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Chapter 4

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Illinois in 1818

Solon J. Buck

in the sesquicentennial edition,
University of Illinois Press
Urbana, Chicago, and London 1967

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 6
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p118  Chapter 5
The Economic Situation

Thayer's Note: When the various counties are mentioned, the boundaries of which changed constantly thruout the period covered by this book, it may be useful to you, as it was to me, to refer to Michael L. Hébert's excellent page of maps, Illinois County Boundaries 1790‑Present.

The industrial development of a region on the frontier has always depended to a very large extent on its facilities for transportation. In recent times the settlement of the western plains has followed the lines of the pioneer railroads, usually resisting every attempt to deflect it to regions not traversed by them. When the Mississippi valley was first settled, however, the railroads had not yet begun to play their part as a major economic factor; and accordingly it was the waterways, as offering an obvious and easy means of communication, which exerted the most decisive influence upon the early settlement and development of the middle west.

Illinois in particular owed much to her abundance of navigable streams. With an easy means of communication between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois River and its tributaries, and in touch with the East by way of the Ohio, the Illinois country occupied a strategic position in relation to the outside world. In the interior, the Illinois, the Wabash, and the Kaskaskia, with their numerous tributaries, afforded unusually good transportation facilities; even such lesser streams as the Little Wabash, the Embarras, the Big Muddy, and some of the so‑called creeks could be navigated by the barges, flatboats, arks, and keelboats in use on the west waters. As has already been indicated, the first settlers naturally located along these waterways; had it not been for the considerable number of streams, the country could never have been developed as rapidly as it was.

The era of the steamboat, destined to bring about a great increase in the speed and reduction in the cost of transportation, was just beginning at the time when Illinois became a state. The first steamboat trip down the Ohio and Mississippi was in 1811, but not until four years later was the first trip up the river to Louisville accomplished, while August 2, 1817, was the date of  p119 the first arrival at St. Louis. The following January, however, Morris Birkbeck reported: "Steam-boats already navigate the Wabash: a vessel of that description has this winter made its way up from New Orleans to within a few miles of our settlement. They are about building one at Harmony." Two months later he wrote to a prospective emigrant: "Your voyage up from New Orleans, by steam, will be about a month. Steam-boats are passing continually. A gentleman who is just come down the Ohio, saw ten new ones on the stocks at different ports of the river."1

Important as was river transportation, especially as regards connection with the outside world, the improvement of facilities for travel and transportation on land was also necessary for the development of the territory and state. Often the distance from point to point by water was several times as great as that by land, while much of the most desirable land lay in the interior between the streams. From early territorial times travelers and emigrants had made their way overland from various points on the Ohio to the settlements on the Mississippi, and by 1818 a number of main lines of travel were clearly marked out. The earlier route from Fort Massac, a short distance below the mouth of the Tennessee, to Kaskaskia had been largely superseded by the roads leading from Golconda and Shawneetown to the capital. From Kaskaskia northward an old road wound up the American bottom through Prairie du Rocher and Cahokia to Illinoistown opposite St. Louis and to the mouth of the Wood River. The rapid growth of the country north of Kaskaskia, in St. Clair and Madison counties, led to the development of a direct route of travel from Shawneetown through Carlyle to Edwardsville and Alton, to which was given the name "Goshen Road." From Vincennes to St. Louis ran another trail which joined the Goshen road near Carlyle and coincided with it for a few miles; and a branch of this Vincennes road, leaving the main line near the center of the state, led southwestwardly to Kaskaskia. Other important lines of travel were from Shawneetown  p120 northward through Carmi to the English settlement and from Kaskaskia by way of Belleville to Edwardsville.

Although there was considerable travel on these main routes during certain seasons of the year, they were in the main little more than trails worn by use. They were made, as George Flower, expresses it, "by one man on horseback following in the track of another, every rider making the way a little easier to find, until you came to some slush, or swampy place, where all trace was lost, and you got through as others had done, by guessing at the direction, often riding at hazard for miles until you stumbled on the track again." To guide the traveler through the wilderness, "the tracks or roads from one settlement to another in the woods, are marked by one notch in the bark of the trees for a foot-path, two for a bridle-road, and three for a waggon route."2

The need of improvement was obvious, but efforts directed toward making better roads had many practical difficulties to overcome. At the very first session of the territorial legislature in December, 1812, Congress was appealed to for an appropriation "to open a road from Shawneetown on the Ohio river to the Saline and from thence, the most direct way, to Kaskaskia."​3 Two years later an attempt was made in the lower house of the legislature to provide for the laying out of a number of main highways at the expense of the territory. Although the bill for this purpose was "postponed untill next Session of the Legislature," it is significant for the information which it contains as to prevailing conditions and as to the roads desired.​4 It reads:

Whereas it is essential to the prosperity of this Territory that Roads should be laid out & established thro' the same in such directions as will tend most effectually to facilitate & render more safe the intercourse between the two populous extremes of the same.

And whereas a Road from the Ohio Saline to Kaskaskia the nearest & best rout and one from this to begin at a point on the West side of Little Muddy & to run the nearest and best rout to the Court-House  p121 of StClair County at Bellville & also one from Lusk's Ferry​5 on the Ohio to intersect the Road leading from the Saline to Kaskaskia at a point to be ascertain'd & fix'd upon by the Viewers would be of the utmost importance to the Country & greatly advantageous to the People of the Territory & those moving to & through the same.

The many advantages resulting from this measure are obvious — Instead of a Wilderness of nearly one hundred Miles thro' which the present intercourse is carried — of the bad roads which in the wet season of the year are rendered impassable — Rafting or swimming the several turbulent streams which often extend some miles beyond their Beds — of being obliged to encamp for Weeks in woods, wanting often the necessary Sustenance for Man & Horse — these several established routs would ere long for found crouded with Farms on each side — Ferrys & Toll Bridges established — provisions for Travellers in abundance — & all the difficulties & obstacles greatly lessened or entirely removed and would render the conveyance of the mails — the marching of Troops from one populous extreme of the Terry to the other — the conveyance of Salt more safe easy & less expensive — To the end therefore that the best ground may be selected on or as near these several Routs as the ground will admit of & to the end also that these may be permanently established & opened either as Turnpikes or otherwise by the proper authority Be it Enacted that Philip Trammil Enock Moore & Thomas Jordan be and are hereby appointed viewers with Power & authority to proceed to view & select the ground most suitable, & cause a survey to be made of the same & to note the obstacles that may present themselves on the several Routs which, together with their opinion of the probable sum necessary for opening the said Roads, the said viewers shall report to the Legislature at the Commencement of their next Session.

Nothing further is heard of this territorial project, but in April, 1816, Congress passed "An Act to authorize the surveying and making a road in the territory of Illinois," which led ultimately to a material improvement of the facilities for travel between Shawneetown and Kaskaskia. Commissioners were to be appointed by the President to "explore, survey, and mark in the most eligible course, a road" between these two places, and $8,000 was appropriated for the expense of opening and marking the road in such manner as the President might direct. On February 5, 1817, the Intelligencer reported that the commissioners had completed their survey of the road.


They have taken it from where it at present runs for the longest part of the distance, by doing which they have formed as they state themselves an infinitely better road and have shortened the distance about eighteen miles. At the crossing of all those streams between the Saline and Kaskaskia in the neighborhood of which, so many difficulties were presented in consequence of the marches and quagmires, the present rout will be entirely exempt from them. . . . It is expected that the road will be opened in the spring — and so soon as there are houses of entertainment established on it, it will no doubt be traveled by every person.

The expectation that the new road would soon be opened was not fulfilled. The summer and autumn of 1817 passed without further developments and on November 6 the Intelligencer declared:

It is to be regretted very much that the road has not been opened, or the old one improved, — families coming to the country have been detained a week by high water and muddy roads, which is extremely discouraging to emigrants. Had not the $8,000 better be laid out in erecting bridges and improving the old road? That sum properly expended on the old road would make it one of the best roads in the western country. Unless the new road is completed or the other improved, it will almost be impossible for waggons to travel it, as it is becoming worse and worse every day, and especially at this season of the year.

Finally in the following April, two years after the passage of the act, announcement was made that the survey had received the approval of the President, and in August proposals were invited "for Cutting and Clearing out the road as laid out by the commissioners, from Kaskaskia to Demint's​6 a distance of about 50 miles. The road to be cut 33 feet wide and all the timber taken off, the stumps to be very low." The progress of the work during the fall and winter is described by Governor Bond in a communication to the legislature delivered March 4, 1819. "It has been ascertained," he wrote,

that the appropriations made by congress for laying off and completing a road from Shawneetown to Kaskaskia, will not be sufficient for the completion of that object.

 p123  The road has been cut out, and the timber removed from a part thereof. And it is believed that with the money yet remaining, the road can be made passible, with this exception; the principal creeks and rivers between Kaskaskia and Muddy river, cannot be bridged without an additional appropriation.

From the information I have received, it is not probable that a further grant of money will be made by Congress for the purpose.

I therefore, recommend the propriety of passing a law authorising the building of toll bridges over such creeks and rivers by individuals.

The legislature decided that no legislation was necessary as the county commissioners already had authority to grant such privileges.

