History of Moro 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

By Norman G. Flagg

This township (6-8) is bounded in the north by Macoupin county, on the west by Foster township, on the south by Fort Russell, and on the east by Omph Ghent. When the names for the various townships were selected, in 1876, the names of Moro, Dorsey and Ridgely were thought of, and the first was finally selected. The sections adjoining Macoupin county being incomplete, the acreage of Mom township is somewhat shortened, being 20,573.13 acres. The south boundary of Moro township was surveyed in March, 1814, by J. Milton Moore (see Vol. 44, U. S. Records); the east boundary by Charles Powell in October, 1818 (see Vol. 92); the west boundary by Joseph Borough in November, 1818 (see Vol. 93), and the subdivision by Borough in January, 1819 (Vol. 93). The 90th degree of longitude runs practically through Dorsey Station in this township.


By authority of W. S. Palmer, brother of Gov. John M. Palmer, in a letter dated 1903, the earliest settler of this township was one Zenas Webster. He came in 1820 to section 34, and built a cabin on the east side of the "Springfield road," on the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter section 1, and lived here until at least 1833, probably later. A Mr. Branstetter was Moro's second settler. In 1828 came Thomas Wood and Thomas Luman. The former, a Kentuckian, settled in the southeast quarter of section 10, on the Springfield road, and married Jane Tolon. Mr. Luman made his home in section 19, near Rocky Branch; he died in 1832 and his widow married John Norton of Macoupin county. A son of Maj. Solomon Preuitt (an early resident of Wood River and Fort Russell), Abraham Preuitt, came in 1830 to section 8 and was a lifelong resident of that locality, raising a large family. Joseph Hughes came in the same year to section 18.


Much of the interest in early Moro days centers around the fact that Gov. John M. Palmer was a resident of this township in his boyhood days. His father Louis D. Palmer, a Kentuckian, brought his family to section 28 in the year 1831, when the future major general, United States senator, and governor of Illinois was fourteen years of age. Another son, Elihu Palmer, was a Baptist minister, and conducted the first preaching service in this community, at the home of Zenas Webster. The Palmer home remained here in section 28 until r844. The farm is now (1912) owned by William E. Cooper. The Sanner family came in 1833, from Pennsylvania, accompanied by the Lathy family; to the latter family belonged Dr. Henry Kent Lathy, later of Upper Alton. Samuel Sanner owned a large farm in sections 26 and 27, and removed in 1866 to Shelby county.

In 1834 came the Carter and Dorsey families. The first marriage ceremony in "Omph Ghent" was the union of Henry T. Carter and Hannah Davis, in 1833, and in October, 1834, the young couple settled in section 26 of Moro township. No family was more prominent in the early days here than the Dorseys. Nimrod Dorsey, a native of Maryland and later a resident of Kentucky, where he married his cousin Matilda Dorsey, emigrated to Madison county in 1834, and settled on the northeast quarter of section 29, which was his home until his death, and where his descendants still reside. Of his eleven children Samuel L, was best known. in this vicinity, having spent his entire adult life on the Dorsey homestead. A daughter, Susan F., married Anthony B. Hundley who was a very large landowner in Moro at one time. Another daughter of Nimrod Dorsey married M. O'Bannon, a pioneer family of Ridgely. Benjamin L. Dorsey settled in section 17 in 1836; he died in 1880.

The five eldest sons of Maj. Solomon Preuitt were old settlers of Moro township - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Martin and James. Abraham has been mentioned above. Isaac came to section 7 in 1834; Jacob to section 17 in 1835; Martin settled the William Butcher place in section 7 in 1839, but later moved to Macoupin county; and James, father of Elias K. Preuitt, came to section 17 about 1840. Buford T. Yager, a native of Virginia and later a resident of Kentucky, where he married Juda Wilhite, settled in section 30 in 1834. The following year Fleming Heustis, a native of New York state, came to section 15, and his brother Benjamin came soon after, entering 16o acres in section 22. The former died in 1876, the latter in 1880. Other families coming here in the thirties and forties were the Coopers (English), F. Myer (German), Hornsbys, McKinney and Campbell. Carl Engelke and Ludwig Pape settled in the southeast part of Moro township about 1850, and C. H. Hatcher, a Kentuckian, came to the Ridgely settlement in 1856.


