Genealogy Trails History Group

Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


Illinois sometimes called the "Prairie State", is situated between 37° and 42°30' north latitude and 87°49' and 91°30' longitude west from Greenwich; it is bounded on the north by Wisconsin, east by Lake Michigan and Indiana, south by the Ohio river, which separates it from Kentucky, and west by the Mississippi river, which separates it from Missouri & Iowa.  Its superficial area is 55,500 square miles

Physical Aspects--The general surface of this state may be regarded as a gentle plain, more or less rolling inclined in the direction of its rivers.  The northern and southern sections, however, are somewhat broken, but no portion of the territory is traversed by ranges of mountains or hills.  It is estimated that Illinois contains more arable land than any other state in the Union.  In that portion north of Kaskaskia river the prairie country predominates; and it is computed that two thirds of the state are covered with this class of lands.  Many portions of them are undulating, entirely dry, and abound in wholesome springs; but as a general rule, they consist of plains; and in the true meaning of the term, in French, they are "meadows," presenting every degree of fertility, down to extreme barrenness. Many of them exhibit alluvial deposits, which prove that they have once been morasses, and perhaps lakes.  In numerous instances, there are thickets, or groves of timber, amid these prairies, containing from 100 to 2000 acres each, which resembles oases in the desert, or islands in the sea.  Along the boarders of many of the streams are rich "bottoms," or alluvial deposits.  The "American Bottoms" commences at the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia rivers, extending northward to the mouth of the Missouri, a distance of about 80 miles, and comprises an area of 288,000 acres.  It is bound on the east by a chain of "bluffs" some of which occur in parallel ridges, while others are of a conical shape, formed of lime rock, from 50 to 200 feet in eight.

Rivers & Lakes--The principle rivers are, the Mississippi, which bounds the state on the west, the Ohio, which bounds it on the south, Kankokee, Kaskaskia, Sangamon, Little Wabash, Muddy, Saline, Rock, Embarras, Fox, the Wabash, the principle river in the state, which forms a portion of the eastern boundary, Des Plaines and Vermilion.  Besides Lake Michigan, which lies on the northwest corner, this state contains Peoria lake, an expansion of Illinois river.

Climate--The climate of this state is generally healthy, and the air pure and serene, except in the vicinity of wet, low lands, or stagnant pools.  The winters, which are cold, are somewhat milder than those of the Atlantic states in the same latitude.  Snow seldom falls to the depth of 6 inches, and it rarely remains on the ground more than 10 or 12 days.  The Mississippi is sometimes frozen over as far down as St Louis, sufficiently strong to be crossed on the ice.  The summers are warm, particularly in the southern part, but the intensity of the heat is modified by the breeze.

Productive Resources--The staple products are, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, butter, cheese, wool, cotton, hemp, flax, hops, hay, wine, wheat, barley, buckwheat, potatoes and Indian corn.  Among the mineral resources are, zinc, copper, iron and lime.  Bituminous coal may be found in nearly every county in the state.  Common salt is procured by evaporating the water of salt springs.  The lead mines in the vicinity of Galena are very extensive, and of great value to the state.  The mineral has been found in every portion of a tract for more than 50 miles in extent.  The ore lies in beds, or horizontal strata, varying in thickness from one inch to several feet.

Manufacturing-- In 1850, there were, in Illinois, 3,099 manufacturing establishments, producing each $500 and upward annually.  The manufactures consist mostly of woollen fabrics, machinery, saddlery, agricultural implements, etc.

Railroads & Canals--There are about 1,200 miles of railroad completed and in course of construction in this state; some of them, particularly the Central railroad are very important.  The Illinois and Michigan canal, connecting the waters of Lake Erie, at Chicago, with those of the Illinois river at Peru, is one of the most important works of internal improvement, in the country.  It is the connecting link of an unbroken internal water communication from the Atlantic, off Sandy Hook, NY, by the way of the lakes, the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, to the Gulf of Mexico.  The canal is 112 miles long, 60 feet wide, and 6 feet deep, and designed for boats of 120 tons.  It cost over $8,000,000.

Commerce--The direct foreign commerce of Illinois is, of course, from its insular position, very small; but its coasting and lake trade is important, amounting in 1850 to over $10,000,000.

Education--The principle collegiate institutions in Illinois are, the Illinois college at Jacksonville, founded in 1829; McKendree college at Lebanon in 1834; Shurtleff college at Upper Alton in 1835; Knox Manual Labor college at Galesburg in 18378; and the College of St Mary of the Lakes at Chicago in 1846.  There are about 100 academies and 2000 common schools in the state.

