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1882 History - Chapter 3

... Illinois was taken from the British in 1778, by conquest of Gen. George Rogers Clark, and became a county of Virginia. It then embraced what is now the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, with the seat of government at Kaskaskia. In 1784, Virginia ceded it to the United States Government, and by the ordinance of 1787 it became the Northwestern Territory, with its capital first at Marietta, and then at Cincinnati, Ohio. This continued until 1800, when it was made a part of the Indiana Territory, with the seat of government at Vincennes, Ind., and embraced the present States of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 1809, that portion now forming the States of Illinois and Wisconsin, became the Territory of Illinois, and in 1818, Illinois became a State of the Federal Union, with her capital at the ancient town of Kaskaskia. The Southern part of the State was settled long before the central and northern part, and there the first counties were formed, even before the State was admitted into the Union. The country within the boundaries of the present State of Illinois extending northward to the mouth of the Little Mackinaw Creek, was organized into a county in February, 17790, and named for His Excellency, Gen. Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwestern Territory. Other counties were formed, as population increased. In 1795, Randolph was created, and Madison in 1812. Bond County, comprising a large extent of territory, and from which several counties have since been formed, was organized in 1817. The following is the act of the Legislature, or that part of it pertaining to the subject, which gave it a legal existence.

An act forming a new county out of the county of Madison, approved January 4, 1817:
Be it enacted by the Legislative Council and House of Representatives of Illinois Territory, and it is hereby enacted by authority of the same, that all tract of country within the following boundaries, to wit:
Beginning at the southwest corner of Township 3 north, Range 4 west; thence east to the southeast corner of Township 3 north, Range 1 east, to the third meridian line; thence north to the boundary line of the Territory; thence west with said boundary line so far that a south line will pass between Ranges 4 and 5 west; thence south with said line to the beginning. The same shall constitute a separate county to be called Bond, and the seat of justice for said county shall be at Hill's Fort until it shall be permanently established in the following manner, that is to say, there shall be five persons appointed, to wit: William ROBERTS, John POWERS, Robert GILLESPIE, John WHITLEY, Sr., and John

[Page 26] LAUGHLIN, or a majority of them being duly sworn before some
Judge or Justice of the Peace of this Territory to faithfully take into view the situation of the settlements, the geography of the county, the convenience of the people and the eligibility of the place, shall meet on the first Monday in March, next, at Hill’s Fort, on Shoal Creek, and proceed to examine and determine on the place for the permanent seat of justice and designate the same. ...

[Page 27 - Portrait of William S. WAIT]
[Page 28 - Blank page]

[Page 29]...

As Bond County was organized in 1817, when Illinois was yet a Territory, it was one of the fifteen counties represented in the Constitutional Convention of 1818. Thomas KIRKPATRICK and Samuel G. MORESE represented this county in the Convention that formed the first State Constitution. Of the dimensions of Bond at the time of its formation, Rev. Thomas W. HYNES, in his address, July 4, 1876, says:

[Page 30]...

... The first Circuit Court was held at Hill's Station, on Monday, May 30, 1817. The State being under a Territorial Government, all the offices were filled by appointment, and were as follows: The Hon. Jesse B. THOMAS, Judge; Daniel CONVERSE, Clerk; Samuel G. MORSE, Sheriff; and Charles R. MATHENY, State's Attorney. The following persons served as grand jurors: John WHITLEY, Sr., Foreman, Soloman REAVIS, Fields PRUITT, Coonrod HOOSONG, Samuel DAVIDSON, Paul BECK, William ROBINSON, John HOPTON, Robert GILLESPIE, Benjamin JAMES, Charles REAVIS, Charles STEEL, Andrew MOODY, Absalom MATHEWS, William McLANE, John WHITLEY, Jr., Peter HUBBARD, David WHITE, Francis KIRKPATRICK, William BURGESS, John SAMPLES, Elijah POWERS, Thomas WHITE.

The list of petit jurors cannot be given, for it does not appear in any of the old records of the county, and, so far as can be ascertained, John B. WHITE, residing a short distance west of Greenville, is the4 only man now living who served on either jury at that court. The petit jury, on retiring to make up their verdict, instead of being shut up in a close room, went out and sat on a large log.

There was only one bill of indictment found, and but one case tried. Judge THOMAS, alluding to this circumstance when dismissing the grand jury, remarked, “It speaks much for the morals of your community; long may such a state of things continue.” In the foregoing list of grand jurors, quite a number of our citizens will recognize the names of ancestors and others with whom they have been familiar in former years.

Two or three terms of the Circuit Court were held at Hill’s Station, after which it was held at Perryville, the first county seat, situated near the mouth of Hurricane Creek, in the southwestern part of what is now Fayette County. The following report of the Commissioners appointed to locate the seat of justice for Bond County, shows something of the extent of territory then under its jurisdiction, and also, the ideas entertained by the people in relation to the navigation of the small rivers and large creeks in this country:

Shoal Creek, April 15, 1817.
Illinois Territory, Bond County.

