John Mansker's pioneer life began in Pennsylvania, and while still young, he served in the US Army, and he was engaged in the battle known as St. Clair's Defeat. John miraculously survived seven battle wounds, traveled to Kentucky to other family members, married, and then moved to Missouri, and then to Illinois. 

Covered Wagon

Name and Place

John Mansker moved to the Illinois territory in 1807 and settled at the Irish Settlement. John was one of the pioneers of Kentucky and Tennessee. At St. Clair's defeat by the Indians, he received seven different wounds, but effected a miraculous escape from the field of carnage. 

In Dec 1811, the great New Madrid Earthquake severely shook Mansker island it became known as Liberty island, and eventually the island totally washed away. To understand the severity of the earthquake and what John Mansker and his family must have experienced, you can read from A History of Cairo, the letters to Rev. Lorenzo Dow, and the experiences from the first steamboat, the New Orleans.

In 1812, John and his family settled on Mary's river a little upstream to section 10, township 8, range 6 in Randolph County, Illinois. John died 13 Dec 1813 at Rockwood, Randolph County, Illinois. See John Mansker's profile on Wikitree to find additional information about his family.


John Mansker (also spelled Minsker) was born in 1765 at Paxtang Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania to John Mansker (also spelled Minsker) and his wife, Anna. He has German origins.


Soon after being discharged after St. Clair's Defeat, John struck out for Bear Grass Creek, Jefferson County, Kentucky. There he met, and then married Margaret Elizabeth Robinson 15 May 1792, who was the daughter of William Robinson. 


John's children were:

  1. Nancy m. Payne
  2. Elizabeth m. Crain
  3. Samuel 
  4. William
  5. James
  6. Louisa m. Crain
  7. John G.
  8. Elvis

John and Margaret remained at Bear Grass Creek until after May 1798, and then moved with their four children, Nancy, Elizabeth, Samuel, and William, to Jackson County, Illinois, where they had a fifth child, James in Dec 1799. They then moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri where they had their sixth child, Louisa in Dec 1801. By Feb 1803, they were living at Hannibal, Pike County, Missouri where they had their seventh child, John. John and his family moved to Ste Genevieve District (now Perry County), Missouri in 1804. On 29 Dec 1805, John was present at a ceremony to the President by citizens of the District of Ste Genevieve expressing their support and confidence in Governor Wilkinson. By Feb 1806 they had moved back to Cape Girardeau and had their eighth child, Elvis.

Later in 1806, they crossed the Mississippi river and settled on an island just opposite the mouth of Mary's river. The island became known as Mansker's island, and then later it was known as Liberty island.

Offices Held




John Mansker enlisted with the US Army Second Regiment 24 Sep 1791 and served the rank of Sergeant.

From the US Army Center of Military History: The Act of March 3, 1791, added to the army the Second Regiment of Infantry, with the same organization as the regiment then in service, viz.: a lieutenant colonel commandant, two majors, eight captains, eight lieutenants, eight ensigns, one surgeon, two surgeon's mates, and eight companies of about 100 men each. Colonel James Wilkinson of the Revolutionary Army, who afterwards became general-in-chief, accepted the position of colonel commandant.

In the fall of this year the regiment was ordered to take the field against the Miami Indians and proceeded to Fort Washington, now Cincinnati, arriving there the middle of September. About the end of October the army under Governor St. Clair commenced a campaign against Little Turtle, chief, of the Miamis. On the 4th of November, 1791, about 60 miles from Fort Washington, the Indians, 1500 strong, surprised the troops and put them to flight with great slaughter. The American army numbered 2000, and of these 38 officers and 555 men were killed or missing, and 21 officers and 224 men were wounded, many of whom died. It being impossible for the campaign to continue, the army returned to Fort Washington for the winter.

A more detailed account of the events leading up to, and during, St. Clair's Defeat is available from the US Army website




  1. Combined History of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties, Illinois, page 71

  2. The Pioneer History of Illinois

  3. The History of Randolph County, including Old Kaskaskia Island page 51

  4. Combined History of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties, page 467

  5. The Wilkinson Memorial