Genealogy Trails - Finding Ancestors wherever their trails led

Williamson County, Illinois
Genealogy and History



"History of Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton, Franklin and Williamson Counties, Illinois
From the earliest time to the present; together with sundry and interesting biographical sketches, notes, reminiscences, etc."
Published; The Goodspeed Publishing Co, 1887


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher

Note: In transcribing this work I have taken a few liberties. I have shortened the names of month, etc. I have also placed dates in a standard form of 27 March 1887. Some sections were very long so I have divided them up. I am only transcribing the section of the book on Williamson Co. There are references in the Williamson County section to the part of the book for Franklin County, in some cases I have added this in the area for Williamson County and have noted it as such.

County Officers
The following is a list of county officers from the organization of the county down to the year 1887, with date of terms of service:

County court clerks:--John Bainbridge 1839-40; Elijah McIntosh 1841; Thomas Davis 1841-43; AP Corder 1843-48; John White 1848-52; John H White 1852-61; John M Cunningham 1861-65; W.N. Mitchell 1865-69; J.W. Samuels 1869-73; W.H. Eubanks 1873-82; James C Jackson 1882-86; J.C. Mitchell, present incumbent, elected in 1886.

Circuit court clerks:--John Lowden 1849-56; GW Goddard 1856-61; John M Cunningham 1861-68; JW Hartwell 1868-72; MC Strike 1872-80; WT Davis 1880-84; Hartwell Hendrickson, the present incumbent, elected in 1884.

Sheriffs:--John D Sanders 1839-42; John M Cunningham 1842/44; Joel Huffstutler 1846-48; John Goodall 1850-52; James Marks 1852-54; Joel Huffstutler 1854-56; Jacob W Sanders 1856-58; Richard T McHaney 1858-1860; RR Hendrickson 1860-62; Lewis Spencer 1862-64; RM Allen 1864-66; George W Sisney 1866-68; Hardin Goodall 1868-70; AN Owen 1870-72; Z Hudgens 1872-74; NE Norris 1874-76; Wilson J Caplinger 1876-78; James H Duncan 1878-80; John H Burnett, present incumbent, elected in 1886.

Circuit court judges:--The first circuit court judge of Williamson County was Hon Walter B Scates, and his successors in that office have been as follows: Wm. A Denning 1847-54; Wm. K Parrish 1854-59; Willis Allen, WJ Allen, AD Duff 1861-75; Monroe C Crawford 1875-78, since which time Oliver A Harker, Daniel M Browning and RW McCartney have presided alternately.

State attorneys:--The State attorneys have been WH Stickney, Willis Allen, WA Denning, SS Marshall, FM Rawlins, WK Parrish, John A Logan, MC Crawford, Edward V Pierce, JM Cleminson, CN Damron, FM Youngblood, JB Calvert, JDF Jennings, and after 1876, JW Hartwell 1876-80; WW Clemens 1880-84; George W Young, the present incumbent since 1884. Other county officers at the present writing are James H Stewart, treasurer; John H Duncan, school superintendent; James Sellars, surveyor, and M.L. Baker, master in Chancery. (For legislative and other officers see history of Franklin Co, and for a list of county commissioners, county judges, and associates, see courts)

Taxation and Finances

The taxable property of Williamson County in 1839, as taken from the records of Franklin Co, was as follows: value of lands, $27,136; personal property, $139,410; total, $166,546. On this property 20 cents was levied on each $100 for State purposes, and 25 cents for county purposes, making in all $749.25. In 1840 the tax collector reported all collected except $18.01, which was delinquent; thus leaving $721.23 as the amount collected, $325 of it belonging to the State ad $406.23 to the county. By comparing the above figures it will be observed that, at that time, the personal property was valued at more than five times as much as all the lands in the county then subject to taxation. This can be accounted for by the fact that only a small portion of the public lands had then been entered and conveyed to individual purchasers. The manner in which the public records have been kept makes it impossible to give the annual increase of the taxable property of the county, but statements, at different periods, have been found sufficient to show how property and taxes have since increased.

In 1856 the personal property of the county was valued, for the purpose of taxation, at $363,710, and the lands and lots at $629,004, making a total of $992,714. A large portion of the public lands had now been entered and made subject to taxation, and their assessed value was nearly double that of the personal property. The State tax charged thereon, including the State school tax, amounted to &7,059.53 and the county tax to $3,687.41 and the total for all purposes to $10,747.36. In 1860 (just before the civil war) the personal property of the county was assessed at $516,271 and the lands and lots at $794,977, making for a total of $1,311,248; and the total charged thereon were $14,439.14. In 1865 (just at the close of the war) the personal property of the county was assessed at $537,923 and the lands and lots at $926,132, making the total $1,464,055. And the State taxes charged thereon were $10,541.25; county, $14,640.55; the total for all purposes being $44,480.37

In 1880 the taxable property was assessed as follows: personal property, $483,290; lands, $806,128; town lots $87,928; railroad track, $35,543; rolling stock, $12,747; total $1,425,636. The taxes charged thereon were State, $2,993.44; State school, $1995.63; military, $142.54; total for all purposes, $51,193.60. The following table shows the assessed value of all property in the county and the total taxes charged thereon in each congressional township for the year 1886 together with the railroads and taxes thereon, and the grand totals

