1837 Emigrant Information
Excerpts from
Mr. Peck's Emigrant Guide

©Susan Cook; Illinois Trails History and Genealogy


Illinois College is located in the vicinity of Jacksonville, and one mile west of the town. Its situation is on a delightful eminence, fronting the East and overlooking the town, and a vast extent of beautiful prairie country, now covered with well cultivated farms.

Shurtleff College of Alton, Illinois is pleasantly situated at Upper Alton. It originated in the establishment of a seminary at Rock Spring, in 1827, and which was subsequently removed.

Alton Theological Seminary is an organization distinct from Shurtleff College and is under the charge of a Theological Professor, with seven or eight students, licentiates of Baptist Churches.

M'Kendreean College, under the supervision of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is located in Lebanon, St. Clair County.

M'Donough College, at Macomb, has just commenced operations. It is identified with the interests of the "old school" Presbyterians, as the Illinois college at Jacksonville is with the "new school" Presbyterians.

Canton College in Fulton county has recently been chartered as a college by the legislature.

Belvidere college, in Winnebago county, has been recently chartered, and an effort is about being made to establish a respectable literary institution in this new and interesting portion of the State.

The Jacksonville Academy is established for the convenience of those whose studies are not sufficiently advanced to enter the Preparatory department of Illinois College. The Jacksonville Female Academy is a flourishing institution. A respectable academy is in operation at Springfield; another at Princeton, Putnam county; a third at Griggsville; a fourth at Quincy.

The Alton Female Seminary is an institution projected for a full and useful course of instruction on a large scale, and is designed wholly as a boarding school.

The project of establishing a seminary for the education of teachers, at Waverly in the south eastern part of Morgan county is being entertained. A seminary is about being established in a settlement of Reformed Presbyterians in the eastern part of Randolph county. The "Reformers," or Campbellites, as some term them, have a charter and contemplate establishing a college at Hanover, in Tazewell county.


The Methodist Episcopal Church is the most numerous. The Illinois Conference, which embraces this state and a portion of Wisconsin Territory, in 1835 had 61 circuit preachers, and 15,097 members of society. They sustain preaching in every county and in a large number of the settlements.

The Baptist denomination includes 22 associations, 260 churches, 160 preachers and 7,350 communicants

The Presbyterians have one Synod, eight Presbyteries, and about 80 churches, 60 ministers and 2,500 members.

There are 12 or 15 Congregationalist churches, united in an association and several ministers

The Methodist Protestant denomination has one conference, 22 ministers and 344 members

The Reformers, as they term themselves, or "Campbellites," as others call them, have several large, and a number of small societies, a number of preachers, and several hundred members, including the Christian body, with which they are in union. They immerse all who profess to believe in Christ for the remission of sins, but differ widely from orthodox Baptists on some points of doctrine.

The Cumberland Presbyterians have two or three Presbyteries, twelve or fifteen preachers and several hundred communicants

There are two churches of Reformed Presbyterians, or Covenanters, one minister, and about 280 communicants, with a few families scattered in other parts of the state. There are also two or three societies of Associate Reformed Presbyterians, or Seceders.

In M'Lean county is a society of United Brethren, or, as some call them, Dutch Methodists.

The Dunkards have five or six societies and some preachers in this state

There are several Lutheran congregations with preachers

The Protestant Episcopal Church has an organized diocese, eight or ten congregations, and seven or eight ministers

There are small societies of Friends or Quakers in Tazewell and Crawford counties; and a few Mormons, scattered through the state

The Roman Catholics are not numerous. They have a dozen congregations, eight or ten priests, and a population between five and six thousand including old and young. A convent and boarding school for young ladies is in operation at Kaskaskia. The Roman Catholics are mostly about the old French villages, and the labourers along the line of canal

There is considerable expression of good feeling amongst the different religious denominations, and the members frequently hear the preachers of each other, as there are but few congregations that are supplied every Sabbath.


