Illinois April 27, 2016
Here Are The 10 Oldest Towns In Illinois… And They’re Loaded With History
Illinois has been inhabited for a long time, and there is a lot of interesting history here. These 10 towns are among the oldest in the state. If you get the chance, you should definitely visit. A lot of the old Illinois remains, and it is cool to get a glimpse of what life was like in the past.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
A village was established here in 1748 by the Pekowi Shawnee. Some 60 years later, it was visited by Lewis and Clark. In 1816, the first bank chartered in Illinois was in Shawneetown. A devastating flood went through the area in the 1930s, leading to a near abandonment of "old Shawneetown."
Considering this place was bustling in the early 1000s, this counts as the oldest community in Illinois. This was the most sophisticated pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico. At its height, this area had a higher population than London did at the time.
Kaskaskia was a majorly important French colonial town. Its first stone church was built in 1714. It then got taken over by the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War. It then was designated as capital of the Northwest Territory, and it even served as the state capital of Illinois briefly.
Edwardsville holds the distinction of being the third oldest city in Illinois. In 1805, Thomas Kirkpatrick moved up to this area and named it after his good friend, Ninian Edwards (hence Edwardsville). Fun fact: five Illinois governors have come from Edwardsville.
Originally, this area was settled by the Potawatomi tribe. The U.S. government then paid some tribes around $100,000 for the land. It was then settled by pioneers coming from New York. The establishment of railways placed Barrington on the map.
Palestine was first discovered by Jean Lamonte in 1678, who named it Palestine. He named it such because it reminded him of Palestine, the land of milk and honey. It was chartered in 1811 and officially became an Illinois town in 1855.
This town was settled in 1680. French explorers René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, and Henri de Tonti built Fort Crevecoeur. But there is strong evidence that this place was inhabited as far back as 10,000 BC.
This town tried to get off the ground in 1818, but didn't until the 1830s. In 1842, Charles Dickens actually visited, and was so unimpressed he made the city part of his novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, in which the town was a nightmare city. Things did get better for Cairo after the war, but lynchings and economic decline eventually destroyed a lot of the city.
Alton was once a strong competitor against St. Louis. But long before then, the area was inhabited by Native Americans. It was then visited by Father Jacques Marquette, who described seeing a mythical creature called a Piasa Bird here in 1673.
Carthage was settled in the early 1800s, but boy does it have a lot of history. Abraham Lincoln tried a case here, and a stone commemorates it. It is the only Illinois town to have all of the jails ever used still in existence. And it was also where Joseph Smith was killed in 1844.
Have you been to any of these towns?