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History of Marine Township, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Marine Township (Township 4, Range 6) is located east of the central portion of Madison County, and is bounded on the North by Alhambra, on the east by Saline, on the south by St. Jacobs, and on the west by Pin Oak Townships. It received its name at a very early day from the settlement of so many sea captains within its limits.

The rolling prairie was formerly covered with heavy forests, but settlers cleared the land for farming purposes. Sugar Fork of Silver Creek flows north to south, providing abundant supply of water for stock.

Early Settlements
Major Isaac H. Ferguson and John Warwick, brothers-in-law, were the first to settled in this township. They built their cabins in 1813 on the edge of the timber on the southwest quarter of section 33. Major Ferguson came to this section as an officer in the U. S. Army, as early as 1806. He lived in Fort Russell for several years, and was a Ranger during the War of 1812. He lived in Marine Township until 1842, when he sold his home to Jacob Spies and went to Texas. When the war was declared against Mexico, though an old man of 75 years of age, he enlisted and participated in the war. While he was in Mexico City, he became sick and died. His children were: Melinda (married Nicholas Kyle); John L. (born in a blockhouse in Fort Russell Township in 1807, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Curtis Blakeman Jr., and died in 1878); Lucinda (who married Henry Riggin, and later Squire Peterson); Elizabeth Ann (married a German named John); and Minera Ann (married Thomas Uzzell. Elizabeth Ann and Minerva Ann, along with other children – William, Justice, Nicholas and Mary – accompanied their father to Texas.

John Warwick lived but a short time in the township, and sold his land to Captain Blakeman and left the area.

John Laird was an early settler, and served as the first magistrate in the settlement, receiving his appointment from the Legislative Council. He left the township prior to 1819.

Other pioneers who made permanent settlements in the township were John Woods, George Newcomb, Joseph and Absalom Ferguson, Aquilla Dolahide, Abraham Howard, and John Dean, who settled in 1813 and 1814. Chester Pain, John Campbell, John Giger, and Thomas Breeze settled in 1815.

On September 19, 1817, a party left New York City and traveled westward to find homes in the vicinity of Edwardsville, where some members of the party (the Masons) had been the previous year and took back favorable reports of the new country. The party consisted of:

Rowland P. Allen, his wife, son (George T.), a negro boy, Henry, and a negro girl, Jane.
Paris Mason, his wife (a sister of Mrs. Allen), one child and two negro servants.
James Mason and family.
Hail Mason and family.
Elijah Ellison, wife, and Townsend, John & Jacob – his sons.
Richard Ellison.
Theophilus W. Smith, an able lawyer and later a judge, with his family.
William Townsend.
Daniel Tallman.
And several young men.

This party traveled in wagons to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and purchased a large flatboat, which they traveled in as far as Shawneetown. They then traveled by wagons to Edwardsville, arriving on December 23, 1817. They found a comfortable log house, previously provided for, where they spent the winter. In the Spring of 1818, Rowland P. Allen and Elijah Ellison moved to Marine, and on section 28 built their cabins. They entered the land together and farmed in common for many years, the land interests not being divided until 1838. Rowland P. Allen lived on his farm several years, then went back to New York, returned to the township again to live on his farm, and ultimately moved to Alton, where he died in 1858. Mr. Allen was twice married, but only raised one son, George T., whom he brought with him when he first came West. George T. Allen represented Madison County in the General Assembly in 1855, served as a surgeon in the army during the Civil War, and later was in charge of the U. S. Hospital at St. Louis for many years, where he died.

Elijah Ellison lived on the farm until his death in 1858. His wife died 30 years previously. He left six sons and two daughters: Townsend, John, Jacob, William, Mary Jane (killed by lightning while sitting in her father’s house in 1838), Smith, Phoebe (married J. Carlton), and George.
Captain James Breath
During the year 1819, Captain Curtis Blakeman, Captain George C. Allen, James Breath, Justice Deselherst, and Captain David Mead, all old sea captains, arrived in the township. They all had families, and came from New York, New England, and New Jersey. Captain Blakeman located on the Louis Spies place, which was previously occupied by an early settler named John Scott. Captain Blakeman brought with him a four-horse wagon, which was driven by David Throp, a two-horse wagon, driven by Henry B. Thorp, and a one-horse rockaway driven by James Sackett. Captain Blakeman and George Churchill were Whig members from this county, and E. J. West represented the Democratic Party. A vote was to be taken regarding whether Illinois was to be a free state or a slave state. Captain Blakeman received a message to return home in haste, as a favorite child was lying dangerously ill, and was expected to die. He went to his colleague, E. J. West, and requested West to vote with him, but was flatly refused. Blakeman stated that he would not leave his post in the legislature, even though his entire family was dying. A Democrat named Dr. Alexander took pity on the old Captain and voted with him.

