The St. Clair County Courthouse
completed in 1861
St. Clair County Genealogical Society (SCCGS)
Helping genealogists discover their Illinois roots since 1977.
More 1881 histories
Precincts were those areas of the county that later became townships in 1884. Precincts defined the boundaries of polling districts for local and state elections. Justices of the Peace were elected for each precinct and carried out some civil legal functions. For example, a Justice of the Peace could peform a marriage and hear legal disputes between two parties. While all marriages were to be recorded at the county level, the J.P. was only required to keep a docket of minor civil disputes, not a full record of the proceedings. Very few dockets survive to this day.
The Kaskaskia river, and Silver creek, which enters the township on its northern boundary, flows a southerly course, emptying into the Kaskaskia, and their tributaries furnish water for stock and other purposes. The streams are skirted with a fine growth of timber. The surface is gently undulating, with considerable stretches of rich prairie. The noted Tamarois prairie, named for a tribe of Indians who, many years ago, occupied it, lies partially in this township. Coal is found in veins of extraordinary thickness, at one point, on Solomon Teter's farm, cropping out at the surface. The workable thickness of one of the veins, near Freeburg, exceeds nine feet. The soil is well adapted to all cereals, and produces abundant crops.
THE FIRST LAND ENTRIES (1)
were by James Adams, 160 acres, it being the N. E ¼ of section 19, September 12th, 1814; by Matthew Atchison, 160 acres, being the S. W. ¼ section 22, September 29th, 1814; by Pierre Menard, 160 acres, being the S. E. ¼ section 22, April 29th, 1815; by Daniel Howell, 160 acres, being the N. E. ¼ section 25, April 27th, 1815 ; by William McIntosh, 320 acres, being N. ½ section 22, April 25th, 1815, all the above being in T. 1 S. R. 7 W., [Township 1 South Range 7 West] and by Samuel Griffith, 35.54 acres, in section 4, March 4th, 1815; by Heirs of G. Hendricks, 303 acres, in sections 8 and 9, April 15th, 1815; by Samuel Mitchell, 160 acres, being the N. W. ¼ section 10, August 14th, 1817, all in T. 2 S. R. 7 W.; also by William Goings, 147[.]91 acres, it being the N. W. ¼ section 17, September 7th, 1814; by Thomas Pulliam, 160 acres, being the N. E. ¼ section 18, September 9th, 1814; .by same, 252.82 acres, in section 8, being the location of his ferry, February 6th, 1817; by Daniel Stookey, 160 acres, being the S. W. ¼ of section 17, July 31st, 1817, all in T.2 S. R. 6 W. Prior to these entries some claims to lands had been made and confirmed. They were as follows: Survey 386, claim 523, 400 acres, was made by Theo. G. Hendricks, Nov. 29th, 1798, for militia duty in 1790. The tract was sold by his heirs to Stephen Whiteside in 1820; survey 387, claim 227, 400 acres, by William Biggs, November 20th, 1798; survey 388, claim 759, 400 acres, by Larkin Rutherford, in 1799. About 500 acres of the celebrated Tamarawa claim, being survey 607, claim 2209, made by J. Edgar, November 20th, 1798, lies in this township; also claim 776, 200 acres, by same party, claimed in payment for services as Indian agent, made same time.
Two enterprising backwoodsmen, Jacob Short and Moses Quick, from a settlement to the south-east, penetrated the forests skirting the Kaskaskia, opposite the present site of Athens, in 1811, and, with an eye to business, at once commenced felling timber, preparatory to the construction of a raft. This was not a settlement; no cabin was erected. With the broad skies as a canopy; mother earth spread with furs as a bed; game, brought down with their unerring rifles, for their subsistence, they worked with energy. Once completed, they launched their raft at a point about threequarters of a mile below Athens, and calmly floated down the tide in the month of March. On their way they bought beef cattle, corn, furs, etc., which they took on with them to New Orleans, where they disposed of their raft and "plunder," and returned to seek new homes in St. Clair. This was the first boat built on the river in St. Clair county, and the first to disturb the waters of the Kaskaskia above Levens, save the canoes guided by Indians.
In 1797 Abraham Teter moved from Randolph county, Virginia, to New Design, Monroe county, this state. In 1803 or 1804, in company with Peter Mitchell, Barbara Shook, Isaac Griffen and families he came to this township, followed up the meanderings of Silver creek to section 33, T. 1 So, R. 7 W., where he found a double log cabin occupied by a Mr. Cook. He bought Cook's claim, agreeing to occupy one end of the cabin, and Cook the other, the first winter. Mitchell and Griffin located near by. Across the creek lived a family named Radcliffe. So that Cook and Radcliffe are believed to have been the first settlers. Among the early settlers was a rumor to the effect that a family of three--husband, wife and child had, prior to this, attempted to erect a cabin near the mouth of Silver creek, but, before its completion, had met their deaths. Their decomposed bodies were found by hunters from New Design, and buried underneath a large hickory tree which was often pointed out. This was about 1797, when militia claims were being selected. The names of the parties and all facts are matters of oblivion.
