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Chapter 4
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Chapter 4
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DURING the time we were at lodgings we had felt ourselves dependent, and looked forward with anxious expec­tation to the time when we might again taste the sweets and independence of home, and those enjoyments which are only to be ex­pected at one's own fireside. That period had now arrived. We had indeed a house such as I have already described, but we had no furniture except two large boxes, two beds, and a few pots and cooking utensils; besides, our provisions were just finished. Till this time we had been using principally the remains of biscuits, &c., purchased at New Orleans. The first wants of nature must be first attended to: whether we had a chair to sit on or not, something to eat we must have. Our nearest neighbour lived about half-a-mile from us, and we were at least two miles and a-half from any place at which flour was sold; thither, however, my husband went, and as our money was grow­ing scarce, he bought a bushel of ground In­dian corn, which was only one-third the price of wheaten flour; it was there sold for thirty cents a bushel. Its taste is not pleasant to
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persons unaccustomed to it; but as it is wholesome food, it is much used for mak­ing bread. We had now some meal, but no yeast, nor an oven; we were therefore obliged to make sad paste, and bake it in our frying pan on some hot ashes. We procured a little milk of our nearest neighbour, Mr. Paddock, which, on account of the severe frosts that prevail in Illinois, we generally received in lumps of ice.
Thus we lived the first few weeks at our new estate. Hasty pudding, sad bread, and a little venison which we had left, were our ordinary food. The greater part of my hus­band's time was spent in cutting and pre­paring wood for our fires. About this time we made further purchases of a cow and calf, for which we paid fourteen dollars, a young mare, which cost us twenty dollars, two pigs, and a shallow flat-bottomed iron pan, with a cover to it, to bake in. This is the common, and indeed almost the only kind of oven used in Illinois. It is vulgarly called a skellit. To make it hot it is im­mersed in glowing embers, the lid is then removed till the dough is put in; it is then replaced and ashes again thrown over it, till the cake is baked. Hence it will be perceived that a quantity of bread beforehand is un­known in Illinois: their custom is to bake a
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cake to each meal, which is generally very good; eggs and milk being so plentiful, are regularly used in their bread, along with a little celeratus to lighten it, whereby it be­comes very rich and nutritive.
The Illinois settlers live somewhat differ­ently from the English peasantry; the former have only three meals a-day, and not much variety in them: bread, butter, coffee, and bacon, are always brought to the table, but fresh meat is a rarity, and is never obtained as in England by going to a butcher for it. In Illinois the farmers all kill their own cat­tle, and salt what is not used immediately; sometimes, however, they distribute por­tions among their neighbours, with the view of receiving as much again when they kill theirs. It is by no means uncommon for an old settler to have a couple of fowls, ducks, a goose, or a turkey to dinner; and, generally speaking, everybody has plenty of plain good food. [The object contemplated in this work requires that I should occasionally leave my own history, to render more complete the information I have to impart; I hope, there­fore, the reader will not think me incoherent. To proceed:! we bought the live stock above described of Mr. Oakes, and as it was winter, we wanted something with which to feed them. Indian corn is nearly the only winter
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food used in Illinois; and as the culture and management of it occupy a great portion of the farmer's time and industry, it may be not out of place to explain the method of cultivating it: the land intended for Indian corn should be ploughed and harrowed once or twice to make the earth loose and mellow, that the roots may strike with greater free­dom; furrows are then made at the distance of about a yard from each other: these are afterwards crossed by other furrows made at right angles to the first, and about the same distance apart; by this means the field appears divided into numberless little square portions, each somewhat less than a square yard as if hollowed at the centre; into each of these crossings four seeds are thrown, and slightly covered with a hoe; this is done in the beginning of March, and after the young blades make their appearance the plough is occasionally drawn along between the rows, for the purpose of checking weeds and keep­ing the mould as light as possible; as these groups of plants are so far apart, kidney beans, melons, and pumpkins are frequently sown among them, for which the strong stems of the corn are excellent supports. Indian corn usually ripens about the be­ginning of October, and is of an immense produce. There are commonly four or five
