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DURING the last few years there has been a steady advance in the price of lands in Illinois, as well as throughout the United States generally; in the former, they are, however, still offered at very different prices, and, with proper judgment and care, advantageous purchases may readily be made.
Lands may be purchased, - 1. of the Federal Government; 2. of the Illinois Central Railroad; and, 3. of private proprietors.
The quantity of public lands has been considerably diminished. According to the State Auditor's report there are only about 100,000 acres in the market, and the greater part of these is situated in the eastern and southern part of the State. Their price is from 121 cts. to $2.50 per acre, and purchasers must apply to the Land Office at Springfield, the only one still existing - those at Chicago, Dixon, Quincy, Palestine, Edwardsville, Shawneetown, and Kaskaskia, having been closed some time ago.
The lands which were granted to the Illinois Central Railroad amount to about two millions and a half of acres, over 800,000 acres of which were sold in the course of the last two years, thus leaving about 1,700,000 acres unsold; these are situated in a strip, thirty miles in breadth, lying along the said railroad, and afford a rich choice. In the next chapter, we will give fuller details concerning these lands, by the cultivation of which the population of the State is being greatly promoted.
Private lands and farms are also to be had in almost every part or county of the State, and deserve to be recommended to purchasers who wish to buy farms already under cultivation and well organized. The prices vary, according to the quality of the soil and the greater or less distance from the towns, rivers, and railroads. It being our object to give authentic accounts on this subject, we have classified the information obtained by us, as to the prices of private lands in
different districts of the State, in the order of the respective counties, viz. :
In Cass county, land may be bought at from $1 to $10 per acre. Land bought, some seven years ago, for from $6 to $10 per acre, is now worth from $25 to $30. Wild land costs from $5 to $15, and farms from $15 to $40 per acre. This county contains about 2000 acres of swamp-land, which sells at from 50 cts to $2.25 per acre.
In Du Page county there is but little wild-prairie land to be bad. Farm-land is worth from $8 to $30 or $10 per acre; wood-land from $15 to $90 and $100.
In La Salle county the prices are about the same as those mentioned in the preceding county; and well-arranged farms can be bought at proportionate prices.
In Lee county, land, which only four years ago was sold at from $5 to $10, now sells at from $50 to $100 per acre. Mr. J. H. Cropsey of Dixon, three years ago, bought a large tract of land at $8 per acre, and, in December, 1855, sold it again for $25 per acre.
In Livingston county, Mr. J. L. Miller, in February, 1855, bought 212 acres, partly prairie-land and partly wood-land, at $127 per acre, which, ten months afterwards, he sold for $25 per acre. In December, 1855, Judge Babcock sold a farm of 1436 acres, on which there were two groves, containing together 130 acres, with a dwelling-house and barn, for $30,000. He had bought these lands, successively, in smaller tracts, paying $10, $6 per acre, and for some not more than the government price.
In Macoupin county farms are sold at from $10 to $30 per acre.
In Marshall county, an acre of wild prairie-land, two or three miles distant from Henry or Bacon, sells at from $18 to $20, six miles distant at $10, and fifteen miles distant at $5 per acre. Good woodland on the bluff is worth from $15 to $25. The price of cultivated and improved farms, in the vicinity of the towns or at a distance of from three to four miles, is from $30 to $35, and six miles distant, from $20 to $25 per acre. In 1850, prairie-land two or three miles distant from Henry was sold at $6, that situated five or six miles off at $2}, and Congress-land nine or ten miles from Henry could be bought at $14 per acre. In MacLean county, land costs from $5 to $30 per acre. Land for which $4 an acre was paid four years ago, now brings three times as much; and for cultivated farms, which were then worth from $10 to $15 per acre, from $25 to $35 are now paid.
In Menard county, a farm, situated a few miles from Petersburg, and containing 250 acres, was sold, in December, 1855, for $7500.
In Morgan county, a farm of 640 acres, near Jacksonville, was also sold for $32,000.
In Peoria county, wild land is now worth from $15 to $20 per
In Putnam county, cultivated farms, for which from $12 to $20 per acre were paid six years ago, are now sold at from $25 to $35. Wild prairie-land, formerly worth from $4 to $6, now brings from $10 to $15, and wood-land from $15 to $30 per acre.
In Rock Island county, near the town of the same name, an acre fetches from $30 to $100; farther off, from $5 to $30.
In St. Clair county, three or four miles from Belleville, cultivated land costs from $40 to $50 an acre, and at a distance of from ten to fifteen miles from the town, from $20 to $25. In the year 1855, a tract of land, situated two miles from Belleville, which, twelve years -ago, had been bought at $15 an acre, was sold for $120 per acre. Wild prairie-land has here reached the following prices : in 1840, $3; in 1845, $5; in 1850, $10; and in 1855, $20 to $25.
In Sangamon county, land has doubled its price within the last three years. Wild land costs from $10 to $20 per acre; cultivated land, from $20 to $40.
In Tazewell county, farms are sold at from $35 to $40 per acre. Land for which, five or six years ago, from $4 to $5 was paid, cannot be bought at present below $20 or $30 per acre.
In Will county, wild prairie-land, which, four years ago, could be bought at Congress price, is now as high as $10; and farms worth $6 per acre four years ago, now sell at from $20 to $25.
In Winnebago county, as late as the year 1852, wild prairie-land could still be bought at the Congress price of $1.25, but from $12 to $25 per acre is now paid for it.
In Woodford county, pretty good land cannot be bought below $10 au acre; farms bring from $30 to $40, and wood-land from $15 to $20.
THE LANDS OF THE ILLINOIS CENTRAL
On the 20th of September, 1850, the Congress of the United States passed a law by which two millions five hundred and ninety-five thousand acres of the public lands were granted to the State of Illinois for railroad purposes; and on the 10th of February, 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad Company was incorporated by an act of the Legislature of the State of Illinois, and the whole of the immense tract of land before-mentioned was granted to the company, to aid in the construction of the railroad projected by it.
By this grant of lands, and the consequent construction of the railroad, that new era has been opened for Illinois, which manifests itself in the unparalleled growth of its population and in its great wealth. This road intersects the entire State from north to south : running, first in two branches, viz., from Chicago to Centralia, and from Dunleith to Centralia; and then, in but one branch from Centralia to Cairo. The great prairies of Central Illinois, so particularly distinguished for the rich fertility of their soil, but hitherto lying entirely uncultivated and almost wholly excluded from the markets by the want of means of communication, have thus been rendered accessible to cultivation.
However speculative the construction of a railroad seven hundred and four miles in length, and through a territory almost entirely uncultivated, may at first have appeared, the excellence of the great undertaking is fully demonstrated by the immense advantages already derived from it. Not only is it true that the Central Railroad Company is doing a splendid business, and that the bonds issued by it are commanding pretty high rates, as compared with other railroad bonds, but it is also a fact, that by the construction of this road, those vast