The Prairie State
ON the head-waters of the Wabash, near Lake Erie, we first, meet with those grassy plains to which the early French explorers of the West gave the name of Prairies. In Southern Michigan, they become more frequent ; in the State of Indiana, still more so; and when we arrive in Illinois, we find ourselves in the Prairie State proper, three-quarters of its territory being open meadow, or prairie. Southern Wisconsin is partly of this character, and, on crossing the Mississippi, most of the surface of both Iowa and Minnesota is also prairie.
Illinois, with little exception, is one vast prairie, — dotted, it is true, with groves, and intersected with belts of timber, but still one great open plain. This State, then, being the type of the prairie lands, a sketch of its history, political, physical, and agricultural, will tolerably well represent that of the whole prairie region.
The State of Illinois was originally part of Florida, and belonged to Spain, by the usual tenure of European title in the sixteenth century, when the King of France or Spain was endowed by His Holiness with half a continent; the rights of the occupants of the soil never for a moment being considered. So the Spaniard, in 1541, having planted his flag at the mouth of the Mississippi, became possessed of the whole of the vast region watered by its tributary streams, and Illinois and Wisconsin became Spanish colonies, and all their native inhabitants vassals of His Most Catholic Majesty. The Settlement of the country was, however, never attempted by the Spaniards, who devoted themselves to their more lucrative colonies in South America.
The French missionaries and fur-traders found their way from Canada into these parts at an early day; and in 1607 Robert de la Salle made his celebrated explorations, in which be took possession of the territory of Illinois in behalf of the French crown. And here we may remark, that the relations of the Jesuits and early explorers give a delightful picture of the native inhabitants of the prairies. Compared with their savage neighbors, the Illini seem to have been a favored people. The climate was mild, and the soil so fertile as to afford liberal returns even to their rude husbandry; the rivers and lakes abounded in fish and fowl ; the groves swarmed with deer and turkeys, — bustards the French called them, after the large gallinaceous bird which they remembered on the plains of Normandy, and the vast expanse of the prairies was blackened by herds of wild cattle, or buffaloes. The influence of this fair and fertile land seems to have been felt by its inhabitants. They came to meet Father Marquette, offering the calumet, brilliant with many-colored plumes, with the gracious greeting,—“ How beautiful is the sun, O Frenchman, when thou comest to us! Thou shalt enter in peace all our dwellings.” A very different reception from that offered by the stern savages of Jamestown and Plymouth to John Smith and Miles Standish! So, in peace and plenty, remained for many years this paradise in the prairies.
About the rear 1700, Illinois was included in Louisiana, and came under the sway of Louis XIV., who, in 1712, presented to Anthony Crozat the whole territory of Louisiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin,— a truly royal gift!
The fortunate recipient, however, having spent vast sums upon the territory without any returns, surrendered his grant to the crown a few years afterwards ; and a trading company, Called the Company of the Indies, was got up by the famous John Law, on the basis of these lands. The history of that earliest of Western land-speculations is too well known to need repetition ; suffice it to say, that it was conducted upon a scale of magnificence in comparison with which our modern imitations in 1836 and 1856 were feeble indeed. A monument of it stood not many years ago upon the banks of the Mississippi, in the ruins of Fort Chartres, which was built by Law when at the height of his fortune, at a cost of several millions of livres, and which toppled over into the river in a recent inundation.
In 1759 the French power in North America was broken forever by Wolfe, upon the Plains of Abraham; and in 1763, by the Treaty of Paris, all the French possessions upon this continent were ceded to England, and the territory of the Illinois became part of the British empire.
Pontiac, the famous Ottawa chief, after fighting bravely on the French side through the war, refused to be transferred with the territory ; he repaired to Illinois, where he was killed by a Peoria Indian. His tribe, the Ottawas, with their allies, the Pottawattomies and Chippewas, in revenge, made war upon the Peorias and their confederates, the Kaskaskias and Cahokias, in which contest these latter tribes were nearly exterminated.
At this time, the French population of Illinois amounted to about three thousand persons, who were settled along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, where their descendants remain to this day, preserving a well-defined national character in the midst of the great flood of AngloAmerican immigration which rolls around them.
Illinois remained under British rule till the year 1778, when George Rogers Clarke, with four companies of Virginia rangers, marched from Williamsburg, a distance of thirteen hundred miles, through a hostile wilderness, captured the British posts of Kaskaskia and Cahokia, and annexed a territory larger than Great Britain to the new Republic. Many of Colonel Clarke’s rangers, pleased with the beauty and fertility of the country, settled in Illinois; but the Indians were so numerous and hostile, that the settlers were obliged to live in fortified stations, or block-houses, and the population remained very scanty for many years.
In 1809 Illinois was made into a separate Territory, and Ninian Edwards appointed its first Governor.
During the War of 1812, Tecumseh, an Indian chief of remarkable ability, endeavored to form a coalition of all the tribes against the Americans, but with only partial success. He inflicted severe losses upon them, but was finally defeated and slain at the Battle of the Thames, leaving behind him the reputation of being the greatest hero and noblest patriot of his race. In 1818, Illinois, then having a population of about forty-five thousand, was admitted into the Union. The State was formed out of that territory which by the Ordinance of 1787 was dedicated to freedom ; but there was a strong party in the State who wished for the introduction of slavery, and in order to effect this it was necessary to call a convention to amend the Constitution. On this arose a desperate contest between the two principles, and it ended in the triumph of freedom. Among those opposed to the introduction of slavery were Morris Birkbeck, Governor Coles, David Blackwell, Judge Lockwood, and Daniel P. Cook. It was a fitting memorial of the latter, that the County of Cook, containing the great commercial city of Chicago, should bear his name. The names of the pro-slavery leaders we will leave to oblivion.
In 1821 the lead mines near Galena began to be worked to advantage, and thousands of persons from Southern Illinois and Missouri swarmed thither, The Illinoisans ran up the river in the spring, worked in the mines during the summer, and returned to their homes down the river in the autumn, — thus resembling in their migrations the fish so common in the Western waters, called the Sucker. It was also observed that great hordes of uncouth ruffians came up to the mines from Missouri, and it was therefore said that she had vomited forth all her worst population. Thenceforth the Missourians were called “ Pukes,” aud the people of Illinois “ Suckers.”
From 1818 to 1830, the commerce of the State made but small progress. At this time, there were one or two small steamboats upon the Illinois River, but most of the navigation was carried on in keel-boats. The village merchants were mere retailers; they purchased no produce, except a few skins and furs, and a little beeswax and honey. The farmers along the rivers did their own shipping,— building flat-boats, which, having loaded with corn, flour, and bacon, they would float down to New Orleans, which was the only market accessible to them. The voyage was long, tedious, and expensive, and when the farmer arrived, he found himself in a strange city, where all were combined against him, and often he was cheated out of his property, — returning on foot by a long and dangerous journey to a desolate farm, which had been neglected during his absence. Thus two crops were sometimes lost in taking one to market.
