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Piatt County

Piatt County, named for James A. Piatt, Sr., was established January 27, 1841, from territory taken from Macon County. The county seat is currently Monticello.

Monticello's first resident was George Haworth who came to the area in 1822 to serve as a U.S. liaison agent to local Native American tribes. Haworth did not remain, but in , residents decided to form a new town. 1837 Abraham Marquiss, William Barnes, James McReynolds, and James A. Piatt Jr. formed a joint stock company and purchased land from James A. Piatt. On July 1, 1837, James A. Piatt filed a plat of Monticello in the old Courthouse in Decatur. On July 4, 1837, a barbecue was held and lots were sold in the village named for the Virginia home of Thomas Jefferson.

The first house in the new town was built by a Mr. Cass who used the building as his home and a grocery store. The second house was a log cabin built by John Tenbrooke. In 1839, Nicholas DeVore built the "Old Fort" which was later used as a hotel. Monticello continued to grow as the population increased over the next decade.

Lincoln and the other circuit lawyers traveled buffalo trails that became Indian trails and later became roads, created by oxen dragging timbers. Lincoln was a great proponent of the railroads, realizing the great advantage they would bring to central Illinois. He started out as a lobbyist for the Illinois Central, and between 1853 and 1860 he handled many cases in the Eighth Judicial Circuit involving the Illinois Central. Lincoln was an advocate of the Northern Cross railroad in the 1850’s, built through Centerville in Piatt County, across the center of Illinois, to link Western Illinois with Eastern Illinois and connections.

Piatt County and Monticello thrived gloriously in the years that followed, with the advent of the railroads and then the income supplied by the Pepsin Company, Monticello soon rose to prominence.

Whether sitting and having lunch on the historic town square or walking leisurely down historic North State Street or historic South Charter Street, visitors will see that Monticello and Piatt County the flavor of experience that they seek!

By looking at the pictures below, you can get an idea of Piatt County and Monticello in Lincoln’s time and as it stands today. Maybe you’ll find something unexpected when you go Looking for Lincoln in Monticello and Piatt County!



Following the route of Lincoln on the Eighth Judicial Circuit is easy, to learn more about the history of the courthouse in this county, just click here!

You may also want to consider a stop by the following sites of interest!

Piatt County Museum
Historic State Street
Monticello Railway Museum
Allerton Park and Retreat Center
Bryant Cottage

For more information on Piatt County or the city of Monticello, please visit: