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Edwardsville, 1818-1820

Karen Heinz
Civic Memorial High School, Bethalto

The years 1818 to 1820 were extremely significant to the town of Edwardsville. The year of Illinois' admission to the Union opened in Edwardsville with incorporation of the bank of Edwardsville in 1818. Notices were placed in successive issues of the Kaskaskia and Edwardsville newspapers for shares of capital stock.

The first resident of Edwardsville, Mrs. Nancy Eberhardt, arrived in Edwardsville in 1818 with her brother Jephthan Lampkin. Abraham Prickett was an important figure in Edwardsville at this time. He was a Madison County delegate to the state constitutional convention in July, and he helped frame the first constitution of Illinois. He also opened a store and was postmaster in Edwardsville. The first white child born in Edwardsville was Prickett's son, George. Prickett's brother, Isaac, joined him as partner in his mercantile business. Isaac was also a postmaster. On October 2, 1818, the second article of the treaty between the United States and the Potawatomi Nation was made, and then proclaimed on January 15, 1819.

Ninian Edwards

The town of Edwardsville was named in honor of Ninian Edwards, territorial governor of Illinois.

The year 1819 may be considered the most important for Edwardsville, for on February 23 the town was incorporated. Edwardsville is the third oldest city in the state. It was named for the territorial governor of Illinois, Ninian Edwards. Edwardsville was also the county seat of Madison County. A Presbyterian church, consisting of fifteen members, was formed on March 17, 1819. That church is said to be Edwardsville's earliest religious organization. On May 2 Theophilus W. Smith opened the first law practice in the county. He also stated that he would attend circuit courts in Madison, Bond, Washington, and St. Clair counties, and the Illinois Supreme Court at Kaskaskia. An election was held on May 3 to elect seven town trustees. The trustees were soon petitioned by Benjamin Stephenson, Ninian Edwards, Theophilus W. Smith, John Todd, and others requesting that land they owned be incorporated as a part of Edwardsville. What probably was the state's first library was organized that same year in Edwardsville.

Only a year after Edwardsville's incorporation the town began to show signs of growth. Prominent citizens worked to have the jail and courthouse removed. Edward Coles, the future governor, and John Y. Sawyer, David Swett, Josias Randle, John T. Lusk, Joshua Atwater, and Paris Mason were elected trustees, and a mercantile business was started by Joshua Atwater. The postmaster was David Prickett, who announced in April that there were 162 parties who had letters that were waiting to be picked up. The newspapers in 1820 announced that on the second Monday of May there would be a meeting of the First District Medical Society of Illinois in Edwardsville, and there were monthly meetings for the Edwardsville Mechanics' Society. On the first Monday of October, the president of the United States proclaimed the public sale of land in the Edwardsville district. The bank of Edwardsville was included on a list of banks whose bills would be received at the land office. Madame DeJerome announced in the Spectator on October 10 that she had opened an academy of science. French, geography, history, drawing, and arithmetic were part of the curriculum. She also announced that she was ready to teach embroidery and needlework to young ladies. The school was open every day except Saturdays and Sundays, from nine to twelve in the morning and from two to five in the afternoon.

Thus were the first three years of Edwardsville. It clearly was one of the young state's most prominent towns.[From Madison County Historical Society, History of Madison County; Madison County Sesquicentennial Committee, Our 150 Years, 1812-1962.]

22 ILLINOIS HISTORY / DECEMBER 1993


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