In force, Feb.[February] 27, 1839.
Boundaries of Lee county.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That all that part of Ogle county lying south of a line beginning on the western boundary of Ogle county, at the northwest corner of section eighteen, in township twenty-two north, of range eight, east of the fourth principal meridian; thence, on the section line between sections numbered seven and eighteen, in said township, east, to the main channel of Rock river; thence, up the centre of the main channel of Rock river, to the section line between sections twelve and thirteen, in township twenty-two, north, of range nine, east of the fourth principal meridian; thence, east, with the last mentioned section line, to the northeast corner of section seventeen, in township twenty-two north, of range ten, east of the fourth principal meridian; thence, south, to the southeast corner of the last mentioned section;
<Page 2>and thence, east, with the section lines, to the eastern boundary of the county, shall constitute the county of Lee.2
Com’rs[Commissioners] to locate co.[county] seat.
Sec. 2. That Lorin G. Butler of Cook county, E. H. Nichols, of Whiteside county, and D. B. Salsbury of the county of Bureau, be, and they are hereby, appointed commissioners to locate the seat of justice for said county of Lee; and said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall meet at the town of Dixon, on the first Monday in May next, or so soon thereafter as may be, and, after being duly qualified before 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 of Lee, having due regard to the settlements and the convenience of the present and future population of said county; and when so located shall be and remain the permanent seat of justice.3
If co. seat located on land laid off.
No. of acres to be donated.
Court house and jail.
Sec. 3. If said seat of justice shall be located on lands which have been laid off into town lots, the owners or proprietors of the same shall donate and convey unto the county commissioners of said county of Lee, and their successors in office, for the use and benefit of said county, necessary land on which to erect public buildings, which shall be erected thereon; and shall enter into bonds, with approved security, to the county commissioners, and their successors in office, for the use and benefit of said county, to pay the sum of three thousand five hundred dollars, in three equal instalments, one-third in three months, one-third in nine months, and the remaining third in fifteen months, from the time of said location. And if the county seat shall be located on lands claimed by any individual, not laid off into town lots, the owner or proprietor shall donate unto the county, as aforesaid, at least twenty acres of land, on which public buildings shall be erected, or enter into bonds to the county commissioners in such sums and conditions as is required if the same shall be located on lands laid off into town lots. And all money accruing from the sale of any lands which may be donated to said county, or may be received on said bonds, shall be appropriated to the erection of a suitable court house and jail. And, until public buildings are erected, the several courts of the counties of Ogle and Lee shall be held at such place, in their respective county seats, as the county commissioners shall direct.
Rights and privileges of citizens.
Sec. 4. The citizens of the county hereby created are entitled, in all respects, to the same rights and privileges as are allowed in general to other counties in this State.
Duty of clerk of Ogle co.
Election for co. officers.
Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the clerk of the county commissioners’ court of Ogle county to order an election to be held in the several precincts in the county of Lee; which order shall be directed to the judges of election in the several precincts in said county of Lee established by the county commissioners’ court of Ogle county, to be held at the several places of holding elections in the several precincts, for the
<Page 3>election of county officers for the county of Lee; which election shall be held on the first Monday in August next, and shall be conducted in all respects agreeably to the provisions of the law regulating elections.
Duty of judges of election.
Poll-books to be delivered to clerk Lee county.
Abstract to Sec’y[Secretary] State.
Sec. 6. It shall be the duty of the judges of the election so ordered to make returns thereof to the clerk of the county commissioners’ court of Ogle county, who shall, together with two justices of the peace, proceed to canvass all the votes taken in the county of Lee, and shall deliver their certificate to each officer so elected; and shall also deliver to the clerk of Lee county, so soon as he shall have been qualified, all the poll-books of said election, whose duty it shall be to forward an abstract to the Secretary of State, in such manner and form as is required in other counties in this State. The county of Lee, hereby created, shall continue to form a part of the county of Ogle until after said election, as is above provided; and the county commissioners so elected shall be qualified.
Time & place of meeting of co. com’rs.
Term of office.
Sec. 7. The county commissioners elected under this act shall meet at the town of Dixon, within five days after receiving certificates of election, and shall qualify by delivering the proper oath of office to each other; and shall require their clerk, so elected, to enter into bond and take the oath of office as is required by law. It shall then be the duty of said clerk to ascertain, by lot, the term each of said commissioners shall serve, according to the provisions of an act, entitled “An act to amend an act, entitled ‘An act establishing courts of county commissioners,’” passed March 22, 1819.
Sec. 8. The county of Lee hereby created shall vote with Jo Daviess county for Senators and Representatives until the next apportionment.
Pay of com’rs to locate co. seat.
Sec. 9. The commissioners appointed by this act to locate the seat of justice in the county of Lee shall receive two dollars per day for each and every day necessarily spent in discharging the duties thereof, to be paid out of the county treasury.
Approved, February 27, 1839.
1On January 26, 1839, Representative James Craig presented petitions from citizens of Ogle County for and against the division of the county. On the same day, the House of Representatives referred the petitions to a select committee. On February 4, James Craig of the select committee introduced HB 260, and the House referred the bill to the Committee on Counties, which included Abraham Lincoln among its members. On February 19, Representative John Moore of the Committee on Counties reported that the committee favored passage of the bill without amendments. On February 22, the House passed the bill. On February 26, the Senate passed the bill. On February 27, the Council of Revision approved the bill, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 340, 435, 458, 483, 525, 534, 550; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 386-387, 421, 445-46, 508.
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 on May 31, 1839, and selected Dixon as the county seat.
Frank E. Stevens, History of Lee County, Illinois, 2 vols. (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914), 1:60.
Printed Document, 3 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eleventh General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1839), 170-72, GA Session: 11-1,