Saline River’s south fork rises in Johnson County, flows across the southeast corner of Southern Township, through Creal Springs and Stonefort Townships, then eastward through Saline and Gallatin counties to join the Ohio. The eighteenth century records of the French traders and trappers mention L’eau de salle, or salt water. The Indians made salt from these springs, and the United States government reserved the area from sale and operated the salt works under lease until Illinois became a state. The last state lease was made in 1840 to John Hart Crenshaw, whose brother lived at Crenshaw crossing.
The Saline was a fine hunting country, but after Thomas Griffith settled near Ward’s mill where the Kaskaskia road crossed the Saline, the Indians would not go into the neighborhood. As settlers multiplied, they saw in the rushing waters of the stream a power that made its banks ideal sites for mills. Many were built after one McDonald showed the way. His water mill was operated by tubs, filled and refilled to turn the wheel. The Davis mill at Sarahville and Harrison’s mill five miles south of Marion were built in 1832.
James Hill wanted to build a mill on his land, including both banks of the Saline, in section 24 of Southern Township. The neighbors objected, and Mr. Hill applied to the March 1839 term of Franklin county commissioners’ court for a judgment. Sheriff W. S. Crawford swore in a jury at the court’s direction, called them together on the lands in question, and returned to the next court their verdict:
“We the Jury are of opinion. The erection of said Mill will not affect the health of the Neighborhood nor will any person’s land be inundated so as to damage any other person’s land either above or below said mill. Given under our hands This 15th day of April 1839, Addison Reese, Edward Franklin, James Hudgens, John Waggoner, Lewis Keaster, Ezekiel Moak, St. Whitlock, Thomas Pully, Joab Goodall, John Pully, Henry Auberry, John J. Whitlock.” If Mr. Hill built his mill after he had this authority, it was directly east of Neilson and Fountain church.
Saline precinct was one of the election districts in old Franklin County. On September 1, 1838 a county surveyor was elected and Saline’s votes were recorded by Washington Pulley and George W. Jones. The election judges that day were David Norman, William Pulley, and Elijah Mooningham. William and Washington Pulley were grandfather and father of Lewis B. Pulley who was circuit clerk from 1900 to 1912.
When the county division was voted upon in August 1837, the judges at Saline polls were Hugh Parks, Jonathan Norman, and George Davis. Mr. Norman took the place of Stephen Stilley, appointed with the others at the June term of court. The clerks, Robert L. Pulley and Dempsey Odum, were paid $1.25 for their services while the judges received $1 each. Mr. Pulley became associate justice of the county court and county treasurer.
After the county division, elections in Saline precinct were held at the house of John T. Davis in Sarahville.
The road district was called Little Saline and Elijah Mooningham was appointed supervisor in 1839. The boundaries were: “commencing where the Brownsville Road crosses the Golconda road in Davises prairie thence Due South to the corner with the county Line Near Pratt’s Mill, thence Due East to the corner with the County Line, thence North with the county line to John Murphy’s in the Brushy prairie Road District including said Murphy in said District, also including John Sutton in the Saline Road District.”
Old maps showed two landmarks that have disappeared with time. Where Saline River leaves the county in section 13 of Stonefort Township there was once a considerable fall of water.
Stone Coal Fork of Saline River was the name of a small stream that flowed north through sections 7 and 6 of Stonefort Township to empty into the Saline river. The earliest mining in the county, at outcropping veins, was done in the neighborhood.
(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939 which is on sale at the Williamson County Museum)