which is situated in the southeastern portion of Illinois in what is known as the great wheat and fruit belt of the state. The climate is as near perfect as can be found in this latitude, and no county excels it for the good health and longevity of its inhabitants. Persons of four score years and upwards are a common sight, hale, hearty, vigorous--which speak volumes for the healthfulness of this section.
The county now as a population of about 22,000, made up of a sturdy, progressive people, fully alive to
|their interests, steadily casting aside old methods
and taking on the new, to such an extent that the primitive style of
farming has been supplanted by the more modern, and as a consequence the
people are prosperous, contented and happy, and each year adding a
little to their store of wealth.
Good farming land can be procured for all the way from $5 to $40 per acre, according to location and improvements. The whole county is dotted over with school houses and churches and the people are known for their industry, thrift and morality. One striking evidence verifying this fact may be cited--the jail stands tenantless, the iron-barred doors stand ajar and the jailer is waiting "for something to turn up."
From a very reliable source as to what the county contributes to the world's supply for the sustenance of man and beast we obtained the following figures, based on the crop of 1899: Number of acres planted in corn 33,680, yielding 1,178,800 bushels at a value of $353,640.
Hay--Meadow, timothy, clover, herd
grass and blue grass 11,820 acres, yielding 17,730 tons, at a value of
$150,000. Winter Wheat--32658 acres, yielding 391,896
bushels, at a value of $254,732. Oats--6,767
Stock Peas--Our farmers have in the last few years seen the benefit derived from cultivating this useful cereal and it is surely making its way felt, for after the pea is threshed out the stalk makes the most excellent fodder, so that absolutely nothing is wasted. There are fully 30,000 acres planted in this county alone, yielding over 360,000 bushes of peas, at an average of $1.00 per bushel. Every year the acreage increase, thus adding value to our lands and cash in the pockets of its owners.
Clover Seed--A few years ago very little clover was raised in this county, but it has been demonstrated that it can be now grown at a profit, which fact is corroborated by statistics--showing that one firm alone in McLeansboro shipped during the past season seed to the value of over $11,000.
Aside from the cereals this county stands pre-eminent as a fruit raising section. Orchards are on every farm and the smaller fruits clustering around the homestead, grow in the greatest abundance. The past year was an off year for the apple crop, owing to a cold hail storm in the late spring, which swept over the whole section, thus reducing the crop considerably under one-half of that realized in former years; yet notwithstanding this backset, one buyer alone secured 7,000 barrels, which were shipped to St. Louis at an average price of $1.35 per barrel. Other buyers were on the market, who made extensive shipments bringing the sum total to over 17,000 barrels of apples alone, and when it is remembered that this was an off-year, it will be seen that with a propitious season, our people are indeed blessed.
In addition to the green fruit there were shipped during the season 2241/2 tons of dried apples, thus turning nearly $20,000 additional into the pockets of our citizens.
In the matter of poultry and eggs there is apparently no limit to their production, and we call the attention of our readers to the statistics published in another column, where is seen that this is one of the great industries of the county. One firm alone in the city of McLeansboro shipping nearly one-half million pounds of poultry and over three-quarters of a million dozen eggs the past year, and in one day alone last fall they shipped 7,000 pounds of turkeys.
Nor is this all of which the county has to boast. As a stock raising section witness the following figures, as taken from the assessor's books for 1899, showing a net gain of over 50 per cent in the past five years. We have divided the matter up, so that each township can see what it has contributed to the world's wealth and vie with one another.
Dahlgren Township--Horses, 1,153, cattle 1,143, mules 136, sheep 955, hogs 3,234.
Knight Prairie--Horses 834, cattle 1,010, mules 89, sheep 431, hogs 2,235.
Flannigan--Horses, 1,025, cattle 1,493, mules 193, sheep 824, hogs 3,066.
Crouch--Horses 1,108, cattle 1,376, mules 192, sheep 1081, hogs 4,006.
McLeansboro--Horses 817, cattle 1,405, mules 92, sheep 218, hogs 2,106.
Twigg--Horses 952, cattle 1,582, mules 218, sheep 526, hogs 3,940.