Township Personal Property Lands Town Lots Total Taxable Property Total Taxes
8-1 $21,730 $68,612 $398 $90,740 $3,148.94
9-1 54,022 100,892 23,127 178,041 5,861.86
10-1 25,288 73,625 0 98,913 3,599.72
8-2 31,476 84,060 0 115,536 3,405.05
9-2 33,650 86,236 0 119,886 3,723.10
10-2 34,539 70,410 0 104,949 3,982.35
8-3 40,197 78,178 1,861 120,236 4,104.69
9-3 28,533 90,636 0 119,169 3,908.54
10-3 29,996 76,037 12,700 118,733 5,067.88
8-4 34,943 81,328 0 116,271 4,377.55
9-4 33,391 81,347 845 115,583 4,329.18
10-1 25,542 78,508 9,229 113,279 3,600.66
Marion School Dist 69,985 61,384 90,992 222,361 10,371.69
Totals $463,292 $1,031,253 $139,152 $1,633,697 $59,481.21
Carbondale & Shawneetown Railroad   $54,248 $1,642.72
Cairo & Vincennes Railroad     $8,308 $316.88
      Grand Total $1,696,253 $61,440.81

Railroads, Bonds, Etc.
An act of the General Assembly of the State, approved 07 March 1867, incorporated the Murphysboro & Shawneetown Railroad Company, and a proposition to subscribe $100, 000 to the capital stock thereof was submitted to the people of the county at an election held 03 November 1868, which resulted in 1779 votes for and 108 against the subscription. On the 12th of Decemberember of that year the county court ordered that the subscription should be raised by issuing county bonds to run for 20 years at 8% interest per annum, the interest to be paid annually at the office of the county treasurer. The bonds were not to be issued until the road was complete and the cars running thereon form Carbondale to Marion; and if the road was not completed by 01 January 1870, the subscription was to be void. At the same time the court entered into an agreement with Samuel Dunaway, president of said company, to sell to the latter the entire amount of stock for the sum of $5000 on the conditions expressed in the following order, to wit:

Whereas, the county of Williamson has this day subscribed $100, 000 tot he capital stock of the Murphysboro & Shawneetown Railroad Company. Now, therefore, for the purpose of securing the construction and early completion of said road, that said county make and enter into agreement with the Murphysboro & Shawneetown Railroad Company, and that the said county, in and by said agreement, sell to said company the $100,000 stock. That the terms of said sale and agreement shall be in effect as follow:
That when the certificates of stock shall have been issued by said company to said county, the said county, after the said road shall have been completed, and within ten days after said railroad company shall have issued to said county, the certificates of stock for said $100,000, assign, transfer and set over to said company the certificates for said $100,000 stock so issued to said county, for the consideration of $5000 to be paid to said county, at the time of said transfer and assignment, in the bonds of said county, issued to said company, in payment of subscription.

This contract seems to have been made without any authority by law, and without the knowledge and consent of the people by who the bonds would have to be paid. It appears that an undue influence was brought to bear upon the court, and the officers composing it were led to believe that such a contract was necessary "for the purpose of securing the construction and early completion of said road." An act of the Legislature approved 10 March 1869, changed the name of the said railroad company, to that of the Carbondale & Shawneetown Railroad Company. And on the 24 Decemberember 1870, the county court made an order extending the time for the completion of said railroad, to 01 January 1872. And at a special term of the court held 07 No 1871, it was induced to sign the bonds, which it did, and placed then into the hands of WN Mitchell as trustee, who gave the bond in sum $100,000 for their delivery when called for. At the adjourned term of said court in Decemberember 1871, the railroad being completed, the bonds were delivered to the company, and the certificates of stock for $100,000 received therefrom. And soon thereafter, the certificates of stock were all surrendered to the company, except $10,000 which were retained to secure the building of the road to Crab Orchard. But the road has never been extended beyond Marion. The county applied the $5,000 consideration for the certificates of stock in payment of interest on the bonds, and left the entire amount of bonds outstanding for the $100,000, which will not be due until the year 1891. Meanwhile the county is paying $8,000 annually as interest thereon. The length of the main track of the Carbondale & Shawneetown Railroad in Williamson Co, is about 13 miles, and that of side track about 2 miles. It has stations at Marion, Bainbridge, Crainville, Carterville and Fredonia. It is of great benefit to the county, but the people who contributed so liberally toward building it, have no controlling interest in it. They have one consolation however, that of taxing it annually, and thereby making it contribute something toward paying the interest on the bonds.

The Cairo & Vincennes Railroad crosses the SE corner of Williamson Co, and has 9,652 feet of main track and 266 feet of side track therein. It has a station at New Stone Fort on the line between this and Saline Counties.

The indebtedness of the county consists of the $100,000 of bonds above described; $6,000 of bridge and funded bonds and about $59,000 in other claims, making a total of about $156,000---the bonds only drawing interest. On the 18 Jun 1870, a vote was taken for or against subscribing $100,000 to the Belleville & Southern Illinois Railroad Co, resulting in favor of subscription. But the road was never constructed, no bonds were ever issued to raise the subscription, and thus the people did not have that additional burden saddled upon them.


The following table shows the population of Williamson County at the end of each Decemberade of ten years, beginning with 1840, the first year after the county was organized


























Prior to the civil war a large majority of the people had been Democratic. In 1844, it is said, there were 4 abolitionists in the county, and 300 Whigs, the balance of the voters being Democrats. In 1856, in the first presidential campaign in the which the Republican party participated, Griffin Garland made the first Republican speech in the county, and Col. Ben L Wiley, Republican candidate for Congress, received 44 votes in the county. The Republicans gradually increased in numbers, and during the war a great change in political sentiment took place, so that at the election, in 1865, after the soldiers returned home, the Republican party carried the county for the first time; and since then it has been carried on different occasions by both parties. At the present writing the county officers are all Republicans.

