Historical Facts of Illinois Counties

Illinois County records can vary greatly from county to county in both level of quality and quantity. You will find four forms of court records that are most likely to have details relevant for your genealogical research. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.

Most counties in Illinois were named after early American leaders, especially of the American Revolutionary War, as well as soldiers from the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812. Some are named after natural features or counties in other states. Some are named for early Illinois leaders. Two counties are named for Native American tribes, and one bears the name of a plant used as a food-source by Native Americans.

Illinois Counties

Illinois is divided into 102 counties. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. Illinois State Government is located in Springfield.

The circuit court clerk’s office holds administrations, probate documents, and wills. The recorder of deeds holds leases, deeds, and mortgages. Researchers submitting requests in writing should use the county officer title and the heading “County Courthouse,” along with the address.

Researchers should note that many Illinois counties were divided into other counties. Therefore, some counties may have deed records available from their parent counties. Although, most deed records begin with the date that the present county was founded. The records from the earliest courts should be consulted for information on counties from the territorial period. Those records are: St. Clair: Court of the District of Cahokia; Randolph: French Provincial Council; Madison, Gallatin, and Johnson: court of common pleas; Edwards, White, Jackson, Pope, Monroe, Crawford, and Bond: county court; Franklin, Union and Washington: justices’ court. The early records from the counties of Franklin, Cook, and Jackson no longer exist. Fires destroyed them.

The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Illinois county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Adams 1825 Pike County Quincy
Alexander 1819 Union County Cairo
Bond 1817 Crawford County, Edwards County, and Madison County Greenville
Boone 1837 Winnebago County Belvidere
Brown 1839 Schuyler County Mount Sterling
Bureau 1837 Putnam County Princeton
Calhoun 1825 Pike County Hardin
Carroll 1839 Jo Daviess Mount Carroll
Cass 1837 Morgan County Virginia
Champaign 1833 Vermilion County Urbana
Christian 1839 Sangamon County Taylorville
Clinton 1819 Crawford County Carlyle
Clark 1824 Wayne, Lawrence, Fayette, and Crawford County Marshall
Clay 1824 Washington, Bond, and Fayette County Louisville
Coles 1830 Clark and Edgar County Charleston
Cook 1831 Putnam County Chicago
Crawford 1816 Edwards County Robinson
Cumberland 1843 Coles County Toledo
De Kalb 1837 Kane County Sycamore
Douglas 1839 Macon and McLean County Tuscola
DeWitt 1859 Coles County Clinton
DuPage 1839 Cook County Wheaton
Edgar 1823 Clark County Paris
Edwards 1814 Gallatin County and Madison County Albion
Effingham 1831 Fayette and Crawford County Effingham
Fayette 1821 Bond, Wayne, Clark, Jefferson, and Crawford County Vandalia
Ford 1859 Vermilion County Paxton
Franklin 1818 White County and Gallatin County Benton
Fulton 1823 Pike County Lewistown
Gallatin 1812 Randolph County Shawneetown
Grundy 1821 Madison County Morris
Greene 1841 LaSalle County Carrollton
Hamilton 1821 White County McLeansboro
Hancock 1825 Adams County Carthage
Hardin 1839 Pope County Elizabethtown
Henry 1841 Warren County Oquawka
Henderson 1825 Fulton County Cambridge
Iroquois 1833 Vermilion County Watseka
Jackson 1816 Randolph County and Johnson County Murphysboro
Jasper 1831 Clay and Crawford County Newton
Jo Daviess 1819 Edwards and White County Galena
Jefferson 1839 Greene County Mount Vernon
Jersey 1827 Henry, Mercer, and Putnam County Jerseyville
Johnson 1812 Randolph County Vienna
Kane 1825 Fulton County Geneva
Kankakee 1853 Iroquois and Will County Kankakee
Kendall 1836 LaSalle County Yorkville
Knox 1841 LaSalle and Kane County Galesburg
Lake 1839 McHenry County Waukegan
Lawrence 1831 Putnam and Tazewell County Lawrenceville
Lee 1821 Crawford and Edwards County Dixon
Livingston 1839 Ogle County Pontiac
Logan 1837 LaSalle and McLean County Lincoln
La Salle 1839 Sangamon County Ottawa
Madison 1829 Shelby County Edwardsville
McDonough 1829 Greene County Macomb
McHenry 1812 St. Clair County and Randolph County Woodstock
McLean 1823 Fayette and Jefferson County Bloomington
Macon 1839 Putnam County Decatur
Menard 1841 Tazewell and Menard County Petersburg
Mercer 1843 Pope and Johnson County Aledo
Morgan 1826 Schuyler County Jacksonville
Moultrie 1836 Cook and LaSalle County Sullivan
Macoupin 1830 Tazewell County Carlinville
Marion 1839 Sangamon County Salem
Monroe 1825 Schuyler County Waterloo
Massac 1816 Randolph County and St. Clair County Metropolis
Marshall 1821 Bond and Madison County Lacon
Mason 1823 Sangamon County Havana
Montgomery 1843 Shelby and Macon County Hillsboro
Ogle 1836 Jo Daviess Oregon
Peoria 1825 Fulton County Peoria
Perry 1827 Randolph and Jackson County Pinckneyville
Piatt 1841 DeWitt and Macon County Monticello
Pike 1821 Madison, Bond, and Clark County Pittsfield
Pope 1816 Gallatin and Johnson County Golconda
Pulaski 1843 Alexander and Johnson County Mound City
Putnam 1825 Fulton County Hennepin
Randolph 1795 St. Clair County Chester
Richland 1841 Clay and Lawrence County Olney
Rock Island 1831 Jo Daviess County Rock Island
Saline 1847 Gallatin County Harrisburg
Sangamon 1821 Madison and Bond County Springfield
St. Clair 1825 Pike and Fulton County Belleville
Schuyler 1839 Morgan County Rushville
Scott 1827 Fayette County Winchester
Shelby 1790 original two counties Shelbyville
Stark 1839 Knox and Putnam County Toulon
Stephenson 1837 Jo Daviess and Winnebago County Freeport
Tazewell 1827 Sangamon County Pekin
Union 1818 Johnson County Jonesboro
Vermilion 1826 Edgar County Danville
Wabash 1824 Edwards County Mount Carmel
Warren 1825 Schuyler County Monmouth
Washington 1818 St. Clair County Nashville
Wayne 1819 Edwards County Fairfield
Will 1815 Gallatin County Joliet
Winnebago 1836 Jo Daviess and Henry County Rockford
Woodford 1836 Cook and Iroquois County Eureka
Whiteside 1839 Franklin County Morrison
Williamson 1836 Jo Daviess Marion
White 1841 Tazewell and McLean County Carmi

