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History of Omphghent Township, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Omphghent Township (Township 6, Range 7) received its name from the church that stood near the residence of David Swett. Originally, Omphghent comprised all the territory between east and west Cahokia Creeks, from the county line south to a line running east and west. Today, the township is bounded on the north by Macoupin County, on the east by Olive Township, on the south by Hamel Township, and on the west by Moro Township. Cahokia and Swett Creeks run through the township.

In the Fall or Winter of 1820, David Swett, a native of Pennsylvania, erected the first cabin in the township. On October 6, 1820, he entered 160 acres of land, which was the first land entered of the township. Swett came to Edwardsville in 1817. His father died when he was a boy, and his mother bound him out to learn the shoemaker’s trade. After serving his time there, he started west, arriving in Edwardsville. Four years later, he married Elizabeth Tindall, who came to Madison County as an orphan with her uncle, Thomas Tindall, in 1817, at the age of 17 years. In the Spring of 1821, Mr. Swett and his young wife moved into his cabin. He was the first permanent settler in the prairie, near the creek now bearing his name. He was the first Justice in the district, and later represented the county on the Commissioners’ Board. Swett built the first frame home in this settlement, and it was on his land that the Omphghent Church – the first in the township – was built in 1848. His widow lived on the old homestead until her death on April 1, 1877.

Mathias Handlon entered 80 acres in section 33, the same day Swett made his entry. If he ever lived on the land, it was for a short time, as he was soon forgotten by the oldest citizens of the settlement.

In 1825, Charles Tindall settled in the township. He came to Madison County in 1817, and lived at Edwardsville until he began his improvement in the township. As early as 1830, in company with David Swett, he built a horse mill on his place. He was a carpenter by trade. He died in 1843, leaving a widow, who died in 1851. They had eleven children, seven of whom grew to adults: Parham, Thomas, Dora, Emily, Nancy, Edward, and Sarah. Mr. Tindall served as Justice of the Peace.

In 1826, Ezekiel Davis, a native of New Jersey, settled on section 31. Two years later, he entered 80 acres of land – the fourth entry in the township. He and his wife both died in the latter part of 1844.

Samuel H. Denton, a native of Tennessee, came to Edwardsville in the Spring of 1817, where the following year, August 6, he married Mary Tindall. In 1833, he settled at the edge of the timber on section 30. He had a farm of more than 400 acres. He raised horses and cattle in great number, allowing them to run on the range during the entire summer and fall. He was one of the early botanic doctors of the county. He died on his farm, March 1, 1869. They had nine children, three of whom died in infancy: James, Jefferson, Martha (married Amos Hodgeman), Benjamin, Henry, and Sarah (married Henry Moritz). Mary Tindall, the wife of Samuel H. Denton, was the daughter of Thomas Tindall, who immigrated to the Territory of Illinois in 1816, arriving at Edwardsville in November of that year. He was a native of Virginia, where he married Martha Wall. They had two children born in Virginia – Charles and Francis; four in North Carolina – William, Mary, Parham, and David; three in Kentucky – George, Lewis, and Richard. The intention when the father started west was to visit the Goshen settlement, and if not pleased with that, to go Missouri. The party camped and cooked dinner about where the courthouse in Edwardsville now stands. After dinner, the teams were hitched and their heads turned toward the Mississippi ferry at lower Alton. In passing through old Edwardsville, Edward Fountain, a hotel keeper, recognized Mr. Tindall. They had been school mates in Virginia. Fountain induced the party to stop for a few days. Tindall soon moved his family into the old log courthouse, where he wintered. There was no floor or chimney. The fire was built in one corner of the room, and the smoke escaped through a hole in the roof. The second Monday in March 1817, the court convened and the Tindall family had to abandon the courthouse. During the winter, Mr. Tindall built a comfortable hewed log house. There he lived until he died in 1832, following teaming and farming. His wife died in 1851. Mrs. Mary Tindall was the last survivor of the family. In 1882 she was still living, and had raven black hair.

In 1830, Parham Wall built a double-log house, where he lost his wife. He then returned to Kentucky, and later came back to Madison County and died in Alton.

Benjamin Bond Sr. came from Tennessee and settled in section 13 in 1826, with his wife and family of five children: Thomas, Elizabeth Jane, Benjamin, Mary, and William. Mr. Bond’s wife died about 8 years after his arrival. He remarried, and in 1882 Lucy Ann was their only living child. His second wife remarried Joseph Lamb. Mr. Bond was married a fourth time, and later moved to Staunton.

Stephen Wilcox settled in the township in 1825. He operated a horse mill for many years. His wife, Nancy Wilcox, was a sister of George Kinder, who brought her and her mother from Kentucky. Mrs. Wilcox’s first husband was Jeremiah Brown. He died in Kentucky, leaving her with three children. She married Stephen Wilcox in 1834. He died in about 1847. Nancy Wilcox’s mother was a daughter of John Schmidt, who came from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania. She first married Jacob Kinder, who was killed by Indians in the early settlement of Kentucky. She then married Thomas Minter, who also died in Kentucky.

George W. Beaird, an early settler, was a blacksmith, wagon maker, gunsmith, and shoemaker. He died near where Worden now stands, in 1846.

