Illinois was part of the French colonial empire, and the city of Cahokia, located near present-day Collinsville, was one of the largest pre-Columbian cities in North America. At its peak, around 1250 CE, Cahokia had a population of around 20,000 people.

Hancock County, located in western Illinois along the Mississippi River, has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. The area was first inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Sauk and Fox, who were later displaced by European settlers. The county was officially established on January 13, 1825, named after John Hancock, a prominent Revolutionary War figure and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

During the mid-1800s, Hancock County became a hub for Mormon settlement. In 1839, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, established the city of Nauvoo on the banks of the Mississippi River. Nauvoo quickly grew into a thriving community, attracting thousands of Mormon followers from across the country. However, tensions between the Mormons and non-Mormon residents eventually escalated, leading to the forced departure of the Mormon community in the infamous event known as the "Exodus of Nauvoo" in 1846.

After the Mormon exodus, Hancock County experienced a period of economic decline. However, the county's fertile soil attracted farmers, and agriculture became a major industry in the area. The arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century further stimulated economic growth, allowing for the efficient transportation of agricultural products to markets. The county continued to develop, with towns like Carthage and Hamilton emerging as important centers of commerce and trade.

Hancock County's history also includes its role in the Civil War. The county contributed soldiers to both the Union and Confederate armies, reflecting the divided loyalties of its residents. The Battle of Warsaw in 1861, fought along the Mississippi River, was a notable conflict during the war. In the post-war years, the county began to recover economically, and its communities expanded their infrastructure and services to accommodate a growing population.

Today, Hancock County showcases a blend of historical landmarks, stunning natural beauty, and a strong agricultural heritage. Nauvoo remains an important tourist destination, with thousands of visitors each year exploring its restored historic sites. The county continues to be a vital agricultural region, producing crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat. From its Native American roots to its pivotal role in the Mormon movement and the challenges faced during the Civil War, Hancock County's history is a testament to the perseverance and resilience of its inhabitants.

  • 1825 - Hancock County is established as a county in Illinois.
  • 1827 - The town of Carthage is founded as the county seat of Hancock County.
  • 1839 - Early settlements are established in the county, including Augusta, Hamilton, and Warsaw.
  • 1839-1842 - The county experiences a period of rapid growth due to an influx of settlers.
  • 1844 - The founding of Nauvoo, a religious community led by Joseph Smith, attracts attention to the county.
  • 1846 - Joseph Smith, the leader of the Nauvoo community, is killed in Carthage Jail.
  • 1850s - The county's agricultural industry expands with the cultivation of corn, wheat, and livestock.
  • 1860s - Hancock County is heavily affected by the American Civil War, with many residents serving in the military.
  • Late 19th century - The county experiences technological advancements, such as the construction of railroads.
  • 20th century - Hancock County undergoes economic and social changes, including the decline of small-scale farming.
  • 1950s-1980s - The county attracts industries such as manufacturing and food processing.
  • Present - Hancock County continues to be a rural county with a mix of agriculture and some industrial activity.