In force 27th Feb. 1837.
AN ACT to establish the county of Livingston.1
Boundaries of Livingston co.
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 west corner of township numbered thirty, north of range numbered three east of the third principal meridian, thence east on the line between townships numbered thirty and thirty-one north, to the range line between ranges No. eight and nine east, thence south between said last mentioned ranges to the south east corners of section No. thirteen, of township numbered twenty-five north, of range numbered eight east, thence west through the middle of said last mentioned township to the range line between ranges five and six east, thence north between said last mentioned ranges to the township line between townships numbered twenty-six and twenty-seven north, thence west between said last mentioned townships to the range line between ranges numbered two and three east, and thence north between said last mentioned ranges to the place of beginning, shall constitute a new county to be denominated the county of Livingston.2
Commissioners to fix county seat.
To take an oath.
When and where to meet.
Their duties in locating
Sec. 2. That for the purpose of fixing the permanent
<Page 2>seat of justice of said county, the following persons are appointed commissioners, viz: James A. Piatt, of Macon county, William B. Peck, of Will county and Thompson S. Flint of Tazewell county, who, or a majority of them, being duly sworn before some justice of the peace of this State, faithfully to take into consideration the convenience of the people, the situation of the settlements with an eye to the future population and the eligibility of the place, shall meet at the house of Andrew McMillen in said county, on the first Monday in June next, or some convenient day thereafter, and proceed to examine and determine upon a place for the permanent seat of justice of said county, and designate the same,3 Provided, That the county seat shall be located upon lands belonging to the United States if a site for such county seat on such lands can be found equally eligible, or upon lands claimed by citizens of said county, the claim to which shall be voluntarily relinquished; but if such location shall be made upon lands claimed by any individual who is in possession of the same, and who shall not so relinquish, or upon lands to which there is a right of pre-emption, said claimant or proprietor upon whose claim or right of pre-emption the said seat of justice may be located, shall make a deed to any number of acres of said tract not less than twenty to the said county; to be laid off in a square form, or not more than twice as long as it shall be wide, and to be designated by the commissioners appointed as aforesaid, and on which the public buildings shall be erected, or in lieu thereof such claimant, owner or owners of such pre-emption right shall donate to the said county at least three thousand dollars, to be paid within one year after the location of said county seat, to be applied to the erection of public buildings; and the proceeds of such quarter section, if the county seat shall be located upon government lands, or the proceeds of such twenty acres of land, if it be located upon the claim or pre-emption right of an individual or individuals, or the said three thousand dollars in case such claimant or pre-emption right owner or owners shall elect to pay that sum in lieu of the said twenty acres, shall be appropriated to the erection of a court house and other public buildings.4
When and where election is to be held for county officers.
Sec. 3. An election shall be held at the house of Andrew McMillen, on the second Monday of May next, for one sheriff, one coroner, one recorder, one county surveyor and three county commissioners, who shall hold their offices until the next succeeding general election, and until their successors are qualified; which said election shall be conducted in all respects agreeable to the provisions of the law regulating elections, Provided, That the qualified vo-
<Page 3>ters present may elect from amongst their own number three qualified voters to act as judges of election, who shall appoint two qualified voters to act as clerks.
Sec. 4. It shall be the duty of the clerk of the circuit court of said county, and if there be none acting, then the judge of probate to give at least twenty days notice previous to said election, and the returns of the election shall be made to the clerk or judge of probate, as the case may be, who gave the notice aforesaid, and by him in the presence of one or more justice of the peace, shall be opened and examined; and they jointly shall give to the persons elected commissioners, certificates of their election, and shall transmit abstracts of the election for the county officers to the secretary of State, as is now required by law.
Shall form a part of the first Judicial circuit.
Where courts are to be held.
Sec. 5. Said county shall be attached to, and form a part of the first judicial circuit, and until public buildings shall be erected, the circuit and county commissioners courts shall be held at the house of Andrew McMillen’s, Provided, however, That the county commissioners of said county, shall within one year, or as soon as practicable after the location of the seat of justice as aforesaid, erect suitable buildings for the holding of said courts.
Sec. 6. The said county shall continue to form parts of La Salle and McLean counties, until it shall be organised according to this act, and shall continue to be attached to said counties in all general elections until otherwise provided by law.
County commissioners elected to administer oaths of office.
Sec. 7. After the election of county officers as herein provided, the persons elected county commissioners, are hereby authorised to administer oaths of office to all other county officers; and the said county commissioners shall within ten days after their election, meet together as a court, appoint a clerk and lay off their county into justices districts, and order elections to be held for justices of the peace and constables, at a time to be fixed by them, and justices of the peace and constables elected under this act, shall hold their offices until others are elected and qualified under the law regulating elections of justices of the peace and constables. The clerk of the county commissioners court shall deliver to each person elected justice of the peace and constable, a certificate of such election.
Sec. 8. The commissioners herein appointed to locate the county seat, shall be allowed three dollars per day each for each and every day by them necessarily employed in making said location, to be paid out of the treasury of the said county.
Approved 27th February, 1837.
1On January 30, 1837, John Moore, a member of a select committee considering a petition to establish the county, introduced HB 155 in the House of Representatives. On February 15, the House passed the bill. On February 22, the Senate referred the bill to a select committee. On February 23, the select committee reported the bill without amendment, and the Senate passed the bill. On February 27, the Council of Revision approved the bill, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 425, 526, 599, 683, 725, 739; Illinois Senate Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 445, 489, 493, 530-31.
2Between 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. 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.
3For 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.
Sublett, Paper Counties, 14-18.
The commissioners met at Andrew McMillan’s house and selected a site on the Vermilion River that became the town of Pontiac. Because the village grew slowly and no courthouse had yet been built, some county citizens petitioned the General Assembly in 1838 for a relocation of the county seat. The General Assembly responded with An Act to Relocate the Seat of Justice of Livingston County, which provided for a referendum on the question.
The History of Livingston County, Illinois (Chicago: William Le Baron Jr. & Co., 1878), 253-56.
4The proprietors of Pontiac—Henry Weed, Lucius W. Young, and Seth M. Young—agreed to give $3,000, a block of land two hundred feet square for a courthouse, and an acre of land for a jail and estray pen to the county. They also agreed to build a wagon bridge across the Vermilion River at that site within two years.
History of Livingston County, 254.
Printed Document, 3 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Tenth General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1837), 83-85, GA Session: 10-1