Kane County government will celebrate its 186th birthday on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022 — 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.
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.
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 about 532,000 people, according to U.S. Census data, and provides an array of government services essential to the quality of life, including public health, county courts, criminal justice, law enforcement, local elections, economic development, veterans services, public records and much more.
Learn More About Kane County