THE WESTERN GAZETTEER OR EMIGRANT'S DIRECTORY,
By Samuel R. Brown, Auburn, N. Y., 1817.
©2006, Transcribed by K. Torp
The boundaries of the Illinois territory are defined, by law—the Ohio washes its southern border, extending from the mouth of the Wabash to its junction with the Mississippi, a distance of 160 miles; the Mississippi constitutes the western boundary from the mouth of the Ohio to the Rocky Hills, in north latitude 41.50, a distance, measuring the meanderings of that river, of more than 600 miles; a line due east from the Rocky Hills (not yet run) divides it from the Northwestern Territory; the Wabash separates it from Indiana, from its mouth to within sixteen miles of Fort Harrison, where the division line leaves the river, running north until it intersects the northern boundary line in N lat. 41.50. The length of the territory in a direct line from north to south is 347 miles—its mean breadth 206. Its southern extremity is in 36.57 N. lat. It contains 52,000 square miles, or 33,280,000 acres.
The form of this extensive country is that of an imperfect triangle— its base being the northern boundary of the territory, or the parallel of the southern extremity of lake Michigan; and the Mississippi its hypothenuse.
The present population is estimated at 20,000 souls; all white. It increases, it is supposed, in the ratio of thirty per cent, annually, which is accellerating. Slavery is not admitted. The inhabitants principally reside on the Wabash below Vincennes, on the Mississippi, Ohio and Kaskaskia.
No state or territory in North America can boast of superior facilities or internal navigation. Nearly 1,000 miles, or, in other words, two-thirds of its frontier is washed by the Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi. The placid Illinois traverses this territory in a southwestern direction, nearly 400 miles. This noble river is formed by the junction of the rivers, Theakaki and Plein in N. lat. 41.48. Unlike the other great rivers of the western country, its current is mild and unbroken by rapids, meandering at leizure through one of the finest countries in the world. It enters the Mississippi about 200 miles above its confluence with the Ohio and 18 above the mouth of the Missouri, in 38.42 N. lat. Is upwards of 400 yards wide at its mouth, bearing from the Mississippi N. 75 deg. west. The tributaries of this river entering from the north or right bank, are
1. The Mine, 70 miles long, falls into the Illinois about 75 miles from its mouth.
2. The Sagamond, a crooked river, enters the Illinois 130 miles from the Mississippi. It is 100 yards wide at its entrance, and navigable 150 miles for small craft—general course southeast.
3. Demi Quain, enters twenty-eight miles above the mouth of the Sagamond; its course nearly southeast, and it is said to be navigable 120 miles. On the northern bank of this river is an extensive morass called Demi Quain Swamp.
4. Sesme Quain is the next river entering from the northwest, thirty miles above the mouth of Demi Quain, sixty yards wide and boat-able sixty miles. The land on its banks is represented to be of superior excellence.
5. La Marche, a little river from the north—navigable but a short distance.
6. Fox river comes in nearly equi-distant between the Illinois lake and the junction of the Plein and Theakaki rivers, is 130 yards wide—heads near the sources of Rocky river (of the Mississippi), and pursues a northeastern course for the first 50 miles, as though making effort to get into Lake Michigan, approaches to within two miles of Plein river, it then takes a southern direction and is navigable 130 miles.
7. Plein, or Kickapoo river, interlocks in a singular manner, with the Chicago; running into Lake Michigan; 60 miles from its head it expands and forms Lake Depage, five miles below which it joins the Theakaki from the northeast. Those streams united, are to the Illinois what the Alleghany and Monongahela, are to the Ohio—they water parts of Indiana and the N. W. Territory.
The rivers of the left branch of the Illinois fall in the following order:
1. The Macopin, a small river, twenty-five yards wide, twenty miles from the Mississippi; boatable 9 miles to the hills. 2. The Little Michilimackinac, 200 miles from the Mississippi; navigable 90 miles, comes from the S. E. It interweaves its branches with the Kaskaskia— has several considerable forks.
3. Crow Meadow river, heads in the Knobs, near the head waters of the Vermilion (of the Wabash), its course is N.W., is but 20 yards wide at its mouth, and navigable about 15 miles.
4. Vermilion River, from the S. E., 30 yards wide, rocky and unnavigable, falls into the Illinois 160 miles from the Mississippi, near the S. E. end of the Little Rocks.
