In force, Feb.[February] 28, 1839.
AN ACT to create and establish the county of Jersey.1
Boundaries of Jersey county.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That all that portion of the county of Greene lying south of the following described line, viz: Beginning in the centre of the Macoupin creek, on the east line of said county; thence, running down the centre of said creek, to the line in the middle of township number nine north, range number eleven west; thence, south, on said line in the middle of said township, to the township line dividing township number eight and nine north; thence, west, along said line, until it strikes the centre of Macoupin creek: thence, down the centre of said creek, to the centre of the Illinois river, shall constitute a new county, to be called the county of Jersey.2
Conditions of creation.
Vote for or against.
Certificate to be sent to Sec.[Secretary] State.
Notice of election in “Backwoodsman.”
Sec. 2. The county aforesaid is created upon the following conditions: The people of the county of Greene, as the same is now organized, shall meet at the several places of holding elections for the election of justices and constables in said county, on the first Monday in August next, and proceed to vote for or against the erection of said county; and on said day the judges of election shall open a poll (book) at each election district, in which they shall rule two columns, in one of which they shall set down the votes given for the erection of said county, and in the other column the votes given against the same, and make returns to the clerk of the county commissioners’ court of Greene county, in the same manner as is provided for by law in the case of elections for Senators and Repre-
<Page 2>sentatives to the General Assembly, and said return shall be opened and counted in the same manner as in such elections; and if a majority of all the votes given at said election shall be in favor of the creation of said county, a certificate thereof shall be made by the clerk of said county commissioners’ court of Greene county, under the seal of said court, and transmitted by him to the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Illinois, to be filed in his office as evidence of the existence of said county; and said clerk shall make a like certificate, and file the same in his office, which shall be entered on record at the next succeeding term of the county commissioners’ court, and shall be sufficient to prove the fact therein stated; after which said county shall be one of the counties of the State of Illinois.3 The clerk of the county commissioners’ court of Greene county shall cause a notice of said election to be published in the “Backwoodsman,” a newspaper published in the town of Grafton, in said county, if said newspaper shall be continued.
Election for Senators and Reps.[Representatives]
Times of cir. court.
Election of county officers.
Judges of election.
Returns to be opened.
Sec. 3. Said county shall vote with the county of Greene and Calhoun, for Senators and Representatives, until the next apportionment, the same as if no change had been made; and said county shall make a part of the first judicial circuit; and so soon as said county shall be organized, the clerk of the county commissioners’ court of said county, shall notify the judge of said circuit, and it shall be his duty to appoint a clerk, and hold, twice in each year, a court in said county, at such time as said judge shall appoint; and on the first Monday in October next, said county shall proceed to elect all county officers for said county. The present judges of elections appointed by the county commissioners’ court of Greene county, in the different precincts in said county of Jersey, shall act as judges of said election; and said election shall be conducted as similar elections, and returns of said election shall be made by the judges and clerks to Milo Bennett, Richard Graham, and Joseph Crabb. They, or a majority of them, shall meet at the town of Jerseyville, within ten days after said election, and proceed to open said returns, and, in all things in regard to said election, perform the duties required of the clerks of the county commissioners’ court and justices of the peace in like cases; and the officers thus elected shall be commissioned and qualified as in other cases, and continue in office until the next general election for similar officers.
Duty of school com’r.[commissioner]
Sec. 4. The school commissioners of the county of Greene shall pay and deliver over to the school commissioners of the county of Jersey all the school funds belonging to the several townships in said county of Jersey, and all notes and mortgages pertaining to the same, so soon as said county shall be organized and the school commissioners shall be appointed and qualified according to law, together with all interest arising out of said money that has not been heretofore expended for schools within that part of Greene county now proposed
<Page 3>to be set off unto the county of Jersey; and the county commissioners’ court of the county of Greene shall pay over to the county of Jersey their portion of funds received by Greene county out of the two hundred thousand dollars appropriated, by “An act to establish and maintain a general system of internal improvements,” to those counties in which no railroads pass through, in proportion to the population in that part of Greene county hereby created into the county of Jersey, to be taken from the census of 1840, unless otherwise agreed upon by the county commissioners’ court of each county; and the county commissioners’ court of said county shall appropriate the same to such objects as was designed by the act creating a system of internal improvements.4
Rights and privileges.
