Monday, April 13, 2015

Moses True - Bunker Hill's Co-Founder

Photo: Moses True - Bunker Hill's Co-Founder

Moses True was born in Salisbury, NH, August 30, 1805.  He moved to Maine in 1823 where he worked in a grocery store.  In 1828, he secured a position as captain of a canal boat in New York.

On October 11, 1831, in New Hampshire, he married Ursula Pettingill.  During the summer of 1834, Moses and Ursula decided to come west.  They came by prairie schooner from Franklin, New Hampshire to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and portage by boat down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri, where they arrived on December 11, 1835.

Moses went to inspect the land which is now Bunker Hill, on December 25, 1835.  After Moses looked over the property, the following day he and John Tilden went to Edwardsville to the land office and purchased 3,000 acres of land at $2.00 an acre.  At the time, the land here was in the North West Territory and the Land Office in Edwardsville was the only place land could be purchased.  He went back to St. Louis and returned with Ursula on February 20, 1836.

Now that the land was available, True and Tilden put up a building where the weary traveler could get a meal and a nights lodging.  The stage coach route from St. Louis to Springfield, Illinois went past the tavern as it was called (not from the sale of liquor, but from a place to stay) and there was a continual flow of travelers coming and going.

Photo: Moses True Home - South Franklin St.

In 1839, the partners divided the acres purchased.  Moses took the southeast one-fouth, Luke Knowlton, the southwest one-fourth, Tilden, the northwest one-fourth, and Smith, the northeast one-fourth.  Shortly after this division, Moses built the two story brick house on South Franklin Street which had twelve rooms and a three story tower.  Moses sold the land to settlers at $3.50 per acre.

 On August 11, 1842 Ursula died.  On January 9, 1843, Moses went to New Hampshire and brought home another wife, Sarah White, who died in 1845.

In 1846, Moses married Nancy Clark of St. Louis.  From this marriage there was one child, a son, James Clark True.  Nancy True died in October 11, 1875.

In 1876, Moses married Betsy George.  After some discussion, Betsy told Moses that she would marry him if he could send his son to some other location.  James Clark True was 30 years old and Betsy was 38 years old and it seemed to her that they were too close to the same age to be living in the same home.  On February 3, 1877, a daughter, Mary George True was born.  Moses True died on February 22, 1878.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 20, 2012.   

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