Beaver Creek--Horses 623, cattle 6,656, mules 118, sheep 220, hogs 2,442.
Crook--Horses 716, cattle 1,138, mules 136, sheep 472, hogs 2,685.
Mayberry--Horses 949, cattle 1,183, mules 174, sheep 439, hogs 3,550.
Making a total in the county of: Horses 8,177, cattle 10,995, mules 1,348, sheep 5,166 and hogs 27,364.
The subjoined table will give an idea of the amount of business in shipments coming to and going from the city for the past twelve months.
The Haw creek special drainage district comprises about thirty thousand acres of the finest black bottom land to be found anywhere in the state of Illinois. The property is located in the northern part of the county and has a valuation at the present time of from $5.00 to $15.00 per acre, but when the work of drainage is completed and the land prepared for cultivation these figures will be materially changed, and it is estimated the $65.00 or $70.00 per acre will be a low price.
This district is a natural basin with four good size creeks running into and scattering over the west end. On the east end there is a natural ridge from three to four feet high and from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide, causing the water to remain on the low lands, thus destroying its usefulness for agricultural purposes. Between this ridge and Scillett Fork river, which is about three-quarters of a mile, lie some of the most fertile and to found anywhere, over 80 bushes of corn per acre being the average. Some three years ago Colonel James R. Campbell conceived the idea that these bottoms might be drained and in the fall of 1897, the owners of the land engaged Messrs. John Judd and Major M. W. Spencer, two of the best civil engineers in the country, to survey and devise a scheme whereby this end may be attained. These gentlemen went to work, obtained the level of the whole district, and suggested that a ditch be cut from west to east, emptying into the Scillett Fork river, thus obtaining a good fall, and which could be done at a comparatively small cost.
Upon receiving this report the owners of the land proceeded to organize an association under the statue of Illinois and at the district election held Hon. Silas Biggerstaff, H. L. Maulding and D. D. Holland were elected commissioners and they are now at work completing their arrangements to carry out the plans suggested which will open up some of the finest country in the southern end of the state. The land is covered with very heavy timber and it is estimated that there is sufficient if properly taken care of, to pay the drainage tax and clear the land.
Everything that can be grown in this climate reaches its highest perfection, and when Hamilton county is better known it will teem with busy farm life, and be made to blossom as the rose.
GOOD TOWNS OF HAMILTON COUNTY
Piopolis, the center of a scope of rich, level country about eight miles square, is settled almost exclusively by Germans, who are among the county's most prosperous and substantial citizens. As there is no railroad, Piopolis makes no pretensions as a trading point, but boasts of the finest church in the county. This church cost $26,000 and is built of pressed brick. The priest's residence in connection cost $3,200. In addition to a public school, there is also a parochial school, which cost $1,600.
With the exception of McLeansboro, there are no large towns in the county, but numerous small ones, which do a good business. Of these Dahlgren, Broughton, and Dale are representative and the railroad shipments from them are representative of the county's resources.
Sandstone, suitable for building purposes, which dresses easily and hardens on exposure is found in large quantities southwest of McLeansboro, and clay, suitable for brick making, is abundant in every locality, as it also sand for mortar and cement.
Plenty of good oak, hickory, cherry, mulberry, elm, maple, ash and gum timber can be found through the county. The best of water can be found at from ten to twenty feet below the surface in almost any place, which is one of the greatest boons enjoyed by man or beast, and with this brief synopsis of the advantages derived by our people living in such a salubrious clime we have it from excellent authority that they are ever ready and willing to extend the welcoming hand to all reputable person who will come and locate and assist in developing the untilled fields.
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS
"The public schools the hope of the county." There are seven graded and eighty-one ungraded schools in the county, and the various religious denominations are represented by sixty-six churches, viz: Baptist 21, Methodist 15, Presbyterian 5, Catholic 3, United Brethren 1, Christian 6, Free Will Baptist 3, Episcopalian 1, and Cumberland Presbyterian 3.
The present county officers are:
It is not strange then, that amid such surroundings, such fertile fields and valleys, such health-giving breeze from adjacent hill tops that we find the progressive and picturesque city of McLeansboro.
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