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Madison County History

 Character of Early Settlers       Sesquicentennial         Madison County Executions       The Wood River Massacre

Pioneer Reminiscences          Swiss Settlements of Madison County           Madison County Fair - 1857             Township Histories, As Read By Eighth Grade Graduates - 1931

  

 

 

Early Beginnings - The Indians and the Formation of the County

From A Gazetteer of Madison County, Illinois by James T. Hair, 1866

(Book in Public Domain)

 

          The County of Madison, so named probably after the President of the United States during whose administration it was organized, lies just below the 39th degree of north latitude on the west of Illinois. The Mississippi river is its western boundary; the Missouri entering the former stream nearly at a right angle pours in its great flood of waters opposite, and the Illinois adds its stream a few miles above. No interior portion of America is more favored by nature with access to the water courses of trade, than the region lying on the Mississippi between the mouth of the Ohio and the Illinois. The Mississippi Valley is the garden of the world and this is its center.

 

         

  

          This vast region appears to have been first heard of by the French Jesuits in 1656, from a party of Algonquins, who accompanied two young Frenchmen on their return to Quebec, after two years wanderings in the wilds. These informed the inquiring fathers that there were a great number of nations inhabiting the country adjacent to the Puants, who seem to have inhabited the country about what is now called Green Bay, but which is marked on the Jesuit missionaries' map of 1670-1 as the "Baye des Puans." Among these they enumerated the Liniouck, a word in which subsequent historians have recognized an attempt at representing the name afterwards spelled Illinois. In an enumeration of Indian tribes made in 1658, we find a similar attempt in the word Aliniouck. Again, in the Relation of 1660, we find mention by hearsay from the Indians of "the great nation of the Alinouec" living on the banks of a great river, and in that of 1667 of the Iliniouek, a tribe believing in a "great and good spirit, who made Heaven and Earth."

 

          In  the Relation of 1670 we find the Ilinois enumerated among the nations connected with the Mission du Saint Esprit" on Lake Superior. In 1671, there appears the same spelling in a chapter entitled "Some particulars of the Nation of the Ilinois, and more especially of their natural goodness and kindness." Mention is made of "the great river called the Missisipi" of "the great extend of country without trees or wood," and of persons seen who had been in their territory.

 

          Through this twilight we come to the period of actual discovery by Father Marquette in 1673, the settlement of Kaskaskia and Cahokia about 1683, the same year that Philadelphia was settled. The country came under French control and remained until 1763, when it passed into the hands of the English for a period of fifteen years, and then by the conquest of George Rogers Clark into the possession of Virginia, and was established the "County of Illinois" in 1778. By Virginia it was ceded to the United States Government in 1784, and was made a part of the North Western Territory by the Ordinance of 1787. In 1800, by division of territory, it became part of the Indiana Territory, and in 1809 first acquired an independent existence as the Illinois Territory, which in 1818 was converted into a State.

 

          It was under the Illinois Territory that the County of Madison was organized. Previous to that period, we have first the County of St. Clair, organized by Governor St. Clair in person at Kaskaskia in the early part of 1790. Six years later perhaps, in 1796, the County of Randolph was similarly organized, and in the first legislative body of the North Western Territory convened at Cincinnati in 1800, we find, according to Burnet's Notes, St. Clair represented by Shadrach Bond, and Randolph by John Edgar. "The Western Annals," differ in giving Knox County (including the Illinois country), as represented by Shadrach Bond. St. Clair County, as organized in 1790, included the present territory of Madison. But, the respective limits of St. Clair and Randolph, between 1796 and 1812, I find nowhere given.

 

          On the 16th of September, 1812, the County of Madison, with others, was organized by Proclamation of Governor Edwards. Its exact limits at that period are difficult to ascertain. Governor Reynolds, in a letter to the writer in 1861, said, "I think the original limits of Madison County, when Gov. Edwards & Co., formed it, were founded on the south by the line dividing townships two and three north, and on the west by the Mississippi. The northern limits, I think, reached to the north pole, and on the east was the Wabash river for a limit." According to the map of Illinois and Missouri, published by Tanner in 1823, it comprised in that year the same territory it now contains with the exception that townships 5, 5 and 6, 5 were all within its limits. At that time, 1823, if we may rely upon the authenticity of Mr. Tanner's map, the towns of the county were Troy, Marine Settlement, Madison [situated northeast of Marine Settlement], Edwardsville, Paddock's Settlement, Johnsonport [below the mouth of Wood River], Gibralter [above the mouth of Wood River], Milton, Lower Alton, Upper Alton, and Salu; the three last of which were marked down in township 5, 9. Monk's Mound was translated half-a-dozen miles, and set down near the spot where Nameoki station now is.

 

          In 1825, by act of the Legislature, a tract of country eighteen miles long by twenty wide, and embracing parts of the present counties of Macoupin and Montgomery, was attached to Madison temporarily.  In 1843, eighteen section on the northeast part of the county were, by legislative enactment, set off to Bond County, and since that period no changes have taken place in the boundaries of the county, except those made by the Mississippi, or rather its great confluent, the Missouri.

