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Excerpt from "History of Belleville"

Excerpt from "History of Belleville"

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"The Birth of Our City" and "Public Square" sections
"The Birth of Our City" and "Public Square" sections

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Published by: St. Louis Public Radio on Mar 04, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/05/2014

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OUR
CITY
IS
BORN
21
in
turn,
traded
her
fora
horse,
after
which
she
was
traded
again
for
a
yoke
of
oxen.
At
this
time,
1799,
several
incidents
happened
in
Washington
which
were
felt
in
our
immediate
vicinity.
One
of
the
members
of
the
House
of
Representatives
from
the
state
of
Vermont
was
a
witty,
red-faced
and
rabid
Republican
and
Irishman
named
Matthew
Lyons.
He
and
Griswold,
a
Federalist
who
was
also
a
member
of
the
House,
had
a
rough
and
tumble
fight
on
the
floor
of
the
House.
Lyons,
fearless
and
unafraid
to
sayor
publishanything,
had
criticized
ina
Vermont
newspaper,
some
laws
passed
by
the
federalist
government.
For
this
and
for
the
fight,
he
was
arrested,
fined
one
thousand
dollars,
and
sent
to
prison
for
four
months.
Forty
years
later,
after
his
death,
in
1839,
the
government
returned
the
fine
with
interest
to
his
descendants,
in
the
form
of
western
lands.
John
Mes-
senger,
one
of
the
descendants,
was
given
a
160
acre
farm
on
theold
Collinsville
road,
which
today
is
owned
by
a
man
named
George
Hoffmann,
a
lineal
descendant
of
Matthew
Lyons
and
John
Messenger.
THE
BIRTH
OF
OUR
CITY
Who
the
first
white
man
was
to
set
foot
on
the
present
site
of
Belleville
remains
a
question.
It
is
believed
by
some
that
French
traders
and
trappers
had
passed
through
the
woods
and
prairie
that
now
are
occupied
by
our
city.
It
is
known
that
in
1794
Reverend
James
Lemen,
Sr.,
of
New
Design,
in
Monroe
County,
and
six
other
men
of
his
settlement
camped
here
for
a
week.
The
camp
was
under
a
large
pecan
tree
on
the
spot
where
theold
Presbyterian
Church
once
stood.
They
wereon
a
hunting
expedition
as
well
as
looking
for
better
lands
to
settle.
At
hunting
they
were
good,
for
they
killed
a
bear,several
deer,
and
many
turkeys.
Settlements
were
made
in
the
vicinity
of
Belleville,
and
among
the
first
settlers
were
John
Teter,
Abraham
Eyman,
William
Mueller,
John
Primm,
Martin
Randleman,
and
Daniel
 
22
OUR
CITY
IS
BORN
Stookey.
Roving
bands
of
Kickapoo
and
Pottawatomie
Indians
were
often
seen
by
these
early
settlers
and
many
of
them
later
fought
against
them.
The
original
proprietor
of
the
town
of
Belleville
was
the
pioneer
citizen,
George
Blair,
whose
home,
erected
in
1806,
was
the
first
to
be
built
in
this
city.
For
several
years
he
kept
it
asa
home
and
a
hotel.
As
a
man
he
seemed
to
have
no
extraordinary
talents,
but
he
was
prominent
because
he
owned
a
two-hunderd
acre
farm
on
which
the
central
part
of
our
city
now
stands.
Me
didn't
like
to
work
on
the
farm
and
therefore
cultivated
only
a
small
part
of
it.
He
was
not
well
educated,
but
he
loved
to
use
words
of
great
length
even
though
they
were
not
suited
to
the
meaning
he
wished
to
convey.
He
was
good
natured
and
possessed
a
benevolent
spirit.
Contrary
to
most
opinions,
Belleville
was
not
foundedby
the
French
nor
the
Germans
but
was
settled
by
the
Americans
to
protect
themselves
againstthe
French.
Studying
the
map,
it
will
be
seen
that
our
city
is
ideallylocated,
beingabout
half-
way
between
the
two
oceans
and
evenly
divided
between
the
Northand
the
South.
This
places
us
far
enough
south
to
escape
thesevere
northern
winters,
while
our
four
seasons
offer
us
a
variety
of
climate.
The
Mississippi
and
its
tributaries
tie
us
closely
to
the
South
and
West,
and
the
Illinois
and
Lake
Michigan
tie
us
equally
close
to
the
Northand
East.
Our
location
is
in
the
heart
of
the
Mississippi
Valley,
one
of
the
nation's
richest
industrial,
commercial,
and
agricultural
districts.
This
valley
produces
seventypercent
of
the
agricultural
pro-
ducts,
seventy
percent
of
the
petroleum,
seventy-five
percent
of
the
lumber,
and
sixty
percent
of
the
minerals
of
the
United
States.
The
greaterpart
of
our
city
is
located
in
Section
21,
Town-
ship
1,
north
of
Range
8,
West.
It
is
situated
on
a
gende
rising
plain
near
the
center
of
St.
Clair
County.
The
beauty
of
the
surrounding
country
is
not
surpassed
byany
place
in
southern
Illinois.
It
is
not
only
equal
to
but
even
surpasses
many
of
the
 
OUR
CITY
IS
BORN
23
most
fertile
and
productive
agricultural
regions
of
our
country.
In
distance,
it
is
about
midway
between
the
Mississippi
and
Kaskaskia
Rivers.
Although
our
city
had
not
yet
been
officially
designated
as
the
County
Seat,
there
was
nevertheless
a
strong
desire
on
the
part
of
the
early
settlers
for
a
more
centrallocation
fortheir
county
government.
The
county
seat
had
been
at
Cahokia
since
1790,
but
this
village
being
French,
the
Americanswere
anxious
to
get
rid
of
the
unprogressive
ways
of
these
earlier
settlers.
The
Americanson
the
high
lands
east
of
the
American
Bottoms
outnumbered
theold
French
setders
along
the
Missis-
sippi
River.
This
almost
necessitated
a
more
centrallocationof
the
county
seat
than
was
the
village
of
Cahokia.
This
question
was
one
of
the
issues
in
the
election
of
members
for
the
state
legislature
in
1813,
which
was
then
meeting
in
Kaskaskia.
In
December,
1813,
the
legislature
appointed
the
following
com-
mittee
to
select
a
new
seat
of
justicefor
our
county,
1.
John
Hay,
2.
James
Lemen,
3.
Issac
Enochs,
4.
William
Scott,
Jr.,
5.
Nathan
Chambers,
6.
Jacob
Short,
7.
Caldwell
Cains.
These
men
met
at
the
home
of
George
Blair
on
March
12,
1814,
and
themajority
of
them
voted
to
build
the
county
seat
on
Blair's
land.
Blair,
in
return
agreed
to
give
them
one
acre
of
land
for
a
Public
Square.
Up
to
this
time
our
locality
had
been
known
as
Compton
Hill,
but
when
George
Blair
decided
that
he
wanted
a
city
on
his
farm,
he
said
that
he
had
found
a
place
where
he
was
going
to
form
a
settlement
which
might
become
one
of
the
most
beautiful
cities
of
America,
and
therefore
he
named
it
Belleville,
from
the
French
word,
meaning
 Beautiful
City.
He
appointed
asurveyor,
John
Messenger,
to
lay
out
the
city
in
the
summer
of
1814.
This
survey
was
completed
a
few
years
later
by
Governor
Ninian
Edwards
and
officially
placed
on
record
in
our
County
Court.
In
the
spring
of
1819
the
state
granted
us
a
village
charter.

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