Friday, January 13, 2017

The History of John Messinger (1771-1846), the Messinger Schoolhouse, Messinger Cemetery and the Pearl Harbor Veterans Memorial in Swansea, Illinois.

John Messinger was born in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1771. He was raised on a farm but received a good education and was particularly fond of the study of mathematics. In 1783 he moved to Vermont and learned the carpenter’s trade and also became a millwright.

In 1801 he joined a party of pioneers led by Matthew Lyon who left Vermont and settled in Eddyville, Kentucky. Messinger married Lyon’s daughter, Anne, (1774-1842). He was opposed to slavery so he and his family along with his brother-in-law, Dr. George Cadwell, moved on to Illinois in 1802, first settling in the American Bottom and then moving to New Design.

In 1807, Messinger moved his family 2½ miles north of Belleville (from the French word meaning "Beautiful City"), Illinois, naming his property Clinton Hill. He was the first postmaster outside of Cahokia, in the county, having the post office at his residence.

The first surveys of land under the government of the United States were made by William Rector in 1808. They were part of Cahokia Commons and military claims. The surveying of Congressional townships was not made until 1814 when much of the work was done by John Messinger, who was a sub-contractor under Rector.

Messinger surveyed much of the public domain in both St. Clair and Randolph Counties. In 1815 he was made a deputy under the Surveyor-General of Ohio with authority to survey the military tract in the forks of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and surveyed much of that tract.

Later he was appointed to assist in the survey of the northern limits of Illinois and he made a part of the astronomical and mathematical calculations by which the line dividing the states of Illinois and Wisconsin was located. He and Philip Creamer, a skilled mechanic, made surveyors’ compasses.

Messinger was a member of the convention that met at Kaskaskia and framed the first constitution of Illinois.

In 1814, Belleville became the county seat, and subsequent elections were held at this place. Poll list and return of the first election held in St Clair County, after the admission of Illinois as a state, Sept. 17, 1818. 

Election polls began and were held at Belleville, for and within the county of St. Clair, in the Illinois territory, on Thursday, the 17th of September, 1818, to elect the following members to organize and form the Government of the State of Illinois, by virtue of the Constitution passed in August, 1818, to elect one Governor, one Lieutenant-Governor, one Representative to Congress, one Senator to the General Assembly, three Representatives to the Assembly, one Sheriff, and one Coroner. 

The election was closed at three o'clock on Saturday, the third day of said election, whereupon it appears that Wm. Kinney is duly elected Senator of the Assembly, John Messinger and James D. Thomas elected Representatives, Wm. A. Baird elected as Sheriff, and Job Badgley as Coroner. Voting took place viva voce ("Viva Voce" is a Latin phrase literally meaning "with living voice" but most often translated as "by mouth"). The two-year term was the last political office Messinger held.

Messinger wrote and published a book entitled, “A Manual or Hand-Book of Practical Surveying” in 1821.

In February of 1825, John Mason Peck, a Baptist minister, arranged for establishing a Baptist Seminary in Illinois, and St. Clair County was selected for the location of the school. A two-story frame building, with two wings, was completed in 1827, and the "Rock Spring Theological Seminary and High School" was opened. Rev. Joshua Bradly was the principal. Rev. John M. Peck Professor of Theology, and Rev. John Messinger Professor of Mathematics. It opened with one hundred students. This was the first literary institution in the state higher than a common or primary school. In 1831 it was transferred to Alton, Illinois and became the foundation for Shurlleff College.

Messinger fought in the Black Hawk War in 1832 under General Atkinson's command. In 1835 he produced the first map of Illinois based on the official United States Survey. Messinger died on September 16, 1846.

The Historian and Curator of the St. Clair County Historical Society (STCCHS), William P. Shannon, IV stated "You've likely noticed the difference in spelling in the surname between the cemetery plaque and the headstones.

