having reached an agreement with the
New Citizens. For three slightly differing accounts of this encounter, see "War in Hancock,"
Sangamo Journal, 14 June 1846 (no title), p. 1, cols. 1-2; "Circular of the New Citizens,"
dated 15 June 1846, Mormon Broadsides, Chicago Historical Society.
"More Difficulties in Hancock," Warsaw Signal Extra, 16 July 1846, p. 1, cols. 1 ff.
Letter of Wesley Williams to "My Dear Son," 1 Aug. 1846, Western Americana
Collection, Yale University.
Both "A Letter from the Governor," Sangamo Journal, 16 July 1846, p. 2, col. 3;
and "Progress of the Insurrection in Hancock!" Hancock Eagle Extra, 13 July 1846, p. 1,
cols. 1 & 2, expressed this belief.
The anti-Mormons may have had a political motive in seeking the arrest of these
three men. "A Deep Game," Warsaw Signal Extra, 31 July 1846, p. 1, col. 1, asserted
that there was some intrigue between them and "certain independent candidates" to gain
the Mormon vote to ensure their return at the forthcoming elections.
' Mob Law in Hancock, ' Hancock Eagle Extra, 18 Aug. 1846, p. 1, cols. 1 & 2.
John C. Bidamon, "Proclamation! To the Citizens of Hancock County," Hancock
Eagle Extra, 20 Aug. 1 846, p. 1 .
Ford in his order to Major Flood had expressed the view that he had hoped he
would never again have to intervene in the affairs of Hancock, but that the present state
of affairs wich such as he would never have anticipated. Ford to Flood, 3 Sept. 1846,
Record of the General Assembly of Hancock County 1839-1853, Illinois State Archives.
"To the Public," undersigned by Citizens of Adams, Hancock, Warren and Brown
counties, dated 19 Aug. 1846, Chicago Historical Society.
"War! War! Battle Fought in Nauvoo," Warsaw Signal Extra, 14 Sept. 1846, p. 1,
col. 2, gave the numerical strength of the combatants as: anti-Mormons around seven hun-
dred men, Nauvoo residents around three to four hundred men.
Letter of George Rockwell to his Father, 20 Sept. 1846, Kansas State Historical
ELLIS PARKER BUTLER:
POPULAR HUMORIST AT THE
TURN OF THE CENTURY
Jeffrey J. Folks
While he is not widely known today, Ellis Parker Butler was a
prolific and successful humorist in the first decades of this century,
publishing hundreds of stories in magazines and numerous booksJ
Changing with the times, Butler's writing is a good barometer of
popular taste— at least with respect to the broad middle class, emerg-
ing with the rapid expansion of the American economy after the
turn of the century. His stories originally appeared in such maga-
zines as Yellow Book, National, Midland Monthly, American and,
later, The Saturday Evening Post.
Born December 5, 1869, in Muscatine, Iowa, on the Mississippi
River, Butler wrote fiction which reflected his midwestern origins.
Despite the fact that he completed only one year of high school,
he was encouraged to write by teachers in Muscatine, where he grew
up. Butler left Iowa in 1897, and two years later established the
Decorative Furnisher magazine in New York. At the same time, he
began publishing stories in popular magazines, which had entered a
period of significant growth in mass readership through the inexpen-
sive formats popularized by McClure's. Writing for this expanding
market, he produced at least thirty-five books, for the most part
collections of short stories and juvenile fiction, between 1900 and
his death in 1937.
Butler can be placed within the literary tradition of nineteenth-
century regional humorists, of which Mark Twain is the most promi-
nent example. Consciously citing Twain as one of his models, Butler
also noted the influence of Bob Burdette (Robert Jones Burdette),
a vastly popular humorist and fellow resident of Iowa who wrote for
the nearby Burlington Hawk-Eye from 1847—1880 and went on to a
career as lecturer and preacher. In Twain and Burdette, Butler found
models who used the small town both as the object of humorous
jibes and as the locus from which to satirize the sophistication of
the modern urban scene. Each of these humorists used standard
devices of nineteenth-century regional humor: rhyming prose para-
ELUS PARKER BUTLER 39
graphs, satire, ridicule of cultural myths, the epigram, local color,
and humorous analogy.^ Butler is distinctive in that he came later,
and found himself in a society in which rural and small-town life was
even more significantly devalued.
So popular was Butler during his lifetime, and so greatly have his
books fallen from favor today, that one might expect to find in
his career some indication of a shift in the popular reading taste
between 1910, when Butler was at the height of his career, and 1940,
when most of his works were out of print. Such a shift, away from
rural and traditional materials and toward urban sophistication, did
occur, and it had an impact on Butler's favorite subject matter,
the small town and rural America. His early stories appeared from
1895—1915, mirroring the tastes of the small, midwestern town of
Muscatine, Iowa, which he had recently left for New York. These
stories deal predominantly with rural or small-town subjects and
express attitudes that are traditional and even folkloric.^ As did
other writers of this period, including Ring Lardner and Bob
Burdette, Butler created humor from a bumpkin's awkward and ill-
handled dealings with sophisticated urbanites. However, since his
sympathies are clearly with the rural hero, Butler causes his main
characters to succeed even in urban environments, demonstrating to
many readers that their rural perspectives and attitudes may still be
superior to the new tide of urbanization.
Butler is perhaps best remembered for his story of 1906, "Pigs
is Pigs." Last reprinted in a Dover edition in 1966 and still in print,
the story relates station attendant Mike Flannery's humorous strug-
gle to communicate through letters with the Interurban Railway
headquarters while guinea pigs multiply in his office. The story's
outcome turns on whether guinea pigs are to be classified and thus
charged as "pigs" or "domestic animals."
"Do as you loike, then!" shouted Flannery, "pay for thim an' take
thim, or don't pay for thim and leave thim be. Rules is rules, Misther
Morehouse, an' Mike Flannery's not goin' to be called down fer
breakin' of thim."
"But, you everlasting stupid idiot!" shouted Mr. Morehouse,
madly shaking a flimsy printed book beneath the agent's nose, "can't
you read it here— in your own plain printed rates? 'Pets, domestic,
Franklin to Westcote, if properly boxed, twenty-five cents each.' " He
threw the book on the counter in disgust. "What more do you want?
Aren't they pets? Aren't they domestic? Aren't they properly boxed?
As Flannery patiently attempts to ascertain the correct rate for
them, the guinea pigs uncooperatively multiply until they occupy
every corner of his small office. The conclusion of this "stretcher"
is the announcement from the Interurban headquarters that "guinea
pigs is pets" and are charged accordingly by the lower rate. The
40 WESTERN IL L INOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
delight which so many readers found in Butler's famous story "Pigs
is Pigs" certainly stems, at least in part, from a nostalgia for the
passing simplicity of small-town life, combined with a vague uneasi-
ness about increasing urbanization. Mike Flannery is a brilliant
comic creation because he epitomizes the transition between rural
and urban America through his comic struggle with literacy, bureauc-
racy, and mechanization in his position as Westcote agent for the
Interurban Express Company.
In this and other stories Mike Flannery appears as the illiterate
Irishman of folklore, falling into difficulty whenever he must com-
municate through writing in his position as express office agent.
For example, Flannery attempts to communicate the increase in
the number of guinea pigs and their expenses in maintenance:
"Audit Dept." he wrote, when he had finished the count, "you
are way off there may be was one hundred and sixty dago pigs once,
but wake up don't be a back number. I've got eight hundred, now shall
I collect for eight hundred or what, how about sixty-four dollars I paid
out for cabbages." It required a great many letters back and forth
before the Audit Department was able to understand why the error
had been made of billing one hundred and sixty instead of eight hun-
dred, and still more time for it to get the meaning of the "cabbages."
He is physically as well as verbally clumbsy, yet Flannery dis-
plays an admirable quality of rebelliousness— particularly in "The
Three Hundred," in Pups and Pies (1927), when confronted by un-
necessary regulations such as the General Orders by which he receives
a Simplified Spelling List of 300 words. Flannery tries to obey
the order to employ the simplified spelling, and as in other instances,
it is his literal interpretation of the order which leads to misunder-
standings. Butler's satire of progressive thinking is implicit in a
number of his stories. In this case the confusion and bad feeling
which are caused by the distribution of a Simplified Spelling List
leads us to conclude that Butler favors convention over "progressive"
usage. The comic structure of the story is that of a clever plan which
turns out to cause more problems than it solves.
Reflecting his Iowa upbringing, Butler's stories projected the
attitudes and, at times, the prejudices of the small town and rural
America of his day, for the appeal of his humor is based on satire
of urban and modern perspectives. While in novels such as Philo
Gubb, Correspondence School Detective (1918) Butler turned his
hand to detective fiction, it is significant that he maintains his
practice of employing protagonists with rural backgrounds. Philo
Gubb is not in any sense a believable detective, as he aspires to be;
rather, he is a character who is designed by his creator to satirize
the conventions of detective fiction as a sophisticated genre with
urban roots. Butler's detective speaks a rural idiom, arrives in the city
from Slocum, Ohio, and most importantly manages to outwit various
ELL/S PARKER BUTLER
Ellis Parker Butler
42 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
urban criminals not because of his skill as a detective but because of
his deceptive innocence and naivete. As with most of his fiction,
Butler's detective novel is deeply rooted in the mind of the rural
traditionalist. His novel demonstrates the triumph of the rural
innocent over the urban culture with which he is threatened.
Similarly, Butler satirizes the impracticality of over-specializa-
tion among the intellectual elite. Philo Gubb at one point encounters
Waldo Emerson Snooks, who relates his story to Philo:
Upon graduation from Harvard, he had sought employment, offer-
ing to furnish entertainment by the evening, reading an essay entitled,
"The Comparative Mentality of Ibsen and Emerson, with Sidelights on
the Effect of Turnip Diet at Brook Farm," but the agency was unable
to procure him any engagements. They happened, however, to receive
a request from Mr. Dorgan, manager of the side show, asking for a
Tasmanian Wild Man, and Mr. Snooks had taken that job. To his own
surprise, he made an excellent Wild Man.^
Once again, the question of literacy or facility with language
arises as a major theme of Butler's work. A written will devolves into
a practical joke as Haddon O'Hara writes one on two sides of a sheet
of paper, leaving his estate to two different heirs. Although it is im-
possible to determine which side was written first, through the work
of Gubb, the estate is awarded to the deserving niece by way of a
third will tacked to the top of a doghouse. Gubb discovers the will
after bumping his head on the inside of the doghouse while searching
for the lost dog. Another appearance of verbal technicality involves
the refusal to pay a debt. Mr. Herr Schreckenheim, a famous tattoo
artist, finds himself unable to collect from two clients whom he has
provided with eagles on the chest— because of the technicality that
the eagles are not provided with claws. As is typical of Butler's
humor, an elaborate explanation is provided as to why the eagles
lack claws. In the second case the client was forced to give up the
claws in a skin graft operation.
While Phi/o Gubb is hardly Butler's finest work, and in fact
demonstrates the anecdotal structure of his attempts at novel-length
material, the book does convey with some precision the author's
typical attitudes toward urban culture. Gubb's encounters with the
transient population of a side-show, representatives of the rootless,
verbally facile mass culture of urban America, demonstrate Butler's
satiric point of view. One senses a fundamental traditionalism behind
the gentle satire of the side-show residents. At one point Philo Gubb
falls in love at first sight with Syrilla Medderbrook, who is working
at the time in a freak show as the Fat Lady. While Philo loves her as
she is— a half ton in weight— Syrilla embarks on a diet in order to
get out of a five-year contract with the show. Syrilla's weight loss
begins gradually, but soon she is losing at an alarming rate. Finally
Syrilla's weight drops to five pounds less than nothing. Yet Gubb
ELLIS PARKER BUTLER
Flannery spent a day herding his charges
through a narrow opening in their
cage so that he might count them.
Illustration from Pigs is Pigs.
44 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
later finds out that Syrilla's weight loss plan is a deception, and that
she has married the Living Skeleton in the freak show. Mr. Medder-
brook has been selling his daughter to Gubb at 2bi per pound of lost
weight, until she was to leave the show and join Gubb.
Although the values of rural and small-town America clearly
stand at the center of Butler's satiric vision, his writing also projects
an ambivalent view of the bumpkin-hero. Philo Gubb's career as a
detective illustrates this ambivalence, for while he is the bungling
detective who is easily misled by urbanites, he is also lucky enough,
and perhaps shrewd enough, to outwit the sophisticated tricksters
he encounters. In several instances his very bungling ignorance is
enough to throw criminals off their guard. Gubb's naivete is also
honesty; his verbal ineptness is physical shrewdness. Butler's defen-
siveness toward rural values results from the certainty that society
was becoming more urbanized. But while he may satirize some
features of urban life, he never seriously questions the underlying
belief in material progress and pragmatism which one connects with
Another point that distinguishes Butler as a rural humorist is the
persistent satire of organizations— particularly those groups which
are representative of modern culture. In The Incubator Baby (1906)
Mrs. Fielding takes the problem of her infant daughter's constant
crying to the local Mother's club, which in return appoints a commit-
tee of four to "direct the growth of Marjorie in mind, body, and
soul."^ Three prominent members of local society are elected to
the committee, while Mrs. Fielding, the child's mother, "was added
at the last moment . . . because the other members of the Mother's
club said they had enough to do to look after their own babies"
Butler frequently adopts the rural humorist's nonchalance to-
ward rigid organization of time. Again in The Incubator Baby, Mrs.
Fielding and her committee adopt a detailed schedule for Marjorie's
growth and activities. The schedule calls for Marjorie to creep in her
ninth month. Believing that the infant is behind schedule, Chiswick,
the child's nurse, encourages the child to begin crawling; but when
Marjorie begins creeping immediately, six weeks ahead of schedule,
Chiswick is forced to retard the child's progress by tying her to the
bed with antiseptic bandages— and chiswick's action earns her a
resolution of thanks from the committee! Such absurd consequences
are the rural humorist's method of satirizing the modern over-
emphasis on exact schedules, especially when such schedules begin
to enforce a mechanical conformity upon what the traditionalist
views as an entirely private sphere of activities.
The Incubator Baby remains today among the more readable
of Butler's stories, although, as with many of his works, it is some-
ELLIS PARKER BUTL ER 45
what dated. For instance, Butler underscored his belief in the tra-
ditional role of women by introducing a sympathetic character
named Miss Vicl<ers, who serves as private secretary for Marjorie.
Miss Vickers is the only woman around the infant who understands
the natural emotional needs of children. Butler describes Miss Vick-
ers' rejection of women's emancipation: "She scoffed at the Higher
Life for Women; she ate candy and avoided as much as possible her
physical good. She refused to be emancipated. She had an idea it
meant something in the way of doing without lacing and wearing
shoes a size too large for one" (p. 58). The rural humorist's scepti-
cism toward change is further voiced by the old-fashioned physician
treating Marjorie. Not only does he tear up the list of rules and the
schedule which the women's committee has prescribed, but he also
orders a "course of good, old-style grandmothering" (p. 1 10).
"Mothering" is also the subject of "Interlude," one of several
interesting stories in The Behind Legs of the 'orse and Other Stories
(1927). It is an analysis of a youth's dependence on maternal pres-
ence in the home. When Anna Miller becomes ill, her husband and son
must prepare dinner for themselves. Their ignorance and clumsiness
in the kitchen are designed to attest to the central role of woman in
the home. After fixing a tray of food for the bedridden mother, the
young Ben prepares for bed by praying for her. In the morning Anna
is up before the men, fixing breakfast. The story is trivial in the
events it narrates, but it goes deeply into the consciousness of the
boy Ben and his feelings of dependence toward his mother.
