Precinct Histories

Source: The Columbia Star, January 1916, supplement

Moredock precinct lies in the American Bottom, Monroe County, Illinois. It is surrounded in the east by the bluffs, on the west by the Mississippi river.

Major John MOREDOCK, in whose honor the precinct was named, was one of the most remarkable persons who ever lived in the county. He built his home on the south side of Moredock lake, which was named for him.

Major MOREDOCK came to Monroe county from Pennsylvania in the year 1786 with his mother and stepfather. While on the Mississippi they encamped on its bank and were attacked by Indians, where his mother and one son were massacred before his eyes. The rest of the family came to Illinois and settled in Monroe county.

Young MOREDOCK, becoming deeply grieved by the death of his mother and brother, swore eternal enmity against the savage race.

Illinois was a wild and uncivilized territory at this time and his mind and character were formed under the circumstances. His opportunities for an education was very limited but being politically inclined, he was elected a member of the territorial legislature which convened at Vincennes in the year 1803 and again in 1814.

He had a taste for military life and became a captain of a company and afterwards a major of a battalion, which name he held until his death. He was in the service during the War of 1812

Major MOREDOCK, who died in the year 1830, was buried on the summit of the bluff immediately below Dug Hollow, which is an old burying ground where repose many of the pioneers of this county. It is a beautiful place and commands a far reaching view of the fertile land below. The tombstones disclose many of the names of departed ones, such as ALEXANDERS, JAMES, LIVERS, MILES, TODD, VORIS and many other families who in the early days helped to place Monroe county and Moredock precinct on the road to fame.

Another great man that came from this county was Shadrack BOND. Shadrack BOND was elected in the year of 1818 as the first governor of the state. He acquired large tracts of land in Moredock precinct. Part of this land was conveyed to Stephen W. MILES, one of the pioneers, who emigrated to this county from Madison County, New York in 1819. As of 1916, his descendants still owned the land.

The first Post Office was established in Eagle Cliffs, which derived its name from the towering cliffs above it and which was the home of the king of the feathered tribe. It was established on land owned by Stephen W. MILES and later owned by Adam LAUB. The building was still standing in 1916 as an old landmark.

Since the pioneers, BOND, MONROE, MOREDOCK, MILES and others, have passed away, rapid changes have been made. Moredock Lake was developed into agricultural land which reclaimed not only the lake, but a large amount of acreage adjoining it.

Another topic of interest is the cemetery built by Stephen W. MILES south of Dug Hollow on the summit of the bluff. It is handsomely constructed of stone and marble and contains sixty-four receptacles for generations to follow. It is a work of art and is visited by many sight-seekers. The inscription shows that it was erected in 1858 by Stephen W. MILES to be used as a burial place for himself, his family and descendants, under the care and direction, in succession, of the oldest male heir of the family. Stephen W. MILES died on December 31, 1859.

Source: The Columbia Star, January 1916, supplement

The Centennial Celebration of Monroe County, which is to occur January sixth (1916), leads us to think of the small part of it which we live called New Design precinct.

In the year 1786, the first settlements were made in New Design, Monroe County, Illinois.

The name New Design was given by James LEMEN, Sr., the founder of the colony, who observed that he had a "new design" to make a settlement south of Bellfontaine. This settlement was one of the largest American colonies in Illinois at that time, whose people were largely from Kentucky and Virginia.

James LEMEN, Sr., was born in Berkely county, Virginia in the fall of 1760. His Grandfather came to America from the northern Ireland.

The father of James LEMEN died when James was just a year old. His mother remarried and she lived up to the Presbyterian faith.

James LEMEN, Sr. married Catherine OGLE, daughter of Captain Joseph OGLE. When James moved his family to the New Design precinct, they lost all of their provisions along the way and nearly lost a son. This occurred when the raft they were sleeping on one night, tipped on the river.

James supervised the building of a fort called Lemen's Fort and a log cabin in which he lived until he erected a brick house which later belonged to William FREDRICHS. The house was the first brick house built west of the Ohio river. In 1811, during the earthquake, a large crack appeared in one of the walls of the house. Mr. LEMEN resided in this house until his death, which occurred on 8 January, 1823, at age 63. His son, Rev. James LEMEN, conducted the funeral services.

A monument was dedicated to his memory in 1909 at which event the Hon. J. W. RICKERT, William J. BRYAN and other honored men delivered addresses. Rev. BOYAGAN, a close friend of Mr. LEMEN, said he would speak at this dedication, but died a few weeks before this at the age of nearly 101 years.

Robert MACMAHON, a native of Virginia, came to Illinois from Kentucky in 1793 and settled at New Design in the past home of Leonard WELSH.

