John Mason Peck.

A gazetteer of Illinois : in three parts, containing a general view of the state, a general view of each county, and a particular description of each town, settlement, stream, prairie, bottom, bluff, etc.--alphabetically arranged online

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Online LibraryJohn Mason PeckA gazetteer of Illinois : in three parts, containing a general view of the state, a general view of each county, and a particular description of each town, settlement, stream, prairie, bottom, bluff, etc.--alphabetically arranged → online text (page 1 of 24)
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91 7 . 73

cop. 2

I .H.S.









1 834.

ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year
1834, by J. M. PECK, in the Clerk's office of the Dis-
trict Court of Illinois.


7 f


THE utility and importance of an accurate Gazeteer of Illinois to

every class of citizens within the state, and to all other persons who

desire full and particular information, are too obvious to need proof.

This work was undertaken by the author nearly two years since,

at the suggestion and request of many of his fellow citizens, some of

^whom fill distinguished posts of honor in the state and nation.

No state in the "Great West" has attracted so much attention, and
^ elicited so many enquiries from those who desire to avail themselves
T~ of the advantages of a settlement in a new and rising country, as that
of Illinois; and none is filling up so rapidly with an emigrating po-
pulation from all parts of the United States, and several kingdoms of
' Europe. Consequently, the call for correct information of all por-

Jtions of the state has become pressing.
In preparing this work with special reference to this call, the author
has kept one point constantly in view. Accuracy of description, or a
registry of facts and things as they actually exist in every part of the
state, has been a paramount object. How far he has succeeded will
oe submitted to the judgment of his fellow citizens in each county.
That no imperfections or inaccuracies exist in the work, the author is
. not vain enough to imagine ; but that as a whole, or as to its parts, it
is sufficiently accurate for all useful purposes, will appear on refer-
ence to the labor bestowed to obtain correct information of every spot
he attempts to describe.


To the facts and observations of many years' residence in the state,
and traveling in all the older settlements, of which record was made
for his own use, and that of his immediate friends, may be added v i e
following facilities for gaining correct topographical and historical

In the winter of 1832, '33, the author spent several weeks at Van-
dalia,during the session of the legislature, where the principal part of
the work was written. Access was had, through the polite attention
of the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and other public officers, to
all the public documents, state records, and journals. Both houses of
the legislature, with equal liberality, granted a copy of the laws and
journals of that body, and likewise, (if duplicates existed,) copies ot
all preceding laws, journals, and printed documents, of the territorial
and state governments. These were carefully examined, and from
them much valuable information obtained.

Personal intercourse was also had with the members of the legisla-
ture and other gentlemen, from each county, and from that source ma-
ny of the facts in the general description of the counties in Part Se-
cond, and the particulars of each place in Part Third, were obtained.
The course of the author was, to spend two or three hours each even-
ing with gentlemen from a county, who were well acquainted with
every part, and write a brief sketch of the same.

These were drawn off in proper order the next day, and, in many in-
stances, submitted to the same persons for inspection and revision.
All the items for one county were thus finished before entering upon a
survey of another.

By this method, no creek, prairie, or settlement, known by name
amongst the people, would escape notice, and accuracy of description
would be attained.

These accounts were then collated with the statements received from
other sources, and from the author's own notes of observation. Hav-
ing thus prepared the main portion of the work, the publication was


postponed one year purposely to afford opportunity for a personal exa-
tiou of much of the state.

The employment of Superintending Agent of Sunday School af-
fairs in Illinois, which commenced immediately after the close of the
author's labors at Vandalia, furnished this opportunity. Thus, tho
means were afforded, by a careful observation through many counties
in the state, to uetect any errors, and to give further particulars.

No small pains have been taken to obtain the latest information,
especially from the recently organized counties in the north, where
new settlements are made every month, and villages spring up as the
growth of a summer. Still, some settlements, planted within the pre-
sent year, may not have come to the author's knowledge.

