P. (Patrick) Donan.

The Rogers Park directory, June issue, 1919 .. online

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Compiled from the Original Manuscript of Col. P. Donan.



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Tp Hn\l OF TpE CoWTlflEMT.


The Immensity and Grandeur of the
American Great West.

"I never felt as if I was out of doors before," exclaimed
a New England man, as lie stepped off the cars, for the first time,
west of the Mississippi; and it was a natural expression of
amazement and admiration at the new sensations of vastness and
grandeur that had come over him. To one from the petty king-
doms and duchies of the Old World, many of them scarcely
larger than a Nebraska or Colorado county, it is impossible to
convey any idea of the boundless immensity of our American
Great West. •

To one from the small and over-crowded regions of the New
England and other Eastern States, a trip through the vast, vigor-
ous, growing empire of the West and Southwest is full of interest
and instruction. It is a whirling panorama of perpetual con-
trasts and surprises — a lightning express train of magnificent
scenes and ever-novel facts and ideas. He finds that all he has
heretofore heard or read has failed to convey even a faint concep-
tion of its extent and resources, and that in order to properly
comprehend its greatness he must begin anew and learn from
observation. He has regarded the northern shores of Ohio and
Illinois, or the remoter confines of Iowa and Nebraska as the
Ultima Thules of the American Eepublic. What is his amaze-
ment to discover that his diminutive province is but a speck on
the mighty map of America, and that nortn and west of Illinois,

4 The Heart of the Continent.

Iowa and Nebraska stretches thousands of miles away a realm
equally as vast as all that lies east and south of them to the
Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

After voyaging up the majestic Mississippi, nearly fifteen hun-
dred miles from the delta where Eads has planted his jetties,

View of Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

he reaches Keokuk or Burlington in what, scarce a generation
ago, was an unknown land, and thinks now he has certainly
reached the utmost verge of civilization. But he soon learns that

The Heart of the Continent. 5

lie has only entered the gateway to the great imperial western
domain that still rolls away in an unending glorious vista of prairie
and woodland, mountain, lake and magnificent river, city, village,
mines, field and meadow, that reach to the golden shores of the

He rambles on for hundreds of miles, north or west or south,
and at every halting-point thinks he is at the jumping-off place of
creation. It takes four figures to measure the miles that lie
between him and any spot he has ever known before, and he is
convinced that there cannot be any more country beyond. But,
at every turn, on every hand, he hears of illimitable regions yet
ahead of him; of the marvelous fertility of the valleys of the
Platte, the Republican, the Rio Grande and the Colorado; of
horizon-fenced plains of grass and grain in Kansas, Nebraska
and Wyoming, where a nation with all its flocks and herds may
find sustenance; of mines yet to be opened up in Colorado, Mon-
tana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and California, that shall
surpass all the boasts of Ophir and of Ind, and make the colossal
fortunes of all the Goulds and Vanderbilts of to-day seem trivial
by comparison; of rich pastures and wheat lands stretching away
on the south-west to the confines of "the land of the Montezu-
mas;" of regions scarcely yet unexplored, but known to be as
beautiful and productive, and as capable of supporting millions
of industrious population, as the fairest gardens of Illinois, Iowa
and Nebraska.

At Omaha, the Shadowland of legend and romance of less
than forty years ago, he hears of steamboats running regularly
two thousand miles further up the Missouri and six hundred up
the Yellowstone ; of navigating the Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and
the Lake of the Woods, and other streams whose names he never
heard before, flowing thousands of miles into Hudson's Bay,
Puget Sound and the Arctic Ocean. He hears of harbors like
those of Portland, Vancouver, San Francisco, San Diego and
Guaymas, in which all the commerce of the world may safely ride
at anchor.

He sees long lines of railway whose iron tracks span the un-
trod wilderness of half a generation ago. He sees single wheat-
fields, amid what were laid down in the geographies of but a

6 The Heart of the Continent.

decade ago as alkali deserts, broader than Old- World principalities,
waving with golden harvests whose luxuriance has amazed all
Christendom. He hears the thunder of the greatest gold and
silver mills in the world resounding in the yet warm lair of the
Rocky Mountain grizzly bear. He sees cities like Omaha, Den-
ver and Leadville sprung, as if by magic, from the silence and
nothingness of ten or twenty years ago, into all the rush, bustle,
luxury and elegance of metropolitan life, with churches, the-
atres, hotels, water-works, banks, daily papers, street-cars, elec-
tric lights, telephones, and all the conveniences found in the
oldest and most wealthy portions of this country and Europe.
To him it is like discovering a new continent, and for the first
time in his life he realizes how contracted have been his previous
ideas regarding the extent, wealth, and grandeur of what is to
him a new world in the mighty West.