The psychology of youth is treated far less effectively in "The
Demigod," in which a boy named Donald believes himself to be a
young god. At first he believes he is Orpheus and tests his musical
powers with the jew's-harp. Failing to move various objects, he be-
lieves he is some other kind of god. He tries to halt the rising of the
flooded river. Then slowly the sense of being a god passes away, as he
fails spelling tests and is outdistanced by other boys in athletics. He
feels less than human. When Aunt Mary and Cousin Dorothy visit,
Donald finds that he likes Dorothy, but his shyness gives her the im-
pression that he is mean and doesn't like her. To prove that he does,
he kisses her. With the kiss, he feels at last like a true demigod.
Another story in which literary forms are exposed to light satire
is "Romance," in which Butler begins with a comparison between
romance as it is— where there is always a tense battle between rivals—
and courtship as it takes place in Postville, Iowa, where Susie Berkow
lives. As a rural humorist, Butler seems consciously to reject the
popular culture, or at least the literary, models for romance. Still,
the everyday courtships in Postville are dripping with romance. Thus,
Billy Bell is engaged to Susie Berkow, and he goes through stages
46 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
of being melancholy and jealous. The months of their courtship
are turbulent because Billy is living the romance which will be
forever stifled after marriage. The night before their marriage, as
Billy worries about whether he can afford the honeymoon and set
up housekeeping, romance leaves his mind for good.
In "The Behind Legs of the 'orse," Butler undercuts modernist
pretensions to a purely aesthetic view of art. The story is designed
as a dialogue on the role of art between the narrator— a button
manufacturer named Henry Rodman— and Pierre Rochambeau,
whose "art" consists of playing "the behind legs of the horse." The
unappreciative Rodman fails to find any art in Pierre's act: "The
fore-end of the horse was as funny as a box of monkeys, but I could
not see that the hind legs did anything but follow the front end of
the horse around, as they had to . . . ."^ Pierre asks Henry's wife
Bessie to elope with him to France, where they can together act
the horse. She refuses, and in a film of his act Pierre realizes that he
is not a great artist. He apologizes to Rodman, after learning that
Bessie is his wife. He then returns to France with the intent of study-
ing the horse another ten or twenty years. The criticism implicit
in Butler's story is grounded in the populist belief that an artist is
judged, ultimately, by his effectiveness in direct communication to
a mass audience. Pierre's failure is a ludicrous loss of perspective in
seeing himself as others do, for he assumes that there are those in the
world who appreciate the fine touches of realism he lavishes on
the behind legs of the horse. The irony is that, not only do others
laugh at his pretentions, but he has never been able to see his own
portrayal as the behind legs. It is appropriate that the cinema should
reveal his failure, just as it reveals the effectiveness of George's
broad humor in playing the fore end. (The narrator comments that
the film will do poorly in New York but well outside the city, pre-
sumably because its burlesque humor will appeal to less sophisti-
The ethic of pragmatism in Butler's writing creates peculiar
types, extremes of humanity molded by the ethic of time in which
they were born. In "Silent Joe of Fire Island Beach" we see a
Galahad in the service of facts: "He was a fact-miser. For nearly
twenty years he had been gathering facts, getting hold of what
seemed to be a fact and then asking a thousand questions about it
and testing the answers for truth, discarding what seemed untrue or
doubtful, asking more questions . . . until he had what he believed
was pure gold."^ Silent Joe is but one of numerous "fact-misers"
in Butler's fiction, and what makes them humorous is their lack of
perspective regarding the distinction between human truth and
factual truth. Believing as they do that subjective feelings are unim-
portant, such men are tested in the comedy by those very feelings
ELLIS PARKER BUTLER 47
to which they are most vulnerable. A second comic feature is the
inability of men like Silent Joe to place their facts in any larger
context: to Joe a fact is indisputable and requires no qualification.
Two excellent stores from the collection The Behind Legs of the
'orse and Other Stories (1927) involve elements of storytelling from
the oral tradition. "The Crisis" contains the folklore motif of "the
impossibility of winning an argument with one's wife." Old Sam
Wilkins has built a raft and decided to "ma roon" his wife and the
rest of the world by casting off and living on the two-acre pond
which he built on his farm many years before. His old friend
Nicholas Wilhelm learns that Sam is convinced that there has been
"nothin' but trouble and sin and meanness" since the world started.
The real motive for his behavior is the lecturing he got from his
wife after tracking mud into the house. With the arrival of dinner-
time he smells cornbread cooking and invites Nicholas to dinner.
In "The Reformation of Uncle Billy," several older men, in
the wake of a fervid revival service, vow to reform Uncle Billy of
his habit of telling fish stories, a practice which they realize is Billy's
chief joy in life. The complication is how to reform Billy without
alienating him by telling him he is lying, or without killing him off
(by depriving him of telling stretchers) before he is reformed. Deacon
Abner brings to Billy's attention the special favors he has done him
in the past, and in return he asks Billy to own up that he has caught
not a four-pound bass but no fish at all that day. Reluctantly, Billy
agrees. Billy feels saddened that his friends believe him a liar and
are trying to reform him. He makes his way to the grocery where he
places his sack on the scales and weighs out a four-pound, two-
Another of Butler's finest works, Ki/o (1907), demonstrates his
ability at describing the small-town milieu in fullness of detail.
The pragmatic realism of the nineteenth-century regional humorist
carries into Butler's work as he sets the novel in Clarence, a dwin-
dling town in central Iowa ten miles from the railroad line in Kilo.
After introducing Mrs. Tarbro-Smith, a New York society woman
who has come to gather material for a local color novel, Butler
shrewdly points out that the residents of Clarence are neither quaint
material nor are they appreciative of Mrs. Tarbro-Smith's efforts.
The town's one great reader, Butler points out, is Mrs. Stein, who
reads advertising circulars and the Bible.
The utter lack of aesthetic considerations in new commercial
America is the subject of Butler's first comment on the town of
Kilo. As Eliph Hewitt drives into town for the first time, he con-
siders, "He liked it. It was a real American town, and it looked like
a good business town, because there could be no possible reason for
people building a town on that particular situation unless it was
48 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
for business."^ Butler continues by saying that there was no river,
the town was entirely flat, and it was "as unbeautiful in location as
it was in architecture." The reader nnay smile at the mild satire, but
one should keep in mind that like his bungling hero Hewlitt, Butler
himself liked Kilo and the values it represents: American pragmatism,
productivity, and common sense. We may smile at the lack of sophis-
tication and unaesthetic features, but we are not led to laugh at the
underlying philosophy. Butler's talen lies in his ability to create light
satire, and his facility at conveying the small-town viewpoint with
warmth and appreciation.
Eliph Hewlitt is a humors comic character, since his actions are
predictable according to his humor of following the advice o\ darby's
Encyclopedia of Knowledge— the book which he has sold for many
years. Thus, his courtship of Sally Briggs must follow, in proper
order, the section on "Courtship— How to Win the Affections."
The ending of the novel evolves from the single humor of its pro-
tagonist. Eliph sets out to rescue Miss Sally from having her name
dragged into the press by T. J. Jones, who is ready to print the story
of her defrauding Skinner the butcher by selling lung testers instead
of fire extinguishers. By using darby's Encyclopedia Eliph shows
Skinner how to convert the testers to fire extinguishers. He further
warns editor Jones about libel law, and convinces him not to print
the story about Mayor Stitz's accepting a bribe (on the ground that
this would be contrary to darby's advice concerning courtship— in
this case Jones' courtship of Miss Susan). Thus, by sticking to his
humor— his singleminded faith in darby's Encyclopedia, and in the
larger sense, in the pragmatic belief that a compendium of facts
will provide immediate answers to all human problems— Eliph does
rescue Miss Sally and marry her.
The values of optimism and business pragmatism at the turn
of the century— the Horatio Alger mentality— are humorously pre-
sented in Perkins of Portland (1906) and in other stories. Perkins,
an ad man from Chicago, concocts catchy phrases which sound
good on paper, but which present difficulty in translating into
business success. After devising a slogan for a plaster, Perkins finds
that he must devise a plaster to meet his customers' demands. Using
fly paper with holes cut into it as a plaster, he builds up a trade, and
then sells out. This cycle is repeated with other products, until in
the last scene we see Perkins aboard his yacht.
Perkins illustrates the relationship of Chicago to the surrounding
rural areas. Chicago is the marketing and distribution point, but it
is a city which is still conscious of and molded by the tastes of rural
people. Sherwood Anderson finds much the same relationship later
in the century, but by the 1920's, in Anderson's view, Chicago is
less a center of opportunity and more an oppressive industrialized
ELLIS PARKER BUTLER 49
machine, drawing rural and immigrant peoples into its grasp.
From Chicago Perkins the entrepreneur decides to market a
mystery novel entitled 77?^ Adventure of the Crimson Cord. In his
haste to advertise it, he forgets to acquire the text of the novel.
Without reading Rosa Belle Vincent's submitted manuscript, he
buys it for a thousand dollars (the work is selected from a stack
of manuscripts because it arrived bound in red twine). The manu-
script turns out to be a trashy novel previously published as Lady
Audley's Secretary. After discovering the plagiarism, Perkins acquires
another manuscript— this time from a naive, and presumably more
honest, author, a recent high school graduate from Dillville, Indiana.
Perkins of Portland strings together a series of anecdotes in which
the advertising promoter overcomes the obstacles which arise, in
large measure, from his own huckster mentality. In the "Adven-
tures of the Fifth Street Church" Perkins markets a subdivision in
"Cloverdale" for which he provides on paper for a church on every
street corner along Fifth Street. As the actual demand for lots
skyrockets, Perkins concedes one church lot after another, until
he finally arrives at a decision to "reunite" all the churches into one
Such satire contains the potential for a serious critique of Ameri-
can business ethics, but Butler makes it clear that the primary pur-
pose of his writing is not social criticism but light entertainment.
The artistic failure of Perkins of Portland derives from the fact that
the book establishes no serious theme, while the cleverness of
Perkins' entrepreneurial schemes seems less amusing today than it
must have in Butler's day. His contemporaries might have appreci-
ated "The Adventure in Automobiles," in which the narrator
describes the novel experience of climbing under a broken-down
automobile as the "idiotic sensation of going to bed in public with
my clothes on." On the underside of the automobile he encounters
one of Perkins' "brilliant" advertising ideas— the injunction: "Don't
Swear. Drink Glenguzzle." Even when Perkins turns his attention to
manipulating the drama for advertising purposes, Butler's attitude
remains uncritical end, one suspects, admiring. In the "Adventures
of Princess of Pilliwink" Perkins sells ad space in a theatre produc-
tion but finds his cast striking after they are forced to consume
thirteen different breakfast cereals in one scene. Perkins overcomes
this crisis by having the audience taste the foods at a reception for
the cast after each performance.
None of the stories in Perkins of Portland is distinguished by the
authentic vitality of the rural storyteller which characterizes "Pigs
is Pigs," The Incubator Baby, and such stories as "Bread" and
"Interlude." Perhaps the removal of the story from the rural milieu
accounts for this lack of success (Perkins is not from Portland; he
50 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
operates from Chicago, although he reveals nothing of his back-
ground and communicates no sense of social heritage).
Although an awareness of the hucksterism and complacency of
one level of American business is certainly implicit in Butler's writ-
ing, his humor works more to defuse potential criticism than to satir-
ize business ethics. In "The Great American Pie Company" Mrs.
Deacon and her competitor, Mrs. Doolittle, start pie businesses in
the town of Gloning. The two husbands, Ephraim and Phineas,
who act as deliverymen for their wives' products, meet and decide
to settle a dispute over the Doolittles' practice of underselling
the Deacons in the pie business. Deacon sells good pies for ten cents
apiece, while Doolittle sells poor pies for eight cents, and neither
wants to change her practice. Finally, Phineas suggests they form a
stock company and divide profits on both operations. Then Phineas
discloses a plan to raise prices gradually and eventually monopolize
the pie business in Gloning. The plan grows into a giant vertically
integrated corporation which will own all the bakeries, flour mills,
and fruit farms; the corporation must also corner the cotton-belt
and the timber-belt to assure cotton and timber for its sacks and
barrels. The railroads must be bought up to assure low freight rates,
and foreign competition will be prevented by manipulation of the
import tariff. But then it occurs to the men that the labor unions
might put them out of business and they might even be imprisoned
by the masses, not to mention the difficulty of getting their wives
to approve the plan. Only at the conclusion of the story is it revealed
that neither man has a cent to his name.
Butler published in various formats for popular fiction. His
Beltzville Tales, never published in book form, was serialized in
small-town newspapers during 1910. One of the most incredible
of these tales is the story which appeared on January 17, 1910, a
grotesque story with analogues in oral tradition (the mistreatment
of a corpse). The tale begins with the death of Orone McDooble's
uncle, Hiram, after an automobile passed across him. Before dying,
Hiram has Orone promise never to sit in an automobile, promising
to turn over in his grave if Orone does. Shortly afterward, Orone
finds Hiram mysteriously turned to stone. Shrewdly, Orone pur-
chases a broken-down automobile to sit in while Hiram ("turning
over in his grave") operates his mill and other farm machinery.
Ultimately, however, Orone's greed leads him to place too much
strain on his stone uncle, and it becomes necessary to call in a mason
to mend him. Soon public indignation threatens to run Orone out
of the county, but Hiram's corpse, temporarily unattached to the
mill, begins to revolve and disappears out of sight.
Another of the Beltzville Tales is equally fantastic. A mixture of
grotesque humor and rural common sense, "Clorilla Minch and her
ELLIS PARKER BUTLER 51
Lovers" (February 25, 1910) describes a woman who is becoming
an old maid due to her "ice cold feet." A series of suitors appear,
each with his own solution to the problem of her abnormally cold
Butler achieves his best writing when dealing with the struggling
immigrant or country bumpkin and in detailing his conflicts with
urban society. In "Fleas Will be Fleas" we see Mike Flannery out-
smarting the Professor of Fleas, a sophisticated Frenchman who
attempts to charge Flannery for "flea-slaughter" of his hundred
"educated fleas" (the professor is a failed side-show artist turned
con-man). Flannery outwits the professor by threatening to have
him arrested for importing "valuable" fleas without a tariff on
them. Another tale from Pups and Pigs (1927) turns on the problem
of literacy and education for the immigrant. After a New York archi-
tect recommends two gondolas for the new city park, Mike Toole
is appointed by Mayor Dugan of Jeffersonville to purchase the
"dongolas." Rather than admit that he doesn't know what a "don-
gola" is Toole announces it is a species of goat: " 'Donnegoras was
what we called them in th' ould country— donnegoras from Donne-
gal.' "^° The bulk of the story deals with Toole's attempts to teach
the goats to swim. Finally, the goats are drowned after Toole soaks
them overnight by staking them in the lake. This folly, along with
criticism of the "unnecessary park" from the reform party, leads
to the ejection of the mayor and his cronies from office.