It would be rather invidious to name individuals from whom the
author has received aid in this work, and to whom he is desirous of re-
turning his humble and grateful acknowledgements. To the officers
of state, the members of the last legislature, many post masters, and
other citizens, his thanks are due. Much of the real value of the work
is from information they imparted, or from documents and records
over which they had legal control.

The general description, and estimates of the population of the
counties, in the second part, and number of families in settlements, are
ail from facts collected during the session of the last legislature. In
many of the counties, the estimate of population, as given in the table
in the appendix, will vary considerably from that in the description of
the county, but this difference will show the supposed ratio of increase
in a period of about one year and nine months.

The delay of the work after it went to press, from unforeseen causes,
has enabled the publisher to give a column in one of the tables of the
appendix, showing the votes returned from the polls of each county
at the election on the first Monday in August, this year.


Supposing every eighth person to have voted would make the popu-
lation of the state in August, 272,816 allowing every seventh person
to have voted, the result would be 238,714.

That table, which was constructed previous to the election, and es-
timating the population at 250,000, is but a moderate estimate, and
when conapared with the census of 1830, which was 161,000, will fur-
nish an index of the rapid growth of the state. Business, and improve-
ments of every description, have kept pace with the increase of popu-
lation. Much of the emigration that now enters the state exceeds
that of former years in wealth, enterprize, and intelligence.

Some changes have been made in the state since the work went to
press. Iroquois county has been organized by authority of the judge
of that circuit, consequently it must have more than three hundred and
fifty inhabitants. Estimating its population by the number of votes
at the last election, and it must contain nearly five hundred inhabi-

Two new Lanrl Districts were made in Illinois at the last session of
congress, called North West and North East Land Districts.

North West District is in ihr north western portion of the state, and
bounded south by the line between townships twelve and thirteen
north, on the military tract, and oast by the line between ranges three
and four east of the third principal meridian, and north by the northern
boundaiy of the state.

North East District is in the north east poriion of the state, and
bounded south by the line between townships thirty and thirty-one, on
the third principal meridian, east by lake Michigan, and north by the
boundary of the state.

That portion of the Wisconsin territory which lies between the
northern boundary of Illinois, and the Wisconsin river and Green bay,
has been formed into two land districts. The one on the west side is
called Wisconsin, and the other Green Bay. The dividing line is
the range line next west from Fort Winnebago.


In some instances the publication of weekly papers have been sus-

The population of Springfield and of Jacksonville is given accord-
ing to the estimate of citizens in each place in September.

The author has not hesitated to avail himself of the labors of those
who have gone before him, in descriptions of this state. A Gazetteer
of Missouri and Illinois, by Lewis C. Back, M. D. and published in
1823, was a valuable and meritorious work in its day. The same ge-
neral plan has been followed in this work.

Judge Hall, in his Magazine, has done much to exhibit the charac-
teristics of the state, and reference has baen had to his "Notes on Illi-

It has caused the author no small trouble to decide upon the ortho-
graphy of proper names. Many of those found in this work have never
been published to any extent, so as to become settled in orthography.
In offering new names to the public it is desirable that the spelling
conform to the pronunciation. While the author does not feel autho-
rized to make innovations upon established usages, he is willing to con-
tribute his humble mite to improve the orthography of the language:
where custom has not fixed it.

Many aboriginal names in the west were first written in French, and
after by persons of very inferior literary attainments. Some of these
have already undergone changes. Thus we have VV abash for Ou-.
bache, Washitau for Ouchitta ; and for similar reasons we ought to
write Wisconsin for Ouisconsin, Mackinau for Michilimacinac,
Meredosha for Marais d'Ogee, etc.

Such aboriginal names as have not been printed, the author has
spelled according to the pronunciation, and for the correctness of this
he has relied upon information of persons accustomed to hear the
sounds expressed by natives.

After all, several discrepancies will be discovered in different parts
of the work.


