Randolph County Economic Development

Randolph County Economic Development

1 Taylor Street

Chester, Illinois 62233

618.826.5000 Ext 221

618.826.3363 Fax econdev@randolphco.org





Randolph County Circa 1876

Randolph County is 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  river valley 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 British control of “new France” following the end of the French and Indian War in 1765.


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. 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 and Cahokia as the seats of government along the Kaskaskia Cahokia Trail, first road in the territory.


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.


The map above illustrates Randolph County as it was in 1876. 1881 brought disaster. Flooding caused the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers to flow as one at what was then called the Kaskaskia Bend in the Mississippi River. When the waters receded, the Mississippi had changed course and followed the Kaskaskia bottom, changing Kaskaskia from a peninsula to an island. Today, Kaskaskia Island remains part of Illinois, but lies west of the Mississippi River on the Missouri side. You can find the Liberty Bell of the West and Immaculate Conception Church there.