Butler continued to write and publish stories involving rural
settings until the year of his death, yet a significant shift in mood
is evident as one reads the work before and after 1915. The earlier
stories are more folkloric in tone, embodying the rural hero in
activities which display his shrewd common sense and his forth-
right sense of values. After 1915 the bulk of his stories, while still
descriptive of rural life, are nostalgic in tone, implying the loss
of rural culture as a significant alternative to urbanization. The
point of view also shifts in Butler's later stories from the attitude
of the rural hero observing urban life to the urban community's
reaction to the rural outcast. While Butler wrote good fiction during
both periods, the exuberance and outlandish humor of his earlier
work stands out in such stories as "Pigs is Pigs" (1905), "The Refor-
mation of Uncle Billy" (1899), "Fleas Will Be Fleas" (1907), and
"That Pup of Murchison's" (1906). Also evident after 1915 is the
transition Butler made to a more self-conscious literary style, by
writing humorous pieces such as "Poor Old Ellis Parker Is 50 This
Month" (American IVIercury, 1919) and "What Would the Boys
We Were Think of Us Now" (Saturday Evening Post, 1922). In these
his bent for the humorous essay replaces his early stance as rural
52 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Butler modified his treatment of rural subjects considerably
after 1915: the brash, awkward but successful bumpkin is replaced
by the shy, sentimentalized rural hero or heroine, and the theme is
no longer the superiority of rural mores but the rural character
as social outcast. In the book Dorna (1929), for example, a teenage
girl and her father are depicted as surviving by odd jobs and living
in abandoned cottages on the outskirts of a wealthy resort society.
Although the opening chapters of Dorna suggest an upper middle
class setting, the central character of the novel emerges as a shy
outsider to town life. With her father Rasch Bender, Dorna has
arrived in Hillvale, a summer resort community, with her only wish
to " 'live in a town and live like folks'." Living in a squatter's shack
on the edge of town, Dorna steals away to familiarize herself with
polite society; "many times, when the Hillvale girls did not suspect
it, Dorna Bender was watching them and listening to them talk.""
Dorna perceives the differences between herself and the town girls
in terms of their clothes, their speech and "the things they did."
Eventually, both Dorna and her father are incorporated into the
town community, whose polite manners and economic stability
are now viewed as superior to the cultural isolation and physical
discomforts of rural life. The unsophisticated, democratic rural
humor of Butler's early stories has been succeeded by a conformity
to respectable, middle class seriousness. In one scene Dorna's father
is lectured by Mr. Graydon, an editor who works in New York
City: "Camping out is camping out, and I used to enjoy it as much
as the next man when I had time for it, but this is something else.
This is being poverty-stricken, Bender. It's being miserable. It's
living as no respectable American should live."^^ Dorna is not
highly readable today, but it represents an interesting turnabout in
Butler's attitudes, and almost certainly in the attitudes of his fic-
tional audience, which must have outgrown the raw, uncouth, direct
humor of his early writing. Of course, there is also an unintended
irony to Graydon's speech, which moralistically accuses Bender of
not providing adequately for his family, for Dorna \NaiS published in
1929 on the eve of the Great Depression.
Ellis Parker Butler was in a sense an outsider like Dorna. Coming
from the small town of Muscatine, Iowa, relatively uneducated,
and with a modest family background, Butler made his way as a
writer and editor in New York, climbing from rural obscurity to
urban affluence and culture. Butler used his knowledge of rural
America, of its traditional attitudes and its insecurity in the face
of urbanization and change, as the basis of his own transition to
urban status. Looking steadily backwards, Butler continued to
adapt his one subject— small-town and rural America— to the changing
tastes of the popular audience. Today his stories, in Pups and Pies,
ELLIS PA RKER BUTLER 53
Beltzville Tales, The Incubator Baby, and most of all Pigs is Pigs,
provide a record of popular taste during a period in which it was
influenced by the appeal of rural subjects and traditional perspectives.
A convenient listing of Butler's books may be found in Frank Paluke, Iowa Authors
(Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1968), pp. 19-21. Butler's short stories are listed in
F. J. Hannigan, The Standard Index of Short Stories 1900-1914 and in volumes of the
Clarence A. Andrews, A Literary History of Iowa (Iowa City: University of Iowa
Press, 1972), p. 152.
See my article ' Folk Humor in the Stories of Ellis Parker Butler," Tennessee Folk-
lore Society Bulletin, 45 (1979), 79-84. It seems that Butler's work is an attempt to con-
tinue the fertile interchange between folklore and popular culture which Richard Dorson
notes as particularly important in the work of the Southwestern Humorists and the folk
stories employed by Abraham Lincoln. While Dorson is undoubtedly correct in seeing a
rift occurring between folklore and popular culture in the period after the Civil War, Butler
was among the last to employ the rich vein of rural folklore in his storytelling, a fact that
also explains the nostalgic quality of his appeal to a largely urban readership. See Richard
DoT%or\, American Folklore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959), p. 73.
"Pigs is Pigs," in Pigs is Pigs and Other Favorites (1906; Rpt. New York: Dover,
1966), pp. 12-13 Further references in the text are to this edition.
Philo Gubb, Correspondence School Detective (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918),
The Incubator Baby (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906), p. 46. Further references
to the text are to this edition.
"The Behind Legs of the 'orse," in The Behind Legs of the 'orse and Other Stories
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1927), p. 20.
"Silent Joe of Fire Island Beach," in The Behind Legs of the 'orse, p. 1 53.
Kilo (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1907), p. 45.
Pups and Pies (New York: Doubleday, 1927), p. 204. This is a volume of Butler's
earlier stories, previously uncollected.
Dorna. or The Hillvale Affair (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929), p. 46.
^■^Ibid., p. 144.
LANGUAGE VARIATION IN THE
A traveler through the small towns and villages of the Military
Tract will often notice the changing language patterns as he moves
from place to place. People in the Military Tract certainly do not
talk the way they do in Chicago. But, even more surprising, people
in one Military Tract town do not even necessarily talk like those
in another, though the distance may amount to no more than an
hour's drive. An experience like this is merely an informal observa-
tion of the Military Tract's cultural geography, itself a result of the
diverse settlement history of the area. Different parts of the Military
Tract attracted settlers from different parts of the United States
(as well as Europe, though European culture will not be considered
in this article), so that one county may reveal a strong New York
State influence, another Kentucky, and almost all some influence
from Pennsylvania and Ohio. And from these diverse places, the
pioneers brought a diverse language. This essay reviews the settle-
ment patterns of the Military Tract and their relationship to some
abundantly documented spatial patterns of language variation.
Cultural geographers of all disciplinary stripes readily agree that
the human landscape of the United States is far from uniform; all
would further agree that a cultural mapping of the eastern United
States requires more than a simple division into "North" and
"South." Dialect geographer Hans Kurath,^ who in turn has pro-
vided a model for the work of cultural geographers like Wilbur
Zelinsky,^ divides the eastern United States into three major dialect
areas. The North includes New England, New York State, northern
New Jersey, and the northern edge of Pennsylvania. The Midland
includes most of Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as Appalachia and
most of Kentucky and Tennessee. The South includes eastern
Virginia and the Carolinas as well as lowland Georgia, Alabama and
Mississippi. These speech areas are not in themselves monolithic;
coastal New England is obviously different from the rest of the
North; New York City has its own urban dialect; pockets of Midland
LANGUAGE VARIATION IN THE MILITARY TRACT 55
speech appear in northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin.
The Midland, more importantly, is horizontally subdivided: Pennsyl-
vania and regions due west are labelled "North Midland," while
Appalachia and Indiana along with Kentucky and Tennessee are
called "South Midland" (some cultural geographers prefer the term
"Upland South," which will be used hereafter, for the latter region).
Three of these eastern dialect areas or cultural hearths were
sources of early migrations to Illinois and the Military Tract. Upland
Southerners from Kentucky, western Virginia, Tennessee and the
Carolinas were the first group to reach Illinois in large numbers,
occupying at first the Mississippi and Wabash valleys in the southern
one-third of the state after the close of the War of 1812. A Kickapoo
Indian cession in 1819 opened the "Sangamo" country, which lies
within the present borders of Cass, Scott and Morgan counties; dur-
ing the decade from 1820 to 1830, the population of the Sangamo
region increased from a handful to more than 42,000, well over one-
quarter of Illinois' 1830 population. So rapidly did this area fill up
that many of the Upland Southerners crossed the Illinois River into
the Military Tract, where many of them squatted on the bounty
lands. The 1870 census suggests Upland Southern occupation in
Pike, Adams, Fulton, Henderson, Warren, Calhoun, Brown, Schuyler,
McDonough, and Hancock counties. It appears, moreover, that the
heaviest concentration was in the Lamoine Valley counties of Brown,
Schuyler, McDonough and Hancock, where Upland Southerners of
the first and second generations constituted a majority of the popula-
tion at least until 1850.^
Northern migration began after the 1825 opening of the Erie
Canal, connecting interior New York State with the Great Lakes,
where steam navigation began in the early 1830's. The conclusion
of the Black Hawk War in 1832 quelled fears of hostile Indians and
opened northern Illinois and Wisconsin to northern migration.
While Northern settlers were scattered everywhere in the Military
Tract— especially in towns with promising futures'^— the heaviest
concentration to Northern settlement took place in those counties
closest to the Great Lakes migration routes. At the time of the
1870 census, the counties of Henry, Bureau, Stark, Peoria, Warren,
and Knox, for example, showed the heaviest concentrations of
New Yorkers. To some extent, the adage appears true that Yankee
and Southerner avoided one another and did not settle in the same
place:^ the counties in 1870 which had the lowest proportional
population of New Yorkers were Brown and Schuyler, both Upland
The remainder of the American population of the Military Tract
came from older parts of Illinois and what Kurath calls the "North
Midland" region, a Pennsylvania culture and language area which by
56 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
1830 included much of Ohio as well. As the population of these
two states grew and land became less available, a new wave migration
began to reach Illinois, first by way of the Ohio River, later by
direct overland routes like the National Road. The 1870 census
reveals a heavy concentration of Pennsylvanians and Ohioans spread
across central Illinois including every county of the Military Tract.
Those counties in which a predominantly Pennsylvania/Ohio popula-
tion mixed with a relatively small number of Upland Southerners
or Northerners included Mercer, Fulton, Adams, Pike, and Calhoun.
Obviously, the settlement history of the Military Tract reflects
a considerable geographical diversity. And this diverse settlement
history has resulted in a variety of language forms, some of which
set parts of the Military Tract off against each other. This language
variation occurs in three types of phenomena: place name selection,
folk vocabulary, and pronunciation.
No comprehensive systematic survey of past or present place
names in Illinois has yet appeared, although several studies are in
various stages of planning or completion.^ Still, even a survey of
surviving place names on present day maps indicates distinctive
regional influences in different parts of the Military Tract. In the
northern counties are clustered a number of place names reflecting
obvious northeastern origins. Mercer County settlers borrowed New
Boston from Massachusetts; New Windsor in the same county has
a counterpart and probable source in New York state. Henry County
has Geneseo from New York and Cambridge from Massachusetts,
which also lent Neponset and New Bedford to towns in Bureau
County. Two more New York names appear a little farther south,
Elmira in Stark County and Oneida in northern Knox. (Further
investigation is probably necessary before Little Yorl<, in northern
Warren County, can be attributed to New York settlers as well.)
Southern place names begin in southern Knox County, where
Abingdon has counterparts in both Maryland, Virginia and Pennsyl-
vania. Tennessee appears in McDonough County; the same state
also has a Dixon Springs whose name now graces Brown County's
state park. North Carolina apparently contributed /\/Jt. Sterling to
the seat of Brown County and Nebo to Pike. Possible Kentucky
origins may be attributed to Schuyler County's Pleasant View
and Calhoun County's Hardin.
An exception to this pattern is a cluster of northeastern place
names which appears in the extreme southwestern Military Tract.
Here we find Marblehead (Massachusetts), Kinderhood and Rock-
port (New York). Since all three of these towns lie within a few miles
of the Mississippi, it is probable that they reflect a pocket of Yankee
settlement attracted by the commercial possibilities of river trade;
the early population of Quincy, after all, has been discovered to be
LANGUAGE VARIATION IN THE MILITARY TRACT 57
more than one-half Northern, unlike the inland townships to the
east7 Two more Northern place names appearing in the southern
Military Tract appear to be due to the entrepreneurial preeminence
of the Yankees. Plymouth, in Hancock County, was named by its
founder who hailed from Connecticut; Vermont, in southwestern
Fulton County, was named, as one account has it, by a Vermonter
who purchased the right to name the town from the local Ken-
tuckians for a jug of whiskey.^
Folk vocabulary persists in those areas of daily life unaffected
by mass commercial culture and mass education; obviously, the
stronger the latter social forces become in a region, the greater the
erosion of folk vocabulary. An excellent example of the fate of
many items of folk vocabulary is provided by the various regional
terms for what is now marketed everywhere as cottage cheese. A
few generations ago, rural families produced this staple at home by
straining sour milk through a cheese cloth or other porous filter.
While home manufacture persisted, a variety of regional names
developed: curd cheese in Maine and New Hampshire; sour-milk
cheese in coastal New England; clabber cheese in parts of Appalachia.
In the Hudson Valley of New York State, pot cheese derived from
Dutch pot kees. Two regional terms were carried westward into the
Middle West. Dutch cheese became widely used in New York state
and spread westward to Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northern
counties of Illinois and Ohio. From German schmierkas Pennsylvania
adapted smear case, which spread southward through the Shenan-
doah Valley and westward across central Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.^
(As I grew up in Whiteside County, Illinois— settled heavily by both
Pennsylvanians and New York staters— I was aware of both usages:
my paternal grandfather, who came to Illinois from Pennsylvania
during the 1870s, called it smearcase even though he bought it from
the dairy, while a maternal aunt called it Dutch cheese. I have met
no one of my generation who uses either of these terms— everyone
now buys cottage cheese at the supermarket).
We have abundant data on the folk vocabulary of the Military
Tract, where fieldworkers for the Linguistic Atlas of the North
Central States and related projects conducted a number of face-to-
face field interviews over a quarter of a century. Preliminary inter-
views were conducted in 1939 by Harold Allen, who visited Hender-
son, Knox, Henry, and Calhoun counties. During the decade after
World War II, Raven McDavid continued fieldwork in Hancock,
McDonough, and Brown counties, with two more interviews in
Calhoun. Roger Shuy finished fieldwork during the early 1960's
in all of the remaining counties of the Military Tract except Pike
and Adams. The Atlas field interviews are supplemented by 115
multiple choice questionnaires which were sent to pre-selected
58 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Military Tract residents by Shuy and by Helen Carlson, who taught
linguistics courses at Western Illinois University from 1960 to
1965.^° An additional set of interviews in the Military Tract was
conducted for the Dictionary of American Regional English between
1967 and 1970.
Part of the Military Tract's folk vocabulary is uniform through-
out the area. The terms on this first list appear as well in the rest of
central Illinois; most of them can also be traced eastward through
Indiana to Ohio and Pennsylvania. These same items show a contrast
between the Military Tract and northern Illinois: bucket, for ex-
ample, is the usual term for a metal implement used to carry milk
or water. North of Interstate 80, more or less, the most common
term is pail. Asked to supply the missing word in "he threw a
at the dog" (the usual way the Atlas fieldworkers
elicited this response), most Military Tract informants answered
rock; north of the Military Tract, especially in the Rock River
Valley, the most common response was stone. What is usually
called a hard road in the Military Tract is called a pavement, paved
road or cement road in northern Illinois. Fifteen minutes before
the hour is generally given as quarter to or quarter of in northern
Illinois, while quarter till is heard most frequently in the Military
Tract. Most people in the Military Tract have snakefeeder as a folk
term for the dragonfly, while snake doctor or Northern (devil's)
darning needle are more frequent in northern Illinois. Cows in the
Military Tract are called from the pasture with some form of sook!
