The St. Clair County Courthouse
completed in 1861
St. Clair County Genealogical Society (SCCGS)
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Note: First appeared in 1876, reprinted in the St. Clair County Genealogical Society Quarterly volume 3 number 1 (Spring 1980), reproduced here in its entirety.
This sketch provides a glimpse of county life with notes about agriculture, breweries, distilleries, grains and fruits, mills, mining, newspapers, religious denominations, schools, transportation, and watercourses. Some "facts" are not quite right, a few names are misspelled, and the prose is typical of the time. Sources cited by the original committee include My Life and Times by Govenor John Reynolds [known to have a few factual errors as well]; the County Atlas  containing important facts from the pen of John Hinchcliffe, Esq.; the History of Belleville, by George A. Harvey, and the Annals Of the West, published by Dr. John Mason Peck.
At a Convention of citizens held in Belleville on the 20th of May, 1876, in accordance with the recommendation of Congress and of the Governor, a committee of twenty-five was appointed to arrange for the proper celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence.
The committee consisted of the following-named gentlemen
GOV. GUSTAV KOERNER, FREDERICK GLASER, WILLIAM H. SNYDER, FELIX SCOTT, SALOMON TETER, RUSSELL HINCKLEY, RISDON A. MOORE, JEFFERSON RAINEY, EDWARD WM. WEST, MAJ. AARON STOOKEY, COL. JOHN THOMAS, JOSEPH OGLE, ISAAC J. PHILLIPS, GEORGE KELLER, GEO. C. EISENMAYER, WILLIAM M’CLINTOCK, DAVID MILEY, COL. J. L. D.MORRISON, ROBERT HIGGINS, THEODORE J KRAFFT, JAMES AFFLECK, AMOS THOMPSON, COL. VITAL JARROT, B. J. VAN COURT, ISAAC N. SHOOK.,
Members of the foregoing committee met on the 3d day of June, and on motion of the Hon. Amos THOMPSON, Felix SCOTT was chosen president and Edward Wm. WEST appointed secretary. After an interchange of views, embracing the subjects to be most prominently mentioned, a committee of five was selected to prepare a Historical Sketch of the County, namely, Gov. Gus. KOERNER, Theodore J. KRAFFT, Esq., Judge Wm. H SNYDER, John HINCHCLIFFE and Edward Wm. WEST.
The committee, through their chairman Edward Wm. WEST, presented the subjoined History to the other members on the first day of July, 1876, as agreed upon, which having been read was accepted.
BELLEVILLE, ILLs., June 28th 1876.
Gentlemen. and Members of the Committee on Historical Sketch: In Presenting this sketch of the History of St. Clair County for your consideration, I am free to say that it is little more than a compilation of facts made ready by the hands of others, and presented in the form of words, used by the authors in many instances. I take pleasure in saying that the Life and Times of Gov. John REYNOLDS; the County Atlas containing important facts from the pen of John HINCHCLIFFE, Esq.; the History of Belleville, by George A. HARVEY, and the Annals Of the West, published by Dr. John Mason PECK, have furnished the greater part of this history; and that besides some personal knowledge of men and incidents narrated, I am further indebted to several aged members of the committee for other statements Feeling to regret the haste used in its preparation, and incompletenessof the sketch. which has been performed so satisfactorily to myself, and so far below the merits of the subjec,. I most respectfully submit it for your rejection or approval.
your Obdt Servt.,
Edward Wm. WEST.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends and Fellow Citizens:
We have assembled this day, to join with the many millions of this favored land; acknowledging the beneficence of a Divine Providence, to commemorate the glorious centennial anniversary of our national independence. We have the sanction of all nations through all ages, to celebrate brilliant achievements and memorable events, and could our gratitude rise in proportion to the national privileges and blessings we enjoy, or ,our gladness be commensurate with the glorious results already attained, the inhabitants of this earth will have witnessed no profounder feelings of delight or heard anthems of louder praise. While we recall with sentiments of continued devotion to the memories of our illustrious fathers, and their noble associates in the field and council, on this glad day, and delight to dwell upon their sacrifices and patriotic services, and speak of the honor and distinction we have attained, and the power and influence we exercise among the nations of the world; it is made our duty especially, on this occasion to present to you, in obedience to an act of Congress, the proclamation of the President of the United States, and the Executive of this State, an historical sketch of this County from its formation to the present time.
A Century Ago One hundred years ago, when the Declaration of Independence was signed and proclaimed from the steps of the State House in Philadelphia, amid the ringing of bells, and the joyous shouts of a people resolved to be free; the entire population of the Colonies was confined to the Atlantic coast, except small settlements in Louisiana, and the territory of Illinois. At that time powerful and warlike tribes of Indians were the possessors of the boundless prairies and beautiful and fertile plains of this State. Game of different species, including the buffalo, elk, deer and antelope, roamed over its lovely surface, and luxuriated on its nutritious shrubs and grasses. The bear, panther, wolf, wild cat and numerous smaller animals fed upon their prey unmolested, requiring neither the exercise of sagacity or strength to satiate their appetites by day or by night. The rivers, lakes and watercourses teemed with fish of many kinds, varying in size from the catfish of 175 to 200 pounds, to the buffalo of 25, and the pickerel, trout, bass, croppie and perch of from one to ten pounds.
Flocks of swan, crane, brant, wild geese and ducks by the millions, disported in the streams and lakes and fed in the marshes, while the forests and thickets sheltered the wild turkey, and myriads of grouse or prairie chickens found a safe home in the tall grasses of the prairies. It was indeed a paradise for the hunter, and as it presented features of unsurpassed grandeur and beauty, no wonder the attractions were so great to those who in a few years after, gazed with admiration upon its delightful scenery.
During the war of the revolution, no attempts were made to push the settlements west of the Alleghany mountains, as most of the Indian tribes were under the influence of the British government, and were hostile, especially to Americans. When our independence was achieved, and hostilities ceased, the adventurous spirit of the pioneers, like Boone, Kenton, Logan, and others, urged them to seek new scenes, surmount other dangers, and endure varied privations; but as Kentucky had first to be settled, the tide of emigration rolled slowly to the West.
That vast section of our country known as as the Northwest territory, of which Illinois was a part, has been under the control and jurisdiction of four different governments. France claimed and exercised the first, by virtue of discovery, made by La Salle in the year 1680, who built a fort on the lake east of the present city of Peoria, which is the most ancient settlement west of the mountains; although Marquette, as a missionary, had reached the Mississippi in 1673, visiting the different tribes of Indians who were then peaceable, about one hundred years after DeSoto had penetrated the cane brakes and morasses of the South, and who was the first white man that looked upon the waters of that mighty stream.
