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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.
Marion County, Illinois, has a rich and diverse history dating back centuries. The region was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Kaskaskia and Cahokia peoples. However, it wasn't until the late 18th century that European settlers began arriving in the area.

In 1819, Marion County was established, named after General Francis Marion, a hero of the American Revolutionary War. The county quickly became a hub for agriculture, with fertile soil and abundant water sources. Farming and livestock production became the backbone of the local economy, attracting more settlers and contributing to the county's growth.

During the mid-19th century, the construction of railroads greatly influenced Marion County's development. The arrival of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad in the late 1850s brought increased accessibility and economic opportunities. The county's agricultural products now had a direct route to markets in other parts of the country, fueling further expansion and prosperity.

In the early 20th century, Marion County experienced a boom in the coal mining industry. The region's abundant coal deposits led to the establishment of numerous mines, which attracted a significant workforce and brought industrialization to the area. Coal mining became a vital part of Marion County's economy and provided job opportunities for many residents.

Today, Marion County continues to thrive as a primarily rural and agricultural community. Despite the decline of the coal mining industry, farming and related industries remain important economic pillars. The county also boasts a strong sense of community, with numerous local festivals and events celebrating its history and heritage.

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

  • 1819 - Marion County is established on January 24.
  • 1823 - Kaskaskia, the first county seat, is replaced by Salem.
  • 1832 - The Black Hawk War causes disruption in the county.
  • 1834 - The county seat is relocated to the newly established town of Marion.
  • 1840 - The county's population reaches 3,000.
  • 1861-1865 - Many residents of Marion County serve in the Civil War.
  • 1864 - Kinmundy becomes an incorporated village.
  • 1871 - The Louisville, Nashville and Great Northern Railroad is built through Marion County.
  • 1904 - Oil is discovered in Marion County, leading to an economic boom.
  • 1937 - The Centralia mine disaster claims the lives of 111 coal miners.
  • 1967 - Raccoon Lake is constructed as a reservoir.
  • 1984 - Prairie State Energy Campus, a coal-fired power plant, begins operations.
  • 2010 - The population of Marion County is approximately 39,437.