He finds a country whose resources are as boundless as its limits,
and that there is nothing that the eye, heart or imagination__can
desire, that it does not offer or cannot show.

Here are homes for nations yet unborn, where all riches of soil
and mineral, all charms of climate and the beauties of scene unite
to frame earth's grandest garden- spot. Here may he dwell on
lake or mountain side, in fertile valley or the beautiful plain, in
a land of meadows and fruit-trees, of vineyards and golden
grain; under the feet a carpet of flowers, and the bluest of heavens
bending above and resting its arch on the walls of the forest.
The West unrolls before him millions on millions of acres which
are to be had for little more than the mere asking or taking.

Does he seek for gold and silver? The greatest mines of earth
are yet to be opened in the American Great West. Mountains of
golden and silver ore, beside which all the famed riches of the
Comstock lode will some day sink to beggars' pence, yet rear their
proud heads to heaven, untouched by pick or spade. The veri-
table treasure-houses of the gods yet await the enterprise and
muscle of the sturdy miners, who are destined ere long to fire the
avarice and the envy of the world with their Midas-surpassing
wealth of solid ducats. The surface dirt of Colorado, Arizona,
New Mexico, California, Montana and Idaho mines is hardly
broken: the glittering hoards are scarcely touched; the great

The Heart of the Continent.

Scene at Eiverside, suburban town on the
Burlington Koute.

bonanza fortunes are yet
to be made.

If he is a lover of the
sublime and beautiful in
natural scenery, the
weird wonders of the

8 The Heart of the Continent.

Yellowstone Park and the Garden of the Gods, the mighty-
canons of the Yosemite and the Colorado, the majestic peaks
of the Rocky Mountains, afford an ever-changing and always
glorious feast. It is a realm of mountains and waterfalls,
of cloud- wreathed crags, awful chasms, boundless plains, gigantic
floods and yawning caverns ; a transcendent panorama of all
that is sublime and most gorgeous in rugged nature's handiwork ;
a vast scene from enchanted land, eclipsing all the wonders of
oriental fable, hushing the proudest landscape boasts of all the
rest of creation, and defying all human genius, with pen or brush
or pencil, to depict its grandeur and its loveliness. The sun in
heaven, in his grand round, never looked down upon a more
glorious realm.

The Colorado tourist as he wanders among its magnificent
scenery, can well appreciate the feelings of a well-known and
popular poet, who on passing through the Gateway to the Garden
of the Gods for the first time, exclaimed as its wonders and
beauties burst on his view:

"Where could our Hearts with more reverence bow,
What Temple more grand than encircles us now,
Whose roof is the Heavens, whose floor is the sod,
Whose walls are the mountains, whose builder is God?"


Six Great States that Form the Heart
of the Continent.

In the heart and center of this magnificent domain, itself the
heart of the continent, six of the grandest States of the Ameri-
can Union unroll their beauty and riches to the admiring
gaze of men. In the exact geographical center of the fairest
half of the new world, stretching from the great lakes to the
Rocky Mountains, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and
Colorado form an empire grander in its resources and capabilities
than any emperor or czar, prince or potentate of the older civili-
zations ever swayed sceptre over. Alexander, when he had con-
quered the ancient world, ruled no such royal realm. The Csesars,
when Rome's resistless eagles spread their golden wings triumph-
ant from the burning sands of Africa to the mist-clad hills of
Caledonia, drew tribute and homage from no such empire.
The ambition of Napoleon might have been content with such a
domain. Over a thousand miles in length from east to west, and
from three to six hundred miles in width from north to south; its
eastern shores washed by the blue waves of Lake Michigan, and
its western slopes reposing in the shadows of the gold-ribbed
giants of the mighty Sierras; traversed for hundreds of miles by
America's two greatest rivers, the Mississippi and Missouri, it em-
braces every variety of soil, and is capable of yielding in exhaust-
less profusion all the products of the temperate zone. It
abounds in wild and romantic scenes, great rivers, boundless
prairies and forests, picturesque mountains, incalculable mineral
wealth, and pasture-lands on which the cattle of a nation may
feed to the full. A brief glance at the six States composing this
glorious continental heart and center will not be unprofitable.


