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Welcome to the new Timeline page! More will be added soon!



1673 French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet descend the Mississippi to the Arkansas River, and return to Wisconsin via the Illinois River - the first Europeans to reach the Illinois Country.
1680 - 1763 France controlled area, known as "Illinois Country," first as part of French Canada, and then as part of Louisiana
1699 Priests of the Quebec Seminary of Foreign Missions found the Holy Family mission at Cahokia, the first permanent settlement in the Illinois country.
1754 - 1763 French and Indian War
1763 - 1783 Great Britain gains control over the region with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, marking the end of the French and Indian War.
1775 - 1783 American Revolution
1778 George Rogers Clark defeats the British at Kaskaskia, securing the Illinois country for Virginia.
1783 Treaty of Paris extends the U.S. boundary to include the Illinois country
1784 Virginia relinquishes its claim to Illinois
1787 Northwest Ordinance places Illinois in the Northwest Territory. Arthur St. Clair becomes first governor of NW Territory in 1788.
1799 Rev. David Badgley and others explore the country later embraced as the County of Madison, and called it "Goshen" because of the lush and fertile soil and vegetation.
1800 Congress creates the Indiana Territory, which includes Illinois.
1801 First white settlers located in Six Mile Prairie
May 14, 1804 William Clark and his troops depart from Camp Dubois (mouth of Wood river), Madison County, to join Meriwether Lewis for westward explorations.
1806 First surveys of the U. S. lands into townships were made.  Zebulon M. Pike, later destined to discover Pike's Peak, escaped death by Indians while attending a friend's wedding at a "settlement below Wood River and down from the mouth of the Missouri."
1807 Baptist church organized in Wood river settlement.  Influenza epidemic in Illinois.
1808 First brick house in the county built by Colonel Samuel Judy
  Abel Moore and Joseph Bartlett settle in Wood River
1809 Settlement made on Silver Creek, near Highland
March 1, 1809 Illinois Territory created by an act of Congress (included future states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), with Kaskaskia the capital of the Territory, and Ninian Edwards the governor.
1811 New Madrid, Missouri earthquake, the largest in U.S. history, damages southern Illinois (recurs in 1812).   Also, murder of a man named Price, who farmed at the foot of what is now Spring Street in Alton. His son escaped and fled to the Moore settlement between the forks of Wood River. Settlers there pursued the Indians.

Gov. Edwards erected Fort Russell, NW of Edwardsville. Named in honor of Col. William Russell


Smallpox epidemic

1812 - 1815

War of 1812

Col. 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 river to Ninth Street, and from Piasa to Henry.

