History of Omphghent 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


Omph-Ghent is one of the north tier of townships in Madison county. Geographically it is township 6, range 7, bounded on the north by Macoupin county, east by Olive, south by Hamel and west by Moro. The surface is an undulating prairie with timber along the streams. It is watered by Cahokia and Swett creeks. It is named for a church that stood near the home of David Swett, the first permanent settler, who located there in 1820 and built the first cabin. Among other pioneers were Samuel Walker, Sanford Dove, Captain Samuel Jackson, Robert and James Rosby.


The first death in the township was that of the wife of a squatter. The next that of the wife of Samuel Walker. The first birth was that of Mary Swett, daughter of David Swett, The first marriage that between James Best and Mary Tatum. The first church was built on the west side of the township in 1848. The first minister was Charles Howard. The first school is said to date back to 1825. David Swett was the first justice of the peace. He came to Edwardsville in 1817 and in 1820 located on a quarter section in Omph-Ghent, Matias Handlon entering eighty acres on the same date. Swett married a niece of Thos. Tindall who came to Madison 'county from North Carolina in 1817. Other early settlers prior to 1830, were Charles Tindall, Ezekiel Davis and Samuel H. Denton. Denton's widow lived to be the oldest of the early settlers in the township. Parham Wall, William Hill, Benjamin Bond, Stephen 'Wilcox, Geo. W. Beaird, Robert Page, also came prior to 1830. Thos. Grant, Sr., came in 1831. His son Thomas, Jr., married a daughter of Colonel Samuel Judy. She was born in the county in 1809. Captain Samuel Jackson located on section 14 at an early date. Edward Butler and Darius Spruwell came in 1833. William Kell came to the county in 1829 and entered 320 acres near where Worden now stands. One of the main avenues of Worden is named after him. Robert Roseberry came in 1836 and Richard Sandbach from England in 1839. Fred. Handshey was the first German settler, coming in 1833. Other early German settlers were Adam Hohe, Frank Peters, C. and J. Kuhlenberg, Fred Klein, H. Weisman, Rev. L. Blume, F. and H. Durstman, J. C. Schaefer, Fred. Hildebrand, Fred. Leseman and H. C. Nobbe.

Jonathan McManus built a saw and grist mill on the creek west of Worden at an early day and ran it for some years in connection with a blacksmith shop. In 1879 a destructive cyclone swept through Omph-Ghent township. Houses and barns were blown down and scattered, forest trees uprooted and orchards wiped off the earth. Edward McDonald was killed on his farm during the storm. The first Sunday school was held in the barn of David Swett by Joseph Gordon in 1833. Mr. Gordon became known later as a prominent Presbyterian minister. He also taught the first Sunday school on Liberty Prairie, the third established in the county.

While nearly all of the early settlers reared large families few of their descendants remain in the county. They have died off or moved away and their places have been taken by Germans.


The village of Worden is the commercial center of Omph-Ghent township. The story of its rise is told briefly below. John Lamb, a native of Tennessee, settled in section 25 at an early day. Some of his descendants still reside in the township. A saw mill was built southwest of Lamb's improvement and a post office established called Lamb's Point. During the Civil war it was a recruiting station for the Union army. William Burley was the first postmaster at Lamb's Point and was succeeded by David Burley. In 1857 the office was moved to the home of Hampton Wall, who was the son in law of Mr. koseberry. In 1860 Mr. Wall laid out a town in section 35 and called it New Hampton. He established a store there. In 1854 John C. Worden, an Englishman, came to the county and engaged in business. In 1867 he purchased the store of Mr. Wall and his real estate holdings, and then laid out an addition north of the New Hampton plat. In 1870 the Decatur and East St. Louis railroad later the Wabash was built through the place and the name Worden was given the station in recognition of Mr. Worden's activity in furthering the interests of the company. He was a man of enterprise and ability. He was railroad agent, postmaster, deputy sheriff, by turns, and held other positions of trust. His wife was a daughter of G. S. Weaver. Some of their children still survive. The old homestead is occupied by Edward Sandbach, an opulent resident, who married a daughter of Mr. Worden.


The opening of a coal shaft by the Worden Mining Company in 1876 was the beginning of the town's material prosperity and has aided materially in developing it from a crossroads settlement to a village of some 1,200 inhabitants. The country about is underlaid with a vein of coal some six to eight feet thick. The mining interests are now controlled by two great companies, the KerensDonnawald Company and the DeCamp Company. The village has an elevator owned by Keiser Brothers, a creamery and other industries, also the usual number of mercantile houses for a place of its size. Worden has several miles of graniteoid sidewalks and its streets are well improved thoroughfares. While the village is largely dependent on its mining interests it enjoys a flourishing trade with the fertile country roundabout. It has a handsome two story city hall, built of brick, which is an ornament to the place. On the first floor is located the private bank of Wall & Company, established in 1902. The president is William P. Wall, son of Hampton Wall who laid. out New Hampton. The cashier is J. T. McGaughey, a genial and popular gentleman, a descendant of one of the leading old families. Another successful financial institution which is doing much to advance the prosperity of the town, is the Worden B. and L. Association, of which Louis Dornseif is president; Wm. Schliepsich, vice president; and Edward Pearce, secretary. The present postmaster, who is an efficient official, is Mr. M. E. Berry. Joseph Lamb, son of John Lamb, now eighty years old, has lived in the township seventy seven years. The first physician to locate in Worden was Dr. H. R. Dorr. He was succeeded in practice by his son who has just completed an unique and handsome residence. The educational interests of Worden are well provided for. It has a large two story school house surrounded by pleasant grounds. This is a reminder that the first school treasurer of the district was Hampton Wall, a gentleman prominent in the business life of Madison and Macoupin counties for a generation. There are four churches in Worden, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Christian. The Baptist church building is the oldest. It was built about 1850 and stood originally in the cemetery, a half mile north of town. It was later moved into the village to its present site, a case of the church coming to the people instead of the reverse.

Worden has good transportation facilities furnished by the Wabash and the Litchfield & Madison railroads. The Big Four passes east of town but has no station. Worden is also an important point on the Illinois Traction line which furnishes it direct connection with the county seat.

The administration of civic affairs in Worden is in the hands of a village board of which C. W. Piper is president. The trustees, in addition; are A. Z. Rice, W. H. Sharp, Edward Pearce, Jesse Spurgeon, Charles Schuette and F. W. Quade. Other officers are J. T. McGaughey, treasurer; H. H. Emerich, clerk; Thos. Williamson, attorney.

Hon. Henry Picker, a leading German business man of Worden was a member of the legislature 1890-1892.

The population of the village in 1890 was 522; in 1900, 544; in 1910, 1,082.


Prairie City is a pleasant settlement in section 18, on the line of Moro township, and at the crossing of two main county roads. The first settler was Maurice Hartnett. It was platted in 1858 by L. L. Dorsey. A Lutheran church was built in 1863 followed by a more pretentious one in 1874, costing $11,000. The village has a beautiful location, a good country trade, and is surrounded by fertile farms tilled by an industrious and progressive people.


Omph-Ghent is almost entirely an agricultural township save for its mining interests. It has many fine farms and attractive suburban homesteads evolved from the wilderness. It has, in addition to the churches named, Mt. Zion Methodist church, South. The township is represented on the county board by supervisor William Zerges. The first supervisor was James Kell, 1876-8. He was succeeded by W. F. Kell. James Kell was the son of William Kell who came to Madison county from North Carolina in 1829.

The population of Omph-Ghent in 1890 was 1,472; in 1900, 1,499; in 1910, 2,062. The gain in the last decade was almost entirely in Warden village.

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