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Myths on Macoupin County history abound



What is Fact and What is Fiction?

Like most places, myths abound when it comes to the history of Macoupin County. Many of those legends are easily answered with facts.

Myth Number 1.   Macoupin County was Lincoln country.

Fact:  Only in a geographic sense.  Macoupin County actually voted against Lincoln both times that he ran for President, in 1860 and 1864. The county was not alone. Most of its neighbors, including Montgomery, Greene, Jersey, Christian, and others, also cast their lot with Lincoln’s opponents.

Lincoln’s support in downstate Illinois was hardly universal. His base was in northern Illinois, above Galesburg on the west and Kankakee on the east. He easily carried Chicago and its collar counties, such as Kane, Kendall, Lake, DuPage, Winnebago, and others.

Even in his hometown of Springfield, Lincoln found the going rough. He only carried the city by ten votes  — 1,324 to 1,314 — over his Democratic opponent, George McClellan, in 1864.  On the whole, Lincoln lost Sangamon County in both 1860 and 1864.

Myth Number 2. Lincoln argued cases in the famous Macoupin County courthouse.

Fact: Lincoln was not even alive when the current Macoupin County courthouse was built. He died on April 15, 1865, two years before ground was broken on the courthouse in 1867.


Myth Number 3.  One of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates was held in Carlinville.

Fact: False. This belief has persisted through the years, and some in Carlinville swear that Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas staged one of their celebrated debates in the town on Aug. 31, 1858. However, there were seven debate sites around the state, and Carlinville was not one of them.

The debates were held between August 21 and October 15 in, chronological order, Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton.

Lincoln may not have been particularly well-received in Carlinville. One account reported that he spoke to a “scattered and not overly sympathetic audience.”  A marker denotes the spot of his appearance, near the intersection of South Broad and First South streets. 

Douglas spoke in Carlinville on Sept. 8, 1858, eight days after Lincoln’s appearance, and was also in Gillespie that October 16.

Myth Number 4. John M. Palmer, Carlinville’s most famous citizen, was elected governor from his home here.

Fact: Palmer last lived in Carlinville in 1867 – a year before his election as governor.  By then, he had moved to Springfield, where he lived until his death in 1900.  

The Palmer home still stands in Carlinville, albeit in two parts. Constructed sometime between 1845-49, the main portion stands at 305 South East Street. Around 1902-03, the east wing of the home was cut off and moved down the street, where it stands at 233 East Second South.


Considered one of the better governors of Illinois history, Palmer, a Civil War major general, also served as U.S. Senator from 1891-97 and was a Presidential candidate on the third-party Gold Democrat ticket in 1896. He is buried in Carlinville City Cemetery.

Myth Number 5. Carlinville is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, towns in the state.

Fact: Not even close. Cahokia was founded in 1699, followed by Kaskaskia in 1703. Those two towns alone are far ahead of Carlinville, which was established in 1829.

And there are plenty of others. Prairie du Rocher was founded in 1723, while some of the many other settlements older than Carlinville in southern Illinois include Belleville, Albion, Shawneetown, and Carmi.

Carlinville does not even have to look far for elder neighbors, including Greenville (1815), Edwardsville (1818), Alton (1818), Vandalia (1819), Springfield (1821), Carrollton (1821), and Jacksonville (1825).

Tom Emery is a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville, Ill. He may be reached at 217-710-8392 or

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Court News

Macoupin County Courthouse News




Cases filed during June 30 through July 6. Visit the “Court News” category under the “Community News” tab for other editions.


Lawrence E. Ealey, 50 of Springfield, is charged with loitering as a registered child sex offender in a park in connection with a June 30 incident.

Larry E. Conlee, 40 of Mount Claire, is charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer and attempting to disarm a peace officer or corrections employee in connection with a July 1 incident.

Jessica Mccaw, 35 of Saint Louis, MO, is charged with aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and causing damage in excess of $300 to property in connection with a July 3 incident.

Austin T. Fank, 18 of Mount Olive, is charged with causing a motor vehicle crash involving death or personal injuries, failing to give information and render aid, driving while never issued a license, driving failing to give notice of crash, failure to obey a stop sign, and failure to reduce speed in connection with a July 4 incident.


Josh S. Tucker, 29 of Mount Olive, is charged with driving on a suspended license and cancelled/revoked/suspended registration in connection with a June 20 incident.

Charles V. Bond III, 32 of Mount Olive, is charged with driving on a suspended license and having a cancelled/revoked/suspended registration in connection with a June 19 incident.

Justin C. Grider, 42 of Carlinville, is charged with driving on a suspended license in connection with a June 26 incident.

Bobby L. Walker, 34 of Sorento, is charged with driving on a revoked license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, failure to display a registration plate, and expired registration in connection with a June 27 incident.


Patrick I. Rogan, 37 of South Abington Towns, PA, is charged with speeding 26-34 mph over the limit in connection with a June 27 incident.

