The Red House, Jersey County’s original frame house, was built in 1827. Both Illinois and Missouri were in their infancy in terms of statehood, and wilderness lay west of them. Perched on the edge of civilization was a small settlement that included the Red House and three log cabins. It was Hickory Grove, the predecessor of Jerseyville.
Frame houses were scarce in this part of the country unique enough to be noted in the diaries of those traveling west and the Red House was an impressive enough example of such a building. The two-story home contained two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs.
In 1830, the home was sold to Alfred Carpenter, who converted it to a tavern, a place where weary travelers could seek overnight lodging and a warm meal. Over the years, the Red House served the community well, providing a place to gather and worship, attend school, vote, and discuss important issues. It was here, in 1837, that the present name of Jerseyville was officially adopted in honor of the many citizens who had once called New Jersey home.
In 1839, Dr. Edward D’Arcy, whose father served as a physician for George Washington, once again converted the tavern to a private residence. D’Arcy added the north wing, which included a doctor’s office and separate entrance.
D’Arcy and his wife had two daughters. The elder, Catherine, married Prentiss Dana Cheney, a business associate of her father’s.
Shortly before the Civil War began, the two men converted the doctor’s office to a small bank. The Civil War caused a run on local banks (people feared Missouri raiders would cross the state line to rob banks), and several local banks failed, but the D’Arcy/Cheney business survived.
The home eventually passed to Prentiss and Catherine. Three generations of Cheneys called the house their home, and it eventually became known as the Cheney Mansion.
When Prentiss Dana Cheney II, known as P.D., passed away in the late 1960s, the mansion passed to his third wife and eventually to a relative of hers, who put the home up for auction in 1998.
Former Jerseyville resident Clayton Brown and his partner, Richard McCauley, purchased the home and donated it to the Jersey County Historical Society.
Today this historic home serves as the beautiful cornerstone of the Jersey County Historical Society’s grounds.
Jersey County Historical Society
601 N. State St.
Jerseyville, IL 62052