Sunday, March 3, 2024


Madison County Historical Society Recognized as Illinois Centennial Organization

Elaine Evans
/ Categories: General News

Madison County Historical Society Recognized as Illinois Centennial Organization

Madison County Historical Society

The Illinois State Historical Society recently recognized the Madison County Historical Society (MCHS) as an Illinois Centennial Organization. The Centennial Awards certificate states that MCHS “has contributed to the civic and economic heritage of the State of Illinois for one hundred years.”

A century ago, on Dec 3, 1921, the Madison County Historical Society held its first annual meeting in the probate court room of the Madison County Courthouse. The purpose of the new organization was to “preserve books, papers, military records and anything else in the county of historical interest.”

Officers elected to serve the new organization were Prof. William D. Armstrong, Alton, president; Gaius Paddock, Fort Russell, vice-president; Probate Judge George W. Crossman, secretary; Miss Laura Gonterman, treasurer.

Trustees included Mrs. Charles (Annie) Burton, Edwardsville, Wilbur T. Norton, Alton and William L. Waters, Godfrey. Associate members of the board of directors were Mrs. Mark Henson, Collinsville and Norman G. Flagg, Fort Russell.

Since the first annual meeting was held on the 103rd anniversary of Illinois statehood, Flagg, an Illinois legislator whose family came to Madison County in 1818, related “interesting historical events of the state.” Burton recited the lyrics to “Illinois, Our Illinois,” a song she wrote and published in 1918 to commemorate the centennial of Illinois and pay homage to Illinois soldiers in World War I.

Nearly a century later, in 2016, descendants of Madison County’s Flagg and Paddock families donated a large collection of documents, photographs, and artifacts to the Madison County Historical Society. Norman G. Flagg’s grandparents, the family’s earliest settlers in Madison County were Gershom Flagg (1792-1857) and his wife, Jane Paddock Flagg (1787-1863). Both families were originally from Vermont.

The first meeting closed with an invitation for all county residents to join the Society at a cost of $1 per year in annual dues.

Annual membership dues have increased over the past 100 years, but the invitation remains for all county residents to join the Society. The mission of the Society is also largely unchanged with the organization collecting and preserving all manner of items that tell the story of Madison County and its residents. To support the ongoing work of the Madison County Historical Society, go to or call 618-656-1294 for more information. Gift Certificates are available for holiday giving.

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