Particular interest attaches to the road from Vincennes to St. Louis because for a considerable distance it lay beyond the frontier of survey and itself marked the frontier line of extreme settlement. This was just becoming an established route of travel in 1818. Three years earlier Edward Coles had been "assured at Vincennes that there were no houses of accommodation on the way, and moreover, that it was not safe from Indian massacre, to go from there directly west to St. Louis, but that I would have to go by way of Shawneetown and Kaskaskia."​7 But 1817, however, there was a "trace" across the prairies but "to ride that alone was then thought to be a perilous affair."​8 Two years later it was still considered "a perilous affair" to travel the route alone but danger appears to have been less from Indians than from white men. There were at that time some six or more road houses along the way between the Embarras River on the east and the Kaskaskia on the west, the limits of settlement; but the hospitality of some of these appears to have been of a very dubious character. An eastern tenderfoot, who made the trip in 1819, gives an account of his experiences, which were so startling that it would be difficult to regard his story as anything but pure fiction, were it not for corroborative evidence.9

 p124  This traveler, Richard Lee Mason by name,

obtained a list of cutthroats and murderers, whose names are as follows on the list: Gatewood, Rutherford, Grimberry, Cain, Young, Portlethwaite, etc. This chain of villains extended for eighty miles through all the dreary and lonesome prairies. We were informed that when they were not engaged in robbing or murdering they were very industriously employed in manufacturing bank notes, which they imposed on travelers at every opportunity. It may be worthy of remark that all the country for forty miles around where these banditti have taken possession belongs to the United States. For the convenience of travelers, a new road has been made through this country, instead of going by Shawneetown, and those villains have posted themselves along the road under the name of tavernkeepers, watching for their prey whenever it may pass. Indeed, I conceive it impossible for any man who has cash enough to make him worth killing to travel this road alone. Called to see Gatewood, the first man on the list of cutthroats. He was from home. Saw his wife, a handsome, young dejected-looking woman, who appeared very uneasy at her husband's being inquired for by a man almost as well armed and not much out of the style of Robinson Crusoe. Saw a bloody cravat on the end of the log of which his house was built. We intend to call and see the balance of the fraternity out of curiosity. . . . Crossed a prairie twelve miles broad and arrived at the house of Rutherford, the second man on the cutthroat list. We had time enough to pass this house, but having a list of desperados, and being disappointed in seeing Gatewood, curiosity induced us to spend the night. This was a piece of comedy for information which was near ending in tragedy. Our traveling party consisted of four persons, Dr. Hill, myself and two young men, strangers, from Kentucky. As we traveled in a little carriage, and with a pair of horses, we placed our fellow-travelers' baggage with our own, which made a considerable show. On our arrival a man dressed like a Quaker pretended to be hostler until he ascertained the quantity of our baggage. I recognized him as an engraver from Philadelphia, who had been a candidate for the penitentiary for forgery. We called for the landlord, and were informed by Mrs. Rutherford that he was from home, but we could be well entertained and made comfortable in every way. . . . We were suddenly startled by the shrill Indian warwhoop, which proceeded from a thicket near the house. . . . We were not kept long in a state of suspense. Rutherford and three sturdy fellows, armed, entered the house, all half-drunk. They took no notice of us, but eyed our baggage, which was heaped on the floor. They drank freely of whisky, and appeared in fine spirits. As one of our companions was passing a small log house, in which food was kept, he  p125 heard men whispering, which he informed me of. I immediately got a candle. Searched the house, but did not see any person. However, as I was returning, I found two tall men hid in the chimney, who, on being spoken to, went into the house, making six altogether, and most of them very tall. They were armed with rifles and butcher knives, without coats or hats, their sleeves rolled up, their beards long and their faces smutted, such as the bravos are represented in the play of "The Foundling of the Forest." We had been anxious to see some of these banditti, but we did not contemplate seeing so large a company or having so full a visit from the fraternity. Rutherford disguised himself and denied that he was landlord, or lived at the place. It was not long before we were informed of the business of those devil-like looking visitors. Some of their private consultations were overheard. Robbery and murder were contemplated. They would frequently whisper and pinch each other, wink, eye us, then hunch each other and give a number of private signals which we did not understand. One observed "the trap door was too open," "that the boards were too wide apart," in a loud tone of voice. The reply was: "By G[image ALT: an underscored blank], it should be screwed up tight enough before morning!" They often mentioned the names of the cut-throats we had on our list as their particular friends and associates. They also spoke of the two men who had been murdered the day before, and acknowledged that they ate their last meal in the house we were in. Laughed at the manner in which the throats of one of these unfortunate men was cut, and many other circumstances which would swell this memorandum too much. Convinced us beyond a doubt they were of the banditti that had been described to us. Our own safety now became a matter of serious consideration, and our party of four held a consultation after the robbers' consultation was over (which was held in the dark a little way from the house). . . . The hour of 9 o'clock had now arrived, the night uncommonly dark and cloudy. On our going into the house one of the strangers went into the yard and gave the Indian warwhoop three times very loud. About 10 o'clock they took their six rifles, went into the yard with a candle and shot them off one by one, snuffing the candle at forty yards every shot. They then loaded afresh, primed and pricked their flints. A large horn was then taken from the loft and blown distinctly three times very loud. All those signals (which we had been told of) brought no more of the company. They then dispatched two of their own party, who were gone until 12 o'clock. They stated to their comrades "they could not be had." It may readily be imagined, after what we had overheard, seeing such preparations and observing many of their private signals, being warned of our danger previous to stopping at the house, together with the recent and cruel murders which had been committed, in a strange country, where every man made and executed his own law to suit himself  p126 — I say it cannot be a matter of wonder that our situation began to put on a character of the most unpleasant kind. However, we were well armed, having pistols, dirks, knives and a gun, and were determined, if necessity should require, to be murdered in the house, and not to be dragged into the woods, there to have our throats cut. It being a little after 12 o'clock the bravos proposed to take a drink and lie down on the floor to rest, which they did, and upon their arms. The house being very small they almost covered the floor of one room. The small back room was intended for us. There was no door to the partition, and the logs were about six inches apart. We were under some apprehension that in case of an attack they would be able to fire on us through the logs. After they were all still, myself and companions lay down in reach of each other, our clothes on, our dirks unsheathed, the guards off our pistols and three extra bullets in our fun, and agreed if a signal was given to fight the good fight. . . . Knowing those fellows were expert at cutting throats, from their conversation on that subject, I determined to put them to as much trouble as possible. Took off my cravat and twisted my silk handkerchief and tied it round my neck. In this situation we spent the night. We lay on our arms ready for the word. But little sleep. When they would move we did the same. If they coughed we followed the example. In this dreadful way the night was spent. I have no hesitation of declaring that if we had not been well armed or kept a strict watch we should have and robbed and murdered, and nothing but the fear of our killing a part of them kept their hands off. Could they have added to their numbers by their signals, our fate would have been certain. It is probable the balance of their party was engaged in some other enterprise. About the break of day the signal of rising was given by our visitors. We were on our feet in a minute, and our hands upon our arms. Three of them examined their rifles, and, after having some conversation with their comrades, proceeded up the road we had to travel. I presumed to place themselves behind trees and fire upon us without the risk of being killed. We lost no time in placing our baggage in our carriage and getting ready to leave this robbers' den. After paying our bill and being ready for a start, one of the brotherhood begged I would take my saddlebags into the house again; that he wanted a dose of medicine for one who was very sick. This I declined doing, suspecting his object, and advised him to call on some person with whom he was better acquainted. We thus bid adieu to Mr. Rutherford, his family, the banditti and the edge of the twelve-mile prairie. We had not traveled more than half a mile when we fell in with four travelers going to St. Louis, which increased our number to eight persons, and placed us out of danger. In making a memorandum of this unpleasant transaction, many important circumstances and some facts have been omitted. To have  p127 given a full detail would have taken more time than is in my power to devote at this time.

Besides the main highways crossing the state there were, of course, numerous local lines of travel radiating out from the towns through the surrounding country or connecting the settlements with the through roads or with navigable streams. "Most of the settlements," it was reported in 1817, "are connected by practicable roads, at least for packers and travellers on horseback."​10 Jurisdiction over these local roads rested with the county courts. Whenever anything more than a natural trail was desired, viewers were appointed to select a route. That having been accomplished, overseers or supervisors of each road were appointed to see that it was opened up and maintained. A certain amount of work on the roads or the payment of a tax in lieu thereof was an obligation imposed upon all the adult male inhabitants. In some cases the overseer were given "power to call out all the hands on each side of said road within six miles of it, to cut it out and keep it in repair"; but the more usual procedure appears to have been for the county court to compile a "list of persons subject to road labor," in which each individual would be assigned to a specific road.

The provision of means for crossing the many streams was the most difficult problem which these pioneer road makers had to face. Whenever possible a ford was used but there were many streams which could not be forded. The problem was usually solved by granting to some individual the right to establish a ferry or erect a toll bridge. Charges for the use of these conveniences were fixed by the county court, and the proprietor was usually protected in his monopoly of the business. It is doubtful if many of the proprietors had as much confidence in the travelling public as one John Flack, who, in December, 1818, advertised his "Boucoup Bridge" in the Intelligencer as follows: "I have opened a road from my house, 4 miles west of Boucoup, on a straight line to the old crossing of Little Muddy, at Jackson's  p128 bridge, and have erected an excellent bridge across Boucoup — this is the direct route from Kaskaskia to Shawneetown; and the way opened by my bridge is three miles nearer, and much better than the old road. I have not yet established a toll house at the bridge, but any person may cross, and in that case, I will thank them to call at my house and make me some compensation if they please."

