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1936 Economic and Social History

Economic History to 1850
Land Purchases

The early settlers, coming from wooded country, looked upon the prairies almost as deserts. They would not have dreamed of hauling building timber, rails, and firewood out on the prairie. In their clearings, close by their cabins and not far from the indispensable springs, they had their farm "patches" of cotton, tobacco, corn, melons, potatoes, and vegetables surrounded by "double-ridered" fences, The merits of the prairie for pasturage and as an open road were soon appreciated, however, and the ideal farm was the one located at the timber's edge(1) Only gradually did the settler come to realize the value of the prairie for farming; that once the labor of breaking was accomplished a sure crop of "sod corn" or "fall wheat" could be grown with little more work.(2)

Respect for good timber is characteristic of the farmer all through our period, but a changing conception of the prairie is more and more noticeable.

In 1821 a pioneer left to his oldest son 80 acres of timber plus "four acres on small Creek and the whole of the prairie of the Southwest quarter." The timber of the "timber quarter" was not deemed sufficient for division among the other four sons, so provision was made for the purchase of 80 acres more.

A settler on a small prairie surrounded by timber of Shoal Creek had at his death in 1833 two sons to provide for. To one he saved a "timber forty." The bequest to the other shows a changing view of the prairie: ". . . . forty acres with the improvements of prairie . . and the improvements of my seven acre field in the prairie above .."(4)

The lands held by various farmers in the later period now that prairie land was considered to be worth acquiring. An estate settled in 1642 contained

A farmer on the edge of Gillham Creek timber owned in 1845 "80 acres . . . . chiefly prairie nearly all in cultivation-two small buildings and stables thereon . . . ., 40 acres prairie land partly improved . . . ., 39 91/100 acres . . . . timber land . . . ., (and) 60 acres prairie land."(7) An estate of 1847 is thus described, "60 acres of said land is timber, the other two forties mostly prairie . . . ., about 25 acres under cultivation with a good Frame Dwelling house."(8). Another of the same year had twenty acres of timber and eighty of prairie "with cabin, under fence and in cultivation."(9) Evidently the ownership of a piece of woodland was considered very important, but prairie had increasing value in the eyes of the farmer. An analysis of the land entries of the county bears out the above thesis. A helpful feature in such an analysis is that the buying of government land came in waves. The first lasted from 1817 to 1820. Then the land act of 1820 stopped further credit purchases, the entering of land ceased almost completely for nearly ten years. In 1830 the buying was resumed, slowly at first but increasing greatly by 1836. In view of the hard times, a surprising amount of land was bought in 1838 and 1839. A moderate cycle of buying began again about 1842 and lasted for a few years; fell off a little until about 1850, when a rush of purchasers bought nearly all of the remaining public land. It is probable that private purchases showed similar trends, though they may have lagged behind at times when speculators and land-poor farmers were disposing of their surplus acres during lulls in government selling.

Land size in Bond County is 239,420 acres. 31,760 acres were entered by 1820, with 13.3% purchased. By 1850, 188,780 acres had been entered, for 78.8% of the acreage total.(10) In the computation, round figures were used in each case where there were inaccuracies in surveying. However, the approximation is rather close and the results sufficiently accurate for our purpose.

It is noticeable that in the buying rush before 1820 the townships with greatest purchases were those regions with most forest, the central and west central parts. A careful analysis of the sales by sections shows a tendency to shun alike the flat prairies of the east, west, and north and the deep woods of the low bottoms. In T.4 N, R.2 W, the ten purchasers before 1820 picked land along the edge of the Kaskaskia timber. When purchases were resumed in the late thirties most of the dry prairie and timber were seized. That over half was still unsold in 1850; was due to the poor drainage of the western part of the township.

Five of these vacant sections were later granted to the Illinois Central Railroad.(11) The retarding of sales here left empty lands into which large German groups came after our period, creating "Dutch Flat" from the swamps.

The next township to the north had only five purchasers before 1620, and these located along Hurricane timber. A great flurry of buying from 1836 to 1839 grabbed nearly all of the township except the wet land of the southwest. The Illinois Central was able in the 1850's to get only prairie "forties" and "eighties" here and there.(12) In T. 6 N, R. 3 W., and the fractional township north of it, early purchases were made in the three detached timbered areas separated by Northeast Prairie. The purchases of the thirties spread out from those locations and by 1850 only one-fourth remained unsold, most of that in the flattest part of northeast Prairie.(13) In T. 4 N., R 3 W nearly all of the four thousand acres bought before 1820 was along the narrow Beaver Creek timber, though two quarter sections were bought in Section 7, on the Shoal Creek timber. These two regions were filled out in the thirties and in the forties most of the prairie of the township was entered. The nearly five thousand acres remaining in 1850 were far out on Beaver Prairie in the west and on Southeast Prairie in the east.

It is the central township of the county which best illustrates in the early period the desire for timberland, especially for timberland near prairie. Over one-third of the township was sold before 1820. The purchases were well scattered, only the prairie in the east being avoided. Buying here was resumed in 1628, earlier than elsewhere. By 1839 very little "Congress land" was left and in 1850 only 200 acres. In the township to the north, the early purchases were nearly all in sections 4, 9, 10, 14, 15, 15, 21, 22, 27, 29, 33, 34, and 35, along the East Fork timber. The spreading out from these purchases was rather gradual through the years; by 1550 only certain tarts of Fork Prairie were being avoided.(16) The Partial township to the north showed like tendencies.(17)

A more cursory study of the western part of the county reveals a situation similar to that discussed. The early purchases were scattered up and down the timberline between the Shoal Creek region and Looking Glass Prairie, and, in the north, along the eastern edge of the timber near Fork Prairie. Two of the early forts were on the west edge of the forest, and the third on the edge of Fork Prairie. Later purchases included the good timber and the accessible prairie. Certain rough lands and the more remote parts of the prairie were unsold in l850."(18)

Most farmers had as an objective the acquisition of more and more land. The large labor force of the average family made a. large holding desirable, and the raising of stock on an extensive scale took a good deal of land. The large number of heirs to participate in the division of an estate gave an incentive toward its increase. Even if a man's original holding were small he could after a few years buy some of the government land about him, which he had in all probability already been using for pasturage. For example, one Jones Blizzard bought a quarter section in T. 4 N., R. 4W., in 1817. He purchased no more land for over fifteen years, but in 1833 he entered a nearby "forty," in 1846 another, and in 1852 still another."(19) From 1821 to 1840, Seth Blanchard bought near Greenville four Forties" and three "eighties" at various times.(20) John Jett built up an estate of 540 acres in the north central part of the county by eleven different purchases between 1837 and 1853."(21) Charles Wood, farther north, bought 80 acres in 1828, 120 acres in 1836, 200 acres in 1837, 120 acres in 1847, and 160 acres in 1850, a total acquisition of 680 acres over a period of twenty - two years.(22) . The times of individual purchases illustrate somewhat the waves of buying. Henry File on Shoal Creek timber bought 160 acres in 1817. During the boom of 1835-37 he purchased two "eighties" and two "forties," and his sons participated in the next boom.(23) Others who started buying in the thirties added to their holdings in the mid-forties or shared in the last great rush of the fifties.

