A Gazetteer of the States of Illinois and Missouri
by Lewis C. Beck, A.M.
Albany: Printed by Charles R. and George Webster; 1823.
General View of the Counties in the State of Illinois.
Alexander county comprises the peninsula between the Ohio and Mississippi. It is bounded north by Union county, east by Johnson county and the Ohio river, south by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and west by the Mississippi. It is 24 miles long, with an average width of 18 miles: the area is about 378 square miles. This county is generally well timbered, and its soil fertile. It is watered by Cash river, a small stream emptying into the Ohio seven miles above its junction with the Mississippi. This stream, after meandering through the northern part of the county, approaches to within one mile and a half of the Mississippi, ten miles above the mouth of the 0hio. At this place it is contemplated to unite the two streams by means of a canal. Should this be accomplished, it would not only be a considerable saving of distance, but afford the means of avoiding the excessive current at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
This county, although so favourably situated at the junction of two large and important rivers, derives from this circumstance little or no advantage. Here, where we should naturally expect to find a large and flourishing town, the entrepot of produce and merchandize passing to and from the north, east, south and west, we find little else than the remains of a deserted warehouse. It unfortunately happens, that at and for a considerable distance above the junction of these streams, their banks are low, and subject to annual inundations; and such is the height to which the water rises on them, that they could not, without much expense, be made safe, and far less comfortable places of residence.
The importance of a good town site immediately at the junction of these two streams, has for many yuars excited the attention of the enterprising; and accordingly, various plans have been suggested to accomplish this object by artificial means. One of these received the sanction of the legislative council of the territory at their last session in 1818. An act was then passed, incorporating a body politic, by the name and style of the president and directors of the bank of Cairo, upon the fo1lowing terms and conditions, viz: That of the land lying at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers south of Cash river, there shall be laid off no less than 2000 lots, of one third of an acre each. These lots to be sold under the direction of commissioners, in the manner following: Books of subscription to be opened for the said lots, at $150 each: a deposit of $50 to be made at the time of subscribing, and the residue to be paid in three and six months. Five hundred lots being thus sold, an election will be held for president and directors of said bank, to be located at Kaskaskia. The proceeds of the sales of the said 500 lots, and of the remaining ones, form the capital of the bank. The charter is granted for the term of 50 years, and without a bonus. One third of the proceeds of the sale of the lots is appropriated, and to be expended, under the direction of commissioners, for the embankment of the town. The residue of $100, entitles the proprietor to one share in the said bank. The title of the land is derived immediately from the United States; has been paid for by the purchasers, and by them conveyed to trustees for the aforesaid purposes. This law, although under existing circumstances it is perhaps the best that could have been enacted, is not altogether unexceptionable; and it is doubtful whether it will have the desired effect. Five years have already elapsed since its passage, and no progress has as yet been made either in the sale of lots or the erection of an embankment. It is, however, an object so important, that it will no doubt claim the attention of the state, when she shall have become more populous and more wealthy. The immense trade on the Ohio and Mississippi will then warrent the expense, and insure an ample remuneration.
The county of Alexander is attached to the fourth judicial circuit. It contains 626 inhabitants; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Union county, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is America.
Bond county was formerly very extensive, being upwards of 100 miles in length, and 30 miles in breadth. At present it is reduced to an area of 463 square miles. Its form is that of a parallelogram, 26 miles in length, and 18 in breadth. It is bounded north by the county of Montgomery, east by Fayette, south by Washington, and west by Montgomery and Madison.
This county is watered by the Kaskaskia river and its tributaries. Its surface is generally level, or gently undulating. The soil is fertile, particularly on the branches of Shoal creek. The prairies in this county are numerous and extensive, and in area exceed the timbered land.
Bond county contains about 1400 inhabitants. It is attached to the third judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Fayette and Montgomery, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Greenville.
Clark county is situated in the eastern part of the state, and is very extensive. It extends from Lat. 39° 15' to 41° 20' N. Its medium width is 50 miles. It is bounded north by the Illinois and Kankakee rivers, east by the state of Indiana, south by Crawford county, and west by Fayette.
This county being so extensive, contains almost every variety of soil and surface. The eastern part is traversed by the Grand Prairie, by far the most extensive in the state, it stretches itself from about the base line near the third principal meridian, in a northeasterly direction between the Kaskaskia and Wabash rivers, for about 100 miles; then turning to the northwest, continues in that direction between the head waters of Vermilion of the Wabash, Woman river of Tippecanoe, and the Iroquois river of the Kankakee, to near the junction of the Illinois and Kankakee. Its average width is from 20 to 30 miles. Besides this there are many other, though less extensive prairies, in different parts of the county. The banks of the streams, however are well timbered.
In the northern and northeastern parts of this county, swamps and low wet prairies are very common; some of which especially those near the Illinois and Kankakee rivers, are very extensive. The lands on the head waters of Vermilion river are said to be higher and more uneven than in any other part of the state. The soil is sandy, water pure, and the timber of a good quality. Coal is very abundant. There are also numerous and valuable salt springs, which are already extensively worked. This part of the county is rapidly increasing in population. The southern part is handsomely interspersed with prairie and woodland.
