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In force, Feb. 12, 1839.
AN ACT to incorporate the town of Warsaw.
Name & style.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That the individuals and residents of the town of Warsaw, in Hancock county, in the State aforesaid, are hereby made a body corporate and politic, in law and in fact, by the name and style of “The president and trustees of the town of Warsaw,” and by that name shall have perpetual succession, and may have and use a common seal, which they may alter or revoke at pleasure; and in whom the government of said corporation shall be vested, and by whom its affairs shall be managed.2
Boundary of town.
Sec. 2. That all that section of country contained in fractional section number four, and the north half of section number nine, and to the middle of the Mississippi river, in township number four north, and range number nine, west of the fourth principal meridian, is hereby declared to be within the boundaries of the town of Warsaw.
Term of office.
Annual election.
Notice of election.
Eligibility to hold office.
President of board.
Sec. 3. That the present trustees of said town shall continue in office until the first Monday in March next, and until their successors are duly elected and qualified; and forever thereafter an election shall be holden, on the first Monday in April annually, for five trustees, to hold their officers[offices] one year, and until their successors are qualified; and public notice of the time and place of holding said election shall be given by the president and trustees, by an advertisement published in a newspaper in said town, or by posting it up in four of the most public places in said town, at least ten days before the election. No person shall be a trustee of said town who has not arrived at the age of twenty-one years, who has not resided in said town six months next preceding his election, and who is not, at the time thereof, a bona fide freeholder in said town; and all free white male citizens over twenty-one years of age, who have resided in said town six months next preceding an election, shall be entitled to vote for trustees; and said trustees shall, at their first meeting, proceed to elect one of their body president, and shall have power to fill all vacancies in said board which may be occasioned by death, resignation, removal, or six months’ absence from the town.
Sec. 4. That the board of trustees shall have power to appoint a clerk and assessor, a treasurer and street inspector, and such other officers as may be necessary, and shall be judges of the qualifications, elections, and returns of their own members. A majority shall constitute a board to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as the board may provide. They may determine the rules of proceeding, punish their members for disorderly conduct, and, by the concurrence of a majority of the whole board, expel a member, and make such other rules
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and regulations for their own government as to them may seem proper and expedient.3
Taxes, how levied.
Powers of trustees.
Writs of certiorari.
Sec. 5. That the board of trustees shall have power to levy and collect taxes upon all real estate within the town and limits of the corporation, not exceeding one per cent. upon the assessed value thereof, exclusive of improvements, except as hereafter excepted; to make regulations to secure the general health of the inhabitants; to prevent and remove nuisances; to regulate and license ferries within the corporation; to provide for licensing and taxing taverns, stores, groceries, auctioneers, theatrical and other shows and amusements within said corporation; to prohibit and restrain gaming houses, bawdy-houses, and other disorderly houses;4 to build market-houses, and regulate the same; to open and keep in repair streets, lanes, alleys, drains, and sewers, and to keep the same clean; to require bond and security of town officers for the faithful performance of their duties, and from time to time to pass such ordinances, to carry into effect the provisions of this act and the powers hereby granted, as the good of the inhabitants may require; and to impose and appropriate fines and forfeitures for the breach of any ordinance, and provide for the collection thereof; and that, in all cases arising under this act, or growing out of the by-laws and ordinances made in pursuance of this act of incorporation, any justice of the peace within said corporation shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the same; and an appeal may be taken, and writs of certiorari allowed, from any such decision, in the same manner as now is or hereafter may be provided by law for appealing from judgments of justices of the peace: Provided, however, That the said trustees shall in no case levy or collect a tax upon any lands until the same shall have been laid off into town lots and recorded.
Special tax.
Sec. 6. That, upon the application of the owners of two-thirds of the front lots on any street or parts or a street, it shall be lawful for the board of trustees to levy and collect a special tax on the owners of the lots on such street or parts of a street, according to their respective fronts, not to exceed one per cent., for the purpose of grading and paving the sidewalks on said street.
Streets and alleys.
