THE HISTORY OF MILLSTADT, ILLINOIS

Compiled by Robert Buecher, 5400 Pernod Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63139
E-mail Bob
[Revised: 20 February 2003]

Links to additional information about Millstadt history.

The earliest settlers of the Millstadt area were of English ancestry, who had come from the 13 original states. The first land entries in Millstadt Township were first claimed in payment for military services rendered in the late 1700's. These first claims were made to George Lunceford, Thomas Marrs, and the widow of Jacob Groot. The land issued to Thomas Marrs was survey 782 in Millstadt Township.

George Lunceford is usually considered the first white settler to have lived in the vicinity of present day Millstadt. He was a native of Virginia and had been a soldier under George Rogers Clark during the capture of Kaskaskia and Prairie du Rocher in 1778. His land was survey 429 and 430 in Sugar Loaf Heights. In 1796, Lunceford and Samuel Judy started a farm near Sugar Loaf, which in 1800 became the sole property of Mr. Lunceford.

In April 1797 a group of 154 settlers left Hardy County, Virginia and arrived at New Design in Monroe County on July 4, 1797. This group was led by the Baptist preacher, David Badgley, and included the families of Abraham Eyman, William Miller, and John Teter. They came by flatboat down the Ohio River to Shawneetown, IL and then overland by horse to Monroe County, Illinois. The family of Abraham Eyman later settled in the Millstadt area. In 1802 they were joined by the families of Martin Randleman from Lincoln County, North Carolina and Daniel Stookey from Hagerstown, Maryland.

Other early settlers in this area included: Thomas Harrison (1804); Wm. Holcomb (1812); Henry R. White (1814); Mathew and Frank Roach, John A. Mauzy, and Charles Jones (1815); James Glass, Cornelius and Robert Gooding (1816); John Primm, Stephen and John Lacey (1817); Robert Bailey, David and Joseph Ogle (1818); Conrad Goodner, John M. Little, and Charles T. Askins (1820); Evan Baird (1827); and William J. McBride (1831).

In 1813, Thomas Harrison is supposed to have erected here one of the first cotton gins in Illinois. It was propelled by horsepower, but was soon abandoned.

The first church in Millstadt Township was built in 1819 on five acres of land donated by Philernon Askins [ancestor of the late billionaire, Howard Hughes]. The church was called the Union Meeting House (Methodist Protestant) and it was located about a mile east of Millstadt on Route 158. The church burned on 31 March 1881. Adjoining this church was Union Hill Cemetery, the first cemetery in Millstadt Township. The first burials there were John Ross on 1 Oct. 1823 and Thomas Jarrott on 16 Oct. 1823.

GERMAN SETTLEMENT, 1828-1840

Prior to 1834, the following German settlers, who were mostly farmers, had settled in what is now Millstadt Township: Henry Briesacher (1828); Anton Wagner, Johann Adam Krick, Carl Grossmann, Johannes Hax, Peter Vollmer, Johannes Eckert, and J. Christian Lindenstruth (1832); Adam Haas, Nicolaus Hertel, Johannes Freivogel Sr., and John Weible (1833).

The first large group of German settlers to arrive in the Millstadt area came from villages near Kaiserslautern in the Rhineland-Pfalz area of Germany. According to existing records, this first group left Germany together on Sept. 4, 1834 and traveled to America on the Ship Ruthelin which arrived at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana on Nov. 17, 1834. The group then traveled by boat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, where they disembarked for St. Clair County, Illinois. It is recorded that they settled in the Millstadt area on Nov. 30, 1834. This first group of settlers included the families of Daniel Mueller from Konken; Daniel Wagner from Doerrenbach; Jacob Dewald from Schellweiler; Jacob Weingardt and Jacob Weber from Rehweiler; Henry Jacob Gerlach from Mittelbach; Jacob Schuff and Johann Nicolaus Schmalenberger from Schrollbach; and Theobald Mueller from Quirnbach. Other settlers who came that same year (1834) were the families of Leonhard Baltz from Gross-Bieberau; Valentine Gruenewald from Rossdorf; George Mittelstetter from Reinheim; William Probst from Koelleda; Heinrich Mueller from Harpertshausen; Leonhard Kropp from Fraenkisch-Crumbach; and George Kuntz from Alzey. It was this nucleus that attracted large numbers of additional German families.

