On a frosty day in November 1831, Rebecca Burlend and her husband, John, and their five children debarked at New Orleans
after a long voyage from England. They took a steamboat up the Mississippi
to St. Louis
and from there went to the wilds of western Illinois
. It was a whole new world for a family that had never been more than fifty miles from home in rural Yorkshire. Rebecca's narrative, written with the help of her son, was first published in 1848 as a pamphlet for people of her own class in England who might be considering migration to America. It records the daily struggle and also the satisfactions of homesteading
in the Old Northwest: life in a log cabin; food, clothes, and furniture of the period; early churches and schools; the unspoiled countryside and its denizens. With courage and self-reliance Rebecca Burlend accepted the privations and difficulties of this pioneering venture. "Burlend's book is not just among the best women's texts on midwestern farm life during the first half of the nineteenth century; it may well be the best document by anyone on that subject."-Western Historical Quarterly
Click for the original review.
New Orleans, near the mouth of the Mississippi, was the principal city in French America and became the capital of the state of Louisiana. Along with the Missouri, the Mississippi forms the longest river system in the world and ultimately drains almost all of the central United States. Founded in 1764, St. Louis grew as a steamboat center on the Mississippi, as the eastern end of the Oregon Trail, and as the result of industrialization after the Civil War. Illinois is a large Midwestern state that holds a dominant position in transportation and agriculture. The Homestead Acts were designed to open the West to farming settlement by offering a section of land to those who would farm it with certain restrictions.