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Jersey County, Illinois Timeline

The location of what is now Jersey County went through many boundary changes in almost 200 years. Researchers, for example, should search in Greene County in the time era of 1821 – 1839; in Madison County time era 1812 – 1821; in St. Clair County time era 1790 – 1812, etc. Your ancestor could have come to the Northwest Territory, Indiana Territory, Illinois Territory, although settlements were sparse in that time era, mostly along the waterways, such as Mississippi River, Illinois River, etc. until the early 1800’s. This table is to be used as a guideline for your research, to be aware of these County boundary changes. Contributed by Mary Ann Kaylor.


Year Country/Territory/County
1673 France
1763 Great Britain
1774 Quebec, Canada
1787 Illinois County, VA
27 April 1790 Northwest Territory, St. Clair County
9 February 1801 Indiana Territory, St. Clair County
28 April 1809 Illinois Territory, St. Clair County
14 September 1812 Illinois Territory – Madison County
3 December 1818 Illinois Statehood
20 January 1821 State of Illinois, Greene County
28 February 1839 State of Illinois, Jersey County


1839 Jersey County – Locality, Precincts, Township

From: Illinois Place Names, Compiled by James N. Adams, 1968. Contributed by Marty Crull and Jersey County Historical Society.

* – indicates the name is both a locality and township or precinct.
** – indicates the name is a township or precinct only.


Askew Hollow
Babbs Hollow
Chambers Corner
Coon Creek
Criswell’s Point
East Newbern
Fidelity Station
Hawkin’s Prairie
Hickory Grove
Jersey Landing*
Lock Haven
Lofton’s Prairie
Mason’s Landing
Mt. Pleasant
Musick’s Ferry
Otter Creek*
Palmer’s Prairie No #10
Phill’s Creek*
Piasa Bluffs
White Plains


Township Government. Adoption: November 5, 1878. Note: Jersey County approved township organization on November 6, 1860, and the County Court even appointed commissioners to divide the county into townships, but this organization was never completed. The commissioners’ report of 1861 divided the county into six townships (see below).

Township Names under 1878 Organization:

Elsah, to contain fractional Township 6, Range 11
English, to contain Township 8, Range 12
Fidelity, all of Township 8, Range 10
Jersey, all of Township 8, Range 11; fractional Township 9, Range 11
Mississippi, to contain Township 7, Range 11
Otter Creek, to contain Township 7, Range 12
Piasa, all of Township 7, Range 10
Quarry, name changed from Grafton on April 1, 1880. Fractional Township 6, Ranges 12 & 13
Richwoods, to contain fractional Township 8, Range 13
Rosedale, name changed from Illinois on June 7, 1882. Fractional Township 7, Range 13
Ruyle, fractional Township 9, Range 10

Township Names under the 1860 Failed Organization:

Important Dates In Jersey County’s History

Contributed by Jersey County Historical Society and Marty Crull.
1673, August – Marquette-Joliet Expedition lands at confluence of Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and explore surrounding territory from a bluff. They found the Indians to be friendly.

1680, November – LaSalle visited our county and saw the massacre of Illinois Indian women and children by Iroquois across the river.

1681, December 7 – La Salle’s party rendezvoused at the mouth of the Illinois with the Indians who were to accompany the expedition to the delta. They spent twelve days building elm bark canoes.

1686, February – Tonti passes Pere Marquette State Park on trip to delta to search for La Salle.

1689, December – Tonti passes Pere Marquette State Park on trip to delta to search for survivors of La Salle’s party. Return September 1690.

1700, The Kaskaskias accompanied by Fr. Gravier left Pimituois (Peoria) down and along the shores of the Illinois River.

1707 – Furs down the Illinois. Fr. Gravier along.

1711 – Joseph Kellogg, the first Englishman, downstream with French traders.

1722 – The French rescued the Illinois Indians at Starved Rock – back to Cahokia.

1763 – France turns over her claim on this land to England.

1764, Spring – St. Louis founded, illegal trading begins up Illinois.

1779 – After George Rogers Clark’s Expedition in Revolution, we became a part of the County of Virginia.

