DeWitt County Genealogy Trails

DEWITT COUNTY HISTORY

De Witt County - Situated in the central portion of the State; has an area of 405 square miles and a population (1900) of 18,972. the land was originally owned by the Kickapoos and Pottawatomies, and not until 1820 did the first permanent white settlers occupy this region. The first to come were Felix Jones, Prettyman Marvel, William Cottrell, Samuel Glenn, and the families of Scott, Lundy and Coaps. Previously however, the first cabin had been built on the site of the present Farmer City by Nathan Clearwater. Zion Shugest erected the earliest grist-mill and Burrell Post the first saw-mill in the county. Kentuckians and Tennesseeans were the first immigrants, but not until the advent of settlers from Ohio did permanent improvements begin to be made. In 1835 a school house and Presbyterian church were built at Waynesville. The county was organized in 1839, and -- with its capitol (Clinton) -- was named after one of New York's most distinguished Governors. It lies within the great "corn belt" and is well watered by Salt Creek and its branches. Most of the surface is rolling prairie, interspersed with woodland. Several lines of railway (among them the Illinois Central) cross the county. Clinton had a population of 2,598 in 1890, and Farmer City, 1,367. Both are railroad centers and have considerable trade. ["Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois", 1901]