County Commissioners' Court

The election of the officers, and the formation of the county commissioners court of Williamson Co, has been given in the previous chapter, and the law creating this court, the time of holding sessions, and its jurisdiction, has been fully set forth in previous pages of the history of Franklin Co, and will not be repeated here. The following is a list of county commissioners composing this court from its formation in 1839 to 1849, when a change was made by law in its organization and duties, viz: Cyrus Campbell 1839-41; Sterling hill 1839-41; Frederick F Duncan 1839-42; Joab Goodall 1841-45; John N Calvert 1841-47; John T Damron 1842-45; Sterling Hill 1845-49; Joel Norris 1845-49; David Norman 1847-49. In accordance with the constitution of 1848, the county commissioners court ceased to exist in 1849, and the "county court", composed of a county judge and 2 associate justices, was required to meet on the first Mondays of Decemberember, March, Jun and September of each year to transact the county business and to perform all the duties of the former county commissioners court. The county court, composed of the judge only, was to convene on the first Mondays of each month, except in the months of December, March, Jun and Sept, and in those months on the 3rd Mondays. This then made two courts under the name of "county court", the one composed of the judge only, and the other of the judge and 2 associates. These courts continued to perform their respective functions until another change was made in 1873, under the provisions of the constitution of 1872, when the court consisting of the judge and the 2 associates was abolished and the county commissioners court as it now exists was organized. The county court composed of the judge only continued and still continues to hold its monthly sessions.

The following is a list of the names of the county judges who have served since 1849: WM Eubanks 1849-55; David Norman 1855-65; JW Lewis 1865-66, Jesse Bishop 1866-69; James M Spain 1869-73; Jesse Bishop 1873-77; George W Young 1877-82; James M Washburn 1882-86; WW Duncan present incumbent, elected in 1886. The following is a list of names of the associate justices who served as a part of the county court for the transaction of the county business from 1849 to 1873; Jacob Norris & RL Puley 1849-57; Thomas Scurlock & Thomas D Davis 1857-61: John Brown 1861-62; Jonathon Norman 1861-65; Thomas Scurlock 1862-65; Addison Reese 1865-69; Wm M Hindman 1865-69; John H Manier & Bazzel Holland 1869-73. The following is a list of the names of the county commissioners who served from 1873 to the present writing; MS Strike 1873-76; CM Bidwell 1873-78; RH Wise 1873-77; James P Roberts 1876-79; John Scoby 1877-83; Thomas J Throgmorton 1878-82; Hugh M Richart 1879-83; Thomas J Throgmorton 1878-82; Hugh M Richart 1879-83; Griffin J Baker 1882-85; R Borton 1883-86; MM Chamness 1883-85, JF Mayer & HH Stanley 1885, and BF Felts 1886, present incumbents.

Circuit Court
A list of the names of the judges and clerks of this court has been given in the preceding chapter. The early records thereof are missing; they were probably destroyed when the courthouse was burned. For further information concerning the courts and the counties composing this judicial district, the reader is referred to the history of Franklin Co.
Bench, Bar and Noted Characters

The first political leader in the territory composing Williamson County was Thomas Roberts, who was a member of the constitutional convention of 1818, and in 1838 Willis Allen and Allen Bainbridge were elected to the Legislature on the question of division of Franklin County and the formation of Williamson. Willis Allen came to this State from the State of TN, and finally settled in what is now Williamson Co, and soon after its formation "he moved to Marion and bought 3 acres of land from Benson. It had a log cabin on it, in which he lived for some time. He was a man of considerable talent, great shrewdness and unbound energy. He lived respected by all, and idolized by his party. He went to Congress in 1852, again in 1854, served several terms in the Legislature, and died in 1859, while holding court as circuit judge in Saline Co. Allen was a sparely built man, erect, graceful, and of uncommon strength, agility and endurance.* * * He was frank, generous and confiding to a fault, and was more interested in doing a kindness to others, than serving himself. He was the father of Judge WJ Allen and was the most powerful politician in southern ILL in his day.

Concerning Judge WJ Allen the Morning Monitor of Springfield, dated 19 April 1887, says; "Judge WJ Allen received a telegram from Washington DC, yesterday afternoon announcing that President Cleveland has appointed him as US district judge for the Southern District of ILL, to fill the vacancy made by the death of Judge Samuel H Treat. * * * Judge Allen was born in TN on 09 Jun 1829, and with his father came to Williamson County in this State. * * * He received his education, principally, at a boarding school superintended by BG Root, near Tamaroa. AT an early age he began reading law with his father, Willis Allen, and afterward attended law school at the University of Louisville, KY. During the summer of 1850, he began the practice of law in Metropolis, and remained in that city until the spring of 1854 when he removed to Marion, and in November of that year was elected to represent the district in the Legislature. In 1855, he was appointed US district attorney for the Southern District at the same time Judge Treat was appointed US district judge, and held that position till 1859, when he resigned and was elected circuit judge the following year. He was a member of the constitutional convention in 1862, and was elected to Congress to succeed Gen. Logan. Being re-elected to Congress in 1862, he served till 04 March 1865. He was a member of the constitutional convention in 1870, serving as chairman of the committee on bill of rights and representing the present article of the constitution on that subject. Judge Allen has ever been regarded as an unswerving Democrat, and was a delegate to the national convention of 1860, at Charleston, SC, as a strong supporter of Douglas. He was also a delegate to the national convention at New York in 1868, and at that of 1876 in St. Louis, being chairman of the IL delegation, and one of the strongest supporters of Tilden's nomination. He was an elector at large on the Tilden ticket in the same year, and was a delegate to the national convention at Chicago in 1884, at which time and place he warmly advocated the nomination of Cleveland, notwithstanding his cordial relation with and friendship for the late Vice-President Hendricks. When not holding public office Judge Allen has been actively engaged in the practice of law. He was several years the partner of Senator Logan, and was afterward the partner of Judge Mulkey, present member of the supreme bench of ILL. At one time he was the law partner of Hon SP Wheeler of Cairo. Judge Allen came to this city last June, and has since been associated with Messrs., CC and Stewart Brown. His partnership with Senator Logan was while he resided at Marion.

