Levi Ellis: First resident of Springfield?

Several accounts suggest that Levi Ellis (c.1791-1857) may have been the first European to set up residence in what is now the city of Springfield, a designation often attributed to Elisha Kelly and his relatives.

Ellis, born in South Carolina, lived in Tennessee and Kentucky before moving to the area of Belleville, Ill., “thence, in 1817, to where Springfield now stands,” John Carroll Power wrote in History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois Centennial Record.

Ellis built a mill with a brush dam on Spring Creek and surveyed the first lots in Springfield, according to Power. Researcher Richard Hart puts the site of Ellis’ home and mill “at the edge of the timber,” south of what now is Washington Street between MacArthur Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue.

The Ellises moved in 1823 to Fulton County, where the town of Ellisville is named after Levi Ellis.

Jacob Ellis, born to Cynthia and Levi Ellis on July 20, 1818, is believed to have been the first child born to a European family in what is now Sangamon County.bridge

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