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ROXANA - SKELETONS OF INTELLIGENT RACE FOUND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 11, 1918
          A burial place of the original old settlers, antedating the American Indians in Madison county, was today affording interesting study to students of ethnology and archeology. Workmen excavating on a small hill just inside of the Roxana Oil Refinery at Roxana yesterday unearthed the bones of fifteen skeletons. On previous occasions other skeletons were uncovered in that vicinity and the discovery of the additional skeletons yesterday helps to demonstrate that at some future time there must have been many people buried on that neighborhood. Many of the skeletons were found almost whole, in an upright posture in the soil. The skeletons appeared to be both male and female, and of old and young persons. The skulls were well preserved, and the teeth were in good condition. On each of the skulls on the right side there appeared to be a small dent, which might have been made by a savage's war club. The skeletons are not of Indians, for the large jaw bone of the Indian and the large joint bones, which characterize the Indian skeleton are lacking. Ethnologists have frequently declared that at one time a highly developed race lived in America before the Indians, and that they were slain by the Indians. The finding of the skeletons gives rise to the belief that there must have been a massacre of an entire tribe of highly civilized prehistoric men at that place by the Indians, and that they were all buried together in a heap, which is now the site of the Roxana oil refinery. This supposition is strengthened by the fact that in the memory of the old settlers at Roxana, no cemetery was ever located in that vicinity. Frank Smith, whose grandfathers secured the Smith land, which was sold to the Roxana oil refinery, says that his grandfather secured the land from the government on a homestead claim, and that in her remembrance there was no cemetery there at that time. The fact that the bones are not those of Indians would prove apparently that the skeletons belonged to some prehistoric race, which evidently were later killed off by the Indians. On numerous occasions specimens of the finest pottery made of pulverized mussel shell and cemented with a substance, the nature of which chemists of today can not duplicate, have been found in that neighborhood, and this lost art of mussel shell pottery is believed to belong to that prehistoric race. H. H. Clark, cashier of the First State and Savings Bank at Wood River, who is interested in ethnology and archeology, went to Roxana this morning and secured a number of the skull and thigh bones found at the refinery. He also took along several well preserved specimens of teeth found in the jaw bones, beside several specimens of the mussel shell pottery, which was found near by. The find was made just inside of the Roxana gate, where six of the fifty houses to be erected for workmen at Roxana are being put for the foremen of the plant. At that place there is a small hill which rises up inside of the gate, and it was in the side of the hill that the skeletons were found. The discovery has attracted a great deal of interest, and many from Alton and Wood River went down to Roxana today in automobiles on learning of the finding of the skeletons. Many of the bones were taken away as relics and will be carefully preserved.
 

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Exploration in Madison County

From A Gazetteer of Madison County, Illinois by James T. Hair, 1866

(Book in Public Domain)

          The first traces of civilized man in these regions, of which we have been able to discover any account, is found in the narrative of Father Marquette, of "Voyages and Discoveries in the Valley of the Mississippi," from which it appears that this brave and untiring explorer reached the mouth of the Missouri about the first of July 1673. "...sailing gently down a beautiful, still, clear water, we heard the noise of a rapid, into which we were about to fall. I have seen nothing more frightful: a mass of large trees, entire with branches, real floating islands, came rushing from the mouth of the river Pekitanoui (the Missouri) so impetuously that we could not, without great danger, expose ourselves to pass across. The agitation was so great that the water was all muddy, and could not get clear.  Pekitanoui is a considerable river, which coming from very far in the northwest, empties into the Mississippi. Many Indian towns are ranged along this river, and I hope by its means to make the discovery of the Red or California Sea." (page 39 and 249)

 

          In the "Journal D'au Voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans L'Amerique Septeutrionalepar le P. Charlevoix," we find some notes of travel and description of the face of the country between the Sangamon river and the mouth of the Missouri, of which the following is a rude translation:

 

          "Upon the 6th (Oct. 1721), we perceived numbers of buffalo who crossed the river, swimming with great precipitation, and we did not doubt in the least that they were pursued by one of the hostile parties, of which we had been informed, a circumstance which obliged us to travel the whole night in order to escape from such a dangerous neighborhood. Upon the morrow before day, we passed the Sangamon, a large river which comes from the south; five or six leagues lower down we left upon the same side another, much smaller, called le riviere des Macopines; (now Macoupin Creek). These are large roots, which, if eaten raw are a poison, but which after being cooked at a small fire for five or six days or a longer time, have no bad qualities. Between these two rivers is found a swamp called Machoutin, which is precisely halfway from Pimikeouy to the Mississippi. Shortly after having passed la riviere des Macopines we perceived the banks of the river, which are of very great height. Nevertheless, we still journeyed more than twenty-four hours, and after under sail before entering it, for the reason that the Illinois river changes its direction at this point from West completely to Southeast. It might be said that in chagrin at being obliged to pay homage with its waters to another river it was about to return to its source. Its entrance into the Mississippi is east southeast. It was upon the 9th, about half past two in the afternoon, that we found ourselves upon this river, which was then making so much stir in France; leaving upon the right hand a large prairie, from which proceeds a small river where there is some copper (Riviere du Cuivre). Nothing is more charming than this whole shore. It is not by any means the same upon the left. Only very lofty hills (Montagnes) are there to be seen, strewn with rocks, among which grow some cedars. But, this is only a ridge which has little depth, and which conceals very beautiful Prairies. Upon the 10th at nine o'clock in the morning, after having traveled five leagues upon the Mississippi, we arrived at the confluence of the Missouri, which is in a direction north northwest and south southeast.

