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Eary History of Madison County

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


"EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY" Written by Rev. Thomas Lippincott


Explorations of Marquette and Joliet
During their four-month explorations to find a route to the Pacific Ocean from New France (Canada), on June 17, 1673 Father Jacques Marquette and fur trader Louis Joliet reached the Mississippi River after traversing the Wisconsin River, and a few days later their canoes were gliding past the shores of what would be Madison County, Illinois. As they neared what would later be Alton, they wrote in their journal:

The Piasa Bird"As we coasted along rocks, frightful for their height and length, we saw two monsters painted on one of the rocks, which startled us at first, and upon which the boldest Indian dare not gaze long. They are as large as a calf, with horns on the head like a deer, a frightful look, red eyes, bearded like a tiger, the face somewhat like a man's, the body covered with scales, and the tail so long that it twice makes the turn of the body, passes over the head and down between the legs, ending at last in a fish's tail. Green, red, and a kind of black are the colors employed. On the whole, these two monsters are so well painted that we could not believe any Indian to have been the designer, as good painters in France would find it hard to do so well. Besides this, they are painted so high upon the rock that it is hard to get conveniently near to paint them. As we were discoursing of them, 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 River), 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."

Such were the circumstances under which white men first saw this part of Illinois. The rocks, which Marquette referred to, were the bluffs which extend along the Mississippi northward from Alton. On the face of the bluff, just above the present city of Alton, were depicted the figures mentioned by Marquette, and with which we are familiar of the famous legend of the Piasa Bird. Pioneers later recalled that when every Indian, as he passed down the river in his canoe, shot his arrow or his rifle at the monsters on the bluff.

The French Settlements
The French, who made early settlements in the more southern counties of Randolph, St. Clair, and Monroe, did not secure any permanent hold within the limits of Madison County. On the east side of the Mississippi, they founded no villages, probably from the fact that by the treaty of Fountainbleau 1762, Illinois had passed to English control. There is evidence that a Frenchman named Jean Baptiste Cardinal made a settlement as early as 1785 at Piasa, supposed to be the site of the present city of Alton. He built a house and resided there with his family, but was taken prisoner by Indians. His family fled to the village of Cahokia. Also, history records that there was a French trading post at the future town of Alton.

In 1800, there were a few French families residing on Big Island (now called Chouteau Island after the Frenchman who planted an orchard there), which was part of Madison County, across from present Granite City. The residents planted an orchard in which was a pear tree whose trunk, in 1820, grew to be a foot and a half in diameter. On both Chouteau and Cabaret Islands (near Chouteau Island) some French residents of Cahokia raised large numbers of horses, which they shipped in flatboats to New Orleans. The isolation of the islands provided escape-proof grazing lands and safety from Indians. The orchard on Chouteau Island was claimed by the flooding of the Mississippi long ago, as well as an old graveyard, in which many of the early French residents were buried.

There were four kinds of land claims provided to early settlers:
1. Ancient grants were derived from former governments (French or British) or from the Indians, under an act of Congress of June 20, 1788.

2. Donations to heads of families of 400 acres, for all those who had become heads of families from the peace of 1783 to the passage of the law in 1788.

3. Improvements Rights. Under the law of March 3, 1791, where lands had been improved and cultivated, it was directed that claims should be confirmed, not exceeding 400 acres to any one person.

4. Militia Rights. Under the act of March 3, 1791, a grand of land, not exceeding 100 acres, was made to each person who had obtained no other donation of land, and who on August 1, 1790, was enrolled in the militia and had done militia duty.

Under the land claims the following received land in Madison County:
Nicholas Jarrot, heirs of James Biswell, William Bolin Whiteside, heirs of Samuel Worley, James Kinkead, Isaac Darnielle, Isaac West, Peter Casteline, Isaac Enochs, Abraham Rain, Larkin Rutherford, David Waddle, John Edgar, Philip Gallaghen, James Haggin, Samuel Judy, Ison Gillham, John Whiteside, John Rice Jones, Thomas Gillham, John Biggs, John Blum, Uel Whiteside, Thomas Kirkpatrick, Henry Cook, John Biggs, Benjamin Caster, Alexander Waddle, Ettienne Pensonean, Hannah Hillman, Thomas H. Talbot, and James Whiteside.

