Montgomery County Illinois History

Montgomery County – Its Early Officers and Citizens
By A H H Rountree, in the Hillsboro Democrat, February 19, 1873

Joseph McAdams, at whose house the first courts were held, of course was here before the Organization of the county, and settled the place now owned and occupied by
Berry Nail, some three miles Southwest of Hillsboro, and raised a large family.  Nine sons and three daughters - and was an estimable and useful citizen.  He was our first coroner.  He died many years ago since, as well as his excellent wife, and it is also a remarkable fact that of his nine sons and three daughters not one is now living.  Father, mother, sons and daughters are gone, and with the exception of one, the husbands and wives are dead; at least such is our information.  Although all were prominent citizens, only one ever who was one of our first county commissioners, a sketch of whose life we have already given.  The rest are worthy of note and as the family is remarkable and many of their descendants are now among our best citizens, we will give a sketch of them.

Sam McAdams lived on a place settled by Mr. Clark, the place now known as the Tom McAdams’ place, some four or five miles Southwest of Hillsboro, which is now occupied by the widow of Tom McAdams.  He moved from there to St. Louis, and from St. Louis to Bond county, leaving several children, none of whom are living in our county.

John McAdams, our first county commissioner, has been already sketched.  William McAdams and James McAdams also moved to Bond county where they lived and died, leaving no children who are residents of our county.

Robert McAdams moved into Bond county, where he raised a family, and afterwards returned to Montgomery county and settled near Audubon; where he died leaving some sons and daughters who still reside near that place.  One son, Joseph was candidate for Sheriff, and favorable spoken of by his neighbors, but party lines did not permit him to run for the office.

Sloss McAdams moved into Bond county, where he was repeatedly elected Sheriff and was a prominent useful citizen.  He, wife, and all his children are dead.

Hannah McAdams became the wife of John McPhaill, a Scotchman by birth, and a high toned gentleman.  He settled at a place west of the Tom McAdams place and now owned by Wm. Atterberry where his wife died leaving several sons and daughters, of whom Jas. and John live near Walshville.  His son Maclom went to the Blackhawk War, afterwards married Elizabeth Beadles, now wife of John Corlew, but he, Jackco - is now dead.

John McPhail afterwards married a widow lady named Oley, by whom he had one son, George, who now resides with his mother, who afterwards married Thomas Edwards, and after his death Mr. Fan S. Gordon.

Jemima McAdams married Jas. Isaacs, who settled the place known as the Doc. Osborn place, now owned by Wm. H. Brewer, where Mr. Isaacs died, leaving several children, who with their mother removed to Bond county, where she died, but none of her children reside in our county.

Sarah McAdams married Luke Lee Steel, and occupied the old homestead (the Joe McAdams’ place).  He was nephew to Major John Steel, who originally settled the place now occupied by George H. Richards, some two miles south of Hillsboro.  Major and his wife are now dead, leaving one daughter, Artemisia, who married Andrew Paden (now dead).  She, with one son and two daughters, reside near Litchfield.  

Luke Lee Steel volunteered in the Black Hawk War and made a fine record.  What was rather remarkable in their company was that they had the three tallest men in the county - Luke Lee Steel, James M. Berry, recently member of the legislature, and Hiram Rountree, each measuring six feet four inches in height.  Mr. Steel was a prominent useful citizen, but we believe never held office in the county.  He was a genial companionable gentleman, and a great favorite.  His wife died early, and Mr. Steel never married again, but raised a family of one son and two daughters.  His son James moved to Tennessee, where he married, and on the braking out of the late Civil War, he entered the services on the Federal side and died in the service.

Eliza Steel first married John Kirpatrick, who was at a later period for several years, sheriff.  After his death she married a Mr. Padfield of St. Clair county.  After his death she returned to our county and married E. R. Gruggs, and now resides in Hillsboro.  She had only one child, a daughter, by Mr. Grubbs although a step-mother three times.

Sarah Steel married Wilson Barry, the son of John Barry.  They reside some four miles southwest of Hillsboro, on their finely improved place, where their doors are ever open for the reception of their friends.  Mrs. Barry, though she has several sons and no daughters, wont sport a sewing machine, and while she entertains she sewing machine agents with the best her house affords, she convinces them that they cant leave their machines.

Our readers must bear in mind that the officers we have named served in 1821.  Our first Probate Judge was Eleazer M. Townsend, son of Rev. Jesse Townsend, the first Presbyterian preacher who preached and lived in our county.  He settled the place in the southwest corner of the county long known as the Ira Davis place, and we believe, now owned by a German.  He, with his father, built a saw mill about a mile below the St. Louis road on the West Fork, the first saw mill in the county.  It was run by water power.  Mr. Tillson afterwards added a run of stones for flour and meal, it was afterwards known as Penter’s Mill.  Penter also built a horse mill on the hill near by - Nothing of these mill now remains.  The Townsends came with their families from one of the eastern states, and after living in our county some years all returned to the east.

Joseph McAdams, the son, settled a place some two miles west of Hillsboro, and for many years known as the Craig place.  It is now owned by Wm. H. Brewer, and occupied by Mr. Boyd.  He afterwards settled and lived on a place now owned and occupied by Logan G. Brown, near his first place; he and his wife are also dead, leaving only two children.  Sam, who if living, resides in California, and Sarah, wife of Beniah Kelly, who now lives near the old homestead of her father; they have two grown sons whom we trust will live up fully to the standards of their ancestry.

Thomas McAdams lived and died on the place originally settled by William Clark, and occupied by his brother Sam, and on which his widow now resides.  He fought through the Black Hawk War with honor.  He has three sons and two daughters now living in the county.  One daughter (Margaret A) is the wife of Newton Barry, and one (Louisa) the wife of Alzare Brown; One daughter now dead was the wife of Mayfield Truitt, and left some two or three children yet small.  The sons are John, Samuel, and Milton, and live in our county.

Jesse McAdams moved to Bond county and died, leaving a wife and some children, none of whom live in our county.  It was the wife of one of his sons who was so brutally murdered and whose murder created such intense excitement in Bond county some three years ago.

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