Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants / Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863 / A -Rafting on the Mississip'

By Morgan, Marjorie | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants / Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863 / A -Rafting on the Mississip'


Morgan, Marjorie, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants. By William Oliver, with foreword by James E. Davis (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2002; first published 1843. Pp. 260. Paper, $15.00).

Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863. By George Byron Merrick (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001; first published 1909. Pp. 323. Illustrations and map. Paper, $15.95).

A-Rafting on the Mississip'. By Charles Edward Russell (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001; first published 1928. Pp. 357. Illustrations. Paper, $15.95).

Scholars who called ten years ago for the rescue of travel writing from scholarly neglect, must today take some satisfaction in knowing that their call has been heeded. For during the past decade, there has been an explosion of interest in travel and travel writing among scholars in many disciplines. It is thus not surprising that university presses are choosing to issue reprints of some of the more graphic and engaging travel accounts, such as those reviewed here. Although each of these accounts has a specific purpose-providing practical information to potential British immigrants, recapturing the romance of river life and travel, and documenting the romance and rowdiness of rafters and the lumber industry-they do much more as well, by offering insights into the values and conditions prevailing in what is today thought of as the Midwest (then the West) from the 1840s to the end of the century.

Although William Oliver did not enthusiastically support emigration from Britain, he nevertheless wrote this book of advice for immigrants to Illinois and addressed it to the one British group he believed had more cause to emigrate than any other-the poor. Despite the back cover reference to Oliver as English, his vocabulary and allusions suggest he was a Scot, as does the book's inscription to "The Labouring Men of Roxburgshire." Writing about his travels through mostly southern and central Illinois in the early 1840s, Oliver took care to note the sort of information about Illinois he thought an aspiring immigrant should know before leaving home: most successful crops, common livestock, details about farm implements and soil, taxation and land purchasing systems, degree of cold (extreme temperatures low enough to make ink freeze in a pen held not far from a fire), hunting rituals, gun barrel lengths and calibers, and the cost of building and furnishing an 18 X 20 foot house. Readers were also warned that the education in "the West" was poor or non-existent, the snakes could be poisonous (he goes into great detail about a rattlesnake's fang mechanics), the whisky was execrable-the coffee worse, and the insects annoying enough to make the whisky seem palatable.

Oliver traveled through America by steamboat, railway, stage, and horse, and thus readers learn much about the methods and inconveniences of travel in nineteenth-century America. For example, it took twelve to fifteen days to go from New York to St. Louis via Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and cost roughly $45. The lumbering, bone-jarring stage was Oliver's least favorite form of travel, no doubt due in part to the roads. Locals created gaping holes in state roads by digging up theclay for chimneys, and even the national roads confronted travelers with boulders, huge tree stumps, and fences. Guidebooks did not yet exist, and so Oliver and others often had to rely on chance meetings with travelers to learn about accommodation prospects on the road ahead.

Oliver repeatedly referred to himself as "a native of the old country" and offered numerous observations about things he saw that seemed very American. These observations are among the most interesting in the book. He described Americans as "go-ahead," mechanical people, but he was perhaps most impressed by "the anomaly of semi-barbarian joined with civilized existence." (27) By this he meant the plethora of luxuries in stores and warerooms even in isolated towns surrounded by woods as far as the eye could see. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants / Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863 / A -Rafting on the Mississip'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.