Meridian Township

(Clinton County)


Source: "1881 History of Marion & Clinton Counties, Illinois"


This township receives its name from the fact that the third principal meridian passes through the eastern part of its territory. It is bounded on the north by East Fork, on the east by Marion county, on the south by Brookside township, and west by Clement, and contains thirty-six full sections. It is the central-eastern township of the county, and according to the census of 1880, contained a population of 957 inhabitants. It has some of the finest prairie land in southern Illinois, Grand Prairie almost occupying the entire territory of the township; in fact, it contains more acres of prairie than any other precinct in the county. It might well be called the "Prairie township" of Clinton county. This is why it was one of the last settled sections of the county in Clinton. As is well known by all the old settlers, the first to locate here sought timber, thinking the prairie was of no value. What a change! An old pioneer of the county stated to us a few days since that with one acre of prairie he could purchase three acres of timber. But two land entries were made in this township prior to 1836. The natural drainage of this precinct is rather meager. Timber is, therefore, not very abundant. Lost Creek, the principal water course, enters the township in section twelve, and flows in s south-westerly direction, and passes out in the south-west corner of section thirty-one. The Ohio and Mississippi railroad passes entirely through the centre of the township, from east to west, which affords excellent transportation facilities to the citizens of the precinct. Near the centre of the precinct Cohen's Mound lifts her gently sloping sides above the prairie land, and challenges the admiration of the beholder, from the western towns of Marion county to the Kaskaskia river. Crooked Creek, East Fork, and the Kaskaskia all contribute to render the view from the summit of this mound both grand and beautiful. The surface is all susceptible of cultivation, and when wholly improved will lead the van of the county in the number of cultivated acres and wealth of its farming population.

First Settlements

Gibeon BURTON , a native of Tennessee was the first settler. He migrated here with his family in 1817, and located on section 6. He had a large family, consisting of a wife and eight children, six daughters and two sons. He remained here but three or four years, when he moved with his family to Marion county, where he died many years ago. He built the first house in the precinct, which was a small, rude log cabin. When he left for Marion county he sold his farm to John CARTER and Robert COLE. The former was his son-in-law. CARTER afterwards moved to Green county, but soon afterwards removed back to Clinton and settled in East Fork. Here he brought up a large family and died at a good old age. Several of his children are yet living near the old homestead.

The next to settle here was Isaac and James HUGHSON, brothers and natives of the state of New York. They came in 1818, and settled on section 17. At this time they were young men and unmarried. They both afterwards married and reared families while living in the state. The owned what is now known as the Cohen's Mound farm, and in that early day built a double log house on the mound - this was on the Vandalia mail route - and kept a hotel for the accommodation of travelers in those early times. About 1828 they sold out and moved to Texas, where they both died. Mr. Abram HUGHSON, who now lives in Clement, is a brother of Isaac and James, and is the only one of the family now living, being upwards of seventy years of age. Some of the grand-children of James are yet living in Wade township. Lewis COLE, a native of Kentucky, was the third settler in Meridian township; this was in the summer of 1836. This being a prairie country, there were but few settlers until 1836, when emigration poured in, and made it quite a populous township. Mr. COLE took the lead in this year's emigration. He was a native of Kentucky, and came here a single man, in the company of his father. He afterwards married and brought up a large family of children. He remained here ten or twelve years, when he moved to Jefferson county, Ill., where he died. None of his representatives are now living in Meridian township. In 1836, Thomas RAY migrated from Ohio to this state, and settled near Lebanon in St. Clair county. In 1836, he entered a tract of land in this township, also bought the Cohen Mound farm, formerly owned by Isaac and James HUGHSON. This land is situated on the old Vincennes and St. Louis road, about one and a half miles west from Sandoval.

