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.

Philadelphia 1883



Pages 421-422

In the limits of the present Bluff precinct the earliest settlement was made in the year 1796 by several families by the name of Short, Griffins, Gibbons, Roberts, and Valentine.  This colony remained only a few years, and its members then scattered to other localities. It must have been quite numerous at one time, for years afterward could be seen a large graveyard in which the early pioneers were buried, on the creek, between Monroe City and the bottom, which by the early settlers was called Ryan's creek, from the fact that Josiah Ryan had settled on it in the bottom under the bluff.  Daniel Shultz, also made an early settlement here.  Where Monroe City now stands Andrew Kinney built a water mill, and this vicinity, at an early time, became one of the important business points of the county.  From this mill flour was shipped to St. Louis and to New Orleans before the war of 1812.  Kinney was one of the sons of Joseph Kinney, who settled east of New Design, and there built one of the earliest water mills in the county.  In building the mill, Kinney was seriously injured by a piece of timber falling on his breast.  He was confined to his house for many years.  In 1818 he became a candidate for delegate to the convention which framed the original constitution of the State of Illinois.  He subsequently died in Missouri.  His brother Wm. Kenney, settled near Belleville, and became Lieutenant-Governor of the State.  On Ryan's creek, below Monroe city, Josiah Ryan built a mill in 1798.  The Kinney farm, where Andrew Kinney lived, was on Ryan's creek, below Monroe city.  On the site of Kinney's mill, in the year 1827, another mill was subsequently built by Gen. Thomas James.   A post-office was established there called James' Mills.  The mill afterward passed into the hands of Lewis James.  It was run as a water mill until 1851; it was then changed to a steam mill.  The scarcity of water occasioned the suspension of the mill in dry seasons, and its increasing trade made the introduction of steam a necessity.  The mill was afterward owned by James L. Garretson, Uriah Harlow, and James Harlow.  Wm. H. Bissell, afterwards Governor of Illinois, began his distinguished career at James' Mills, where he settled and for a time followed his profession as a physician.  He subsequently became a lawyer. 

About a mile south of Madonnaville was formerly an old ox mill built by Thomas Harrison, of Belleville.  Isaac J. Bailey, and a Mr. Jarrot, operated this mill for a time for Harrison.  Settlers came from a distance to this mill.  The mill was located on what was known as the old tan yard farm, on section 17, township 2, range 10.  George Biggs, one of the pioneer citizens of the county, resided on claim 777, survey 643, in township 3, range 10.  At and early day a family named Great lived in the hollow a mile below Monroe City.  They came from Maryland.  John Great, one of the sons, was a stonemason, and did the stone work of the mill at Monroe city.    He died at Prairie De Pont.  Arnold Livers, of Frederick county, Maryland, came with the Great family.  He was about sixteen years of age when he arrived in Illinois. He subsequently married and settled on the northwest quarter of section 7, township 3, range 10.  Joseph Livers came out from Maryland some years afterward, and located on the American Bottom, four miles north of Harrisonville on the Nagel place in section 18.  The Bryant family settled at an early date.  Prince Bryant lived on this place in 1824; an old graveyard a short distance north of Madonnavile was used as a burial place by the Bryants.  Elias Bryant lived on section 18.  Wm. Bryant's farm was on section 11, and is now owned by William Pryor. 

Orlando Mattingly lived on Section 32, T. 2, R. 10.  The farm was entered by his father.  His widow married a man named Foster, and the pond on the land was given the name of Foster pond, which it has since retained.

Among the later population of the precinct were a large number of German famiies, who settled hereafter the year 1840.  In the vicinity of Madonnaville lived the Berger family on the Kraft place in section 18.  Matthias, John, Sebastian and Joseph Berger were the sons, only the last of whom is now residing in this county.  John P. Hoffman has been living a mile east of Modonnaville since 1844.  Other early settlers were Francis Adelsberger, Michael Menter, Louis Gerster.  Adam Andreas settled prior to 1845, on section 18.  Nicholas and Sebastian Andreas were his sons, the former of whom is still living.  Other early German residents were Jacob Coerver, Francis Coerver, Henry Mueller.  The latter settled on Section 5 in 1844.  Peter, George, John and Henry Mueller were his sons.  John Harbaugh, a Pennsylvanian, came in 1845.  Soon after came Philip Knisler.  John Chrisitan Wilsenborn, has lived in the neighborhood of Monroe County since 1846.  He served in Co. H. 2d Regiment, commanded by Col. Bissell, in the Mexican War.

Monroe City

A store was opened at this place (formerly called James' Mill) in the year 1851. In the building now occupied as a store by David Schein, a large mercantile business was here carried on at one time, four clerks being occupied in the sale of goods.  About the time the store was started the place came to be called Monroe City.  In 1864 the stock of goods was destroyed by fire.  It then belonged to the Garretson heirs.  The town now contains twenty dwelling-hours.  The mill, which has two run of burrs, is owned by Gottlieb Ziebold, and is leased by Valentine Lupfer.  David Schein is proprietor of the store and postmaster.  Adam Keiser, blacksmith and wagon maker.  Michael Eschamn and Adam Seipel are carpenters.  There is a public school and tri-weekly mail.


Madonnaville was laid out by Joseph W. Ruebsam.  He erected the first building; it is now used as a store.  Ruebsam started a store shortly after the town was laid out.  A man named Helmich was also the proprietor of a store for sometime.  John Eichenseer built the second dwelling.  It is the stone house now occupied by John Harbaugh.  Ruebsam's stock of goods was purchased in 1868 by George W. Harbaugh, who kept the store until the spring of 1882.  St. Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1857.  With the church connected a parochial school.  The village is now composed of nine dwelling-houses, a church, a school-house, and a store.  There is a tri-weekly mail.  The business me are John Weiler, merchant and postmaster; Nicholas Schroeder, carpenter; ad Michale Eichenseer, shoemaker.


Wartburg is the name of a new village that has lately sprung up four or five miles southwest of Waterloo, on the road from that place to Monroe City.  July 1st, 1881, a post-master was established, with Louis P. Buettner, postmaster.  He still retains the position.  He is also the proprietor of a store.  The village contains half a dozen dwellings, a carpenter shop, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Cross, with which a school is connected.  The church is a large stone building. The school has sixty or sixty-five pupils.  An extensive pond near the town is known by the name of Beaver Pond.  It was at first the intention to call the post-office by that name, but on account of its prevalence as a title for post-office, the name of Warburg was substituted in commemoration of the castle in Germany, where Luther for some time resides, and translated the Bible.  Nearly all the members of the village are Lutherans.