Clark county is watered by the Illinois and Kankakee rivers, and several of their branches - the Kaskaskia, Embarass, Big and Little Vermilion, and Pickamink rivers, besides a great number of smaller streams. The dividing ridge, between these streams, which runs northwardly and eastwardly, traverses the upper part of this county; and from a height of land, several of the sources of these streams can be seen at one view.*
The northern part of Clark county was, during the late war, the theatre of important, though unsuccessful tmlitaiy operations. General Hopkins, with about 3000 men, after having destroyed several Indian towns on the Wabash, took up his line of march to form a junction with Gov. Edwards at Peoria, in order to give battle to a large body of Indians who were there encamped, and who were very troublesome to the frontier inhabitants. Unfortunately for the general, he was deceived by his guides, who led him in various directions through the Grand Prairie. The Indians, observing their approath from an eminence, fired the prairie, and obliged the army to retreat in disorder and confusion. On account of this unfortunate circumstance, Gov. Edwards waited a considerable time near Peoria, for the expected reinforcement; but being disappointed in this, he was obliged to abandon his favorite project, and retire to winter quarters.
Clark county contains 931 inhabitants. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Crawford, one to the senate. Its county seat is Aurora.
*As so littie is as yet known concerning the geography of this county, I should not omit the following extract from the report of the commissioners for defining the boundary line between the states of Illinois and Indiana:
Left Vincennes on the 29th May, with a due north line, which last leaves the northwest shore of the Wabash, 46 miles from Vincennes; from which point commenced the line dividing the states of Indiana and Illinois. The country is mostly well timbered, and soil good for the distance of miles. After crossing the Vermilion a few miles, intersected the Grand Prairie the first 25 miles of which is good dry soil, afterwards it becomes either broken and poor, or low and marshy. Two branches of the Kankakee river pass through the Grand Prairie. At 128 miles from where we left the Wabash, we came to the main Kankakee, three chains wide, and navigable for craft of considerable burthen. North of this stream lie a chain of almost impassible ponds, which lie nearly parallel with the river for the distance of 50 or 6O miles, and from 3 to 5 miles wide. From these ponds to Lake Michigan, the distance of 86 miles, the country is most generally poor sandy ridges, covered with scrubby oak timber and whortleberry bushes, or low, marsh prairies." Col. Berry of Vandalia, obligingly furnished me with a copy of the above survey.
Crawford county is situated in the eastern part of the state, and is about 44 miles long, with an average breadth of 24 miles. It is bounded north by Clark county, east by the state of Indiana, south by the counties of Lawrence and Wayne, and west by Fayette. Its area is 1332 square miles.
This county is watered by the Embarass, and several tributaries of the Big and Little Wabash rivers. It contains much prairie land, which is generally low and level. The banks of the streams are heavily timbered, but low and subject to inundation; this is particularly the case on the Embarass, and the branches of the Little Wabash. It is not unfrequeutly the case, that the bottoms of those streams which are more than 2 miles in width, are covered with from four to eight feet of water, so as to render them perfectly impassible. During the last season, a complete water communication was formed from the Embarass to Vincennes, a distance of about seven miles. Travelling through this county during these seasons, is attended with much difficulty and danger. In the low prairies near the Wabash, there are quagmires called by the common people purgatory swamps, or devil's holes, the surface of which appears dry and level, but is only supported by quicksand. A stick can be thrust into them to any distance; and when the prairies are covered with water, should a traveller be so unfortunate as to sink, it is generally fatal to him. Instances of this kind frequently occur; and those whom necessity compels to travel at this season, unless the sufficiently high for the ferry boats, employ some person who is well acquainted with the locality of the swamps, to pilot them through the prairie. It was on account of the difficulties attendant upon travelling from the Wabash to the Embarass, that the latter received its name from the early French settlers.
Crawford county raises a considerable quantity of surplus produce, principally corn and wheat, which is sent down during the high water to New Orleans. Cotton has also been raised in small quantities; and from the success which has attended its cultivation, it is thought that in a few years it will become an article of export.
This county contains 3022 inhabitants. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends two members to the house of representatives, and with Clark, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Palestine.
Edwards county is situated in the easterN part of the state. It is bounded north by Lawrence county, east by the Wabash, south by the Wabash and the county of White, and west by the county of Wayne. It is 30 miles long, with a medium width of about 18; area, 522 square miles.
Edwards county is watered by the Little Wabash, Bonpas, and several smaller streams. It contains a considerable proportion of prairie land, lying between the Big and Little Wabash, most of which is very fertile. The prairies are generally small, high, undulating, and bounded by heavy timber; thus presenting every inducement to the agriculturalist. It is on one of these that the English settlement, probably the most flourishing in the state, is located. The banks of the streams, like those of Crawford, are heavily timbered, and like them subject to inundation.
This county raises a surplus quantity of produce, the principal part of which is shipped down the Wabash. Like the other counties lying on this stream, it possesses the advantage of a water conveyance to the different parts of the valley of the Mississippi. The Wabash, for several months in the year, is navigable for 200 or 300 miles. This together with the Little Wabash, which is also navigable for a short distance, affords the inhabitants of this county every facility for transporting their produce.
Edwards county, previous to its division, contained 3444 in habitants; at present it contains about 2000. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Albion.
Fayette county is situated in the centre of the state, and was erected in 1821. It comprises all that tract of country lying north of a line, beginning at the southwest corner of township No. 3, north of range No. 1 west, extending east to the southeast corner of township No. three, north of range No. six, east of the 3d principal meridian. This county, if continued to the northern boundary of the state as the law directs, would separate the county of Pike, which was erected during the same session of the legislature, into two separate districts. Whether this was the intention of the framers of the law, I am unable to say; but as there is a manifest collision in the boundaries of these two counties, I have left Pike in the form which was given to it, and have only continued Fayette to the Illinois river.
Fayette county is bounded north by the Illinois river, east by Clark, Crawford and Wayne counties, south by Wayne, Jefferson and Washington, and west by Bond, Montgomery and Sangamon. It is 190 miles long, and 42 broad - its area is 68,544 square miles.
