History of Knox County

Knox County was created on June 10, 1830, in the Fifth Judicial District of the Circuit Court by Judge Richard M. Young when he was presented the petition by a committee of five men with the proof of 350 residents which was required to form a county.  It is recorded that the first families arrived from Kentucky in 1828.  The log village they erected was near and on the Henderson property of Mr. And Mrs. Allen Freberg and was referred to as the Gum Settlement or the Henderson Group.  There were two areas known as Henderson; one the Henderson Group and the other Henderson Town.  The post office changed the name of Henderson Town to Knoxville in 1837.  In the Maquon history it is noted that William Palmer built a log cabin in 1827.  The first marriage license recorded was 1830.  The first birth and death was recorded in 1878.  Knoxville was the first county seat.  There was a long dispute, lasting many years to move the county seat.  The official confirmation from the Illinois Supreme Court came early in 1872 which moved the seat to Galesburg.  Knox County was named for General Henry Knox, Chief of Artillery in the Revolutionary Army, and later Secretary of War in George Washington’s first cabinet.

The Knox County Courthouse in Galesburg was erected in 1884-1886, more than a decade after the removal of the County Seat from Knoxville, in 1873.  A comparison of the size of the present Courthouse and the Historic Old Courthouse in Knoxville is an indication of the rapid growth of Knox County during that period.  From February 3, 1873, the actual date of the vacating of the Knoxville Courthouse, until January 11, 1887, when the Board of Supervisors first met in the present building, the old Opera House in Galesburg served as temporary quarters.


Established January 13, 1825 County organization was
completed on June 10, 1839
Origin of the name
of the County
Named for Henry Knox, a soldier of the Revolution who commanded the
storming party at A Stoney Point, later a Major General and
Washington’s Secratary of War
Present area, or parts
of it, formerly included
1823-1837             Fulton
1821-1823             Pike
1812-1827             Madison
1801-1812             St. Clair
County Seats 1830-1831            Home of John B. Gum in Henderson
1831-1873            Henderson; new location, name
History of County 
Governing Board
1830-1849           County Commissiners’ Court
1849-1853           County Seat
1853-present      County Board (of Supervisors)