Samantha M. Meza, 31 of Carlinville, is charged with cancelled/revoked/suspended registration and operating an uninsured motor vehicle in connection with a June 29 incident.

Jessica R M Green, 36 of Carlinville, is charged with driving on a suspended license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle in connection with a June 30 incident.

Bryant J. Tilley, 18 of Wilsonville, is charged with driving while never issued a license and driving 11-15 mph above the limit in connection with a June 30 incident.

Johnelle B. Crawford, 52 of Gillespie, is charged with driving on a suspended license in connection with a July 3 incident.

David L. Clark, 31 of Gillespie, is driving on a suspended license in connection with a June 26 incident.


  • Kimberlee A. Gillespie versus Jonathan E. Gillespie
  • Charley Jones versus Troy Jones
  • John F. Zoller versus Stephanie Zoller


  • Jacob Haley and Teylar Berola, both of Chatham

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Community News

Bike MS set for September 7, 8



Participants in the Bike MS travel (archived photo)

Each year we hold the Bike MS: Gateway Getaway in Godfrey, Illinois to raise critical funds and create awareness around our movement. This year, on Saturday and Sunday September 7 and 8, over 1,100 riders plus more than a hundred volunteers and staff will converge on Lewis and Clark Community College’s Godfrey with a goal to raise $1.3 million to change the world for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

Riders will take off over a 2-hour window beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and 7:15 to 8:30
a.m. on Sunday. All participating cyclists, who must be at least 12 years of age and raise a minimum of $300 will have access to bike mechanics, support vehicles, rest stops, a finish line celebration and much more.

You may see our riders who will tackle their choice of 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-mile routes both days, traveling along the limestone bluffs on the Great River Road and winding through Lewis and Clark district communities, including Godfrey, Alton, Fosterburg, Bethalto, Elsah, Otterville, Jerseyville, Brighton, Dorsey, Worden, Holiday Shores, Moro, Woodburn, Bunker Hill, Shipman, Staunton, Benld, Wilsonville and more.

Community members should drive cautiously through 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday
when the routes close.

MS is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society provides global leadership and funds research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Our vision is a world free of MS. Our mission is to cure MS while empowering people affected by MS to live their best lives.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about multiple sclerosis (MS) now – to move together toward a world free of MS. Our local chapter serves nearly 9,000 individuals in this area who battle this often-devastating disease.

You can learn more about this event at


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Community News

Macoupin County zip codes included in high-risk lead testing



Move puts state closer to goal of universal lead testing by 2026

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has announced an expanded list of high-risk ZIP codes, increasing mandatory testing for lead exposure of children who live within those areas. 148 new zip codes, representing parts of 60 Illinois counties, have been added to the list this year, bringing the total of high-risk ZIP codes to almost 1,200.

“There is no safe level of lead in the blood,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “To better serve our children and build brighter futures for all of our residents, IDPH is acting to ensure that more children have access to the testing and interventions necessary to decrease the potential serious physical and developmental health concerns linked to lead exposure.”

Under Illinois law, any child residing in a high-risk ZIP code is to be tested automatically at 12, 24, and 36 months. All children six years of age and younger are required to be assessed for lead exposure through the use of a questionnaire administered by a pediatrician. In addition, children who fall into other risk categories spelled out in the questionnaire are also tested.

High-risk ZIP codes are determined through an algorithm that assesses a number of different risk factors. The department has been expanding that list of ZIP codes gradually and expects to implement universal testing for lead exposure across all Illinois ZIP codes by 2026. The new expanded list, which took effect July 1, 2024, can be found at: Pediatric Lead Poisoning High-Risk ZIP Code Areas (

Under current Illinois law, blood tests which come back with lead levels in excess of five micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) require a public health intervention. This includes a home inspection to determine the source of the lead contamination. If lead is found, the inspector will work with the homeowner to remove the sources of lead. In addition, there will also be a visit from a public health nurse who will educate the family on ways to protect children from the harmful effects of lead. 

The newly-added ZIP codes come from the following Illinois counties:

  • Adams
  • Alexander
  • Bond
  • Boone
  • Calhoun
  • Carroll
  • Champaign
  • Clinton
  • Coles
  • Cook
  • Crawford
  • Cumberland
  • Dekalb
  • Douglas
  • DuPage
  • Edwards
  • Effingham
  • Franklin
  • Gallatin
  • Hardin
  • Henry
  • Jackson
  • Jefferson
  • Jo Daviess
  • Johnson
  • Kane
  • La Salle
  • Lake
  • Lee
  • Macon
  • Macoupin
  • Madison
  • Marion
  • Marshall
  • Massac
  • McLean
  • Monroe
  • Montgomery
  • Morgan
  • Ogle
  • Peoria
  • Piatt
  • Pope
  • Pulaski
  • Putnam
  • Randolph
  • Richland
  • Rock Island
  • St. Clair
  • Saline
  • Sangamon
  • Shelby
  • Tazewell
  • Union
  • Vermilion
  • Washington
  • White
  • Whiteside
  • Will
  • Winnebago

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