With the forced removal of the Kickapoo and remaining Native peoples in 1832, the trickle of settlers moving into the state turned into a great rush of people hoping to acquire new land for farming.
For school teacher Samuel Hayes, the winter journey to Bloomington meant reconnecting with his sweetheart. Samuel left Hartford, Connecticut on November 9, 1836, and headed west on horseback. After nearly eight weeks of miserable conditions, he arrived in Bloomington.
The settlement of the frontier was often one of speculation. Buy land cheap, raise the price, and then market it to those back east. Waves of speculators willing to take the risk invested in Illinois land. Some did it from a distance, while others moved to Illinois.
When John R. Benjamin, his wife Sarah, and their two children arrived in Illinois in the spring of 1854, all the prime land along the timber/prairie margins was already claimed. But they were not deterred. Nor was the large group of New York Quakers that followed.
With plans to settle somewhere in Illinois or Iowa, in 1828 Jesse Fell left Pennsylvania headed on foot to the western frontier. He took with him a little money and a satchel full of books.