History of Saline 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 J. S. Hoerner

Saline township, evidently so named on account of a salt well in the southwestern part, contains all of town four, range five, bounded on the north by Leef township, on the east by Bond county, south by Helvetia and west by Marine township, Silver creek running through the northwestern and Sugar creek through the southeastern part. The township contains, according to first surveys, 22,562 58-100 acres. Originally the township was about equally divided between timber and prairie land, but now comparatively little timber remains standing, nearly all along the creeks. The township is noted for its attractive, romantic scenery.


The first traces of settlement are found in the southwestern part in 1809, in which year the first house was built by a widow Howard, who had come from Tennessee. Her family consisted of several sons and daughters, the two eldest sons being Joseph and Abraham Howard. She selected a ridge at the edge of timber, affording a fine and extensive view of the surrounding country—Looking Glass prairie. Later this became the Rallied place and was named "Sonnenberg" (sun hill.)

The next year, 1810, Abraham Huser, of German descent, a son in law of widow Howard, settled about three quarters of a mile north of her place, about in the center of section 29, where twenty years later James Reynolds located, the place now owned by Simon Bargaetzi. About 1815 Huser moved to within a few miles south of Troy, where he founded the Huser settlement, Previous to 1810 there were no settlers within many miles in either direction, and no white persons north, according to known records. Only after that time settlements began arid increased from year to year, usually at the edges of timber or in the woods. Among the first were the Geiger and Chilton families, who located in section 17. Geiger was of German descent, but later changed his name to Giger. On account of Indian troubles he soon removed with his family several miles northwest into Marine township. The first birth in Saline township was that of William Geiger in 181o, and the first death of Polly Geiger about 1811.

Thomas Chilton was the first magistrate, but not having acquainted himself sufficiently with the law, his decisions as justice of the peace did not show the desired knowledge and judgment.

Archibald Conker was the first settler in the northern part of the township in 1816, coming from Kentucky, locating upon the present Mudge place. About ten years later he removed to the northern part of the state.


About 1818 the Samuel McAllily family, also from Kentucky, settled between the Howards and Huser at the timber heights on the Marine road (site of the present cemetery), but finding no water at that place, they removed some distance south, starting the farm that later became the property of Frank Lorenz and is now owned by his son Edward Lorenz, where the Koepflis first stopped (with McAllily) upon their arrival in 1831.

Father McAllily was an active man. He planted the first fruit trees in this section, which was then called the McAllily settlement. He was of Scotch descent, born in South Carolina, and is well spoken of in old records. One night he shot and killed one of the largest panthers in the settlement, measuring nine feet from tip to tip. The animal had been in a tree upon the present Ambuehl farm. At that time deer were also seen daily, trooping over the prairie in droves from ten to fifty, and other game of all kinds was also plentiful. Even an elk was killed, while there were bears, and wolves very numerous.


In 1823 William Briggs, who came from Kentucky, finding a salt brine in section 19 near Silver creek, sunk a salt well to a depth of 44o feet and started salt works, which, however, did not pay sufficiently, so that the project was soon abandoned. Mr. Briggs had a military and political record. He was a subordinate officer under General Clark in the conquest of Illinois, 1778 and 1779, and in 1790 was appointed sheriff of St. Clair county, holding the office many years, having also been a member of the first legislative body of the territory which convened in 1812.

Most of the earliest settlers of this and adjacent townships came from North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. After they had completed their improvement on Congressional land, they took life easy, hunting, trapping, and planting only what they needed for themselves, their necessities otherwise being most moderate. Solomon Koepfli, describing these settlers as he met them upon arrival, says in his history of Highland: "It is true that our eyes were often offended when we met men whose naked knees and elbows were exposed through their tattered clothes, looking miserable. These indolent and aimless people composed at that time the greater part of the inhabitants of Illinois, probably causing the origination of the niekname 'Suckers.' " And yet he speaks of these sturdy pioneers in the rough and rude surroundings as being honest, sincere, hospitable and kind in their relations with the neighbors, always ready with alacrity to help in case of need without even being asked to do so.


Among those who settled in the township in 183o, James Reynolds was, in great contrast with the other settlers, the most prominent and influential, honored for his energy, enterprise, perseverance and sterling character. He came to Illinois in 1818, and in 1830 bought the Huser farm, which is now the Bargaetzi property. Unlike most other native American settlers, who took things easy and were satisfied with the simplest necessities of life, he began systematic farming and stock raising on a large scale, according to best methods and with the best implements obtainable, so that he was considered an expert and model for other farmers. In 184o he was elected to the state legislature, and also served many years as justice of the peace. He had four children, Reuben, William, Nancy and Sarah. Nancy married Samuel Thorp, and after his death became the wife of his brother David. Sarah married Curtis Blakeman Jr.
Thos. Johnson Jr, settled, 1817, a short distance south 0f the village of Saline (Grant-fork). He planted an orchard, which was considered them best in that section.