(sookie, sook-cow), while northern Illinois cows are called with
boss! (co-boss, co-bossiel).
A larger number of words in the folk vocabulary, however, show
a regional contrast within the Military Tract. These terms generally
define the northeastern counties as one speech area and the south-
western ones as another. Northern words appear most frequently in
Mercer, Henry, Bureau, Knox, Stark, and Peoria counties; Southern
words appear most often in Henderson, Hancock, McDonough,
Schuyler, Brown, Pike, and Calhoun counties. Warren, Fulton and
Adams counties appear as transition areas, where either Northern
or Southern words might appear.
This regional contrast within the Military Tract is well illustrated,
as Figure 1 shows, by the terms bard yard and barn lot, both refer-
ring to the fenced area around a barn where animals are penned.
New England and New York State adapted barn yard, which also
spread southward into Pennsylvania. Barn lot, on the other hand,
became the most common term in the Upland South. In Illinois'
Military Tract, barn yard became established usage in Mercer, Henry,
Bureau, Warren, Knox, Stark, Fulton, and Peoria counties, north of
the solid line or "isogloss" on the map (Fig. 1 ), while barn lot was
LANGUAGE VARIATION IN THE MILITARY TRACT
Figure 1. Distribution of three regional word pairs in the Illinois Military Tract.
60 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
preferred in Henderson, Hancock, McDonough, Schuyler, Brown,
Adams, Pike, and Calhoun counties, south of the solid isogloss.
(Now, of course, one suspects few farmers of my generation would
know either of these terms, since the decline of diversified farming
has led some to abandon livestock farming altogether, while agri-
business appears to have propagated feed/at— a word reflecting some-
what different practices of raising livestock— as a replacement for
both regionalisms.) An almost identical distribution— also shown
on the map— is found for the folk words describing the act of coast-
ing belly-down and head first on a sled. Belly-flop(er) is the folk
term which existed along with a number of others in the North,
especially in western New England and on Delaware Eas/; belly-buster
on those parts of the Upland South where snow was common. In
the Military Tract belly-flapper (north of the broken isogloss on the
map) was common in Mercer, Bureau, Knox, Stark, Peoria, and
Fulton counties; belly-buster (south of the broken isogloss) was
given in Henderson, Warren, McDonough, Hancock, Pike, and
Calhoun counties. No response to this question was given by the
lone Schuyler County informant, while both terms appeared in
Brown County. (Curiously, contemporary children no longer use
either of these terms for sledding, though I have heard belly-flapper
used to describe a flat dive into water.)
Another term confined to informants with some experience in
farm life is that used to denote the upper part of a barn where hay
is stored. The Upland Southern term is bay laft, contrasting with
Northern hay mow. Hay mow also became predominant in Pennsyl-
vania (where it replaced Pennsylvania German averden). In the Mili-
tary Tract, the dotted isogloss on the map shows that hay maw was
preferred in Mercer, Henry, Bureau, Stark, Henderson, Warren,
Knox, and Fulton counties, while hay loft was preferred in McDon-
ough, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, and Calhoun counties. Both terms
appeared in Hancock and Adams counties. Another set of contrast-
ing agricultural terms describe the leafy outer covering on an ear of
corn. Northern husks appears in Mercer, Henry Bureau, Stark, Peoria,
and Knox counties; southern shucks is preferred in Henderson,
Warren, Hancock, McDonough, Fulton, Adams, Schuyler, Brown and
Calhoun counties. This distribution is similar to that of the terms
shown on the map.
A number of Southern terms which have no contrasting Northern
counterparts turned up on the Linguistic Atlas and Dictionary
surveys as well. Branch, a Southern word for a small stream (general-
ly called a creek in the Middle West) turned up in Henderson, Han-
cock, McDonough, Adams, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, and Calhoun
counties. While creek and river are the terms used in naming most
such streams everywhere in the Military Tract, branch appears in
LANGUAGE VARIATION IN THE MILITARY TRACT 61
southwestern McDonough and southeastern Hancock counties on
the U.S. Geodesic Survey maps. Another southernism \s pulley bone,
for what is now generally called the wishbone in a chicken or turkey.
Pulleybone appeared in McDonough, Schuyler, and Brown counties.
Goober, a southernism for the peanut, appeared in Brown, Hancock,
and Adams counties; the same name is also known by a recent stu-
dent of mine who grew up in the vicinity of Beardstown. Still an-
other southernism \s pallet, which names a bed made up on the floor.
Pallet appeared in Henderson, Warren, McDonough, Hancock, Adams,
and Schuyler counties. Some other southernisms appearing only
sporadically in the southern counties of the Military Tract were
obviously archaic even at the time of the earlier Linguistic Atlas
interviews. Light bread (for homemade bread from white flour)
appeared in Hancock and McDonough counties; hoe cake was re-
membered only by informants in Bushnell and HauMOo; corn dodger
appeared only in Brown county. Informants in Brown, Schuyler,
and Henderson counties recalled the (now largely) Appalachian term
for a mid-wife, 5'/'a/7/7/ woman.
The Linguistic Atlas and similar surveys generally represent the
usage of a largely rural population born around the turn of the
century or earlier. It should therefore not be surprising that few of
these words are used by the generation of Military Tract residents
now entering early middle age. Nevertheless, the lexicon of an older,
passing population indicated a clear regional contrast between the
Military Tract and northern Illinois, and between sections of the
Military Tract itself. The patterns indicated by variation in folk
vocabulary, moreover, should be reflected in patterns of pronuncia-
tion which are not subject to the eroding forces which affect folk
Variations in pronunciation are the most frequently noticed
language features in the Military Tract. Military Tract visitors fre-
quently remark an intrusive "r" in wash (hence, "warsh"), but this
feature— originating in western Pennsylvania— is widespread not only
in the Military Tract but throughout all of central and western
Illinois (and is probably more common in rural areas). Similarly,
a tendency to raise certain vowels in presibilant position— so that
"fish" is heard as "feesh"— serves to link the western Illinois speech
to that of the Ohio Valley.
The pronunciations which best represent the Military Tract's
settlement geography are six Upland Southern features which were
found during analysis of tape recorded interviews conducted for
the Dictionary of American Regional English (D.A.R.E. informants
were located in Peoria, Galva, Nauvoo, Carthage, Quincy and Hardin,
with another in Macomb added after the original survey). The analy-
ses showed that these Upland Southern pronunciations occur in the
62 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
southwestern counties of the Military Tract— nnore or less the same
counties in which we find belly buster, barn lot, hayloft, branch and
other Southern terms— showing the pronunciation of many people
in those counties to bear some resemblance to pronunciations heard
in Kentucky, southern Indiana, southern Illinois and Missouri.
The first of these pronunciation features is the "fronted vowel"
in words Wke scouts, ground, downtown, and cow. All of these words
are pronounced with a dipthong, but in northern cities the first
vowel of the dipthong is that heard in the ejaculation "ah" or in the
noun cot; in much of the Upland South this first vowel is that heard
in caf— the same pronunciation heard in the southwestern Military
The second feature occurs in the pronunciation of due and
Tuesday. In the northern Midwest these words have a pure back
vowel, pronounced with the lips fully rounded. But in the South,
and again in the southwestern Military Tract, the vowel in these
words is diphthongized like that in pew.
The third feature occurs in so-called "long /" words like time.
In southern speech, the second element of the diphthong in time
is relaxed or eliminated altogether, so that to northern ears time
and Tom sound like rhymes. Though this feature occurs less fre-
quently than in the southern states, it is nevertheless heard oc-
casionally in the southwestern counties of the Military Tract, espe-
cially in the communities of the Lamoine Valley. (Among D.A.R.E.
informants, this turned up only in Macomb; other investigation
suggests that this feature might be less frequent in communities west
and south of the Lamoine Valley).
Parts of the Upland South also treat the vowel o^ cough and log
differently than does the northern Midwest, using either a "long
o" sound like that in oaf or rogue or a diphthong like that in how.
This pronunciation also occurs in the southwestern Military Tract.
The last two Upland Southern features are quite similar and may
be treated together. The pronunciation for him and them involves
elongation and breaking almost into two syllaables, so that him
is a near rhyme with see 'um and them with say 'em. This pronuncia-
tion is common in the southwestern Military Tract. (Phonetic tran-
scriptions, for readers familiar with that notation, appear at the end
of this article. ^^ )
The persistence of at least one of these Upland Southern pro-
nunciation patterns is all the more remarkable when we consider
their opposition by the linguistic establishment. A school textbook
in 1840 derided the Upland Southern pronunciation of words like
ground as having a "flat sound," which was "unspeakably worse"
than any alternative, while an 1843 reader condemned the same
usage as "error. "^^ By the time radio became an established medium
LANGUAGE VARIATION IN THE MILITARY TRACT 63
in the 1930's, the fronted vowel was all but banned from broadcast
speech, even among speakers of Southern originsJ"^ Yet, in a recent
analysis of the speech of thirty-nine Lamoine Valley residents, this
"nonstandard" pronunciation was shown to be increasing; it was
about twice as frequent in the speech of adults under the age of 55
than in those older than 55, and appeared more frequently in the
speech of women than in that of men J"*
These linguistic data, then, indicate several patterns in the
linguistic geography of the Military Tract. First, a number of words
from Pennsylvania and Ohio set off the Military Tract, along with
the rest of central Illinois, from the northern part of the state. A
second pattern is illustrated best by the map, which displays a north-
ern section of the Military Tract including Mercer, Knox, Bureau,
Stark, Henry, and Peoria counties; a southern section including
Hancock, McDonough, Schuyler, Brown, Adams, Pike, and Calhoun
counties; and a mixed-usage border section including Henderson,
Warren, and Fulton counties. The northern section is marked not
only by the use of hay mow, barn yard, and belly-flopper as they
appear on the map, but also by the use of Northern husks, by several
Northern place names and by a distinct absence of Upland Southern
pronunciation. The southern section is distinguished by the mapped
words hay loft, barn lot, and belly-buster, as well as other Southern-
isms which, though unmapped, show a similar distribution: shucks,
pallet, and branch. On the other hand, still other linguistic variables
show the southern section to be far from uniform. The strongest
Southern influence is found in the counties which border the La-
moine Valley, where we find the most consistent appearance of
Upland Southern pronunciation features as well asoccational South-
ern words like pullybone, goober, light bread, and corn dodger.
West and southwest of the Lamoine Valley, a Northern influence
reasserts itself in the appearance of more Northern place names and
fewer Upland Southern pronunciation features.
Hans Kurath, A Word Geography of the Eastern United States (Ann Arbor: Univ. of
Michigan Press, 1949), pp. 1-80. Pronunciation and lexical boundaries are shown to coincide
in Hans Kurath and Raven I McDavid, Jr., The Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic
States (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1961).
Wilbur Zelinsky, "Where the South Begins: The Northern Limit of the Cis-Appala-
chian South in Terms of Settlement Landscape," Social Forces, 30 (1951), 172-78.
The Upland Southern element in McDonough County, at least, can be clearly estab-
lished. In a sample from the 1850 census, about 50 percent of the adult heads of households
originated in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia or the Caroiinas; another 4 percent came from
Delaware or Maryland. Only about a quarter of the sample came from Ohio, Pennsylvania,
New York or New England. The remainder were foreign-born or came from other parts of
Illinois, which at that time would probably also suggest an Upland Southern origin. Of 158
"old settlers" still living in the county in 1878, seventy-five (or almost one-half) were from
64 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Kentucky, while thirty-nine others were from Virginia, Tennessee, or the Carolinas; several
others originated in southern Illinois and Indiana. Only twenty were from Pennsylvania or
Ohio, and six from New York or New England. This list is from S. J. Clarke, History of
McDonough County, Illinois (Springfield, III.: D. W. Lust, 1878), pp. 594-601.
There seems little reason to question the notion that true "Yankees," New Englanders
and New Yorkers, were more likely to settle in towns rather than in rural areas. Of the six
Northerners listed among Clarke's old settlers, a Massachusetts native, two New Hampshir-
ites and a New Yorker lived in Macomb; one other New Yorker lived in Bushnelll. In
Sangamon County in 1850, Southerners made up 57 percent of the rural population, but
only 30 percent of the adult population of Springfield. On the other hand, "Yankees"
made up 9 percent of the rural adult population, but 17 percent of the adult population of
Springfield. Richard Jensen tells me of finding the same tendencies elsewhere in downstate
Illinois— Southerners more numerous in rural areas, Yankees in the cities and towns.
Richard Lyie Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture (Indianpolis: Indiana Historical
Society, 1953), p. 174. See also Clarke, p. 51, for an attempt to gloss over these differences.
Members of the Archives staff at Western Illinois University are planning a detailed
place-name survey of the Military Tract. The Illinois Place Names Commission has discussed
plans for an Illinois place name survey for a number of years. A study of Fulton county
names by Betty J. Irwin is forthcoming.
^William Vipond Pooley, "The Settlement of Illinois from 1830 to 1850," Bulletin
of the University of Wisconsin (1908), pp. 4, 405.
^Pooley, p. 402.
Kurath, Word Geography, figure 125.
Originals of the mailed questionnaires and microfilms of the Linguistic Atlas field
records for Illinois are housed in the Department of English, Western Illinois University,
pending further disposition.
The South Midland pronunciations of ground, due, time, cough, him and them
appear as follows in the International Phonetic Alphabet (authority for the regional identifi-
cation of these pronunciations is Kurath and McDavid); [erraeund] [d*«] [taem]
[kouf] [hlem] [^eam]
^ ^Samuel Williard, The General Class Book (Greenfield, Mass., 1840), p. 15. William
Russell, Primary Reader (Boston, 1843), p. 32.
Jane Dorsey Zimmerman, Radio Pronunciations New York: King's Crown Press,
1946), pp. 96-97.
Details of this study in Timothy C. Frazer, "The Uncertain Progress of a Midwestern
Diphthong (/au/)," read to American Dialect Society-Midwest meeting, November, 1980.
Copy in Western Illinois University Library.
IN WESTERN ILLINOIS
Frank W. Goudy
During the past several years, concerns have been expressed
about the reports of increased foreign investment in U.S. farmland.
These concerns have centered on the possible consequences of con-
tinued foreign investment, including: the consolidation of American
farms into larger holdings accompanied by a decrease in the number
of family farms; mismanagement of land resources by distant owners;
and the potential of foreign control over essential elements of
the domestic agricultural economy.
Another major issue that has been raised by farm groups is that
foreign purchasers, aided by inflation, certain tax advantages, and
other factors, are able and willing to buy U.S. agricultural land at
price levels farmers cannot afford to pay. This view holds that for-
eign nationals are bidding up the price of agricultural land beyond
the reach of local farmers who must make a reasonable profit on
their labor and investment rather than using land as a speculative
hedge or as a safety valve against international political instability.
Certainly, there have been few investment opportunities in the
1970's both as lucrative and safe as U.S. farmland. For example,
during the years from 1970 through 1979 Illinois farmland prices
increased by 312 percent,^ while the consumer price index rose
eighty-seven percent,^ and the Standard & Poor's Common Index
(500 stocks) increased by only twenty-five percent.^
This research will briefly consider the historical context of for-
eign investment in U.S. agricultural land as well as provide the legis-
lative background that led to the passage of The Agricultural Foreign
Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-460) which requires
alien landowners to report their holdings to the federal government.
