In force 28th Feb.[February], 1837.
AN ACT to create the county of Bureau.1
Boundaries of the county.
Vote for the county to be given.
Vote for the county to be given.
Sec.[Section] 1. 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: Beginning at the north east corner of Putnam county, running thence south on the east boundary line of said county to the centre of the main channel of the Illinois river, thence down the main channel of said river to the place where the line dividing townships fourteen and fifteen north intersects said river, thence west on said line to the west line of said county, thence north on the western line of said county to the northern boundary thereof, and thence east with said county line to the place of beginning,2 shall be created into a new county, to be called the county of Bureau, Provided, however, That the legal voters of the old county of Putnam, including also, the voters of the contemplated county of Bureau shall be given for the creation of said county as hereinafter provided.3
Election to be held for and against the co.[county]
Election how conducted.
In what event co. established
Sec. 2. That on the first Monday in April next there shall be an election held at the several precincts in the present county of Putnam, and the polls shall be opened to receive votes for and against the creation of the aforesaid county of Bureau. Said election shall be opened and conducted in all respects in the same manner, and by the same judges as other elections of this State are; and if a majority of the votes given shall be given in favor of the
<Page 2>formation of such new county, then the said county of Bureau shall be considered and taken as permanently and legally established with the aforesaid boundaries.4
Commissioners appointed to locate county seat.
When & where to meet.
To take an oath.
If co. seat is located on private property, to be donated,
Or an equivalent in money to be given.
Located on lands not laid out in town lots; title to be secured to the county.
Sec. 3. That William Stadden, Peter Butler and Benjamin Mitchell, are hereby appointed commissioners to locate the seat of Justice for said new county.5 Said commissioners or a majority of them shall meet at the town of Princeton on the first Monday of May next or as soon thereafter as may be, and being first duly sworn before some justice of the peace faithfully to take into consideration the convenience of the people, the situation of the settlements, with an eye to future population and eligibility of the place, shall proceed to locate the county seat of said county. If said commissioners shall select any town already laid off they shall require the proprietors or owners of said town to donate to said new county for the purpose of erecting public buildings, a quantity of lots of an average value with the remaining ones, which together shall amount to twenty acres of land, or shall donate and give in lieu thereof not less than five thousand dollars.—And, if said commissioners should locate said county seat on land not having been laid out into town lots, they shall secure the title to not less than twenty acres to and for the use of said new county, and the court house shall be located on the same.
Elections to be held—when & where.
Judges and clerks to make returns within seven days.
Sec. 4. That the legal voters of said county shall meet at the several places of holding elections on the first Monday in June next, and proceed to elect county officers and returns of said election shall be made by the Judges and clerks to the justices of the peace of said county; said justices shall meet at the town of Princeton, within seven days after said election, and proceed to open said returns, and in all things perform the duties required by law of the clerks of the county commissioners courts, and justices of the peace in like cases.6
County commissioners, when & where to meet.
All officers to be commissioned and qualified.
Term of office.
Sec. 5. That the county commissioners shall meet at the town of Princeton within ten days after their election, and being first duly qualified shall proceed to appoint a clerk, and lay off the county into justices districts, and order an election to be held for the purpose of electing additional justices of the peace and constables for said county, and all officers elected agreeably to the provisions of this act shall be commissioned and qualified as required by law, all officers shall hold their offices until the next general election, and until their successors are elected and qualified, Provided, That nothing in this section shall be so construed as to repeal out of office any justice of the peace or constable elected for the county of Putnam, and living within the limits of said new county.
Courts where held.
To constitute a part of the sixth judicial circuit.
Court to be held twice a year to be fixed by the Judge.
Sec. 6. The courts of said county shall be held at such place as the county commissioners shall designate, until a suitable preparation can be made at the county seat: said county shall constitute a part of the sixth7 judicial circuit, and the circuit court shall be held for said county twice a year, at such time as may be fixed by the Judge of said district.
To vote except in county elections, with the district to which they belong.
Privileges and rights.
Sec. 7. The qualified voters of the county of Bureau, in all elections except county elections, shall vote with the district to which they belong, until the next apportionment and shall in all respects be entitled to the same privileges and rights as in general belong to the citizens of other counties in this State.
Sec. 8. The commissioners to locate the county seat shall be each paid the sum of three dollars per day, out of the county treasury of said county, for each day they may be employed in making said location.
Approved February 28, 1837.
1On January 18, 1837, Thomas Atwater of the House of Representatives presented petitions related to the division of Putnam County. The House referred the petitions to the Committee on Petitions. From that committee, Stephen A. Douglas introduced HB 147 on January 25. On February 3, the House considered a motion to postpone further consideration of the bill because a select committee believed there was no clear expression of the will of the citizens of Putnam County. The motion failed by a vote of 29 yeas to 42 nays, Abraham Lincoln voting yea. The same day, the House also amended the bill by striking out the words “Fourteen and fifteen” in the tenth line, and inserting the words “fifteen and sixteen.” On February 4, the House voted to reconsider the previous day’s vote on the amendment 43 yeas to 28 nays, Lincoln not voting. On February 8, the House voted to engross the bill for a third reading 44 yeas to 30 nays, Lincoln not voting. On February 18, the House voted to pass the bill 40 yeas to 26 nays, Lincoln not voting. On February 28, the Senate passed the bill and the Council of Revision approved the bill and the act became a law.
Illinois House Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 286-87, 380, 394, 459-61, 481, 513, 611-12, 637-38, 731, 752, 766; Illinois Senate Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 463-464, 498, 515, 531, 551-552.
2This portion represented more than half of the area of Putnam County in 1837. The townships of Milo and Wheatland were added to the southern part of Bureau county in 1839 at the creation of Stark and Marshall counties.
Henry C. Bradsby, ed., History of Bureau County, Illinois (Chicago: World Publishing Company, 1885), 267; John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne, Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties (Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Company, 1907), 16.
3Between statehood in 1818 and 1867, the Illinois General Assembly authorized the creation of 104 Illinois counties. During Lincoln’s four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, the General Assembly authorized 38 counties. The General Assembly allowed voters in the affected county or counties to accept or reject the creation of the new county in only twelve of those cases, including this one. In four instances, a majority of voters rejected the creation of the new county. The Illinois Constitution of 1848 made such referenda mandatory in the creation of new counties.
Michael D. Sublett, Paper Counties: The Illinois Experience, 1825-1867 (New York: Peter Lang, 1990), 12-14, 22; Ill. Const. (1848), art. VII.
4Despite charges of illegal voting on both sides, voters approved the division of Putnam County and the creation of Bureau County by a majority of thirty votes. Most voters on the west side of the Illinois River voted for the division, while most on the east side of the river voted against it. In July 1837, the Illinois House of Representatives again got involved through a Resolution regarding Recognition of the County of Bureau.
Bradsby, History of Bureau County, 267-68.
5For the 38 counties authorized by the General Assembly during Lincoln’s four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, the General Assembly appointed commissioners to designate the county seat in 23 instances, allowed the voters of the new county to select the county seat in 11 instances, and designated the county seat directly in the remaining 4 instances. In this case, the commissioners chose Princeton as the new county seat.
Sublett, Paper Counties, 14-18; Bradsby, History of Bureau County, 268.
6At the election in June 1837, voters elected Robert Masters, William Hoskins, and Arthur Bryant as county commissioners, Cyrus Langworthy as sheriff, Thomas Mercer as clerk, John H. Bryant as recorder, Jacob Galer as coroner and Robert Stewart as surveyor.
Bradsby, History of Bureau County, 268.
Printed Document, 3 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Tenth General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1837), 93-95, GA Session: 10-1