Is it Messinger or Messenger? The answer is the always-frustrating: "that depends." If we are interested in how John spelled his surname, there is little doubt. It was Messinger. Several documents written in his own hand confirm this. There was one branch of the family, however, who adopted the Messenger spelling. So, as I said, it depends.

It was this misspelled name that got the first round of the name spelling debate started. I took it upon myself to comb through our collection to find instances of Messinger writing his own name. On a property tax bill from 1827, a copy of the poems of Oliver Goldsmith from 1819, and his surveyor's field book (likely from the 1820s), he signs [his name] with an "I" every time. Also, he is referred to as John Messinger (not Messenger) in the memoirs of John Mason Peck and Matthew Lyon (his father-in-law)."

Built by pioneering surveyor and teacher John Messinger to educate his children in the 1840s, the Messinger Schoolhouse is thought to be the oldest one-room schoolhouse in St. Clair County.

Historical Schoolhouse is moved by the
"Expert House Movers" of St. Louis.

The STCCHS preservation committee relocated the historic Messinger Schoolhouse from Belleville, Illinois to Swansea in order to restore and preserve this important piece of local history. 

On Saturday, December 8, 2012, Expert House Movers of St. Louis carefully placed the old one-room Schoolhouse onto a truck bed. The Schoolhouse, 18' x 24' was relocated to the Messinger Cemetary just a mile down the road from its original site. The Schoolhouse was donated by the Agne family to the St. Clair County Historical Society. The STCCHS owns and maintains the Messinger Cemetery and plans to eventually open the schoolhouse to the public as a museum.

STCCHS Curator William P. Shannon, IV believes that this Schoolhouse from Illinois' pioneer days has a lot to teach people today. “The Messinger Schoolhouse served as a place of teaching and learning for more than a century. We hope to restore this piece of our history and invite the community in to visit and learn with us.”
Some brick buildings were supposed to be painted. [EXPLANATION]
In the center of the cemetery stands the Pearl Harbor Veterans Memorial. Built by George Hoffman, a descendant of John Messinger, it honors the American servicemen and women killed during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.
Dedicated on July 25, 1942, the Veterans Memorial is thought to be the first monument built to commemorate the Pearl Harbor attack anywhere in the United States.
via the Belleville News-Democrat (BND)
The color guard made up of veterans from VFW posts 8677, 1739 and 805 stand at attention during the National Anthem. The annual Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration sponsored by the St. Clair County Historical Society was held by the Pearl Harbor monument in the Messinger Cemetery.

John Messinger received a formal education in New England before settling on the Illinois frontier in 1802. After serving as St. Clair county surveyor, he was appointed Deputy United States Surveyor and platted much of the government land between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. In 1835 he produced the first map of Illinois based on the official United States Survey. 

When Illinois was part of the Indiana territory, Messinger served in the territorial legislature. In 1818 he assisted in writing the constitution for the new State of Illinois and was elected the First Speaker in the House of Representatives.

Erected by the St. Clair County Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society, 1981.

Some with headstone photographs.
Notice the surname spelling.

Aultman, John
born: unknown / died: Jul. 12, 1902 
Aultman, Martha Jennings 
born: May 16, 1846 / died: Jul. 11, 1909 
Aultman, Susie
born: Jul. 16, 1870 / died: Jul. 15, 1872 
Badgley, Edith L
born: 1901 / died: 1901 
Badgley, J Russell  
born: 1866 / died: 1945 
Badgley, Levi P. 
born: Oct. 22, 1871 / died: Mar. 8, 1876 
Badgley, Lillian  
born: 1873 / died: 1967 
Badgley, Mary Lorette Wilderman  
born: Mar. 3, 1836 / died: Mar. 23, 1918 
Badgley, Simon Peter 
born: Aug. 30, 1828 / died: Mar. 2, 1908 
Bevirt, Hezekia B
born: Sep. 22, 1842 / died: Mar. 12, 1917
Bevirt, Sarah A.  
born: Feb. 17, 1848 / died: Dec. 26, 1906 
Bussong, Etta E Glenn  
born: Dec. 16, 1867 / died: Jan. 5, 1900
Bussong, Thomas A  
born: Aug. 20, 1867 / died: Aug. 17, 1944  

