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STATE OF ILLINOIS AND SUNDRY COUNTIES, INCLUDING PEORIA, ORGANIZED.
On the 18th of April, 1818, Congress passed "An act to enable the people of the Illinois Territory to frame a constitution and state government, and for the admission of said state into the Union."
On the 26th of August, 1818, a convention met at Kaskaskia to form a constitution for the State of Illinois. Under a constitution made by this convention the state government went into operation, and so continued until the first day of April, 1848, when the present constitution, which had been adopted by a convention in the previous August, went into operation.
The first constitution was made by men living in the southern part of the state—that portion that, for some whimsical reason, is called Egypt. Not a man was in the convention that formed it from any portion of the state north of Madison and Crawford counties. The counties represented were the following, and by the following delegates:
St. Clair county,— John
Messenger and Jas. Lemen jr.
Randolph county — George Fisher and Elias Kent.
Madison county — B. Stephenson, Joseph Borong, and Abraham Prickett.
Gallatin county — Michael Jones, Leonard White, and Adolphus Frederick Hubbard.
Johnson county — Hezekiah West and Wm. McFatridge.
Edwards county — Seth Gard and Levi Compton.
White county — Willis Hargrave and Wm. McHenry.
Monroe county — Caldwell Cams and Enoch Moore.
Pope county — Samuel Omelveny and ----- Ferguson.
Jackson county — Conrad Will and James Hall, jr.
Crawford county — Joseph Kitchell and Ed. N. Cullom.
Bond county — Thomas Kirkpatrick and Samuel G. Morse.
Union county — William Echols and John Whiteacre,
Washington county — Andrew Bankson.
Franklin county — Isham Harrison and Thomas Roberts, William C. Greenup, Secretary of the Convention.
We have recently elected and have now in session a convention to amend or remodel our constitution, which consists of eighty-four members: sixteen of them are from the country which then composed the above-named counties, and sixty-eight of them from the residue of the state, which was then 'desert wild' and had no voice in the convention that formed our present constitution. What a mighty change of jurisdiction is here. Although that portion in the south which originally gave law to the state has greatly increased in population, yet the North has increased in so much greater ratio that the then wilderness gives now about four-fifths of the delegates, against one-fifth given by the then populated part of the state.
As proofs of all the French claims were made at Edwardsville, and many of our first deeds were recorded there, this is, perhaps, a proper place to explain why that was so. The first governor of the Illinois territory was Gen. St. Clair. He, by proclamation, divided the whole territory into three counties, and so it remained until the 14th of September, 1812, when Governor Edwards, by proclamation, established the county of Madison, with the following boundaries, to wit: . "Beginning on the Mississippi, to run with the second township above Cahokia east, until it strikes the dividing line between the Illinois and Indiana territories; thence with the said dividing line to the line of Upper Canada; thence with said line to the Mississippi; thence down the Mississippi to the place of beginning." There may be some doubt as to the meaning of this boundary; but, by any construction that can be put upon it, it included Peoria, and more than three-fourths of the state, and Edwardsville having been laid off and become the county-seat of this great county is the reason of some of our land documents being found at that place. But a few of them were recorded in Pike county; that is because, on the 31st of January, 1821, Pike county was established by an act of the legislature, with the following boundaries: "Beginning at the mouth of the Illinois river, and running thence up the middle of said river to the forks of the same; thence up the south fork of said river until it strikes the state line of Indiana; thence north with said line to the north boundary-line of this state; thence west to the west boundary-line of the state; and thence with said line to the place of beginning."
On the 28th of January, 1823, by an act of the legislature, the County of Fulton was carved out of the above territory, and for county purposes the territory since composing Peoria county was attached, so that at the following election the people (what few there were of them) had to go down to Lewistown to vote, and by a little management beat the Fultonites in electing a sheriff: Abner Eads beating Ossian M. Ross, the Fulton man.
On the 13th of January, 1825, the legislature passed a law establishing the County of Peoria, with the following boundaries, to wit: "Beginning where the line between townships eleven and twelve north intersects the Illinois river; thence west with said line to the range-line between ranges four and five east; thence south with said line to the range-line between townships seven and eight; thence east to the line between ranges five and six; thence south to the middle of the main channel of the Illinois river; thence up along the middle of the main channel of said river to the place of beginning."
The second section of said bill, as a temporary arrangement, added, for county purposes, all the land north of township 20 of the third principal meridian, and between the said third meridian and the Illinois, which had been a part of Sangamon county.
The third section locates the county-seat on the northeast quarter of section nine, of town eight north of the base line, and range eight east of the fourth principal meridian, which still contains the best-improved part of the city.
The ninth section attaches, in the same manner as is provided by section two, all the land north of Peoria county, the Illinois river, and the Kankakee river.
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