The Kaskaskia river meanders through this county for nearly 100 miles, receiving numerous tributaries from the east and west. The eastern part is watered by the principal sources of the Sangamo, Michillimackinac, and several other smaller streams. On the north, it is supplied by the waters which fall into the Illinois.
The great predominance of prairie land is a serious objection to this county. The grand prairie of which we have already spoken, stretches itself through a considerable part of this county, and is little else than a dreary uninhabitated waste. Besides this, there are other extensive prairies towards its northern and southern boundaries. The country on the head waters of the Sangamo, and some of the branches of the Kaskaskia, is very fertile, and calcuated to support a dense population. It is high and undulating, and beautifully interspersed with small prairies containing groves of the finest timber. In addidon to this, it is healthy and well watered. In the vicinity of Vandalia, the soil is clayey; but soon changes into sand and loam, which produces heavy crops of corn, wheat, &c. although very little surplus is as yet raised.
The banks of the Kaskaskia, like most of the streams in this state, are generally low, and subject to inundation. A rise in this stream is frequently occasioned by slight rains, in consequence of its numerous tributaries. This however, is only of short continuance. Its excess of water is soon carried away by the "greedy" river, into which it empties. Since the location of Vandalia as the capital of the state, the country in the vicinity has improved rapidly. The market which is now created at this place, has given a stimulus to the agriculturalist which was before unknown; and the increase of Vandalia, which is now a flourishing town, has been fully equalled by that of the surrounding country. The formation of agricultural societies has already produced a most salutary effect, and will no doubt contribute much to its future prosperity, wealth and greatness. Many of the citizens of Vandalia are turning their attention both to theoretical and practical agriculture; and the effects of this are already to be seen in the fine plantations which are scattered through the vicinity. To a country so new, so thinly inhabited, but yet possessing such vast advantages, this is a subject of the deepest interest.
This county having been erected since the census of 1820 the exact number of its inhabitants is not known, but is supposed to be about 1500. It is attached to the 3d judicial circuit - with Montgomery, sends one member to the house of representatives; and with Bond and Montgomery, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Vandalia.
Franklin county is situated in the southern part of the state and is bounded north by Jefferson county, east by White and Gallatin, south by Johnson and Union, and west by Jackson and Randolph counties. Its form is that of a parallelogram, 36 miles in length, and 24 in breadth; its area is 364 square miles.
This county is watered by Big Muddy river, and the branches of Saline creek. It is well timbered; the prairies are generally small and fertile - sand predominates in the soil. The banks of the streams are low, and subject to annual inundations.
Franklin is similar in character to the neighbouring counties, and cannot be said to possess any peculiar advantages. It will probably become a very great agriculturaL county, whenever the demand for produce shall be increased.
This county contains 1763 inhabitants. It is attached to the fourth judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Johnson, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Frankfort.
Gallatin county is situated in the southeastern part of the state. Its length is 37 miles, with a medium breadth of about 25, and its area is 864 square miles. It is bounded north by White county, east by the states of Indiana and Kentucky, south by Pope county, and west by Franklin. Situated as it is at the junction of the Wabash and Ohio rivers, its eastern boundary is washed by those streams. The interior is watered by Saline creek and its tributaries.
According to Mr. Birkbeck, sand predominates in the soil in this section of country. The basis rock is sand stone, lying, he thinks, on clay slate. The bed of the Ohio at Shawneetown is sand stone. This formation extends a considerable distance above and below this place, and forms the ledge, known by the name of the battery rocks. It also frequently appears on the Little Wabash and Skillet fork. Limestone has not as yet been discovered in this district.* Flour spar and Galena are abundant near Shawneetown.**
This county contains a great proportion of timbered land, which is particularly valuable on account of its contiguity to the salt springs, which must be an inexhaustible source of wealth. The valuable saline, commonly known by the name of the Ohio Saline, is situated on Saline creek, about 10 or 11 miles above its junction with the Ohio. The Indians, who formerly possessed it, valued it highly, and called it the Great Salt Spring; and it appears probable, from a variety of circumstances, that they, have long been acquainted with the method of making salt. - Large fragments of earthenware are continually found near the works, both on and under the surface of the earth. They have the impression of basket or wicker work, similar to those found on the Merrimack and Missouri rivers. From this circumstance, Mr. Bradbury infers that the Indians practised the art of evaporating the brine to make salt, long before the discovery of America. In a treaty between the United States, and the Delaware, Shawanoe, Pottawatomie, Eel River, Weea, Kickapoo and Piankasaw tribes, at Fort Wayne, on the 7th of June, 1803, this saline was ceded to the United States, with a quantity of land, not exceeding four miles, surrounding it: In consideration of which, the United States engaged to deliver yearly and every year to the said Indians, a quantity of salt, not exceeding 150 bushels, to be divided among the several tribes in such manner as the general council of chiefs may determine. - For a number of years it was possessed by the United States, with a reservation of 161 sections of land in the vicinity, the whole of which were ceded in 1818 to the state of Illinois, by whom it was leased to different individuals for about $10,000 per annum. The works are situated on section 20, township 9, south range 8, east of the third principal meridian. Saline creek is navigable to the works, and the surplus salt is thus shipped to southern markets.
In order to guard against the improper conduct of the lessees and to prevent the injury or destruction of the works, the legislature at their last session passed an act authorising the appoint ment of a superintendent. The act provides that he shall be elected by the general assembly, and shall receive a salary of $800 per annum. That he shall reside on the premises, and shall give bonds to the governor and his successors in office, in the sum of $800, with security, approved by him, for the faithful performance of his duty. The superintendent shall continue in office till the expiration of the present leases. It is made his duty to take possession of any establishment at the said saline, where the lessee or lessees thereof have violated his or their lease, or leases by failing to comply with any of its covenants or conditions. And when any lease of any establishment at said saline, now made, or that may hereafter be made, shall be violated by the lessee or lessees, it shall be the duty of the said superintendent to enter upon and take possession of the premises; which, after due notice thereof being given, shall be leased to the highest bidder. The superintendent is also invested with the power of sueing and distraining for rents.
