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 333-335

Moredock precinct lies wholly in the American Bottom. Within its limits were made some of the earliest settlements in Illinois, and it has been the home of many distinguished and celebrated men. One of the first improvements was made by Shadrach Bond who settled in the bottom near the mouth of Dug hollow in the year 1782. He was a native of Maryland, and was raised near the city of Baltimore. He held a conspicuous position among the early settlers of the county. Although quite, unassuming and unambitious, he was several times elected a representative in the legislatures of both the Indian and a Northwestern territory, and for many years was justice of St. Clair county court of common pleas, before Monroe Co. was organized. He was familiarly known as Judge Bond. He had a strong mind and a liberal and generous disposition. He was not ambitious for wealth but was the owner of a large body of land. Claim 322, survey 399, was granted to him (the confirmation being made by Gov. St. Clair) in right of an old French concession. This comprised four hundred acres, and extended from the foot of the bluff to the bottom. Claim 321, survey 400, containing four hundred acres, is the grant of land which he obtained by virtue of his improvement. His house was at the mouth of Dug hollow, in the bottom of a short distance from the bluff, and some scattered stones still remain to mark its site. On his death he was buried in the old graveyard on the bluff just above his residence.

At the same time with Bond, James Garretson came to Illinois. He settled first near Bellefontaine, a mile northeast of the present town of Waterloo, where four hundred acres of land was given him on account of the improvement be there made. He subsequently made his home in the bottom. He was the owner of claim 2609, survey 407, confirmed to him in right of the militia claims of himself, James Bryan, and Benjamin Ogle. On the tenth of December, 1788, while hauling hay in company with Benjamin Ogle, he was attacked by two Indians. Ogle was struck in the shoulder by a ball, Garretson escaped. In stacking the same hay Samuel Garretson, a brother to James Garretson, and a man named Reddick, were killed and scalped by the Indians. James Garretson on the eighteenth of March 1800, married Mary Carr, daughter of Joseph Carr, who came to the new design settlement in 1974. It was right after his marriage that he settled in the bottom of what is now Moredock precinct. He was an honest and upright citizen, and an ordained preacher in the Baptist church.

One of the most remarkable persons who ever lived in this part of the country, was John Moredock. In his honor this precinct received its name. His house was on the south side of Moredock lake on the farm now owned by William Wincklemann. His father, Barney Moredock, having died, his mother married as her second husband Michael Huff, and in the year 1786, the family set out from the Monongahela country, in western Pennsylvania, for Illinois. They embarked in a boat on the Ohio at Red stone, where the town of Brownsville was afterward built. While ascending the Mississippi, they encamped for the night near the Grand Tower. Here the party was attacked by the Indians. Mrs. Huff, and on of her sons were killed. The body of the woman was frightfully mangled before the eyes of her son, John Moredock. The rest of the family came to what is now Monroe county. The list of land grants made of account of the improvements shows that Huff, at an early date, began the cultivation of a farm about a mile north of the site of Waterloo. The family subsequently settled in the American Bottom. Mr. Huff was killed by the Indians between Prairie du Rocher and Kaskaskia. The calamities which the Indians had visited on his family excited deep feelings of hatred and vengeance in the breast of young Moredock, and he swore eternal enmity against the savage race. He was a boy when he came to Illinois, and his mind and character were formed under the peculiar circumstances that belong to a wild and new country. He had little opportunities for education. He could merely read and write, and possessed a scant acquaintance with the rules of arithmetic. In 1803, he was elected a member of the territorial legislature, which convened at Vincennes the same year, he was a man of much strong common sense and though young made a good legislator. He had some talent and taste for military life. He was first Captain of a company, and afterward became Major of a battalion. In 1814 he was elected to the legislative assembly held at Kaskaskia, under the territorial government. He had two daughters, but neither of whom left children; the were excellent rifle shots, and it is said of them, that they could take the head of a squirrel from the top of the tallest tree. Major Moredock was in the service during the war of 1812-14 as a Major. He died in 1830.

At the mouth of Trout hollow in early times lived a German man by the name of Jacob Trout, after whom the hollow received the name which it still bears. He was a tanner, and traces of his old tan vats can still be discovered in the hollow a short distance from the bottom. He had a wide reputation for making an excellent quality of leather, and grew rich. An old lady, still living, Mrs. Phebe Miller relates that one of the wonders of her childhood, was a visit to Trout's house and the sight of a chest full of silver dollars. After living at this place many years he moved to a farm on the river where he died.