5. Rainy Island River, from the S. E. narrow and navigable but a few miles.
"The banks of the Illinois are generally high. The bed of the river being a white marble, or clay, or sand, the waters are remarkably clear. It abounds with beautiful islands, one of which is ten miles long; and adjoining or near to it, are many coal mines, salt ponds, and small lakes. It passes through one lake, two hundred and ten miles from its mouth, which is twenty miles in length, and three or four miles in breadth, called Illinois lake."—A Late Officer of the U.S. Army.
The Kaskaskia is the next river in magnitude. It heads in the extensive prairies south of Lake Michigan, its course is nearly north. In enters the Mississippi 100 miles above the mouth of the Ohio, and 84 below the Illinois, and is navigable 130 miles. Its tributaries from the west and northwest are Watercress and Lalande creeks, those entering from the east are Blind river, Bighill creek, Beaver, Yellow creek and Copper mine creek.
A respectable correspondent, residing on the Kaskaskia, gives the following interesting sketch, under date of January 20, 1817:
"The Kaskaskia river waters the finest country I have ever seen—it is neither flat or mountainous, but maintains a happy undulating medium between the extremes—it is suited to the growth of Indian corn, wheat, rye, oats, barley, hemp, tobacco, etc., etc. The climate is too cold for cotton, as a staple, or for sugar. On the streams of this river there are already built, and now building a great number of mills—it is navigable at least 150 miles on a straight line—it is generally conceded that the permanent seat of government for the State, will be fixed on this river, near a direct line from the mouth of Missouri to Vincennes, in the State of Indiana. The inhabitants residing on this river and its waters, may not be as polished as some; but I will say, without fear of contradiction that no people have a more abundant stock of hospitality, morality, and religion. On the bank of this river, a few miles above its mouth, is situated the town of Kaskaskia, the present seat of government. Here is a fine harbor for boats.
The great American bottom of the Mississippi begins at the mouth of the Kaskaskia river, extending nearly to the mouth of the Illinois river, supposed to contain six hundred square miles. No land can be more fertile. Some of it has been in cultivation one hundred and twenty years, and still no deterioration has yet manifested itself—it is unquestionably the Delta of America. Great numbers of cattle are bought in that country for the Philadelphia and Baltimore markets—it is undoubtedly a very fine stock country."
Au Vase river empties into the Mississippi fifty-five miles above the mouth of the Ohio; it is boatable 60 miles, through a fine prairie country. It drains a district 70 by 25 miles. The little river Marie waters a district between the Au Vase and Kaskaskia. Wood river is the principal stream between the mouths of the Kaskaskia and Illinois.
Rocky river waters the northwest corner of the territory. It heads in the hills west of the south end of Lake Michigan, and is 300 yards wide at its entrance into the Mississippi—it bears from the Mississippi almost due east—about three miles up this river is an old Indian town, belonging to the Sac nation. Sand Bay river discharges itself into the Mississippi between the mouths of Rocky and Illinois rivers.
The streams falling into the Ohio, from this territory, below the mouth of the Wabash, are few and inconsiderable in size. The Saline is the first—it empties its waters 26 miles below the mouth of the Wabash. It is 150 yards wide at its mouth—navigable for keels and batteaux for 30 miles. The famous U. S. Salt Works, are upon this stream, twenty miles up by the windings of the river, but not more than ten in a direct line. Sandy Creek between this and Fort Massac; and Cash River, 15 miles below Wilkinsonville, are the only ones deserving mention, though there are others sufficiently large to afford mill seats.
In addition to the rivers and rivulets already described, the eastern part of the territory is watered by several respectable rivers running into the Wabash.
1. Little Wabash River, from the northwest—60 yards wide.
2. Fox river, which interlocks with eastern branches of the Kaskaskia—enters the Wabash about 50 miles below Vincennes.
3. The Embarras or river of Embarrasment, enters the Wabash a little below Vincennes—course southeast.
4. Mascoutin, from the north-west, 50 yards wide.
5. St. Germain, from the west; a mere rivulet.
6. Tortue, from the west, a crooked, long river.
The three last mentioned rivers enter the Wabash, in the order named, between Vincennes and Fort Harrison.
