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Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History

How Jerseyville Was NamedHickory Grove, a settlement near a point of timber in the Macoupen [sic] prairie, Greene County, 12 miles south of Carrollton, and on the road to Alton. The settlement is spreading over a fine, rich prairie, moderately undulating. From J. M. Peck, A Gazetter of Illinois, published Jacksonville, Illinois, 1834.

Information from published history with additional information from a resident.

In 1834, for the purpose of establishing a Post Office here, the principal inhabitants of Jerseyville vicinity met at the Red House, to give the new town a new name. Those who attended that meeting were, G. Patterson, Geo. Richards, J. E. Cooper, G. W. Lowder, J. Allen, R. B. Robbins, Isaac Darneil, E. A. D’Arcy, Alfred Carpenter, John Ellis, J. W. Lott, E. M. Daley, Murray Cheney, N. L. Adams, A. H. Burritt, N. Miner, Franklin Potts, and J. A. Potts, Dr. E. A. D’Arcy was chairman of the meeting. Several names were proposed for the new town. Major Patterson proposed that it be called Livingston. Carpenter, an old soldier, wished it to be called Liberty. Richards, a New Hampshire man, wished to immortalize the memory of that decaying state; by christening this promising town with the insignificant name New Hampshire. Cheney proposed that the proprietors of the town should give it whatever name they pleased. This proposition seeming to meet the views of the majority of the meeting, Dr. Lott, a native of New Jersey, was called on for a name. He arose and thanked the people, and with a characteristic expletive, and in the genuine Jersey dialect, cried out, “I’d like to have it called Jerseywille.” The doctor, sharing the common fate of humanity did not obtain the full accomplishment of his wishes, for the meeting voted to call the place Jerseyville, not Jerseywille, and then agreed on E. M. Daley for Postmaster, subject to the will of the higher powers. After this important matter was accomplished, the meeting adjourned, according to the Illinois liquor law of those times, to drink the health of the new town in flowing bowls of tanzy bitters. The people obtained their desire with regard to the Post Office and Postmaster; E. M. Daley being appointed the first Postmaster of Jerseyville.
From “A Thanksgiving Discourse Delivered by Rev. L. Grosvenor, in the Presbyterian Church, November 24, 1853.” In Rev. Marshall M. Cooper, History of Jerseyville, Illinois 1822 to 1901. Jerseyville Republican Print, 1901. Also printed in the 1919 History of Jersey County.

Additional information

Jersey County Democrat, July 14, 1881

While in Virden last Saturday we met Capt. Cheney, father of Supervisor Cheney, and listened to an interesting account of the naming of Jerseyville over a jug of whiskey and tanzy. One of the company wanted it named Livingston; another, “Liberty,” because he had fought, bled and died for liberty (hic); but it was left to Lott & Daly, who laid out the town and called it Jerseyville. “Although at that time,” said Capt Cheney, “there were no more signs of a Jerseyman in the town than there is that there is one in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jersey County Democrat, August 25, 1881

The Naming of Jerseyville

The following communication, sent by Mr. Ayres, is in answer to Capt. Cheney’s account of the naming of Jerseyville. Mr. Ayres is now a resident of Chicago and is one of its wealthy citizens. He is always pleased to meet with residents of this place, and is well versed in the history of our city and its citizens:

Chicago, Aug, 1st, 1881
J.M. Page, Editor Jersey County Democrat:

Dear Sir – My attention has been called to an interview had by you with Capt. Cheney, relative to the naming of Jerseyville, in which the Captain remarked that there were no more signs of a Jerseyman present on that occasion than that there is one in the kingdom of heaven.

As to the truth of the latter clause of the above paragraph, I leave to Capt. Cheney to be verified by him in the hereafter. But as one of the survivors of the little band of Jersey blues present on that occasion, I beg to remind the Captain that Jno. W. Lott, Rescarrick Ayres and myself were from New Jersey. The two former with Col. Daly of New York had purchased, in the summer of 1834, 40 acres of land from Mr. Carpenter, and had entered several tracts of government lands at what was then called Hickory Grove – now Jerseyville.

On the occasion of naming Jerseyville, invitations were sent out to the surrounding farmers, and nine persons, all told, assembled to do honor to the occasion. amongst the honored and honoring guests was my old friend Capt. Cheney. And the name of the village was a foregone conclusion with us, knowing, as we did, the potency of a name upon Jerseymen, as from them help was expected – and, be it to their credit, did come – to build up the village and reduce the vast rolling prairies into one of the most charming rural districts in this, our adopted state. But this is a digression from the point.

Hickory Grove Hotel, or the Red Tavern, was an unpretentious edifice, full of good cheer to the hungry traveller, and presided over by Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter, situated at the foot of the rise of ground and in the grove, just north of the village site. On the opposite side of the road stood a long, low log stable, at which the stage horses were fed, and from which Mr. Carpenter and his guests drew their inspiration. Mrs. Carpenter – the kind, good soul – was an exemplary woman, and believed in tanzy for its medical virtues, but in combination with whiskey she could not tolerate it about the house. So, when the all-important christening of the bantling took place, a jug of tanzy whiskey was furnished by mine host, and under the shade of a friendly hickory the ceremony took place, but whether the beverage was partaken of by either Capt. Cheney or myself perhaps I should not mention here.

Very respectfully, Enos Ayres

Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History
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