Madison County ILGenWeb

index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind



Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


French Explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet descend the Mississippi; first Europeans to reach the Illinois Country.



French controlled territory, known as "Illinois Country;" first as part of French Canada, and then as part of Louisiana.



Priests of the Quebec Seminary of Foreign Missions found the Holy Family Mission at Cahokia - the first permanent settlement in the Illinois Country.



French and Indian War. Great Britain gains control over the region with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, marking the end of the French and Indian War.



American Revolution



George Rogers Clark defeats the British at Kaskaskia, securing the Illinois Country for Virginia.



Treaty of Paris extends the U. S. boundary to include the Illinois Country.



Virginia relinquishes its claim to Illinois.



Northwest Ordinance places Illinois in the Northwest Territory. Arthur St. Clair becomes first Governor of the Northwest Territory in 1788.



Reverend David Badgley and others explore the country later known as the County of Madison, and called it "Goshen" because of the lush and fertile soil and vegetation.



July 4, 1800 - Congress creates the Indiana Territory, which included Illinois.



First white settlers locate in Six Mile Prairie (so named because it was 6 miles above St. Louis in the American Bottoms).



The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France - 872,000 square miles west of the Mississippi River.



May 14, 1804 - William Clark and his troops depart from Camp Dubois (mouth of the Wood River), Madison County, to join Meriwether Lewis for their westward explorations.



First surveys of the U. S. lands into township were made. Zebulon M. Pike, later destined to discover Pike's Peak in Colorado, escaped death by Indians while attending a friend's wedding at a "settlement below Wood River and down from the mouth of the Missouri."



Baptist Church organized in the Wood River settlement. Influenze epidemic in Illinois.



First brick house in Madison County built by Colonel Samuel Judy.  Abel Moore and Joseph Bartlett settle in Wood River Township.



Settlement established on Silver Creek, near Highland.



March 1, 1809 - Illinois Territory created by an act of Congress (included the future states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), with Kaskaskia as the capital of the Territory, and Ninian Edwards the Governor of Illinois Territory.



1811-1812 - Series of three very large earthquakes - named after the town of New Madrid, Missouri.  The first earthquake occurred on  December 16, 1811; the second on January 23, 1812; and the last on February 7, 1912. 



Governor Edwards erects Fort Russell, northwest of Edwardsville. The fort was named in honor of Colonel William Russell.  Smallpox epidemic.



War of 1812.  Colonel Rufus Easton of St. Louis purchases land in Illinois, and laid out a town plat that would be called Alton, after one of his sons. His plat extended from the Mississippi River to Ninth Street, and from Piasa to Henry Streets.



September 14, 1812 - Madison County established in the Illinois Territory, out of Randolph and St. Clair Counties, by Proclamation of Governor Edwards.



Major Isaac H. Ferguson builts the first house erected in Marine prairie.



First newspaper printed in Illinois - the Kaskaskia Illinois Herald.

July 10, 1814 - The Wood River Massacre.

December 1814 - First Madison County jail completed. Constructed of logs, it was built by William Otwell.



First banking institution chartered under the name of the Bank of Edwardsville.  Upper Alton laid out by Joseph Meacham.  town of Milton near the Wood River established.   Town of Salu (near Upper Alton) laid out by Bennett Maxey, Isaac Waters, Erastus Brown, and Zachariah Allen.

February 12, 1817 - First courthouse erected in Edwardsville. Built by Samuel G. Morse.



December 3, 1818 - State of Illinois admitted to the Union, with Kaskaskia the capital, and Shadrach Bond as Governor of Illinois.



First newspaper published in Edwardsville, Madison County - The Edwardsville Spectator.  Kickapoo Indians move west of the Mississippi, relinquishing most claims to central Illinois lands. 



Vandalia becomes the state capital.



May 1, 1820 - Sabbath School organized at Upper Alton by Enoch Long and Henry Snow. Said to have been the first taught in Illinois.



First recorded murder in Madison County. Eliphalet Green shoots and kills a man at Abel Moore's distillery.



February 12, 1824 - First recorded hanging - Eliphalet Green. This was also the first trial in the county, and the second in the state of Illinois.



Nathan Scarritt, Joseph Reynolds, and Captain Benjamin Godfrey arrive in Godfrey Township.  Rock Spring Seminary in Upper Alton organized by Dr. John Mason Peck - later renamed Shurtleff College.



Black Hawk War ends with Sauk and Fox Indians leaving the Illinois lands they had ceded in 1804.



First case of cholera occurred at Alton.  State penitentiary opens in Alton with 23 cells.



July 5, 1834 - Rufus Easton, founder of Alton, dies in St. Charles, Missouri.



Steamboat Packet established between Alton and St. Louis. Steamer was named the "Tiskilwa."  James Clayton Tibbitt laid out a town site south of Buck Inn, called Greenwood. This later became North Alton.



January 15, 1836 - Alton's Telegraph printed its first issue as a weekly newspaper. Proprietors and editors were Richard M. Treadway (age 20) and Lawson Parks (age 23).



June 14, 1837 - Daniel Webster visits Alton by steamboat. Cannon salute given from the bluffs.

July 31, 1837 - Alton incorporated as a city by the state legislature. Upper Alton also incorporated.

November 7, 1837 - Reverend Elijah Parish Lovejoy murdered in Alton by mob.



Springfield becomes the state capital.