 

          I believe this to be the most beautiful confluence which can be seen in the world. The two rivers are of almost equal size, each half a league in width; but the Missouri is much the more rapid and it appears to enter the Mississippi in triumph, through which it bears its turbid waters even to the other shore without mingling them. It communicates to it that color which the Mississippi never loses, and hurries it with precipitation even to the sea." - (His de Nouvelle France Tome VI, page 135)

 

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Early Land Titles in Madison County

From A Gazetteer of Madison County, Illinois by James T. Hair, 1866

          Michael Jones and E. Backus were first appointed Commissioners to sit in judgment upon the various claims brought under the provisions of various acts of Congress, and their first reports are dated December 31, 1809. "They are," say the Commissioners, "four species of claims upon which, as Commissioners for this district we have had to act:

  1. Those founded on ancient grants or allotments derived from former government or from the Indians.

  2. Those founded on the grant of a donation of four hundred acres to each of those who were heads of families in the county at or before the treaty with England in 1783.

  3. Those founded on having actually improved and cultivated land in the country, under a supposed grant of the same by court or commandment.

  4. Those founded on the having been enrolled on the 1st of August, 1790, and done duty in the militia."

Claim #

Original Claimant

Present Claimant

# of Acres

Description

1865

Alexis Buyatte

Nicholas Jarrot

400

Situated on the river l'Abbe, nine miles above Cahokia. River l'Abbe is Cahokia Creek, so-called from the monastery on Monk's Mound, which was once called "Abbey Hill" even by American settlers. This claim is actually on the bank of the Mississippi near Kinder Station, opposite Cabaret Island.

526

 

James Biswell

400

On Buck run, a branch of Kaskaskia river. Extends into St. Clair County.

519

Alexander Denis

William Bolin Whitesides

400

On Winn's run at a White Walnut near Cummin's Sugar Camp. On the bluffs of the American Bottom, the Goshen Settlement.

561

Clement Drury

heirs of Samuel Worley

400

Below the Narrows, below Hull's Station. Includes the farm of Samuel Squire, which are pear trees seventy five years of age

1844

Jacque Germain

Nicholas Jarrot

400

At l'Abbe, 13 miles above Cahokia. On the borders of Horse Shoe Lake, not far from Venice.

133

Jean Baptiste Gouville, alias Rappellay

Nicholas Jarrot

400

At Canteen, 10 miles above Cahokia. Includes l'Abbe itself, the monastery of the Monks of La Trappe, who from 1810 - 1813 resided on "Monk's Mound."

1883

Joseph Hanson

Nicholas Jarrot

400

At Marais Mensoui. Borders of Horse Shoe Lake.

637

James Kinkead

George H. Dougherty

400

Mississippi Bottom 4-5 miles above ferry opposite St. Louis. 2 miles above Venice.

1855

Baptiste Lionais

Nicholas Jarrot

400

Opposite mouth of Missouri. Nearly all of this claim had been swept away by ceaseless abrasion of the Missouri.

902

Isaac Levy

Isaac Darneille

400

On the river l'Abbe, near where French Church stood. Most lies in St. Clair County

1838

Michel Pichette

Nicholas Jarrot

400

At l'Abe river, eight miles above Cahokia

1653

Isaac West

I. West

400

Surveyed in 1802, where the said West now lives.

527

James Biswell

Heirs of Biswell

400

Joins with claim 526

1869

Jean Brugier

Nicholas Jarrot

100

Above the town of Madison, mostly beneath the Mississippi.

1324

Mathew Rene Bouvet

James Haggin

100

Two miles south of Edwardsville.

338

Louis Bibo

Samuel Judy

100

Brick house built 1810/1811.

605

Louis Bison

Isom Gillham

100

 

2603

George Biggs

John Whitesides

100

On Wood River, including a mill. Site of former town of Milton.

98

Jean Beaulieu

Nicholas Jarrot

100

On Cahokia creek, near mouth of Indian Creek. Was a mill site. 

1258

Francois Campeau

John Rice Jones

100

Mississippi Bottom, between Grand Isle & Preque Isle.

485

Pierre Clement

John Briggs

100

On bank of Mississippi adjoining Cahokia Common.

753

Frances Colline

John Bloone

100

 

755

Thomas Callahan

John Bloone

100

 

752

Francois Deneme

John Bloom

100

On Canteen Creek.

754

J. B. Derousse St. Pierre

John Bloom

100

 

1258

Jean B. Girand

John Rice Jones

100

In Goshen.

115

Cherles Hebert

Nicholas Jarrot

100

Two miles below the mouth of Mad River (probably Wood River).

338

Jacobv Judy

Samuel Judy

100

 

1841

Baptiste Lecompte

Nicholas Jarrot

100

By Madison Landing.

1851

Barzle Lecompte

Nicoolas Jarrot

100

Includes site of Madison, is about 1/3 washed away.

1719

Louis LeBrun, Jr.

