Various traders developed the Mississippi river during pioneer times and traded from Illinois to New Orleans in the south, and with the Indians to the north.
William Roberts, from Lexington, Kentucky, came in 1802, and settled on the east side of the Kaskaskia river, in the neighborhood of Hughs. He opened a farm and in addition to this employment, he traded down the river, and became well known along the banks of the Mississippi, from Kaskaskia to New Orleans. Having spent twenty years of an eventful and useful life, amidst the pioneer scenes of Illinois, he died in 1822.
In 1816, James Riddle, Nicholas Berthend, Elias Rector, and Henry Bechtle entered lands extending from below the mouth of Cache river to the Third Principal Meridian, and by a genera subdivision established Trinity. No town lots were sold, but James Berry and afterward Col. H. L. Webb, in about the year 1817 commenced a hotel here and commenced a trading and supply business. Goods were shipped here for St. Louis, and as early as 1818 a town was laid out on an extensive scale. The proprietors were James Riddle, Henry Bechtle, and Thomas Sloo of Cincinnati, and Stephen and Henry Rector of St. Louis. The agent of the proprietors was William M. Alexander, who then resided in America. The agent of Mr. Riddle was John Dougherty, whose son William is a citizen of Mound City.
With Gabriel Cerre, a wealthy merchant of St. Louis, James entered into trade with the Indians, and for some time he maintained headquarters at Nashville, Tennessee.
James embarked on various business enterprises, and for some years traded on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers between New Orleans and Pittsburgh, making his voyages in a keel boat. He abandoned the boat business to settle three miles northeast of the present town of Waterloo, on what was known as the "tan yard farm." He here invested in a large tanning enterprise, at that time, perhaps the largest west of the Alleghanies.