Origin of Illinois County Names
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NAMES OF ILLINOIS COUNTIES, AND THEIR ORIGINS
Six counties of Illinois, WASHINGTON, JEFFERSON, MADISON, MONROE, ADAMS, and JACKSON, were named for Presidents of the United States; ADAMS for John Quincy Adams, six president, and not for John Adams, second President, as is sometimes stated.
Four counties, BOND, COLES, EDWARDS, and FORD, were named, respectively for the first, second third and seventh Governors of Illinois. Bond received its name the year before the election of the first Governor of the State.
Sixteen counties were named for other citizens of the State, prominent in different walks of life.
ALEXANDER, for William M. Alexander, an early settler of the county bearing his name and Senator in the second and third General Assemblies of the State.
COOK, for Daniel P. Cook, a pioneer lawyer, first Attorney General of the State and Representative in Congress from 1819 to 1827.
DOUGLAS, for Stephen A. Douglas, an eminent lawyer, brilliant political orator, Secretary of State (1840), Representative in Congress (1843-1847), United States Senator (1847-1861), and candidate for the Presidency in 1860.
EDGAR, for John Edgar, a pioneer merchant, politician and land speculator.
KANE, for Elias Kent Kane, a pioneer lawyer, Territorial judge, prominent member of the Constitutional Convention of 1818, first Secretary of State of Illinois, and later United States Senator.
LOGAN, for Dr. John Logan, a pioneer physician, father of General John A. Logan.
McHENRY, for William McHenry, a pioneer of White County, soldier of the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk war, Representative in the first, fourth, fifth and ninth General Assemblies, and Senator in the sixth.
MCLEAN, for John McLean, a pioneer lawyer, Territorial judge, first Representative in Congress from Illinois (1818), and United States Senator (1824-1825).
MENARD, for Pierre Menard, a pioneer Indian trader, Colonel of Territorial militia, and first Lieutenant Governor of the State.
OGLE, for Joseph Ogle, pioneer politician and Lieutenant of Territorial militia.
PIATT, for James A. Piatt, Sr., who settled in that area in 1829, coming from Indiana.
POPE, for Nathaniel Pope, first Territorial Secretary of State (1809-1816), and last Territorial Delegate to Congress from Illinois.
STEPHENSON, for Benjamin Stephenson, prominent pioneer, a Colonel Territorial militia, and Adjutant General of the Territory (1813-1814).
WHITE, for Leonard White, pioneer of Gallatin County, Major of Territorial militia, member of Constitutional Convention of 1818, State Senator in second and third General Assemblies.
WHITESIDE, for Samuel Whiteside, a Colonel of Territorial militia, Representative in the First General Assembly, and Brigadier General of militia during Black Hawk War.
WILL, for Conrad Will, a pioneer politician, Territorial Recorder of Jackson County, member of the Constitutional Convention of 1818, and member of the General Assemblies of the State from the first to ninth inclusive.
Twenty-two counties were named in honor of military heroes, generally of the Revolution, but some of later wars.
BROWN, for Jacob Brown, Major General during the War of 1812, who won distinction at Sackett's Harbor, Chippewa and Niagara.
CLARK, for George Rogers Clark, a soldier of the Revolution, who, as a Colonel of Virginia militia, established Colonial control in the Illinois country, by the capture of Kaskaskia and Fort Vincenness.
DEKALB, for Johann DeKalb, a German baron, who served in the Colonies during the Revolution, and was mortally wounded at Camden, S. C., 1780.
GREENE, for Nathaniel Greene, a Major General in the Revolution, who distinguished himself as commander in the Southern Colonies.
JASPER, for William Jasper, a Sergeant of the Revolution who, during the action in Charleston harbor, replaced the flag shot away at Fort Moultrie, and later was killed at Savannah, 1779.
JODAVIESS, for Joseph Hamilton Daviess, prominent lawyer of Kentucky, United States District Attorney, and Major of militia; killed at the battle of Tippecanoe, 1811.
JOHNSON, for Richard M. Johnson, a Colonel of Kentucky militia, who served in Indian wars and the War of 1812, and reputed to have killed the Indian chief, Tecumseh, at the battle of the Thames; Representative in Congress and United States Senator from Kentucky and Vice-President, 1837-1841.
