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 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.
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.