Jersey County Historical Society
601 N. State Street
Jerseyville, Illinois 62052
webmaster: Beth McGlasson
Quick Facts About Jersey County
- The Illini Indians inhabited much of Illinois, including Jersey County, long before the first
Europeans settled here.
- Louis Joliet, a cartographer, and Pere Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary, were
among the first white men to visit Jersey County. They landed near the present city of
Grafton in 1673.
- Jersey County includes 377 square miles or roughly 34,380 acres.
- Illinois' largest state park, Pere Marquette, is located in southwest Jersey County. The park
was founded in 1931 as Piasa Bluffs State Park and includes 8,050 acres.
- English is the only one of the county's 11 townships that does not contain a city.
- Towns platted in Jersey County but never developed include: Zenith in Mississippi township,
Pittsburg in Otter Creek township, Salisbury in Richwoods township, New Philadelphia in
Rosedale township, and Rome in Quarry township.
- The first newspaper in Jersey County was the Backwoodsman, started in 1837 in Grafton.
- Dr. Edward D'Arcy, who once owned the Red House in Jerseyville, served as a physician for
- More than 200 women attended the Jerseyville Young Ladies Seminary between the fall of
1849 and 1869. Subjects taught included: English, French, Latin, painting, drawing, and vocal
and instrumental music.
- In 1863, the county made a major push to improve its public roads. Every male citizen of the
county not exempt by law was required to work three days on the roads, and a tax of 15 cents
per every $100 worth of taxable property was earmarked for road improvements.
- William Brown (aka Tom Moss) was the only man sentenced to death and executed in Jersey
County. He was hung at the courthouse Sept. 1, 1865 after being convicted of murder.
- Charles M. Russell, known for his paintings and bronze sculptures depicting the American
west, spent time in Jerseyville as a youth. His Aunt Cornelia was the wife of Colonel William
Fulkerson. The couple resided just north of Jerseyville.
- The second Surgeon General of the United States, John B. Hamilton, was born near Otterville
and educated at the Hamilton Primary School. He served as the U.S. Surgeon General from
1879 until 1891.
- Jerseyville's first female physician, Cordelia Enos, practiced medicine in 1897 until her death
- An opera house named the Villinger was listed among Jerseyville's businesses in 1900.
- In 1901, the Jerseyville High School offered classic, business, and scientific courses of study.
It even had an astronomical observatory.