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





County History


Executions in Mad. County

       William Bell

       Patrick Boyle

       Sharpe & Johnson

Lewis & Clark Expedition

Lincoln/Douglas Debate


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.


Theaters in Madison County


Town Histories

Township Histories

Wann Disaster

Wood River Massacre



 Site Map


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Dedicated to the History and Genealogy of Madison County, Illinois


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


Wood River Massacre - 200 Years Ago

July 10, 1814


Source:   History of Madison County, Illinois, 1882


The most startling and cruel atrocity ever committed by the Indians within the limits of Madison county was the Wood River massacre, on the tenth of July 1814, by which seven persons, one woman and six children, lost their lives. This tragedy took place in the forks of Wood river, between two and three miles east of the present Upper Alton. The victims were the wife and two children of Reason Reagan, two children of Abel Moore, and two children of William Moore. At the beginning of the War of 1812-14, the citizens of the county, who lived at the exposed locations on the frontier, sought refuge in the forts and block-houses; but, as no Indians made their appearance and the Rangers were constantly on the alert, scouring the country to the north and east, the most began to feel so secure that in the summer of 1814 they returned to their farms and dwellings. There were six, or eight families residing at that time in the forks of Wood river. The men were mostly absent from home in ranging service. At the residence of George Moore on the east branch of Wood river, a block-house had been built to which the women and children could flee should danger be apprehended. The massacre occurred on a Sabbath afternoon. Reagan had gone two, or three miles from home to attend church, leaving his wife and two children at the house of Abel Moore, which was about a mile distant from where he lived, and half-way between his house and the block-house. About four o'clock in the afternoon Mrs. Reagan started back to her own dwelling, intending to return to Abel Moore's in a short time. She was accompanied by her own two children, and the four children of Abel and William Moore. A little afterward two men of the neighborhood passed along the road in an opposite direction to that taken by Mrs. Reagan. One of them heard at a certain place, a low call, as of a boy, which he did not answer, and for a repetition of which he did not delay. When it began to grow dark uneasiness was felt at the absence of the Moore children, and William Moore came to Abel Moore's, and not finding them there passed on toward Reagan's, while his wife started in a direct line, not following the road, for the same place. William Moore now came back with the startling that some one had been killed by the Indians. He had discovered a human body lying on the ground which by reason of the darkness and his haste, he was unable to identify. The first thought was to find a refuge in the block-house! Mr. Moore desired his brother's family to go by the road directly to the fort, while he would pass by his own house and take his own family with him, but the night was dark, the road passed through a heavy forest, and the women and children chose to accompany William Moore though the distance to the fort, by the road only one mile, was thereby nearly doubled. The feeling of the party, as they groped their way through the dark woods, may be more easily imagined than described. Sorrow for the supposed loss of relatives and children, was mingled with the horror at the manner of their death, and fear for their own safety. Silently they passed on till they came to the dwelling of William Moore, when he exclaimed, as if relieved from some dreadful apprehension, "Thank God, Polly is not killed!" The horse which his wife had ridden was standing near the house. As they let down the bars and gained admission to the yard, his wife came running out , exclaiming, "They are killed by the Indians, I expect." The whole party then departed hastily for the block-house, to which place, all the neighbors, to whom warning had been communicated by signals, gathered by daybreak. It has been mentioned that Mrs. William Moore, as well as her husband, had gone in search of the children. Passing by different routes, they did not meet on the way, nor at the place of slaughter. Mrs. Moore who was on horseback, carefully noted, as she went, every discernable object till at length she saw a human figure, lying near a log. There was not sufficient light to tell the size, or sex, of the person, and she called over again and again the name of one and another of her children, supposing one of them to be asleep. At length, she alighted, and examined to object more closely. What must have been her sensations as she placed her hand upon the back of a naked corpse, and felt, on further examination, the quivering flesh from which the scalp had recently been torn? In the gloom of the night she could indistinctly see the figure, of the little child of Mrs. Regan's sitting so near the body of its mother as to lean its head, first one side, then the other, on the insensible and mangled body, as as she leaned over the little one said --- "The black man raised his axe and cutted them again." She saw no further, but thrilled with horror and alarm, hastily remounted her frightened horse, and quickly hurried home where she heated water, intending by that means, to defend herself from the savage foe. There was little rest that night at the fort. The women and children of the neighborhood, with the few men who were not absent with the Rangers, crowded together, not knowing but that at any minute the Indians might begin their attack. Seven were missing, and the bodies of these lay within a mile, or two, mangled and bleeding in the forest. At three o'clock in the morning a messenger was dispatched with the tidings to Fort Russell.........


To read more of this incredible story, click here.





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 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:  07/13/2014


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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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