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Area History

On a warm summer day in 1830, Judge Richard M. Young presented to a committee of five men the proof of the 350 residents needed to officially form a county. Named after General Henry Knox, Chief of Artillery in the Revolutionary Army, Knox County continued to grow over the years and still continues to flourish today. At first, Knoxville, IL was the county seat, and after a long dispute, the Illinois Supreme Court moved the seat to Galesburg, Illinois in 1872.

 

Galesburg, founded in 1837 by Reverend George Washington Gale and a group of anti-slavery advocates, was founded simultaneously with Knox College, a small, private, liberal arts college still located in the heart of the city. In the same year, the first anti-slavery society in Illinois was founded in Galesburg and was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

 

During those contentious years of the American Civil War, Galesburg was proudly the home of Mary Ann “Mother” Bickerdyke, who humbly cared for Union soldiers and whose statue you can visit just outside the Knox County Courthouse. The fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas was hosted at Knox College’s Old Main on October 7, 1858, and Galesburg continues its dedication to preserving its history today.

 

Many notable people call the Galesburg area home or visited our quaint county over the course of many generations. From the great Lincoln-Douglas Debates to the notable Carl Sandburg, Knox County has a rich history of adventures still being written. Within the eclectic towns of Knoxville, Abingdon, Altona, East Galesburg, Dahinda, Maquon, Oneida, Rio, Victoria, Wataga, Williamsfield, Yates City, and of course Galesburg, you’ll find something new, something old, and something waiting to be told.

 

A visit to Galesburg means almost immediate access to its friendly neighbors all around. Plan your next Galesburg vacation with these other Knox County towns in mind. You won’t want to miss out on the rich history and amazing locals!