HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS
& HISTORY OF MORGAN COUNTY
Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1906.




CADWELL, GEORGE, M.D., located in Morgan County, at Swinnerton's Point, near the present site of Lynnville, in 1820. He was the first physician in the county. In a terrible cyclone in April, 1825, his house, the only one in the vicinity covered with shingles, lost one-half of its roof. He was a member of the "Morganian Anti-slavery Society," and took an active part in preventing Illinois from becoming a slave State. The first Circuit Court of Morgan County was held by Judge John Reynolds in a log cabin owned by him in April, 1825. He was a Senator from Madison County in the First General Assembly of Illinois in 1818-820, in the Second General Assembly from Madison County in 1820-1822, and in the Third General Assembly from Greene and Pike Counties, in 1822-1824. (See Hist. Enc. of Ill., page 72.)

Dr. George Cadwell was one of an illustrious trio of early western pioneers, two of whom - Messinger and Cadwell - had such a prominent part in the legislative history of Illinois, that the following account of them given in the "Pioneer History of Illinois," by Governor John Reynolds, is worthy of reproduction here as furnishing a fuller record of the Morgan County member of this group:

"In the year 1799, sailed down the Ohio River Matthew Lyon and family, with John Messinger and Dr. George Cadwell, and their respective families. The last two named were the sons-in-law of Lyon, and all settled in Kentucky, at Eddyville. Matthew Lyon had obtained a considerable celebrity as a member of Congress, from the State of Vermont. He was a native of Ireland, had been in the Revolution, and was a warm advocate of Thomas Jefferson and Republicanism, against John Adams and Federalism. He possessed some talents, and much ardor and enthusiasm. While he was in Congress he had a difficulty with a member of the Federal party, and split in his face. He was up before Congress for contempt; but speeches were the only result. He was extremely bitter against the administration of Adams, and was fined and imprisoned under the alien and sedition laws. While he was in prison, in the State of Vermont, his friends elected him to Congress, and took him out of confinement to serve them in the Congress of the United States.

"He represented his district in Congress from Kentucky for several terms; and was always during a long and important life, an excessively warm and enthusiastic partisan in politics. He was at last appointed an Indian Agent for the Southern Indians, and died there at an advanced age. Long after his death Congress paid back to his heirs the fine he paid with interest. It was considered by Congress that the fine was paid under a "void law," and that it was due to principle, as well as to his descendants to refund the amount paid and interest. I voted, in Congress, to refund the fine and interest to his heirs.

"Matthew Lyon was a droll composition, his leading trait of character was his zeal and enthusiasm, almost to madness itself, in any cause he espoused. He never seemed to act cool and deliberate, but always in a tumult and bustle, as if he were in a house on fire, and was hurrying to get out. His Irish impulses were honest, and always on the side of human freedom This covers his excessive zeal.

"Messinger and Dr. Cadwell left Eddyville in the year 1802, and landed from a boat in the American Bottom, not far above old Fort Chartres. They remained in the Bottom for some time, and Dr. Cadwell moved and settled on the Illinois bank of the Mississippi opposite the Gaborit Island, and above St. Louis. He was quite a respectable citizen, practiced his profession, and served the people in various offices. He was Justice of the Peace, and County Court Judge for many years in both St. Clair, and in Madison, also, after its formation.

"Since the establishment of the State Government he served in the General Assembly from both Madison and Greene Counties, at different times, and always acquitted himself to the satisfaction of the public. After a long life spent in usefulness, he died in Morgan County, quite an old man. He was moral and correct in his public and private life, and left a character much more to be admired than condemned - was a respectable physician and always sustained an unblemished character.

