Kane County Celebrates Its 185th Birthday on Jan. 16!

Kane County Celebrates Its 185th Birthday on Jan. 16!

Kane County government will celebrate its 185th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 16 — a good time to reflect on the history of a local government body that now serves more than 530,000 people.

“As Kane County has adapted and changed, it still remains what our founders envisioned: a county that protects its rural heritage, and historic cities and villages, while welcoming its future,” Kane County Board Madam Chairman Corinne Pierog said.

Elias Kent Kane

According to the Kane County History PDF, which you can find on the county Of Kane website, the Illinois legislature formed a new county on Jan. 16, 1836, and named it after Elias Kent Kane, the highly-respected attorney who helped draft the Illinois constitution and was Illinois’ first secretary of state.

Kane was later elected to Congress and represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate until his death in 1835.

The new “Kane County” included what is now DeKalb County and part of the northern portions of Kendall. DeKalb subsequently separated from Kane County in 1837 and Kendall in 1841.

‘LaFox’ — aka Geneva — Was First County Seat

A committee of three members of the legislature selected LaFox (Geneva) as the Kane County seat since James Herrington’s Tavern and Inn, located on North State Street near the Fox River, had the only post office in the County.

Herrington’s Tavern also served as the first county courthouse.

On June 4, 1836, 180 men gathered at the tavern to elect officials for the new county: three commissioners, a sheriff, a recorder of deeds, a coroner, and a surveyor.

One of Kane County’s early courthouses was constructed of quarry stone and built on the site of the present Geneva City Hall on IL Route 31.

The Illinois Constitution of 1848 empowered counties to change their form of government and the residents of Kane County, mostly from New England, chose the county-township type.

Sixteen townships were created — all of which exist today, although some by other names: Hampshire, Jackson (Rutland), Dundee, Burlington, Washington (Plato), Elgin, Franklin (Virgil), Fairfield (Campton), St. Charles, Royalton (Kaneville), Blackberry, Geneva, Batavia, Little and Big Rock, Sugar Grove, and Fox River (Aurora).

The following year, the responsibilities of the county commissioners were divided. The administration of the county was transferred to a Board of Supervisors consisting of one supervisor from each of the 16 townships.

Another elected office, that of the Kane County Clerk, was added. A chief judge and two associate judges assumed the judicial responsibilities formerly held by the commissioners.

The form of government for Kane County changed again in 1972 when the Illinois legislature abolished the Board of Supervisors and established the County Board.

Kane County was divided into 26 districts and one board member was elected from each district. The new 26 member County Board took office in May, 1972.

Since that time, the County Board has been reduced to 24 members, all of whom also serve as commissioners of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County — although the two government entities are distinct taxing bodies, with separate missions, staff and organizational structure.

Today, Kane County government serves more than 532,000 people, according to 2019 U.S. Census data, and provides an array of government services essential to the quality of life in our neck of the woods, including public health, county courts, criminal justice, law enforcement, local elections, economic development, veterans services, public records and much more.

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The courthouses are built . . .
In 1837 the County offices were moved out of Herrington’s Tavern into a new Courthouse on the corner of
4th and State Streets in Geneva. Total construction cost for this Courthouse was $3,000. Seven years
later Kane County had outgrown these quarters and a new Courthouse, constructed of quarry stone, was
built on the site of the present Geneva City Hall on Rt. 31.
Overcrowding in the jail and the Courthouse soon created a
need for a newer and larger building, and in 1854 bids were
let for construction at the site of the present Courthouse on
3rd Street in Geneva. Disputes with the contractor over
completion dates and workmanship prevented the building
from being occupied until 1857.
The new Courthouse was a magnificent structure, considered
the most important architectural monument in Kane County. It
was designed by John M. Van Osdel, one of Chicago’s
leading architects. The ornate, three-story limestone building
was capped with a large cupola which became a favorite
valley vantage point.
On the night of March 13, 1890, Kane County lost one of its most prized buildings when the Courthouse
burned. Fortunately, the records of the recorder, County Clerk, and the Circuit Clerk were locked in
fireproof vaults and not damaged.
For the next two years, the County rented a house at 2nd and Campbell Streets in Geneva for $30 a
month in order to conduct County business. The clerks crowded into the various rooms and the judges
held court in the dining room.

Click to access Kane%20County%20History.pdf


Click to access Kane%20County%20History.pdf



Click to access Kane%20County%20History.pdf

Click to access Kane%20County%20History.pdf



Click to access Kane%20County%20History.pdf