We, the Commissioners to fix the seat of justice for the county of Bond, being duly sworn, after reviewing different parts of said county for that purpose; we do nominate and appoint for that purpose; the bluff lying west of the Hurricane Fork of Okaw, being the southwest quarter of Section No. 5, Range No. 1 west, of Township No. 4 north, now the property of Martin JONES, taking into view the geographical center, the navigation, the eligibility, and the common good of the people, as directed by law. Given under our hands and seals, the day and year first above written. John POWERS, Robert GILLESPIE, John WHITLEY.

This town was laid out in the spring of 1818, and the plat recorded May 17 of the same year. Illinois having been in the meantime admitted into the Union, Bond County was regularly organized the following autumn, and named for Shadrach BOND, the first Governor of the State,

[Page 31] who was elected in October, 1818, and filled a term of four years. The county then included a large scope of territory, extending to the north, east and south, which is now embodied in adjoining counties. The first Justices' or County Commissioners' Court held in the county, met at Perryville in the month of October, 1818. The Justices were Thomas KIRKPATRICK, Martin JONES, and Isaac PRICE. Daniel CONVERSE was Clerk, and Samuel G. MORSE, Sheriff, CONVERSE being Clerk of both Circuit and County Courts. The principal business of this first court at Perryville seems to have been rewarding persons for killing wolves, $2 being the amount paid for each scalp produces. There were thirty-five orders passed allowing pay for wolf-scalps, and it appears that fifty-one wolves had been killed. The whole amount of money expended by the county for the year previous, as stated by the Sheriff, was $97.75, which was probably mostly for wolf-scalps.

Among the orders passed at this term of the court was one for the erection of a jail at Perryville, giving plan and specifications of the building. It appears to be the only order of any importance passed after remunerating the wolf-killers; a jail, whether needed or not, being evidently considered as a mark of civilization, or, at least, tending in that direction. After perusing this order, the reader can form his own conclusions as to the condition of the literature and architecture of Bond County at that time, and picture to himself the imposing appearance such a building would now present if located in the public square of Greenville. The following is the order, given word for word and letter for letter:

Ordered that Martin JONES be appointed and Empowered to let a Gail to the lowest Bidder to bee built of timber hewn square 12 Inches, the log with a partition of the same kind of Timber, the partition to be 6 feet from one end, the corners to be dove-tailed together and also the partition walls, - the outside door to be double, of two Inch plank, and sufficiently mailed with Strong nails and barred with two Iron barrs, half an inch thick and three inches wide, to answer for the hinges, to be hinged with steeples 8/4 of an Inch in Diameter drove through the Logs and Clinched, and also steeples through the logs in the same manner on the other side of the door, with holes through the bolts to Lock the door with Pad Locks to each.

This jail was built, but not strictly in accordance with the above order, for if it had, it would have been without roof or floor. It is likely the architect supplied with his inventive powers what was omitted in the specification. The first many ever imprisoned in Bond County was incarcerated in this building during the first Circuit Court held at Perryville. E came into court not only a little “tight,” but very drunk, swearing and making quite a disturbance. The Judge ordered him to jail until he became sober, which order was promptly executed by the Sheriff. That worthy official, however, found it impossible to lock the door, for the reason that there had been no padlock provided, as stipulated in the building contract, but as the door opened to the outside, he closed it and placed fence-rails and poles against it, making everything, as he thought, secure. This was late in the afternoon, near sunset. The prisoner lay down and soon fell asleep. About midnight he awoke, duly sober, and finding himself in such a place, was at first much surprised, but after a little reflection, recollected his condition the day before, and imagined that somebody had put him in there for mischief. After groping around the walls awhile, he found the door, and by pushing, kicking, swearing and yelling till almost daylight, succeeded in getting out. The next day he was going about trying to find the perpetrators of the outrage, swearing he could whip any man that helped to put him in there, never for a moment supposing that an order of court had anything to do with it.

Some idea of the sparseness of the settle-

[Page 32] ments at that time may be obtained form the fact that a party of three or four lawyers, on there way to the above-named court, got lost in crossing the prairie between Shoal Creek and the Okaw. After wandering about for several hours, vainly endeavoring to discover some signs of a human habitation, night overtook them, and they were compelled to pass it in the tall grass near a pond, where, bitten by mosquitoes and gnats, and serenaded by hundreds of wolves and myriads of frogs, their meditations were anything but pleasant. They arrived at their destination the next forenoon, hungry and sleepy, where their acquaintances accused them of having been on a spree the night previous, judging from the reddened appearance of their countenances.

... At one of the Justices’ Courts, held at Perryville, an order was passed at a subsequent session, when a license was granted authorizing one JONES “to establish and keep in operation a ferry over the Okaw River at Vandalia.” . . . Notwithstanding the rough state of society then existing, and that the county contained some pretty “hard cases,” yet the laws were, with few exceptions, strictly and promptly executed, without any serious resistance or attempts at lynching. The only case of the latter was that of a man named BAKER, arrested on Big Shoal Creek for horse-stealing, where he was tied to a tree, whipped, and then driven from the county. He went to Vandalia, stole another horse, and started east, but was pursued, overtaken and shot near the Indiana line. The precise date of this occurrence is not known, but was probably about the years 1820.


Transcribed by Norma Hass from the History of Bond and Montgomery Counties Illinois, published in 1882, Part I, pages 24-32.

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