THE HISTORY OF 

JACKSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS


The first white people to come to the area which was to become Jackson County were people who made sugar from the sugar tree.  In 1802 a Mr. Reed and a man named Emsly Jones settled East of Degognia Creek with their families.  They both came from Randolph County. Mr. Reed began a farm and Mr. Jones, for some reason became mad at him and shot and killed him.  Jones fled and took refuge at what is now called Walker's Hill east of Grand Tower.  He was captured, taken to Kaskaskia, tried and hung for the crime.  Thus the first settlers were also victim and perpetrator of the first Jackson County crime. In 1804 came Henry Noble and his son in law Jesse Griggs.  They settled on Big Muddy River northeast of what was to become Murphysboro.  At about the same time a family named Brilhart arrived. In 1805 or 1806 William Boon came to the area from the Okaw (Kaskaskia) River and opened a farm under the bluff, east of Degognia Creek.  About 1806 the Brooks family arrived and settled right along the Mississippi River at the mouth of Degognia Creek. About the same time  William McRoberts settled under the bluff.  Park Grosvenor, Sr., settled under the bluff in 1806 or 1807. Soon after 1805 came Col. James Gill and his wife Janette Gaston and they settled at the Devil's Oven with her brother William Gaston.  About 1806, Benjamin Walker, Sr. arrived from Tennessee and settled at the lower end of the Devil's Backbone, where the city of Grand Tower is now located.  G.W. Green Henson settled at the Big Hill in 1807, followed by his father, Allen Henson in 1808.  Allen Henson had been scalped in the Indian War in North Carolina or Tennessee and left for dead. Other early settlers were: Big Hill--John Morrow, Thomas Morrow, Peter Hammon, Jacob Louzadder, among others. The Earthquake of New Madrid, Mo hit in 1811. During the War of 1812, the local hostile Indians sided with the British.  They were situated in the north and northeast of a long string of settlements from the Illinois River all along the Mississippi to the Ohio River and up that stream to Shawneetown. Governor Edwards recommended that companies of rangers be raised for the purpose of protecting the settlers. This idea was appoved by Congress.  A family by the name of Lively was killed among others. In 1813 and 1814 a disease called the Milk Sick was prevalent all over the country which was to become Jackson county and a good number of people died. About 1814 Conrad Will went to Pennsylvania and bought kettles for the making of salt and commenced the Salt Works on the north side of the Big Muddy in Section 1 In 1815, the residents of what was then the eastern part of Randolph County petitioned the Territorial Legislature for the formation of a new county.  The legislature passed a law creating ackson County January 10, 1816, naming Brownsville as the County Seat. In 1816 Elias Bancroft who was deputy surveyor under Mr. Rector, sectionized the townships. William Boon was with him and located a large quantity of land for the Kaskaskians (Indians). There were some officers for the county appointed before the Spring of 1818.  They were: Jesse Griggs, John Byars and Conrad Will, Commissioners or Trustees. The deed for the land on which Brownsville was laid out was recorded 4 Jul 1818 by William Wilson, Recorder.  The deed was executed and acknowledged before James Hall, Jr, Justice of the Peace, by Jesse Griggs and his wife. In 1817, James Hall, Jr. and Conrad Will were the delegated from Jackson County to the Constitutional convention at Kaskaskia.  The Constitution was approved and Illinois became a State of the Union in 1818 and the Illinois Territory was no more. Jackson County was a land of dense forests broken by prairies.  These prairies became known as Elk Prairie for the Elk which came there to the Salt Licks, Cox's Prairie, Manning's Prairie, Tuthill's Prairie and Holliday's Prairie.  The land was rich fertile loam suitable for crops.  There were hardwood trees--several kinds of Oak, Black and White Walnut, and Sugar Maple and also there were Beech and Elm. The first house used for a school room was in 1816 and belonged to William Boon near Sand Ridge. Jackson County Coal Company began operation in 1822 opening a drift on the south side of Muddy near Murphysboro. This company continued to operated until 1864.  

History Index

Home Page

ęcopyright Genealogy Trails 2008-2013  All Rights Reserved