Thomas Kirkpatrick

100

 

1258c

Constant Longtemps

John Rice Jones

100

1258

1258d

Dennis Levertne

John Rice Jones

100

 

1258e

Philip LeBeauf

John Rice Jones

100

 

1258f

Joseph Lemarch

John Rice Jones

100

 

331

Frances Louval

Henry Cook

100

On the waters of Judy's Creek, in Goshen

338

Louis Laflamme

Samuel Judy

100

St. Clair County in the Mississippi Bottom

484

John Lisle

John Biggs

100

Beginning at a stake on the banks of the Mississippi

485

Antoine Labussiere

John Biggs

100

 

991

Pierre Lejoy

Thomas Kirkpatrick

100

On Cahokia Creek, 3 miles east of the Mississippi

1880

Louis Menard

Nicholas Jarrot

100

To be substituted to cover his mill seat near the mouth of Wood River; now mainly washed away

1258g

Pierre Martain Jr

John Rice Jones

100

 

1258h

Jacque Mulot

John Rice Jones

100

 

1258i

Joseph Poirier

John Rice Jones

100

 

600

Levi Piggot

Benjamin Casteline

100

On Canteen Creek near Collinsville

1258k

Jean Bapt. Rappalais

John Rice Jones

100

 

338d

Francis Ritchie

Samuel Judy

100

 

599

Louis Rhelle

Benjamin Casterline

100

 

330

William Young Whitesides

Henry Cook

100

 

545

David Waddle

David Waddle

100

 

546

Alexander Waddle

Alexander Waddle

100

 

1061

John Whitesides

John Whitesides

100

On Cahokia Creek, St. Clair County

2056

 

John Edgar

 

At Piasa

602

Peter Casterline

Peter Casterline

250

On bluffs near Collinsville

328

Isaac Enochs

Isaac Enochs

250

Nearly all washed away

517

Abraham Rain

heirs of Rain

250

 

756

John Sullivan

Larkin Rutherford

440

 

544

David Waddle

David Waddle

250

 

2056

Jean Bte. Cardinal

John Edgar

 

5-6 leagues above Cahokia; Cardinal taken prisoner by the Indians and family abandoned home, as early as 1785.

2079

Philip Gallaghen

John Edgar

400

 

548

Jean Baptiste Becket

Etienne Pencennoe

100

Part of Venice

548

Auguste Belcour

Etienne Pencennoe

100

 

103

Raphael Belanger

N. Jarrot

100

 

1907

Charles Deneau

Hannah Hillman

100

 

609

Charles Francois Lancier

Thomas H. Talbor

100

South of Collinsville

928

James Whitesides

James Whitesides

100

 
 

 

Early Emigration

From A Gazetteer of Madison County, Illinois by James T. Hair, 1866

(Book in Public Domain)

 

          It does not appear that any permanent settlements were made by the French, either at this or any subsequent period prior to the commencement of the American emigration from the East within the present limits of Madison County, though the statement is made by Governor Reynolds that "the French had resided upon the Big Island in the Mississippi below the mouth of the Missouri at intervals for fifty or sixty years before (1804). Squire LeCroix, who died in Cahokia an old man a few years since, was born on that Island." [Choteau's Island]

 

          Emigration in earnest commenced to flow into the Illinois country after the division of the Indiana Territory in 1800. In 1800, the first white man located himself at Goshen, more than twenty miles in advance of the settlements. His name was Ephraim O'Conner, and he located in the American Bottom near the bluff, five or six miles southwest from the present town of Edwardsville. Col. Samuel Judy bought out O'Connor in 1801; lived upon this spot more than the third of a century, and died in the same place.

 

          The Rev. David Badgley and some others in 1799 explored the country at present embraced in the County of Madison, and called it "Goshen." They gave it this name on account of the fertility of the soil and the consequent luxuriant growth of vegetation. It was indeed a land of promise, and some years afterward was the largest and best settlement in Illinois.

 

          Goshen settlement, so called in early times, embraced about the whole territory of Madison County, and was in its early history as it has always been, a compact happy and prosperous community. In 1801, the first white settlers located in Six Mile Prairie, within the present limits of the County. Their names were Patrick Hanniberry and _______ Wiggins. The latter had a family, but Hanniberry was a single man. Their settlement received the name of the Six Mile Prairie, from the situation, which was six miles north of St. Louis, in Upper Louisiana.

 

          The infant colony in Goshen Settlement was early called to experience the perils of a new country, and the cruelty of a savage and treacherous foe. In 1802, Turkey-Foot, an evil disposed and cruel Chief of a band of Potawatamie Indians, and his party returning homeward from Cahokia to their towns toward Chicago, fell in with two men named Dennis and Van Meter, at the foot of the Mississippi bluff, about five miles southwest of the town of Edwardsville, and murdered them in cold blood. The country contained at that day very few inhabitants above Cahokia, and Turkey-Foot, seeing the Americans extending their settlements toward his country, took fire at the spectacle, and with true savage and unreasoning ferocity, wreaked his resentment on the first who crossed his path. No further acts of hostility were committed at this time, and the murder seems rather to have been regarded as an outburst of drunken fury than as indicating any settled purpose of enmity to the whites.

 

