A Bill to Establish the Counties of Menard, Logan, and Dane, 21 January 18391
Sec:[Section] 1st Be it enacted by the People of the state of Illinois represented in the General Assembly that all that tract of country lying within the following boundaries to wit; Beginining at the North West corner of Section Twentyseven in Township Seventeen North of Range Eight West of the Third Principal Meridian; thence East to the centre of the Southern boundary of Section Twentyfour; in Township Seventeen North of Range Seven West; thence North to the middle of the Northern boundary of said section; thence East to the middle of the Northern boundary of Section Nineteen in Township Seventeen North of Range Six West; thence North to the centre of Section Eighteen, Township and Range last aforesaid; thence East to the middle of the Eastern boundary line of said section; thence North to the channel of Rock Creek; thence down the channel of Rock Creek to where the Northern boundary line of section Nine, Township and Range last aforesaid, crosses the same; thence East to the South West corner of Section Two, Township & Range last aforesaid; thence North to the South East corner of Section Twentyseven in Township Eighteen North, Range aforesaid; thence East to the South East corner of Section Thirty in Township Eighteen North Range Four West; thence North to the South East corner of Section Eighteen of in Township Nineteen North Range last aforesaid; thence West to the line between Ranges Four & Five; thence North to the Northern boundary line of Sangamon county; thence West with said line to the Illinois river; thence with the present boundary lines of Sangamon county to the place of begining, shall form and constitute the county of Menard—3
Sec: 2nd That all that tract of country lying within the fol-
<Page 2>lowing boundaries, towit; Begining at the North West corner of Township Twenty North of Range Four West; thence South to the South West corner of Section Eighteen, in Township Nineteen North of Range aforesaid; thence East one mile; thence South to the South East corner of the county of Menard; thence East to the line dividing Ranges Three and Four; thence South to the South West corner of Section Seven Township Seventeen North of Range Three West ^9^; thence East to the Eastern boundary line of Sangamon county; thence with the present boundary lines of Sangamon county to the place of begining shall constitute the county of Logan—4
Sec: 3rd That all that tract of country lying within the following boundaries, towit; Begining where the Third Principal Meridian crosses the North Fork of the Sangamon river; thence down said river to the line between Sections Nine & Ten in Township Fifteen North of Range Three West; thence South to the South East corner of Section Four in Township Fourteen North Range last aforesaid; thence West three miles by the surveys; thence South three miles by the surveys; thence West three miles by the surveys; thence South to the Southern boundary of Township Eleven, Range last aforesaid; thence East with the surveys to the Third Principal Meridian; thence North to the place of begining shall constitute the county of Dane—
Sec: 4th That Benjamin Mitchell of Tazewell county, John Henry of Morgan county, Newton Walker of Fulton county[,]Richard O. Wariner of Montgomery county, and Achilles Morris of Sangamon county be and they are hereby appointed commissioners to locate the seats of Justice of the counties of Menard and Dane—5 Said commissioners, or a majority of them shall meet at Petersburg in Menard county on the first monday of May next, or within twenty days thereafter, and after being first duly sworn by some one authorized to administer oaths, faithfully and impartially to
<Page 3>discharge the duties imposed on them by this act, shall proceed to explore said county, and to locate the seat of Justice of said county thereof with a view to present and future population; which location, when made, shall be and remain the Seat of Justice of the county of Menard—*6
Sec: 5th Said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall meet at such place within the county of Dane as may be agreed on by them, and at such time as they may agree upon not exceeding twenty days after they shall have located the seat of justice of Menard county, and shall then and there proceed to make the location of the seat of justice of the said county of Dane, in all respects conformably with the fourth section of this act—7
Sec: 6th Said commissioners shall make out a certificate of the location of the seat of justice of each of the said counties of Menard and Dane, stating what tract of land, and what part of the tract each location is made upon; which certificates shall be signed by the said commissioners, and filed in the office of the clerk of the county commissioner’s court of Sangamon county, and shall be evidence of the said locations respectively—
Sec 7th Neither of said locations shall be made on private property unless the owner thereof shall either convey to the county, twenty acres of land, having the location at or near the centre thereof, or donate in money, to be applied to the erection of public buildings, the sum of three thousand dollars—8
Sec: 8th That Charles Emmerson of Macon county, Chenney Thomas of McLean county and Charles R. Matheny of Sangamon county, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners to locate the seat of justice of Logan county; and who, or a majority of whom, shall, in all respects, perform their duties
<Page 4>in the manner that the commissioners for the location of the county seats of the counties of Menard & Dane, are by this act required to do, and shall meet at the town of Postville in said county of Logan, on the first monday of May next, or within twenty days thereafter for the purpose of performing the same;9 and such location when so made, shall be and remain the seat of justice of the said county of Logan until the end of the session of the General Assembly in the year 1841—10