Organization and Settlement
The first organization of Illinois, was a grant made by the King of France to Crosat upon the 14th of September, 1712, giving him the exclusive monopoly of trade; but being disappointed in his mines and commercial transactions he resigned his privileges to the King in 1717. Under the agency of John Law a company was formed to govern the country, make grants of land, and enjoy all the profits of trade, and the first capital built was Fort Chartres, during the years 1718 to 1720. It was located within the present limits of Randolph county in the American bottom, about three miles from the eastern bluffs of the Mississippi, and then one mile from the river. It was first built of wood, but in 1756 it was rebuilt with the solid limestone to defend it against the English, as the war was then raging between France and England, and remained as a strong fort until the year 1772, when it was engulfed in the waters of the river in the great- flood of that year.
It was the policy of the French government at that time to establish a line of forts west of the English settlements on the Atlantic, from Quebec by the Lakes and Mississippi river to New Orleans. Under the energetic, pacific and wise administration of the several representatives of the company and the Crown of France, the country commenced to grow and flourish, and the seat of government became the center of business, fashion and gaiety; the villages and settlements around the fort became respectable and prosperous until its destruction.
In 1759 the memorable battle of the heights of Abraham, was fought between the British forces, under General Wolfe, and the French forces commanded by General Mont Calm, which resulted in the death of the gallant officer General Wolfe, but the defeat, of the French troops and the surrender of Quebec. Under the cession Of 1763, the English government occupied the country and administered the laws until it was surrendered to the United Colonies at the close of the war.
Admission of Illinois as a State
The Territory of Illinois was organized into a county by the Legislature of Virginia, on the 12th of December, 1778, and John Todd was appointed Lieutenant Commandant thereof by Patrick Henry, then the Governor of the State. Illinois continued to form a part of the State of Virginia until 1784, when the country was ceded by Virginia to the United States. In the year 1809 provision was made by Congress for the organization of the Territory of Illinois, it having already been taken off from the western part of the Territory of Indiana, to take effect by the first of March. and to this important station Ninian Edwards, then the Chief justice of the Court of Appeals for the State of Kentucky, was appointed by President Madison; and it was duly organized by the Secretary, Nathaniel Pope, on the 28th of the same month, at Kaskaskia, which was the seat of government. The laws of the Indiana territory were adopted by the Governor and judges, and the first General Assembly held in Illinois convened on the 25th of November of this year, and comprised five Senators and seven members of the House of Representatives. The act of Congress authorizing the formation of a State government in the territory, required that forty thousand inhabitants should reside within its limits, and the census returning a few more, the State government was organized in the year 1818, by the election of Shadrack Bond, Governor, and Pierre Menard, Lieutenant-Governor. Elias K. Kane was appointed Secretary of State, and Daniel P. Cook first Attorney-General; and Gov. Ninian Edwards and Jesse B. Thomas were chosen by the Legislature to represent the State in the Senate of the United States.
St. Clair County
Gov. St. Clair and Judges organized the County of St. Clair in the year 1790 when he was Governor, and Illinois formed a part of the great Northwest territory, and is the oldest county in the State; indeed it had an organized existence before Illinois was created a State or Territory. The eastern line of the county, originally, commenced on the Illinois river, at the mouth of Mackinaw creek, some distance below Peoria, thence in a direct course to the Ohio river near the old Fort Massac, (or Massacre) and thence down the Ohio to the mouth, and up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to the place of beginning. In the year 1795 Randolph county was formed, being taken off the southern section of St. Clair, and the line dividing the counties ran nearly east and west, through the wilderness, between Prairie Du Rocher and the New Design colony, Kaskaskia becoming the county seat of Randolph, which was settled by the French from Mobile and New Orleans; and Cahokia of St. Clair, which was settled from Canada.
A court of common pleas and quarter sessions was created and held four times each year, having similar jurisdiction with our Circuit Courts, the judges being appointed by the Governor, and holding their offices during his pleasure. John Hay, Esq., was clerk of the court, and the laws were administered unchanged until the formation of other counties in the year 1812, when St. Clair was reduced to its present limits.
Having given a rapid and condensed sketch of the governments, boundaries and condition of the Territory and State, we are prepared to commence the especial history of old St. Clair.
Location, Boundaries, Description, &c
This county is located in the southwestern portion of the State; bounded on the north by Madison; on the east by Clinton and Washington; on the south by Randolph and Monroe counties, and on the west by the Mississippi river. It comprises within its limits about 665 square miles, or 42,600 acres of land. Its surface is sufficiently undulating to shed the surplus water, with few portions so broken that they may not be cultivated, and but little unprofitable land can be found. The different sections of the county are known as part of the American bottom, lying along the Father of Waters, running north and south extending to the bluffs, about five miles wide and ten long, that will equal in depth of soil, fertility and productiveness any part of the globe. Ridge Prairie lies on the northern line next to Madison, and is unsurpassed for beauty of location and agricultural wealth. Shiloh Ridge lies south of Ridge Prairie, with its lovely ridges overlooking the valley between it and Turkey Hill, with a soil that produces grains of all kinds, as well as fruits and vines, of many varieties and great excellence. Turkey Hill, next adjoining on the south, is well wooded, and extends almost to Silver creek, that separates it from the plains, comprising a portion of Looking Glass Prairie, and extending east to the Okaw or Kaskaskia river. The eye feasts upon its smooth surface, that is dotted with quiet farm houses, and is now densely settled with an independent population. Twelve-mile Prairie begins near the center of Sr. Clair, and reaches with its gently-rolling and prolific land to the southern extremity of the county. High Prairie, occupies the southwest part, and embraces well wooded districts, with rich soil, stretching westward nearly to the bluffs, and southward toward Prairie Du Long with its level prairies, next to Randolph and Monroe. To the southeastern portion of our county lies the rolling and picturesque section called Drum Hill, and that most charming and magnificent part cast of New Athens and running beyond Marissa, and South to Risdon, including Dutch Hill, bordering on Randolph on the south and Washington on the east.
The principal streams in the county besides the Mississippi river, forming its western boundary, are the Okaw on the east, that in time will be made navigable at least six months in the year. Silver creek flows north and south, and east of the centre, with Cahokia and Canteen creeks on the northwest, Richland creek nearly central, the Prairie DuPont in the southwest, the west fork of Richland and the Prairie Du Long in the southern, and the Big and Little Mud creeks in the eastern part. Thus it will be seen that the county is well watered, as besides the streams already mentioned, there are many tributaries to them; and wells of pure and wholesome water, generally limestone, are dug in every part of the county, and living streams are reached at a depth not exceeding fifty feet, the average depth not exceeding twenty-four feet.
