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fertility of the country,” he adds in another place, "gives them fields everywhere." In 1680, he informs us: "As wine failed us for the celebration of the divine mysteries, we found means, toward the close of Angust, to get wild grapes which began to ripen, and we made very good wine, which served us to say mass till the second disaster, which happened a few days later. The clusters of these grapes are of prodigious size, of very agreeable taste, and have seeds larger than those of Europe.'
Charlevoix, who went down the Mississippi in 1721, has a few pertinent remarks to make upon the natural resources of Illinois. Being just below the present town of LaSalle, on the Illinois river, he says:
“The largest of these [rivers) is called Pisticoni, and proceeds from the fine country of the Mascolins. At its mouth jg a fall, or a rapid stream, which is called lo Charboinere, or the Coal-pil, from the great quantity of sea coal found in the placers adjacent."
Writing from Kaskaskia, he adds :
"The soil is not only extremely proper for wheat, but besides, refuses nothing necessary or useful for human life. The climate is extremely temperate, lying in thirty-eight degrees thirty-nine minutes north latitude. Cattle and sheep would multiply here wonderfully. Even the wild buffaloes might be tamed, and great advantages drawn from a trade of their wool and hides, and from their supplying the inhabitants with food."
“The highlands, and other kinds of soil not liable to be overflowed by the river, are even already very well adapted for producing corn, and if the trials made in some places have not succeeded because the corn has been blasted or mildewed, it is owing to this circumstance, that the country not being cleared, the wind bias not free access to disperse those noxious vapors which generate mildews. An eri. dent proof of which may be drawn from this : that amongst the Illinois, where there is more meadow than woodland, wheat thrives and ripens as well as in France."
"The French in this place live pretty much at their ease. A Fleming who was a domestic of the Jesuits has taught them to sow wheat, which succeeds very well. They have black cattle and poultry. The Illinois, on their part, manure the ground after their fashion, and are very laborious. They likewise bring up poultry which they sell to the French. Their women are very neat-handed and industrious. They spin the wool of the buffalo, which they make as fine as that of the English sheep: nuy, sometimes it might even be mistaken for silk. Of this they manufacture stuffs which are vied black, yellow, or a deep red. Of these stuffs they make robes which they scw with thread made of the sinews of the rce-buck, The manner of making this thread is very simple. After stripping the flesh from the sinews of the roebuck, they expose them to the sun for the space of two days; after they are dry they beat them, and then without difficulty araw out a thrcad as white and as fine as that of Mechlin, but much stronger.”
Charlevoix notices, as productions of Illinois, white mulberries, Pacune (pecans), Piakimine (persimmon), and the cane.
Du Pratz, in 1758, wrote a description of Louisiana, from which I take the following extracts, following the translation of 1774:
"The country of the Illinois is extremely good, and abounds with buffalo and other game. On the north of the Wabache we begin to see the Orignaux, a species of animals which are said to partake of the buffalo and the stag They have indeed been described to me to be much more clumsy than the stag Their horns havo something of the stag, but are shorter and more ma:8y. The meat of them, as they say, is pretty good. Swans and other water fowl are common in these countries."
" The French post of the Illinois is, of all the colony, that in which, with the greatest ease, they grow wheat, rye and other like grain, for the sowing of which you need only to turn the earth in the slightest manner; that slight culture is sufil. cient to make the earth produce as much as we can reasonably desire. I have been assured that in the last war, when the four from France was scarce. the Illinois sent down to New Orleans "pwards of eight hundred thousand weiglit thereof in one winter. Tobacco also thrives there, but comes to maturity with difficulty All the plants transported thither from France succeed well, as do also the fruita."
He describes the culture of maize, water melons, tobacco, potatoes, etc., but evidently with reference to the lower part of the valley of the Mississippi.
Pittman, an English captain, who came along the Mississippi about 1770, on a mission of the British government, which acquired this country from the French a little earlier, describes several of the French posts below St. Louis and along the American Bottom, in the following language:
“The inhabitants here [La Prairie de Rochér) are very industrious, and raise a great deal of corn and every kind of stock."
(Saint Philippe.] “The captain of militia bas about twenty slaves, a good stock of cattle and planks."
[Kaoquias-Cabokia.] “The inhabitants of this place depend more on hunting and their Indian trade, than on agriculture, as they scarcely raise corn enough for their own consumption. They have a great deal of poultry and good stocks of horned cattle. " The Mission of St. Sulpice " disposed of thirty negroes and a good stock of cattle."