          In 1802, the Gillham [the Gillham subsequently became the most numerous of any family in the county, as is illustrated by the fact that at one time it was a common remark among the people, that "a candidate whose named headed the County Ticket would rarely be elected unless he had some of the Gillham connection also on the ticket.] and Whiteside families settled in Goshen. The Seybolds, Groots, Casterlines and others located at the foot of the bluff, above Quentine or Cantine Creek. According to The History of Madison County, page 72, the first of the family to behold the Illinois country was James Gillham, the fourth son of Thomas Gillham. He came in the summer of the year 1794 in search of his wife and children, who were then held captive by the Indians. He had married Ann Barnett in South Carolina, and at the close of the war of the Revolution moved to Kentucky. He conceived so favorable an opinion of Illinois that he made it his home in 1797, first settling in the American Bottom below St. Louis, and at the beginning of the present century moving to what is now Madison county. Congress, in 1815, gave to Mrs. Gillham one hundred and sixty acres of land at the head of Long Lake, in township four, range nine, in testimony of the hardship and sufferings she endured during her captivity among the Indians. The children of James Gillham, were Samuel, Isaac, Jacob Clemons, James, Harvey, David M., Polly, Sally and Nancy. Samuel settled in section fifteen of township four, range nine; and the other sons, Isaac, Jacob Clemons, James, Harvey and David M., all made homes for themselves in section four of the same township and range. James Gillham wrote to his brothers in South Carolina of the advantages of the Illinois country, and his brother, Thomas, left South Carolina in the fall of the year 1799, and reached the end of his journey on the closing day of the eighteenth century--thus ready to begin the new century in the new western world. Two other brothers. John and William, came to Illinois in the year 1802, both settling
within the present boundaries of Madison county, and another brother, Isaac, followed a couple of years afterward. The oldest son of Thomas Gillham was Isham Gillham, sheriff of Madison county, from 1812 to 1818. He first settled on a farm adjoining that of Colonel Samuel Judy, and in the spring of 1817 moved to the bank of the Mississippi, nearly opposite the mouth of the Missouri. Another son, William, settled on a farm in the Ridge prairie, five miles east of Edwardsville. One of the daughters, Violet, married Joshua Vaughn, and settled in the American Bottom; and another, Patsy, became the wife of Peter Hubbard, and moved to Bond county.

 

          In 1803 Samuel Joel Whiteside made the first improvements on Ridge Prairie, six or eight miles south of where Edwardsville now stands. These settlements for the most part were made by pioneers who had already been in the country for many years, and who had been accustomed to a frontier life. The whole frontier was then exposed to the incursions of Indians, not entirely friendly to the whites, and the hardiest, and bravest of the old settlers were required to display a bold front to the fierce and roving bands who infested the settlements at that day.

 

          During 1804 the Goshen settlements were extended further toward the north, James Stockton and Abraham Pruitt being the first to make settlements at the foot of the bluffs, not far from Wood river. That same year, Delorm, a Frenchman from Cahokia, settled at the edge of the timber, near the "Big Mound," in the American Bottom, not far from Quentine Creek. The Quentine Village commenced to have an existence soon after. It extended along the creek west for several miles, and was at one time a handsome little village. Its inhabitants were mostly emigrants from Prairie du Pont. In the year 1805, John T. Lusk emigrated from Kentucky and settled in Goshen.  John T. Lusk, then a young man of twenty-one, cast his fortunes with the Goshen country. He was born on Broad river, in the Union district of South Carolina, in the year 1784. In 1798, his father, James Lusk, emigrated to Kentucky, and established a ferry on the Ohio, where is now the town of Golconda. This was widely known as Lusk's ferry, and John T. Lusk, as he was growing to be a young man, was engaged for some time in its operation. Soon after his arrival, Mr. Lusk pre-empted land two miles and a half southwest of Edwardsville, and in 1809 married Lucretia, daughter of Charles Gillham, who in the year 1803, had settled two miles south of Edwardsville. After living at this place some years, Charles Gillham sold his improvements to John and Beniah Robinson and moved to Hurricane creek in Bond county. Directly after his marriage, John T. Lusk moved to a tract of land, afterwards included in the Fair Grounds, near Edwardsville, and lived in a tent till he constructed a double log cabin, which stood for many years, and in which was born Alfred Lusk, said to have been the first white child born in township four, range eight. John T. Lusk was a ranger in the Indian troubles of 1812-14, and a lieutenant in the Black Hawk war, and prominently connected with the interests of Edwardsville.

 

          In 1806, the first surveys of the United States lands into townships were made in the County. John Messenger was the first, or among the first surveyors. The next year, 1807, was remarkable as witnessing the first of those public gatherings for religious worship commonly known as Camp Meetings. During the year, two of these assemblies were held in Illinois, one near Shiloh in St. Clair County, and the other a few miles south of what is now the town of Edwardsville, in Madison County. A Baptist church was regularly organized in the Wood River settlement in 1807. The first brick house in the county was begun the following year, in 1808, by Col. Samuel Judy. In the year 1809, a settlement was made upon Silver Creek, near the present town of Highland.

 

          On December 6, 1816, the jail, the first public building erected in the county, was declared "completed agreeably to contract and received by the court." William Otwell was the builder. The first Court House was completed, February 12, 1817, and the builder, Samuel G. Morse, was ordered to be paid the balance on the contract, $262.50. It was a log building on the edge of the square, next to the street, the square being a remarkably contracted opening not far from the lower end of the town. The jail, on the same piece of ground, was no more remarkable for strength or beauty. It was composed of logs, and perhaps lined with plank. The brick Court House and jail, built a few years afterwards, cannot be called a great improvement. When the eccentric Lorenzo Dow came to Edwardsville to preach some years afterwards, and was shown the Court House as the place of meeting, he refused to preach in it, saying "it was only fit for a hog pen." It had not yet a floor, except a very narrow staging for the Court and Bar.

 

          The town of Edwardsville at this time was perhaps the most noted town in Illinois, though Kaskaskia was the old capital, and the new was prospectively at Vandalia, neither was so much a point of attraction as Edwardsville. It was then the residence of Ninian Edwards, who had been the only Governor of the Territory of Illinois, and was a Senator in the Congress of the United States. Jesse B. Thomas, his colleague, was also a resident of Edwardsville, and these two distinguished citizens with their accomplished families, formed a nucleus round which the intelligent naturally gathered. The proprietor of the old town was James Mason. He had built a brick house on the rear of the square at this time, in part of which an inn was kept by William C. Wiggins.