In a day when wealth was measured so largely in land, it is difficult to differentiate between the purchases for use, for investment, and for speculative purposes. Prosperous farmers naturally turned to land as a place to invest surplus profit as well as to enlarge their operations. The size of purchases is no criterion of the reason for which the land was bought since many large buyers actually used all of their estates. An example is Benjamin Johnson who early bought land on both sides of Shoal Creek timber amounting to several sections.(24) Another is William Vollentine, his cousin, who acquired 730 acres of contiguous land farther up the creek.(25) Both were farmers and stock raisers. Yet both bought scattered lands during the thirties as investments or speculations, according to the point of view. The daughter of one prominent farmer writes, "In 1837 he (her father) removed to Pocahontas where he bought 1300 acres of land . . . . (for) farming and stockraising."(26) Wyatt Stubblefield bought four quarter sections near Greenville in 1817, and in 1832 added 80 acres more to his farm.(27) One cannot call him a speculator in the ordinary even though the rising' land values of that part of the county later made him well-to-do.

Occasional purchases under a corporate name point to pure speculation. In the early days three quarter sections were bought by the Bank of Edwardsville,(28) two by "Chequier and Holmes," and two by the "Legal Reps of I. Dodge."(29) No doubt others who acquired large amounts of land, often scattered, did so more in hope of an unearned increment than with thoughts of using the lad. The three Kirkpatrick brothers, one of whom was in politics, when they bought sixteen hundred acres of land, were probably thinking of rising land values(30) William Downing rushed into a new country and purchased in 1815 and 1816 three quarter sections on Beaver Creek,(31) he was possibly speculating a bit; but he may have been a large scale farmer not averse to taking a profit from rising values, yet using his land in part while waiting.

One Charles Messinger, said to have been a government Surveyor, bought several choice quarter sections in T. 6N, R 2W, before 1820."(32) Local tradition has it that he held the land until the thirties, when he sold it piece by piece at a fair profit. Today a rock on the edge of Northeast Prairie marks "Messinger's Corner." Another early speculator of the region, if not of the present day county, was John Tillson, later a prominent man. He was sent to Edwardsville from Massachusetts by Eastern speculators interested in the Bounty Lands. He was easily persuaded to work from 1819 to 1821 in the office of the recorder at Edwardsvi1le. His wife in her memoirs says naively: "They found that there were many men ready, for various reasons, to sell their claims for whatever they could get. They bought several tracts in Montgomery (then Bond County)."(33) Tillson Was one of the group who helped persuade the legislature that Bond County was too 1arge.(34) On February 12, 1821, it was reduced to sixteen townships and in. 1824 to ten, though eventually in 1843 two fractional townships were gained on the west.(35)

Land speculation was not always profitable. In 1830 Dr. Calvin Baker of Roxbury, Massachusetts, gave" Thomas B. Wait of Boston, printer, "five thousand dollars for 720 acres of land several miles west of Greenville.(36) The transaction was probably very satisfactory for Mr. Wait. Dr. Baker drove to Illinois with his fami1y,(37) no doubt hopeful of the future. He must have been sadly disappointed at the current price of land when he reached his destination. One of his first acts was to sell a whole quarter section for one hundred dollars.(38) He died not long after and his widow was left land poor. From 1835 to 1841 she sold 1and from time to time. The total price received for all of the original purchase was $l025.(39)

Town sites were also an object of speculation. The first venture, Ripley, will serve to illustrate the creation and fate the many mushroom towns, which sprang up. In 1815 one Elazarum C. R. Wheelock of New Orleans paid thirty dollars for 19 acres of land on the west side of Shoal Creek.(40) His father-in-law, General E. L. W. Ripley, was his partner in the purchase of two quarter sections. Wheelock staked out his next town in 1817 and capitalized his father-in-law's war of 1812 fame by naming the town Ripley. He provided a spacious public square and offered free lots for a school and a church. Twenty-four blocks separated by wide streets contained ten lots each.(42) The scheme was doomed to failure when Greenville, top near by, was chosen as the county seat. Wheelock saw the handwriting on the wall and sold out to a sanguine purchaser in 1821 for "$4120 money of the United States."(43) A number of lots had been sold, but there is no record of a building other than one tavern.(44) Within a few years there was nothing left to mark the site.

A similar town was Perryville, the first county seat, supposedly chosen for "geographical center, the navigation, and the common good of the people."(45) Instead, the site selected was in corner of the county on the Kaskaskia River on land belonging to Martin Jones, then one of the judges of the county court. The money from the sale of twenty-five acres of lots was to get to the county.(46) Jones as state senator was able in 1619 to get through a bill calling the Kaskaskia a "navigable stream."(47) A number of lots were sold at' fifty dollars apiece, on credit,(48) but the bubble burst when the capital was moved to Greenville in 1821 and the county so pared down as to throw Perryville outside of its limits.

Several other short-lived towns were started during the period. Harrisonville, founded in 1838 in the northwest part of county,(49) the Dunkard town of New Hamburg in the eastern part in 1850,(50) and Elm Point in the north in 1855(51) were all doomed to early extinction. Several real estate developments began around crossroads, grew until they had a few houses apiece, and then remained stationary. Among them were Augusta (Reno), north of Greenville, l836,(52) Millersburg, southwest of Greenville, 1851(53) Newport (Woburn) on the western edge of Northeast Prairie, and Dudleyville, south of Greenville, l856,(55) The specifications failed when they tried to exploit points of commercial vantage beyond their reasonable possibilities.

The only towns which were successful from the viewpoint of the real estate man were those located on the National Road. The first of those was Greenville, which had the added advantages of central position and of being the seat of government. Its start was little different from that of the many developments which proved unsuccessful. In 1816 one George Davidson entered 160 acres near the center of the county.(56) A road from Perryville "to Greenville" was laid out in 1819 and a tavern licensed there the next year.(58) Probably by more than good luck, the site was chosen for the new county seat in 1821 and a demand made on Davidson for twenty acres of land, which he "gave willingly."(59) Except for a public square, this donation was divided into lots which were sold by the county.(60) Davidson promptly laid out "Davidson's Addition" on the east(61) and sold many lots, some for as much as sixty dollars. Greenville's growth in the thirties caused two more "additions" to be made in 1840 and 1841.(63) The town was a success. In 1845 a well-located lot brought the astounding sun of thirteen hundred dollars.(64)

Pocahontas and Mulberry Grove started life under the names of "Amity" and "Houston" respectively, hut eventually lost them in favor of those given by the postal clerks at Washington. Amity was a development of Benjamin Johnson in l838.(65) Ten miles southwest of Greenville, it benefited by its position on the St. Louis road. In a few years it was a thriving village, enjoying the trade of all the country around it.(66) Houston, nine miles northeast of Greenville, was laid out in l84l.(67) The town had the same reasons for prospering as Amity, and three years later an "addition" was made to it. (68) As in Greenville, neither the original promoters nor the investors in lots in these villages lost money. The deed records resulting from the thriving trade in lots fill a great many pages in the deed registry books. Although so many towns failed, these three prospered, probably more because of transportation advantages than from any other causes.

