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.
Richland County, located in southeastern Illinois, has a rich history dating back to its settlement in the early 19th century. The area was first inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and the Miami, who relied on the region's fertile soils and abundant wildlife. European settlement began in the early 1800s, as pioneers from Kentucky and other nearby states arrived in search of land and opportunity.

In 1841, Richland County was officially established, taking its name from the fertile soil that attracted settlers to the area. The county's early economy revolved around agriculture, with crops like corn, wheat, and tobacco playing a crucial role in the local economy. The construction of railroads in the late 19th century further facilitated agricultural development and led to the growth of small towns such as Olney, the county seat.

Throughout its history, Richland County has faced various challenges and witnessed notable events. The county experienced economic booms and busts, influenced by factors such as changes in agricultural practices and the Great Depression. The discovery of oil in the late 1930s provided a significant boost to the county's economy and led to a rise in oil drilling and production.

Today, Richland County remains closely tied to its agricultural roots. While the county has experienced fluctuations in population and economic activity, it continues to be a vibrant community with a strong sense of rural identity. In addition to its agricultural heritage, Richland County also offers recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, with several parks and lakes to explore.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Richland County, Illinois.

  • Prehistoric times: Richland County area inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Miami.
  • 1811: First European settlers arrive in the area.
  • 1841: Richland County officially established as a county.
  • 1854: Olney, the county seat, is incorporated as a city.
  • 1861-1865: Richland County residents serve in the American Civil War.
  • 1871: Olney College opens its doors to students.
  • 1901: Oil is discovered in Richland County, leading to a boom in the local economy.
  • 1923: The Richland County Courthouse, designed by architect Joseph Royer, is completed.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression causes economic hardships in the county.
  • 1940s: Richland County residents contribute to World War II efforts.
  • 1963: The Carnegie Library in Olney is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 2003: The Musgrove Aquatic Center opens in Olney, providing a recreational facility for residents.