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dustry, have commenced small shops on their own hook, and work on repairs or job work, filling in their spare time on new work, which gradually grew into a business, only varied in the amount of its prosperity by the difference in energy of its proprietors, or its own susceptibilities of extension or enlargement. In a few instances, this rapidity of growth is truly astonishing. I will give you one instance: — The firm of T. and H. Smith & Co. now works on a capital of probably fifty thousand dollars, and employs, regularly, from fiftyfive to sixty men, mechanics and artisans of all descriptions, at prices varying from $1.50 to $3 per day; turn out one wagon per day, at a price varying from $90 to $130, according to quality; a great many buggies and carriages, at prices from $115 to $700 each; together with a plough business, amounting to near one thousand ploughs a year of all descriptions. Said firm, five years ago, consisted of T. and Henry Smith, two poor Hanoverians, the one a wagonmaker, the other a blacksmith, who rented a small shop, and went to work on repairing wagons, shoeing horses, &c., and were soon enabled to buy the old shop and lot on which it stood; after which, they began by filling in spare time on new work, to be able to make a business of it, which has gradually increased up to its present limits, and instead of the old shop first rented, only large enough to contain one work-bench and one śmith's fire, the lot first mentioned and five adjacent ones are occupied by large and commodious workshops, each branch of the business being headed by one of the firm, all of whom are mechanics (brothers), and all work.
This is the history of every shop in town and the adjacent country. AU were, only a few years ago, poor men, and now many of them are wealthy; and we have no instances of men who have commenced, even in the smallest way at first, who have attended to their business, and lived within their means, not meeting with the same success. Our business men, merchants and storekeepers, millers, pork packers, bankers—in fact, every man who now figures in this town, as being above the condition of laboring men, are men who came here poor — most of them very poor.
Let the immigrant consider this. Such advantages as those here stated are still everywhere open to the honest, industrious, and economical settler. What is said of Pekin is but the oft-repeated story of many other places, and will be as frequently verified in the future history of the State.
In the preparation of this work, whenever it became necessary to state our opinions on any particular subject, we have always fortified them by the authority of reliable persons who have for many years resided in Illinois we have frequently even made use of their own words;
in giving these bints to new settlers, we will again avail ourselves of the information communicated to us by practical
men, whose actual observations for many years past enable them to speak familiarly and authoritatively “on matters and things in general," as they exist in the State of which they are citizens. will, therefore, here introduce to our readers an old settler, Mr. John Williams, of Albany, Coles county, who, in a letter dated December the 23d, 1855, says ;
I have lived in Illinois about thirty years, and have seen some ups and downs in that time. I moved from Kentucky, and settled first in Vermillion county; after living there thirteen years, I moved into Champaign county, lived there three years, and then went over into Platt county, Missouri ; but not having seen the land there before moving out, and finding it did not equal my expectations, I returned to Illinois, and settled in Coles county, where I have remained ever since. You can, therefore, see that I have been over some of the West, in search of the best place to make the “almighty dollar;" and, as I think I have found it, I will here say, that, after a man has lived in the State of Illinois, and farmed its rich soil for a few years, he will find it hard work to hunt up a better country.
When I first settled in Vermillion county, the representation of our district comprised all the State lying up along the Lake, including Chicago, which then consisted only of the old block fort on the lake shore. At that time, we, in the centre of the State, had no market for any of our produce; we had no railroads, and were forced to kill our hogs at home, team them to Terre Haute, sixty miles, and then get $1.50 to $2 per hundred weight, taking half the amount in store goods at a very high figure.
So farmers had to work along, in those days. I have known corn to sell for five to eight cents per bushel; and yet, even then, they did well, from the fact that they could raise everything they wanted to eat, and in abundance too.
My advice to farmers in the East is, to leave their rocks and hills, where they are just grubbing out a living, and come on to these splendid prairies, as they lie all ready for the plough, and where everything which the farmer plants yields such an abundant return.
Mr. James N. Brown, of Island Grove, formerly President of the State Agricultural Society, in a letter dated November the 28th, 1855, says:
Let the industrious poor man know, that all he has to do, is, to become the holder of forty or eighty acres of land, build his cabin, and go to work with his team, and turn over the sod, and commence tilling the soil, - and that the laws of the land protect him against the depredations of stock
and, my word for it, we shall see, in a very short time, all our prairies brought into cultivation, and teeming with an industrious and happy population, adding millions to the wealth of the State.
Rev. J. S. Barger, of Clinton, De Witt county, in his letter of the 22d of January, 1855, says :
Let them come by thousands and tens of thousands — there is room enough - and examine the country. They will find rich lands, and good water, and general health, almost everywhere. This is not a wilderness. They will find schools and churches springing up in almost every settlement made, and now being made, throughout the State. Illinois is not a moral desolation. It literally and spiritually “blossoms as the rose.” Let them come to Chicago, and go to Galena, and visit Cairo. But let them not remain at either place, unless they choose. The Illinois Central Railroad and its branches traverse the finest portion of the globe. Let them glide through our State, on these and other roads, now checkering the entire of this “Garden of the Lord," and stop where they will, to “examine the land, of what sort it is,” and they will no longer consent to dig among the rocks, and plough the sterile land of their forefathers. But they will long bless the day, when they found, for themselves and their children, such comfortable homes, as they still may obtain in this rich and beautiful Prairie State, destined soon to compare with — nay, to surpass, in all the most desirable respects — the most prosperous State in the Union.