One morning, as he went out to feed his horses, he saw several Indians who were lurking nearby, pass through the gates and kill his wife and two daughters. They bound Mr. MACMAHON and two other daughters and forced them to march in a northerly direction towards an Indian settlement. The first night they slept with very little clothing to keep them warm, although the Indians did try to make the girls as comfortable as possible.

MACMAHAN was guarded on both sides by Indians and had a belt of bells fastened to him so that if he tried to escape, it wouldn't go unnoticed. He worked very hard to loosen his bonds, and finally succeeded, when an Indian raised his head, but lowered it again without noticing that his bonds were loose. After the Indian went to sleep he escaped without any shoes and very little clothing. He knew that to go or remain meant almost certain death to him.

He slept outside one night, freezing his elbows and feet, which were exposed, as his clothing was badly torn.

He did not find any white person until he reached Prairie du Rocher, where he was treated very kindly, given some clothing and put on his trail homeward.

In the meanwhile, a pet dog, who had been closely attached to Mr. MACMAHON, repeatedly came to the village of New Design, leaped up to some kind man and barked, as if to say, "Come with me!" until one man did go with him. On arriving at the house tears crept into his eyes at the sight he saw. They immediately buried the bodies in a single grave and Rev. LEMEN performed the funeral services.

Just as the men were about to go home Mr. MACMAHAN appeared. He was told that they had just completed the burial of part of his family, and that they were buried in one grave. When he heard this he said: "Thank God that they were not separated." His two daughters were ransomed and each was married and raised a large family. Mr. MACMAHAN died in Madison county in 1822.

The TOLIN family is one of the oldest families in the precinct coming from Virginia and settling near where Burksville now stands. Isaac TOLIN, who was a small boy when he came to Illinois, married Susan Demint. The oldest son from this marriage was Judge George TOLIN, who was one of the judges of Monroe County. He died in 1874.

The farm in section 7 of township 3, range 9 was once owned by a Mr. MURTREY, who was from Virginia. It was later purchased by Valentine SCHNEIDER.

Joseph KINNEY reached New Design in 1793, where he brought up a large family. His youngest daughter married Joseph LEMEN in 1809.

The same year the WHITESIDES, GRIFFINS, ENOCHS, CHANCE and others settled in and around New Design, which proved a great harbinger to the wealth of that precinct.

In 1797 many people moved to this precinct, but because the weather was not the best, many of them took sick and died.

The graveyard of this year may still be seen at New Design, which causes the observer to shudder at the number of deaths that occurred during this time, most due to weather and also a fever that affected the emigrants. The fever was due to drinking milk from cattle diseased from eating a poisonous weed.

From this event Illinois was termed an unhealthy country, which caused emigration to cease for some time. There was a Dr. WALLACE, who attended those afflicted with this disease.

The New Design church was the first erected in this precinct and in 1916, the ruins were still standing. Rev. LILLARD organized the first Methodist class of New Design.

May 4, 1786, Elder David BADGELEY of Virginia visited New Design and preached day and night until the 13th. He baptized fifteen persons. Mr. DODGE and Mr. BADGELEY organized the first Baptist church, which had 28 members, and also called New Design. It continued until the year 1821. In February of 1794, the ice was cut in Fountain creek and Rev. DODGE baptized James LEMEN, Sr., and his wife, John GIBBONS and Isaac ENOCHS, who were the first people baptized in the precinct. In the summer of 1787 James SMITH, a Baptist minister from Kentucky, visited New Design and preached to the people.

He visited New Design again in the year 1790. On May 19th, as he was with a company of several others who were going to "Little Village" to preach, they were fired on by Indians. His horse and the one a Frenchman was riding on, were shot, and a woman was wounded. He threw his saddlebags, containing papers of importance, into a thicket and hid himself at the foot of a hill where he fell upon his knees and prayed for Mrs. HUFF, whom the Indians were butchering, and who had been seriously exercised about her own salvation under his preaching. The Frenchman escaped and SMITH's saddlebags were found several days later by his friends. The Indians made SMITH prisoner and loaded him with a pack, with which he soon became fatigued. The Indians then discussed what they were going to do with him. They pointed to his chest and he bared it as though to dare them to shoot, and then pointed upward to show that the Great Spirit was his protector. They concluded he was a Great Medicine man and did not shoot him but traded him to the French, who were afterward paid $170 by the people of New Design in order to get his freedom.

John SEELEY, the first American school teacher, appeared in Illinois in 1782. He entered upon his labors in new Design that year. The next teacher was Francis CLARK, who appeared the same year.