Another essential accommodation for travelers making journeys of any considerable length was the road house or tavern, and establishments of this sort were to be found at frequent intervals on all the main highways. From the many descriptions of these taverns which have been preserved it is evident that the accommodations were usually very crude even in the best of them. A tavern establishment in Harrisonville, for example, which was offered for sale in 1818, was described as consisting of "the house containing Four commodious Rooms, a Kitchen, Smoke-House, Corncrib and a Stable, and a Garden attached thereto, at present under cultivation." A good-natured German who was in Illinois in 1819 reports that

after a journey of 22 miles through these prairies we reached the tavern; it was full of travelers. Nevertheless each one was served well enough, the horses were well cared for, and only with respect to the lodgings was the comfort not great. Each one had to prepare his own bed upon the floor as well as he could, and even here the American shows a peculiar ease which is the result of his noble freedom. Everything is done without ado and without ceremony. This manner of living, which was to me at first very strange and disagreeable, soon received my entire approval — little by little one feels himself free among free, honest people.​11

An English traveler recounts his experience in the tavern at Albion in the same year as follows: "I supped and went to bed in a hog-stye of a room, containing four filthy beds and eight mean persons; the sheets stinking and dirty; scarcity of water is, I suppose, the cause. The beds lie on boards, not cords, and are so hard that I could not sleep. Three in one bed, all filth, no comfort, and yet this is an English tavern; no whiskey, no milk, and  p129 vile tea, in this land of prairies."​12 It is apparent that both of these descriptions are colored by the personality and point of view of the writers.

Closely connected with the subject of transportation was that of postal service. Although the number of post offices in Illinois was increased from 9 in 1814 to 16 in 1817 and new "post-roads" were established at nearly every session of Congress, there was constant demand for further expansion of the service. The same session of Congress which passed the enabling act for Illinois established, by act of April 20, 1818, what appears to have been the first route across the territory — "from Belleville, by William Padfield's and the seat of justice of Bond county [Perryville], to Palmyra." The mail from the east destined for the settlements on the west side of Illinois and in Missouri was still carried down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Kaskaskia, and thence via Prairie du Rocher and Cahokia to St. Louis, although the Missouri legislature, as early as February 16, 1816, had petitioned for direct service overland from Vincennes. Not until March 3, 1819, was a mail route established "from Vincennes, by Carlisle and Belville, in Illinois, to St. Louis." The same act established three other frontier postal routes: "From Edwardsville, by Alton, to S. Charles, in the Missouri territory, and from Edwardsville, by Ripley, to Perrysville. . . . From Vincennes by Palestine, to York, in Illinois."13

The difficulties experienced by new settlements in the interior with reference to postal facilities are indicated by a petition drawn up in the English settlement probably soon after the establishment of Wanborough in August, 1818. After stating that "our correspondence is extensive and constant," the petitioners declared "that more than usual difficulties exist in the communication with our present Office of deposit at Princeton [Indiana], which is nearly forty miles from us, often consuming  p130 as much time in the transmission thence as from the Eastern States." They asked, therefore, for the establishment of a post office in the settlement "to communicate with a route now existing between Vincennes and Shawnee Town, on the Western side of the Wabash," and Congress in the following year deflected this route to "pass by the English Prairie."

During the later years of the territorial period the mail was supposed to be carried once a week on the main routes and once in two weeks in the interior. It was a very frequent occurrence, however, for the newspapers to announce "No eastern mail this week," the principal cause of delays being floods on the Ohio River. In its issue of November 20, 1817, for example, the Intelligencer expressed "regret that our readers are again compelled to take hold of a barren paper, but the floods which have been so unseasonably and unexpectedly poured upon us of late, have prevented the usual arrivals of the eastern mails; three weeks have now expired since we have had a mail." There was also complaint of "unpardonable neglect of post masters to forward papers by the first opportunity." From Kaskaskia the mail was forwarded to points north and west; consequently the weekly mail to that place was particularly heavy; its volume appears to have been so great that at times "a large portion of the letters and papers intended for that quarter is necessarily delayed, or probably entirely thrown out at Shawnoetown,º and either does not come on at all, or comes on after the information contained is stale and no longer useful." In consequence of this situation John Scott, the delegate from Missouri Territory, appealed to the postmaster general in December, 1816, for a semi-weekly service to Kaskaskia, St. Louis, and other points in Missouri. It was not until April 22, 1818, however, that the Intelligencer was able to announce that "a contract has been entered into for the conveyance of the mail twice a week from Shawnoetown to this place, and on to Saint Louis, which goes into operation on the first of May next. We therefore expect that all communications by mail may with some certainty be relied on. It is also designed that the eastern mail shall arrive at Shawnoetown twice in each week."

 p131  It appears to have been in connection with the transportation of the mail that the first stage service in Illinois began. No record has been found of stage lines in operation during the territorial period and it is probable that the mail was usually carried on horseback. The advertisement of the General Post Office for proposals for carrying the mail over the new routes established in Illinois in 1818 announces that "where the proposer intends to convey the mail in the body of a stage carriage, he is desired to state it in his proposals." A few months later, January 20, 1819, James Watson informed the public through the columns of the Intelligencer "that he can accommodate four stage passengers each trip he makes with the mail, to St. Louis. He starts from Kaskaskia every Sunday morning, and arrives at St. Louis the next day at 2 o'clock, P.M. Returning, he leaves St. Louis every Tuesday morning, and arrives at Kaskaskia the ensuing evening. Fare — $4 each passenger, payable in advance." This probably marks the beginning of regular stage service in Illinois. Before that time, travelers were obliged to make special arrangements or provide their own means of conveyance.​a

With such inadequate means of transportation by land it is small wonder that farmers in Illinois in 1818 found it difficult to market their produce profitably. As an English observer wrote (November 4, 1819): "Mr. Nicholls, a cunning Caledonian, says, that farming, except and the rivers, cannot answer."​14 Certainly his remark was not intended as a reflection on the productivity of the soil, for from all accounts the land was extraordinarily fertile.

One visitor in Illinois in 1817 wrote home:

The common productions of the country are much the same as those of Kentucky, Indian corn, wheat, rye, oats, tobacco and hemp are raised with as much facility and ease as in the neighborhood of Lexington, where I was raised; and judging from information and appearances of the last crops I am persuaded that the productions in the American bottom in particular, are greater and reared with more ease than in the neighbourhood of my nativity — Such is its luxuriancy  p132 that one acre of land in that bottom has yielded its industrious cultivator 110 bushels of Indian corn in a season, but this is uncommon, the average is estimated at from 60 to 70. — A more congenial soil for general cultivation I believe no where exists, it may be called the Elysium of America.​15

The "American bottom" to which the writer referred extended along the Mississippi from the Wood River to the Kaskaskia; it was about 80 or 90 miles in length and from 4 to 7 in width, with nearly equal portions of prairie and timbered land. The editors of the Intelligencer made the same claims for this country as the writer of the letter already quoted, but added: "The upper part of the territory, we learn is equally abundant in the productions of the soil."​16 A letter descriptive of the western country written early in 1818 and printed in the Lynchburg Press had the following to say:

The Illinois Territory, I have no doubt, furnishes greater inducements to emigration, than any other Territory belonging to the United States, to such men as are not holders of Slaves. I have no hesitation in saying, that one hand there can make as much annually, as any three in any other part with which I am acquainted. It is far the most fertile soil in the U. States; and quantity of prairie gives it advantages over and above what it would enjoy, from fertility alone. In the general, the farmer has nothing to do, but fence in his fields: plough his ground and plant his crop. He may then expect, from an acre, from 50 to 100 bushels [of] corn; and from 10 to 50 of wheat; the quality of both which articles is superior to that of any I ever saw. Moreover, much less labor than usual is requisite. A farm of any size may be gotten, free from grubs, stones, roots and every obstruction to the plough. In no instance is ploughing required more than twice and hoeing never: with these, the farmer keeps his fields cleaner, than they are where 4 or 5 ploughings, and 2 or 3 hoeings are customary. One man can cultivate 40 acres in corn; which quantity of ground, he can in the fall, sow in wheat.​17

This writer's testimony regarding the ease with which the ground was worked is confirmed by a settler from Vermont. Under date of September 12, 1818, Gershom Flagg wrote from  p133 Edwardsville: "The method of Raising Corn here is to plough the ground once then furrow it both ways and plant the Corn 4 feet each way and plough between it 3 or 4 times in the Summer but never hoe it at all."​18 Yet the corn grew "from 12 to 15 feet high on an average."​b

Regarding the price paid for corn Flagg wrote: "The price of Corn last harvest was 33⅓ cents in the spring 50 cents in the summer 75 cents." From the other side of the territory a young farmer wrote home: "Corn is worth in this settlement 75 cents in other places around us they have had the [conscience?] to take a dollar per bushel I do not think there is enough grain in the country to supply it oweing to the rapid settlement."​19 Yet this farmer was concerned not with raising for the market but only for his own use. "Our corn," he wrote, "we must not neglect under the penalty of starving." The attitude of this man seems to have been the prevalent one at that time; each and all raised produce not primarily to sell, but to save themselves from being obliged to buy. Accordingly the newcomers who reached Illinois too late in the season to plant found that the settlers took advantage of their extremity. An early settler in Jefferson County, according to the local historian, "long followed the business of going to Carmi, a distance of forty miles, with two or three pack-horses, and bringing back meal to sell to these 'movers.' This," comments the writer, "would seem a small business in this day of railroads, as he could only bring two or three sacks of meal at a time, but as he sold it at $2 a bushel, it was a lucrative business for that early day."​20 It is probable that the surplus meal for sale came almost entirely from the miller who received it in payment for grinding. The payment was regulated by law and was entirely in kind. By the law of 1819 the charge at a water mill for grinding wheat, rye, malt, or choppings was one-eighth of the whole, for corn, oats, barley, or buckwheat one-seventh. At a horse  p134 mill, the charge was doubled unless the farmer's horse furnished the motive power. Using the term "farmer" to include all those who raised only for their own consumption, there is probably no exaggeration in the statement made during the campaign of 1818 that 99 in 100 of the men in Illinois were farmers.

This meant that there was little division of labor. It meant also that though nearly every man farmed, he did not spend his whole time at it. The frontiersmen, who made up so large a part of the population, spent the remainder of their time in hunting or idleness. They felt no need for the things with which they could not furnish themselves by their own labor. Many detailed pictures of this pioneer life have been recorded; the following is an interesting example.

