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LaSalle County, Illinois

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

LaSalle County
LaSalle County Courthouse
LaSalle County Courthouse
Map of Illinois highlighting LaSalle County
Location within the U.S. state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 41°20′44″N 88°50′33″W / 41.34556°N 88.8425°W / 41.34556; -88.8425
Country United States
State Illinois
FoundedJanuary 15, 1831
Named forRené-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
Largest cityOttawa
 • Total1,148 sq mi (2,970 km2)
 • Land1,135 sq mi (2,940 km2)
 • Water13 sq mi (30 km2)  1.1%
 • Total113,924
 • Estimate 
 • Density99/sq mi (38/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district16th

LaSalle County is located in the North Central region of the U.S. state of Illinois; it has an estimated population of 108,669 as of 2019 and its county seat and largest city is Ottawa.[3]

LaSalle County is part of the Ottawa, Illinois, IL Micropolitan Statistical Area.

LaSalle County borders Woodford, Marshall, Putnam, Bureau, Livingston, Lee, DeKalb, Kendall, and Grundy counties. Though LaSalle County is in the Chicago media market, it retains a unique identity with a mix of river towns and vast expanses of farmland. The county is at the intersection of the Chicago, Peoria, Quad Cities and Rockford television markets, with all four regions advertising (and businesses from the respective regions) and having a strong influence on the area such that despite the county's short distance from Chicago, approximately 60 miles (97 km). The county is within the Fox Valley subregion of the larger Northern Illinois region.


LaSalle County was formed on January 15, 1831 out of Tazewell and Putnam Counties. It is named for the early French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.[4] La Salle was the first European recorded as entering the area. He traveled the Mississippi River upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the land for France, or rather as a possession of King Louis XIV of France and named it Louisiana. In 1680, he and Henry de Tonty built Fort Crevecoeur on the Illinois River in present-day Tazewell County, and in 1683, they constructed Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock in present-day LaSalle County. By 1857, the county was served by the daily arrivals of two trains of the Illinois Central Railroad.

As William D. Boyce reportedly founded the Boy Scouts of America in Ottawa, the Council is named for him. He and two other founders established the BSA, but Boyce is given the sole credit since his faction of the BSA adopted the other two competing factions' elements within the organization. LaSalle County is within what is called the Lowaneu Region of the W.D. Boyce Council.

In 1838 William Reddick, a local farmer and landowner, was elected sheriff of LaSalle County.[5] He was hired to restore public order resulting from an influx of workmen creating the Illinois and Michigan Canal.[6] Reddick served as sheriff for four consecutive two-year terms.[5] After being elected to the Illinois State Senate, Reddick commissioned the construction of a luxurious Italianate home now known as Reddick Mansion.[6] This structure is one of the largest surviving pre-Civil War homes in Illinois.[7] The mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 as part of the Washington Park Historic District.[8]

The Tri-County Area of DeKalb, LaSalle, and Kendall Counties have been influential in terms of their political, sports, multimedia, industry, and technology. DeKalb County was the birthplace of plant hybridization (DeKalb, DeKalb Agricultural), the hot-air hand dryer (Sandwich, Sahara-Pak), and is the home of supermodel Cindy Crawford, at least 7 MLB players, two NFL coaches, and three NFL players. LaSalle County was home to the Westclox Company for many years, was the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and was the home to the discoverer of Pluto, as well as a Wild West figure, multiple published authors, a legendary NCAA athletic director and coach, and multiple political figures. Kendall County is the home to a seminal piece of 20th Century architecture, the birthplace of the Harvester Reaper, (as well as the precursor to the International Harvester Company), the plastic tackle box and plastic-injection molding, and is the home of multiple athletes, politicians, and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. DeKalb, LaSalle, and Kendall Counties have all been featured in major films, either having been written by residents or former residents, having been filmed in the communities, or both.

