Schroeder, Erich Karl (1995-05). Historical archaeology in the Grand Prairie division of Illinois : environmental, social, demographic, and technological dimensions of frontier development. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Three data sources were utilized to investigate processes of frontier development in a portion of central Illinois. The data consist of: public domain land records, federal population censuses, and gravestone inscriptions. Land records were integrated with a geographic information system (GIS) to produce logistic regression models of changing locational preferences in terms of environment-versus infrastructure-based variables. The models indicate the supreme importance of environmental aspects, particularly the distribution of timber and wet land. The census and gravemarker data were combined to document the changes in size and structure of populations along with demographic processes: fertility, mortality, and migration. Demographic patterns derived from these data indicate: rapid initial growth rates; high sex ratios, particularly associated with secondary in-migrations; evidence of slightly higher fertility levels during middle stages of development; depressed values of life expectancy at birth, resulting from the narrow age structure in the living population; and a post-frontier out-migration roughly 20-25 years after initial settlement.

publication date

  • May 1995