Illinois Genealogy Resources

Illinois History Timeline

  • 1673 – French explorers Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Jolliet (1645-700) reach Illinois country.
  • 1675 – Marquette founds a mission at the Great Village of Illinois, near present Utica.
  • 1680 – French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and Henry de Tonty build Fort Crèvecoeur, on the Illinois River, near present Peoria.
    1682 – La Salle and Tonty build Fort St. Louis across the Illinois River from the Great Village of the Illinois.
  • 1682 – La Salle and Tonty build Fort St. Louis across the Illinois River from the Great Village of the Illinois.
  • 1696 – Jesuit priest Pierre François Pinet establishes the Guardian Angel mission at present Chicago.
  • 1703 – Jesuit priest Gabriel Marest moves the Immaculate Conception mission from present St. Louis to Kaskaskia.
  • 1717 – All of present-day Illinois) was originally part of Quebec until the Mississippi River Valley was annexed by Louisiana on 27 September 1717.
  • 1717 – Illinois country was placed under the French government of Louisiana. 
  • 1718 – John Law is granted a French charter for colonizing the Mississippi Valley; his “Mississippi Bubble” scheme bursts in 1720.
  • 1720 – Fort de Chartres in Randolph County becomes the seat of military and civilian government in Illinois.
  • 1730- In a major battle, hostile Fox Indians are massacred in east-central Illinois by French troops and Indian allies.
  • 1763 – France ceded all possessions east of the Mississippi. French and Indian (seven Years’) WAr ends; Illinois country is ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris.
  • 1765 – The British took possession at Fort de Chartres.
  • 1778 – George Rogers Clark defeats the British at Kaskaskia, securing the Illinois Country for Virginia. Ilinois was a territory of Virginia and known as the county of Illinois.
  • 1783 – The American Revolution and the Treaty of Paris extended the American boundary to the Mississippi, making the present Illinois part of the United States.
  • 1784 – Virginia relinquishes its claim to Illinois.
  • 1787 – The establishment of the Northwest Territory included Illinois land.
  • 1788 – Arthur St. Clair becomes the first governor of the Northwest Territory.
  • 1800 – Congress creates the Indiana Territory, which includes Illinois. 
  • 1803 – Kaskaskia Indians cede nearly all of their Illinois lands to the United States.
  • 1803 – United States Army establishes Fort Dearborn at present Chicago.
  • 1809 – Congress organizes t, with Kaskaskia the capital, Ninian Edwards the governor. 
  • 1811 – The first coal mine in Illinois is opened in Jackson County.
  • 1811 – New Madrid, Missouri, earthquake, the largest in United States history, damages southern Illinois (recurs in 1812).
  • 1814 – The first newspaper in the state, the Illinois Herald, is published at Kaskaskia.
  • 1817 – Morris Birkbeck and George Flower establish an English settlement at Albion.
  • 1817 – War of 1812 veterans begin receiving160-acre land warrants in the Illinois Military Tract, a region between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.
  • 3 December 1818 – Illinois becomes the twenty-first state, with Kaskaskia the capital and Shadrach Bond the first governor.
  • 1819 – Kickapoo Indians move west of the Mississippi, relinquishing most claims to central Illinois lands.
  • 1820 – Vandalia becomes the state capital.
  • 1823 – Galena becomes a center for lead mining.
  • 1824 – Voters defeat a constitutional convention call to permit slavery in the state.
  • 1829 – Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi cede lands in northern Illinois by Treaty at Prairie du Chien.
  • 1830 – Abraham Lincoln moves to Illinois from Indiana.
  • 1830 – James Hall launches Illinois Monthly Magazine, the first literary periodical published west of Ohio.
  • 1832 – Black Hawk War ends with Sauk and Fox Indians leaving the Illinois lands they had ceded in 1804.
  • 1833 – Treaty of Chicago provides for United States acquisition and settlement of the last remaining Indian lands in Illinois.
  • 1836 – Illinois and Michigan Canal construction is begun between Lake Michigan and the Illinois Valley; completed in 1848.
  • 1836 – Galena and Chicago Union Railroad is chartered; completed twelve years later.
  • 1837 – Chicago receives a city charter; William Ogden becomes the first mayor.
  • 1837 – At Alton a pro-slavery mob murders abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy (b. 1802).
  • 1838 – Northern Cross Railroad construction is begun between Meredosia and Springfield; the line is completed in 1842.
  • 1839 – Springfield becomes the state capital.
  • 1839 – Cherokee Indians pass through southern Illinois on the “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma.
  • 1839 – National Road is completed from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia.
  •  1841 – Chicagoan John S. Wright begins publishing Prairie Farmer magazine.
  • 1846 – Donner party leaves Springfield by wagon train for California; forty-two perish in Sierra Mountains snowstorms.
  • 1846 – Erik Jansson and Jonas Olson establish a Swedish religious colony at Bishop Hill.
  • 1847 – Joseph Medill founds the Chicago Tribune.
  • For more…see  

