DeKalb County, Illinois
DeKalb County's Court House
Location within the U.S. state of Illinois
Illinois's location within the U.S.
|Founded||4 March 1837|
|Named for||Johann de Kalb|
|• Total||635 sq mi (1,640 km2)|
|• Land||631 sq mi (1,630 km2)|
|• Water||3.4 sq mi (9 km2) 0.5%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||170/sq mi (64/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||14th, 16th|
DeKalb County was formed on 4 March 1837, out of Kane County, Illinois. The county was named for Johann de Kalb, a German (Bavarian) hero of the American Revolutionary War. DeKalb County's area is approximately 632.7 square miles, and is located 63 miles west of Chicago. There are 19 townships in the county with the county seat at Sycamore.
Between 1834 and 1837, settlements were formed in DeKalb County along streams and wooded areas due to fertile soil, wild game, and food and water opportunities. Primary growth stemmed from the introduction of the railroad which brought easier methods of transportation and opportunities for industrial growth. Early industries based in DeKalb County included Sandwich Mfg. Co, Marsh Harvester Co, barbed wire, and Gurler Bros Pure Milk Co.
The county is noted for agriculture. In 1852, the DeKalb Agricultural Society produced the county's first Agricultural Fair, in Sycamore. Eventually farmers, businessmen, bankers and newspapermen organized to become the DeKalb County Soil Improvement Association, which later was split into DeKalb County Farm Bureau and DeKalb Agricultural Association (DEKALB AgResearch, Inc., Monsanto). DeKalb County is credited with being the birthplace of the Farm Bureau movement. DeKalb County is also the 2nd largest hog producing county in Illinois and the 66th largest in the nation.
Education has played an important role in the area with Northern Illinois University located in DeKalb and Kishwaukee College located in Malta. A major fair has been held each year since 1887 at the Sandwich Fairgrounds in Sandwich.
Climate and weather
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Sycamore have ranged from a low of 10 °F (−12 °C) in January to a high of 84 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −27 °F (−33 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 103 °F (39 °C) was recorded in August 1988. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.40 inches (36 mm) in February to 4.49 inches (114 mm) in June.
|US Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 105,160 people, 38,484 households, and 23,781 families residing in the county. The population density was 166.6 inhabitants per square mile (64.3/km2). There were 41,079 housing units at an average density of 65.1 per square mile (25.1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.1% white, 6.4% black or African American, 2.3% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 3.9% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 10.1% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 32.6% were German, 17.5% were Irish, 8.7% were English, 7.0% were Polish, 6.4% were Italian, 6.3% were Swedish, and 4.7% were Norwegian.
Of the 38,484 households, 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 38.2% were non-families, and 25.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.11. The median age was 29.3 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $54,002 and the median income for a family was $70,713. Males had a median income of $50,192 versus $35,246 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,179. About 7.7% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
As part of Northern Illinois, DeKalb County was a stronghold for the Free Soil Party in its early elections – being among nine Illinois counties to support Martin Van Buren in 1848 – and became overwhelmingly Republican for the century following that party's formation. The only time it did not back the official GOP nominee between 1856 and 1988 was in 1912 when the Republican Party was mortally divided and Progressive Theodore Roosevelt won almost half the county's vote.
During this time, it rejected Democrats even in statewide and national landslides. In 1936, Republican candidate Alf Landon, won DeKalb County by double digits while losing 46 of 48 states. Landon held Franklin D. Roosevelt to only 43 percent of DeKalb County's vote, the most he would garner in the county during his four runs for president. Even Barry Goldwater – renowned for his antagonism towards the establishment – won by seven percent despite losing sixteen percent of the vote compared to Richard Nixon in 1960.
In 1992, with the third-party entrance of Ross Perot siphoning votes from Republican George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton became the first Democrat to carry the county in 140 years. Since then, DeKalb County has become more of a swing county in national elections, owing to the growth of the largely Democratic student population in DeKalb. However, it has bucked the Democratic trend seen in most counties dominated by college towns. Republicans still hold most county-level elected offices, and all municipalities outside of the city of DeKalb are still powerfully Republican.
In 2008, an Illinois son, Barack Obama, became the first Democrat to win an absolute majority since Van Buren in the county's first-ever Presidential election of 1840. Obama repeated this in 2012, but gains for third-party candidates caused both major-party candidates to underperform in 2016.
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- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
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- Forstall, Richard L. (editor) (1996). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990 : from the twenty-one decennial censuses. US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN 0-934213-48-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- US Census Bureau 2007 TIGER/Line Shapefiles
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: DeKalb County, Illinois
- US National Atlas
- Eric W. Mogren. Native Soil: A History of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), 288 pp.
- Official website
- History pages for DeKalb County towns and cities[dead link]
- De Kalb County at Curlie
- DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau
- Taming the Wild Prairie: A History of DeKalb County, Illinois, 1837-1900, Illinois Historical Digitization Projects at Northern Illinois University Libraries
- DeKalb County Online Newspaper