Rawlings, Moses M.

Born: 1793-06-12 Virginia

Died: 1863-01-11 Pulaski County, Illinois

In 1794, Rawlings moved with his parents from his native state to Newcastle County, Kentucky. In 1809, he left his parents' house on foot and headed west, arriving in Shawneetown, Illinois. He worked for a time in the salt works, then expanded his business interests to furs, produce, and other commodities. He further expanded his business, building up one of the largest wholesale dry goods and grocery establishments in Southern Illinois. He invested in steamboats, transporting cargoes between Louisville, Kentucky, New Orleans, Louisiana, and other cities. In addition, he acquired vast amounts of public land in Gallatin, Pulaski, and other counties in Southern Illinois. In 1832, Governor John Reynolds appointed Rawlings major general of the Illinois State Militia. In 1837 and 1839, the Illinois General Assembly elected Rawlings to the Board of Fund Commissioners created to administer the fiscal aspects of the Illinois Internal Improvement System. In 1839, Rawlings traveled to Europe to negotiate the sale of Illinois State bonds in an effort to maintain progress on public works. In 1840, Rawlings left Shawneetown and moved to an estate four miles south of Louisville. In 1846, he sold his estate and moved into Louisville. In 1850, he was living in Louisville; he listed his occupation as trader, and he owned real estate valued at $75,000. In 1853, Rawlings purchased land in Pulaski County on which, in 1854, surveyors on behalf of the General began laying out the town of Mound City. Rawlings purchased a cabin in the area and utilized it as a hotel. In 1854, he built the first house in the town, using the first floor as a dry goods, hardware, and grocery business and second floor as a residence. In 1854-55, Rawlings traveled to Springfield to lobby the General Assembly for a charter to build a railroad to connect Mound City with the Illinois Central Railroad. Rawlings succeeded in getting the charter, and began construction of the road, which the Illinois Central eventually purchased. In 1856, he became the town's first postmaster, serving until 1858. In 1860, Rawlings was a merchant living in Mound City who owned real estate valued at $100,000 and had a personal estate of $4,000.

Rawlings married three times. In 1811, he married Sarah J. Seaton of Breckinridge County, Kentucky, with whom he had ten children. Sarah Rawlings died sometime in the 1820s, and in 1829, Moses married again to Henrietta B. Calmes, with whom he had two children. She died in 1833, and in 1840, Moses married a third time, wedding Ann H. Simms, who died in 1849.

Gravestone, Cairo City Cemetery, Villa Ridge, IL; Sangamo Journal, 23 March 1839, 2:4; John H. Krenkel, Illinois Internal Improvements 1818-1848 (Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch, 1958), 120, 130, 132-33; Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales, Gallatin, Pulaski, Hardin, Jefferson, Massac, White, and Pope counties; Pulaski County, 812:84, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Ward 8, Louisville, Jefferson County, KY, 398; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Mound City, Pulaski County, IL, 25; William Henry Perrin, History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1883), 539-42.