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.
Madison County Pioneer; Legislator
Reverend William Jones was born in Virginia on September 12, 1771. He moved to Kentucky and then to Tennessee, and came to Illinois in about 1807, locating on Sand Ridge near Alton Junction (East Alton). A few years later, he bought out Major Ferguson and moved to that claim in Fort Russell Township. At that time, the claim consisted of a small clearing of ten acres and a cabin. Jones’ family consisted of his wife, Elizabeth (nee Finley, whom he married in 1804) and four children – Martin, Lavina, Letitia, and William. Seven other children were born after coming to Illinois, including Finley John Jones (1807-1884); James Jones; and Mary Jones Starkey (1809-1877), wife of David Starkey. By 1882, only one remained in Madison County – James, who later lived on his father’s homestead.
Rev. Jones was a prominent man in his day. The first Baptist Church in Madison County was organized in Wood River Township on May 3, 1807, by Rev. David Badgley and Rev. William Jones. It was one of five churches that formed the first Baptist association, called the “Illinois Union.” In 1809, the association met with the Wood River church. The first Saturday in July 1816, the church purchased 1 ½ acres of land, where the meeting house and cemetery were located, from Joseph Vaughn, for $7.50, and Vaughn donated ½ acre and twenty rods. This is where the victims of the Wood River Massacre were buried, and is still known as the Vaughn Cemetery.
Rev. Jones served as Captain of a company of Rangers in 1812. John Springer was Lieutenant of the company, and Thomas Finley, ensign. Rev. Jones conducted a school in 1818, in the blockhouse in section 18.
Jones served as County Commissioner in 1820, and later served as a member of both the Territorial and State Legislature. He died at the old homestead, January 2, 1845, at 73 years of age. Mrs. Jones died in 1810. Both are buried in the Vaughn Cemetery in Wood River Township.