George Washington Smith.

A history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) online

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and this at ten per cent interest would bring only $80 per year. This
would not be of much service when distributed among the schools of
the township.

At this date, 1912, much of this land is worth from $100 to $200
per acre. The argument for selling the lands was that the early pioneers
were the ones who ought to reap most of the benefit of the government's
liberality. Six hundred and forty acres at $100 per acre would make
a permanent fund of $64,000, which put at interest at six per cent
would produce an annual income of $3,840. This distributed among
nine schools would give to each school in the township $426.66.

The seminary township was sold in 1842 and the money borrowed
by the state. The state also borrowed the three per cent of the public
lands. The amount borrowed was about $500,000. This money came
to the state treasury in quantities of $20,000 a year. For twenty-five
years the state had a constant income of $20,000 per year. When it
was all in, the debt was nearly $500,000. This drew interest at six per
cent, the annual interest being $28,000. Thus we received $20,000 a
year for twenty-five years for the privilege of paying out $28,000
annually for all time to come.


In the summer of 1827 occurred an incident which is usually spoken
of lightly by historians. It was known at the time as the Winnebago
war or the Winnebago scare. But however lightly we may treat the
matter now, it was one of deep concern to those upon the borders of
civilization around Galena in 1827. The story may be briefly told.
The Winnebago Indians occupied the lands in the southwestern part
of what is now Wisconsin. The whites in their search for lead were
continually trespassing upon this territory. Though the Winnebagoes
were friendly to the whites, they remonstrated with the latter without
success. Eventually some whites were killed. The killing of the whites
is said to have resulted from incorrect information coming to Red Bird,
the Winnebago chief, as to the death of four of his warriors by Colonel
Snelling, commandant at Fort Snelling. Two keel boats returning from
Fort Snelling were attacked on the Mississippi, probably about the
region of Bad Axe creek. Two boatmen were killed and others wounded.
The Winnebagoes sent word throughout the country to exterminate the
whites. It was this word which reached northwestern Illinois about
Galena and spread consternation far and wide. It is said three thou-
sand whites fled to Galena, a flourishing mining town, for protection.

Governor Edwards was appealed to and immediately dispatched a
regiment of militia from Sangamon and Morgan counties under com-
mand of Col. T. M. Neale. General Atkinson, of the United States
army, with six hundred regulars appeared upon the scene and quieted


the disturbance without any bloodshed. Several prominent Indians
were arrested and tried, those found guilty of murder were executed,
the others turned loose. Black Hawk was among those liberated.

Governor Edwards closed his term as chief executive of Illinois
amid expressions of satisfaction from the people. He turned over the
office to his successor in December, 1830, and retired to his home in
Belleville where he died in 1833. His life had been indeed a very
active one, he having held political office nearly a quarter of a century.



In the settlement of a new country as was the case in Illinois, the
population moves first toward a center and later away from such a cen-
ter. To understand this matter let us recall some centers of population
in Illinois in an early day.


The first centers to which our minds go were Kaskaskia and Cahokia.
From these there grew up in the American Bottom the villages of New
Chartres, St. Phillipe, Prairie du Rocher, and Prairie du Pont. St.
Clair county, whose lands lie partly in the American Bottom, was early
settled, and the wonderful fertility of the soil was at that time as well
known in western Europe as in the New England states. When Gen-
eral Clark came to Kaskaskia in 1778, he had with him something like
a hundred and seventy-five men. Many of these were men of excellent
character and of clear intellects. They were with Clark at Kaskaskia,
Cahokia, and the neighboring regions more than a year. In that time
many of them became quite well acquainted with the topography of
the country. When the war was over and they returned to their homes
in Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Virginia, they remembered the un-
surpassed fertility of the soil in the American Bottom, and the grandeur
and beauty of the Father of Waters. And the understanding that
eventually Virginia was to give to each soldier a grant of land in this
western country in payment for his services, induced many to return
to St. Clair and Madison counties.

When the settlements began to spread into the adjacent regions as
early as 1802, settlers from Kaskaskia had already gone over on the
Big Muddy river, and by 1807, it is said there were twenty-four families
in that immediate vicinity.