Agricultural Development

The early groups coming to Bond Company were typical pioneers. With them on their journey, they brought the necessities or life in the new land. Their ox carts were loaded with tools, seed, poultry, and often a few pieces of furniture. The livestock was driven along near the cart by members of the family. At the new hone Site the animals lived off the land while rude cabins were constructed, "patches" cleared, and crops planted and tended. Naturally, a hand-to-mouth existence during the first years was the common rule. Wild game played an important place in the diet, so much so that "burning the woods" and firing the prairie in the fall in order to make winter hunting easier were co operative ventures.(69) The use of buckskin and other pelts tanned with forest products supplemented the homespun wool, cotton, and linen, which were dyed at home with "blue dye" made from hone grown indigo.(70) The animals and the fields supplied the bulk of the food. One could live if he had "hog and hominy." Candles, rough shoes, and other simple needs could be made from animal products. It was a simple, hard life, with little surplus to depend upon. A Kentucky youth who came to Bond County in 1530 later wrote, . . "We were married and came here to live. We didn't move for we had nothing to move. I had an old horse, cow, plow, and some home made tools and wife had some household goods she had made. We had little money but did not need much as we raised or made all we used."(71)

However, conditions changed with the times. The growing town of St. Louis with its New Orleans and Pittsburgh river trade(72) provided a market for surplus wheat, whiskey, hogs, and cattle. It was a hard trip by wagon requiring at least five days when the roads were good(73) and probably far longer when the cattle and hogs were "driven through." Prices in St. Louis were naturally low because of its distance from the ultimate market. Yet farmers were able to forge ahead. Land was cheap and the overhead little. The prairie furnished free pasture and the forest food for hogs and poultry. The forest fields grew larger and the prairie was gradually broken into cultivation. With a market provided for his products, the farmer could increase the size of his operations, put to work the family labor force, and take up the newer and improved farming methods coming into use.

The slow-moving oxen were employed for the heavy job of breaking prairie even after 1850 and the prairie or "bull tongue" plow was still in use.(75) Oxen were probably still used by a few men for heavy hauling. A large farm of 1838 had nine 'horses and three yokes of oxen. Five "Cary plows" and an ox cart gave work for both kinds of draft-animals.(76) But for most farm work the horse was coming none and more into favor, though comparatively expensive to keep. The census of 1840 reports 2437 horses and mules for the county.(77) By 1850 ox teams were largely 'disappearing;(78) the census of that year reporting 857 "working oxen" as compared with 3087 horses and 113 mules.(79) The simple yoke and chain harness of the oxen were replaced by collars of p1aited corn shucks, heavy wooden hames, leather back bands, and tugs of chain or rope.(80) "Blind bridles," "plowing lines," and "check lines" soon came into use to control the less tractable animals (81)

Better implements for work were coming into use. By 1850 the 'bar shear plow" was largely replaced by a plow with an iron mold-board.(82) In or before the thirties harrows with wooden pegs were superseded by those with iron teeth.(83) The Cary or "diamond T plow" was in common use in the thirties(84) for planting and cultivating corn, the only hand work left being the "dropping" of corn by the children at planting-time.(85) The Cary plow had two small shovels or "diamonds" which threw the dirt away or toward the corn row according to the size of the crop. A small boy could operate the plow and the single horse required to pull it. A somewhat different cultivator was the "double-shovel" or shovel plow.(86)

The grain crops gradually became the money crops in Bond County. The corn yield of the average family was rather small in the early days but increased greatly as stock raising increased. One typical farmer of 1840 bad "18 acres of corn in the field,"(87) and another of 1847 had 450 bushels of corn cribbed.(88) The census of 1840 estimated the corn crop of the county for that year as 209,130 bushels,(89) and that of 1850 reported 460,985 bushels.(90) The lack of a satisfactory market for this grain is reflected by its generally low price during the period, ranging between a high of twenty-five cents in 1842 (91) and a low of half that in 1847.(92) Since the bulk of the crop was used for cattle and hogs its value depended on theirs.

Oats was another cereal used almost entirely for feeding purposes. There is no mention of the crop in the earliest records, but during the thirties it came into favor to some extent. The estimated oat yield of 1840 was 23,450 bushels,(93) and by 1850 the census report bad increased it to 84,771 bushels.(94) The crop may have been sometimes cut as hay when "in the milk," but the usual custom seems to have been to reap it with hook and cradle, to bind it into bundles, which were then "shocked."(95) The sheaves were often later put into stacks or ricks.(96) One farmer in 1840 had on hand a stack of oats and seventy-five dozen sheaves.(97) How much of the crop was threshed and how much fed "in the sheaf" it is impossible to say, but the occasional stacks of oats straw for sale(98) prove that at least part of it was threshed before the day of the power thresher.

Due to the fact that both mills and markets were far away in the early days, not a great deal of wheat was raised. But, as shown later, mills were soon within driving distance of most of the county, and roads to the St. Louis market were soon open. One settler says,". . . . Wheat on Prairie sod was a sure crop."(99)

Reap hook and cradle soon took the place of the sickle, and harvest was often a neighborhood affair.(100) Threshing by the threshing-floor method was also arduous work. Past of this work was made easier when the "wheat fan" supplanted the use of wind (101), and of homemade methods for eliminating the chaff. This implement was to be found on nearly every farm in the late 1830's(102). The "tramping" and flail work were eliminated by the "ground hog" thresher, which first appeared in Bond County in 1844.(103) The wheat fan was not attached to the thresher until after our period.(104) The revolutionary reaper also belongs outside our period far as Bond County is concerned.

Though winter wheat was the coon crop, some spring wheat was raised.(105) Both wheat and rye apparently were hauled to market as soon as threshed, probably as much to take advantage of sinner roads as to avoid storage. Few estates settled during the period had more than a few bushels of wheat on hand, and that was probably being saved as seed. The wheat crop of 1840 was estimated at 25,722 bushels, not very large as compared with corn, while the estimate of rye was a mere 1540 bushels.(106)

The cutting and stacking of prairie grass for hay was practiced from the earliest days(107) This hay was probably used largely for outside feeding. The increasing mention of "stacks of hay"(108) in probate records reflects the growing numbers of stock. But as more and more of the prairie came under cultivation it became important to provide other roughage. Oat straw(109) and even wheat straw had a market value.(110) A portion of the corn crop was usually cut as fodder,(111) which served as both roughage and bedding in the winter. The first indication of the growing of timothy is an item of "2 bbls. of timothy seed" in. an inventory of 1839.(112) The census of 1840 reports 1079 tons of hay but does not indicate the kind.(113) Most estates of the forties mention in their inventories small quantities of timothy seed, so it is probable that this crop, which does well on the prairie, was coming into general use.

