The Henry Republican
January 24, 1878
OLD ILLINOIS NEWS
Matters and Things in Illinois
in the Early Days.
I have before me a file of the
Chicago American for the years 1830 and 1840. From it I glean some interesting facts and incidents of the early
history of Illinois.
Chicago's first frame house
was built in 1831. Seven years later there was "a bustling little city of 6000 inhabitants."
The editor give some notes of
a trip he had just made (1839) down the Illinois river. He passed through the following towns:
Enterprise, with 4 houses; Webster,
5 houses; Henry, 6 houses; Lacon, 25 houses; Chillicothe, 30 houses; Allentown, 3 houses; Rome, 25 houses. He speaks
of a catfish caught in Peoria lake weighing 150 pounds.
"The new state capitol
at Springfield is nearly finished (1839) costing $250,000. The corner stone was laid July 4, 1837".
The people were all going crazy
over the cultivation of Morus Multicaulus or mulberry trees, with which to feed silk worms, there being a great
mania at that time for raising silk, but it soon, like all other manias of speculation, subsided as suddenly as
it had arisen. The American speaks of a man down east who refused $5000 of one mulberry tree, and afterwards sold
one quarter of it for $10,000. Buds from it sold for $5 each.
October 28, 1839, Chicago had
its first big fire - eighteen buildings were destroyed on Lake street.
Elijah Lovejoy, the noted abolitionist
and editor, was mobbed and shot dead at Alton, November 7, 1837, by proslaveryites.
General Lafayette had visited
Illinois in 1825, and the people hadn't got over talking about the great event in 1839.
The total vote of the state
at the presidential election in 1824 was 4707.
The first paper ever printed
in Illinois was the Illinois Herald, at Kaskaskia in 1809.
Sangamon county in which there
then only a few log-cabins, embraced the entire northern part of the state in 1821. The county had nine representatives
in the legislature in 1836, and they were called the "long nine," measuring in the aggregate 54 feet,
Abraham Lincoln was one of the nine.
The year 1836 was one of feverish
speculation in Illinois, followed in about a year by a general smash-up.
Illinois was admitted into the
union as a state in 1818. Shadrach Bond being elected the first governor. There were about 40,000 inhabitants.
Hon. Ninian Edwards was the
only territorial governor Illinois ever had. The territory, then containing 9000 inhabitants was organized in 1809,
and continued such for nine years. Governor Edwards being kept in office all that time, by presidential appointment
and re-appointment. Ninian Edwards was a prominent Kentuckian, and a devoted friend of Henry Clay. He resigned
the office of chief justice of the Kentucky state court of appeals in order to accept the proffered appointment
as governor of the territory of Illinois. When the territory became a state, he was the first to be chosen United
States senator, but resigned in 1824 in order to accept the governorship of the state to which he had just been
elected. Hon. Daniel P. Cook, after whom cook county was named, was Governor Edwards's son-in-law. Cook county
was organized in 1831. Mr. Cook represented Illinois in congress consecutively from 1819 until 1826, the state
at that time being entitled to only one representative.
There were several hundred negro
slaves and some Indian slaves held in Illinois while it was a territory, and a strong effort was made by these
slave-owners and their sympathizers to make a slave state of this. Slaves were first brought here from San Domingo
in 1720 by the early French pioneers. These Frenchmen indulged the confident belief that "the wealth of the
western world consisted of pearl fisheries, gold and silver mines, and the wool of wild cattle."
The first steamboat to ascend
the Upper Mississippi was the General Pike. She reached St. Louis August 2, 1817. The first steamboat ever seen
on the Ohio river (in 1811) created a tremendous sensation. A great comet was visible that year, and the ignorant,
superstitious settlers, when they saw the steamer in the night, really believed that it was the comet, with its
great fiery tail.
The territory of Indian was
organized in 1800, and included the area now embraced by the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.
General William Henry Harrison was appointed territorial governor. The entire territory contained a population
of 4875 whites, 135 slaves and about 100,000 Indians. Louisiana was annexed to this territory in 1804.
The Indian tribes located in
Illinois in 1816 included the Pottawatomeis, Kickapoos, Ottawas and Chippewas. Among the notable chiefs at that
time were Pepper, White Hair, Great Speaker, Bull, Toad, Pipe Bird, Blue Eye, Sunfish, Yellow Lips and White Dog.
The name of Chicago is of uncertain
origin. It (spelled Cheeaqua) was the name of a long line of governing Indian chiefs, and it is variously interpreted
to mean "the voice of the Great Spirit," thunder,skunk and wild onion.
During the first four years
of the territory of Illinois, the governor was really the only law-making power, there being no legislative body.
