Metro-East News

St. Clair County celebrates 225th anniversary by candlelight

An overall photo of the 225th anniversary celebration that was held at the historic Cahokia Courthouse on Monday evening.
An overall photo of the 225th anniversary celebration that was held at the historic Cahokia Courthouse on Monday evening. News-Democrat

As if they were governing in the 1790s, St. Clair County Board members on Monday held committee meetings by candlelight inside the Old Cahokia Courthouse as they reviewed items prior to the full board meeting.

Without modern lighting, some assistance from a flashlight was provided to read through the agenda items.

The meetings at the Old Cahokia Courthouse were part of the 225th anniversary celebration of St. Clair County, which was founded on April 27, 1790.

“We’ve come a long way since our county then ..., but our prime location remains a key ingredient in the long-term economic development strategy of St. Clair County and the broader Southwestern Illinois region,” Chairman Mark Kern said during the meeting. “Our superior multi-modal transportation system continues to attract companies from a logistics and a distribution industry that are seeking to take advantage of area’s economical and efficient access to land, air, water and rail. Anticipated growth in this sector will play a critical role in providing jobs for future generations in St. Clair County.

“As we pause to celebrate our origins, we do so with knowledge that the pioneering spirit of 1790 remains alive and well in St. Clair County and will be driving force in advancing our region for centuries to come,” Kern added.

The St. Clair County Board celebrated the anniversary at the Cahokia courthouse, which served county’s administrative and judicial center during the 1800s when the county was part of Northwest Territory.

Among the items on the agenda was the ceremonial rescinding of an ordinance that required grain farmers to kill 100 blackbirds before harvest. Those who didn’t kill the blackbirds had to pay a fine.

“I don’t think the state’s attorney wants to have to follow up on any (farmers) who didn’t kill 100 blackbirds,” Kern joked during the judiciary committee meeting.

Alyson Grady, superintendent of Historic Sites of the Illinois History Preservation agency, attended the meeting to congratulate the county on the occasion.

“Anniversaries are a way for us to remember where we’ve come from and a lot of times when we looked at where we’ve come from, we can help figure out where we’re going,” Grady said. “We learn from our past as we move to the future. It’s important to remember that and pay homage to those who came before us.”

Jeanne Burton, of Cahokia, came to the meeting and said it was nice to see the courthouse opened up during the evening.

“There’s so much history in Cahokia and a lot of people don’t realize it,” Burton said.

In other action the county board approved an agreement with Realtor Phil Johnson to negotiate construction easements along Bunkum Road for about $9,000.

The St. Clair County Highway Department is preparing to start reconstruction of Bunkum Road from Illinois 111 in Washington Park to Illinois 157 in Caseyville.

County officials have planned a June bid opening for the estimated $5 million project. Work is expected to begin in July or August and take place through the winter into next summer.

The roughly three-mile stretch of road currently is an oil-and-chip surface with lots of truck traffic. The county plans to put in an asphalt surface, as well as curb and gutter at the ends of the project area.

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

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