Letter from Adolphus Allen, 13 July 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Des Moines July 13th. 1841
Dear Sir
The diagram below represents the land that I spoke to you about a few days since. It lies on a dry & beautiful ridge between two Streams & is skirte[d] on the north & South by timber. It is admirably calculated for a number of Settlers on the north & south borders with One Common field in the Centre which might be extended to 200 acres. (a few more Settlers here would give a preponderance at the polls, in this election precinct). There is a house with 2 rooms, a Barn with 2 stables, & a large corn house on the lot. this lot contains 80 acres. The other of 40 acres which is coloured, has about 20 acres of beautiful crowning priarie & 20 acres of timber, with a fine stream of water running through it. This lot covers a valuable coal bed which is very accessible. These two lots I purchasd at $1000. have paid $500. The residue with interest & cost amts to something short of $700— They are to be sold on the first monday in August next. Should it fall into the original owners hands, it cannot be had presume for 12 Dollars pr acre, as he has lamented much that he <​had​> sold it. The lot East of it I gave $10. pr acre for & the one West of the 40— A. Leving gave 10 Dollars pr acre for, with no improvements on. The title to this land is derived from government— (entered at ) If it can be saved by the , those who may settle on it can be accommodated with land to till adjoining it of mine— for any length of time.
With much respect Your humble servant
[Drawing of land described above; transcript of map notations follows]
Priarie
I gave 10 Dollars pr acre for this
 
Field
80 acres
 
Timber
 
Prairie
 
40. acres
Priarie
 
Timber
Coal Mine
40. as
Beautiful
Priarie
 
$10. Pr acre
A. Levings
 
Samuel Steele
 
Coal Bank
 
J. M. Fadden
 
[end of map] [p. [1]]
 
Gen Joseph Smith
,
Ills [p. [2]]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Des Moines City was bordered by Larry Creek on the north and Waggoner Creek on the south. (“Map of Hancock County, State of Illinois,” ca. 1843, CHL.)  

    “Map of Hancock County, State of Illinois,” ca. 1843. CHL.

  2. 2

    Hancock County’s earliest settlements were established on the outskirts of the county’s timbered regions. The trees in the county mainly consisted of “black and white oak and hickory, with an undergrowth of red-bud, sassafras and hazel” on the county’s ridgelines. “Elm, linden, wild cherry and honey locust” trees grew “on the more level portions” of the region. (Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois, 198, 204, 206, 466.)  

    Gregg, Thomas. History of Hancock County, Illinois, Together with an Outline History of the State, and a Digest of State Laws. Chicago: Charles C. Chapman, 1880.

  3. 3

    At the time he received this letter, JS was considering other settlement locations for the growing number of Latter-day Saint immigrants. However, settlement in Des Moines City offered certain political advantages: by relocating only twenty-five more eligible Latter-day Saint voters to the area, the Saints could obtain a democratic majority in the Montebello election precinct. Allen’s suggestion to buy his property came only three weeks after a group of citizens formally established an anti-Mormon political party in Warsaw, Illinois. During the highly contested Hancock County elections in August 1841, two anti-Mormon candidates took office, winning by 4 and 114 votes respectively. Allen’s offer of additional lands provided the Saints an opportunity to secure a majority in the Montebello precinct as well as a majority in Hancock County. (Historical Introduction to Letter from Calvin A. Warren, 31 Aug. 1841; “Anti-Mormon Meeting,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, 23 June 1841, [3]; “Address,” Warsaw Signal, 7 July 1841, [2]; “Anti-Mormon Nominations,” Warsaw Signal, 28 July 1841, [2]; “Hancock County Election,” Warsaw Signal, 11 Aug. 1841, [2]; see also News Item, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 20 Aug. 1841, [2].)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

    Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.

  4. 4

    Corn house was another name for a corncrib, a ventilated building or granary for drying and storing ears of corn.  

  5. 5

    A geological survey of Illinois noted small outcroppings of coal in this portion of Hancock County, including a deposit “on the headwaters of Waggoner’s creek . . . that was worked to some extent in the early settlement of the county.” At the time the survey published its study in 1866, the coal deposit was relatively thin, only “twelve to fourteen inches thick” and was “strongly impregnated with iron pyrites,” making it impure and potentially volatile. (Worthen et al., Geological Survey of Illinois, 331–332; see also Hall and Whitney, Report of the Geological Survey of the State of Iowa, 1:190; and JS, Journal, 12, 14, 16 Jan. 1842.)  

    Worthen, A. H., J. D. Whitney, Leo Lesquereux, and Henry Engelmann. Geological Survey of Illinois. Volume 1, Geology. Springfield: Legislature of Illinois, 1966.

    Hall, James, and J. D. Whitney. Report of the Geological Survey of the State of Iowa: Embracing the Results of Investigations Made during Portions of the Years 1855, 56 & 57. 2 vols. Des Moines: Legislature of Iowa, 1858.

  6. 6

    Allen had borrowed approximately $1,000 from Nathaniel Allen of Troy, Pennsylvania, to pay for land in Illinois. (Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 11F, pp. 400–402, 10 Jan. 1839, microfilm 954,194, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  7. 7

    TEXT: Areas containing timber are identified in Allen’s drawing with green brush strokes.  

  8. 8

    Owner of land adjacent to Allen’s in the drawing.  

  9. 9

    Owner of land adjacent to Allen’s in the drawing. Steele arrived in Hancock County around 1830 and participated in the Black Hawk War. He served as justice of the peace for twenty-eight years and as county assessor for several terms. (Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois, 817.)  

    Gregg, Thomas. History of Hancock County, Illinois, Together with an Outline History of the State, and a Digest of State Laws. Chicago: Charles C. Chapman, 1880.

  10. 10

    Likely John McFadon, owner of land adjacent to Allen’s in the drawing. McFadon owned large tracts of land throughout Hancock County. (Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 10E, pp. 461–462, 28 Aug. 1838, microfilm 954,194, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.