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Genealogy Trails - Jersey County, Illinois

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Townships

Elsah Township
Elsah Township lies in the southern part of the county. It does not comprise a full congressional township, a considerable part being cut off by the Mississippi River, which bounds it on the south. On the east it is bounded by Madison County, with Mississippi Township on the north and Quarry Township on the west. The township is hilly and broken, and along the Mississippi River is found many high and picturesque bluffs, from which a fine view of the surrounding country is commanded. Among the more prominent of these is Notch Clicc, upon which is the residence of Mrs. Lucy V. S. Ames. The Piasa Creek enters the eastern part of the township on Sec. 24, and in its meandering and zigzag course flows through sections 13, 14, 23 and 24, emptying into the Mississippi River on the fractional section 25. There are several other small creeks or streamlets, which furnish as abundance of water for all practical purposes.

English Township
The First settlement west of the present city of Jerseyville, was one of the most important in Jersey County. Living in this neighborhood were Jehu Brown, Gershom Patterson, John Thorton and others. The first land entries were made by these three persons, who, on January 4, 1821, rode down to Edwardsville, and began to compare the plats of survey with land they had looked over before starting. On the 5th which was the succeeding day, Judge Jehu Brown, entered 880 acres, lying immediately below the Greene County line, in sections 1 and 2, townships 8, range 12, on each side of what has since been known as the Carrollton and Grafton road. The farm occupied subsequently by L.L. Kirby was part of that entry. Philip Grimes has been cultivating a small portion of this tract for some two years, and Judge Brown paid him $300.00 for his improvement. Grimes, a few days afterward, entered a quarter section to the south of the Kirby farm. John Thorton entered 280 acres nearly 2 miles south of the Brown tract, and this afterward known as the Matthew Darr place. The 320 acres which Gershom Patterson entered was distant a mile and a half still to the south of the Thorton's location. It may be supposed that these entries were made at such a distance from each other in order that the proprietors might have ample room to make further entries.

Jersey Township
Jersey County is composed of Township 8 north, range 11 west, and a fraction of Township 9 north, range 11 west, consisting of sections 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, and 36, and the south half of sections 13, 14 and 15 in township 9, range 11. The fractional township is bounded on the west and north by Greene County and is popularly known as the "Panhandle." Macoupin Creek crosses the northwest corner of the Panhandle, and that portion of the township is drained by Phill's Creek and its tributaries, which run into Macoupin Creek and its tributaries, one of the main branches is known as Dorsey's Branch. This township is drained to the south and southwest by Sandy Branch and Otter Creek and by other large affluents, the southeast portion of the township being drained into the Piasa Creek.

Otter Creek Township
Otter Creek Township is bounded on the north by English Township, on the east by Mississippi Township; on the south by Quarry and Elsah Townships; and on the west by Rosedale Township. It is a square township, and is numbered township 7, range 12. It is located in the basin formed by Otter Creek , which forks in section 8. This fork, which is called North Fork, bears to the northeast, from whence it runs eastward, forming two branches, one of which is called Sandy Branch, and runs to Hickory Grove, now Jerseyville; and the other which runs to the North to Gillham's Mound in Mississippi Township. The South Fork, which runs through Otter Creek Township in a southeasterly direction, enters Elsah and Quarry Townships. Between these forks of Otter Creek, lie what is known as the Lofton's Prairie and Otter Creek Prairie. The basin formed by these streams is ten to twelve miles from its extreme limits, north, south, east, and west, running from a southeasterly direction from Gillham's Mound to within one and a half miles of the Mississippi River, where George Noble and Issac Terry settled on its headwaters; and running thence in a northwesterly direction to Jerseyville, along the divide between the waters running into the Macoupin and those flowing into Otter Creek. Within the basin are several other mounds, notably the McDow Mound at Otterville; one further east known as McGill's Mound; one further south known at Utt's Mound; the latter being near Dow.

Piasa Township
Piasa Township is in the southeast corner of Jersey County, and is bounded by Madison County on the south; Macoupin County on the east; Fidelity Township on the north; and Mississippi Township on the west. The big and little Piasa creeks intersect it diagonally, the former from Fidelity Township, entering Piasa Township in section 2; and the latter entering the township from Macoupin County in section 12. These two water courses form a junction in section 20, and flow thence into the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of Elsah Township branches thereof reaching into the Elsah and Mississippi Townships.

Mississippi Township
Lofton's Prairie received its name from Judge John G. Lofton's, one of the earliest pioneers of this part of the county. There is no record of the entry of land in this precinct until 1823, but from that date the settlement of the prairie advanced quite rapidly. Among the first to locate here were John G. Lofton; and John D. Gillham and Jacob Cummings. The latter bought and settled eighty acres in section 10, township 7, range 11, in December , 1823. His brother, Thomas Cummings, settled east of Jacob, during the following year. In July, 1824, Ormond Beeman entered 240 acres of land on sections 19 and 30, and during the succeeding month John McDow made entry of the northwest quarter of section 32. The land entered in 1823, by Thomas G. Lofton, soon passed to his father, Judge John G. Lofton.