The manners and customs of the people were simple and primitive. The costume of the men was a raccoon-skin cap, linsey huuting-shirt, buck-skin leggings and moccasons, with a butcher-knife in the belt. The women wore cotton or woollen frocks, striped with blue dye and Turkey-red, and spun, woven, and made with their own hands ; they went barefooted and bareheaded, except on Sundays, when they covered the head with a cotton handkerchief. It is told of a certain Jolm Grammar, for many years a representative from Union County, and a man of some note in the State councils, though he could neither read nor write, that in 1816, when he was first elected, lacking the necessary apparel, he and his sons gathered a large quantity of hazel-nuts, which they took to the nearest town and sold for enough blue strouding to make a suit of clothes. The pattern proved to be scanty, and the women of the household could only get out a very bob-tailed coat aud leggings. With these Mr. Grammar started for Kaskaskia, the seat of government, and these be continued to wear till the passage of an appropriation bill enabled him to buy a civilized pair of breeches.
The distinctions in manners and dress between the higher and lower classes were more marked than at present; for while John Grammar wore blue strouding, we are told that Governor Edwards dressed in fine broadcloth, white-topped boots, and a gold-laced cloak, and rode about the country in a fine, carriage, driven by a negro.
In those days justice was administered without much parade or ceremony. The judges held their courts mostly in log houses or in the bar-rooms of taverns, fitted up with a temporary bench for the judge, and chairs for . the lawyers and jurors. At the first Circuit Court in Washington County, held by Judge John Reynolds, the sheriff, on opening the court, went out into the yard, and said to the people, “ Boys, come in ; our John is going to hold court.” The judges were unwilling to decide questions of law, preferring to submit everything to the jury, and seldom gave them instructions, if they could avoid it. A certain judge, being ambitions to show his learning, gave very pointed directions to the jury, but they could not agree on a verdict. The judge asked the cause of their difference, when the foreman answered with great simplicity,—“ Why, Judge, this ’ere ’s the difficulty : the jury wants to know whether that ’ar what you told us, when we went out, was r’aly the law, or whether it was on’y jist your notion.”
In the spring of 1831, Black Hawk, a Sac chief, dissatisfied with the treaty by which hid tribe had been removed across the Mississippi, recrossed the river at the head of three or four hundred warriors, and drove away the white settlers from his old lands near the mouth of the Hock River. This was considered an invasion of the State, and Governor Reynolds called for volunteers. Fifteen hundred men answered the summons, and the Indians were driven out. The next spring, however, Black Hawk returned with a larger force, and commenced hostilities by killing some settlers on Indian Creek, not far from Ottawa. A large force of volunteers was again called out, but in the first encounter the whites were beaten, which success encouraged the Sacs and Foxes so much that they spread themselves over the whole of the country between the Mississippi and the Lake, and kept up a desultory warfare for three or four months against the volunteer troops. About the middle of July, a body of volunteers under General Henry of Illinois pursued the Indians into Wisconsin, and by forced marches brought them to action near the Mississippi, before the United States troops, under General Atkinson, could come up. The Indians fought desperately, but were unable to stand long before the courage and superior numbers of the whites. They escaped across the river with the loss of nearly three hundred, killed in the action, or drowned in the retreat. The loss of the Illinois volunteers was about thirty, killed and wounded.
This defeat entirely broke the power of the Sacs and Foxes, and they sued for peace. Black Hawk, and some of his head men, were taken prisoners, and kept in confinement for several months, when, after a tour through the country, to show them the numbers and power of the whites, they were set at liberty on the west side of the Mississippi. In 1840 Black Hawk died, at the age of eighty years, on the banks of the great river which he loved so well.
After the Black-Hawk War, the Indian title being extinguished, and the country open to settlers, Northern Illinois attracted great attention, and increased wonderfully in wealth and population.
In 1830, the population of the State amounted to 157,445 ; in 1840, to 476,183; in 1850, to 851,470; in 1860, to 1,719,496.
Situated in the centre of the United States, the State of Illinois extends from
37° to 42° 307 N. latitude, and from 10°
47/ to 14° 26’ W. longitude from Washington. The State is 3 78 miles long from North to South, and 212 miles broad from East to West. Its area is computed at 55,408 square miles, or 35.459,200 acres, less than two millions of which are called swamp lands, the remaining thirty-three millions being tillable land of unsurpassed fertility.
The State of Illinois forms the lower part of that slope which embraces the greater part of Indiana, and of which Lake Michigan, with its shores, forms the upper part. At the lowest part of this slope, and of the State, is the city of Cairo,.situated about 350 feet above the level of the Gulf of Mexico, at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi ; hence, the highest place in Illinois being only 800 feet above the level of the sea, it will appear that the whole State, though containing several hilly sections, is a pretty level plain, being, with the exception of Delaware and Louisiana, the flattest country in the Union.
The State contains about twenty-five considerable streams, and brooks and rivulets innumerable. There are no large lakes within its borders, though it has some sixty miles of Lake Michigan for its boundary on the east. Small clear lakes and ponds abound, particularly in the northern portion of the State.
As to the quality of the soil, Illinois is divided as follows: —
First, the alluvial land on the margins of the rivers, and extending back from half a mile to six or eight miles. This soil is of extraordinary fertility, and, wherever it is elevated, makes the best farming land in the State. Where it is low, and exposed to inundations, it is very unsafe to attempt its cultivation. The most extensive tract of this kind is the so-called American Bottom, which received this name when it was the western boundary of the United States. It extends from the junction of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi, along the latter, to the mouth of the Missouri, containing about 288,000 acres.
Secondly, the table-land, fifty to a hundred feet higher than the alluvial; it consists principally of prairies, which, according to their respectively higher or lower situations, are either dry or marshy.
Thirdly, the hilly sections of the State, which, consisting alternately of wood and prairie, are not, on the whole, as fertile as either the alluvial or the table-land.
There are no mountains in Illinois; but in the southern as well as the northern part, there are a few hills. Near the banks of the principal rivers the ground is elevated into bluffs, on which may be still found the traces left by water, which was evidently once much higher than it now is ; whence it is inferred, that, where the fertile plains of Illinois now extend, there must once have been a vast sheet of water, the mud deposited by which formed the soil, thus accounting for the great fertility of the prairies.
