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Champaign County, Illinois

Early Weather and Other Dangers

"In the winter of 1830 and 31 came the deep snow. The weather during the fall had been dry, and continued mild until late in the winter. The snow came in the latter part of December and a great snow it was. The settlers were blockaded in their cabins and could do very little but pound their corn, cut their wood and keep their fires blazing. A great deal of stock was frozen to death. The deer and wild turkeys, which had been very numerous, suffered greatly and were nearly exterminated. The wolves became very bold and impudent. The stories of this deep snow would fill a volume. The depth of the snow was certainly over three feet, and many estimates place it at four. Fences were hidden. The summer following was celebrated for fever and ague, one of the severest scourges that afflicted the settlers. It was a disease that induced a feeling of despondency and took away that strong will and spirit of enterprise which enabled the settlers to endure the hardships of their lot.

"In the summer of 1832, before the organization of the county and the fixing of its county seat, when the site of Urbana was, perhaps, only what it had been for generations before - an Indian camping ground - a large number of Indians came and camped around a spring in the vicinity of what is now Second Street and Springfield Avenue in Champaign, Illinois. It happened to be at the time of the excitement caused by the Black Hawk War, and caused not a little apprehension among the few inhabitants around the Big Grove, although the presence in the company of many women and children of the Indians should have been an assurance of no hostile errand. A meeting of the white settlers was had and the removal of the strange visitors determined upon as a measure of safety. A committee consisting of Stephen Boyd, Jacob Smith, Gabe Rice and Elias Stamey, was appointed by the white settlers, charged with the duty of having a "talk" with the red men. The committee went to the camp, and mustering their little knowledge of their language, announced to the Indians that they must "puck-a-chee," which they understood to be a command to them to leave the country. The order was at once obeyed. The Indians gathered up their possessions and left, greatly to the relief of the settlers.

"It is impossible to now conceive of the great annoyance of the flies. In certain seasons of the year traveling had to be done at night, and, if the moon shone brightly, they would still annoy. Instances were numerous of stock being so depleted of blood, and torn by their exertions in fighting them that death resulted.

"Another enemy that the early settlers battled against was the prairie fires, which, in the fall of the year, were at once terrible and sublime."

From History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations, 1878.

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