How to Research your
Illinois
Foster Family

Illinois:

European exploration

French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Illinois River in 1673. In 1680, other French explorers constructed a fort at the site of the nowadays city of Peoria, in 1682 a fort atop Starved Rock in nowadays Starved Rock State Park. As a result of this French exploration, Illinois was part of the French empire until 1763, when it passed to the British. The small French settlements continued; a few British soldiers were posted in Illinois but there were no British or American settlers. In 1778 George Rogers Clark claimed the Illinois Country for Virginia and became part of Augusta County. The area was ceded by Virginia to the new United States in 1784 and became part of the Northwest TerritoryThis became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.

 

 19th century

Historical populations

Census

Pop.

 %±

1800

2,458

1810

12,282

399.7%

1820

55,211

349.5%

1830

157,445

185.2%

1840

476,183

202.4%

1850

851,470

78.8%

1860

1,711,951

101.1%

1870

2,539,891

48.4%

1880

3,077,871

21.2%

1890

3,826,352

24.3%

1900

4,821,550

26%

1910

5,638,591

16.9%

1920

6,485,280

15%

1930

7,630,654

17.7%

1940

7,897,241

3.5%

1950

8,712,176

10.3%

1960

10,081,158

15.7%

1970

11,113,976

10.2%

1980

11,426,518

2.8%

1990

11,430,602

0%

2000

12,419,293

8.6%

Est. 2006

12,831,970

3.3%

The Illinois-Wabash Company was an early claimant to much of Illinois. The Illinois Territory was created on February 3, 1809, with its capital at Kaskaskia. In 1818, Illinois became the 21st U.S. state. The new state debated slavery then rejected it, as settlers poured into southern Illinois from Kentucky.

Thanks to Nathaniel Pope, the delegate from Illinois, Congress shifted the northern border 41 miles (66 km) north to 42° 30' north, which added 8,500 square miles (22,000 km˛) to the state, including Chicago, Galena and the lead mining region. The capital remained at Kaskaskia, but in 1819 it was moved to Vandalia. In 1832 the Black Hawk War is fought in Illinois and nowadays Wisconsin between the United States and several Indian tribes. Indians removed to Iowa, attempted to return, but were defeated by the U.S. militia and forced back to Iowa.

The winter of 1830-1831 is called the "Winter of the Deep Snow". A sudden, deep snowfall blanketed the state, making travel impossible for the rest of the winter. Many travelers perished. Several severe winters followed, including the "Winter of the Sudden Freeze". On December 20, 1836, a fast-moving cold front passed through, freezing puddles in minutes and killing many travelers who could not reach shelter. The adverse weather resulted in crop failures in the northern part of the state. The southern part of the state shipped food north and this may have contributed to its name: "Little Egypt", after the Biblical story of Joseph in Egypt supplying grain to his brothers.

 

Richard Foster 1820-1835 Indiana
Richard Foster, Civil War

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born in Indiana or Illinois 1820-1835

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By 1839 the Mormon utopian city of Nauvoo, located on the Mississippi River, was created, settled, and flourished. In 1844 the Mormon leader Joseph Smith was killed in the Carthage, Illinois jail. After close to six years of rapid development the Mormon city of Nauvoo, which rivaled Chicago as Illinois' largest city, saw a rapid decline. In 1846 the Mormons had left Illinois for the West in a mass exodus.

The state has a varied history in relation to Slavery and the treatment of African-Americans in general. Some slave labor was used before it became a territory, but Slavery was banned by the time Illinois became a state in 1818. The Southern part of the state, known as "Little Egypt", was largely settled by immigrants from the South, and the section was sympathetic to the South and slave labor. For a while the section continued to allow some slave labor on a migratory basis, but citizens were opposed to allowing Blacks as permanent residents. In the Illinois Constitution of 1848, reacting to such concerns, a provision was made for exclusionary laws to be passed. In 1853 John A. Logan, later a Union General in the American Civil War, introduced such bills and laws were passed to prohibit all African-Americans, including Freedmen, from settling in the state.

Chicago gained prominence as a Great Lakes port and then as an Illinois and Michigan Canal port after 1848, and as a rail hub soon afterward. By 1857, Chicago was Illinois' largest city.

With the tremendous growth of mines and factories in Illinois in the 19th century, Illinois played an important role in the formation of labor unions in the United States. The Pullman Strike and Haymarket Riot in particular greatly influenced the development of the American labor movement.

Further information: History of Chicago

 American Civil War

During the American Civil War, over 250,000 Illinois men served in the Union Army, more than any other northern state except New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Beginning with President Lincoln's first call for troops and continuing throughout the war, Illinois mustered 150 infantry regiments, which were numbered from the 7th to the 156th regiments. Seventeen cavalry regiments were also gathered, as well as two light artillery regiments.

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Illinois Map
Illinois Map 1833

1833 Map of Illinois proposed canals, roads & Distances

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