Solomon H. Mudge, father of E. W. Mudge (now of Edwardsville), one of the prominent early settlers, coming from Portland, Maine, engaged in banking in St. Louis, and in the spring of 1836 bought 1,800 acres of land, building a fine summer residence on the heights in section 3, a short distance southeast of the village of Saline, affording a grand and distant view of the landscape south and east. The grounds around the residence were laid out and improved in beautiful parklike style, admired by all who had the pleasure of seeing it. Several years after building the residence he engaged in the hotel business in New Orleans, but spent the summer months at his country home, where he was buried after his death in 1860.
Other first settlers were: Robert Coulter in 1817, James East in 1816, H. Carson 1829, Ben. Reimer 1818, McCullum 1822, James Pierce 1817, H. Lisenbee about 1822, and John Carter about 1835.

The first preaching was at the cabin of mother Howard by the Rev. Jones, then by John Barber (who also taught school), his son Joel, and John Knight.


With the year 1831 began a new era for the agricultural, industrial and commercial development of this and adjacent townships, upon the arrival of the Koepfli family, two Suppiger brothers, and others, who started the Swiss colony, naming it "New Switzerland." The party was headed by Dr. Caspar Koepfli, Sr., the other members being his wife, his sons Solomon, Bernhard and Joseph, a hired girl, Joseph and Anthony Suppiger, and Alois Kappeler (a carpenter), all from Sursee, Switzerland, together with four other men from other towns in Switzerland—Joseph Vonarx, Sebastian Keller, Caspar Helfenstein and Moritz Geisshuesler. These were followed in 1833 by the families of Joseph Suppiger, Sr. and his brother Johann Suppiger, each succeeding year bringing an increased number from Switzerland, as well as many from different parts of Germany and some from France.

Joseph Suppiger, Sr., died a few months after his arrival and was the first person buried in the present Highland cemetery in sec-ticn 30. His sons were Joseph, Anton and Melchior. The sons of Johann Suppiger were Xavier, John and Bernard, besides two daughters. Among the other immigrants from Switzerland in 1833 were the Blattner brothers (Johann and Rudolph), Wm. Hagnauer, Jacob Eggen, and the Buchmann family. In 1834 five daughters of John Suppiger, Sr., and his son David arrived, also Moritz Huegy, who was the first of the Swiss settlers to marry here. In consequence of the increasing number of new immigrants the monotonous life was broken more and more. Among the arrivals up to 1840 were the Nagel, Ambuehl and Staffelbach families. On the 22nd of August, 1840, another party of sixty-eight persons arrived from Switzerland being the families Bardill, Marcut (Marcoot), Ruedy, Branger, Florin, Ulmer, etc.

In March, 1841, ten years after their arrival, all of the Koepfli family returned to Switzerland, after selling most of their land. Solomon and Joseph, however, returned again after two and a half years, father Koepfli also returning later, after seven and a half years.

Among the immigrants of 1841 were many from Baden and Wuertemberg, Germany, the families Trautner, Hotz, Spengel, Bader, Bender, Zopf, Hammer, Plocher and others. These, like the 0thers from the old country, were industrious, frugal and contented people, who, with but few exceptions, readily adapted themslves to the trying conditions and circumstances of those times, striving with courage and energy to 0vercome the hardships. They knew how to help themselves. For instance, regularly made wagons were too expensive and hard to get, consequently they constructed them primitively without any iron as best they could, making so called "roll wagons" with wheels out of the trunks of large trees, thus gaining advantage over the natives, who used sleds when they could not purchase a wagon. They gradually brought up all the public lands (at $1.25 per acre ) as long as it was to be had—up t0 the latter part of the fifties.

At the incitation of the settlers of this and Helvetia townships, a state or national road was laid out from Pocahontas to Troy, as part of the national post road, and to see the passing of the four horse mail coaches was an event each time until the 0. & M. railroad was built. The project of a railroad to run through this section in 1836 and 1854 (Borough road) were abandoned for want of funds although considerable grading had been done. In 1864, however, the agitation for a railroad finally resulted in the building and completion to Highland in 1868 of the Vandalia Line, entering this township near Highland and passing out eastward at Pierron. The city and citizens of Highland contributed $15,200 for building this road.

There is no village or town wholly in the township. About one sixth of the northern part of Highland is in Saline township, all built up since the advent of the railroad. The village of Saline (Grantfork postoflice), lies 0n the township line in about equal parts in Saline and Leef townships. The same being the case in Pierron, which is partly in the township and Bond county.