White Settlements
The country comprising the present county of Madison was explored by Reverend David Badgley, and others, in the year 1799. Reverend David Badgley was a Baptist preacher who came to Illinois in 1796 and settled in St. Clair County, a few miles north of Belleville, where he died in 1824. He was never a resident of Madison County. The luxuriant growth of grass and vegetation and the fertile soil reminded them of the richness of land in Egypt, in which the children of Israel took possession of, “and where they grew and multiplied exceedingly,” and they called the area Goshen.

The first American settler to push beyond the frontier and live in Madison County was Ephraim Conner. This was in 1800, and he built his rude cabin in the northwest corner of Collinsville Township. In 1801, he sold his land to Samuel Judy, who became a permanent and valued citizen of the flourishing Goshen settlement. Samuel Judy was the son of Jacob Judy, was born on August 19, 1773. He married Margaret Whiteside, and in 1808 built a brick house, the walls of which were cracked by the earthquake of 1811. This was the first brick house erected in Madison County. In the early Indian troubles in Monroe County, Samuel Judy, at the age of twenty, displayed great courage in the campaigns against the Indians during the war of 1812-14. In 1812 he was in command of a company of spies, in advance of the main army, which proceeded against the Indians at Peoria lake, and in 1813, was Captain of a company in the army of General Howard. In the frontier skirmishes with Indians, he was considered active, efficient, prudent, and cautious. In 1812 he was elected from Madison County as a member of the first legislature that convened at Kaskaskia, after the forming of the Illinois Territory government. After the organization of Madison County, he was one of the first County Commissioners. He acquired wealth, raising large numbers of horses, cattle, hogs and sheep. When the Alton penitentiary was established in Alton, he was appointed as a member of the board which had charge of the erection of the building and placing the penitentiary system in operation. Samuel Judy died in 1838.

The first settlement on the Six Mile Prairie (so named because it was six miles north of St. Louis) was made in the year 1801. A family named Wiggins settled here, and with them lived an unmarried man, Patrick Hanniberry.

The Gillhams
In the early history of Madison County, the most numerous family were the Gillhams. Thomas Gillham, the first of the family to immigrate to America, was a native of Ireland. He first settled in Virginia in 1730, then moved to South Carolina. One of his sons, James Gillham, was the first of the family to immigrate to Illinois Country. James had married Ann Barnett in South Carolina and moved to Kentucky. One day in June 1790, while plowing corn on his farm, Kickapoo Indians entered his home and captured his wife and three children, ranging in age from four to twelve years. The Indians first ransacked their home, stealing clothing and other articles they could carry on their backs. The group then traveled to their village near the head waters of the Sangamon River in Illinois. They pushed forward without rest or food, and the children’s feet became sore and bruised. The mother tore her clothing to get rags in which to wrap them. Together they endured great hardships as they journeyed on foot to the Indian village on Salt Creek, about twenty miles northeast of Springfield, Illinois. James arrived home after plowing and saw the condition of his home and the footprints outside. He knew what had happened. He followed the trail for a time, but finally lost the trail and abandoned the pursuit. He sold his land and went to Vincennes and Kaskaskia with the hope of enlisting the aid of French traders, who had personal knowledge of all the Indian tribes in the Northwest. After five years of disappointment, he learned from the traders that his family were among the Kickapoos, and with two Frenchmen as interpreters, he visited the Indian town on Salt Creek, and found his wife and children alive and well. A ransom was paid through an Irish trade at Cahokia, by the name of Atchinson. The younger son, Clemons, could not speak a word of English, and it was some time before he could be persuaded to leave the Indian country. James Gillham had become impressed with Illinois Country, and in 1797, two years after the recovering of his family, he became a resident of Illinois. He first settled in the American Bottom below St. Louis. In 1815, Congress gave to Mrs. Gillham 160 acres of land at the head of Long Lake in Chouteau Township, in testimony of the hardship and sufferings she endured during her captivity among the Indians.

