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In 1799, David Bagley, a Virginia Baptist minister passed through the Glen Carbon area and determined that it was a land of such expanse and luxuriant vegetation that he compared it to the Biblical "Land of Goshen". In 1801 Colonel Samuel Judy received a military grant for 100 acres of land on a plot just north of Judy's Creek. Judy became the first permanent settler of Madison County. The area became known as the Goshen Settlement and later Goshen Township. In 1808, the Goshen Road trail was built as a wagon road from the Goshen settlement to the Ohio salt works at Shawneetown on the Ohio River. The existing Goshen Road running from Illinois Route 159 to the intersection of Route 143 is part of the original road. A territorial government was formed and Madison County was organized in 1812 with its northern border reaching to Canada. It was renamed Glen Carbon, which means "Valley of Coal" to reflect the mining heritage. There were 7 major veins of coal in Glen Carbon. With a population of approximately 400, the townspeople voted on June 6, 1892, to incorporate Glen Carbon as a village.

Glen Carbon is located about 14 miles northeast of St. Louis. Glen Carbon is ranked among the top 100 best places to live according to Money Magazine.

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