Gallatin county contains 3155 inhabitants. It is attached to the 4th judicial circuit; sends two members to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Shawneetown.
*See Birkbeck's notes on a journey in America.
**For a more particular description; see Shawneetown.
Greene county is situated on the Illinois river, near the western part of the state, and was erected from Madison county in 1821. Its boundaries are as follows, to wit: Beginning at the southeast corner of township No. 7 north, in range No. 10, west of the third principal meridian; thence north between ranges 9 and 10, to the northeast corner of township 12 north; thence west along the line between townships 12 and 13, to the middle of the Illinois river; thence down said river to its junction with the Mississippi river; thence down the Mississippi river to a point parallel with the southwest corner of township No. 6 north, in range 10 west; thence north with the range line between 10 and 11, to the township line between 6 and 7; thence east with the said township line, to the place of beginning.
The tract of country within the following boundaries is attached to Greene, until otherwise disposed of by the legislature, viz: Beginning at the southwest corner of township 7, north of range nine, west of the third principa1 meridian; thence east to the southeast corner of township 7 north, in range 6 west; thence north to the northeast corner of township 12 north; thence west to the northwest corner of township 12, in range 7, west; thence along the prairie between the waters of Sangamo and Mauvaise terre, to the head of Balance creek; thence down said creek to the Illinois river; thence down said river to the northwest corner of Greene county.
The county of Greene is nearly in the form of a parallelogram. Its length is 40 miles - average breadth 22; its area is about 880 square miles. The tract attached to it is nearly double this size.
Greene county is watered by the Ma-qua-pin, (Magopin) and Otter creeks, and several other small streams emptying into the Illinois and Mississippi. The attached portion is supplied by Balance creek, the Mauvaise terre, and branches of the Sangamo and Ma-qua-pin.
This county, (I mean also the tract attached to it) forms a part of the finest district of country in the state; and all who have seen it, agree in the opinion that it is without a parallel. - Fine water courses, a salubrious climate, a fertile soil, and contiguity to navigable streams, are some of the many advantages which it possesses. The face of the country is in general level, or gently undulating. With the exception of those under the bluffs of the Illinois, there are few of those stagnant ponds which in some parts of the state are such fruitful sources of disease.
Although this county contains a large proportion of timbered land, it is diversified with prairies, some of which are beautiful beyond description. In many of these are large groves of timber, which form the most pleasant as well as advantageous situations for settlers. The most celebrated of these is Diamond Grove, situated on the head waters of the Mauvaise terre, about twenty miles from the Illinois. In the centre of a beautiful prairie is a large grove of timber, in the form of a diamond, somewhat elevated above the surrounding country. The skirts of this grove are already thickly settled by an industrious and enterprising population, principally from the north and east. The plantations embrace a portion of wood land and prairie. Besides this, there are several small prairies, which are in like manner settling very rapidly.
The banks of the Mississippi in the southerly part of this county are generally composed of perpendicular cliffs, varying in height from 80 to 150 feet, consisting of horizontal strata of sand stone, limestone, slate and coal. - Although the latter does not appear on the face of the cliffs, it is found in great abundance a short distance from it, near Alton. I would remark that coal is also found similarly situated on the banks of the Kickapoo creek, a small stream emptying into the Illinois near Fort Clark. In many places the upper strata overhang, and have all the terrific appearance of the table rock at Niagara. From the number of excavations on the face of the bluff it appears to have been at some former period laved by an immense body of water. This bluff continues along the Mississippi and Illinois to the northern part of the county, sometimes, however, receding several miles east, leaving a low but fertile alluvion, which in general is heavily timbered. At the mouth of the Mauvaise terre creek, there is a beautiful high prairie, which is a fine town site.
In addition to these, Greene county possesses the advantage of having good town sites near the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi, from which she will be enabled at all seasons of the year to export her produce, and to obtain the necessaries and luxuries of life.
As this county has been erected since the census of 1820, its population is not known. It must however be near 2000. It is attached to the first judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Pike, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Carrolton.
Hamilton county was erected from White in 1821, and is situated in the southeastern part of the state. It is bounded north by Wayne county, east by White, south by Gallatin, and west by Franklin and Jefferson. Its form is that of a parallelogram, 21 miles in length, and 18 in breadth; its area is 378 square miles.
This county is watered by branches of Saline creek and Little Wabash river, and contains about an equal proportion of prairie and timbered land. It is attached to the second judicial circuit, and with Jefferson, sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its population is about 2000. Seat of justice is McLeansborough.
Jackson county is situated in the southeastern section of the state. It is bounded north by Randolph county, east by Franklin, south by Union, and west by Randolph and the Mississippi river. Its length is 30 miles, with a medium width of 24; its area is 720 square miles.
This county is watered by Muddy river and its tributaries. - It is generally timbered land, although it contains many prairies. That part of the Mississippi which forms its western boundary, is, with few exceptions, high and rocky. Six or seven miles above the mouth of Muddy river, a chain of rocks extend across the Mississippi, and forms its bed and from the height of the banks on each side, and the immense masses of rock which are still to be seen rising from them, we are irresistibly led to conclude, that here was once a complete barrier to the passage of the water from the north. But as it is not our present intention to indulge in geological speculations, we shall only speak of things as they are. The Grand Tower, which is a perpendicular rock rising from the river at this place, is at present about 70 or 80 feet in height, but has the appearance of having been worn down. It consists of horizontal strata of sand stone, and corresponds in its appearance and its stratifications, with the banks of the Mississippi. The high bank which commences here, continues with little interruption to the mouth of the Kaskaskia river; sometimes presenting a bare perpendicular rock, with those numerous excavations and fanciful appearances, to which the boatmen have given the names of the 'Devil's tea table,' 'bake oven,' 'back bone,' &c.; at others, gently or abruptly sloping, covered with a light soil, and a scanty growth of cedars.
