In the 1820’s and 1830s just after Maine became a state, after separating from Massachusetts, crop failures combined with cold weather caused some in New England to dream of warmer climates to the west. About this time Newspaperman Horace Greely was purported to have said “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country”? Many started the exodus for the Midwest. A major cradle of Midwestern settlement was Maine, Maine’s stony soil and the decline of its shipping trade pushed thousands of Mainers to get out just after it achieved statehood in 1820. The exodus was so bad that many newspaper editors in Maine wrote about the fear that the new state would actually be depopulated by “Illinois Fever” and the rush to lumbering towns along the Great Lakes — and then Oregon. Many of those Mainers and New Englanders settled in Indiana in addition to Illinois. They were greeted by a period of mild winters for a decade or so, but I was not to remain that way. The weather pattern shifted back to more typical Midwest cold and snowy winters. On March 30, 1843 2 feet was measured on the ground across much of Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Until this point, farmers and loggers of the region had thought the climate to be better than New England – where many had just originated. The winter of 1842-43 dashed their hopes.
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