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Madison County Illinois

The Madison County Courthouse is located at 155 North Main Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025; phone: 618-692-6200.

Beginnings [1]

Among the first American settlers in Madison County were men who had accompanied George Rogers Clark on a military expedition into Illinois in 1778. These men were given land grants of 300 acres for their service, and upon completion of their enlistments in 1781, they started migrating via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Illinois to claim their land. One of the early pioneers was Reverend David Badgley, a Baptist preacher who came to Illinois in 1796. Reverend Badgley, who traveled extensively throughout the County, was never a resident of Madison County, but resided in Belleville in St. Clair County. The first American to settle within the limits of what is now Madison County was Ephraim Conner in the year 1800. He built his crude cabin in the northwest corner of the present Collinsville Township, but became dissatisfied with this isolated location and moved on. In 1801, he disposed of this property to Samuel Judy who became a permanent and valued citizen of Madison County. The Judy family is conspicuous in the early settlement of Illinois.

When Governor Edwards established the County in 1812, it was an immense area. Its southern border included the present line, but it extended from the Mississippi to the Wabash River. All the land north of that line to the Canadian border including Wisconsin and part of Minnesota east of the Mississippi and north of Michigan was Madison County.

Subdividing began soon thereafter with the growth of the Illinois territory, and by 1831 the County had dwindled to its present proportions plus what is now Bond County. Bond County was detached in 1843, and there has been no change since that year.

One of the earliest arrivals in Madison County was Thomas Kirkpatrick who built his home along the banks of Cahokia Creek in the northern part of what was to become Edwardsville. It was this house that was appointed the seat of justice of the County in Governor Edward's proclamation in 1812. In 1812, Edwardsville became Madison County's County seat and is the third oldest city in the State of Illinois.

After the War of 1812 had ended, settlement of the County increased rapidly. A treaty of peace with the Indian Tribes of the northwest was concluded in October of 1815. Immigrants from other states, who had been deterred from coming to Illinois by reason of the Indian hostilities, now poured into the County and soon took possession of the unsettled parts. In 1812, Edwardsville, being the County seat, was the leading town within the County and contained about 50 dwellings, the U.S. Land Office, a bank and some public buildings. Alton, now the principal city within the County, had a very small population in 1812. It developed rapidly, however, and by 1920 had bypassed Edwardsville as the leading town in the County. Other settlements in Madison County at the time of its incorporation were upper Alton and Melton.

  1. Madison County, Illinois, Madison County 2020 Land Use and Resource Management Plan, 2008,, accessed August, 2016.
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