The pursuits of the people were agricultural. A very few merchants supplied them with the few necessaries which could not be produced or manufactured at home. The farmer raised his own provisions; tea and coffee were scarcely used, except on some grand occasions. The farmer's sheep furnished wool for his winter clothing; he raised cotton and flax for his summer clothing. His wife and daughters spun, wove, and made it into garments. A little copperas and indigo, with the bark of trees, furnished dye stuffs for coloring. The fur of the raccoon, made him a hat or cap. The skins of deer or of his cattle, tanned at a neighboring tan-yard, or dressed by himself, made him shoes or moccasins. Boots were rarely seen, even in the towns. And a log cabin, made entirely of wood, without glass, nails, hinges, or locks, furnished the residence of many a contented and happy family. The people were quick and ingenious to supply by invention, and with their own hands, the lack of mechanics and artificers. Each farmer, as a general thing, built his own house, made his own ploughs and harness, bedsteads, chairs, stools, cupboards, and tables. The carts and wagons for hauling, were generally made without iron, without tires, or boxes, and were run without tar, and might be heard creaking as they lumbered along the roads, for the distance of a mile or more.

As an example of the talents of this people to supply all deficiencies, and provide against accidents by a ready invention, the following anecdote is related of James Lemon, one of the old sort of Baptist preachers, formerly of Monroe county, but now deceased. Mr. Lemon was a farmer, and made all his own harness. The collars for his horses were made of straw or corn husks, plaited and sewed together by himself. Being engaged in breaking a piece of stubble ground, and having turned out for dinner, he left his harness on the beam of his plough.  p135 His son, a wild youth, who was employed with a pitchfork to clear the plough of the accumulating stubble, staid behind, and hid one of the horse collars. This he did that he might rest while his father made a new collar. But the old man, returning in the afternoon and missing his collar, mused for a few minutes, and then, very much to the disappointment of his truant son, he deliberately pulled off his leather breeches, stuffed the legs of them with stubble, straddled them across the neck of his horse for a collar, and ploughed the remainder of the day, as bare-legged as he came into the world. In a more civilized country, where the people are better acquainted with the great laws which control the division of labor, a half day would have been lost in providing for such a mishap.​21

Under these economic conditions women had a heavy and versatile role to play.

The wool, the flax and the cotton were raised on the farms by the men, but this material passed in its raw state into the hands of the women and came out cloth ready for the making, and the making was done by the women, and in many instances, the clothing for an entire family was made from the raw material, to its finishing stitch, by the one woman, who was cook, laundress, nurse, and gardener, as well as housekeeper and wife; and who made her own soap, or did without, and in the intervals of resting, knit all the hosiery for a large family. . . . The old lady that picked up her knitting to do a few rounds while the crowd gathered at her husband's funeral, may have been an extreme type, but the anecdote illustrates the industry that had become a fixed habit of their lives.​22

Of ready money there was little, and little was needed.

Many a family lived a whole year without the possession or use of fifty dollars in cash. Personal property, therefore, during many years, consisted almost exclusively of the products of the farm and of articles manufactured by the citizens at their own homes. The farms in those days, were worked chiefly by the use of oxen, horses being employed mainly for riding, and for ploughing after the corn came up in the spring. Even wagons and carts were generally drawn by oxen, not only for the hauling of corn, hay, wood, rails, etc., but for church-going and traveling. The productions of the farms were very few, such as a little fall or spring wheat, oats, Indian corn, cotton, flax, in some cases castor-beans, and as to fruits, scarcely anything but apples and some peaches. But wild plums and grapes, of good quality, were produced in large  p136 quantities in the timbered districts, especially at the edges of the prairies. There was no machinery used on the farms before 1835 or 1840. There were no corn-planters, no reaping or threshing machines, or fanning-mills. Corn was planted by hand, wheat, oats, and grass were cut with sickles or scythes by hand, cotton was gathered and picked by hand, flax was broken and scutched by hand, cotton and wool were carded into rolls by hand, and spinning and weaving were done by hand. Grain was trodden out by horses or beaten out with flails, and winnowed by the breezes or with sheets used like so many great fans. The only articles employed by the farmers that could properly be called machines, were flax-breaks, hackles, looms, hand-mills, and possibly an occasional cider-mill. There were, however, at intervals of ten or twenty miles, water-mills and horse-mills for grinding corn, wheat, rye, and barley; and from the earliest settlement of the country there were not wanting distilleries for the manufacture of whiskey, to minister to the cravings of the thirsty people, who claimed that they could not keep warm in winter or cool in summer, or perform their hard work without fainting, unless they could be assisted by the free use of the "good creature." But there were no breweries to be found, unless among the few Germans.

The clothing of the people, especially in the first settlement of the country, consisted almost wholly of materials prepared by the several families for themselves. The most frequent exception to this remark was found in the leather used for shoes, which was often tanned and dressed by some one man in a neighborhood, who gave a part of his time to a small tannery, of which he was the proprietor. But many were at once tanners, shoe-makers, and farmers; and their wives and daughters manufactured the flax and cotton, raised by them, into garments for the family. For during the first quarter of the century, cotton as well as flax was produced on many farms, and spinning-wheels were manufactured in almost every neighborhood for the use of the families, which were purchased from the makers by an exchange of various productions from the farms around. As lately as eleven or twelve years ago [about 1868], I found, on visiting Bond County, an old wheelwright still devoted to his former work, making spinning-wheels, both large and small, not to sell as curiosities, but to supply an actual demand from families that yet preferred to manufacture their own clothing as in former times. Not only were materials and the cloth prepared, but the dyeing was done in the family; the bark of trees, especially of the butter-nut, and indigo raised on the farm, being used for this purpose. And then the mother made up the clothing for the household. In many cases, deer-skins were dressed by the men, and made into hunting-shirts, pantaloons, and moccasons [sic] by the women, all in the same family. The hunting-shirts were frequently ornamented with a  p137 fringe on the lower edge of the cape and at the bottom of the garment, which presented a not unpleasing appearance. Shoes were often confined, except in cold weather, to the adult females; the men and children going barefoot in spring, summer, and fall, unless they had occasion to appear in a public assembly. I have many a time seen even young women carry their shoes in their hands until they came near to church, and then put them on before coming to the door and entering. The men's hats for the summer were commonly made of wheat straw, rudely platted and sewed to by the women. Winter hats, usually of wool, were, of necessity, purchased from a manufacturer, who could almost always be found in some village not far distant. The clothes of the women, like those of the men, were almost entirely of home manufacture, except in the older villages. Their bonnets were occasionally purchased from the stores, but more commonly they were of the simple Virginia style, made of domestic materials, and kept in place either by pasteboard or wooden ribs.​23

When the English farmers came to Illinois they expected, with plenty of land and capital, to be able to carry on farming on a large scale. They soon found to their surprise that their plans were impracticable owing to the difficulty of securing laborers. Accustomed as they were to a social system in which there was a numerous class of laborers who accepted their humble position as a matter of course and seldom aspired to raise themselves above it, these Englishmen had great difficulty in adjusting themselves to a society in which there was no definite and permanent servant class. "No white man or woman," wrote one of the English men, "will bear being called a servant, but they will gladly do your work. Your hirelings must be spoken to with Civility and cheerfulness." Then, in a tone which suggests that he expected incredulity from his English readers, the writer added: "Responsible families from Kentucky . . . do all their domestic work, except washing, with their own hands." The reason for this absence of a laboring class was not hard to find. To quote from the same writer:

A man used to work will earn in one day what will suffice for the simple wants of a backwoodsman a whole week. If he be sober and industrious, in two years he can enter a quarter section of land, buy a horse, a plough,  p138 and tools. The lowest price for labour is 13$ per month with board and lodging. I will give two years net proceeds in figures.

12 months at 13$ 156$
12 months at 13 156 
Clothing for two years — say 100
One quarter of land 80
One horse and harness and plough 100
Axe grubbing hoe &c 10
Gun and powder &c 15

After putting in his crop of maize, he can supply himself with meat and some money by hunting, or he can earn $1 per day in splitting rails for his neighbors. Many men begin as independent farmers with half the above mentioned sum, but they are thorough Backwoodsmen.

Now, is it not evident that while land can be bought, no matter how far from navigable rivers, at $2 per acre, and when there are tracts they may "squat" upon for nothing, that labour will be for many years limited in price only by the ability of those who want it, to pay for it. It is indeed the only expence; but is so overwhelming that I would rather farm in old England with a capital of 2 or 3000£ than on the North West of the Ohio. If we consider the immense territory to the North West of us, and the roving spirit of the Americans, we may wonder that any work can be hired. The truth is, none to be hired but Emigrants from the Eastern States, who intend to be land owners in one, two, or three years. And these are few in number: for the steady and prudent earn the money at home and bring it with them.​24

For the English, the first solution of the difficulty was to import labor. While still at Princeton, Indiana, Birkbeck wrote to a prospective settler: "A single settler may get his labour done by the piece on moderate terms, not higher than in some parts of England; but if many families settle together, all requiring this article, and none supplying it, they must obtain it from elsewhere. Let them import English labourers, or make advantageous proposals to such as are continually arriving at the eastern ports." Flower's scheme was to import those being paid poor  p139 rates in England; and he offered to pay to the parishes half the expense of getting them to Illinois.​25 But importation was soon found to be only a very temporary solution of the problem. As early as June, 1818, Fordham wrote of Birkbeck's colony: "His English labourers have already caught the desire to be land owners."26

Before many months the English were forced to the conclusion that Illinois was a good location only for the small farmer who was willing to work his land without hired labor. There was only one alternative: that was to use slaves. Fordham shows by what process of reasoning an Englishman could reach this conclusion. In June, 1818, he wrote: "I would not have upon my conscience the moral guilt of extending Slavery over countries now free from it, for the whole North Western Territory. But, if it should take place, I do not see why I should not make use of it. If I do not have servants I cannot farm; and there are no free labourers here, except a few so worthless, and yet so haughty, that an English Gentleman can do nothing with them." Two months later he wrote at even greater length:

I cannot think that any elderly man, especially if he have a family delicately brought up, would live comfortably in a free state. In a slave State, if he have wealth, say, 5000£ and upwards, he may raise upon his own farm all the food and raiment, the latter manufactured at home, necessary to supply the wants of his own family.