Interactive Map of Illinois Counties Formation

(Illinois maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)

Illinois Extinct Counties

Illinois has counties that no longer exist. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. Many of these counties were established and disbanded during the Nineteenth century; county borders have modified little since Nineteen hundred in the great majority of states. These counties need to be researched when doing genealogy and family tree research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or merged with a different county.

  • Dane County: Formed in 1839 from Montgomery, Sangamon and Shelby Counties, renamed in 1840 to Christian County
  • Hignland County: Formed in 1847 from Adams and Marquette Counties, abolished in 1848
  • Marquette County: Formed in 1843 from Adams County, abolished in 1847
  • Wayne County: Formed in 1803 from Knox and St. Clair Counties, abolished in 1847

Illinois Counties with Burned Courthouses

The damage to Illinois courthouses drastically has a effect on genealogists in just about every way. Not only are most of these historic structures torn from all of our lifetimes, so are the documents they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, as well as others. Once destroyed they’re lost forever. Even though they have already been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most sad side of this is the reason that almost all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. Though, not all the records were destroyed. Many Illinois counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Adams County Courthouse- Some records lost or damaged in a fire on December 9, 1835. Second courthouse was destroyed by fire January 9, 1875. Third Courthouse was damaged beyond repair by a tornado that roared thru Quincy April 12, 1945.
  • Brown County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on March 8, 1939
  • Clark County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on December 30, 1902
  • Cook County Courthouse – Total record loss (1831–1871) due to a Fire on October 9, 1871
  • Crawford County Courthouse – Fire on March 28, 1999. Some records lost or damaged.
  • Cumberland County Courthouse – Total record loss (1843–1885) due to a Fire on November 5, 1885
  • Franklin County Courthouse – Most records lost (1818–1843) due to a fire on November 18, 1843
  • Hardin County Courthouse – Most records lost (1839–1884) due to a fire on May 19, 1884
  • Iroquois County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged (18 years) due to a Fire on October 16, 1866
  • Jackson County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on June 10, 1843
  • Kane County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire in 1843. Volumes saved; 5,000 court files burned in a Fire on March 13, 1890
  • Logan County Courthouse – Total record loss (1839–1857) due to a Fire on April 15, 1857
  • McLean County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on June 19, 1900
  • Morgan County Courthouse – Most records lost (1823–1827) due to a Fire on December 6, 1827
  • Moultrie County Courthouse – Most records lost (1843–1864) due to a Fire on November 25, 1864
  • Pike County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire in 1831
  • Pulaski County Courthouse – Most records lost in a Fire on November 22, 1879. Some records damaged by water in a 1837 Flood.
  • Shelby County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on November 17, 1894
  • Vermilion County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on 1872
  • Wabash County Courthouse – Most records lost (1824–1857) due to a Fire on April 5, 1857
  • Wayne County Courthouse – Total record loss (1819–1886) due to a fire on November 17, 1886
  • Williamson County Courthouse – Some records lost or damaged in a fire on May 30, 1875