Macon County, Illinois

County: Macon

State: Illinois

Lat/Long: 39.8667, -88.9667

On January 19, 1829, the Illinois General Assembly formed Macon County from territory previously attached to Shelby County. Legislators named the county for Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolinian who fought in the American Revolution and later served as a United States Representative and Senator (1791-1828). The enabling act authorized commissioners to establish a county seat, designating it be called "Decatur" in honor of Stephen Decatur. In April 1829, voters elected the first county officials, and commissioners selected the site for Decatur, which county officials platted and laid out in June. Between 1829 and 1843, the General Assembly reduced the county's borders by carving out of Macon the new counties of DeWitt, Moultrie, and Piatt, thereby setting the boundaries of Macon at their current limits.

In March 1830, Abraham Lincoln moved with his family to Macon County, living there one year before leaving home for New Salem. Lincoln returned to Macon County as an attorney in 1838, and in 1856 he attended a campaign rally for John C. Fremont in Decatur. His last visit came in February 1861 when his train made a stop at Decatur in route to the White House.

John W. Smith, History of Macon County, Illinois, from its Organization to 1876 (Springfield, IL: Rokker's, 1876), 17-34; O. T. Banton, ed., History of Macon County (Decatur, IL: Macon County Historical Society, 1976), 10-44; William E. Nelson, ed., City of Decatur and Macon County Illinois (Chicago: Pioneer, 1910), 1:80-92, 425-27; "An Act to Establish a New County to be Called the County of Macon," 19 January 1829, Revised Laws of Illinois (1829), 28-31.