These rivers all head in the Illinois territory, and enter the Wabash, between Fort Harrison and Tippecanoe. The last is 100 yards wide at its mouth. There are many small lakes in this territory. Several of the rivers have their sources in them. They abound with wild fowl and fish. On the left bank of the Illinois, 40 miles from its mouth, are a chain of small lakes communicating by narrow channels, with each other, one of them discharges into the Illinois. The prairies bordering these lakes constitute the Peorias' wintering ground. Illinois and Depage lakes are merely expansions of the Illinois and Plein rivers. Demiquain lake is situated on the right bank of the Illinois, above the mouth of the river of the same name—it is of a circular form; six miles across; and empties its waters into the Illinois-. There are also several small lakes in the American Bottom, such as Marrodizua, five miles long, twenty-two miles below the mouth of Wood River; Bond lake three miles further down; their outlets discharge into the Mississippi. On their margins are delightful plantations.
Face of the Country.
There are six distinct kinds of land in Illinois.
1. Bottoms, bearing honey locust, pecan, black walnut, beach, sugar maple, buckeye, pawpaw, etc. This land is of the first quality, and may be said to be ripe alluvion, and is found in greater or less quantities, on all the rivers before enumerated.' It is called the first bottom. It is almost invariably covered with a pretty heavy growth of the foregoing trees, grape vines, etc., and in autumn the air of these bottoms is agreeably impregnated with an aromatic smell, caused no doubt by the fruit and leaves of the black walnut. This land is inexhaustible in fecundity, as is proved by its present fertility, where it has been annually cultivated without manure, for more than a century. It varies in width from 50 rods to two miles and upwards.
2. The newly formed or unripe alluvion; this kind of land is always found at the mouths and confluences of rivers; it produces sycamore, cotton wood, water maple, water ash, elm, willow oak, willow, etc., and is covered in autumn with a luxuriant growth of weeds. These bottoms are subject to inundations, the banks being several feet below high water mark. There are many thousand acres of this land at the mouth of the Wabash, and at the confluence of the Mississippi. Woe be to the settler, who locates himself upon this deleterious soil.
3. Dry prairie, bordering all the rivers, lies immediately in the rear of the bottoms; from 30 to 100 feet higher; and from one to ten miles wide, a dry rich soil, and most happily adapted to the purposes of cultivation, as it bears drought and rain with equal success. These prairies are destitute of trees, unless where they are crossed by streams and occasional islands of wood land. The prairies of the Illinois river are the most extensive of any east of the Mississippi, and have alone been estimated at 1,200,000 acres. This soil is some places black, in others of the colour of iron rust interspersed
with a light white sand. In point of productiveness, it is not inferior to the first rate river bottoms, and in some respects superior.
4. Wet prairie, which are found remote from streams, or at their sources, the soil is generally cold and barren, abounding with swamps, ponds, and covered with a tall coarse grass.
5. Timbered land, moderately hilly, well watered, and of a rich soil.
6. Hills, of a sterile soil and destitute of timber, or covered with stinted oaks and pines.
Between the mouths of the Wabash and the Ohio, the right bank of the Ohio, in many places presents the rugged appearance of bold projecting rocks. The banks of the Kaskaskia and Illinois in some places present s sublime and picturesque scenery. Several of their tributary streams have excavated for themselves deep and frightful gulfs, particularly, those of the first named river, the banks of which near the junction of Big Hill creek, present a perpendicular front of 140 feet high, of solid limestone. The northwestern part of the territory is a hilly, broken country, in which most of the rivers emptying into the Wabash from the north, have their heads. A great part of the territory is open prairie, some of which are of such vast extent that the sun apparently rises and sets within their widely extended borders.
"The large tract of country through which the Illinois river and its branches meander, is said not to be exceeded in beauty, levelness, richness and fertility of soil, by any tract of land, of equal extent, in the United States. From the Illinois to the Wabash, excepting some little distance from the rivers, is almost one continued prairie, or natural meadow, intermixed with groves, or copses of wood, and some swamps and small lakes. These beautiful, and to the eye of the beholder, unlimited fields, are covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, and other vegetable productions."
Travelers describe the scenery skirting the Illinois as beautiful beyond description. There is a constant succession of prairies, stretching in many places, from the river farther than the eye can reach, and elegant groves of woodland. The trees are represented as peculiarly handsome; having their branches overspread with rich covering of the vine. Nevertheless, it is the empire of solitude, for the cheering voice of civilized men is seldom heard on this delightful stream.