The Heart of the Continent.

Among the great States of the West, Illinois stands first. The '
name is derived from the Indian word, Mini, signifying ' ' Superior
Men," and the early French gave it a termination to suit their
tongue. The five tribes constituting the Illinois confedera-
tion were the Peorias, Cahokas, Tamaroras, Kaskaskias and

Bridge across Bureau Creek, 111., on the line of
the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. K.

ies. They
were f i -
nally con-
quered and
driven out by more powerful
northern tribes; and at the
end of a century from the
period that saw them masters
of the entire country bordered
on the north by Lake Michi-
gan, south by the Ohio, east
by the Wabash, and west by
the Mississippi, not a vestige of

The Heart of the Continent. 11

their former greatness remained, and the few surviving members
of the once proud and powerful Illinois confederation had been ab-
sorbed by other tribes from whom they sought protection from their
relentless northern foes. The first white settlements were made by
the French. Nicholas Perrot in 1671 was probably the first white
man who ever visited the region, followed by Joliet and Mar-
quette in 1673. In 1679, La Salle descended the Illinois river, and
built a small fort, which he named Crevecceur, at the foot of
Peoria lake. In 1682, he made a second trip from Canada, bring-
ing a considerable colony with him, and establishing settlements
at Kaskaskia, Cahokia and other places. In 1778 the government
of Virginia sent Lieutenant-Colonel George Rogers Clark, than
whom a braver or better officer never unfurled the American flag,
to conquer the British garrisons in the West, and in July of that
year Kaskaskia, then the capital of Illinois, was captured, and
shortly after the fort at Crevecceur, near Peoria, and the British
then evacuated the Territory. In the succeeding month of Octo-
ber, Virginia erected the whole conquered country, embracing all
the territory west of the Ohio river, into the County of Illinois.
In 1784 Virginia ceded all this territory to the United States. In
February, 1790, St. Clair County (the first county in the State)
was organized, with Kaskaskia as the county seat. On May 7th,
1800, the Territory of Indiana was carved out of the Territory of
the Northwest, and embraced the present States of Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. On the third of February,
1809, the Territory of Illinois was detached from the Territory of
Indiana, and constituted a separate Territory, having then a
population estimated at 9,000. Kaskaskia was the first seat of
government. The 3d of December, 1818, Illinois was admitted
as a State of the Union, with a population of 45,000. By the
census of 1820 it had 55,211; in 1850, 851,470; in 1870, 2,539,891;
and 3,077,771 in 1880. Since then its growth has kept pace with
any previous period.

The State is three hundred and eighty miles long, with an
average width of a hundred and fifty-six miles, and an area of
55,414 square miles, or 35,465,093 acres, ninety per cent, of which
is tillable land. It is mostly a high table land, of prairie and
timber beautifully intermingled, with an elevation of from four

12 The Heart of the Continent.

to eight hundred feet above the level of the sea. Its soil is inex-
haustibly fertile, and nowhere on earth do the labors of the
husbandman yield richer returns. Illinois farmers are universally
thrifty and independent. A large part of the State is like a vast
garden; neat houses, fine barns, blooming orchards, tasteful
hedges, broad fields of golden grain, meadows and vineyards,
and green pastures dotted with flocks and herds of thoroughbred
cattle, sheep, horses and other stock, forming a continuous pano-
rama of agricultural beauty and prosperity. Half its hundred
and two county-seats are cities of commercial and financial im-
portance, Chicago, its commercial metropolis, being the fourth
city in the Union in population, the. second in commerce, and the
first in enterprise and promise. Every branch of manufacturing
is carried on in the State, and stock-raising is an extensive and
profitable industry. In the production of wheat, corn and oats,
Illinois is the first State in the Union; in live stock, second; in
rye, third; in value of manufactures and amount of capital em-
ployed, sixth; of distilled liquors, dressed lumber and packed
provisions, first. The coal fields of Illinois cover an area of
45,000 square miles. The coal is bituminous, well adapted for
steam and domestic purposes, and is extensively used by iron
manufacturers. The production in 1880 was 4,000,000 tons,
and was only exceeded in the extent of its output by Pennsylvania
and Ohio.