KNOX, for Henry Knox, a soldier of the Revolution who commanded the storming party at Stony Point, later a Major General and Washington's Secretary of War.
MARION, for Francis Marion, a soldier of the Revolution who distinguished himself as a partisan commander in the Carolinas.
MERCER, for Hugh Mercer, a General of the Revolution, killed at the battle of Princeton.
MONTGOMERY, for Richard Montgomery, a Revolutionary General, of Irish birth, who was killed before Quebec, December 31, 1775.
MORGAN, for Daniel Morgan, a General of the Revolution, who, as commander of the "Rifle Brigade," served with distinction at Quebec, Saratoga, the Cowpens, and other important engagements.
MOULTRIE, for William Moultrie, a General of the Revolution, who built Fort Moultrie and successfully defended it.
PIKE, for Zebulon Pike, an early explorer of the Louisiana purchase. Pike's Peak was named in his honor. He was a General of the War of 1812 and was killed at York, Canada.
PULASKI, for Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish exile who espoused the cause of the Colonies during the Revolution and was killed at the attack on Savannah, 1779.
PUTNAM, for Israel Putnam, a Major General of the Revolution.
SCHUYLER, for Philip Schuyler, a soldier of the French and Indian wars, a Major General of the Revolution, a member of the Continental Congress and United States Senator from New York.
STARK, for John Stark, a soldier of the French and Indian wars, a Major General of the Revolution, who served with distinction at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, and Bennington.
ST. CLAIR, for Arthur St. Clair, a soldier of the French and Indian wars, a Major General during the Revolution, Commander-in-Chief of the Army after the Revolution, and Governor of the Territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio.
WARREN, for Joseph Warren, a physician and soldier who served at Lexington, a Major General of Massachusetts militia; killed at the battle of Bunker Hill.
WAYNE, for Anthony Wayne, a surveyor and politician of Pennsylvania, a Major General during the Revolution, Commander-in-Chief of the Army after General St. Clair, and successful Indian Fighter in the Northwest Territory.
Three counties were named in honor of naval commanders:
LAWRENCE, for Captain James Lawrence, Commander of the Chesapeake, who was mortally wounded in an engagement between that vessel and the British vessel, Shannon, during the War of 1812.
MCDONOUGH, for Thomas McDonough, a Commodore of the United States Navy, who commanded the fleet on Lake Champlain in a successful engagement with the British fleet, near Plattsburg, 1814.
PERRY, for Oliver Hazard Perry, a Commodore of the United States Navy, who won distinction as Commander of the fleet in the battle of Lake Erie, in 1813.
Twenty-one counties were named for statesmen and politicians, not citizens of Illinois, some of whom had distinguished themselves in military as well as civil life.
CALHOUN, for John C. Calhoun, a lawyer and statesman, Representative in Congress and United States Senator from South Carolina, Secretary of War under Monroe, Vice-President of the United States, and Secretary of State under Tyler, and was recognized as the "Father of Nullification."
CARROLL, for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a statesman of the Revolutionary period, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and United Sates Senator from Maryland.
CASS, for Lewis Cass, a soldier as well as statesman, Territorial Governor of Michigan, Minister to France, United States Senator from Michigan, Secretary of War under Jackson, Secretary of State under Buchanan, and at one time a prominent candidate for the Presidency.
CLAY, for Henry Clay, a statesman and political orator, Representative in Congress and United States Senator from Kentucky, three times Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, famous as the author of the political measures known as the "Missouri Compromise," and a prominent candidate for the Presidency.
CLINTON, for DeWitt Clinton, a distinguished lawyer, financier and statesman, Major of the city and Governor of the State of New York, United States Senator and chief promoter of the Erie Canal.
CRAWFORD, for William H. Crawford of Georgia, United States Senator, Minister of France, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and a prominent candidate for the Presidency in 1824.
DEWITT, for DeWitt Clinton. (See Clinton County.)
FRANKLIN, for Benjamin Franklin, philosopher, statesman, diplomatist, author, printer, a member of the Continental Congress, Ambassador to France, and (before the Revolution) Deputy Postmaster General of the British Colonies in America.