“The soil of this country in general is very rich and luxuriant. It produces all sorts of European grains, hops, hemp, flax, cotton and tobacco, and European fruits come to great perfection. The inhabitants make wine of the wild grapes, which is very inebriating, and is in color and taste very like the red wine of Provence."
“ In the late war, New Orleans and the lower parts of Louisiana, were supplied with four, beer, wines, hams, and other provisions from this country. At present its commerce is mostly confined to the peltry and furs, etc.
"The price of labor in general is very high, as most of the young men ratber chuss to bunt and trade among the Indiaus, then apply to agriculture or become handicrafts. At the Illinois a man may be boarded and lodged the year round, on condition of his working two months, one month in ploughing the land, and sowing the corn, and one month in the harvest."
“ Mons. Paget was the first who introduced water-mills in this country, and be constructed a very fine one on the river Cascasquias, which was both for grinding corn and sawing boards. It lies about one mile from the village [of Notre Dame de Cascasquias]. The mill proved fatal to him, being killed as he was working in it, with two negroes, by a party of the Cherokees, in the year 1764.”
He farther mentions :
At Saint Phillipe, "a water-mill for corn and planks.”
"The only trades they have amongst them are carpenters, smiths, masons, taylor. and mill-wrights."
“The air in general is pure, and the sky serene, except in the month of March and the latter part of September, when there are heavy rains and hard gales of wind. The months of May, June, July and August are excessive hot, and subject to sudden and violent storms. January and February are extremely cold. The other months of the year are moderate."
“ The country abounds with buffalo, deer, and wild fowl, particularly ducks, geese, swans, turkies and pheasants. The rivers and lakes afford plenty of fish.”
In the “Western Annals” we find a good description of the original method of laying out farm lands under French rule :
“ The style of agriculture in all the French settlements was simple. Both the Spanish and French governments, in forming settlements on the Mississippi, had special regard to convenience of social intercourse, and protection from the Indians. All their settlements were required to be in the form of villages or towns, and lots of a convenient size for a door yard, garden and stable yard, were provided for each family. To each village were granted two tracts of land at convenient distances, for 'common fields' and 'commons.'”
“A common field is a tract of land of several hundred acres, inclosed in common by all the villagers, each person furnishing his proportion of labor, and each family possessing individual interest in a portion of the field, marked off and bounded from the rest. Ordinances were made to regulate the repairs of fences, the time of excluding cattle in the spring, and the time of gathering the crop and opening the field for the range of cattle in the fall. Each plat of ground in the common field was owned in fee simple by the person to whom granted, subject to sale and conveyance, the same as any landed property.
“A common, is a tract of land granted to the town for wood and pasturage, in which each owner of a village lot has a common, but not an individual, right. In some cases this tract embraced several thousand acres."
Gov. Reynolds, in his Life and Times, gives a more minute and graphic account, extending to a later period:
" The agriculture at this period (1800) was limited and inefficient. The citizens were generally poor, and raised not much surplus produce. At this period there
was neither barley, rye, nor oats, cultivated in the country. Corn, wheat, and potatoes were then, as they are now, staple articles.
“The Americans cultivated the same species of corn they do now, but the French almost entirely raised the hard, Ainty corn, out of which hominy was manufactured. They also sowed spring wheat, as their common fields were occupied by the cattle all winter. The Americans mostly raised fall wheat, and at times some spring wheat also.
“In early times the French cultivated only a scanty supply of potatoes, or other vegetables, except articles pertaining to the gardens.
"In horticulture they excelled the Americans. The lettuce, peas, beans, carrots, and similar vegetables, were cultivated considerably in the French gardens. In this necessary branch of culture the pioneer Americans did not rival their French neighbors; but in a "truck patch” the Anglo-Saxons surpassed the other race. Cabbages were, to some extent, cultivated, but sweet potatoes then were not seen ic the country. In early times flax and cotton were cultivated considerably. Large stocks of cattle, horses and hogs were raised in proportion to the number of inhabitants. The French cart was a primitive vehicle made entirely of wood, and not an atom of iron in its construction. Running it without grease it made a squeaking noise which could be heard at a great distance. At this early day the agricultural implements were defective. The old bar-share plough was used by the Americans, and sometimes the shovel plough, in the growing corn. The common hoe was the same then that is used at this day. [?]
