Wayne County

Brief History


It is documented that settlers settled in what is now known as Wayne County as early as 1818 and it became a county on March 26, 1819, though there have been 'unoffical' records that there were people in the area about 1816.


Like people, as we age our shape changes.  Well,  so did Wayne County.  From 1790-1824, Wayne County boundary lines changed several times.  The ILGenWeb Project owns the maps of these changes.  To see them, visit  "County Boundaries 1790-Present".

It is important to know the boundaries.  For example, I knew my family settled in Wayne Co. but could not find the land record(s). When looking at the boundaries, I noticed "that land" was a part of a different county in that time frame. Therefore, I switched to that county and found the land records.

Therefore, do NOT limit your research to 'only' Wayne County. Look at the maps and visit Wayne Co.'s neighbors, which were once a part of Wayne Co., IL.


The name Wayne came from General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, a General in the Revolutionary War and an Indian fighter in the Old Northwest Territory.

The county seat location was picked because it was the 'center' of the settled areas.  Its surname, "Fairfield", was given because 'looking over the beautiful land, it was the fair fields that drew one's breath'.


The worst nightmare for Wayne County was when a resident  wanted a new courthouse.  To make sure he got it, he set fire to the courthouse the evening of November 17, 1886. The county (and he) got the new courthouse, the people got higher taxes, and researchers got headaches from the brickwalls when the fire turned the legal documents and records into ashes.

Visit Our Neighbors
Marion Clay Richland
Jefferson Edwards  
Franklin Hamilton White
Search the Archives