The natural advantages for stock raising in Bond County were many. The St. Louis market was not far, natural range was plentiful, and winter usually fairly mild. Corn, oats, and forage were easily grown, but of little value unless fed to stock. Poultry, too, were easily raised, but harder to market. Bee keeping also was general. A farm of 1831 not far from average had two horses, ten head of beef cattle, one yoke of oxen, twenty six head of other cattle, fifty hogs, twenty-six sheep, and thirty seven beehives.(114) One of 1845 had five horses, thirty-two cattle, fourteen sheep, and seventy geese,(115) The low prices of poultry suggest that the cost of transport to market prevented much profit in poultry raising. It is probable that, except for geese, fowls were raised largely for home use, though on trips to the city crates of poultry were sometimes taken along.(117) Cattle and the 1ong-legged swine of the day could be marketed cheaply by driving them to market, as could the sheep. The ferry at Vandalia in l8l9 charged three cents for each cow and. two for each hog or sheep. By the fifties hogs and sheep were sometimes crated fend hauled to St. Louis in market wagons.(119)

Hogs in great numbers and, to a lesser degree, cattle, were killed for home consumption. The chief winter meat was salt pork, cured in the family smoke house.(120) Huge amounts were put up at the winter "butchering," a thousand pounds of bacon on hand being not unusual.(121) There was always a fair market for pork products. At forced sales during the period, pork and lard each brought usually from five to ten cents a pound. Sheep seem to have been raised chiefly for their wool and for the market, as mutton was not a locally popular food. Thus, the farmer of the period relied upon stock raising both as a means of producing a cash product and a source of domestic food supply. The 1840 census gave for the county 7723 meat (sic) cattle, 5397 sheep and 15,998 swine. The value of poultry was listed as 33201. (122) The census returns of 1850 estimate over nine thousand each of cattle and sheep and over eighteen thousand swine.(123)

There was no stock law in Illinois until long after 1850. After 1834 the county administration appointed fence viewers to see that growing crops were sufficiently well enclosed by their (124) owners. Unfenced lands, both private holdings and "Congress land," were treated as commons. A pioneer, speaking of the early 1840's, writes, "The Prairies were covered with horses and. cows."' (l25) Each farmer had a stock mark or brand registered at the county seat. Before 1830, fifteen brands and over one hundred stock marks were in use.(126)

The law of estrays regulated the advertising for lost and found stock and the care of them. A stray pen forty feet square was built at the county seat in 1822.(127)

It was these large unfenced lands that explain in part the great numbers of animals owned. Cattle and sheep could range for miles. Hogs were taken in the early fall to the heavy timber of the bottoms and there turned loose to fatten on the "mast." When butchering time came, a "round up" divided the hogs of a neighborhood according to their marks.(128) Such items as "hogs in the woods"(129) and "out geese"(130) reflect the free use of the open 1ands. Items such as "Public improvement on Congress Land" (131) "One acre of corn on publick (sic) land"' show that there was some actual squatting. Certainly during the period after 1820 when there were almost no government sales, newcomers must have made their homes on public lands. All through the period the idea seemed to persist that public lands were to be exploited. Certainly Stringer Potts, who owned forty two horses and cattle, forty five geese, over one hundred hogs, and five "lots of sheep used more land than his own 80 acres.(132)

Orchards were planted during the earliest years of the county.(133) One John Smith brought budded seedlings from Ohio by horseback and later ran a nursery which supplied the county with apple trees.'(134) Probably most farmers wanted only a small home supply, a barrel or two of cider from the windfalls, and some dried fruit. Later, however, a market developed and apples were hauled to Springfield and elsewhere, as well as to St. Louis. (135) An orchard in the west part of the county in 1850 had three kinds of peaches, ten varieties of apples, pears, peaches, quinces and cherries. (136) Family orchards could be successfully grown in that day when fruit-tree posts were few.

Typical pioneer log cabins with clapboard roofs and puncheon or board floors were still used in a few places in 1850. (137) But the usual fate of the old cabin when once the family became relatively prosperous was to be relegated to other uses. One pioneer, speaking of his father's cabin built in 1817, says, we later moved it. It lasted 71 years as house and stable."(138) Some old cabins were still in use as corncribs today. A mark of progress in. that day was to leave behind the old cabin and move into the new frame house. In the year 1839, forty-three frame houses were constructed in the county. (139) The distinction between a "house" and a "cabin" is very marked in probate records. Sometimes instead of building a new house, the farmer weather-boarded the cabin and built on a frame addition.(140)

It is natural that the same pride in progress which changed the dwelling should cause a desire for newer and better home furnishings. In the thirties stoves began to appear,(141) though the fireplace was in common use at the end of our period. "Dressers" were in use in the twenties,(142) and "bureaus" in the early thirties.(143) "Turned post bedsteads"(144) are indicative of the changing style in furniture.

But the greatest alteration in the farmer's way of living was his increased purchases of manufactured goods. The farms became less and less self-sufficing and farm labor was released for increased specialization. Woolen homespun survived through our period for work clothes, but the spinning wheels were more and more neglected as manufactured cloth became cheaper. The same thing was true as to many other supplies. In the thirties tin ware was already driving out the old standby, the gourd.(145) Nails, rope, pocket knives, brooms, etc., had become cheap.(146) Apparently a great deal of sewing was still done in the home, but many other tasks were eliminated. A list of the items bought by a farmer from a Greenville store in 1838 and 1839 will illustrate the change which had taken place:

Transportation and Markets

One of the first acts of the county board in 1817 was to choose three "viewers" to plot a road from Perryvi11e to "Converse's Mill" and from there "toward the Mississippi." This action was the result of a Petition by thirteen men, among whom was Converse, the miller, who also became one of the viewers. (148) A similar procedure was followed throughout the period in securing a new road. If the viewers reported favorably on its advisability, the county board appointed one or more supervisors who proceeded " to call all hands liable to work on such road." (149) One set of instructions ordered the supervisor to "proceed to cut and clear out a road sufficient wide to admit wagons to pass each other, but not to do any injury to any fences or farms without the consent of the owner or owners." (150) Long roads were divided, among supervisors. The road levy was usually for all persons within three miles of the road.(151) The levy did not include work animals. When a job required oxen, the owner was reimbursed.(152)

In 1827 the administration of roads was altered by the creation of nine road districts, each with a supervisor.(153) By 1848 the number of districts for the county bad grown to thirty six'(154) The plan of work was also changed to a uniform yearly requirement of five days labor for each adult male.(155) The supervisor was obliged among other duties to see that each man in his district did his annual stint. Those not doing the stipulated amount were sued in court for the estimated value of their labor(156) Reports as to the condition of plows and other tools were made to the county board.(157)

When Greenville became the county seat in 1821 a number of the road projects provided for earlier were abandoned. But a large number of others were at once planned, and Greenville soon was the center of a network of roads. Already, before the removal of the county seat, Wheelock of Ripley had secured provision for a road from Ripley to Vandalia via Greenville, as the Bond County part of the Vandalia-Edwardsville pike. This road with "witness trees" or "mile posts" to mark it was ordered to 'be one, hundred feet wide.(158)

Apparently it was not completed, for the Bond County part of a Vandalia-St. Louis road through Greenville was "viewed" in 1821 at the expense of the petitioners.(159) This highway, later known as the National Road, became the most important in the county and was occasionally given state aid.(160) It was long hoped that the Cumberland Road would be extended west, either to Alton or St. Louis. In either case it would have crossed the county, but such hopes were doomed to defeat.(161) The trail from Greenville to Shelbyville, started in Bond County in 1825,(162) became a state road in 1831, (163) as, did the Sangamon Road to Springfield in 1840.(164)

Besides these main thoroughfares there were a large number of ordinary roads, mere dirt trails giving outlets for the farms. They were very crooked, as the road makers wished to avoid hills and low ground. It is little wonder that whenever possible people cut straight across the prairie paying no attention to the roads.(165) Many roads were later abandoned as the result of petitions.(166) Others were straightened. For instance, one very crooked road from Mulberry Grove to Vanburensburg in Montgomery County was in 1846 ordered straightened and "opened 60 ft. wide."(167) Most of the county roads in time came to follow section lines.