In such names as have the French or broad sound of a, he has pre-
Terred the termination of au to aw. The exceptions are in Wabash
and a few others, where the a is sanctioned by custom, and the sound
generally understood.

A table of errata has been given to correct the more prominent er-
rors of the press. Had the author possessed leisure, and resided at the
place of publication so as to have inspected the proof sheets, this table
would have been spared. But in composing more than one thousand
proper names, many of which are not commonly found in print, the
most skilful and accurate compositors and proof readers would neces-
sarily commit mistakes.

Rock Spring, (/.) October, 1834.










THE State of Illinois is situated between 37 and 42
degrees, 30 minutes, north latitude, and between 10
degrees, 25 minutes, and 14 degrees, 30 minutes, west
longitude from Washington city. It is bounded on the
north by Wisconsin territory, north east by lake Mi-
chigan, east by Indiana, south east and south by Ken-
tucky, and west by the state and territory of Missouri.

Its extreme length is 380 miles, and its extreme width,
220 miles; its average width, 150 miles. The area of
the whole state, including the portion of lake Michigan
within its boundaries, is 59,300 square miles.




This resuit has been obtained after a careful estimate
of the surveyed portions in the land districts, and calcu-
lating the remainder by its medium length and breadth.
The exact length of its northern portion is now ascer-
tained from the continuation of the fourth principal
meridian, from the vicinity of Rock river to the north-
ern boundary. The exact length of the northern bound-
ary from the Mississippi at the north western corner of
the state, to lake Michigan, is 144i miles. The eastern
boundary leaves the Wabash river at a point about 60
miles north of Vincennes, and continues due north to
the northern boundary of Indiana. The only difficulty in
ascertaining the area of this section is from the piece
of water extending north and east of the northern
boundary of Indiana, which has been estimated from
ascertaining the probable width of the lake at this
part, from persons best acquainted with it. The north-
ern boundary line extends into the middle of lake Mi-

The act of congress authorising the people of Illinois
to form a state government, and the convention in fra-
ming the constitution, described the following as the
boundaries of the state:
^"Beginning at the mouth of the Wabash river, thence

the same, and with the line of Indiana, to the north
western 'corner of said state; thence east with the line of
the same state, to the middle of lake Michigan; thence north
along the middle of said lake, to north latitude 42 degrees
and 30 minutes; thence west to the middle of the Mis-
sippi river; and thence down along the middle of that
river to its confluence with the Ohio river; and thence


up the latter river along its north western shore to the

Within these described boundaries, allowing for the
curves of the rivers, are not less than 59,300 square miles,
or 37,952,000 acres.

The water area of the state is computed at 3,750square
miles as follows:

Square Miles.

Lake Michigan 2,750

One half of the Mississippi, for 700 miles, in-
cluding its meanderings, at the ordinary

stage of water 350

Half of the Wabash river 50

Estimates for small lakes, ponds, and rivers

within the state 600


With this, deduct 5,550 square miles for irreclaimable
waste*, and there is left, in Illinois, 50,000 square miles
or 32 millions of acres of arable land. In this estimate,
inundated lands, submerged by high waters, but which
may be reclaimed at a moderate expense, are included.


THE general surface is level, or moderately undu-
lating; the northern and southern portions are broken,
and somewhat hilly, but no portion of the state is tra-
versed with ranges of hills or mountains. At the verge
of the alluvial soil on the margins of rivers, there are
ranges of "bluffs" intersected with ravitfes. The bluffs
are usually from fifty to one hundred and fifty feet high,


where an extended surface of table land commences,
covered with prairies and forests of various shapes and

When examined minutely, there are several varieties
in the surface of this state which will be briefly specified
and described.

