Life on the Illinois Prairie in the 1840s

From Prelude to the Presidency by WILL-TV.

University of Illinois-Springfield Prairie

 The prairie scenes here are good, though the video is a promotion for attending college at UIS.

Little House on the Prairie Introduction

While this video of Little House on the Prairie is definitely a TV clip, it gives a good feel for a prairie as people would have traveled it in the 1840s.

Dr. Rutherford's Comments

In 1842, Dr. Rutherford wrote to his future brother-in-law about his new homeland in central Illinois:
"The eye will never tire of the flowers of the widlerness and of the prarie: and the scent of their blooms and the brightness of their colors is unsurpassed...whilst at the same time the eye can view mile upon mile and still rest upon an endless expanse of green...A drove of Buffaloes passed through here toward the East lately.  These animals are a curiosity...With the drove (33 in number) was a female Elk."



Lucinda Rutherford's Comments

Hiram's first wife Lucinda wrote to her mother in June 1843:
"The prairies here are delightful, they are from 12 to 20 miles wide, and 150 long, instead of the timber surrounding them, they surround the timeber, at this season they are most beautiful.  The green grass has sprung up and covered the whole bosom of these wastes; with that grass there springs up a multitude of flowers of every hue, form, and scent, It is delightful to ride over this level land and every step, tramping those gems of nature underfoot.  Their beautiful heads can be seen as far as the eye can reach waving in the summer wind."
            These quotes are from On the Illinois Frontier: Dr. Hiram Rutherford (1840-1848) edited by Willene Hendrick and George Hendrick, Southern Illinois Press, 1981.