As we have said, the entire area of Illinois seems at one period to have been an ocean-bed, which has not since been disturbed by any considerable upheaval. The present irregularities of the surface are clearly traceable to the washing out and carrying away of the earth. The Illinois River has washed out a valley about two hundred and fifty feet deep, and from one and a half to six miles wide. The perfect regularity of the beds of mountain limestone, sandstone, and coal, as they are found protruding from the bluffs on each side of this valley, on the same levels, is pretty conclusive evidence that the valley itself owes its existence to the action of water. That the channels of the rivers have been gradually sunken, we may distinctly see by the shores of the Upper Mississippi, where are walls of rock, rising perpendicularly, which extend from Lake Pepin to below the mouth of the Wisconsin, as if they were walls built of equal height by the hand of man. Wherever the river describes a curve, walls may be found on the convex side of It.
The upper coal formation occupies three-fifths of the State, commencing at 41° 12; North latitude, where, as also along the Mississippi, whose banks it touches between the places of its junction with the Illinois and Missouri rivers, it is inclosed by a narrow layer of calcareous coal. The shores of Lake Michigan, and that narrow strip of land, which, commencing near them, runs along the northern bank of the Illinois towards Its southwestern bend, until it meets Rock River at its mouth, belong to the Devonian system. The residue ot the northern part of the State consists of Silurian strata, which, containing the rich lead mines of Galena in the northwest corner of the State, rise at intervals into conical hills, giving the landscape a character different from that of the middle or southern portion. Scattered along the banks of rivers, and in the middle of prairies, are frequently found large masses of granite and other primitive rocks. Since the nearest beds of primitive rocks first appear in Minnesota and the northern part of Wisconsin, their presence here can be accounted for only by assuming that at the lime this region was covered with water they were floated down from the North, inclosed and supported in masses of ice, which, melting, allowed the rocks to sink to the bottom. A still further proof of the presence of the ocean here in former times is to be found in the Sea-shells which occur upon many of the higher knolls and bluffs west of the Mississippi in Iowa.
Illinois contains probably more coal than any other State in the Union. It is mined at a small depth below the surface, and crops out upon the banks of most of the streams in the middle of the State. These mines have been very imperfectly worked till within a few years; but it is found, that, as the work goes deeper, the quality of the coal improves, and in some of the later excavations is equal to the best coals of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and will undoubtedly prove a source of immense wealth to the Slate.
The two northwestern counties of the State form a part of the richest and most extensive lead region in the world. During the year 1855, the product of these mines, shipped from the single port of Galena, was 430,365 pigs of lead, worth $1,732,219.02.
Copper has been found in large quantities in the northern counties, and also in the southern portion of the State. Some of the zinc ores are found in great quantities at the lead mines near Galena, but have not yet been utilized. Silver has been found in St. Clair County, whence Silver Creek has derived its name. It is said that, in early times the French sunk a shaft here, from which they obtained large quantities of the metal. Iron is found in many parts of the State, and the ores have been worked to considerable extent.
Among other valuable mineral products may be mentioned porcelain and potter’s day, fire clay, fuller’s earth, limestone of many varieties, sandstone, marble, and salt springs.
Illinois has an average temperature, which, if compared with that of Europe, corresponds to that of Middle Germany ; its winters are more severe than those of Copenhagen, and its summers as warm as those of Milan or Palermo. Compared with other States of the Union, Northern Illinois possesses a temperature similar to that of Southern New York, while the temperature of Southern Illinois will not differ much from that of Kentucky or Virginia. By observations of the thermometer during twenty years, in the southern part of the State, on the Mississippi, the mercury, once in that period, fell to 25°, and four times it rose above 100° Fahrenheit.
The prevailing winds are either western or southeastern. The severest storms are those coming from the west, which traverse the entire space between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic coast in forty-eight hours.
There are on an average eighty-nine rainy days in the year; the quantity of rain falling amounts to forty-two inches, — the smallest amount being in January, and the largest in June. The average number of thunder-storms in a year is forty-nine; of clear days, one hundred and thirty-seven; of changeable days, one hundred and eighty-three ; and of days without sunshine, forty-five.
The vegetation of the State forms the connecting link between the Flora of the Northeastern States and that of the Upper Mississippi, — exhibiting, besides the plants common to all the States lying between the Mississippi and the Atlantic Ocean, such as are, properly speaking, natives of the Western prairies, not being found east of the Alleghany Mountains. Immense grassy plains, interlaced with groves, which are found also along the watercourses, cover two-thirds of the entire area of the State in the North, while the southern part is garnished with heavy timber.
No work which we have seen gives so good an account of the Flora of the prairies as the one by Frederick Gerhard, called “ Illinois as it is.” We have been indebted to this work for a good deal of valuable matter, and shall now make some further extracts from it.
“ Before we finally turn our backs on the last scattered houses of the village, we find both sides of the road lined with ugly worm-fences, which are overtopped by the various species of Helianthus, Thistles, Biennial Gaura, and the Illinoisian Bell-flower with cerulean blossoms, and other tall weeds. Here may also be found the coarse-haired Asclepias tuberosa, with fiery red umbels, the strong-scented Monarda. fistulosa, and an umbelliferous plant, the grass-like, Spiculatcd leaves of which recall to mind the Southern Agaves, the Eryngo. Among these children of Nature rises the civilized plant, the Indian Corn, with its stalks nearly twelve feet high.”
“ Having now arrived at the end of the cultivated lands, we enter upon the dry prairies, extending up the bluffs, where we meet the small vermilion Sorrel (Rumex acetosela) and Mouse-ear, which, however, do not reside here as foreigners, hut as natives, like many other plants that remind the European of his native country, as, for instance, the Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale); a kind of Rose, (Rosa lucida,) with its sweet-scented blossoms, has a great predilection for this dry soil. With surprise we meet here also with many plants with hairy, greenish-gray leaves and stalk-covers, as, for instance, the Onosmodium molle, Hieracium longipilum, Pycnanthemum pilosum, Chrysopsis villosa, Amorpha canescens, Tephrosia Virginiana, Lithospermum canescens; between which the immigrated Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) may be found. The pebbly fragments of the entire slope, which during spring-time were sparingly covered with dwarfish herbs, such as the Androsace occidentalis, Draba Caraliniana, Planlago Virginica, Scu-tellaria parvula, are now crowded with plants of taller growth and variegated blossoms. Rudbeckia hirta, with its numerous radiating blossoms of a lively yellow, and the closely allied Echinacea purpurea, whose long purple rays hang down from a ruddy hemispherical disc, are the most remarkable among plants belonging to the genus Compositæ, which blossom early in summer; in the latter part of summer follow innumerable plants of the different species,, Liatris, Vernonia, Aster, Solidago, Helianthus, etc.”
