Rock Island, Illinois

City: Rock Island

County: Rock Island

State: Illinois

Lat/Long: 41.5000, -90.5667

Originally home to the Fox and Sac nations, the area around what would become Rock Island attracted the interest of the United States after the War of 1812. In 1816, the U.S. government established Fort Armstrong at the foot of Rock Island, an island in the Mississippi River between what would become Illinois and Iowa. English and French settlers began moving into the area in the 1820s, and in 1825 the Post Office Department opened a post office at the fort. Farnhamsburg became the first white settlement on the Illinois side of the Mississippi in what would become the city limits of Rock Island. In 1833, Farnhamsburg became the county seat for Rock Island County. In 1834, the Post Office placed a post office in Farnhamsburg. In 1835, the county settled on the yet-to-be created town of Stephenson as the permanent county seat, and Farnhamsburg became an addition to the new town. In November 1835, county officials moved circuit and county court records to the new home of county government, and the post office changed from Farnhamsburg to Stephenson. In October 1837, city voters incorporated Stephenson. Stephenson remained the county seat until 1841, when the Illinois General Assembly expanded the town and renamed it Rock Island. In February 1849, voters approved a charter for Rock Island, and in February 1857, voters approved a more comprehensive charter under which the city operated until after the Civil War.

James N. Adams, Illinois Place Names (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1989), 360, 490-91, 516; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Rock Island County (Chicago: Munsell, 1914), 1:655-57; The Past and Present of Rock Island County, Ill. (Chicago: H. F. Kett, 1877), 142-43; An Act to Establish the County Seat of Rock Island County; An Act to Incorporate the Town of Rock Island, in Rock Island County.