The first county court of Randolph County, composed of the Worshipful Philip Fouke, William Arundel and John McFerron, met at the tavern of Thomas Cox on the 4th of January 1810, and proceeded immediately to levy a tax for the county and also a territorial tax on lands located.

The county tax levy was as follows: Each single man, not having one hundred dollars’ worth of taxable property, was assessed one dollar; owners of slaves had to pay for each slave one dollar per year; horses were taxed fifty cents and neat cattle ten cents each; each mansion valued at two hundred dollars or more, all mills and distilleries, were assessed at the rate of thirty cents per one hundred dollars valuation. The numerous ferries were also a source of revenue, and the year 1810 saw the following ferries licensed, to wit: Ephraim Carpenter, William Cheek, John Edgar, Pierre Menard, James Ford, each ten dollars; Hamilton Ferguson at seven dollars; James Fulton and William Morrison each at six dollars; Charles Bradley, Louis Baorke, Thomas Ferguson, John Robinson, Richard and Waller, each five dollars; Jonathan Hampton at four dollars; John Morris, James McHorton and John May, each three dollars.

The revenue of the county derived from these levies was small, as the land taxes proper were collected for maintaining the territorial government only. From a settlement mentioned in the county records of August term 1809, it appears that the county revenue for the years 1807 and 1808, the collection of which was entrusted to sheriff James Gilbreath, amounted to $1,593.18, of which $944.97 had been collected and accounted for, while $213.50 of the revenue of 1807 and $435.71 of the revenue of 1808 were returned delinquent.

The sheriffs of those days had a hopeless task to perform in collecting a few hundred dollars of taxpayers, whose homes were scattered through all the territory between the Mississippi, the Wabash and the Ohio, nor is it to be wondered at that nearly every one is accused of being in default. The expenses of those infant counties, though insignificant in the whole, invariably exceeded the revenue, and sufficed scarcely to defray court expenses, rent of rooms and salaries of officers; improvement of roads and building of bridges was out of the question; but let it be said in honor of those pioneers, that they contrived to find means to aid the poor and helpless.

We mention here that the authorities in 1809 paid Thomas Cox $155 a year for keeping Thomas Branham, a blind man. Thus it is shown that about one-sixth of the whole revenue was expended in support of one unfortunate fellow being! In extreme cases the aid of the territorial government was extended to the helpless, as for instance in the case of Julian Bart, who had been drafted to serve a tour of duty as a militiaman during the past summer, and while in service and obeying the orders of his officer, was shockingly wounded, having one arm shot off and the other broken in different places, his body lacerated and his eyesight greatly injured, and now lies in a most distressed situation in the town of St. Louis, dependent on the bounty of a poor family; and whereas it would be cruel to permit him to linger out a miserable existence, rendered so in the service of his country, without the support which it is able to afford him, therefore it is ordered by the governor that the auditor draw warrants for such sums of money as may from time to time time become necessary for the support of said Julian Bart, and to provide for his removal from St. Louis to Kaskaskia, his home, etc , etc.” Bart was soon after put on the U.S. pension list.

Reference: Combined History Of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties Illinois – Biographical Sketches of some of their Prominent Men and Pioneers, Published by J. L. McDonough & Co., Philadelphia 1883, Page 103-104.

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