History of Alhambra Township, Madison County, Il
From: Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and its People
Edited and Compiled by W. T. Norton, Alton
Associate Editors: Hon. N. G. Flagg, Moro
J. S. Joerner, Highland
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1912


Alhambra includes the whole of town 5, range 6, a full township of thirty six sections. It is bounded on the north by Olive township, on the east by Leef, south by Marine and west by Hamel. It is watered by the west branch of Silver creek and by smaller streams. Its surface is a beautiful, undulating prairie, fair to look upon, with timber skirting its water courses. Fertile farms outstretch in all directions, with great barns and comfortable dwellings, the homes of a busy, industrious, moral people. There are but few renters, the greater part of the farms being conducted by the owners. Although adapted to all the staple crops, it has become, of late years, largely a dairying country, the rich pastures and proximity to St. Louis markets making this an inviting and profitable industry.


The early settlers were mainly from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virgina and the Carolinas, but the wave of Swiss and German immigration later swept over the township and the bulk of the population is now made up of the descendants of the European immigrants who brought with them habits of thrift and industry that are now bearing fruit in the comfort and competence of their children. The descendants of the early American settlers have, in great measure, died out or moved away, and their original great land holdings have been bought up and divided into the smaller farms of their German successors. A few old family names, such as the Pearces and Harnsbergers, still remain prominent in the civic and social life of the township. The first permanent settler in the township was William Hinch, who came from Kentucky in 1817 with his family and settled in section 19. Mr. Hinch lived on his homestead until his death in 1845, leaving a widow and nine children.

William Hoxsey, a native of Rhode Island, who had lived in Kentucky prior to moving to Illinois, came in the fall of 1817 and settled in section 18, later moving a mile further west. He died in 1832 leaving a widow and eleven children. One of his daughters married Dr. John H. Weir of Edwardsville, a prominent physician. Another married Anderson Blackburn, a son of Rev. Dr. Gideon Blackburn, for whom Blackburn University at Carlinville is named. A third daughter married Edward Dorsey, of a family prominent in Madison and Macoupin counties. Several of the sons of William Hoxsey and their descendants have attained distinction.

James Farris settled in section 18 in 1818. His son, George, built the first band mill in the township. The first death was that of the mother of James Gray who resided on section 17. The first birth was that of a daughter of William and Anna Hinch who died in infancy. The first marriage was that of John Gray and Miss Nellie Horsey. In 1818 a settlement was made in the southern part of the township by John Piper, Richard Knight, Mathew Hall, Jackson and Prior Scroggins. Robert Aldrich was an early settler in section 3o. Thomas S. West came to the county in 1815 with his father when two years of age. In 1838 he married Mary H. Hinch. He bought out the Farris holdings in section 18. He and his wife lived to be reckoned among the oldest residents of the county. Andrew Keown, a native of South Carolina, came to Alhambra from Kentucky in 1825. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He was the father of five children who lived to win distinction for the family name. James Pearce came to this county from Kentucky in 1815. His son, W. W. Pearce, who was then an infant, born January 20, 1815, became one of the wealthy and distinguished citizens of the county, and represented it in the Thirty fourth General Assembly, 1884-6. He settled in Alhambra village in 1852 and platted a part thereof. His son, James B. Pearce, for several terms president of the village board, perpetuates the honor and distinction of the family name. James B. McMichael came to this county in 1826. from Tennessee, when a child. On reaching adult years he became prominent in politics and was assessor and treasurer of the county from 1863 to 1867, and held many local offices. He left a large family. Ephraim Harnsberger was a native of Virginia but an early settler of Kentucky. He moved to Madison county in 1832. He became a leading citizen and member of the board of county commissioners. He reared a large family. One of his sons, Levi, together with W. S. Randle and Henry Harnsberger, laid out the village of Green Castle in 1859. Dr. Charles Harnsberger, son of Levi, is practicing physician in Alhambra.

Other prominent early settlers, who cam in 1829 were: R. R. Cooksey, farmer and local preacher; David Martin, who came in 1831. Still others were Curtis Blakeman, William Highlander, Fred Mindrop and Joshua Thompson, who located in the southern part of the township.

