Genealogy and History
Champaign County, Illinois History
Source: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901
Transcribed by ©Kim Torp, 2004
Champaign County, situated
in the eastern half of the central belt of the State; area, 1008 square miles; population in 1900 was 47,622. The
county was organized in 1833, and named for a county in Ohio. The physical conformation is flat, and the soil rich.
The county lies in the heart of what was once called the "Grand Prairie". Workable seams of bituminous
coal underlie the surface, but overlying quicksands interfere with their operation. The Sangamon and Kaskaskia
Rivers have their sources in this region, and several railroads cross the county. The soil is a black muck underlaid
by a yellow clay. Urbana (with a population of 5,708 in 1900) is the county seat. Other important points in the
county are Champaign (9,000), Tolono (1,000), and Rantoul (1,200). Champaign and Urbana adjoin each other, and
the grounds of the Illinois State University extend into each corporation, being largely situated in Champaign.
Large drifted masses of Niagara limestone are found, interspersed with coal measure limestone and sandstone. Alternating
beds of clay, gravel and quicksand of the drift formation are found beneath the subsoil to the depth of 150 to
CHAMPAIGN - a flourishing
city in Champaign County, 128 miles southwest of Chicago and 83 miles northeast of Springfield; is the intersecting
point of three lines of railway and connected with the adjacent city of Urbana, the county-seat, by an electric
railway. The University of Illinois, located in Urbana, is contiguous to the city. Champaign has an excellent system
of water-works, well-paved streets, and is lighted by both gas and electricity. The surrounding country is agricultural,
but the city has manufactories of carriages and machines. Three papers are published here, besides a college weekly
conducted by the students of the University. The Burnham Hospital and the Garwood Old Ladies' Home are located
in Champaign. In the residence portion of the city there is a handsome park, covering ten acres and containing
a noteable piece of bronze statuary, and several smaller parks in other sections. There are several handsome churches,
and excellent schools, both public and private. Population in 1890 was 5,839; in 1900, 9,098.
RANTOUL - a city in Champaign
County, at the junction of the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad, with its West Lebanon and Leroy branch,
14 miles north-northeast of Champaign and 114 miles south by west of Chicago. It has a national bank, seven churches,
opera house, graded school, two weekly papers, machine shops, flouring and flax mills, tile factories and many
handsome residences. Population in 1900 was 1,207.
TOLONO - a city in Champaign
County, situated at the intersection of the Wabash and the Illinois Central Railroads, 9 miles south of Champaign
and 37 miles east-northeast of Decatur. It is the business center of a prosperous agricultural region. The town
has five churches, a graded school, a bank, a button factory, and a weekly newspaper. Population in 1880 was 905;
in 1890, 902; in 1900, 845
URBANA - a flourishing
city, the county-seat of Champaign County, on the "Big Four", the Illinois Central and the Wabash Railways;
130 miles south of Chicago and 31 miles west of Danville; an agricultural and coal-mining region. The mechanical
industries include extensive railroad shops, manufacture of brick, suspenders and lawn-mowers. The Cunningham Deaconesses'
Home and Orphanage is located here. The city has water-works, gas and electric light plants, electric car-lines
(local and interurban), superior schools, nine churches, three banks and three newspapers. Urbana is the seat of
the University of Illinois. Population in 1890 was 3,511; in 1900, 5,728.