Historical Markers in
Henry County, Illinois

1851 Carpentry Shop 1851 Marengo Station 6" Shell From Battleship Maine A Showcase of Diversity A Unique Park with a Unique History Algonquin Village Hall and Public Square Bishop Hill Bishop Hill Colony Historic District Bobbi K. Keller Memorial Fountain Cary Cemetery - 1839 Chicago and North Western 9933 Chicago Railways Company Date Stone Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific 37A Chicago's Passenger Stations Couplers David Haeger School and Cemetery Downtown Crystal Lake Early Railroad Signals El Tovar Theatre Eugene Debs and Old McHenry County Jail Geneseo Civil War Memorial Geneseo Collegiate Institute Geneseo Endowment For Excellence In Education Geneseo Gulf War Memorial Geneseo Korean War Memorial Geneseo Township School, Early 1900's Geneseo W.W.II Honor Roll Geneseo World War I Memorial Geneso Global War On Terrorism Memorial Geneso Spanish-American War Memorial Geneso Vietnam War Memorial Goodrich Homestead Hammond Henry Hospital Memorial Indiana Harbor Belt 1181 McHenry County Civil War Monument McHenry County’s First Courthouse Nell Elizabeth (Newton) Henningsen (1917-2002) Railroad Brakes / Westinghouse Automatic Air Brakes Railroad Cats Railroad Rails Railroad Standard Time Sanding Tower Simplex Type Automatic Coupler Soo Terminal Warehouse Limestone Entablature ca. 1912 Soo/Milwaukee Road X-5001 Spaulding Tower / Towers and Interlocking Plants TCAX (Thrall Car Co.) 20306 The Burlington Zephyrs / Articulated Trains The Colonists The Elgin & Belvidere Electric Company/Rebirth of the Elgin & Belvidere This Elm Tree Union Pacific 18 Veterans Memorial Welcome to Illinois Woodstock Opera House World War II Memorial
The Chicago River was once so polluted that it caught on fire several times in the mid-20th century. The river was so polluted with chemicals and sewage that it was almost devoid of life. Today, the river has been cleaned up and is a popular spot for recreational activities like kayaking and boat tours.
Henry County, Illinois has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. The county was established on January 13, 1825, and named after Patrick Henry, a prominent American Revolutionary War figure. It was originally part of the Illinois Territory and later became part of the state of Illinois when it was admitted to the Union in 1818.

The early settlers of Henry County were mainly farmers who took advantage of the fertile land and abundant natural resources. The county's economy relied heavily on agriculture, with corn, oats, and wheat being the primary crops. In the 1840s, the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal brought increased trade and transportation opportunities to the area, boosting economic growth.

During the mid-19th century, Henry County experienced significant growth and development. The construction of railroads in the 1850s further spurred economic expansion, as it provided better access to markets for agricultural products. The county also became known for its vibrant communities and thriving industries such as coal mining, brick making, and manufacturing.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Henry County witnessed a decline in agriculture due to changing economic conditions. Many residents left rural areas to seek better opportunities in urban centers. However, the county adapted to the changing times by diversifying its economy, emphasizing manufacturing and industrial development.

Throughout its history, Henry County has remained rooted in its agricultural heritage while embracing progress and economic diversification. Today, it is known for its charming small towns, historic landmarks, and a strong sense of community, making it an attractive place to live, work, and visit.

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

  • 1825: Henry County is formed from Fulton County.
  • 1836: The first settlers arrive in the area.
  • 1843: The first post office is established in Wethersfield.
  • 1850: The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad reaches Henry County.
  • 1861: Henry County supports the Union during the American Civil War.
  • 1870: The population of Henry County exceeds 20,000.
  • 1879: The Bishop Hill Colony in Henry County disbands.
  • 1896: The county courthouse in Cambridge is built.
  • 1907: The Modest Kraft Cheese Factory in Cambridge is destroyed by fire.
  • 1930: The Great Depression negatively impacts the county's economy.
  • 1961: The Kewanee Boiler Corporation is founded.
  • 1990: The population of Henry County reaches its peak at over 52,000.
  • 2005: The Bishop Hill State Historic Site is designated a National Historic Landmark.
  • 2019: Henry County celebrates its 194th anniversary.