Government--The legislative authority is vested in a senate, the members of which, 25 in number, are elected for 4 years, one half every two years; and a house of representatives, 75 in number, elected for 2 years.  Senators must be 30 years of age, and five years inhabitants of the state.  Representatives must be 25 years of age, citizens of the United States, and 3 years inhabitants of the state.  The executive power is vested in a governor and lieutenant-governor, chosen by a plurality of votes, once in four years, on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, who must be 35 years of age, citizens of the United States for 14 years and residents of the state for 10 years.  The governor is not eligible for 2 consecutive terms. A majority of members elected to both houses may defeat the governor's veto.  A majority of the members elected to each house is required for the passage of any law.  The legislature meets biennially at Springfield, on the first Monday in January.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, of three judges, elected by the people for a term of 9 years, one being chosen triennially; also in circuit courts, of one judge each, elected by the people in nine judicial circuits, into which the state is divided, for six years; and county courts of 1 judge each, elected by the people for 4 years.  All white male citizens, 21 years of age, resident in the state for one year, may vote at elections.  No state bank can be created or revived.  Acts creating banks must be submitted to the people.  Stockholders are individually liable to the amount of their shares.

Population--In 1810 was 12,282; in 1820 was 55,211; in 1830 was157,455; in 1840 was 476,183; and in 1850 was 851,470.

History--This state embraces a part of Upper Louisiana, as held by the French prior to 1763, when it was ceded to England, together with Canada and Acadia.  The first permanent settlement was made at Kaskaskia, in 1685, although La Salle had built a fort, called Crevecoeur, on the Illinois river, five years before.  At the close of the Revolutionary War, in 1783, the country was claimed under the charter of Virginia and held by that state until ceded to the United States in 1787.  It was then made a part of the territory northwest of Ohio river.  When Ohio was made a separate territory, in 1800, Illinois and Indiana were formed into another territory, and remained as such until 1809, when they were divided into two.  In 1812, a territorial government was formed, with a legislature and one delegate to Congress.  In 1818 a state constitution was formed, and Illinois was admitted into the Union as an independent state.  The present constitution of the state was adopted by a state convention in Aug 1847, and accepted by the people in Mar 1848.  Motto of the seal, "State Sovereignty: National Union."

