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Woodford County

The County was organized in 1841 by a committee of pioneers, headed by Thomas Bullock who came to Walnut Grove (now Eureka) in 1835 from Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky, his birthplace which was named for General William Woodford, who was with General George Washington at Valley Forge. The County and its first County Seat, Versailles, were both named by Mr. Bullock in honor of his boyhood home. Court was held in a private home.

Abraham Lincoln was one of the early-day lawyers who practiced in the Versailles Court. Two years later, in 1843, the County Seat was moved to Hanover (now Metamora). Originally called Hanover when it was made the county seat in 1843, but it was revealed to it’s residents that there was another Hanover in Illinois, in Jo Daviess County. The town, inhabited by a cross-section of Kentuckian transplants, emigrants from the Ohio Valley, and Bavarian Immigrants, was then renamed Metamora, which is said to be a Native American word meaning “King Phillip.” A new Courthouse was built from home products. The bricks were burned from native clay, and the lumber cut and split from the adjacent forest.

The old Courthouse was abandoned when the county Seat was moved to Eureka in 1884. The old Courthouse, built at Metamora in the early 1840's, was purchased by the State of Illinois during Governer Len Small's administration; and is maintained as a memorial in honor of Abraham Lincoln, who tried many cases at the County Seat. Within its old walls are stored valuable relics contributed by the Woodford County Historical Society.

Two former United States presidents spent time in this county--Abraham Lincoln, who practiced law in Metamora, and Ronald Reagan, who studied at Eureka College…not to mention Adlai Stevenson I practiced law at the same time as Lincoln and his family held close ties to Metamora for years afterward…including his son!

Today, visitors can still walk in these past presidents' footsteps at the Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site and on the Eureka College Campus in the Ronald Reagan Museum.

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

Adlai Stevenson I Home
Lee Cabin
Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center

Woodford County Tourism is handled by the Peoria Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

For more information on Woodford County or the Village of Metamora, please visit: