About Bureau County
A Brief History of Bureau County
While officially founded in 1837, Bureau County can trace its roots back before the birth of our nation. During this period, traders and settlers began to arrive throughout what is now North Central Illinois, finding an abundance of rich fertile prairie land. Those early years were extremely tough on our early settlers, often struggling to survive both the untamed wilderness and the dangers of the Indian Wars. Around the time our fore fathers were declaring independence from the British, a French trader by the name of Pierre de Beuro established a trading post near the mouth of a creek along the Illinois River. He would eventually become the namesake for that creek, Big Bureau Creek, a small community near by, Bureau Junction, and after several decades, our county itself.
Originally, the surrounded area was organized into Bond County in 1821, shortly thereafter became part of Pike County. In 1823, Pike county was divided into several parts, including the newly formed Fulton County. Later, Fulton County was reorganized into Putnam County.
In 1836, settlers west of the Illinois River began discussions regarding separation from Putnam County. Our early citizens signed and forwarded a petition to do just so to the Illinois State Legislature. On February 28, 1837, the State Legislature passed an act preliminarily setting the boundaries of the new formed County of Bureau pending the outcome of a local election. The election was a fierce battle between those east of the Illinois River wishing to remain a single county and those west of the river hoping to earn final approval to form a new one.
The west prevailed in this election and Bureau County was officially established in 1837. The first official election was held that summer. County officers were elected including Cyrus Langworthy as Sheriff, Thomas Mercer as Clerk, John Howard Bryant as Recorder, Jacob Galer as Coroner and Robert Heward as County Surveyor.
-History taken from Big Bureau and Bright Prairies, 1968
Additional Historical Resources
- Reminiscences of Bureau County by Matson, N. (Nehemiah) (1872)
- History of Bureau County, Illinois by Bradsby, H. C. (1885)
- Past and Present of Bureau County, Illinois by Harrington, George B. (1906)
- A Pioneer Tour of Bureau County, Illinois by Leonard, Doris Parr (1954)
Current Cities & Villages
* Only Part of Village Lies within the County
** County Seat and Largest City
External Link to Village or City Website
Bureau County is currently divided into twenty-five townships: