Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2001 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Illinois had fewer people than any state admitted

Success! Last week we ran an inquiry as to whether or not there might be
a descendant of Joe A. Pearce still living. Martha Endicott was able to
come up with a name and address for Carol Bell (who was the inquirer).

One of the remarks which I make often is that more than three-quarters
of the ancestors of native White Countians came from the South.
I just read a book which backs me up on that statement. The book,
Frontier Illinois, by James E. Davis, is a fascinating history of early
Illinois. It states that 71 percent of the Illinois population in 1818
hailed from below the Mason-Dixon Line and explains how this affected
Illinois history.

Other statistics mentioned: At that time only one in every 237
Illinoisans was born in Illinois, and less than half the state's
population had resided in Illinois as long as three years.
Did you know Illinois had the smallest population of any state ever
admitted to the Union? A Congressional requirement for statehood was a
minimum population of 60,000. Some Illinois politicians convinced
Congress to put aside the rule and allow the territory to become a
state with 40,000 population. Then, when a census was taken, there
weren't even that many inhabitants. The situation called for some
"creative counting," and the census takers were up to the challenge.
They counted travelers passing through--sometimes counting them more
than once. They liberally estimated the population in remote
communities. They added to the tally in many communities. Finally, with
all this creative counting, they were able to come up with 40,258. Davis
says, "With a wink and a nod, Illinois slipped into the Union with
perhaps 36,000 bona fide residents, making it the smallest state ever

Congress was persuaded to add land at the northern boundary, so Illinois
gained 8,000 square miles and 63 miles of valuable lake frontage over
the original plans. Wisconsians wailed about the border for decades and
helped in several secessionist movements begun by the northern
Illinoisans. But the boundary line stuck!

Of the first seven governors of Illinois, six hailed from slave states,
three from Kentucky alone.

Perhaps that's enough of a history lesson for today.
The Genealogy Library is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through
Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box
121, Carmi, IL 62821.

Return to the Notes from the White County Historical Society Page

Return to the White County ILGenWeb Page

The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2001 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.