In force Feb. 24, 1841.
An ACT for the formation of the County of Richland.1
Boundary of Richland county
Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That all that tract of country within the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning on the south line of Crawford county, where the range line between ranges thirteen and fourteen west, strikes the same; thence south, with said range line, to the south line of Lawrence county; thence west, with said south county line, to the line dividing Lawrence and Edwards counties; thence north, with the last mentioned line, to the south line of Clay county; thence west, with said line, to the centre of the Little Wabash river; thence up the middle of said stream, to the mouth of the Muddy Fork thereof; thence up the centre of the Muddy Fork, to the line dividing townships number three and four; thence east, with said line, to the range line between ranges eight and nine; thence north, with said range line, to the south line of Jasper county; and thence east, with said line, to the place of beginning, shall constitute a new county, to be called the county of Richland.2
Notice of election
Poll books to be opened.
Election to be conducted & returns made, as in case of election of members of Gen. Assembly
Certificate to be forwarded to secretary of State.
Certificate made evidence of the facts stated
Sec. 2. The county aforesaid is constituted upon the following conditions: the people of the counties of Lawrence and Clay, as they are now organized, shall meet at the several places of holding elections for senator and representatives to the General Assembly, in said counties, on the first Monday in June next, and proceed to vote in the same manner of voting for senator and representatives to the General Assembly, whether said county shall be constituted or not.3
<Page 2>The judges of elections in said counties shall give twenty days’ notice of the time and place of holding said elections, by posting up notices thereof, at six of the most public places in each of said counties; and on said day shall open a poll book at each election precinct in said counties, in which they shall cause to be ruled two columns, in one of which they shall set down the votes given for the formation of said new county; and in the other column, the votes given against the same; and said judges shall conduct said election and, make returns thereof, to the clerks of the county commissioners’ courts of Lawrence and Clay counties, as is now provided by law in the case of elections for senator and representatives to the General Assembly; and said returns shall be opened and counted in the same manner as required in such elections, and if a majority of all the votes given in each of said counties, at said election, shall be in favor of the formation of said new county, a certificate thereof shall be made by the clerks of the county commissioners’ courts of said counties of Lawrence and Clay, under the seals of said courts, and transmitted by them to the office of the Secretary of State, of Illinois, to be filed in his office as evidence of the formation of said county of Richland, and said clerks shall make a like certificate to be filed in their respective offices, which shall be made a matter of record at the next succeeding term of the county commissioners’ court of each of said counties, which certificates shall be sufficient to prove the fact therein stated; after which, said county shall be one of the counties of the State of Illinois.
County seat to be established by vote
Donations for county seat.
County commiss’rs to dispose of land donated
Sec. 3. If said county of Richland shall be constituted as aforesaid, the legal voters of said county shall meet on the third Monday of June next, at the several places of holding elections in said new county, and vote for the place where the county seat of said county shall be located,4 on which day persons proposing to make donations for the several places proposed to be voted for, shall file with the judges of elections of the several election precincts in said new county their written propositions which shall not be for less than ten acres of land at the place the seat of justice shall be located, and upon the person or persons offering the donation at the place receiving the greatest number of votes, making to the said county of Richland a good and sufficient conveyance for the donation proposed to be given, such place shall be the permanent seat of justice for said county, and said donation shall be disposed of by the county commissioners of said county, in such manner as they may think proper, reserving necessary public grounds; and the proceeds arising from said donation, shall be exclusively used and for the erection of public buildings in said county.
Election for county officers
Sec. 4. Should said county of Richland be constituted, according to the provisions of this act, said county shall, on the first Monday of August next, elect all county officers for said county, to be commissioned and qualified as in other cases.
Judge to appoint time of holding court
Sec. 5. Said county of Richland shall make a part of the fourth 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 the said circuit, and it shall be his duty to appoint a clerk and hold courts in said county, at such times as said judge shall appoint, or shall be provided by law; said courts to be held at such place as the county commissioners of said county shall provide, until public buildings shall be erected.
Sec. 6. The school funds belonging to the several townships in said county, and all notes and mortgages pertaining to the same, shall be paid and delivered over to the school commissioner of the county of Richland, by the school commissioners of the counties of Lawrence and Clay, so soon as the said county of Richland shall be organized, and the commissioner of school lands shall be appointed and qualified according to law; together with all interest arising out of said money that may not have been expended.
Election for senator & representative.
Sec. 7. That, until otherwise provided by law, that portion of Richland county taken off Lawrence, and that portion taken off Clay, shall continue to vote with the counties they were taken off of, for senator and representatives to the General Assembly.
Sec. 8. That the passage of this act shall in no wise alter or affect the assessment of property, or the collection of taxes in the counties of Lawrence and Clay, as the same are now organized for the year one thousand eight hundred and forty one. But should the said county of Richland be organized in pursuance to the provisions of this act, the county commissioners’ courts of the counties of Lawrence and Clay, shall immediately, after the settlement of the collectors of their respective counties, order that portion of taxes collected from citizens residing in that portion of Richland county taken off their respective counties after deducting a proportionate amount for the assessment and collection of the same, to be paid into the county treasury of Richland county.
Returns of election how made
Sec. 9. The returns of the election for county officers to be held on the first Monday in August next, and the returns of the election for the purpose of fixing the permanent seat of justice of said county, shall be made to Samuel R. Lowry, James Laws, and Joshua L. Johnston, who are hereby authorized and required to open the same and make returns thereof, in the same manner as clerks of county commissioners’ courts and justices of the peace, called to their assistance in ordinary cases, are required to do.
Approved, February 24, 1841.
1In response to several petitions, Peter Green introduced HB 208 to the House of Representatives on February 5, 1841. The House passed the bill on February 10. The Senate passed the bill on February 20. The Council of Revision approved the bill on February 24, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 334, 348, 358, 464, 489, 491, 496; Illinois Senate Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 291, 360.
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 results in Clay County were 259 votes in favor of the creation of Richland County, and 239 votes opposed.
Secretary of State, “Election Returns, Petitions, and Papers,” Record Series 103.032, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.
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.
Candidates for county seat included Fransonia, Fairview, Watertown, and Olney. Early voting on the day of the election suggested that Fairview and Fransonia were out of the race, and messengers traveled among the three polling places in the county to monitor the progress of the vote. After some votes were switched to what became Olney during the day, it became the county seat by nineteen votes over Watertown.
Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland, Illinois, Historical and Biographical (Chicago: F. A. Battey & Co., 1884), 618-19.
Printed Document, 3 page(s),
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly (Springfield, IL: William Walters, 1841), 77-79, GA Session 12-2,