“We approach a sinuous chasm of the bluffs, having better soil and underwood, which, thin at first, increases gradually in density. Low bushes, hardly a foot high, are formed by the American Thistle, (Ceanothus Americanus,) a plant whose leaves were used instead of tea, in Boston, during the Revolution. Next follow the Hazel-bush, (Corylus Americana.) the fiery-red Castilleja coccinea, and the yellow Canadian Louse-wort; the Dipteracanthus strepens, with great blue funnel-shaped blossoms, and the Gerardia pedicularia, are fond of such places; and where the bushes grow higher, and the Rhus glabra, Zanlhoxylum Americanum, Plelea trifoliata, Staphylea trfolia, together with Ribes-Rubus Pyrus, Cornus, and Cralcegus, form an almost impenetrable thicket, surrounded and garlanded by the round-leaved, rough Bindweed, (Smilax rotundifolia,) and Dioscorea villosa, the Climbing Hose, (Rosa sctigera,) Celastrus scandens, remarkable for its beautiful red fruits, Clematis l irginiana, Polygonum, Convolvulus, and other vines, these weedy herbs attempt to overtop the bushes.”
“ We now enter upon the illimitable prairie which lies before us, the fertile prairie, in whose undulating surface the moisture is retained; this waits for cultivation, and will soon be deprived of its flowery attire, and bear plain, but indispensable grain. Those who have not yet seen such a prairie should not imagine it like a cultivated meadow, but rather a heaving sea of tall herbs and plants, decking it with every variety of color. “In the summer, the yellow of the large Compositæ will predominate, intermingled with the blue of the Tradescantias, the fiery red of the Lilies, (Lilum Philadelphicum and Lilium Canadense,) the purple of the Phlox, the white of the Cacalia luberosa, Melanthium Virginicum, and the umbelliferous plants. In spring, small-sized plants bloom here, such as the Anemone, with its blue and white blossoms, the Palmated Violet, the Ranunculus, which are the first ornaments of the prairies in spring; then follow the Esculent Sea-Onion, Penlalophus longiflorus, Lithospermum hirium, Cynthia Virginica, and Baptism leucophæa. As far as the eye reaches, no house nor tree can be seen ; but where civilization has come, the farmer has planted small rows of the quickly growing Black Acacia, which affords shelter from the sun to his cattle and fuel for his hearth.”
“ We now enter the level part of the forest, which has a rich black soil. Great sarmentous plants climb here np to the tops of the trees: wild Grapes, the climbing, poisonous Sumach, (Rhus toxicodendron,) and the vine-like Cinque-foil, which transforms withered, naked trunks into green columns, Bignonias, with their brilliant scarlet trumpet-flowers, are the most remarkable. The Thuja occidentalis, which may be met with in European gardens, stands in mournful solitude on the margins of pools; here and there an isolated Cedar, (Juniperus Virginiana,) and the low Box-tree, (Taxus Canadensis.) are in Illinois the only representatives of the evergreens, forests of which first appear in the northern part of Wisconsin and Minnesota.”
“ Flowers of the most brilliant hues bedeck the rivers’ banks; above all, the Lobelia card to alls and Lobelia syphilitica, of the deepest carmine and cerulean tinge, the yellow Cassia Marilandica, and the delicate Rosa blanda, a rose without thorns; also the Scrophudaria nodosa
“On the marshy ground thrive the Iris versicolor, Asclepias incarnata, the Primrose-tree, Liver-wort, the tall Physostegia Virginiana, with rosy-red blossoms, and the Helenium autumnale, in which the yellow color predominates. In spring, the dark violet blossom of the Amorpha fruticosa diffuses its fragrance.”
“ Entering a boat on the river, where we cannot touch the bottom with the oar, we perceive a little while flower waving to and fro, supported by long spiral balms between straight, grass-like leaves. This is the Vallisncria spiralis, a remarkable plant, which may be also met with in Southern Europe, especially in the Canal of Languedoc, and regarding the fructification of which different opinions prevail.”
“ Nearer to the land, we observe similar grass-like leaves, but with little yellow stellated flowers : these belong to the order of Sehollera graminea. Other larger leaves belong to the Amphibious Polygon}-, and different species of the Potamogelon, the ears of whose blossoms rise curiously above the surface of the water. Clearing our way through a row of tall swamp weeds, Zizania aquatic a, Scirpus lacustris, Scirpus pungens, among which the white flowers of Sparganium ramosum and Sagittaria variabilis are conspicuous, we steer into a large inlet entirely covered with the broad leaves of the Nymphæa odorata and the Nelumbium luteum, of which the former waves its beautiful flower on the surface of the river, while the latter, the queen, in fact, of the waters, proudly raises her magnificent crown upon a perpendicular footstalk. On the opposite bank, the evening breeze lifts the triangular leaves and rosy-red flowers of the Marsh-Mallow, overhung by Gray Willows and the Silver-leaved Maple and the Red Maple, on which a flock of white herons have alighted.”
In all the rivers and swamps of the Northwest grows the Wild Rice, (Zizania aquatica,) a plant which was formerly very important to the Indians as food, and now attracts vast flocks of waterfowl to feed upon it in the season. In autumn the squaws used to go in their canoes to these natural rice-fields, and, bending the tall stalks over the gunwale, beat out the heads of grain with their paddles into the canoe. It is mentioned among the dainties at Hiawatha's wedding-least : —
Yellow cakes of the Mondamin,
And the wild rice of the river.”
The Fruits of the forest are Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries, in some barren spots Whortleberries, Mulberries, Grapes, Mild Plums and Cherries, Crab-Apples, the Persimmon, Pawpaw, Hickory-nuts, Ilazel-nuts, and Walnuts.
The Timber-trees are, — of the Oaks, Quercus alba, Quercus macrocarpa, Quercus tinctoria, Quercus imbricaria,— Hard and Soft Maples, — and of the Hickories, Carya alba, Carya tomentosa, and Carya arnara. Other useful timber-trees are the Ash, Cherry, several species of Elm, Linden, and Iron wood (Carpinus Americana').
Of Medicinal Plants, we find Cassia Marilandica, Polygala Senega, Sanguinaria Canadensis, Lobelia inflata, Phytolacca decandra, Podophyllum peltatinn, Sassafras officinale.
Various species of the Vine are native here, and the improved varieties succeed admirably in the southern counties.
The early travellers in this region mention the great herds of wild cattle which roamed over the prairies in those times, but the last Buffalo on the east side of the Mississippi was killed in 1832; and now the hunter who would see this noble game must travel some hundreds of miles west, to the head-waters of the Kansas or the Platte. The Elk, which was once so common in Illinois, has also receded before the white man, and the Deer is fast following his congener. On the great prairies south of Chicago, where, fifteen years ago, one might find twenty deer in a day’s tramp, not one is now to be seen. Two species of Hare occur here, and several Tree Squirrels, the Red, Black,Gray, Mottled, and the Flying; besides these, there are two or three which live under ground. The Beaver is nearly or quite extinct, but the Otter remains, and the Musk-Rat abounds on all the river-banks and marshes.