The third teacher, an Irishman named HALFPENNY, taught in many sections for many years. It is said that almost all who received an education that day received it from him. He might be styled the "School Master General" of Illinois of that day. The fourth teacher was John CLARK.


In 1795 peace was made with the Indians, who were hostile to the French.

The year 1789 may be called the "Year of Blood" in Illinois as massacres of the whites occurred almost everyday.

June 5th, 1805, a terrible hurricane swept over a part of Illinois in which a horse was killed by a rail being forced through it's body, a bull thrown into the air and dropping to the ground with every bone in it's body broken, and every stone from portions of houses scattered.

Source: The Columbia Star, January 1916, supplement

The Precinct of Prairie du Long was probably first settled in the year 1802 by John PULLIAM. Soon after the HIX brothers settled on section 31. One day HIX was out hunting and saw an Indian and the Indian saw him at the same time, and both darted behind trees to save themselves. HIX placed his hat on the ramrod and held it so that the Indian could see it and the Indian shot a hole through it. The Indian supposing he had killed HIX, moved forward to take his scalp when HIX stepped from behind the tree and shot the Indian.

In 1810, the SMITH brothers settled section 36. They had a valuable mare which was killed by the wolves. One day SMITH shot a wolf and it gave a howl which soon brought the wolves in great numbers. SMITH was forced to climb a tree, where he remained all night.

In 1812 Henry HILL settled in section 2, where Joseph GREGSON later lived.

In 1815 Henry NULL settled in section 14, where Ernst FUERER later lived.

In 1816 the WINSTANLEY settlement was formed west of Hecker and organized St. Augustine's church.

In 1819 Edward NEWSHAM joined the WINSTANLEY settlement and soon became their postmaster, and esquire, being the first in the precinct.

In 1820 Henry NOAH joined the SMITH settlement, being the first school teacher in the precinct.

In 1821 John MORRISON located on the Philip SAUER farm. He became a sheriff and a judge of Monroe county.

In 1830 the Germans began to settle and Philip ENSINGER was among the first, and he located on a farm later known as Anselm KREHER's farm.

In 1834 a poll was established at John MORRISON's house and it was called Prairie du Long poll.

In 1838 a settlement was formed in the northeast corner of Prairie du Long known as Tamaroa Station. Two years later Mr. Henry HILL was paid two hundred and forty dollars to grade down Tamaroa Hill. A store, saloon, blacksmith shop and saw mill were the principal businesses.

In 1840 Freedom was surveyed and in 1849 Jacob FRICK built the first house in which he opened a store.

In 1850 a grist and saw mill was built on Richland creek, known as Modglin's mill. It was run by water power and was doubtless the first grist mill in the precinct.

July the 5th, 1860, Henry ALTER shot and killed Henry HENZE, and was later hung in Waterloo for the crime on December 28, 1860.

In 1863 the Star flour mill was built. In 1864 George FRICK purchased the mill and in 1887 the mill burned down.

In 1865 LARTZES saw mill was built in the southeastern part of the precinct. This mill furnished the staves and barrel heads for the Red Bud mill for many years.

In 1867 William KOCH ran off a bridge approach and overturned the wagon and was killed. His wife, with a baby in her arms, was unhurt.

In 1895 the village of Freedom was incorporated and the name was changed to the village of Hecker.

Officers who served the county from this precinct were JOHN MORRISON, sheriff and judge, WILLIAM R. MORRISON, his son, representative in Congress, GEORGE FRICK, county commissioner and JOHN HARMS, county commissioner.

The school house at Hecker was built in 1865. It was torn down in 1900 and a two story frame building was erected on a new site.

District No. 18

*Renault was also known at one time as "Glasgow City"
Source: The Columbia Star, January 1916, supplement

Renault Precinct occupies the lower portion of Monroe County and got its name from Philip Francois RENAULT, a native of Picardy, France. He came to Kaskaskia in 1719 and introduced the first slaves into Illinois for the purpose of working them in the mines that they were expecting to work in the Bluffs. He received a grant of land and established a town which was known as St. Philips. For the accommodation of the people, a water mill was erected and next, a church was built. This town has since passed out of existence. It was eight miles north of Fort Charters. The grant was received by RENAULT on June 14, 1723. He now sailed up the Mississippi and received a large grant of land since known as the Renault Grant, which is north of Renault.

The first American colony settled in Illinois around the year 1781. One of its members was Robert KIDD, from which Kidd Lake got its name.

Renault Precinct is one of the largest in the county. The elections are held in Renault (1916). Renault contains some of the very best farm land in the state. It is drained on the southwest by the Mississippi river and on the east by Horse creek. Its history dates farther back than any other in the county. It is mainly inhabited by a farming population.