William and James Best, sons of Michael Best, a well-known old settler of Macoupin County, improved farms in the northeastern part of the township. William died in Staunton, and James moved to Kansas.

Thomas Grant Sr. settled on the edge of Macoupin County, on the north line of Omphghent Township, in 1831. His son, Thomas, married Nancy, a daughter of Colonel Samuel Judy, and they were early settlers in Omphghent Township. Nancy had twelve children. Her marriage to Mr. Grant in 1840 was her third.

Captain Samuel Jackson was a sea captain in his early days. He came to the township in the early days. He was born in North Carolina, and lived in the township in a small cabin. He was very eccentric, and at one time he had the impression that some evil-disposed person placed poison in his well. He built a cabin over the well, and kept it securely locked. This delusion led him so far, that if he discovered any white substance upon his farm, he would view it with suspicion. Jackson accumulated much land, and took pride in his horses. It was his custom to walk to church barefooted during the summer months, even though he had fine horses. He joined the Methodist Church, and was asked to lead in prayer. The congregation knelt down, but he spoke out, “I am not praying.” The preacher remarked, “I see you ain’t,” and then asked someone else to pray. Jackson was an excellent violin player, and always kept two or three on hand. He would use a different violin for each occasion, entertaining his friends. Every Friday it was his custom to fast. He often went to the cabin of Thomas Grant. One day he stopped in just as dinner was on the table. The chicken and new potatoes captivated the old man. Mrs. Grant asked him to take dinner with them, but he said no, this is my fasting day. Mrs. Grant replied, “This is Thursday, Captain.” He said, “Well Nancy, if this is Thursday, I will believe you and eat.” When the Captain died, it was the general belief that he had money buried on his premises, and some dug around the property trying to find it, without success.

Jonathan McMannus, a native of Tennessee, was an early settler. He built a saw and grist mill on Cahokia Creek, west of Worden stands. He improved a farm, and was hand with tools of all kinds. He had a blacksmith shop at one time. He was twice married and had a family of four children by his first wife, and five by his second. In 1856 he moved to Texas, where he died about ten years later.

W. J. Piper settled on section 24. He was born in Alhambra Township in 1819, where he lived until about 1856, when he came to Omphghent Township. His father and mother died on the place they settled on Silver Creek.

Moses Barker was an early resident on the east side of Cahokia Creek. He died on his old homestead, and was one of the first buried in the New Hope Cemetery.

Edmund Butler settled on the west side of Cahokia Creek in about 1833. The improvement was first started in 1832 by Richard Wall, who built a cabin but never lived there. Butler died on the place about 1852.

James Kell improved a farm near Worden, and took an active part with John C. Worden in getting the T. W. & W. R. R. extended through the town. He died in Worden in 1876.

Richard Sandbach Sr., a native of London, England, came to the township in 1839. He bought a place in section 22 and 23, and opened a general store, which he operated until his death in 1854. His widow carried on the business with John C. Worden as manager, until her death in about 1872.

Frederick Handshey was the first German to settle in the township. He located a short distance south of Swett’s in 1833. He died in Hamel Township in 1852.

Other early settlers include Darius Sprewell, Robert Page, L. R. Weeks, Robert Roseberry, Sandford Dove, Adam Hohe, Frank Peters, Rev. L. Blume, Christian and Julius Kohlenburg, Herm Wiseman, Fred and Henry Durstmann, Fred Klein, J. C. Schafer, Fred Hillebrand, Fred Lesemann, and Samuel Walker.

The first death in the township was that of the wife of a squatter named Camp. He was a trapper and hunter, and lived in a pole camp, prior to the settlement of David Swett. Mrs. Camp was buried in the timber nearby. Her coffin was made by splitting a log into halves, and hollowing them out like troughs and fitting them together. They were fastened with wooden pins. The first birth in the township was that of Mary Swett, daughter of David Swett, in January 1822.

The First Schools
The first school taught in Omphghent settlement was in a small log building erected in 1825 by Mr. Springer. The first schooling the children received in the northeastern part of the township was at a log house that stood where the Staunton graveyard is now located. At a later date, school was kept by Henry Haveren on the township line, in an abandoned cabin built by Benjamin Bond.

The First Churches
The early preaching in this township was at the residence of Stephen Wilcox, by the Rev. Peter Long. The Lemens and Days were all Baptists.

The first Sunday School was held by Josjeph Gordon, a Presbyterian, in Davis Swett’s log barn, in 1833.

The Omphghent Church was built by that congregation in 1848.

New Hope Baptist Church, north of Worden, was built in about 1852.

The Village of Worden
John Lamb, an early settler, lived in section 25. Nearly half a mile southwest, a saw mill was constructed and a post office, called Lamb’s Point, was established by William Roseberry. Later, the town of New Hampton was laid out by Hampton Wall. Wall, in 1867, sold his store and interest in the town to John C. Worden, who in 1870, laid out in town lots the balance of the north eighty in section 35. After the railroad was constructed, the name of the post office was changed to Worden, in honor of John C. Worden. To read more on the history of the village of Worden, please click here.


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