Sec: 9th Each of said commissioners named in this act, shall receive out of the county treasuries respectively for which he may have served, such per diem allowance, as shall be paid the members of the present General Assembly—
Sec: 1oth An election shall be held on the first monday of April next in each of the counties established by this act,11 to elect for each of said counties, one Sheriff, one Coroner, one Recorder, one county surveyor, three county commissioners, one clerk of the County Commissioner’s court, and one Probate Justice of the Peace, who shall hold their offices until the next succeeding general election, and until their successors are elected and qualified; which elections shall be conducted in all respects agreeably to the law regulating elections— Said elections shall be held in the county of Menard, at Petersburg, Sugar Grove, Huron, and Lynchburg; in the county of Logan, at at Postville and Pulaski; in the county of Dane, at Buck-Heart Grove12, Allenton, and the house of John Durbin, and shall be held by the judges heretofore appointed by the authority of Sangamon county for those precincts respectively, provided, provided that where any place named in this act for holding said election, has not heretofore been an election precinct, the electors meeting there may choose their own judges and clerks, who shall
<Page 5>be qualified according to law previous to entering upon the discharge of their duties—
Sec: 11th The judges of elections, shall deliver to each officer elected a certificate of his election. The poll books shall be retained by them until the clerks of the county commissioner’s courts, shall respectively be qualified, and then deliver such poll-books of each county to its own clerk, who shall make and transmit to the Secretary of State an abstract of the votes given at such election in the same time, manner[,] and form as is required of clerks of county commissioners courts in elections in other counties of this state—
Sec: 12th The said counties hereby established shall be attached to, and form part of the first judicial circuit—13
Sec: 13th The county of Menard shall be entit[le]d to one representative in the General Assembly & the counties of Logan and Dane ^together^ one, the county of Sangamon, five, and the four together two senators; and, in case any vacancy shall occur previous to the next election, the four counties shall vote together to fill said vacancy in the same manner as if no division had taken place—14
Sec: 14th All business now pending in the Sangamon circuit court, or which shall be commenced therein previous to the organization of the counties hereby established, shall be determined therein, as if no new counties had been established; and the sheriff of Sangamon county is hereby authorized to perform all duties within the boundaries of the said new counties, which may be necessary for the finishing of the aforesaid business—15
Sec: 15th The judges of the several elections precincts
<Page 6>within the aforesaid counties shall meet at the several places herein after named on the second day after said election to compare compare their respective polls— in the county of Menard, at the town of Petersburg; in the county of Logan at the town of Pulaski; in the county of Dane, at the town of Allenton—16
Passed H. R. Jan. 21st 1839—D. Prickett Clk.[Clerk] H. R.
A Bill for “An Act to establish the Counties of Menard, Logan, and Dane.”
passed as amended
1Abraham Lincoln wrote the body of this bill in its entirety except for the interlineation “9” in the middle of the second section.
2In January 1839, the House of Representatives received several petitions for and against the division of Sangamon County. The House referred these petitions to the Committee on Counties, on which sat Abraham Lincoln. In response to these petitions, Lincoln of the Committee on Counties introduced this bill in the House on January 16, 1839. The House referred it to a select committee that included Lincoln. The committee reported back the bill on January 18 with amendments. Lincoln called for the House to vote on each amendment separately. The House rejected amendments to sections 1, 2, and 8 but approved amendments to sections 3, 4, and 13. The House then passed an additional amendment, adding a section fifteen. Lincoln made a motion to add “Newton” to section four, and the House concurred. The House passed two additional amendments, adding “April” to section ten and “first” to section twelve. The House further amended the bill by, on Lincoln’s motion, filling in the blank in section seven with the word “$3,000.” The House passed the bill as amended on January 21. The Senate referred the bill to a select committee on February 5. The committee reported back the bill on February 6 with several amendments, in which the Senate concurred. The Senate passed the bill as amended. That same day the House, on Lincoln’s motion, amended the Senate’s amendment to the fourth section by changing the word “two” to “three.” The House concurred in the Senate amendments as amended. Still later that day the House, on Lincoln’s motion, reconsidered its previous vote and adopted an amendment to the Senate’s amendment to section four. The House concurred in the Senate amendments as amended. The Senate concurred in the House amendment to its amendments on February 7. The Council of Revision approved the bill on February 15, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 177, 189, 201, 206, 217-18, 234-35, 243, 253, 354, 356, 357, 362, 402, 419, 566; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 202, 280, 287, 290, 291, 332.
