West Frankfort, Illinois

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West Frankfort is a city in Franklin County, Illinois, USA. The population was 8,196 at the 2000 census. The city is part of the Metro Lakeland area.



Although one might associate the name "West Frankfort" with the cities named "Frankfurt" in Germany or Frankfort in Kentucky, the truth is far more local. Around 1810, Francis Jordan, an early settler from Tennessee, with the help of his seven brothers, began construction of a fort atop a hill in present-day Franklin County. Completed in 1811, the fort was named "Frank's Fort", in Jordan's honor.[1][unreliable source?]

Jordan also built a fort a few miles to the east, at Jordan's Settlement, near modern Thompsonville, Illinois. This fort was called "Jordan's Fort". The construction of these forts was in response to the danger of attack during Tecumseh's War, which culminated in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Then-governor of the Illinois Territory, Ninian Edwards, actively encouraged the construction of these forts and offered the services of the Saline Militia in their erection.[1]

Since the Shawnee Trail, an important trading route linking Kaskaskia, Illinois and Old Shawneetown, Illinois ran along the high ground in the vicinity of the fort, this area became an attractive destination for settlers in search of cheap land made available by the recently passed Bit Act of 1805. The resulting settlement took the name of the nearby fort, which was subsequently shortened to "Frankfort". Frankfort grew quickly during this period, its population rivaling that of Chicago at that time.[1]

After railroad tracks linking Chicago, Paducah, and Memphis were laid 4 miles (6 km) west of Frankfort, many businesses and residents migrated to the new commercial center which formed near the tracks. This new community came to be known as West Frankfort for its location west of Frankfort. The two cities eventually merged and retained the name of West Frankfort.[1]

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