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Stephenson County
History & Genealogy

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Stephenson County History

Established March 4, 1837
Named for Benjamin Stephenson, prominent pioneer, a Colonel of the Territorial militia, and Adjutant General of the Territory (1813–1814).

STEPHENSON COUNTY, a northwestern county, with an area of 560 square miles. The soil is rich, productive and well timbered. Fruit-culture and stock-raising are among the chief industries. Not until 1827 did the aborigines quit the locality, and the county was organized, ten years later, and named for Gen. Benjamin Stephenson. A man named Kirker, who had been in the employment of Colonel Gratiot as a lead-miner, near Galena, is said to have built the first cabin within the present limits of what was called Burr Oak Grove, and set himself up as an Indian-trader in 1826, but only remained a short time. He was followed, the next year, by Oliver W. Kellogg, who took Kirker's place, built a more pretentious dwelling and became the first permanent settler. Later came William Waddams, the Montagues, Baker, Kilpatrick, Preston, the Goddards, and others whose names are linked with the county's early history. The first house in Freeport was built by William Baker. Organization was effected in 1837, the total poll being eighty-four votes. The earliest teacher was Nelson Martin, who is said to have taught a school of some twelve pupils, in a house which stood on the site of the present city of Freeport. Population (1880), 31,963; (1890), 31,338; (1900), 34,933. "Historical Encylopedia of Illinois" 1901

FREEPORT - a city and railway center, the county-seat of Stephenson County, 121 miles west of Chicago; has good water-power from the Pecatonica River, with several manufacturing establishments, the output including carriages, wagon-wheels, wind-mills, coffee-mills, organs, piano-stools, leather, mineral paint, foundry products, chicken incubaators and vinegar. The Illinois Central Railroad has shops here and the city has a Government postoffice building. Population in 1890 was 10,189; in 1900 - 13,258. "Historical Encylopedia of Illinois" 1901

Present area, or parts of it, formerly included in:

1826 1837: Jo Daviess
1836 1837:
1825 1826:
1823 1825:
1821 1823:
1817 1821:
1812 1821:
1801 1812:
St. Clair

County Seat: Freeport

Stephenson County Courthouse
15 North Galena Avenue
Freeport, IL 61032

County Clerk - (815) 235-8289
Circuit Clerk - (815) 235-8266
Recorder - (815) 235-8289

IRAD Depository
Regional History Center
Founders Memorial Library
Room 400
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Telephone: (815) 753-1807

Townships of Stephenson County

Buckeye - Original spelling was Buck Eye.
Dakota - Formed from Buck Eye in April, 1861.
Harlem - Name changed from Wayne in December, 1850.
Jefferson - Formed from Loran (no date, before 1921).
Kent - Formed from Erin on March 17, 1856.
Rock Grove
Rock Run
Silver Creek
West Point

Township Map (off-site, provided by IRAD)

Stephenson County Data Found Online Here

Stephenson County Obituaries

Cemetery List

The 1850 Mortality Schedule

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