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History of Pin Oak Township, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Pin Oak Township is located in Township 4, Range 7 West. It is bounded on the north by Hamel, on the east by Marine, on the south by Jarvis, and on the west by Edwardsville Township. Silver Creek flows in a southerly direction through the eastern part of the township. When the township was first settled, deer were plentiful on the prairie, and only here and there a large tree interrupted the view. As time went on, timber has grown rapidly.

Joseph Bartlett, Lockhart and Taylor were the first settlers of Pin Oak Township in 1809. Uncle Joe Bartlett, as he was familiarly known, located on section 21. He was born in Virginia, January 13, 1775, and immigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he resided many years. From Kentucky he moved to Illinois Territory in 1807. He first located near the old village of Milton in the Wood River settlement, where he remained until 1809. He then moved to Pin Oak Township. During the Indian troubles he served as a Ranger, and took part in building Fort Russell. He also built a fort or blockhouse on the west eighty of the northwest quarter, of section 21. He was one of the party that gave chase to the Indians that committed the Wood River massacre. He was also in the Black Hawk War, accompanied by three of his sons. He built a double log house on the state road on the tract that was known as the Bartlett place. His blockhouse remained standing until about 1834, when he tore it down, moved it near his residence, and converted it into stables. Mr. Bartlett married Patience McCoy on April 5, 1798. She was born February 22, 1778. They raised a family of seven children. Joseph’s son, Martin, settled in Hamel Township. Nicholas Bartlett settled a short distance north of his brothers’. William settled in Jarvis Township, and Jesse, the youngest son, lived on the old homestead. Joseph’s daughter, Sarah, married George Day; Rachel, the youngest, married Daniel E. Adams; and Lydia married William Kirkpatrick and settled in Montgomery County. Uncle Joe Bartlett attended school only eight days, but he was the first assessor and treasurer of the county. He died December 25, 1863, having never seeing a steamboat or railroad, neither did he visit a county fair nor camp meeting during his life. He preferred to devote his time to domestic affairs and his books. He was considered a walking history of Tennessee, and for many years acted as justice of the peace. He was county treasurer, and held other offices of trust and responsibility. He had a large and well-selected library, and a file of papers than published in Illinois and Tennessee.

Paul Beck located on section 5 in Pin Oak Township before the War of 1812. During that struggle, he was a Ranger. His cabin was built in the style of a blockhouse, in which he lived many years. On September 6, 1814, he entered the northeast quarter of section 5. That same day, George Hutton entered 160 acres. These were the first land entries in the Township.

George Coventry, a native Englishman, came to Madison County from Christian County, Kentucky, in 1813. He was married in Kentucky to Sarah Stanford, August 10, 1805. He had four children born to him, two of which died. His other two children, John W. and Indiana, came to Madison County with their father and mother. Two more children were born in Madison County – William M. and Eleiann. George Coventry was a millwright by trade. He first lived in Edwardsville and kept a public house. He bought property that included a blockhouse, several small buildings, and a horse mill, which he operated for some time. The place was later known as the Governor Cole place. Mr. Coventry then moved to Belleville, and then back to Madison County near Salem, in the American Bottoms, where he died July 15, 1819. His wife died May 24, 1874, at the age of 88.

On September 10, 1814, John Robinson entered the northeast quarter of section 32, and the southwest quarter of section 33, where he began improving the land. He later sold this property to Jubilee Posey. On April 14, 1815, John R. Jones entered the greater part of section 14.

Jubilee Posey, a native of Georgia, came to Madison County in 1811, at the age of 17. He came to the territory with an older brother, Chesley Posey, who settled in St. Clair County. Jubilee was a Ranger during the War of 1812, and rendered valuable services in guarding the settlers. After this, he married Catharine Smith. He purchased land from John Robinson, and made it a good farm in which he resided until his death on August 4, 1878, at the age of 85. Posey was twice married and raised a large family. Bennet Posey, a son by his first wife, was born in Madison County in 1823. He was a farmer, and lived on part of his father’s estate. Julia Posey, a daughter by his first wife, married John McKee. Martha Posey, a daughter, married James Thomas. Of the second marriage, there were born three girls.

Laban Smart came to Madison County in 1816 and settled in section 1 of Jarvis Township. He was a native of North Carolina, and came to Madison County from Kentucky. He farmed until about 1838, when he lost his wife. He had a large family, and from then until his death, some three years later, he lived with his children. Wiley Smart, the oldest son, was among the first settlers in the northern part of Madison County. In about 1832, he exchanged farms with Peter Long, and located there until his death in 1856. He raised quite a large family, and was married twice. Wiley served in the War of 1812. Peter Smart, the next son, improved the farm in section 36 of Pin Oak Township as early as 1820, where he resided until 1849, when he moved West. He died in Missouri ten years later. Henry B. Smart, the next son, was born in 1800. He settled on section 35, and improved a large farm. He died in 1882, leaving seven children.

Jacob Gonterman, son of Henry Gonterman, a native of Germany, was born in Maryland, March 27, 1764. He moved with his parents to Shelby County, Kentucky, where he later married Hannah Stark, daughter of Jonathan Stark. They moved to Christian County, where ten children were born to them. They moved from Kentucky to Madison County in the Fall of 1816, and located on section 20 where he began improving his land. He erected a horse mill, that he operated for many years. His oldest son, Caleb B., was born August 20, 1797, and was married to Elizabeth Miller, March 14, 1819. They resided in Pin Oak Township and raised a family of nine children. For many years Caleb served as Captain of a militia company, and was later known as Captain Gonterman. He died September 11, 1861. C. B. Gonterman Jr., his youngest child, lived in section 17.