James Gillham, after settling in his new home, wrote to his brothers in South Carolina of the advantages of the Illinois Country. His brothers, Thomas, John, Isaac, and William came to Illinois and made it their new home. Ezekiel Gillham, another brother of James, moved to Georgia. One of his sons and two daughters came to Illinois in 1803. Sally Gillham, a sister of James, who had married John Davidson who was killed in the Revolutionary War, had two of her sons and one daughter come to Illinois and settled in Madison County. Susannah, another sister of James, married James Kirkpatrick, who was killed following the Revolutionary War. Four of her sons came to Illinois and figured prominently in the early settlement of Madison County. William Gillham settled in the Six Mile Prairie as early as 1820 or 1822. He then moved to Jersey County. John Gillham arrived in 1802 and settled in Edwardsville Township on the west bank of Cahokia Creek. Isaac Gillham came to Illinois in 1804 or 1805 and settled in the American Bottom.

The Gillhams were a moral family, and although born in a slave state, they recognized the corrupting influence of slavery and opposed its introduction into Illinois. At the convention party of 1824, the Gillhams and their relatives cast five hundred votes against the proposition to make Illinois a slave state. It was through the hard work and fortitude of this family that Madison County owes its early history.

The Whitesides
Another prominent family in early Madison County history was the Whiteside family. There were celebrated for their bravery and daring in the troubles between settlers and the Indians. The head of the family was William Whiteside, who was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War. From the frontier of North Carolina, he immigrated to Kentucky, and from there, he came to Illinois in 1793. He settled first in Monroe county, and built a fort on the road between Cahokia and Kaskaskia, which became known as Whiteside’s Station. His brother, John Whiteside, came to Illinois about the same time, and he had also been a Revolutionary War soldier. Colonel William Whiteside was justice of the peace and judge of the court of common pleas. In the war of 1812-14, he helped organize the militia. He died at the old station in 1815. The Whitesides had been neighbors of the Judy family, and coming to the Goshen settlement in Madison County, they selected a location not far from Samuel Judy, whose wife was a sister to Samuel Whiteside. Samuel and Joel Whiteside, sons of John Whiteside, settled in the northeast part of the present Collinsville Township, and made the first improvements on the Ridge Prairie.

Samuel Whiteside was a representative from Madison County in the first legislature which met after the admission of Illinois into the Union as a State. He commanded a company of rangers in the campaigns against the Indians during the War of 1812-14. In the Black Hawk War, he was commissioned as a Brigadier-General.

William B. Whiteside filled the office of Sheriff of Madison County. He was a son of Colonel William Whiteside. William B. served as a Captain in one of the companies of U. S. rangers, organized in 1813. On July 24, 1802, two men, Alexander Dennis and John Van Meter, were murdered by Indians in the Goshen settlement, southwest of Edwardsville, not far from where Cahokia Creek emerges from the bluff, at the place afterward known as Nix’s ford. This murder was committed by a band of Pottawatamies, led by their chief, Turkey Foot, who was known as a cruel savage. Turkey Foot and his band were returning from Cahokia to their town in the northern part of Illinois. On meeting Dennis and Van Meter, they killed them without provocation. The Indians were probably intoxicated, and this act did not deter the growth of the Goshen settlement.

Other Early, Prominent Settlers
Other families that played a large part in the early settlement of Madison County included the Grotts and Seybold families, who came in 1803. William Grotts and Robert Seybold had been soldiers in the Revolutionary War. In 1785, Robert Seybold came down the Ohio River in a flatboat, and walked from Fort Massac to Kaskaskia. Robert married Mary Bull, a widow of Jacob Gratz who was killed by Indians at Piggott’s Fort. Samuel Seybold, a former old resident of Ridge Prairie, was born at Piggott’s Fort in 1795. Robert was one of the pioneer settlers of the present Jarvis Township, making improvements at the head of Cantine Creek, two and a half miles west of Troy, in 1803.

Dr. George Cadwell was an early settler on the banks of the Mississippi, opposite Cabaret Island, not far above Venice. He and John Messinger, made many early surveys in Madison County. They came to Illinois in 1802, landing their boat in the American Bottom, not far from Fort Chartres. Dr. Cadwell practiced the profession of medicine, and was chosen to several public offices. He was justice of the peace, and judge of the county court. Cadwell was the first member of the State Senate from Madison County, and held that position from 1818 to 1822. He was later a member of the legislature from Greene County, and died at an old age in Morgan County.

John Messinger, who came with Cadwell to Illinois, lived a short time within Madison County, then moved to St. Clair County. He first lived in Ridge Prairie, between Troy and Collinsville. He assisted in forming the first constitution of Illinois, and was Speaker of the House of Representatives in the first General Assembly. He died in 1846.