A big problem in road building was the crossing of streams. A ferry across the Kaskaskia in 1619 had rates ranging from two cents for a hog to seventy-five for team and wagon.(168) Most of the streams, however, were fordable except at high water. One man is said to have charged regular fees for guiding travelers across Shoal Creek, on the St. Louis Road.(169) His trade was ruined by a bridge built with two hundred dollars of state money in 1825. The specifications were for a very substantial bridge. The mud sills were thirty feet long and all the timber except flooring a foot square or larger.(170) Quite a number of bridges were ordered built in the late 1830's and 1840's. It became the practice to appoint an agent who let out these contracts.(171) Contracts were awarded to the "lowest and best bidders."(172) Another problem of road building is shown by a record of 1648, "$25 to drain the lake on Vandalia road near George Koonces.(l73)

Horseback riding was a usual method of travel throughout the period, no doubt because of its comparative speed and comfort. Practically every family had riding equipment.(174) Fathers often made provision in their wills so that unmarried daughters were left horses and riding equipment.(175)

Referring to the thirties a pioneer writes, " When a young man wanted to take his best girl to church he would take her up on his horse behind him and trot off 4 or 5 miles".(176) A Bond County resident of 1850 mentions that women rode a great deal, always with side-saddles. Any woman who would have ventured to ride astride would have seriously compromised her good name."(177) In 1849 five boys were prosecuted for the crime of "running horses in a public road."(178) The public attitude toward such diversion was probably reflected by the fact that none of them was fined.

Many early wagons were made entirely of wood, the wheels being cross sections of trees.(179) One native of the county writes, "I have driven one of these block wagons . . . . . We used soft soap on the axles and when they got dry you could hear them squeak a mile away."(180) A very few farmers had "two horse wagons" even in the early thirties, but soon afterwards they began to appear in increasing numbers, and such items at sales as "1 wagon and harness"(181) became common. The victory of the wagon over the ox-cart which was so common in earlier days,(182) came when horses displaced oxen. In the forties the blacksmith shops of Greenville made the manufacture of wagons part of their trade.(183)

During the latter part of our period wagons seem not only to have been the common vehicles for hauling but also for conveyance of persons. The Reverend Lemuel Foster of Bethel mentions several "big wagons" being brought to his church services in the early forties,(l84) while a later writer referring to the fifties comments, "The average farmer thought himself well fixed when he could take his family to church in a spic-and-span, newly painted two horse wagon." (185)

Hauling to St. Louis with oxen in the early days was an arduous task, taking from two to four weeks for a round trip when roads were bad.(186) The use of horses and wagons speeded up the trip, so that five days were usually sufficient.(187) Farmers taking products to St. Louis frequently had arrangements with merchants and smiths to bring back needed merchandise. One pioneer writes, "Long rows of wagons could be seen in the thirties unloading at the old store after returning from St. Louis with goods.(l88) A Pocahontas resident of 1850 says, "All the goods in Hike's store was hauled by wagon from St. Louis, forty miles to the west.(189) A St. Louis firm in 1853 paid a Bond County teamster thirty cents per hundred pounds for hauling goods back with him,(190) although the usual rate is said to have been from fifty cents to one dollar, depending on the state or the roads.(191) The National road became a great artery of trade accommodating numerous market wagons from a hinterland extending far to the east.(192)

Regular stage coach service through the county began in the twenties, and by 1830 Greenville was equipped with hotel and stables. The hotel, half log and half frame, was the usual "stage house" of the day, with a wide porch it's full length.(193) The stage service of about 1840 is thus described by a resident of Greenville:

We had an every other day stage. It went east one day and the next day west. It carried all the passengers and the driver had the mail sack under his feet. When he drew near the post office, he heralded his coming with a tin horn.

This was our best means of transportation.(194) Sometime later the schedule was doubled so that there was a coach each way daily.(195) A stage stand at Mulberry Grove, one at Greenville, and one at Pocahontas gave the county a full share of the benefits of the traffic. When competition of railroads for passenger and mail service caused the line to be discontinued in 1855 (196) Bond County, still left out in the railroad building, must have drastically felt the loss.

Industries, Services, and Trade

One of the greatest needs of the early settlers was for mills. Corn could with some labor be made into food by home methods, but wheat could not be so prepared. The nearest mill was at Edwardsville, too far to be much used.(197) Soon "band" mills appeared for the grinding of corn, the oxen or horses for the grinding being furnished by the owner of the grain.(198) In 1817 two juries were appointed to look over mill sites for men who had made application in order "to ascertain as the law directs how much damage will be caused thereby."(199) These juries later reported favorably and dams of ten and twelve feet respectively were allowed.(200) One of these mills was in operation by 1819, when its owner was charged with overtolling.(201) During the next years several more permits to build watermills were granted. The census of 1830 reports eleven "grist mill"(202) and that of 1840 lists ten.(203) Unfortunately, we cannot tell how many of these were later mills, but there were still "horse-mills" in operation, probably grinding corn only.(204)

Many accounts speak of wheat bread as a treat. A vagrant mechanic who stopped for awhile in the country in 1842 and later returned there to live complains that "there was no wheat bread-- People lived on dodger bread, fried bacon, and coffee. The milling was bad."(205) It is possible that many farmers who raised wheat for the market consumed little wheat flour themselves. Yet the first mill site of the county still had a mill functioning in 1850, caring alike for single sacks of wheat and corn brought by boys on horseback and for wagon loads hauled from far away.(206)

Nearly all the water grist mills had sawmills in connection with them.(207) The census for 1830 reports five for the county(208) and that of 1840 lists six employing eighteen men.(209) It is probable that these sawmills did a rushing business as the county filled with frame houses. An idea of the kind of lumber sawed is shown by two orders of the county court. In 1824 the sum of $48.50 was appropriated for twenty-five hundred board feet of black oak plank, five hundred of walnut plank, and sixty feet of hand railing.(210) In 1834 an order specified "6000 feet of Walnut and oak for the public square."(211) Inventories of estates during the period show that many farmers possessed odds and ends of timber, plank, shingles, etc. A farmer dying in 1840 had on hand oak planking considered as worth over forty dollars, besides fourteen thousand shingles,(212) The sawmills of the period used "up-and-down" saws regulated by wooden frames. The logs were moved from the timber to the mill on huge-wheeled ox carts.(213)

Various types of simple manufacture were tried at an early day. One account mentions that a cotton gin was started within the county in 1820, a spinning machine in 1821, a tannery in 1820, a hat factory in 1823, and a wool carding machine in 1823.(214) In 1827 there were two cotton gins on opposite sides of Greenville and a spinning factory in the town,(215) but the failure of cotton as a paying crop in the thirties spelled their doom.