The township is an agricultural section, raising mostly corn, wheat, oats, and hay, but is largely devoted to dairying. Grape culture was also considerably developed, but the area now taken up for this branch is not as large as formerly. The first vineyard was laid out by Joseph and Solomon Koepfli on the so-called Koepfli hill, just north of Highland. cornprising five acres, being kept up until about twenty years ago, when the vines were taken out. Vineyards were also planted by Dr. Ryhiner, A. E. Bandelier, Sic. Anlbuehl, Constant Rilliet, R. von Graffenried, Peter Gisler and 0thers.


There are three country schools in the township, district 14 in section 35, district 12 in section 14, and district 13 in section 17. Parts of the township are also connected with other school districts of adjoining townships and Bond county. Up to 1831 there had been neither a school house nor church in the township.

For many years up to 1856 Saline and Helvetia townships formed 0ne election precinct, elections being held at Justice Joseph Duncan's on Sugar creek up to 1838, and from thereon up t0 and including the presidential election of 1856 at the school house in Highland. Then Saline township was made an election precinct of its own, except the southern border sections, elections being held in the school house in section 8 near Silver creek, and after this building burned clown the Kaufmann school house was made the voting place.

Township organization having carried at the fall election of 1875, to supersede the commissioner system, the following first officers of the township were elected on April 4, 1876: Supervisor, Jones Tontz ; assessor, Geo. lotz; collector, Martin Ruch; street commissioners, John Plocher, Chr. Tontz, and P. D. Mervin; school trustees, David Hinderer; town clerk, A. A. Suppiger. Anthony Suppiger, father of A. A. Suppiger, one of the pioneer Swiss settlers, was an associate judge of the county court from 1865 to 1869. He had the reputation of being an uncompromising opponent to extravagant and inequitable expenditures.


Saline is a little village of about seventy five inhabitants, though at one time it may have had at least one hundred and fifty. The main street divides the two townships, Saline and Leef. It was laid out in 840 by Hy. K. Lathy, James Carpenter, and others. Previous to that time it was known as a crossroad place called Fitz James. The first house was built by Thomas Johnson, and the first death was that of Mrs. James Pierce, about 1839. John Duncan opened a store on the north side in 184o, and in addition kept a sort of tavern, calling it the Fitz James Hotel. After his death his buildings burned down. A few years later R. D. Legitt put up the second store, also on the north side, but soon sold out to Wm. Schum, who in 1858 sold to Bardill Brothers, John, Conrad and Stephen. John afterwards became sole owner, and having succeeded in getting a post office for the place, then called Crandon:. was its first postmaster, as well as the most active promoter of the town. He closed his store in 1874, retiring from business, and moved to Los Angeles. Cal.. in 1910. Stephen, in 1862, opened a stone quarry and lime kiln on the Leef township side, and Conrad, after having become a physician, moved to Colorado in the late sixties. Martin Buch started the second store on the south side, which later, after his death, became the property of Hitz Bros., Arnold Hitz now being sole owner. The first blacksmith shop was started by a Mr. Herrin.

The village now has one good store, several saloons, blacksmith shop, etc. A fine Catholic church with a school in connection, was built in 1872 on the Beef side, and the same year a two room brick building was erected on the same side for the public school. The Lutheran church, a neat brick building on the south side, was also built in 1872. In the industrial line the town has a prosperous creamery. A sharpshooters society was started in 1866. Anton Beck ("old Tony Beck") was its organizer and first and continual president up to his death in 1875. The society still exists with regular practice, and its annual fall festival is usually largely attended. They own a nice park and rifle range just east of town.

The Diamond Mineral Spring, an attraction of the town, is described in the Beef township


is the other small village in the township, i. e. the western part of it, the eastern part lying in Bond county, the main street being the dividing line. It is a station on the Vandalia railroad and was laid out by Jacques Pierron in 1871. Upon completion of the railroad to the place August Pierron, son of Jacques, had erected a building used as barroom and grocery store by A. Pierron & Company. The postoffice was established in February, 1870, August Pierron being appointed postmaster. Pierron & Rinderer started the first general merchandise business, but after four years J. D. Rinderer became sole owner, then erecting a commodious two-story brick store building on the Bond county side of the main street. He died about eight years later, however, but the business was continued by different successive firms to this day, the present owners being Mewes & Schrumpf.

The first grain warehouse was built in 1870 by J. Pierron and Leopold Knehel. In 1880 Leopold Knehel, then sole proprietor, built an elevator now owned by Philip Essenpreis. J. Weindel started the first blacksmith shop, and Charles Britsch opened the first hotel in 1870, removing to Highland, however, after a few years, where he died.

The village now has nearly three hundred inhabitants, a fine large Catholic church, a public school house, two general stores, the Pierron Mercantile Company, and Mewes Schrumpf, blacksmith and wagon maker, three saloons, a builder, concrete works, lumber yard, grain elevator, hardware store, and such other business enterprises as are required.

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