township is situated in the south western part
of the County. It was laid off by William
RECTOR in 1806, at the time of the
formation of all Townships in Jackson County,
and was sectionized by Elias BARCROFT,
deputy under RECTOR and John
MESSINGER, in 1810. It is
bounded on the North by Sand Ridge, on the south
by Grand Tower, the Mississippi River, Island
Number 18 and the County of Union, on the west
by Grand Tower, and on the east by Ridge
Township. "Big Hill" gave its name to the
township, and has attracted wide spread
attention from geologists on account of its
formations. Its great size merits more
than a passing notice at our hands. Its'
length is about 7 and its average width is about
2 miles. The north and west ends lie
respectively in Sand Ridge and Fountain Bluff
Townships. The north end of this
remarkable formation consists of a solid wall of
rock, varying from 150 to 250 feet in height,
and it one and one half miles in length.
The G. T. and C. R. R. funs for a portion
of its way along its foot, and the view never
fails to call forth exclamations of surprise and
admiration from the passenger who gazes upon its
grandeur for the first time. The south
face of Big Hill also is a wall of rock, rather
less abrupt than on the north, and is from 150
to 200 feet in height, and is robed in a
beautiful garb of evergreens. This hill is
an outlying spur of the "Grand Chain" which,
under various names, wends from west to east,
and links together the Rocky and Appalachian
systems of mountains.
entirely unsettled, except in two places, viz:
on a rolling ridge, and the bottom land of a
small creek. The hill affords a fine
quality of sandstone, and also an excellent
grade of limestone. It is covered with
timber of good quality. It is the opinion
of geologists that the great river once poured
its mighty volume of waters along a channel east
of the Big Hill. Many are the evidences of
the correctness of this theory. The
situation of the lakes north of the hill, their
relation to each other and to the river, the
growth of the timber, the kind of soils in the
swamps, are cited in support of this
supposition. Further evidence is afforded:
when a well is dug to a certain distance river
sand is struck. In one well a piece of
timber was found at a depth of 40 feet.
On the east
side of the hill is found as fine a quality of
farming land as exists in the entire valley of
the Mississippi. About 1500 acres are in
cultivation, which yield in corn from 50 to 75
bushels per acres, or if in wheat from 15 to
30. Oats and potatoes produce
abundantly, and all other cereals and products
of our latitude.
township is justly celebrated as a very fine
grazing country. The grazing section is
about 3 miles long by 2 wide. This is a
swampy region, and produces luxuriantly the best
of wild grass for stock. Animals only need
to be fed for a short time during the year.
The swamp-lands lie southward from the
lakes, and northward from the farms which lie
along the north face of the Big Hill. Of
the wild grass, much hay is made.
East of Big
Muddy River, on high and rolling land, rather
thin and poor of quality, is found a soil
admirably adapted for fruits, which are much
cultivated, though some wheat and corn are
The kinds of
timber are oak, white, red, black and chinkapin,
and overcup, hickory, walnut, boxelder, sugar
maple, sycamore, etc.
first permanent settlers were Jacob
LONZADDER and family, who settled in 1805
or 1806, on what is now known as the "Berry
Whitson place". He built the first mill,
which was driven by water power, furnished by
two fine springs. This mill was on the
S.E. 1/4 of Section 6. Mr. Lonzadder
was of Portuguese extraction, and was an
energetic man, a good citizen and farmer.
FRENCH came shortly after and settled
just below Bald Rock, on the east side of Big
Muddy River. He was a native of Kentucky,
and owned the first slave in the
In 1807 or
1808 came Thomas and John MORROW, with
their father, and located on what is now known
as the Henson place, in Section 18. John
sold his share to William McROBERTS in
1817 and Thomas in 1823 or 1824 disposed of 20
acres of his to Marble HENSON.
HENSON cane in 1808 and settled on the
place now belonging to the heirs of William B.
JENKINS. Mr. Henson emigrated from
North Carolina to Tennessee and from thence to
Illinois. He was about 60 years of age at
the time of his arrival. His family was
large. The oldest daughter became the wife
of William GASTON, the next was married
to Robert R. GORDON, while his son
Marble, took to wife Patsey DAVIS.
Mr. Henson brought with him from Tennessee
a Negro man slave.
In 1810, in
the north-east corner of the Township, in Sec.
6, on what is known as the WORTHEN place,
settled a man named FLEMMINGS.
settler, Jacob THOMPSON, came the same
year. He was a single man, but thinking
it, "not good to be alone", he proposed to a
daughter of Jacob LONZADDER and was made
happy by her acceptance. He then opened a
farm, now owned by the heirs of Aaron
Reuben REDFIELD in 1820, who also married
a daughter of Mr. LONZADDER, --who seems
to have been a benefactor of his race in
furnishing so many girls as wives for the
settlers, -- and located at the Berry
have been stated that Aaron DAVIS and
family came in 1816 or 1817 from Kentucky, and
located on the Thomas JENKINS place.
