Jackson County, Illinois

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Jackson County, incorporated January 10, 1816, is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. As of 2007, the population was 64,841. Its county seat is Murphysboro[1]; its most populous city is Carbondale, home to the main campus of Southern Illinois University.

The Carbondale Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Jackson County.



Human occupation of Jackson County began about 11,500 years ago. Extensive documentation of the areas indigenous peoples has been conducted and is ongoing. Exploration from the European explorers began with the Joliet-Marquette exploration along the Mississippi River. It was not until the 18th and 19th century when pioneer farmers began to settle in the area's inexpensive land along the Mississippi River and in the forested Shawnee hills with its one-hundred-foot trees.

As early as 1813, Conrad Will (namesake of Will County) conducted a large salt extraction operation, using slave labor, on the banks of the Big Muddy River, south of Murphysboro. As this area was in the "free" Northwest Territory, Will had to have legal exemptions to possess slaves.

Jackson County was organized in 1816, having been carved out of Randolph County. It was named for Andrew Jackson, who had just defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

Shortly after the American Civil War, General John A. Logan led a parade of veterans from Murphysboro to Carbondale, Illinois. General Logan, a Union veteran, invited the Confederate veterans, of which there were many in Jackson County, to march with him. Thus, what might have been another celebration of the Union victory became a memorial to the war dead on both sides. This is one version of the origin of the Memorial Day holiday.

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