Coles County, Illinois

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Coles County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. As of 2000, the population was 53,196. Its county seat is Charleston, which is also the home of Eastern Illinois University.[1]. The county is part of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.



Coles County was organized in December 1830 out of Clark and Edgar counties. It was named after Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois from 1822 to 1826.

Coles County from the time of its creation to 1843

Coles County between 1843 and 1859

Coles County reduced to its current size in 1859 by the creation of Douglas County


Coles County is home to several well-known legends and folktales, including the Mad Gasser of Mattoon and the ghost of Mary Hawkins at Pemberton Hall. Michael Kleen has documented many of these tales, including the "witch's grave" of St. Omer Cemetery and story of "Rag Doll Cemetery," in his book Tales of Coles County, Illinois.[2][3] The legend of "Rag Doll Cemetery" formed the basis of the independent film "Rag Doll," which was filmed primarily in and around Mattoon, Illinois in 2010.[4] Additionally, the novel "A Family Possessed" by L. W. Stevenson is based on poltergeist activity experienced by a rural family living in Coles County in the 1980s.[5]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 510 square miles (1,320.9 km2), of which 508 square miles (1,315.7 km2) is land and 2 square miles (5.2 km2) (0.35%) is water.

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