Finding Ancestors wherever their trails led with Genealogy Trails History Group

Randolph County Illinois
Genealogy and History

Overview of the
History of Randolph County

Map of Randolph County in 1948
Source: "The history of Randolph County, Illinois including old Kaskaskia Island", pub 1948

1948 map of Randolph county

A History of Randolph County

Submitted by Jeana Gallagher
(unknown original source)

The history of Randolph County starts with the various Native American tribes that were settled in the area. The area was first explored by Europeans in 1673 when Joilet and Marquette made their way from Canada down the Mississippi River. Robert Cavalier de La Salle, via the southern route, was the next explorer to visit the region in 1682. He named the entire area Lousiana. It is thought he may be the founder of Kaskaskia and Cahokia, but there is no proof to this although the Fort of St Louis was founded in 1682. This gave the entire region to the French. The first Kaskaskia was a misson on the Illinois River which was established by Marquette. Father Gravier transferred the misson to the present Kaskaskia area in Randolph County some time between 1665-69. By 1711 the area was under the French government. In 1719 Phillip Renault, founded St Phillips. This is in the SW corner of present day Monroe County. Here he tried to start a mining operation for silver or gold. This lead to the exploration of the area but no precious metals were found. Fort Chartes was built by a man named Boisbriant in 1720. By 1721 Kaskaskia was a trading post and the area was being settled.

Early French Settlers

Bazyl La Chapelle Michael Derouse Jean Baptiste St Gemme Beauvais
Baptiste Montreal Boucher De Montbrun Charles Danie
Francois Charlesville Antoine Beinvenu Louis Bryant
Alexis Doza Joseph Paget Prix Page
Michael Antoyen Langlois De Lisle La Derroutte
Noval family    

In 1762 the Treaty of Fountainbleau was signed between France and Great Britian. All French possessions east of the Mississippi River with the exception of New Orleans were turned over to the British. After this many French settlers not wanting to live under British rule moved to Missouri, many went to St Louis and St Genevieve. So with the area now under the British, English settlers made there way to the area. In 1766 Captain Pitman took over at Fort Chartres. Just before the take-over a man named Paget built a water mill, he was killed by Indians in the mill in 1764. An Englishman named Beauvais lived in the Kaskaskia area with 80 slaves along with 65 other families. Praire du Rocher had 22 families, while St Phillips had been deserted by 1765. In 1772 Fort Chartres severly flooded and the British abandoned the fort, to build Fort Gage on the bluff at Kaskaskia. During the American Revolution, George Rodgers Clark set out to take Fort Gage in 1778. He took the fort with no problems, leading the way for the American settlers.

The American settlers began to settle Randolph County just after 1778. Once this area came under the Americans, the present area of Randolph County has been under several different terrirtorial governments. The area was originally claimed by the State of Virginia. In 1784 the area was ceded by VA to the US, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 made the area the Northwest Territory which had the southern boarder as the Ohio River going west to the Mississippi River and north to Canada.. By 1801 Illinois was part of the Indiana Territory. It was in 1803 that the US bought the Louisiana Purchase which was west of the Mississippi River and mainly north of the Red River. In 1809 the area became the Illinois Territory.

During this time Paget's old mill was refitted and became Riley's Mill, then it was sold to General Edgar in 1795. The Americans began to fill Kaskaskia, coming up the Mississippi or over-land through what is now Southern Illinois after making a trip down the Ohio River. Randolph County saw a great movement of people from the Carolinas as well as many Irish, Scots and Germans. As formation of the area continued Kaskaskia was the seat of the limited territorial government from 1809 to 1818, when the seat was moved to Vandalia when Illinois became a state.

In 1790 St Clair County was formed by Governor Arthur St Clair. At this time there were only 2 counties in Illinois, St Clair (the smaller) on the west and Knox on the east. There was no county above the Illinois River expect in the area of present day Chicago which was in Knox County.

On 05 Oct 1795 Randolph County was formed out of St Clair County. At this time Randolph County comprised the following present day counties.: southern third of Monroe, half of Franklin, Williamson, Johnson and Massac. All of present day Randolph, Perry, Jackson, Union, Alexander and Pulaski.

Between 1801 and 1812 Randolph County covered most of Southern Illinois.

In 1812 its size was reduced to cover present day Randolph County, southern corner of Monroe and St Clair, most of Washington, all of Perry, and everything west of the Muddy River in Jefferson, Franklin and Jackson Counties.

In 1813 it was further reduced to present Randolph and Perry counties, Jackson County west of the Muddy River and half of Monroe County.

In 1816 Randolph County was further reduced to its present area plus it contained Perry County until 1827.

Genealogy Trails History Group

Copyright ©Genealogy Trails