1780, May – British force down Illinois River to American Bottoms, retreated.

1787 – Became part of Northwest Territory.

1795, August 20 – Treaty of Greenville, Illinois ceded 12 square miles at mouth of the Illinois River to U. S.

1801, February 3 – Territory now included in Jersey County made a part of St. Clair County, INDIANA TERRITORY.

1809 – Territory became part of Illinois Territory

1810 – Portage des Sioux incident.

1812 – Territory made a part of Madison County. – April- Cahokia Council.

1815 – Daniel Allen, his sons, Daniel Jr., James, and John; and Paul and James Harriford built cabins in what is now Jersey township, and planted corn the next spring.

1816 – John W. Huitt located on a section in Ruyle Township.

1817 – Philemon Higgins settled along the creek named for him (Phil’s Creek). David Stockton and James Whitesides and Thomas Lynn made a settlement in what is now English Township. William Bates was one of first permanent settlers in Elsah Township.

1818 – John G. Lofton, John D., and Ezekial Gilham settled in what is now Mississippi Township, and Lofton’s Prairie. Philip Grimes built a cabin in what is now English Township. William LaRue settled in Rosedale Township early this year. John Wilkins made first settlement in Piasa Township, S. W. corner. Later he moved near Delhi and operated a tavern and stage coach station for 20 years.

1819 – George Finney, Sanford Hughes, David Gilbert, and John Stafford were among the first settlers of Quarry Township. Previously they had all been soldiers in the regular army. Daniel McFain settled about 3 1/2 miles west of Fieldon in Richwood Township.

1820 – Major Gershom Patterson settled in what is now English Township. He built the first brick house, one of first mills, and the first distillery. Nathaniel Rowdon lived for a time in a hollow Sycamore tree in Richwood Township.

1821 – Territory became part of Greene County formed from Madison.

1821 – Land office opened at Edwardsville for entry of lands in Madison and Greene counties after the purchase of Indian rights in that territory.

1822 – Matthew Cowan made a permanent settlement in what is now Ruyle Township. John Ballard was first permanent settler in Hickory Grove, now Jerseyville.

1827 – James Falkner built “Red House”, first frame building in Jerseyville, and operated a tavern and stage coach station.

1829, Autumn – Dr. Hamilton visited region.

1830, Spring – Otter Creek settlement entered. Public lands open to settlers. The James Simmons family built the first log house in Fidelity Township. James Simmons broke the first ground. Dr. Silias Hamilton, first practicing physician in county, settled in what is now Otter Creek Township. He brought his former slave, George Washington, with him.

1830 – 1831, December – The year of the deep snow. First Anti-Slavery Society was organized at Lofton’s Prairie.

1832 – Name “Hickory Grove” was changed to “Jerseyville” and a post office was established.

1833 – Mason founds Grafton (Pittsburgh).

1835 – First free school in Illinois – Hamilton Primary School was built under the provisions of the will of Dr. Hamilton. He left the money to build and maintain a school to be free and for both races. Joseph Crabbe was appointed first commissioner of school lands.

1836 – Grafton surveyed.

1839, August 5 – Jersey, with an area of 367 square miles, organized as a separate county.

1844 – Most disasters flood of Mississippi River. Grafton destroyed.

1848 – First school deeds in Jersey County – Jerseyville Grade School and Union School.

1849 – Many deaths in Grafton and whole county from Asiatic Cholera. First McCormick hand rake reapers were brought by canal boats to Grafton and were in use for several years. Young Ladies Private Seminary was established at Jerseyville.

1850 – Schools began to be more plentiful.

1852 – First Band of Jersey County was organized by Frederick Bertman.

1853 – The Hog War in Otter Creek Township.

1856 – Grafton quarries were opened.

1858 – Office of County Superintendent of Schools was created. W. J. Herdman was the first to fill this office.

1860 – Kemper Rally: on a hill near Kemper is this identification mark “This hill was made historical July 20, 1860, when before 20,000 people Owen Lovejoy made his famous anti-slavery speech. A. Lincoln ran for president against Stephen A. Douglas. Fourteen sheep and seven cattle were barbecued here.”

