Jackson County


Schools and Teachers 1913-1914


Memorial Day

"Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried."

Source: Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Contributed 26 Jul 2018 by Cindy Leonard


The first white people to come to the area which was to become Jackson County were people who made sugar from the sugar tree. In 1802 a Mr. Reed and a man named Emsly Jones settled East of Degognia Creek with their families. They both came from Randolph County. Mr. Reed began a farm and Mr. Jones, for some reason became mad at him and shot and killed him. Jones fled and took refuge at what is now called Walker's Hill east of Grand Tower. He was captured, taken to Kaskaskia, tried and hung for the crime. Thus the first settlers were also victim and perpetrator of the first Jackson County crime. In 1804 came Henry Noble and his son in law Jesse Griggs. They settled on Big Muddy River northeast of what was to become Murphysboro. At about the same time a family named Brilhart arrived. In 1805 or 1806 William Boon came to the area from the Okaw (Kaskaskia) River and opened a farm under the bluff, east of Degognia Creek. About 1806 the Brooks family arrived and settled right along the Mississippi River at the mouth of Degognia Creek. About the same time William McRoberts settled under the bluff. Park Grosvenor, Sr., settled under the bluff in 1806 or 1807. Soon after 1805 came Col. James Gill and his wife Janette Gaston and they settled at the Devil's Oven with her brother William Gaston. About 1806, Benjamin Walker, Sr. arrived from Tennessee and settled at the lower end of the Devil's Backbone, where the city of Grand Tower is now located. G.W. Green Henson settled at the Big Hill in 1807, followed by his father, Allen Henson in 1808. Allen Henson had been scalped in the Indian War in North Carolina or Tennessee and left for dead. Other early settlers were: Big Hill--John Morrow, Thomas Morrow, Peter Hammon, Jacob Louzadder, among others. The Earthquake of New Madrid, Mo hit in 1811. During the War of 1812, the local hostile Indians sided with the British. They were situated in the north and northeast of a long string of settlements from the Illinois River all along the Mississippi to the Ohio River and up that stream to Shawneetown. Governor Edwards recommended that companies of rangers be raised for the purpose of protecting the settlers. This idea was approved by Congress. A family by the name of Lively was killed among others. In 1813 and 1814 a disease called the Milk Sick was prevalent all over the country which was to become Jackson County and a good number of people died. About 1814 Conrad Will went to Pennsylvania and bought kettles for the making of salt and commenced the Salt Works on the north side of the Big Muddy in Section 1 In 1815, the residents of what was then the eastern part of Randolph County petitioned the Territorial Legislature for the formation of a new county. The legislature passed a law creating Jackson County January 10, 1816, naming Brownsville as the County Seat. In 1816 Elias Bancroft who was deputy surveyor under Mr. Rector, sectionized the townships. William Boon was with him and located a large quantity of land for the Kaskaskians (Indians). There were some officers for the county appointed before the Spring of 1818. They were: Jesse Griggs, John Byars and Conrad Will, Commissioners or Trustees. The deed for the land on which Brownsville was laid out was recorded 4 Jul 1818 by William Wilson, Recorder. The deed was executed and acknowledged before James Hall, Jr, Justice of the Peace, by Jesse Griggs and his wife. In 1817, James Hall, Jr. and Conrad Will were the delegated from Jackson County to the Constitutional convention at Kaskaskia. The Constitution was approved and Illinois became a State of the Union in 1818 and the Illinois Territory was no more. Jackson County was a land of dense forests broken by prairies. These prairies became known as Elk Prairie for the Elk which came there to the Salt Licks, Cox's Prairie, Manning's Prairie, Tuthill's Prairie and Holliday's Prairie. The land was rich fertile loam suitable for crops. There were hardwood trees--several kinds of Oak, Black and White Walnut, and Sugar Maple and also there were Beech and Elm. The first house used for a school room was in 1816 and belonged to William Boon near Sand Ridge. Jackson County Coal Company began operation in 1822 opening a drift on the south side of Muddy near Murphysboro. This company continued to operate until 1864.

