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Carthage, Illinois

Coordinates: 40°24′52″N 91°08′00″W / 40.41444°N 91.13333°W / 40.41444; -91.13333
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Carthage, Illinois
The historic Carthage Jail, July 2015
The historic Carthage Jail, July 2015
Location of Carthage in Hancock County, Illinois.
Location of Carthage in Hancock County, Illinois.
Carthage, Illinois is located in the United States
Carthage, Illinois
Carthage, Illinois
Carthage, Illinois is located in Illinois
Carthage, Illinois
Carthage, Illinois
Coordinates: 40°24′52″N 91°08′00″W / 40.41444°N 91.13333°W / 40.41444; -91.13333
Country United States
State Illinois
Named forCarthage
 • MayorJames Nightingale
 • Total2.50 sq mi (6.46 km2)
 • Land2.50 sq mi (6.46 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation656 ft (200 m)
 • Total2,490
 • Density997.60/sq mi (385.16/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code217
FIPS code17-11527
GNIS feature ID2393759[2]

Carthage is a city in and the county seat of Hancock County, Illinois, United States.[3] Its population was 2,490 as of the 2020 census.[4] Carthage is best known for being the site of the 1844 death of Joseph Smith, who founded the Latter Day Saint movement.


The first European-American settlers arrived in Carthage and in Hancock County in the first few decades of the 19th century. By 1833, they had erected simple buildings in Carthage. That year, a log cabin was built to serve as the county courthouse, and the county seat was moved from Montebello to Carthage. The town was platted in 1838.

The only person legally hanged in Hancock County, Efram Fraim, had been defended in his trial by roaming country attorney Abraham Lincoln. Fraim was found guilty of murder. Lincoln filed an appeal with the judge in the trial, which was as far as most appeals in those days went. Because Carthage then had no jail, Fraim was kept at the courthouse,[5] which was next to the school. Fraim conversed with the children from his second-floor window. As a result of those conversations, most of the school children were present when their new friend, Efram, was hanged. The hanging is believed to have taken place near the current city sewer plant east of town, where a natural amphitheater allowed for a crowd to view the spectacle.

While they were incarcerated in the Carthage Jail in June 1844, Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob on Thursday, June 27, 1844.

On October 22, 1858, Lincoln spoke in Carthage while he was campaigning for the US Senate. A large stone on the south side of the Courthouse Square commemorates the spot.

Over the years, the jail has been modified and used for different purposes. For a while, it was home to Carthage College. The jail has been restored to a close approximation of its appearance in 1844 and is now owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site, a full city block, is a historical visitor's center.

The regionally-noted botanist, philanthropist, and traveler Dr. Alice L. Kibbe called Carthage home. Along with her personal collections, Carthage's Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum houses a variety of exhibits celebrating local and regional history.

Carthage is the only city in Illinois to have all of the jails that it has ever used still in existence: the old jail, called the Mormon Jail; the jail next built, which was also the Sheriff's residence, is on the south side of Courthouse Square; and the new jail, which is on Highway 136 in the city's west side.

The Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage was built in 1908 and is the third courthouse for the county.[6] It is at the center of the square in Carthage.The courthouse and the shops surrounding the square have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986.[7]


Carthage is located near the center of Hancock County. U.S. Route 136 runs through the center of town as Buchanan Street.

According to the 2010 census, the city has an area of 2.44 square miles (6.3 km2), all land.[8]

In June 2006, development property on the east side of Carthage was voluntarily annexed into the city limits. This property totaled approximately .43 square miles (1.1 km2), all land except for an 8 acres (32,000 m2) lake.[9]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[10][a]

As of the 2020 census[11] there were 2,490 people, 1,157 households, and 694 families residing in the city. The population density was 997.60 inhabitants per square mile (385.18/km2). There were 1,272 housing units at an average density of 509.62 per square mile (196.77/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.53% White, 0.08% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.61% from other races, and 5.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.38% of the population.

There were 1,157 households, out of which 18.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.03% were married couples living together, 6.31% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.02% were non-families. 35.78% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.45% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 2.08.

The city's age distribution consisted of 17.7% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 25.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $70,563, and the median income for a family was $90,368. Males had a median income of $50,048 versus $32,279 for females. The per capita income for the city was $36,191. About 7.9% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.6% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.


City Hall on the courthouse square, July 2015

Carthage's economy centers upon agriculture and supporting industries. The surrounding land is devoted to the cultivation of crops, especially corn and soybeans. Industrial hog farms are also near the city.[12]

The company Methode Electronics, Inc. operates an auto parts production facility in Carthage, though the company no longer employs as large a portion of the population as was once the case.[13]

Arts and culture[edit]

The Legacy Theatre, which was renovated in 2010 and now seats 525 people, hosts many theatrical and musical events each year.[14]


Beginning in August 2007, the Carthage High School (also known as Hancock County Central High School) building became the home of the newly formed Illini West High School, consolidating the high school districts of Carthage, La Harpe, and Dallas City. The three cities maintain separate facilities for elementary and middle schools.

Carl Sandburg College, a two-year community college in Galesburg, has a satellite campus on the north side of Carthage.

From 1870 to 1964, Carthage was home to Carthage College, which relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin.[15] From 1965 to 1989, Carthage was home to Robert Morris University–Illinois, which merged with Moser School of Business and relocated to Chicago.[16][17]

The former Carthage College campus was purchased by Prairieland Investment Group in June 2007. (Hancock County Journal Pilot June 27, 2007) Some buildings are renovated for use by Carthage Veterinary Clinic. The auditorium was given to Carl Sandburg College, and has been restored for use by the college and for community presentations and events.[18]



Memorial Hospital in Carthage opened its doors in 1949, named for the local heroes who brought victory in World War II.[19] Six decades later, Carthage celebrated the grand opening of a new facility in July 2009. The new Memorial Hospital includes 21st Century technology. The hospital operates clinics in the county including Midwest Family Medical Care, Women & Family Medical Group and Convenient Care After-Hours Clinic in Carthage; Memorial Medical Augusta Clinic; Bowen Family Practice; Memorial Medical Nauvoo Clinic; and Memorial Medical Clinic in LaHarpe. Additionally, Hancock County Emergency Medical Services is headquartered in Carthage.[20]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 1850 number is a Census Bureau estimate from non-census sources from 1853 or 1854.


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Carthage, Illinois
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Carthage city, Illinois". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 9, 2017.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Hancock County Courthouse". Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "Hancock County Courthouse". Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  7. ^ "National Register of Historic Places: Hancock County, Illinois". Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  8. ^ "Places: Illinois". 2010 Census Gazetteer Files. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2012 – via Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Carthage City Council Minutes". Archived from the original on May 11, 2006.
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  12. ^ "Community Development. City of Carthage, IL. Community Information. 2013". May 21, 2024.
  13. ^ "Methode Electronics, Inc. Locations & Facilities, List of Manufacturing Facilities. 2012". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  14. ^ "Our Story".
  15. ^ "College History — Carthage College". Carthage.edu. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  16. ^ Haney, Dave (May 10, 2009). "Robert Morris College becomes Robert Morris University - Peoria, IL". pjstar.com. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  17. ^ "Our Mission, History, and Credentials - Robert Morris University". Robertmorris.edu. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  18. ^ "New Community Center Opens". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  19. ^ "Memorial Hospital". Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  20. ^ "Contact Us – Hancock County, Illinois".
  21. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1931-1932,' Biographical Sketch of Mary Davidson, pg. 276-277

External links[edit]