Available on Amazon
Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history, spent much of his early political career in Illinois. He served in the Illinois state legislature and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois in 1846.
Hamilton County is located in southern Illinois and was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Miami. European settlers began arriving in the late 18th century, primarily from Kentucky and Tennessee. The county was officially established in 1821 and named after Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.

In the early 19th century, the area was primarily agricultural, with farms and small towns dotting the landscape. Coal mining became an important industry in the late 1800s, which brought an influx of immigrants, primarily from eastern Europe and southern Italy, to work in the mines. The mining industry thrived for several decades, leading to economic growth and the development of towns such as McLeansboro, the county seat.

During the 20th century, like many rural areas, Hamilton County faced challenges such as the decline of coal mining, agricultural changes, and population decline. However, the community has been resilient and has sought to diversify its economy. Today, agriculture remains an important industry, with corn, soybeans, and livestock being significant contributors to the local economy. The county also boasts a rich natural landscape, including forests, lakes, and wildlife, which attract visitors for outdoor recreational activities.

In recent years, Hamilton County has embraced tourism as a potential economic driver, promoting its historical sites, natural beauty, and events such as the county fair. Efforts have been made to preserve and restore historical landmarks, including the Emma Kunz House, an early 20th-century home that serves as a museum showcasing the county's history.

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

  • 1818 - Hamilton County established as part of the Illinois Territory
  • 1821 - First settlers arrive in the area
  • 1824 - The county's first courthouse is built in McLeansboro
  • 1826 - McLeansboro becomes the county seat
  • 1851 - The county's first newspaper, the McLeansboro Times, is established
  • 1864 - A devastating tornado destroys parts of McLeansboro
  • 1873 - The first railroad, the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, is completed in the county
  • 1887 - The first high school in the county, McLeansboro High School, is established
  • 1925 - The county's second courthouse, the current Hamilton County Courthouse, is completed
  • 1937 - The Dahlgren Naval Ammunition Depot is established in the county
  • 1988 - The last operational mine in the county closes, marking the end of the coal mining era