Richwoods Township
The first settler in this part of the county seem to have made in the bottom immediately under the bluff in the western part of the precinct. John Gunterman was the first settler to enter land, his entry bearing the date of January 10, 1821, when he secured a quarter section, to which in the fall of the same year, he added eighty acres more. His claim was the site of the farm later owned and occupied by Jacob Reddish . His entries of Illinois bottom land amounted in all to 320 acres of land, but by 1827, he had disposed of the greater portion of it. John Gunterman was a native of Kentucky.His son, also John Gunterman , later moved to a farm west of Fieldon. On January 10, 1821, but later in the day than John Gunterman , Samuel Gates of Greene County, entered on section 8, of the same township, 160 acres, which is now known as the Watson Farm. It was also in the bottom land, and lay south of Mr. Gunterman's claim. A tract of 240 acres south of the Watson Farm, on section 17, now owned by Stephen Reddish , a son of Zadock Reddish, was entered on January 18, 1821, by Moses Leeds . He sold this land in 1825 and moved to the American bottom. Another entry of bottom land was made by John Medford in February, 1821, of the southeast quarter of section 8. There was no land taken up on the bluffs in Richwood Township, until July 1822, when John Neal and Mathew Darr each bought a forty acre tract on section 14, township 8, range 13, and John Gunterman , in the following December, became the owner of forty acres in the same vicinity. These entries were made on land three miles north of Fieldon, and today it seems strange that such locations should have been chosen in the timber in a locality so uninviting, when the rich and beautiful prairie, already cleared and prepared for cultivation, was open to the choice of the first settlers. They, like the general run of Illinois run pioneers, shunned the prairie's, and seemed to think that the timber land was the only fir place for habitation. Thomas English entered land on section 30, township 8, range 12, in 1830. James Brice entered forty acres on Otter Creek, on section 21, township 8, range 13, where was built Brice's Mill. James Walden located on section 12. Daniel McFain , who was one of the earliest settlers, located in the bottom at the foot of the bluff, and gave his name to McFain's Lake. Northward from McFain's, in the bottom along the bluff, locations were made by Thomas Fergeson , Amos Lynn , Stephen Evelyn , Mrs. Medford and sons, Jared Cox, Jesse Watson, John Gunterman, Peter Gunterman, Thomas Turner and James Turner . On what is now known as Borer's Creek, lived Jacob Borer , who had a saw and grist mill. At the place where the Macoupin passes through the bluffs, lived one Mason Cockrell , and between his place and Borer's, on Macoupin Creek, were V.A. Gibbs and Sanford Beck. Where Otter Creek passes through the bluff, lived John Gilworth , who afterward removed to another part of the county. These were the families living in this part of the county in 1830, according to the recollection of Capt. J. E. Cooper. The first house of Richwoods Township was built by John Gunterman on section 5, in March 1820. Luther Calvin, Byron McKinney, John Medford and John Smith settled here soon after 1820. The first death of Richwoods Township was that of an infant daughter of John Medford , who passed away in 1823. The first school was taught in the fall of 1824, and it is said that the first sermon was preached in the same year by Rev. Isaac Newton Pickett. The first justice of the peace was Samuel Gates , who was elected in August 1828. A man named Daley was the first settler on the land that later became the site of Fieldon. Two men, named Baugh and Bridges had a saw and grist mill on Otter Creek in 1830.