This has been, till lately, the universal economy of the first Kentucky families. Thus, without living more expensively than in a free state, a family may have the comforts of domestic services, and yet find plenty of employment within doors; not sordid slavery that wears out the health, and depresses the spirits of Ohio, but useful yet light labours, that may be remitted and resumed at pleasure.

There is more difference between the manners of the female sex on the East and West sides of the Ohio River than on the East and West shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Servitude in any form is an evil, but the structure of civilized society is raised upon it. If the minds of women are left unimproved, their morals will be at the mercy of any  p140 man. It is much worse where there is no superior rank to influence them by example, or to awe them by disapprobation. I am conscious that I repeat again and again the same arguments — or rather I state similar facts; but it is an important subject.

Society may suffer more by the abjectness of Slaves than by the want of servants, and a father of a family would prefer to live where there are good free servants as in Europe, or where slaves have more liberty of action than servants, as in Kentucky. The question in these wildernesses is this: Shall we have civilization and refinement, or sordid manners and semi-barbarism, till time shall produce so much inequality of condition that the poor man must serve the rich man for his daily bread?​27

Not having the Englishman's prejudices to overcome, many Americans had arrived much more readily at the same conclusion. The result was that the provision of the Northwest Ordinance prohibiting slavery was in practice continually evaded under cloak of the indenture law, which made it possible to indenture negroes under conditions amounting to slavery. In 1818 the indentured servants in the territory amounted to one-fortieth of the population: a large proportion when one considers the extreme poverty of most of the settlers. That the indenture system was virtually identical with slavery is readily seen in the form of indenture drawn up when a negro was transferred from one master to another. One is headed: "General Indenture concerning sale of negro girl." Another, more detailed, reads as follows:

This Indenture made this twenty second day of June in the year of our Lord, one thousand Eight hundred and fifteen, between Silvey a Negroe Woman about the age of twenty four years, last out of the State of Kaintuck and Livingston County, of the one part, and John Morris of the Illinois Territory and Gallaton County of the other part, Witnesseth, that the said Silvey for and in consideration of the sum of four hundred Dollars, to me paid in hand courant Money of the United States, at or before the signing and delivery of these presents, the Receipt whereof She doth hereby acknoledge, and in conformity to a law of the said territory respecting the Introduction of Negroes and Melattoes into the saim, hath put placed and bind himselfº to the said Morris, to serve him from the date hereof, during the Term and  p141 in full of forty years next enshuing, or in other words from the date hereoff untill the twenty second day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty five, during all which Term, the said Silvey, the said John Morris shall well and truly serve, and all his lawfull commands every whair obey, and that She shall not embezzel or waiste her said Masters Goods nor lend them to any person without her said Masters consent, or leave. Nor shall She at any time absent herself from her said Masters Service, or leave, but as a good and faithfull servant, shall and will at all times demean herself towards her said Master, during the Term aforesaid. And the said John Morrice convenants and agrees too and with the said Silvey, that he will furnish her with good and suficient Meat, Drink, lodging and apparell, together with all other needful conveniences fit for such a Servant, during the said Term. And for the true performance of each of the above and aforementioned, Convenants, and Agreements, each of the above and affirm parties, bind themselves each to the other, firmly by these presents.

In testimony whereof the aforementioned parties, have hereunto set their hands and Seals the date first above written.

Silvey her mark

Executed and acknoledged in presence of Samuel Omelveny
Deputy Clerk, for Joseph M. Street, Clerk of the Court, of Common pleas for Gallatin County — )

John Morris Ⓢ

June 25th 1816. Attest John Scott Recorder of Pope County.

Accompanying the above Indenture, is the following Bond, To wit,

United States Illinois Territory, Gallatin County, 'Know all men by these presents, that we John Morris and Isom Harrison of the Illinois Territory and County of Gallaton, are held and firmly bound, unto Ninian Edwards Governor of the Illinois Territory, and his Successors in Office, in the sum of four hundred Dollars, lawfull Money of the United States, to the payment of the sum aforesaid, to be well and truly made and dun we bind ourselves our heirs Executors and Administrators and Assigns, Jointly and severally, by these presents Given under our hands and Seals this 22nd day of June 1815.

The Condition of the above obligation is such, whereas on this day an Indenture was made and entered into by and between, John Morrice and silvey a Negroe Woman aged about twenty four years, and the above named, John Morrice, by which the said Indenture, the said Silvey agrees, to serve the said John Morrice the Term of forty years, pursuant to a law of the Territory, respecting the Introduction of Negroes and Melatoes into the saim, at the expiration of the said Term the said Silvey will exceed the age of forty years. Now if the said John Morrice doth not suffer or permit the said Silvey to become a County charge, after the expiration of the said Sum, then this  p142 obligation to be voide, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue in law. Given under our hands and Seals, this 22nd of June 1815.

John Morris (Seal)

I. Harrison (Seal)

Executed in presence of Samuel Omelveny
Deputy Clark for Joseph M. Street Clark​28

Indenture seems to have been recorded June 25, 1816.

From this it is seen that the price paid for the negro was equal to that paid at an out-and‑out sale, the period of the indenture was made to cover the lifetime of the slave, the conditions under which the indentured servant was obliged to work and live did not differ from the conditions of bondage south of the Ohio River. Although the indenture law made it possible for slave owners to settle in Illinois, many hesitated to do so for fear conditions would be changed when Illinois became a state, as it was bound soon to do. For that reason they preferred to cross Illinois and locate in Missouri, which was free from the restriction contained in the Northwest Ordinance. Between 1810 and 1820, according to the United States census, the slave population of Missouri increased from 3,011 to 10,222; and many settlers in Illinois regarded with jealous eyes to the great economic advantage which Missouri was gaining over their state.

In 1818, then, Illinois was suffering economically from two handicaps: the lack of adequate transportation facilities and the lack of a laboring class. To the greater part of the population, however, these handicaps were of no serious concern. The frontiersman was economically independent; he might exchange with his neighbors in a spirit of friendliness, but he did not buy or sell commodities or labor. The effort to raise Illinois to a higher economic plane was made by only a small class — those whom Fordham called the "enterprising men." "This class," he states, "consists of Young Doctors, Lawyers, Storekeepers, farmers, mechanics, &c., who found towns, trade, speculate in land, and begin the fabric of Society."​29 The work of this class merits consideration.

 p143  The farmer who wished to do more than produce for his own consumption turned to stock raising. It involved very little additional labor, and the only expense was the initial cost. "Cows," states one writer, "are generally suffered to run in the woods, and return to their calves mornings and evenings." "Hogs," wrote another settler, "will live & get fat in the Woods and Prairies. I have seen some as fat upon Hickorynuts, Acorns, Pecons & Walnuts, as ever I did those that were fat[t]ed upon Corn."​30 According to the same writer, horses and cattle could live all winter along the rivers without feeding. Even where this was not possible, the wild grass could be gathered as hay. "The grass on the Prairie," wrote one farmer, "is now [June 21] about waist high and looks beautiful we shall cut what hay we want whenever we get through with our corn." Of the quality of this hay Faux says: "What is gathered, is green and fragrant, but not so sweet as fine English hay. It is large, harsh, and dry." Yet another maintained that the cattle came out in the spring "as fat as sheep from coleseed."31

The profits to be made were temptingly large, considering the purchasing power of money at the time. Richard Flower, for instance, writes of buying bullocks at $16 or $17 and selling them the next year, at the Albion market, for $28 to $31 each. The profits had to be large, however, in order to cover the heavy risks incurred in raising livestock in such a wild country. Many animals strayed away into the woods, or were shot, accidentally or maliciously, by hunters. Wolves were a constant menace, particularly to sheep and hogs. On one occasion they killed 50 of Flower's sheep in one raid, in spite of all the shepherd could do. Of conditions in Madison County Gershom Flagg wrote: "All that prevents this country being as full of Wild hogs as of Deer is the Wolves which kill the pigs when the sows are not shut up til the pigs are a few weeks old."​32 Flies were more than merely  p144 a nuisance. To quote from the preceding writer: "Cattle & horses do very well in this Country they get very fat by the middle of June. They do not gain much after this being so harrassed by swarms of flies which prevent their feeding any in the heat of the day. They were so bad upon horses that it is almost impossible to travel from the 15 June til the 1st Sept unles [sic] a horse is covered with blankets. Where ever a fly lights upon a horse a drop of blood starts. I have seen white horses red with blood that these flies had drawn out of him. As the Country becomes settled these flies disappear."

