Prairie Du Long
Monroe County, Illinois
This history was extracted from the following book on:
Combined History of Randolph, Monroe and Perry Counties, Illinois
Published by J. L. McDonough & Co.
Prairie Du Long precinct, so named form he prairie
that constitutes an important part of its territory, lies in the extreme
eastern part of the county, and by the census of 1880 had a population
of 1480. Its area embraces
the whole of Township 3, Range 8, together with a strip of territory
lying between the Kaskaskia and the west boundary line of township 3,
Range 9 and sections 1, 12, 13, 24 and 25 of Township3, Range 9 and
section 36 and one-half of section 25 of Township 2, Range 9.
Most of its territory was originally wooded, and the timber was
quite heavy along the streams. Prairie du Long and Prairie du Round
(hybrid terms of French and English) so called on account of about nine
miles, half of which lies in St. Clair county.
Its width is about thee and a half miles.
Prairie du Round is about three miles in circumference, and lies
a little south-west of the central part of Township 3, Range 8.
A small portion of Twelve-mile Prairie lies in the northeastern
part. Horse prairie extends a short distance into the precinct from
the south. The surface,
aside from the prairies, is mainly broken, although even in the timbered
parts, there is much bad land. The
timber, of which there is still considerable amount, consists of the
different varieties of oak and hickory, maple, ash, pecan and black
walnut. Wheat is the
staple, though corn and oats are largely grown.
The principal streams are the Kaskaskia river, Richland and
Prairie du Long creeks. Attention
is paid to the subject of good roads, and Richland and Prairie du Long
creeks are spanned by iron bridges, the former on the state road
extending form Nashville, Washington county, to Harrisonville on the
Mississippi, passing through Freedom, and the latter on the Kaskaskia
and St. Louis road.
The earliest permanent settlement was made in the
year 1802 by John Pulliam, from Horse prairie, a place described in the
chapter on Red Bud precinct. Pulliam
improved a farm on Prairie du Long, a little north of Richland creek. Among the settlers of about this date were three brothers,
John James and Richard Hix. They
settled in section 31, Township 3, Range 8.
They were owners of farms, but were especially hunters and India
fighters. One of the
brothers was in pursuit of game, when he and an Indian simultaneously
discovered each other dodging behind a tree for protection.
Hix outwitted the red skin by a little device.
He placed his hat on the ramrod of his rifle, and with mock
caution exposed it to the Indian's view.
He, supposing that Hix's head was in the hat, pierced it with a
bullet, and then started forward for his scalp, when the latter stepping
from his retreat, shot him dead. Two
brothers, John and Modglin Wright, lived on adjoining farms in section
28. They were farmers and
A family named Faraday, were among the very
earliest settlers in the precinct.
They were several sons, and their mother, and lived on the E. ½
of section 29. They neither
worked nor hunted, yet fared more sumptuously than their pioneer
neighbors. Samuel Winn, may
also be referred to as among the early settlers.
Matthew and John Donahoo, lived on section 10.
James Lacy, an early settler, owned a considerable quantity of
land in section 16.
About 1810, James and Robert Smith, from Tennessee,
arrived. They brought
families with them and settled on section 36.
James had two sons, Booker and Ransom.
Robert had one son, Henry. James
was a lover of good horses, and had a valuable mare, which he prized
very highly, not only on account of her personal good qualities, but
also because she gave promise of profit.
One night he heard the noise of wolves, perceptibly in great
numbers, and felt assured that his mare was a victim, but though a brave
man he dared not venture to her assistance.
In the morning her carcass and that of her filly lay near each
other. One evening, one of
the Smiths shot a wolf; immediately he heard a wolf "call", and then
in succession he heard others, and soon found that he was surrounded by
them. He climbed a small
tree that stood near and was obliged to remain in captivity all night.
The wolves used their teeth with diligence and energy, but did
not succeed, in felling the tree, as Smith feared they would.
