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.