Tanning on the other hand proved a profitable business.(216) When the tannery changed hands in 1830, it sold for eight hundred dollars.(217) In 1840 there were two tanneries in the county employing four men.(218) The "hat factory" mentioned above was a log cabin in which the owner alone worked.(219) This concern or another of like nature was still functioning in 1840, the estimated value of hats and caps made in one year being seven hundred dollars.(220) The two "woolen manufactures" reported in the census of that year(22l) were probably carding machines. Economic conditions were not conducive to the development of any manufacturing except the simplest kinds, and even these had to compete with home industry. Because of poor transportation in the early period, it was to be expected that surplus grain should be transmuted into whiskey. A large still, started near Greenville at an early date, sent its product to St. Louis as late as 1838.(222) Records mention distilleries in various parts of the county. One reports "a distillery where Liberty Church now stands.(223) A deed for a piece of land in the west part of the county in 1830 mentions a "still house."(224) The census of that year states that there were four distilleries in the county.(225) Because of economic conditions or changing public opinion, or both, the number decreased to two by 1840 with an estimated annual capacity of fourteen hundred gallons.(226) Later records are very chary in their references to this aspect of the county's history.

The early settlers found salt springs of some importance on Shoal Creek. During the first year of the county government road was surveyed to connect Perryville with the "saline."(227) There is little information as to how much these springs were worked. The census of 1840 reports that three men were employed by the state lessees and $1200 tied up in capital investment.(228) But hopes that the salines would ever be very productive were abandoned at about this time, Two half sections of timber which had been retained were placed on the market and quickly bought by the neighboring farmers in 1840. In 1843 the state gave the remaining "saline springs" to the county.(230) The county court tried leasing the "lick farm" but soon revoked the lease for noncompliance with the terms made.(231) No record mentions any attempt at salt making after that time.

One of the most important occupations all through this period was blacksmithing, A smithy was probably the nucleus of nearly every hamlet. At a time when credit transactions were the rule of the day, the smith was no exception. A smith who died in 1842 had twenty-two outstanding accounts, most of them small.(232) A bill presented to an estate in 1850 gives a fair idea of the kinds of work done and the rates charged: "Sharpening Mattox .10, Sharpening Plow .10, Nailing on two shoes .25, Mending log chain .05,Fixing neck yoke and trace chains .25, Plow handle .25, Painting plow .25, 24 lbs. salt .50, One new plow 3,00,(233) One smith to whom a bill of over thirty dollars was due for repairing a wagon, allowed partial payment by hauling.(234) Greenville because of its convenient location seems to have been a center for blacksmithing. A second shop was built there in 1838.(235) The smiths there not only did ordinary work, but also regularly made plows and wagons.(236)

The earliest account of carpenter work in the county reads as follows: "My grandfather came in 1820 from Tennessee. He hired a cabin built and had to cut a doorway after he got here with an axe."(237) Carpentering as a trade was probably combined most often with farming and other work, since a great part of the construction was done by the owners themselves. One man, for instance, in the thirties and forties combined contracting and building with stock raising on a rather large scale.(238) Other artisans seem to have had the same difficulty of living by their trade, An expert shoemaker who settled in Greenville in 1827 soon decided to turn farmer,(239) Other shoemakers carried on farming as a side line,(240) It is probable that local shoemakers could not compete very successfully with those of St. Louis in making shoes, while much of the repairing was done in the homes. A tailor also tried his trade in Greenville, in the early forties,(241) but how he fared the records do not tell.

Surveyors had work in plenty during this period. There were government lines to retrace, roads to view, an increasing number of estates to divide among heirs, town sites to subdivide, etc. The career of Asahel Enloe is illustrative. In 1818 he was employed by the county as "viewer" of a road,(242) and at several times thereafter he served in the same capacity. In 1824 he became the county surveyor,(243) Fifteen years later we find him still practicing his trade, acting as one of the "commissioners" appointed to partition an estate,(244) In 1841 he was engaged to survey Bilyeu's Addition of Mulberry Grove.(245) Yet when he died in 1853, he was nearly penniless, His complete surveying outfit brought six dollars at public sale,(246) His profession seems to have been neither the envy of his neighbors nor profitable to himself.

The place of a hired labor force was not large in a society where most of the labor supply was home grown. There were, of course, always a few men hired about the mills, sawmills, and stores, while the harvest and other rush seasons gave a little extra employment. One pioneer writes as follows of harvest in the thirties: "The pay for a day's work was always a bushel of wheat no matter what the price"(247) In 1822 surveyors' chainmen received a dollar per day.(248) Even supervisors of roads were paid only $l.50 per day.(249) In 1834 a man was given "$.75 for one day's work measuring plank for the county.(250) One farmer, born in 1837, writes, "I have :worked in harvest for fifty cents and made rails for fifty cents a hundred."(251) Road work in 1842 was reckoned at a dollar per day.(252) A few sources mention "hired hands," usually boys or young men, serving for monthly wages for a time before starting out for themselves. In 1827 a lad nine years of age began work for a farmer in the northern part of the county, getting "$1.50 a month and keep." By the time he was fifteen he received a "man's wages" of fifteen dollars per month.(253) With land and living expenses both cheap, it was probably difficult to keep hired men. John Henry Taylor, who came to Illinois from Virginia in 1833 at the age of fifteen and later became a prominent farmer, writes, "I commenced work three-fourths of a mile east of Greenville. I made my home there three years. Then I hired out for about five years before I married." The girl he married was the daughter of his second employer.(254)

The professional skill of the physician was in special demand all during the period. The reputation of Bond County as to health does not seem to have been very good. A pastor who went there in 1838 writes, "Bethel was located in a portion of the state where Eastern people had hardly dared spend the summer in those days on account of the prevalence of sickness there."(255) The ponds and swamps of the early day provided excellent breeding places for mosquitoes and the manure heaps common to farm lots were equally congenial to flies, Flies are looked upon as beneficial scavengers. If they were scarce, a "sickly season" was predicted.(256) Diseases common at the time, under various names, were pneumonia, colds, coughs, diarrhoea,(sic) dysenteory,(sic) malaria, typhoid fever, etc., while nearly everyone at some time had measles, scarlet fever, chicken-pox, and whooping cough.(257)

The doctors or the time were not equipped to Cope with many diseases. A physician had on hand at his death in 1831 a "broken set of surgical instruments" and small quantities of quinine, sulphate, opium, gum of camphor, "cyclonce," "specacuanha," pulverized rhubarb, Dover powder, tartaric acid, "Stauni," white precipitate, "B acid," oil of peppermint, and annis.(258) A doctor of Pocahontas is said to have killed himself with an overdose of his own medicine.(259) It is probable that home remedies and rough frontier methods were often as effective as the medicine administered by physicians. Most pioneer gardens contained boneset to "break the ager," pennyroyal to "sweat" the sick, etc.(260) Obviously the medical knowledge of the day was not very profound. One doctor's library in 1838 contained the following volumes: Cooper's Surgery, Richardson's Physiology, Gallio's on Life, Philosophy of Medicine, Denman's Midwifery, Caldwell's Outline of a Course of Medicine, and two volumes of the Medical Journal. Besides these and his medicines he possessed a "White Stomach Pump."(261) However, one must not doubt the efforts or the good intent of most of the doctors of the day. Certainly it was no easy task to visit patients at long distance over poor roads. The physicians of Greenville set good example of fortitude in 1849 during the cholera epidemic when several persons died in great agony and when everyone was in a panic.(262)

