On the occasion of its Bicentennial, Morgan County placed this marker here to commemorate the community of
Named in honor of U.S. President James Madison, the town of Madison was established as the permanent seat of Morgan County and incorporated December 12, 1809. Surveyor Lewis MacLean laid out the community using a typical Washington-type plan, characterized by a central public square defined by four principal streets - Monroe (now Main), Jefferson, Washington, and Hancock.
Madison prospered as the site of government, transportation, and commerce. The previous Morgan County Courthouse (c. 1845; lost to fire 1916) was erected here on the town square. The bustling community's location also proved advantageous: first, as a stop along the main stagecoach route from Philadelphia via Charleston to New Orleans; later, as the crossroads of two major railroad lines; and now, as the intersection of an Interstate and three state highways.
As a commercial center of an agricultural economy, downtown Madison teamed with businesses serving the needs of cotton planters, small farmers, and townspeople alike. Wood frame storefronts dotted downtown and mixed with dwellings until the devastating Fire of 1869 destroyed forty-two structures and all but one business. The downtown area recovered slowly and redeveloped in the present brick commercial pattern. The city of Madison's central business district remains the nexus of today's commercial in civic life, building on the foundation of the past two centuries.
Because of the individuals who take pride in this community, Madison is recognized as a significant part of our County's history.