Watseka, Illinois

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Watseka is a city in and the county seat of Iroquois County, Illinois, United States.[2] It is located approximately 15 miles (24 km) west of the Illinois-Indiana state line on U.S. Route 24.

The population within the city limits was 5,670 at the time of the 2000 census; the population within the city's zip code 60970 was 7,582.



Incorporated in 1865, the name "Watseka" derives from the Potawatomi name "Watch-e-kee", "Daughter of the Evening Star", the wife of early eastern Illinois settler Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard.[3]

The Old Iroquois County Courthouse was constructed in 1866, with two additions built in 1881 and 1927. In the early 1960's, an Iroquois County resident, Mrs. Katherine Clifton, bequeathed to the county in her will a large sum of money and a site upon which to build a new courthouse. It is the only courthouse in the United States built entirely with private funds.

The old courthouse was advertised for sale and fell into disuse. In 1967, during the Centennial Celebration of Watseka, the Iroquois County Historical Society was organized, and circulated petitions throughout the county not to sell the Old Courthouse. The petitions were approved by the County Board of Supervisors, and the Old Courthouse re-opened as a museum that same year.[4] In 1975, the Old Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]


Watseka is located near the center of Iroquois County, at the intersection of U.S. Route 24 and Illinois Route 1. The Iroquois River winds along the north side of the town and is joined by Sugar Creek on the west side of town. The south half of the town is in Belmont Township; the north half is in Middleport Township. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2), all of it land.[6]


As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 5,670 people, 2,314 households, and 1,483 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,165.4 people per square mile (835.6/km²). There were 2,463 housing units at an average density of 940.6/sq mi (363.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.75% White, 0.62% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.86% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.61% of the population.

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