He was a skillful hunter, and also was a
farmer; raised a family who settled around him.
He bought his place of Capt. BOON,
and lived on it till his death in 1826.
passed into the possession of Thomas
JENKINS in 1844, who resided on it till
his death in 1873 at the great age of 91 years.
Mr. JENKINS became a citizen of
Jackson County in 1824. In 1826 he moved
to the site of Grand Tower, and kept an
extensive wood-yard for 12 or 13 years.
Mr. JENKINS was native of South
Carolina, where he was born in 1781. When
he attained his majority he emigrated to
Georgia, where he married. He served under
General Jackson during the war of 1812 and
fought gallantly at the Battle of New
distinguished Capt. William BOON, who was
one of the earliest settlers of the County, and
whose son, Benningsen BOON, was so
prominent in the County, and who yet survives,
settled at Big Hill in 1826, whither he moved
from Sand Ridge. He was a man of note, of
worth, and very popular. He represented
Jackson in the hall of legislation ably and
well, and was their protector and shield in the
hour of danger.
his farm in this township to Milton LADD,
and removed to the DUNCAN place, on what
is now known as the "Duncan Hill slough," where
he remained but one year, when he again moved,
this time to the Mississippi River, where he
kept a wood-yard until his death in 1833, aged
Benningsen BOON, was born in this County
in 1807, and when between 21 and 22 years of age
was united in wedlock to Elizabeth WILL,
a daughter of Dr. Conrad WILL, who was so
distinguished in the early history of the
County. Mr. B. BOON is a man
of natural talent; and though educational
facilities in his youth were vastly inferior to
those of this day, he managed to make himself a
well-informed and very useful man. He has
been a member of the County Commissioners'
court; in 1833, Agent of the County for the sale
of the Saline lands' was for many hears a
successful practitioner of medicine. He
was elected a Justice of the Peace in 1836, and
held the office for sixteen years. He
served against Black Hawk in the war of
1832. He was under Capt A.M.
JENKINS in a cavalry company.
Nicholas D. HENSON was a comrade in
the same company. In 1855 he was appointed
Postmaster for Big Hill by President Pierce.
He was a School Officer for many years.
In all offices he has conducted himself in
such a manner as to merit a reputation for
capability and honesty of which any one may be
proud. In another part of this work will
be found a more complete biography of this
upright, useful man.
B.F., and Jessie C. HENSON served in the
Black Hawk war.
HENSON settled on what was denominated
the "O'HARA Land" in about 1820, and his
oldest daughter wedded Joseph GOODBREAD.
McROBERTS, previously mentioned, was near
60 years of age when, in 1817, he bought out
John MORROW. His family was a large
one, viz.: Charles, Polly, Charlotte, Samuel,
Lucretia and James. Some of the children
lived to raise families, and the entire family
now owned by the WORTHEN heirs was first
entered by St. Clair MANSON on or about
1814. In 1818 he sold out to Matthew
DUNCAN, brother to the DUNCAN who
represented Jackson County in the State Senate
at Vandalia, and was afterwards Governor of
DUNCAN came from Kaskaskia to this
county, where he had held the office of State
Printers. He first settled in Fountain
Bluff township. He had a mill, which he
managed till the arrival of his brother, Joseph
DUNCAN, in 1818-1819. Matthew
DUNCAN built the first distillery in Big
Hill. He had negroes that he had brought
from Kentucky to the then Territory of Illinois.
He mortgaged his farm to the First State
Bank of Illinois. The mortgage was
foreclosed and the place sold, Thomas
WHITSON becoming the purchaser.
of Big Hill lying east of Big Muddy River began
to be settled up where James HARRELD and
others built a saw and grist-mill near 1838. Mr
HARRELD ran the mill till his death in
1844, memorable as the year of the "Great
CRIPPS, in 1835 or 1836, settled in the
eastern part of the township on Pine Hill.
he sold at his house dry-goods for the
convenience of the people. He was our
township is divided into two school districts,
and has (1878) a population of about 400
inhabitants. The first school was taught
by Lee. D. WOOD in 1826.
sermon was preached by Rev. Richard LEE,
a Methodist divine in 1814 or 1814.
LEE lived for some time in this
township. The first school-house was on
the McROBERTS place, and served also as a
white child born was George
LONZADDER, son of Jacob.
marriage was that of William GASTON to
Nellie HENSON in 1812-13.
death was that of James DAVIS, who was
killed by the falling of a tree blown down by
the wind. He was the son of Aaron
The water is
impregnated with lime from the limestone
foundation. The northern portion of Big Hill
township, owing to the great amount of moisture,
is less healthful than other parts, and malarial
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