The state of Illinois played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to freedom in the 19th century. Many abolitionists in Illinois provided safe houses for escaping slaves, and Chicago was a key hub on the Underground Railroad.

McDonough County, Illinois is located in the western part of the state and has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Illinois and Kickapoo peoples. European settlers began arriving in the area in the early 1830s, primarily from Kentucky and Tennessee.

In 1830, the county was officially established and named after Thomas Macdonough, a naval officer who played a significant role in the War of 1812. The county seat was established in the town of Macomb, which gradually became the center of commerce and government in the region.

During the mid-19th century, McDonough County experienced rapid growth and development, thanks in part to the construction of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in the late 1850s. This led to increased transportation and trade opportunities, fostering the growth of agricultural and industrial activities within the county.

The University of Western Illinois was established in Macomb in 1899, further contributing to the county's growth and development. Over the years, the university has become a major educational and cultural institution in the region, attracting students from all over the state and beyond.

Today, McDonough County remains a vibrant community with a mix of urban and rural areas. The county offers a range of recreational and cultural activities, including parks, museums, and festivals. Its rich history and natural beauty continue to attract visitors, while its strong agricultural and educational sectors contribute to its economic prosperity.

  • 1826: McDonough County was established.
  • 1833: The first permanent settlement was made in McDonough County.
  • 1835: The county seat was established in Macomb.
  • 1837: The first courthouse was built in Macomb.
  • 1854: The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad reached McDonough County, boosting its agricultural and economic development.
  • 1860: The Civil War had a significant impact on McDonough County, with many residents enlisting in the Union Army.
  • 1875: The Macomb State Normal School (now Western Illinois University) was established.
  • 1903: The Illinois General Assembly designated Macomb as the home of Western Illinois State Normal School, later renamed Western Illinois University.
  • 1930s: McDonough County experienced the effects of the Great Depression, leading to economic hardships for many residents.
  • 1970: The Western Illinois University Broadcasting Service (WIUS-FM) began operating.
  • 2003: McDonough County celebrated its 177th anniversary.