Mrs.. Cook enjoyed the reputation of being bewitched. Neighbors in the vicinity of Turkey Hill (in those days ten, or even fifteen miles was looked upon as being in the neighborhood) verily believed her a witch. Mr. Radcliffe, living on the other side of Silver creek, some two or three miles distant, laid claims to being a witch-master, and by a singular coincidence established his claim firmly in the minds of the people. Once Messrs. Teter and Mitchell had occasion to remain over night with him. At midnight
they were aroused by loud laughter, and waking, saw Radcliffe sitting bolt upright in a bed on the floor laughing heartily. Said he, "Mrs. Cook just came down the chimney, and I have kicked her into the fire. Imagine Teter's surprise on the following morning at hearing his wife's greeting him with a statement that Mrs. Cook had "just been in and said she came near burning up last night. Some coals had rolled out of the fireplace and burned her bed partially and awakened her by burning her feet." Therefore Radcljffe was authority in matters of witchery, and Mrs. Cook was more a witch than ever. The following spring they left the settlement. Isaac Mitchell was born in the fall of 1805, being the first male child born there.
Solomon Teter was born Feb. 19, 1809, and is the oldest native born person now living in the precinct. He was one of a family of eleven children, ten of whom, five boys and five girls grew to years of maturity. His sister Rebecca was the first female child born. She was born in 1805.
David Hill, the oldest settler now living in this precinct, and among the oldest in the county, was brought an orphan boy from Pennsylvania in 1808, to what is now Richland precinct. He married Isabella Bennet, who was also an orphan brought to St. Clair county, from Kentucky, in 1815. Mr. Hill is yet in the enjoyment of his faculties at the age of 88 years. He was a soldier from this county in the war of 1812, and is one of the few who draws a pension as such.
A child of Peter Mitchell was the first death, occurring in 1806. It was buried on section 34. The old burial ground thus set apart was used until some fifty or sixty graves were made, then abandoned.
Peter Mitchell was the first justice of the peace, and many were the hearts he caused to thrill with happiness as he tied hymeneal knots. As a justice he held high rank, and was for many years retained in that capacity.
On April 28th, 1813, Patrick Huggins and Elizabeth Mitchell, also William Huggens and Darter Barbary were married by Nathan Arnett, a preacher of the gospel. Thus the list of marriages commenced with a double wedding.
As early as 1815 John Boucher taught subscription school in the Silver creek settlement. The school-house had an open fire-place which occupied all of one end of the building. On dark days part of the roof was raised for admission of light.
The early settlers were a devoted people, conscientious and straight-forward in the observance of religious exercises. On the 21st day of March, 1811, they organized the Silver Creek Baptist Church, with seven members. Met from house to house until 1817, when a log church. was built. At their first meeting they adopted a constitution which begins, " We agree to unite and be constituted On the Bible of the Old and New Testament, and to be known by the name of the Baptized Church of Christ, Friends to Humanity. Denying union and communion with all persons holding the doctrine of Perpetual, Involuntary, Hereditary Slavery." In their constitution was a clause to the effect that, "all persons failing to attend regular church meetings for three meetings in succession, shall be subject to be cited to attend and answer for neglect of duty." Such rigorous strictures now ' would soon deplete the church roll of many organizations.
On the east side of Silver Creek, sec. 3, Joseph McKinney put up the first mill in 1815; it was a band-mill. Each patron furnished his own power. It would grind from ten to twelve bushels of corn a day. When wheat was ground, they used what McKinney called " archers,"-or sieves to sift it with. A great improvement on this was the mill built by William Whitchinck [Whitchurch] and his son in 1828. They did all the work themselves, except the black-smithing. The stone, which they dressed themselves, was found in David Pulliam's branch, about three miles south-east of FayettevilIe. It was a round rock about 5 feet in diameter. It was claimed by millers to be equal to any French burrstone. By changing teams, the mill would turn out seventy-five bushels per day. Oxen were mostly used in grinding. An amusing story is told of the administration of justice in early days, or rather how the ends of justice were defeated. One C- F--, who was near-sighted, was placed on a stand when deerhunting. He shot at a deer, as he supposed, but the ball struck a rider and his horse, severely wounding the rider in the leg. For this accident, as he claimed, he was arrested and tried in a schoolhouse by a jury. The house was crowded to suffocation. The case was heard. All parties were requested to leave the house, to enable the jury to consult together; whereupon some wags stuffed the chimney with prairie-grass, smoking out the jury, who adjourned procipitately without rendering a verdict.
