Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Owens, Kenneth N.||Hayter, Earl W. (Earl Wiley), 1901-1994

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Beardstown (Ill.)--History


In 1893 Professor Frederick Jackson Turner from the University of Wisconsin read his paper "The Signi­ficance of the frontier in American History" before a meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago. The controversy aroused by Turner’s frontier thesis that "The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development," has continued down through the years to promote further study of the role of the frontier in American History. The frontier community of Beardstown, Illinois, was typical of many such settlements platted on rivers and streams in the Old Northwest Territory. The commercial advantages of such locations were obvious to the early settlers, for during the early years of the frontier period, the rivers offered the only feasible means of transportation and communication. The role of the settle­ment of Beardstown in the frontier area of want central Illinois is examined in this study through a description of the early Indian settlements and French exploration in this region of the Illinois country, a biography of the community's founder and leading citizen, Thomas A. Beard, an investigation into the commercial importance of the town, and an account of frontier town life. By the end of the frontier period the town had begun to decline in commercial importance and it is concluded from this study that the rise of the railroads which gradually replaced the waterways as the primary means of commerce in the West was responsible for the subsequent decline of this community which continued to rely on the river traffic for its prosperity.


Includes bibliographical references.


xi, 85 pages




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