By 1814, Conrad Will, a very noted pioneer, was making salt on
the Big Muddy river and had laid out the town of Brownsville at the
salt works. This became the future capital of Jackson county and here
was chartered a branch bank as early as 1820.

From Kaskaskia and Cahokia also the settlements spread into what
is now St. Clair and Madison counties. Ephraim O'Connor settled
Goshen six miles southwest of Edwardsville in 1800. He was followed



by Col. Samuel Judy who lived in the Goshen settlement till about
1840. This locality was situated on Cahokia creek and near the bluffs.
It was a widely known settlement. By 1812 quite a number of families
had come to this region and when the war broke out Fort Russell was
built near the present site of Edwardsville.

The Badgley settlement is one of the oldest in St. Clair county out-
side of the French settlements. It was settled about 1810. In 1815
two German families by the name of Markee settled in Dutch Hollow,
a canyon in the bluffs and thus laid the foundation for that large Ger-
man population which St. Clair has always had. Rock Springs, eight
and one-half miles northeast of Belleville, was settled by the Rev. John
M. Peck in 1820. It was at a spring on the old trail from Vincennes
to St. Louis. For many years this was an important center of influence.


Shawneetown, the place of debarkation of the Ohio river travel,
destined for Kaskaskia or St. Louis, was a center from which radiated
north and west movements of population. There was a ferry here as
early as 1800 or 1802. This accommodated the Kentucky people who
patronized the salt works at Equality. At this place was also a center
of population from which people went into adjacent localities to settle.

Mt. Vernon, in Jefferson county, was settled by Zadoc Casey in
1817, and from that time on it was a center from which the population
spread. It was on one of the trails from Kaskaskia to Vincennes and
a great many people passed here even in an early day. One road from
Fort Massac to Kaskaskia passed through Franklin county; and Frank-
fort, now called Old Frankfort, was settled at a very early date.

Albion, in Edwards county, has already been referred to.

Vandalia was laid out and became the capital in 1820. It was far
to the north of any settlement at that time but the location of the
capital there and the general notion that this would eventually be an
important city were the causes of its rapid growth. Vandalia soon be-
came an important center around which settlements grew up in in-
creasing circles.

The Sangamon country has already been spoken of and we need
not speak of it again at this time. Morgan county as we know it today
was a portion of what, in a very early day, was called the Sangamon
country. Diamond Grove Prairie and vicinity, some two or three miles
southwest of Jacksonville, was the center of the settlements in this
county, although it is said that Elisha and Seymour Kellogg were the
first white settlers in the limits of the county, and they settled on Mau-
vaisterre creek in 1818. In 1820 there were about twenty-one families
in the county.


This included originally all the lands between the Illinois and Mis-
sissippi rivers, and was limited north and south by latitudes 38 degrees
54 minutes and 41 degrees 20 minutes. That is, on the south by the
junction of the rivers, and on the north by the parallel of 41 degrees and
20 minutes. This tract was set aside as the land out of which the gov-
ernment was to pay the soldiers who fought in the War of 1812. A very


large share of this bounty land was granted to soldiers who never came
to settle on their claims, and often did not keep the taxes paid and the
lands shortly fell to the state. Many sold their certificates to specula-
ors and thus large quantities of the land were held by companies. How-
ever, as early as 1817, a Frenchman by the name of Tebo settled on the
Illinois river on the west side about where the Griggsville landing is. In
1820 several located in what is now Atlas township. In 1821 the county
was organized with perhaps fewer than one hundred white people in
the territory. In the vote on slavery in 1824 Pike county cast one hun-
dren and eighty-four votes which indicates a population of probably
eight hundred or more. Prior to this vote the county of Fulton had
been cut off from Pike. Fulton cast sixty-five votes in 1824, showing a
population of three hundred souls.