 1850 Counties of  Illinois

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Adams westernmost part on Mississippi river 768 Quincy 26,508
Alexander southern most at junction of Mississippi & Ohio Rivers 390 s Unity 2,484
Boone north boundary, drained by Kishwaukee river 400 Belvidere 7,626
Brown western part, Illinois river on east & Crooked river on northeast 300 Mount Sterling 7,198
Bureau northern part, northwest side of Illinois river, water by Bureau creek & Winnebago lake 648 Princeton 8,841
Calhoun western boundary, between Illinois & Mississipi rivers 240 Gilead 3,231
Carroll western boundary, on east side of Mississippi river 445 Mount Carroll 4,586
Cass western part, on southeast side of Illinois river 256 Virginia 3,253
Champaign eastern part, drained by Kaskaskia, Embarrass, Sangamon & Vermilion rivers 792 Urbana 2,649
Christian central part 350 Edinburgh 3,203
Clark eastern boundary, west side of Wabash river 500 Marshall 9,532
Clay southeast part 475 Lewisville 4,289
Clinton southern part, crossed by Kaskaskia river 480 Carlyle 5,139
Coles eastern part 1,248 Charleston 9,335
Cook eastern boundary, on west side of Lake Michigan & water by DesPlaines, Chicago & Du Page rivers 864 Chicago 43,385
Crawford eastern boundary, Wabash river on east & Embarrass river on southwest 426 Palestine 7,135
Cumberland eastern part blank Greenup 3,720
De Kalb northern part 648 Sycamore 7,450
De Witt central part blank Clinton 5,002
Du Page northeastern part 396 Naperville 9,290
Edgar eastern boundary 630 Paris 10,692
Edwards southeastern part 200 Albion 3,524
Effingham southeastern part 486 Ewington 3,799
Fayette central part, crossed by Kaskaskia river 648 Vandalia 8,075
Franklin southern part 866 Benton 5,681
Fulton western part, Illinois river on southeast side 874 Lewiston 22,508
Gallatin eastern boundary, Ohio & Wabash rivers on east 760 Equality 5,448
Greene western part, Illinois river on west 912 Carrollton 3,658
Grundy northeastern part, crossed by Des Plaines river 324 Morris 3,006
Hamilton south eastern part 432 McLeansborough 6,362
Hancock western boundary, Mississippi river on west 775 Carthage 14,652
Hardin southeastern part, Ohio river on east & south side 100 Elizabethtown 2,887
Henderson western boundary, Mississippi river on west blank Oquawka 4,612
Henry north western part, Rock river on northwest 840 Cambridge 3,807
Highland no description blank Elm Grove blank
Iroquis east boundary, crossed by Iroquis river 1428 Middleport 4,149
Jackson southwest boundary on Mississippi river 576 Brownsville 5,862
Jasper southeast part 475 Newton 3,220
Jefferson southern part 576 Mount Vernon 8,109
Jersey not listed in book as a county   (Jerseyville)  
Jo-Daviess northwest corner on Mississippi river 724 Galena 18,604
Johnson southern part 486 Vienna 4,113
Kane northeast part, crossed by Fox river 1296 Geneva 16,7013
Kendall north eastern part, crossed by Fox river 324 Yorkville 7,730
Knox west part 792 Knoxville 13,279
Lake northeast corner on Lake Michigan 425 Waukegan 14,226
La Salle northern part, crossed by Illinois river 1864 Ottawa 17,815
Lawrence south eastern boundary, Wabash river on southeast 560 Lawrenceville 6,122
Lee north part, crossed  by Rock river 720 Dixon 5,292
Livingston northeast part 1026 Pontiac 1,552
Logan central part 529 Postville 5,128
Macon central part 1400 Decatur 3,988
Macoupin toward western boundary, water by Macoupin river 800 Carlinville 12,355
Madison western boundary on Mississippi river 760 Edwardsville 20,436
Marion toward south part 576 Salem 6,720
Marshall toward north part, crossed by Illinois river 384 Lacon 5,180
Mason central part, Illinois river on northwest, Sangamon river on south blank Bath 5,922
Massac southern boundary, Ohio river on south blank Metropolis 4,092
McDonough western part 576 Macomb 7,615
McHenry northern boundary 960 Dorr 14,979
McLean central part 1296 Bloomington 10,163
Menard central part, crossed by Sangamon river 260 Petersburgh 6,349
Mercer western boundary, Mississippi river on west 550 Millersburgh 5,246
Monroe southwest boundary, Mississippi river on west & Kaskaskia river on east 360 Waterloo 7,679
Montgomery towards southern part 684 Hillsborough 6,276
Morgan western part, Illinois river on west 510 Jacksonville 16,064
Moultrie central part, water by Kaskaskia river not listed not listed 3,234
Ogle northern part, crossed by Rock river 625 Oregon City 10,020
Peoria toward west part, Illinois river on southeast 648 Peoria 17,547
Perry south part 432 Pinckeyville 5,278
Piatt towards east part 440 Monticello 1,606
Pike southwestern boundary, Mississippi river on southwest & Illinois river on east 800 Pittsfield 9,095
Pope on southern boundary, Ohio river on southeast 576 Golconda 3,975
Putnam north part, crossed by Illinois river 325 Hennepin 3,924
Randolph southwestern boundary, Mississippi river on southwest, crossed by Kaskaskia river 540 Kaskaskia 11,079
Richland south eastern part blank Olney 4,012
Rock Island on northwestern boundary on Mississippi river, crossed by Rock river blank Rock Island 6,937
St Clair on south western boundary, Mississippi river on west, crossed by Kaskaskia river 648 Bellville 20,181
Saline southern part blank Raleigh 5,558
Sangnom or Sangamo central part, crossed by Sangamon river 900 Springfield (Capital) 19,228
Schuyler western part, Illinois river on southeast 360 Rushville 10,573
Scott western part, Illinois river on west 240 Winchester 7,914
Shelby central part, crossed by Kaskaskia river 1080 Shelbyville 7,807
Stark toward northwest part, crossed by Spoon river 288 Toulon 3,710
Stephenson on north boundary, crossed by Pekatonica river 500 Freeport 11,666
Tazewell central part, Illinois river on northwest 1130 Tremont 12,052
Union on southwestern boundary, Mississippi river on southwest 380 Jonesboro 7,615
Vermilion on east boundary 1000 Danville 11,492
Wabash on southeastern boundary, Wabash river on southwest 180 Mount Carmel 4,690
Warren in western part 600 Monmouth 8,176
Washington toward southern part, Kaskaskia river on northwest 656 Nashville 6,953
Wayne in southeast part, Little Wabash on east 720 Fairfield 6,828
White on southeastern boundary, Wabash river on east 480 Carmi 8,925
Whitesides on northwest boundary, Mississippi river on west, crossed by Rock river 770 Lyndon 5,361
Will on east boundary, crossed by Des Plaines river 504 Joliet 16,703
Williamson in southern part 432 Marion 7,216
Winnebago northern boundary, crossed by rock river 504 Rockford 11,773
Woodford in central part, Illinois river on northwest 470 Woodford 4,416