Particular attention will be focused upon the foreign ownership of
agricultural land in a twenty-nine-county region comprising western
66 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF U.S. FARMLAND;
A HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Throughout our nation's history the pattern of alien landholding
and the government's policy response have varied considerably. Dur-
ing the colonial period, the mercantilistic practices of the British
effectively restricted the inflow of foreign capital. However, immedi-
ately following the Revolution the new nation, under the leadership
of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, pursued a policy
which encouraged investment by aliens. This policy even permitted
British investments. The effectiveness of these and subsequent poli-
cies is demonstrated by the fact that throughout the nineteenth
century the inflow of foreign capital increased rapidly, with a large
part of this increase going into land investments. One estimate for
the years prior to World War I was that foreign individuals and
companies were in control of some 30 to 35 million acres in the U.S.
although there was no precise count and evidence suggests that this
estimate was exaggerated.'*
During the last half of the nineteenth century, foreign investors
were attracted to such land related investments as cattle ranches,
mortgage companies, and land-grant railroads. Although foreign
holdings were not of significant concern on a nationwide basis, they
were important and conspicuous in some localities and regions and
thus attracted strong resentment on the part of local citizens in a
number of states. During the last fifteen years of the century, opposi-
tion to such foreign investments in land led thirteen states, including
Illinois, to legislate restrictions on foreign ownership. Congress also
acted in 1887 to limit ownership of land in the U.S. territories to
citizens. With the exception of California farmers attempting to
restrict land ownership by Orientals in their state and the rest of the
nation, interest in alien land investment waned in the first half of this
century as did the interest in restrictions.^
However, renewed interest in foreign ownership of land appeared
again in the 1970's when large blocks of farmland were reported
as being purchased by alien investors. A cheaper U.S. dollar, large
amounts of liquid capital from OPEC nations, and the relative sta-
bility of this country have drawn these investors. Although the
historical significance of the apparent recent increases in land invest-
ment by aliens is difficult to assess at this time, it is useful to com-
pare what is occurring now with the past. During the nineteenth
century, foreign investment in industry, transportation, and real
estate played an important role in the development of a capital
starved America. The question today is whether foreign investment
in this nation's agricultural land serves a productive function as it
often did in the past, or whether it is merely speculation that is
counter productive to the economic and social fabric of the country.
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FA RMLAND 67
In order to even begin to answer this question, it is imperative to
know tile actual amount of farmland held by foreign individuals
or corporations. This necessary information led to the enactment of
the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978.
THE AGRICULTURAL FOREIGN
INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE ACT OF 1978
Questions regarding the degree of foreign ownership of U.S.
farmland led the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and
Forestry to request that the General Accounting Office (GAO)
conduct a study of this matter. In the Spring of 1978, the GAO
study team requested information from the Governor of each state
on existing laws affecting alien land ownership. The GAO researchers
then visited six states to consult with agriculturalists and review
state records and interviewed local officials in twenty-five counties
to examine local records as potential data sources. The GAO deter-
mined that as of May 1978, twenty-five states had laws placing some
restriction on alien farmland ownership. It was also concluded by
the GAO that many of these laws were not enforced and that in
aggregate the state laws did not significantly inhibit foreign purchases
of agricultural property.^
The GAO study found that few states had data on alien land
ownership and only two (Iowa and Minnesota) required nonresident
aliens to file annual reports on their holdings.^ Not only were county
records usually nonexistent about such possessions, there was the
possibility of aliens hiding behind corporate identities or land trusts.
After visiting twenty-five counties in five states, the GAO concluded
that records at the state and county levels were insufficient for
determining the actual extent of alien farmland holdings. Asa result
of these problems, the GAO made only one specific recommenda-
tion. It was proposed that the Department of Commerce separately
identify alien firms and individuals owning or leasing 200 acres or
more of U.S. farmland.^
It had become increasingly evident that national legislation
would be needed to determine and monitor the magnitude of this
perceived problem. The Extension Services study conducted during
the Fall of 1978, and released subsequent to the passage of The
Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978, estimated
that 737,423 acres had been sold to foreign nationals during the
time period from January 1, 1977 through June 30, 1978. However,
there was much unevenness in the reporting systems used by each
State Extension Service, thus making the data more reflective than
specifically accurate. Based upon this report, approximately 2.25
percent of all U.S. land sales were to foreigners during this time
68 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
In order to secure more precise data and information on this sub-
ject, a number of legislative proposals were introduced in the 95th
Congress. These bills often included three basic approaches: comple-
tion of planned studies or provision for additional research; registra-
tion of foreign land owners; and outright restrictions on foreign
ownership of agricultural property. One of these bills. The Agricul-
tural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (P.S. 95-460)
was adopted. The original bill (HR 13356) was reported out of
committee on September 14, approved by the full House on Septem-
ber 26, and by the Senate on October 2. The measure was then
signed by President Carter on October 14, 1978. The ease with which
the bill was made into law was due to its bipartisan support by con-
servatives, as represented by Herman Talmadge of Georgia, Chairman
of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and liberals, such as Represen-
tative Richard Nolan from Minnesota who served on the House
Agriculture Subcommittee on Family Farms. The intense feelings
on this issue assured its easy passage even though President Carter
was less than enthusiastic about a law that would be viewed nega-
tively by many political groups and investors in the international
The AFIDA of 1978 requires foreign individuals or corporations
owning at least five percent or more interest, except a security inter-
est, in agricultural land to report that interest and related data to
the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture within 180 days after regulations
were completed. The report includes the following: name; address;
citizenship of owner; location; acreage; price paid; intended use of
land; and other information as requested. It also mandates that for-
eign nationals who acquire or transfer U.S. agricultural land in the
future to submit a report within ninety days after the transaction.
Civil penalties can be levied against those who violate any reporting
requirements in an amount up to twenty-five percent of the fair
market value of the property. In addition, the Department of Agri-
culture is required to analyze information obtained from these
reports and examine the effect such investment might have on U.S.
agriculture in general as well as the impact on family farms and rural
communities.^^ Operationally, this data is being forwarded to USDA
officials in all of the over 3,000 counties in the nation and then sent
to USDA's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service
(ASCS) office. Passage of this legislation has allowed a more thor-
ough examination of alien land purchases throughout the nation
including individual counties within a state.
A similar law, alto titled The Agricultural Foreign Investment
Disclosure Act (PA 81-187), was passed by the Illinois General
Assembly in August 1979. It mandates the same procedures as does
the federal AFDIA of 1978 and even requires reporting forms identi-
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FA RMLA ND 69
cal to that of the USDA. Illinois law requires that such reports be
filed with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FARMLAND IN WESTERN ILLINOIS
Accounts of large scale land purchases by aliens did not go un-
noticed in Illinois. Rumors of such acquisitions were often heard
by farmers and other concerned citizens throughout the state. The
1976 purchase of the 11,813 acre Norris Farms in Fulton County
by the wealthy Italian Buitoni family for a reported $18 million was
often cited as evidence of this increasing trend. ^^ In addition, the
23,017 acre Meadowlark Farms near Vermont, Illinois in Fulton
County was discovered to be partially owned by a British consor-
tium. Although much of this land was being used for coal mining
operations, approximately 5,500 acres was utilized for agricultural
Interestingly, an 1897 Illinois law still in effect limits alien land
ownership of any real estate to a period of six years, after which,
if the alien has not become a U.S. citizen, the county states attorney
can compel the sale of the land.^^ However, this law has not been
strictly enforced, and it can easily be circumvented by establishing
land trusts that allow such property to be held virtually indefinitely.
In order to effectively limit future purchases of farmland by for-
eigners, the Illinois General Assembly has proposed a number of
bills. For instance, the 1981 General Assembly saw two bills spon-
sored that would have provided for certain limitations although
neither proposal was passed.
House Bill 628 and Senate Bill 387 both include provisions
that would have restricted the ability of foreign interests to acquire
an interest in agricultural land in Illinois after January 1, 1982. The
two bills differ in specifics with their intent being basically the same.
Harlan Rigney (R) of the 35th Legislative District first introduced
HB 628 on March 19, 1981, and it was supported by twenty-two
other co-sponsors, including Clarence Neff (R) and Samuel McGrew
(D) of the 47th District and Craig Findley (R) and Jeffrey Mays (R)
of the 48th District. Both the 47th and 48th Legislative Districts
comprise a large portion of Western Illinois.
Essentially, HB 628 provided that after January 1, 1982 no non-
resident alien could acquire any interest in real property used for
farming in Illinois, and if any non-resident alien held or acquired
land by January 1, 1981, they could not expand the number of
acres farmed or held or acquired after that date. After January 1,
1982 a non-resident alien could not secure an interest of more than
ten percent in any corporation, partnership, or trust which held or
70 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
had any interest in real property used for farming. No corporation,
partnership, or trust in which a non-resident alien held more than
ten percent interest could acquire real property used for farming
in Illinois. Real property which had been used for farming could
have been bought by a non-resident alien for purposes other than
farming; however, nonfarming use would have to be commenced or
platted or zoned for development within three years of acquisition
or the alien would be required to divest the property before the
expiration of the three-year period. If the real property was not
divested before the three year period, the states attorney of the
county in which the land was located could have compelled a sale,
of which twenty percent of the bid amount would have been taxed
for court costs. ^"^
Although neither bill was passed in the 1981 Illinois General
Assembly, interest in such legislation continues. The question re-
mains as to what extent foreign nationals actually own farmland in
the state and in western Illinois in particular.
After a brief introduction providing selected national data on
the extent of foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land, this re-
search focuses upon a twenty-nine county area in western Illinois,
including the following counties: Adams; Brown; Bureau; Calhoun;
Cass; Fulton; Greene; Hancock; Henderson; Henry; Jersey; Knox;
Macoupin; Marshall; Mason; McDonough; Menard; Mercer; Morgan;
Peoria; Pike; Putnam; Rock Island; Sangamon; Schuyler; Scott;
Stark; Tazewell; and Warren. (See Figure 1.)
In addition, the entire state of Illinois will also be considered.
The data necessary to conduct this research was obtained by analyz-
ing report forms that foreigners filed with the Illinois Department of
Agriculture as well as reviewing information already compiled by
that office. A release form required that a researcher not divulge
the names of individual companies or persons when reporting this
information. Thus, specific names of foreign nationals owning agri-
cultural land will not be included in this investigation unless already
mentioned in other sources.
Throughout the nation, foreign entities and individuals were
revealed to have owned 7.82 million acres, or 0.6 percent, of U.S.
agricultural land as of December 31, 1980. Information derived from
11,872 forms indicated that corporations owned eighty-one percent
of the holdings, partnerships ten percent, and individuals eight per-
cent, with the remaining one percent held by estates, trusts, associa-
tions, and institutions.^^
Canadian, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Netherland Antilles,
the United Kingdom, and West German interests accounted for
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FARMLAND
Figure 1. Western Illinois Counties.
72 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
seventy-six percent of these holdings and acquisitions. A number of
the forms indicated only partial ownership. When the total holdings
were adjusted for these partial interests, the USDA estimated that
the acreage equivalent was reduced by thirteen percent from the
7.82 million acres or a decrease of approximately one million
Of this land, 6.66 million acres was reported by February 2,
1979. During the time frame from February 2, 1979 through Decem-
ber 31, 1980, 1.74 million additional acres were purchased and .58
million acres were disposed for a net gain of 1.16 million acres. How-
ever, some of this increase during the subsequent filing period was
partially due to the inclusion of 1979 reports received after the
previous year's cutoff date.^^
Among the individual states, Maine had the largest amount of
foreign owned agricultural land, over 964,000 acres, with ninety-
one percent of this property in the possession of one timber com-
pany. With the exception of Maine, foreign holdings appeared to
be heavily concentrated in the South and the West. Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas
reported thirty-two percent of all such ownership. Arizona, Cali-
fornia, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah collec-
tively recorded twenty-nine percent of the holdings. Rhode Island
was the only state in which aliens had not secured farmland. ^^
Table 1 reveals that in Western Illinois foreign owners reported
thirty separate tracts of land comprising 47,217 acres. Farmland
acreage in these counties totaled 9,034,756 with the result that
slightly over 0.5 percent of the available agricultural real estate
was held by aliens. This percentage is approximately twenty-five
percent higher than the statewide average of 0.4 percent, although it
is somewhat lower than the national average of 0.6 percent. ^^
Fulton County contained the largest amount of foreign owned
land in the state at 34,990 acres (8.08 percent of the farmland in the
county) while 14 other counties in the region did not report any
alien holdings. Schuyler County was second in both the state and in
western Illinois with 6,225 acres owned by foreign interests. Collec-
tively, these counties accounted for eighty-seven percent of the alien
land holdings in western Illinois and thirty-four percent for all of
Illinois. Thus, a disproportionate share of foreign holdings were con-
centrated in two of the 102 counties in the state.
Categorized by type of ownership, corporations were the single
most prevalent type of proprietorship. Corporations held seventy-
one percent and sixty-seven percent respectively (See Table 2) of
all foreign owned land in western Illinois and in the entire state.
Trusts were the next largest category at twenty-five percent and
twenty-two percent respectively, with the remaining interests com-
posed of partnerships and individuals.
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FA RMLAND 73
Of the land owned by foreign individuals (See Table 3), some
divergence in property holding patterns between the region and the
state are noticed. For instance, German held interests were the
greatest in the state, 5,102 acres, with Canadians second at 1,686
acres. The remaining 1,305 acres were owned by persons of five
other nations. In western Illinois, no German interests were reported;
only Canadian and Swedish ownership of a combined 824 acres was
Corporations, trusts, and partnerships constituted by far the
most important holdings. However, it is essential to make a distinc-
tion between ownership where the foreign control is complete and
no U.S. interests are involved and that in which U.S. interests are
present. U.S. interests most often occur when a foreign corporation
controls a share of an American company. As previously indicated,
any foreign individual or corporation owning at least five percent
or more interest in agricultural land was required to report that
fact. Thus, if a foreign corporation owned five percent or more
of an American firm that held farmland, it would be required to file
a report with the USDA. However, the exact portion that the foreign
national held in an American firm was not a demand of the AFIDA
in the 1978 reporting system. Such an interest could be relatively
insignificant, or it could be an important factor in the control of the
company and, thus, potentially the farmland in question. For in-
stance, of the 47,217 acres owned by aliens in western Illinois, the
USDA report forms revealed information that operations involving
coal mining as well as agricultural purposes could comprise 30,422
acres of this total. In all cases, the 30,422 acres involved were at least
partially owned by U.S. interests.
Non-U. S. interests accounted for 15,072 acres in western Illinois
and 30,602 acres statewide (See Table 4). The country with easily
the most alien landholdings for both the region and the state was
the Netherland Antilles with seventy-eight percent and sixty-one
percent respectively. In western Illinois, interests reported through
the Cayman Islands were another ten percent of the foreign held
acreage with the remaining land divided among five other nations.
For Illinois as a whole, agricultural real estate reported through
Germany accounted for an additional ten percent of the state's
foreign land investment with twelve other countries also being
included. One may question why the Netherland Antilles and the
Cayman Islands would report such relatively large holdings. The
answer may lie with their bank secrecy laws. The Cayman Islands, for
instance, have been a popular tax haven for moneyed interests from
all over the world who seek a more private conduct of their finan-
cial affairs. ^°
Most foreign-owned agricultural land was reported by corpora-
tions, trusts, and partnerships in which there was a U.S. interest.