Another center from which radiated a great many settlements was
Peoria. This point was first occupied by Indians. When La Salle came
down the Illinois the first time in the winter of 1679-80, he found here a
very large encampment. Here he built Fort Crevecoeur. Probably
there were whites here at different times from that date till the date
usually given as that of the permanent settlements, but they were traders,
trappers, hunters, and voyagers. The first permanent house was
built about the year 1778. The place was called La Ville de Maillet, and
was afterwards changed to Peoria. The village occupied by the French
was burned in 1812 by Captain Craig, and the French inhabitants
brought to a point below Alton and landed in the woods men, women,
and children, without food or shelter. United States troops occupied
the place in 1813 and built a block house and called it Fort Clark. This
now became a nucleus around which settlements began to cluster.

In 1819 Abner Eads, Josiah Fulton, Seth Fulton, Samuel Dougherty,
Thomas Russell, Joseph Hersey, and John Davis arrived at Fort Clark
from the vicinity of St. Louis. Mr. Eads soon brought his family, and
the other pioneers boarded with Mr. Eads. The first store was erected
by John Hamlin, who was agent for the American Fur Company. As
late as 1832 there were only twenty-two buildings in the town.

By reason of the location of Fort Clark at Peoria and the presence
of United States troops, there was security of life and property in this
military tract. Adams county was settled as early as 1820. John Wood,
who afterwards became governor, and Willard Keys settled in what is
now Adams county, in that year. In 1822 Wood commenced laying off
the city of Quincy. Adams county was organized in 1824. Quincy was
made the county seat ; four men and two women constituted the entire
adult population.

Lead was discovered in Jo Daviess county as early as 1700. Article
III. of the grant by Louis, King of France, to M. Crozat in 1712, Sep-
tember 24, is as follows:

We permit him to search for, open and dig all sorts of mines, veins
and minerals throughout the whole extent of the said Louisiana, and to
transport the profits thereof into any part of France during the said
fifteen years ; and we grant in perpetuity to him, his heirs, and others
claiming under him or them the property of, in and to the mines, veins
and minerals, which he shall bring to bear, paying us, in lieu of all claim


the fifth part of the gold and silver, which the said Sieur Crozat shall
cause to be transported to France . . . and the tenth part of what
effects he shall draw from the other mines, veins, and minerals, which
tenth he shall transfer and convey to our magazine in the said country
of Louisiana.

This shows that the notion was abroad that this Louisiana country
was rich in minerals. Crozat brought with him "the necessary miners
and mining tools, some slaves from the West India islands and other la-
borers and artisans and pursued more or less diligently his explorations
for the precious metals." His search for minerals and metals was a
failure, and in 1717 he surrendered his grant to the king. The whole
territory was then re-granted, this time to the Company of the West.
This company made Phillip Renault director general of mines. He left
for America with two hundred mechanics, laborers, and assayers. On
his way he purchased five hundred negro slaves for working the mines.
It was the current belief in Prance at this time that the Mississippi re-
gion was a vast, rich, but undeveloped mine of all the useful and pre-
cious metals. There can be little doubt that the explorers connected
with Phillip Renault's expedition knew that lead was to be had on the
upper parts of the Mississippi river. Possibly the lead mines of Jo
Daviess county were worked by this company.

The first white settler in the region of the lead mines of Jo Daviess
was a man named Bouthillier, who settled about where Galena is, in
1820. About this time John Shull and Dr. A. C. Muer established a
trading post. A. P. Van Meter and one Fredericks came in 1821. The
government sent Lieutenant Thomas to have charge of the mines, and in
1823 one James Johnson arrived from Kentucky with sixty negro slaves
to work in the mines. By 1826 the locality had one hundred and fifty
inhabitants, and from this time forward the growth was very rapid.

We thus see that as early as 1825 and not later than 1830 there were
as many as fifteen or twenty centers from which there were spreading
settlements in nearly all directions. With the spread of settlements
came the opening of roads, the erection of grist and sawmills, the build-
ing of blockhouses, courthouses, and jails.


As has been previously stated, the Catholic religion was the pre-
vailing belief from the earliest settlement of the French in the Ameri-
can Bottom to the coming of Gen. George Rogers Clark. This faith did
not spread into the interior of the state in the earlier days. In fact the
members of this faith decreased following the occupation of Illinois by
the British in 1765. Large members of the French Catholics left Illi-
nois upon the coming of the British. French immigration ceased and
nearly if not quite all of the early immigrants were Protestants.

