The state of Illinois played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to freedom in the 19th century. Many abolitionists in Illinois provided safe houses for escaping slaves, and Chicago was a key hub on the Underground Railroad.
Crawford County, Illinois has a rich history that stretches back thousands of years. The region was originally home to Native American tribes, such as the Miami and the Potawatomi. European settlement began in the late 18th century, with the arrival of French fur traders and American pioneers. The county was officially established on December 31, 1816, and was named after William H. Crawford, who was serving as the United States Secretary of War at the time.

In the early years, the economy of Crawford County relied heavily on agriculture, with farmers cultivating wheat, corn, oats, and livestock. The county's location along the Embarras River also made it an important transportation hub for goods being shipped downriver. The Illinois Central Railroad arrived in the county in the 1850s, further expanding trade and commerce.

During the Civil War, Crawford County sent many of its men to fight for the Union Army. Following the war, the county experienced a period of growth and development. The 20th century brought advancements in infrastructure, education, and industry. The oil boom of the 1930s brought economic prosperity to the county, leading to the establishment of oil refineries and the development of new oil fields.

Today, Crawford County remains largely rural, with agriculture continuing to be a vital part of the economy. The county is also home to several small towns, each with its own unique charm and history. Residents and visitors can explore the county's past through its historical sites, such as the Crawford County Courthouse and the Palestine Pioneer City Museum. With its quaint communities and rich heritage, Crawford County serves as a reminder of the area's vibrant history.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Crawford County, Illinois.

  • 1816: Crawford County was established on December 31, 1816 by the Illinois General Assembly.
  • Early 1800s: Native Americans, including the Kickapoo and Potawatomi tribes, inhabited the region.
  • 1818: The first permanent settlement, Palestine, was established by Charles T. Darwin and James Monroe.
  • 1823: The county seat was moved to Robinson, which was named after settler John C. Robinson.
  • 1831: The Vincennes Trace, a major early transportation route, was improved to pass through Crawford County.
  • 1835: The Wabash and Erie Canal was completed, connecting the county to the Ohio River and promoting economic growth.
  • 1843: Chauncey Warren founded the town of Hutsonville, which became a prominent river town along the Wabash River.
  • 1861-1865: Many residents fought in the Civil War, both for the Union and Confederate armies.
  • Early 1900s: Agriculture, coal mining, and oil production became major industries in the county.
  • 1933-1942: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established several camps in Crawford County, providing employment during the Great Depression.
  • 1960s: Interstate 70 was constructed, improving transportation and promoting economic development in the county.
  • Present: Crawford County continues to be a primarily rural area with a diverse economy, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare.