Madison County ILGenWeb            Illinois County Map                      Piasa Bird, Alton, Illinois                 

"To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?"  Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 - 43 B.C.)




African/American History

Alton Civil War Prison

       Magoffin Escape

       Official Letters

       Official Report - 1855




       1850 Mortality Sched.


County History


Executions in Mad. County

       William Bell

       Patrick Boyle

       Sharpe & Johnson

Lewis & Clark Expedition

Lincoln, Pres. Abraham

   Lincoln/Douglas Debate

   Lincoln/Shields Duel  New


Lookups by Volunteers

Lovejoy, Elijah Parish (Rev.)




       World War One 


Native Americans

Newspaper Clips:

       By Subject Matter

       By Surname

       Alton News Clips

       Civil War Clips

       Prison News Clips

       Spanish/Amer. War

       Theater News Clips

Newspapers of the County


Paranormal Activities

Photo Album

Piasa Bird Legend


Pioneers of Madison County

Pioneer Stories

       Jane Wilson Story

Prominent Citizens

Research Help



       Monticello Seminary

       Western Military Acad.

Sports in Madison Cnty  New


Theaters in Madison County


Town Histories

Township Histories

Wann Disaster

Wood River Massacre



 Site Map


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Welcome to the Madison County, ILGenWeb Project


Dedicated to the History and Genealogy of Madison County, Illinois


This website was created and is maintained by ILGenWeb Madison County Coordinator, Bev Bauser.  Please submit information to:  




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..... Historical Highlight .....




The Cole-Clarke Mansion, Upper Alton, Illinois


The original house, located on the northeast corner of College Avenue and Seminary Street (and faced College Avenue), was built in 1869 by a man named Stelle for Professor Orlando Castle. Prof. Castle came from Ohio to Alton in 1853 to take a position on the faculty at Shurtleff College. Shurtleff once owned a great tract of land on the north side of College avenue, extending to the city corporate line to the north. Lots in this tract were given to members of the faculty as part of their salaries. Professor Castle erected other residences on the tract, one of which later became the Marsh home. In those days, there were no planing mills, and carpenters made everything by hand, including the window frames, door frames, and all the cornice and ornamental work with which the home was so generously supplied.

Professor Orlando Castle later sold the building to Herman C. Cole, member of the Merchants Exchange at St. Louis, and proprietor of a mill at Chester. Cole enlarged the home with huge bay windows and a cupola. This was during an era when wealthy St. Louisans established summer homes in Upper Alton, and others boarded here during the hot months.

About this time, members of the Upper Alton Baptist Church had launched into their own building project - a new house of worship on the northwest corner of College and Seminary. After the new edifice had been occupied, the old stone structure was torn down and the rock was used by Cole for the construction of a stable to the rear of his residence. The stable was later remodeled into a garage.

After the death of Hermon Cole, his widow married Prof. John C. Clarke, a member of the Shurtleff faculty. She was known then as Mrs. Cole-Clarke, and the large brick residence was known as "the Cole-Clarke place."

About 1915, the Cole-Clark place was sold to Shurtleff College and used first as a dormitory for girls. It was named Cole-Clarke Cottage. Upon completion of a new Woman's Hall, Cole-Clarke Cottage housed the Shurtleff Conservatory of Music. About 1934 Cole-Clarke was made into a boys' dormitory and renamed Castle Hall. Dr. Lucius M. Castle, a son of Orlando Castle, was honored by the college he had served so well, when it conferred a degree upon him and his family name was given to the building.

On January 6, 1940, the Cole-Clark mansion was wrecked by fire and later torn down.




The True Story Of Piasata, Indian Maiden


Including the Legend of the Piasa Bird, as told by Piasata's father


Don't miss this one! Found in a 1900 newspaper, a first-hand story of 3 lads who lived near Delhi in 1828, and how they met an Indian family at the mouth of the Piasa Creek. The boys fell in love with Piasata, the daughter of the chief, and visited often during the summer to be with her. Also included, the chief tells the boys the true story of the Piasa Bird.






Brief History of Madison County



Named after JAMES MADISON (1751-1836), fourth President of the United States, and Father of the U. S. Constitution, Madison County was established in 1812 out of Randolph and St. Clair Counties, before Illinois became a state on December 3, 1818. At the time it was established, Madison encompassed the majority of the Illinois Territory. All of Illinois north of the current southern boundary of Madison County between the Mississippi and Wabash Rivers was part of the county. In 1814, the formation of Edwards County removed almost half of the eastern part, and the final boundary change came in 1843, when a small portion on the northeast corner of Madison County became part of Bond County.

Madison County is the home of the Cahokia Mounds Historic Site -- the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico that had its peak of power in circa 1100-1200 A.D. The site is named for the Cahokia, a sub tribe of the Illini Nation.

Also prominent in the history of Madison County is the Legend of the Piasa Bird, whose painting was found by Marquette and Joliet on their expedition through the area in 1675. A painting of the bird can be found on the bluffs, just west of Alton.

The county seat is Edwardsville. In the late 1800s, Madison County became an industrial powerhouse, and in the 20th century, was known for first, Graniteware, and later, its steel mills, oil refineries, and other heavy industry. In the year 1900, the population of Madison was 64,694.  In 2006, the population was 265,303 [Source:].  For more county history click here.




Links to Town Histories




Alton Newspaper Clippings

Alton's History - A Bustling, Prosperous River Town

Alton Penitentiary/Civil War Prison

Why Alton Gave Away Her Chance to be the Capital of Illinois

The Lincoln - Douglas Debate

The Lincoln - Shields Duel

The Elijah P. Lovejoy Story

The Legend of the Piasa Bird

The Story of Piasata and the Legend of the Piasa Bird

The State Fair, Held in Alton, 1856

The Early History of the Alton State Hospital  

East Alton

Disaster at Wann Junction - January 21, 1893 - A train wreck of unspeakable horror.


Madison County Fair, Held in Edwardsville, Illinois in 1857

Historic Leclaire District   [offsite]    New!

Upper Alton

Colonel Andrew Fuller Rodgers - His Story

1847 Anti-Slavery Convention 

History of Western Military Academy     





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This page last updated:  05/05/2015


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Col. James Madison

The Father of Our Constitution

Colonel James Madison


The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded. We've staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government - far from it.  We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the commandments of God.  ~Madison



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