Montgomery County Illinois History

When did my people come to this county?

By Walter Sanders, January 1980.

When one is working on his family history, he will use the various census records, which will show ABOUT the time a family came to IL, and possibly that would mean to this county.  For example, John Brown and wife and family were in the 1850 census with daughter Mary aged 7, born in IL.  Does that mean born in the county, or somewhere else in IL?  If a search of the 1840 census of this county fails to show the family, it might mean the child was born elsewhere in IL.  A check of the 1840 index at the state archives card file might reveal the family.  If not there, it might be that the census taker failed to record the family.  This has happened many times in census records. 

A search of church records might reveal when the family brought their papers to the church; but, one has to find the proper church and the hope to locate the church records.  In our county, many of the early church records have disappeared, and as a result, one cannot consult them.  For example, the Hurricane Church records of the Fillmore Vanburensburg area are now in the state library in Springfield.  They were passed from hand to hand many times and were finally deposited in Springfield.  The Bost Hill church papers were sold at a private house sale in Fillmore; buyer now unknown and records are unavailable.  Several of the churches on the Bond-Montgomery county line are in the possession of a lady in Sorento.  Someday those records may also disappear.  However, a transcript of all the above church records has been made, so they are not entirely lost.  In all of the church records inspected there was always a detailed listing of families entering and leaving the church-so dates are found in such records.

If the family you seek had an early obit, say in the period of 1860 or before, the obit, if any found, will have little family history.  Usually only the later obit will have much genealogical data.  This should be one source which would tell when a family entered the county. 

The one BEST source to locate an answer to when your people came to the county should be found in the volume entitled COUNTY COURT RECORDS BOOK A.  This volume is a record of the proceedings of the county commissioner’s court.  It is though their business meetings that the MEN of the county will be listed.  This volume dates its first items as of April 7, 1871, and is a treasury of pertinent records pertaining to the settlers of the county.  Here is a list of those who served on petit and grand juries; those who worked on the road crews (an obligation in place of county taxes); this volume also tells who served as “viewers” for a road extending from one spot to another, such as from Hamilton to the Sangamon County line.  A viewer could also be called a “locator” – one who picked out the best route; he was not a surveyor, but one who was a land owner, or settler of that part of the county.

Here would be found those petitioning for a license to open a tavern, a lodging house, those paid for work on laying out lots for a village, for work on the courthouse; for work done in an election.  In the jury lists the number of names appearing on a list would be from 20 to 20 – so that would be a good way to see if one’s people were in the county. 

Unfortunately, this volume is not indexed, so one has to go page by page and hope that on some page he will find his family so that he can pinpoint a date when the family was here.  If found, then one could say, for example, he found his family on the jury list for April 11, 1831, so the family must have been here previous to that date. 

Note:  Volume in the Office of the County Clerk

Transcribed by:  Ann Stoddard December 2010.


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