Available on Amazon
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was one of the most devastating fires in U.S. history. The fire destroyed much of the city, including over 17,000 buildings and left more than 100,000 people homeless. The fire started in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, but the cause of the fire is still debated to this day.
Union County, Illinois has a rich and diverse history that dates back to the early 19th century. The area was originally home to Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Illini, who were later displaced by European settlers. The region played a significant role in the westward expansion of the United States and the development of the state of Illinois.

The first permanent European settlement in what is now Union County was established in the early 1800s. The area quickly grew in population, attracting settlers from a variety of backgrounds. The county was officially established as a separate administrative unit in 1818, the same year that Illinois was admitted to the Union as the 21st state.

Union County played a pivotal role in the American Civil War, with both Union and Confederate sympathizers residing within its borders. The county was heavily influenced by the conflict, and experienced several skirmishes and military engagements. Notably, the town of Jonesboro in Union County was the site of the third Illinois senatorial debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858.

Throughout its history, Union County has been shaped by its agricultural heritage, with many residents engaged in farming and related industries. The county's fertile soil and favorable climate have made agriculture a prominent economic activity, particularly in the production of corn and soybeans. In recent years, there has also been a growing interest in agritourism, with visitors drawn to farms and wineries in the area.

Today, Union County continues to be a vibrant community, offering a mix of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions. It remains an important part of Illinois' agricultural landscape, while also embracing tourism and preserving its unique history.

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

  • 1818: Union County is established as one of the three original counties of Illinois.
  • 1839: Jonesboro becomes the county seat of Union County.
  • 1858: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates are held in Jonesboro, attracting national attention.
  • 1861-1865: Union County actively participates in the American Civil War.
  • 1875: General John A. Logan, a Union Army officer, is elected from Union County to the United States Congress.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression leads to economic hardships in Union County.
  • 1960s: The Shawnee National Forest is established, providing recreational opportunities for locals and visitors.
  • 1998: The Mississippi River floods, causing significant damage to Union County.
  • Present: Union County continues to be a rural area with a strong agricultural and tourism industry.