We think we cannot conclude this last chapter of our book in a better manner than with the words of one of the worthiest citizens of Illinois, and who, having been one of its earliest settlers, now looks back through a long life of toil and experience. This gentleman is Mr. Edson Harkness, of Southport, Peoria county, to whom we are also indebted for valuable contributions to this work, as well as for the kindness through which we are privileged to place before our readers the following extract from his excellent “ Volunteer Advice to Immigrants":
A few suggestions, to those who are desirous of building up a home in the rich and rapidly improving West, may not be out of place, from an old man, who has seen much of pioneer life. It can hardly be expected, that you will be entirely free from those amiable prejudices, which spread a sort of sanctity over the manners, customs, language, and habits of the home you have left. You will find yourself constantly instituting comparisons between the old state of things to which you have been accustomed, and the changed condition of affairs which you find in the West. If the old and the new are alike, you will
conclude that all is well. But the old will be very apt to be set up as a standard of right. This state of mind you must endeavor to change, as soon as possible, and to decide every question upon its intrinsic merits.
You will come in daily contact with people from all the other States and from all the nations of Western Europe. There will be many of them speaking strange dialects of the English language — that is, strange to you. But you must not forget that yours is also strange to them. Be therefore very cautious how you criticise the bad English of others -- for they can, perhaps, point out as many defects in your pronunciation, as you can in theirs. The best way is, to look over your dictionary occasionally, correct your own errors, and let other people, if they will, do the same.
Again, be very careful not to underrate the intelligence or the capacity of those with whom you may come in contact. Many of our people are very plain in their manners; but they are, like yourself, all immigrants — have seen a great deal of the world, and have become shrewd observers of character. With such men, you will soon find your lovel, wherever that level may be. — It is not uncommon for young men, who have received the best educational advantages, to come out to the West with high expectations of honor and distinction among a people not peculiarly blessed with the means of intelligence. Such expectations are pretty sure to end in disappointment. Our people are eminently practical, but too stupid or too gain-loving to appreciate very highly the refinements of the mere scholar, whose claim to distinction is based upon a knowledge of books alone.
If the scholar will in any way bring his knowledge to bear upon the practical interests of society, he may do well enough. If he will teach a country school for from twenty to thirty dollars per month, and “board round,” he may soon get the good will and esteem of the community. He must be careful not to use a language which is “all Greek” to his hearers — must treat every one with respect and kindness — must take an interest in the welfare of every family, and, at the same time, turn a deaf ear to the small scandal and small gossip of the neighborhood.
A young man may learn more that is really useful by teaching a country school for one winter, than in twice that time spent in college - that is, if he thoroughly studies the living “subjects” around him. If he has tact and good sense enough to keep on the right side of his pupils and their parents he is then fairly started on the highway to honor and distinction. He can then go and make his “claim,” or his purchase of wild land, and prepare to set up as a farmer. If he had not a cent in his pocket when he came to the “settlement," if he is orderly, prudent, and industrious for a year, his credit will be established.
He can then purchase what may be indispensable, in the way of a team and implements, for starting business on a small scale. After toiling on a year ar two more, some one of the bright-eyed maidens who attended his school, will begin to pity his lonely condition, and consent to share the joys and the sorrows of life with him.
A small house is then built, and is enlarged as the inmates multiply. The farm is also enlarged as the wealth of the owner is increased. Orchards are planted — ornamental trees, shrubs and vines start up, and grow luxuriantly about the house. The house itself, having been built a piece at a time, from the necessities of the hour, begins to look shabby, and yet below the condition of the owner, - a new and splendid one is accordingly built, near the site of the old one, so as to save the shrubs and trees for the new lawn. The old house is sold to some new settler, and taken away.
The poor schoolmaster has become a man of affluence, and has filled various public offices with advantage to the State, and with credit and honor to himself.
This is no dream, — no fancy sketch — but the literal history, so far as it goes, of thousands of our western farmers.
But, perhaps, there may be too much hard work implied, in the foregoing sketch, to suit the refined tastes of a portion of those who, in imagination, are rearing their future castles on the broad western prairies. Let me say to you, young man, if you come to a new country to avoid hard work, you will commit a great error. If you are a preacher, lawyer, physician, farmer, or mechanic, you must work -- work.
We have, out here, got rid of the old feudal prejudices of caste. Work is not only honorable, but the only means of distinction. We have, it is true, a large and fourishing establishment, provided by the State, as a home for those who endeavor to get their living without honest work: but it is not popular to go there – in fact, none go, unless compelled to do so by positive law, and under the escort of
- a sheriff. If you are willing to work at any honest business, for which your previous training has fitted you — if willing to join the great army, which, with the axe, the plough, and the steam-engine, is striking out into the desert, and conquering an empire greater than was ever ruled by a Tamerlane or a Bonaparte - COME ON! we will give you a place in our ranks, and if you act the part of a good, brave soldier, in the struggle for personal independence, you shall be promoted. It is the object of every true soldier in this great
conquer a piece” of rich and bountiful land, for himself and his posterity. Our ranks are not full. We have room enough to take in half & million of recruits annually for the next century, and still there will be room for more! Come on, then, and work out life's problem, as best you can, in the free and boundless West.
army, to "