Cahokia and Turkey Hill
The first inhabitants on this continent were no doubt the Mound-builders of whose labors we have many evidences, but the Indians were the possessors here, when the French penetrated into these western wilds, and the tribe known as the Cahokias were the occupants of this section, with their chief village at Cahokia, or as it was called, by the first Jesuit missionaries Notre Dame des Cahokias; the Tamaroas living, to the east, and the Kaskaskias to the south. In the year 1800, the entire white population, comprising the French and Americans, within the limits of the present State, amounted to about two thousand; the French Creoles numbering about twelve hundred, and the Americans eight hundred. Of this number our county claimed one-fifth; Cahokia claiming four hundred, and Turkey Hill settlement about twenty souls–which was founded in 1798 by the worthy and respected patriarch William Scott, senior, the progenitor of the large family that bears that name, together with Franklin Jarvis, Hosea Riggs, Samuel Shook, George Stout and their families.
Ridge Prairie and other Early Settlements
In the years 1802 and 1803 the settlements in Ridge Prairie north of Belleville were formed, about which time the Lemens, Ogles, Badgleys, Kinneys, Whitesides, Phillipses, Redmans, Pulliams and other families settled; the Eyman, Stookey, Miller, Teter and Primm families forming a colony west and southwest of Belleville about two miles. The first settlements made east of Silver creek were by Wakefield, Bone and Bankston, in the year 1804; and by Bradsby and Galbreath the same time, north of the present town of Lebanon, and Varner on the north of Turkey Hill, four miles east of Belleville; and Thomas Harrison southwest of Belleville about the same distance.
About this time Mr. John Messinger came to the county, having emigrated from the Eastern States, first settling near New Design, in Monroe county, in 1802. Mr. Messinger was the first postmaster outside of Cahokia, in the county, having the office at his residence called Clinton Hill, 2 1/2, miles north of Belleville. A weekly mail was carried from Cahokia to Edwardsville by way of Clinton Hill, and a brother of our old and worthy citizen, Aram Primm was killed by lightning while carrying the mail. Mr. Messinger was the first county surveyor, and was repeatedly elected to that responsible office; he was employed by the U. S. Government to establish the base lines and other important work, and selected by Gov. Reynolds as commissioner to mark and run the northern boundary between this State and Wisconsin in 1831. He was also a member of our State Legislature that convened at Kaskaskia, and a framer of the first State Constitution. He was a fine mathematician; an upright man; conscientious Christian, held in universal esteem; lived to a good old age, and died in peace in 1846.
The southeast part of our county, east of the Kaskaskia river, was settled in the year 1810, by the families of Hecox, Nat. Hill, Stubblefield, Perkins, Beasley, and James and Reuban Lively, who built a block house to protect themselves against the Indians in the war of 1812; followed by Wm. Pendleton, Andrew Free and Isaac Rainey in 1817; the Lands, Dials and Cooks coming about the same time; and the estimable family of the Carrs, –Joseph, Henry, Conrad and Abner, – settling on Turkey Hill in 1803, from New Design in Monroe county. In 1817 and 1818 large accessions were made to the population by the families of the Mitchells, Wests, Gays, Dennises, Thomases, McClintocks, from the States of Virginia and Kentucky; and Barkers, Thompsons Fowlers, Higginses and Smiths, from the Eastern States. At the same time, 1817, the English settlement in Prairie Du Long was formed by the families of Bamber, Winstanley, Threlfell, Coop, Newsham and others; the Woods coming in 1806, and Stuntz and Wildermans in the year 1808.
From 1818, until 1832, the census will show a large increase of inhabitants each decade; when the immigration from the Germanic States set in with a flood tide, attracted by the superior quality and cheapness of our lands, the abundant harvests, and favorable location for home markets and foreign commerce. This stream of emigrants continued for several consecutive years, adding to our numbers wealth, intelligence, and enterprise, embracing many families of culture and refinement, among whom may be mentioned the Engelmanns, Hilgards, Kraffts, Koerners, Drs. Shott and Reuss, Schells, Glasers, Eisenmayers, and Abends, with very many others, who have distinguished themselves as superior mechanics, artisans and farmers, also in the scientific and literary departments, and the liberal professions. The first Germans who came to this county to settle were Conrad Bornman and Jacob Maurer a blacksmith, about the year 1820, and a colony of Swiss settled a few miles below New Athens as early as the year 1818, comprising the families of Steiner, Hardie, Wildy and Bauman, who came in 1820.
As late as the year 1820, there was no established road in the county, and those having business at Kaskaskia, then the State capital and land office, had to go by way of Waterloo and Prairie Du Rocher, or by way of New Athens and Evansville on the Okaw river, or through the Twelve mile Prairie over the Prairie Du Long and Horse creek without bridges. The first survey of a public road, made within the State, was by act of the Legislature, at its session in 1823, when Col. John Thomas was appointed a commissioner with six others, to locate a State road from Vincennes in Indiana, to St. Louis, passing through Lawrence in Lawrence county, Salem in Marion, Carlyle in Clinton, Lebanon and Ridge Prairie in St. Clair; and the work was accomplished in 1824, a plat made out and recorded of such part of the road as was embraced within the limits of the counties through which it passed. Now no portion of our State has a larger number of miles of good dirt, macadam, and plank roads well located and kept in excellent condition, affording, direct travel to all points, and giving access to almost every hamlet, as well as neighborhood; and the distance, besides our numerous railroads, either macadamized or planked, equals one hundred miles, the greater part of which is a source of income to the county, instead of expense.
At that time there were few bridges over any of the large creeks or streams, or ferries over the Kaskaskia river, except at Fayetteville, where John Pulliam established one in the year 1801; and there were but three modes of crossing, when the watercourses were high: by rafts made of dry wood, by swimming, or waiting until the waters subsided, or going around by circuitous routes, heading them at or near their sources. Captain Piggott established the first ferry across the Mississippi river opposite St. Louis, in the year 1795, known as the Wiggins ferry, and Governor Tradeau of Louisiana gave him license for a ferry, and the privilege of landing on the west side of the river. At this time substantial and well-built structures, with well-graded approaches, span all the large creeks and even rivulets over the highways, culminating in one of the finest, most massive, and superb structures of the world over the Mississippi, the great Steel Bridge, connecting East St. Louis with the great metropolis of the central part of the United States.
