An 1836 Guide for Emigrants to the West


A new guide for emigrants to the west, 1836

The subtitle of this book is among the longest I’ve seen:


While you may think this is an early 19th century travel book, it is not. Instead, it reminds me of a county history because it details things like agriculture, township diagrams, population, river bottoms, towns, and antiquities.

That means, if any of your ancestors lived in the places mentioned in the subtitle, this book will give you an insider view of where they lived. The excerpt below is from the chapter on Illinois:
In the southern part, that is, south of the National road leading from Terre Haute to the Mississippi, the prairies are comparatively small, varying in size from those of several miles in width, to those which contain only a few acres. As we go northward, they widen and extend on the more elevated ground between the water courses to a vast distance, and are frequently from six to twelve miles in width. Their borders are by no means uniform. Long points of timber project into the prairies, and line the banks of the streams, and points of prairie project into the timber between these streams. In many instances are copses and groves of timber, from one hundred to two thousand acres, in the midst of prairies, like islands in the ocean. This is a common feature in the country between the Sangamon river and lake Michigan, and in the northern parts of the State. The lead mine region, both in this State and the Wisconsin territory, abounds with these grove.

I bolded National road to call your attention to this early highway. The planning for this highway  began in 1806;  it was the first interstate highway financed by the federal government. You can still travel the National road, more or less, by following Highway 40 from Baltimore to St. Louis.

This early highway went through Hagerstown and Wheeling, Pennsylvania, to Zanesville, Columbus, Springfield, and Dayton, Ohio, then across Indiana through Indianapolis and into Illinois to St. Louis.

If you  receive my newsletter, you’ll now find the ePUB and Kindle (.mobi) versions of this book in your Resource Library. There’s a good chance you’ll find some fascinating facts about where your 1836 family lived.  (Resource Library is free for all newsletter subscribers)

If you’re interested in early American migration routes, this is my absolute favorite book

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