Of carnivorous animals, we have the Panther and Black Bear in the wooded portions of the State, though rare; the Lynx, the Gray and Black Wolf, and the Prairie Wolf; the Skunk, the Badger, the Woodchuck, the Raccoon, and, in the southern part of the State, the Opossum.
Mr, Lapham of Wisconsin has published a list of the birds of that State, which will also answer for Northern Illinois. He enumerates two hundred and ninety species, which, we think, is below the number which visit the central parts of Illinois. From the central position of this State, most of the birds of the United States are found here at one season or another. For instance, among the rapacious birds, we have the three Eagles which visit America, the White-Headed, the Washington, and the Golden or Royal Eagle. Of Hawks and Falcons, fourteen or fifteen species, among which are the beautiful Swallow-tailed Hawk, and that noble falcon, the Peregrine. Ten or twelve Owls, among which, as a rare visitor, we find the Great Gray Owl, (Syrnium cinercum,) and the Snowy Owl, which is quite common in the winter season on tlie prairies, preying upon grouse and hares. Of the Vultures, we have two, as summer visitors, the Turkey-Buzzard and the Black Vulture. Of omnivorous birds, sixteen or eighteen species, among which is the Raven, which here takes the place of the Crow, the two species not being able to live together, as the stronger robber drives away the weaker. Of the insectivorous birds, some sixty or seventy species are found here, among which is the Mocking-Bird, in the middle and southern districts. Thirtyfive to forty species of granivorous birds, among which we occasionally find in winter that rare Arctic bird, the Evening Grosbeak. Of the Zygodactyli, fourteen species, among which is found the Paroquet, in the southern part of the State. Tenuirostres, five species. Of the Kingfishers, one species. Swallows and Goatsuckers, nine species. Of the Pigeons, two, the Turtle-Dove and the PassengerPigeon, of which the latter visit us twice a year, in immense flocks.
Of die gallinaceous birds, the Turkey, which is found in the heavy timber in the river bottoms; the Quail, which has become very abundant, all over the Slate, within twenty years, following, it would seem, the march of civilization and settlement ; the Ruffed Grouse, abundant in the timber, but never seen on the prairie ; the Pinnated Grouse, or Prairie Hen, always found on the open plains. These birds increased very much in number after the settlement of the State, owing probably to the increase of food for them, and the decrease of their natural enemies, the prairie wolves; but since the building of railroads, so many are killed to supply the demands of New York and other Eastern cities, that they are now decreasing very rapidly, and in a very few years the sportsman will have to cross the Mississippi to And a pack of grouse. The Sharp-tailed Grouse, an occasional visitor in winter from Wisconsin, is found in the timbered country.
Of wading birds, from forty to fifty species, among which the Sand-Hill Crane is very abundant, and the Great White or Whooping Crane very rare, although supposed by some authors to be the same bird in di tie relit stages of plumage.
Of the lobe-footed birds, seven species, of which is the rare and beautiful ’Wilson’s Phularope, which breeds in the wet prairies near Chicago.
Of web-footed birds, about forty species, among which are two Swans and five Geese. Among the Ducks, the Canvas-Back is found ; but, owing to the want of its favorite food in the Chesapeake, the Vallisneria, it is, in our waters, a very ordinary duck, as an article of food.
The waters of Illinois abound with fish, of which class we enumerate,—
Percidæ, 3 Pomotis, 2
Labrax, 3 Cottus, 2
Lucioperca, 2 Corviira, 1
Huro, 1 Pimelodns, 5
Centrarchus, 3 I.euciscus, 0
Catostomus, 4 Salmo, 1
Hydrargea, 2 Corregouus, 3
Esox 3 Amia, 1
Hyodon, 1 Lepidosteus, 3
Lota, 2 Accipenser, 3
Of these, the Perch, White, Black, and Rock Bass, the Pike-Perch, the Catfish, the Pike and Muskalonge, the Whitefish, the Lake Trout, and the Sturgeon are valuable fishes for the table.
Of the class of Reptiles, we have among the Lizards the Mud-Devil, (Menopoma AUegkamie-nsish) which grows in the sluggish streams to the length of two feet; also Triton dorsalis, Necturus lateralis, Ambystoma punctata.
Of the Snakes, we find three venomous species, the Rattlesnake, the Massasauga, and the Copper-Head. The largest serpents are the Black Snake, five feet long, and the Milk Snake, from five to six feet in length.
Among the Turtles is Emys picla, Chelonura serpentina, and Cistuda clausa.
Of the Frogs, we have Rana syhatica, Rana palustris, and Rana pipiens, nearly two feet long, and loud-voiced in proportion,—a Bull-Frog, indeed !
Various theories and speculations have been formed as to the origin of the prairies. One of them is, that the forests which formerly occupied these plains were swept away at some remote period by fire; and that the annual fires set by the Indians have continued this state of things. Another theory is, that the violent winds which sweep over them have prevented the growth of trees ; a third, that want of rain forbids their growth ; a fourth, that the agency of water has produced the effect; and lastly, a learned professor at the last meeting of the Scientific Convention put forth his theory, which was, that the real cause of the absence of trees from the prairies is the mechanical condition of the soil, which is, he thinks, too fine, — a coarse, rocky soil being, in his estimation, a necessary condition of the growth of trees.
Most of these theories seem to be inconsistent with the plain facts of the case. First, we know that these prairies existed in their present condition when the first white man visited them, two hundred years ago; and also that similar treeless plains exist in South America and Central Africa, and have so existed ever since those countries were known. We are told by travellers in those regions, that the natives have the same custom of annually burning the dry grass and herbage for the same reason that our Indians did it, and that the early white settlers kept up the custom,— namely, to promote the growth of young and tender feed for the wild animals which the former hunted and the cattle which the latter live by grazing.
Another fact, well known to all settlers in the prairie, is, that it is only necessary to keep out the fires by fences or ditches, and a thick growth of trees will spring up on the prairies. Many fine groves now exist all over Illinois, where nothing grew twenty years ago but the wild grasses and weeds ; and we have it on record, that locust-seed, sown on the prairie near Quincy, in four years produced trees with a diameter of trunk of four to six inches, and in seven years had become large enough for posts and rails. So with fruit-trees, which nowhere flourish with more strength and vigor than in this soil,— too much so, indeed, since they are apt to run to wood rather than fruit. Moreover, the soil in the groves and on the river bottoms, where trees naturally grow, is the same, chemically and mechanically, as that of the open prairie; the same winds sweep over both, and the same rain falls upon both; so that it would seem that the absence of trees cannot be attributed wholly to fire, water, wind, or soil, but is owing to a combination of two or more of those agencies.
