Monticello, Illinois

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Monticello (pronounced /mɒntɨˈtʃɛloʊ/) is a city in Piatt County, Illinois, United States. The population was 5,138 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Piatt County[1].



Monticello is located at 40°1′41″N 88°34′23″W / 40.02806°N 88.57306°W / 40.02806; -88.57306 (40.028092, -88.573003)[2].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.7 km²), all of it land.


Robert Allerton Park, which belongs to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and includes a conference center, summer camp location, and forest art museum, is located just outside of Monticello.


Monticello's first resident was George Haworth. Haworth came to the area in 1822 to serve as a U.S. liaison agent to local Native American tribes. Haworth did not remain, but in 1829, James A. Piatt purchased Haworth's small log cabin. Soon more settlers arrived.

In 1837, residents decided to form a new town. Abraham Marquiss, William Barnes, James McReynolds, and James A. Piatt Jr. formed a joint stock company and purchased land from James A. Piatt. Upon McReynold's suggestion, the town was christened Monticello – after the home of Thomas Jefferson. Monticello officially became a town on July 1, 1837. Townsfolk held a celebration on July 4.

The first house in the new town was built by a Mr. Cass who used the building as his home and a grocery store. The second house was a log cabin built by John Tenbrooke. In 1839, Nicholas DeVore built the "Old Fort" which was later used as a hotel. Monticello continued to grow as the population increased over the next decade.

The citizens of Monticello were unhappy with the distance required to travel to the county seat for their legal issues. Due to the petitions of George Patterson and others, a new county was established on Jan 27 1841: Piatt County - named in honor the first permanent settler, James A. Piatt. As it was the only town in the area at that time, Monticello was named the county seat. The county began legal functions on April 5, 1841 in the "Old Fort." In 1843, the first courthouse was built on land donated by William H. Piatt.

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