In force March 4th 1837.
AN ACT to create certain counties therein named.1
Boundaries of Stephenson county.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois represented in the General Assembly, That all that tract of county within the following boundaries, to wit: commencing on the northern boundary of the state where the section line between sections three and four, in town twenty-nine north, range five east of the fourth principal meridian, strikes said line, thence east on the northern boundary of the State, to the range line between ranges nine and ten east, thence south on said range line to the northern boundary of Ogle county, thence west on the northern boundary of Ogle county to and passing the north west corner of the county to the line between sections thirty-three and thirty-four in township twenty-six north, range five east, thence north to the place of beginning, shall form a county to be called Stephenson,2 as a tribute of respect to the late Col. Benjamin Stephenson.
Boundaries of Winnebago county.
Sec. 2. That the boundaries of Winnebago county shall be as follows, to wit: commencing on the state line at the north east corner of the county of Stephenson, thence east on the state line to the section line between sections five and six, in township forty six north, range three east of the third principal meridian, thence south on said section line to the south boundary of township forty-three north, range three east, thence west on said township line to the third principal meridian, thence north on said meridian to the south-east corner of township twenty-six north, range eleven east of fourth principal meridian, thence west on said line to the range line between ranges nine and ten east, thence north to the place of beginning.
Boundaries of Boone county.
Sec. 3. And that all that tract of country beginning at the north east corner of township forty-six north, range four east, thence south with the line dividing range four and five east, to the south west corner of township forty three north, thence west on said line to the south east corner of Winnebago county, thence north to the place of beginning on the north boundary of the state, shall form a county to be called Boone, in memory of Col. Daniel
<Page 2>Boone, the first settler of the State of Kentucky.3
Boundaries of DeKalb county.
Sec. 4. That all that tract of country beginning at the south east corner of township thirty-seven north, range two east of the principal meridian, thence north to the north east corner of township forty-two north, range two, east of the third principal meridian, and thence along the northern boundary of township forty two in ranges three, four and five, east of the third principal meridian, thence south on the south east corner of township thirty seven north, range five east, thence west on said township line, to the place of beginning, shall form a county to be called De Kalb.4
and seat of justice established.
Commis’ners[Commissioners] to take an oath.
When and where to meet.
Seat of justice to be located on congress land if eligible.
If on private land, to be donated.
Or an amonnt in money given.
Proceeds of lands how disposed of.
Commissioners to direct where courts held un build’g[building] erected.
Sec. 5. The counties of Stephenson, Boone and DeKalb hereby created shall be organised in the following manner, to wit: for the purpose of fixing the permanent seat of justice of Stephenson county, the following persons are appointed commissioners viz: Vance L. Davidson and Isaac Chambers of Jo Daviess county and Minor York of Ogle county, who or a majority of them, being duly sworn before some justice of the peace of this State faithfully to take into view the convenience of the people, the situation of the settlements, with an eye to future population and eligibility of the place shall meet at the house of William Baker in said county, on the first Monday in May next, or as soon thereafter as may be, and proceed to examine and determine on a place for the permanent seat of justice for said county, and designate the same:5 Provided, that said county seat shall be located on lands belonging to the United States, not occupied by the citizens of said county, if a site for said county seat on such lands can be found equally eligible, or upon lands claimed by citizens of said county; but if said location shall be made upon land claimed by any individual in said county, or any individual having pre-emption right or title to the same, the claimant or proprietor upon whose lands, claim or pre-emption right the said seat of justice may be located, shall make a deed in fee simple to any number of acres of said tract, not less than twenty to the said county; or in lieu thereof such claimant or owner or owners of such pre-emption right shall donate to the said county at least three thousand dollars to be applied to building county buildings, within one year after the locating of said county seat, and the proceeds of such quarter section, if the county seat shall be located upon government lands as aforesaid, or the proceeds of such twenty acres of land if it be located on lands claimed or owned by an individual or individuals; or the said three thousand dollars in case such claimant, or owner or owners shall elect to pay that sum in lieu of the said twenty acres, shall be appropria-
<Page 3>ted to the erection of a sufficient court house and jail; and until public buildings are erected for the purposes, the courts shall be held at such place as the county commissioners shall direct.
Election, when and where to be held.
Term of office.
Judges and Clerks of election, how appointed.
Sec. 6. An election shall be held at the house of William Baker in said county, on the first Monday of May next, for one sheriff, one coroner, one recorder, one county surveyor, three county commissioners and one clerk of the county commissioners’ court, who shall hold their offices until the next succeeding general elections, and until their successors are elected and qualified; which said election shall be conducted in all respects agreeably to the provisions of the law regulating elections: Provided that the qualified vorers present may elect from among their own number three qualified voters to act as judges of said election, who shall appoint two qualified voters to act as clerks.
Commissioners to locate county seat of Boone.
To take oath.
When and where to meet.
Sec. 7. For the purpose of fixing the permanent county seat of Boone county, the following named persons are hereby appointed commissioners, viz: John M. Wilson of Will county,6 James Day of La Salle county, and James H. Woodworth of Cook County,7 who or a majority of them being first duly sworn before some justice of the peace of this State, as required in the fifth section of this act, shall meet at the house of Simon P. Doty, in said county, on the fourth Monday in April next, or as soon thereafter as may be, and shall proceed as is required in the fifth section of this act, to locate the county seat of said Boone county.8
Commissioners to locate county seat of De Kalb
To take oath.
When and where to meet.