One hundred years ago there were no mills outside of Cahokia, in this county, and they of the most primitive kind; the people as late as 1820, had often to pound corn in wooden mortars with iron pestles, into meal, or use hominy which is hulled and broken corn, when the streams were low, or no grinding could be done by the band or tug mills. Jean F.Perry had a water mill on the Prairie Du Pont creek south from Cahokia, as early as 1800, and ran it for many years; it occupied the same site where the Jesuits had erected a mill forty or fifty years before, which was the first in the county. The first water mill built in the county outside of the American bottom, was by Lawrence Shook, on Mill creek, west of Belleville in 1800. Chapman built a mill on Richland creek, above the bridge, west of the Centerville road, in the year 1810, which was used until about 1830. In 1820, Hugh Alexander erected the first ox mill in the State, near the farm on which the late Dr. Schott resided, on Shiloh, and built a distillery at the same time and place. The next ox mill was started in Belleville by Wilkinson & Ringold, in 1822, who sold it to Jacob Whiteside, of whom Thomas Harrison bought it in 1826, and run it successfully for several years, furnishing very fair flour and good corn meal; that mill occupied the lots on which Robert A. Halbert now resides, on the cast side of High street, nearly opposite the new Presbyterian church. Hosea Riggs had a band mill in 1817, about 2 1/2, miles east of Belleville, north of road leading to Mascoutah, and Matthew Roach had one at his residence, about six miles southwest of Belleville, south of the Centerville road, about the same time. Several other mills were erected in different sections and settlements of the county, that accommodated to a great extent the wants of the people, one by Wm. Phillips on the lower St. Louis road, and by Samuel Ogle, sr., on the St. Louis macadamized road, six miles northwest from Belleville. Thomas Harrison & Sons built the first steam flouring mill in the town, now city of Belleville, in the year 1831, on the grounds now occupied by the residence of B. J. West, Esq., on the lot on the southeast corner of First South and High streets. This county is now furnished with as many steam mills as any in the State, being among the first in the production of wheat; the number is twenty-one, with a capital invested in mill-houses, lands and machinery of not less than four hundred and eighty-four thousand dollars, requiring three million, two hundred and fifty thousand bushels to supply them in grinding, the employment of six hundred operatives, manufacturing flour that has an established reputation in all home and many foreign markets. Besides this there is an immense amount of corn meal manufactured for home consumption and sale abroad. Among the largest, most substantial, and superior steam mills, with latest improvements may be mentioned Harrison's (now Switzer's), R. Hinckley's, Reuss' and the Crown mills of Belleville; these, sith those in Mascoutah, Lebanon, East St. Louis, Freeburg, Darmstadt, Centerville, New Athens, and others, employ a purchasing capital of about three million one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and bring into the county for distribution four million two hundred thousand dollars yearly.
The first powder mill erected in the State was built by Joseph Scott on his farm near the present residence of his son Felix Scott, 4 1/2 miles east of Belleville, in the year 1809. For many years he continued the manufacture of the best article made in the West procuring, the nitre in the caves on the Gasconade river in the present State of Missouri, during the winter months, with but one companion, Joseph Dixon, when the whole country was filled with Indians. The making and mending of superior locks, guns and pistols by Joseph Kreamer, and the manufacture of powder by Mr. Scott, were of the greatest necessity and benefit to the early pioneers. Mr. Scott also established the first carding-machine in Belleville, in the year 1828, the advantage of which was felt by the whole community, as was the first cotton gin, built by Thomas Harrison, in the year 1808. These two last mentioned, are supplanted by the erection of factories in Belleville, where superior jeans, cloths, and every variety of fine yarns are made; these mills are now operated by John Winter.
Grains and Fruits
Agriculture and horticulture, in the year 1800, was in a very primitive state; the farms were small, comprising a few acres, and very little was raised above consumption for sale or shipment. The only grains grown were corn and wheat; neither barley, rye or oats, they not being introduced until later. The French inhabitants excelled in garden vegetables, and the Irish potato grew without fail. Timothy hay was then unknown here, but good hay was made from wild grass, that grew luxuriantly, to the height of six and more feet, and through which when dry in the fall, the fires passed with great rapidity, imperiling the life of persons on horseback. All kinds of stock flourished and fattened on these native grasses. In the year 1818 sweet potatoes were grown, the seed being brought from New Design and the settlements near Cahokia, and orchards multiplied, the first having been begun by Daniel Eyman in 1800. Pears of fine size and superior flavor, were raised in the bottom around Cahokia, that had been introduced by the French from the old country; peaches and plums were abundant, but it was not until 1821, that Samuel Ogle received grafted apple trees from Delaware, the first brought, and in 1827 grafted apple trees were brought into the county from Smith's nursery in Bond county, near Greenville. Budded peaches were brought from Delaware in 1843.
The improvement and cultivation of the land has kept pace with the rapid increase of our industrious and energetic population, and in the year 1874 St. Clair County occupied the fourth position in the State, the equalized value of her lands being $13,810,801; and the third as to the value of her town and city lots which were estimated as worth $5,272,841, there being 5271 improved and 12,815 unimproved lots. The value of the horses, cattle, mules, sheep, hogs and steam engines amounted to $624,852; and the assessed value of all personal property the sum of $4,139,559, and it may be safe to add one-eighth more to express the present value of the above enumeration. Devoted to wheat we have nearly 150,000 acres in cultivation; to corn 70,000; to oats 25,000; to meadow 14,000 acres; to orchards 475,** and to vineyards about 125 acres, besides pastures.
Implements of the Past and Present
Great as the revolution and changes made in the appearance of this fair county, redeemed from the wilderness of one hundred years ago, until it now –With its thriving villages, populous towns, growing cities, cultivated farms, increasing manufactories, and a dense population of sixty thousand people – stands among the foremost of the State, it may justly be said that our improvements in machinery for farm and household purposes equal any other that has been made. In 1800 the sickle or reaphook was the only instrument in use to cut wheat; there were no cradles in the county until about 1818, which was a great advance, and saved an immense amount of labor, one man doing the work of three, but did not come into general use before 1828. The plow was made of wood, with a piece of iron fastened on the bar with raw hide, with a beam and short crooked handles, and a great improvement was made when a plow with a wooden mold board was invented, which with the shovel plows were used until the year 1835, when the Diamon plow was introduced, and since then various patterns of all sizes, with steel shares, for all purposes, from the small one-horse to- the sulky and gang plow with two or more shares. But we cannot enumerate the cultivators, drills, hay rakes, threshers and steam engines, that will thresh and separate the grain, and measure and sack in complete order 1000 bushels; or the harvester that will cut and rake from fifteen to eighteen acres per day, as clean as with the cradle: indeed, with the improved implements of this era, it is as easy to cultivate one hundred acres now, as fifteen fifty years ago. The cooking stove supplanting the broad fire place, with frying pans, dutch oven, skillet and pot that hung on the crane, or threatened to topple from the high log fire––has brought untold comfort to the housewife, who can prepare a meal fit for a prince without a blistered face or fretted temper. The hands of the seamstress need be no longer pricked with the needle, when the sewing machine executes with precision and beauty, elegance and rapidity, in one day as much as ten women can do, in general work. As most of the pioneer settlers in early times came by water on flat bottom or keel boats, few wagons or vehicles were used besides the French cart, made entirely of wood without even iron tires: now the variety is almost infinite; from the two and three-wheeled velocipede, the child's carriage of exquisite construction, to the four-horse wagon, the drays, buggies of various patterns, and the superb family carriages. The clothing, of the inhabitants in 1800 was made of buckskin or linsey, with a coat made of the blanket and no store goods were brought until about the year 1816; now our merchants keep goods as fine in texture, as various in styles and fashion, as can be found in Broadway, New York, or the emporiums of London or Paris.
