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State of Illinois Genealogy

The State of Illinois is bordered by Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri (sourthwast), Iowa and Wisconsin.

It has a land area of 57,914 square miles making it the 25th largest state. The 2012 est. population was 12,875,255 and the The largest cities (2010) are Chicago, 2,695,598; Aurora, 197,899; Rockford, 152,871; Joliet, 147,433; Naperville, 141,853; Springfield, 116,250; Peoria, 115,007; Elgin, 108,188; Waukegan, 89,078; Cicero, 83,891. The capital is Springfield and the official state website is

The State of Illinois was named for the word Illini, a confederation of the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Moingwena, Peoria and Tamaroa Indian tribes. The Nickname is "Prairie State". The State Motto is "State Sovereignty, National Union".

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Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clinton, Clark, Clay, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, De Kalb, Douglas, DeWitt, DuPage, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Grundy, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Henderson, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jo Daviess, Jefferson, Jersey, Johnson, Kendall, Kankakee, Knox, Kane, Lake, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, La Salle, Madison, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Macon, Menard, Mercer, Morgan, Moultrie, Macoupin, Marion, Monroe, Massac, Marshall, Mason, Montgomery, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Will, Winnebago, Woodford, Whiteside, Williamson, White

See more information about Illinois's Counties.

Illinois History

Illinois is located in the United States Midwest. It is in the northern central part of the Midwest. In the past 200 years or so, it has turned from a wilderness land into a populated state, with both farmland and cities. Illinois became the 21st U.S. state on December 3, 1818. Illinois now has a vast industrial and agricultural impact on the rest of the United States.

The first French explorers to come to the area arrived in 1673. They found that the area was rich in natural resources, including water, forests, and fertile soil for planting. They also found that the area was easy to explore, thanks to access from Lake Michigan and a large group of rivers. Fort Crevecoeur, which stood where Peoria is now located, was constructed in 1680 by Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle. He and his partner, Henri de Tonti, had visions of expanding the economy of the area.

Fort St. Louis was constructed by those two explorers in 1682. La Salle left in 1685, but Tonti stayed behind. In 1691, he moved Fort St. Louis downstream 80 miles. The fort was re-named Fort Pimitoui and became home to the mission of Father Marquette. Several European fur traders also settled there. In 1699 Seminarian priests came to Cahokia. Jesuits came to Kaskaskia in 1703. Settlements were later established at St Phillipe, St. Genevieve, Prairie du Rocher, and Fort de Chartres.

The French government of Louisiana took control of Illinois country in 1717. In 1763 France ceded the lands to the Mississippi River's east to the British. However, the British didn't actually come to Fort de Chartres until 1765. What is now the state of Illinois was considered the county of Illinois and a part of Virginia Territory from 1778 to 1782. Illinois became part of the United States when the Treaty of Paris was signed, which was in 1783. That treaty extended the United States boundary to the Mississippi River.

In 1787, the Northwest Territory was created. That included part of what is now Illinois. However, in 1800, Illinois became part of Indiana Territory, instead. Then, in 1809, Illinois Territory was formed. In 1818, the state of Illinois was established.

Settlers came to Illinois from all of the following areas, by 1800, they were Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New England. The total population of the Illinois region at the time was around 2,000 people.

Edwards County was settled by English immigrants in 1817. In 1837 Delavan in Tazewell County became home to a group of farmers from Rhode Island. Illinois was also an active part of the Underground Railroad in the Civil War era.

Researchers should note that several Illinois settlers didn't stay in the area. Many of them chose to move on and settle again in Nebraska or Kansas. The California Gold Rush, the Iowa prairies, and the Oregon Trail's wagon trains also tempted many settlers to move out to the western regions.

The city of Chicago has attracted immigrants from all over throughout its history, particularly in the late 1800s. The city offered many different employment opportunities for residents. As a result, the ethnic diversity in Chicago and the surrounding areas has always been quite high.

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