The first indications of a town was just out of the corporation of the present town. Here a man named BELFORD kept a saloon and a store. This area was known as Belfordville. Opposite to him was the tavern and blacksmith shop of a man named SAMSON, the father of Mrs. Belle ECKERT, one of Renault's oldest residents.

Among the early settlers was a man named CHURCH, father of Harmon CHURCH, and Jane McLAUGHLIN, who still resides in our town (1916). The elder CHURCH kept a tavern on what is now called the HARLOW farm (1916), about two miles north of town. This farm was later owned by John HELLER, Jr.

The tavern was the stopping place of many travelers who were on their way to Kaskaskia to pre-empt land. It is thought that he kept the first Post Office about the year 1860.

In 1876, the first hardware store was established by H. CHURCH and James ELLIF and later owned by George W. FRANKLIN. Here the first town hall was situated. It was here that the Library Association was held.

The first Doctor was Dr. PORTER. The second was Dr. STEINKUPP. He was here about the year 1870. The third doctor was Dr. SLOWY who arrived here in 1875. The fifth and sixth Doctors were Dr. Chenning, 1877 and Dr. DOUGLAS, 1886. In 1910, Dr. ISOM arrived. He was the President of the town and a candidate for state senator.

The first church was a Lutheran church and was built in the year 1880. The Catholic church was built in 1880 also. Father STICK was the promoter of the building. He died at Pana, Illinois, in 1914. The church is located on lot 9, block 10, the front is located on Washington street.

The Methodist church was built in 1887 and it's corner stone was laid on January 18th of that year. The Baptist church was built in October of 1904. The promoter in this case being Dr. DOUGLAS, who practiced here for many years. He later moved to Prairie du Rocher. Pastor GRIMM was the first minister. He was from Red Bud.

In 1900 the present school house was built. Its first teachers were Mr. McNELLY and Miss LARKEN (now CULLEN) There are two floors in the school house. The upper story is used as a play room and the lower story used as a school room. the school has been improving and through the efforts of Mr. ASSELMEIER and his pupils, and the people of Renault, the school is adding a library. During the school year of 1914-15, Mr. CAHILL taught one year of high school.

The first school house was built about 1867 and contained only one room, but found to be too small so it was enlarged. One of the first teachers was Mrs. TAILOR (now SALE). One of the first teachers was Mr. McGASKIN.

Among the first schools was one called the PRESTON school, which was on land owned and cultivated by George BICKELHAUPT. It was built in 1850 and 1851, by a man named PRESTON, and also used for Church services at that time. Among the early teachers here were FREELY and Jess M. AMES. Nothing more can be found on either of these teachers because the school house burned down. Until lately (1916), the ruins could be seen, but they have since been removed by the owner.

One of the oldest houses in the precinct was located on a farm which is now part of the village. When the town was laid out, this house was found to be standing on Jackson and Second streets in 1869, by Harmon church. It was later owned by Mrs. TATE. James P. GLASGOW owned the land and laid out the town in 1860.

The first house was built during 1860-61 and was used as a store building and owned by A. S. KEAGY and F. PHILIPS, and later by Mr. CARR. Here a Mr. BECK kept a saloon. On the porch of this house the second murder occurred. The first murder in the precinct was that of GLASGOW.

The second house was also a saloon and owned later by Mr. STUDT. It was built in 1861. The third house was built by STOECKEL, who was the fourth man to arrive here. At one time he also ran a saloon. His child was the first one born here. At the time of his death, which occurred in January of 1914, he was the oldest man in Renault.

About this time, HOLMES and DASHNER moved their homes from Ames to Renault. The next house was built by Mrs. WINTERS and is now owned and occupied by Mrs. MEYER (1916). Several brick kilns were burned here during the early settlement of Renault.

The next building of importance was a mill. It was built around 1869-70, on the banks of what is now known as Mill Pond. The mill was open until 1888, when it was closed because it didn't pay.

In 1876 a Library was started by the town. The first hotel was built by Fred CLINE around 1868-69. After his death, the hotel was kept by his widow but she later turned it over to Harmon CHURCH who called his hotel "Grand Central." Mr. DASHNER also open a hotel and called his "The Centennial."

About this time, ELLIF and HOL--- opened the undertakers.

Around the turn of the century, the town was incorporated and has grown in population. Modern improvements include two saloons, four stores, a blacksmith shop, two barber shops, shoe repair shops, one bakery, one livery stable, one undertaker, two dressmaking parlors and a drug store.

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