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Having seen a publication, made by you, in relation to the value and productiveness of the lands belonging to the Illinois Central Railroad Company, I take the liberty to make the following statement of my own experience in the premises.
In August, 1853, I purchased of said company the N. W. quarter of the S. W. quarter of section 32, township 23, north of range 2, east, containing 40 acres of prairie-land, six miles from Bloomington, in the county of McLean, and State of Illinois.
I broke up the 40 acres of land, and put it all in fall wheat; and from my first crop, which I harvested in July, 1854, I raised, on the 40 acres, eleven hundred and ten bushels of first quality white Genesee wheat, which I disposed of as follows:1st. I sold, to different individuals, 100 bushels, at $1.25.............. $125 00 2d. I sold Brown & Mayers 300 bushels, at $1.25........................ 375 00 3d. I sold to Brown & Mayers 600 bushels, delivered at Bloomington, at $1.50
900 00 110 bushels I kept for my own use, say..
Showing the aggregate value and receipts to be
$1565 00 as the production of 40 acres of land for one season, and that being the first crop raised on said land, — being what is known as fall wheat - crop sown upon the sod, after the first breaking up and turning over of the prairie.
My whole expense of producing the same was: Fencing, say....
$200 00 Breaking 40 acres of land...........
100 00 Wheat for seeding $50, sowing the same $15.
65 00 Harvesting, say.
75 00 Threshing, say
$500 00 Leaving a net profit, on 40 acres, of $1065.
And now, as the 40 acres of land are fenced and broke up, and in fine condition for cultivation, I can readily sell the land at $25 per acre, cash; but I should decline selling if offered thirty dollars per acre.
I make the aforesaid statement for the information of all persons who contemplate coming to this State, that they may know the agricultural advantages of Illinois.
No one having an intention to settle in Illinois, and whose means are not very great, should neglect to examine the lands of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, before making a purchase in any other quarter. There is much advantage in the method of paying the purchase-money by instalmeuts, bearing an interest of only three per cent. per annum. On this account, not only settlers from the Eastern States, but even Illinois farmers, heretofore living in other parts of this State, are settling on the lands of the Company, and here providing new homes for themselves.
These lands become liable to taxation only at the time when the last instalment is paid, and after the purchaser has received his deed.
A service may be rendered to those who intend to settle on these lands, by giving a description of them, in their whole extent along the line of the railroad, with particular regard to the qualities of the soil. We will, therefore, commence by following the route of the Chicago Branch-road to Centralia, and thence along the main line from Cairo up to Dunleith.
Calumet, Thornton, Richton. — Land level and rich. By ditching,
it may be made well adapted to grazing, and supply Chicago with
milk, vegetables, and hogs. Monee, Manteno. — Splendid rolling-prairie ; rich, deep, black soil.
Extremely valuable, owing to its vicinity to the Chicago market.
A sulphur spring in township 32, range 10, east. Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Chebanse.—Beautiful prairie-country; well
watered and timbered. Ashkum, Onarga. — Rich, gently rolling prairie; well adapted to
grazing. Streams fringed with ash, oak, elm, &c. Fine living
springs pouring into the Iroquois river. Loda. — Beautiful rolling-prairie, thinly interspersed with timber.
Well adapted to grazing and tillage. Watered by a number of
Pera. - Land high and rolling; watered by the Big Vermillion and
Sangamon rivers. Rantoul. - Vast prairie; highly adapted to grazing and raising
stock. Urbana, Pesotum. — Fertile in the highest degree, and well wooded.
The Great Western Railroad crosses south of Urbana, and brings coal from the Danville coal-fields.
Okaw. — Rich rolling-prairie. The Indiana and Illinois Railroad
passes north of Okaw. Country well watered by the Kankaskia
and its branches. Streams fringed with timber. Arno.- Prairie and wood-land; rich, fertile, and well watered.
The Terrehaute and Alton Railroad intersects south of Arno. Nioga, Effingham. — Rolling, rich prairie ; well supplied with
streams and fine groves of timber. Excellent farming country.