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ears to each stem, each ear having from five hundred to a thousand grains in it.1 As the ears ripen they gradually assume a pendent form, and are in that position severally over­hung with the leaves of the plant, which form a sort of sheath, securely protecting them from rain; in this manner, when prop­erly ripened, it will remain in perfect safety all winter uncut; and it is by no means un­common to sow the land with wheat before the corn crop is all removed. It is not always allowed to ripen; part of the crop is often cut, when the corn is about half-fed, which being dried in the sun, the stem and leaves make excellent hay; in this state it is both hay and corn, and is in fact the only hay the farmer preserves for winter, of which he makes small stacks of a peculiar construc­tion, so as not to require thatching. Noth­ing can be more beautiful than a field of Indian corn in full blossom, and perhaps
1It seems probable that Edward Burlend, who never saw America, misunderstood what his mother actually told him concerning the corn crop. A yield of four or five ears of corn to a single stalk is so uncommon that the Editor, who grew up on an Iowa farm cannot re­member ever having seen a single example. The Illinois River bottom land is very rich and still produces splen­did crops of corn, but the statement that a yield of four or five ears to the stalk was common, even a century ago, is evidently erroneous.
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nothing in nature displays the munificence of Providence more strikingly than this match­less plant. In order to supply our cattle with winter meat, we applied to Mr. Paddock, our nearest neighbour, who sold us part of a field unreaped; some of it we cut down and took home, the rest we allowed to stand and turned our cattle to it. The reader may think it strange that we should turn cattle into the fields in the depth of winter, especially as the winters are there more severe than in England; it is however the regular custom: the cattle are inured to it, as they are never kept up any part of the year, either day or night. The two pigs we had bought we were obliged to kill shortly after we purchased them, as we wanted them for our own use, and we wished to spare the small stock of Indian corn we had on hand. The reader must also know our money was nearly done: I believe we had not more than four or five dollars re­maining; part of it we were obliged to spend in sulphur, to cure what is called the Illinois mange, from which we were all suffering.
This complaint invariably attacks new set­tlers, shortly after their arrival, and is a com­plete scourge until it is removed. The body breaks out all over in little spots, attended with intolerable itching. It is generally at­tributed to the change of water, but as theirs
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possesses no peculiarity of taste, I cannot understand how that can be the cause. We were soon cured after using the sulphur, and never felt anything more of it.1
It has already been said that when we en­tered our house we had no furniture; this in­convenience my husband, although no joiner, had undertaken to remove, by making for himself and me each a stool, and a low bench for our children, or more properly a log of wood, squared and laid across the hearth for a seat. He had also contrived to make a table, which if not as neat as those used in England, was quite as substantial: having met with a section of a strong tree about two feet long, he rolled it into the house, and set it upon its end; had it been a little longer, its
1The "Illinois Mange," a well-known pioneer afflic­tion, as the name itself indicates, seems not to trouble present-day denizens of Pike County. Mr. Francis Alien, a grandson of our author and now eighty years of age, who has lived his entire life in the county, in­formed the Editor that he had never heard of the dis­ease. Jess M.Thompson, however, local historian (and a great-grandson of Mrs. Burlend) is familiar with its early-day prevalence in the county. He relates that local opinion attributed its occurrence to the rotting of plowed-under vegetation. Another theory attributed its ravages to the decayed fish which perished with the drying-up of ponds along the river bottoms. At Atlas, Pike County, the disease assumed the proportions of an epidemic in 1821, when many of the settlers died from it.
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upper surface would have been just what we wanted; we however nailed a few boards upon it, making them fat as well as we could, and having covered it with a cloth to conceal its roughness, it was far from being con­temptible, at least for persons like us, who had been some days without any. As to bedsteads, we were a few weeks before we got any; of course we had them to make our­selves, and as we were ill furnished with tools and unaccustomed to such employ­ment, when they were finished they served rather to shew how little ornament is abso­lutely necessary, than our skill as expert car­penters.