But from whatever cause the prairies originated, they have no doubt been perpetuated bv the fires which annually sweep over their surface. Where the soil is too wet to sustain a heavy growth of grass, there is no prairie. Timber is found along the streams, almost invariably,—and, where the banks are high and dry, will usually be found on the east bank of those streams whose course is north and south. This is caused by the fact that the prevailing winds are from the west, and bring the fire with them till it reaches the stream, which forms a barrier and protects the vegetation on the other side.
If any State in the Union is adapted to agriculture, and the various branches of rural economy, such as stock-raising, wool-growing, or fruit-culture, it must surely be Illinois, where the fertile natural meadows invite the plough, without the tedious process of clearing off timber, which, in many parts of the country, makes it the labor of a lifetime to bring a farm under good cultivation. Here, the farmer who is satisfied with such crops as fifty bushels of corn to the acre, eighteen of wheat, or one hundred of potatoes, has nothing to do but to plough, sow, and reap ; no manure, and but little attention, being necessary to secure a yield like this. Hence a man of very small means can soon become independent on the prairies. If, however, one is ambitious of raising good crops, and doing the best he can with his land, let him manure liberally and cultivate diligently; nowhere will land pay for good treatment better than here.
Mr. J. Ambrose Wight, of Chicago, the able editor of the “ Prairie Farmer,” writes as follows : —
“ From an acquaintance with Illinois lands and Illinois farmers, of eighteen years, during thirteen of which I have been editor of the 1 Prairie Farmer,’ I am prepared to give the following as the rates of produce which may be had per acre, with ordinary culture: —
Winter Wheat, . . 15 to 25 Bushels.
Spring “ ... 10 to 20 “
Corn, .40 to 7O ‘
Oats, .40 to 6O ‘
Potatoes, .... 100 to 200 “
Grass, Timothy and Clover, 1½ to 3 Tons.
“ Ordinary culture, on prairie lands, is not what is meant by the term in the Eastern or Middle States. It means here, no manure, and commonly but once, or at most twice, ploughing, on perfectly smooth land, with long furrows, and no stones or obstructions; where two acres per day is no hard job for one team. It is often but very poor culture, with shallow ploughing, and without attention to weeds. I have known crops, not unirequently, far greater than these, with but little variation in their treatment: say, 40 to 50 bushels of winter wheat, 60 to 80 of oats, and 100 of Indian corn, or 300 of potatoes. Good culture, which
A farm of this size, so situated, with the proper buildings and stock, may, at the present price of land, be supposed to represent a capital of $ 15,000 — on which sum the above account gives an interest of over 15 per cent. Is there any other part of the country where the same interest can be realized on farming capi-
23 acres of Wheat, ... 30 bushels per acre, net profit, . $453.00 17½ “ “ on Corn ground, 22V “ “ “ . 275.50 9½ “ Spring Wheat, . .24 “ “ “ . 159.70 2½ “ Winter Rye, . . 22T 11 “ “ . 10.25 5½ “ Barley, .... 334 “ “ “ . 32.55 12 “ Oats, .... 87½ “ “ “ . 174.50 28½ “ Corn, .... 60 “ “ “ . . 638.73 l “ Potatoes, ... 150 “ “ “ . 27.50 103 Sheep, average weight of fleece, 3; lbs., . . . “ . 177.83 15 head of Cattle and one Colt, . . . . . . “ 103.00 1500 lbs. Pork, 35.00 Fruit, Honey, Pees, and Poultry, . . . “ 73.75 21 acres Timothy Seed, 4 bushels per acre, . . . “ . 123.00
But this farm of 240 acres is a mere retail affair to many farms in the State. We will give some examples on a larger scale.
“ Winstead Davis came to Jonesboro’, Illinois, from Tennessee, thirty years ago, without means of any kind; now owns many thousand acres of land, and has under cultivation, this year, from 2500 to 3000 acres.”
“ W. Willard, native of Vermont, commenced penniless; now owns more than 10,000 acres of land, and cultivates 2000.” means rotation, deep ploughing, farms well stocked, and some manure applied at intervals of from three to five years, would, in good seasons, very often approach these latter figures.”
We will now give the results of a very detailed account of the management of a farm of 240 acres, in Kane County, Illinois, an average farm as to soil and situation, but probably much above the average in cultivation,— at least, we should judge so from the intelligent and business-like manner in which the account is kept; every crop having a separate account kept with it in Dr. and Cr., to show the net profit or loss of each.
“ Jesse Funk, near Bloomington, Illinois, began the world thirty years ago, at rail-splitting, at twenty-five cents the hundred. He bought land, and raised cattle ; kept increasing his lands and herds, till he now owns 7000 acres of land, and sells over $40,000 worth of cattle and hogs annually.
“Isaac Funk, brother of the above, began in the same way, at the same time, He has gone ahead of Jesse ; for he owns 27,000 acres of land, has 4000 in cultivation, and his last year’s sales of cattle amounted to $65,000.”
It is evident that the brothers Funk are men of administrative talent; they would have made a figure in Wall Street, could have filled cabinet office at Washington, or, perhaps, could even have “ kept a hotel.”
These are but specimens of the largeacred men of Illinois. Hundreds of others there re are, who farm on nearly the same scale.
The great difficulty in carrying on farming operations on a large scale in Illinois has always been the scarcity of labor. Land is cheap and plenty, but labor scarce and dear : exactly the reverse of what obtains in England, where land is dear and labor cheap. It must be evident that a different kind of farming would be found here from that in use in older countries. There, the best policy is to cultivate a few acres well; here, it has been found more profitable to skim over a large surface. But within a few years the introduction of labor-saving machines has changed the conditions of farming, and has rendered it possible to give good cultivation to large tracts of land with few men. Many of the crops are now put in by machines, cultivated by machines, and harvested by machines. If, as seems probable, the steam-plough of Fawkes shall become a success, the revolution in farming will be complete. Already some of the large farmers employ wind or steam power in various ways to do the heavy work, such as cutting and grinding food for cattle and hogs, pumping water, etc.
Although the soil and climate of Illinois are well adapted to fruit-culture, yet, from various causes, it has not, till lately, been much attended to. The early settlers of Southern and Middle Illinois were mostly of the Virginia race, Hoosiers,— who are a people of few wants. If they have hog-meat and hominy, whiskey and tobacco, they are content; they will not trouble themselves to plant fruit-trees. The early settlers in the North were, generally, very poor men; they could not afford to buy fruit-trees, for the produce of which they must wait several years. Wheat, corn, and hogs were the articles which could be soonest converted into money, and those they raised. Then the early attempts at raising fruit were not very successful. The trees were brought from the East, and were either spoiled by the way, or were unsuited to this region. But the great difficulty has been the want of drainage. Fruit-trees cannot be healthy with wet leet for several months of the year, and this they are exposed to on these level lands. "With proper tile-draining, so that the soil shall be dry and mellow early in the spring, we think that the apple, the pear, the plum, and the cherry will succeed on the prairies anywhere in Illinois. The peach and the grape flourish in the southern part of the State, already, with very little care ; in St. Clair County, the culture of the latter has been carried on by the Germans for many years, and the average yield of Catawba wine has been two hundred gallons per acre. The strawberry grows wild all over the State, both in the timber and the prairie; and the cultivated varieties give very fine crops. All the smaller fruits do well here, and the melon family find in this soil their true home; they are raised by the acre, and sold by the wagon-load, in the neighborhood of Chicago.
