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History of Jersey County, IllinoisFrom Atlas Map of Jersey County, Illinois – 1872. Thanks to Jersey County Historical Society, Carol Rhodes Van Valkenburgh and Marty Crull.
We are unable to ascertain with any degree of certainty who was thefirst settler in what is now Jersey County. A few parties settledtemporarily in 1816 and 1817. Thomas McDow, Esq. who is now living on section 32, township 7, range 11, came into the county in 1823. Jacob Lurton came in 1817; W. D. F. Slaten, J. W. Slaten and Jessie White in 1818; Marcus Gilham and Mary A. McKinney in 1819; John Brown, John Gunterman, and Daniel Newberry in 1829; Joseph Cope, Cyrus Tolman, and George Stafford in 1821; G. W. Slaten, and J. R Slaten in 1822; John C. Whitlock in 1823; Jacob Reddish, and Zedekiah Reddish in 1829; Judge J. M. Hard, and C. M. Hamilton in 1830; George H. Jackson and Judge Caleb Noble in 1833; Thomas Cummings, George Finley, Samuel Loften, John D. Gilham, Joseph White, William Hates, and Josiah T. Askew were also very early settlers, but we have not the year in which they first came.
J. T. Grimes was born, in what is now Jersey County, in 1820. In 1821 the settlements were considerably extended, but did not increase very rapidly until about 1832, since which time it has had, with very little interruption, a rapid and healthy growth, and to-day Jersey county is among the best cultivated, best improved, and among the most wealthy counties of its size and population in the state. It was a part of Green county, but by an act of the legislature passed February 28th, 1839, Green county was divided and the southern part named Jersey county.
The first entry of land was made by John Wilkins at the land office in Edwardsville, October 13, 1820.
The county seat of Jersey County was located at Jerseyville on theorganization of the county.
At a special meeting of the county commissioners’ court, held atJerseyville on Monday, October 14th, 1839, there were present, ThomasCummings, Solomon Calhoun, Amos Pruitt, county commissioners; Robert L. Hill, clerk of the circuit court; Richard Graham, clerk of the county court; J. N. English, sheriff; George H. Jackson, recorder; John R. Black, treasurer.
The first court was held October 14, 1839. Elijah Van Horne was foreman of the first grand jury. This was the first organization of “Little Jersey”.
The first justice of the peace was Walter Cromwell, appointed by thegovernor in 1822.
The location of Jersey County is very superior in almost everyparticular. The climate is excellent, soil rich and productive. About one-third of the county was original prairie. The timber lands are excellent, and when cleared and cultivated have soil unsurpassed, and yield excellent crops. The county is well watered and for stockpurposes, for raising grains and fruits it has no superior. Itsboundary line on the south is the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and on the west in the Illinois River, which furnishes cheaptransportation. Two railroads now course through the county and another is in contemplation, which coupled with the short distance to St. Louis furnish the people with the best of markets at small cost.
Besides all these advantages of nature and art, Jersey county is peopled by the very best class of citizens – a class who have turned the wild prairies and heavy timber lands into beautiful farms, have planted orchards and groves, built fine and comfortable houses, barns, etc., etc. Have dotted their county all over with churches and schoolhouses, built railroads, etc., etc., and have established by their industry and enterprise a reputation excelled by few.
Was laid off by Lott and Daley, October 1st, 1834, and during that year a number of New Jersey people settled in the town and vicinity. The town of Jerseyville was incorporated July 21, 1837, and the firstofficers were John W. Lott, of New Jersey, president of the board oftrustees; E. M. Daley, clerk, Samuel L. McGill, George W. Collins,Richard Graham, board of trustees. The city of Jerseyville wasincorporated February 21, 1867. M. E. Bagley was elected mayor, and J. S. Blythe, Andrew Jackson, John I. White, George Egelhoff, aldermen; George H. Jackson, clerk; J. S. Daniels, marshal. When the town was first laid off the proprietors were at a loss what name to give it. A meeting of the citizens of the neighborhood was called to settle the matter, and a great many names were proposed, but none saited Dr. Lott, who was on of the most extensive proprietors, and he said it should be called Jerseyville, which ended the subject. The present city officers are Robert M. Knapp, mayor; J. E. Stanford, J. H. Baffington, John M. Smith, Frederick Bertman, Robert A. King, e. L. H. Barry, John W. Visson, J. H. Lock, aldermen; George H. Jackson, clerk; James McKinney, marshal; J. W. Calhoun, city constable; Henry Calkins, police justice.
Was surveyed April 15, 1835. It is finely situated on the banks of the Mississippi river, about one mile below the mouth of the Illinoisriver. The celebrated “Grafton Stone Quarries” are settled here, which does one of the most extensive business of the kind in the country, and gives employment to a great many men.
Owned by Hon. James M. Allen, is also situated in Grafton, and areconsidered among the finest flouring mills in the country. Grafton has a number of stores and does an extensive and profitable business for a place of its size. A railroad is contemplated and will undoubtedly be built very soon from Springfield through Jerseyville and Grafton to St. Louis, which will make Grafton one of the largest and most important points in that region of the country.
Jersey Landing, or Elsah
Was surveyed March 7th, 1853. It is situated on the Mississippi riverfour miles below Grafton. Has several stores and does considerable trade.
Was laid off August 14, 1837. It has several stores, mills,blacksmiths and wagon shops, etc., etc. Has a rich farming countrysurrounding and does a good local trade. Belt, Bros. & Co. are located here and do an extensive general trade.
Was surveyed January 5, 1830. It is surrounded by a beautiful richfarming country, and does considerable local trade.
Was surveyed March 11th, 1832. It is situated on the Mississippiriver, at the mouth of the Illinois river, and once had the prospect of being a very large town.
Was laid off October 6th, 1866. It is surrounded by a rich farmingcountry. Has several stores, mills, blacksmith shops, etc., and does a good trade. H. E. Dougharty’s celebrated mills and elevators aresituated here.
Was laid off May 6th, 1868. It is a station on the Chicago, Alton &St. Louis railroad. Is in a splendid farming country, and doesconsiderable trade.
Was surveyed September 26th, 1866. It is located in a very wealthysection of the county. It is the location of McAdams & Bleyler’sflouring mills; has stores, shops; etc, and does a good local trade.
Was laid off November 5, 1870. It is a new and promising town on theRockford, Rock Island & St. Louis railroad. Has several stores and does a flourishing trade.