74 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
An example of this situation is British Petroleum, which has a 6.8
percent interest in Amax, Inc.^^ Meadowlark Farms, Inc., a large
owner of farmland in western Illinois and the rest of the state, is a
subsidiary of Amax, Inc. As a result of this partial interest in Amax,
Inc., British Petroleum is legally required to report to the USDA
their ownership of U.S. agricultural land even though British Petro-
leum does not control the land in their own name.
In western Illinois, three counties reported having an interest
in U.S. firms that acquired 31,321 acres or nearly sixty-six percent
of all foreign owned land in the region and twenty-six percent of all
such land in the state (See Table 5). Statewide, twelve nations held
a partial share in some 83,309 acres or sixty-eight percent of foreign
held agricultural property in Illinois. English interests were the most
extensive for both western Illinois and the state as represented by
their holdings of 30,791 acres and 67,443 acres respectively.
Much of the worry over foreign purchases of American farmland
occurred in the mid-1970's with rumors of vast investments being
made on a nationwide basis. Within Illinois, there is some evidence
that alien ownership of land did increase rapidly during the last half
of the 1970's. In western Illinois, this research confirms that of the
47,217 acres purchased and still held, 16,378 acres had been ac-
quired from 1975 through 1980. Throughout Illinois, 50,927 acres
of the 122,004 foreign owned acres (See Table 6) were secured
during this same time frame.
These are minimum figures for it is not known to what extent
the 30,247 acres in western Illinois and the 64,888 acres statewide
not reported as having a specific purchase date were acquired during
this six-year period. Unfortunately, USDA-ASCS report forms only
requested but did not mandate stating a specific purchase date when
land was bought over a number of years. However, it is interesting
to consider that in the five-year period from 1970 through 1974
such foreign purchases in western Illinois constituted merely 363
acres and only 2,738 acres for the entire state. During a shorter
subsequent time frame from 1975 through 1978, foreign purchases
that could definitely be verified by date of acquisition were 15,006
acres and 33,103 acres respectively. The rate of these alien purchases
seemingly declined somewhat during 1979 and 1980 in western
Illinois to only 1,372 acres. However, the 17,824 acres of new
foreign purchases throughout Illinois in 1979 and 1980 indicate
that such acquisitions have continued to be strong on a statewide
This research confirms that the foreign ownership of U.S. Agri-
cultural land has definitely increased in the past several years. This
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FA RMLAND 75
is true not only on a national basis but also in Illinois and the west-
ern Illinois region as well. Certainly, the 122,004 acres held state-
wide by foreign corporations, trusts, partnerships, and individuals
is not to be ignored. USDA research has confirmed that foreign-
owned tracts have been found to be of similar soil quality as that
owned by U.S. residents in general.^ Assuming this equal situation,
foreign nationals own in excess of $259 million of land in Illinois,
based upon a statewide mean of $2125 per acre.^
It is important, however, to place these figures into perspective.
First, the 122,004 acres in question are only 0.4 percent of the
state's available farmland. The 47,217 acres in western Illinois
are only 0.5 percent of that region's agricultural real estate. Second,
this amount would undoubtedly be reduced if only the foreign inter-
est in the U.S. companies owning farmland were calculated. This
calculation has not been attempted in Illinois and would be a dif-
ficult task to accomplish without revealing confidential information.
Nevertheless, it is important to consider the trend of foreign
acquisitions. Will they become more pronounced in the future as
such purchases increase? Based upon data from the years 1976
through 1978, the USDA concluded that nationally 2.50 percent
of all farmland changed hands through voluntary sales and estate
settlements, with Illinois being nearly identical to the national
average."^^ Out of the 29,730,739 acres of farmland in Illinois, this
would mean that approximately 743,000 acres changed ownership
annually. ^^ Since confirmed foreign purchases of land from 1975
through 1980 averaged 8,488 acres (See Table 6), this would pro-
vide at most only 1.1 percent of the farmland for sale being bought
by aliens in this time period. At this rate it would take about thirty-
five years for foreigners to acquire an additional one percent of
In western Illinois, the 9,034,756 acres in the region would allow
a turnover of 226,000 acres annually at this same rate of farm title
transfers. With foreign purchases averaging 2,730 acres (See Table 6)
through 1980, about 1.2 percent of the existing farmland for sale
was purchased by foreign interests during these six years.
A July, 1981 USDA analysis of the impact of foreign agricultural
land purchases in the U.S. stated: "In summary, the quantity of
foreign owned U.S. agricultural land is so small that it is unlikely
to have either a positive or negative overall impact on agriculture.
In areas of heaviest concentration, some communities could be
This comment could well apply to western Illinois and the state
of Illinois as a whole. While such purchases have increased markedly
in the last half of the 1970's, it will take a great deal of time at
even these acquisition rates for foreign land tenure to make a strong
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
impact on the overall ownership of farmland in the state or the
western Illinois region. This is not to say, however, that such a situa-
tion will not or can not occur. Further research will be essential in
monitoring future developments on this sensitive and important
FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL LANDHOLDING
IN WESTERN ILLINOIS
DATA THROUGH DECEMBER 1980
Percent of Farmland
Owned By Foreigners
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure
Act Report, ASCS-153, (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office). Unpublished
U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1978 Census of Agriculture, Vol. 1, State and County Date;
Part 13, Illinois, (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1980).
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FARMLAND
FOREIGN AGRICULTURE LANDHOLDING
IN WESTERN ILLINOIS:
BY TYPE OF FOREIGN OWNER.
DATA THROUGH DECEMBER 1980
Number of Reports
Western State of
Type of Owner
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Foreign Irjvestment Disclosure
Act Report, ASCS-153 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office). Unpublished
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of Illinois Agricultural Land
(Springfield: State of Illinois, 1981).
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
AGRICULTURAL LANDHOLDINGS OF INDIVIDUALS,
BY COUNTRY OF FOREIGN OWNER.
DATA THROUGH DECEMBER 1980
Number of Reports
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure
Act Report, ASCS-153 (Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office). Unpublished
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of Illinois Agricultural Land
(Springfield: State of Illinois, 1981).
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FARMLAND
AGRICULTURAL LANDHOLDINGS OF CORPORATIONS,
TRUSTS, AND PARTNERSHIPS,
BY COUNTRY OF FOREIGN OWNER:
DATA THROUGH DECEMBER 1980
Number of Reports
Western State of
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure
Act Report, ASCS-153 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office). Unpublished
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of Illinois Agricultural Land
(Springfield: State of Illinois, 1981).
WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
AGRICULTURAL LANDHOLDINGS OF CORPORATIONS,
TRUSTS, AND PARTNERSHIPS,
BY COUNTRY OF FOREIGN OWNER:
DATA THROUGH DECEMBER 1980
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure
Act Report, ASCS-153 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office). Unpublished
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of Illinois Agricultural Land
(Springfield: State of Illinois, 1981).
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FARMLAND
AGRICULTURAL FOREIGN OWNERSHIP REPORTS
BY YEAR OF PURCHASE.
DATA THROUGH DECEMBER 1980
Prior to 1970
Over a Period
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure
Act Report, ASCS-J53 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office). Unpublished
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of Illinois Agricultural Land
(Springfield: State of Illinois, 1981).
82 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Franklin J. Reiss, Farm Economics; Fact and Opinion (Urbana, Illinois; Cooperative
Extension Service, April 1980), p. 2.
U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1980, 101st
edition (Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office, 1980), p. 487.
^Ibid., p. 546.
Cleona Lewis, America's Stake in International Investments (Washington, D.C:
Brookings Institution, 1938), p. 85. The estimate of 30-35 million acres owned by foreign-
ers was based upon an article titled "Uncle Sam's Land Owned by Aliens" published in the
December 6, 1909 edition of the Philadelphia Bulletin. The inaccuracy of this overestimate
can be gauged by the claim that William Scully owned 2,000,000 acres when in actuality
he owned 224,000 acres.
U.S. Senate, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Foreign Investment
in United States Agricultural Land (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1979),
^Ibid., pp. 14-15.
''ibid., p. 15.
^Ibid., p. 16.
^Ibid., pp. 78-81.
Eugene Patterson, ed., "Foreign Land Ownership," Congressional Quarterly Alma-
nac 1978 (Washington, D.C: Congressional Quarterly, 1979), pp. 459-60.
^^bid., p. 459.
Louise S. Greenfield, "Buying America: Illinois Farmland On the World Market
Raises Basic Ideological Questions," Illinois Issue, 5 (March 1979), 8.
^^ibid., p. 9.
State of Illinois, General Assembly, House of Representatives, An Act Relating to
Nonresident Alien Ownership of Real Property Used for Farming (Springfield, Illinois:
Allied Printing, 1981), pp. 1-3.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of U.S. Agricultural Land,
February 1, 1979 Through December 31, 1980 (Washington, D.C: Government Printing
Office, 1981), p. vii.
Ibid., p. VII.
Ibid., p. VII.
Ibid., p. VIII.
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of Illinois Agricultural Land
(Springfield, III.: Illinois Department of Agriculture, 1981), p. 1.
Richard B. Miller, "The Caymans— Offshore Banking Paradise," The Bankers Maga-
zine, 164 (January-February, 1981), 39-42.
"British Petroleum to Sell 6.8% Stock to Avoid FTC Antitrust Charges," Wall Street
Journal, 3 June 1981, p. 33, col. 1-2.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of U.S. Agricultural Land,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Real Estate Market Developments Washing-
ton, D.C: Government Printing Office, March, 1981), p. 3.
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FA RMLAND 83
^^U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Real Estate Market Developments (Washing-
ton, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July, 1978), p. 33-34.
"^^U-S. Bureau of the Census, 1978 Census of Agriculture, Vol. 1, State and County
Data; Part 13, Illinois (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1980), p. 1.
^^U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ownership of U.S. Agricultural Land,
NOTES AND DOCUMENTS
Historical Publications: Bibliographies of
Mercer and Henderson Counties
The following bibliographies continue the series started in the
Spring of 1981 with Fulton County. They contain separately pub-
lished monographs as well as items which were duplicated in limited
issues for private distribution. The bibliographies do not include
periodical or newspaper articles, scrapbooks, manuscripts, photo-
graphic collections, or genealogical studies on individual families.
In order to find materials of this nature, several locations can be
recommended. Both Henderson and Mercer counties have active
historical societies which maintain museums, in Raritan and Aledo
respectively. These museums, especially the Mercer County Museum,
contain extensive collections of materials suitable for historical and
genealogical research. Other major collections on the two counties
are housed in the Illinois Historical Survey at the University of
Illinois, the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield, and in the
Special Collections unit of Western Illinois University Libraries in
Macomb. Of particular help to researchers are indexes to articles
which have appeared in the Journal and the Transactions of the
Illinois Historical Society, as well as in numerous books. These are
maintained by the Illinois Historical Survey and the State Historical
Library. Western Illinois University Library has a large collection of
photographs on both counties, especially Henderson. The library
also maintains a vertical file on the counties and has a number of
manuscripts and government records.
Because so much of the local historical materials are held in
private hands and have over the years received only perfunctory
bibliographic coverage, any attempt to list these materials must of
necessity rely on local history enthusiasts for information and
referral. Two individuals have been particularly helpful in the com-
pilation of the forthcoming bibliographies, although they are in no
way responsible for mistakes or omissions. John Allaman, a resident
NOTES AND DOCUMENTS 85
of Raritan and a graduate student in history at Western Illinois
University, was most helpful in locating items on Henderson County.
Mrs. Ruth Giffin, the chief curator of the Mercer County Museum,
donated time and gave valuable information toward the compilation
of the Mercer County bibliography. Special thanks are due to both
for their help.
The present bibliographies incorporate a feature which was
missing in the Fulton County bibliography. Whenever possible the
locations of items are indicated in parenthesis. These locations are
not inclusive. Commonly found items generally do not have loca-
tions listed, nor do items held in private hands. The following
abreviations for locations were used: Illinois Historical Survey
(IHS); Illinois State Historical Library (ISHL); National Union
Catalog listing (LC); Mercer County Museum (MCM); University
of Illinois (Ul); Western Illinois University (WIU).
All additions and corrections to the bibliographic listings will
be welcome and should be addressed to: Gordana Rezab, Western
Illinois Regional Studies, Western Illinois University, Macomb,
I L 61455.
General County Histories
Bassett, Isaac Newton. Past and Present of Mercer County, Illinois. Chicago:
S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1914. 2 vols. (MCM)
Drury John. This is Mercer County, Illinois: An Up-to-date Historical Narrative
with County and Township Maps And Many Unique Aerial Photographs of
Cities, Towns, Villages, and Farmsteads. Chicago: Loree Company, 1955.
426 p. (MCM)
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, ed. by Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, and
History of Mercer County, ed. by William A. Lorimer. Chicago: Munsell,
1903. p. 620-798.
History of Mercer and Henderson Counties. Chicago: H. H. Hill, 1882. 1414 p.
History of Mercer County, Together With Biographical Matter, Statistics, etc.
. . . Containing Also a Short History of Henderson County. Chicago: H. H.
Hill, 1882. 912 p.
(Note: the Mercer County history in the two above publications is identical.
It is also available in a 1976 reprint edition.)
Index: 1882 History of Mercer County, Illinois, prepared by Katharine R.
Greeley and Jean Lauke, revised by Carol Spence and Eulalia H. Garrett,
n.p., 1976? 89 p.
Johnson, Daniel T. History of Mercer County, Illinois, 1882-1976. n.p.: Mercer
County Bicentennial Commission, 1977. 820 p.
86 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Special Aspects of the County History
Catalogue: First Public Sale of Short-Horns by the Mercer County Breeders'
Association. Keithsburg, III.: Times Steam Print, 1885. 50 p. (MCM)
Directory of Mercer County. Monmouth, III.: Consolidated Directory and Adver-
tising Co., 1940. 191 p. (MCM, WIU)
Honor Roll: Mercer County, State of Illinois, compiled by Illinois Veterans
Commission, Springfield, III.: n.p., 1956. 28 p. (MCM)
Inventory of Historic Landmarks in Mercer County: Interim Report, prepared
by the Illinois Historic Landmarks survey, p.p., 1974. 10 p. (WIU)
Inventory of Historic Structures in Mercer County: Interim Report, prepared by
the Illinois Historic Landmarks Survey, n.p., 1972. 6 p. (WIU)
Mercer County Crop Improvement Association. By-Laws. Aledo, III.: n.p., 1915.
Mercer County Farmers' Rural Route and Telephone Directory, Also Including
Woodhull and Alpha, of Henry County, n.p.: R. S. Hook, 1915. 32 p.
Mercer County Sunday School Association Manual, n.p., 191 1. 83 p. (MCM)
Prairie Farmer's Directory of Mercer and Rock Island Counties, Illinois. Chicago:
Prairie Farmer's Publishing Co., 1918. 324 p. (MCM)
Smith, Raymond S. et al. Mercer County Soils. Urbana: n.p., 1925. 64 p. (WIU,
Thomas, C. H. Mercer County School Directory, 1978-1979. n.p.: Office of
Superintendent Educational Service Region, n.d. 25 p. (MCM)
Thomas, Clarence C. Official Directory of Mercer County, Illinois, 1935. Aledo,
III.: Times Record Co., 1935. 356 p. (MCM, ISHL)
County Atlases, Maps and Platbooks
(listed in order of publication)
Illustrated Atlas Map of Mercer County, Illinois. Edwardsville, III.: W. R. Brink
and Co., 1875. 106 p. (ISHL, MCM, Ul) Also available in a 1976 reprint
Plat Book of Mercer County, Illinois. Chicago: Alden, Ogle & Co., 1892. 85 p.