This precinct was represented in the Black Hawk war by Solomon Teter, Aaron Land, Isaac Griffin, John Baker and Myram McMullen.
The Cairo Short Line Railroad crosses the precinct diagonally through the western half from north-west to south-east, a distance of nearly ten miles.
Drum Hill, in this precinct, is one of the finest farming sections of St. Clair county. It is in the north-eastern part, and derived its name from the fact that a man named Carr, a drummer, settled there in an early day. So habituated was he to drumming, that morning and evening found him out in front of his cabin, beating the drum-call hence the name. In the south-eastern part are several lakes, the largest of which (Swan lake) covers an area of five hundred acres, and is nearly two miles long. It Lies in secs. 11, 12, 13 and 14. To the east and near by are Bluff and Horse-shoe lakes, while to the south-west are Gimblet and Dry lakes. Hunting about these lakes has furnished rare sport. The precinct was established June 5th, 1839, and called Jefferson, which name it held until by common consent the name Fayetteville was substituted. The first election was held at Marshall's store, Jefferson. The judges were Philip Land, Jas. Mason and William D. Ross. On petition, almost unanimously signed, the polling place was changed to Henry Douth's, on Silver Creek, June 6th, 1843.
TOWN OF FREEBURG.
On Nov. 11th, 1836; the town of Urbana, as it was first called, was platted by John T. Lemen. It comprised eight blocks, divided into 128 lots. Geographically, it was the south-east quarter of the south-east quarter section 19, T. 1 S., R. 7 W. A large public square was planned in the centre. Various additions have been made to the original town as follows: by Thomas Temple, 36 lots east of town, October 19th, 1853; by D. C. Wallace, 90 lots, Sept. 5th, 1853; by Reazin Thrifts, 8 lots, July 31st, 18.57; by Philip Rauch, 14 lots north, Aug. 23d, 1854; by Geo. W. Smith, 3 blocks east, Sept. 1, 1853; by mill company, 12 blocks north of town, and others at a later date-in all fourteen different additions. The name was changed from Urbana to Freeburg in 1859, and Joseph Reichert made the first addition of 42 lots Dec. 30th, 1859, to Freeburg. The post-office was located in 1851, with Geo. W. Smith as postmaster.
Henry Barthel was the first justice of the peace in the village; first chosen in 1857, and served continuously ulltil 1878.
Harbert Patterson was the first man to keep a stock of goods, which he opened shortly after the location of Urbana was made.
Mr. Welden was the second. Mr. Reichert was the first cooper--he came in 1847. Prominent among the industries are the mills. The first built was what is now called Reichert's, in 1853-4, by Temple, Potter & Co. Its original cost was about $25,000. Has five run of stone. Capacity 250 barrels per day. It, together with the cooperage attached, gives employment to thirty men. The flour is shipped chiefly to St.. Louis. Four different brands are made: No.1, "Potter's Mills;" No.2, "St. Clair;" No.3, "Southern Star;" and No.4, "Urbana." Joseph Reichert, proprietor.
Frederick Mills, in the northern part of the town were built in 1866, by Darmelatter, [Darmstatter], Meng & Co" at a cost of $10,000. Has five run of stone, with a capacity of making 200 barrels of flour per day. Is well equipped with first class machinery. W. H. Wildermann became proprietor in 1877.
A brewery was built by Heizmann and Barthel, in 1859. Now owned by Joseph Reichert, and operated only sufficiently to supply a local demand.
Freeburg was incorporated March 4th, 1867, by a unanimous vote of her citizens. Population by census of 1880, was 1040.
LEADING BUSINESS HOUSES.
General Stores; Henry Barthel, Andrew Krause, Philip Hoff
mann, Peter Hermann, H. Huber.
Druggists; Philip C. Dare, Charles Kring.
Furniture; Charles Weber.
Hotels; "Freeburg House," by Adam Wolff, "St. Clair," by Conrad Soerg, Mrs. Conrath's, John Reichert's, Jacob Rader.
Blacksmiths; Groh Bros" Charles Frank, Daniel Borger, Tony Meyer.
Hardware; Philip Conrath, Barthel Franz.
Livery, Peter Carwright Hill.
Physicians; Frederick Koeberlin, M. S. Carr, Henry Hertel.
There is a Lodge of A. F, and A. M., Freeburg Lodge, No. 418. Instituted July 15th, 1864, with nine charter member8. First W. M. F. Koeberlin. Present W. M., W. H. Wilderman.
A singing and literary society; which is in a very flourishing condition, having 38 members, and about 600 volumes in its library, was organized March 5th, 1867.
