1879 History of Menard & Mason Counties
Published by: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street

Mason County

Organization of the Territory of Illinois
Page 395

On the 11th of January, 1805, Congress passes an act cutting off the peninsula of Michigan from the Territory of Indiana and forming the Territory of Michigan; and, on the 3d of February, 1809, all that part of Indiana Territory lying west of the Wabash River and a line drawn due north from the river at Vincennes to the line between the United States and Canada, was, by act of Congress, set apart into the Territory of Illinois, the act to take effect on the 1st day of March, 1809. This included what is now the State of Wisconsin. The population at that time was estimated at 9,000, leaving about double that number in Indiana. The entire Territory at that time composed but two counties, St. Clair and Randolph.

The formation of the Territory of Illinois, at that time, was due to the election and subsequent efforts of Jesse B. Thomas, (then a resident of Indiana), as a delegate to Congress. By pledging himself in a bond to procure the formation of the Territory, he secured the united vote of Illinois, and after a bitter contest he was elected by one majority, and if there is truth in history that one vote which made the majority was cast by himself!

The population of the Territory of Illinois, by the census of 1810, consisted of 11,501 whites, 168 slaves and 613 of all others, except Indians.

Ninian Edwards, then Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals in Kentucky, was appointed first Governor of the Territory of Illinois by President Madison, his commission bearing date April 24, 1809; and Jesse B. Thomas, Alexander Stuart and William Sprigg were appointed the three first Judges of the Territory.

Gov. Edwards continued in office as Governor until the organization of the State in 1818-the act providing for which passed on the 18th of April, and the admission of which was on the 3d of December.

During the war with England, in 1812, Gov. Edwards headed a military expedition, composed of 350 men, against Peoria Lake, then the abode of several Indian tribes-an Indian Village at the head of the lake and a French town and fort at the lower end, where Peoria City now stands. In this expedition the Indian village was destroyed, the inhabitants dispersed, killed and captured, and the town was also burned and the inhabitants taken prisoners down the river. The expedition returned to Camp Russell, near the present town of Edwardsville, from which it had marched out on the 18th of October, after an absence of thirteen days, without the loss of a man.

A second expedition to Peoria left Camp Russell in 1813, passing up the Mississippi to where the city of Quincy now stands, and from thence across to the Illinois River, at the mouth of Spoon River, and from thence to Peoria, where the soldiers built Fort Clark, which was burned down in 1818, and the town was again rebuilt in 1819-this first time by American pioneers. The French fort, Crevecoeur, was built in 1680, and the first European settlement at that place was in 1778.

At the time of the organization of the State in 1818, Illinois was composed of fifteen counties, viz.: St. Clair, Randolph, Madison, Gallatin, Johnson, Edwards, White, Monroe, Pope, Jackson, Crawford, Bond, Union, Washington and Franklin, and contained a supposed population of 40,000 people.

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