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.
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.