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Publishers Preface
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Publishers Preface
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Publishers Preface

THE contents of this year's volume of The Lakeside Classics is not another song of "arms and men." The many preceding volumes relating hair-raising con­flicts with the Indians and the fortitude of the frontiersmen in the face of death from starvation and thirst have established an expectancy that the subject matter of the series must have a wild west flavor. This volume, however, moves in a more quiet tempo. It is the story of a woman, who, with her husband and three children, emigrated from England in 1831 to settle in the wilds of western Illinois. It is probably typical of the story of hundreds of thousands of other women who likewise followed their hus­bands to the new world in order that they might improve their own condition and that of their children; women who accepted the privations and difficulties of the joint ven­ture valiantly and who, when crushing disap­pointments came, with brave hearts brought renewed courage to their husbands to fight through. One cannot read this simple story without realizing that these pioneer women
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did their full share in conquering the new world, nor can the thought escape one that these early farmers were of that sturdy stuff that accepted the challenge of Nature and conquered her, without the help of modern machinery, transportation, and markets, and the coddling of an indulgent government.
"A True Picture of Emigration, or Four­teen Years in the Interior of North Amer­ica" was published in England in 1848. It was an insignificant pamphlet of four by seven inches, of 62 pages, printed in small type, bound in paper, and selling for 6d. It has been included for many years in the vari­ous bibliographies of early American history, but being published anonymously it was so described. The pamphlet was recommended to the publishers by Mr. Oliver R. Barrett of Kenilworth, Illinois, a life-time collector of rare books, to whom it had long been a favor­ite. The publishers are also indebted to Mr. Barrett for the identity of the author, the discovery of which is a pleasant story of a book collector's enthusiasm. Born in Pike County, Illinois, Mr. Barrett was familiar with the scene of this narrative and thought it possible by the study of land titles and transfers to find the name of the author. The story can best be told by the two following letters:
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March 9, 1936 Mr. Jesse M. Thompson, Pittsfield, Illinois. Dear Mr. Thompson:
I read your series of articles on Early Pike County with a great deal of interest. I hope they will continue for a long time to come. When your present material is exhausted, I think it would be worth while to reprint a part, at least, of the well written and in­teresting narrative of pioneer life in Pike County, Illinois, in 1831-1845. The title of this rare little item of Americana is:
A TRUE PICTURE
OF
EMIGRATION
OR FOURTEEN YEARS IN
THE INTERIOR OF NORTH AMERICA
BEING A FULL AND
IMPARTIAL ACCOUNT
OF THE VARIOUS
DIFFICULTIES


[Portions missing – needs to be fixed]


"Rebecca" and that was also the name of John Burlend's wife.
From the book it appears that the author left a grown daughter in England, and that in the 40'$ she returned for a visit to England and when she came back from England, her daughter and her daughter's husband came with her. That daughter may have been the Mary Burlend who married Luke Yelliott, in Yorkshire, in 1840, and soon after came to Detroit tp., where her parents lived. (See History of Pike County.)
In their old age, John and Rebecca Bur-lend lived with the Yelliotts and died aged, respectively, 87 and 77 years.
In the book it is mentioned that after coming to this country, the author had twins. If there is anything in heredity, it may be noted that the Yelliotts had two pair of twins. Another child of the Burlends was Sarah Alien, whose daughter married Sylvester Thompson. Sarah lived near De­troit and Thompson lived near Pittsfield at the time the History of Pike County was printed.
Daniel Burns, who formerly lived near Big Blue in Detroit tp., or one of his an­cestors, may have been the Burns mentioned in the book as a neighbor of the author. It may be possible to definitely establish
X

the identity of the author from the records of the real estate purchases of the husband of the pioneer author. He first bought eighty acres from a man named Oakes, which was registered in Quincy in Novem­ber, 1831. That may have been the eighty that extended to the south line of Flint tp. and was later owned by William Bur-lend. Afterwards the husband of the author purchased a larger tract nearby from Mr. Paddock. This, she says, had been reg­istered at the Land Office in Pittsfield. Later a man named Carr wrongfully pre­empted the same piece and registered it at Quincy, Illinois. This piece may have been the tract standing on the north line of Detroit tp. and later owned by William Burlend.
If the old record books are still in exist­ence, they will probably settle the question of authorship, but if not, information may be obtained from the Yelliott descendants, or perhaps Mr. Jack Murphy, of Detroit, may know something about it. If you are interested and do discover the name of the author, it would be well to advise the British Museum and the Library of Congress so they can enter it on their lists. Yours very truly,
oliver R. barrett

May 28, 1936
Mr. Guy Littell, 350 East Cermak Road, Chicago, Illinois.
Dear Guy:
I think you may safely enter the name of the author in your copy of "A True Picture of Emigration," etc., as Rebecca Burlend.
I sifted the facts from the book that might indicate the identity of the author and I searched the histories and atlases of Pike County and came to the conclusion that Re­becca Burlend was the author. I thereupon wrote Jess M. Thompson, of Pittsfield, Illi­nois, and suggested that he pursue the in­vestigation and verify it if possible. Curi­ously enough, Mr. Thompson happened to be the great grandson of the author of the book. Mr. Thompson wrote me as follows:
"Dear Mr. Barrett:
I have a letter here which reached me at the time when I was having a siege of flu, and which, it appears, has not been answered—a letter which, by the way, I read with a great deal of interest.
The little volume to which you refer, which was pub­
lished anonymously in London, was, as you guessed, the recorded experiences here in the New World of my maternal great-grandmother, Rebecca Burlend, who with her husband, John Burlend, and their five children, landed at Phillips Ferry in the year 1831, after a long
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and harrowing trip from Yorkshire to New Orleans, and thence up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
Her son, Edward Burlend, who remained in England, was a schoolmaster and the author of several volumes of both prose and poetry. His most important contri­bution to Yorkshire literature was the novel 'Amy Thorn ton.'
Rebecca Burlend's daughter, Sarah Alien, was my grandmother. Her daughter, Charlotte, married Syl­vester Thompson, they being my parents."
All of which goes to show that inves­tigation of literary problems is not only extremely interesting as a diversion but sometimes brings results.
Yours very truly,
oliver R. barrett
While this bit of early western history lacks the dramatic character of many of its predecessors, it depicts the same spirit of courage and self-reliance that permeates them all.
the publishers Christmas, 1936

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Submitted: 02/03/08 (Edited 02/03/08)

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