1. Inundated Lands. I apply this term to all those
portions, which, for some part of the year, are under
water. These include portions of the river bottoms, and
portions of the interior of large prairies, with the lakes
and ponds which, for half the year or more, are without
water. The term "bottom," is used throughout the west
to denote the alluvialsoil on the margin of rivers, usually
called "intervals," in New England. Portions of this
description of land are flowed for a longer or shorter
period, when the rivers are full. Probably one eighth of
the bottom lands are of this description; for though the
water may not stand for any length of time, it wholly
prevents settlement and cultivation, though it does not
interrupt the growth of timber and vegetation. These
tracts are on the bottoms of the Wabash, Ohio, Missis-
sippi, Illinois, and all the interior rivers.

When the rivers rise above their ordinary height, the
waters of 'the smaller streams, which are backed up by
the freshets of the former, break over their banks, and
coverall the low grounds. Here they stand for a few
days, or for many weeks, especially towards the blufls;
for it is a striking fact in the geology of the western
country, that all the river bottoms are higher on the
margins of the streams than at some distance back.
Whenever increase of population shall create a demand


for this species of soil, the most of it can be reclaimed
at comparatively small expense. Its fertility will be
inexhaustible, and if the waters from the rivers could be
shut out by dykes or levees, the soil would be perfectly
dry. Most of the small lakes on the American bottom
disappear in the summer, and leave a deposit of vege-
table matter undergoing decomposition, or a luxuriant
coat of weeds and grass.

As our prairies mostly lie between the streams that
drain the country, the interior of the large ones are
usually level. Here are formed ponds and lakes after
the winter and spring rains, which remain to be drawn
off by evaporation, or absorbed by an adhesive soil.
Hence the middle of our large, level prairies are wet,
and for several weeks portions of them are covered with
water. To remedy this inconvenience completely, and
render all this portion of soil dry and productive, only
requires a ditch or drain of two or three feet deep to be
cut into the nearest ravine. In many instances a single
furrow with the plough, would drain many acres. At
present this species of inundated land offers no incon-
venience to the people, except in the production of
miasm, and even that, perhaps, becomes too much di-
luted with the atmosphere to produce mischief before it
reaches the settlements on the borders of the prairie.
Hence the inference is correct that our inundated lands
present fewer obstacles to the settlement and growth
of the country, and can be reclaimed at much less ex-
pense, than the swamps and salt marshes of the Atlantic
states. tV



THE surface of our alluvial bottoms is not entirely
level. In some places it resembles alternate waves of
the ocean, and looks as though the waters had left their
deposit in ridges, and retired.

The portion of bottom land capable of present cultiva-
tion, and on which the waters never stand, if, at an
extreme freshet, it is covered, is a soil of exhaustless
fertility; a soil that for ages past has been gradually de-
posited by the annual floods. Its average depth on the
American bottom is from twenty to twenty-five feet.
Logs of wood, and other indications, are found at that
depth. The soil dug from wells on these bottoms, pro-
duces luxuriantly the first year.

The most extensive and fertile tract, of this descrip-
tion of soil, in this state, is the American Bottom, a name
it received when it constituted the western boundary of
the United States, and which it has retained ever since.
It commences at the mouth of the Kaskaskia river, five
miles below the town of Kaskaskia, and extends north-
wardly along the Mississippi to the bluffs at Alton, a
distance of ninety miles. Its average width is five miles,
and contains about 450 square miles, or 238,000 acres.
Opposite St. Louis, in St. Clair county, the bluffs are
seven miles from the river, and filled with inexhaustible
beds of coal. The soil of this bottom is an argillaceous
orasilecious loam, accordingly as clay or sand happens
to predominate in its formation.