Rattan’s Prairie was named after Thomas Rattan who settled there in 1804. He came to Illinois from Ohio. Toliver Wright settled near the mouth of Wood River in 1806. He was a Captain in the ranging service during the War of 1812-14, and while in command of a company, he was shot by an Indian. He was carried back to Wood River Fort, and died in six weeks. Abel Moore made his home in the Wood River settlement in 1808. He died in 1846 at the age of sixty-three. The death of his wife occurred one day previous. Two of his children were killed in the Wood River massacre. George and William Moore, brothers of Abel Moore, left Kentucky at the same time, 1808, but went to the Boone’s Lick country in Missouri, from which, in 1809, they came to Madison County. The Reagan family, some of the members of which were victims of the Wood River massacre, came to the Wood River settlement about the same time as the Moores.

Thomas Kirkpatrick made pioneer improvements on the site of Edwardsville. James Kirkpatrick, Frank Kirkpatrick, William Gillham, Charles Gillham, Thomas Good, George Barnsback, George Kinder, John Robinson, Frank Roach, James Holliday, Bryant Mooney, Josias Randle, Thomas Randle, Jesse Bell, and Josias Wright made early settlements.

Southwest of Edwardsville, at the foot of the bluff, Ambrose and David Nix were early settlers, and above them lived Jacob Varner. Joseph Bartlett and the families of Lockhart and Taylor settled in Pin Oak Township in 1809. During the war of 1812-14, Bartlett built a block house. He was the first treasurer of Madison County. James Kirkpatrick’s fort was a couple of miles southwest of Edwardsville, and southeast was Frank Kirkpatrick’s fort. There was also the Beck block house, and the Lofton’s and Hayes block houses. The Wood River Fort was another fort about one mile south of the old town of Milton. These forts and block houses were used as protection from Indians.

The Building of FortsNinian Edwards
In 1812, preparations were made by Ninian Edwards, the territorial Governor, for the protection of the frontier. Companies of mounted rangers were organized, who scoured the Indian country. Fort Russell was built in 1812, a couple of miles north of Edwardsville, and it was made the headquarters of the Governor and the base of his military operations. The Governor opened his court at the fort, and presided with “genius and talent.” The cannon of Louis XIV of France were taken from old fort Chartres, and with them and other military decorations, Fort Russell blazed out with considerable pioneer splendor. The fort was named in honor of Colonel William Russell of Kentucky, who had command of the ten companies of rangers to defend the western frontier. Four companies were allotted to the defense of Illinois, and were commanded by William B. Whiteside, James B. Moore, Jacob Short, and Samuel Whiteside. A small company of regulars, under the command of Captain Ramsey, were stationed at Fort Russell for a few months of 1812.

After the War of 1812-14, settlements in Madison County rapidly increased. A treaty of peace with the Indian tribes was concluded in October 1815. In 1813, Major Isaac H. Ferguson built the first house ever erected on the Marine prairie, but after building it, did not dare to live there for some time because of Indian hostility. He was a man of native talent, and as “brave as Julius Caesar.” He fought the Indians in Illinois, and ended his life fighting as an officer of the U. S. army in Mexico.

Character of Early Settlers
In territorial days, the early settlers were mostly of Southern origin, and there were three classes of society: First, the white man, born in a slave state, who thought of himself as a real Westerner; Second was the African-American, generally a slave; and Third, the Yankee from over the Mountains. After 1817, the county received a large Eastern immigration, in which came individuals whose merits raised them to positions of influence. This was especially the case in 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 were deeply religious, with Methodists and Baptist the leading denominations. The settlers had a great reverence for the law, were moral, and generally free from major crime more so that later immigrants. Seldom was heard of any crime greater than getting drunk or fighting. The first punishment of crime recollected by Mr. S. P. Gillham was when an African-American was found guilty of stealing coffee from a steamboat, and he was whipped. Before jails were built, men were often punished by whipping or confinement in the stocks.

Entertainment for early settlers included card playing, horseracing, and shooting matches. The pioneers were friendly and sociable, and a new-comer was given a hearty welcome. The women were brave and self-reliant, and it was not unusual for the ladies to practice with their rifle. They were often left alone, and at times they were the only means of defense for their children.

