Early Illinois Settlement

When Madison County came into existence in 1812, its boundaries included all of Illinois north of the present-day southern border of the county. To settle the “untamed wilderness” the government set up a system of land grants as rewards for service in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 or in wars fought against Native Americans. As the county seat, Edwardsville was the setting for the land office where claims for the land had to be settled and where public lands were sometimes auctioned. Here they had to deal with legitimate and false claims for land as well as squatters. The public was also eager to buy land, but it could not be sold until surveys were completed to identify the parcels.