Plat Book of Mercer County, Illinois. Aledo, III.: Hendrickson and Waespe,
1904. 73 p. (LC)
Atlas and Farm Directory of Mercer and Henderson Counties. Chicago: Standard
Map Co., 1914. 61 p. (Ul, MCM, WIU)
Farm Ownership Map and Plat Book Guide of Mercer County, Illinois. Peoria,
III.: W. A. Howat and Son, 192-. 36 p. (MCM, ISHL)
Plat Book of Mercer County, Illinois. Rockford, III.: W. W. Hixson, 1931.
18 p. (IHS, ISHL)
Township Plat Book of Mercer County, Illinois: Supplement of the Official
Directory of Mercer County. Aledo, III.: Clarence C. Thomas, 1935. 31 p.
NOTES AND DOCUMENTS 87
Stacy's Farm Plat Book of Mercer County, III. Rockford, III.: Stacy Map Publish-
ers, 194-. (Ul)
Mercer County, Illinois, JAM Service. Harlan, Iowa: R. C. Booth Enterprises,
n.d. (LC 55-869)
Farm Plat Book, Mercer County, Illinois. Rockford, III.: Rockford Map Publish-
ers, 1953. (MCM)
Farm Plat Book With Index to Owners, Mercer County, Illinois. Rockford, III.:
Rockford Map Publishers, 1958. (MCM)
Triannial Atlas and Platbook, Mercer County, Illinois. Rockford, III.: Rockford
Map Publishers, 1966, (LC), 1969. (Ul, WIU, MCM), 1972. (U. of I., WIU).
Titles change slightly.
Ownership Atlas, Mercer County, Illinois. Quincy, III.: Artcraft Co., 1975.
Land Atlas and Plat Book, Mercer County, Illinois. Rockford, III.: Rockford
Map Publishers, 1979. (WIU)
Censuses and General Genealogical Information
Arvedson, Evelyn Houghton. Alphabetical Index of Mercer County, Illinois,
1850 Census, n.p., 1975. 48 p. (IHS, WIU)
Mercer County Cemetery Records, copied by members of William Dennison
Chapter NSDAR. n.p., 1961. 8 vols., typescript. (MCM, ISHL)
Publications on Towns and Townships
(listed alphabetically by town name)
Aledo Board of Education. Manual, n.p., annual. 1892-1895 (IHS); 1897 (LC).
Aledo City Directory, 1939-1940, compiled by James Carey, n.p.: Kisor Direc-
tory Service, n.d. 22 p. (MCM)
Aledo's Religious Awakening: A Souvenir of Newlin Evangelistic Campaign,
Oct., Nov. 1969. Aledo, III.: n.p., n.d. 32 p. (MCM)
College Avenue Presbyterian 125 Years of Service in Christ, n.p., 1981 19 p.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the Swedish Lutheran Church, Aledo, Illinois, 1873-
1923. Aledo, III.: Swedish Lutheran Church, 1923. 70 p. (ISHL, WIU,
First Baptist Church, Aledo, III., 1867-1967. Rockford, III.: Mid-West Pictorial
Directories, n.d. 32 p. (MCM)
A History of the First 100 Years of the First Presbyterian Church of Aledo,
Illinois (1856-1956). Aledo, III.: Times Record Co., 1956. 44 p. (MCM)
History of the United Presbyterian Church, Aledo, Illinois, n.p., n.d. (1916?)
14 p. (MCM)
Our Centennial Year: Messiah Lutheran, 1973-1973, Aledo, Illinois, n.p., n.d.
42 p. (ISHL)
88 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Picturesque Souvenir of Aledo, Mercer County, Illinois: Containing illustrations
of Views in and Around Aledo, compiled by C. G. Turner. Aledo, III.:
Times Record Pub., 1896. 114 p. (MCM, ISHL)
Centennial Alexis, 1870-1970: The American Home of the Clydesdale, author
and editor Hope Holloway McKelvey. n.p., n.d. (Alexis, III.: McKelvey
Printing) 108 p. (MCM, WIU)
Anniversary Edition of the First Presbyterian Church, Burgess, Illinois: In
Memory of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, Oct. 24, 1937, n.p., n.d. 16 p.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the Burgess United Presbyterian Church, Burgess, Illinois.
n.p., n.d. (1962?) 12 p. (MCM)
Fitzhenry, Charles. Our 75-90 Anniversary (Souvenir Booklet): Methodist Epis-
copal Church, Keithsburg, Illinois August 19-26, 1982. n.p., 1928. 47 p.
Keithsburg's 125th Anniversary Celebration, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, July
13, 14, 15, 1962. n.p., n.d. 75 p. (WIU)
Griffin, J. E. The City Charter With the Amendment Thereto and the Revised
Ordinances of the City of New Boston, Illinois. New Boston, III.: n.d.
(1871?) 128 p. (MCM)
History of New Boston: Souvenir by the Class of 1906 New Boston High School.
New Boston, III.: n.p., n.d. 24 p. (MCM)
United States Post Office, New Boston, III.: Dedication Ceremony, May 7,
1961. n.p., 1961 10 p. (MCM)
Constitution and By-Laws of the Rivoli Grain Company. New Windsor, III.:
n.p., 1912. 8 p. (MCM)
First Presbyterian Church, New Windsor, Illinois, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary.
n.p., 1944 28 p. (MCM)
A History of New Windsor, Illinois, compiled by Grace W. Peterson and W. B.
Monson. n.p., n.d. (1957?) 50 p. (WIU, MCM)
Jubel album Till Minne Af Svens/<a Ev. Luth. Forsamlingens i New Windsor, III.
Rock Island, III.: Augustana Book Concerns Tryckeri, 1919. 58 p. (WIU)
New Windsor, Illinois, Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church. Anniversary Album
of the New Windsor, Illinois, Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church: in
Memory of the 60th Anniversary, n.p., 1929. 48 p. (MCM)
In Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, May 24 to 28, 1944.
New Windsor: Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1944. 45 p. (MCM)
NOTES AND DOCUMENTS 89
700th Anniversary, 1869-1969, Calvary Lutheran Church, New Windsor, Illinois.
n.p., 1969. 62 p. (MCM)
Ordinance Book for the Vilage of Windsor, Mercer County, Illinois, n.p., 1915.
31 p. (MCM)
United Presbyterian Church, New Windsor, Illinois, Fifty Years, n.p., 1969.
33 p. (MCM)
History of the North Henderson Methodist Church, 1840-1968. (typescript),
n.c. 25 p. (MCM)
History of Perryton School Community, compiled by Ruth Cooke Burrows and
Florence Doak McHard. n.p., 1953. 12 p. (MCM)
Perryton Presbyterian Church, Mercer County, Illinois. Souvenir, 50th Anniver-
sary, 1872-1922. n.p., n.d. 8 p. (MCM)
Souvenir: Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, Perryton Presbyterian Church, 1872-1947.
n.p., n.d. 10 p. (MCM)
Perryton United Presbyterian Church. 90th Anniversary, 1872-1962. n.p., n.d.
12 p. (MCM)
Centennial Anniversary of Center Presbyterian Church, Seaton, Illinois, n.p.,
1969, 8 p. (MCM)
General County Histories
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, ed. by Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, and
History of Henderson County, ed. by James W. Gordon. Chicago: Munsell,
1911. p. 617-905 (IHS, WIU, ISHL)
History of Mercer County, Together With Biographical Matter, Statistics, etc . . .
Containing Also a Short History of Henderson County. Chicago: H. H. Hill,
1882. p. 863-912. (WIU, ISH, ISHL)
History of Mercer and Henderson Counties. Chicago: H. H. Hill, 1882. 1414 p.
The Henderson County part of this history was reprinted under the title:
History of Henderson County. Aledo, III.: The Times Record Co., 1981.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Hancock, McDonough, and Henderson
Counties. Chicago: Lake City Pub. Corp., 1894. 598 p. (IHS, ISHL, WIU)
Special Aspects of the County History
Belmont Methodist Church. Marceline, Mo.: Walsworth, 1951. 90 p.
History of Belmont Methodist Church, n.p., 1960. 33 p.
A Comprehensive Long Range Development Plan. St. Louis, Mo.: General
Planning and Resource Consultants, 1970. (WIU)
90 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
Consolidated Directory Company, Monmouth. 1940 Directory of Henderson
County, III. Oquawka, III.: Henderson County Journal, 1940. 100 p.
David Rankin, Farmer. Tarkio. Mo.: n.p., 1909. 64 p. (WIU)
Henderson County Public School Directory 1920-1921, compiled by A. L.
Beale. n.p.: Printed by Edward O. Barnes, n.d. 56 p. (WIU)
Inventory of Historic Landmarks in Henderson County: Preliminary Report,
prepared by the Illinois Historic Landmarks Survey, n.p., 1974. 5 p. (WIU)
Inventory of Historic Structures in Henderson County: Preliminary Report,
prepared by the Illinois Historic Landmarks Survey, n.p., 1972. 2 p. (WIU)
Jamison, Matthew H. Recollections of Pioneer and Army Life. Kansas City:
Hudson Press, 1911. 363 p.
125th Anniversary, 1850-1975, Old Bedford Christian Church, Blandinsville,
Illinois, n.p., n.d. 23 p.
Our Honor Roll, Henderson County, Illinois: Honor Roll Celebration, Aug. 28,
1919, Wier's Fruit Farm. Burlington, Iowa: Conrad Lutz and Sons, n.d.
10 p. (WIU)
Prairie Farmer's Directory of Warren, Henderson Counties, Illinois. Chicago:
Prairie Farmer Publishing, 1918. 327 p.
Veale, P. T. and H. L. Wascher. Henderson County Soils. Urbana, III.: n.p.,
1956. 64 p. (WIU)
County Atlases, Maps and Platbooks
(listed in order of publication)
Map of Henderson County, Illinois. Philadelphia: Thomas Doran, 1868. 40" x
Standard Atlas of Henderson County, Illinois. Chicago: G. A. Ogle, 1900. 68 p.
Atlas and Farm Directory of Mercer & Henderson Counties, Illinois. Chicago:
Standard Map Company, 1914. The 1900 and 1914 atlases are reprinted
under title: 1900 and 1914 Plats of Henderson County, Illinois and Histori-
cal Maps of the State. Owensboro, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1981. 72 p.
Plat Book of Henderson County, Illinois. Rockford, III.: W. W. Hixson and Co.
1930 (IHS), 1939 (WIU)
Farm Plat Book and Business Guide, Henderson County, Illinois. Rockford, III.:
Rockford Map Publishers, 1950 (WIU), 1958, 1962 (Ul)
Henderson County, Illinois, JAM Service. Harlan, Iowa: R. C. Booth Enter-
prises, n.d. (LCM55-797)
Tri-Annual Atlas and Plat Book. Rockford, III.: Rockford Map Publishers, 1966
(Ul), 1970 (WIU), 1973, 1976. Titles change slightly.
Henderson County Directory. Algona, Iowa: Directory Service, 1974. 28 p.
NOTES AND DOCUMENTS 91
Censuses and General Genealogical Information
1850 Federal Census of Henderson County, Illinois, copied and indexed by
Bernice C. Richards. Mt. Prospect, III.: Frank Rademacher, 1977. 110 p.
Ross, Virginia and Jane Evans. Henderson County, Illinois, Cemeteries. Owens-
boro, Ky.: McDowell Pub., 1981. 2 vols. (WIU)
Publications on Towns and Townships
Listed alphabetically by town name)
Biggsville, 1854-1979. Monmouth, III.: Kellogg Printing, n.d. 63 p. (WIU)
Noble, Charles L. and Alumni Association. Biggsville High School 1895-1961
Alumni Directory, n.p., n.d. 29 p. (WIU)
The United Methodist Church, Biggsville, Illinois, 1868-1968. n.p., n.d. 11 p.
United Presbyterian Church, Biggsville, Illinois, 1866-1966. n.p., n.d. 11 p.
Gladstone Methodist Church, 1867-1967. n.p. 12 p. (WIU)
Gladstone, Illinois, Centennial, 1881-1981. n.p.: Gladstone Centennial Commit-
tee, n.d. 56 p. (WIU)
Olena Community 100th Anniversary, 1835-1935. Stronghurst, III.: Stronghurst
Graphic, n.d. 8 p. (WIU)
Wagner, Carl Anton. Oquawka, a typical Upper Mississippi River Port, 1883-
1980. Diss. University of Illinois, 1942. 43 p. (IHS, WIU)
Allaman, John Lee. Edward O. Barnes and the Raritan (Illinois) Reporter,
1884-1934. M. T. Western Illinois University, 1982. 165 p.
Centennial Anniversary of the Raritan Baptist Church, Raritan, Illinois, 1858-
1958. n.p., n.d. 30 p. (WIU)
Hagaman, Andrew. Historical Address Delivered at the Celebration n.p.: Raritan
Bulletin Print, 1881. 8 p. (ISHL)
History of Raritan, Illinois, and Community: Honoring the 125th Anniversary
of Raritan, 1856-1981. Aledo, III.: Times Record, 1981. 103 p. (WIU)
125th Anniversary of the Reformed Church, Raritan, Illinois, 1855-1980. n.p.,
1980. 56 p. (WIU)
Salem Baptist Association. Minutes of the Thirty-Sixth Anniversary of the Salem
Baptist Association, Held With Baptist Church at Raritan, Henderson
County, Illinois, Aug. 11th and 12th A.D. 1869. Monmouth, III.: Atlas
Steam Printing, 1869. 16 p. (WIU)
92 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
South Henderson 100th Anniversary, 1835-1935. Stronghurst, III.: Stronghurst
The Story of South Henderson, published by the South Henderson Cennetery
Association. Galesburg, III.: Landon/Galesburg, 1950. 116 p. (WIU)
Fiftieth Anniversary, 1890-1940. Stronghurst, III.: Evangelical Lutheran Church,
n.d. 23 p. (WIU)
l\/lethodists Join in the Worship of God. Rockford, III.: Mid West Studios,
Church Pictorial Directories, n.d. (about Stronghurst Methodist Church)
14 p. (WIU)
Stronghurst High School Alumni Directory. Stronghurst, III.: Charles G. Bell,
1979? 40 p. (WIU)
REVIEWS OF BOOKS
HIS OWN COUNSEL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LYMAN TRUM-
BULL. By Ralph J. Roske. Reno, Nev.: University of Nevada Press,
1979. Pp. 232. $7.50.
Among Illinois political figures in the mid- to late-nineteenth
century, few are as important or complex as Lyman Trumbull, who
was variously labelled by his detractors as radical, conservative,
liberal, etc. He was a man who moved from the Democratic Party
to the Republican, the Liberal Republican, Democratic, and finally
Populist parties. Despite his changing political affiliations. Professor
Ralph J. Roske maintains that Trumbull remained true to his princi-
ples of equality of opportunity, individual liberty, fiscal conserva-
tism, and state rights. But his parties changed, causing Trumbull
to desert them in order to remain true to his principles.