Methods of Transportation
All commerce was carried on land by pack horses, and on water in barges and keel boats, that required nearly six months to perform a trip to New Orleans and back, and it was not until 1817 the first steam boat ascended the Mississippi river above the mouth of the Ohio. The General Pike, commanded by Captain Jacob Reed, reached St. Louis, August 2, 1817. Now floating palaces, fitted up with unsurpassed splendor, capable of carrying 500 passengers comfortably, and 3700 tons of freight, can make the trip to New Orleans and return in less than 12 days, running time; bear the produce of the most fertile portion of the globe, on the longest navigable river, whose mouth is being deepened by the first engineer in America, until vessels from all foreign ports will find easy access to the southern metropolis of the United States.
But our noble steamboats, with their great speed and capacity, are not the only carriers of our produce now, unknown to our fathers: the car drawn by the ponderous steam engine, flying with the speed of the bird, now spans the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, traversing mountains, plains and valleys, through tunnels and over rivers, in less than eighty-four hours. New channels of commerce are opened by our railroads, and the first one built in the State was within the limits of the county by Gov. John Reynolds, Samuel B. Chandler and George Walker in the year 1837 from the little village at the foot of the bluffs called Pittsburg, about eight miles northwest from Belleville, to the east bank of the river opposite St. Louis, which was used solely for the transportation of coal. Difficulties were overcome at that time thought to be insurmountable, a lake 2,000 feet wide had to be spanned, where piles had to be driven down more than eighty feet into the water and mud, on which to erect the bridge and track; these piles had to be put one on top of the other, with their ends properly secured. Since that time wonderful changes have been made, new channels of travel and commerce opened up, new towns and cities built, isolated sections brought into market, and large agricultural districts developed and enabled to contribute their store to the general wealth of the State. No State in the Union surpasses Illinois for extent and number of railroads, and the County of St. Clair has her fair share, numbering 149 1/2 miles, including the Southeastern running from St. Louis through the entire breadth of the county, by Belleville and Mascoutah to Ashley, on the Central, and to Evansville on the Ohio river; the Cairo Short Line from St. Louis through Belleville, Freeburg, New Athens and Marissa to Du Quoin on the Central, and the South; the Ohio and Mississippi running due east from St. Louis, by Caseyville and Lebanon, to Vincennes and Cincinnati; the Toledo, Wabash, & Western, Vandalia, Rockford and Rock Island, and the Narrow Gauge from St. Louis to Cairo; with value of assessed property amounting to $1,112,884.
Early in the present century small distilleries were built in the county; the first now remembered was by Hagerman & Day in 1800, that was located West of Mill creek and southwest of Mr. Bornman's residence. In 1808 Elijah Rittenhouse, Sr., had a small one on Turkey Hill, where he laid off the first town site in the county, but abandoned it. Hugh Alexander erected one on Shiloh, in conjunction with his ox mill, and James Tannehill about the same time had one in the southern limits of the city, which burned down in the year 1830. Within the past twenty-five years large sums of money have been invested in these establishments; immense corn cribs built; stalls for cattle and pens for hogs, as a large amount of stock was fed upon the swill, and fortunes were made during and since the late war; but the onerous tax imposed by the government to raise revenue, induced a system of fraud that has led to the confiscation of much of this property, and besides turning many out of employment, the money invested is at present unproductive; indeed some of these establishments have been turned to making malt and other uses.
The first brewery built in the county was by Jacob Fleischbein and August Dilg in Belleville in 1835, on the east side of Illinois street, between First and Second south Streets, about the middle of the block. This was followed soon after by George Busch, who established his on the lot lately purchased by the County Commissioners, now known as the Anderson brewery and the court-house block. Since that time breweries have sprung up over the county, and Belleville beer is celebrated for its excellence over the greater portion of the State where the beverage is used, finds a ready market in St. Louis, and large quantities have been shipped to New Orleans. There are ten breweries in the county in operation and four not running, and the number of barrels of beer made annually equals 40,000, worth about ten dollars per barrel or $400,000.
Every citizen in this county may justly feel proud, in regarding the system of our public schools at this time, and mark the contrast between the advantages enjoyed by the present generation, and the difficulties that existed at the beginning of this century. As intelligence constitutes the basis and strength of a free government, and morality with the development and cultivation of the mental faculties, confers happiness on the masses, and gives stability to our Institutions, no people should delay long or refuse to establish schools where all may attain a knowledge of the primary branches at least. The first established in the county of which we have authentic information, was kept by Mr. Kenneday in the years 1806 and 1807, two and a half miles northeast from Belleville, on the farm of Johnson Whiteside, to which John Reynolds went, when a youth boarding with the family of George Stout. Mr. Bradsby, the father of Richard Bradsby and brothers , taught in 1810, about three miles southeast from Belleville, east of the residence of Sidney Shook. Mr. Atwater, who moved to Edwardsville, taught about that time in the Eyman and Stookey settlements; and Jack St. Clair had a school in a log house near where Mr. Hinckley’s mill stands, in the year 1816. After that Wm. Gallup taught in the Kinney neighborhood, and in Belleville in 1822, and Elihu Shepard at Turkey Hill about the same time. In 1824 William Turner, an Englishman and a man of liberal education, taught in the old academy, near the spot now occupied by the German Methodist E. Church, on Jackson street, and his school was well patronized. The late venerable John H. Dennis established a school of high grad in the same year, and devoted the best part of a long life, like his compeer George Bunsen, to imparting valuable instruction to hundreds of pupils, many of whom have attained distinction at the bar, in the professions and different walks in life. This school offered the first opportunity in the State for the study of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages, with the higher mathematics, and continued for years to draw students from St. Louis and abroad.
In the years 1826 and 1827, the Rev, John M. Peck founded a seminary at Rock Spring, between Shiloh and Lebanon, which was also well patronized, and with an efficient assistant and good library, that distinguished scholar greatly advanced the educational interests of the county. Up to 1825 no system had been adopted, and no support provided by the State for public schools. In that year the Legislature enacted a law having these objects in view, which was followed a few years later, in 1829, by act to sell the lands obtained from the general government, Congress having donated to the State every sixteenth section for free schools, when it was admitted into the Union in the year 1818. This became the foundation of that system of public schools, with commodious and elegant houses, officered by competent and well instructed teachers, with revised and best compiled histories and other books. the benefits of which all classes can enjoy, and which, in time, must mould and guide the future destinies of a State blessed with a fertile soil, a healthy climate, good location and with a full appreciation of the benefits of education.
We may take pleasure in contemplating the position we occupy as a county, having 36 private and 139 free public schools, with 58 teachers in the private and 218 in the public schools, of which there are 77 females and 141 males. There are 32,096 children in the county under the age of twenty-one, 1787 pupils in the private and 21,148 scholars in the public schools between the ages of six and twenty-one. The whole amount paid to teachers was $103,691.57, and the total expenditures for schools, for the year 1875, was $194,890.75.