Major Starkey, an early settler in Prairie Du Long, was a soldier
in the war of 1812. He was
a man of gentlemanly bearing, of fine physique, and of standing in the
community. Henry Hill, one
Slater and one Scott, were among the early settlers on Twelve Mile
prairie. Hill settled in
the N. E. ¼ of section 2, and Slater and Scott in the immediate
vicinity. Their descendents, as those also of most of the other early
settlers in the precinct, have been displaced by a population mainly
German. John Morrison, was
of the Morrison family that played so important a part in mercantile
affairs at Kaskaskia, at an early day.
At this city he was born. He
married a Ralls, and settled on Richmond creek, two or three miles above
its mouth. Here some time
prior to 1821, he had a water mill.
He moved to Kaskaskia and subsequently returned and settled on
the Philip Sauer place, in section 20.
He held the office of Sheriff and Judge of the county court, for
a number of years. "Morrison's
bridge, " that spans Prairie Du Long creek, bears his name.
He was the father of Col. Wm. R. Morrison, at the present writing
a member of Congress. His
death occurred at Waterloo. Abraham McMurtice came from South Carolina,
in 1814 or 15, and settled in the forks of Richland and Prairie Du Long
creek. Here he improved some land, but did not remain long.
Henry Null, a German, and his wife, came as early as 1815, and
settled southeast of Freedom, on the N. E. ¼ of section 14. At this
place he made his home for life.
The most important earl settlement was formed by
the English Catholics, in the northwestern part of Township 3, Range 8.
The central spirit of this settlement was Thomas Winstanley.
He lived just across the line of Monroe, in St. Clair county, and
is mentioned here because the settlement bears his name and because of
his influence in its affairs. He
was a man of means and a devoted Catholic, and a center of attraction
for those of his nationality and of his faith.
This English settlement at that early day possessed most of what
there was of culture and refinement in the territory of Prairie Du Long
precinct. St. Augustine
Church and the school that at an early day was taught near it,
symbolized their devotion to piety and to learning.
William Threlfall was a native of Lancashire, England.
On his arrival in Illinois, he landed at Kaskaskia.
He remained here but a short time, and then with his wife and
children came to the Winstanley settlement in 1819, and located on the
N. E. ¼ of section 6, where he improved a good farm.
Mr. Threlfall was a patriotic citizen and served his country in
the Black Hawk war. He had
nine children, John, Edward, Peter, James, William, Jane, Nancy, Mary
and Elizabeth. John was a man grown when he came. He married Margaret Thompson, and settled on unimproved land
in section 6. He died of
cholera in 1849. In the
year 1819, Edward Newsham, also and Englishman and his wife arrived in
the settlement. He located
south of St. Augustine Church on section 6.
He never had any children to advance the settlement, but was a
prominent, influential and useful man in the community of which he
formed a part. John Bamber, arrived in 1821.
He was a native of Yorkshire, England, and in 1817, came to
Maryland, where he remained two years. He then set out for Illinois with his wife and eight
children, James, Thomas, William, John, Ann, Mary, Betsy and Ellen.
He was also accompanied by five brothers, Edward, John, Thomas,
William and Richard Coop, who came from England to Maryland in 1819.
Descending the Ohio in a flat boat they landed at Shawneetown,
where they remained for a period of two years, William Coop having in
the meantime died. In 1821, the Bamber family and Thomas Coop left Shawneetown,
and came overland to what is now Prairie Du Long precinct.
On their way to the Winstanley settlement they stopped at the
house of John Morrison on Richland creek.
Mr. Bamber settled on the N. ½ of section 6, land now owned by
Dr. Kemp, a mile and a half west of Freedom.
Here he improved a good farm and ended his days.
James Bamber married shortly after his arrival and
settled in St. Clair county. Thomas also settled in that county about
1830. William is living in
Harrisonville. John Ellen,
Ann and Mary are dead. Betsy resides in California.
