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History of Edwardsville Township, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Edwardsville Township (Township 4, Range 8) is bounded to the north by Fort Russell, to the east by Pin Oak, to the west by Chouteau, and to the south by Collinsville Townships.

Among the earliest pioneer settlers in Edwardsville Township were Charles Gillham and his two sisters, Mary and Margaret, with their husbands, Thomas Good and Bryant Mooney. Charles, Mary, and Margaret were the children of Ezekiel Gillham, who settled in Illinois. They immigrated from Georgia to Illinois in 1803, and settled on section 13 in Edwardsville Township, about two miles south of the future town of Edwardsville. After living there for some years, he sold his claim to John and Beniah Robinson, and moved to Bond County.

Thomas Good settled on section 23. He reared a large family, and lived on their homestead until their death. His youngest son, H. Davidson Good, was Deputy Sheriff under William E. Wheeler, and died near Marine at an old age.

Bryant Mooney located in the same neighborhood as Thomas Good, and gave name to Mooney’s Branches – two small streams in that vicinity. He later moved to Bond County.

Thomas Kirkpatrick, a native of South Carolina, made the first settlement on the site of the future town of Edwardsville in 1805. He built his cabin on 100 acres of a militia claim, near Cahokia Creek, originally granted to Pierre Lejoy. This claim covered the northwest part of the present town. When the Indian troubles began previously to 1812, a blockhouse was built for the protection of the several families who had settled in the vicinity. This structure was known as Thomas Kirkpatrick’s fort, and was an important link in the chain of military stations which guarded the Illinois frontier. It stood to the north of the old courthouse, about 300 yards from the banks of Cahokia Creek. It was said to have been built by a military company of which John G. Lofton was Captain, William Jones, First Lieutenant, and Daniel G. Moore, Second Lieutenant.

John T. Lusk settled on section 15 in 1805. He was then unmarried, and his aunt, Mrs. Sally Sams, kept house for him. In 1809, he married Lucretia Gillham, daughter of Charles Gillham. She was born in Georgia on January 11, 1793. Lusk sold his improvement to John W. Wright, and moved to what was later called the Fair Grounds. He lived in a tent until a cabin could be erected. The double log cabin which he built stood for many years on the Fair Grounds, and in it was born Alfred Lusk, who was said to have been the first white child born in the township. He became the proprietor of the first hotel in Edwardsville.

In 1811, the Wright, Randle, and Bell family left Georgia, and reached turkey Hill near Belleville on October 17 of that year. Remaining there a few days, they came to Madison County. John W. Wright purchased a farm two and a half miles southeast of Edwardsville, and lived there until his death. His three oldest sons were in Captain Bolen Whiteside’s Company of Rangers during the War of 1812-1814.

The county of Madison was organized in 1812, and the Thomas Kirkpatrick farm was selected as the best location for the seat of justice. At the home of Thomas Kirkpatrick, on April 5, 1813, the court of common pleas for Madison County held its first session. At this term of court, Kirkpatrick obtained license to keep a public house.

Josias Randle was born in Virginia. He settled where Judge David Gillespie later lived. Randle became the first clerk of the county court, after the organization of Madison County. He built an ox mill near his resident in 1818. He had four sons: Barton, Richard, Peter, and Josias Jr. Barton, minister in the Methodist Church, and who died in 1882. Richard was also a Methodist minister. Peter practiced medicine at Edwardsville and Alton, and moved to California. He was a surgeon in the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, and president of a medical college in San Francisco. Josias Jr. became a successful attorney, and died of cholera in New Orleans in 1842. The only daughter, Martha, married George Ripley. After the death of Josias Randle, his nephew, Josiah Randle, became the owner of the homestead, and continued to operate the ox mill for some time.

In the fall of 1814, Mrs. Randle, the mother of Irwin B. Randle of Edwardsville, reached the county from Tennessee with a family of eight children – six of whom were boys. The youngest was Irwin B. Randle, then three years old. Their father died in Tennessee. The next year, the family settled in section 13 of the township. This land was previously owned by Edmund Randle, the oldest son. After living here several years, the family scattered to different parts of the county. The three oldest of the sons – Edmund, John H., and Josiah – died within a short time of each other, in 1853 and 1854. George D. Randle moved to Mason City. Parham and Henry L. Randle returned to Kentucky in 1827 and the latter in 1829. Temperance, one of the daughters, married Thornton Peoples, one of the early residents of Edwardsville. They moved to St. Clair County. Lucy became the wife of John Dew, one of the pioneer Methodist ministers of Illinois.

Beniah Robinson, an early settler on section 24, was one of the pioneer surveyors of the county. He moved to Oregon. William Gillham made improvements in section 24. The farm was later owned by Herman Giese. Jeptha Lampkin was an early settler on the northeast quarter of section 24, and Robert Holliday on the northwest quarter of section 25. Robert McKee settled on the southwest quarter of section 24.

George Barnsback settled on section 25 in the township in the Spring of 1810. He was born in Osterode, Germany in 1781, and immigrated to the United States in 1797. He first lived in Kentucky, and came to Illinois in 1809. He served for two years as a Ranger during the War of 1812-1814. From 1825 to 1831, he was a resident of Missouri, and then returned to his old him in Edwardsville Township.