Ellijah Blakeman, a brother of Captain Curtis Blakeman, came with him in a two-horse wagon, bringing a wife and five children. He farmed in section 32, and later returned to the east with his family. In 1840 he came back to Madison County, and remained until his death some seven years later.

James Sackett also came with Captain Curtis Blakeman. He was a boy of only fifteen years, and drove the Captain’s rockaway. He married Miss Parker, daughter of Andrew Parker who came into the township in 1829. James farmed until he moved into the town of Marine, and raised six children. His wife died in 1866.

Justice Deselherst, who was at one time a mate on the ship commanded by Captain Blakeman, came into the township also. He farmed, and was the second Justice of the Peace in the settlement. When lead was discovered at Galena, he went there and never returned.

M. Botchford, Solomon Curtis, and Wheeler Curtis, each with families and two-horse wagons, came at about the same time as Captain Blakeman. Captain George C. Allen brought two teams, one driven by himself, and the other by William Coon. William May, a carpenter, resided in the township, but returned to his former home in the East. A few years later, William Goodsell and family came to the township, but died about three years later. His family returned to their former home.

James Ground, an Englishman with a good education, settled on section 19 in 1820. He built a comfortable frame home – the first in the township. He raised three boys and two girls.

Elizur Judd, a native of Connecticut, first settled at Old Ripley, Bond County. In 1822, he moved into Marine Township, and located on section 9. For many years he kept a tavern and the post office on the state road. He had three sons – Albert H., George B., and Lewis S.

Among seventy-two families who came together in 1818 were: John Barnaby, Lefferd French, Jacob Johnson, two families by the name of Matthews, the Andersons, Shinns, and the Balsters.

Adam Kyle was among the earliest to settle out in the prairie, and as early as 1817, he improved a farm in section 29. He raised five sons.

Davidson Gooch, whose father settled near Edwardsville, improved a farm as early as 1825.

The pioneers on the east side of Silver Creek were Ambrose Houser and his father; Felix, Michael, Henry and Joseph Deck and their father; Mathias Long, John Ambuhl; and William Geiger. Reuben Reynolds and Benjamin May were early settlers on the Vandalia Road.

John Harrington came with his father, Whitmil Harrington. Harrington was an extensive trader, and raised 10 children. He died while on a visit to his daughter in Troy.

Other early settlers include: Jordan W. Jeffress, George Welsh, Thomas Farquharson, George Howard, William McAdams, and Aaron Rule.

Major Isaac H. Ferguson built the first house – a rude log cabin, and also improved the first farm. The first marriage was that of Lefferd French and Sarah Matthews, in 1815. Elijah Ferguson, a brother of Major Ferguson, was the first to die in the settlement in 1815.

The First Schools
In the summer of 1814, Arthur Travis taught the first school in the smokehouse of Major Ferguson. About twelve pupils were in attendance.

In 1819, a young man from New Haven, Connecticut opened a school in an empty cabin which stood between the houses of Captain Blakeman and Rowland P. Allen. For many years thereafter, the youth were taught in old cabins and the Union Church.

The First Churches
The first sermon was preached by Rev. Samuel Lindley, a Baptist, at the residence of Major Ferguson, in 1813. Rev. Peter Cartwright preached in the settlement the same year.

The Union Church, a substantial frame building with clapboard siding and split shingle roof, was the first church erected. It was built in 1821 on section 33, and was in constant use until the Union Church was built in the village of Marine. The old church was bought by John L. Ferguson, who used it as a barn.

The First Post Office
The first post office was established prior to the laying out of the Marine village. Main was received every other day. Rowland P. Allen and John L. Ferguson were the first postmasters, and had the office at their houses.

The First Businesses
Ebeu. Twiss, who settled on the State Road on section 11, kept the first tavern, as early as 1820. This was a stopping place for the stagecoaches. The first mill was an old treadmill, requiring ten oxen to furnished the power. It was built by Captain Blakeman on his place in 1823. It was destroyed by fire in 1835.

The Town of Madison and Marine
On November 18, 1820, lots were to be sold in the Marine Settlement for the town of Madison. This town, however, never came to be. Instead, the village of Marine was founded, laid out in 1834 on sections 16, 17, 20, and 21 by George W. Welsh, James Semple, Jordan W. Jeffress, and Abram Breath. To read of the history of the village of Marine, please click here.


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