Indian creek is the main stream in Moro township, running north and south from section 3 to 33, through the center of the township, and having in its bottom lands some quite fertile fields. In the eastern portion, Paddock's creek drains quite a large territory, and is seldom subject to serious overflow. Valuable coal fields lie beneath the surface some eighty to one hundred feet, and will prove a great resource when developed. Considerable attention is paid to dairying, as there are good facilities for shipping milk daily from two stations within the township. Wheat, corn, and live stock are the staple products, and there are a few fine apple and peat orchards.

The New York Central Lines operate the "Big Four" railroad, running through this township almost north and south for about six miles, with depots at Moro and Dorsey. The former town was first known as Hampton, and dates its existence from about 1853. At one time a three story flour mill was in operation here, owned by James Montgomery (a son of one of the county's first settlers), and Hugh Smith. James Perd Smith will always be remembered as Moro's leading citizen in her earlier days; he was station agent and store keeper, as well as postmaster. In 1881 he moved to Colorado where he died in 1911. A brick yard was formerly established one half mile north of the town; and in 1911 a cement tile factory was put in operation just south of Moro, in Fort Russell township, run by local capital. Blacksmiths at various dates in Moro's history have been: M. Skiles, J. Klaus, George Griffith, George Hovey, and Edward H. Helmkamp. T. A. Mutchmore kept a general store for many years; Hiram E. Stahl also kept a store and has been succeeded by his son C. K Stahl; the store conducted for many years by William Montgomery, a prominent resident of this township, has, since his death in 1907, been continued by his son, A. Reid Montgomery. Lanterman Brothers do a large business in hardware and in live stock shipments. In both Moro and Dorsey are located elevators for the purchase of grain, and in the latter place is a general store, kept by William Kuethe, who is postmaster also, a hardware store conducted by William Dietzel, and a saloon and grocery kept by Okke Bohlen.

Much of the railroad business of the flourishing village of Prairietown is done through Dorsey, it being the closest shipping point. In former years H. L. Koenemann was the leading merchant of this place.


The township of Moro is well supplied with churches and school houses. The Ridgely Christian church, one of the oldest congregations in Madison county, holds services at stated intervals, although far removed in the country; there was once a Methodist congregation at Ridgely but the church was finally abandoned. There are two very large German church societies in the township, one northwest of Dorsey, the other in the south central part, in section 34 (very near the spot first settled in the township by Z. Webster). Five schoolhouses are found in Moro, one of them a two room building near the village of Moro, one just west of Dorsey, one at "Yorkville" in section 26, the "Oak Grove" school in section to, and the fifth in section 4, almost on the Macoupin county line. About 1840 and later there stood a school house on the Joseph Cooper farm, about four miles south of Ridgely, on the west side of the Springfield road, where many of the early settlers sent their children, from distances of three or four miles. From a historical point of view, considerable interest attaches to the pioneer settlement of "Ridgely," in section 22, at which was once a postoffice and store and which was one of the stations of the Springfield-St. Louis stagecoach in its tri weekly trips. Richard O'Bannon seems to have been the leading citizen of Ridgely a half century ago.


In 1860 this township had 88o inhabitants; by United States census, with a real estate valuation of $286,000, and a personal property valuation of $123,000. In 1910 the census returns give 907 population; and the assessment of the township in 1911 (total except railroads, etc.) at a one third valuation, is $370,000.

Prior to 1876, the east portion of Moro was located in Omphghent voting precinct, and the west part in Bethalto precinct, Indian creek being the dividing line; but since the township was organized, Ridgely has been the polling place. The first township ballot (1876) read as follows: Supervisor, E. K, Preuitt; town clerks, Dan A. Lynch and L. B. Young; assessors, Lou. Pape and Jas. M. Denton; collectors. Ferdinand Meyer and M. McKinney; commissioners of highway, George Johnson, George Cooper and Charles Engelke; justices of the peace, W. Helmkamp and Joseph Cooper. The township officials in 1912 were: Supervisor Fred C. Zoelzer; town clerk, H. C. Meyer; assessor, Joe Havelka; collector, Harvey E. Dorsey; highway commissioners, August Henke, Gust. Burges and William Dustmann; justices of the peace, Arthur H. Smith and Herman H. Helmkamp.

Return to [ Illinois History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Illinois Biographies ]

Illinois Counties at this web site - Adams - Carroll - Champaign - Cook - De Kalb - Du Page - Edgar - Kane - LaSalle - Lee - Logan - Macoupin - Madison - Mason - McHenry - McLean - Stark - Stephenson - Vermilion - Will

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy