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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

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.

See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.

List of Illinois Counties

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Adams1825Pike CountyQuincy
Alexander1819Union CountyCairo
Bond1817Crawford County, Edwards County, and Madison CountyGreenville
Boone1837Winnebago CountyBelvidere
Brown1839Schuyler CountyMount Sterling
Bureau1837Putnam CountyPrinceton
Calhoun1825Pike CountyHardin
Carroll1839Jo DaviessMount Carroll
Cass1837Morgan CountyVirginia
Champaign1833Vermilion CountyUrbana
Christian1839Sangamon CountyTaylorville
Clinton1819Crawford CountyCarlyle
Clark1824Wayne, Lawrence, Fayette, and Crawford CountyMarshall
Clay1824Washington, Bond, and Fayette CountyLouisville
Coles1830Clark and Edgar CountyCharleston
Cook1831Putnam CountyChicago
Crawford1816Edwards CountyRobinson
Cumberland1843Coles CountyToledo
De Kalb1837Kane CountySycamore
Douglas1839Macon and McLean CountyTuscola
DeWitt1859Coles CountyClinton
DuPage1839Cook CountyWheaton
Edgar1823Clark CountyParis
Edwards1814Gallatin County and Madison CountyAlbion
Effingham1831Fayette and Crawford CountyEffingham
Fayette1821Bond, Wayne, Clark, Jefferson, and Crawford CountyVandalia
Ford1859Vermilion CountyPaxton
Franklin1818White County and Gallatin CountyBenton
Fulton1823Pike CountyLewistown
Gallatin1812Randolph CountyShawneetown
Grundy1821Madison CountyMorris
Greene1841LaSalle CountyCarrollton
Hamilton1821White CountyMcLeansboro
Hancock1825Adams CountyCarthage
Hardin1839Pope CountyElizabethtown
Henry1841Warren CountyOquawka
Henderson1825Fulton CountyCambridge
Iroquois1833Vermilion CountyWatseka
Jackson1816Randolph County and Johnson CountyMurphysboro
Jasper1831Clay and Crawford CountyNewton
Jo Daviess1819Edwards and White CountyGalena
Jefferson1839Greene CountyMount Vernon
Jersey1827Henry, Mercer, and Putnam CountyJerseyville
Johnson1812Randolph CountyVienna
Kendall1836LaSalle CountyGeneva
Kankakee1853Iroquois and Will CountyKankakee
Knox1841LaSalle and Kane CountyYorkville
Kane1825Fulton CountyGalesburg
Lake1839McHenry CountyWaukegan
Lawrence1831Putnam and Tazewell CountyLawrenceville
Lee1821Crawford and Edwards County Dixon
Livingston1839Ogle CountyPontiac
Logan1837LaSalle and McLean CountyLincoln
La Salle1839Sangamon CountyOttawa
Madison1829Shelby CountyEdwardsville
McDonough1829Greene CountyMacomb
McHenry1812St. Clair County and Randolph CountyWoodstock
McLean1823Fayette and Jefferson CountyBloomington
Macon1839Putnam CountyDecatur
Menard1841Tazewell and Menard CountyPetersburg
Mercer1843Pope and Johnson CountyAledo
Morgan1826Schuyler CountyJacksonville
Moultrie1836Cook and LaSalle CountySullivan
Macoupin1830Tazewell CountyCarlinville
Marion1839Sangamon CountySalem
Monroe1825Schuyler CountyWaterloo
Massac1816Randolph County and St. Clair CountyMetropolis
Marshall1821Bond and Madison CountyLacon
Mason1823Sangamon CountyHavana
Montgomery1843Shelby and Macon CountyHillsboro
Ogle1836Jo DaviessOregon
Peoria1825Fulton CountyPeoria
Perry1827Randolph and Jackson CountyPinckneyville
Piatt1841DeWitt and Macon CountyMonticello
Pike1821Madison, Bond, and Clark CountyPittsfield
Pope1816Gallatin and Johnson CountyGolconda
Pulaski1843Alexander and Johnson CountyMound City
Putnam1825Fulton CountyHennepin
Randolph1795St. Clair CountyChester
Richland1841Clay and Lawrence CountyOlney
Rock Island1831Jo Daviess CountyRock Island
Saline1847Gallatin CountyHarrisburg
Sangamon1821Madison and Bond CountySpringfield
St. Clair1825Pike and Fulton CountyBelleville
Schuyler1839Morgan CountyRushville
Scott1827Fayette CountyWinchester
Shelby1790original two countiesShelbyville
Stark1839Knox and Putnam CountyToulon
Stephenson1837Jo Daviess and Winnebago CountyFreeport
Tazewell1827Sangamon CountyPekin
Union1818Johnson CountyJonesboro
Vermilion1826Edgar CountyDanville
Wabash1824Edwards CountyMount Carmel
Warren1825Schuyler CountyMonmouth
Washington1818St. Clair CountyNashville
Wayne1819Edwards CountyFairfield
Will1815Gallatin CountyJoliet
Winnebago1836Jo Daviess and Henry CountyRockford
Woodford1836Cook and Iroquois CountyEureka
Whiteside1839Franklin CountyMorrison
Williamson1836Jo DaviessMarion
White1841Tazewell and McLean CountyCarmi

List of 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

List of 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

Interactive Map of Illinois Counties Formation

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