The Catholic missionaries were the first who planted the standard of the cross in the Mississippi Valley, and to erect churches in Illinois to the service of Him who taught the doctrine of “Peace on earth, and good will to men." About the year 1682 Father Puit founded a church in the Indian village of Cahokia, which is the oldest built in the county. Today the members of that church are very numerous, and have many large houses of worship, among which that in the city of Belleville, erected in 1866, together with the convent adjoining must be regarded as the most elegant and costly in the county.
The Rev. Joseph Lillard was the first Methodist preacher that formed a church in Illinois, in 1793. He appointed Capt. Joseph Ogle the first class leader in the county. Hosea Riggs came in the year 1796 and preached for many years, settling about two miles east of Belleville, where he lived until his death in 1841 at the age of 81. Rev. Benjamin Young was the first circuit rider who traveled in the State; that same year Rev. Thomas Harrison immigrated to this State, and continued to preach for half a century, until he moved to Minnesota, with a large portion of his family and where he died at the advanced age of 88. The first Methodist Bishop who visited this State was William McKendre in the year 1807, who organized various churches, and held the first camp meeting in the county at Shiloh. Many ministers since that time have resided or preached in this county, distinguished for their piety and ability, among whom may be mentioned Jesse Walker, John Dew, Samuel Thompson, Edward and Samuel Mitchell, Peter Cartwright, Erastus Wentworth, James C. Finley, Wm. J. Rutledge. and G. W. Hughey the able and devoted occupant of the pulpit in the city of Belleville at this time. The Methodists are the most numerous denomination in the State; they have a well-furnished and excellent college at Lebanon, with a fine library and museum, with apartments capable of accommodating, several hundred students. No institution in the State has educated more young men up to this time, among whom are the most accomplished teachers and scholars in the West.
In 1796 the Rev. David Badgley visited this country, from Hardy county, Virginia, and preached very often, and he and Joseph Crane organized the first Baptist church in Illinois. In the year 1807 several churches belonging to this denomination were formed in the county, one east of Silver creek, above its mouth, one on Quentine creek, and one in the Badgley settlement, north of Belleville a few miles. Among the prominent and faithful preachers of this church were the Lemens, James, Joseph and Josiah, Joseph and David R. Chance, Simpson, William Kinney, and Deacon Samuel Smith, who labored faithfully in the ministry and lived to a great age, residing. about six miles south of Belleville, and whose descendants are amongst the most honored citizens in the county. Rev. John Mason Peck, a descendant of New England pilgrims, and native of Connecticut, emigrated to the West as a missionary in the- year 1817, and traveled extensively in Missouri and located in St. Clair county in 1821, and was one of the most conspicuous men in the Baptist church. He attained an eminence in the literary world as a correct historian, as a writer and expounder of the Bible, and especially of prophecy; he had no superiors as a laborious founder of churches, and Illinois owes a debt of gratitude to him as an encourager of emigration, as the founder of institutions of learning, and as one who contributed greatly to the formation of our State policy, and public morals. The Baptists as a sect, have increased with the population of the State, and stand next in numbers to the Methodists. They have many churches in the county, and a college at Alton, Shurtleff, in Madison county, of high grade, and well patronized. The church in Belleville is served at this time by Dr. W. S. Post, who is an able minister and much beloved by a large membership and circle of friends.
Rev. Samuel Wylie was the first Presbyterian preacher who settled in the State, in 1817; he came from Philadelphia where he was educated first to Vincennes and then to St. Louis, where he remained some time; then went to the east side of the Kaskaskia river, and preached to a small Society that had been gathered there some twenty years before. Subsequently he acquired a reputation as a divine and scholar, gathering around him a large society called Covenanters. The Presbyterians have five churches in the county, with steadily increasing influence; the first church organized in the county and city of Belleville, was by Rev. Thomas Lippentcott, December 14th, 1839 under the charge of the Alton Presbytery. Several ministers and pastors have endeared themselves to their charges, among whom may be mentioned Rev. Joseph A. Ranney, Brownlee, Gibson, Luce, Miner, Dillingham and H. W. Woods.
The members and congregation of this church have just finished one of the finest church buildings in Southern Illinois, and have extended a call to the Rev. 0. S. Thompson to become their pastor, who has labored with them acceptably the past year. Other influential organizations, embrace the German Reformed, Lutheran, Episcopal, Free Methodist and the African Methodist and Baptist churches. Thus we see that churches were established in advance of schools, and have always been, in all Protestant countries, the promoters of morality and the supporters of education.
No sketch of this, or of any county, can be complete without mentioning one of the most powerful agents in directing political power, imparting general and useful information, exposing corruption, checking abuses and giving tone to a sound morality. The Press in this country has attained an efficiency and influence that makes it the most dreaded enemy, of evil, and the most potent defender of virtue and truth. The newspapers of this county have been generally controlled by men of strong party preferences, although giving items of general knowledge in the interest of all classes. The first paper published in our county was by Dr. Joseph Green in the years 1824 and 1825, called the St. Clair Gazette, in size it was quite small and its circulation very limited. The next was by one of the pioneer printers in the State, the late Robert K. Fleming, and was also called the St. Clair Gazette. In 1838 and 1840 E. S. Cropley published a paper, the Representative and Gazette that was well patronized and ably edited. About this time Joseph R. Cannon published the Great Western, a decided Whig paper, which exerted considerably influence in securing the election of W. H. Harrison to the presidency. The first daily paper was issued by Wm. S. Fleming in the year 1849, called the Daily Belleville Advocate The Sun, Eagle and Tribune, published between 1853 and 1857, were swallowed up by the Advocate, that has the longest life of any paper in the county, and has attained a large circulation. In 1858 the Belleville Democrat was established, and has continued steadfast to the principles of the democratic party, under the management of several publishers, until the present time when it is doing a thriving business under the management of Messrs. Denlinger & Russell. In 1863 John Hinchcliffe commenced the publication of the Miner and Workman's Advocate, a paper devoted to the interests of the producing classes, and which rose rapidly in favor with that class, and so large became the circulation of the paper, it was found necessary to employ a steam power press, which was the first ever run in Southern Illinois. The first German paper printed in Belleville was the Belleville Zeitung, in the year 1844, edited by Theodore Engelmann and the office work performed by Bartholomew Hauck. There are now four German papers published in the county, that with the eight American papers give general news and afford a medium for local and general advertising.