 

          In 1817, the first banking institution in the county was chartered, under the name of the Bank of Edwardsville, and was made a bank of deposit for government funds. Also in 1817, or shortly before, the city of Alton began to have an existence. Colonel Easton laid out the town fronting upon the Mississippi, consisting of the streets between and including Henry Street on the east and Piasa on the west. Mr. Joseph Meacham also laid out the town now called Upper Alton, on land upon which only one fourth of the price had been paid. He disposed of as many lots as he could by lottery. In 1817 Mecham's Alton was far ahead of the other Alton, both in population and improvement. The people of the adjacent country were in the habit of "lumping" them together by the name of Yankee Alltown.

 

          An active settlement was already in progress in the neighborhood. A firm under the name of Wallace & Seely owned a mill site three miles below on Wood River, where they had two saw mills and a grist or flour mill. Messrs. Wallace & Seely laid out a town and called it Milton, and were doing a flourishing business.

 

          Mr. Mecham soon purchased what was called the Bates farm, laid it out and advertised it as Alton on the river. This last enterprise was purchased by Major C. W. Hunter in 1818 and has since been popularly known as Hunterstown.

 

          In 1817, Rowland P. Allen came to explore, and made choice of the prairie lying between Silver Creek and the Middle for. Captain Curtiss Blakeman, Captain George C. Allen, and the original discovered, R. P. Allen, settled in the lower part, and in the year following, (1819) Captain James Breath came and settled upon Silver Creek in the same prairie. From this the place took the name of Marine Settlement.

 

          In 1819, the first newspaper published in the county , and the third in the State, was established at Edwardsville under the name of the Edwardsville Spectator, and edited by Hooper Warren, Esq.  Also in 1819 appeared a small volume entitled "Geographical Sketches on the Western Country," designed for settlers, which occurs a description of the towns of Milton, Alton and Edwardsville:

 

"About twenty-five miles from the mouth of the Illinois on the east bank of the Mississippi, and twenty-five miles above St. Louis, is situated Alton. The town lies west of Edwardsville ten miles, and was located in 1816. Nearly one hundred decent houses are already erected. The spirit of enterprise displayed by the settlers who are mostly from the Eastern States, and the natural advantages attached to the place point out this town as a stand where small capitals in trade may be properly invested. Two miles from Alton at a place called Wallace's Mill on Wood Creek, which empties into the Mississippi, is the little town of Milton on the route by Edwardsville to Vincennes. The place contains about fifty houses and though it seems to flourish, is considered an unhealthy situation. The Creek here drives both a saw and a grist mill, each of which do great business. Edwardsville is the seat of Justice for Madison County. It lies eight miles east from Milton and twenty miles northeast from St. Louis. It is a flourishing town, containing sixty or seventy houses - Court House, Jail, Public House, Bank, Printing Office, which issues a weekly newspaper, and a United States Land Office, of which Col. Stevens is the Register. At this County embraces all the lands above east of the Mississippi and all the bounty lands in Illinois, all soldiers patents and grants of Illinois Bounty land are recorded here. In the vicinity of this town is a society of Methodists."

 

          A murder was committed in 1823, between the forks of Wood river, which caused great excitement in the county. A man by the name of Eliphalet Green, who was working at Abel Moore's distillery had a quarrel with another, and shot him. Green, who was supposed to have some mental defect not amounting to idiocy, became very much enraged, having been violently abused, ran into the distillery, got his gun, and fire at his opponent, who was retreating or retiring from the building. He fled to the American Bottom, but returned and gave himself up to William Ogle, who accompanied him next day to Edwardsville and surrendered him to the authorities. He was tried before Judge Reynolds at Edwardsville, found guilty and executed, though some seem to have entertained a doubt whether his crime was anything more than man-slaughter. He died deeply, and it was supposed, sincerely penitent. The following named persons constituted the jury in this case, viz:

          James Mason, James Pearce, Ambrose Nix, David Roach, David Nix, Joseph Bartlett, John Vicking, Gershom Flagg, William H. Hopkins, William Hoxsey, R. C. Gillham and Jesse Bell.  This was the first trial for a capital offense in the County, and the second one in the State. The first conviction in the State of Illinois for murder was in St. Clair, People vs. Bennett. Green was hung February 24, 1824. Judge Reynolds, in passing sentence of death upon Mr. Green, told him "Well, Mr. Green, the Jury in their verdict found you to be guilty of murder, and the law says you are to be hanged. Now I want you and your friends down on Wood River to understand that it is not I that condemns you, but the Jury and the law. Now I wish to allow you all the time you want to prepare, so the Court wants to know at what time you would prefer to be hanged." To which the prisoner replied, "All times are alike to me, your Honor. Those who kill the body have no power to destroy the soul. My preparation is made, and I am ready to suffer at any time the Court may appoint."

 

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Madison County, Our 150 Years.   1812 - 1962

Published by East 10 Publishing Company, Inc.

