Histories - Tidbits

General Historical Information
Ford County, located in east central Illinois, has the distinction of being the youngest county in the state. It was carved from a part of Vermilion County and became the 102nd county on February 17, 1859. It was named after Thomas Ford, the eighth governor of Illinois, who died nine years before the county was organized.
The largest town and county seat of Ford County is in Paxton where the present courthouse was built in 1906. A near violent argument broke out between Paxton and Gibson City that year, as each town wanted the new courthouse. Finally, when the old building was torn down, the supervisors left one wall standing in the basement. Thus, by building on and around the old wall, they settled the argument by saying that they were remodeling, rather than building a new structure.
Augustana College was moved from Chicago to Paxton in 1863 and remained in the county until 1875. A large boulder marks the site. During its existence in Paxton, the college had a large enrollment of the sons and daughters of Swedish immigrants who had settled Ford County.
Ford County is shaped like an inverted capital T and the northern part is known as the "panhandle." There are 45 other counties in Illinois having a smaller land area than Ford County.
The first permanent settlers of Ford County were Joshua and Robert Trickel, two brothers, who came from Ohio. They founded Trickel's Grove in 1836 and soon had several neighbors. Land was selling for $1.25 per acre in the 1830s. A good horse cost $50 and the usual price for a cow was $10.
Michael L. Sullivant purchased thousands of acres of land in Ford County, which became known as "the largest corn farm in the world under one man ''management." In 1877, land was laid out for the town of Burr Oaks. Sullivant sold most of his land to Hiram Sibley, and in 1880 the town was renamed "Sibley." Here was the site of the world's largest corn crib, which was once featured in Ripley's "Believe it or not."
One memorable event in the history of Ford County was the one and only hanging in the county. A jury sentenced the condemned man in 1897 for killing a woman northwest of Gibson City. There were 100 people who actually bought a ticket to view the hanging in the courthouse.
Presidential Honors
Ford County's most distinguished citizen, Congressman Leslie C. Arends of Melvin, was honored for his 40 years of service to our nation when President Gerald Ford arrived on October 24, 1974. The President's helicopter landed on the baseball field in Melvin. Classes in all Ford County schools were dismissed for the big celebration, which had national television, radio, and newspaper coverage.
Mr. Arends was born in Melvin and graduated from Melvin High School. He had been Republican Minority Whip since 1943, the longest record in history for either political party.
Norwegian Settlement
As Norwegian people settled in Ford County about 1866, they organized a congregation which is now Pontoppidan Lutheran Church in Dix Township. Almost all of these early settlers came from Kendall County, having previously emigrated from Norway. The church was named after Eric Pontoppidan, a Danish bishop and writer, who lived in the 1700s.

Source: Unknown

Templates in Time