Illustrated Atlas Map of Menard County, Illinois 1874|
Published by W.R. Brink & Co., of Illinois
Organization Of Menard County--Something Of Its Wealth And Advantages
At the legislative session of 1838-9, a bill was passed subdividing Sangamon, and organizing the County of Menard. It was named in honor of Colonel Peter Menard, who came to the State before its organization as a Territory, settling at Kaskaskia before 1800. His last years were spent in Tazewell County, where he died a few years ago. The territorial boundaries of Menard were formed as follows: Beginning at the southeast corner of Section 22, Township 17-8 west, third P.M.; thence east to the southeast corner of Section 21, Township 17-6 west, third P.M.; thence north to the southwest corner of Section 15, Township and Range last aforesaid; thence east to the southeast quarter, Section 18, Township 17-5 west, third P.M.; thence north one-half a mile; thence east one-quarter of a mile; thence north one mile and a half; thence east to the southeast corner of Section 30, Township 18-4 west, third P.M.; thence north to the northeast corner Lot 19, Township 19-4 west, third P.M.; thence west to the southeast corner of Section 13, Township 19-5 west, third P.M.; thence north to Salt Creek; thence with said creek to the northeast corner of Section 7, Township 19-6, where said creek intersects Sangamon River; thence with river to the southwest corner of Section 10, Township 19-8; thence south to the place of beginning,--containing an aggregate area of 197,975 acres. Estimated area of Sangamon River, 700 acres; making a total of 198,675 acres, well watered and timbered. Total number of acres improved, 147,901; acres unimproved, 50,074; number of acres in cultivation, 58,717; number of improved town and city lots, 642; number of unimproved town and city lots, 1806. The total number of miles of railway in operation is about 45 miles.
The people of Menard County are largely devoted to stock-raising, agricultural and horticultural pursuits; and there is probably no County in the world where the farmers are so largely rewarded for the labor they bestow upon their lands, or for the capital they have invested, as in Menard County, --a County that occupies a central position in the broad valley of the Mississippi, universally conceded to be the finest body of land in the world. A little more than two-thirds of the area of the County is prairie, and the other one-third is timber. The soil on the prairie lands is an exceedingly deep, black sandy loam, and the timbered land is a light-grayish clay. The prairie lands produce, annually, in the greatest abundance, immense crops of corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley, potatoes, and vegetables. The bottom lands, which are numerous, when properly drained, rank among the finest corn lands in the world. The timbered high lands are also productive, under a proper system of tillage, and produce corn, oats, rye, and barley; the latter lands are the best adapted to winter wheat-growing of any lands in the County. All of these soils produce grasses in the largest abundance. Vast quantities of corn are annually harvested, by far the larger portion of which is fed in the County to various kinds of stock. The beef cattle and fat hogs of Menard, which are to be seen grazing in mammoth droves throughout the County, are among the finest of their kind that find their way to Eastern markets. Stock-raising is attracting great attention among our rural population, and the finer grades of cattle, sheep, and hogs, are now reared by all of our prominent stock-men. The horses of the County, while they compare favorably with the average of horse-flesh throughout the State, are inferior in quality, and it was but recently that a finer grade of horse was introduced.
The timber of the County is, for the most part, of superior quality, the several varieties of oak, walnut, hickory, and maple, being the most numerous. The oak is of superior quality and furnishes a splendid material for manufacturing wagons, plows, corn-planters, and other machinery; and also for barn and bridge building. The walnut is valuable for cabinet-work and the manufacture of all kinds of furniture. The sugar-maple furnishes a very valuable timber for framing purposes and the production of maple-sugar, large quantities of which are raised in the County annually. The water supply of the County is of unsurpassed excellence. Sangamon River and Salt Creek bound the County on the north. The former stream also runs through the centre, north and south, and Indian Creek, Grove Creek, Pike Creek, Cavine's Creek, Rock Creek, Clary's Creek, and numerous lateral branches run in various directions through the County; thus giving not only an abundance of water for man and beast, but furnishing to the lands a fine system of irrigation.
The entire County is underlaid with vast deposits of coal, comprising three of the finest bituminous veins in the State. A tolerable idea can be formed of the coal wealth of the County, when we state that the several veins referred to here will average six feet in thickness; and that the usual mining estimate for the productive capacity of a coal seam gives one million tons of coal to the square mile for every foot in thickness that the seam will measure.
From this brief reference to Menard and her resources, developed and undeveloped, it will be seen that the County contains within her borders everything that is calculated to make a people great, prosperous, and wealthy. The facilities for the transportation of products to market are ample. The Jacksonville branch of the Chicago and Alton Railroad traverses the finest portion of the County, almost through its centre from the northeast to the southwest. The Springfield and Northwestern Railroad crosses the Chicago and Alton road at Petersburg, and traverses the County from the northwest to the southeast.
An enthusiastic and yet sensible local writer, in closing an article on Menard County, is thus moved to speak: "Our educational facilities are equal, if not superior, to those of any County in the State. The grade of our common schools is of excellent standard, and is being continually advanced. Among the many fine school-houses of the County, those at Tallula and Greenview are superior. The moral status of Menard will compare favorably with that of any County in the Union. Her churches are numerous and her chapels many. Almost all denominations, religions, and charitable associations are to be found in this County. We, therefore, conclude Menard has no superior anywhere in the country in any (desirable) respect. She produces as much corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, grass, vegetables, timber, rock, lime, building material, coal, wood, hogs, sheep, horses, and cattle, as any other territory of equal extent in the State; her transporting facilities are not excelled anywhere; her morals are superior; her resources inexhaustible; her women beautiful; her men industrious; and all prosperous. It is the garden spot of Illinois, and the Paradise of the Union."