Historic Knoxville, Illinois

Historic Knoxville, Illinois
145 N. Public Square
Knoxville, IL 61448
United States


Knoxville Court House - This building was completed in 1839 and used as the county courthouse until 1873. It contained six rooms on the lower floor with a broad hallway running through the center. The courtroom, jury room, and sheriff's office were on the second floor.

Interesting Facts:
District Judge Stephen A. Douglas held court here from 1841-43.
The cupola was removed in the 1800's because it was too heavy for the roof.
The Knox County Historical Sites, Inc. replaced it in 1973. It was designed
after the original, but lighter.
The front twin iron stairways were added in 1874.
The west room on the first floor contains the nation's largest museum owned
collection of Abingdon pottery. This room also houses memorabilia from
schools that are no longer in existence.

Sanburn Log Cabin - John G. Sanburn opened Knoxville's first general store in this cabin in the spring of 1832. When he moved to Knoxville in 1832 to open his store, he purchased or secured a large portion of all the lots in town. He married Althea Owen and they had seven children. He was the first County Clerk, first Clerk of the Circuit Court, first Recorder, first Probate Judge. first Postmaster of Knoxville and later in his life, was the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Knox College and a trustee of Ewing Female University. He died April 14, 1865, the same day President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

The cabin was discovered in October 1963 when a house, owned by Bernice LaFolette was being demolished. The butternut timbers, squared and put together with clay and hay, were uncovered when the siding was removed. The cabin had served as the kitchen of the home. The original roof had been cut into. The demolition work halted until the cabin's origins were researched.

Old Jail - It took several years to complete the jail, which cost $7,724. Many of the stones used were so large that they had to be transported one per wagon. This brick and stone jail was completed in 1845. The old log jail was sold and moved to a farm near Knoxville where it was reportedly used as a corncrib.
The jail is a two-story building, thirty feet by sixty feet. Six solitary confinement cells are on the first floor and two large cells are on the second floor. The sheriff and his family had living quarters in the front of the building.

The northwest corner of the jail was the scene of the only legal hanging in Knox County. On March 14, 1873, John Marion Osborne was hung for the August 5, 1872 murder of Adelia M. Mathews of Yates City. Although Osborne claimed he was innocent when the guilty verdict was read at his trial, he confessed to the murder the day before his hanging. Several thousand people reportedly turned out to watch the hanging and artifacts from the event are on display in the jail.

Newman School - Newman School, once located south of Knoxville on the Lake Bracken Road, was built in 1876. It was closed in 1948 when Illinois underwent a major school consolidation. In 1976 it was moved to its present location in James Knox Park, Knoxville, by the Knox County Retired Teachers Association for their bicentennial project.
The school has been completely restored with authentic furnishings. With dinner pails on the shelf, the wash pan on the stand, desks with inkwells and old lesson books, the school represents the 177 rural schools once located in Knox County.

Knoxville Museum - The Knox County Historical Museum was completed in 2009 and the grand opening was Sept. 27, 2009. It was built by Knoxville native Gil Hebard and his wife Mary who donated the building to the City of Knoxville with the stipulation that it be used for a museum. Inside you will find historical artifacts including a buggy that Lincoln used on Oct. 22, 1858, when traveling from Plymouth to Carthage during his campaign for the U. S. Senate.
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