The following shows the leading articles of farm products and
live stock produced by Illinois in 1880, as shown by the assessors'

Wheat, bushels 60,958,757

Corn, bushels 252,697,896

Oats, bushels 62,946,510

Rye, bushels 3,049,860

Barley, bushels 1,109,245

Flax Seed, bushels 1,557,898

Timothy Seed, bushels. . . .400,124

Clover Seed, bushels 87,144

Other Grass Seeds, bushels, 66,789

Tobacco, lbs 2,736,406

Broom Corn, lbs 14,457,156

Hay, tons marketed 3,486,584

Irish Potatoes, bushels ..6,470,811
Pounds of Butter sold. .24,553,449
Pounds of Cheese sold. . .6,187,680

Cows kept, number 613,738

Cattle, total No. in State. 1,999,788
Cattle, No. marketed ... .2,473,727
Hogs, total No. in State. . 3,133,557

Hogs, No. marketed 2,642,606

Sheep, total No. in State . .964,696

Sheep, No. marketed 193,384

Horses, number 912,586

Mules and Asses, number. .116,260

The Heart of the Continent. 13

Its railroad system is the finest in the Union ; its whole
surface being checkered with the iron pathways of trade and
travel. The State has within its limits 1,300 miles of navigable
river, Lake Michigan washes its northern frontier, and the
Illinois and Michigan canal connects the great lakes with the
Illinois and Mississippi rivers, affording every facility of trans-

jjp portation.
The as-
sessed val-
uation of the
State in 1880
was $799,813,566.
Religious and ed-
ucational institutions

View in Springdale, Peoria, 111. abound everywhere

and are well supported. The State has lavishly provided for all
its unfortunates. There are three insane asylums, one deaf and
dumb asylum, one asylum for the blind, one for the education of
feeble-minded children, one charitable eye and ear infirmary,
and an admirably managed home for soldiers' orphans. Some
of these institutions are on a magnificent scale. The peni-
tentiary is at Joliet, and a branch at Chester. In addition to the

14 The Heart of the Continent.

State normal university at Normal, and its southern branch at
Carbondale, there are the Illinois industrial university at Urbana,
and the Illinois agricultural school at Irvington, besides some
thirty colleges, forty academies, law and medical schools, theo-
logical seminaries, and six hundred or more high grade private
schools and seminaries. The State, under the new apportionment,
has twenty representatives in Congress, and at its present rate of
growth bids fair to be, ere long, second only to New York, if
not even to her.


Just west of the northern portion of Illinois and the southern
part of Wisconsin lies the second great State of the six that form
the heart of the continent. Iowa, as its name in the Indian
tongue denotes, is a "Beautiful Land." On all the globe there is
none, as an agricultural region, a home-land, more beautiful or
more bountiful. It is three hundred miles long from east to west
and two hundred wide from north to south, and contains an area
of 55,045 square miles or 35,288,800 acres, almost exactly the
same as Illinois. Its shores are washed for three hundred and sixty-
five miles on the east by the Mississippi river, and for three hun-
dred and sixty-four miles on the west by the Missouri, making a
total of seven hundred and twenty-nine miles of frontage on the
two greatest rivers of North America. Thousands of small
streams traverse every portion of the State, furnishing drainage
and abundant water-supply, and in the northern counties there
are hundreds of crystal lakes swarming with delicious fish. The
whole surface of the State is beautifully undulating prairie, inter-
spersed along all the streams with groves of oak, elm, walnut,
ash, hickory, maple, linn and cottonwood. Living springs burst
from the hillsides everywhere. The climate is delightful, health-
ful and invigorating, ranking according to the census statistics
among the first in salubrity. There are few swamps or stag-
nate sloughs, no miasma or malaria, and nothing conducive to
disease. Pulmonary complaints are scarcely known. The soil
of Iowa has become famous throughout the world for its fertility.
Ninety-five hundredths of the entire surface of the State is tillable
land, and it is not surpassed in productiveness by that of any