Hitherto the light of the fire had served us instead of a candle, which was very incon­venient, as I wished to sew a little in the eve­nings. It is certainly true that days are never so short as in England, nevertheless we were very wishful to have some candles. The inhabitants commonly make their own, in tin moulds; but as we had neither moulds nor tallow, we were obliged to put a little lard into a saucer, and light a piece of rag previously inserted in it; by this we could see to sew and read pretty well; but as the rag frequently got immersed in the melted lard it was very troublesome, and by constant use we had three or four saucers broken with

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the heat, a circumstance much to be re­gretted, as pots of all kinds are dear in Illi­nois. To prevent a recurrence of this misfor­tune we ultimately made use of our kettle lid, inserting the knob or holder into a piece of board to make it stand.
Our next great inconvenience was want of soap: having however learnt from Mrs. Phil­lips the method of making it, we were by this time in a state of readiness for supplying our­selves. The reader will remember we had before this time killed two pigs, the entrails of which we had cleaned and preserved, along with the bits of offal, rendering, scraps, &c., and now the finest of our ashes were collected and put into a large wooden trough, and boiling water poured over them, whence we obtained a strong solution of potash, which we poured off and boiled down; fresh ashes were then used as before, and a fresh solution obtained; the whole was next boiled down to about one third of the original quan­tity, by which means the solution became so caustic, that it would have taken the skin off one's fingers in a moment. In this state the waste meat and entrails were mixed with it, which it very soon assimilated. After it had obtained the consistency of soft soap, it was poured into a vessel appropriated for the purpose, to be ready for use.
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This is the manner the American peas­antry supply themselves with soap. Their practice of burning wood furnishes them with potash, which they saturate with other ingredients as above described. Since we were thus obliged to provide necessaries for ourselves in a manner very different from that to which we had been accustomed in England, it may be asked if there are no shops in that country. Illinois, it must be known, is very thinly populated, and on that account it is not the situation for shopkeep­ers. There are, however, in various places, what are termed store keepers, who supply the settlers with articles the most needed, such as food, clothing, implements of hus­bandry, medicine, and spirituous liquors: for which they receive in exchange the produce of their farms, consisting of wheat, Indian corn, sugar, beef, bacon, &c. As these store­keepers exercise a sort of monopoly over a certain district, their profits are great, and they often become wealthy. Besides their store, they often have a saw-mill and a corn-mill, at which they grind the corn they ob­tain from the farmers, for the purpose of sending it to New Orleans, or some other place where it can be readily sold. Stores therefore are in Illinois, nearly what markets are in England, only there is more barter in

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the former country. The mills in that neigh­bourhood are chiefly turned by water.
We were destined to be unfortunate with the young mare we had purchased of Mr. Oakes. Having been accustomed to run in the fields with other horses, she would not settle with our cow and calf. Every day she was lost; no fences could turn her. We were therefore obliged to sell her, or rather ex­change for one not near so good; only she was expected to have a foal the following spring. Shortly after we had parted with the young mare, my husband found two strange horses in the field feeding upon our corn, he turned them out and returned home. On going to the field again they were there a second time; he felt assured some one had turned them in, as the fences were all good. The next morning explained the circum­stance, for the horses being in the field as before, he was about to drive them out, when a tall man hastened towards him, and bade him desist, telling him that the horses were his and he intended them to be there. My husband remonstrated with him on the in­justice of such behaviour, and persevered in his attempts to drive them out; at which the person, whose name was Brevet, went up to him, and struck him a blow on the forehead with his fist, and threatened further violence
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if he did not allow them to remain. Seeing that physical force was the only available argument, my husband began to prepare for resistance; but calling to mind the situation of his family, and not knowing what perfidy might be resorted to, he wisely concluded to leave the man and his horses where they were. I mention this circumstance princi­pally to shew how much we were indebted to an over-ruling Providence for the preserva­tion of my husband's life on this occasion. We afterwards learnt that Brevet was a pest to the neighbourhood, and that he had told one of his acquaintances of this interview, and declared he would have stabbed my partner with a large dirk which he always carried with him, if he had resisted. In a short time afterwards he left the neighbour­hood, dreaded or detested by all who knew him.