The first territorial legislature consisted of five senators and seven representatives, and there were only five
Some queer modes of punishing
criminal offenders were in vogue those days, among which were whipping on the bare back, confinement in stocks,
standing in the pillory and branding with hot irons. Burglary was punishable with 39 strips on the bare back; perjury
and larceny 31 stripes, horse-stealing form 50 to 100 stripes; hog-stealing from 25 to 39 stripes; bigamy from
100 to 300 stripes; children and servants, for disobedience, on conviction before a justice of the peace, not exceeding
10 stripes. When offenders who were fined were unabled to pay their fines, the sheriff was required to hire them
out for wages until the amounts were earned and paid into the public treasury. Sitting on a gallows with a rope
around the neck was the novel punishment awarded in some cases. "Profanely cursing," hunting on the Sabbath
day, disorderly behavior at divine worship, reveling, quarreling, fighting, etc., were finable offenses, as also
was the keeping of gambling tables. In a fatal duel, the aiders and abettors, as well as the one who fired the
fatal shot, were alike declared guilty of murder. Imprisonment for debt was also lawful.
The total revenue raised in
the territory for the three years - 1812, 1813 and 1814 - amounted to $4875, about half of which was in the hands
of delinquent sheriffs.
The first county organized in
Illinois was Edwards, named after the territorial governor.
During the territorial condition,
voting by ballot was abolished, because "the ignorant and those in embarrassed circumstances are thereby subject
to be imposed upon by electioneering zealots."
The "medical doctors"
were incorporated in 1817, with headquarters at Carmi and Kaskaskia, and no new-comer could practice medicine unless
able to pass an examination, and thus secure permit, paying a fee of $10 therefor.
As late as 1817, the pelts of
deers, racoons, etc., were too(to) a great extent the currency of the country, there being but little money afloat.
In 1840 there was great complaint
in Chicago of wolves destroying poultry in the city.
At the Chicago charter election
in March 1840, 1013 votes were polled. Thomas Drummond was announced to address "a democratic-whig
meeting: at Galena in 1840. This is the same Drummond who is now so ably presiding as United States circuit judge.
March 25, 1840, the whigs of Sangamon county nominated Abraham Lincoln for a member of the legislature. Hon. E.
D. Baker, afterward United States senator, was at the same time nominated for the state senate.
In the fall of 1840, bears and
deer were still found in the region where Kankakee county now is. Venison was quoted "a drug on the market."
March 18, 1840, winter wheat
was quoted at Chicago t 56 cents per bushel, and spring wheat 40 cents; whisky 40 cents a gallon; oats 20 cents
per bushel; corn 38 cents; beef $4 per 100 pounds; lumber $18 for clear and $12 for merchantable; oak wood $3.25
per cord; hickory wood $4; potatoes, 20 cents a bushel; butter 15 cents per pound; flour, $2 pe cwt. There was
no coal used hereabouts in those days.
In 1830 Chicago had 100 inhabitants,
Michigan City, 10, Milwaukee 10, Toledo 30.
In 1839 freights by steamer
from Buffalo for Chicago were quoted 87 1/2 cents per 100 pounds for light, and 62 1/2 cents for heavy.
In 1840, Elgin, which was originally
laid out by James T. Gifford, in 1836-7, had 200 inhabitants. It was named after Elgin, Scotland, its first settlers
being natives of the latter city.
Abraham Lincoln was one of the
whig presidential electors in 1840. The party's motto at that time was: "One presidential term - the
integrity of public servants - the safety of the public money - the general good of the people.
Wilmington was originally named
Winchester. It was laid out in 1836, and in 1840 had a population of 100. -- Correspondent Chicago Journal
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A SHORT HISTORY ON THE EARLY
BAPTISTS IN ILLINOIS
©Illinois Trails History and
BAPTISTS. The first Baptist
minister to settle in Illinois was Elder James Smith, who located at New Design, in 1787. He was followed, about
1796-97, by Revs. David Badgley and Joseph Chance, who organized the first Baptist church within the limits of
the State. Five churches, having four ministers and 111 members, formed an association in 1807. Several causes,
among them a difference of views on the slavery question, resulted in the division, of the denomination into factions.
Of these perhaps the most numerous was the Regular (or Missionary) Baptists, at the head of which was Rev. John
M. Peck, a resident of the State from 1822 until his death (1858). By 1835 the sect had grown, until it had some
250 churches, with about 7,500 members. These were under the ecclesiastical care of twenty-two Associations. Rev.
Isaac McCoy, a Baptist Indian missionary, preached at Fort Dearborn on Oct. 9, 1825, and, eight years later, Rev.
Allen B. Freeman organized the first Baptist society in what was then an infant settlement. By 1890 the number
of Associations had grown to forty, with 1010 churches, 891 ministers and 88,884 members. A Baptist Theological
Seminary was for some time supported at Morgan Park, but, in 1895, was absorbed by the University of Chicago, becoming
the divinity school of that institution. The chief organ of the denomination in Illinois is "The Standard."
published at Chicago.
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Illinois Trails Page