The following we glean from the article published in 1876, by Robert BOWMAN, relating to Meridian township. While the century was yet young, the main avenue of commerce from Vincennes to St. Louis was through what is now the town of Meridian. As civilization marched westward, a large portion of emigration moved along that highway of states, the Vincennes and St. Louis road. This cause produced the first settlement in the town. Over Cohen's Mound the western traveler traced his steps, and then stopped to rest fully fifty years ago. On the 6th day of June 1826, James HUGHSON, father of the valued citizen, Abram HUGHSON, took out a license to keep a tavern on this Mound. This same position was successively occupied in later years by Messrs. RAY & COHEN. It was from the latter that it received its name. In the year 1831, Alexander CRAWFORD emigrated from the state of Georgia, and made a settlement in section 36. His house, however, was built just over the line in what is now known as the STACY place, in the town of Brookside. His son, Zachariah, settled and made a home in the south-east quarter of section 36. It being the second house built in the township. This was 1834. He died in 1857. The house, so long used as a tavern on Cohen's Mound, was destroyed by fire many years ago.

From 1850 to 1860, quite an impetus was given to the settlement of this precinct. BOND and REID improved in section 13; Mr. BALLENGER in section 20; J. E. WAKEHAM and R. BOWMAN in section 36; Rubsummer STEIN and Oswald HEINZMAN in section 16; R. S. POWER in section 24; Henry SIRBERT in section 29; and W. H. H. JOHNSON in the same section; and W. H. CRAWFORD in sections 36 and 34. Several others, not mentioned, came within the above decade.

None of the early settlers or their children live in the township now, which fact has rendered the giving of some of the dates difficult. In accordance with the practice of the early settlers in the west to locate upon the timber lands, the township of Meridian being all prairie, seems to have been severely left alone. As will be seen from the land entries, only two entries were made prior to 1836.

First Land Entries

Gibeon BURTON entered the first land in this township, on the 17th of October, 1817. It was located on section 6, 192 59/100 acres; July 21st, 1818, Isaac and J. HUGHSON, entered the north-west quarter of section 14, 80 acres; June 9th, 1836, B. A. MYERS entered north-west quarter of the north-west quarter of section 6, 49 10/100 acres; June 9th 1836, Lewis COLE entered south-east quarter of the north-west section 6, 49 10/100 acres; August 22nd, 1836, Thomas RAY entered north-east quarter of the south-west quarter of section 14, 40 acres; August 29th 1836, Turner L. NICHOLS entered the south-west quarter of the north-west quarter of section 6, 49 10/100 acres; October 25th 1836, Alonzo CONE entered north-west quarter of the south-east quarter of section 14, 40 acres.

The first school taught was a little log-cabin, situated on section 6, and now owned by Mr. STYLES. John NICHOLS was the first teacher. This was in 1836.

Wm. H. RUSSELL improved section 15, and a part of 10. He has one of the model farms in the county. Mr. RUSSELL is well prepared for stock-raising as well as for raising grain. He was the first to import blooded stock in the country. Mr. Wm. JOHNSON has also imported several blooded horses from France.

There is but one particular incident that marks the history of this precinct. About 1846, a stranger was found, where the bridge spans Lost Creek, near the Russell farm, with a bullet hole through his brain. No one knew him, or by whom he was killed. A coroner's inquest was held, but no evidence could be deduced relating to the murder. It being on the Vincennes road, where there was a great deal of travel, the presumption was that he had been murdered for his money by some fellow-traveler, and the remains thrown in the creek where he was found.

The following are the supervisors who have represented the precinct since township organization. John SAVIN was elected in 1874, and served two terms. Edward MERTEN elected in 1876, and served two terms. Samuel CHAMBUS was elected in 1878, and served one term. W. H. RUSSELL elected in 1876, and served two terms, was re-elected in 1881, and is the present incumbent.

Jones station, situated in the geographical center of the township, and nine miles east from the county seat, is a growing little town on the Ohio & Mississippi railroad. It was laid out in 1876, by Wm. H. RUSSELL, and is located in section 16. It contains one store, kept by RUSSELL & BONER, two hay-presses and barns, a flouring mill, a post-office, and a blacksmith shop. It was formerly called Lost Creek, as the station is situated on the banks of the stream.



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