Three counties within the Downstate Illinois territory have reason to celebrate this year, as they turn the BIG 200! Fayette County, Hamilton County, and Lawrence County were all established in 1821, making this year their bicentennial celebration.
Lawrence County came to be on January 16th, 1821 and was formed from parts of Crawford and Edwards Counties. The county was named for Captain James Lawrence, who was killed in action during the War of 1812 while commanding the frigate USS Chesapeake. Mortally wounded, he gave his men the famous last order, "Don't give up the ship." As you enter Lawrence County from Indiana, the first thing you will be greeted by is the Lincoln Trail State Memorial – which commemorates the first time that Abraham Lincoln came to Illinois!
On February 8th, 1821 an Act of Separation was filed to form Hamilton County out of White County. It was named for Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary War hero and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury. Community members in Hamilton County planned on doing multiple events and throughout the year to celebrate the occasion, but the current pandemic put a damper on that. However, a logo for this year’s Hamilton County Bicentennial has been created, as well as signs and medallions that can be purchased. The Bicentennial Committee in Hamilton County hopes to have a few different events later this year, and they will invite different entities and leaders throughout the county to participate.
Fayette County was organized on February 14th of 1821 – from parts of Bond, Wayne, Clark and Jefferson Counties. The county seat is Vandalia, which was actually formed before the county – Vandalia celebrated its bicentennial back in 2019. The county is named after Revolutionary War hero Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette. An interesting tidbit of information that many folks do not know is that the Fayette County Courthouse is the only courthouse in the state that was once a residence.
We’d like to send out a warm CONGRATULATIONS and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Lawrence, Hamilton and Fayette Counties this year!