Illinois Vital Statistics

  • 1916 – Statewide Birth and Death Records. Births and deaths that were recorded prior to 1 January 1916 were only recorded at the county recorder’s office. For births and deaths prior to 1916, contact the County Recorder’s office in the county where the event took place.
  • 1962 – Statewide Marriage Records began. County Marriage records typically commencing with the formation of the county continuing through the present. See Rootsweb Illinois County Resources from The Red Book  to see dates counties were formed and their parent County(ies). Divorce records are kept by the county clerk of court. It is interesting to note that in 1868, shortly after the end of the Civil War, the city of Chicago granted 400 divorces.1
  • 1877 County Birth Records at county level began but the practice was not universal until 1916. A scattering of records before 1877 may exist.   

Illinois Census Records

  • Federal Census
    • Starting in 1820
    • 1810, Randolph County only
    • 1850, Edgar County lists county of birth
    • 1890, only Mound Township of McDonough County survives
    • Industry and Agriculture Schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (agricultural)
    • Mortality Schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870 (only counties Ke-Z), 1880
  • Territorial Census
    • 1810 (as Indiana Territory)
    • 1818 (as Illinois Territory)
    • 1810, Randolph County only
  • State Census
    • 1820 – All counties except Edwards County
    • 1825 – Edwards, Fulton, and Randolph counties only
    • 1830 – Morgan County only (includes present counties of Cass, Morgan and Scott).
    • 1835 – Fayette, Fulton, Jasper, and Morgan counties (includes present counties of Cass, Morgan and Scott)
    • 1840 – Thirty-five counties included
    • 1845 – Cass, Madison, Putnam and Tazewell Counties only
    • 1855 – All counties except: Carroll, Champaign, Franklin, Gallatin, Henry, Jefferson, Lake, Stark, Will and Woodford
    • 1865 – For all counties except Gallatin, Mason, Monroe and Tazewell

Illinois County Map

Illinois Counties Map
Illinois Counties Map

Resource Links

Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources (digitized at Rootsweb wiki)
Red Book Main Page (links to all states):,_County,_and_Town_Sources
Red Book – Illinois Family History Research (be sure to view the links to the right): – Illinois Online Genealogy Records – Illinois Data Collections

Illinois GenWeb

Genealogy Trails – Ellinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Rootsweb – Illinois Genealogy Records

Genealoger – Illinois Genealogy Resources

Illinois Department of Public Health

Diigo Illinois Genealogy

Illinois State Archives 

Illinois State Gen Soc

Illinois State Hist Soc

Illinois State Library


Newberry Library

  1. Third Edition Red Book, American State, County, and Town Sources, Edited by Alice Eichholz Ph.D., C.G., Ancestry Publishing,The Generations Network, Inc.1989, 1992, 2004. Now digitized online at Rootsweb wiki:,_County,_and_Town_Sources.