Rich as old St. Clair county is, in her agricultural resources, she is scarcely less rich in her, immense treasures and deposits of bituminous coal. This source of incalculable wealth and comfort has been developed especially within the past twenty-five years; although veins were known to exist in. different parts Of the county, for fifty years or more, cropping out at the,bluffs and sides of streams, some of which were mined and a market found, to a limited extent, by blacksmiths here, and as fuel in St. Louis, the grand fact, that a vein of from six to eight feet, at different depths, was underlying the greater part of the county, was not generally realized, until demonstrated by Goalby & Sons who commenced operations by sinking a shaft about one and a half miles southwest from Belleville, in the year 1852. Since that period, to the present time, no industry has been advanced more rapidly as there are eighty mines in operation now, in the county, giving employment to at least two thousand miners and laborers. Nearly all the mines are worked by perpendicular shafts instead of drifts, and by steam power instead of the gin and windlass. It is computed that there are 68,000 acres of workable coal land in the county and several different veins; the most important, the one now worked, being on an average one hundred feet below the surface, and of the thickness of from six to eight feet. This area will yield upwards of two hundred billions of bushels for the first vein, worth at least one billion of money, leaving the surface intact for farming and other purposes. And affording fuel for the next one hundred years if all the mines were worked to their full capacity. This immense source and wealth we possess, and it will be enhanced in value, as the great manufactories of St. Louis and our own expand. The coal mines and railroads are ours, with the prolific fields and hills covered with orchards and vineyards yielding their clustering and luscious fruit. Just over the river in our sister State of Missouri, the mountains of the richest iron ore rise, bathing their tops in the fleecy clouds. We have bridged the difficulty of crossing the Mississippi to connect these great interests, Iron and Coal, that have given Great Britain her wealth, by one of the finest monuments to enterprise and utility ever erected by the skill of man, and establishes the conviction that this county must retain her high position, as one of the most favored in the State.
Industrial and Financial Status
It would be interesting to mention and describe the many branches of business, that are in successful operation and are sources of wealth to our county, but their enumeration would extend the limits of this sketch so greatly that we will confine ourselves to some of the most prominent, namely, Harrison & Co's agricultural works and extensive foundry, D. & H. Rentchler's I X L grain drill 'works, St. Clair county machine shop and foundry, brass foundry, chair manufactory, sash, door and blind factories, oil works, furniture manufactories, woolen mill, gunsmith shops, wagron and carriage shops, turners in wood, broom manufactories, plow, coopers and blacksmiths' shops, tinners, boiler works, nail and rolling mills, coke kilns, machine shops, elevator, gasworks, brick yards, cigar manufactories, cork and sodawater factories, jewelers, milliners, boot and shoe makers, saddle and bridle, harness, and indeed all branches of trade representing the useful and ornamental, including lumber yards, marble yards, and agricultural implements, of which very many are sold yearly to the farmers in this and the surrounding counties. It is natural to suppose, that with all these resources, St. Clair county is out of debt, and we congratulate our citizens that such is the fact, and that it is a source of peculiar gratification at this time when money is so scarce, and efforts are being made over the whole country to return to specie resumption. This fortunate condition of our pecuniary affairs has been attained by great sacrifice, in yielding uncomplainingly, to heavy taxation, and it will be our highest wisdom to guard against all extravagance and unavoidable expenditures, and study and practice strict economy and self-denial, holding our public servants to account for all their official acts.
In a history of this county some mention must be made of its cities and towns, and we will endeavor to condense a sketch of a few of the most prominent of the thirty-three, that have arisen in all parts of the county, that afford a home market for the producers, furnish goods, groceries and wares, needed by consumers, church and social privileges to the residents, and that have become the centers of wealth and commerce.
Belleville, the county seat, occupies a central position, being equidistant from the Mississippi on the west and the Kaskaskia on the cast. It is built on rolling ground, and contains, with West Belleville and additions, nearly 15,000 inhabitants.The ground on which the city was laid out, belonged to George Blair, and was selected by five commissioners appointed by the court of common pleas of St. Clair county at the December term in the year 1813, as the future seat of justice; the place at that time being known as Compton Hill. The first brick house built was where the court house now stands, built in 1819; the second stood on the north side of Main street, between Illinois and High streets, where D. H. Murray's store houses stand. The first block or log house (now weatherboarded) was erected. on the east side of Illinois street and north of the southwest corner of 2d South street, which still stands, and is the oldest house in the city, having been built before 1818. The city was incorporated in the year 1850, and Theodore J. Krafft, Esq., was the first mayor; it has nearly 50 miles of macadamized streets that are of good width, and cross each other at right angles generally. It is well lighted with gas of which there are extensive works; its police and fire departments are well organized. There are five newspapers published here, three in English and two in German; its foundries, machine shops, oil mill, flouring mills, and its manufacturing establishments, afford profitable employment to an industrious population. Its educational needs are well supplied, and ample accommodations for the religious wants of the community in her excellent churches, and places of amusement in her public halls. It possesses a library of well-selected and choice books, numbering 5800 volumes. Its good society, beautiful location, convenience by railroad to St. Louis, with many other advantages, make it one of the most attractive places in the State. Its commercial and financial reputation is very good, and it has been the home of many of the most prominent citizens that have adorned the bar and bench, the halls of the State Legislature, or of Congress, who have distinguished themselves at the forum and in the field, the pulpit, as Governors of the State, and as ministers to foreign courts.
East St. Louis
Illinoistown, now known as East St. Louis, is one of the most thriving cities in Southern Illinois, opposite St. Louis. There terminate fifteen railroads, and by the energy and perseverance of her citizens, she will overcome in time all disadvantages, and become one of the most opulent and prosperous cities in the State. Here are located the National stock yards, and factories to make coke. She has several high schools; two newspapers ably edited and well sustained, and a fine public library; her population is 10,000.
Lebanon, situated on the high and beautiful grounds east of Silver creek, was platted and laid out in the year 1825; it is twelve miles northeast from Belleville, on the line of the Ohio and Mississippi railroad, connecting St. Louis with Cincinnati and Louisville. It is the seat of McKendre college, under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal church, one of the most important educational institutions in the State. It has a population of about 3,000 inhabitants, and is a delightful resort in the summer months for many families; it sustains one newspaper, several churches and mills, and is surrounded by one of the best farming sections in the county.
Mascoutah, formerly Mechanicsburg, is a thriving town of nearly 3,000 persons; it is situated ten miles east from Belleville, near the eastern bank of Silver creek. From this point great quantities of corn are shelled and shipped to the Southern markets, by the St. Louis and Southeastern railroad, that passes through it, besides an immense amount of flour to the East. The population is largely German, who are industrious and have built up a town, third in population and enterprise in the county. It has two flouring mills in which is invested $225,000, besides three smaller ones, giving employment to about one hundred hands. It has several fine vineyards, orchards of choice fruits, and superior farming land stretching eastward about eight miles to the Okaw river.