Even these disadvantages, however, were not severe enough to counterbalance the advantage of the slight expense; another advantage of weight was the sureness of the market. In 1818 the farmers were beginning "to raise stock for exportation . . . money flowed into the country . . . to repay many fold the farmer. . . . The Ohio drovers expended considerable money in the country for cattle."​33 Taking into consideration the labor conditions in Illinois it is easy to understand why the "enterprising" farmers put their capital into livestock and why Birkbeck wrote: "It is on the boundless scope for rearing and fattening hogs and cattle, that the farmers place their chief reliance."34

A second class that Fordham included among the enterprising men were the mechanics. There seems to have been a great scarcity of skilled laborers, and many towns made strenuous efforts to attract them. In most advertisements of town lots, for instance, lower rates were offered to "skilled mechanics." During the early part of 1818, the following advertisement appeared repeatedly in the Intelligencer:


To Mechanics & Farmers

Mechanics of every description are much wanted at Edwardsville: more particularly the following, a Taylor, Shoemaker, Waggon Maker, Hatter, Saddler, Tanner and Currier. From four to six Carpenters  p145 and Joiners, and from four to six ax‑men, and from six to eight farming labourers, will find immediate employment and good wages; for further particulars enquire of col. Benjamin Stephenson and Doctor Jos. Bowers, at Edwardsville, or James Mason at St. Louis.

Edwardsville is the seat of justice for Madison County, Illinois territory, and has the land-office established there for the district of Edwardsville; and is surrounded on three sides by the Goshen settlement, which is one of the best settlements in the territory; besides the adjacent country in every direction, is equal in point of fertility of soil, to any other in the western region.

March 8​35

On April 22 appeared for the first time a notice to bridge builders which reads as follows:

To Bridge Builders

A Man is wanted to build a bridge over the Little Wabash river, at Carmi, Illinois territory. The river, when low, is about 130 feet wide, one foot deep, bottom smooth rock-banks about 35 feet high, The water rises to the depth of 32 feet  The above mentioned bridge will be let or contracted for on the first Monday in May next. — As a good bridge is more our object than a cheap one, a skilful bridge builder will meet with liberal encouragement.

Leonard White, Commissioners.
Benja White,
Will. M'Henry,
W. Hargrave,
Lowry Hay,
James Casey,

Carmi, April 2

But, as has already been pointed out, few towns had actually reached a stage of development that would attract specialized labor. Fordham advised mechanics to locate "always in the most settled parts of the Western Country, and generally in the Slave States."

However it may have been with mechanics, there can be no doubt that the towns were beginning in 1818 to attract merchants. The character of the stores can easily be judged from the advertisements. The following from the Intelligencer of January 1 is characteristic:

 p146  New Goods

The Subscriber has just received from New York and Philadelphia a large and handsome assortment of goods,

consisting of

Superfine, Fine and Coarse Broad Cloths, Casimeres, Coatings, Flannels, Hosings, Silk Shawls, Cotton do. Handkerchiefs, Cambrics Fancy Muslins, lace British Cottons, Linens, Domestic, Stripes, Plaids and Plains, Saddles, Bridles, Hats and

A large Assortment of Ladies and Gentlemen's

Also, A general assortment of


Which, with his former stock he offers low for Cash, or on a short and approved credit.

He continues to receive in exchange for Goods,

Wheat, Pork, Butter, Furs, Peltries, &c. &c.

Edward Cowles.

Kaskaskia, Nov. 5

Six of the stores which advertised in the Intelligencer were located in Kaskaskia; one of them, Thomas Cox's, had goods "lately imported from Europe" beside those of domestic manufacture. Benjamin Stephenson of Edwardsville and the Reynolds brothers of Goshen advertised their wares in the Intelligencer; Missouri merchants also thought it worth while to advertise in the Kaskaskia paper. From both St. Louis and St. Genevieve the merchants were bidding for Illinois trade. For the eastern side of the country the advertisements appeared in the Illinois Emigrant of Shawneetown. The following is the list of goods that John Grant of Carmi, White County, presented for sale at either wholesale or retail.

New Store,

Carmi, White County, Illinois.

The subscriber has opened a choice assortment of the following Goods, which he has selected with care and attention in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and which he will sell on reasonable terms, wholesale and retail:

 p147  Domestick & imported superfine Cloths and Cassimeres,

Sattinets, Cassinets, and Kerseys,

Pelisse Cloths, Lion Skins and Coatings,

Velveteens and vestings,

Printed Calicoes,

Furniture ditto.

Domestick and imported Ginghams and Chambrays —, plain and twilled,


White and coloured Flannels,

Rose and point Blankets,

Steam-loom and domestick Shirtings,

Sheeting Muslins and Bedticks,

Men's and women's worsted and cotton Hose,

Men's and women's Gloves,

Waterloo Shawls and silk Handkerchiefs,

Cambrick, Jaconet and book Muslins,

Insertion Trimmings and Ribbons.

Scots Thread and cotton Balls — white and coloured,

Mantuas and Sevantines,

India Muslins,

Men's, women's and children's Boots and Shoes,

Looking-Glasses and Jap'd. Trays,

Tortoise, ivory and common Combs,

Hand Vices,

Millsaw and handsaw Files,

Pitt and cross-cut Saws,

German steel Handsaws,

Thumb Latches, Hinges and Locks,

Spades, Shovels, Hoes, Axes, Frying-pans, Pots, Teakettles, Dutch Ovens, Smoothing-irons, with a great variety of Cutlery, Cast, & Hollow Ware,

Groceries — Hollow Glass Ware, of Bakewell's manufacture — Window Glass,

School Books and Stationary,

English Crowley Mellinton Steel,

Juniatta Bar-iron,

Sieves and Riddles,

Grind Stones of the best quality.

John Grant.

Carmi, Dec. 31, 1818
N. B. A liberal allowance shall be made to Storekeepers.

J. G.​36

 p148  From the wording of the advertisements, it is evident that the merchants were trying to entice the farmers into town to exchange their produce for store goods. A Shawneetown merchant even offered to give the highest price in cash for any quantity of the following articles:

tallow, candle cotton, or soft flax, for wicks, venison hams, butter, cheese, eggs,
potatoes, turnips, onions, parsnips, carrots, hopps, sage, twilled bags.37

There could be no trade until the people were roused from their contentment with goods of home manufacture; an effort in this direction was the attempt to bring the market nearer to the farmer. Augusta held out this lure to merchants to influence their choice of location.

This town is situate on the east side of Silver creek, Illinois territory, where the great roads cross leading from Vincennes and Shawnoetown to St. Louis, Edwardsville & Boon's lick. It is an interior central point, distant from St. Louis, 22 miles, from Edwardsville, 12, from Belleville, 20, from Perryville 40, from Ripley, 25, and from Covington, 30, surrounded by a fertile country, surpassed by none in the west, and calculated to support a crowded agricultural population.

It is most probably at this time the best populated section of country in the territory, and will shortly be almost wholly under the finest state of cultivation. The distance from market, the strength and wealth of the population, the fertility of the soil, and the great mass of surplus produce of the farmer, strongly require the establishment of a place for the transaction of business, where the industrious husbandman can make sale of the rich harvest of his farm, and carry home to his family the reward of his labor without having to consume the whole of his profits in transporting to remote markets. This place then holds out strong inducements to the mechanic, the merchant, the professional gentleman, and all the necessary branches of a well organised society.​38

It is fair to say that 1818 marks the beginnings of trade in Illinois. Reynolds is authority for the statement that "the factory  p149 goods, from New England and Kentucky, reached Illinois about 1818, and then looms, cotton &c., disappeared — spinning also ceased then."​39 There can be no doubt that this change was the result of the great influx of population at that time; among the new population were many who were accustomed to buying what they needed, and furthermore, they brought with them the money necessary for trade. The change that was brought about has been depicted by Ford as follows:

Upon the conclusion of the war of 1812 the people from the old States began to come in, and settle in the country. They brought some money and property with them, and introduced some changes in the customs and modes of living. Before the war, such a thing as money was scarcely ever seen in the country, the skins of the deer and raccoon supplying the place of a circulating medium. The money which was now brought in, and which had before been paid by the United States to the militia during the war, turned the heads of all the people, and gave them new ideas and aspirations; so that by 1819 the whole country was in a rage for speculating in lands and town lots. The States of Ohio and Kentucky, a little before, had each incorporated a batch of about forty independent banks. The Illinois territory had incorporated two at home, one at Edwardsville and the other at Shawneetown; and the territory of Missouri added two more, at St. Louis. These banks made money very plenty; emigrants brought it to the State in great abundance. The owners of it had to use it in some way; and as it could not be used in legitimate commerce in a State where the material for commerce did not exist, the most of it was used to build houses in towns which the limited business of the country did not require, and to purchase land which the labor of the country was not sufficient to cultivate. This was called "developing the infant resources of a new country."​40

The law establishing the Shawneetown bank was approved December 26, 1816, that for the one at Edwardsville a year later. Each was to have a capital stock of $300,000, one-third subscribed by the legislature, the rest by individuals. A share in the Shawneetown bank was put at $100, in the Edwardsville at $50. Of the $30,000 subscribed to the Edwardsville bank as the first installment, $22,265 came from Kentucky, $10,000 was given by one man, $1,800 came from St. Louis, $100 from New  p150 York. Only the remaining $5,475 came from within Illinois. The subscribers there were confined to Madison and St. Clair Counties; few contributed more than $50. The bank opened for business when the first installment of one-tenth had been paid in.​41 The following editorial in the Intelligencer for January 1, 1817, reflects the general enthusiasm over the new enterprise.

Illinois Bank.

