The word "Illinois" comes from a Native American word meaning "tribe of superior men." The Illinois were a confederation of several Native American tribes that lived in the region.
Morgan County, located in central Illinois, has a rich and storied history that dates back to the early 1800s. The area was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Illini and Kickapoo. European settlement began in the early 1810s when pioneers started arriving in search of farmland and opportunities. The county was officially established in 1823 and named after General Daniel Morgan, a hero of the Revolutionary War.

In the 19th century, Morgan County quickly grew and prospered due to its favorable location along the Illinois River and the construction of the Jacksonville and Springfield Railroad. The county seat, Jacksonville, became a significant center for education and culture, with the Illinois College being established in 1829 and producing numerous prominent figures. During this time, the area also became a key stop on the Underground Railroad, assisting escaped slaves in their journey to freedom.

The Civil War brought significant change to Morgan County, with many local residents serving in both Union and Confederate armies. The Battle of Jacksonville took place in 1861, making it the site of the first shot fired during the war in Illinois. After the war, the county experienced a period of economic growth and development, with agriculture, manufacturing, and coal mining becoming important industries.

Throughout the 20th century, Morgan County continued to evolve. It saw advancements in transportation, such as the construction of new highways, and the growth of industries like healthcare and higher education. Today, the county remains an important agricultural area and is home to several colleges and universities. With its rich history and vibrant community, Morgan County continues to be a place of opportunity and growth.

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

  • 1823 - Morgan County organized and established as a county in Illinois.
  • 1830s - Growth and settlement in the county increase due to land speculators and the construction of the National Road.
  • 1837 - The county seat is chosen as Jacksonville.
  • 1840s - The county experiences rapid growth, with a population exceeding 10,000.
  • 1850 - The Illinois College is founded in Jacksonville.
  • 1861-1865 - Many residents of Morgan County serve in the American Civil War.
  • Late 1800s - Improvements in transportation, such as the railroad, lead to further growth and economic development.
  • 1908 - The State Hospital for the Insane, later known as the Jacksonville Developmental Center, is opened.
  • 1920s-1930s - The Great Depression and the decline of the coal industry cause economic challenges for Morgan County.
  • 1940s-1950s - Post-World War II period sees an increase in industrialization and urbanization.
  • 1970s-Present - Morgan County continues to be a hub for agriculture and manufacturing industries.