GALLATIN, for Albert Gallatin, a statesman and financier, Representative in Congress from Pennsylvania, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and Minister to France and England.
GRUNDY, for Felix Grundy, a lawyer and politician, United States Senator from Tennessee, and Attorney General of the United States.
HAMILTON, for Alexander Hamilton, a soldier, statesman, author and financier, aid on the staff of Washington during the Revolution, a member of the Continental Congress, first Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795), Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army in 1799.
HANCOCK, for John Hancock, a prominent figure of the Revolutionary period, a Major General of militia, President of the Continental Congress, first signer of the Declaration, and first Governor of the State of Massachusetts.
HENRY, for Patrick Henry, a lawyer, orator and statesman of the Revolutionary period, a member of the Continental Congress, and Governor of Virginia.
KENDALL, for Amos Kendall, a successful politician and journalist, Postmaster General under Jackson, and as partner of S. F. B. Morse, the inventor of the electric telegraph, he contributed largely to the commercial success of that invention.
LEE, for Richard Henry Lee, an orator and statesman of the Revolutionary period, a member of the Continental Congress, a Representative in Congress and United States from Virginia.
LIVINGSTON, for Edward Livingston, a lawyer and statesman, Mayor of New York City, Representative in Congress from New York and later from Louisiana, United States Senator from the latter state, Secretary of State under Jackson, and United States Minister to France.
MACON, for Nathaniel Macon, a Colonel during the Revolution and later a Representative and United States Senator in Congress from North Carolina. He strenously opposed the adoption of the United States Constitution as conferring powers on the Federal government which should be reserved to the States.
MARSHALL, for John Marshall, a soldier of the Revolution, statesman, author and jurist, Ambassador to France, Representative in Congress from Virginia, Secretary of State and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
RANDOLPH, for Edmund Randolph, a soldier of the Revolution, a lawyer and statesman, member of the Continental Congress, Attorney General and Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State of the United States and Attorney General under Washington.
SHELBY, for Isaac Shelby, a soldier of the Revolution and Indian wars. Governor of Kentucky (1792-1796) and again (1812-1816). He commanded the Kentucky troops in the battle of the Thames in the War of 1812.
TAZEWELL, for Lyttleton W. Tazewell, and eminent lawyer, Governor, Representative in Congress, and United States Senator from Virginia.
Nine counties of Illinois adopted the names of counties of other states through the influence of emigrants from the counties whose names were thus adopted: CHAMPAIGN and RICHLAND from Ohio; CHRISTIAN, HARDIN, HENDERSON, MASON, SCOTT, and WOODFORD from Kentucky; and WILLIAMSON from Tennessee.
Seven counties bear Indian names, given originally, as a general rule, to a creek, river or lake, and afterward transferred to the county. These named are IROQUOIS, KANKAKEE, MACOUPIN, PEORIA, SANGAMON, WABASH and WINNEBAGO.
Fourteen other counties derive their names from sources so diverse that they cannot easily be classified under any special head.
BOONE, for Daniel Boone, a pioneer hunter, Indian fighter and pathfinder of the early days.
BUREAU, for Pierre Buero, a French trader with the Indians.
CUMBERLAND, from the Cumberland road, named in its turn from the town of Cumberland, Maryland, which derived its name from the mountain range of the same name adopted, presumably, from the Cumberland mountains of Great Britain.
DUPAGE, from a small river of the same name said to have derived its name from a French trapper and trader of that region.
EFFINGHAM, for Lord Edward Effingham, who resigned his commission as general in the British army, 1775, refusing to serve in the war against the colonies.
FULTON, for Robert Fulton, the first successful builder of steamboats on American waters.
JERSEY, for the State of New Jersey, which derived its name from the Isle of Jersey, Great Britain.
LAKE, for Lake Michigan.
LASALLE, for Robert de LaSalle, the French explorer who effected the first white settlements in Illinois and explored the Mississippi to the Gulf.
MASSAC, from Fort Massac, a corruption of a French surname, Massiac.
ROCK ISLAND, from the rock island of that name in the Mississippi.
SALINE, from Saline creek, so called on account of numerous salt springs in that locality.
UNION, from the federal union of the American States.
VERMILION, from the river of that name, the principal branches of which flow through the county.