1818, after a compromise over the required number of residents,
that Illinois finally became the twenty-first state to add a star to
the country’s flag. The village of Kaskaskia, on the banks of the
Mississippi River, was chosen to be the state capital, and
Shadrach Bond was elected as the first governor. At this time the
entire population of Illinois was only about 40,000 people.
Life as an Illinois Settler
Life was dangerous on the frontier in 1818. Settlers in
Illinois located their families near streams or rivers for easy
access to drinking water and for the safer and faster means of
transportation that the waterways provided. Living near tree-lined
rivers was also important because the settlers needed
timber to build their cabins, as fuel for heating and cooking, and
for making furniture. It was also challenging to be a pioneer
because one lived long distances from towns and neighbors.
Pioneers had to work from sunup to sundown.
When settlers reached a place to
settle, a cabin had to be built and the land
readied for planting crops. Almost every
item they needed on a daily basis had to be
grown, hunted, trapped, caught, found, or
made by the people themselves. Water had
to be hauled to the cabin for drinking,
cooking, laundry, and bathing. Of course,
the toilet, called a privy or outhouse, was
outdoors. Firewood had to be available
every day for cooking. Even more
firewood had to be ready for the winter to
heat the cabin. In most cases, the entire
to settle a disagree-ment
with both sides
getting some things
but not everything; a
for wood or lumber
privy / outhouse—a
very small structure
with one or two seats
built over a hole in
the ground and used
as an outdoor toilet.
Illinois’ first Capitol building in
Kaskaskia. Courtesy Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library.
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