John Cushman Abbott Exhibit Supplement

J. M. Peck
J. M. Peck (1)

iii. A guide for emigrants; A gazetteer of Illinois

A guide for emigrants: containing sketches of Illinois, Missouri, and the adjacent parts.

By John Mason Peck.
Map engraved by Hazen Morse.
Boston: Lincoln and Edmands, 1831.

[1] folded leaf of plates, 336 pages, color map (engraving), 15 cm -- Signatures: [A]⁸-DD⁴ (alternating gatherings of 8 and 4) -- Map is a hand-colored engraving of Western states at a scale of approximately 1:63,360. -- Blue leather covers. -- Library catalog record.

Click here for the entire book.

A gazetteer of Illinois: in three parts, containing a general view of the state, a general view of each county, and a particular description of each town, settlement, stream, prairie, bottom, bluff, etc., alphabetically arranged.

By John Mason Peck.
Jacksonville [Illinois]: Published by R. Goudy, 1834.

viii, 376 pages; 16 cm -- Signatures: pi⁴ 1-23⁸ 24⁴ -- Blue cloth covers. -- Library catalog record.

Click here for the entire book.

Much has been published already about the far-famed West. The Valley of the Mississippi is now known in the annals of the historian, the compilation of the geographer, the sketches of the traveller, and the song of the poet. No portion of this Valley is so much the subject of inquiry, and excites so particularly the attention of the emigrant, as the States of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and the parts adjacent. (2)

John Mason Peck was born in Connecticut to farmer parents. He married Sarah Paine when he was nineteen and she was twenty. The Pecks would eventually have ten children together. When their first child was born, John and Sarah began questioning the teachings of their Congregationalist religion concerning infant baptism. The couple converted to the Baptist faith. Peck became a Baptist preacher in 1811, at the age of 22, and four years later decided to train to be a missionary.

The Baptist Triennial Convention sent Peck and James E. Welch out together as missionaries into the Missouri territory in 1817. They went to St. Louis to establish Baptist churches and preach to the Indians. Peck continued his missionary work even after the convention stopped funding him. He moved to Rock Spring, Illinois, in 1822 and remained there for the rest of his life.

Peck's focus as a missionary was more about building communities than preaching revival. He organized churches and Sunday schools and established newspapers and schools. Peck was an energetic itinerant preacher, tirelessly riding the circuit through the various Sunday schools and groups he organized. He founded Rock Spring Seminary, the first institution of higher education in Illinois, in 1827. (The college moved to Upper Alton in 1832 and became Shurtleff College in 1836. Today the campus is the site of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's School of Dental Medicine.)

Peck founded, edited, and printed The Pioneer, a religious newspaper. He also edited and wrote for several other journals and published nine books, including a biography of Daniel Boone. A Guide for Emigrants was his first book. Peck was already well-known through his travels and journal publications, and received a lot of mail asking for his expertise on various matters. Some of these letters inquired about life in the West. Peck designed his Guide as a response to these questions. The included map is shown below. Peck spent about two years preparing his A Gazetteer of Illinois. He utilized government records in Vandalia, interviewed legislators from each county, and drew upon his own personal observations.

Peck died in 1858, at the age of 69, two years after the death of his wife, Sarah.

---Written by Mary Z. Rose

"Western States" from A Guide for Emigrants.
Click image to enlarge. Click here for the entire book.

Footnotes to exhibition text:

1. This image of Peck is published in Peck, John Mason. Forty Years of Pioneer Life: Memoir of John Mason Peck D.D. Ed. Rufus Babcock. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1864. Frontispiece.

2. A Guide for Emigrants, page 7. Click here to access the entire book. Page number refers to the page of the pdf file, not the page number printed in the book.

References consulted for exhibition text:

Bowden, Henry Warner. "Peck, John Mason." American National Biography. Eds. John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes. Vol. 17. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. (Library catalog record.)

Peck, John Mason. Forty Years of Pioneer Life: Memoir of John Mason Peck, D.D. Ed. Rufus Babcock. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1965. (Library catalog record.)