Muddy river, which meanders through the interior of this county, is navigable for a considerable distance, and affords to the inhabitants every facility for exporting their surplus produce. On this stream, near Brownsville, there is a saline, which has been leased for 10 years. It is not so extensive as the Ohio Saline, but is sufficiently so to supply this and the adjoining counties. A large body of good stone coal is also said to exist about 25 miles up this stream, from which the smith's in the vicinity receive their supplies, and some is even taken to New Orleans. Native copper, similar to that found on the Illinois near Peoria, has also been found on the banks of Muddy river. It appears, however, merely in the form of detached masses lying on the surface, and affords no evidence of the existence of that mineral in any quantity in the vicinity. On the margin of this stream are several beautiful prairies, which are very fertile and quite thickly settled.
Jackson county contains 1549 inhabitants, it is attached to the third judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Brownsville.
Jefferson county is situated in the central part of the state. It is bounded north by Fayette county, east by Wayne and Hamilton, south hy Franklin, and west by Washington and Randolph. Its form is that of a parallelogram, 26 miles in length, and 24 in breadth; its area is 864 square miles, being of the same size with Franklin.
Jefferson County is watered by several branches of the Muddy, Little Wabash and Kaskaskia rivers. The northern part is traversed by the grand prairie; the southern part contains a considerable portion of timbered land. It is, however, as yet but thinly populated; and although the soil in many places is fertile, still this county possesses no peculiar advantages.
It contains only 691 inhabitants. It is attached to the third judicial circuit; with Hamilton, sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Mount Vernon.
Johnson county is situated in the southern part of the state. It is bounded north by Franklin county, east by Pope, south by the, Ohio river, and west by Union and Alexander counties. Its length is 30 miles; breadth 18; its area is 486 square miles.
The interior of this county is watered by the heads of Cash river and Big-bay creek. The southern boundry is washed by the Ohio, the banks of which are generally fertile. Occasionally they consist of ledges of perpendicular rocks, which by extending across the river, form what are called the Little and Grand Chain, so much dreaded by those who navigate this river. Near these, however, are pilots, who are acquainted with the channel, and who generally bring boats through in safety. In the southeastern part of this county are the remains of Fort Massac and Wilkinsonville, of which particular descriptions will be given hereafter.
This county has a large proportion of 1evel land, which is generally well wooded. Its soil is sandy. As yet it is but thinly populated owing perhaps to the unhealthiness occasioned by the overflowing of the Ohio, and the marshes which abound near the southern boundary. When these shall be drained, and the inhabitants turn their attention to the cultivation of tobacco, cotton, and the grape, all of which would yield profitable crops, it will no doubt become flourishing and wealthy.
Johnson county contains 843 inhabitants. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Franklin, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Vienna.
Lawrence county, erected in 1821, from a part of Edwards and Crawford, is situated in the eastern part of the state. It is bounded north by Crawford county, east by the Wabash river, south by Edwards county, and west by Wayne and Crawford. It is about 40 miles in length, with a medium width of 19 miles. Its area is about 700 square miles.
This county is watered by the Embarrass, Little Wabash, Fox rivers, and several other smaller streams; the banks of all which are low, and subject to inundations. A great proportion of the land in the interior, and at a short distance from the streams, is prairie, most of which is very fertile. What has been said of the purgatory swamps, and the excessive inundations of the streams, under the description of Crawford county, applies also to this.
As Lawrence county has been erected since the census of 1820, its present population is not known; judging, however from the previous population of Edwards and Crawford, it must contain about 1500 inhabitants. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Wayne, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Lawrenceville.
Madison county is situated in the western part of the state, and is very extensive. It is 36 miles in length, and 24 in breadth; its area is 756 square miles. It is bounded north by Greene and Montgomery counties, east by Bond, south by Washington and St. Clair, and west by the Mississippi river and a part of Greene county.
This county, both on account of its soil and situation, possesses uncommon advantages. On the west it is washed by the Mississippi, above and below the junction of the Missouri. South of Alton the bank is low, being a continuation of the American bottom, which is upwards of one hundred miles in extent. North of Alton the bank is generally high, and affords several good town sites. The importance of these situations, so near the junctions of the Missouri and Illinois with the Mississippi, can at this time scarcely be realized. A mere glance at the map must convince every person of the least observation, that few districts of country possess greater advantages than this. Looking forward to the time when the Illinois shall be united with Lake Michigan, and by this means a complete communication formed between the Mississippi river and New-York, We may observe a continuation of lively commercial towns from the mouth of the Missouri to that of the Illinois. Here wil1 be stored the produce of the fertile interior of the state; here will be deposited for exchange or transportation, the furs and minerals of the Missouri and Mississippi, which will then be shipped at all seasons to New-York; here will be the point from which the whole northwestern part of the state will receive their supplies. These are not air-built castles, or phantoms of the imagination. No; it would be an anomaly in the history of the world, if a section of country, upon which the productions of every climate and soil, from the north to the south, and from the east to the west, could be thrown, and from which valuable productions could be received in return; I say, it would be an anomaly, if such a section of country should not rise to wealth and importance. It must necessarily be the place where these different productions will be exchanged. It is worthy of remark, that the American bottom, which is a low alluvion, subject to inundation, extends from the mouth of the Kaskaskia to Alton, a few miles above the mouth of the Missouri, and does not afford a single site for a healthy town. Above this, the bank is high, watered by fine springs; contains building stone and coal of the best quality, and in fact every advantage for large and healthy commercial towns. The interior of Madison county is generally high and undulating, though not hilly. On the banks of the Mississippi below Alton, it is low and wet, and in many places very marshy. No soil, however, can exceed it in fertility. Upon rising the bluff which bounds this bottom upon the east, there is a district of country which continues east to the Kaskaskia river, and is called the table land. This is also very fertile, and is by many considered the most desirable tract in the state. The banks of the streams which pass through the interior of this county, are generally well wooded, leaving between them prairies of considerable size, but very fertile, and very advantageously situated for settlement. Some of these have already a large population. The following statement, published by order of the agricultural society of the state of Illinois, will convey an idea of the soil and this is the more interesting, as it is the only one of this kind ever published in the state.
