Frontier Illinois Place Images
The state of Illinois has probably the finest body of fertile land of any state in the Union, and the opportunities for speculation are numerous--property will continue to advance--admirable farms and town lots may be purchased with a certainty of realising large profits. The country here is beautiful. -- Peck 1837
Illinois Country was both myth and reality. Early-nineteenth-century emigrant guides and gazetteers sowed persuasive place images. Macro- and micro-scale place images functioned as essential elements of "Illinois fever." The cognitive maps of western promoters articulated a number of attractive settlement destinations. I argue that their assessment reveals an important information source from which immigrants evaluated potential settlement areas in the remote Illinois frontier. Place images represent fundamental spatial frames of references of pioneers' mental maps. Immigrants' destination proclivities influenced immigrant sorting and mixing.
Real and imagined frontier place images intertwined in the continental interior. Allen contends that geographical movements of a colonizing frontier society often reflected inadequate and inaccurate objectives, directions, and geographical information ( 1976). Jakle stresses that geographical perceptions, behavioral experiences, and geographic mobility were deeply rooted in a sense of place ( 1977). Pioneers spatially organized the tangible and intangible frontier world by mentally and emotionally creating spatial frames of references ( Downs and Stea 1977, 99-145).
Jakle argues that on the transAppalachian frontier, pioneers viewed places in a time-space framework. In a geographical context, places possess locational attributes, areal extent, and perceived boundaries. In a temporal context, places reveal "a sequence of openings and closings, and function for set durations of time" ( 1990, 83). Attractive settlement destinations as place images focused pioneers'