According to the late General Pike, the east shore of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Missouri to that of the Illinois (20 miles) is bordered by hills from 80 to 100 feet high; above, they are of gentle ascent, alternately presenting beautiful cedar clifts and distant ridges. The bottoms afford many eligible situations for settlements. Above and below the mouth of Rocky river are beautiful prairies.
Trees, Plants, Minerals.
The oak family may be said to be the prevailing forest tree of Illinois. There are four species of white oak; two of chestnut oak, mountain and Illinois; three of willow oak, upland, swamp and shingle, so called from its being an excellent material for shingles, and which is used for that purpose by the inhabitants. It is found on all the rivers of the territory. Its height is from 40 to 50 feet, grey bark, straight branches, large, sessile, dark green leaves, a little downy underneath; spherical acorns. Black jack, black oak, swamp oak, scarlet oak, so called from its scarlet colored leaves in autumn; grows to the height of 80 feet, useful for rails. The honey locust is found in all the swails, bottoms and rich hills of the west, from the lakes to the latitude of Natchez. It invariably rejects a poor soil, grows to the height of 40 or 60 feet, dividing into many branches, which together with the trunk, are armed with long, sharp, pithy spines of the size of goose quills, from five to ten inches in length, and frequently so thick as to prevent the ascent of a squirrel. The branches are garnished with winged leaves, composed of ten or more pair of small lobes, sitting close to the midrib, of a lucid green colour. The flowers come out from the sides of the young branches, in form of katkins, of an herbaceous colour, and are succeeded by crooked, compressed pods, from nine or ten to sixteen or eighteen inches in length, and about an inch and a half or two inches in breadth, of which near one-half is filled with a sweet pulp, the other containing many seeds in separate cells. The pods, from the sweetness of their pulp, are used to brew beer, and afford for hogs and many other animals a nutritious and abundant food. I have myself been in situations, when I was obliged to resort to them as a substitute for something better, and always found them to allay hunger, and renew almost exhausted strength. The black walnut is found on the bottoms and rich hills—it often rises to the height of 70 feet; large trunk, dark, furrowed bark; winged leaves, which emit an aromatic flavor when bruised; fruit round and nearly as large as a peach. The wood is light and durable. Butternut is a companion of the black walnut. Besides all the species of hickory found in the northern states, the pecan or Illinois nut grows plentifully in the rich swails and bottoms; the nuts are small and thin shelled. The banks of the Illinois are the favorite soil of the mulberry, and of the plum. Sugar maple, blue and white oak, black locust, elm, basswood, beech, buckeye, hackberry, coffee-nut tree, and sycamore, are found in their congenial soils, throughout the territory. White pine is found on the head branches of the Illinois Spice wood sassafras, black and white haws, crab apple, wild cherry, cucumber and pawpaw, are common to the best soils. The last yields a fruit of the size of a cucumber, of a yellow colour, in taste resembling the pine apple. They grow in clusters of three, four and five, in the crotches' of a soft straight and beautiful shrub from ten to twenty-five feet high, it is rarely found on the hills however rich their soil. The forests and banks of the streams abound with grape vines, of which there are several species; some valuable. The herbage of the woods varies little from that of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
Copper and lead are found in several parts of the territory. I am not informed as to the existence of iron ore. Travellers speak of an allum hill a considerable distance up Mine river, and of another hill, producing the fleche or arrow stone. The French while in possession of the country, procured millstones above the Illinois lake. Coal is found upon the banks of the Au Vase or Muddy River, and Illinois 50 miles above Peoria Lake; the latter mine extends for half a mile along the right bank of the river. A little below the coal mines are two salt ponds one hundred yards in circumference, and several feet in depth; the water is stagnant and of a yellowish colour. The French inhabitants and Indians make good salt from them. Between two and. three hundred thousand bushels of salt are annually made at the IT. S. Saline, 26 miles below the mouth of the Wabash. These works supply the settlements of Indiana and Illinois. The salt is sold at the works at from fifty to seventy-five cents a bushel. Government have leased the works to Messrs. Wilkins and Morrison of Lexington. Beds of white clay are found on the rivers Illinois and Tortue. The prevailing stone is lime.
Villages, Roads and Settlements.
There are several old French villages on both banks of the Illinois, which are antique in appearance, inhabited by a people inured to the habits of savage life.