Chenot, Lee  
born: Feb. 21, 1884 / died: Aug. 21, 1888 
Daniel, Fuller  
born: 1845 / died: 1911 
Daniel, S. born: 
born: 1842 / died: unknown 
Drake, Nellie C  
born: Oct. 28, 1865 / died: Jan. 23, 1936 
Drake, William V 
born: Oct. 1, 1849 / died: Sep. 18, 1890 
Frick, Louise M.
born: Jan. 10, 1817 / died: Nov. 7, 1869 
Fuller, Daniel 
born: 1845 / died: 1911 

Glenn, Albert
born: Jan. 10, 1872 / died: Sep. 26, 1872 
Glenn, Hannah C Phillips 
born: Aug. 10, 1836 / died: Feb. 27, 1907 

Glenn, Mary J.
born: Dec. 19, 1848 / died: Jun. 5, 1878 
Glenn, Rachel Amanda 
born: Oct. 29, 1872 / died: Jul. 31, 1945 

Glenn, Thomas  
born: Nov. 24, 1832 / died: Oct. 7, 1898 

Hartmann, Hilda Anne 
born: Apr. 26, 1867 / died: Dec. 7, 1892 
Hartmann, Hubert H 
born: Sep. 1, 1829 / died: Feb. 1, 1922 
Hartmann, John Joseph  
born: Mar. 2, 1856 / died: Aug. 11, 1858 
Hartmann, Otto Ph. 
born: Jul. 10, 1893 / died: Aug. 10, 1894 
Hartmann, Pamelia Anne "Annie" Leach 
born: Nov. 11, 1835 / died: Oct. 27, 1870 
Heisinger, Andrew Chester "Andy", Jr  
born: Feb. 3, 1908 / died: Sep. 28, 1971 
Heisinger, Dorothy Rosemarie McNulty 
born: Jun. 21, 1911 / died: Jun. 3, 1970 
Hoffman, A A 
born: 1872 / died: 1874 
Hoffman, C D  
born: 1838 / died: 1881 
Hoffman, F  
born: 1867 / died: 1868 
Hoffman, G E  
born: 1875 / died: 1954 
Hoffman, George E  
born: unknown / died: unknown 
Hoffman, J  
born: 1831 / died: 1918 
Hoffman, M A  
born: 1841 / died: 1877 
Hoffman, P A  
born: 1877 / died: 1931   

Isaacs, Martha  
born: Oct. 15, 1810 / died: Jan. 11, 1877 
Isaacs, William Albert  
born: unknown / died: Jul. 30, 1863 
Jennings, Susan Pringle 
born: Sep. 20, 1816 / died: Aug. 31, 1874 
Jennings, William  
born: 1806 / died: Sep. 20, 1875 
Landolt Hartmann, Katharine "Katie" Lamprecht 
born: Mar. 12, 1838 / died: Jul. 26, 1901 
LeChien, Hector 
born: 1874 / died: 1927 
Lienesch, Pamelia Ann Messinger 
born: May 29, 1816 / died: Dec. 1, 1852 

Lotz, Margaretha 
born: Jun. 14, 1801 / died: Feb. 2, 1867 
Marquis, Francis M 
born: Nov. 4, 1826 / died: Jan. 16, 1877 
Marquis, William 
born: Aug. 17, 1852 / died: Oct. 2, 1894 
Marquis, Zachary  
born: Oct. 29, 1817 / died: Aug. 7, 1895 
McNickle, Andrew  
born: Apr. 12, 1818 / died: Dec. 14, 1872 
McNickle, Richard 
born: Apr. 14, 1858 / died: Oct. 3, 1859 
McNickle, Sarah M 
born: Nov. 26, 1868 / died: Apr. 5, 1871 
Messinger, Amanda  
born: Aug. 29, 1797 / died: Sep. 27, 1865 

