As Illinois continued to grow and new counties were formed the Illinois State General Assembly mandated that all county seats must be centrally located. For the residents of Pike County this met moving the county seat from the southernly located town of Atlas to a more centrally location.

George W. Hinman, Hawkins Judd and Benjamin Barney were elected commissioners and tasked with locating the new county seat. With the financial help of Colonel William Ross a quarter section of land was purchased in March of 1833 for the sum of $200.00. By May 15, 1833 the town had been laid out and the first 11 town lots were sold.

Map of Pittsfield in 1860

Since Colonel Ross had been so generous in loaning the money to purchase the quarter section, he was awarded the honor of naming the newly laid out county seat of Pike County. Ross chose the name Pittsfield after his boyhood home of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

At the time the town was laid out a 340 feet by 340 feet area was set aside for the town square. For the first years the town square was nothing more than a unfenced area covered in hazel brush. The first courthouse was a wooden frame building erected on the north side of the square but only served in that capacity for a few years. By 1839 the county had grown requiring a more permanent courthouse to be built on the center of the square.

Prior to his election of 1860 Abraham Lincoln visited Pike County from 1839 through 1858. Over those years he built working relationships and friendships with several men in the Pittsfield area. Lincoln’s Pittsfield was a growing thriving community with mills, factories and dozens of shops specializing in the everyday needs of the people.

Today one visiting Pittsfield can visit many of the homes that were built by various people that Lincoln knew well through business or friendship. Learn about the men that answered Mr. Lincolns call during the American Civil War. Walk our historical cemeteries where many of the early residents of Pittsfield are buried. Visit our beautiful Antebellum East School or our courthouse that was built in 1894.

Plan your visit now to Pittsfield and Pike County to learn about our Lincoln history and experience the taste of small town life.