The expansion was not only in the matter of making new settlements
but along with this went a steady growth in all the lines of the life of a
pioneer people. Churches were organized everywhere. Houses of wor-
ship were not always built where congregations were organized, but
services were held more or less regularly.



As early as 1820, April 20, a Presbyterian church was organized at
Turkey Hill, a settlement four miles southeast of Belleville. This was
said to be one of the oldest American settlements in St. Clair county.
As early as 1798 William Scott, Samuel Shook, and Franklin Jarvis,
settled this locality. The Kaskaskia Presbyterian church was organized
May 27, 1821, with nine members. The organization was later moved to
Chester. While in Kaskaskia it was a very flourishing organization and
contained some of the best people in the locality. The leading spirit in
that church seems to have been the Rev. John M. Ellis. He was conse-
crated to the cause of missions and education. In 1828 he wrote from
Jacksonville, Illinois: "A seminary of learning is projected to go into
operation next fall. The subscription now stands $2,000 or $3,000. The
site is in this county." A half section of land was purchased one-half
mile north of Diamond Grove, which was probably intended to serve as
a source of support for worthy students. This movement later attracted
the attention of seven young men in Yale University, and resulted in
the raising of $10,000, in the east and the coming of Theron Baldwin
and Julien M. Sturtevant, and the founding of the Illinois College.

The Rev. John Mathews, a Presbyterian preacher, arrived in Illinois
as early as 1817. He organized a church in Pike county soon thereafter,
with eighteen members. He was known all over Illinois and Missouri
and lived to the ripe age of eighty-four years. He was an active
preacher for fifty years.

The Presbyterians under the leadership of the Rev. David Choate
Proctor, organized what was known as the Wabash church, in Edwards
county. Thomas Gould and family came to the "Timbered Settle-
ments," which was in the northeast quarter of what is now Wabash
county, ten miles from Mt. Carmel, in 1816. He was followed by Cyrus
Danforth, Stephen Bliss, and George May. The first Sunday-school in
Illinois was held in the home of May and Bliss April 11, 1819.

In Greene county, as early as April 30, 1823, a Presbyterian church
with twenty-one members, was organized in the court house in Carroll-
ton by the Revs. Oren Catlin and Daniel G. Sprague. Several of these
members lived north of Apple creek some five miles, so that eventually
another church was organized in White Hall. The Carrollton church
worshiped in the court house or in a blacksmith shop, and frequently
with members in their own homes. Paris, Edgar county, had a church
as early as November 6, 1824. The membership numbered twelve. The
Rev. Isaac Reed, a Presbyterian minister from Crawfordsville, Indiana,
preached. Methodist preachers had visited the settlement and had
preached, but had not tried to organize a church.

The Rev. Elbridge Gerry Howe travelled over the state in 1824 and
1830 and preached as he travelled. The Rev. J. M. Peck says he saw him
in 1825 and that he was a green Yankee, and that his wife was the
smarter of the two. He contracted to minister to all the Presbyterian
churches in Greene, Morgan, and Sangamon for $300 a year. He could
not collect his money, and in a short time was in destitute circumstances
in Springfield, where the women of the town ministered to his wife's



Shawneetown, one of the oldest towns anywhere on the east side of
the state, was very early visited by missionaries and travelling preachers.
It was the point where the overland journey began on the way from the
Upper Ohio to Kaskaskia or to St. Louis.

