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After the epoch of the mysterious Mound Builders and  their successors, the Indians, the French were the first occupants of the country where Crawford County is now outlined on the map.

At the session of the legislature of the Illinois Territory in 1816, Crawford County was organized from what had previously constituted part of Edwards County and was the eleventh organized in the territory. She is supposed to have derived her name from General W.H. Crawford, a revolutionary soldier, a U.S. Senator from Georgia and Minister to France.

The records show the first conveyance of real estate in this county was from John Dunlap to Samuel Harris; the deed bearing date was December 10, 1816, however, there was considerable settlement here several years before this time.


The county seat was moved from Palestine to Robinson in 1844. A courthouse was built from brick costing $4,200 where all business of the county was transacted until it was razed to make room for the present temple of justice.

The early settlers were mostly poor, and all had come with the desire to better their fortunes; some came in frontier wagons, drawn horses or oxen, while others needed only a pack horse to transport their worldly possessions. The journey was one of trial and privation at the best; there were no defined roads, no bridges over the streams but followed the general trail. If the season was rainy the swamps and lowlands were almost impassable; if dry the trail was rough and water was scarce. Thus the county was settled under difficulties and amid hardships and dangers. Numbers of Indians roamed about the county. They were generally friendly, but during the War of 1812 they became excited and committed numerous depredations upon the settlers, such as stealing horses and other stock, and in a few instances committing murder.

A pot, kettle, and frying pan were the only articles considered indispensable, and a few plates upon the shelf of one corner of the cabin were the source of as much pride and more contentment than a buffet and china closet full. The injunction, "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ," was exemplified to a great degree in our early settlers. In case of illness and neighbors in those days meant anyone to whom you could render assistance-a girl would leave home for a few days to care for the afflicted household, and her services were not rendered for the pay she received. The discharge of the sacred duty "care for the sick," was motive, and it was never neglected.

The tools and implements used by the pioneers of Crawford County were few in number and poor in quality, and the farmer of the present day would be much distressed if he had them to use now. The plow was the old bar share with wooden mold board and long beams and handles. The hoes and axes were clumsy implements and were forged and finished by the ordinary blacksmith. There was compensation, however, for the disadvantages under which the pioneer labored. The soil of the Wabash Valley, when brought into cultivation, yielded most bountifully. Their first little crop generally consisted of a patch of corn, potatoes, beans, etc.


In some instances, a small crop of tobacco and flax were added. Quite a number of the settlers also raised cotton for several years. In fact, it was thought by the first settlers that cotton would become the staple crop, but the late springs and early frosts soon dispelled this belief. With the increase in population and the improvements in agriculture, the life of the farmer became easier — slowly but surely reaching the perfection of the present day.

The progress of education in the early days was slow. The population was scattered and composed of persons of small means, and there were neither school houses nor money to build them. Textbooks were also scarce, and persons competent to teach were needed to carry on the work of establishing and developing homes. As the population increased, however, arrangements were made to open schools using vacant cabins and emptied out buildings for school purposes. The teachers were paid by subscription; each parent agreeing to pay from fifty to seventy-five cents monthly per scholar.

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