"Mr. Curtis Blakeman, of Silver creek, in this county, gathered from 9 acres 3 quarters and 6 roods, 1600 bushels of ears of corn, of a very superior quality. One bushel and a half of ears, (consisting of 134 ears,) just as they run from the crib, shelled, made one bushel and four quarts of shelled corn. The seed of this corn was brought from Kentucky. It is quite white and hard; the grains a little indented on the outside of the ear; the cob very small in proportion to the ear. The mode of cultivation was quite common. It was planted late in May, in hills about four feet apart, and was three times ploughed."
"From the above it appears, that there was raised from some what less than 10 acres, the prodigious quantity of 1350 bushels of shelled corn, making an average of above 135 bushels per acre. It is understood that the field was newly turned up prairie, this being the first year's cultivation."
Although corn is as yet the staple of this county, wheat and all other grains flourish here, and yield abundant crops.
Madison county, at the time of taking the last census, contained 13,550 inhabitants; but since this it has been so subdivided, that it is impossible to form any estimate of its present population. It is attached to the first judicial circuit; sends three members to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Edwardsville.
Monroe county is situated in the western part of the state, and is 26 miles in length, and 16 in breadth; its area is 286 square miles. It is bounded north by St. Clair County, east by St. Clair and Randolph, south by Randolph, and west by the Mississippi.
The interior of this county is watered by a few small branches of Horse, Prairie du long. and L'Eagle creeks. On the Mississippi there is a timbered alluvion; east of this, the county is generally broken and hilly. It is, however, a rich county, and exports a considerable quantity of produce.
Monroe contains 1637 inhabitants. It is attached to the third judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Harrisonville.
Montgomery county was erected from Bond in 1821. Its form is nearly that of a parallelogram, 35 miles in length, and 24 in breadth; its area is 828 square miles. It is bounded north by Sangamon county, east by Fayette, south by Bond and Madison, and west by Greene.
This county is watered by some of the tributaries of the Sangamo and the Kaskaskia rivers. It contains a considerable proportion of prairie land, which is generally high and undulating.
Montgomery contains about 1500 inhabitants. It is attached to the first judicial circuit; with Fayette, sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Bond and Fayette, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Hamilton.
Pike couuty is situated in the northwestern part of the state, and was erected from Madison and other counties in 1821. Its boundaries, as defined by the act of the 1egislature are as follows, viz: Beginning at the mouth of the Illinois river, and running thence up the middle of said river to the fork of the same; thence up the south fork of said river, until it strikes the state line of Indiana; thence north with said line to the north boundary line of the state; thence west with said line to the western boundary line of the state; and thence with said line to the place of beginning. By this description, it will be observed that this county includes all the northern and northwestern part of the state; of course it embraces almost every variety of soil and surface.
The southern part of this county includes a part of the lands appropriated by congress for the payment of military bounties. The lands which constitute the Illinois military tract, are included within the peninsula of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and extend on the meridian line passing through the mouth of the Illinois, one hundred and sixty-two miles north. The breadth of the tract varies, its form being that of an irregu1ar triangle.
The quality of the soil of this tract has been variously described. Very little, however, is as yet known with regard to the interior. Those who have explored the country, have generally confined their excursions to the banks of the streams which they have ascended. Some, however, have gone into the interior, and have returned pleased with its appearance, both as it respects soil and situation. No account of this interesting tract has as yet been published, except the notes of the surveyors, drawn up in a compendious form by N. Van Zant, Esq., who has also accompanied them with a map. This book is valuable, on account of the minute and detailed description which it contains of the quality of each individual section of land.
The Illinois bounty tract, altogether, may be called a valuable one; but there are, however, objections to it, which shall be briefly noticed. In the lower part, south of the base line, there is a great body of land subject to inundation; so much so that in some seasons you can sail over thousands of acres of timbered alluvion. The soil of this is generally fertile; but no dependance can be placed upon the crops, as they are continually exposed to the ravages of the water. This circumstance is also a fruitful source of disease; for, as is common in the western country, the land under the bluffs is much lower than that directly on the river - hence there is here formed a chain of ponds, which become stagnant, and send forth their effluvia. These causes will naturally affect the settlement of this portion of the military tract; for it can hardly be supposed, that while there is such an immense quantity of fertile and well situated public land in market, that emigrants will settle on such unfavourable spots as these. There is comparatively but a small proportion of the land below the township line 2, south of the base line, favourable for settlement; that on banks of rivers being subject to inundation, and that in the interior being very hilly and broken.