Cahokia is situated on a small stream, about one mile east of the Mississippi-, nearly opposite to St. Louis. It contains about 160 houses, mostly French, who were its founders. "This town, although apparently of considerable elevation, is still a damp and disagreeable situation, owing to its being too level to permit the rains to run off very easily." It formerly enjoyed a considerable share of the fur trade. At present the inhabitants confine their attention chiefly to agriculture, but not with much spirit. There is a postoffice and a chapel for the Roman Catholic worship; and is the seat of justice for St. Clair county.
St. Philippe—In the American bottom, 45 miles below Cahokia, a pleasant old French village.
Prairie du Rochers - Twenty miles below St. Phillippe, contains from sixty to seventy French families; the streets are narrow; there is a Catholic chapel. The country below and above is a continued prairie of the richest soil.
Kaskaskia—Situated on the right shore of the river of the same name, eleven miles from its mouth, and six from the Mississippi, in a direct line. It is at present the seat of the territorial government and chief town of Randolph county; contains 160 houses, scattered over an extensive plain; some of them are of stone. Almost every house has a spacious picketed garden in its rear. The houses have a clumsy appearance; it is 150 miles southwest of Vincennes, and 900 from the city of Washington. The inhabitants are more than half French; they raise large stocks of horned cattle, horses, swine, poultry, etc. There is a post office, a land office for the sale of the public lands, and a printing office, from which is issued a weekly newspaper entitled the "Illinois Herald." This place was settled upwards of 100 years ago, by the French of lower Canada. The surrounding lands are in a good state of cultivation.
The villages on the Ohio, below the Wabash are:
Shawneetown, above the mouth of the Saline, containing 30 or 40 log buildings; the inhabitants live by the profits of the salt trade. The growth of the town has been greatly retarded in consequence of the United States having reserved to themselves the property, of the cite of this place, the salt licks, as well as the intermediate tract between this and Saline river, 9 miles distant. It is a place of great resort for boats, and in time will no doubt become a place of consequence, as the lands in its vicinity are of a good quality. Here formerly stood an Indian village of the Shawannoe nation.
Wilkinsonville—About half way between Fort Massac and the mouth of the Ohio, stands upon a beautiful savanna of 100 acres, 60 or 70 feet above the river. It is a place of little or no trade at present, and has sensibly declined since it lost the governmental patronage of a garrison. It has a fine eddy for boats.
There are several other small villages, such as Belle Fontaine, L'Agile, Edwardville, etc. A new village is about to be laid out at the mouth of Cash. There are two roads leading through the Ohio to Kaskaskia. The first leaves the Ohio at Robin's ferry, 17 miles below the Saline; distance to Kaskaskia, 135 miles. The other leaves the river at Lusk's ferry, 15 miles above the mouth of Cumberland. This is the shortest route by 15 or 20 miles. A post route passes from Vincennes to Kaskaskia, about 150 miles long—travellers are obliged to camp out two or three nights. Government have leased out a number of lots upon these roads, and receive the rents in repairs of a given distance of road. There is a tolerable road between the mouth of Au Vase and Wood river, passing through Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rochers, St. Philippe and Cahokia. Most of the settlements are connected by practicable roads, at least for packers and travellers on horseback. The bulk of the population is settled upon the Mississippi, Kaskaskia and its branches. There are a few detached settlements on the Wabash, and some of the streams entering the west bank, and detached ones on the Ohio. Those on the Illinois are small, insulated and sometimes 50 miles apart. The American and Turky hill settlements, between the Illinois and Wood rivers, are flourishing; the inhabitants are mostly from Kentucky and the southern states.
Natural Curiosities, Antiquities.
The "Cave-in-Rock," nineteen miles below Saline, has been often visited and described by travelers. The entrance into this cave is of a semicircular form, twenty feet above the ordinary level of the river, in a perpendicular rock, thirty feet high. A few yards from the mouth you enter a spacious room, sixty paces in length, and nearly as wide. Near the centre of the roof is an aperture resembling the funnel of a chimney, which, according to Ash, the British traveler, leads to an upper room, "not unlike a Gothic Cathedral." At one end of this vault, our traveler found an opening, which served as a descent to-another vault, of very great depth, as he judged, since "a stone cast in, whose reverbration was not returned for the space of several seconds." Our adventurer, who is always full of the marvelous, found the remains of several human skeletons, in this "drear abode;" while searching for others, he got bewildered, and was unable to find the place of his descent. He fired his pistol, as a signal of distress—its effect was "terrific"—its report, "tremendous." "No thunder, could exceed the explosion, no echo return so strong a voice. I"1 Mason's gang of robbers made this cave their principal rendezvous, in 1797, where they frequently plundered or murdered the crews of boats descending the Ohio.
