Jason Wren lived on the Shawneetown to Kaskaskia Trail west of Frankfort in 1830. He bought 40 acres of land in Poor Prairie, in what is now section 13 of West Marion Township. At that time Wren’s house and the 40 acres were in Franklin County. Mr. Wren thought the land in Poor Prairie was a good investment.
In 1837, the movement to divide Franklin County had gained such momentum that Mr. Wren and several others thought surely the legislature would pass the bill to divide the county that session. Mr. Wren’s 40 acres lay in the geographical center of the proposed new county. Seeing the financial opportunity of this location, he had the county surveyor plot the 40 acres into lots. He named the new town Monroe, for the fifth President of the United States. The new town was offered as a county seat. Alas, the legislature adjourned and the county was not divided.
However, two years later, on February 28, 1939, the legislature divided Franklin County north and south, creating Williamson County. Now Wren had a chance to offer the town as a county seat but had lost interest. He did not promote his project. Most people had forgotten about Wren and his city and Bainbridge was made county seat.
Monroe could have been the county seat of Williamson County. The courthouse could have stood where Marion Junior High School stands (on West Main Street). No houses were ever built in Monroe. No one ever moved or lived there. Monroe was neglected to the extent of ruin. The village is now part of Marion.
(Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois, by Glenn J. Sneed, published 1977)