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D. L. Phillippi, Esq., of Anna, Union Co., in a letter dated 22d Jan., 1856, recites as proof of the facility with which a man may acquire an easy, independent competence, in Illinois, the following facts :
- Winstead Davis, Esq, à native of Tennessee, came to Jonesboro thirty years ago, without means of any kind. He has been for many years both merchant and farmer. Owns now many thousand acres of land, and has succeeded well as a merchant. Has under cultivation between 2500 and 3000 acres of land. Rent corn this year, at 10 bushels per acre, 12,000 bushels; he is supposed to be worth $300,000.
" Willis Willard, Esq., a native of Vermont, farmer and merchant, commenced in the world penniless, and was left an orphan when very young. Owns, say 10,000 acres of land-possibly much more. Has, perhaps, 2000 acres in cultivation. Is one of the heaviest dry goods dealers in the southern half of the State, and is estimated to be worth $250,000 or $300,000. Mr. Willard came to Jonesboro when a small lad.
“ Jacob Randleman, farmer and tanner, a native of North Carolina, came to Union County when quite young; commenced poor; has now some 500 acres of land in cultivation; sold during the past year his crop of wheat to Messrs. Bennett & Scott, the amount was 3000 bushels, for which he received nearly $4000. Has on hand now, for sale, 4000 bushels of corn. Has always been healthy, and has raised a large family of healthy children."
To this he adds :
"Hundreds of other men might be named, who have succeeded well on a smaller scale, who commenced here without a dollar."
Jas. Philipps, Esq., of Nashville, Washington Co., in a letter dated Dec. 26, 1855, states the following instances, in which men acquired wealth by agricultural pursuits, in Illinois :
“There is Mr. K- , who came here a poor adventurer, with nothing of this world's goods; he went to farming, continued it assiduously, turning his farm produce into stock, his stock into cash, and his cash into lands. He is now worth about fifty thousand dollars.
"A son of the preceding commenced about ten years ago, doing business for himself. He had about one thousand dollars to start with, and has gone on increasing his wealth at the rate of a thousand a year. This was done exclusively by farming.
Colonel P- came here as one of the early pioneers of this country, went to tilling the land, and followed it up to the present time, engaging in nothing else; he is now worth about twenty thousand, having begun with less than one hundred dollars.” He adds: “ These are a few of many that might be cited. Dne remark about this country; one fair crop of any of the usual grains grown here, is worth, when harvested, what the land will cost; so that an emigrant san easily calculate what he can do on an average. Thus, if he can plant and till one hundred acres of land by putting in corn or wheat, ho can pretty safely estimate that when he threshes his wheat, or cribs his curn, it will be worth the prime cost of his one hundred acres of land. This is not all; for when his land is ploughed and fenced, it is worth double what it was before subjugation.""
The “ Prairie Farmer," of May 6th, 1856, says: “A farmer in Morgan County, sold last year, $60,000 worth of cattle, at a very handsome profit.” .
Jno. S. Barger, Esq., in his above mentioned letter, states as proof how easily fortunes are made here, the following facts :
“I will now give you a concise history of the operations of Mr. Funk. Both before and since his marriage he had made rails for his neighbors, at twentyfive cents per hundred. But when the lands where he lived came into market, 25 years ago, he had saved of his five years' earnings $1400, and says if he had invested it all in lands, he would now have been rich. With $200 he bought his first quarter-section, and loaned to his neighbors $800 to buy their homes; and with the remaining $400 he purchased a lot of cattle. With this beginning, Mr. Funk now owns 7000 acres of land, has near 2700 in cultivation, and his last year's sale of cattle and hogs, at the Chicago market, amounted to a little over $44,000.
“Mr. Isaac Funk, of Funk's Grove, nine miles distant from his brother Jesse, and ten miles northwest from Bloomington, on the Mississippi and Chicago Railroad, began the world in Illinois, at the same time, having a little the advantage of Jesse, so far as having a little borrowed capital. He now owns about 27,000 acres of land, has about 4000 acres in cultivation, and his last sales of cattle amounted to $65,000.”
