Harvesting the River
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We have a great plenty deer, Turkies, Wolves, Opossums, Prairie hens, Eagles, Turky Buzzards, Swans, Geese, ducks, Brant, sand hill Cranes, Parokites & with many other small Animals and birds. Gray squirrels are as thick as I have ever seen striped ones in Vermont. There is more honey here in this Territory I suppose than any other place in the world. I have heard hunters say that they have found 8 to 10 swarms a day on the St. Gama and Illinois Rivers where there are no settlements (Truly this must be the Land of Milk and Honey)--Gershom Flagg, 1817.
The Prairie State
The Prairie State

Illinois attracted New Englanders with its rich tillable land beginning in the 1830s, when Illinoisans advertised in pamphlets that land was for sale as the surveying began. People who rented land in eastern states could buy land in Illinois for the same price. In 1835 five million dollars worth of land sold in Illinois. Five hundred new towns were created within three years. By 1850 there were at least eighteen people per square mile in the Illinois River valley. The 1850 Illinois census showed 736,931 native-born Americans of European descent living in Illinois. Of these, 393,313 had emigrated from other states.

Mr. and Mrs.
WIlliam John McDannald
Mr. and Mrs. WIlliam John McDannald
William "Deacon John" McDannald was head carpenter on the old
Meredosia Railroad Bridge and laid ties and rails
for the first railroad west of the Alleghany Mountains.

Photograph in the Meredosia Bicentennial Book.
Zoom in on Mr. and Mrs.
WIlliam John McDannald

Migrants and immigrants were streaming into the area. Many settlers in the central portion of the Illinois River Valley came from Kentucky, the South, and central Illinois, while farther north on the river, immigrants came from New England and New York, traveling across the Great Lakes. They settled in the middle river towns of Liverpool, Havana, Bath, Browning, Beardstown, and Meredosia.

Information about settlement and life in the central Illinois River Valley can be found in the census and mortality schedules of county records. Such documents from Morgan County, where the town of Meredosia is located, offer us a glimpse of the origins of some Illinois settlers and some of the physical hardships they faced.

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