In force, Mar.[March] 1, 1839.
AN ACT for the formation of Lake county.1
Boundary of Lake county.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That2 all that portion of McHenry county east of a range or sectional line not less than three miles, nor more than four miles, east of the present county seat of McHenry county, shall constitute a new county, to be called the county of Lake.3
Com’rs[Commissioners] to locate co.[county] seat.
Time and place of meeting.
Sec. 2. That Edward E. Hunter and William Brown, of Cook county, and Col.[Colonel] E. C. Berry, of Fayette county, be, and are hereby, appointed commissioners to locate the seat of justice in said county. 4 Said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall meet at the house of Henry B. Steel, at Independence Grove, in said county, on the first Monday in May next, or as soon thereafter as may be, and, after being duly qualified by some justice of the peace faithfully to perform the duties required of them by this act, shall proceed to locate and establish the permanent seat of justice of said county, having due regard to the geographical situation, the settlement, and the convenience of the present and future population of said county.5 The claimants on land where said county seat may be located shall donate and convey their right and title to not less than twenty acres of land to the county commissioners of said county, as soon as said county shall be organized, for the use and benefit of said county, on which the public buildings shall be erected; and it shall be the duty of the said county commissioners to purchase and secure a title to the same, from the funds of the county, when said land comes into market.
Election of co. officers.
Sec. 3. That the legal voters of said county shall meet at the several places where elections were held in said county at
<Page 2>the last general election, on the first Monday in August next, and proceed to elect county officers; and returns of said elections shall be made by the judges and clerks to the clerk of the county commissioners’ court of McHenry county, according to law as in other cases; and said clerk shall give certificates of election; and when the county commissioners shall be elected and qualified, the said county of Lake shall be duly organized.
Co. of Lake attached to 7th jud. cir.[judicial circuit]
Sec. 4. That said county of Lake shall be attached to the seventh judicial district; the judges of said circuit shall have power to fix the times of (holding) the circuit court; and the county commissioners shall determine the place of holding courts until public buildings shall be erected.
Sec. 5. That after the election of county officers as herein provided, the persons elected county commissioners are hereby authorized to administer the oaths of office to each other, and to all other officers of said county.
Sec. 6. That the commissioners appointed to locate the county seat shall each receive the sum of three dollars per day, for the time necessarily employed in locating the same, out of the county treasury.
Approved, March 1, 1839.
1Richard Murphy introduced HB 131 in the House of Representatives on January 11, 1839. On January 15, the House referred the bill to the Committee on Counties, of which Abraham Lincoln was a member. The Committee on Counties reported back the bill on January 21 with amendments, in which the House concurred. The House passed the bill as amended on January 23. On February 22, the Senate struck out all the words after the word “that” and replaced them with a substitute. The Senate passed the bill as amended. On February 26, the House rejected the Senate amendment. On February 26, the Senate refused to recede from its amendment and appointed a committee of conference to discuss the differences between the two bodies. The House appointed a similar committee on the same day. On February 27, the committee of conference reported back the bill with a substitute for the first section, in which the Senate and House concurred. On March 1, the Council of Revision approved the bill, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 199, 215, 246, 265, 268, 476, 516, 522, 523, 550, 568, 575; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 217, 281, 380, 423-24, 441, 446, 450, 466.
2On February 22, 1839, the Senate amended the bill by striking out all the words after the word “that” and substituting in lieu thereof the words “All that portion of McHenry County lying east of the center of range ten east, of the third principal meridian, shall constitute a new county, to be called Lake County.” On February 26, the House of Representatives rejected this amendment. On February 27, a committee of conference proposed, and both Houses adopted, a new first section. This became the first section found in the act.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 516, 541; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 380, 446.
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. 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.
4For 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.
5Edward E. Hunter and William Brown reported to the Lake County Commissioners’ Court in January 1840 that they had met on June 20, 1839, at the house of Henry B. Steele, the sheriff. They selected Libertyville as the county seat for Lake County.
John J. Halsey, ed., A History of Lake County, Illinois (Chicago: Roy S. Bates, 1912), 72.
Printed Document, 2 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eleventh General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1839), 216-17, GA Session: 11-1,