Whilst the population on the great rivers and other thorough-fares is of a very mixed and doubtful character, much of that on the prairies and purely agricultural districts consists of decent people of simple manners, and is as unlike that of the eastern states as if they were of different nations. --Oliver1843
A remarkably rich immigrant mosaic spread across the midwestern plains. Swierenga argues that "the Old Northwest, despite the monotonous topography, never was a featureless cultural plain" ( 1989). By mid-nineteenth century, a three-tier cultural imprint emerged comprised of southern traditionalists, Midland homogenizers, and Yankee modernizers. Midwestern migration and settlement processes reinforced cultural-spatial polarities ( Hudson 1988; Meyer 1976a, 1976b; Rose 1985a, 1988b, 1988c; Swierenga 1989; Wilhelm 1982). Historians ( Billington 1967; Howard 1972; Jensen 1978; Merk 1978; Power 1953a; Swierenga 1989; Turner 1897, 1906, 1920, 1935), economic historians ( Parker 1975), geographers ( Hart 1972; Hudson 1984a, 1986, 1988; Jordan and Rowntree 1979; Kniffen 1965; Kniffen and Glassie 1966; Lewis 1975; Meyer 1976a, 1976b; Mitchell 1978; Newton 1974; Rose 1988b, 1988c; Zelinsky 1973), folklorists ( Glassie 1968), and linguists ( Carver 1987; Kurath 1949; Pei 1957) suggest canonical cultural generalizations.
Zelinsky's benchmark culture region map ( 1973) has formed the basis of other scholars' identification and delimitation of subregions in the eastern United States ( Jordan and Rowntree 1979; Mitchell 1978). Mitchell's structure of early American culture regions portrays Illinois as an unknown quantity in the genesis, development, and expansion of diffusion patterns and regional way stations ( 1978). Crosscurrents of native- and foreign-born immigrants interspersed an extraordinary cultural diversity. I conclude with a retrospection of the population origins, cultural borders, culture regions, and regional way stations in Illinois by 1850. But