Mascoutah Precinct, St. Clair County, Illinois

The St. Clair County Courthouse
completed in 1861

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Much information in this history is factual as recalled by people living at that time. However, memories are not perfect, and all researchers are urged to verify the people, relationships, places, and events mentioned below with civil, governmental, private, and religious documents written more closely to the actual fact stated. Many of these original record groups are identified and located in St. Clair County Research and Resources, available from the Society.

Mascoutah Precinct

Scanned and proofread from pages 351–353 of St. Clair County History, (Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough, and Company, 1881). This history does have some errors in it so it is prudent to confirm the statements below with other sources closer to the actual event. Any additions by the webmaster within the text are surrounded by [brackets]. Footnotes have been added, and appear at the end of the sketch.

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.


THIS precinct is situated on the east side of the county, and contains nearly seventy sections, mostly fine agricultural lands, originally about one third timber, but at present not over one fifth of the area is timber. The land lays rolling, and is considered the best of wheat land, and that staple is the principal product. The precinct is made out of part of four congressional townships as follows; Town one south six west, one south seven west, one north six west, and one north seven west, and is bounded on the north by Summerfield, Lebanon, and Shiloh, on the west by Shiloh, Belleville, and Fayetteville, on the south by Fayetteville and St. Clair precincts, and on the east by Clinton county. Silver Creek passes through the western part, from north to south. The Kaskaskia river touches four sections, in the southeast part. Jackson and Rayhill Sloughs drain the east part of the precinct and empty into the Kaskaskia. Loup creek is in the west part of the precinct, and empties into Silver C reek. The first settlements here were made along the timber edges near Silver Creek, by settlers from Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, as early as 1810. It is said several of the first families came here on horseback, and brought what little furniture and household goods they possessed on pack horses, a few used the wagon of that day, a description of which can be found in another part of this work [not prepared for this web site]. On the east bank of Silver Creek, in the north-east quarter of section 24 stood Fort Petersburg. It was here near the site of this old Fort, where James Anderson, Sr., built his first cabin upon coming to the territory of Illinois in 1810. Two years later he removed upon the section east, being nineteen, where he lived a number of years; his death occurred about forty-five years ago. He left three sons; James, Martin, and Abraham; the latter lived the life of a bachelor. James and Martin improved farms in this vicinity. James Anderson, Jr., was quite a prominent citizen in the county for a number of years, filling the office of County Commissioner, and for some time was a captain in the Black Hawk war. He removed to Bates county, Missouri, a number of years ago, where he died. Robert Abernathy settled in the north part of the precinct on section nine, about 1810. Sept. 10, 1814,(1) he entered 320 acres of land in this section. Miles Abernathy, son of Robert, settled in the south-east part of section seven, one mile east of his fathers in 1815. He put up a cotton gin here the following year, the first in this part of the county, and the settlers for many miles around came here to get their cottons ginned. It is said that some of the larger farmers here raised as much as four and five acres of

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cotton every year. Job Vanwinkle settled in this neighborhood about 1810 or 12. He entered the south-east quarter of section eight, September 10, 1814. Jas. Bankson and Thomas Crocker settled here about the same time. They entered one hundred and sixty acres each, September 10, 1814. Bankson's was the south­east quarter of section twelve, and his cabin stood near the bank of Silver creek. Crocker entered the south-east quarter of section eighteen. Thomas Kinghton was one of the early settlers on Silver Creek, he entered the north-east quarter of section twenty-five, September 29th, 1814.

Jonathan Gaskill settled one-half mile east of Kinghton's, and December 24, 1814, entered the north-east quarter of section thirty. James Gilbreath settled one-half mile south of Kinghton's, on Silver Creek, and December 29, 1814, he entered the north-east quarter of section thirty-six. William Rittenhouse settled on the west bank of Silver Creek, as early as 1810; he settled on section twelve, in the south-western part of this precinct, September 12, 1814, and entered the south-west quarter in the above section. Rittenhouse improved a. farm here, where he resided until his death. His son, Darby Rittenhouse, well known to the old settlers of this county, resided on this tract until about 1852, when he died. Isaac Quick entered the north-west quarter of section seven, January 2, 1815, one-half mile north-east of where Rittenhouse settled. As early as 1825 Moses Hering bought this tract of land, where he lived until about 1837. He then joined the Mormons, and went to Missouri. He afterwards returned to this precinct, where he died. Paul Zugweiler bought out Hering about 1837, and settled on the place. Joshua Clark entered eighty acres on the east side of Silver creek, section twenty-four, extreme south-western part of the precinct, September 17,1814, where he improved a farm. John Steel started an improvement near where Joshua Clark settled, about the same time. Brice Virgin, a native of Kentucky, settled on section six, a short distance south-west of the present town of Mascoutah, in 1810. He resided here until his death. His sons, William, Hiram and Brice, settled in the same vicinity, and raised families. William Virgin served in the war of 1812, and was in the government employ as a ranger until 1815, and was also in the Black Hawk war. He died on the same section where his father first settled, in 1855. He left his family in very good circumstances. Green Baker settled on section nine, west side of the Jackson Slough, prior to 1824, where he resided until his death. William McNail settled on the west side of Loup Creek, section thirty-five, as early as 1818. He was a ranger here in the war of 1812. He lived here until after 1847, and then moved to Washington county, Illinois. His son, Washington McNail, settled on section eight, south of Mascoutah, about 1832; he left the county the same year his father did. James Reed and John Ward settled on the north side of Hazel Creek, section two, as early as 1818. Lemuel Dupuy located on section twelve, south-east part of the precinct in 1817 or '18. He here improved a good farm, and was one of the prominent farmers in this part of the county in the early times. He was a zealous member of the M. E. Church, and the itinerant preachers' of that denomination held meetings at his house. Before 1820 he fitted up a camp-ground here, and for many years there were regular meetings held near his residence every year. He was an honest and very conscientious man. It is said of him that, in the early settlement of Illinois, the corn crop in the northern part of the state was an entire failure; and the settlers for seventy and a hundred miles north came down into" Egypt" to buy corn for seed, and while old man Dupuy could have received 40 and 50 cents per bushel for his corn on hand, he would not take more than 25 cents per bushel, and would not sell to one man more than four or or [sic]five bushels. Speculators could not buy corn of him at any price. He died on the place he improved, and left many friends and no enemies. Three sons of his, George, William and Lemuel, improved farms in the same neighborhood as early as 1825. Simeon Wakefield settled where F. Perring now lives, near Strassburg, as early as 1810. He moved to Iowa about twenty-five years ago.

