Metro-East News

County Board will meet in Cahokia, repeal blackbird law to mark 225 years

In the 1790s, among the rules in place for St. Clair County farmers who grew and sowed grain was one requiring them to kill at least 100 blackbirds before harvest.

After Monday, blackbirds will finally be able to breathe easy, and grain farmers won’t have to worry about being punished for not following the rule.

As part of St. Clair County’s 225th anniversary celebration, the County Board is slated to adopt a ceremonial resolution rescinding the ordinance requiring the death of 100 blackbirds. The celebration, which is part of the regular County Board meeting, is scheduled to take place outside of the Cahokia Courthouse Historic Site.

“As we celebrate, we thought the best way to do that is celebrate where the birth of St. Clair County took place,” said County Board Chairman Mark Kern.

The event will include proclamations talking about the past, present and future of the county, said Terry Beach, the county’s executive director of the intergovernmental grants department.

The county was founded on April 27, 1790 — 28 years before the state of Illinois was officially founded.

When the county was first founded, it stretched past what would be the northern border of what would be Illinois, into what is now Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, when it was part of the Northwest Territory.

St. Clair County was named after General Arthur St. Clair, who served as governor of the Northwest Territory from 1788 to 1802.

The evening is set to include light refreshments, period fiddle music and the chance for people to view the historic artifacts on display in the Cahokia Courthouse building and tour the surrounding grounds.

“It’s a great opportunity to promote all things in Cahokia,” Kern said.

Cahokia was the western-most edge of the American Frontier until the Louisiana Purchase in 1804. Explorers Lewis and Clark trained in Cahokia for their journey to the west and, during their six-month stay in the area, often frequented the Cahokia Courthouse to conduct business, according to county officials.

During Monday’s festivities, a handful of committee meetings are scheduled to take place before the full County Board meeting. Those will take place inside the courthouse, with the first meeting beginning at 6 p.m.

The full County Board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. under a tent, outside of the old courthouse.

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

To attend, the St. Clair County Board is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Cahokia Courthouse Historic Site, 107 Elm St.

In case of inclement weather, the meeting will be moved to the Holy Family Parish Center, 116 Church Street in Cahokia. Parking will be available at the parish center and a shuttle will be running between the old courthouse and the parish.