A Grassy Purgatory, or Crunchy Prairie Dog Surprise

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, but 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. Inevitably missionaries arrived to scold and cast aspersions on anyone enjoying themselves. 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, missionaries (particularly Presbyterians) don’t toast up as well as prairie dogs. That is the short history of Illinois.