"The French depended more on hunting and voyaging for a living than on agriculture, and therefore paid less attention to the cultivation of the earth. Their ploughs, and they had but one class of that instrument, was of French descent, I presume, as I saw the same species of plows in old France. The French plow was destitute of iron, except a small piece, and the game fastened to the point of the wood of the instrument, to cut the earth. The metal was tied with raw-hide to the wood of the plough, and also a kind of mortise was made in the fore part of the share, in which the front of the wood was inserted. The bar, as it is called, was constructed of wood. The handles were very short and crooked, so that the ploughman walked almost on his plough. The beam was straight, and laid on the axle of a low-wheeled carriage. The wheels of this vehicle were low and made without iron, similar to the wheels of a wheel-barrow. Holes in the beam of the plow permitted the instrument to be so regulated on the axle, that it would make the proper depth of furrow. The plow was dragged on generally by oxen.
The cattle were tied to the plow by a straight yoke, which was tied to the horns of the oxen by straps of untanned leather.
"Some few grist mills were established in the country in 1800, and one saw mill. General Edgar had erected a fine flouring mill on a small stream passing through the Mississippi bluff, a short distance northeast of Kaskaskia, which did considerable business for two-thirds of the year. This mill manufactured flour for the New Orleans market, and frequently boats were freighted from this mill with the flour to the southern market.
Henry Levens had in operation at this date the only saw mill in the country. It was built on Horse creek, a few miles from the mouth of the creek, in Randolph county.
"Judy owned a water mill situated a few miles south of Columbia, in the present county of Monroe. West of this mill and near the Mississippi bluff, Valentine
owned a small water mill for many years. In Prairie du Pont, Jean F. Perry owned a water mill for many years. This was the same site where the Jesuits had erected a mill some forty or fifty years previoue. Joseph Kinney had a small water mill on a stream east of the New Design. In all the French villages, and in the New Design also, horse mills were erected, and some business done by thom when the water inills were dry."
In his Pioneer History, Gov. Reynolds says:
The custom among the inhabitants of the Illinois villages in regard to making and keeping in repair the fence of this common field, was that each proprietor of land should make and keep in repair the fence passing over his land. And if a tract of land was abandoned by its owner, as was the case sometimes, the land was sold out at the church door to any one who would make the fence to enclose it. [These sales, I believe, took place on Sunday, after high mass.]
The French system required the grants to be adjacent to each other, and numbered; so that no intervening tracts could exist. The grants were generally made by so many arpens in front, and extending at right angles to the requisite quantity. The lines were not, like the lands of the United States, run on the cardinal points, but were run the same course and frequently the same length. Generally, the French grants in Illinois commenced at the river and extended to the bluff, or from river to river, as they are at Kaskaskia. A French acre or arpent is eleven rods and sixtyseven hundredths of a rod, English measure, being the square of the arpent. This system contemplated either large enclosures, embracing the lands of many farmers, or the fields cultivated without fencing. It would be too expensive for a farmer having a grant of one arpent in front, 11 67-100 rods, and running, perhaps, many miles the other way, as they do in the Cabokia common field, to fence his farm himself. And, in consequence of this system, the French of the villages had, in olden times, their whole common field enclosed together. The fence generally extended, near the villages, from either the Mississippi to the bluff, or from the Mississippi to the Kaskaskia, as it was at Kaskaskia. The common field was on one side of this fence, and the stock, cattle, horses, hogs, etc., were forced to range on the other side. This was the ancient manner of enclosing the common fields of Kaskaskia and Cahokia for nearly one hundred years, and the same system was adopted by all the other villages of Illinois. A large gate was erected in the fence near the village, and a keeper was stationed at it, to permit the farmers and others to enter the field and return at pleasure.
In the fall, when the corn and other crops were gathered, the gate was thrown open and the stock took possession of the field during the winter.
Grants of land were made for almost all, or entirely so, of the American bottom from the upper limits of the common field of St. Phillips to the lower line of the Kaskaskia common field, a distance of nearly thirty miles; and the traces of culti. vation could be distinctly discerned in the greater portion of this tract of country down to the year 1800, and after.
In the early settlement of the country, the horned cattle came from Canada and the horses reached the country from the South and the West. The cattle were & hardy race, not large but of neat formation. The horses were of the Arabian strain. The Spaniards introduced them into their American possessions, and from this race originated the French horses. This blood of horses was brought into Spain from