Pioneer Customs
The early settlers brought with them very little, besides their axe and rifle. His first labor was to fell trees and build a cabin, which was usually small and unpretentious. At one end of the home was a huge fireplace, which was used for cooking and warmth. Furniture was kept to a minimum with a table for eating, chairs, and bedsteads. Each man was his own carpenter.

The clothing of the pioneer was simple. In the winter, moccasins made of deer skin were worn, with the children going barefoot in the summer months. The men wore shirts and vest, generally homemade of flax and cotton. The trousers were of a coarse blue cloth, and often buckskin. Homemade hats were worn made of fox, raccoon, and wildcat skins. During the summer, hats were made of straw. For the ladies, it was not unusual for her to appear dressed completely in clothes made by her own hands. A bonnet of calico was worn outside. After the loom and spinning wheel reached Illinois in 1818, dress styles began to change.

The pioneers spent their day hunting and tending to animals and crops. For the women, they tended to cooking and cleaning, making and repairing clothing, and caring for the children. A passing traveler once stated that the new country was heaven for men and horses, but a hell for women and oxen.” Nevertheless, the women in general were cheerful and happy.

Social gatherings were a favorite pastime, and women would enjoy quilting and a spinning bee. With the men, they would test their skills in shooting and hunting. After a day of socializing, they would clear the floor and dance the night away with a local fiddler.

On the prairie, the settler was in constant fear of the dreaded prairie fire in the autumn. It would begin in the high, dry grass, and would sweep over the prairie faster than a horse could run. Each settler usually burned off a strip of ground surrounding his farm, and thus prevented the flames from destroying his crops and buildings. If the prairie fire did start, the neighbors would be engaged in fighting the flames well past midnight, in an effort to save crops and homes.

Schools and Churches
The first camp meeting in Illinois was held near the residence of Thomas Good, three miles south of Edwardsville, in the spring of 1807, with Rev. William McKendree, who was presiding elder of circuits covering Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and other western states. Rev. McKendree became the fourth Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Jesse Walker was his assistant preacher. During this religious meeting, many people would curiously jerk – an involuntary exercise which made the person sometimes dance and leap until exhaustion made them fall to the ground. Another camp meeting was held at Shiloh, six miles northeast of Belleville. The old Bethel Church in Madison County, and the Shiloh Church in St. Clair County, were the two earliest Methodist Churches in Illinois.

Prior to 1807, pioneers held regular religious services about once a month. These two-days meetings were well attended. Josias Randle was among the best-known Methodist preachers in early days.

A Baptist Church was constructed in Wood River Township in 1809. The building was a small cabin, constructed of logs, and Rev. William Jones was the first preacher who held services there. Other early Methodist ministers included Peter Cartwright (the “fighting preacher), Thomas Oglesby, Benjamin Young, Thomas Randle, Nathaniel Pinckard, Samuel Thompson, and John Dew.

In 1812, a school was taught in the yard of the residence of Colonel Samuel Judy, by Elisha Alexander. A schoolhouse was constructe4d in 1914 at the foot of the bluff, halfway between Colonel Judy’s and William B. Whiteside’s homes, but more than half of the time it was not occupied. This schoolhouse was a cabin of logs, and Mr. Thompson was the first teacher. This was during the War of 1812-14, and many of the inhabitants were engaged in ranging service. Another school was taught by Vaitch Clark in the summer of 1813, in a block house at the little fort which was located in Chouteau Township. The first teacher in the Wood River settlement was Peter Fliun, in Wood River Township. In Nameoki Township, the first school was taught in 1812 by Joshua Atwater, who was succeeded by an Irishman named McLaughlin. The first school taught in the Marine Prairie was in 1814, in the smokehouse of Isaac Ferguson. There were ten or twelve scholars, with Arthur Travis as the teacher. Hiram Rountree was an early teacher at Ebenezer, southwest of Edwardsville; Mr. Campbell at Salem; Joseph Berry on Sugar Creek; and William Gilliland at the Cantine School. One of the early schools in the southern part of Madison County was taught in Chilton’s Fort by David Smeltzer.

The Rev. William Jones was one of the earliest teachers in Fort Russell Township. In 1817 Mr. Wyatt taught in this part of the county, and in 1818 Daniel A. Lanterman taught school there. Lanterman taught thirty-three children, and was paid twelve dollars a year for each pupil. In the neighborhood of Edwardsville, there were no good schools until 1818. About that time, Hiram Rountree taught two years at the old Ebenezer schoolhouse. The first school in the neighborhood of the present town of Troy was taught by Greenberry Randle, in the year 1811.