Although the book is accurate and highly readable, it adds little
to what we already know of Trumbull and his motivations. Because
the author was forced by the exigencies of printing to greatly trun-
cate his original manuscript, we have been deprived of the benefits
of the in-depth study Roske envisioned of Trumbull as well as the
complex personal and political milieu in which he acted. As ex-
ample, the complex reasons for the Illinois Republican's rejection of
Douglas' overtures, supported by Horace Greeley, in 1858 are only
hinted at. Similarly, Roske is able to provide only a cursory look
at the reasons Illinois elected a Democratic legislature in the midst
of the Civil War, and the relationship of that to Trumbull's course
in the Senate. The now familiar story of Trumbull's break with
Andrew Johnson and Trumbull's role in the passage of the Four-
teenth Amendment deserves fuller treatment.
In sum, Roske's His Own Counsel is too brief. Because the out-
lines of Trumbull's career are already well-known, what was needed,
and is still, is a big biography that will enable a reader to understand
all the complexities of state, national, and personal issues that shaped
and explained Trumbull's career instead of the hints so suggestively
94 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
dangled by Roske. I suspect the fault lies with the press, rather than
the author. Nevertheless, the work belongs on the shelf of anyone
interested in Trumbull, Illinois, or the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Roger D. Bridges
Illinois State Historical Library
BEYOND SPOON RIVER: THE LEGACY OF EDGAR LEE
MASTERS. By Ronald Primeau. Austin: University of Texas Press,
1981. Pp. xiii, 217. $22.50
There must be something about Edgar Lee Masters that repels
critics. In an age when the icy winds of criticism (sweeping off the
arctic wastes of tenure decisions, no doubt) seem to seek out every-
one who ever courted the muse, no matter how feebly, they have
blown but fitfully upon the bard of Petersburg. Ronald Primeau's
new book. Beyond Spoon River, is, surprisingly, the first book
length critical study of Masters (thus giving the damning descrip-
tion, "one-book poet," so often applied to Masters, an unexpected
This critical neglect is an implicit subject of Primeau's book;
it would have been a better, more useful book if it had been a more
explicit one. Primeau is a man with a cause. In a brief section in his
chapter on Masters and Whitman (pp. 94-97), he summarizes the
conventional view of Masters that he is out to demolish. After the
commercial and to some extent artistic success of Spoon River
Anthology (Ezra Pound hailed the book with the words, "At last
America has discovered a poet"), critics misunderstood Masters'
voluminous later work and treated it unsympathetically and un-
fairly. The "sensationalistic innovations" of Spoon River Anthology
led critics to look for those same qualities in the later work and to
overlook the fundamental conservatism of Masters' work as a whole
and its roots in poetic tradition. Masters was compared, unfavorably,
to Eliot and Pound when he should have been measured against
the Greeks, Goethe, and the great English and American Romantics.
As a result, the later Masters has come to be regarded, in Primeau's
words, as "a popularizer, a writer of polite verse, a dabbler in fiction,
an amateur historian whose training in law spilled over into
chronicles about the land of his origins." Now, Primeau says, "more
enlightened approaches to midwestern literature" have set the stage
for a reassessment of the post-SpooA? River Masters. (Primeau is pro-
fessor of English at Central Michigan University, editor of the Great
Lakes Review, and a vigorous spokesman for "regional studies.")
Primeau sets out to provide this reassessment in a series of
chapters devoted first to Masters' early reading and critical writing
RE VIEWS OF BOOKS 95
and then to his literary debts to the Greeks, Goethe, Emerson,
Whitman, Shelley, and Browning. He ends with an incisive and well
written chapter on Masters' progressive celebration of the Illinois
landscape and his gradual transformation of that landscape into an
internalized, mystical, "invisible" one.
Primeau carries out his plan very well. His chapters on Masters'
attitude toward influence, his literary tastes, and his literary theories
are thorough, balanced, and persuasive. The five chapters on the
influences of particular poets are equally illuminating. Primeau
knows his way around in Masters' fifty or so books, he knows the
writers who influenced Masters equally well, and he has a sensitive
and sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of literary influ-
ence. (The shadow of Yale University stretches across this book;
Primeau quotes Harold Bloom frequently and approvingly and draws
pervasively on the notion of the "anxiety of influence.")
The reservations one may have about Beyond Spoon River
are less with the execution of the project than with the conception
of the project itself. Is the world ready for a detailed, Bloomian
analysis of the literary influences upon the late Edgar Lee Masters?
I must regretfully conclude that it is not. Standing between us and
such an analysis is the standard evaluation of Masters' posl-Spoon
River work, expressed succinctly by Bernard Duffey: "With the
exception of a few individual poems, perhaps a dozen in all. Masters'
work was dull, tremendously garrulous, and wholly unenlightened
by the imaginative and dramatic resilience which had marked
Spoon River," a judgment Primeau quotes and rejects, but does
To set up a reassessment of Masters as a study in influences is to
make an end run around the basic issues. It is no defense of dull,
garrulous, and unenlightened writing to show that it has been influ-
enced by great writers. The real problem with Masters' work is not
that it was not "modernist" or that it was judged by inappropriate
standards but rather that most of it was just plain bad writing,
flaccid, mechanical, and clumsy. When Primeau quotes parallel
passages from Masters and one of his predecessors— Emerson or
Whitman or Browning— the Masters version is almost invariably
inferior and often embarrassingly so. But Primeau rarely observes
this and never draws any conclusion from it. Everything is grist for
the big Blooming mill, chaff as well as wheat.
There is a need for a reassessment of Masters. To dismiss all of
Masters' work after 1916 as worthless is as dubious as to regard it
all as worthy of close analysis. We need a sharp, critical overview of
all the work which would trace Masters' major themes, assess his
technique, and discriminate between the good and the bad in his
work. I suspect that such a reassessment would confirm Duffey's
96 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
view that Masters' claim to our attention rests upon Spoon River
Anthology and perhaps as few as a dozen later poems and would add
to those central poetic works some prose pieces, notably his remark-
able autobiography. Across Spoon River, and his charming last
book. The Sangamon. Perhaps after this spade work has been done,
we will be able to return to Primeau's book with more profit and
see the workings of influence as culminating in fully achieved, satis-
fying works of art and not in tedious hack work.
University of Illinois
MOLINE: A PICTORIAL HISTORY. By Bess Pierce. Virginia Beach,
Virginia: Donning Company 1981. pp. 200.
The Rock Island County Historical Society and the First Na-
tional Bank of Moline have performed a valuable task in sponsoring
this book in a limited edition of 2,500 copies. Outside of newspaper
columns and institutional histories, Moline and the Quad-Cities area
in general have been neglected by historians. Although not a truly
narrative account, and strictly limited to the city of Moline, this
book serves as a starting point for future interpretations.
Because of a photographic orientation, Bess Pierce's selection
of material seems to have been unsystematic. The method of period i-
zation is never explained. The reader is never quite sure of the reason
for uban development: is Moline hampered or assisted by the other
municipalities in the Quad-Cities? There is an assumption of this
city's uniqueness, yet the periods of growth are arbitrarily presented
in the four chapters as 1829-1854, 1855-1899, 1900-1939, and
1940-1980. Are these crucial breaks in the "modernization" of the
urban area (to use Richard Jensen's theory of historical change in
Illinois)? There is also a lack of internal relationship between topics.
What are the inter-connections between the Wagner Opera House,
ditching plows, and various churches? (pp. 52-53). Immediately
following this, an eight-page sub-section on Moline, Kansas (pp.
54-61) appears without any explanation.
The book will be useful in recapturing the industrial basis of
Moline's material culture. The photographs have been reproduced
with clarity, and their size is sufficient for future analysis. Some
brief treatments of specialized subjects are quite useful: there is a
nicely developed photographic essay on airplanes (pp. 122-125)
and an excellent photograph of the Rock Island Rapids before the
construction of Lock and Dam No. 15 by the Corps of Engineers
in 1934 (pp. 128-129). Furthermore, Pierce briefly refers to a
hitherto unknown novel about Moline. Charles W. Davis wrote
The Nut and the Bolt from the perspective of a black man growing
REVIEWS OF BOOKS 97
up in the city. Many readers would welcome a longer discussion than
the two paragraphs in this book (p. 147).
Scott Community College
MISSISSIPPIAN MORTUARY PRACTICES: A CASE STUDY OF
TWO CEMETERIES IN THE LOWER ILLINOIS VALLEY. By
Lynne Gail Goldstein, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University,
Archaeological Program 1980, Pp. vii, 196.
Mississippian Mortuary Practices is a revised and updated version
of Goldstein's innovative 1976 dissertation. It was an excellent piece
of research in 1976 and has stood the test of time and the current
explosion in archeological methods and theory better than many of
its contemporary studies. It is a substantive and complex monograph
for the serious student of Mississippian prehistory or archeological
Golstein begins with a clear and concise statement of her goals
in the formal analysis of spatial patterning at the Moss and Schild
prehistoric cemeteries in the Lower Illinois Valley. Her discussion of
the particular analytical methods selected and the theoretical under-
pinning of her approach is quite convincing. It demonstrates an
excellent appreciation of the appropriate literature. The basic prem-
ise of her work, that systemic or processual analysis of spatial pat-
terning in mortuary sites can go a long way towards the explication
of such intangibles as the specifics of prehistoric social organization,
was controversial in 1976 and is only slightly less so today. Goldstein
examines overall pattern and context rather than individual artifacts
or grave goods. In effect it is a more productive way of looking at
a class of sites that normative archeologists have potted about in
Chapters two and three offer an excellent summary of Mississip-
pian archeology throughout its rather considerable range and a suc-
cint description of the Moss and Schild cemeteries. Again Goldstin's
command of the varied and extensive literature dealing with Missis-
sippian phenomenea is impressive. Her general summary of Mississip-
pian development should be recommended reading in introductory
courses on Midwestern pre-history. A somewhat distracting aspect
of this portion of the book is Goldstein's apparent penchant for
awkward and sonorous scientific jargon. The use of such terms as
"disposal area" for cemetery or "disposal types" for different sorts
of burials in my opinion adds little to her argument. The statement
on page eighteen that "The death of a particular individual appar-
ently terminated a mortuary schedule" is a marvelous example of
stating the obvious in a grandiose manner. To be fair to Goldstein,
98 WESTERN ILLINOIS REGIONAL STUDIES
this was a common occurrence in the earlier days of a militant and
self-consciously "scientific" New Archeology. Goldstein's later work
exhibits a refreshing clarity and economy of style.
A good statement of the four hypotheses Goldstein intended
to evaluate appears in chapter four. They appear to be well con-
sidered and well stated. Her hypotheses are clearly defined and re-
lated to a specific theoretical approach. The applicability of the data
from the Moss and Schild sites to an evaluation of the hypotheses is
readily apparent. She discusses the relative merits of two rather
disparate approaches to mortuary analysis employed by Saxe (1970),
Peebles (1972), and Tainter (1975) and amply justifies her selection
of a monothetic divisive cluster algorithm method. Perhaps the
most important element in this section is the fact that Goldstein was
able to successfully devise four testable hypotheses regarding broader
issues of Mississippian social organization which could be adequately
evaluated employing data from two isolated and somewhat peripheral
In the same section Goldstein elects to address a later criticism
of her original 1976 work by Nan Rothchild (1979:600). Based on
an analysis of mortuary data from Indian Knoll and Dickson Mounts,
Rothchild has seriously questioned the appropriateness of Gold-
stein's characterization of outlying Mississippian mortuary sites as
generally egalitarian in social structure. Goldstein attempts to
demonstrate that her use of egalitarian in hypothesis 1 refers pri-
marily to material indicators of within-group variability rather than
between-group social differences. Goldstein also cites Saxe's (1970:
75) hypothesis 5 as supporting her definition.
My criticism here relates primarily to what amounts to a distract-
ing aside in a chapter purportedly directed towards a succinct de-
scription of Goldstein's hypotheses. Her reply to Rothchild would be
more effective and appropriate in a concluding section after the
evaluation of the major hypotheses. Secondly, Goldstein's presenta-
tion of Rothchild's critique is totally inadequate to allow the in-
formed reader to fairly judge the relative merits of the argument.
Finally, Goldstein's rebuttal strikes me as less than substantive,
verbal sleight-of-hand. On the basis of clarity and semantic accuracy
Goldstein could have saved considerable energy by describing rural
Mississippian society as something other than egalitarian.
Sections six through nine consist of an in-depth evaluation of
Goldstein's major hypotheses on Mississippian social organization.
This is perhaps the strongest portion of the monograph and is char-
acterized by economical narrative, excellent schematic drawings and
concise tables and graphs. The cluster analysis employed is clearly
described as are all key elements and attributes. Hypotheses 1 on
the egalitarian aspect of rural Mississippian communities is con-
RE VIEI/VS OF BOOKS 99
vincingly supported, as is Peebles' (1974) work at Moundville.
Goldstein clearly defines specific social statuses or groups in the
Moss and Schild populations on a replicable quantitative basis. She
then proceeds to an attempt at elucidating the meaning of the de-
lineated groupings. Hypothesis 2 on the direct relation of spatial
organization and resource allocating descent groups, hypothesis 3
on mortuary patterns and communality, and hypothesis 4 on the
wider implications of Mississippian mortuary patterns are all con-
firmed by Goldstein's rigous evaluation. An additional bonus is
Goldstein's refreshingly candid presentation of her thoughts on the
use and abuse of sophisticated statistical analyses in archeology.
As she points out, many archeologists have fallen into common
traps in their eagerness to quantify archeological analysis. By leaving
her analysis in its 1976 form and pointing out some of the pitfalls
she encountered, Goldstein provides a considerable service for later
students of mortuary analysis.
Mississippian IVIortuary Practices is a well designed, well written
monograph. It is of considerable value on a number of levels, includ-
ing the rigorous evaluation of a specific methodological and analyti-
cal approach; the vindication of a particular theoretical stance; and
the development of several broadly applicable ideas on Mississippian
social organization. It should be of great use in graduate courses
in Midwestern prehistory and is a major contribution to the field.
Michael R. Beckes
Custer National Forest
DONALD Q. CANNON, Professor of Church History and Doctrine
at Brigham Young University, is the editor of two volumes of essays
on Mormon history and a volume of diaries, journals, and autobiog-
raphies by church members. His articles on Joseph Smith, Wilford
Woodruff, and others have appeared in various LDS periodicals.
JEFFREY J. FOLKS is an Assistant Professor of English at Tennes-
see Wesleyan College. He has published articles on Sherwood Ander-
son, William Faulkner, and Ellis Parker Butler, and he is currently
working on a complete bibliography of Butler's writings.
TIMOTHY FRAZER, Professor of English at Western Illinois Uni-
versity, has written articles on language variation, naming practices,
and cultural geography for American Speech, The Great Lakes Re-
view, and other publications. He is associate editor for the Linguistic
Atlas of the North Central States.
FRANK W. GOUDY, Associate Professor and Reference Librarian
at Western Illinois University, has published articles in College and
Research Libraries, Illinois Libraries, PNLA Quarterly, and other
journals. He writes in the field of economics as well as library science.
ANNETTE P. HAMPSHIRE is an historian who lives in Essex,
England, and her article entitled "Thomas Sharp and Anti-Mormon
Sentiment in Illinois, 1841-1845" recently appeared in the Journal
of the Illinois State Historical Society.