Stock-raising is undoubtedly the most profitable kind of farming on the prairies, which are so admirably adapted to this species of rural economy, and Illinois is already at the head of the cattle-breeding States. There were shipped from Chicago in 1860, 104,122 head of live cattle, and 114,007 barrels of beef.
The Durham breed seems to be preferred by the best stock-farmers, and they pay great attention to the purity of the race. A herd of one hundred head of cattle raised near Urbanna, and averaging 1965 pounds each, took the premium at the World's Fair in New York. Although the Durhams are remarkable for their large size and early maturity, yet other breeds are favorites with many farmers, — such as the Devons, the Herefords, and the Holstein?, the first particularly,— for working cattle, and for the quality of their beef. There is a sweetness about the beef fattened upon these prairies which is not found elsewhere, and is noticed by all travellers who have eaten of that meat at the best Chicago hotels.
In fact, Illinois is the paradise of cattle, and there is no sight more beautiful, in its way, than one of those vast natural meadows in Jane, dotted with the red and white cattle, standing belly-deep in rich grass and gay-colored flowers, and almost too fat and lazy to whisk away the flies. Even in winter they look comfortable, in their sheltered barn-yard, surrounded by huge stacks of hay or long ranges of corn-cribs, chewing the cud of contentment, and untroubled with any thought of the inevitable journey to Brighton.
Where corn is so plenty as it is in Illinois, of course hogs will be plenty also. During the year 1860, two hundred and seventy-five thousand porkers rode into Chicago by railroad, eighty-five thousand of which pursued their journey, still living, to Eastern cities, — the balance remaining behind to be converted into lard, bacon, and salt pork.
The wholesale way of making beef and pork is this. All summer the cattle are allowed to run on the prairie, and the hogs in the timber on the river bottoms. In the autumn, when the corn is ripe, the cattle are turned into one of those great fields, several hundred acres in extent, to gather the crop; and after they have done, the hogs come in to pick up what the cattle have left.
Sheep do well On the prairies, particularly in the southern part of the State, where the flocks require little or no shelter in winter. The prairie wolves Formerly destroyed many sheep; but since the introduction of strychnine for poisoning those voracious animals, the sheep have been very little troubled.
Horses and mules are raised extensively, and in the northern counties, where the Morgans and other good breeds have been introduced, the horses are as good as in any State of the Union. Theory would predict this result, since the horse is found always to come to his greatest perfection in level countries,—as, for instance, the deserts of Arabia, and the llanos of South America.
There are two articles in daily and indispensable use, for which the Northern States have hitherto been dependent on the Southern : Sugar and Cotton. With regard to the first, the introduction of the Chinese Sugar-Cane has demonstrated that every farmer in the State can raise his own sweetening. The experience of several years has proved that the SORghum is a hardier plant than corn, and that it will be a sure crop as far North as latitude 42° or 43°.
An acre of good prairie will produce 18 tons of the cane, and each ton gives 60 gallons of juice, winch is reduced, by boiling, to 10 gallons of syrup. This gives 180 gallons of syrup to the acre, worth from 40 to 50 cents a gallon,— say 40 cents, which will give 72 dollars for the product of an acre of land; from which the expenses of cultivation being deducted, with rent of land, etc., say 36 dollars, there will remain a net profit of 36 dollars to the acre, besides the seed, and the fodder which comes from a third part of the stalk, which is cut off before sending the remainder to the mill. This is found to be the most nutritious food that can be used for cattle and horses, and very valuable for milch cows. These results have been obtained from Mr. Luce, of Plainfield, Will County, who has lately built a steam-mill for making the syrup from the cane which is raised by the farmers in that vicinity. In this first year, he manufactured 12,500 gallons of syrup, which sells readily at fifty cents a gallon. A quantity of it was refined at the Chicago Sugar-Refinery, and the result was a very agreeable syrup, free from the peculiar flavor which the home-made Sorghum - syrup usually has. As yet, no experiments on a large scale have been made to obtain crystallized sugar from the juice of this cane, it having been, so far, used more economically in the shape of syrup. That it can be done, however, is proved by the success of several persons who have tried it in a small way. In the County of Vermilion, it is estimated that three hundred thousand gallons of syrup were made in 1860. As to Cotton, since the building of the Illinois Central Railroad has opened the southern part of the State to the world, and let in the light upon that darkened Egypt, it Is found that those people have been raising their own cotton for many years, from the seed which they brought with them into the State from Virginia and North Carolina. The plant has become acclimated, and now ripens its seed in latitude 39° and 40°. Perhaps the culture may be earned still farther, so that cotton may be raised all over the State. The heat of our summers is tropical, but they are too short. If, however, the cotton-plant, like Indian conrn and the tomato, can be gradually induced to ma-
We are feeding Europe and the Cotton States, who pay us in gold; we feed the Northern States, who pay us in goods ; we are feeding our starving brothers in Kansas, who have paid us beforehand, by their heroic devotion to the cause of freedom. Let us hope that their troubles are nearly over, and that, having passed through more hardships than have fallen to the lot of any American community, they may soon enter upon a career of prosperity as signal as have been their misfortunes, so that the prairies of Kansas may, in their turn, assist in feeding the world.
Nothing has done so much for the rapid growth of Illinois as her canal and railroads.
As early as 1833 several railroad charters were granted by the legislature ; but the stock was not taken, and nothing was done until the year 1836, when a vast system of internal improvements was projected, intended “ to be commensurate with the wants of the people,”—that is, there was to be a railroad to run by every man’s door. About thirteen hundred miles of railroads were planned, a canal ture itself in four or five months, the consequences of such a change can hardly be estimated.
But whether or not it he possible to raise cotton and sugar profitably in Illinois, tliat she is the great breadand meat-producing State no one can doubt; and in 1.86:1 it happens that Cotton is King no longer, but must yield his sceptre to Corn.
The breadstuff's exported from the Northwest to Europe and to the Cotton States will this year probably amount to more money than the whole foreign export of cotton,—the crop which to some persons represents all that the world contains of value.
