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.

Henderson County, located in western Illinois along the Mississippi River, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo. European settlement of the region began in the early 1800s, with the arrival of fur traders and early pioneers.

In 1814, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled through what is now Henderson County, documenting the natural beauty and resources of the area. The first permanent settlement was established in 1827, and the county was officially organized in 1841. It was named after Richard Henderson, an early land speculator.

During the 19th century, Henderson County saw rapid growth and development. The construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in the 1830s brought increased trade and commerce to the area. Farming became the dominant industry, with the fertile soil along the Mississippi River supporting productive agriculture.

Henderson County played a significant role during the American Civil War. Many residents enlisted in the Union Army, and the county experienced both military and economic hardships during the war. After the war, the area saw a decline in population as people migrated to larger cities for opportunities.

Today, Henderson County is known for its scenic beauty and natural resources. The county is home to several state parks, including Big River State Forest and Delabar State Park, which attract tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. Agriculture remains an important part of the local economy, with corn and soybeans being the primary crops. The history and heritage of Henderson County continue to be celebrated and preserved by its residents.

  • 1818 - Henderson County is established as one of the original counties in Illinois.
  • 1828 - Oquawka is selected as the county seat.
  • 1832 - The Black Hawk War breaks out in Henderson County.
  • 1837 - Henderson County's first courthouse is built in Oquawka.
  • 1840s - Henderson County experiences a population boom due to the Illinois and Michigan Canal construction.
  • 1850s - Railroads are introduced in Henderson County, connecting it to surrounding areas.
  • 1860s - Henderson County becomes a major producer of agricultural products.
  • 1875 - Henderson County's current courthouse is built in Oquawka.
  • 1900s - The population of Henderson County starts declining as agricultural methods change.
  • 2000s - Henderson County focuses on preserving its historical landmarks and promoting tourism.