The people seem to have had great faith in their physicians, often a faith greater than their ability to pay. Nearly all administrators of estates had to settle doctor bills, usually older accounts as well as that of the "last sickly illness." Individual accounts were often of considerable amount for that day. One such bill of 1851 runs as follows: "Visit self and wife 4.00; Medicine for wife 21.50; To night visit 2.50; consultation 2.50.(263) Doctors seem to have been well paid, at least on paper. An early Greenville physician, J. B. Drake by name, built a house which for long was the finest in the county.(264) He and Dr. J. W. Fitch, also of Greenville, were later prosperous enough to become rivals in trade by purchasing shares in competing stores. Each then presented a "store bill" and a "doctor bill" to the administrators of an estate in 1840.(265) However, the prosperity of the doctors of the period was perhaps less real than it seemed because the system of indiscriminate credit. The administrators of the estate of Dr. T. P. Conn in 1838 found 258 outstanding accounts, ranging from less than one dollar to nearly fifty, and totaling over two thousand dollars. Over fifty of these were at once marked "desperate," "doubtful," "dead," "moved off," "inso1vent," or "gone," while still others proved impossible to collect,(266) With one exception, the legal progression seems to have been neglected in Bond County's early days. Benjamin Mills, a young Massachusetts lawyer, settled in Greenville in 1819, practiced for three years, served a term as probate judge, and then returned to his old home to die of "consumption."(267) Apparently no other lawyers resided in the county until 1837, despite the large amount of litigation. Even after that time, competent lawyers rarely remained for long in the county. One M. G. Dale who was practicing in Greenville in 1839,(268) stayed through our period, serving as Probate Judge for part of the time, but he later departed to Edwardsville, a larger field for his talents.(269) At the same time two other young attorneys settled in Greenville, but within a few years one went to Vandalia(270) and the other to North Carolina to become president of Wake College.(271) In 1844, S. A. Phelps from Mississippi opened his office in Pocahontas. He later moved to Greenville, where he and his sons during the fifties captured much of the civil law business of the county.(272) It is probable that the increasing prosperity of the county by that time enabled attorneys to charge fees which they thought fitting to the dignity or their profession.

In the early days or the county, no dishonor was associated with the keeping of a tavern. The first authorized inn was on Stinking (Beaver). Creek. Certain regulations, "as the law directs," were made. A bond of two hundred dollars was signed and the prices for liquor, meals, lodging, and care of horses were stipulated.(273) The essential features of this plan were retained after Illinois became a state and a license "tax," usually five dollars per year, was charged.(274) The same requirements still held in the mid-thirties,(275) but taverns, once so plentiful, were becoming fewer and fewer in number. By 1843 the county "was a temperance county and there was not a licensed saloon in it.(276) As we shall show later, dealing in liquor became a surreptitious business, although once it had been a respectable trade.

The lodging and feeding of travelers were thus divorced from the vending of liquor. Already in the twenties there was a "hotel" in Greenville, with stables close by, to care for the stream of travelers coming through by coach, in covered wagons, and on horseback.(277) In 1842 a new hotel was built, probably as a result of the decrepitude of the older one and the booming of the stage coach business. It was a two story structure faced with a double porch, "a fine building for those days."(278) The "stage station" at Amity was a similar building of the time, one containing a long hall, a dining room, an office, and a "lady's parlor on the ground floor, and sleeping rooms upstairs. The proprietor of the Amity Hotel was proud of his bill of fare, which listed a great variety of foods except during the winter months. In summer, an ingenious arrangement of cords and strips of paper was used to scare the flies from the food.(279) These hotels on the National Road thrived as a result of the through traffic. To the natives they probably represented one of the few points of contact with the outside world.

It is said that already In 1820 there was a store in Greenville.(280) A man who came in 1830 described the "old store" as a place of bustling activity, handling large quantities of merchandise hauled from St. Louis.(281) Another writer comments, "Greenville was a thriving business place in 1844 having four good stores, a small store, one just started in a corner room, a one story brick and frame building (and) a story and a half hewed log building used as a furniture store."(282) Small groceries were probably maintained in most of the little hamlets. The census of 1840 reports ten within the county with a total capital of $9106.(283)

Some mention has already been made of merchandise bought by farmers. However, one must remember that not all purchases were made locally. On their trips to St. Louis farmers undoubtedly bought goods for themselves and their neighbors. Some farmers had accounts,(284) but most of the goods were probably purchased with cash received for products brought into the city. Local stores naturally could not compete with the lower prices charged by those of St. Louis. An immigrant of 1827 reports that "Goods were high, calico 30 to 75 cents. Domestic shirting from 18 cents to 25 cents and coffee 25 cents a pound."(285) However, not every one could buy in St. Louis. Local merchants were also probably more willing to extend credit. The large number of store bills appearing in settlements of estates prove that this credit was much utilized. For instance, a prominent farmer dying in 1840 owed money at seven different stores, at least five of which were local. The sum total of these debts was nearly three hundred dollars.(286) In general the merchants of the time seem to have prospered. Several of them remained in business for many years.

A description of one general store of 1850, the "James Hike Dry Goods" of Pocahontas will show how completely some local merchants tried to meet the needs of their customers. On one side of the main room were dress goods, woolens, shirtings, "drilling," and millinery goods, including bonnets. Shelves on the other side held hats, caps, boots, shoes, etc. Tables down the center displayed wearing apparel such as overcoats, trousers, overalls, and coats. The grocery department was at the back, while spare bits of space contained tubs, buckets, tin ware, saddles, harness, chains, rope, tools, and the like. In the shed room adjoining were plows, harrows, ox-yokes and barrels of flour, salt, molasses, and whiskey.(287) The rather complete line shows how great had been the change in buying habits since early pioneer days.

Distribution of Wealth, Use of Credit, and Finance

All during the period under consideration the gaining of at least a meager livelihood was possible to all. Land was cheap industry well rewarded. A large family was not long a financial burden; it soon became an asset. To acquire large wealth was difficult, but for a family to gain an estate and make a comfortable living was not beyond reasonable expectation. A man on starting out might have to "squat" on government land for a time, or rent a small farm, or even hire out for awhile, but with reasonable luck he could eventually become a land-owner. There might be lean years because of poor prices, bad weather, or poor health, but overhead was not high and in general good crops on the land were rather certain. Stock were not expensive to keep and multiplied rapidly. When prices were reasonable the farmer could add to his landed possessions, make new improvements, or increase the gradually accumulating working equipment of his farm. A lifetime of work usually built up an estate of some size. At the death of the owner the "goods and gear" of a farm usually proved to be worth several hundred dollars besides the value of land itself. The appraisal of the personal property of one James Nance who died in 1831 was $609.25,(288) probably not much the average for other farmers of 160 acres. Such an estate, started from small beginnings, was due largely to gradual accumulation and growth.