Anderson P Corder was known in Franklin County as a school teacher. He came to Marion in 1840, and commenced the practice of law. He figured in politics until 1874, and was the most singular politician ever in the county. Sometimes he would rise in public estimation until he could have been elected to any office, then again sink beneath public contempt. He was in the State Senate one term, and held the position of master in chancery. He was not a profound thinker, but a witty, fluent speaker. From 1840 to 1850, he held almost despotic political influence. No man thought of running for office without his consent; but in later years he lived a hard, intemperate life, and not only lost his influence, but lost that respect which ought to attend a man of gray hairs. During the war he was an outspoken Southern sympathizer, but when invasion threatened this State, he drew his sword for defense. (Erwin's History) He afterward moved to California where he was living at last accounts.

John T Lowden was a very prominent member of the Marion Bar, and in 1848 was a delegate to the constitutional convention from this county. In politics he was a Whig, and was a man of ability, both as a lawyer and politician. The family of which Robert G Ingersoll was a member, came to this county about the year 1853, and the next year Robert and his brother Clarke were admitted to the bar at Marion. In 1856 they moved to Peoria--before Robert G had developed his talents, and established his great renown. John M Cunningham, the father in law of Senator Logan, was a Democratic politician of considerable ability and was bitterly opposed to the Republican administration during the civil war. He was a prominent man during the organization of the county, and held several county offices thereafter. In 1869 he was appointed provost-marshal, in Utah Territory, where he died in 1874; and his remains were brought back to Marion by his daughter Mrs. Mary Logan.

The present members of the Marion Bar are WW Clemens, JW Hartwell, JM Washburn, George W Young, WW Duncan, LD Hartwell, Jerome B Calvert, John W Peebles, WH Warder, M.L. Baker, AH Billings and WCS Rhea. The professional life of these honorable gentlemen is confined to the period of time elapsed since the late war. Some of them are well established in the practice, while the younger ones are striving with fair prospects to gain ascendancy. As a whole the bar averages well in ability, and compares favorably with that of other counties; and when the members composing it have made their mark, and passed from the stage of action, the future historian will write their biographies.

Noted Crimes and Criminals
The existence of the Williamson County courts and many of the officers connected therewith, as well as the courts and officers of the old county of which Williamson once formed a part, have already been recited, but the crimes, for the suppression and punishment of which these tribunals of justice have been created, are yet to be related. The task is an unpleasant one, but the historian having "no friends to favor nor foes to punish, " should endeavor to give the facts without prejudice and without unimportant details and unnecessary comments. In general the greater the crimes and incidents will only be mentioned. The reader, however, will bear in mind that the taking of the life of one's fellow man is not always a crime, especially when the act of killing is an unavoidable accident or done in defense of one's own life or that of a near relative.

In 1813, Thomas Griffee shot and killed an Indian, while both he and the Indian were trying to shoot a bear out of a treetop that stood where the old courthouse burned down in Marion. The following year a man by the name of Elliott, partially colored, was working for Griffee, when a man by the name of John Hicks quarreled with, stabbed and killed him. Hicks then made his escape, and the next morning Griffee and John Phelps started in Pursuit and captured him at the Odum Ford. They then took him to Kaskaskia, where the nearest justice of the peace resided, and he was there "whipped, cropped and branded, : and then released. In 1818 the body of a man, supposed to have been murdered by the Indians, was found at the Stotlar place on Herrin's Prairie. In 1821 Henry Parsons, in Rock Creek Precinct, shot and killed an unknown hunter, and afterward gave as an excuse for the shooting that the Indian had murdered his father, in consequence of which he had resolved to kill everyone of them he could find, and that he mistook this man for one of them. Parsons was a very bad man and made a business of lying around Davis' Prairie and killing Indians; and no one knew how many he killed to avenge his father's death. In 1823m he bought Parson Crouch's improvement on the Crab Orchard, and was to have possession as soon as convenient, but, becoming in a hurry, he notified Crouch to vacate the place by Saturday night. Crouch went to Equality that week, and upon his return, and when only a quarter of a mile from home, he was shot and killed by Parsons who then went to D Odium's and demanded a horse, which the latter, through fear, gave him, and he left the country. The citizens collected and went in pursuit but failed to capture him.

In 1833 James Youngblood, while at a stone quarry on the Saline, was shot through the breast by Gideon Alexander who was on the bluff above him. Alexander then ran to Youngblood, assisted him to his home, took care of him and paid his bills, and claimed that he saw nothing but a white spot through the foliage, which he mistook for a deer's tail. Youngblood lived a few years and then died from the effects of the wound.

In 1841 Jeremiah Simmons got into a fight with JG Sparks in Marion. Wm Benson, constable, interfered and stopped it. Simmons then commenced on Benson. The latter started home, Simmons ran after him with a knife. Andrew Benson came up at the time, ran up to Simmons and asked him to stop. Simmons looked over his shoulder, saw who it was, and stabbed backward, striking him in the abdomen from which he died. Simmons made his escape, but was afterward arrested in Iowa and brought back to Marion, where he was tried and acquitted. He was defended by Gen. Shields and Gen. McClernand. In 1854 John Moseley and James Burnett quarreled over a dog-fight and the former struck the latter on the head with a club killed him. Moseley ran away but was captured in Missouri, brought back and tried and sentenced to 6 years in the penitentiary. After serving 1 year he was pardoned. In 1859 George Ramsey and Jack Ward got into a quarrel about a horse race, which resulted in the shooting and killing of the latter by the former. Ramsey then ran away and has never been apprehended. The same year John Furgerson, a youth, shot and killed Ellen Reed, with whom he claimed his father was too intimate. He then ran away, and after a few years returned home and died soon thereafter. Also the same year an unknown man was found hanging dead near the Crab Orchard, south of Marion. The facts of this matter never were made public. In 1861 RT McHaney, living four miles east of Marion, shot and killed an unknown Irishman who had insulted his wife. He was tried and acquitted on the ground of defending his family.