New Athens, Freeburg, Centerville, Smithton
A sketch of most of the other towns in the county deserves a place in this history, but to enter into details is impossible, since to do so would swell these pages to too great dimensions. Mention will be made of New Athens, fifteen miles southeast of Belleville, on the east bank of the Kaskaskia river, and through which the Cairo Short Line railroad passes. It was laid out by Narcisse Pensoneau, in 1836, and has a population of 1,500. The beautiful town of Freeburg, originally Urbana, lies at the northern line of Twelve-mile Prairie, equidistant between Belleville and New Athens, has a large mill, shops and stores, churches and school houses, with a population of 1,000 and is the center of a rich community, with a southern view of great loveliness. Centerville lies seven miles southwest of Belleville, in the heart of a fine wheat-growing section; it has large Catholic and German Lutheran churches, a fine flouring mill, good hotel, stores, post-office and different shops; it was laid off by Mr. Randleman in 1837, and has a population of about 1,000, the greater part of which is German; its post-office name is Millstadt. Smithton, formerly Georgetown, was laid off in 1854, by B. J. Smith; it lies due south of Belleville about six miles, and numbers 600 inhabitants; it also has churches, mills, blacksmith shops, wagon and plow shops, stores and school houses, and near the town has been opened a vein of coal of superior quality nearly equal to cannel coal.
O'Fallon, Summerfield, Caseyville, Fayetteville, Marissa
O'Fallon is another beautiful town, seven miles from Belleville, on the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad; it is admirably located in the midst of a rich community and surrounded by the most fertile lands is the center of immense mines and coal fields of extraordinary richness and with mining facilities equal to any in the county. Near this place are permanently located fine camp meeting grounds, where are yearly congregated large assemblages from St. Louis, Belleville, Lebanon, and the neighborhood. Among other thriving towns and villages we may name, in the order of size, Summerfield to the northeast, Caseyville to the northwest, Fayetteville and Darmstadt to the southeast beyond the Okaw, French Village below the bluffs on the macadamized road to St. Louis, Douglas south, Shiloh northeast, New Pittsburg northwest, Lementon beyond Freeburg, Rentchler's station on the Southeastern, and Marissa, with its 450 inhabitants, surrounded by picturesque and lovely farms, in the midst of as cultivated and moral community as can be found.
Most of these places, and others that could be named, occupy the grounds on which the Indians pitched their wigwams one hundred years ago, that have been redeemed from the savage, and now are the peaceful homes of a contented and happy people.
George Rodgers Clark [ed. note: Rogers]
If space permitted, allusion would be made to other distinguished personages, besides those already mentioned, who have acted a prominent part, affecting the destinies of this State and County, and we cannot forbear making special reference to that devoted and brave soldier, astute and accomplished officer, Gen. George Rodgers Clark, who by the subjugation of Kaskaskia, Cahokia and Vincennes, and treaties with powerful tribes of Indians which had been under British control, gave quiet to the settlements in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and who rescued the whole territory south of Canada and the great chain of lakes, making them the boundary between the United States and England, instead of the Ohio, which otherwise would have formed that boundary.
And in all the wars that have followed that memorable campaign, the citizens, officers and soldiers of this State, and those furnished by this county, have emulated the heroic example of that illustrious commander whenever their services have been required., either as rangers protecting the feeble settlements, in the year 1812, or subduing Black Hawk and warriors in the war of 1831 and 1832, subjugating Mexico in 1846, or defending the Union of the States in the late war of 1861 and 1865, all have given highest proof of patriotism, invincible courage and devotion, worthy of our grateful praise.
Citizens of Prominence
Nor can we refrain from adding the names of those brave and resolute officers who bore a noble part in the Ranger service from 1811 to 1813: Capt. Wm. B. Whiteside, Jacob Short and Gen. Sam'l Whiteside; or later in the Black Hawk war of 1831 and 1832: Col. Solomon Miller and Col. John Thomas, Capts. John Tate, of the rifle volunteers, Adam W. Snyder, and the "Old Ranger" John Reynolds; both of the last-mentioned gentlemen lived to attain distinction at the bar, as members of the State Legislature, both elected to Congress, one twice Governor, and A. W. Snyder was only prevented by death from filling that honorable position. Or, those equally worthy and valorous officers in the Mexican war: Col. Adol. Englemann and Julius Raith, who won laurels subsequently in the late civil war, the latter falling honorably in the service. Or, Gen. James Shields, who participated in many severe conflicts in both wars, rose to prominence in political life as auditor of the State, member of the Legislature and Senator to Congress; and Cols. J. L. D. Morrison and Wm. H. Bissell, both of whom made a brilliant record under Gen. Zack. Taylor, both subsequently elected to Congress, to the State Legislature, and Bissell died while Governor of the State. To this list might be added Cols. Niles, Hecker, Moore, Kueffner and Wangelin, Capts. Grimm, Affleck, Kircher, McFarland, Halbert, and others. Among the jurists and legislators who earned lasting fame and whose names will ever demand our highest respect, may he mentioned Gov. Ninian Edwards, Dan'l C. Cook, William Kinney, Gov. Reynolds and A. W. Snyder of earlier days: and in a later period, and to the present time, Gov. Gust. Koerner, Wm. H. Underwood, Lyman Trumbull, Jehu Baker, John B. Hay, T. J. Krafft, Joseph Underwood, judge Wm.. H. Snyder, and others.
These are some of the trophies won, some of the evidences of our progress: many more might be enumerated. They mark the mighty changes that 100 years have wrought. We may not raise the veil that hides the future from our vision, but who shall say that we are not to anticipate as rapid progress in the next century as we have witnessed in the past. We know that the sunbeam paints the features and forms of persons with the accuracy of the most skillful painter; that the Atlantic ocean,. with its broad expanse of waters, is traversed within nine days, the passengers surrounded by all the luxuries of home, with a sense of perfect security, while the force of steam propels the ship, unretarded by the fierce gale or mountain billows, safely to her destination. Who shall limit man's invention, or resist the combination of his power, when he drives tunnels under the rivers and through mountains, and chains the lightning, encircling the globe with a cable, and sending messages and receiving answers within a few seconds. But we are here to recall the sacrifices and services of our fathers, who have entrusted: to our care these rich gifts and glorious legacies, and, have passed to their reward.
We unveil no statue chiseled in marble, or granite, or made of bronze, to commemorate their noble deeds and exalted virtues, but we bring the tribute of grateful hearts in which their memories are enshrined. And here under the brilliant rays of the summer sun, on this joyful dayof our national birth, let us pledge each to the other, for ourselves our children and children's' children, to transmit these blessings unimpaired to future generations. that will cause the next Centennial to be even more glorious than this.
**Note. In the statistics relating to areas under cultivation... the total devoted to orchards is placed at 475 acres. This is found to be inaccurate, as later figures give a total of 6215 acres of orchards in the county.
--end of Historical Sketch, 1876--
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St. Clair County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 431, Belleville, Illinois 62222-0431.