September 14, 1812 Madison County established in the Illinois Territory, out of Randolph and St. Clair Counties, by Proclamation of Governor Edwards.
1813 Major Isaac H. Ferguson builds the first house erected in Marine prairie
1814 First newspaper printed in Illinois (Kaskaskia Illinois Herald)
July 10, 1814 The Wood River Massacre - Mrs. Reagan and four children murdered by small party of Indians
December 6, 1816 First public building erected in the county - the jail. Built in Edwardsville by William Otwell.
1817 First banking institution chartered, under the name of the Bank of Edwardsville
  Alton laid out by Colonel Easton
  Upper Alton laid out by Joseph Meacham
  Town of Milton (now part of Alton) laid out by the Wood river
  Town of Salu [adjacent to Upper Alton] laid out by Bennett Maxey, Isaac Waters, Erastus Brown, and Zachariah Allen
  War of 1812 veterans receive 160-acre land warrants in the Illinois Military Tract, between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers
February 12, 1817 First court house erected in Edwardsville. Built by Samuel G. Morse
December 3, 1818 State of Illinois admitted to the Union, with Kaskaskia the capital, with Shadrach Bond as Governor
1819 First newspaper published in the county in Edwardsville, under the name of The Edwardsville Spectator
  Kickapoo Indians move west of the Mississippi, relinquishing most claims to central Illinois lands.
  The town of Salu was named in 1819. It later became part of Upper Alton.
1820 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.
1821 Alton was incorporated as a town by the General Assembly.
1823 First recorded murder, between the forks of Wood river. Eliphalet Green quarrels with another man at Abel Moore's distillery and shot him
1824 Voters defeat a constitutional convention call to permit slavery in the state.  Influenza epidemic.
February 12, 1824 First recorded hanging - Eliphalet Green for murder. This was the first trial in the county, and the second in the State of Illinois
1827 Nathan Scarritt, Joseph Reynolds, and Captain Benjamin Godfrey arrive in Godfrey Township.
  Rock Spring Seminary, located in Upper Alton, was organized by Dr. John Mason Peck, later named Shurtleff College.
1832 Black Hawk War ends with Sauk and Fox Indians leaving the Illinois lands they had ceded in 1804
1833 First case of cholera occurred at Alton
  State Penitentiary opens in Alton. Prison at that time had 23 cells.
July 5, 1834 Rufus Easton, founder of Alton, dies in St. Charles, Missouri
1835 Steamboat Packet established between Alton and St. Louis. Boat was named "Tiskilwa"
  James Clayton Tibbitt laid out a town site south of Buck Inn, which was called Greenwood. It later became a part of North Alton.
January 15, 1836 Alton's Telegraph newspaper printed its first issue as a weekly newspaper, by Richard M. Treadway and Lawson Parks (ages 20 and 23)
June 14, 1837 Daniel Webster visits Alton by steamboat. Cannon salute given from the bluffs
July 31, 1837 Alton was incorporated as a city by the state legislature. Upper Alton also was incorporated as a town in 1837.
November 7, 1837 Lovejoy murdered in Alton by mob
1839 Springfield becomes the state capital
  The name Altonia replaced the earlier name of Buck Inn.
May 20, 1840 Explosion of a powder magazine on the bluffs, a few rods west of the penitentiary, hurling rock as far as one mile. No lives lost.
June 24, 1842 Ex-President Martin Van Buren visits Alton, Middle Alton, and Upper Alton
September 22, 1842 Lincoln - Shields Duel on Sunflower Island across from Alton
1843 Influenza epidemic
1844 Mormon War
June 1844 The Great Flood of 1844 - Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers flood
1845 First public school in Alton completed at a cost of $580.70
1846 - 1848 Mexican War
May 5, 1847 Anti-Slavery Convention held at Upper Alton
March 19, 1948 Tornado hits Bunker Hill, Fosterburg, and surrounding area. Twenty people were killed in Bunker Hill; eight killed in Fosterburg; one in Alton.
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
1853 Plank roads constructed in Alton to Godfrey
September 30, 1856 Agricultural State Fair opens in Alton, Madison County, Illinois
June 24, 1857 The hanging of George W. Sharpe and John Johnson for the murder of Jacob Barth
March 9, 1858 Guard (Clark C. Crabb) held hostage by prisoner (Hall) at the Alton State prison - prisoner shot, guard stabbed
October 15, 1858 Lincoln - Douglas debate in Alton, Illinois
November 1858 Alton's new City Hall completed on Market Square.
1860 Lincoln elected President
1861 - 1865 Civil War
1862 Alton Prison re-opens as Confederate Prison
July 25, 1862 Col. Ebenezer Magoffin, brother of Gov. Magoffin of Kentucky, escapes from Alton Civil War Prison, along with 34 other prisoners
September 22, 1862 President Lincoln issues his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The colored people of Alton celebrated this day.
January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves
1865 Alton Confederate Prison closes
April 14, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln shot by John Wilkes Booth.  Lincoln died the next morning, April 15, 1865
May 30, 1868 First Memorial Day [Decoration Day]
1869 Rock Fork A.M.E. Church built by Rev. Erasmus Green and Andrew Jackson Hindman (or Hyndman). According to the Alton Telegraph, March 3, 2014, the Rocky Fork Group existed by 1839, and formed the center of the small community of freed and runaway slaves. The church was officially founded in 1863 by Rev. Erasmus Green, and with the help of Andrew Jackson Hindman (or Hyndman), the building was completed in 1869, which was used not only as a church but also a school.
November 12, 1869 The hanging of William Bell for the murder of Herman Wendell
April 4, 1870 Colored men vote for the first time in Madison County, at town election in Edwardsville.
November 7, 1870 Sisters of Charity founded what was to become St. Joseph's Hospital, then at Second and Walnut street in Alton
1873 William Eliot Smith and Edward Levis erect a small glass manufacturing plant on Belle Street, that later became Owens-Illinois Glass Company.
1874 Gilbert Duncan and Brutus Brunner start a foundry on Piasa Street, which became Duncan Foundry.
January 16, 1885 The hanging of Felix Henry for the murder of Henry DePugh and Albert Ross
April 6, 1890 Senator Daniel Brown Gillham dies in Upper Alton, as a result of being shot during a robbery in his home on March 19, 1890
January 23, 1892 The hanging of Patrick Boyle for the murder of John Muench
September 4, 1893 Incorporation of East Alton to form a village.
May 1, 1894 Formal opening of the Alton railroad bridge across the Mississippi River
1898 Spanish-American War
July 1, 1900 Jennie D. Hayner Free Library established.
1901 Rudolph Porter purchases more than 400 acres near the Mississippi River, and founded the Federal Lead Company. It went into production in 1902.
September 6, 1901 President William McKinley shot.  He 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 on the road for dead.
August 5, 1904 The drowning of Michael Reilly, his daughter Elizabeth, and 6 of her playmates, in the Mississippi River
May 1, 1907 Town of Wood River formed by Fred. W. Penning subdividing his 80 acre farm
June 15, 1907 Rock Spring Park In Alton Formally Opens to Public
July 2, 1908 Formal opening of Rock Springs Park in Alton (much of the land was donated by William Eliot Smith)
May 20, 1909 William Eliot Smith, Co-Found of Illinois Glass Works, dies in Rome, Italy.  Last to rest in Alton City Cemetery on June 12, 1909
September 4, 1909 Illini Hotel in Alton officially opens; orchestra plays music as guests wnader through "Bower of Beauty"
September 11, 1910 Monument dedication for the Wood River Massacre
1914 - 1918 World War I
1917 Alton State Mental Hospital officially opens, although some patients had been previously housed on the property in vacated farm houses
February 22, 1918 Robert Pershing Wadlow born in Alton, Madison County, IL
April 5, 1918 The lynching of Robert Paul Prager (during WWI Robert, who was a German, was labeled an enemy alien and allegedly was disloyal to the U.S.   He was lynched by a mob in Collinsville.)
May 28, 1921 Five youths drown in Godfrey Pond
November 15, 1922 The death of Amos Edward Benbow (founder and mayor of Benbow City)
April 22, 1924 Historic Alton City Hall burned
May 30, 1927 Norman Eugene Walker born in Hartford, IL - best known as actor Clint Walker, in the TV series "Cheyenne"
1937 - 1945 World War II
July 15, 1940 Robert Pershing Wadlow's death
March 16, 1946 Russell-Miller Flour Mill (Stanard-Tilton Division) Fire in downtown Alton
March 19, 1948 Devastating tornado hits Fosterburg and surrounding area.  Killed 8 in Fosterburg, 1 in Alton.
1950 - 1953 Korean War
1955 - 1975 Vietnam War
1990 - 1991 Desert Storm (Gulf War)
2001 - Present Operation Enduring Freedom (Global War on Terrorism)
2003 - 2011 Iraq War




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