History of Randolph County - Where Illinois Began!

Randolph County’s motto “Where Illinois Began” is symbolic of the role this region played in the settlement of Illinois.

Our history begins around 8000 B. C. when ancient hunters sought refuge under a rock formation now known as the Modoc Rock Shelter.

In 1686, Robert de LaSalle’s Lieutenant Henri de Tonti, scouted the region for possible French trading post locations. One was located near where the Village of Kaskaskia developed.

The French fleur-de-lis flew over the area from the late 1600s until the British accepted control of “new France” at Fort de Chartres following the end of the French and Indian War in 1765.

Site of Fort Kaskaskia

The British controlled the region until George Rogers Clark captured Kaskaskia and Fort Gage on July 4, 1778. Clark proclaimed the region the Illinois Country as part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Governor Patrick Henry appointed Colonel John Todd as County Lieutenant and Civil Commandant and named Kaskaskia as the seat of government.

Fort Kaskaskia Sign

Virginia ceded its frontier holdings to the Continental Congress, which, in 1787, established the Northwest Territory. General Arthur St. Clair presided as Governor at Marietta, Ohio. In 1790, Governor St. Clair proclaimed what is now down-state Illinois to be called St. Clair County with Kaskaskia as the seat of government, sharing that role with Cahokia.

On October 5, 1795, about one half of the southern portion of St. Clair County was named Randolph County in honor of Edmond Randolph of Virginia. Kaskaskia remained the center of government.

In 1800, the area became part of the newly created Indiana Territory. Nine years later, the Illinois Territory was created. Governor Ninian Edwards presided from Kaskaskia. Illinois was admitted to the Union in 1818 with Shadrack Bond presiding as Governor and Pierre Menard as Lieutenant Governor.

Pierre Menard Home

Fort de Chartres State Historic Site

Now you know why we say that Randolph County truly is Where Illinois Began!