3The portion of this area north of the Sangamon River and Salt Creek is now part of Mason County.
Origin and Evolution of Illinois Counties (Springfield: Illinois Secretary of State, 2007), 56-59.
4These original boundaries did not contain the northernmost part of the county, later ceded from Tazewell County.
Origin and Evolution of Illinois Counties, 56-59.
5On January 18, 1839, the House passed an amendment proposed by Lincoln filling in the blank in this section with the word “Newton.”
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 234.
6 On February 6, the Senate passed amendments striking out reference to Richard Wariner and Achilles Morris and adding two provisos to the end of the section dealing with the boundaries of Menard County if said commissioners selected a site for the county seat on the west or left side of the Sangamon River. Later that same day, the House of Representatives passed an amendment, authored and moved by Lincoln, to the Senate amendment, modifying the proposed Senate boundaries if the commissioners selected a county seat on the west side of the Sangamon. Both provisos and Lincoln’s proposed boundaries would be included in the act.
The first proviso shifted a portion of the boundary between Sangamon and Menard counties further north and west, leaving more territory to the north and west of Athens. On May 18, 1839, the commissioners appointed for the task located the county seat at Petersburg, on the western side of the river, activating the proviso. The status of approximately 22 sections west and north of Athens, however, remained in question. The affected area did not include the town of Athens, which remained in Sangamon County. In 1840, Thomas J. Nance unsuccessfully attempted to address the confusion by introducing a bill that repealed this proviso and designated this area as part of Menard County. A year later, John Bennett introduced a bill to settle the boundary between Sangamon and Menard counties. After the House refused to engross it, Bennett tried again unsuccessfully to enact its main provisions in another bill. The General Assembly did not resolve the issue until it passed an act in 1843 adding land west of the Sangamon River to Menard County and an additional act in 1847 adding land east of the Sangamon River, including Athens, to Menard County.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 357; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 287; Menard County Illinois History (Petersburg, IL: History of Menard County, Inc., 1988), 289; “An Act to define the boundary lines of Menard county,” 2 March 1843, Laws of Illinois (1843), 94; “An Act to add part of Sangamon to Menard county,” 28 February 1847, Private and Special Laws of Illinois (1847), 39.
7The commissioners met at the town of Allenton on May 20, 1839, and located the county seat at what became Taylorville.
History of Christian County, Illinois (Philadelphia, PA: Brink, McDonough, 1880), 52.
8On January 18, 1839, the House amended this section by, on Lincoln’s motion, filling in the blank with $3,000.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 235.
9On May 9, 1839, Matheny and Thomas selected Postville as the county seat of Logan County. Emerson dissented from the choice.
Lawrence B. Stringer, History of Logan County, Illinois (Chicago: Pioneer, 1911), 151.
10On February 17, 1841, the General Assembly passed an act making Postville the permanent county seat.
History of Logan County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-State, 1886), 221-28.
11On January 18, 1839, the House amended this section by filling in the blank with the word “April.”
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 234.
13On January 18, 1839, the House amended this section by filling in the blank with the word “first.”
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 234-35.
14Because this section did not address the details of conducting these elections, Abraham Lincoln introduced a bill in the House on February 20 to address these deficiencies. The House passed the bill on the same day, and the Senate followed suit on February 26, and the act became law on February 28.
15On February 6, the Senate amended this section by passing an amendment pertaining to the collection of taxes already accessed and business before the probate justice of the peace of Sangamon County.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 287.
16The House of Representatives passed an amendment on January 18, 1839, adding this section. On February 6, the Senate passed an amendment adding a sixteenth section.
Lincoln opposed division of Sangamon County, but as the first session of the Eleventh General Assembly proceeded, some division appeared inevitable. The general consensus was to divide the county into four equal sized counties, substantially decreasing the size of Sangamon and isolating it in the corner of one of the new counties. Using his position on the Committee on Counties, Lincoln hoped to divide the county in such a manner that Sangamon would not be disadvantaged. The act creating the three small counties of Logan, Dane, and Menard, left Sangamon County relatively large.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 234; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 287; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:145; Abraham Lincoln to William Butler; Abraham Lincoln to William Butler; Edward D. Baker to William Butler.
Handwritten Document, 6 page(s), Lincoln Collection, GA Session: 11-1, Illinois State Archives (Springfield, IL).