A “tourist,” writing to the Peoria Transcript in 1859, gives the following sketch of Frederick and Rushville, which even if not complimentary, is interesting after 60 years.
Frederick, Schuyler county, is a landing on the Illinois river, four miles above Beardstown, contains about 150 inhabitants, stands with its feet in the mud during the greater portion of the year, and when I passed here a year ago only its head was out of water. Just now, however, it shows its entire body and may be seen in its most favorable aspect. I mean by this that the weeds are allowed to grow in the bottom, that the frogs are permitted to sing undisturbed in the sluices, and the neighbors to call upon each other without going in a skiff. In short, the water in the river has sunk into its own proper bed and the mosquitoes and business are prospering. The place is principally owned by the brothers C. and M. Farwell, two enterprising men, who by dint of perseverence and sharp trading have succeeded in amassing a handsome fortune. Money, I am told, is scarce here. The only currency in actual circulation consists of barrel staves, but the freight received and shipped at the landing furnishes considerable of a business item.
My business was at Rushville, ten miles distant, plank road all the way. The intervening county is sandy, soil very thin, wood abundant forest birds innumeral. Good Mr. Black, mine host of the Frederick House, the father of 22 children, all by one wife (and who is, apparently, good for more additions to the flock), furnished me with a horse, buggy and driver, all for a two dollar bill.
I found Rushville ensconced among the woods upon high ground, and its chief glory is evidently its ripe old age. The buildings are poor, many of them dilapidated, and the evident character of the place slow, sober and seedy. It resembles many of the old mountain towns of New England in its appearance, and is such a place as quiet, old-fashioned, but respectable and substantial people, who believe more in meeting houses and ministers than they do in modern enterprises, would naturally delight to live in. The fact that it is the county seat of Schuyler county gives it its chief importance. Here are assembled some ten or a dozen limbs of the law, ready always if not eager to pluck the pockets of such farmers as are unfortunate enough to get caught in the meshes of litigation.
Rushville is the home of P. H. Walker, one of the judges of the supreme court. He is a plain man, lives in a plain, sensible style, and in urbanity, integrity and distinguished ability has few superiors among the lawyers of the west.
The crops in this section look very promising. I saw several good fields of winter wheat, nearly ready to harvest. Spring wheat and oats look well and corn is fresh, fine and growing rapidly.
June 24, 1859. TOURIST