In 1862, Reuben Stocks, a soldier of the 78th IL Inf, while at his home on Eight Mile Prairie, was called to his door one night, and there shot and killed by unknown parties who have never been discovered. The same year, when the 100 and 28th IL Inf was at Crab Orchard Bridge in Jackson Co, Terry Crain and John Burbridge quarreled, and the former struck the latter on the head with a stone from the effects of which he died. In August 1876, Crain was tried and sentenced to 15 year in the penitentiary, but was released after serving 2 years. Also in the year 1862, William Stacey stabbed and killed Henderson Tippy while they were bathing in the Crab Orchard near Marion. They were boys, and Stacey was tried and acquitted. In December of that year (1862), an unknown party shot and killed James Baker in Bainbridge Precinct. It was thought this was done because Baker was revealing the whereabouts of deserters from the army. In 1863, James Emerson was killed by an unknown party, in the woods near Blairsville, while hunting his horses. A gang of bad men known as the "Akin Gang" and supposed to have been composed of George Akin and his son John, Allen and Charley Gilde and others, infected the north part of the county in 1863, when and where several murders were committed, and many citizens robbed. Dr. Bandy was taken out and whipped unmercifully, and George Cox was attacked in his house and fired on several times. This band soon got so large that it became unwieldy, and they got to stealing horses. Several of them were arrested, tried and bailed, and left the county. James Chenoweth, was arrested and put under bail, and then left, forfeiting his bond, and moved to Nashville where he died. The same tear, Daniel Robertson was killed in Lake Precinct, by some unknown parties in the disguise of soldiers, at the instance, it is believed, of this man Chenoweth. The same year James Stilley was killed with a hoe, in the hands of Ben Batts, in the field of the latter, where Stilly went and engaged him in a quarrel. Batts ran away. Also the same year, William Moulton was killed by unknown parties. Several persons were arrested and tried for this offense, but there being no evidence against them, they were acquitted.

One morning in 1864, Samuel Moore was found dead, at the door of a saloon in Jeffersonville. A man by the name of Washum was tried for the offense and found not guilty. During this year, Vincent Hinchcliff shot and killed James Prickett, a young lawyer of Grassy Precinct, at Blairsville. Prickett was appearing in a case against the administrator of William Hinchcliff's estate, and he and Vincent got into a fight with the result above mentioned. Hinchcliff was tried and acquitted on the grounds of self defense. On the 24 March 1864, the Parkers and Jordans got into a difficulty in Marion. Several shots were fired. Richard Parker was shot down by Richard Jordan, when William C Parker, son of Richard, being at a distance ran to the assistance of his father, and shot and killed Jordan. Parker was put under bonds; and not being brought to trial, he remained in the county about 2 years, and then moved to Colorado. No forfeiture of his bond was ever taken. Returning to Franklin County in 1887, with his invalid wife, who died there, he was arrested and brought to trial at Marion, in April of the year, and acquitted on the ground of acting in defense of his father. He was ably prosecuted by Judge George W Young and his associates, and defended by Judge William J Allen, Hon FM Youngblood and others. In 1865, Isham Canady was shot and killed in a drug store on the west side of the public square in Marion, by JH Duncan, who was afterward tried and acquitted on the ground of self-defense. The same year Christopher Howard, a rebel sympathizer, was killed near Herrin's Prairie by some unknown party. In 1866 WL Burton and Samuel McMahan were both shot and killed, in a general political fight at Sulphur Springs. Dixon B Ward was tried for the killing and acquitted, there being no evidence against him

In 1867 Horace Sims stabbed John Latta in the thigh while in a fight with him at Sims' Mills, on the Saline. Latta bled to death from the wound, and Sims was tried and acquitted on the ground of self-defense, he being on the under side when the cutting was done. During this year John Cheneworth was killed in the woods near his house in Herrin's Prairie, and was not found until several days thereafter. William Chitty and one of his sons were arrested for this murder, but released on account of there being no evidence against them. At the November election in 1868, in Grassy Precinct, William Stanley was killed in a shooting scrape between the Stanleys and Cashes. Isaiah Cash was accused of the crime, but the evidence was not sufficient to convict him. The same year a boy by the name of Rogers stabbed Charles McHaney, while in a fight with him, 5 miles east of Marion. He was acquitted on the ground of self-defense. On 01 December of that year (1868), William Barham, a young man said to be afflicted with lunacy, shot and killed Andrew J Lowe in Marion. Barham was put in jail, from which he escaped in Sept 1869. 5 years later he was apprehended in TN, brought back to Marion, tried, found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to the penitentiary for 1 year. In 1869 Samuel Cover shot and killed Philip T Corder in Marion, and was afterward tried and acquitted on the ground of self-defense. The same year George Mandrel, a lunatic in Northern Precinct, slew his father with an ax. In 1870 Thomas P White, a citizen of Herrin's Prairie, went one day to buy a yoke of oxen 2 miles from his home, and was seen returning by a neighbor, and has never been seen since. It is supposed that he was assassinated.

In 1871 Martin G Walker, living about 7 miles NE of Marion, was killed on his farm by a ruffian, who beat him on the head with a gun barrel. A neighbor by the name of John Owen was arrested for the crime, tried and sentenced to the penitentiary for 25 years, but was pardoned before his term expired. His son confessed on his death-bed that he committed the murder for which the father was being punished. The same year Frank Goodall killed Valentine Springhardt in a mill in Marion by striking him on the head with a large wrench. Goodall gave himself up, and was afterward tried and acquitted. In April 1872, Isaac Vancil, an aged man living on the Big Muddy, was ordered to leave the country or suffer death; but not obeying the order a band of 10 men in the disguise of Kuklux went to his house on the night of 22nd, took him about a mile down river, hung him, and left him hanging, where he was found the next morning. Several men were arrested for this crime and tried in Franklin County on change of venue from Williamson, but none were found guilty. The same year James Myers was shot while hauling wood near his house on the Eight Mile. His stepson, Samuel Tyner, was arrested for this offense and admitted to bail, and ran away before the death of Myers, which occurred soon thereafter. Tyner has never been apprehended. In August 1872, Richard Allison shot and killed Samuel Absher in Rock Creek Precinct. Allison ran away and has not been found.

