Genealogy Trails logo

Illinois logo

Gallatin County

County History
Near the end of the Revolutionary War, grants for land from the King of England were given and Virginia claimed the Illinois Territory. In 1787, Congress formed the Northwest Territory which included Gallatin County. It was divided many times after April 27, 1790, St. Clair along with Gallatin, were among the first counties. After being divided again, Gallatin finally came into its own Sept. 14, 1812, appointing Shawneetown as the Seat of Justice. At this time, Gallatin county consisted of 1/4 of the Southern part of the state of Illinois. It still covered quite a bit of land. Gallatin was named after Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasurer under President's Jefferson and Madison.
Early history of Gallatin was more centered on the Salt Licks of the Saline River. Evidence of the use of salt was found in the bones and teeth of prehistoric animals that ate the salt at the Half Moon Lick. The lick is in the shape of a horse shoe and is about 300 ft. at its widest part. Over centuries it's been licked down from animals. Indians made salt at the Half Moon and Lower Lick. The French took over and made salt here also until the English took over in 1763. When the White man took over, Salt production changed significantly. Even more so when Slavery was sanctioned within the tract of land reserved for the Salt Works by the 1807 Indentured Law.Soon the town Equality began to grow and the 2 towns began to compete for attention as well as the County Seat. This angered people to the point of an election in 1852 where the majority vote was for Shawneetown being the County Seat.
The first known settler was Michael Sprinkle. He built a log cabin at the site of Shawneetown in 1800 and was a blacksmith and a gunsmith. He used his cabin as a tradimg post for the Indians and a distributioning point for settlers in the 4 states.
Alexander Wilson started the 1st ferry around 1802 in Shawneetown. A fort was built for defense against the Indians in 1810. In 1816, John Marshall receved a charter for the 1st Bank in Illinois to be built in Shawneetown. The 1st County Court was held by the Hon. John C. Slocum in May, 1813. The first Newspaper was published by Henry May, 1818.

Early settlers of Gallatin before 1815, are as follows: John Buck Michael Sprinkle, William Ellis, Alexander Wilson, John Marshall, Jacob Bargir, John Choisser, Jeptha Hardin, Joseph Logsdon, Robert Peoples, and Ephraim Hubbard.

Famous people that are a part of Gallatin's History are as follows: Marquis de Lafayette, Abraham Lincoln, Stephan A Douglas, Peter Cartwright, John Logan, James Wilson, Michael K. Lawler,and Thomas Posey.
[source: "History and Families 1812-1988 Gallatin County", Illinois Turner Publishing Co.,Publishers of America's History. Transcribed by Deanna Heneghan]


© Genealogy Trails