June 24, 1842 - Former President Martin Van Buren visits Alton, Middletown, and Upper Alton.

September 22, 1842 - Abraham Lincoln and James Shields duel on Sunflower Island, across from Alton.


June 1844

The Great Flood of 1844 - Mississippi, Missouri and the Illinois Rivers flood.



First public school in Alton completed at a cost of $580.70.



May 14, 1847 - Anti-Slavery Convention held in Upper Alton.



Mexican-American War. Alton served as a gathering point for troops before their journey to Mexico.



Empire House (hotel) in Alton constructed by J. F. Hoffmeister.



Cholera outbreak.



Cholera outbreak.



September 9, 1852 - Engine and three coaches were the first railroad cars to pull into Alton on the Chicago & Mississippi Railroad - later called the Alton & Sangamon Railroad.



Plank road constructed from Alton to Godfrey.



September 30, 1856 - Agricultural State Fair opens in Alton.

October 2, 1856 - The Great Fremont and Dayton Demonstration (Republican) in Alton. Lincoln gives a speech.

October 8, 1856 - The Great Millard Fillmore demonstration in Alton. (1856 Presidential Campaign)



June 24, 1857 - The hanging of George W. Sharpe and John Johnson for the murder of Jacob Barth.

September 1857 - Madison County Fair opens in Edwardsville.



March 9, 1858 - Alton State Prison guard Clark C. Crabb held hostage by prisoner. Guard stabbed multiple times, prisoner shot.

October 15, 1858 - Abraham Lincoln - Stephen Douglas debate in Alton.

November 1858 - Alton's new city hall completed on Market Square.



Abraham Lincoln elected President.

June 2, 1860 - Tornado strikes downtown Alton, causing much destruction.



1861-1865 - American Civil War (The War of the Rebellion)



Alton prison reopens as military prison.

July 25, 1862 - Colonel Ebenezer Magoffin, brother of Kentucky Governor Magoffin, escapes from Alton prison, along with 34 prisoners.



Alton military prison closes.

February 7, 1865 - Illinois Black Laws repealed.

April 15, 1865 - Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot by John Wilkes Booth.



Rocky Fork A.M.E. Church/school founded by Rev. Erasmus Green and Andrew Jackson Hindman (or Hyndman).

November 12, 1869 - William Bell hung for the murder of Herman Wendell.



April 4, 1870 - Colored men vote for the first time in Madison County, at the town election in Edwardsville.

November 7, 1870 - Sisters of Charity establish hospital in Hunter's Tavern, at Broadway and Central Avenue in Alton. 



William Eliot Smith and Edward Levis erect a small glass manufacturing plant on Belle Street in Alton - later becomes Illinois Glassworks.



Gilbert Duncan and Brutus Brunner start a foundry on Piasa Street in Alton - later becomes Duncan Foundry.

July 30, 1874 - Alton Lyceum Hall destroyed by fire.



January 16, 1885 - Felix Henry hung for the murder of Henry DePugh and Albert Ross at Rocky Fork.



April 6, 1890 - Former Senator Daniel Brown Gillham dies in Upper Alton, as a result of being shot during a robbery in his home on March 19.



January 23, 1892 - Patrick Boyle hung for the murder of John Muench.



January 21, 1893 - The Wann Disaster (East Alton).



September 4, 1893 - East Alton incorporated to form a village.



May 1, 1894 - Formal opening of the Alton railroad bridge across the Mississippi River.



Spanish-American War



July 1, 1900 - Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library established by John Hayner.



Rudolph Porter purchases more than 400 acres, and founded the Federal Lead Company, which began production in 1902.



September 6, 1901 - President William McKinley shot, died September 14.

October 2, 1901 - Alton's E. O. Stanard Mills and Elevator destroyed by fire. Nearly an entire block of businesses destroyed.



June 18, 1903 - The assault and murder of Laura Bailey. Driving home in her buggy with her two children, she was assaulted and left for dead.



August 5, 1904 - The drowning of Michael Reilly, his daughter Elizabeth, and 6 of her playmates.



May 1, 1907 - Wood River platted by Fred W. Penning, who subdivided his 80-acre farm.

June 15, 1907 - Rock Spring Park in Alton formally opened to the public.



May 20, 1909 - William Eliot Smith, co-founder of Illinois Glass Company, dies in Rome, Italy.

September 4, 1909 - Illini Hotel in Alton officially opens.



September 11, 1910 - Wood River Massacre monument dedication.



1914-1918 - World War I



Alton State Mental Hospital officially opens.



February 22, 1918 - Robert Pershing Wadlow, Alton's "Gentle Giant," born in Alton.

April 5, 1918 - The lynching of Robert Paul Prager in Collinsville.



November 15, 1922 - The death of Amos Edward Benbow (founder and mayor of Benbow City).



April 22, 1924 - Historic Alton City Hall destroyed by fire.



May 30, 1927 - Norman Eugene Walker (actor Clint Walker) born in Hartford.



1937-1945 - World War II



July 15, 1940 - The death of Robert Pershing Wadlow, Alton's "Gentle Giant."



March 16, 1946 - Russell-Miller Flour Mill (Stanard-Tilton Division) in Alton destroyed by fire.



March 19, 1948 - Devastating tornado hits North Alton, Fosterburg, and Bunker Hill.



October 3, 1960 - Senator John F. Kennedy gives speech in Lincoln-Douglas Square in Alton.