The bill establishing a Bank at Shawnoetown has at length received the approbation and signature of the governor, and has consequently become a law. Whatever may be our opinion as to the ultimate effects that are likely to result from the extensive banking system adopted in the United States, we are inclined to think, that much advantage will result from this particular institution to our infant territory. The great scarcity of the precious meals that prevails, has rendered it necessary that some substituted circulating medium should be furnished; and bank paper is certainly the most convenient. But the remoteness of our situation, from the banks in the respective states has hither to rendered its circulation in many instances tardy and doubtful — and indeed the many frauds, and deceptions, that have been practiced in the country, by the circulation of spurious paper, purporting to be on banks at a distance, has very justly awakened the suspicion of those, to whom such paper was offered, and consequently cramped its circulation. But to the circulation of our own, there will not be the same objection — the people in general will soon become acquainted with it, and any attempts at fraud or imposition, will be much sooner detected. But at Shawnoetown, a place of growing prospects characterized by its commercial activity, & the eligibility of its situation, more essentially required a bank, than we ourselves, as well as many others, at first supposed. The fertility of the neighboring country on both sides of the Ohio river, and on the Wabash, gives rise to a great redundancy of produce of every description, and Shawnoetown is the only place of deposit for a considerable distance around. It is from that place that such produce must embark, for home as well as foreign markets. And it is where were the industrious farmer, will in future receive the price of his produce. Those engaged in commercial employments will meet at that place, the rich crops of the yeomanry of the country, ready to be wafted to the best markets, and the facilities of the bank, will enable them to procure on reasonable terms, the means of paying  p151 for their cargos in advance. And thus the farmer, as well as the merchant, will experience at once the benefits of the bank.

But the advantages of the bank will be more happily felt at the present time by those who are purchasing lands from the United States; many forfeitures of installments already paid will no doubt be saved by the means derivable from the banks of securing the funds necessary to prevent such forfeitures. And if even forfeitures should not be prevented, it will be the means of prevent great individual sacrifices, such as would result from a necessity of selling lands already entered to secure payment. And this advantage need not be confirmedº to the neighborhood of Shawnoetown, but may be co-extensive with the territory. There is also an extensive and fertile country in Kentucky, that is contigious [sic] to Shawnoetown — and from it we may expect to derive a neighborly advantage — it will be the means of drawing its produce in a great degree to that place as the point of delivery; indeed, as is the case in every new country where the resources of the country are not developed, new advantages will be hourly unfolding themselves. New inducements to industry will be furnished and individual wealth which always forms public wealth, will characterize the whole neighboring country. The salt trade will also be an additional source of wealth to the stockholders; many thousand bushels of salt are annually taken from the neighboring salines. And the bank will be an easy means of facilitating that commerce. The local situation of the bank being thus eligible, and the prospects of its utility being thus flattering, we have no doubt but the whole of the stock subject to individual subscription, will be immediately taken; and as the territory will not likely in any short time be in a situation to subscribe, neither for the whole nor any part of the shares reserved to itself — if the commercial growth of that place, and the demands of the country should justify it, we see no reason why the legislature might not pass some act to authorize appropriations of the public shares, by individuals until the territory can raise the stock for its own use.

The craze for wildcat banking did not come until after Illinois became a state. Into a consideration of the conditions in Illinois attending that catastrophe it is scarcely necessary to enter. But the discussion over the establishment of a state bank at the second session of the first legislature produced an editorial bearing so directly on the economic conditions as to merit inclusion here. After announcing passage of the bill by both houses, the editor of the Illinois Emigrant clipped from the Illinois Intelligencer  p152 the following words of conditional approbation and then added his own scathing comment.

An act incorporating a state bank, so much desired by the people, has been passed by both branches of the General Assembly upon the principles heretofore published in a former number, except the duration of the charter — which is reduced from fifty to twenty-five years. If a board of directors, known to be friendly to the institution shall be elected, we again say, as we have before said, that we believe much publick good will result from it. We believe the people will have great reason (should that be the case) to congratulate themselves on the occasion, and to welcome home their representatives with smiles of approbation. But should the management of the institution be confided to a directory unfriendly to its prosperity, the salutary exertions of the Legislature will have been to no avail. It will be indeed creating a light, and then putting it under a bushel. (ib. [Illinois Intelligencer])

Thus we see, that while the legislatures of almost every other state in the Union are taking measures to repress that species of swindling, known by the term banking, the general assembly of Illinois, (we dare say from the most considerate, pure and patriotick motives) are creating a state Bank, with ten branches and a capital of three millions of dollars! It would be curious to know, what part of this stock is to be subscribed by the state, and out of what other bank it intends to borrow money to make the installments? For is it not known that our treasury is bankrupt, and that, as a state, we have not the fee-simple of one inch of territory upon the globe — that our population (including men, women and children) does not exceed, by an unit, 40,000 souls — that perhaps one seventh part of this population may be men, above 21 years of age — and that, probably, one fourth part of this small number, may have paid for their possessions, and are able to purchase stock, tho' not to a great amount! What business, then, have we, (who, in addition to all, are not a commercial people, and whose great commercial towns, Cairo and America, to use a quaint phrase, cannot be seen for the trees) with banks? Because the constitution has given the legislature power to create a state bank, does it follow that it must be done now? that no regard should be paid to the expediency of the thing? — "So much desired by the people!" Tis false! the people never desired it — it is a gross insult to the good sense of the community — the people know that some citizens of Kaskaskia, and none else, desired it — and that there was not virtue enough in their representatives to preserve the state from disgrace, and themselves from the imputation of trifling with their powers and the wishes of the people. But, it is asked will the governour and counsel give their  p153 sanction to this bill? For our parts, we think they will not — we cannot believe that Mr. Bond will so far forget the sacred duty he owes the good people of this state, as to assign them over to the management of a set of bank directors; as in fact he will, if this bank go into operation with this consent — So fraught is banking with every evil consequence — so truly is it "the offspring of ignorance, chicanery, and a spirit of speculation."​42

"The spirit of speculation" was pushing Illinois beyond the point of discretion, not only in its banking ventures, but more particularly in its attempts to stimulate the growth of towns. Speculation in land was the only outlet for any considerable amount of capital. But it was more than that — it was practically the only activity in which men could give free scope to their business ability, could take the chances of success or failure which make the game worth playing. The limitations in farming and trade have been pointed out. The development of the lead mines in the north had not begun. The manufacture of salt, which was conducted on a larger scale than any other industry in the territory, was owned by the United States. Milling was necessarily on a small scale, for grain was not raised for export. There was very little manufacturing outside the homes.​43 No one's business was on a large enough scale to occupy his whole time, and consequently land speculation was universally indulged in.

Among the leaders in land speculation in Illinois were to be found all the principal politicians. In a previous chapter attention was called to Governor Ninian Edwards' activities at Edwardsville. According to an early settler at Upper Alton, he held land there also. There was scarcely an issue of the Intelligencer which did not contain an advertisement signed by him. Under ate of January 13, 1818, he ran the following notice:

 p154  Notice

I shall continue to sell lots in Belville (the seat of justice for St. Clair County) at $60 a lot, until the 1st January next, after which time, I do not intend to take less than $100 for any lot, unless it should be to accommodate some responsible mechan[i]ck who may be desirous of settling in that village.

Ninian Edwards.

Kaskaskia, Dec. 8, 1127, [sic]

A little later this notice appeared:


I will sell upon liberal terms, one hundred acres of land, including a very valuable mill seat on Mary's river, ten miles below this place and about three miles from the Mississippi.

The proximity of this situation to a great extent of fertile country, already, much improved, and rapidly improving its being surrounded with a great abundance of poplar and other timber suitable for making plank, the facility of transporting grain and timber to it — all combine to render it a most eligible seat for water works of any kind. A complete dam has been recently erected that has withstood all the late floods, and a very inconsiderable sum would be sufficient to put a saw mill into operation within a short time, that would most probably yield a profit of two thousand dollars a year.

If I should not sell shortly, I shall wish to employ workmen to build me both a sawmill and merchant mill.

I have also for sale, several horses and mules.

Ninian Edwards.

Kaskaskia, Dec. 20.

While this notice was still running, Edwards began to advertise an addition to Kaskaskia as follows:


is hereby given, that I shall make application to the circuit court for Randolph County, at its next August term, for an order to add to the village of Kaskaskia, a tract of land adjoining said villiage [sic], containing thirty four acres and three quarters; which was conveyed by John Edgar to Benjamin Stephenson, and by said Stephenson to myself, as by reference to both deeds now on record, will more fully appear.

Ninian Edwards.

 p155  March 30, 1818

That he had land in the northern settlements as well is shown from this advertisement:

I have for Sale several valuable Tracts of Land near Belleville, and in other parts of Saint Clair County — Two quarter sections on Cahokia creek, in the vicinity of Edwardsville — and three quarter sections on Shoal creek, near Mr. Swearingen's; all of which, Mr. Thomas Estes of St. Louis, is fully empowered to sell.

Ninian Edwards.​44

March 30, 1818

Not far behind Edwards in land speculation were his political co-workers Stephenson and Cook. The former has already been spoken of; his interest centered in Edwardsville, where he was receiver of the land office as well as merchant and president of the bank. Cook advertised land in localities as far apart as Madison and Edwards counties. To him, as to most other lawyers, land speculation held out peculiar charms. Most of the average lawyer's work was in connection with disputed claims to land; it was an easy and natural step for the lawyer who had capital to buy up claims which came under his notice and advance them for himself instead of for a client. The following letter from John Reynolds to Ninian Edwards gives a good picture of a lawyer's interest in land claims.

Cahokia 4th Decemb 1818

Dear Sir

Permit me to trouble you on my private business; and the greatest excuse I have to say in my favor is: that my claims of Government are just, and of course, should you befriend me therein; you will have the sensations of a person who knows he has done right.

In the first place; Mr Pope concluded the affair of the Piasa Land. I have executed to him an equal fifth of the claim; and has made the same contract in writing to you. Mr. Pope is to endeavor to send the Patent Certificate to the Commissioner of the General Land office but of this, no doubt, he will let you know in a more ample manner than I can do: so you can nourish the Claim in the hands of Mr. Meigs. as to the value of the Land it is immense. Major Hunter of St. Louis (so reports say) gave Meachan $10.000 for half of one quarter sec. of the  p156 Denegan Entry; that Bates had. this is to shew, that this Piasa Claim will justify great industry to gain it . . . .

