Mediapolis came into being when a local landowner
named W.H. Cartwright saw opportunity in the mess
and bought the land around the station-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, divided it into plots, and created a new
town that was, conveniently, located right on the
As for the Egyptian names…seems a Baptist
missionary named John Badgley found his way to
the top of the bluffs near what is now Edwardsville,
Illinois, in 1799 and declared the rich, fertile valley
he saw beneath him the “Land of Goshen”—a biblical
reference to a fertile area in Egypt given to Joseph
and his family when they arrived. Why Goshen?
Speculation has it that the Mississippi River Valley
stretching in front of him reminded him of the great
Nile River of Egypt, and the Native American burial
mounds in the area also brought to mind the burial
tombs of the Egyptian pyramids.
There’s actually a lot of interesting
stuff on a sectional, if you take the
time to look.
In any event, the theme was established, and the
towns of Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak soon followed.
It takes a certain amount of imagination to envision a
grand metropolis akin to Cairo in the Illinois wilderness,
but that’s the point. These folks had imagination.
They also weren’t just missionaries. Havana got
its name because it was a rollicking river gambling
town frequented by Al Capone. And even respectable-
sounding Peoria, Illinois, was once one of the largest
manufacturers of liquor in the United States, known
in the early 1900s as “a wide open town of liquor,
entertainment, sometimes indulging in the more risqué
side of things,” according to the town’s website. All
those uptown mansions lining the river bluffs weren’t
built by railroad or lumber executives. They were built
by the “Peoria Whiskey Barons.”
In the course of our research, we also discovered
fun facts like the only person ever hanged in Carthage,
Illinois, was defended by Abraham Lincoln. And that
Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, was
assassinated while incarcerated in the Carthage county
jail. And that the Mormons and Baptists weren’t the
only people who came to the area with idealistic or
utopian dreams. A group of French Utopians also
settled there in the 1800s, after getting kicked out of
France for their politics.