Sec. 7. The board of trustees shall have power to regulate, grade, pave, and improve the streets, avenues, lanes, and alleys, within the limits of said town and corporation, and to extend, open, and widen the same, making the person or persons injured thereby adequate compensation; to ascertain which the said board shall cause to be summoned six good and lawful men, freeholders and citizens of said town, not directly interested, who, being first duly sworn for that purpose, shall inquire into and take into consideration as well the benefits as the injury which may accrue, and estimate and assess the damages which would be sustained by reason of the opening, extending, or widening of any street, avenue, lane, or alley;
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and shall moreover estimate the amount which other persons will be benefitted thereby, and shall contribute towards compensating the person injured; all of which shall be returned to the board of trustees, under their hands and seals; and the person which shall be benefitted, and so assessed, shall pay the same in such manner as shall be provided by the board of trustees; and the residue, if any, shall be paid out of the town treasury.5 The board of trustees shall have power to pass such by-laws or ordinances, from time to time, as to them may seem expedient, and not inconsistent with any public law of this State, as the good of the citizens of said town may require.
Ordinances to be made public.
Sec. 8. That all ordinances of said trustees shall be fairly written out, signed by the clerk, and published in a newspaper printed in the town, or posted up at three of the most public places in said town; and no ordinance shall be in force until published as aforesaid.
Sec. 9. That the board of trustees are also vested with power to declare what shall be considered a nuisance within said town and incorporated limits; to prevent the running and indecent exhibition of horses within the bounds of said town; to provide for the trial and punishment of persons who may be engaged in assaults, assaults and batteries, and affrays within the limits of said corporation; and to provide that such punishment may be inflicted for any offence against the laws or ordinances of the corporation as is or may be provided by law for like offences against the laws of this State: Provided, That no person shall be deprived of the right of the trial by a jury in any case where such person would be entitled to a trial by a jury for a like offence against the laws of the State.
Punishment of offenders.
Sec. 10. That the board of trustees shall have power to provide for the punishment of offenders, by imprisonment in the county jail, in all cases where such offenders shall refuse or fail to pay fines which may be assessed, or for forfeitures or penalties which may be recovered: Provided, That no person shall be imprisoned, under the provisions of this act, for a longer period than twenty-four hours for every five dollars of any fine assessed, or forfeiture or penalty recovered.
Sale of lots.
Sec. 11. The board of trustees shall have power to adopt such modes and means for the assessment and collection of taxes as they may from time to time fix upon and determine, and to prescribe the manner of selling property, when the taxes levied upon it are not paid: Provided, however, That no sale of any town lots, or other real estate, shall be made until public notice of the time and place shall be given by advertisement in a newspaper, or by posting up written notices in three of the most public places in said town, at least fifteen days previous thereto.
Redemption of lots.
Sec. 12. That when any town lot or lots or real estate shall be sold for taxes by virtue of this act, the same may be redeemed, at any time within two years from the date of such sale, by the owner of said property, his or her heirs or assigns, agents, administrators, or executors, paying to the
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treasurer of said town, for the use of the purchaser of said property, the full amount of the purchase money, with interest at the rate of fifty per cent. per annum, together with the cost accruing thereon.
Take oath.
Sec. 13. That the members of the board of trustees and every other officer of said corporation shall, before entering on the duties of his office, take an oath or affirmation, before some judge or justice of the peace, to support the constitution of the United States and of this State, and faithfully to demean themselves in office.
Town constables;
to give bond.
Sec. 14. That the board of trustees shall have power to appoint a town constable or constables, and authorize him to execute all writs, process, and precepts which may be issued against persons for the violation of the laws or ordinances of the corporation, and to arrest, on view, all persons who may violate such laws or ordinances; to collect all fines, forfeitures, and penalties which may be assessed or recovered for the use of the corporation; and to require bond and security of said constable, in such sum as they may think proper; said constable or constables to hold their office during the pleasure of the board of trustees, and shall have and possess the same powers, and perform the same duties in other respects, as the constables in the different districts in the county possess.
District for election of justice peace.
Sec. 15. That all that district of country included within the corporate limits of said town be, and the same is hereby, constituted into a district for the election of a justice of the peace.
Sec. 16. That the county commissioners’ court of the county of Hancock are hereby authorized and required to cause an election to be held hereafter as soon as practicable, and at each quadrennial election thereafter, for one justice of the peace in said district. The justice of the peace elected shall hold his office until the next general election for justice of the peace; at which time his successor shall be elected as in other cases; and the person so elected shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction, hold his office by the same tenure, and be under the same regulations in all respects, as other justices of the peace of this State.