N. Piper taught school in 1820 in a cabin near Silver creek, and William Davenport in 1830 in the Flinch settlement. In 1832 a log school house was built in section 19 with George Denny as teacher. In 1840 a school house was built in section 2.

The first church in the township was built by the Baptists in section 32. Religious services were held in early times at the homes of Ephraim Harnsberger, Andrew Keown and William Hinch.

A part of the above facts relative to the pioneers were gleaned from Brink's History and part from descendants of old residents.


Perhaps there is no town of its size in Madison county which enjoys a more whole hearted and loyal citizenship than does the little town of Alhambra. Here are a people whose ancestry were among the salt of the earth and the majority of whom were among theĽ loyal sons and daughters coming from the Mother Country to seek new fortunes in America. These brave men and women conquered the west, redeemed the wilds and overcame seemingly insurmountable difficulties. They brought into existence fine, fertile farms and homesteads and better yet, large familities of sons and daughters, equipped with a fine heritage of character of honesty, industry and progressiveness, and aiding materially in bringing Madison county to its present wealth and prosperity.

Alhambra was laid out in 1849 by Dr. Louis F. Shepard who came from the east with his wife and purchased considerable land in the new country. Upon first coming here they made their home at Levi Harnsberger's. Mrs. Harnsberger and Mrs. Shepard had been interested in reading an account of the Spanish Alhambra and suggested that the town be given that name. Solomon Tabor and L. F. Shepard erected the first buildings therein. Later, in 1859, the western part of what now comprises Alhambra was platted as stated above and Captain Thornburger, a public spirited man of the time, erected the first store in 1860. The town was called Green Castle, a name given it by Captain Thornberger. Later, at the time of the incorporation of Alhambra, April 5, 1884, both took the name of the latter. The officers were: F. M. Pearce, president; J. Y. Pearce, clerk; Trustees, F. M. Pearce, Nick Ochs, Henry Sharp, Charles Ruedy, R. D. Utiger and J. D. Leef.

The good people of the village have always taken especial pride in their school and it is said that the Alhambra school has given more teachers than any other school of its size to Madison county. Nor has the religious side of the education been omitted, the three churches being the German Evangelical, the Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist, with some noble workers in all.

The Methodist church, in the Green Castle section built in 1861 was the pioneer religious edifice and is still standing. The handsome German Evangelical church was erected in 1877 and has been recently enlarged. It is provided with a fine pipe organ. The Baptist church was erected in 1884.

The business machinery of the entire town is well equipped with efficient help. The Illinois Central and Clover Leaf Railroads both have their stations here and Messrs. H. U. Graf and Frank Foster have been for years the faithful towermen whose constant vigils protect the lives of the traveling public. For fourteen years H. Schulte has had charge of the elevator, handling 8o,000 bushels of grain yearly. A fine creamery has been in operation for twenty two years. There are several good stores, among them being The Big Store, whose genial proprietor has many friends, as do the Koch Brothers and F. L. Gross.

In 1907 the public, realizing the need of a banking system, met and organized the Citizens' State Bank of Alhambra, with a capital of $25,000. C. Tontz being president; Dr. C. E. Harnsberger, first vice president, and C. B. Munday, second vice president; and L. A. Schrieber cashier. The stockholders comprise thirty six of the wealthiest farmers of Alhambra township at the present writing. W. H. Beckman, one of Alhambra's capable and popular young men, is cashier and from him the visitor receives the most courteous and kind attention. The directors comprise some of the most substantial and wealthy men of the entire section, as follows: Christian Tontz, C. E. Harnsberger, C. B. Munday, Aug. Talleur, Herman Suhre, William Conrad, F. Oswald, N. L. Ryder, W. H. Beckman.

The new bank building is a credit to the town. The capital stock of the bank is $25,000.