We have already seen that considerable labour is required to prepare fuel, as a good fire in America is essential during the winter season. The frosts are intensely keen, a wide river is sometimes iced over in a single night, so as to be unnavigable. Every thing of a fluid nature, exposed to the weather, is formed into a solid. For two or three months the milk freezing as soon as it is taken from the cows, affords no cream, consequently no
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butter. It is nevertheless possible to obtain butter, by keeping the churn near the fire, and churning cream and milk both together; but as this method is exceedingly trouble­some it is seldom practised. The nights in winter are at once inexpressibly cold, and poetically fine. The sky is almost invariably clear, and the stars shine with a brilliancy entirely unknown in the humid atmosphere of England. Cold as it was, often did I, dur­ing the first winter, stand at the door of our cabin, admiring their lustre and listening to the wolves, whose howlings, among the leaf­less woods at this season, are almost unceas­ing. These animals are numerous in Amer­ica; and, unless the sheep be regularly folded, their depredations are extensively injurious, as they lacerate the throats of nearly all the flock; sometimes also they will seize young pigs, but as they fear the old ones, unless they are impelled by hunger, these animals are not in much danger. The timid submis­sive sheep is always their favourite prey.
The reader will perceive we had not much intercourse with the rest of the world. For a while no one seemed to notice us, except Mr. B., our neighbour Mr. Paddock, and one Mr. Burns, who lived about two miles off, (all are Misters in America.) But indeed the villainous conduct of Mr. Brevet had
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made us so suspicious, that we scarcely knew whether to wish for an increased circle of acquaintance, or entire seclusion. One thing was very afflictive, our being deprived of Christian Sabbath ordinances. We always honoured that day, by abstaining from our accustomed labour; we read our Bible, and meditated thereon: but Sabbath after Sab­bath passed away without our once being able to assemble with those who 'keep holy day,' or in the great congregation to unite our tribute of praise, with the aspirations of those whose sentiments are 'how amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord of- Hosts!' At this time we were five miles from any place where public worship was regularly con­ducted; subsequently preaching-houses much nearer were opened, the character of which will be noticed in its proper place.
The motives which occasioned this work to be written require that a strict regard to truth be maintained; and, in matters of fact, that nothing be introduced calculated to mislead, either by deterring or alluring; this rule has hitherto been carefully observed. Am I then asked if we thus far were satisfied with the step we had taken, my answer is, we regretted it very much. We had indeed plenty of corn-bread and milk, but neither beer nor tea; coffee was our chief beverage,

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which we used very sparingly, for want of money. All the water we wanted we had to thaw, and during the nights, on account of the severe frosts, we were very cold indeed; although we always kept the fire burning. Our bed-clothes we had taken with us from England, and we were unable to procure any more, as they were dear, and our means almost exhausted. We had indeed some good land, but it was nearly all uncultivated, and we had nothing to sell except our cattle, which we wanted. The only ground of hope we had was in our industry and persever­ance. My husband worked very hard; the little time we had to spare, after feeding the cattle and procuring fuel, was spent in split­ting trees to make rails. All the fences here are made of rails, there are no thorns in the neighbourhood. The method of fencing is peculiar: they use no posts; but having pre­pared their rails, they lay one down on the ground, where they wish to make a fence; not precisely in the same direction as the line of their intended fence, but making a small angle with it. Another rail is then laid down with its end overreaching the first, with which it forms a cross like the letter X, only instead of the crossing being at the centre, it is near the end of each rail. A third is then made to cross the second as before, and so on
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to an indefinite length. On each side of these several crossings a stake is driven into the ground to prevent their being removed. Other rails are then placed upon these, cross­ing each other in a similar manner, till the fence is as high as it is required. Generally they are about nine rails high. From the description here given, the reader will per­ceive that the fences are not straight as in England, but in a continued zig-zag. The reason for this difference is, timber and land are of comparatively little value in America, while their method requires less labour than ours.
