Lat/Long: 41.7886, -89.6962
The area of the present city of Sterling, located on the Rock River, was first settled in the mid-1830s. The town of Sterling absorbed the neighboring towns of Chatham in 1841, and Harrisburg in 1843. The location of the county seat of Whiteside County was in dispute throughout the 1840s, and transferred several times between Sterling and Lyndon. Sterling was an unofficial county seat between 1846 and 1849, when only the county circuit court met there. Whiteside County voters chose Sterling as the permanent county seat in 1849 and remained as such until Morrison was selected by voters as the new county seat in 1857. Sterling was chartered as a city in 1857.
Charles Bent, ed., History of Whiteside County, Illinois (Clinton, IA: L. P. Allen, 1877), 71-76, 415-18; An Act Changing the Name of the Town of Chatham in Whiteside County; “An Act Changing the Name of the Town of Harrisburg, in Whiteside County,” 23 February 1843, Laws of Illinois (1843), 301; “An Act Permanently to Locate the Seat of Justice of Whiteside County,” 8 February 1849, Laws of Illinois (1849), 48-50; “An Act to Remove the Seat of Justice of Whiteside County,” 7 February 1857, Laws of Illinois (1857), 236-38; “An Act to Charter the City of Sterling,” 16 February 1857, Private Laws of Illinois (1857), 980-92.