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Wanborough, Illinois
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 38° 22.503 W 088° 05.394
16S E 404797 N 4247991
Quick Description: This historical marker about the establishment of Wanborough, Illinois, by English settler and entrepreneur Morris Birkbeck is located in the Wanborough Cemetery about 1.5 miles west of Albion, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 10/5/2013 6:05:41 AM
Waymark Code: WMJ758
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dragontree
Views: 4

Long Description:
The marker text reads as follows:

"The former village of Wanborough, Illinois, was established in August 1818, by English settler and entrepreneur Morris Birkbeck. A center of commerce for his fellow countrymen emigrating to the English Settlement in Edwards County, Wanborough once included two taverns, a grist mill, two stores, a pottery, a blacksmith, and one of the State's first breweries. The town, however, lasted for only a short time and was all but abandoned by 1840. Competition from the nearby town of Albion and Birkbeck's accidental drowning in 1825, contributed to the community's demise. This cemetery is all that is left of the village."

The following additional information about Morris Birkbeck and his establishment of the town of Wanborough is from Wikipedia:

"Morris Birkbeck (January 23, 1764 – June 4, 1825) was an early 19th-century Illinois pioneer, social reformer, author, publicist and agricultural innovator. He served briefly as the Secretary of State of Illinois.

Early years

Birkbeck was born at Settle, England, the son of an influential Quaker also named Morris Birkbeck and his wife Hannah Bradford. By 1794, as leaseholder, Birkbeck was farming an estate of 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) at Wanborough, Surrey, where he was the first man to raise merino sheep in England. On April 24, 1794, Birkbeck married Prudence Bush, daughter of Richard and Prudence Bush of Wandsworth, Surrey. After ten years of marriage, Prudence died on October 25, 1804, leaving her husband with seven children.

In 1814, accompanied by his friend George Flower, Birkbeck traveled in recently defeated France. His Notes on a Journey through France (1814) revealed a good-tempered, fair-minded observer, well grounded in science and the humanities. A liberal in both politics and religion, Birkbeck found it increasingly irritating to be taxed by a government that denied him a vote because of his religion and also required him to be tithed by a church he did not belong to. In early 1817, with a party consisting chiefly of his children, he emigrated to the United States, where George Flower, who had gone before, now joined him.

Life in Illinois

During 1817–18 Birkbeck purchased, both for himself and others, 26,400 acres (107 km2) of public land in what became Edwards County, Illinois (at the time still the Illinois Territory). Flower was busy raising more money and organizing colonists in England, and another London acquaintance, Edward Coles, who had extolled Illinois' virtues and intended to move to the terrritory continued, to serve President James Madison.

Birkbeck's Notes on a Journey in America from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois (1817) was published in Philadelphia, London, Dublin, and Cork. It ran through eleven editions in English in two years, and was published in German at Jena (1818). His Letters from Illinois (1818), published in Boston, Philadelphia, and London, went through seven editions in English, besides being translated in 1819 into French and German. By directing settlers to the prairie lands of the then west, these books had a wide influence.

In 1818 Birkbeck laid out the town of Wanborough. The same year Flower, whose 1500 acres adjoined Birkbeck's, laid out the town of Albion nearby. The English idealists quarreled, in part over Julia Andrews who married Flower rather than the older widower, and never reconciled. The joint area known as the English Prairie Settlement had 400 English and 700 American residents in 1819, but only 800 in an informal survey in 1822. Birkbeck became president of Illinois' first agricultural society. He gave impetus to raising cattle and scientific tilling of the soil, although neighbours initially ridiculed him for sowing only a half acre of potatoes and breaking his plow the first year, since he had promised to cultivate 100 acres of maize from the hard-packed prairie.

Birkbeck also served as a judge in Edwards County, Illinois. In 1823 Birkbeck, through newspaper articles under the pen name "Jonathan Freeman," helped to consolidate the antislavery forces in Illinois and ensure that it became a free state. In 1824 Coles, who had been elected the new state's second governor, appointed Birkbeck Secretary of State. Birkbeck served for three months, but was turned out when the pro-slavery majority in the state Senate refused to confirm his appointment. Albion also became the county seat, although residents of Mount Carmel across the river attempted to retrieve some court records by force, and ultimately succeeded in splitting off their area as Wabash County, Illinois."

Type of Historic Marker: Information board

Historical Marker Issuing Authority: The Illinois Foundation for Frontier Studies and the Illinois State Historical Society

Age/Event Date: 8/1/1818

Related Website: [Web Link]

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