John Jackson, a native of St. Clair county, settled on section seventeen, south of Mascoutah, about 1828, where he lived until 1835; he then moved to Missouri.

Major H. G. Brown, Jarvis Jackson, and George Rayhill were the only settlers on the Shawneetown road between Middleton's ferry on the Kaskaskia and Silver Creek in 1830. Major Brown served in the Black Hawk war.

Joseph Land settled on section 18, south-west of Mascoutah, as early as 1825. He improved a farm here and afterwards moved to Mascoutah, where he died. His father, Moses Land, was a Revolutionary soldier, and pensioned; and for a number of years he made a trip to Kentucky once a year to draw his pension. He always made the trip in a one-horse wagon.

William Padfield, jun., settled on section 9, in the north part of the precinct where John B. Padfield now lives. In 1812 he came from Kentucky with his father, who settled two miles south of Summerfield. William Padfield resided on this place until his death, which occurred August, 1849. He left a family of twelve children to mourn his loss, seven sons and five daughters. Only three of the children still survive, and they are residents of the county.

Henry Hutton settled on the same section, just north of Padfields, about 1810, and died on the old place. None of his descendants now reside in the county.

There were no settlements made in the north-east part of Mascoutah Precinct until after 1830. It is a fine rolling prairie, and in the early times (so say the old settlers) could be seen deer, fifty and seventy-five in a drove.

George Swaggard, a native of St. Clair county, was born at East St. Louis in 1821. Has lived in this precinct since 1833, and followed farming for the past twenty years. He has lived in the village of Mascoutah. Elisha Bagby came to Mascoutah precinct in 1831 with his widowed mother, Nancy Bagby, who bought one hundred and sixty acres of one Samuel Crane, situated three miles west of Mascoutah. This tract of land is now owned by Henry Staub.

Among the first Germans that came to this precinct was John Knobeloch now living on section 27, in the west part of the precinct. He came here in 1831, returned to Germany the same year, and the year following came out with his father and father's family, and settled on the above section. Balthasar Knobeloch, a brother to John, lives in the same section. Thomas, another brother, who .came out in 1832, lives two miles west of the old homestead in Belleville precinct.

Peter Fries, now keeping a hotel in Mascoutah, has lived in the county since 1833, and was a great hunter in the early settlement of this county, and now in the bar of his hotel can be seen nailed to the wall, many deer heads that Peter, in his young days, laid low. He is jovial and talkative, and loves to relate his experience of the early times in this county, and of the exciting deer and wolf chases.

John Barth, jun., came from Germany to this county in 1835. He was accompanied by his wife and family of five children. He settled two and a half miles south-west of the present town of Mascoutah. His son, John Barth, jun., now owns the old homestead.

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In 1837, Philip H. Eisenmayer came to Mechanicsburg, and in 1839 he returned to Germany, and in the same year returned with his two brothers, Conrad and George C. Fritz Hilgard, Chris. Heinberger Conradi, and the three Eisenmayer brothers were the first Germans to settle in the village of Mascoutah. George C. Eisenmayer, in 1839, bought sixty acres of land what now constitutes his additions to Mascoutah, at six dollars per acre, and is now the part of town that lies between the depot and the business part of the place. The Eisenmayers have contributed their share toward making Mascoutah what it is to-day, and are prominent in the community. Philip H. is the present Mayor of the town.

MASCOUTAH.

The town was laid out by T. J. Krafft and John Flanagan on the 6th of April, 1837, and under the name of Mechanicsburg. It contained then two blocks of six lots each, and three blocks of twelve lots each, and one block not laid out in lots. It was called then the mill lot. Samuel Dixon lived directly south of Postel's mills, and built the first house or hut in the present limits of Mascoutah. Dixon was a hunter.