Another bank, also organized in 1907, is the private institution of Adolph Hitz of which he is president; Jacob B. Leef, cashier and Emil A. Landolt, assistant cashier. It has a capital stock of $25,000, surplus $20,000 and assets of a quarter million. It occupies a fine two story building costing with furniture, fixtures and safety deposit vaults, $20,000. The interior is wainscoted with marble throughout. It has the handsomest interior finishing of any bank in the county, and is a fine tribute to the artistic taste of President Hitz. This gentleman is the largest land holder, probably, in the township, owning 1,100 acres of fertile farming land. Part of this adjoins the village on the south and has been laid out in lots which are being rapidly improved. It is called "Hitz Place."

To return to the early settlement of the village: In 1852 Hon. W. W. Pearce settled at Alhambra and purchased the holdings of Dr. Southard, also additional lands, and laid out three blocks on the north side of the Alton and Greenville road, now the main street of the village. Mr. Pearce was an extensive and opulent land holder and became a leading man in the township. As stated, he was elected to the legislature in 1884. His relative, Dr. F. M. Pearce, served in the legislature of 1876, and Robert D. Utiger in that of 1882. All were affiliated with the Democratic party. Thus Alhambra was represented in the general assembly of the state by three distinguished citizens.

In 1858 Mr. W. W. Pearce built a spacious brick residence, the finest in the township, which is still standing on Main street. It was for many years the home of the Pearce family. James Pearce, the father of W. W. Pearce, located in Madison county in 1815, in territorial days. The grandson of James Pearce, President Jas. B. Pearce of the village board, has for many years occupied a beautiful homestead, surrounded by stately trees, in the Green Castle section of Alhambra.

Alhambra has many attractive residences among which are the elegant homes of Adolph Hitz and H. W. Dauderman. The streets are well shaded and granitoid walks extend to all parts of the village. One of these walks is a mile and a quarter long in a straight line, extending from the eastern limits to the Green Castle section on the west. In all the village has four miles of granitoid walks, more than any other village of its size in the county. The school house is pleasantly located in a beautiful maple grove.


Alhambra is an important shipping point for grain and farm produce. Dairying being a leading agricultural pursuit, large quantities of milk are daily shipped to St. Louis, over the Illinois Central and the Clover Leaf. The town is well governed. It has no debt and spends a round sum annually on sidewalk building and street improvement. The present popular president of the village board, Jas. B. Pearce, is an enterprising citizen and large landholder. He is a courteous and affable gentleman. The clerk of the board, who is also clerk of the township, is Fred Kientz, an obliging and capable official. Since the organization of the village the following gentlemen have acted as presidents of the board of trustees:
F. M. Pearce, 1884; F. M. Pearce, 1885; W. W. Pearce, 1886; R. D. Utiger, 1887; F. M. Pearce, 1888; Henry Sharp, 1889; H. T. Wharf, 1890; Henry Sharp, 1891; Henry Sharp, 1892; Henry Sharp, 1893; F. Oswald, 1894; J. B. Pearce, 1895; J. B. Pearce,1896; J. B. Pearce, 1897; S. E. Bucknell, 1898; S. E. Bucknell, 1899; G. W. Isenberg, 1900; J. Gehrig, 1901; J. Gehrig, 1902; J. B. Pearce, 1903; J. B. Pearce, 1904; J. D. Leef, 1903; J. D. Leef, 1906; Jacob Gehrig, 1907; William $uhrSuhrSuhre, 1908; J. D. Leef, 1909; J. B. Pearce, 1911.

Mr. J. B. Pearce has held the office oftener than any other citizen, a deserved compliment to his ability.

The first postmaster at Green Castle was Robert D. Utiger, and John Lowry the first at Alhambra in 1849 The postoffice at Green Castle was moved to Alhambra on the completion of the first railroad through the village in 1883.

The population of Alhambra township in 1910 was 1,216; in 1900 it was 1,245. Of the village in 1910, 433; in woo, 368. Within the last two years there has been a gratifying increase in the population of the village and its prospects for the future are bright.


Alhambra is the only incorporated village in the township. Kaufmann, a station on the Clover Leaf, in section 21, is an important shipping point. It is surrounded by a fine agricultural country and is doubtless destined to become of increased desirability as a business point and place of residence. J. FL Buhrmann, the supervisor of Alhambra township, is a resident of Kaufmann and extensively engaged there in the mercantile business.

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