The Heart of the Continent. 15

other region, in the United States. Reliable statisticians declare
that the wonderful soil of this State alone is capable of a cultivation
that would yield harvests amply sufficient to feed 40,000,000 peo-
ple. Corn is a specially profitable crop, yielding from thirty to
seventy-five bushels to the acre. Wheat and oats do well in
all parts of the State. Flax is also raised with great success
All root crops yield well. "Wild and tame grasses and clover
grow luxuriantly everywhere. Stock-raising is rapidly becoming
a grea^ an( ^ profitable industry. Abundance of nutritious grass,
plenty of pure water, ample timber for shade, and the fullest
facilities of rail and water transportation to reach the markets,
ensure success to any stock-grower of ordinary intelligence and
energy. Iowa, though one of the youngest States in the Union,
already ranks first as a producer of hogs, and second in corn.
Fruit-growing is successfully and extensively prosecuted. Iowa
has for years taken the first premiums at the national horticultural
exhibitions for the finest apples, and the greatest number and
varieties. The coal-fields of Iowa cover an area of over 20,000
square miles, and mining is successfully carried on in some thirty-
five different counties. The coal is bituminous, and of fair
quality. Large amounts of capital are being invested, and large
numbers of workmen employed, in coal-mining, and the industry
is rapidly growing. This, with abundant and constantly increas-
ing facilities of railroad transportation, added to the supply of
wood from the groves and forests that dot all the State, ensures
ample and cheap fuel for all private and public uses. Gypsum of
the finest quality exists in exhaustless deposits. Limestone, suita-
ble for making first-class quicklime, is plenty in most parts of the
State, and excellent building stone is quarried in a majority of the
ninety-nine counties into which the State is sub-divided. Lead has,
for years, been extensively mined, while potters' clay, fire clay and
clay suitable for brick-making abound, and valuable deposits of
mineral paint have lately been discovered in several places. Peat
has been found in some of the northern counties, but has not been
much used. The great national highway across the continent lies
directly through Southern Iowa, and her railroad system is a vast
and swiftly growing one. In 1860, twenty States had more lines
of railway ; now there are but four. This progress in railroad con-


The Heart of the Continent.

struction shows the confidence of capitalists in the future of the
State. Every part of the State is traversed by the iron tracks of
progress, and the work of building additional lines goes cease-
lessly on. Churches, schools and all the varieties of educational,

religious, correctional and
charitable institutions
abound, among the long
list being the State univer-
sity, at Iowa City, the
original capital; State ag-
ricultural college and model st - Louis > Missouri -
farm, at Ames; training school for teachers, at Cedar. Falls; in-
stitution for the support of the deaf and dumb, at Council Bluffs;
college for the blind, at Vinton; home for soldiers' orphans and

The Heart of the Continent. 17

home for indigent children, at Davenport; asylum for feeble-
minded children, at Glenwood; State reform school for boys, at
Eldora; State reform school for girls, at Mitchell ville; hospitals for
the insane, at Mount Pleasant and Independence; State peniten-
tiary, at Fort Madison, and- additional penitentiary at Anamosa.
The educational system of the State ranks among the best in
the Union. There are over 12,000 school-houses, and the
annual expenditure for public school purposes is upwards of
$5,000,000, a portion of which is derived from the school
lands. Besides this there are many denominational colleges
and high grade schools, and the official statistics of the
United States census show fewer illiterate people in proportion
to population in Iowa than in any other State of the Union.
Newspapers abound and are well supported everywhere. When
Iowa was admitted into the Union in 1846, its population was but
little over 100,000. The census of 1850 gave it a population of
192,214; that of 1860 showed 674,913, an increase during the
decade of more than three hundred per cent.; that of 1870 footed
up 1,194,020, a growth during the ten years of nearly a hun-
dred per cent. ; and the last census, that of 1880, showed a popu-
lation of 1,624,620, which has before this time swelled to over
1,800,000. Since 1860, the percentage of increase has been four
times that of the United States at large. Nine States, that out-
ranked Iowa in population in 1870, now stand below it. Of the
35,228,800 acres of land in Iowa, scarcely one-half has yet been
brought into even nominal cultivation, and the unimproved lands

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Online LibraryP. (Patrick) DonanThe Rogers Park directory, June issue, 1919 .. → online text (page 1 of 5)