County Commissioners' Courts (Illinois)

State: Illinois

In 1819, the first Illinois General Assembly created a county commissioners’ court in each county in the state. Each court had three commissioners, and two commissioners constituted a quorum. Qualified voters elected commissioners, who held office for a term of two years. In 1837, the legislature increased the term of commissioners to three years and provided for staggered elections to elect one commissioner each year. The commissioners appointed their own clerk until 1837, when the office became an elected position. The commissioners held four terms of court each year. The county commissioners’ court had jurisdiction throughout the county regarding county revenue, imposing and regulating county taxes, granting licenses, and managing public roads, canals, turnpikes, ferries, and bridges. The county commissioners’ court also had jurisdiction in all probate matters until the legislature created the probate court in 1821. The new constitution of 1848 abolished the county commissioners’ court, and the county courts assumed jurisdiction of county business.

“Court Structure,” in Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds. The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, 2d ed. (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), html files/Court Structure.html.