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Vast Territory of 1821 Pike County ...
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Newspaper Article: VAST TERRITORY OF 1821 PIKE COUNTY POLLED ONLY 35 VOTES IN FIRST ELECTION AT COLES’ GROVE

In the first election held in the vast territory of original Pike county in 1821, “there were but 35 votes polled, including those of the French at Chicago.” - Chapman’s 1880 History of Pike County.

To Coles’ Grove, the ancient seat of justice, came those from nearly a third of the state to exercise their right of franchise, and thither from the far northern reaches and from the shores of Lake Michigan came all who had business to transact at their county’s justice seat.

A “Gazetteer of Illinois and Missouri,” published in 1822, says of the county as it was then: “Pike county will no doubt be divided into several counties; some of which will become very wealthy and important. It is probable that the section about Fort Clark (now Peoria) will be the most thickly settled. Pike county contains between 700 and 800 inhabitants. The county seat is Coles’ Grove, a post town. Very little improvement has yet been made in this place or vicinity. The situation is high and healthy, and bids fair to become a place of some importance.”

Thus the historian of 120 years ago speaks of Pike county as it was in its original magnitude and wildness. The historian as yet had no vision of the great metropolis that was to rise in the northeast part of the county, on the shore of Lake Michigan.

In this same Gazetteer of 1822, Chicago is spoken of as “a village of Pike county, containing 12 or 15 houses and about 60 or 70 inhabitants.” Fort Dearborn (site of present Chicago) had been founded in 1804 but it was so far in the wilderness that news of the Indian massacre of the garrison in 1812 was several weeks in reaching the nearest white settlements.

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Submitted: 01/26/08

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