The National road passes through Effingham. Edgewood. - Timbered with oak, hickory, &c.; interspersed with
almost the same quantity of prairie. Farina, Tonti. — Fine, open prairie, and interspersed with groves
of timber. Cairo, Villa Ridge. — Cairo is the southern terminus of the road,
and is situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Country back heavily timbered with poplar, oak, cotton-wood, gum,
elm, cypress, &c. Ullin, Jonesboro'.- High, rolling land, heavily timbered with beach
and cotton-wood. Wheat, of a very superior quality, ripens in
May. Iron ore is found near Jonesboro'. Macanda, Carbondale. — A fine, timbered country, covered with
gum, poplar, sugar-tree, mulberry, oak, and ash; watered by the Big Muddy river, &c. Coal is found in this region. Tobacco
is also cultivated here. De Soto, Du Quoin.- The centre of the coal region. At Du Quoin
it is mined thirty feet from the surface. Fine, open prairie, interspersed with walnut, oak, sugar-tree, &c. Excellent farming
lands. Tamaroa. Northern limit of the coal-field. About an equal
quantity of timber and prairie; watered by the Big Muddy
river, &c. Ashley, Richview, Centralia. - Gently-rolling prairie, well watered.
Proceeding north, prairie more rolling, and interspersed with groves
of oak, ash, &c. Sandoval, Patoka. - Country well watered, and interspersed with
timber. The Ohio and Mississippi Railroad crosses at Sandoval.
Vandalia. Well watered. Climate mild; winters short. Cattle
thrive on the prairie for nine or ten months in the year. Ramsey, Oconee. — Level and rolling prairie, interspersed with tim
ber, and well watered. The Terrehaute and Alton Railroad passes
through this section. Pana, Tacusah. — Fine prairie ; streams fringed with timber. The
Terrebaute and Alton Railroad intersects at Pana. Moawequa, Macon, Decatur. - Rich prairie, well timbered, and
watered by the Sangamon river, &c. The Great Western and the
Indiana Central Railroad intersect at Decatur. Maroa. — Gently-rolling, rich prairie, well watered. Streams fringed
with hickory, elm, walnut, and pawpaw. Clinton, Wapellah, Elmwood. — Rolling, rich prairie, with groves of
timber, watered by Sugar creek and the Kickapoo. Bloomington, Hudson. — A beautiful, fertile, and rolling farming
country, well watered, and supplied with timber. Highly adapted
for settlement. Kappa, Panola, Minonk. -- Rich, rolling prairie. Timber in groves
and on creeks. Watered by Panther creek, &c. The Peoria and
Oquawka Railroad passes south of Panola. Wenona. — Level and rolling prairie, interspersed with timber, and
well watered. Deep and rich soil. The Fort Wayne and Lacon
Railroad intersects at Wepona. Tonica, La Salle, Homer. — The great belt of coal, passing through
the centre of the State, is found extensively at La Salle, and ranges a long distance east and west. Junction of the Illinois Central and Rock Island railroads; also, intersection of the Illinois and
Michigan canal. Mendota, Soublette, Amboy. — In Mendota, the junction of the Illi
nois Central, Military Tract and Aurora Branch railroads. High, rolling land, occasionally interspersed with timber. Good water
power. Dixon. - Country well settled throughout. Excellent agricultural
land, well watered by Rock river, &c. The Galena and Chicago Air Line Railroad intersects at Dixon.
Foreston. High, dry, and upland prairie, well timbered and well
watered. Freeport, Elleroy, Lena, Nora. — Magnificent farming-country, well
watered. The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad intersects at
Freeport. Warren, Scales Mound, Council Hill, Galena, Dunleith. — A rapidly
growing country. Fine agricultural soil throughout the section. Galena is the centre of the lead region. Dunleith is the northern terminus of the road.
Through the above brief description, the reader may become somewhat acquainted with the general character of the country traversed by the Illinois Central Railroad, as well as with the peculiar qualities of the various sections of land brought into market by the Company. It remains still to be mentioned, as a striking proof of the extraordinary progress already made in the development and cultivation of these lands, that, in the year 1856, in the neighbourhood of Urbana alone, within a circuit of fifteen miles, about 20,000 acres were tilled and sown with wheat; which more than doubles the quantity of all the land together that had been previously broken up and cultivated in this region. It is further supposed, that, from the crop of 1856 alone, between 300,000 and 400,000 bushels of wheat will be sent only to the market at Urbana. From this we can form some idea of the rapid increase in the quantity of tilled lands throughout the whole of this rich and fertile country.
Lastly, the following table, which is constructed from data collected in January, 1856, shows the rapid growth and great strides towards municipal importance of the numerous towns and villages already founded in this bountiful territory, and which lie dotted along the line of the railroad and its branches, in the whole of the long distance between the beginning and the end. In fact, many of these places have during the last year doubled the number of their inhabitants; and, therefore, although these data have been so lately and carefully collected, they will enable the close examiner to form merely a reasonable conjecture of what is the present state of things.