I have this day bo't a claim on the United States for 100 Acres of Land from a certain Jean Baptiste Laducier who was Subject to militia duty in the Illinois Country on the 1st Aug.t 1790 but neglected to claim and prove it before the board of Commissioners in proper time. he had it proved by Mr. Arundale and others to the satisfaction of the Kaskaskia Register and Receiver and they reported to the Congress at the last session to the same effect. there is no doubt; this man was and is entitled to a hundred Acres from the Act of Congress. The proof were so late giting [sic] before the Land Committee last term; that there was no report made. Joseph A. Baird and myself bo't. and paid for three hundred Acres of Land in the same situation. When we bo't; we thought his Donation was confirmed to him; but on examination, it was not this right was proved by the most of the old people of our Village. this went on with the Claim of Laducier — this person, whose name is Jacques Miotte, had a militia right of 100 Acres confirmed to him; there then remains to him 300 to make his Donation of 400. where the proof of these two Claims have lain since last Congress, I know not. and I suppose it requires some friendly hand to put it [into] operation again — Some years past, there were given by Congress Claims to Land in the same situation reported favorably on by the Kaskaskia Register and Receiver. I see no reason, why Congress will not extend its favors in similar cases. they are just; If you see the host of testimony, you will say, they are just — even should "Doctor" "Doubty" himself be in Congress; he would not doubt. I bo't a soldier's right of 160 Acres of Land his name is Enoch Jones and got his discharge from Kennerley commanding there at "Pass Christionne" below New Orleans. this Discharge was sent too late to Mr. Pope last year. I wrote Mr. Pope how I should git his old letters; one of which contained Jone's Discharge, and to let you know; I wrote our Representative McLean to manage this affair, If you or he could git the Discharge.—

I have with Major Whiteside a pre emption right on the Mississippi out of the tract reserved for preemptions. yet I believe the first act of congress meant to embrace all settlers in the Territory: but Col. Stephenson had instructions to the Contrary. there were but a few out of the survey, and in good conscience are as much entitled to this previliage [sic] as other settlers, when any of them first settled there were no surveys made. I will If you please send this Claim with the proof to support it by the next mail to you. It is of considerable magnitude to me. you can, If you please, as with the above Claims, present it before the proper tribunal for Justice. I want no more. I fear by this time you are much tired with me and my claims but treat them and me as your feelings and Judgement may dictate and I shall be satisfied. I will write the  p157 other members on the above. I was lately at Edwardsville when I understood your family were well. no news. Pope is Register.

May God preserve you and family for ever and longer.

John Reynolds.

The Honorable N. Edwards.)​45

So generally was this combination of law and land speculation understood that from an Albany lawyer Kane received the following query: "Can an attorney expect to succeed [in Illinois] without Some capital to embark in Speculations, and what is the Smallest Sum which will be requisite? . . . I have . . . from 1 to 2000 dollars. Will such funds justify the adventure?"​46 It was inevitable that the widespread speculation in land should make itself felt in politics. The entrepreneurs who had placed the heaviest stakes in the new territory were naturally the most keenly interested in its political development; few of them had any scruples against using every political weapon available for the furtherance of their undertakings. The territorial laws on labor and on the opening up of the country bear unmistakable evidence of the work of interested individuals; the Cairo scheme is not an unfair example of the kind of legislation that was passed. Undoubtedly the legislature merited the caricature which appeared in the Intelligencer for September 9, 1818. The writer, "Nemo," tells of a marvelous vision.

After passing Cape ne plus ultra, on the east, I saw in lat. 39° N. and Long. 8° W. in the open Prairie, above the head of the Little Wabash in the Illinois territory, another great sea serpent. As these monsters are now filling the world with wonder, I was determined to ascertain the size, nature, and if possible, to what tribe of animals this monster belonged. I therefore, hauled to my ship for that purpose, and I found this serpent to be exactly two hundred and seventy-five poles in length; and in thickness, different, as seemed to be necessary for the ends of creating that animal. On one part of the back of this monster, there was a territorial legislature in full session — at a small distance from the legislature, there was for the governor an house made very strong with  p158 absolute vetos. This legislature then, was discussing, whether nature had designed such and such rivers to be navigable or not.

I saw another place of bustle and business on this sea serpent, bearing from the legislature N. E. about one hundred poles. I made easy sale [sic] towards this place, and discovered its inhabitants to be very short men, with knocked knees, and crossed-eyes, fabricating new cities. I could distinctly perceive the stocks, where were built the famous cities of "Cairo," city of "America," city of "Illinois," "Covington," "St. Mary," and many others; these creators of cities, were all stamped on the forehead with the word "moneyism."

On a sudden, I saw this huge being in a great agitation of body, and on sailing to the S. W. towards the head of this serpent, I could discover very piainly [sic], that this monster was swallowing, and thereby terminating the several banks of the Illinois Territory. This appeared to be a fatal day on banks. The bank at Edwardsville, the Kaskaskia bank, and that of Cairo, and of the Little Wabash Company, were utterly annihilated with all the others of the above territory. This extermination of banks was not a difficult matter, as the people of the Illinois had learnt by experience, that banks without any capital, created for private speculation, were injurious to the public. After the serpent finished this necessary work, it changed its course to the S. E. and made great head away for the Floridas, to aid general Jackson in conquering those Spanish provinces in time of peace. This serpent had a head of a great size, and when its mouth was open, it appeared within a fiery furnace.


Dated on board the ship
Prairie, 28 Aug. 1818.

The Author's Notes:

1 Birkbeck, Letters from Illinois, 55, 113; Preble, History of Steam Navigation, 66‑72.

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2 Flower, English Settlement, 120; Harris, Remarks Made During a Tour, 139; see also Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 10:260.

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3 James, Territorial Records, 119.

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4 Original in Miscellaneous Assembly Papers, secretary of state's office.

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5 Golconda.

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6 This was where the road crossed the Big Muddy in the southwestern part of what is now Franklin County. Intelligencer, August 5, 1818.

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7 Illinois State Historical Society, Journal, 3:no. 3, p62.

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8 Flower, English Settlement, 53.

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9 Mason, Narrative, 40‑50; History of Wayne and Clay Counties, 428; Dana, Geographical Sketches, 310.

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10 Brown, Western Gazetteer, 28; see also History of Gallatin, Hamilton, Franklin, and Williamson Counties, 53‑58; History of Madison County, 82.

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11 Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1903, p156.

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12 Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 11:252.

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13 Seybert, Statistical Annals, 379; Table of Post-Offices in the United States; Statutes at Large, 2:584; 3:132, 222, 337, 457, 507; House Files, February 16, 1816; see also Intelligencer, December 11, 1818, January 22, November 6, 1817, and at dates indicated in the text.

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14 Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 11:218.

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15 Intelligencer, May 14, 1817.

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16 Intelligencer, September 18, 1817.

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17 Intelligencer, March 25, 1818.

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18 Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1910, p162.

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19 G. Knight to C. Knight, Palmyra, June 21, 1818.

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20 Perrin, History of Jefferson County, 124. See also 127.

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21 Ford, History of Illinois, 41‑42.

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22 Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1904, pp509‑510.

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23 Patterson, "Early Society in Southern Illinois," in Fergus Historical Series, no. 14:109‑111.

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24 Ogg, Fordham's Personal Narrative, 124‑125, 210‑211.

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25 Fearon, Sketches of America, 335; Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 11:279.

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26 Ogg, Fordham's Personal Narrative, 212.

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27 Ogg, Fordham's Personal Narrative, 210, 228‑229.

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28 Deed record, A, pp2‑3, in Pope County.

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29 Ogg, Fordham's Personal Narrative, 126.

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30 Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 10:281; Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1910, p158.

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31 G. Knight to C. Knight, June 21, 1818; Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 10:122‑123; 11:258.

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32 Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1910, p158.

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33 Reynolds, My Own Times, 176.

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34 Birkbeck, Letters from Illinois, 68.

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35 Intelligencer, March 18, 1818.

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36 Illinois Emigrant, January 23, 1819.

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37 Illinois Emigrant, January 9, 1819.

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38 Intelligencer, May 20, 1818.

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39 Reynolds, My Own Times, 71.

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40 Ford, History of Illinois, 43.

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41 Intelligencer, January 15, 1817; House Journal, 1 General Assembly, 2 Session, 105, 106.

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42 Illinois Emigrant, March 20, 1819.

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43 In November, 1817, Birkbeck wrote to Fearon: "The manufactures you mention may hereafter be eligible; cotton, woollen, linen, stockings, &c., Certainly not at present." Letters from Illinois, 32. In 1818, Jesse B. Thomas advertised that by June he would have in operation two carding machines; this was the first establishment of its kind in Illinois. Intelligencer, January 1, June 3, 1818.

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44 Intelligencer, January 1, April 15, April 29, 1818.

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45 Reynolds to Edwards, December 4, 1818, in Chicago Historical Society Manuscripts, 50:294.

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46 January 11, 1819, in Chicago Historical Society Manuscripts, 52:179.

Thayer's Notes:

a We have now come full circle, except what is a gross inconvenience has so relentlessly been peddled to us as the reverse that most of us wouldn't dream of not lugging our cars over the landscape. The change has come within my lifetime: when I was a child, or even in my twenties, a traveler could get to thousands of little towns thruout America by hopping on a bus. Now even large cities have no train stations, and many towns of 50,000 have no bus service. This system, much inferior to that of the 19c, has among others the predictable effect of concentrating the poor in the large cities.

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b If you're thinking of the lyrics to Oklahoma, the average elephant's eye is around 11 feet from the ground.

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