The following list names the known German families who settled in the Millstadt area between 1828 and 1840. Entries which contain an asterisk *have birth information that has been verified from a church or civil record in Europe. Additional information about most of these early settlers is available from Robert Buecher at one of the addresses listed above.

ZION EVANGELICAL CHURCH

The church which many of these early settlers attended was Zion Evangelical Church which was first located in Section 21 of Millstadt Township. This church is currently known as Zion United Church of Christ, Millstadt. The first church service at Zion was held on 17 Jan. 1836 at the log cabin home of Johannes Freivogel. The first minister was Pastor Johann Jacob Riess who served at Zion from 1836 to Oct. 1846. Pastor Riess was sent by the Basel Missionary Society in Switzerland because of a letter sent to that society by the German settlers in the county who wanted a German speaking minister. He arrived in St. Clair County in November 1835. Pastor Riess preached throughout St. Clair County and services were first held at Zion only once a month. In nice weather, the members met in the forest and in bad weather in the Freivogel cabin. The first log church of Zion was dedicated on 26 June 1837 and built along very simple lines. Freivogel Cemetery, located near the first church, was deeded to Zion congregation in April 1838 by Johann Nicolaus Schmahlenberger and his wife, Mary Katherine.

GERMAN SETTLEMENT, AFTER 1840

Additional German immigrants continued to settle here in the 1840's, with a second large wave which began in 1848 after political turmoil in Germany. There were also numerous families who settled in this area that came from the Alsace-Lorraine area. The ownership of that area in Europe varied between France and Germany, but the residents usually spoke German and fit in with other Germans who had settled previously in the Millstadt area. Many of these early German settlers were farmers who came here seeking better farm land and better economic conditions. Many of the settlers were also escaping the political, social, and economic turmoil that the German states were experiencing at that time. Most wanted a better life for themselves and more opportunities for their children. This German immigration was so large in the Millstadt area that the 1881 HISTORY OF ST. CLAIR COUNTY (p. 254) reported that only "seven families of English descent" were still residing here. The majority of the first Germans who settled in this area did not know the English language and few had the time or opportunity to learn it. Many preferred to use their native German in most everything that concerned their life, including: business, social organizations, church services and records, public notices, tombstone inscriptions, letters, and wills. Some of the earlier English speaking settlers did not always get along well with their newly arrived German neighbors and some called the Germans clanish and unfriendly.

FOUNDING OF MILLSTADT


The founding of the town of Millstadt dates back to 1836 when Simon Stookey was having a barn built a short distance north of present day Millstadt. Joseph Abend and Henry Randleman were helping him and it was proposed to Randleman that a piece of his land in Section 9 would make a most eligible town site. Abend proposed the name "Centerville" for the new town since it was seven miles from Belleville, seven miles from Columbia, and seven miles from Pittsburg Lake. Henry agreed, and the town of Centerville was platted and surveyed on 13 March 1837. It originally consisted of only 40 lots. That was the part of town bounded roughly by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe streets. Some of the earliest purchasers of lots were: John & George Briesacher on 4 Sept. 1837; George Henckler on 28 Aug. 1838; and Evan Baird on 26 Nov. 1839. Later additions to the town were made as the existing lots were sold out. Although the village name was officially spelled as "Centerville" in the records of the Recorder of Deeds of St. Clair County, the German settlers usually used the European spelling of "Centreville".

Additional information about Millstadt history can be found on these web sites:

Centerville [Centreville] Precinct [1881 History of Millstadt Township]
Genealogical Research in Millstadt, IL
Millstadt, IL, Milestones, 1836-2001


Return to main page.

Copyright 1998-2003.

All rights reserved.

Information may be linked to but not copied.

Permission to SELL or copy for sale any email addresses or links is hereby denied.

This website was created by Bobbie