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First published in the Jackson County Era on June 15, 1877, reprinted in the Southern Illinois Herald in 1897. Starting from Golconda and traveling through what was then a dense wilderness I do not remember seeing but two houses on the way until we reached Big Muddy River. John PHELPS had settled in Phelps Prairie close to where the town of Marion now stands, and John GRIFFIN lived in what is now known as Eight-Mile Prairie. At night while in camp in Eight-Mile Prairie we had four horses stolen by Indians, or white thieves, leaving us with only one; but being within fifteen miles of our estimation, the balance of the journey was accomplished without serious difficulty. Upon arriving at the end of his journey father (William GILL) bought and settled upon a piece of land which is now the farm of W.B. WILL in Somerset Township on Beaucoup Creek. At that time, 1813, very few settlers were here. Two white men, Robin (Robert) MARSHALL and Henry NOBLE, had settled upon a farm near where the town of DeSoto now is, and which farm is now known as the Chauncey KILMER Farm. Below, on Muddy, Francis THOMPSON lived, near the present farm of R.A. BEASLEY. The farm on which George G. WILL now lives was also settled by Francis THOMPSON. One mile north lived James HALL, whose wife was the first person buried in the Hall graveyard in 1813. South, on Muddy River, on what is now known as the HOLLIDAY farm, lived Nathaniel DAVIS and the LEWISES, and I think the wife of Thomas LEWIS was the first person buried in the Holliday Graveyard, in 1813, followed soon after by the father of George and John BUTCHER, who were well known to all the old settlers of the county. Lower down the river lived Joseph FRANCH upon the present site of the city of Murphysboro. FRANCH owned slaves, and after Illinois was admitted as a free State he sold his farm to Dr. John LOGAN and moved to Missouri where he could hold slaves.

Conrad WILL lived at the salt well, since known as Brownsville, William BOON, father of Benningsen BOON, had settled at Sand Ridge. James DAVIS, Alexander COCHRAN and James GILL were living close to grand Tower. Thomas TAYLOR lived at that time on the south band of Big Muddy, just south of where the Illinois Central Railroad bridge now crosses. Still further south lived the PYLEs, WILLs, VANCILs, BUTCHERs, and SORRELs, who were about the only settlers of the county when we came in 1813 except a man named COX, who lived in Cox's Prairie. Another by the name of JACKSON lived in the south part of Nine- Mile Prairie close to where DuQuoin now stands, and whose farm was afterwards owned by Professor B.G. ROOTS. At the time we came to this country all the lands lying north of the Big Muddy River, and more especially the prairies, were very wet and muddy. At certain seasons of the year it was almost impossible to travel through them. The lands were at the time considered of very little value, other than for pasture. We arrived here on the 25th of December, 1813. That year James Madison was inaugurated president and Eldrige Gerry vice-president. About that time some very interesting events occurred in the history of the United States - the capture of an English squadron on Lake Erie by the Americans under Commodore Perry; the seizure of the city of Washington by the British and the burning of the capitol and other public buildings; the battle of Baltimore and the treaty (made) with the Indians by General Andrew Jackson. At this time the Kaskaskia Indians and the Shawnees were here in great numbers, though very peaceable. Game was here in great abundance, such as black bears, deer, turkeys, and a few elk upon the prairies. In 1818 the state was admitted as a free state, which turned southern immigrants beyond the Mississippi River. A great many of the old settlers who lived near the river died with what is since called the "mild sick", which gave the country the reputation of being very unhealthy, and from that time to 1836, the country was settled very slowly. In 1836, the Pennsylvanians started coming and settled up the country, and with their wealth and industry have added greatly to its prosperity. In 1864 the Illinois Central Railroad was complete through the country since which time, immigration has come in so rapidly from all parts of the world and has so much improved the country that I feel I am almost a stranger in my own land.

Contributor unknown; Source unknown

Historic Tidbits

The first coal mine was started in 1886 by a Mr. Bryden. Located at foot of the "Big Hill", just north of T. A. Nisbet's residence, known as Mine #1. Bryden coal Company sunk other shafts later, #5 being a well known mine. Other coal companies began to secure leases and open up mines. The Sato Coal and Mining company had a large mine, just a short distance south-east of Mrs. Mary Morgan's home, known as the Syndicate, and the Willis Coal and Mining company had a mine over beyond Bryden. (I remember a shaft just east of the Sato crossroads a short way and north of the road). Bryden was a small junction town on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad about two miles south-east of Sato. From this junction the railroad switch was built into Sato, the track coming up from the south-easterly direction, around the "Big Hill", into the various mines. Frank Grissom set up a general store in 1887 on KILLION HILL. Sold to T. A. Henson. Mr. Hack from Vergennes set up one, also sold to Mr. Henson. Later, Mr. Dempster opened a large store near the present school building. (possibly remembered as the Lodge Hall). Perkins Blacksmith north-east of crossroads. Lewis Killion operated another one on the Killion Hill, left to him by his uncle Silas Killion. A hotel and boarding houses also were operated. Known as "Greasy Row", it consisted of four saloons(one being the Blue Goose), a dance hall and a calaboose (jail). This area may have been known as Gasville.

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