The following year (1873), Francis M Wise and William Newton, of Saline, quarreled about a mule trade which they had made, when the former shot and killed the latter, and then made his escape and has never been arrested. In 1874, Horace Carter shot and killed William Willeford, in Union Precinct, while attempting to arrest Richard Hilliard. Carter was a constable, with a writ, and was shooting at Hilliard, and accidentally killed Williford. He was tried and sentenced to 1 year in the penitentiary. The judge, jury and citizens immediately sent a petition to the Governor, which secured his release after one hour's confinement in prison. The same year Dock Burnett and James Gibbs, two young men, engaged in a fight 7 miles south of Marion, and the former stabbed and killed the latter. Burnett then ran away and has never been apprehended. In September of the same year Stewart Culp, a citizen of the county, was shot and killed in his wagon while on his way home from DeSoto. His murderer has never been discovered. Also the same year Samuel Keeling shot and killed William Meese in Northern Precinct. He was afterward arrested and tried in Saline County on a change of venue from Williamson, and sentenced to prison for life. The next homicide in the county was that of Capt James B Murray in Marion. Murray made an attack on Leander Ferrell. Several shots were fired, one of which was received by Murray causing his death. Ferrell was tried in 1876, and acquitted on the ground of self-defense. In the summer of 1876, John Kelley and Samuel Lipsy engaged in a fight at Carterville, and the former stabbed the latter causing his death. Kelley was tried and sentenced to 6 years in the penitentiary. This brings the catalogue of homicides and crimes down to the existence of what was known as the Bloody Vendetta.

The Bloody Vendetta
The leading families connected with this affair were those of Capt George W Sisney, composed of himself and his sons Winfield S, John and George W Jr.; Capt George Bulliner, composed of himself and sons David, John, Monroe, George J and Emanuel; the Henderson family, composed of 3 brothers, William, Joseph W and James, and some of their sons; also the Crain family, composed of George F, Noah W, Warren, Marshall T and 2 cousins both named William J. Thomas Russell, Vincent Hinchcliff and others, hereafter mentioned, were also noted characters. It seems that the leaders of the two opposing forces in this terrible affair were the Sisney and Bulliner families. The other characters were the friends and assistants respectively of these families. The first quarrel, however, did not take place directly between these families, but it occurred over a game of cards between the Bulliners and Felix G Henderson, on the 04 July 1868, in a saloon one and a half miles east of Carbondale, resulting in a fight in which Henderson was severely hurt. In September following 3 ricks of hay belonging to Bulliner were burned, and a few days later his cotton-gin containing many thousand pounds of cotton was also burned. Suspicion naturally rested upon Henderson, but it is generally believed that the real incendiary was a former enemy of Bulliner, from TN. In 1872 Samuel Brethers raised a crop of oats on the farm of Capt Sisney, adjoining the Bulliner farm, and without moving the crop away he sold it, after it was threshed, to Sisney to pay the rent, and also sold it to David Bulliner to pay a debt, and then went to Texas. Bulliner replevied the oats from Sisney, but got beat in the trial. This was probably the beginning of the ill feeling between the Sisney and Bulliners.

The following April, David Bulliner went to Sisney's blacksmith shop to settle with him, but they quarreled about their accounts and Bulliner accused Sisney of "hard swearing" at the aforesaid trial about the oats, whereupon Sisney knocked him down with a shovel. Bulliner then went home and got his father, John Monroe, and a man by the name of Ward, and with them returned to Sisney's. The latter on seeing them coming retreated from the rear of his house with a Henry rifle in his hand. The Bulliner party fired on him and four shots took effect in his leg and thigh. At this instance Milton Black, who was working in a field near by, ran to the assistance of Sisney, and then the fight ended. The Bulliners and Black then carried Sisney to the house. They were all indicted in September following, and the four Bulliners and Sisney each fined $100. In 1872, Thomas Russell and John Bulliner were rival suitors of a young lady who finally preferred the attentions of the latter, and thus created enmity between these two parties. The next scene brings in the Crain family, who were friends of the Bulliners. In November 1872, Marshal T Crain and John Sisney has a fight which resulted in a "drawn battle." And in December following a quarrel occurred at Carterville , which created enmity between the Hendersons and Crains. The Crains being enemies of the Sisneys, the Hendersons now became allies of the Bulliners. In the same month the Carterville riot took place, which brought new characters to the arena. In this affair several knock-downs took place, but no one was killed. About 20 of the rioters were arrested on an information of the State Attorney, and at the February term, 1873, of the county court, they were all in Marion but the information was squashed and they all became free.

The quarrel between the actors continued, but without serious results, until 12 December 1873, when Capt George Bulliner started to Carbondale on horseback, on which occasion some of his enemies had concealed themselves by the wayside, and as he was riding along fired upon him from their ambush, shot him from his horse and then made their escape. Bulliner was soon found and carried to the nearest house, his sons were notified, and John reached the place just in time to hear his father say "turn me over and let me die." On being turned over he immediately expired. This was the first murder in the Vendetta. On the night of 27 March 1874, Monroe and David Bulliner were on their way from church, and when about half a mile from home, were fired upon by concealed parties. They returned the fire and several shots were fired by both parties, one of which wounded Mrs. Stancel, who was also on her way from church, and from the effects she recovered. The last shot fired by the assassins struck David Bulliner in the back, which caused his death that next morning. Before dying he Decemberlared that Thomas Russell and David Pleasant were his murderers. They were both arrested and brought to Marion for trial. The case against Pleasant was nolled, and he immediately left the county. Russell was tried, and for his defense he proved an alibi by five witnesses, and thus secured a release. A letter was sent to the sheriff from the State's attorney of Jackson Co, to hold Russell for the murder of George Bulliner, but the letter was not received until Russell had been released and taken his departure. Years afterward Russell was arrested, and tried in Jackson County for the murder of Bulliner, and was sentenced to 50 years in the penitentiary.