As you approach the base line, the country begins to improve; the river banks becoming gradually more elevated, and the interior levelled down to beautiful prairies, interspersed with groves and strips of timber. You now occasionally meet with a landing place, which below is rarely to be found. The situations most favorable for settlement, are on Otter creek, Chenail ecarte, Crooked creek, and Spoon river, and in the vicinity of Fort Clark and Fort Edwards. This section of the tract is well watered, and contains a handsome proportion of prairie and wood land.
The northern part of the tract is not so favorable for settlement. The prairies become very extensive, and are badly watered. In fact, this last is an objection to the whole tract. In dry seasons it is not unusual to walk through the beds of the largest streams without finding a drop of water. It is not surprising that a country so far distant from the sea, and drained by such large rivers, which have a course of several thousand miles before they reach the great reservoir, should not be well watered. This we observe is the case with all the fine flowing streams of the high land, whereas those of the champaign and prairie settle in the form of ponds, which stagnate and putrify. Besides, on the same account there are very few heavy rains in the summer; and hence, during that season, water is exceedingly scarce. The Indians, in their journeys, pass by places where they know there are ponds, but generally they are under the necessity of carrying water in bladders. This drought is not confined to the military tract, but in some seasons is very general. During the summer of 1820, it was truly alarming. Travellers in many instances were obliged to pass whole days in the warmest weather, without being able to procure a cupfull of water for themselves or their horses, and that which they occasionally did find was almost putrid. It may, however, be remarked, that such seasons rarely occur but on account of its being washed by rivers of such immense length, this section of the country is peculiarly liable to suffer from excessive drought.
There is another obstruction to the rapid settlement of this tract, which is, that it is owned by many different individuals, residing in different parts of the United States. This circumstance subjects the emigrant to many difficulties. He may explore the country, and find a spot which he is anxious to purchase; but he is unable to find the owner, and is on this account obliged to abandon his intention. In this way, many who have wished to become settlers, have been deterred from accomplishing their object.
The most convenient plan for those who wish to settle on the tract, is to obtain from some large landholder, or from some person having an extensive agency, a list of quarter sections for sale; these can be examined with the certainty that if they are suitable, they can be purchased. This is the plan that is at present adopted. The terms of sale are generally very moderate, as it is the object of the proprietors to have the lands settled. It would in every ease be advisable for the emigrant to visit the tract, and make a selection for himself previous to settlement.
Upon the whole, it can with safety be said, that notwithstanding these objections to the Illinois military tract, it bids fair to become one of the most eligible in the western country. It embraces a great variety of climate, and is favorable to the cultivation of the different kinds of grain. In the northern and middle sections, wheat, rye and oats, would no doubt thrive well; and in the southern part, particularly on the river, tobacco might be profitably raised. From the mouth of the Illinois, which is in lat. 38° 54' N. to lat. 40, on the river, the vine could probably be cultivated with success.
There are some directions which are of the greatest importance to those who are about to examine this tract of country.* The best season for this purpose is the month of November. In the spring, the country is so inundated, that it is almost impossible to travel; in the summer, the weather is so warm and disagreeable, that an exploring journey is very hazardous. Besides, at this season, the flies and mosquitoes are exceedingly troublesome, and so poisonous, that they have been frequently known to kill horses and other animals in the course of a few hours.
The northern part of this county, extending from the eastern to the western boundary of the state, embraces a considerable variety of soil and surface. Near Lake Michigan, the country abounds with prairies, some of which are low and wet, and frequently form swamps and ponds; such are those on the Kankakee, and Des Plaines rivers, and Kalamick creeks. It is on this account that in high water, a communication is frequently formed between the waters of Lake Michigan, and those of the Illinois. - Towards the interior and western part of this county, the surface becomes more uneven, sometimes hilly, and sometimes gently undulating, abounding with the ores of lead and iron, particularly on the Mississippi, above Rock river. Little is as yet known of the geography in the interior, as it is but thinly settled, and has seldom been explored by men of science or observation.
Pike county will no doubt in a few years be divided into several counties; some of which will become very wealthy and important particularly those on the Mississippi, and on the lake. It is probable that the section about Fort Clark will be the most thickly settled and perhaps, in an agricultural point of view, it is the most important. But should a canal be opened between the Illinois river and Lake Michigan, it is difficult to form any correct idea of the relative importance of the different sections of this extensive county.
This county contains many minerals, which prove of considerable advantage to it. On the Mississippi, above Rock river, lead ore is found in abundance. It is of an excellent quality, and yields from 80 to 85 per cent pure lead. Iron is found in large quantities. At different places on the Illinois, there are immense strata of coal, of the best quality. Copper is also found in detached masses near Fort Clark. The Indians say it exists in large quantities, but as yet, there is no evidence of the truth of their assertion. Ochres of various kinds are found in the southern part of the military tract, and bubr stone of an excellent quality has also been discovered near the mouth of the Illinois.
Pike county contains between 7 and 800 inhabitants. It is attached to the first judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Greene, one to the senate. Its county seat is Colesgrove.
*For particular directions concerning the recording of deeds and the payment of taxes on these lands, see Military Bounty Tract.
Pope county is situated in the southern part of the state. It is bounded north by Gallatin, east and south by the Ohio river, and west by Johnson county. Its length is 36 miles, with a medium width of about 16; its area is about 576 square miles.
This county is washed on the east and south by the Ohio river; the interior is watered by Big Bay creek, and some other small streams, emptying into the Ohio. It is generally well timbered. The surface is generally level, except on the banks of the Ohio. The soil is sandy, but yields good crops.
Pope county contains 2610 inhabitants. It is attached to the fourth judicial circuit; sends two members to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Golconda.
Randolph county is situated in the western part of the state, and is large and populous. It is bounded north by the counties of Monroe, St. Clair and Washington, east by Jefferson and Franklin, and south and west by Jackson county and the Mississippi river. Its greatest length is 54 miles; greatest breadth, 27: area, 828 square miles.