John Messinger was born in West Stockbridge, Mass., in the year 1771; and was raised a farmer. He was, in his youth, educated both to work and in the ordinary learning derived from books at school. This system of farmers teaching their children the science and practice of agriculture, as well as science from books, deserves particular consideration, and this mixture of education seems to me to be the best that a young American can receive. Messinger, when he had advanced some years in age in his agricultural pursuits, commenced the study of mathematics with William Cott, who resided in the neighborhood of his father. In 1783 he left Massachusetts and settled in Vermont, and learned not only the art of farming, but also, in his early life became acquainted with the business of a carpenter of house builder, and the trade also of a mill-wright. He possessed a strong and vigorous intellect; and his mind, by either nature or education, or by both, became quite solid and mathematical. He possessed also a great share of energy and activity; so that it was not a difficult task for him to acquire these different mechanical trades, as well as to become deeply versed in mathematical science. In maturer age his whole delight and pleasure was found in the science of mathematics, and the various practical branches arising out of that science. His whole life seemed to be tinctured with mathematics; and, I believe, for many years he was the most profound mathematician and best land surveyor in Illinois.

"John Messinger, by the force of his genius and energies, became an excellent English scholar, and was always pleased to have an opportunity to instruct any of his neighbors or friends that would call on him for that object. He taught the science of surveying to a great many young men, and has also taught many grown people, males and females, the common rudiments of education even after they were married. He reached Illinois in 1802, when there was scarcely a school in the county, and it was honorable to both him and his students, for one to give, and the other to receive, an education, if it were after the parties were married.

"Messinger was not large in person, but compactly built - hardy, and very energetic. With the talents he possessed, his activity, he was extremely useful, not only in teaching the art of surveying to others, but in the practical operations of surveying himself. He was the first person, or amongst the first surveyors that, in the year 1806, surveyed the United States lands in townships, in this section of the State. He surveyed much of the public domain in St. Clair and Randolph Counties.

"He was not only an excellent mathematician, but he wrote and published a book entitled "A manual, or Hand-Book, intended for convenience in Practical Surveying." This work was printed by William Orr, Esq., in St. Louis in the year 1821, and contains the whole science or practical surveying, together with the necessary tables to enable the practitioner to calculate the are of land, without any difficulty whatever. This book has shown deep research by the author, and establishes the fact that he was a profound mathematician. He was Professor of Mathematics in the seminary at Rock Springs, St. Clair County, for some time, and performed the duties of this responsible station to the entire satisfaction of the public.

"In 1815, he was appointed Deputy Surveyor under the Surveyor-General, Edward Tiffin, of the State of Ohio, and was authorized to survey the military tract in the forks of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. He surveyed much of this tract, which was approved by the Surveyor-General. He was appointed with a gentleman of Hillsborough, Ill., to survey, on the part of the State of Illinois, the northern limits of the State, in latitude forty-two and one-half degrees north. The Hon. Lucius Lyon, of Michigan, was the Commissioner on the part of the United States, to assist in the survey. Messinger was an efficient and scientific astronomer and mathematician in calculating the latitude, and surveying this line dividing the State of Illinois from Wisconsin. He and Philip Creamer, a celebrated artisan, made surveyors' compasses that were as well calculated, and as well finished in workmanship, as any made in the United States.

"Messinger was never ambitious of public office; yet the public called on him, and he served them, both in the General Assemblies of the Indiana Territory, and the State of Illinois. He was elected in 1818, from the county of St. Clair, to the Legislature of Indiana Territory, and did much towards obtaining a division of the Territory, which took place the next year. He was elected from St. Clair County, a member of the Convention that met at Kaskaskia, and formed the State Constitution, in 1818. He made a cautious and prudent member; always wise, without rashness. In the first General Assembly of the State of Illinois, at its organization, in 1818, he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was a member elect from St. Clair County; and made an upright and impartial Speaker. This was an important Legislature, and much business was done during the session.

"He gave his children a common, good education, and taught almost all of them the art of surveying. He never acquired any great amount of wealth, although he had great opportunities to acquire property. He had no talent for speculation - was rigidly and scrupulously honest, and possessed an ambition to appear plain and unassuming. He seemed to be proud of his want of pride. His morals, and orderly bearing were above reproach, and such as even a clergyman might be proud of. His mind was strong and mathematical, and all its various movements seemed to be in search of some abstruse truth in that science, that delighted him so much. He died on his plantation in the year 1846, aged seventy-five years. At his death he had no enemies, but ruly all friends, that mourned his decease. He had not the time or disposition to attend to his farm. He seemed resigned to leave this 'vale of tears," with the hopes of being with his god, to enjoy a happy immortality."


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