Knoxville, Illinois

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Knoxville is a city in Knox County, Illinois, United States. The population was 3,183 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Galesburg Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Contents

Description

Knoxville is located just southeast of the City of Galesburg. There is a public square in the center of town with several historic buildings surrounding it including Knox County's first courthouse, city hall, the Sanburn log cabin, and several other important buildings. The Knox County Fairgrounds is just north of Knoxville on Henderson Street. Knoxville is served with two exits on Interstate 74, at U.S. Highway 150 east of town and at Henderson Streen north of town. U.S. Highway 150 runs east and west through Knoxville and serves as the main business throughfare. Illinois Highway 97 and Knox County Highway 8 also enter the city. The Knoxville Cemetery lies in the northern part of town on Market Street. The Knox County Nursing Home is located in the city. There is a grade school in Knoxville, as well as Knoxville High School. Among the attractions in Knoxville are the historic buildings, Walnut Grove Farm, the Knox County Fair held in August, and the annual Knox County Scenic Drive held in October.

History

Knoxville was established on January 15, 1831, and called Henderson until its name was changed to Knoxville on December 22, 1832 when it became the county seat. It was one of the first 10 municipalities incorporated in the state and is the oldest town in Knox County.

Knoxville was the county seat until 1873, when the county seat was moved to Galesburg. The first Knox County Courthouse, completed in 1839, and second Knox County jail, completed in 1845, still stand in Knoxville and are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The two buildings and Knoxville's first general store, the Sanburn Log Cabin, build in 1832, have been restored and are open to the public. The county's Hall of Records, built in 1854, is used as Knoxville's City Hall.

The log cabin of John G. Sanburn was not discovered until decades after his death, when it was nearly destroyed. In 1832, Sanburn settled in Knoxville to open the first shop, which also served as the first post office. He was the first county clerk, circuit clerk, recorder, and probate judge, as well as shopkeeper and postmaster. Years later, as the house built around Sanburn's cabin was being demolished, a nosy neighbor spied the underlying log structure and alerted the authorities. At that time the owner of the property, Bernice LaFollette, donated the cabin to the city as a museum.

Typical log cabins like Sanburn's measured about 14' x 14' wide and 7'-8' high with 9" walnut or butternut logs, wooden door hinges, and clapboard shingles. The entire area of Sanburn's cabin and general store served as a kitchen while encased in LaFollette's home. A restoration in 1964 insured proper security and insulation that Sanburn did not enjoy in the 1830s, including glass windows and cement sealant to replace clay and hay between logs.

The cabin contains general store memorabilia for display and a picture of an 1852 penny discovered in the foundation when the house was moved from the south to the north side of the square for restoration. The John G. Sanburn Log Cabin is maintained by the Knox County Historic Sites. It is open for public view during the first two weekends in October for the Knox County Scenic Drive and from 2-4 p.m. Sundays, June-September. For more information contact Knoxville City Hall at (309) 289-2814

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