A Short History of Illinois – aka A Grassy Purgatory, or Crunchy Prairie Dog Surprise

I lived in Illinois for about 15 years. And by Illinois, I mean the part of the state that doesn’t include the canker sore of Chicago, where only criminals and Democrats live. Forgive me for the last comment – I was being redundant. No, I lived in downstate Illinois, where Republicans live, and the air often smells of hog shit. No connection there.

Before I begin, let me emphasize that the state’s name is “Ill-in-n-oy,” not “Ill-in-oy-Z.” A sure indicator that you’ve not lived in the Midwest is someone who sticks a ‘Z’ sound on the end of the word. Illinois was named by the irksome French, who have no problem rolling in stinky cheese and perfume but are too haughty to pronounce the letter ‘s.’

Anyway, Illinois was considered by the first settlers to be a vast treeless wasteland where only prairie dogs and Native Americans were foolish enough to live. At first, only fur-obsessed Frenchmen ventured into the tall grasses. Still, they either moved on or were eaten by the Native Americans (after all, a steady diet of prairie dog is monotonous). Later English settlers came, and those that weren’t devoured by the Native Americans ate them instead and all the prairie dogs. Then an enterprising soul figured out how to pry open the tough grassland (probably looking for more prairie dogs) and discovered the rich black soil underneath. Like flies on feces, settlers flocked to Illinois to grow food and procreate dozens of laborers – i.e., children. Soon missionaries arrived to scold and cast aspersions on anyone enjoying themselves. Then railroads were built to encourage westward migration since no one in their right mind would want to live in the middle of grasslands with missionaries. (After all, they don’t toast up as well as prairie dogs.) That is the short history of Illinois.

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