Southern Illinois History Page

Places and Communities
  • Africa/Locust Grove
    Africa, also known as Little Africa and Locust Grove, was a free black settlement in the northeastern corner of Williamson County that grew out of a frontier plantation.
  • Alton Penitentiary
    Illinois' first prison housed not only criminals but victims of John Crenshaw such as Charles and Nelson Adams. Conditions were so bad, later reform efforts closed the prison. The government reopened the site during the Civil War to house Confederate prisoners of war. A mystery tombstone is the focus of "The Grave of Private Collins" by John J. Dunphy, who also wrote about a nearby island in the Missisippi remembered as Smallpox Island for serving as a quarantined area for smallpox victims.
  • Bluford
    This school page contains the latter 19th Century history of this small community in eastern Jefferson County.
  • Brooklyn
    This is not the the New York City borough, but the oldest African-American incorporated city in the nation — and it's in Southern Illinois between East St. Louis and Alton.
  • Broughton
    Broughton and its predecessor community of Rectorville is located in the southern part of Hamilton County.
  • Brownsville
    This article from the Southern Illinoisan recalls Jackson County's first seat of government.
  • Cahokia Courthouse
    This site provides information on the ancient French courthouse at Cahokia, one of the oldest buildings in the state.
  • Cairo
    Cairo sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and played a key role during the Civil War. Recently, city crews have uncovered tunnels built prior to the Civil War for the railroad. These are believed to have been used by the Underground Railroad and later to house federal prisoners during the war. Here is a picture of Cairo's river front from the late 1850s. Another view is one of Commercial Street looking north with a view of the street cars from the early 1920s. An earlier view of Commercial Street looking the opposite direction makes a reference to a 1909 lynching. Here are two maps of Cairo, the first is a perspective map, the second is an aerial map. A more recent postcard view is that of the $3.1 million highway bridge over the Ohio River.
  • Carbondale
    Carbondale was an early railroad and college town and is the largest community in Southern Illinois outside of the St. Louis Metro East area.
  • Carmi
    Carmi is the county seat for White County. It is located on the Little Wabash River. The Carmi Online site also contains a number of pictures of Carmi's past.
  • Cave-in-Rock
    Named for the most impressive of sights along the Ohio River, the community of Cave-in-Rock has a most colorful history. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, the adjoining landmark served as a nexus for criminal activities ranging from river piracy and counterfeiting to kidnapping and murder.
  • Chester
    This is the history of the community as found on the Chester Online site.
  • College in the Hills
    Springhouse Magazine published a two-part article by Mildred McCormick on this left-wing college that operated in the Shawnee Hills during the Great Depression located in northwestern Hardin County near the intersection of Route 34 and Karbers Ridge Road. Here's the second part.
  • Dixon Springs
    Dixon Springs is now a state park, but was a health resort even prior to the Civil War.
  • Elba
    Also known as Hell's Half Acre for its wild bar life around the Civil War era this community on the North Fork of the Saline River in Gallatin County finally quieted down. Great pictures of the old covered bridge that once spanned the river. Also includes an accounty of the ghost story associated with the bridge.
  • Egypt
    Egypt has been another name for Southern Illinois for almost two centuries. Judge Duff wrote this early account of how the region got its name. The Daily Egyptian at SIU published this account.
  • Enfield
    This unofficial site for the community of Enfield in White County includes links to Margaret Land's thre part history of the town.
  • Fairview Heights
    Although this community incorporated only in 1969, it is retail trade capital for the region. It is located in St. Clair County.
  • Fountain Bluff
    Jim Jung describes the evidence in favor of a Mississippian-era solar observatory on the west side of Fountain Bluff in southwestern Jackson County. Jung is one of the editors of the Waterman and Hill Traveler's Companion nature almanacs for Southern Illinois.
  • Fort de Chartres
    This 18th Century French fort near Prairie du Rocher in Randolph County has been partially reconstructed by the state.
  • Freeburg
    This small German community is located in southern St. Clair County.
  • Gallatin Salines
    Jacob W. Myers' 1922 account of the saltworks around Equality is the second history of the site that seems to be published. It's certainly not complete, but it is a start.
  • Greenville
    The Greenville Chamber of Commerce hosts this page with many accounts of the community's early history written by Allan H. Keith.
  • Guineaville
    William T. Lawler recalls his memories of the early 20th Century mining community of Guineaville in Gallatin County which stood just below the manor home known today as the Old Slave House.
  • Iles House
    The Iles House is the oldest residential structure in Springfield, Illinois. It has been moved and now houses the Museum of Springfield History. Will Howarth publishes a blog with updates about the house and the museum activities.
  • Illinois Central Railroad
    The Illinois Central Railroad Historical Society is the place to start for history of the first major railroad in Illinois.
  • McLeansboro
    This website maintains an archive of local history articles of McLeansboro, Illinois, the seat of government for Hamilton County. Of particular interest is information on the 1968 Earthquake and 19th Century McLeansboro
  • Old Slave House
    The Old Slave House is the only documented "reverse" Underground Railroad station still in existance. It was originally built in 1834 as part of John Crenshaw's Hickory Hill Plantation. It is located between Equality and Junction, Illinois. Crenshaw was a slaveholder of indentured servants. He also kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery.
  • Pope County
    Mildred McCormick tells the story of early Pope County in this account which starts with Maj. James Lusk's trek to the future site of Golconda in the last years of the 18th Century.
  • Salines/Saltworks
    The saltworks centered around Equality drew both the early Indians and the first pioneers to the area. The Great Salt Spring there has long drawn archeaologists and anthropologists to the site. The second link is a summary of the latest research at the site. Here is a picture of the salt well at the Lower Lick in 1998.
  • Shawnee National Forest
    The Shawnee National Forest is located in Illinois Ozarks, or Shawnee Hills. This page has links to historical documents, the forest's tourist homepage, and recent newspaper articles about the forest.
  • Shawneetown
    The oldest American city in Illinois, at least on the east side, Shawneetown served as the gateway to Illinois for emigrants floating down the Ohio River.
  • Silkwood Inn
    Although located in the Franklin County community of Mulkeytown, the story of Priscilla and the Silkwood Inn remains one of the best remembered tales about the Cherokee Trail of Tears which passed through the region from Golconda through Jonesboro.
  • Smallpox Island
    This is the site of a Civil War hospital on an island in the Mississippi River at Alton. It is associated with the Confederate POW camp that used the former Alton Penitentiary.
  • Sturdivant's Fort
    This frontier fort served a second sinister purpose following the War of 1812. The Sturdivant gang of counterfeitors took it over and used it as a base in the early 1820s. The law made three major raids against the fort in 1822 and 1823.

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