It is a matter of common knowledge that the present generation knows but little of the labors
and privations, the hardships and the countless dangers dared by the pioneers who first settled and improved Schuyler county. Their struggle with natural conditions was
enough to try the most courageous and the most hopeful, and that they did succeed and did triumph, goes to show they were animated by a mighty zeal, and sustained by the
backing of the toughest moral fiber.
Too often in the days of our prosperous times we forget how the sturdy pioneers pushed into the
wilderness of the Military Tract, even while the Indians yet roamed over the country, and built their cabins along what was then known as the northwestern frontier. They
came from the settlements of New England, from the middle and southern coast states, and from the border lands of Kentucky and Missouri, and met on common ground as
countrymen and neighbors.
There were two great routes of communication open to Schuyler county in those early days. One
was by means of the overland trail, which wound its devious way southward across the Illinois river and then eastward to Terre Haute. The other was by way of the Illinois
river, and many of the settlers from Missouri and Kentucky chose this route.
Even after the toilsome and perilous journey was made in safety, great courage was required to
brave the dangers and trials incident to building a home in the trackless wilds.
In that first year in the country, the little colony of settlers, less than two score in
number, must have been depressed by the solitude of the wilderness that everywhere surrounded them. Distances were mighty, and means of communication slow and
laborious. The nearest market was St. Louis; the nearest blacksmith shop at Carrollton; the nearest post office, Sangamon, 60 miles away, and the only physician known to the
settlers lived at Diamond Grove, near where Jacksonville is now located. It has been said by some Illinois historians that ague became a habit with the early pioneers, and
that the only medicine known or prescribed in the settlement was calomel and whiskey, with an occasional blood-letting when a physician was called. As for luxuries, there
were none; and ceaseless, toilsome labor was the only pastime, if we except hunting.