We do not consider it a matter of any importance, that there exist such rich men in Illinois as the Funks: for wealth may be inherited, and fast by the most magnificent wealth the most squalid poverty may drop her bitter tears; but we consider it a matter of no small moment, that the Funks have risen to their present condition from that of humble day-laborers; that they acquired this enormous amount of property in Illinois, and that all those willing to devote themselves to agriculture, can easily acquire wealth and independence in Illinois. Illinois is the paradise of the farmer; we have above stated several instances, in which the purchase-money was either wholly, or almost wholly, repaid by the produce of the first harvest. These are not such rare occurrences as will only happen under the most favorable circumstances, but it is the usual course of development, as it is conditioned by the state of affairs in the country; whoever would take the trouble of travelling through Illinois, in order to collect such instances, would have to register thousands of such cases.
After having thus presented to the eyes of our readers various calculations of the average yield of an Illinoisian farm, we cannot conclude this present chapter without having submitted to him also a very interesting parallel between the profitableness of rural economy in Illinois on the one hand, and that of husbandry in other Western States, on the other. This parallel is thus drawn up in a little interesting pamphlet just published by A. Campbell, Esq., of La Salle, entitled “A Glance at Illinois.”
“Now if the following plan were adopted, it would probably be as profitable a division as could be made for farming purposes, and would suit the means and views of a majority of farmers, as well as any other which could be made : --Say with a farm of 160 acres, you appropriate 40 acres to buildings, orchards, and pasture grounds; upon which also may be raised the vegetables for the family, and a portion of the provender for the stock; 20 acres for mowing; 30 acres for wheat, and 70 acres for corn.
“We will assume that the wheat and corn crops are the only ones of which the farmer will have any surplus. This may of course be varied to suit the views and circumstances of the cultivator, but will not materially affect the general result. With fair farming, 20 bushels of wheat to the acre is not too large an estimate, nor are 50 bushels of corn by any means a large average yield upon our rich prairie lands. Therefore, assuming the above to be a fair estimate of the yield, we have
30 acres of wheat, at 20 bushels per acre= 600 bushels. 70 acres of corn, at 50 bushels per acre = 3500 bushels.
“ Now if you retain 200 bushels of wheat, for seed and family use, and 900 bushels of corn, for working stock, and fattening animals for family use, both of which allowances are, undoubtedly, sufficiently large you will have left for market, 400 bushels of wheat, and 2600 bushels of corn,-in all 3000 bushels of grain.
* And as this is a strictly agricultural country, it must depend upon an eastern or foreign market for the sale of its surplus produce. “And with the present and prospective railroad facilities, communicating with Lake Michigan, we are safe in assuming that, as a general thing, all surplus north of the 40th parallel of latitude, not only in this State, but from the country west, must inevitably, by the laws of trade, find its outlet to the eastern market by what is termed the Northern or Lake route.
“ Although there is a considerable consumption of meat and grain upon the sugar and cotton plantations of the south, and in the West Indies, the country · south of the line we have named, is at all times fully adequate to the supply, except in case of a short crop.
“A bushel of grain is worth upon the farm as much less as the cost of carrying it to market. And the cost of transporting wheat or corn by railroad, is about eight cents per bushel per hundred miles, and for meats about fifteen cents per hundred pounds, per hundred miles. The average cost per bushel for transporting wheat or corn from Chicago to Buffalo, by way of the lakes, will not exceed seven cents, during the season of navigation; while from Cleveland to Buffalo, it is about four cents per bushel.
“Now as the comparative advantage of different points in the west, for farming purposes, is the object we wish to arrive at, suppose, in making & comparison, we take for one locality, the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio;-another, 80 miles west or southwest of Chicago, in Illinois, on the line of any of the numerous railroads diverging westerly or southwesterly from that point. For a third, Iowa City, the capital of Iowa, which is 242 miles west of Chicago; and Fort Des Moines, in Iowa, for a fourth ; this is 367 miles west of Chicago, by way of the Rock Island Railroad, which is now completed to Iowa City, and in process of construction to Fort Des Moines.