In this manner we spent our first winter; we had plenty of work; our amusements even tended to advantage. Great numbers of quails frequented our home-stead to feed on our small stock of Indian corn; we caught several of them with snares, which were ex­cellent eating. My husband also shot a few rabbits, of which there are vast numbers in America. We likewise saw several deer, but as we had no rifle, we could not kill any. We observed several kinds of birds, which we had not before seen, one in particular, which we took to be a species of turkey, engaged our attention; my husband tried several times to kill one, without effect. One Satur­day, however, he was successful, and brought
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home his game with as much apparent con­sciousness of triumph, as if he had slain some champion hydra of the forest. The following day we expected Mr. B., who by this time had received his money, to dine with us. We accordingly dressed our bird, and congratu­lated ourselves with the idea of having our countryman to dine with us on a fine boiled turkey. Sunday morning arrived, and in due time our turkey was in the pot boiling for dinner. Mr. B. came; we told him how happy we were on account of the treat we were going to give him. He was surprised at our story, as those birds are difficult to obtain with a common fowling-piece, and de­sired to see the feet and head. But the mo­ment he saw them, he exclaimed 'it's a buz­zard,' a bird which, we subsequently learnt, gormandizes any kind of filth or carrion, and consequently is not fit to be eaten. We were sorely disappointed; our turkey was hoisted into the yard, and we were obliged to be con­tented with a little bacon, and a coarse In­dian corn pudding, for which our stomachs were not altogether unprepared, although recently in anticipation of more sumptuous fare. The reader may think we were stupid not to know a turkey; the bird in question is very much like one, and indeed on that ac­count is called in Illinois a turkey-buzzard.
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As spring approached we felt some symp­toms of those hopes which had animated us in England with reference to our success as emigrants. Man's career in prospective is always brilliant; and it is providentially or­dered that it should be so. Could we have foreseen our destiny, the prospect would have thrown us into despair. It would have robbed us of much present enjoyment, and unfitted our minds for the difficulties with which we had to struggle. I am, however, anticipating my history. The symptoms to which I referred originated with the idea of being the cultivators of our own land. How those prospects were realized, the sequel will explain. By the beginning of March our Indian corn was done, and it had served so long only through the greatest care. There was however by this time a little fresh grass in the woods, to which we were very glad to turn our little stock, consisting as before stated of a cow and calf, and a mare near foaling. As this method of summering cattle in America is peculiar to that country, and affords to the farmer considerable advan­tages, I shall endeavour to be explicit in the account of it, which I am about to give. I must then premise that all unenclosed lands, whether purchased of government or other­wise, are considered common pasturage; and
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as there are in Illinois thousands of acres in that state, any person can keep as many cattle during summer as he chooses. They are turned out at spring, and thus run where they please. A person unacquainted with these habits would naturally be afraid of losing them in such immeasurable regions. This, however, seldom happens. There are few animals having a sufficiency of food that are fond of ranging over strange domains. Even in this country we observe foxes and hares to have their favourite haunts, from which it is difficult to break them. Domesti­cated animals manifest this principle of at­tachment still more strongly. Hence no American farmer, having his cattle on the range, would fear being able to find them in a few hours; and indeed a person unac­quainted with the haunts of any certain herd, would most probably go directly to­wards them. Rivers and smaller streams have certainly some confining influence, but independent of that, their habits are to fre­quent those situations only to which they are accustomed. In that country cattle have a great liking for salt, and indeed it seems essential to their health, particularly in sum­mer. An English farmer would smile to see a herd of cattle contending with each other over a few handfuls of dry salt which had
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been thrown on the floor for them. This is seen every day in America. The milch cows require more of it than the rest, and unless they are regularly served with it, their milk becomes unpleasant. This induces them to come to their stand to be milked twice-a-day. Oxen and heifers will take no harm if they have a little twice-a-week, or even not so often. Where so many different herds of cattle run at large, there is a greater danger of their intermixing than of their being lost. To prevent this, great care is taken by each grazier at the spring to mark his own. Some cut their ears in various ways. Others burn certain marks on their horns with a hot iron. There is not, however, much confusion. The cattle which have been fed together during winter, most generally associate with each other in summer; all having an unaccount­able attachment to the master beast of the herd, apparently considering his presence a source of protection or honour. For this rea­son the owner usually suspends a bell round this animal's neck, which enables him to find his cattle with greater ease. Hence the phrase, 'bear the bell,' is common even in this country. In this manner the cattle graze during summer, and when the pastur­age fails, they cease to range; but besetting their master's cabin with incessant lowings