Soon after Russell was released from Marion in March 1874, a band of persons, led by Vincent Hinchcliff, arrested Gordan Clifford alias "Texas Jack", and after treating him badly, brought him to Marion, and subjected him to a mock trial, and put him in jail, where he lay until October following, when he was indicted "for harboring fugitives from justice." He then gave bonds and left the country. On 15 May 1874, James Henderson was at work in his field, which was surrounded by a dense forest. There he lay down to rest with little Frank Jeffreys, whom he had watching around the field to notify him if any men were approaching. Three assassins, who had evaded the watchfulness of the boy, were concealed behind a pile of logs, only a few steps from where Henderson and the boy were lying, and from this place of concealment they fired upon and shot him, and then fled. He was carried to his house where he lingered eight days and then died from the effects of his wounds. He charged that his murderers were James Norris, John Bulliner and Emanuel or Monroe Bulliner. Soon after his death his widow became a lunatic and died on the following New Year's day. The day after Henderson was shot, Jason Ditmore, who was plowing in his field, about a mile west of the Henderson place, was shot and five wounds inflicted on his person, from the effects of which he recovered, and then left the county. There was no accounting for this shooting, as he was not connected with the Vendetta. John Bulliner and James Norris were arrested 25 August 1874, for the murder of Henderson. In October following Bulliner was tried, and proved in his defense by four witnesses from TN that he was in that State at the time Henderson was killed and thus secured his acquittal. Soon after Ditmore was shot, John Rod saw a man fall down in the weeds in a field about one and a half miles NW of Henderson's, and thinking that the man needed assistance, he started to his relief, and when about ten feet from him, the man rose and shot Rod through the thigh and then fled.

On Sunday 04 October 1874, Vincent Hinchcliff, a physician, was returning from a visit to a patient, and when about 250 yards from his house he and his horse were both shot dead by assassins who were concealed behind the fence and under the bushes. Felix G and Samuel Henderson were arrested and tried for this murder, but proved an alibi and were acquitted. Suspicion has ever since rested upon Gordon Clifford alias "Texas Jack" and his brother as committing this murder, in retaliation for the ill treatment Gordon received from Hinchcliff as before stated. On the might of 12 December 1874, Capt Sisney and George Hindman, a young relative, were both wounded by shots fired by assassins through a window where they were sitting in Sisney's House. In October 1875, Field Henderson was tried for the murder of Hinchcliff. He proved in his defense, by 15 witnesses, that they saw him near a church 12 miles away at the hour Hinchcliff was killed, and the case against him was then dismissed. On the night of 23 October 1874, a party of disguised men visited the house of Henry D Carter, in Northern Precinct, and ordered him to leave the county within 40 days, and then fired a number of shots into his house. A few days later another and larger party met at County Line Church, and ordered six of the Carters to leave the county. Nothing further resulted from this affair.

JDF Jennings, the State's attorney during these troublesome times, seems to have been a bad man, of whom Erwin says in his history, "that he defrauded the county of $900, and then ran away owing everybody. As a prosecutor, he was a regular sarcasm on justice, a great hideous burlesque, free from religious scruples, and ready to sail from any point of the compass." In April 1875, the office was Decemberlared vacant, and in June, JW Hartwell was elected to fill the vacancy. On 23 July 1875, Marshall Crain went to Carbondale, to which place George W Sisney had previously moved, and about 9:30 o'clock that night shot through the window and killed George W Sisney in his own house. On the last day of the same month, the Crain boys and Samuel Music went to the store of William Spence about 10 o'clock at night. Marshall Crain called Spence up, and then asked who was there, he replied: "John Sisney, I want to get shrouding for a child." Spence, who was sleeping over his store, came down and went to the door, where Marshall shot and killed him. The assassins then separated and went home.

At the August special term, 1875, the county commissioners offered a reward of $1000 for each of the murderers of David Bulliner, James Henderson, Vincent Hinchcliff and William Spencer. On the 09 of August the Governor issued a proclamation offering $400 reward for the arrest and conviction of each criminal referred to, and also the murderers of George W Sisney and George Bulliner. On the 22 of August the Jackson County Court offered $400 reward for the murderers of Sisney and Bulliner. Effective measures were now being devised by good citizens, among whom James H Duncan and Benjamin F Lowe should be mentioned. The latter acted in the capacity of a detective, in which he was very successful. He went to Cairo where he, "trapped" Samuel Music and brought him to Marion on 10 September, and lodged him in jail. Here Music made a confession of the killing of Sisney and Spence, and implicated William J Crain, "Black Jack" Crain, Noah W Crain, Samuel R Crain, Marshall Crain, John Bulliner and Allen Baker. Writs were then issued for the arrest of these parties, and a posse of 20 men and the sheriff went to Crainville. William J Crain (Big Jep), Noah W Crain, Samuel R Crain, "Black Bill" Crain and John Bulliner were all arrested and brought to Marion, and placed under guard. Lowe then went to DuQuoin, and arrested Allen Baker, and brought him also to Marion the next morning. In a few days the prisoners were all put in jail. Music accused Bulliner, Baker and Samuel R Crain, with the murder of Sisney in Jackson Co, and on the 15th, Sheriff Kimball came over and took them to that county where they were tried; Samuel R Crain was released for want of evidence, and the others committed to jail.