La Salle County was founded largely by immigrants from New England. These were old stock Yankee immigrants, who were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. The completion of the Erie Canal caused a surge in New England immigration to what was then the Northwest Territory. The end of the Black Hawk War led to an additional surge of immigration, once again coming almost exclusively from the six New England states as a result of overpopulation combined with land shortages in that region. Some of these later settlers were from upstate New York and had parents who had moved to that region from New England shortly after the Revolutionary War. New Englanders and New England transplants from upstate New York were the vast majority of La Salle County's inhabitants during the first several decades of its history. These settlers were primarily members of the Congregational Church, though due to the Second Great Awakening, many of them had converted to Methodism, and some had become Baptists before coming to what is now La Salle County. The Congregational Church has subsequently gone through many divisions, and some factions, including those in La Salle County, are now known as the Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ. As a result of this heritage, the vast majority of inhabitants in La Salle County − much like antebellum New England − were overwhelmingly in favor of the abolitionist movement during the decades leading up to the Civil War.[9] When the New Englanders arrived in what is now La Salle County, there was nothing but dense virgin forest and wild prairie. They laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. In 1834, Norwegian immigrants settled in the northwest corner of the county. The construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal brought thousands of Irish and Irish-American workers to Illinois. Many settled in the counties along the canal route. Ottawa and LaSalle County had a large Irish population due to the importance of Ottawa as a trade and industrial center on the canal. The election of the LaSalle County sheriff hinged on the Irish vote when a New Englander Woodruff was replaced as sheriff by William Reddick a successful Irish landowner following Woodruff's role in putting down a riot along the canal in 1837. Irish and German immigration to LaSalle County, especially LaSalle. Ottawa and Peru prior to the Civil War was such that many German immigrants joined Illinois regiments during the war.[10] In the late 1880s and early 1890s Irish and German migrants began moving into La Salle County; most of these later immigrants did not move directly from Ireland and Germany, but rather from other areas in the Midwest where they had been living, particularly the state of Ohio.[11] Immigrants around the Peterstown, Troy Grove, Meriden, Mendota, and Earlville area were largely of German descent, with the Mendota area directly being the epicenter of the German community in the county. Norwegian population has been strong in the area around Northville, Serena, Mission, and Miller Townships in LaSalle County, along with Little Rock and Fox Townships in Kendall County, and Sandwich and Somonauk Townships in DeKalb County. One such family, the Borschsenius family, runs the Norway Store in the unincorporated community of Norway, in southern Mission Township, and the family has been deeply involved with businesses and the school district of nearby Serena and Sheridan.

Ottawa was the first site of the famous Lincoln–Douglas debates on August 21, 1858. The community has a strong association with the 16th President, and elements of the downtown area of the city retain much mid-19th century architecture. People in LaSalle County were predominantly abolitionist in attitude, and many Underground Railroad sites were maintained in the county prior to the American Civil War.

Utica (or the official name of North Utica) is considered the gateway to the Starved Rock area. Visiting three parks provides a full experience of the area. Starved Rock State Park, (south of Utica on Illinois Route 178), is the crown jewel. Matthiessen State Park (south of Starved Rock on Ill 178) has many of the same features of Starved Rock, but is smaller, and faces the Vermilion River to the west. Buffalo Rock State Park (east of Utica, and west of Naplate/Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road) has an enclosure which features American bison, as well as the mound sculpture complex, known as the Effigy Tumuli. The village is most well known for the April 20, 2004 tornado, which ripped through the downtown and killed nine people.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,148 square miles (2,970 km2), of which 1,135 square miles (2,940 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (1.1%) is water.[13] It is the second-largest county in Illinois by land area and the fourth-largest by total area.

Adjacent counties

LaSalle County, Illinois, is one of the few counties in the United States to border as many as nine counties. Illinois has two such counties, with Pike County being the other.

Many of the residents of LaSalle County live in cities and towns along the Illinois River. It is the main population core, with some exceptions, including Streator to the south of the county. Large cities along the river include Ottawa, LaSalle, Peru, and Marseilles. The regions north and south of the Illinois River are mostly agricultural, including the Fox River portion of the county, and have few large towns.


Ottawa, Illinois
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[14]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Ottawa have ranged from a low of 12 °F (−11 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −25 °F (−32 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 112 °F (44 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.32 inches (34 mm) in February to 4.13 inches (105 mm) in June.[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)108,669[15]−4.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
2000 census age pyramid for LaSalle County
2000 census age pyramid for LaSalle County

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 113,924 people, 45,347 households, and 30,116 families residing in the county.[17] The population density was 100.4 inhabitants per square mile (38.8/km2). There were 49,978 housing units at an average density of 44.0 per square mile (17.0/km2).[13] The racial makeup of the county was 93.2% white, 1.9% black or African American, 0.7% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 2.5% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 8.0% of the population.[17] In terms of ancestry, 33.7% were German, 19.0% were Irish, 9.8% were English, 9.2% were Italian, 7.8% were Polish, 6.0% were American, and 5.5% were Norwegian.[18]

Of the 45,347 households, 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.6% were non-families, and 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.00. The median age was 41.0 years.[17]

The median income for a household in the county was $51,705 and the median income for a family was $62,252. Males had a median income of $49,551 versus $30,207 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,982. About 8.0% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.3% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.[19]


School districts

Secondary schools



Colleges and universities




Major highways





Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities


LaSalle County is divided into thirty-seven townships:

Ghost towns


LaSalle County, Illinois
Elected countywide officials
Auditor Stephanie Jo Thompson Republican
County Board Chairman Donald E. Jensen Republican
County Board Majority 18-11[20] Republican
Circuit Clerk Greg Vacarro Republican
County Clerk Lori Bongartz Democratic
Coroner Rich Ploch Democratic
Recorder Karen Friestad Miller Republican
Sheriff Tom Templeton Republican
State’s Attorney Todd Martin Democratic
Regional Superintendent Chris Dvorak Democratic

LaSalle has generally been a Republican-leaning swing county, more competitive than most in urbanized Northern Illinois.

