In force, Jan.[January] 27, 1841.
An ACT for the formation of the County of Piatt.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That all that part of Macon and De Witt counties included within the following boundaries, to-wit: Beginning where the north line of town fifteen north intersects the middle of range four east, and running thence north through the middle of range four to the middle of town nineteen; thence east to the west line of range five; thence north to the north-west corner of town nineteen north, range five east; thence by a direct line to the south-west corner of section seven, town twenty-one north, range six; thence east to the east line of range six; thence south along the east line of range six to the north line of town fifteen north; thence west along the north line of town fifteen to the place of beginning, shall constitute a new county to be called the county of Piatt.2
Place of holding elections
Sec. 2. Until said county shall be organized all elections therein shall be held at John Madden’s and in Monticello, and the present judges of elections in those precincts shall hold their offices until the county commissioners of Piatt county shall appoint others.
Election of county officers
Sec. 3. An election shall be held at the above named places on the first Monday in April one thousand eight hundred and forty-one, for the purpose of electing all county officers, and the election shall be conducted in all respects as other elections are conducted in this State.
Election returns.
Notice of election
Sec. 4. The poll books of said election shall be carried to Monticello, on the Tuesday following the first Monday in April, one thousand eight hundred and forty-one, and John Hughes, Abraham Marquis, John P. Tinbrook and James Reber, four regular acting justices of the peace in said county,
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(or so many of them as shall then be present) shall open said poll books and count the votes given for each candidate, and cause the result to be proclaimed aloud, naming the persons elected, and the offices to which they were elected, and shall make returns of said election to the Secretary of State, and shall do and perform all other duties in relation to said election as are required of clerks of county commissioners’ courts in similar cases; and the officers so elected shall continue in office until the next ensuing regular election for such officers, and as soon as said officers shall have been qualified according to law, the county shall be considered as legally organized.
Duty of clerk
Sec. 5. As soon as the clerk of the county commissioners’ court shall have given his bond to the acceptance of the county commissioners, he shall inform the judge of the judicial circuit thereof, who shall thereupon appoint a clerk, and hold courts in Monticello, until a county seat shall be permanently established in said county of Piatt: Provided, That all suits commenced in Macon or De Witt county, before the county of Piatt is organized as aforesaid, shall be decided in the respective counties in which they were commenced: And provided further, That all justices of the peace, constables, and other officers within the bounds of Piatt county shall act in their respective offices until the same shall expire.
Duty of school commiss’rs[commissioners].
Sec. 6. As soon as a school commissioner shall be appointed for said county, and given his bond according to law, he shall demand and receive from the school commissioners of Macon and De Witt counties, all moneys, notes, bonds, mortgages, and other writings pertaining to said county of Piatt, and likewise its distributive share of all unexpended State and county school funds.
Temporary county seat
Sec. 7. All county business shall be done in Monticello, in said county, until a county seat shall be permanently located.3
Location of county seat.
Sec. 8. An election shall be held in said county on the first Monday in April, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, for the permanent location of a county seat, and the place receiving the majority of all the legal votes given shall be the county seat;4 but if no one place shall have received a majority of such votes, the county commissioners shall direct the sheriff of the county to notify the legal voters of said county to meet again on the first Monday in May, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, to vote for one of the two places formerly voted for, and having the two highest number of votes formerly given, but no other place shall then be voted for, and the place then having the highest number of votes shall be the county seat.
Donation of land
Sec. 9. Before such county seat shall be so recorded, the owner or owners of the land upon which the same is to be located, shall within thirty days after the election execute a good warranty deed for twenty-five acres of land for the benefit of the county, and the county commissioners shall cause
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the same to be laid off into town lots, in the centre of which shall be laid off one entire block for a public square; but if the highest number of votes be given for any town already laid off, the proprietor or proprietors shall within thirty days after the election aforesaid, make to the county commissioners a good warranty deed to forty lots in said town, at an average value with the rest of the lots in said town, sold and unsold, or in lieu thereof, twenty acres of land adjoining said town, at the option of the proprietor or proprietors aforesaid: Provided, That if the county commissioners cannot within the time herein specified, select the lots so given to the county, they may name any subsequent day, and the aforesaid deed shall be made in accordance thereto.
Sec. 10. The county commissioners shall meet on the first Monday in June, and shall perform all the duties required of other county commissioners, and shall levy a tax, which shall be equal on all parts of said county according to the laws of this State.
Debt of Macon county apportioned
Sec. 11. And whereas Macon county is involved in a heavy debt, incurred by the erection of a court house in Decatur, and have consented by their petition to the formation of said county of Piatt, upon certain conditions specified in their petition: Be it therefore further enacted, First, That William Barnes, George A. Patterson, and N. H. Devore, be and they are hereby appointed commissioners on the part of Piatt county, to meet with the county commissioners of Macon county, at their regular session in June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-one, at which time the before named commissioners shall proceed to ascertain what amount of said court house debt remained unpaid at the close of the year one thousand eight hundred forty, and after deducting therefrom the funds on hand at that time and the debts then owed to Macon county, viz: at the close of the year one thousand eight hundred and forty, they shall afterwards apportion the balance of said court house debt between the parts of Macon county included in Piatt county, and the remaining part of Macon county, according to the tax list of Macon county in one thousand eight hundred and forty. Second, The part of Macon county included in said Piatt county shall be held bound to pay to Macon county its said proportion of said court house debt, and the interest thereon, on the same conditions that Macon county is bound, and the county commissioners of Piatt county shall order the treasurer of said county to pay the treasurer of Macon county, out of the monies collected from the part of Piatt so taken from Macon county, such sum or sums of money as they shall think proper, not less in any one year than the annual dividend due as aforesaid and the interest thereon. Third, Provided further, That the commissioners of Piatt county may at any time order the whole of the debt due to Macon county, as aforesaid, to be paid, whenever the funds arising from that part of
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Piatt county shall be sufficient therefor, and the same shall be accepted by the commissioners of Macon county, and thenceforth the county of Macon shall have no further claims on any part of Piatt county, on account of said court house debt or interest.5
Approved, January 27, 1841.
1Robert F. Barnett presented a petition from the citizens of DeWitt and Macon counties to the House of Representatives on January 1, 1841, and the House referred it to the Committee on Counties. Milton Carpenter presented HB 82 on January 5. The House amended the bill on January 13 by removing all of the text in section 7 after “located” and passed the bill. The Senate passed the bill on January 15. The Council of Revision approved the bill on January 27 and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 171, 186, 221, 235, 258, 266, 290; Illinois Senate Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 161, 165, 167, 454.
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 House of Representatives passed an amendment on January 13, 1841, removing all text after “located” in section 7.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 221.
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.
Voters in Piatt County selected Monticello as the county seat in April 1842.
Emma C. Piatt, History of Piatt County (Chicago: Shepard & Johnston, 1883), 132.
5One month after enacting this law, the General Assembly passed An Act Supplementary to an Act entitled “An Act for the Formation of Piatt County” to clarify this section. The supplemental act made it explicit that the Piatt County commissioners could only assess taxes on inhabitants of that portion of Piatt County that came from Macon County to pay the new county’s proportion of the debt on the Macon County courthouse.

Printed Document, 4 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly (Springfield, IL: William Walters, 1841), 71-74, GA Session 12-2,