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The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was one of the most devastating fires in U.S. history. The fire destroyed much of the city, including over 17,000 buildings and left more than 100,000 people homeless. The fire started in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, but the cause of the fire is still debated to this day.
Fulton County, located in Illinois, has a rich and varied history that dates back to the early 1800s. The area was initially settled by Native American tribes, particularly the Fox and Sauk tribes, who resided along the Illinois River. European explorers, like French trappers and traders, began to arrive in the late 17th century, followed by American settlers in the early 19th century.

The county was officially established in 1823 and named after Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat. The introduction of steamboats brought significant economic development to Fulton County, as trade along the Illinois River increased, and communities like Havana and Lewistown flourished. Agriculture also played a vital role during this time, with farmers cultivating crops and raising livestock to support the growing population.

During the mid-19th century, Fulton County became an important hub for the Underground Railroad, aiding escaped slaves in their journey to freedom. The county's geographical location, with its proximity to the Mississippi River and connections to other abolitionist communities, made it an attractive destination for freedom seekers. This era of resistance and activism helped shape the county's identity as a place of social progress.

In later years, Fulton County experienced economic decline and population loss due to factors such as the decline of the steamboat industry and changes in agricultural practices. However, efforts to conserve its historical sites and promote tourism have helped revitalize the county's economy in recent decades. Today, Fulton County continues to honor its diverse past, celebrate its cultural heritage, and embrace its natural beauty.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Fulton County, Illinois.

  • 1819: Fulton County was established on January 28, 1819.
  • 1823: The county seat was established in Lewistown.
  • 1836: The first courthouse in Fulton County was built.
  • 1843: The Illinois River flooded, causing extensive damage to the county.
  • 1858: The second courthouse was built in Lewistown.
  • 1861-1865: Fulton County participates in the American Civil War.
  • 1871: The Great Chicago Fire results in an influx of settlers to Fulton County.
  • 1893: The third and current courthouse was completed in Lewistown.
  • 1918-1919: The influenza pandemic affects Fulton County.
  • 1933-1942: The Great Depression and World War II impact the county.
  • 1943: Camp Ellis, a military training center, is established in Fulton County.
  • 1965: The giant spoon and cherry sculpture is erected in Ipava.
  • 1993: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the county a Superfund site.
  • 2007: A tornado causes significant damage to the county.
  • 2019: Fulton County celebrates its 200th anniversary.