Welcome to Madison County ILGenWeb
Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser
BRIEF HISTORY OF MADISON COUNTY
Named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States and father of our Constitution, Madison County was established in the Illinois Territory on September 14, 1812 from Randolph and St. Clair Counties. At the time it was established, Madison included all of the modern state of Illinois north of St. Louis, as well as all of Wisconsin, part of Minnesota, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 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.
On September 19, 1812, Illinois Territory Governor Ninian Edwards appointed Isam Gilham as the first Sheriff of Madison County, with William Rabb, John G. Lofton, and Samuel Judy as judges; and Josiah Randall as Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas. Josiah Randall was named Recorder, and Robert Elliott, Thomas G. Davidson, William Gilham, and George Cadwell were appointed Justices of the Peace.
Edwardsville, the county seat, was laid out in 1815 on the site designated by Governor Edwards in his proclamation organizing the county. It was named in his honor, and later became his residence.
Rev. John Mason Peck, founder of the Rock Spring Seminary, and later Shurtleff College, was born in 1789 in Connecticut. Raised on a farm, Peck became a Christian and Baptist missionary, and set out to spread the word of God. After moving to St. Clair County, Illinois, he founded a small school in 1827 – Rock Spring Seminary, named after his farm. The seminary was operating on a small scale, and it was Peck’s desire to expand. He moved his seminary to Upper Alton, renaming it Alton Seminary. After receiving funds for the school from Benjamin Shurtleff, the seminary was renamed Shurtleff College. Shurtleff College was in existence until June 30, 1957, when it became part of the Southern Illinois University system. To read more of Rev. John Mason Peck and Shurtleff College, please visit this web page.