Illinois Counties
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Illinois Counties

There are one hundred and two counties in Illinois. St. Clair County was the first county established in what is today Illinois. Most counties in Illinois were named after early American leaders, especially of the American Revolutionary War, as well as soldiers from the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812.

Cass County, Illinois

Cass County Education, Geography, and HistoryCass County, Illinois Courthouse

Cass County is a county located in the state of Illinois. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 13,642. Cass County was created on March 30, 1837.The county seat is Virginia. The county is named for Lewis Cass (1782-1866), second governor of Michigan Territory, fourteenth United States Secretary of War.

Etymology - Origin of Cass County Name

The county is named for General Lewis Cass, presidential candidate, US Senator, Secretary of War under President Jackson and Secretary of State under President Buchanan.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Cass County History

Cass County was created on March 30, 1837 (Laws, 1837, p. 101) and was formed from Morgan County. Present area, or parts of it, formerly included in: Morgan County (1823-1837), Greene County (1821-1823), Madison County (1812-1821) and St. Clair County (1790-1812). The County was named for Lewis Cass, a soldier as well as a statesman, Territorial Governor of Michigan, Minister to France, United States Senator from Michigan, Secretary of War under Jackson, Secretary of State under Buchanan, and at one time a prominent candidate for the Presidency.

The County Seat is Virginia. Prior County Seats was Beardstown (1837-1839), Virginia (1839-1843), Beardstown (1843-1867) and Virginia (1867-Present)..

By Mrs. T.J. Schweer

History of Cass County
Chapter VI

Cass County was originally a part of Morgan County, but in April of 1837 a vote was taken to divide the county and form a new county to be called Cass, with the county seat at Beardstown until the people should permanently locate the county seat by election.

On the 14th day of August 1837, the county commissioners met and organized Cass County. At the first meeting of the board the new county was divided into six precincts, which were named: Beardstown, Monroe, Virginia, Sugar Grove, Richmond and Bowens.

When this county was organized there was not a house, built exclusively for religious worship, in it and not one in all Morgan County outside of Jacksonville. Physicians were scarce, and fever and ague quite common. Game was plenty. There were wolves and once in a while a panther was seen. The wolves very seldom did violence to any human being; but when the weather was stormy and cold, and the ground frozen, they were so bold and threatening that nobody cared to risk himself out alone at night. It is said that once a man was returning home from town carrying a quarter of beef on his shoulder. A gang of wolves attacked him, took the beef and ate it and it was only because he happened to be near a cabin that he himself was saved from being devoured.

There were a few grey wolves also, and they were much feared. This is another story told about a grey wolf. One bright cold night, there was a great fuss with the dogs outside a cabin door here in Beardstown. The man opened the door to see what was happening and his favorite little black dog pounced into the cabin, and the largest grey wolf he had ever seen was after him and tried to get in the cabin. The door was open and there was no time to get a rifle. So he grabbed a stick of fire wood and threw it at the wolf. The wolf was driven away, but in a short time a loud noise was heard over at a neighbors and crack went a rifle and then in a short time all was still. It was found the next morning that the wolf had been killed. He was the largest wolf ever seen around her and measured 9 feet, 9 inches from his nose to the end of his tail.

In 1836-37, old settlers tell us about what we call a sudden change in the weather. It was the most remarkable of any we had ever seen, heard or read of. On a Saturday morning there was snow on the ground. The following Sunday was a very warm day, and Monday, until about four o'clock in the afternoon was still warmer, and on both of these days there was considerable rain. The snow had melted to slush and water, which was standing in ponds on the level ground. At that hour the weather turned suddenly very cold. In four hours after the change began the slush and water was frozen solid; and in two hours from that time the men were hurriedly crossing the river on ice. A vast amount of cattle, fowls, and game and may persons were frozen to death. One man who was crossing the prairie on horseback, killed his horse, took out the entrails, and crawled inside for protection and was found frozen to death.

Money was very scarce in the early days of Cass County and it was hard for farmers owning good farms to get money to pay their postage. It was not necessary then to prepay postage. Domestic letters cost from 5 to 25 cents a piece, according to the distance they had come; and foreign letters were still higher.

What was worse they must all be paid for in silver and it often happened that a letter would lie in the post-office for weeks before its owner could get the silver to redeem it. If the farmers wished to get goods from the store, they were forced to buy on credit, and pay in grain or other produce, or take butter, eggs, poultry, game, honey, wood or other articles, to exchange for skin goods.

Produce continually changed in price, even in store pay. Corn was known to sell at 6 cents often and farmers thought 10 cents in cash was probably all that corn ought to, or ever would bring and that farmers could get rich at that price. Wheat was sold in Beardstown at 35 cents per bushel and pork often at 1 1-4 cents per pound.

Cass County has many fertile lands and has always prospered. But the people had to develop this wealth. There were just a few farmers at first and the little town of Beardstown was all. But now it has many cultivated lands and beautiful farm houses. Wheat and corn are easily grown. And the sand-ridges scattered along the river bottoms are good to grow melons, sweet potatoes, beans, etc. The towns of the county are prosperous. We have the Illinois river for navigation and several railroads.

Cass County is bounded on the north by Mason county, on the east by Menard County and on the south by Morgan and on the west by the Illinois river.

The surface of the county is for the most part gently sloping. Some pretty big hills, like the Chandlerville hill and then some broad flat prairie lands.

The soil is very productive.

Different kinds of trees, oak, hickory, elm, sugar maple, black and white walnut. Then in the bottom lands willow, soft maple, sycamore, cotton wood, pecan.

There is some coal found in the hills.

The principal towns of the county are Beardstown, the largest and oldest, Virginia, Chandlerville, Ashland, and Arenzville and Bluff Springs.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 384 square miles (994 km2), of which 376 square miles (974 km2) is land and 8 square miles (20 km2) (2.04%) is water.

Cass county is located close to the center of Illinois. The county is the home of the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area and part of Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Northeast: Mason County
  • East: Menard County
  • Southeast: Sangamon County
  • South: Morgan County
  • West: Brown County
  • Northwest: Schuyler County


A C Central Community Unit School District 262
Beardstown Community Unit School District 15
Porta Community Unit School District 202
Triopia Community Unit School District 27
Virginia Community Unit School District 64

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