Or if the travellers came overland from Kentucky or the Carolinas,
they crossed the Ohio at either Golconda or Shawneetown as the only
ferries that crossed the river were at those two points. This town was
begun in 1800 as nearly as can be ascertained. The cabins were of a
very inferior grade. The land had not been surveyed and the settlers
"squatted" wherever their choice of a building site led them. The
houses were probably of the character built by the Indians and early
French walls of sticks, grasses, and mud, while the roof was thatched
with the swamp grasses which grew in abundance near. In 1812-13 the
government surveyed the town and there was quite an adjustment of
claims to lots. Tradition says they burned their old log school house for
a bonfire when they heard the news that Jackson had whipped the Brit-
ish at New Orleans. It is very certain that after the survey by the gov-
ernment they erected better houses. But the newer ones were not very
substantial homes. A Mr. Low was in Shawneetown in January, 1818,
and of the moral and religious aspect he writes: "Among its two or
three hundred inhabitants there is not a single soul that made any pre-
tentious to religion. Their shocking profaneness was enough to make
one afraid to walk the street; and those who on the Sabbath were not
fighting and drinking at the taverns and grog-shops were either hunting
in the woods or trading behind their counters. A small audience gath-
ered to hear the missionary preach. But even a laborer who could de-
vote his whole time to the field might almost as soon expect to hear the
stones cry out as to expect a revolution in the morals of the place. ' ' Mr.
Thomas Lippincott, who was for some time editor of the Edwardsville
Spectator, and who later was one of the trustees of Illinois College,
passed through Shawneetown with his wife in 1818, and says of it:
' ' We found a village not very prepossessing ; the houses, with one excep-
tion, being set up on posts several feet from the earth. The periodical
overflow of the river accounts for this."

Mrs. John Tillson passed through Shawneetown in November, 1822,
and was very observing, as the following shows :

Our hotel, the only brick house in the place (evidently the Rawlings
House,) made quite a commanding appearance from the river, towering,
as it did, among the twenty more or less log cabins and the three or
four box-looking frames. One or two of these were occupied as stores;
one was a doctor's office; a lawyer's shingle graced the corner of one;
cakes and beer another. The hotel lost its significance, however, on
entering its doors. The finish was of the cheapest kind, the plastering
hanging loose from the walls, the floors carpetless, except with nature's
carpeting with that they were richly carpeted. The landlord was a
whiskey keg in the morning and a keg of whiskey at night ; stupid and
gruff in the morning, by noon could talk politics and abuse Yankees, and
by sundown was brave for a fight. His wife kept herself in the kitchen ;
his daughters, one married, and two single, performed the agreeable to
strangers; the son-in-law putting on the airs of a gentleman, presided
at the table, carving the pork, dishing out the cabbage, and talking big

vol. I 1 >


about his political friends. His wife, being his wife, he seemed to re-
gard a notch above the other branches of the family, and had her at his
right hand at the table where she sat with her long curls, and with the
baby in her lap. Baby always seems to be hungry while mammy was
eating her dinner, and so little honey took dinner at the same time.
Baby didn't have any table-cloth new manners to me.

The first organized church began its work December, 1823, it is said,
with six women as the congregation. They first met in the Seabolt prop-
erty the site of the Riverside Hotel.

Jacksonville was laid off in 1825. In 1827 the Rev. John Brich or-
ganized a Presbyterian church. The place of meeting was in a barn
belonging to Judge John Leeper, a mile southeast of town. The Rev.
John M. Ellis was settled as pastor in 1828. This church is said to have
been a great center from which radiated far reaching influences in the
spread of the gospel.

The same Rev. John M. Ellis organized a Presbyterian church in
Springfield in 1828. The settled pastor was the Rev. John G. Bergen,
formerly of New Jersey. This congregation built the first brick church
home in the state in 1829-30. It was dedicated in November, 1830. The
pastor organized the first temperance society in the state in Springfield.
The Rev. Mr. Ellis organized a church in Hillsboro in 1828, with two
members, John Tillson, Jr., and Mrs. Margaret Seward.

In 1828, the Rev. Solomon Hardy organized a church in Vandalia,
of eight members. This church built a modest building and placed
therein a bell, the gift of Romulus Riggs, of Philadelphia. The Illinois
Monthly Magazine of December 30, 1830, says : ' ' The bell was hung
November 5, 1830, . . . it is the first public bell introduced into
the state by American inhabitants." Several years ago the bell was
given to the Brownstown chuch, eight miles east of Vandalia.

Within the limits of Illinois there had been organized, up to 1830,
twenty-eight Presbyterian churches. There were also at that date six-
teen Presbyterian ministers located in the state.


Methodism made its advent into Illinois at a very early date. We
have in a previous chapter called attention to the work of a number of
early preachers of that faith.

Online LibraryGeorge Washington SmithA history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) → online text (page 24 of 65)