A special term of the Williamson County court was convened, and the State's attorney was authorized to employ counsel to assist him. Hon WJ Allen and Judge AD Duff were employed. This produced a revolution in the public sentiment. On 16 September the prisoners, except Music, were examined and committed to jail. Mr. Lowe then went to Arkansas, where he found and arrested Marshall Crain, and brought him to Jackson Co, where he was lodged in jail. On the 19 September the Governor sent the sheriff of Williamson County 100 rifles by express.. Two companies of militia were then formed, one at Marion and the other at Carbondale.. The officers of the Marion company were Capt JV Grider and Lts. William Hendrickson and WJ Pully. The officers of the Carbondale company were Capt JW Landrum and Lts. William Dowell and Wilshire Bundy. John Bulliner and Allen Baker were tried at the October term of the Jackson Circuit Court, and sentenced to 25 years in the penitentiary.

At the October session of the Williamson Circuit Court, Music, "Big Jep, "Black Bill", "Yaller Bill", and Marshall were all indicted for the murder of Spence. Music's case was continued; Noah W Crain alias "Yaller Bill" was admitted to bail on motion; William J Crain alias "Big Jep" and William J Crain alias "Black Bill" prayed for a change of venue, and their case was sent to Alexander Co. The indictment against "Yaller Bill" was nolled at the April term, 1876. On Tuesday, 19 October 1875, Marshall T Crain was arraigned and plead not guilty. He had no attorney, and the court appointed WW Clemens to defend him. The prisoner then withdrew his plea of not guilty, over the objection of his attorney, and plead guilty to the crime of murder as charged, and threw himself upon the mercy of the Court. The Court then fully explained to the prisoner all his rights, and had the indictment read again, and then asked him again if he was guilty, and he again plead guilty; whereupon the court ordered the plea of guilty to be entered of record, and the case was continued until Thursday, when it was called, and a number of witnesses examined, and the guilt of the prisoner proved beyond all doubt. Judge Monroe C Crawford then made some extended remarks concerning his great responsibility, and the importance of vindicating the law, and after warning the prisoner to make his peace with God, he said, "The sentence of the Court is that the defendant be hanged by the neck until he is dead, within the walls of the prison, in the town of Marion, county of Williamson and State of ILL, on the 21 January 1876 between the hours of 10 o'clock in the morning and 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the same day. May God have mercy upon you."

Crain was then taken back to jail, where he was strongly guarded by details from the militia. The next day he was taken before the grand jury, where he voluntarily confessed the facts concerning himself as related by Music. On the 21 November, he was baptized according to the rights of the Christian Church. When the day of his execution came, and the people had thronged about the jail, and he had only a few more minutes to live, he stood at a window and addressed the multitude as follows: "Gentlemen; I must make a statement in regard to this matter. I feel it is my duty to God and man to make it. I am guilty of killing two men. My punishment is just. I hope all of you will forgive me. I pray God will judge and prosper in this country. Good bye to all." A few passages of Scripture were then read by the chaplain, a song was sung, and a prayer was offered to God. The doomed man was then placed upon the scaffold and prepared for the last struggle, and when asked if he had anything more to say, he replied, " I am the murderer of William Spence and George Sisney. That is all I have got to say." The time being up, the rope holding the platform was severed, and Marshall Thomas Crain was launched into Eternity.

On 25 December 1875, James Norris was arrested at a ball five miles SE of Marion, and lodged in the Marion jail, and on the 31st of the same month "Big Jep" and "Black Bill" were taken to Cairo for trial. The case was called 28 January 1876. The defendants were sentenced to the penitentiary for 20 years. They were prosecuted by Allen and Duff, and defended by Clemens, Calvert and Linegar. At the April term, 1876, of the Williamson County Circuit Court, James Norris was tried for the murder of James Henderson, and sentenced to serve 18 years in the penitentiary. Samuel Music was tried at the same term for being accessory to the murders of Spence and Sisney, and sentenced to serve 14 years in the State's prison. Also at the same time Samuel R Crain was indicted and arrested as accessory to the murder of Spence, but being ill with consumption his case was continued, and he placed under bonds of $5000. He died soon thereafter. This ends the narrative concerning the "Bloody Vendetta", but three more homicides have yet to be recorded. On 11 May 1880, John Russell, brother of Thomas, of Vendetta fame, and Henry Stocks, who were close neighbors, had a difficulty over a trifling matter, and met one day on the road about a mile and a half from Carterville, when Russell shot and killed Stocks. Russell ran away, but was afterward brought back to Marion, where he was tried and acquitted. Following this affair, Bennett Stotlar was shot and killed at Carterville by Thomas Hudgens, acting marshal thereof. The action of Hudgens in this matter seemed to be so justifiable that he was never indicted. At the April term, 1887, of the Williamson County Circuit Court, an indictment was found against David Skidmore and his sister, Hannah Carter, for the shooting and killing of Willie Ford at Creal Springs. The indictment charges that the shooting took place on 07 January 1887, and that Ford died the next day in consequence thereof. Skidmore is in jail awaiting trial and the sister, having a very young child, has not been arrested.

Williamson County has a long record of crimes committed therein, but since the days of the "Vendetta" a general peace has been restored, and at present writing the surviving members of the families connected with that affair are all on friendly terms. The spirit of revenge has been subdued, and past offenses forgiven. The people have suffered much on account of the bad men who happened to be among them. Without doubt there was a time when justice was not fairly administered. The pleas of alibi, and self-defense, have no doubt cleared criminals who ought to have been severely punished. This seems evident from the fact that when the State began to prosecute with vigor, through the instrumentality of such attorneys as Hartwell, Allen and Duff, and the people determined to bring criminals to justice, the commission of crime suddenly ceased in a very great measure. It is true three homicides have taken place since that time, but with few exceptions Williamson County has always been a safe place for those who were not disposed to be quarrelsome. The good people of the county have been slandered and vilified by the papers far and near, on account of their misfortunes. But the dark cloud has passed away, and the light of a brighter day is shining, and a good feeling among the people everywhere prevails. Williamson is as safe a county in which to live as any other county in the United States.



Copyright © Genealogy Trails