Thomas Coop married Ann Dickinson, and settled in section 1,
township 3, range 9, where he still lives at the age of 77.
Mr. Coop is a well knows citizen, and has been a useful man in
his community. John Gregson
immigrated from England in 1819. His
family consisted of his wife and three children, William, George and
James. William and George died very young.
Their names were afterward given to two after-born brothers.
There was also a daughter, Eliza.
Mr. Gregson settled on section 19, where he became quite a
successful farmer. James
Ibison and his wife, about the year 1820, arrived from Lancashire,
England, and located in the Winstanley settlement, in section 5.
Here he improved a good farm.
His children were named James, Thomas and Ann.
He died in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Zopher Williams and his brother Arthur were settlers of the year
1820. The former located on
the N. ½ of section 5. The
Winstanley settlement is, at present, a mere name for a thing of the
past. The English settlers have become scattered, and those of another
nationality have take their place.
Several of the families went to California.
About the year 1820, Henry Noah, a Kentuckian, who married Eliza
Robbison, settled in Horse Prairie, south of Richland creek. He was a
teacher, and probably the first in the precinct.
To the same date and locality may be referred, the Guthries, a
family from one of the Eastern States.
The children were John, Charles, James, Samuel, Joseph, Catharine
and Nancy. James was a
teacher. He married Nancy
The Germans began to arrive about the year 1830.
Philip Hensinger was among the first.
On his arrival from Germany he had a wife and two or three
children. He settled in section 15,
Henry and Catharine Frick, and their children, Conrad, John,
George, William, Charles, Ernst, Jacob and Catharine, came from Hesse
Cassel to St. Clair county in 1833, and thence to Monroe in 1835.
The family located about two miles south of the town of Freedom.
The father and mother are dead.
Four of the brothers are living here.
John Ruhl arrived in Twelve Mile Prairie in 1833.
He came from Hesse Darmstadt with his wife and four children, and
settled on the N. E. ¼ of section 16.
In the same year, Christian Steigers from Beyern, Germany with
his wife an five children, four sons, and a daughter, settled on the E.
1/ of section 13 in Twelve Mile. In the same prairie, on the N. E. ¼ of
section 14, Conrad Moore settled in 1835. He and his family, his wife and two children, were from Hesse
Darmstadt. John Weaver,
also a German, settled about the center of section 13, 1836.
Timothy Dunn and his wife Ann Flood were natives of Ireland,
married in New York city, and came here in 1838.
The first land entered in this precinct was by Henry Neill, the
N. W. ¼ of section 14, 160 acres entered August 11th, 1814.
The town was laid out on land of Theodore Hilgard.
It was platted and surveyed by Thomas Singleton, county surveyor,
December 18, 1840. It
stands on the N. W. quarter of section 4, T. 2 S., R. 10 W.
In 1849, Jacob Frick built the first house.
The same year he opened a stock of goods.
The Star flouring mill was built in 1863, by Keho and Thieltges.
In 1864, it was purchased by George Frick, the present owner and
operator. The building is
of frame, and contains four run of burrs with a capacity of eighty
barrels a day. The
school-house is a brick building, erected in 1865, at a cost of $1,300.
The Freedom Library Association was organized as early as 1867.
It was charter, December 9, 1872.
It has five hundred and seventy volumes of books, worth about
General Stores. – Henry Gambach, Adam Roth, Joseph Klinkhardt.
Hotels. – Jacob Thum, K. Y. Roxroth.
Saloon. – Jacob Heuvies.
Blacksmiths. – Lenhardt Weis, John Grib, Joseph Meyercough.
Wagon Makers. –Sephastian Jakel, Jacob Wagner.
Shoemaker. – Henry Diefenbach.
Harness Maker. – Henry Reismeyer.
Justice and Notary Public. – H. J. Frick.
Postmaster. – Henry Gambach.