Reverend Thomas Ray, a Kentuckian, came to Pin Oak Township in 1818, and settled in the northeast part of section 11. He was a member of the Baptist Church, and one of the early preachers in this settlement. He was also a farmer, and owned a good deal of property. He was twice married, and raised two daughters by his second marriage – Adeline, who married John Keown, and Mary, who married Mr. Fruit of Edwardsville. Rev. Ray died October 21, 1854, at the age of 81.

James Pearce, a nephew of Joseph Bartlett, settled in section 21 in 1815, where he lived three years, then moved to Leef Township.

Alvis Hauskins came to Madison County in 1819 from Tennessee, with his step-father, Willerby Adams. He was 12 years of age at the time. In 1825, he began farming near Bethalto, and in 1832 he entered a farm in section 10 of Pin Oak Township. He built a cabin in the Spring of 1832, and resided until 1863. He was twice married, and had twelve children.

John Minter, a native of Kentucky, was one of the early settlers of Madison County. He first located in Montgomery County, then settled on land previously owned by Alvis Hauskins.

James Tunnell was the 4th son of William and Mary Tunnell of East Tennessee. In 1814 he married Dicy Hauskins, and in 1816 he came to Illinos with his family and became one of the pioneers of Fort Russell. He bought land from Rev. William Jones, near Bethalto, which he later sold to W. Adams. Tunnell’s death occurred in 1825. His widow married Rev. Thomas Ray of Madison County, in 1827. They then moved to Pin Oak Township. Mr. Tunnell had two children – Nancy Elvira and William West Tunnell. Nancy married Levi Harnsberger. William West Tunnell was born February 23, 1824, in Madison County. He married Letitia McKee on February 7, 1850, and reared a family of eight children.

Mathias Handlon, a native of Kentucky, came to Madison County with George Kindler in about 1810, at the age of 19. He married Harriet Walker, and improved a place near Lamb’s Point. Leaving there, he settled in the southern part of Pin Oak Township, in the edge of the timber on the east side of section 32. He built a house and barn, and resided there until his death in 1856. He left a widow and seven children. Mathias had been a Ranger in the War of 1812, and served in the Black Hawk War. He was a successful farmer.

Samuel McKitrick, a native of Ireland, bought improved property on section 28, before 1825. He later lived with his son, William, until his death.

Edmond Fruit was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, November 1, 1786. When about 16 years old, his father, James Fruit, went to Christian County, Kentucky, where he died. Edmond married Polly Gray. They had one child in Kentucky, Cicero, who died a young man. In 1811, Edmond came to the Territory of Illinois, but on account of the Indian troubles, he returned to Kentucky. In 1817, he and his two brothers, Enoch and Alexander, and John Walker, started west again. Coming to Illinois, the two brothers went to Missouri. Walker lived in Illinois for a time, then moved to Oregon. Edmond, in the Spring of 1818, located in the northeast corner of section 19, where he continued to live until his death in March 1861. Before the State of Illinois was admitted to the Union, he was appointed by the Territorial Governor a justice of the peace. Edmond returned the commission, not accepting the office. In later years he was a member of the Board of County Commissioners, and had a large farm. He was married twice, and had ten sons and five daughters. His second wife was Jane B. Robinson.

James Keown was one of the early settlers of Olive Township. As early as 1830, he improved land in the southern township line of Pin Oak, in section 35. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and took part in the engagement at New Orleans. He raised a large family.

Michael Dunn came to Madison County with his father, Patrick Dunn, in 1836. Michael lived on section 3. In 1846 he went to Hancock County, Illinois, then returned to Madison. When he first settled in Pin Oak Township, his cabin was among the first built out in the prairie. He bought 125 acres from Andrew F. Young.

J. B. McKee, who lived on section 3 in Pin Oak Township, was a descendant of one of the old families of Madison County. John McKee Sr., a native of Kentucky, came to the county in 1816 with a family of eight children. John McKee, a son, lived in Edwardsville and was the first register of the land office, from 1816 to 1818. Robert McKee, a nephew of John McKee, came to the county with his uncle John in 1816. He married Lutitia McKee, and settled on the southwest quarter of section 24 in Edwardsville Township.

William W. Barnsback, a prominent farmer of Pin Oak Township, was born in Madison County, January 24,1813. He was a blacksmith. He married Nancy Watt on April 23, 1834. After his marriage, he started improving his land, and opened a blacksmith shop where he made a specialty of plows and farm implements. It is said he made the first iron mould-board plow that was used in this settlement. He died April 4, 1872, leaving a widow and four children.

The first school in Pin Oak Township was taught by Mr. Atwater, in a small log building that stood on section 32. In the early times, school was kept in an abandoned cabin that stood near the cabin of James Keown, on section 35. Among the early teachers were Thomas S. Waddle. Waddle lived on section 35, where he died in abt. 1842. He wife died about the same time, and they were buried in the same grave. A great many deaths occurred about this time of a disease called by the settlers “a plague.” Waddle was one of the early justices of the peace, and served as county commissioner.

There was a large settlement of “colored” folks in Pin Oak Township. The first was Robert Crawford, who was given a small farm in section 9 by Governor Cole. Crawford was a preacher, and he induced others of his race to settle there. Michael Lee bought a small farm, where he lived until his death. Other early colored settlers were: Samuel Vanderburg, Henry Daugherty, and Thomas Sexton. They were known as honest and upright in their dealings. Henry Blair, the most successful, died in 1880, leaving a large estate to his widow and family. They build two churches on section 15 – Methodist and Baptist. They had a separate school district, and conducted their own school, generally employing colored teachers.


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