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remind him that winter is approaching, and that their claims to his bounty deserve at­tention, and must have it. At this time if any strange cattle have joined the herd, the law requires that the farmer cause them to be valued, and their mark to be taken down and sent to four of the nearest mills for pub­licity; if they are not owned within a year they belong to the herd.
I must now leave our small herd of cattle running in the woods, to acquaint the reader with our first summer's performances and success. The first fruits of our industry were derived from our sugar orchard, the care of which devolved principally on me. We were in want of nearly all kinds of implements of husbandry, without the means of procuring them, except by running into debt, a prac­tice which we felt reluctant to adopt. Our sugar trees therefore at this time afforded us a seasonable boon. The weather was favour­able, and by hard working we made nearly three hundred weight, besides a barrel of molasses. We disposed of the greater part of it to a store-keeper named Mr. Varley, at the rate of seven or eight cents per pound. It must not be understood that we got money for it. Business is seldom transacted after that manner in Illinois. My meaning is we were allowed to take anything we wanted
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from the store by paying for it with sugar at the above rate. Our first care was to have some Indian corn for seed, and some more meal for our own use, which at that time we wanted. We likewise obtained a little coffee, two or three hoes, and a Yankee axe, which is much larger and broader than the one used in this country, and better adapted for the every-day business of hewing large blocks of timber for fuel and other purposes. And now, kind reader, if thou hast any in­tentions of being an emigrant, I cordially wish thee success; but before thou forsakest the endearments of thy present home, con­sider the situation in which we were placed with a helpless family dependent upon us. Thou hast seen us expend our little money with the utmost frugality; thou art ac­quainted with our possessions, real and per­sonal. It was now the middle of March, when Indian corn, the most useful produce of that country, must be sown, or the season would be past. We had land and seed, but no plough, nor any team, except an old mare, that we feared would scarcely live while she foaled, and consequently we could not yoke her. What could we do ? If we did not sow we could not reap; we should have nothing to feed our cattle with the ensuing winter. Labor omnia vincit was our motto. We set
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to work with our hoes; I, husband, and son, the latter under ten years of age, and day after day, for three successive weeks, did we toil with unwearied diligence till we had sown and covered in nearly four acres. We should probably have sown more, had not the rains which fall in torrents at this season prevented us. Whilst referring to the weather, it will be proper to observe that during the month of April in Illinois, a great quantity of rain usually falls, accompanied almost invariably with thunder storms of a most awful character. A person who has lived only in England can have but an im­perfect conception of these electrical phe­nomena. They happen most frequently in the night, which considerably increases their power of striking terror through the most intrepid bosom. The weather is at this time close and sultry, and as the sun declines the sky becomes gradually overcast; midnight arrives, a pitchy darkness overhangs the earth; by and by the wind begins to roar in the trees, and the hoarse thunder in the dis­tance announces the coming of the storm. As it approaches the thunder claps wax louder and louder, while the lightning be­gins to play across the gloomy firmament, in a most awful and terrific manner. Every moment the voice of the thunder acquires
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additional compass, never ceasing even for a moment; but before one peal has well broken on the ear, it is drowned by another still more tremendous and loud. The lightning is even more overpowering than the thunder. One moment all is in obscurity, a second the heavens seem rent asunder, the bright blue lightning dancing in all directions with a frightful and deadly velocity; meanwhile the rain descends in torrents, threatening to sweep away the foundation of the dwelling. The length of time these storms continue is generally about an hour. The first I wit­nessed made an impression on my mind that will never be forgotten; my senses were com­pletely disordered: I became alarmed at the slightest noise, and for a while felt more afraid of a thunder storm than of any calam­ity which appeared in the power of misfor­tune to inflict upon me. Probably my late anxieties and bereavement preying on my mind had indisposed my nerves for such phenomena, at once terrific, awful, and sub­lime. But whatever was the cause, I have great pleasure in stating that I soon got the better of my timidity. Trees have frequently been struck near our house, but hitherto no accident has befallen us. We now con­sider these storms rather as annoying than dangerous; one reason perhaps is that a
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dry log house is a bad conductor of the electric fluid.
