Even though you may not research Illinois genealogy, there’s a chance one of your ancestors might have lived there as the National Road went through Illinois Territory. (The National Road construction was begun in 1811; today’s Highway 40 follows a substantial portion of the route.)
Fortunately, Illinois is one of those states with excellent online genealogy resources, all provided for free. Click on the image below to go directly to the Illinois State site.
If you have as much curiosity as I do, you might enjoy searching the Black Hawk War veterans for a soldier named Abraham Lincoln. According to Wikipedia, Lincoln served as a Captain during the war. “He served as a volunteer in the Illinois Militia April 21, 1832 – July 10, 1832, during the Black Hawk War. Lincoln never saw combat during his tour but was elected captain of his first company. He was also present in the aftermath of two of the war’s battles, where he helped to bury the militia dead. He was mustered in and out of service during the war, going from captain to private and finishing his service in an independent spy company commanded by Captain Jacob Early.
Earlier, I wrote a post about Black Hawk’s Surrender. You can find it by clicking this link.
Just a note – you MAY have Civil War soldiers who served from Illinois; it numbers in the top five of states providing the largest number of soldiers to the Union.
Searching the Illinois Databases
All of the databases have clear instructions regarding search criteria. If you only know a surname, that’s ok as the system doesn’t require full names. Once you locate someone in the database, I suggest using Google to find out more about them. For example, Lincoln was listed in the database as being in Whiteside’s Brigade. I had no difficulty getting more information about the Brigade using Google. You can do the same for your ancestors.
While you’re on the site, don’t miss out on using the Public Domain Land Tract Sales. These are chock-full of great information. Here, you can find the legal description of the land, the number of acres, as well as the price paid. Interesting to note that in 1835 you can pick up land at less than $1 an acre. (Those were the days!)
If luck is on your side, you can find a township map of the county and track down exactly where the plot of land was located. If luck is against you (!) consider putting in a call to the county seat and inquire about availability of their township maps. (The Library of Congress does have an 1859 township map of Hancock County, Illinois; you’ll need to download the .jp2 version to get the really big image. IfranView is a free software that can read the .jp2 image format.