Book in Public Domain - See the Digital Copy at:  http://libsysdigi.library.uiuc.edu/oca/Books2008-06/our150years1812100flag

 

          In 1806, Martin Preuitt cast his fortune at Sand Ridge Prairie, about three miles east of Alton. His youngest son, Solomon, born in 1790, became one of the more distinguished citizens of the county. Other very early arrivals: William Jones and John Finley in 1806 at Sand Ridge; Robert Reynolds, father of Gov. John Reynolds, 1807, three or four miles southwest of Edwardsville; Toliver Wright, 1806, near the mouth of Wood River; John Atkins, 1807, near Mitchell; Thomas Rattan, 1804; George Barnsback, 1809, Edwardsville; Abel Moore, 1808, in Wood River; Joseph Bartlett, 1809, Wood River. One of the earliest arrivals, and destined to be one of the most prominent, was Thomas Kirkpatrick, who located along the banks of Cahokia Creek in the northern part of what was to become Edwardsville. It was his house that was appointed the seat of justice of the county in Gov. Edwards's proclamation in 1812.

 

          By this time, villages or hamlets had been established at Alton, Upper Alton, Milton (just west of East Alton), Edwardsville, and on Wood River (the stream) near the present Alton State Hospital grounds. Some histories estimate that there were perhaps 1,000 persons in the county when it was organized.

 

          Maj. Isaac H. Ferguson built the first house ever erected on Marine prairie in 1813. From then until 1816 came John Warwick, John Woods, George Newsome, Joseph and Absolom Ferguson, Aquilla Dolahide, Abraham Howard, Joshua Dean, Chester Pain, Thomas Breeze, Richard Winsor, John Campbell, John Giger, Henry Scott, John Lord, James Simmons, Henry Peck, Andrew Matthews Sr., James French, and Abram Carlock.

 

          There came to Edwardsville the families of Rowland P. Allen, Elijah Ellison, and Mrs. Elizabeth Randle. Some of the residents on the road leading from Edwardsville to Alton were: John Newman, David Robinson, Samuel Delaplain, Hiram Pruitt, Ben Wood, John Stout, John Drum, William Montgomery, William and Isaac Cox, Charles, John and James Gillham, James Tunnell, Jonas Bradshaw, John Springer, and Joel Meacham. The road had been located by Thomas G. Davidson, John Wallace and Abraham Prickett.

 

          James Renfro settled in what is now Collinsville township in 1811; Jacob Gonterman in Edwardsville in 1816, the Rev. Thomas Ray, a Baptist minister, in 1818, Alvis Hauskins in 1819, and the Fruit family, John Minter and Mathias Handlon at about this time.

 

          Arrivals in St. Jacob township in 1816 were John Giger, Gilmore Anderson, William Faires, John Herrin, Nicholas Kyle and William Parkinson. First settlements in Foster township were made about 1816 by Joseph S. Reynolds and Orman Beeman.

 

          Among those casting their lot with the county in 1818 were Gaius Paddock from Vermont, to Fort Russell township; Gershom Flagg from Vermont, to Fort Russell; David Gillespie from Ireland and New York to Edwardsville; and Daniel A. Lanterman from Kentucky to Fort Russell.

 

          Paddock, a soldier of the Revolution, was to become the grandfather of another Gaius Paddock, who lived to be 100 years old. His home was eight miles north of Edwardsville. Flagg, a veteran of the War of 1812, was the father of State Senator Willard C. Flagg, and the grandfather of State Senator Norman G. Flagg. His home was half a mile south of the Paddock's.

 

          Early arrivals in Hamel township were Henry Keley, and Robert and Anson Aldrich, in the winter of 1817-18. In 1816, Archibald Coulter and James East settled in Saline township. Some seven years later in Silver Creek bottom in Saline township, a salt lick attracted deer and cattle. William Biggs, a Kentuckian, undertook to bore for salt. He struck solid rock at 30 feet, and continued the shaft to a distance of 440 feet when salt water began to flow. Into the shaft he set the trunk of a hollow sycamore tree, cemented to the rock.

 

          William Hinch, a pioneer from Kentucky, was the first white settler in Alhambra township, arriving in 1817 and building a cabin a short distance north and east of Silver Creek. James Pearce, in 1818, removed from Edwardsville township where he had settled 3 years earlier, and made the first settlement in Leef township.

 

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History of Madison County, Illinois, Illustrated, With Biographical Sketches of Many Prominent Men and Pioneers

Published By W. R. Brink & Co., Edwardsville, IL; 1882: Page 91-92

(Book is in Public Domain)

Submitted by: Judith Weeks Ancell

 

Character of the Early Settlers

          In territorial days the inhabitants of the county, almost without exception, were of Southern origin. Strong sectional prejudices existed, especially toward the "Yankee," which appellation was given to every man who hailed from the Northern section of the country east of the Allegheny mountains. Before the year 1817 the only representatives of the New England states, who had visited the county were the vendors of wooden clocks and tin ware, and under these circumstances the pioneers could not, perhaps, well be blamed for their first impressions of the Yankee character. An early resident of this county states that there were three classes of society known in the territory of Illinois: First, the white man, born in a slave state, who arrogated to himself the title of the real Westerner; second, the negro, generally a slave; and third the Yankee, from over the Mountains. Traces of this prejudice could be discerned for many years, but among intelligent classes the emigrant from the East soon came to be appreciated for his real worth, and recognized as among the most valuable of citizens of the county. Subsequent to 1817 the county received a large Eastern immigration, in which came individuals whose merits raised them to positions of influence, and who contributed greatly to the prosperity of the county. Especially was this the case of the Marine settlement, at Edwardsville, and later at Alton, whose rapid growth and business prosperity were almost entirely due to Eastern men.

