History - First Settlers

The first shipload of emigrants to settle Edwards County arrived from England on 25 May 1818 at Philadelphia PA via the ship Achilles. They left from Bristol England, and were comprised of 2 different groups of people bound for the Edwards County settlements of Wanboro and Albion.

The first group was comprised of mostly farmers and laborers from the Surrey Co England area and were neighbors, employees or friends of Morris Birkbeck, the founder of settlement of Wanboro.

The second group consisted of mechanics and shopkeepers from vicinity of London and Surrey Co England.

A partial ship manifest follows:
Lawrence, Richard
Trimmer, Charles
Reynolds, Hugh

in steerage:
Wood, John
Andrews, James ??
Kern, John
Wright, Thomas
Donnelly, David
Whitland, Lewis
Bowman, Mary & Child
Bowman, Henry
Bowman, Charles
Pitcher, Jane
Pitcher, Eliza
Pitcher, Ellen
Ellis, William
Darling, John
??Baum, William
Woodham, George
Mann, John
Chitten, William
Collier/Collyer/Colyer * James & family
Bennett, John
Gill, Thomas
Gill, William & Mary
Hockman, Thomas
Glazier, James
Glasen, George
May, James
Crouch, James
Cooper, Charles
Thread, James & sister Jane
Clems, Thomas
Harding, Thomas
Eldridge, Charles
kenefick, richard
Craddock, John & family

This is not complete! and the names are not necessarily correctly spelled as not all ships staff were well educated and many of these persons may not have been able to spell their names themselves. I have seen 2 copies of this same partial manifest with different spellings on certain names. Especially the Colyer/Collyer/Collier name.

Not all of these people settled in Edwards County. Some may have ended their journey at Philadelphia or any point from there to Edwards Co IL.

They journied down the Ohio River by river barge and came upstream on the Wabash River to Shawneetown then overland to Edwards Co. The overland trip was approximately 100 miles.

Other settlers, arriving by other ships, came overland from the east coast, staying in settlements such as Terre Haute , Vincinnes and New Harmony or Harmony IN, crossing the Wabash at several points into ILL territory. The founders of the settlement at Harmony Ind (now called New Harmony) were well known to Birkbeck & Flower, the settlers of Albion and Wanboro. Morris Birkbeck drowned in the Wabash River coming back to Wanboro from New Harmony during one of his many trips to the settlement.

With the death of Birkbeck, the settlement of Wanboro slowly faded out of existance. The original settlers having purchased prairie land and moved away from the village itself, dispersing in several directions. All that remains today is the cemetery where many of the original settlers are buried. The church suffered a fire and was ultimately torn down. Wanboro Cemetery is in fairly good shape for research, though many stones have been knocked down and leaned against trees, some are now literally buried under many years of grass and dirt. Several families have replaced stones during the past 40-50 years but the exact burial site is unknown for many. Cemetery records are not available. Still, most of the stones are still readable and do photograph well. Located off the main road of ILL Rt 15, surrounded by farmlands, it has not suffered the vandalism as many others have.

Just a few of the names found in Wanboro are:


Another very interesting cemetery is the Old Albion Cemetery located on 4th St in Albion, Buried within its iron fence are many early settlers of the Albion community. Again, fairly well maintained, though some stones have been knocked over and others have sunk, many families have replaced broken stones. With its many ornate, cross style tombstones and above ground concrete caskets, it has the feel of an English parish cemetery, fenced and secure, with many shade trees.

Contributed by Donna Colyer Hunt

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