Worthen Trail History

Worthen Trail was laid out in 1821 to provide a better route on higher land. The old road to Kaskaskia led through the swamps and prairies that were impassable much of the year. Settlement to the north and the plans for a courthouse on Frankfort hill deflected travelers from the more direct route to the state capital. The legislature directed that a new route be blazed, and Mr. Worthen was employed to straighten and improve a portion. Of his first name there is no record. His descendants differ whether it was Robert or Richard. His eldest son was named Robert, two of his grandsons, Richard.

Mr. Worthen settled in 1817 near John Roberts and was a member of the Methodist class that organized Zion Church. A land entry was made in 1817 by Robert Worthen in section 17 of Corinth Township. Nancy Worthen, who was the mother of one Robert Worthen and probably the widow of another, entered adjoining land in section 8 four years later. These 1817 and 1821 land entries were north of, but near Worthen trail.

Robert Worthen (surely the son) made an 1830 land entry in Lake Creek Township. He enrolled in Captain Obediah West’s Company for the Black Hawk war, and made the long ride to Fort Wilbourn and Fort Dixon in the summer of 1832. He left a young wife and son at home when he went to fight the Indians, and on May 29, 1833 another son was born. These two sons were Richard and Joshua Worthen, both of whom served in the Union armies during the Civil War.

In 1836, Robert Worthen was a candidate for the state senate, but he was defeated by Braxton Parrish. This was the famous tenth general assembly, whose members numbered so many future celebrities. Robert Worthen died in 1840, and his widow, born Rebecca Hooker, married his younger brother.

Isham Worthen was born in 1805, the younger son of the first Worthen and his wife Nancy. The son of his marriage to his brother’s widow was named Richard Jasper Worthen. Isham Worthen was sued in Franklin County circuit court during the March term, 1839 and he was called as a grand juror for the June term following.

Worthen trail followed the ridge north from Sarahville crossed Crab Orchard Creek, and continued north to the future site of Attila post office. There a sharp turn was made to the northwest, the trail passed Squat Church, and cut Lake Creek Township diagonally, The trail left the county line where the 2 and 3 range line meets the 7 and 8 township line (or a point north of Marion at the Williamson-Franklin County line). Out of the county, it continued northwest through Townmount prairie, south of old DuQuoin, and into Kaskaskia.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939 which is on sale at the Williamson County Museum)