original town of Illiopolis, for which our village is named, was platted in 1814
to be laid out on a tract of 8000 acres at the geographical center, Section 18.
This site is one half mile south of the present village.
On account of its location it was believed by some legislators to be the
ideal place for the capital soon to be removed from Vandalia.
Promoters for the selection of State Center were Governor Joseph Duncan,
John Taylor, Eli Blankenship, and the Sangamon Land Company.
Beautiful lithographic maps were drawn to show the attractive features of
the proposed new city, lots were offered for sale and some were sold.
faith in their choice this group of men built a large two-story hotel and
warehouse. Jesse Kent, son of
Josiah Kent, the pioneer settler, was put in charge as manager.
Illiopolis was chosen as a suitable name for the "future
capital," Illi, an abbreviation of the state name, polis from the Greek
meaning "city of the sun." The Illini Indians for whom the state was
named were a robust tribe of the Algonquins, their name denoting
"men"; the French added "ois" signifying tribe.
Thus, Illiopolis, Sangamon County, Illinois, except for the suffixes, is
consistently of Indian derivation, and incidentally it might be noted that the
rivers which form the boundaries of the state are so charted as to give its
shape the resemblance of an arrow, head.
The story of how the controversy
over the location of the capital was settled is a familiar one.
In 1837 there was a strong agitation in the state for public improvements
such as railroads, canals, and highways. In order to secure these
advantages for their own counties, there was much trading of votes, or "log
rolling," as it was called, among the members of the Assembly.
County was represented by two Senators and seven Representatives who, because of
their combined height of fifty-four feet, were called the "Long Nine."
Abraham Lincoln, a member of the House, described his stature as being
"six feet, four inches nearly." As the improvement bill was hanging
fire these men assisted localities to attain their special ends wherever votes
for Springfield for capital could be gained.
February 28, 1837, the two Houses met in joint session and Springfield was
chosen on the fourth ballot, receiving 73 votes.
On the second ballot there had been ten votes for Geographical Center, on
the third, three, on the first and last none.
Further building plans were abandoned by the proprietors and a prairie
fire swept away the only landmarks of this aspiring town.
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