Having decided to what state, and part of the state, an emigrant will remove, let him then conclude to take as little furniture and other luggage as he can do with, especially if he comes by public conveyances. Those who reside within convenient distance of a sea port would find it both safe and economical to ship by New Orleans, in boxes, such articles as are not wanted on the road, especially if they steer for the navigable waters of the Mississippi. Bed and other clothing, books, etc., packed in boxes, like merchants' goods, will go much safer and cheaper by New Orleans than by any of the inland routes. I have received more than 100 packages and boxes from eastern ports, by that route, within 20 years, and never lost one. Boxes should be marked to the owner or his agent at the river port where destined, and to the charge of some forwarding house in New Orleans. The freight and charges may be paid when the boxes are received.

If a person designs to remove to the north part of Ohio and Indiana, to Chicago and vicinity, or to Michigan or Green Bay, his course should be by the New York canal, and the lakes.

The same route will carry emigrants to Cleveland, and by the Ohio canal, to Columbus, or to the Ohio River at Portsmouth; whence, by steamboat, direct communications will offer to any river port in the Western States. From Buffalo, steamboats run constantly (when the lake is open) to Detroit, stopping at Erie, Ashtabula, Cleveland, Sandusky and many other ports, whence stages run to every prominent town. Transportation wagons are employed in forwarding goods.

The most expeditious, pleasant, and direct route for travelers to the southern parts of Ohio and Indiana; to the Illinois river, as far north as Peoria; to the Upper Mississippi as far as Quincy, Rock Island, Galena and Prairie du Chien; to Missouri and to Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Natchez and New Orleans, is one of the southern routes. These are:

From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, by railroads and the Pennsylvania canal

By the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and stages, to Wheeling

For people living to the south of Washington, by state, by the way of Charlottesville (Virginia), Staunton, the Hot, Warm, and White Sulphur Springs, Lewisburg, Charleston, to Guyandotte, whence a regular line of steamboats runs three times a week to Cincinnati. Intermediate routes from Washington city to Wheeling, or to Harper's Ferry, to Fredericksburg, and intersect the route through Virginia, At Charlottesville

The Pioneer line, on this route, is exclusively for passengers and professes to reach Pittsburgh in four days but is sometimes behind, several hours. Fare through, $10. Passengers pay for meals.

The Good Intent line is also for passengers only, and runs in competition with the Pioneer line.

Leech's line, called the "western Transportation line," takes both freight and passengers. The packet boats advertise to go through, to Pittsburg, in five days, for $7. Midship and steerage passengers in the transportation line, in six and a half days; merchandise delivered in eight days. Generally, however, there is some delay. Emigrants must not expect to carry more than a small trunk or two, on the packet lines. Those who take goods or furniture, and wish to keep with it, had better take the transportation lines, with more delay. The price of meals on board the boats is about thirty-seven and a half cents.

In all the steamboats on the western waters, no additional charge is made to cabin passengers for meals; and the tables are usually profusely supplied. Strict order is observed, and the waiters and officers are attentive