Chicago, IL

City and seat of justice of Cook Co, IL, is situated on the west side of Lake Michigan, and occupies both sides of the river, from which it takes its name, and is built on the border of a prairie, elevated a little above the level of the lake.  Few towns have a more advantageous position.  The river, formed by the confluence of two branches, in the upper part of the city, is deep and spacious enough for a vast number of steamboats and vessels of various kinds, which have assembled from different points on the lakes, the St Lawrence,, the Erie and Welland canals, and thickly line the wharves for some distance up the streams which form the harbor.  The shore of the lake, naturally shallow, has been extended into deep water, by means of two piers, which projecting from both sides of the harbor, protect it from the accumulation of sand.  The streets of Chicago are generally broad and pleasant, lined with trees, and leading to the open prairie, or affording fine views of the lake. The buildings have the appearance of unusual comfort and convenience, while many of the public edifices are surpassed by those of few cities in the Union.  Large warehouses and stores, five or six stories high, splendid hotels, churches, fine public schools and dwellings, frequently magnificent, are some of the structures which strike the eye, and excite admiration. 

Twenty years ago, the lands of the adjacent prairie were the property of the Pottawatomie Indians.  In 1833, the tribe removed, by treaty, to lands in Missouri, and gave up their prairie to the settlers of Chicago; since then, it has continued to increase, and of late with unexampled rapidity.  The Illinois and Michigan canal, by connecting the navigation of the lake with that of the great river of the state, has caused the current of trade, which formerly flowed toward the Mississippi river, to turn toward the "garden city", making it the market of the rich productions of Illinois, and of the vast quantities of goods from New York and other eastern cities.  The branches of commerce in which Chicago is most extensively engaged, are lumber, grain and cattle,  It exceeds all other western cities in the quantity of lumber exported; vast forests of pine and other trees, covering the northern part of Wisconsin, while immense numbers of cattle, from the interior, are here slaughtered and transported westward, frequently to New York.

The canal, which has contributed so largely to the growth of Chicago, is worthy of extended notice.  Commencing about 3 miles above the mouth of the river, it traverses the valley of that stream, and of the Des Plains, and terminus at Peru, the head of steamboat navigation on the Illinois.  The whole length is 106 miles, width 60 feet, depth is 6 feet. A navigable feeder, four miles long, communicates with Fox river, and the canal descends 20 feet by two locks toward the Illinois. It was begun in 1836, and finished in 1849.

The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, commences at Chicago, and extends to Galena, the head of steamboat navigation on the Mississippi and the depot of a region rich in lead.  The central road will unite it with the Mississippi river near the mouth of the Ohio, while the Southern and Central Michigan roads connect it with the eastern states.

Population: in 1840 was 4,479, in 1850 was 29,964 and in 1852 was 38,733.

Galena, IL

Galena, a thriving city, the seat of justice of Jo-Daviess Co, IL, is situated on both sides of Fevre or Bean river, six miles above its entrance into the Mississippi, and the largest boats ascend to this point at all stages of the water.   The city's mostly built on the west side of the river, yet it is rapidly extending on the opposite side, with which it is connected by three substantial bridges.  This is the centre of the great lead region, which occupies the northwestern portion of Illinois, and the southwestern corner of Wisconsin, together with a strip of a few miles in width on the opposite side of the Mississippi in Iowa, equal to a surface of nearly 3000 square miles.  In riding over the country from Galena to the Wisconsin river, the most remarkable feature presented is the numerous "diggings."  Its trade with the surrounding country is extensive, embracing a circuit of 30 to 100 miles.  The town presents a very metallic appearance, inasmuch as its wharves, for quite a distance, are lined with piles of pig-lead.  It is estimated by those whose knowledge and experience render them competent to judge, that if the mines already opened were well worked, they are capable of producing 150,000,000 pounds annually for ages to come.  The population in 1850 was 6,004

Springfield, IL

Seat of justice of Sangamon Co and capital of the state of Illinois; from Washington 780 miles.  The town is situated four miles south of Sangamon river, and became the capital of the state in 1840.  It is surrounded by a rich and populous region, picturesquely varied with prairies, forests, vales, and gentle elevations.  The village is one of the most pleasant and beautiful in the west, situated on the border of extensive prairie, laid out with broad and shaded streets, interspersed with spacious lawns and squares, and indicating, in its neat and comfortable dwellings, prosperity and vigorous health.  It contains a number of fine public school, academies, churches, a jail, market house, courthouse, and the statehouse, a costly and elegant structure.  The Sangamon and Morgan railroad extends to Naples, on Illinois river, 54 miles distant.

The population in 1840 was 2,579 and in 1850 was 4,533

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