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History of Piatt County
Native American’s were the first to live in the area later known as Piatt County. At the time of European contact the Illiniwek were the tribe that lived in this part of North America. As the Europeans settled the Eastern United States many tribes were displaced. Two of the primary tribes or nations to temporarily live in this area were the Kickapoo and Potawatomi.
Early European Settlers
In 1822, George Hayworth, a Quaker from Tennessee, arrived and built the first house in the area. James Martin was next to build a home and then more settlers arrived. Surnames of some of the other early settlers include Carver, Cordell, Daggott, Fry, Furnace, Hanline, Holliday, Piatt, Varner and York. James A. Piatt, whom the county was eventually named after, his wife Jemima and their six children arrived from Indiana in 1829. Settlement in the area increased in the 1830s and 1840s and several towns began to be established.
Piatt County was formed January 27, 1841 from Macon and DeWitt Counties. The county is approximately 439.1 square miles or 281,056 acres. Monticello, which had been laid out and named in 1837, became the county seat. The first courthouse was built in 1843 and the second was built in 1856. The present courthouse was completed in 1904.
President Abraham Lincoln has ties to Piatt County. Before Lincoln became President of the United States he practiced law in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois. Piatt County was part of that circuit and several local families established ties with Lincoln either through providing him a place to stay on his travels or having him as their lawyer in court. And, in July of 1858 actions taken by Lincoln in Piatt County played a significant role in the planning of what became known as the Lincoln - Douglas debates.
During the late 1800’s several railroads made their way across Piatt County. The introduction of railways to the county put an end to the existing stage coach lines and forever changed business, immigration, land value, travel and much more.
Pepsin Syrup Company
In 1875, Dr. W. B. Caldwell came to practice medicine in Cisco Illinois. Ten years later he moved his practice to Monticello Illinois. While in Monticello he developed Caldwell's Syrup of Pepsin, which became Monticello's leading industry for many years.
Allerton Park and Retreat Center
Allerton Park, designated as a National Landmark and recently named one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois, has its own place in Piatt County history. The farmland was purchased in the late 1800’s by Samuel Allerton, a man of wealth from Chicago. In 1900, the Allerton Mansion was built and the estate eventually became the private retreat of Samuel’s son, Robert Henry Allerton. The estate was donated to the University of Illinois in 1946 when Robert moved to Kauai. The mansion and a majority of the estate are open to the public as a park and retreat center.
Piatt County has many historic homes, farmsteads and barns. A concentration of some very lavish historic homes along State Street in Monticello became known as “Millionaires Row” and is now a Historic District in Monticello.
Come and Learn More...
These interesting facts are just the tip of the iceberg for the history of Piatt County. You can discover more at the Society’s library and research center. Stop by soon or contact us to find out more about the history of your family, home or business.
Townships and Towns (Shown in atlas or plat books)
Towns = Bement, Ivesdale (west quarter), Bodman (aka Bodman's Switch and Thornton) and Piatt.
Towns in 1867 = Bement and Ivesdale (west quarter)
Towns in 1875 = Bement and Ivesdale (west quarter)
Towns in 1910 = Bement, Ivesdale (west quarter), and Thornton
Towns in 1927 = Bement, Ivesdale (west quarter), and Thornton
Towns in 2012 = Bement and Ivesdale (west quarter)
Blue Ridge Township
Towns = Alexandria, Gardner, Mansfield, Blue Ridge, Harris, and Van Meter.
Towns in 1867 = Mansfield
Towns in 1875 = Mansfield
Towns in 1910 = Blue Ridge Station, Harris Station, and Mansfield
Towns in 1927 = Blue Ridge Station, Harris Station, and Mansfield
Towns in 2012 = Mansfield
Cerro Gordo Township
Towns = Cerro Gordo, La Place, Milmine (formerly Farnsworth), Burrowsville and Lintner.
Towns in 1867 = Cerro Gordo, Farnsworth/Milmine P.O. (now Milmine), and LaPlace
Towns in 1875 = Cerro Gordo, Farnsworth/Milmine P.O. (now Milmine), and LaPlace
Towns in 1910 = Cerro Gordo, La Place, Milmine (formerly Farnsworth), Burrowsville and Lintner
Towns in 1927 = Cerro Gordo, La Place, Milmine (North of railroad tracks), Farnsworth (S of RR tracks), Burrowsville and Lintner
Towns in 2012 = Cerro Gordo, La Place, and Milmine
Goose Creek Township
Towns = DeLand and Combs.
Towns in 1867 = DeLand
Towns in 1875 = DeLand
Towns in 1910 = DeLand and Combs Switch
Towns in 1927 = DeLand and Combs Switch
Towns in 2012 = DeLand
City = Monticello
City/Towns in 1867 = Monticello
City/Towns in 1875 = Monticello
City/Towns in 1910 = Monticello
City/Towns in 1927 = Monticello
City/Towns in 2012 = Monticello
Towns = Galesville, Lodge (formerly Wood), White Heath, and Centerville (formerly Lickskillet).
Towns in 1867 = Calef Station (now Galesville), Centreville, Lodge, and White Heath
Towns in 1875 = Calef Station (now Galesville), Centerville, Lodge, and White Heath
Towns in 1910 = Galesville, Centerville, Wood/Lodge P.O., and White Heath
Towns in 1927 = Galesville, Centerville, Wood/Lodge P.O., Caldwells, Shady Rest and White Heath
Towns in 2012 = Galesville, Centerville, Lodge and White Heath
Towns = Atwood (west half), Hammond (formerly Unity), Pierson Station, Mackville and Voorhies.
Towns in 1867 = Atwood, Hammond, and Macksville
Towns in 1875 = Atwood, Hammond Station (Unity on county map), and Mackville
Towns in 1910 = Atwood (west half), Hammond (formerly Unity), Pierson Station, Mackville and Voorhies
Towns in 1927 = Atwood (west half), Hammond, Pierson, Pierson Station, Mackville and Voorhies
Towns in 2012 = Atwood (west half) and Hammond
Willow Branch Township
Towns = Cisco, Amenia (formerly Allerton), Bryden Station, and Willow Branch.
Towns in 1867 = Allerton Station and Cisco
Towns in 1875 = Allerton Station and Cisco
Towns in 1910 = Cisco, Amenia (formerly Allerton), Bryden Station, Miles Station, and Willow Branch
Towns in 1927 = Cisco, Amenia, Bryden Station, and Miles Station
Towns in 2012 = Cisco
Modern Township Map – Illinois Secretary of State’s website
Copyright © Piatt County Historical and Genealogical Society: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
This page last revised: February 2013