We will now proceed to detail such facts in respect to the first settlement of Will County as have escaped oblivion, and have been collected from the memories of early settlers and from public records. In so doing, we shall of course repeat much of what was embodied in “Forty Years Ago.”
At the time of the admission of the State, all that portion lying north of Alton and Edwardsville, with slight exceptions, was a wilderness. Occasional explorers, soldiers on their marches to the distant outposts,as well as Indian traders and trappers, had, however, discovered the beauties of the region and given glowing descriptions of its attractions. The project of a canal, which was entertained during the war of 1812 had also called attention particularly to this region and led to its purchase of the Indians in 1816, and, as early as 1820 and on, an occasional pioneer had pushed out into the great Northwest. The Methodist Church, also, which, if not as early, has been as zealous and self-denying, as the Jesuit Society in its efforts to Christianize the “poor Indian,” and to hold the restraints of religion over the pioneer, had early sent out its missionaries, furnished only with horse and saddle-bags, a bible and hymn-book, to establish missions over the region so soon to become the homes of settlers from the East and from the West and South, where Yankees and Hoosiers, Virginians, Kentuckians and “Buckeyes” were soon to mingle in neighborhood fellowship, in due time to be followed by Irishmen, Germans, Englishmen, Swiss, Norwegians, Swedes and “contrabands.”
Source: LeBaron, William, Jr. History of Will County, Illinois. Chicago: William LeBaron, Jr. & Co. 1878, pages 232, 233.