History of Pin Oak 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
PIN OAK TOWNSHIP.
Pin Oak township, taking its name from a grove of Pin Oaks in section sixteen, a former militia training ground,
comprises all of congressional township T. 4, R. 7. It is bounded on the north by Hamel, east by Marine south by
Jarvis and west by Edwardsville. Although one of the earliest settled townships in the county, and near the city
of Edwardsville, it is the least populous. In 1890 it had a population of 1,119; in 1900, 1,026; in 1910, 933.
Its surface is an undulating plain dotted with groves of timber. In early days about half the land was timbered
and all would have been but for the frequent prairie fires. With the increase of settlers, and the consequent checking
of the fires, new groves of timber sprang up and flourished. The township is watered by Silver creek and its branches.
It is strictly an agricultural township covered with fertile farms and with little waste. land. It is a beautiful
country to look upon in summer with its broad acres of waving grain shimmering in the sunshine. It is adapted to
all the staple crops and to stock raising, dairying being an important industry. The main county roads from Edwardsville
to Highland and Marine pass through Pin Oak.
Joseph Bartlett and pioneers Lockhart and Taylor were the reputed first settlers in the township. They came
in 1808 and began improvements in 1809. Descendants of Joseph Bartlett still reside in the township. Thomas Barnett,
who came to the county in 1815, settled in section 5. Two of his grandsons, Edward Barnett, a prosperous lumber
dealer of Edwardsville, and J. A. Barnett, the genial circuit clerk, are among the most popular residents of the
county. Col. Thos. Judy was an early settler in section 4. Sylvanus Gaskill was a pioneer, and the first sermon
in the township is said to have been delivered at his house by Rev. Knowland, in 1808. The first school was taught
the, same year by Mr. Atwater in a log cabin on a farm later owned by Jubilee Posey. Joseph Bartlett became a prominent
citizen and was the first assessor and treasurer of the county. He served in the war of 1812 and also in the Black
Hawk war. Service in these two wars, however, was general among the pioneers. They had to defend their new homes
or lose them. Paul Beck located on section 5 prior to 1812 and built a block house and established a horse mill.
This improvement 'was later purchased by George Coventry, an Englishman, who came from Kentucky in 1813. This place
and other lands adjacent were subsequently purchased by Gov. Edward Coles. The site of an old block house is now
occupied by a flourishing apple orchard. Gov. Coles retained this property during his lifetime. He died in 1868
and willed it to his daughter, Miss Mary Coles of Philadelphia, who still survives. In 1870 she sent an agent to
the county, in the person of former Mayor Prince, of Boston, who, on her authority, sold the lands to Wheeler &
Prickett of Edwardsville. They, in turn, disposed of the lands to others. The eighty acre tract in section 4 on
which Gov. Coles had improved was purchased by K. T. Barnett. The eighty acre tract south of the main road is now
owned by Mrs. Mary Miller and the north tract in section 4, by M. M. Buchta. Another tract of the governor's land,
in section 5 was also purchased by K. T. Barnett, father of Edward and uncle of J. A. Barnett of Edwardsville.
A second tract in section 5, understood to have been once the property of the Governor, is owned by R. Buckley.
The tract in section 4 purchased by Mr. Barnett was subsequently sold by him to F. W. Tunnell. Gov. Coles in his
autobiography says that his buildings and improvements, including a young 'orchard, were destroyed by prairie fire
shortly before his removal to Philadelphia in 1833, but, in the memory of persons still living, a gigantic apple
tree stood in the yard surrounding the present tenant house on the premises and was probably one that survived
the fire spoken of by the Governor. An old well, doubtless sunk by Gov. Coles' direction, was also near the present
tenant house. In later years it became choked up by the sides caving in, and a new well was dug fifteen feet distant,
and the earth taken therefrom was used in filling up the old well.
NOTABLE SETTLEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
In a certain aspect Pin Oak is one of the most interesting townships in the State as the scene of a historical
incident. It will be remembered that in 1819 Edward Coles of Virginia, having freed his slaves, brought them to
Madison county and settled them on lands he purchased in Pin Oak township, from three to four miles from Edwardsville.
He gave each adult male a quarter section. The colony of freed slaves thus established prospered and, as time passed
on, other colored settlers joined them and the original holdings were subdivided. The settlement at one time numbered
about 300, but subsequently diminished, a number of families moving to Montgomery county. The settlement is in
the centre of the township, mainly in sections 14, 15 and 16. Two main county roads run through it and it is bisected
by Silver creek. Among the early settlers were Robert Crawford, Michael Lee, Samuel Vanderberg, Henry Daugherty
and Thos. Sexton.
Pin Oak township is, well supplied with means of transportation, both the Clover Leaf and the Illinois Central
passing through it. Fruit, a station and postoffice on the Clover Leaf, is on the line between Hamel and Pin Oak
townships. It takes its name from the pioneer family of that name. The writer recalls a volunteer soldier of the
Civil war, by the name of Fruit, from this neighborhood, who was very fleshy. The officials sent him home from
Camp Butler because on drill his breadth covered any two men in his company and spoiled "the count."
However, he was a good man and a patriot.
THE COLES PLANTATION
The Edwardsville Democrat of August I, 1912, has contained the following article by its editor, Captain A. L.
Brown, than whom no one is better posted on the history of Madison county: