Putnam County is the smallest county in the state of Illinois, encompassing only 166 square miles.
Named for Israel Putnam
Israel Putnam [1718-1790] served in the French & Indian War and Pontiac's War, prior to being a major general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Established in Seven Years After Illinois became a state
Formed in January 1825. The original Putnam county boundaries were expansive, reaching from the Illinois River to the Wisconsin border. All area north of the Illinois River and the south fork of the Kankakee River [including the site of Chicago] was part of Putnam. However the part of present-day Putnam County south/east of the Illinois River was originally unorganized territory attached to Peoria County.
The borders of Putnam County went through a series of changes between 1827 and 1831 which reduced the overall size of the county, but encompassed all of present-day Putnam County [as well as present-day Bureau, eastern Stark, and most of Marshall County].
By 1839, additional changes reduced Putnam County to it's present-day boundaries.
Part of the Military Tract
Land granted to veterans of the War of 1812. Only the western part of Putnam County was part of the Military Tract. [More about the Military Tract]
Putnam County's courthouse in Hennepin is the oldest courthouse currently in use in Illinois which has been maintained in an original form. The courthouse was built in 1839, the year Putnam County's present-day boundaries were established.
Members of the Society of Friends settled in Putnam County. They established a Monthly Meeting in 1841. The meeting is called Clear Creek, after a creek located near McNabb.
Western Putnam County was home to the Pottawtomi Tribe until the early 1830s. Chief Senachwine is buried in Putnam County.
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