A rather general distribution of wealth and little actual poverty seem to have been characteristic of the whole period. The overseers of the poor appointed in each township(289) apparently seem to have had to care for very few "poor persons." Nor were there very many cases of bankruptcy or insolvency. Occasionally a man's goods proved at his death to be insufficient to pay his debts.(290) Quite often a man owed nearly as much as his personal estate was worth.(291) Such persons had little enough, it is true, but they were self-sufficing and independent, not burdens upon society. The average farmer, moreover, was far better off than that. The paying off of all debts usually left a comfortable sum for division among the heirs, who would also benefit by the division of the land. An example not far from average is an estate settled in 1850. The widow was allowed to keep goods worth $288.87 at appraisers' estimates as her "third" of the estate. The sale of the remainder of the stock and equipment brought $292.43 of which $193.16 was left after all debts were paid.(292)

On the other hand there were very few personal estates amounting to as much as one thousand dollars. The richest by far for the whole period was one of 1839 worth on paper over seven thousand dollars, besides 1100 acres of land. The owner of this property had had a good library, several suits of clothes and money "out at interest."(293) But he too was a farmer and his pinnacle not so high as to be above the aspirations of his poorer neighbors. The gap between richest and poorest was not enormous even by the standards of that day. Occasionally a person came into the county with considerable money, bought a large amount of land, and began to raise stock. A man like Henry File could by dogged persistence and hard work amass many acres during a lifetime. But experience proved that land to bring big returns bad to be cultivated, and the fattening of stock required much grain. The hiring of a large labor force to add to that of the family group was not very feasible. Rare inventory items, as "300 bu. of rent corn"(294) show that some leasing was done. But there is little to indicate that renting was common during this period. The very cheapness of land militated against much tenantry. It is probable that the larger landholders were land poor. For instance, Charles Gillham, had owned much real estate in the northeast part of the county since early days sacrificed 80 acres at $1.25 per acre in 1834.(295) One of the largest landowners in the county, Benjamin Johnson, sold 160 acres for $300 in 1845.(296) These and many other sales, often at sacrifice prices, show that mere ownership of land was not considered sufficient in itself

A chief factor preventing the perpetuation of large estates was the application of the rule of equal inheritance. The property of Henry File when divided among seven sons, two unmarried daughters and a son-in-law in 1836 gave each heir only a hundred acres or the equivalent.(297) Stringer Potts' personal estate in 1840 amounted to over $1200, rather large for the time, but there were twelve heirs to share it.(298) The rearing of large families thus prevented rather effectively the building up either a permanent landed class or an aristocracy of wealth.

Actual money, never very plentiful, was at times very scarce. One pioneer says, "Sometimes for months we were without a dollar"(299) In order to carry on commercial transactions devices were used ranging from actual barter to extension of long-time credit. Horse-trading was a common form of barter, in a way almost a sport. In a circuit court case in 1820, the plaintiff accused the defendant of "falsely and fraudulently, crafti1y and subtly" deceiving him in a trade. The jury found for the defendant.(300) However, it is probable that most exchanges made, in stock, grain, fruit, meat, etc., were upon the basis of benefit to both parties. The farmer hauling produce to St. Louis traded part of his land for merchandise to take back with him. Another modified form of exchange was used by the local merchant. The farmer purchased on account, which he reduced from time to time by cash payments or farm produce.(301) The store at Pocahontas, for instance, received eggs, butter, lard, bacon, wool, hides, etc., in return for goods sold.(302) Farmers were thus able to market products in small quantities and to purchase their needs even in slack times.

Credit dealings of merchants, doctors, and blacksmiths have been discussed. The farmers among themselves also carried on a great many like transactions. Sometimes these accounts ran over a great length of time. An example is that of a purchase of apples worth $15.O0 by a farmer in 1824, not paid for until the death of his creditor in 1839.(303) An estate of 1839 contained a number of interest-bearing notes stating on their face that they were for apples, bacon, etc. One note specifies that it is to be paid in work, at the customary cash price.(304) A farmer dying in 1847 had five "open accounts," four of which were respectively for beef, bacon, coal, and "boarding."(305) An estate of the next year had twenty such accounts ranging from less than one dollar to nearly twenty and bearing various dates from 1839 to 1847. Of the twenty accounts the appraisers adjudged nineteen as "indifferent."(306) In a day of little money, credit thus permitted commercial transactions to be carried on. That such credit was often abused was natural.

Many farmers carried on their operations largely with the money of others. One large scale farmer, dying in 1832, had out-standing debts of $1239.09, yet the settlement of the estate proved him to be solvent.(307) Another in 1840 owed over nine hundred dollars mostly on due notes. His credit was apparently not hurt by large borrowing. He had accounts' with eight merchants and two doctors.(308) Smaller farmers, too, usually had a few outstanding notes besides the usual debts to merchants and doctors. A farmer who died in 1847 had fifteen small notes outstanding, the payment of which swallowed up the bulk of the proceeds from the ensuing vendue.(309)

The use of borrowed capital in increasing amounts resulted in considerable litigation to enforce payment of notes. Two cases of October 12, 1841, are rather typical. In one instance, in an action of "debt," the creditor sued the debtor and his co-signers for $275 principal and $50.14 interest.(310) The other was an action of "assumpsit" for $165.15, "note and interest."(311) Most of the notes of any size had two or more endorsers, so that the gaining of a judgment usually meant payment by someone to, the creditor. Quite a few loans were secured by mortgages on land, especially during the latter half of the period. From 1836 to 1850 the average of mortgages registered in the county was about one a month(312) while doubtless a great many were not recorded. The usual court action was "on scire facias, to foreclose mortgage."(313) There were never many of these foreclosures, though their number increased somewhat during the forties.

The lending of money seems to have become a rather lucrative sideline for prosperous farmers, especially during the latter part of the period. Ten and 12 per cent a year were the usual rates of interest charged, and the fact that many notes mention no rate hints of usury. Many notes were for small amounts, some of them no doubt to pay for produce, others advances to friends and relatives as personal favors, and many purely loans of surplus cash in order to receive the interest. A small estate of 1828 had five outstanding notes respectively for $l0.00, $13.00, $9.50, $6.00, $5.00 and $22.50.(314) A rich farmer died in 1839 with over fifty notes to his credit. The smaller ones specified no interest, while a few bore 12 per cent. As to the majority of them, the appraisers commented, "many of the foregoing notes which bear 25 pr ct interest and carry the proof of usury on the face of them are doubtful, to the amount, it is believed, of $2000." The interest due on some of the notes amounted to more than the principal.(315) However, within a little over two months, the administrator, a son, had collected all but $1100.(316) By compromising the interest due to 12 per cent he was able, although losing one lawsuit, to collect $470 more.(317) The actual loss of a little over $600, largely interest, might well have been chalked down as a result of greed. Settled as it was in hard times, it is remarkable that the estate suffered no larger loss. An estate of 1848 had forty-six outstanding notes, most of them bearing 10 per cent interest. Of these, twenty-one, ranging from four dollars to three hundred and constituting a large majority of the total sum were considered "good." The rest, some dated as early as 1840, were rated as "indifferent" and "desperate."(318) Apparently there were, despite the large profits when all went well, certain pitfalls in loaning out money.

As compared with private lending, bank loans seem to have been very insignificant in amount. During its brief and troubled existence the Bank of Edwardsville in Madison County purchased at 1east three quarter sections within Bond County(319) and no doubt advanced money to other speculators. Although the bank failed in l82l,(320) litigation in connection with its speculations cropped out in Bond County as late as 1837.(321) The Bank of Illinois, also at Edwardsville, does not appear in Bond County records until the latter part of the period. Its loans seem to have been usually on mortgages and were rather cautiously made. One loan on 40 acres amounted with interest to $ll3.33 by 1844.(322) An occasional small note without collateral occurs, as one for $26.08 in 1847,(323)

The place of banking in Bond County's financial structure was a small one during this period.

Footnotes for Chapter II

Templates in Time