After the town was laid out, Samuel Mitchell built the first house a log cabin, and erected a saw mill here. F. Hilgard, T. J. Krafft, and Benjamin J. West laid out an addition to Mascoutah containing seventy-two lots March 29, 1839; here the name of Mascoutah is made a matter of record, and is perhaps the date the name of the town was changed. Other additions to the village are too numerous to mention. West Mascoutah was laid out by H. F. Teichman, 36 lots January 28th, 1857. Dr. Brewington was first trader or merchant at Mascoutah; remained but a few months. Lewis Hauk, a son of Hauk of the Belleville Zeitung, was the first child born in Mascoutah. Hauk published a work on chancery and dedicated it to Judge Sidney Breeze, at present a member of the bar at Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Dr. Smith, son-in-law of Major Brown, was the first practicing physician in the precinct. First school-house and church was erected at the site of the present town-hall, north of Postels mills. Nathan Fike was the first postmaster: Brewington's store was purchased by Fike & Crownover. E. Bagby took charge of said store in 1842, and succeeded N: Fike as postmaster. Bagby was an appointee of President Harrison, and this accounts for the fact that he remained in office but a few months. Hilgard, Couradi & Heimberger bought the old Mitchell mill about the year 1835; they added a flour bolt that was run by hand power and ground wheat on the same stone they ground corn meal. They built a second store building corner of Main and Jefferson streets, some few years afterwards. Conrad and Philip Eisenmayer purchased the mill property in 1839. They soon afterwards took in as partner, Philip H. Postel, and enlarged the mill to a great extent and became exporters of flour; this mill stood about two hundred and fifty feet south-east of where the Postel mills now stand. The old mill in about 1850 was moved to Clinton county. The second mill erected near the old site now known as the Postel mills was built by Andrew Eisenmayer and Philip H Postel, in 1848 and 49; since then at different times it has been added to and improved until now it is one of the largest mills in this section of country, with a capacity of three hundred and fifty barrels per day, now owned and run by Philip H. Postel. There are two other large mills in Mascoutah with a capacity of two hundred and two hundred and fifty barrels per day; one run by Sehlinger & Schubkegel, and the other by Kleekamp & Hussman. August George has a small custom mill here, and Philip J. Postel has a corn mill with a capacity of one hundred and fifty barrels per day, he makes corn meal exclusively of an extra quality. The shipments of flour from Mascoutah amount to fifty car loads per week, a greater part of this flour is exported to Europe, different parts of England, Germany and France. The growth of Mascoutah was slow until the German emigrants began to come in after 1840, from that time until 1860 its growth was steady; the town is substantially built, mostly of brick, the principal business being on one long street; it is the third town in size in the county, now having a population of 2,576, with several first-class stores, a German weekly paper, hotels, livery, with every convenience of a first-class trading point, good schools, and six churches, some of which would be a credit to a much larger place; the denominations are as follows, that have buildings: German Catholic, German Methodist, German Lutheran, German Evangelical, Christian and Methodist.

The Masonic Douglas Lodge, No. 361, received its charter October 1st, 1861, and has a membership of fifty-five.

Humboldt Lodge, No. 286, The Independent order of Odd Fellows, received their charter October 11th, 1860, membership seventy.

Mascoutah Encampment, No. 90, , received their charter October 13th, 1868, membership thirty-six.

Knights of Honor, Mascoutah Lodge, No. 1927, , received its charter August 25th, 1880, and has a membership of forty-two. The four lodges meet in one hall, a large, well arranged and well ventilated, and nicely furnished room, 45x50 feet. Mascoutah has one railroad, the Louisville and Nashville, this road passes through the center of the precinct, from east to west, and Mascoutah is situated in the exact center of the precinct, surrounded by a fine agricultural country, and may be put down as one of the enterprising towns of St. Clair county.

STRASSBURG

Was laid out by Joseph Moll and others, March 19th, 1857, and contains ten lots; it is situated two and a half miles north of Mascoutah, on sections eighteen and nineteen, on a small tributary of the Silver Creek; its location was too near Mascoutah to ever grow to much of a village without any railroad facilities.

PENSONEAU is a flag station on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, four miles south-east of Mascoutah.

HIGH BANK was a paper town, laid off, by Edward Pensoneau, June 3d, 1857, and embraces the south-west quarter of section twenty-two, town one south, range six west; it was beautifully situated on the north bank of the Kaskaskia river, and it is said by some eastern capitalist to have looked well on paper, as Pensoneau had a fine plat drawn off with steamboats plying on the river, and the town shown up as one of much business and commercial importance; with this plat and good talk it is said that Narcisse Pensoneau and George W. Pulliam, of this county, effected the sale of many lots in the east. The purchasers have never realized much on their investment.


FOOTNOTES

(1) These lands are the Public Domain Land Sales (PDLS) which began in 1814. Some lands were granted as Preemption (Squattors’) Rights, grants or donations prior to the PDLS. The Illinois State Archives has an online index to all Public Domain Land Sales in Illinois and can also provide documentation for Preemptions/Improvements.

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