Freeburg Fire Co., No.1, was organized April 12th, 1876, with. forty-nine members: Have an engine manufactured in Philadelphia, costing $1000. Peter Etting, present captain. Have an engine house, the property of the company.
Upon the incorporation of the town Messrs. James Hill, Sr., Philip J. Koesterer, John Klingel, Christ. Barthel, and Fred. Koeberlin, were elected as Trustees, The present officers are Charles Weber, Pres., Joseph Koesterer, Jacob Ratherni, Nich. Groh, Jacob Roeder, Henry Berth, Otto Heizmann, Clerk; William Barthel, Treas., and Val. Volz, Constable.
Situated on the west bank of the Kaskaskia, was laid off by Abjiah Whiting and Thos. J. Pulliam, May 15, 1837, in 28 blocks, the central one of which is a public square. Each of the other 27 is divided into twelve lots. Thos. J. Pulliam made an addition of 180 lots April 26, 1855. It has a population of about 350 inhabitants. The first house was built by Thos. J. Pulliam, who for many years kept the ferry. This village has had its" ups and downs," When navigation of the river was thought to be an assured fact, property commanded good prices and trade was brisk; mills were built; many residences were erected; stores were teeming with piled up goods, and all seemed fair for the future. Fires contributed much to the destruction of business. Henry Voskamp was the first post. master-appointed about 1840. He also opened the, first store in 1836. L. Grossmann had the second store, opened shortly after Voskamp. J. Brannum built the first mill in 1854-55; it was subsequently destroyed by fire. A brewery, built in 1875 by Louis Hedwegwas, burned down the same year. Being well insured, it was rebuilt, but lack of business has occasioned it to stand idle for the past year.
The business of Fayetteville is conducted by:
General Stores. Philip Wasem, L3roy Free, Gertrude Mittendorff.
Druggist. Dr. Rembe. .
Hotel." Okaw House," Vahlkamp & Bro., Fritz Baumgarte, Mitchell Funk, John Suess.
Blacksmith. Adolph Kreikemier.
A large mill, having three run of stone, was built in 1863 by William Maguire. It sold at one time for $20,000. It has been idle for more than a year past. Is owned by August C. Miller.
A wooden shoe factory is run, which supplies the home market.
In 1856 a floating or pontoon bridge was built across the river here, supplanting the ferry. This bridge was carried off by the high waters in February this year.
There are two churches ill Fayetteville-the Lutheran, built in 1854 by Henry Feitsam, contractor, and the Catholic, built in 1868. JEFFERSON Was platted Sept. 13,1836, some months before Fayetteville, by Pennington Power, Aaron Land, and Fielder Power. Its; location is on the west bank of the Kaskaskia, about three miles above Fayetteville. A saw mill was built, two stores were opened-one by Francis Wilderman, the other by Marshall, and all seemed merry as a summer day. The destruction of the saw mill by fire destroyed all hope of making a city of Jefferson. July 29, 1865, it was vacated. Down the river, on the Tamarawa claim, being No. 2209, Survey 607, Adam Snyder (father of Judge Snyder), and James Semple, selected a town site, and. located Tamarawa, May 21,1836. Its location was sightly. It was on the great thoroughfare from the east to the west, at what was claimed to be the best ford on the river. For a time business bid fair to lay hold upon Tamarawa and claim her for her own especial pride. So sanguine were friends of the future of the infant city, which had already been planned on a most liberal scale, that an addition was made July 8, 1837. But how idle human speculations often prove! How are castles in Spain ruthlessly dashed to earth? Tamarawa is no more, and Crescent Place, now owned by Chauncy Hinckley, occupies the site. LEMENTON Was platted July 9, 18H, by Edward F. Leonard, John T. Lemen, and Robt. Moore. It is a small village, on the Cairo Short Line railroad, midway between Freeburg and New Athens. It is sur7 rounded by a rich agricultural district, and is quite a shipping point for grain and coal. Coal Mines.--Numerous veins have been opened in various parts of this precinct, many of which are now deserted. The Freeburg Coal Co. operate the most extensive, having a shaft 156 feet deep, with a 7 foot vein of coal, operated by steam power; employs 20 to 30 men, and ships about six cars of coal daily to St. Louis. Reichert's shaft, owned and operated by Joseph Reichert, is of about the same depth, with a thicker vein, in places as thick as 10 feet, operated by steam power; employs ten to twelve men. Ships 3 to 5 cars daily. (See chapter on Geology [not transcribed for this web page] ).
(1) These lands are the Public Domain Land Sales which began in 1814. Some are lands granted as Preemption (Squattors’) Rights and militia rights or grants. The Illinois State Archives has an online index to all Public Domain Land Sales in Illinois and can also provide documentation for lands acquired before 1814.