Welcome to Madison County ILGenWeb
Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser
Welcome to the Madison County ILGenWeb website! New material and information is added almost daily, so be sure to visit often! NEW PAGE: History of Alton's Hotels and Boarding Houses!
BRIEF HISTORY OF MADISON COUNTY, ILLINOIS
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.
THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE ALTON & SANGAMON RAILROAD (later named the CHICAGO & ALTON RAILROAD)
The Alton & Sangamon Railroad was spearheaded by Captain Benjamin Godfrey and other Alton businessmen, including Cyrus Edwards, Simeon Ryder, S. Griggs, and Robert Ferguson. Planning stages began in December 1838, and the charter was issued February 27, 1847. Construction began in February 1850, and was completed from Alton to Springfield in 1852. Originally, the line into Alton ran down Piasa Street, and ended at the depot, between Third and Fourth Street. Tracks were not allowed south of the north side of Third Street. The first train pulled into Alton from Springfield on September 9, 1852. To read more on the history of the Alton & Sangamon Railroad, please click here.
EARLY DATE IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 1
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 26, 1864
I was very imprudent to allow myself to be beguiled into a sort of a promise to call up the memories of the years that are long past. I am in the predicament of him who boasted to Hotspur that he could “call spirits from the vastly deep,” when the spicy gentleman significantly asked, “But will they come, when you do call them?” I am afraid not, very readily, and not very regularly, yet I will try.
I came to Madison County in the Autumn of 1818. In fact, it was the first day of winter when I arrived with my family to reside. But it may not be intolerable in an old man’s story to go back a little and tell how it happened.
The trip down the Ohio River from Pittsburg to Shawneetown would be more interesting to hear about than to perform, as we did. But I neither can nor desire to enter into particulars. We started – “we” may be understood to designate my wife, my child, and myself, together with all my worldly goods – but on the boat “we” included another family, consisting of a man, his wife, two children, and a young lady, who united ….. [missing] …. Times that I write about, but a Monongas flatboat, about half the length of those generally used at that time for conveying produce to New Orleans, and like them, covered over with a crowning roof, which was the deck on which the navigators walked, and covering of a cabin below.
Well, we started, as I was going to say, on the first day of December 1817, and on the 30th day of the same month, landed at Shawneetown. The most notable event of the voyage is thus written in my diary, under date 18th December: “Was passed by the steamboat (about two o’clock) built by Evans, Steckhouse & Rogers, of Pittsburg. She moved majestically along at a rapid rate.” This was the first steamboat we saw on the Ohio, and the only one we saw on our twenty-nine days trip. [continued]