A Gazetteer of Illinois, In Three Parts.
By: J. M. Peck, A. M.
Published by: Grigg & Elliot, Philadelphia 1837

Sangamon County


Sangamon County is one of the largest and most flourishing, counties in the state. It is bounded on the north by Tazewell; east, by Macon; south by Montgomery and Mcaoupin; and wast by Cass and Morgan counties. The northwestern corner, runs down between the Sangamon river, which separates it from Cass county, and Tazewell county, to the illinois river.

It is forty-eight miles long, besides the corner mentioned; and forty-five miles wide-containing, in the whole, an area of about 1,270 square miles.

Sangamon county is watered by the Sangamon river and its numerous branches. Those which take their rise within the limits of the county are Clary's, Rock, Richland, Prairie, Spring, Lick, Sugar, Horse, and Brush creeks, on the south side, proceeding upward in the arrangement; and Crane, Indian, Cantrill's, Fancy, Wolf, and Clear creeks, which enter from the opposite side. Those branches which rise without the county, and yet run a considerable distance within it, are Salt creek and branches, North Fork, and South Fork. These streams not only furnish this county with an abundance of excellent water and a number of good mill seats, but are lined with extensive tracts of first rate timbered land.

Here are oaks of various species, walnut, sugar maple, elm, linden, hickory, ash, hackberry, honey locust, mulberry, sycamore, cotton wood, sassafras, etc., together with the various shrubs, common to the country.

The size of the prairies in Sangamon county is seized upon as an objection, by persons who are not accustomed to a prairie country. But were the timber a little more equally distributed with prairie surface, its supply would be abundant. Theprairies vary in width from one to eight or ten miles, and somewhat indefinite in length, being con neeted at the heads of the streams. - Much of the soil in this county is of the richest quality, being a calcareous loam, from one to three feet deep, intermixed with fine sand. The point of land that lies between the Sangamon and the Illinois rivers, which is chiefly prairie, is divided betwixt inundated land, dry prairie, and sand ridges. A stranger to observations upon the surface of Illinois, upon first sight, would pronounce most parts of Sangamon county a level or plane. It is not so. 'With the exception of the creek bottoms and the interior of large prairies, it has an undulating surface, quite sufficient to render it one of the finest agricultural districts in the United States. These remarks are not meant exclusively for Sangamon. They apply with equal propriety many other counties on both sides of the Illinois river. What has been heretofore known to persons abroad as the Sangamon county, may now be included in a large district, containing number of large and populous counties.

This county contains a larger quantity of rich land than any other in the state, and therefore can maintain a larger agricultural population, which is the great basis of national wealth. A distinguished writer, speaking of the state of Illinois, and particularly of this portion of it, remarks in a letter to a friend from Springfield, Illinois, of March 2d.

"Our 'far west' is improving rapidly, astonishingly. It is five years since I visited it, and the changes within that period are like the work of enchantment. Flourishing towns have grown up, farms have been opened, comfortable dwellings, fine barns and all appurtenances, in a country in which the hardy pioneer had at that time sprinkled a few log eabins The conception of Coleridge may be realised sooner than he anticipated. The possible destiny of the U. States as a nation of a hundred millions of freemen-stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, living under the laws of Alfred, and speaking the language of Shakspeare and Milton, is an august conception-why should we not wish to see it realized? On the subject of internal improvements the young giant of the west is making Herculean efforts- a bill passed the legislature last winter appropriating eight millions of dollars for railroads, canals, &c., works which, when completed, will cost twenty millions. A bill also passed transferring the seat of government from Vandalia, in Fayette county, to this place, Springfield, which is in the fertile district of Sangamon county, and as near as may be to the geographical centre of the state, and soon will be the centre of population.

"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-equal in native attractions though not in classic recollections to the scenes I visited and admired in Italy. The vale of Arno is not more beautiful than the, valley of Sangamon, with its lonely groves and murmuring brooks and flowing meads.-.

'Oh Italy, sweet clime of song, where oft
The bard hath sung thy beauties, matchless deemed,
Thou bast a rival in this western land,'"

The first settlement on the waters of the Sangamon, made by white people for a permanent abode, was in 1819; the county was organised in 1821, and then embraced a tract of country 125 miles long, and seventy-five broad. The public lands were first offered for sale in November, 1823, by which time, however, farms of considerable size, even to 100 acres of cultivated land, had been made.

At the present time, the borders of the prairies are covered with hundreds of smiling farms, and the interior animated with thousands of domestic animals. The rough and unseemly cabin is givingplace tocomfortable framed or brick tenements, and plenty every where smiles upon the labors of the husbandrnan.

This county is in the geographical centre of the state, and will eventually be in the centre of population.

Its river market and deposit is Beardstown; but much of its imports will be received and its exports sent off by its own river, which has already been navigated by steam to the vicinity of Springfield, and when some of its obstructions are removed, will afford convenient navigation for steamboats of the smaller class. Its exports now are beef cattle, pork, wheat, flour, corn meal, butter, cheese, etc. and soon will include almost every article of a rich, agricultural country.

Sangamon county belongs to the first judicial circuit, sends seven members to the house of representatives, and two members to the senate.

its population, at the last census, was 17,573, its num ber now would exceed 20,000.

Villages and towns are springing up, some of which may become places of note, as Athens, New Salem, Richland, Salisbury, Greenfield, Rochester, etc.

The seat of justice is Springfield.

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