south side Courthouse Square


Hancock County, Illinois, USA




Old Carthage Jail

[south side 44K JPG] - [west side 36K JPG]

History of Carthage

Hancock County established
William Gilham, Scott Riggs, and John Hardin were commissioned by the Illinois General Assembly to found a permanent county seat, near the geographic center, which became named Carthage.
Carthage was incorporated
Joseph Smith, founder of Mormon Church, and his brother Hyrum Smith were shot today in the old Carthage jail.
The Mormon Church was headquartered in Nauvoo in 1839. When Mormon leaders destroyed an anti-Mormon newspaper in Nauvoo, the Smiths were jailed at Carthage to await trial. Illinois Governor Thomas Ford ordered the Carthage Grays militia unit to guard the jail from an anti-Mormon mob. The mob overpowered the guard (some believe the guard joined the mob), entered the jail, shot the Smiths, and wounded another Mormon, John Taylor.
During their campaigns for the US Sentate, Stephen A. Douglas spoke at Carthage on Oct. 11 and Abraham Lincoln spoke on Oct. 22 Douglas won the election, and carried Hancock County by a small majority
1860 Presidential election. Abraham Lincoln was elected President, but the majority of Hancock County voters voted for Stephen Douglas, not Abraham Lincoln.
Hancock County sent 3,272 men to fight in Illinois Regiments during the Civil War. The 118th Illinois Infantry was made almost entirely of men enlisting from Hancock County. They served primarily in Arkansas and Mississippi.
Hancock County celebrates centennial of formation.
See also:
  • Hancock County Courthouse

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