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.
Shelby County, located in central Illinois, has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. The county was established on March 1, 1827, and was named after Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Miami and Kickapoo, before European settlers arrived.

The first European settlers in Shelby County established small communities along the rivers and creeks, relying on agriculture as their main source of income. Early settlements included Shelbyville, founded in 1827, and Windsor, established in 1829. As the county's population grew, more towns were developed, such as Tower Hill and Moweaqua.

During the mid-19th century, the construction of railroads significantly impacted the development of Shelby County. The Toledo, Wabash, and Western Railroad brought increased connectivity to the region, allowing for easier transportation of goods and promoting economic growth. The railroads also facilitated population growth as more people were attracted to the area for employment opportunities.

Throughout its history, Shelby County has been predominantly agricultural, with farming being the primary occupation for its residents. Crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat have been the mainstays of the local economy. In recent years, the county has also seen some diversification in its industries, including the growth of manufacturing and renewable energy production.

Today, Shelby County continues to preserve its agricultural heritage while embracing modern advancements. Its history is commemorated through local museums, historical sites, and community events that pay tribute to the past. The county remains a close-knit community that values its history and looks toward a prosperous future.

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

  • 1827: Shelby County is established by the Illinois State Legislature.
  • 1839: Shelbyville becomes the county seat of Shelby County.
  • 1843: The first courthouse in Shelby County is built.
  • 1854: The Toledo and Illinois Railroad is completed, providing a transportation link for the county.
  • 1861-1865: Many men from Shelby County serve in the Civil War.
  • 1875: The current courthouse is constructed in Shelbyville.
  • 1911: The Shelbyville Dam and Lake Shelbyville are completed, providing recreational opportunities.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression affects Shelby County, leading to economic challenges.
  • 1954: The Illinois Central Railroad exits Shelby County, impacting the local economy.
  • 1960s: Agricultural practices change, with mechanization and larger farms becoming more common.
  • 1990s: The population in Shelby County experiences a decline.
  • 2000s: Efforts are made to revitalize the county's economy through tourism and business development.