About this time we were sorely tormented with another scourge, which unlike the one just noticed, possessed exceedingly little of a poetical or sublime character. It certainly operated on the nerves powerfully enough, but that in a manner rather calculated to move the lower than the more elevated pas­sions of our nature. I refer to the musqui-toes; swarms of which infest that country during spring and autumn, much to the annoyance of its inhabitants. This trouble­some insect is not unlike the gnat, which in this country so often terminates its existence by flying into the candle. Its bite is slightly venomous, causing small blisters somewhat like those occasioned by the sting of a nettle, only the pain attending it is more acute. They are the most numerous in low situa­tions, or among thick woods where the heat is less oppressive. This insect cannot bear great heats, and on that account is never seen during the hottest weather, except in very shady places. It is always most trouble­some in the nights; and as it makes a con­stant humming when it flies, it is a most noisy as well as a most unwelcome guest in a lodging room. I do assure the reader I have lain for hours together with a handkerchief
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in my hand, fanning them from my face, when a little sleep would have been a more seasonable relaxation. Various methods are practised to drive them off or avoid them. We frequently made a fire at the door, and covered it with green leaves to make as much smoke as possible, and thereby to banish them from the neighbourhood; but the mo­ment the smoke was dissipated they again made their appearance as numerous as flies in England on a summer day. Many persons make what are termed musquito hangings for their beds; these are constructed of laths strung together so closely as not to allow a space for them to pass through. They sel­dom are seen on the prairies, or indeed in any place remote from thick shady woods; thus some of our neighbours have been quite free from them, while we were tor­tured incessantly. We however had the ad­vantage of being near fuel, a consideration of great importance in that country, espe­cially as the soil of wood land is always more valuable than that of the prairies, and when cleared is likewise free from mus-quitoes.