Sec. 5. The citizens of the county of Jersey hereby created are entitled in all respects to the same rights and privileges as are allowed in general to other counties in this State; and all suits, commenced in the circuit court of Greene county before the first day of August next, shall be determined in said circuit court, the same as if this act had not passed.
Sec. 6. The seat of justice of said county shall be permanently established at Jerseyville:5 Provided the citizens of Jerseyville and its vicinity will build, at their own expense, a good and suitable jail and court house for said county, and furnish a suitable lot of ground to set them on, not less than one acre:6 And it is further provided, That if the citizens of the town of Jerseyville and its vicinity shall not satisfy the county commissioners’ court of said county, with[in] eighteen months after said county is organized, that they will comply with the provisions of this section, the county commissioners’ court of said county may order an election to be held in the different precincts in said county for the purpose of again locating the county seat, and the place receiving the highest number of votes shall thereafter be the county seat of said county; but, until the citizens of Jerseyviile and its vicinity shall refuse or neglect to comply with the provisions of this section, the seat of justice of said county shall remain at Jerseyville.
Sec. 7. This act shall take effect, according to the conditions thereof, from and after its passage.
Clerk to make tax-list.
Sheriff Greene may collect.
Sec. 8. It shall be the duty of the clerk of the county commissioners’ court of Greene county to make out and deliver over to the sheriff or collector of the county of Jersey, so soon as said sheriff or collector of said county is elected and qualified, a true copy of the assessor’s book for the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine, of all property, both real and personal, assessed in that part of Greene county hereby created into the county of Jersey; and the sheriff or collector of the county of Jersey shall proceed to collect and pay over the same for the benefit of said county of Jersey in the same manner as other sheriffs or collectors in other counties in this State; and a copy of the assessor’s books of
<Page 4>of the county of Greene on all assessable property in that part of Greene county hereby created into the county of Jersey, for the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine, furnished as aforesaid, shall be sufficient authority to proceed and collect the same agreeably to law. Nothing in this act shall prevent the sheriff of Greene county from collecting any outstanding tax in that part of Greene county created into the county of Jersey, accrued before the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine.
Approved, February 28, 1839.
1On February 19, John Moore from the Committee on Counties, of which Abraham Lincoln was a member, introduced HB 326 in the House of Representatives. On February 21, the House considered an amendment to strike out the word “Jersey” wherever it occurred, and replace it with “Benton.” In spite of a vote of 46 yeas and 24 nays, with Lincoln voting in the affirmative, the proposal lacked the necessary two-thirds majority, and the measure failed. The House then passed the bill as originally proposed. On February 27, the Senate passed the bill. On February 28, the Council of Revision approved the bill, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 438, 458, 475-76, 539, 556, 566; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 382, 408, 435, 461.
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.
3On August 5, 1839, voters cast 1,239 ballots in favor of the creation of Jersey County and 714 ballots against it.
Secretary of State, “Election Returns, Petitions, and Papers,” Record Series 103.032, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Continental Historical Co., 1885), 85.
4Greene County was one of sixteen “unfortunate counties” through which no railroad passed and to which the General Assembly allocated a total of $200,000 in An Act to Establish and Maintain a General System of Internal Improvements. By the end of 1838, the Board of Commissioners of Public Works had paid $30,205 to Greene County as part of a distribution of $144,700. The payment to Greene County was nearly double the amount paid to any other county. In December 1839, one of the county commissioners for Jersey County reported to the full county commissioners’ court that Greene County had paid $6,000 to Jersey County and would make a final adjustment after the 1840 census. In 1840, the population of Greene County was 11,951, while the population of Jersey County was 4,535.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 12 January 1839, 2:1; History of Greene and Jersey Counties, 86; Richard L. Forstall, comp., Population of States and Counties of the United States, 1790-1990 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1996), 47.
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, including this one.
Sublett, Paper Counties, 14-18.
6John W. Lott and Edward M. Daley provided a lot, and the citizens of Jerseyville subscribed funds to build a courthouse at a cost of $6,000 on the lot.
Marshall M. Cooper, History of Jerseyville, Illinois, 1822 to 1901 (Jerseyville, IL: Jerseyville Republican Print, 1901), 8.
Printed Document, 4 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eleventh General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1839), 208-11, GA Session: 11-1,