On the margin of the river, and of some of its lakes, is
a strip of heavy timber, with a thick undergrowth, which


extends from half a mile to two miles in width, but from
thence to the bluffs, it is principally prairie. It is inter-
spersed with sloughs, lakes, and ponds, the most of
which become dry in the fall season*

The soil of the American bottom is inexhaustibly rich.
About the French towns it has been cultivated, and
produced corn in succession for more than a century,
without exhausting its fertilizing powers. The only
objection that can be offered to this tract is its unhealthy
character. This, however, has diminished considerably
within eight or ten years. The geological feature no-
ticed in the last article that all our bottoms are higher
on the margin of the stream than towards the bluffs,
explains the cause why so much standing water is on
the bottom land, which, during the summer stagnates
and throws off noxious effluvia. These lakes are usually
full of vegetable matter undergoing decomposition, and
which produces large quantities of miasm. Some of the
lakes are clear and of a sandy bottom, but the most are
of a different character. The French settled near a
lake or a river, apparently in the most unhealthy places,
and yet their constitutions are little affected, and they
usually enjoy good health, though dwarfish and shrivelled
in their form and features.

"The villages of Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, and
Cahokia, were built up by their industry in places where
Americans would have perished. Cultivation has, no
doubt, rendered this tract more salubrious than formerly;
and an increase of it, together with the construction of
drains and canals, will make it one of the most eligible
in the states. The old inhabitants advise the emigrants


not to plant corn in the immediate vicinity of their
dwellings, as its rich and massy foliage prevents the ,
sun from dispelling the deleterious vapours."*

These lakes and ponds could be drained at a small
expense, and the soil would be susceptible of cultivation.
The early settlements of the Americans were either on
this bottom, or the contiguous bluffs.

Besides the American bottom, there are others that
resemble it in its general character, but not in extent.
In Union county there is an extensive bottom on the
borders of the Mississippi. Above the mouth of the
Illinois, and along the borders of the counties of Cal-
houn, Pike, and Adams, there are a series of bottoms,
with much good and elevated land, but the inundated
grounds around, present objections to a dense population
at present.

The bottoms of Illinois, where not inundated, are
equal in fertility, and the soil is less adhesive than most
parts of the American bottom. This is likewise the
character of the bottoms in the northern parts of the

The bottoms of the Kaskaskia are generally covered
with a heavy growth of timber, and in many places inun-
dated when the river is at its highest floods.

The extensive prairies adjoining will create a demand
for all this timber. The bottom lands on the Wabash
are of various qualities. Near the mouth, much of it is
inundated. Higher up it overflows in high freshets.

These bottoms, especially the American, are the best



regions in the United States for raising stock, particu-
larly horses, cattle, and swine. Seventy-five bushels of
corn to the acre is an ordinary crop. The roots and
worms of the soil, the acorns and other fruits from the
trees, and the fish pf the lakes, accelerate the growth of
swine. Horses and cattle find exhaustless supplies of
grass in the prairies; and pea vines, buffalo grass, wild
oats, and other herbage in the timber, for summer range;
and often throughout most of the winter. In all the
rush bottoms, they fatten during the severe weather on
rushes. The bottom soil is not so well adapted to the
production of small grain, as of maize or Indian corn, on
account of its rank growth, and being more subject
to blast, or fall down before harvest, than on the up-

3. Prairies. A large part, probably two thirds of the
surface of the state, is covered with prairies. A com-
mon error has prevailed abroad that our prairie land is
wet. Much of it is undulating and entirely dry. Prairie
is a French word, signifying meadow, and is applied to
any description of surface, that is destitute of timber
and brushwood, and clothed with grass. Wet, dry, level,
and undulating, are terms of description merely, and
apply to prairies in the same sense as they do to forest

Level prairie is often wet; the water not running off
freely is left to be absorbed by the soil, or evaporated by
the sun. Crawfish throw up their hillocks in this soil,
and the farmer who cultivates it, will find his labors
impeded by the water.

In the southern part, that is, south of the national


road leading from Terre Haute to tbe Mississippi, the
prairies are comparatively small, varying in size from
those of several miles in width, to those which contain
only a few acres. As we go northward, they widen and

Online LibraryJohn Mason PeckA gazetteer of Illinois : in three parts, containing a general view of the state, a general view of each county, and a particular description of each town, settlement, stream, prairie, bottom, bluff, etc.--alphabetically arranged → online text (page 1 of 24)