1864 – George Washington Education Fund for higher education of Negroes was created by the will of George Washington (Colored). George Washington (former slave) was buried beside his former master.

1868 – First County Fair was held. David Beatty was its first president.

1870-1872 – Erection of the Jerseyville Grade School.

1870 – Kemper established.

1871 – Old Settlers’ Society was organized. It was dedicated to the history of the pioneers who had resided in Illinois in 1840 and had lived in Jersey or Greene Counties for at least 25 years. After Jonathan Cooper, one of the most important members of the Old Settler’s Association died in 1895, all its old records were destroyed and it was disbanded.

1874 – Joshua Pike was employed as principal of Jerseyville schools. (This post he held until his death in 1915.)

1877 – Year when tramps became such a nuisance in the County. Uncle Joe Page counted 1,014 in one day.

1878 – First graduating class of Jerseyville High School, 18 members.

1879 – Jersey County changed from a Commissioner to a Township form of local government.

1884 – An ordinance forbidding all animals except cows to run at large in Jerseyville. There were 72 schools with 98 teachers and 4,027 pupils.

1887 – Electric lights were adopted for the city of Jerseyville.

1895 – Jerseyville Telephone Company Incorporated. Began with 25 subscribers; over 300 in 1901. First library in Jerseyville was opened.

1905 – Our Carnegie Library was dedicated.

1909 – Jersey County Historical Society was formed. On September 9, a meeting was held in the Jersey County Court House to organize the Jersey County Historical Society and it was founded with O. B. Hamilton as president. The Society’s first activity was the August, 1910 celebration of the 71st anniversary of the organization of Jersey County. Interest waned in the 1920’s and the society became inactive. It was revived in 1931 and again in 1942. Frank Fulkerson was president in 1942 and P. D. Cheny was president in 1943 before interest waned again in the 1940’s.

1915 – There were 75 schools with 121 teachers and 2,954 pupils.

1918 – Centennial celebration of admission of Illinois into the Union.

1919 – McKinley was last school district organized. Land had been McFain’s Lake. The levee drained the lake.

1923 – The first 4-H Club was organized in the County.

1930 – Population of Jersey County was 12,557.

1931 – The Joe Page Bridge across the Illinois River connecting Greene and Calhoun Counties was dedicated. Home Bureau was organized.

1932 – Principia College, near Elsah, on the Mississippi River was established.

1938 – Rural Electric Association was organized.

1939 – Jersey County Centennial.

1957 – Jerseyville Women’s Club decided to reorganize the Jersey County Historical Society. Arch D. Nelson was the president of the reactivated society, which met in the Jerseyville Library. Their collection was orginally put in the west basement of the Jerseyville Library, and historical documents in the Chapman building. When the library was remodeled, the collection was moved first to the Roach Shoe Store, then to Joe Knight House in Dow, and was moved to a private home in 1979. On April 24, 1983, the society’s first museum located at 102 North Liberty was opened to the public. This site was purchased with proceeds of a trust from Helen Knight. Marjorie Dintlemann was president of the Society. On December 31, 1991, the heirs of Dorothy Gledhill donated the Gledhill House at 108 North Lafayette to the society. The house at 102 North Liberty was sold and the museum was moved to the new site and opened to the public April 1994. Celia Sinclair was president of the Society in 1992; Dana Muffley was president in 1993; Fred Easley in 1994. On August 23, 1997, Clayton Brown and Richard McCauley bought the historic Cheney House at auction and donated the house to the Jersey County Historical Society. Gene Prosser was president of the Society. In January 1998, the Jersey County Genealogical Society, which was formed in 1991, disbanded and trasferred their assets and memberships to the Jersey County Historical Society. In its’ short time it had only two presidents, Bob French and Marty Crull. Bob French was the then current president of the Genealogical Society and Gene Proseer was president of the Historical Society. The Society operated both the Gledhill and Cheney locations until the Gledhill House was sold in 2001. Proceeds of the sale were used to erect a new museum building at the Cheney site and the front part of the museum building was opened to the public in August 2001.