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   A True Picture of Emigration

A True Picture of Emigration

Author: Burlend, Rebecca Set In . . .
 North America, USA, Illinois
Genre: Other
Time Frame: None
Description: Rebecca Burlend (1793–1872) is the author of A True Picture of Emigration, a journal and guide written during the period of 1831–1845. (The full title is A True Picture of Emigration or Fourteen Years in the Interior of North America Being a Full and Impartial Account of the Various Difficulties and Ultimate Success of an English Family Who Emigrated from Barwick-in-Elmet, near Leeds, in the Year 1831.) She published it anonymously in 1848, later receiving credit for the work.

This family came to Illinois by way of New Orleans and the Mississippi River. They landed at Phillip's Ferry on the Illinois River, where Valley City is now located, and secured a farm in Pike County. The account is given as by the mother of the family but appears from the preface to have been put into literary form by a son who remained in England and to whom she told her experiences during a visit to her native land. The greater part of the pamphlet is devoted to the trials and experiences of the first few years and it is an excellent picture of frontier life. There were a considerable number of English families among the early settlers of Pike County.

Burlend's work provides an excellent window into a settler's life in Illinois. The following is an excerpt describing the Log Cabin in which her family lived.

"There were two rooms, both on the ground floor, separated from each other with boards so badly joined that crevices were observable in many places. The rooms were nearly square, and might contain from thirty to forty square yards each. Beneath one of the rooms was a cellar, the floor and sides of which were clay, as left when first dug out; the walls of the house consisted of layers of strong blocks of timber, roughly squared and notched into each other at the corners; the joints filled up with clay. The house had two doors, one of which is always closed in winter, and open in summer to cause a draught. The flre was on the floor at the end of the building, where a very grotesque chimney had been constructed of stones gathered out of the land, and walled together with clay and mud instead of cement. It was necessarily of great width, to prevent the fire from communicating with the building. The house was covered with oak shingles; that is to say, thin riven boards nailed upon each other, so as just to overreach. The floors of the house were covered with the same material, except a large space near the fire, which was paved with small stones, also gathered from the land. The windows were few and rather small. It is in reality true, that the want of light is felt very little in a log-house; in winter they are obliged to keep fine blazing fires, which, in addition to the light obtained from their low, wide chimneys, enable the inmates to perform uuy business that is requisite."

Originally published in 1848; reformatted for Kindle; may contain occasional imperfection; original spellings have been kept in place.
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