Dunlap, Matthias Lane (1814-75). Collection, 1842-1862 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of two volumes by Matthias Lane Dunlap, a surveyor, horticulturist, and editor, including a book of surveys of Cook County, Illinois, and a copy of volume 7 of The Illinois Farmer.
Matthias Lane Dunlap (1814-1875) was born in Cherry Valley, New York. Around 1856, Dunlap moved to Troy Grove, Illinois, to join his father’s family. There Dunlap worked as a teacher, store clerk, bookkeeper, and surveyor. In 1845, he became interested in horticulture, and in a few years, had built up one of the most extensive nurseries in the West. In 1853, Dunlap began writing for the press under the name “Rural.” He was the agricultural editor of the Chicago Tribune (1853-1875) and editor of the Illinois Farmer (1860 to 1865). Using his father's War of 1812 warrants for land purchase, Dunlap, his father, and five of his brothers took out land in Sections 17 and 18 of Leyden Township, Cook County, part of which became known as "Dunlap's Prairie," which later became a stop on the Underground Railroad. Dunlap was a staunch advocate of the Illinois Industrial University (now the University of Illinois) and served as a member of the first board of trustees of the University. Dunlap also served as an Illinois state legislator (1855-1856) and was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. In 1855, Dunlap purchased a half-section of land in Champaign County and moved there two years later to continue his nursery business. He planted a large orchard on this land and disproved the idea that fruit could not be grown upon the prairie. For more on Dunlap's early life, see Gretchen S. Rauschenberg, Chicago's "Mr. Rural": The Life of Matthias Lane Dunlap, Columnist in the Press and the Tribune (2007).
This collection contains two volumes including a book created by Matthias Dunlap from 1842-1845 containing hand-drawn surveys of multiple parcels of land in Leyden, Illinois, and adjoining townships in Cook County. The survey book contains a history of the volume and is signed by Fanny Dunlap, niece of Matthias Dunlap, and dated February 15, 1938. The collection also includes a copy of The Illinois Farmer, Vol. 7 (1862), a publication of which Dunlap was editor. The volume is inscribed by H.J. Dunlap (Hiram John Dunlap, son of Matthias Dunlap) and includes a bookplate reading "Dunlap's Library, Savoy, Illinois. Look over as much as you please but do not ask us to loan books." Included within the volume are articles discussing topics such as crop yield, growing specific crops, soil, various agricultural or horticultural society meetings, and more.
The survey book was donated to the Library by an unknown Dunlap in an unknown year. In 1967, the volume was transferred to the Illinois Historical Survey, the predecessor of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, from the Rare Book Room. The copy of The Illinois Farmer was transferred to the Survey in 1996.