- From Columbus, Ohio, to Cleveland, 125 miles, at eight cents per hundred miles, by railroad, the cost would be ten cents; from thence to Buffalo by the way of Lake Erie, four cents; from thence to New York, twelve cents; total, twenty-six cents. From the points 80 miles west or south-west of Chicago, by railroad, it would be seven cents to Chicago; from thence to Buffalo, seven cents; from thence to New York, twelve cents; total, twenty-six cents. From Iowa City to Chicago, 242 miles, the cost would be nineteen cents per bushel ; thence to Buffalo, seven cents; thence to New York, twelve cents, would give a total of thirty-eight cents, from Iowa City to New York. From Fort Des Moines to Chicago, 367 miles, the cost would be twenty-nine cents; from thence to Buffalo, seven cents; thence to New York twelve cents; total cost, from Fort Des Moines to New York, forty-eight cents. And in like ratio for any distance greater or less.
“ The value of the crop upon a farm of 160 acres, at Columbus, Ohio, and upon one of the same size 80 miles from Chicago, are equal; whilst there is a difference in favor of the latter over the one at Iowa City, of 360 dollars; and over the one at Fort Des Moines, in Iowa, of 660 dollars. Three hundred and sixty dollars will pay an interest of six per cent upon a valuation of $6000; and $600 is the interest at the same rate upon $10,000. This shows that a farm of 160 acres within 80 miles of Chicago, is worth $6000 more than one of the same size in the vicinity of Iowa City; which is equal to $37 50 per acre, and $1100 more than one at Fort Des Moines; which is equal to $68 75 per acre, when appropriated to raising grain."
SOIL. In regard to agriculture, the soil of Illinois is divided into three classes. On the prairies it is a vegetable mould of different depth, on a substratum from 3 to 4 feet thick, of rich mulatto loam or clay, being in most cases entirely free from stones, and requiring only a single tilling in order to produce all the various species of corn and fruits peculiar to these latitudes. The wild grass growing on the prairies furnishes a very nutritious article of food, which will at once account for the universal renown of the beef of Illinois.
The bottom lands skirted by the rivers are of extraordinary fertility, but exposed to frequent inundations, and covered with tall forest trees. Here the vegetable mould attains a depth of from three to twelve feet; its inexhaustibility is easily accounted for by the consideration that the rivers impregnated with the humus of the prairies through which they flow, deposit it in the bottom lands, whenever a rise of the water causes the latter to be inundated.
The soil of the openings covered with scattered trees of the forest, and these mostly oak, though not as good as that of the prairies, will yet yield as fine a crop without any manure, as can be obtained in the Eastern States with the aid of manure.
But it should be added that the character of the soil differs in the different sections of the State. The substratum is clay, (this is invariably the case in Central Illinois), which precludes the idea that the fertility of the soil ever could be lost. By injudicious tillage the lands may, after years, tire, but can never be worn out. Upon the large water-courses, and in the extreme north and south, the soil is sandy, and the substratum sand and gravel, with some clay. In Central Illinois the soil is without sand; on the undulating, or rolling prairies, the soil is of a mulatto, or yellow cast; on the level lands it is black; but no difference can be discovered in the fertility of these two-thirds of soil, both producing equally well all kinds of grain and grasses. The depth of the black soil is from twenty to thirty inches ; the yellow from fifteen to twenty-four inches. It is the prevailing opinion that the level or table-lands stand a drought better than the rolling. The soil in Central Illinois partakes largely of limestone, without the appearance of the stone itself, therefore rendering it the more valuable, and easy of cultivation, and causing it to stand a long and continued drought, with less injury to growing crops than those portions of the country where rock is interspersed through the cultivated lands.
BREAKING THE SOIL. It is difficult to place a man in any situation where he feels more like an honest conqueror than he does when turning over the verdant turf of the prairies. His plough must have a keen edge, and cut from twenty-two to thirty-six inches wide. A thin sod of two or three inches thick is cut smooth and turned completely upside down. The bottom of the furrow and top of the reversed sod are as smooth as if sliced with a keen knife. Every green thing is turned out of sight, and nothing is visible but the fresh soil. When the prairie is broken, and the sod has time to decompose, the land is thoroughly subdued, and in a good condition for any crop-not a stump or a stone in the way, over a whole quarter section ; free from weeds, rich, fresh, and mellow; it is the fault of the farmer if it is not kept so.