This county is watered by the Kaskaskia and Little Muddy rivers, Beaucoup creek, and several other smaller streams.
At the mouth of the Kaskaskia river commences the American bottom, which extends along the bank of the Mississippi northwardly upwards of one hundred miles, it is the most fertile tract of land in the state. Upon this the first settlements were made by the French of Canada. Their villages still retain much of their antique appearance. Below the mouth of the Kaskaskia, the bank of the Mississippi is generally high and rocky, affording good sites for towns.
In the interior of this county, the surface is frequently undulating, and sometimes hilly. It contains 3492 inhabitants. It is attached to the third judicial circuit; sends three members to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Kaskaskia.
Sangamon county was erected from Bond and Madison in 1821. It is bounded north by the county of Pike, east by Fayette, south and west by the counties of Montgomery, Greene and Pike. Its greatest length is 126 miles; greatest breadth, 75 miles: its area is 5292 square miles.
This county is washed on the west by the Illinois. The interior is watered by the Sangamo river and its numerous tributaries, and also by several considerable streams emptying into the Illinois above and below.
The county of Sangamon, ever since its first settlement, has been justly esteemed the most desirable tract in the state; and it consequently has been settled with a rapidity heretofore unequalled. Previous to 1819 not a white inhabitant was to be found on the waters of the Sangamo; at present the population amounts to near 5000, while not a single acre of the land has as yet been brought into market. The Sangamo river, which runs a northeasterly course through the southern part of this county, may, at a trifling expense, be made navigable for near1y two hundred miles; it is now obstructed by timber. This stream passes through a tract of country which is seldom excelled in fertility. It is high and undulating, well watered with creeks and springs, and is beautifully interspersed with timber and prairie, the former of which consists principally of hickory, maple, oak, &c. The prairies frequently contain fine groves of timber, some of which, from their appearance, have received the names of Elkheart grove, Buffaloe-heart grove, &c. These groves are generally elevated above the surrounding prairie, and are most advantageous situations for settlement. The inhabitants reside on the margin of the timber, extending their plantations to any distance into the prairie. The groves above mentioned already contain a large and respectable population, from different parts of the United States. During the last session of the legislature, a company was incorporated by the name of the "Sangamo milling company," with a capital of $20,000. This will be of immense advantage to the inhabitants of this tract.
This county contains a number of salt springs, some of which will prove valuable when the land in the vicinity shall have been surveyed and sold to individuals. Coal is also abundant.
The population of Sangamon county cannot he correctly estimated. It is attached to the first judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Springfield.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY
St. Clair county is situated in the western part of the state. It is bounded north by Madison county, east by Washington, south by Randolph, and west by Monroe county and the Mississippi river. Its greatest length is 36 miles; greatest breadth _8; its area is 702 square miles.
This county is watered by the Kaskaskia river, Silver, Richland and Cahokia creeks. On the west it is washed by the Mississippi. The surface is generally undulating, and sometimes hilly. On the banks of the Mississippi there is a low and fertile alluvion. In the interior are several very rich and flourishing settlements. Maize is as yet the staple of this county, athough other grains are raised in considerable abundance.
St. Clair county contains 5243 inhabitants. It is attached to the first judicial circuit; sends three members to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Belleville.
Union county is situated in the southern part of the state, and is small, but populous. It is bounded north by the counties of Jackson and Franklin, east by Johnson, south by Alexander, and west by the Mississippi river. Its greatest length is 24 miles, and its breadth 18: its area is 596 square miles.
This county is washed on the west by the Mississippi river. The interior is watered by Muddy river, Clear creek, and the sources of Cash river.
Union county contains a population of 2236. It is attached to the fourth judicial circuit; sends two members to the house of representatives, and with Alexander, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Jonesborough.
Washington county is situated near the central part of the state. Its form is a square of 30 miles, with an area of 900 square miles. It is bounded north by the counties of Madison, Bond and Fayette; east by Jefferson; south by Randolph, and west by St. Clair.
This county is watered by the Kaskaskia river, and numerous tributaries emptying into it on the east and west side. The banks of these streams are generally well timbered, but in the interior, the prairies are extensive, and sometimes sterile. The surface is generally level. The grand prairie passes through the northeast corner of the county. Washington contains 1517 inhabitants. It is attached to the third judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Covington.
Wayne county is situated in the interior of the state. It is bounded north by the counties of Crawford and Fayette; east by Lawrence and Edwards; south by White and Hamilton, and west by Jefferson. Its greatest length is 33 miles - breadth 24 - its area is 720 square miles. This county is watered by the Little Wabash river, and several of its tributaries. It is handsomely interspersed with prairie and woodland and contains several saline springs.
Wayne contains 1114 inhabitants. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends one member to the house of representatives, and with Lawrence, one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Fairfield.
White county is situated in the southeastern part of the state. Its form is nearly a square, of 21 miles, containing an area of 441 square miles. It is bounded north by the counties of Edwards and Wayne; east by the Wabash river; south by Gallatin county, and west by Hamilton.
The eastern boundary of this county is washed by the Wabash river; the interior is watered by the Little Wabash, and its numerous tributaries. The remarks heretofore made with regard to the inundation of these streams in the counties of Edwards and Lawrence, apply here. The banks of these streams are generally timbered. In the interior are large prairies. The situation of this county is so very advantageous, that it will no doubt become populous and wealthy. It already furnishes a considerable quantity of surplus produce for the southern market.
White county contains upwards of 2000 inhabitants. It is attached to the second judicial circuit; sends three members to the house of representatives, and one to the senate. Its seat of justice is Carmi.
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