Steamboat Route from Pittsburg to the mouth of the Ohio

Middletown, Pa Aurora, Indiana
Economy, Pa Petersburg, Ky
Beaver, Pa Bellevue, Ky
Georgetown, Pa Rising Sun, Indiana
Steubenville, Ohio Fredericksburg, Ky
Wellsburgh, Va Vevay, Indiana, and Ghent, Ky
Elizabethtown, Va Port William, Ky
Warren, Ohio Madison, Indiana
Sistersville, Va New London, Indiana
Newport, Ohio Bethlehem, Indiana
Marietta, Ohio Westport, Ky
Parkersburg, VA Transylvania, Ky
Belpre and Blannerhasset's Island, Ohio Louisville, Ky
Troy, Ohio Shipping port, through the canal
Belleville, Va New Albany, Indiana
Letart's Rapids, Va Salt River, Ky
Point Pleasant, Va Northampton, Indiana
Gallipolis, Ohio Leavenworth, Indiana
Guyandotte, Va Fredonia, Indiana
Burlington, Ohio Rome, Indiana
Greensburg, Ky Troy, Indiana
Portsmouth (Ohio Canal) Rockport, Indiana
Vanceburg, Ky Owensburg, Ky
Manchester, Ohio Evansville, Indiana
Maysville, Ky Henderson, Ky
Charleston, Ky Mount Vernon, Indiana
Ripley, Ohio Carthage, Ky
Augusta, Ky Wabash river, Ky
Neville, Ohio Shawneetown, Ill.
Moscow, Ohio Mouth of Saline, Ill.
Point Pleasant, Ohio Cave in Rock, Ill.
New Richmond, Ohio Golconda, Ill.
Columbia, Ohio Smithland, mouth of the Cumberland river, Ky
Fulton, Ohio Paducah, mouth of the Tennessee river, Ky
Cincinnati, Ohio Caledonia, Ill.
North Bend, Ohio Trinity, mouth of Cash river, Ill.
Lawrenceburg, Ind., and mouth of the Miami Mouth of the Ohio River

Persons who wish to visit Indianapolis will stop at Madison, Indiana, and take the stage conveyance. From Louisville, by the way of Vincennes, to St. Louis by state, every alternate day 273 miles, through in three days and a half. Fare, seventeen dollars. Stages run from Vincennes to Terre Haute and other towns up the Wabash river. At Eveansville, Indiana, stage lines are connected with Vincennes and Terre Haute; and at Shawneetown twice a week to Carlyle, Illinois, where it intersects the line from Louisville to St. Louis. From Louisville to Nashville by steamboats, passengers land at Smithland at the mouth of Cumberland river, unless they embark direct for Nashville. In the winter, both stage and steamboat lines are uncertain and irregular. Ice in the rivers frequently obstructs navigation, and high waters and bad roads sometimes prevent stages from running regularly.

Farmers who remove to the west from the northern and middle states, will find it advantageous, in many instances, to remove with their own teams and wagons. These they will need upon their arrival. Autumn, or from September till November, is the favourable season for this mode of emigration. The roads are then in good order, the weather usually favourable, and feed plenty. People of all classes, from the states south of the Ohio river, remove with large wagons, carry and cook their own provisions, purchase their feed by the bushel, and invariably encamp out at night.

Individuals who wish to travel through the interior of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, etc., will find that the most convenient, sure, economical and independent mode, is on horseback. Their expenses will be from seventy-five cents to one dollar fifty cents per day, and they can always consult their own convenience and pleasure, as to time and place.

State fare is usually 6 cts. a mile, in the west. Meals, at stage houses, 27 1/2 cts.

Steamboat Fare, including Meals:

From Pittsburg to Cincinnati $10
Cincinnati to Louisville $4
Louisville to St. Louis $12

And frequently the same from Cincinnati to St. Louis, varying a little, however.

A deck passage, as it is called, may be rated as follows:

From Pittsburgh to Cincinnati $3
From Cincinnati to Louisville $1
From Louisville to St. Louis $4

The deck for such passengers is usually in the midship, forward of the engine, and is protected from the weather. Passengers furnish their own provisions and bedding. They often take their meals at the cabin table, with the boat hands, and pay twenty-five cents a meal. Thousands pass up and down the rivers as deck passengers, especially emigrating familles, who have their bedding, provisions and cooking utensils on board.

The whole expense of a single person from New York to St. Louis, by the way of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with cabin passage on the river, will range between $40 and $45; time from twelve to fifteen days. Taking the transportation lines on the Pennsylvania canal, and a deck passage in the steamboat, and the expenses will range between $20 and $25, supposing the person buys his meals at twenty-five cents, and eats twice a day. If he carry his own provisions, the passage, etc., will be from $15 to $18.