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.

Philadelphia 1883



Pages 406-408

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 professional hunters.

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 Hurlstone. 

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.

Town of Freedom

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 $2,500.

Present Business

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.