The Battery Rocks, so called from their resemblance to a range of forts and batteries, are noticed by travelers, as a natural curiosity. They are nothing more than the perpendicular bank of the river, seven miles above the Cave-in-Rock. The Devil's Oven is situated upon an elevated rocky point, projecting into the Mississippi, fifteen miles below the mouth of Au Vase. It has a close resemblance to an oven. On the large prairies are frequently found sink-holes, some of which are 150 feet across, circular at the top, gradually narrowing to the bottom, and frequently so steep as to make "the descent difficult. At the bottom, the traveler finds a handsome subterranean brook, in which he can conveniently allay his thirst. These sinks have, doubtless, been formed by the waters' undermining the earth, the weight of which produces successive excavations.
Ancient fortifications and mounds, similar to those found in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, are also met with in Illinois. Four miles above the Prairie du Rocher, are the ruins of Fort Chartres, built by the French, at the expense of one hundred thousand dollars. At the period of its construction, it was one quarter of a mile from the river, but at present is nearly undermined by the Mississippi. Fort Massac, forty-five miles above the mouth of the Ohio, built by the French about the middle of the last century, and occupied by the Americans for many years after the close of the revolutionary war, is at present dismantled.
Animals, Birds, Fish, Serpents.
The buffaloe, which formerly roamed at will, and in vast numbers, through the immense prairies of Illinois, have lately disappeared, preferring the more distant plains of the Missouri. Deer, elk, bear, wolves, foxes, oposum and raccoon, remain in considerable numbers. (The inhabitants of a fine breed of horses from the Spanish stock.) Their cattle have a lively and sleek appearance. Hogs are easily raised.
Wild turkies abound in the hilly districts. Quails are plenty; pheasants, scarce. Greese and ducks frequent the ponds, lakes and rivers, particularly the head branches of the Illinois, and small lakes towards Lake Michigan, whither they are attracted in prodigious numbers, in quest of the wild rice, which furnishes an abundant and favorite ailment. Buzzards, pigeons, black birds, paroquets and several species of hawks, abound in the same numbers, as in other parts of the western country.
Most kinds of fish which are found in the Mississippi and the great northern lakes, frequent the rivers of this territory. Sturgeon are found in Peoria or Illinois lake.
The only venomous serpents, are the common and prairie rattlesnake, and copper-heads. [See Ash's Travels, page 234.]
The Sacs or Saukies, inhabit the country bordering on Sand Bay and Rocky rivers—they have three villages. A part of this tribe reside on the west side of the Mississippi. Pike give the total number of souls at 2,850. Four miles below Sand Bay, the U. S. had an agricultural establishment, under the direction of a Mr. Ewing. It did not succeed, because these Indians hold labor in the greatest contempt. The Kaskaskias, Cahokias and Peorias, are remnants of formidable tribes. They have been nearly annihilated in their wars with the Saukies and Foxes, originally provoked by the assassination of the Saukie chief Pontiac. They are reduced to 250 warriors—reside principally between the Kaskaskia and Illinois. The Delawares and Shawanese have a summer residence four miles below Au Vase river. The Piankashaws and Mascontins mostly inhabit the Mascontin, Tortue and Rejoicing branches of the Wabash; their total number of souls about 600.
Corn is at present the staple—no country produces finer. The traveler often meets with cornfields containing from 100 to 1,000 acres, these are cultivated in common by the people of a whole village or a settlement. By this method the inhabitants obviate the expense of division fences, where it would be necessary to haul timber several miles to the centre of a vast prairie. Cotton is raised for domestic use. There is no doubt, that ultimately, considerable quantities will be produced for exportation. Tobacco grows to great perfection. Wheat does well, when properly managed, except on the bottoms where the soil is too rich. Flax, hemp, oats, Irish and sweet potatoes do as well as in Kentucky. Notwithstanding the abundance of wild grapes to be found in the forests, it is very doubtful, I think, whether the French inhabitants ever made 80 hogsheads of good wine, in any single year. The successful experiment at Vevay, in Indiana, warrants the belief that vineyards, at no remote period, will embellish the hills of the southern half of this territory.