Voters of Kane county to vote for or against the organizat’n.[organization]
Sec. 8. For the purpose of fixing the permanent seat of justice for the county of De Kalb, Benjamin Thruston of La Salle county, James Walker of Cook county, and Germanicus Kent of Winnebago county, are hereby appointed commissioners, who or a majority being first duly sworn before some justice of the peace of this State, as is required by the fifth section of this act, shall meet at the house of Frederick Love in said county, on the first Monday in June next, or as soon thereafter as may be, and shall proceed in all respects as is required in the fifth section of this act,9 Provided, That the qualified voters of Kane county shall meet at the usual places of holding elections in said county, on the first Monday in May next, and vote for or against the county of De Kalb, and if a majority of said voters shall be in favor of making the said county, then the county of De Kalb shall be created, but if it shall appear that there is a majority against the division, then the said county shall remain as it now is.10
When and where courts held.
Sec. 9. The county and circuit courts of said Boone and De Kalb counties, shall be held at such place as the county commissioners courts shall respectively appoint, until
<Page 4>the county buildings are erected, and the times of holding the circuit courts in the counties hereby created, shall be fixed by the circuit Judges in whose circuits the counties respectively are situated.
When and how county officers are elected.
How elections to be conducted
Sec. 10. And elections shall be held in said Boone and De Kalb counties, for county officers in the following manner viz: In the county of Boone, at the house of Simon P. Doty on the first Monday in May next, and in the county of De Kalb at the house of Frederick Love on the first Monday in July next, and shall be required and conducted in the same manner as is prescribed in the sixth section of this act, when the same is applicable.
Duty of clerks
Sec. 11. It shall be the duty of the clerks of the county commissioners courts of the counties hereby organized, to give notice at least ten days previous to the elections to be held as is above provided in said counties, and in case there shall be no clerk in said counties, it shall be the duty of the clerk of the commissioners court of Winnebago county, to give notice of the elections to be held in the counties of Stephenson and Boone, and for the election to be held in the county of De Kalb notice shall be given in like manner, by the clerks of the commissioners court of Kane county.
Citizens rights and privileges.
Sec. 12. The citizens of the counties hereby created are entitled in all respects to the same rights and privileges as are allowed in general to other counties in this State.
Sec. 13. The counties of Stephenson and Boone shall continue to form a part of the county of Jo Daviess, until organised, and when organised according to this act, shall continue attached to the county of Jo Daviess in all general elections, until otherwise provided by law. The county of De Kalb shall continue to form part of the county of Kane, until it shall be organised, and shall vote with the county of La Salle in all general elections, until otherwise provided by law.
Compensation to comm’s’ers.[commissioners]
Sec. 14. The commissioners appointed to locate said county seats, shall receive the sum of two dollars per day for each day necessarily spent by them in discharging the duties imposed on them by this act, to be allowed by the county commissioners, and to be paid out of the county treasuries respectively.
Duties of judges of election.
Sec. 15. 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 clerk of the county commissioners court shall be qualified, and then deliver the said poll books to such 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 in this State.
Oaths administered to county officers.
County com’s[commissioners'] duties.
Term of office.
Sec. 16. After the election of county officers as herein provided, the persons elected county commissioners, are hereby authorised to administer the oaths of office to each other, and they are severally authorised to administer the oaths of office to all other county officers. And said commissioners shall within ten days after their election, meet together as a court, 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 and qualified, shall hold their offices until others are elected and qualified under the law providing for the election of Justice Peace. The clerks of the county commissioners courts shall deliver to each person elected justice of the peace and constable, certificates of such elections; and each person elected justice of the peace is hereby authorised, upon executing bonds as required by law to enter upon the duties of his office, and to exercise and perform all the duties of justice of the peace as fully as though such person had received a commission from the governor. This act shall be in force from and after its passage.
Approved 4th March, 1837.
1On February 9, 1837, James Craig introduced HB 216 in the House. On February 15, following the addition of an amendment by a select committee, Joseph Naper moved to strike out the 4th section, as well as all mention of the county of Benton, which was defeated by a vote of 33 yeas to 40 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. The House then referred the bill to another select committee, which added further amendments. On February 24, following the insertion of additional names to section 7, the House passed the bill, and referred it to the Senate. On March 3, following additional amendments by a select committee, the Senate too passed the bill. On March 4, the House approved the Senate amendments. That same day, theCouncil of Revision approved the bill, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 534, 596-97, 647, 694, 838, 840-41, 854; Illinois Senate Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 525-26, 540, 619, 628, 636-37.
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.
3The General Assembly made a mistake in the description of the boundaries of Boone County, “whereby only a right angled triangle composed of the southeasterly half of the county, was included.” In 1839, the General Assembly passed an act correcting this error and defining the boundaries of the county.
Newton Bateman, Paul Selby and Richard V. Carpenter, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Boone County (Chicago, IL: Munsell, 1909), 2:666-67.
4The Senate changed the name from Benton to DeKalb on February 27, 1837.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 540.
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.
Sublett, Paper Counties, 14-18.
6Inserted by the House of Representatives on February 24, 1837. House Journal, 694.
7Inserted by the House of Representatives on February 24, 1837. House Journal, 694.
8On October 31, 1837, Wilson and Woodworth met and located the county seat at Belvidere.
The Past and Present of Boone County, Illinois (Chicago: H. F. Kett & Co., 1877), 236.
9The commissioners met in October 1837 at Love’s house and spent three days viewing possible locations for the county seat. They selected a point on the prairie near the south branch of the Kishwaukee River, which they named Orange. Two years later, citizens by common consent changed the name to Sycamore. Controversy over the location continued, and the General Assembly passed in March 1839, An Act to Relocate the Seat of Justice of the County of De Kalb, calling for a referendum on removing the county seat from Orange/Sycamore.
Henry L. Boies, History of DeKalb County, Illinois (Chicago: O. P. Bassett, 1868), 372-73, 381.
Printed Document, 5 page(s),
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Tenth General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1837), 96-100, GA Session: 10-1