Probable export of Cotton in 1861, three-fourths of the crop of 4,000,000 bales, 3,000,000 bales, at $45.....$135,000,000 Estimated export of Bread-stuffs to Europe .... $100,000,000 “ “ “ to Southern States . . 45,000,000 — $145,000,000
was to be built from Chicago to the Illinois River at Peru, and several rivers were to be made navigable. The cost of all this it was supposed would be about eight millions of dollars, and the money was to be raised by loan. In order that all might have the benefit of this system, it was provided that two hundred thousand dollars should be distributed among those counties where none of these improvements were made. To cap the climax of folly, it was provided that the work should commence on all these roads simultaneously, at each end, and from the crossings of all the rivers.
As no previous survey or estimate had been made, either of the routes, the cost of the works, or the amount of business to be done on them, it is not surprising that the State of Illinois soon found herself with a heavy debt, and nothing to show for it, except a few detached pieces of railroad embankments and excavations, a half-finished canal, and a railroad from the Illinois River to Springfield, which cost one million of dollars, and when finished would not pay for operating it.
The State staggered on for some ten years under this load of debt, which, as she could not pay the interest upon it, had increased in 1845 to some fourteen millions. The project of repudiating the debt was frequently brought forward by unscrupulous politicians; but to the honor of the people of Illinois be it remembered, that even in the darkest times this dishonest scheme found but few friends.
In 1845, the holders of the canal bonds advanced the sum of $1,700,000 for the purpose of finishing the canal: and subsequently, William B. Ogden and a few other citizens of Chicago, having obtained possession of an old railroad-charter for a road from that city to Galena, got a few thousand dollars of stock subscribed in those cities, and commenced the work. The difficulties were very great, from the scarcity of money and the want of confidence in the success of the enterprise. In most of the villages along the proposed line there was a strong opposition to having a railroad built at all, as the people thought it would be the ruin of their towns. Even in Chicago, croakers were not wanting to predict that the railroad would monopolize all the trade ot the place.
In the face of all these obstacles, the road was built to the Des Plaines River, twelve miles, — in a very cheap way, to be sure ; as a second-hand strap-rail was used, and half-worn cars were picked up from Eastern roads.
These twelve miles of road between the Des Plaines and Chicago bad always been the terror of travellers. It was a low, wet prairie, without drainage, and in the spring and autumn almost impassable. At such seasons one might trace the road by the broken wagons and dead horses that lay strewn along it.
To be able to have their loads of grain carried over this dreadful place for three or four cents a bushel was to the farmers of the Rock River and Fox River valleys — who, having hauled their wheat from forty to eighty miles to this Slough of Despond, frequently could get it no farther— a privilege which they soon began to appreciate. The road had all it could do, at once. It was a success. There was now no difficulty in getting the stock taken up, and before long it was finished to Fox River. It paid from fifteen to twenty per cent, to the stockholders, and the people along the line soon became its warmest friends, — and no wonder, since it doubled the value of every man’s farm on the line. The next year the road was extended to Rock River, and then to Galena, one hundred and eighty-five miles.
This road was the pioneer of the twenty-eight hundred and fifty miles of railroads which now cross the State in every direction, and which have hastened the settlement of the prairies at least fifty years.
Among these lines of railway, the most important, and one of the longest in America, is the Illinois Central, which is seven hundred and four miles in length, and traverses the State from South to North, namely: —
1. The main lino, from Cairo to La
2. The Galena Branch, from La Salle
to Dunleith .... 146 “
3. The Chicago Branch, from Chi-
cago to Centralia . . 250 “
This great work was accomplished in the short space of four years and nine months, by the help of a grant of two and a half millions of acres of land lying along the line. The company have adopted the policy of selling these lands on long credit to actual settlers; and since the completion of the road,in 1856, they have gold over a million of acres, for fifteen millions of dollars, in secured notes, bearing interest. The remaining lands will probably realize as much more, so that the seven hundred and four miles of railroad will actually cost the corporators nothing.
There are eleven trunk and twenty branch and extension lines, which centre in Chicago, the earnings of nineteen of which, for the year 1859, were fifteen millions of dollars. As that, however, was a year of great depression in business, with a short crop through the Northwest, we think, in view of the large crop of 1860, and the consequent revival of business, that the earnings of these nineteen lines will not be less this year than twenty-two millions of dollars.
In the early settlement of the State, twenty-five or thirty years ago, the pioneers being necessarily very liable to want of good shelter, to bad food and impure water, suffered much from bilious and intermittent fevers. As the country has become settled, the land brought under cultivation, and the habits of the people improved, these diseases have in a great measure disappeared. Other forms of disease have, however, taken their place, pulmonary affections and fevers of the typhoid type being more prevalent than formerly ; but as most of the immigrants into Northern Illinois are from Western New York and New England, where this latter class of diseases prevails, the people are much less alarmed by them than they used to be by the bilious diseases, though the latter were really less dangerous. The coughs, colds, and consumptions are old acquaintances, and through familiarity have lost their terrors.
The census of 1850 gives the following comparative view of the annual percentage of deaths in several States:— Massachusetts, . . 1.95 per cent.
Rhode Island, . . 1.52 “
New York, . . . 1.47 “
Ohio, . — . . . 1.44 “
Illinois, . . . .1.36 “
Missouri, . . . 1.80 “
Louisiana, . . . 2.31 “
Texas, . . . 1.46 “
This table shows that Illinois stands in point of health among the very highest of the States.
Having sketched the history and traced the material development of the Prairie State to the present time, we will close this article with a few words as to its politics and policy.
As we have seen, the early settlers of Illinois were from Virginia and Kentucky, and brought with them the habits, customs, aud ideas of Slaveholders; and though by the sagacity and virtue of a few leading men the institution of Slavery was kept out, yet for many years the Democratic Party, always the ally and servant of the Slave-Power, was in the ascendant. Until 1858, the Legislature and the Executive have always been Democratic, and the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, from Jackson down to Buchanan, was sure of the electoral vote of Illinois. But the growth of the northern half of the State has of late years been far outstripping that of the southern portion, and the former now has the majority. We have now a Bepublican Legislature and a Republican Governor, and, by the new apportionment soon to be made, the Republican Party will be much more largely in the ascendant, — so much so, indeed, that there is no probability of another Democratic Senator being chosen from Illinois in the next twenty years. Mr. Douglas will be the last of his race.
The people of Northern Illinois, who are in future to direct the policy of the State, are mostly from Western New York and New England.
They bring with them their unconquered prejudices in favor of freedom; their great commercial city is as strongly antislavery as Worcester or Syracuse, and has been for years an unsafe spot for a slave-hunter. Their interests and their sympathies are all with the Northern States. What idle babble, then, is this theory of a third Confederacy, to be constructed out of the middle Atlantic States and the Northwest !
If, as one of our orators says, New England is the brain of this country, then the Northwest is its bone and muscle, ready to cultivate its wide prairies and feed the world,—or, if need be, to use the same strength in crushing treason, and in preserving the Territories for free settlers.