Messinger, Anne Lyon
born: Jan. 14, 1774 / died: Oct. 16, 1842 

Messinger, John 
born: Jan., 1771 / died: Sep. 16, 1846 

Messinger, Matthew Lyon 
born: Feb. 26, 1814 / died: Oct. 7, 1865 
Moergen, Conrad  
born: 1866 / died: 1943 
Monken, Frances H.  
born: Nov. 7, 1862 / died: Jul. 26, 1888 

Monken, Gus  
born: 1867 / died: 1914 
Monken, John  
born: Apr. 25, 1860 / died: Sep. 12, 1898 
Monken, Kath  
born: Dec. 22, 1829 / died: Nov. 13, 1910 
Monken, Ludwig  
born: Oct. 13, 1854 / died: Jan. 12, 1862 
Monken, Margaret Moergen  
born: Aug. 16, 1865 / died: May 7, 1953 
Monken, Maria J.  
born: Mar. 15, 1858 / died: Jan. 24, 1873 
Monken, Mary E.
born: Oct. 7, 1898 / died: Feb. 16, 1899 
Monken, Susie T.  
born: 1873 / died: 1958 
Monken, Therese  
born: Nov. 29, 1852 / died: Jan. 14, 1862 
Monken, Wilhelm Ludwig 
born: Dec. 18, 1850 / died: Dec. 12, 1876 
Monken, William
born: unknown / died: Dec. 12, 1856 
Neill, John Elvis  
born: Dec. 29, 1889 / died: May 23 
Neill, Lucieno 
born: Aug. 29, 1894 / died: Mar. 6, 1895 
Owen, Rose  
born: 1916 / died: 1918 
Phelps, Cnazada  
born: Sep. 11, 1822 / died: Sep. 13, 1906 
Phillips, Anne May 
born: May 1, 1869 / died: Mar. 22, 1870 
Phillips, Arthur  
born: Oct. 5, 1873 / died: Aug. 27, 1875 
Phillips, Cecil L.  
born: Feb., 1887 / died: Mar. 6, 1888 
Phillips, DJM  
born: Jun. 1, 1833 / died: May 30, 1897 
Phillips, Oliver C. 
born: Feb. 1885 / died: May 10, 1888 

Phillips, Sarah E  
born: Feb. 17, 1848 / died: May 21, 1906 
Phillips, Stella A  
born: Dec. 15, 1875 / died: Oct. 16, 1876 
Phillips, Tamesia M.  
born: Nov. 19, 1877 / died: Dec. 17, 1882 
Powell, Elizabeth 
born: Apr. 29, 1831 / died: Mar. 8, 1904 
Rittenhouse, Asa  
born: Oct. 20, 1870 / died: Feb. 12, 1871 
Rittenhouse, George
born: Jan. 22, 1838 / died: Apr. 11, 1873 
Rittenhouse, Mary J. 
born: Sep. 21, 1869 / died: Mar. 18, 1870 
Rittenhouse, Sarah J.  
born: Oct. 29, 1871 / died: Mar. 22, 1872 
Rutherford, Benjamin R.
born: Jul. 20, 1872 / died: Jul. 21, 1873 
Rutherford, Jedidiah C  
born: 1845 / died: 1922 
Rutherford, William H 
born: unknown / died: unknown 
Stanton, Samuel Edwin 
born: Dec., 1860 / died: Jan. 10, 1870 
Wilderman, Ann Lacy Phillips 
born: Oct. 5, 1868 / died: Mar. 28, 1951 
Wilderman, Henry Clay
born: Mar. 19, 1871 / died: May 22, 1911 
Wilderman, William C  
born: Jan. 19, 1902 / died: May 3, 1902 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. For me, the marriage between Pamelia Anne Messinger and George Lienesch was an important one.

    It represented the joining of two significant early 19th century immigrant groups in southern Illinois: the Americans, as they were known, and the Germans.

    -Will Shannon


The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is RATED PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Advertisements, spammers and scammers will be removed.