Benjamin Byram lived for many years north of Moredock, where he was the owner of claim 825, survey 582, comprising four hundred acres of land. This claim was given him in virtue of an improvement right, he having settled here previous to the year 1788. On claim 1417, survey 771, lying between Moredock lake and the bluff and immediately below the mouth of Trout hollow, Elisha Nelson made the first improvement. He lived there a few years, the grant of land obtained as account of his improvement passing into the possession of Shadrach Bond, and afterward into that of John Moredock. Claims 597, survey 562, on the river a mile below Smith's landing, is a grant of four hundred acres made on account of an improvement here made in early times by James Curry. How long he lived there is not known. He was one of Clark's soldiers, and a man of great bravery and hardihood. He came to the neighborhood of Kaskaskia shortly after the year 1780, and in the spring of 1788 had a desperate fight with the indians. A ferry was carried on from the Missouri side of the river at this point in early times, for the claim is described as situated "on the bank of the Mississippi river, opposite Smorlesses' Ferry." The Rev. David Badgeley who had previously preached at the New Design, preached in the American Bottom during the winter of 1797-98, and with Elder Joseph Chance, formed a Baptist church in this precinct in April 1798, Aaron Badgeley lived on Moredock Lake, nearer Harrisonville.

On claim 576, survey 402, at the bend of Fountain creek, east of Smith's Landing the first improvement was made by Robert watts. George Atcheson succeeded to this right to the grant, and lived here for many years. In early times a brick house was built near the creek, on that part of the claim now owned by Philip Jehling and which was known as the George Atcheson house. Andres Porter, in former years, occupied the farm in the bend of the creek, included in claim 576, which is now owned by James Dacre. He married a daughter of James Garretson as has been before remarked. Daniel Shook, and early resident of the precinct, who came to Illinois from Pennsylvania, settled of claim 851, survey 406. He carried on a blacksmith shop and farm. Joseph, Benjamin and Jacob Shook were his sons. Farther up Fountain creek lived a man named Brewer. Solomon Shook, a brother of Daniel Shook, lived on claim 620, survey 564, on the north side of Moredoch lake, on land owned by John Sennot, on claim 917, survey 563. Ichabod Valentine lived in early times. The brick house on claim 309, survey 423, was built by Dan.Sink. It is one of the oldest housed  now standing on Eagle Prairie. It and the Atcheson house were the only two brick houses in this part of the county. In the assessment of 1817, Sink's house was assessed at six hundred dollars, within one hundred dollars of the highest valuation placed on any dwelling-house in the county, two others being assessed at seven hundred. On claim 957, survey 422, Henry Starr lived at an early period.

Jehu Scott for many years lived on a farm included in claim 578, survey 420. He was a native of Maryland, and was mostly raised in Washington county, Pennsylvania. He learned the blacksmith trade in Pennsylvania, and moved to Kentucky. In 1797 he came to Illinois and settled in the bottom, in Moredock precinct. His second wife was Polly Kinkead, daughter of Jamed Kinkead, who came to Illinois in 1786. He carried on a blacksmith shop. He was in the ranging service during the war of 1812-14. He died near Freeburg in St. Clair county, in January, 1840. The house in which he lived, in the east part of claim 578, is still standing, though additions and alterations to it have have since been made. Below Scott a man names Jameson made and early improvement. William Walker, a native of Wheeling, W. Va, settled near the old Donner place, between that farm and the brick church, in 1825. His daughter became the wife of Austin James.

One of the earliest permanent settlers near the river was John Robbins, who lived about a mile south of east from Smith's Landing, on land owned my Joseph Meyer. About the year 1820 he had a farm of forty acres under cultivation, and worked industriously at his trade of a shoemaker.

The Murdick family came from Kentucky, and settled in the bottom near Judge Bond in 1796. Her husband dying the next year, Mrs, Murdick married George Blair, afterward the first proprietor of Belleville. John Murdick, her son, was born in Kentucky in 1790, and was a soldier in the second war with Great Britian. After the close of the war of 1812-14 he enlisted in the regular army, and he died in the United States service.

One of the oldest residents of the precinct is now Rugus Merriman. His father, William Merriman, was a colored man whom Governor Shadrach Bond brought from Maryland. His mother, Abagail Warner, was a bound girl belonging to Judge Shadrach Bond. Merriman was born in the bottom, where his whole life has been passed.

Stephen W. Miles, then a young man of twenty-four, emigrated to Illinois and settled at eagle Cliffs in 1819; he was born at Cazenova, Madison county, New York. He married Lucretia Shook. He became the owner of large tracts of land and a prominent citizen of the county. Eagle Cliffs was the name given to a post-office, first established under the bluff, at the mouth of Dug hollow, whence the name. Its location was afterward changed, and abandoned on the establishment of the Merrimac Point post-office.

On the summit of the bluff, immediately below dug hollow, is an old burying ground in which repose the remains of many pioneers of this part of the county. The situation is beautiful, and commands a far-reaching view of the fertile bottom lands, of the Mississippi river, and of the opposite shores of Missouri. Judge Bond was buried here, and John Moredock, and the tombstones disclose the names of members of the Livers, Shook, James, Miles, Todd, Voris, Alexander, and other families. The large and costly vault used by the Miles family can be seen from a considerable distance. It is handsomely constructed of stone, with marble doors, and the inscription shows that it was erected in 1858 by Stephen W. Miles, to be used as a burial place for himself, his family and decendants, under the care and direction, in succession, of the oldest male heir of the family.

Fountain creek, which traverses this part of the bottom for many miles, was called by the French l'Aigle creek. Eagle prairie had retained its French name of l'Aigle prairie.