In its early years LaSalle County supported the Democratic Party, being southwest of the Free Soil strongholds in the far northeast of the state. Following the formation of the Republican party, LaSalle County voted for that party in every election until 1884, when it supported Democrat Grover Cleveland three consecutive times. Although the county gave a plurality to Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and supported Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first three elections, it otherwise voted Republican until 1960.

A Democratic trend, typical of Yankee Northern Illinois, saw Michael Dukakis carry LaSalle despite failing to win the election in 1988, and no Republican would carry the county again until George W. Bush in 2004. The past few elections have seen the county lean Republican due to concern over lack of employment opportunities in the "Rust Belt".

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[21]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 56.2% 30,113 41.9% 22,442 1.9% 1,036
2016 53.7% 26,689 39.3% 19,543 7.1% 3,511
2012 49.1% 23,256 48.7% 23,073 2.3% 1,076
2008 43.5% 21,872 54.6% 27,443 2.0% 995
2004 51.5% 26,101 47.8% 24,263 0.7% 365
2000 46.3% 21,276 50.8% 23,355 3.0% 1,376
1996 36.0% 15,299 50.9% 21,643 13.1% 5,549
1992 32.2% 16,078 46.6% 23,276 21.2% 10,577
1988 49.6% 22,166 49.9% 22,271 0.5% 213
1984 56.9% 27,388 42.7% 20,532 0.5% 219
1980 57.1% 27,323 35.2% 16,818 7.7% 3,694
1976 51.4% 25,114 47.3% 23,105 1.3% 646
1972 59.2% 31,190 40.6% 21,405 0.2% 92
1968 50.5% 26,054 44.5% 22,940 5.1% 2,616
1964 40.7% 21,216 59.3% 30,923
1960 50.0% 27,552 49.9% 27,532 0.1% 41
1956 64.5% 33,461 35.3% 18,318 0.2% 83
1952 60.5% 32,857 39.3% 21,321 0.2% 99
1948 55.0% 24,453 44.3% 19,666 0.7% 321
1944 54.3% 28,179 41.4% 21,489 4.3% 2,210
1940 45.7% 25,296 53.6% 29,704 0.7% 399
1936 43.4% 22,240 52.6% 26,926 4.0% 2,035
1932 40.3% 19,179 57.8% 27,500 1.9% 908
1928 53.2% 24,039 46.0% 20,807 0.8% 382
1924 60.5% 21,417 17.6% 6,216 22.0% 7,784
1920 73.2% 23,751 20.4% 6,626 6.4% 2,057
1916 56.6% 20,662 40.1% 14,625 3.3% 1,203
1912 24.6% 4,858 35.6% 7,036 39.9% 7,890[a]
1908 55.6% 11,159 37.8% 7,589 6.6% 1,326
1904 62.7% 11,967 29.5% 5,628 7.9% 1,500
1900 56.2% 11,781 41.4% 8,671 2.4% 504
1896 57.6% 11,548 40.4% 8,108 2.0% 391
1892 44.1% 7,957 51.9% 9,365 3.9% 711

Visitor attractions

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ There were only 6,918 votes for the leading "other" candidate, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, plus 636 for Socialist Eugene V. Debs, 286 for the Prohibition Party's Eugene Chafin, and 50 for Socialist Labor candidate Arthur Reimer.


  1. ^ "La Salle County, Illinois –  Fact Sheet". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. 2000. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  2. ^ "LaSalle County". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 182.
  5. ^ a b Catlin, Betty (1971). Reddick's Library (PDF). Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. pp. 3–8.
  6. ^ a b Sprague, Paul E (1975). "History, Significance, and Feasibility for Adaptive Use of the William Reddick Mansion at Ottawa, Illinois" (PDF). Illinois Library at Urbana Champaign: 1–150 – via
  7. ^ Brown, Janet Rabenstein; Pielemeier, Nancy Rabenstein; Scott, Ann Rabenstein (1995). Ottawa, Illinois in Nineteen Hundred. LaSalle County Genealogy Guild. p. 42.
  8. ^ National Park Service (October 10, 1972). "Illinois SP Washington Park Historic District". Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  9. ^ History of La Salle County, Illinois: Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Towns, Educational, Religious, Civil, Military, and Political History, Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Representative Citizens : Also a Condensed History of Illinois, Embodying Accounts of Prehistoric Races, Aborigines, Winnebago and Black Hawk Wars, and a Brief Review of Its Civil and Political History, Volume 1 by Inter-state Publishing Company, 1886
  10. ^ History of LaSalle County, Illinois, by Elmer Baldwin Rand McNally & Company, 1877
  11. ^ History of LaSalle County, Illinois, Volume 1 by Michael Cyprian O'Byrne Higginson Book Company, 1924
  12. ^ White, Jesse. Origin and Evolution of Illinois Counties. State of Illinois, March 2010. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Ottawa, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Archived from the original on September 15, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  15. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  18. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  19. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  20. ^ "LaSalle County board". Archived from the original on December 1, 2016.
  21. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on March 23, 2018.
  • Forstall, Richard L. (editor) (1996). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990 : from the twenty-one decennial censuses. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN 0-934213-48-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External links

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