White County, Illinois

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White County, Illinois
White County Courthouse in Carmi.jpg
White County Courthouse in Carmi
Map of Illinois highlighting White County
Location in the state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded 1815
Seat Carmi
Largest city Carmi
 • Total 501.86 sq mi (1,300 km2)
 • Land 494.77 sq mi (1,281 km2)
 • Water 7.10 sq mi (18 km2), 1.41%
 • (2010) 14,665
 • Density 31/sq mi (12/km²)
Congressional district 15th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.whitecounty-il.gov

White County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois, in the southern portion known locally as "Little Egypt". According to the 2010 census, it had a population of 14,665, which is a decrease of 4.6% from 15,371 in 2000.[1] Its county seat is Carmi.[2]


According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 501.86 square miles (1,299.8 km2), of which 494.77 square miles (1,281.4 km2) (or 98.59%) is land and 7.10 square miles (18.4 km2) (or 1.41%) is water.[3]

Major highways[edit]


Burnt Prairie, Carmi, Emma, Enfield, Gray, Hawthorne, Heralds Prairie, Indian Creek, Mill Shoals, Phillips

Adjacent counties[edit]


White County was organized from Gallatin County in 1815, and was named after Captain Leonard White (some accounts say Captain Isaac White), a Gallatin County legislator who is credited with the idea of extending the Illinois-Wisconsin border a few miles north of the southern tip of Lake Michigan and was also in charge of the salt works at Equality. He was killed in 1811 at the Battle of Tippecanoe. The county seat, Carmi, was founded in 1814, and incorporated in 1816. The first courthouse was in the log cabin of John Craw.

The first white settlers came to White County between 1807 and 1809. The first settlements were near the Little Wabash River and Big Prairie, one of the numerous prairies in the county. These families—Hanna, Land, Hay, Williams, Calvert, Ratcliff, Holderby, Robinson, Stewart, among others—typically had spent time in the Carolinas, Kentucky or Tennessee before moving into Illinois, and most were of Scots-Irish descent. Many came through the land office at Shawneetown, Illinois, which was a port for flatboats which traveled the Ohio River.

Other early settlements were Grayville, located at the mouth of Bonpas Creek and the Wabash River, settled by the Gray family around 1810; Phillipstown, on the bluffs above the Wabash and Fox River floodplain; and New Haven (mostly in Gallatin County), which was home to a brother of Daniel Boone around 1818. Old Sharon Church (Presbyterian), located near the later village of Sacramento, was organized around 1816, and the village of Seven Mile Prairie was established a few miles north of the church in the 1830s. The parents of longtime Abraham Lincoln girlfriend Ann Rutledge were part of this group, along with families named McArthy, Miller, McClellan, Pollard, Storey, Fields, and Johnson.

About 1839, a group of Irish immigrants began moving into the extreme western part of Enfield Township, led by Patrick Dolan, as well as members of the Mitchell and Dunn clans. Dolan was auctioneer in 1853 when the village of Enfield was platted, as Seven Mile moved west in anticipation of a railroad line, which was not built until 1872. German families moved into the middle portion of the county in the 1840s and onward, especially from the Baden region, and included the family names of Rebstock, Dartt, Brown, Sailer, Stanley, and Drone.

The second half of the 19th century saw the establishment of the towns of Norris City, Springerton, Mill Shoals (once the home of a thriving barrel-making industry which depleted the nearby virgin forests), Epworth, Herald, Burnt Prairie (previously known as "Liberty"), Crossville, Phillipstown, Concord (also known as Emma), Maunie and Rising Sun (commonly called Dogtown)--the latter two villages are located on the Wabash and attracted several African-American families. A number of villages which no longer exist were also formed: Trumbull, Roland, Middle Point, Stokes Station, Gossett, Bungay, Calvin, Iron, and Dolan Settlement.

In 1925, White County was devastated by the Tri-State Tornado, the deadliest tornado in U.S. history. A good proportion of the 127 killed in Hamilton and White counties were in White County itself. The main town affected was Carmi.

Agriculture was the primary industry of White County until the summer of 1939, when oil was discovered in the Storms and Stinson fields in the Wabash River Bottoms. The population of Carmi doubled within two years, from 2,700 to 5,400, with corresponding increases at Crossville and Grayville—in 1940 it was said one could walk between these two towns by simply walking from rig to rig. Many of these workers migrated from previous oil booms in Texas and Oklahoma. As of 2013, fracking is underway near Carmi. [4]

The current population of White County is a little over 17,000, with 6,500 in the county seat of Carmi. There is a high number of retired people, and many citizens work in the factories of Evansville or Mount Vernon, Indiana, located 45 and 25 miles to the east, respectively. Besides oil and agriculture, industries include auto parts manufacturing, plastics, a convenience store distribution center and underground coal mining.

White County, Illinois was also the site of the ill-fated Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival also known as the Bull Island Fest in 1972.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 4,828
1830 6,091 26.2%
1840 7,919 30.0%
1850 8,925 12.7%
1860 12,403 39.0%
1870 16,846 35.8%
1880 23,087 37.0%
1890 25,005 8.3%
1900 25,386 1.5%
1910 23,052 −9.2%
1920 20,081 −12.9%
1930 18,149 −9.6%
1940 20,027 10.3%
1950 20,935 4.5%
1960 19,373 −7.5%
1970 17,312 −10.6%
1980 17,864 3.2%
1990 16,522 −7.5%
2000 15,371 −7.0%
2010 14,665 −4.6%
Est. 2012 14,568 −0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
2012 Estimate[6]

As of the census of 2010,[7] there were 14,665 people, 6,534 households, and 4,377 families residing in the county. The population density was 31 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 7,393 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.22% White, 0.26% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. 0.67% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.7% were of American, 23.6% German, 16.4% English and 11.4% Irish ancestry.

There were 6,534 households out of which 26.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.60% were married couples living together, 7.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.00% were non-families. 29.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the county the population was spread out with 21.50% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 25.30% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 20.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 91.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,601, and the median income for a family was $36,580. Males had a median income of $30,619 versus $17,282 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,412. About 8.70% of families and 12.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.70% of those under age 18 and 9.80% of those age 65 or over.


White County is divided into ten townships:

Cities and towns[edit]



Unincorporated towns[edit]

Climate and weather[edit]

Carmi, Illinois
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[8]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Carmi have ranged from a low of 22 °F (−6 °C) in January to a high of 89 °F (32 °C) in July, although a record low of −20 °F (−29 °C) was recorded in January 1994 and a record high of 103 °F (39 °C) was recorded in August 2007. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.61 inches (66 mm) in October to 5.00 inches (127 mm) in May.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "White County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Census 2010 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  4. ^ Webber, Tammy. "Illinois high-volume 'fracking' underway". The Associated Press. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Carmi, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°05′N 88°11′W / 38.09°N 88.18°W / 38.09; -88.18