Having referred to the prairies, it may perhaps be necessary to be a little more ex­plicit. Many persons in England have a wrong idea of the uncultivated lands in
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America, imagining they are all wood. This is by no means the case. In Illinois there are thousands of acres with not a tree upon it, but covered with a sort of strong wild grass, growing sometimes three or four feet high. These lands are termed prairies, and require only to be broken up with a prairie plough, and they become at once fine arable land. As I before intimated, this kind of land, though the soonest cultivated,, is not the most productive being, as the farmers term it, of a stronger quality than the other. The soil of both prairies and woodland is quite black, probably owing to the vegetable mat­ter, which for ages has decayed thereon. At the season of the year now under notice, these prairies present to the eye a most charming appearance. Let the reader im­agine himself by the side of a rich meadow, or fine grass plain several miles in diameter, decked with myriads of flowers of a most gorgeous and varied description, and he will have before his mind a pretty correct rep­resentation of one of these prairies. Noth­ing can surpass in richness of colour, or beauty of formation many of the flowers which are found in the most liberal profu­sion on these extensive and untrodden wilds. The naturalist would here meet with abun­dance of materials for his genius to arrange,
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while the poet, reminded of his elegies, would perceive how—
"Many a. flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
In contrasting the hues of flowers grown in America with those in England, I must ac­knowledge that the former country presents the more splendid; but if they are superior in colour, they are much inferior in odour. Per­haps the superabundance of light and heat, which produces such fine colour, is prejudi­cial to the production of odoriferous plants, as any thing at all approaching the fragrance of the honey suckle or sweet briar, I never witnessed in America. In the woody dis­tricts, the trees most commonly met with are the oak, ichory, walnut and sugar maple, besides a great deal of underwood and wild fruit trees of the plum family. As all these grow in a wild state, it is not to be supposed that the trees are as numerous as they are in the plantations of this country. The strong timber trees grow at various distances from each other, sometimes being as near to each other as they can possibly grow, at others twenty or thirty yards apart. They not only vary considerably in this respect, but also in magnitude and age. Not a few are to be found in the last stage of decay, their patri­archal dignity gradually submitting to the
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all-subduing influence of time. Numbers more are quite hollow, in which bees, owls, and rabbits severally find shelter and propa­gate their species. Every thing here bears the mark of ancient undisturbed repose. The golden age still appears, and when the woodman with his axe enters these territories for the first time, he cannot resist the impres­sion that he is about to commit a trespass on the virgin loveliness of nature, that he is go­ing to bring into captivity what has been free for centuries.
In resuming the thread of my narrative, I have to state, that as soon as we had sown our Indian corn, and planted a few potatoes, we began to prepare for taking in more land, although we had four or five acres unsown of that which Mr. Oakes had broken up. We hoped, nevertheless, that before another sea­son we should be able to plough and sow in a regular manner. Accordingly my husband worked hard every day with his grubbing hoe and axe, tearing up the roots of under­wood and cutting down some of the largest trees. When trees are cut down in America, as little regard is paid to the timber, they do not cut them off level with the ground as in England, but about three feet from it. The remaining part is burnt after it has been ex­posed to the sun's rays a few months. Many
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trees however are allowed to remain stand­ing, after the bark has been cut, to cause them to die. In this state they remain even after the land is sown, for, being destitute of foliage, they do no harm to the crop.
While my husband was thus engaged I frequently went to him, and, assisted by our little boy, gathered the most portable pieces of brushwood, and took them to our cabin to be ready for fuel; thus, by continued exer­tions, we had cleared three or four acres by the end of May, and made a fence half round the piece we intended to enclose as our next field, consisting of about eight acres. Before this time our old mare had foaled, and as we partly expected, .only survived that event a few weeks. Near our house there is a sort of rivulet, termed in Illinois a branch, in which one Sunday evening, after we had walked ten miles in going to and from the chapel, we found her laid; we got her out with the help of a rope, and after a while she appeared little worse; a week or two afterwards, how­ever, her foal came by itself neighing to our door; we were immediately assured that something had befallen its mother, and set out in search of her, whither the foal, going before, led us as naturally as if it had been endowed with reason; she had again fallen into the branch, and was quite dead. The
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foal, notwithstanding its loss, throve very well, and subsequently became a very valuable brood mare.
In the month of June, notwithstanding our economy, we were obliged to purchase some meal on credit. Mr. Varley, the store-keeper, very willingly allowed us to have as much as we wanted, and indeed offered to sell us anything else on the same terms. His miller, however, as soon as he knew we were not giving ready money, only partly filled the bushel, thereby making it dearer to us than before, and we dared not complain to his master for fear he should refuse it altogether. The debt we contracted was very small, - not a dollar – for which we had bread for the family not less than six weeks; the expiration of which brings us to the end of our first wheat harvest, a season conspicuous in my history on account of the severe trials I then experienced.
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Submitted: 02/03/08 (Edited 02/03/08)

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