Rosedale Township
Rosedale Township is fractional township no. 7 north, range 13 west, and is bounded on the south by Quarry, and on the east by Otter Creek, on the north by Richwoods, and on the west by the Illinois River. It has an average width from east to west of about five miles; the bottom lands between the bluff and the river being from a mile to a mile and a half in width; of very rich alluvial soil, but to a considerable extent subject to overflow from the river in extreme high water; except a strip next to the bluff of one quarter to one-half a mile in width. The principal streams are Otter and Coon Creeks, flowing from east to west, into the river. The eastern part is broken and hilly, and was originally covered with immense forests of hardwood timber; but as time passed these forests were cleared, and much of this land has been made into farms. These lands are peculiarly adapted to the production of a superior quality of apples, and other fruits. One of the most notable fruit farms is that of R.P. Shackelford , on section 36. The bottom lands are well adapted to the production of wheat, corn,oats,grass,clover,alfalfa, and live stock. Shipments of these products are made by river landings, at the mouths of Coon and Otter Creeks. There is no railroad nearer than Grafton to this township; and there is not a bank, nor an incorporated village; though the farmers are industrious, thrifty, and well to do. Early Settlers - Among the earliest settlers were William Larue, who came in 1818, and Walter Creswell, who came in 1819. The latter was appointed justice of the peace by Gov. Shadrach Bond in 1820, and was the first in what is now Jersey County. In after years the writer knew him very well. John Killworth, who came in 1820, lived ten years near Nutwood, and then moved to Ruyle Township. In 1820 also came Elisha Fowler, and Thomas, Samuel, and William Creswell, brothers of Walter, mentioned above. John Gilbert, and A.P. Scott, came in 1824. Silas Crane, who came 1825, was a Methodist Episcopal minister, and afterward removed to English Township. Enoch Spaulding, John Stafford, and Lewis and Amos Lynn came in 1828. The latter were chair makers. In 1829 William Starr, R.C. Bangle, and Coe Edsall, settled here. John Dabbs came in 1831 and James Nairn in 1832. Later, he moved to Calhoun County and in 1835, James and Nancy Wedding, with their sons, Thomas, Nicholas, and Benjamin Wedding became settlers of the township. The daughters of Thomas Wedding(who died December 28, 1885), and James Wedding, son of Benjamin Wedding, now own and occupy the lands originally settled upon by James Wedding in 1835. In 1842, came William G. Thompson, without means, working as a farm hand by the month. When he died, November 14, 1885, he was the owner of about 1500 acres of land. He left a large family, of whom his daughter, Mrs. Bertha C. Crull, owns his original homestead, and a large portion of his other lands. His son Grant Thompson also resides in this township, and is the principal purchaser of the crops and products of the township. He has also been elected supervisor several terms. William G. Thompson and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he was a member of Full Moon Lodge No. 341, A.F. & A.M. Other prominent early settlers were: Thomas K. Phipps, Hezekiah Funk, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson Crull, Henry Smith, John Maltimore, Robert Smith, Jonathan Plowman, afterward sheriff, John L. Johnson, Isom Mathews, A.J. Thompson, James L. Beirne, Davis M. Highfill, W.C. Gleason, Freeman Sweet, John L. Reed, Henry L. Legate,William S. Brown, J.Donald Sinclair, Solomon Phillips, and many others.

Ruyle Township
Ruyle Township is bounded on the north by Greene County; on the east by Macoupin County; on the south by Fidelity Township; and on the west by Jersey Township and Green County. It is fractional township 9, range 10, and sections 4,5,6,7,9 and the north half of sections 16, 17, and 18, and the north half of northeast quarter of section 3, are in Greene County. The residue of township 9, range 10, constitutes this township. Macoupin Creek traverses the north side of the township, and it and Phill's Creek and their branches give ample drainage. About two-thirds of its surface is prairie, and the land is very fertile, productive soil, the remainder being rolling, and it was heavily timbered. First Settlements - John Huitt and Mathew Cowen settled on Hawkins' Prairie in 1825. Later Richard Chowning, James Ritchie, John Hawkins, Rev. Jacob Rhodes, Benjamin Cleaver, Amos Pruitt, John Twitchell and William Palmer arrived. Between 1830 and 1836 the settlers were as follows: Dennis, Elias and Orin Palmer were natives of Vermont, and they made their location on sections 11 and 14. G.D. Twitchell, who was born in Vermont, came here in 1833, and settled on section 13, and in that same year,Thomas B. Ruyle came to section 15, and William L. Ruyle to section 28. The Ruyles were from Tennessee. John Gilworth located on section 29, in 1830. John C. Whitlock came here from Kentucky in 1823, and he died in 1879. Samuel and Richard Rhodes arrived as early as 1828. Rev. Jacob Rhodes made his claim on section 36, in 1830. John C. Daniels was married to Mary Palmer, a daughter of William and Mary Palmer, March 28, 1847, and settled on section 11, and remained there until 1860, when he moved to section 12, and lived there until his death. Vilas L. Dodge was married to their daughter Laura R. Daniels, February 21, 1871, and he resides upon the Daniels homestead on section 12. Richardson and Henry Ryan, Lewis Elliot Sr., Benjamin Sanders, Reed Gilworth and family, all were among the later settlers. Lewis Elliot Sr., was married to Elizabeth Reddish, a daughter of Benjamin and Mary Reddish, the ceremony taking place in Kentucky in 1826. Benjamin Cleaver was a relative of the Reddish family. Local Officials - Justice of the peace, J. A. Smith; constable, J. M. Kitzmiller; town clerk, J. H. McKernan; school treasurer, Thomas B. Ruyle. Bethel - John Richey has a general store at Bethel, and the Baptists have a church here, known as the Bethel Baptist Church.

Quarry Township
The first settlements in what is now Quarry Township, were made in 1819 by George Finney, Sanford Hughes, David Gilbert, John Stafford, and a man named Copeland, who were soldiers in the regular army of the United States, and they, together with Col. Josiah T. Askew, were discharged from the regular service at St. Louis, and came up the river. Those first named settled in Quarry Township, and Col. Josiah T. Askew in Elsah Township, adjoining Lofton's settlement. Camden, at the mouth of the Illinois River was platted by George Finney in 1826 with the expectation that it would be a place of great importance in later years.

Source[History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois, 1885 - Compiled by The Continental Historical Company, Springfield, Illinois, December 1885 - Pages 257 - 274]