George Kinder was a native of Pennsylvania. He and his family moved to Kentucky, where his father, Jacob Kinder, was killed by Indians. George Kinder came to Madison County in October 1811, and settled on section 36. He died on this farm. Of his nine children, two were born in Kentucky. Six of his children remained in Madison County: Captain Jacob J. Kinder, Jane R. (married Robert Holliday), Robert H., George W., Mary A. (married Mr. Jarvis), and Eleanor (married Nelson Montgomery).

James Holliday came to Illinois from Georgia, and settled on section 34, previous to 1811. His only child, Robert, owned 700 acres of land in Madison County. He moved to Macoupin County, and died there.

Franklin Roach (whose proper name is said to have been Fields) was a soldier under General Marion in the Revolutionary War. He made the first improvement on a farm later owned by Captain Jacob J. Kinder, in section 36. He was a native of South Carolina. His son, David Roach, served with the Rangers in the War of 1812, and with the money he received for his services, purchased the quarter section where Captain Kinder’s house was built. The Roach family moved to Worden, where the older members died.

Ambrose and David Nix were among the pioneer settlers in the northwest part of the township. Ambrose made the first improvements on a farm later owned by William M. Lee, in section 32. Lee married one of his daughters. David Nix settled the place where the Edwardsville Road comes down from the bluff. Nix’s Ford, a well-known place in the history of the county, was half a mile northwest of David Nix’s house. The ford was free from quicksand, and was the best on the Cahokia Creek. Jacob Varner settled north of Nix’s, on land later owned by Henry F. Brockmeyer. Abraham and Joel Varner were the sons of Jacob Varner. Captain Bolen Whiteside lived under the bluff in section 17 of the township.

David Gillespie, the father of Matthew and Joseph, moved with his family and settled near Edwardsville in the early part of 1819. He resided there until the summer of 1827, when he went to the Galena lead mines. He returned in the Fall of 1828, and located in the American Bottom, under the bluff where he purchased the farm that was first settled by Henry Cook. He resided there until 1834, and moved to Grant County, Wisconsin, where he died. His wife had died in 1831 on the farm.

George Coventry came to Madison County in 1813. He was a millwright by trade, and built a water mill in what was known as the Tan Yard Branch. This mill was in existence some years, and in 1882, traces of the old mill could still be seen. The mill was about a quarter of a mile from the Fair Grounds. J. W. Coventry, who was later postmaster in Edwardsville, was the son of George Coventry. He came with his father to Madison County in 1813. The Tan Yard was established by Benjamin Steadman in about 1816 or 1817. Steadman sold it to Richard Randle, and he sold it to Tilghman H. West, who sold it to William P. McKee. West and McKee rented the place to Solomon Harkey. In January 1833, it was rented by C. W. Crocker. After 1840, the tan yard was not used much.

On Cahokia Creek, in section 8, just above the mouth of Indian Creek, a mill was built at an early day, but was never placed in operation. It was, however, part of a lawsuit, which found its way to the Supreme Court of Illinois.

An ox mill once stood on section 25, where Nelson Montgomery later lived. It was changed with an attachment of propelling it by wind, but did not operate successfully and fell to decay. Daniel Tolman was the proprietor of this mill.

The earliest land entries in Edwardsville Township include: August 20, 1814, William Ottwell entered 160 acres in section 4; Thomas Kirkpatrick, on September 13, 1814, entered two tracts in section 2; John T. Lusk entered 330 acres in section 3 on September 13, 1814; Michael Dodd, on September 13, 1814, entered 317 acres in section 5. Two weeks later, John Robinson entered 125 acres in section 2. Entries of land wer also made in 1814 by Nicholas Jarrot, George Davidson, George Sanders, R. C. Gillham, Samuel Delaplain, James Greenwood, Benjamin Steadman, Josiah Randle, Josias Wright, Daniel Brown, Robert Reynolds, John McKinney, Thomas Randle, Thomas and John Good, Charles Gillham, George Barnsback, James Holliday, Robert Gillespie, Jacob Trout, George Belsha, John Nix, and George Hubbert.

The Early Schools
John Barber, who became a resident of the township in about 1825, taught school for several years in a log schoolhouse near his residence, three miles south of Edwardsville. The schoolhouse stood in the middle of the Troy Road. Barber was a well-educated man, who understood the Latin and Greek languages, and was considered an excellent teacher.

At the old Ebenezer schoolhouse, Hiram Rountree was one of the earliest and best teachers. He taught two years, and had eighty students.

The Early Churches
On the farm of Thomas Good, two miles south of Edwardsville, the early camp meetings were held. His wife was an earnest Methodist.

Bethel Methodist Church was one of the earliest churches in the township. It was located two and a half miles southwest of Edwardsville, and was built in 1805.

In about 1817, a church was built at Ebenezer, now called Center Grove. The old Ebenezer Church was attended for some years by the people of Edwardsville, as at that time there were no church in town.

The Town of Edwardsville
Edwardsville was established in 1812, when the county was established in 1812, and Thomas Kirkpatrick’s farm was selected as the best location for the seat of justice. The first court of common pleas was held in Kirkpatrick’s home on April 5, 1813.

The first merchant in Edwardsville was Abraham Prickett, and the second was Benjamin Stephenson. Their stores opened in 1815 or 1816. John T. Lusk was proprietor of the first hotel.

In 1816, a town was surveyed by Kirkpatrick, and called Edwardsville in honor of Ninian Edwards, then Territorial Governor of Illinois. To read more on the history of the town of Edwardsville, please click here.


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