The Earthquakes of 1811-1812 (New Madrid)
On December 16, 1811 a large earthquake, estimated to be of 7.5 – 7.9 magnitude, with the center being near the town of New Madrid, Missouri, occurred. In the American Bottoms, chimneys were thrown down, and the walls of the brick homes were cracked. Animals were frightened, with cattle running home to their barns. The shaking caused the church bell in Cahokia to sound. Governor Reynolds stated that his parents and children were all sleeping in a log cabin at the foot of the bluff, when the shock came. His father leaped from bed, crying “The Indians are on the house!” No one in the family realized at that time it was an earthquake. An aftershock occurred on the same day, estimated to be 7.4 magnitude. Because of sparse population, no lives were lost and no serious damage occurred.

The second earthquake occurred on January 23, 1812. This was judged to be the least severe, and had little observers since the Ohio River was iced over, and there was little river traffic and fewer human observers.

The third earthquake occurred February 7, 1812 and was estimated to be 7.5 magnitude. The town of New Madrid was destroyed.

These three major earthquakes caused the ground to rise and fall, opening deep cracks in the ground. Deep seated landslides occurred along steep bluffs and hillsides, and large areas of land were uplifted permanently, while other areas sank and were covered with water. Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. Banks caved in and collapsed into the river, and whole islands disappeared. The damage covered an area of 78,000 - 129,000 square kilometers, extending from Cairo, Illinois to Memphis, Tennessee. Large waves were generated on the Mississippi River, and local uplifts of the ground and water waves moving upstream gave the illusion that the river was flowing upstream.

Some pioneers stated that an earthquake was felt in Kaskaskia in 1804 and small quakes continued for years in Illinois. Many people became alarmed, and those who had never thought before of being religious, joined the church and began to pray, thinking the end was at hand.

The Formation of Madison County
Madison County, Illinois - 1812On September 14, 1812, Madison County was established in the Illinois Territory out of Randolph and St. Clair Counties, by proclamation of the Governor of Illinois Territory, Ninian Edwards. It was named for U. S. President James Madison, a friend of Edwards, and had a population of 9,099 people. At the time of its formation, Madison County 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.

A meeting was held on April 5, 1813 at the home of Thomas Kirkpatrick, where appointed commissioners were to report on their selection of a county seat. Later, a meeting was held on January 14, 1814, where the court ordered the sheriff to notify the commissioners appointed by law to fix the place for the public buildings (courthouse and jail) for Madison County. The county seat was established in the town of Edwardsville, with the first public building – the jail – being erected in 1814. The first county courthouse was erected in Edwardsville in 1817.

During the period 1819 to 1849, Madison County had been reduced in area to its present size, about 760 square miles. All of the public lands had become the property of individuals and had been converted into thousands of productive farms. New towns and villages sprung up on paper and in reality, such as Collinsville, Highland Marine, Venice, Monticello [Godfrey], Troy, and Alton.

Madison County Court is Established
The year 1849 found the county subdivided into sixteen precincts: Highland, Saline, Looking Glass, Marine, Silver Creek, Omphghent, White Rock, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Troy, Bethel, Upper Alton, Six Mile, Madison, Alton, and Monticello. A county court was established, with Henry K. Eaton as judge, and I. B. Randle and Samuel Squire associates. One of the first measures of this court was to bring order into the financial chaos. This court, in 1849, aided the construction of a plank road from Edwardsville to Venice, by granting to the plank road company the right of way. In case that new bridges were necessary, the company was to pay each one half of the costs.

At the March term in 1850, large claims for taking care of paupers were presented, but were not allowed, due to the fact that the county finances were not in good condition. The court did, however, establish a poor house to care for those in need. Also, during the 1850 term in court, the Collinsville plank road company obtained the same privileges granted to the Edwardsville company.

At the June 1850 term, W. W. Jones, who had contracted with the county for keeping the poor house, was released, and a new contract entered into with Robert Stewart, who was to have $624 per annum for keeping, feeding, clothing and nursing the inmates, provided their average number was not more than six. At the July 1850 term, a preamble and resolutions were adopted for Madison County.


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