Streets, &c.[etc.]
Who to work streets.
Suit, how brought.
Sec. 17. That the board of trustees, for the purpose of keeping the streets and alleys in said town and incorporated limits, and the public roads passing from and through the centre of said town, in good repair, and to this end they are authorized to require every male resident of said town and incorporate limits, over the age of twenty-one years, to labor in said streets, alleys, and roads, three days in each year; and any person who shall be notified by the street inspector to perform such labor so assessed as herein provided, and shall fail or neglect to perform the same, shall forfeit and pay the sum of one dollar and twenty-five cents for each day’s labor neglected to be performed; and the street inspector in said
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town is hereby authorized to prosecute such delinquent persons, in the name of the president and trustees of the town of Warsaw, before any justice of the peace in said county, and said street inspector shall be a competent witness against said delinquent; and in case of default as aforesaid, the justice of the peace shall enter up judgment against said delinquent for the amount so forfeited, with costs of suit, and issue execution forthwith.6
Duty of justice of peace.
Sec. 18. That is shall be the duty of any justice of the peace residing in said town, and he is hereby authorized and empowered, on complaint being made to him, on oath, of the violation of any law or ordinance of the corporation, or upon view, to issue his warrant directed to the town constable, or any other authorized officer, to apprehend the offender or offenders, and bring him or them forthwith before him; and after hearing the evidence, if it shall appear that the said accused has been guilty of the violation of any such law or ordinance of the corporation, to impose such fine or imprisonment as shall be provided in such law or ordinance: Provided such fine shall not exceed fifty dollars.
Trustees may hold lands.
Sec. 19. That the said trustees are hereby made capable, in law, to take and hold to themselves and their successors any lands, tenements, hereditaments, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, which may be necessary for the erection of any market-house and other public buildings to promote the interest and public good of the citizens of said town, and the same to sell, grant, and dispose of, if necessary; and to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered, in any court or place whatever; and all suits and judicial proceedings under this act shall be brought in the name and style of “The president and trustees of the town of Warsaw.”
Fees of justices of peace.
Sec. 20. That justices of the peace and constables who are required to render services under this act shall be entitled to the same fees, and collect them in the same manner, as now is or hereafter may be provided by law.7
Sec. 21. This act act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage, any law to the contrary notwithstanding.
Approved, February 12, 1839.
1Mark Aldrich introduced HB 28 to the House of Representatives on December 14, 1838. The House passed the bill on January 3, 1839. The Senate referred the bill to a select committee on January 23. The committee reported back on January 24 and proposed several amendments, to which the Senate concurred. On February 2, the Senate passed the bill. The House passed the amended bill on February 4. The Council of Revision approved the bill on February 12 and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G.A., 1st sess., 87, 114, 146, 159, 337, 342-43, 386, 392; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 134, 149, 214, 219, 265, 274, 313.
2The Senate passed an amendment on January 24, 1839, adding the word “common” to this sentence.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G.A., 1st sess., 219.
3The Senate passed an amendment on January 24, 1839, replacing “two thirds” in this sentence with “a majority.”
Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G.A., 1st sess., 219.
4A tippling house was a place where individuals sold alcohol and allowed others to illegally consume it. The terms bawdy house and disorderly house were often used to refer to gaming houses or a houses of prostitution.
Glossary, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d ed. (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), ( html files/Glossary.html).
5The Senate passed an amendment on January 24, 1839, replacing the word “inhabitants” in this sentence with “citizens.”
Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G.A., 1st sess., 219.
6The Senate passed an amendment on January 24, 1839, replacing the word “commissioners” with “inspector” in several places in this paragraph.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G.A., 1st sess., 219.
7In 1839, an 1827 law proscribed fees ranging from 12.5 cents for entering a verdict of the jury into the record to 75 cents for taking a bond and security.
“An Act Regulating the Salaries, Fees and Compensation of the Several Officers and Persons therein Mentioned,” approved 19 February 1837, The Revised Code of Laws of Illinois (1827), 213-14.

Printed Document, 5 page(s), Incorporation Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eleventh General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1839), 55-59, GA Session: 11-1,