 

          The early settlers had great respect for the religious views of others. Although their opinions on theological subjects were very decided and very dissimilar, yet a quarrel on these matters was of rare occurrence. The Methodists and the Baptists were the leading denominations. The Methodists camp meetings were numerously attended, and proved influential means of increasing membership of the churches. Although most of the people drank occasionally there were fewer drunkards than might have been expected. The people of those days had a great reverence for the law. The worst characters professed to be law-abiding citizens. No man claimed, that, if he did not like the law, he had the right to set it a defiance. It is claimed that the early pioneers were more moral and free from crime than people of a later day. Thefts were of rare occurrence, and forgery, perjury, and similar crimes were seldom perpetrated. But while the higher crimes were rarely committed the lesser violations of the law were not infrequent. Assault and battery was the most common breach of the statutes. there was much sensitiveness as to personal and moral standing, and any one who considered his honor or respectability impugned would fight in a moment his assailant.

 

          On holidays and at elections and musters, boisterous and quarrelsome conduct, induced by the use of intoxicating liquors, was often witnessed. Fort Russell was a place of frequent rendezvous in early times, and riotous scenes often occurred there. It was stated by one of the earliest residents of the county (Mr. S. P. Gilham) that for some years after the first settlement of the county he seldom hear of any greater crime than getting drunk, or fighting. The first punishment of crime he recollected took place in 1819, when a negro was found guilty of stealing some coffee from a boat on the Mississippi river, and whipped. When the population began to multiply and courts were established, men began to break the law, and were often punished by whipping at the post and confinement in the stocks.

 

          The Sabbath was often employed in hunting, fishing, getting up stock, hunting bees, shooting at marks, and horse and foot-racing. It was however, a custom to cease from ordinary labor, except from necessity, on that day, and when a farmer cut his harvest on Sunday public opinion condemned it more severely than present. There was no dancing and but little drinking on the Sabbath. In many localities there were no religious meetings. The aged people generally remained at home, and read the Bible and other books. All kinds of gaming were common. Card-playing was sustained by the best classes. At the sessions of the courts judge and lawyer would frequently spend the night together playing cards for money, though the statutes rigidly forbade such a practice. Horse-racing was one of the most popular amusements. The quarter races were the most common, and at these the most chicanery and juggling were practiced. Gov. John Reynolds speaks of having attended a horse-race, which drew crowds of people, on the 4th of July, 1087, in the American Bottom near the residence of Samuel Judy. The most celebrated and famous horse race in Illinois, in early times, was run in the upper end of the Horse-prairie, in Randolph county, in the spring of the year 1803. The two horses which ran the race were of the same size. The race was three miles and repeat, for a wager of five hundred dollars. The bye-bets and all must have amounted to a thousand dollars and more, in those days considered a very large sum. In 1806 Robert Pulliam, if Illinois, and a Mr. Musick of Missouri, made a bet of two hundred dollars on a race between two quarter horses, of a quarter of a mile, to be run on the ice in the Mississippi river, a short distance above St. Louis. The race came off, and was run without injury to either the horses or riders. Foot-racing, jumping, or wrestling were much practiced. Bets of some magnitude were made on foot-races as well as horse-races. Gov. Reynolds, in his youth, was one of the best in a foot-race, and won many wagers in Randolph county, previous to the removal of the family to Madison. He ran his last race while absent from this county attending school in Tennessee.

 

          Shooting-matches occurred frequently. these were generally held on Saturdays, and during the summer, as often as once a week. A beef was usually the prize. A keg of whiskey was usually carried to these shooting-matches, on horseback, and sometimes a violin made its appearance, and the crowd danced for hours. The early pioneers were exceedingly friendly and sociable. A new-comer was given a hearty welcome. The houses were in general small and poor, but the hospitality of the occupants knew no bounds. A visitor at a house toward evening could scarcely get away so much was he importuned to stay over night, which, if he did, he was always treated to the best the house afforded, and never allowed to pay for his entertainment. Orchards and melon patches were looked on as common property, and the man who would charge for apples, or melons, would be denounced for his meanness the whole county over. No charge was ever made for assisting a neighbor at house-raisings, log-rolling, or harvesting. The women were brave and self-reliant, and it was no unusual thing for them to practice with the rifle. They were often left alone, and it was well that they should know the best means of defiance. One of the pioneers of the county (John L. Ferguson) was accustomed to say that his mother could shoot a deer, or an Indian just as well as his father could, and thought no more of it. the widow Carlock, in the Marine settlement, was also one who had the reputation of being able to use her rifle, with equal skill to any man, in shooting game, or dispatching an Indian, as the case required."

 

 

THE SUMMER OF 1830 - WHEN THE TREES WERE BARE THE ENTIRE YEAR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 15, 1907

 

          A Telegraph reporter met one of the "oldest inhabitants" Monday morning, and the O. I. says "the weather is a 'dead wringer' for the spring of 1830." He says he does not remember much about the spring of 1830 himself, but he has a brother who does, and the latter says that the spring and summer of 1830 was noted in Madison county as the year when the trees were "bald-headed," as it were, all year. Spring broke apparently in February, he says, and the buds swelled and blossomed, and the leaves began to cover the branches on the trees. Everything pointed to an early and prosperous harvest, when along came a cold snap like unto the present. This killed the fruit buds and prospects, what there were of them, but the cold weather did not let up. It grew colder, and along in May it froze all the leaves off the trees and they became as bare as in the middle of winter. It heated up after that, and things turned out pretty well for the settlers, but no more leaves appeared on the trees until the following spring when nature did her duty. He thinks the weather will keep on performing until he accomplishes this year the same thing it did in 1830.

 
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