Old Shawneetown, Illinois

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Old Shawneetown is a village in Gallatin County, Illinois, along the Ohio River. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 278.

Contents

History

After the Revolution, Shawneetown served as an important United States government administrative center for the Northwest Territory. Shawneetown and Washington, D.C., share the distinction of being the only towns chartered by the United States government. In early November 1803, Lewis and Clark are believed to have stopped at Old Shawneetown on their way to Fort Massac, just down the Ohio River.

Old Shawneetown is the site of the first bank chartered in Illinois in 1812. Originally in a log cabin it was replaced in 1822 with a brick structure (only the second one in the town) now known as the John Marshall House.[1]

Local legend states that the Shawneetown Bank refused to buy the first bonds issued by the city of Chicago on the grounds that no city located that far from a navigable river could survive.

Another historic bank building, the Bank of Illinois, was constructed in 1839-41 to house the offices of the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown. It later housed numerous other financial institutions before it was closed in the 1930s. This fine example of Greek Revival architecture survives as the Shawneetown Bank State Historic Site.

Residents long remembered the visit by Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette of France to the city on May 8, 1825, as a highpoint for the early community's social history.[2]

Home of the largest Monster Truck Boat in US History.

Famous residents

  • Robert G. Ingersoll, a famous 19th century orator and agnostic, lived in Shawneetown from 1855 to 1857, where he served as deputy clerk in the county and circuit clerk's office and practiced law.
  • Civil War general John Alexander McClernand grew up in Shawneetown. He started a newspaper, the Shawneetown Democrat, in 1835. He served in the Illinois General Assembly between 1836 and 1843 before moving to Jacksonville where he was later elected to the United States Congress, serving four terms between 1843 and 1850. He moved to Jacksonville, Illinois the following year.
  • Former Revolutionary War officer Thomas Posey died visiting his daughter who lived just outside Shawneetown in 1818 and is buried in the historic Westwood Cemetery that grew up around his grave.

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