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Madison County Genealogical Society

Minutes of the Meeting - January 12, 2012

The January 2012 meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library on Thursday, January 12, at 7:00 pm.

President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.

A small group of brave, hardy souls came out in the cold and the snow to hear our speaker, Kevin Kaegy, tell us about the Underground Railroad in Southern Illinois. Due to the fact that most of the normal reports were unavailble, we dispensed with the normal business meeting.

The following are the Treasurer's reports for the months of November and December:

Financial report for the month of November 2011, as follows:

Financial report for the month of December 2011, as follows:


Do you have a family member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy? A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would be a very thoughtful gift. A gift card will be sent to the recipient of any gift membership.

The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00

Contact our Secretary, Barbara Hitch, at, about a gift membership.

January Meeting

On January 12, 2012, Kevin Kaegy, President of the Bond County Genealogical Society and Historian for the Bond County Historical Society, gave a presentation titled "Unlocking the Secrets of the Underground Railway in Southern Illinois." Unfortunately, due to the earlier ice storm and cold windy weather, only about twelve people were present to hear Kevin.

Kevin stated his interest in the underground railway began when he was very young. He had been told that an old house in Greenville in the central business district was a stop on the underground railway. In the late 1990s, he started trying to prove the house's connection to the underground railway.

A man could travel by horseback or on foot about twenty miles a day. Slaves coming into Greenville would be coming from the south and Carlyle is about twenty miles south of Greenville. This led him to start looking for information on the underground railway activities in Clinton County. He found the story of a man, A. A. Burlingame, from Sparta in Washington County who made wooden well pipe and brought that pipe to Carlyle to sell. Hidden in the wagon along with the pipes and straw, he would have two or three runaway slaves. This gave Kevin a connection showing him how slaves were coming from Washington County through Clinton County to Bond County.

Kevin consulted a book titled The Underground Railway: From Slavery to Freedom by Wilbur Siebert. He found the names of several "conductors" in Reno, Illinois: Wavers, Douglas, and Cord. Reno is about 8-10 miles from Greenville.

Kevin was working on church history programs. One of these programs was on the Reno Bethel Presbyterian Church. An employee of the Bradford Bank in Greenville found a minute book for the Reno Bethel Presbyterian Church. Kevin borrowed the book to look for material for the history program. In the book, he found a signature - Bethel Church, May 27, 1837, Session met ...... Signed Moderator, Elijah P. Lovejoy.

Lovejoy was a Presbyterian minister who published a Presbyterian Newspaper, The St. Louis Observer. After Lovejoy's anti-slavery articles in his newspaper incited some people to destroy his printing press, another Presbyterian minister, Thomas Lippincott, in Alton, Illinois, encouraged Lovejoy to leave St. Louis and come to Alton to publish his newspaper. Lovejoy did just that, but his anti-slavery articles in The Alton Observer resulted in more attacks, and more destroyed printing presses. Eventually, in November of 1837, Lovejoy was assassinated trying to protect his newest printing press at the Godfrey & Gilman Warehouse.

Several of the books that Kevin has found about the Underground Railway mention the same family names as being part of the "conductors" of the system: Lippincott, Waver, Douglas, Breath, Hill, Davis, and Stephenson. Kevin's research led him to believe that many of the "conductors" were young men who probably did not have a farm to lose (which was possible if you were found guilty of helping a runaway slave) and their fathers were connected in someway to the Presbyterian or Congregational Churches. That was the way that information about the underground railway was spread in this area.

This presentation was well received and generated quite a few questions.