Illinois was the first state in the country to ratify the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery. The amendment was ratified by Illinois on February 1, 1865, before it was ratified by any other state.
Ford County, located in east-central Illinois, has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. The area was initially inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Potawatomi and Kickapoo. In the early 1830s, European settlers started to establish small communities in the region, drawn by its fertile soil and proximity to the Sangamon River.

Ford County was officially established on February 17, 1859, named after Thomas Ford, the eighth Governor of Illinois. The county's early economy revolved around agriculture, with farming and livestock production being the primary sources of income. The county's agricultural productivity attracted further settlement, and the population steadily increased.

During the Civil War, Ford County, like much of the Midwest, experienced divided loyalties. While many residents were Union supporters, there were also a significant number of Confederate sympathizers. Despite this, the county remained relatively peaceful throughout the war.

In the late 19th century, the advent of the railroad brought new opportunities for economic growth. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad established several stations in Ford County, including in the county seat of Paxton. This railroad connection helped boost the county's economy and facilitated the transportation of agricultural products to larger markets.

Throughout the 20th century, Ford County continued to be agriculturally focused, with corn, soybeans, and livestock remaining primary industries. The county also saw some diversification with the growth of manufacturing and service sectors.

Today, Ford County is home to several small towns and remains primarily rural. Its rich history, agricultural heritage, and welcoming communities make it a unique place in the heart of Illinois.

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

  • 1833 - Ford County is established as a county in the state of Illinois.
  • 1855 - Gibson City is founded.
  • 1857 - The town of Paxton is incorporated.
  • 1869 - The first railroad line is constructed through Ford County.
  • 1880 - The county seat is moved from Paxton to Gibson City.
  • 1893 - Ford County Courthouse in Paxton is destroyed by fire.
  • 1895 - A new courthouse is built in Paxton.
  • 1929 - The Great Depression causes economic hardships in the county.
  • 1942 - World War II leads to an increase in agricultural production in Ford County.
  • 1982 - A tornado strikes the town of Gibson City, causing significant damage.
  • 2010 - The population of Ford County is approximately 14,081.