These are all of the domestic kind. In 1810, according to the Marshall's returns, there were:
Spinning wheels....................................................... 630
Cloth produced, (yards)...................................... 90,039
Value, (dollars)..................................................... 90,028
Value of leather Pressed .......................................7,750
Distilleries .................................................................... 19
Produced (gallons) 102,000 ................................. 7,500
Flour, 6,440 barrels—value (dollars)...................32,200
Maple sugar, 15,600 lbs.—value (dollars)............ 1,980
The population has nearly doubled since that period, and the manufactures have advanced in a corresponding ratio.
Military Bounty Lands.
The lands in this territory appropriated to reward the valor of our soldiers, during the late war, amount to 3,500,000 acres. This tract lies on the north bank of the Illinois, near its junction with the Mississippi. It has never been particularly described. Mr. Tiffin, commissioner of the general land office, declares it to be of the first quality. A gentleman, high in office in that territory, writes: "I have never been on the north side of the Illinois river, but my information authorizes me to say, that it is a very good country." Another correspondent writes: "This tract is of good quality, and desirable to settlers, it is inferior to none of the public lands of the United States." The U. S. are now engaged in surveying them. They are watered by several respectable streams, and are advantageously situated, either for the lake or Orleans trade, having the Mississippi west; Illinois south; Mine river east; and lands belonging to the Sac and Fox Indians, north. The growth of vegetation is so luxuriant that the surveyors can make no progress in summer.
Lands, Titles, Prices.
The public lands have rarely sold for more than $5.00 per acre, at auction. Those sold at Edwardsville in October, 1816, averaged, $4.00. Private sales at the land office, are fixed by law, at $2.00 per acre. The old French locations command various prices from $1.00 to $50.00. Titles derived from the United States government are always valid, and those from individuals rarely false.
There are upwards of sixteen millions of acres belonging to the United States, obtained at different cessions from the Indians, and consequently a wide field open for purchase and selection.
The lands belonging to the aboriginal proprietors lie principally between the Wabash and the Illinois, north of the head of the Kaskaskia. They have large reservations north of the Illinois, upon Rock river, Sagamond, etc. The United States have obtained a cession of six miles square at the east end of Peoria lake, north of the Illinois river.
The territorial population being at this moment 20,000 souls, and the ratio of increase thirty per cent per annum, it will require ten years to give Illinois the necessary qualifications for being admitted into the Union. It is capable of sustaining a denser population than New York, and contains nearly as many acres. Comparatively speaking, there are no waste lands. It would, therefore, allowing twenty souls to the square mile, conveniently sustain a population of 1,000,000. But on the ratio of fifty-four square miles, which was that of Connecticut, at the census of 1810, it would contain, in time, 2,600,000.
Extent of Navigable Waters.
Nature has been peculiarly bountiful to Illinois, for not only has she blessed this favored region with a temperate climate, and highly productive soil, but has prepared convenient channels of communication, for the transportation of products to market, and to facilitate settlement and internal intercourse. The Illinois, which hitherto has been little navigated, except by the Northwest company's boats, must in a few years become the theatre of an active commerce. American enterprise will force its way thither. The tide of navigation, like water, will overspread the fine vallies of Illinois, Mine and Demi-Quain. A trifling expense, comparatively to the importance of the undertaking, will unite the Illinois to the Chicago in all seasons of the year. Then the lead of Missouri, and the cotton of Tennessee will find their way to Detroit and Buffalo. The following rough estimate, which does not exceed the actual distance, will enable uninformed readers to form a pretty correct idea of the extent of frontier and internal navigation, for boats, which the future State of Illinois will enjoy.
Ohio ................................................................. 164
Illinois, navigable.......................................................... 320
Tributaries from the N. W............................................. 550
Ditto, from the S. E....................................................... 200
Kaskaskia, and branches ...........................;............... 300
Tributaries of the Wabash-.....................:.................... 500
Minor rivers, such as Au Vase, Marie, Cash, etc...... 200
Internal ...................................................................... . 2,070
Frontier ...................................................................... 1,024
Total ............................................................................ 3,094
The distance by water, from the mouth of the Illinois to New Orleans, is 1,174 miles, and to Buffalo, through the lakes, 1,400.
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©2006 K. Torp