Olney, Illinois

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Front and northern side of the Olney CNB Bank, located at 202 S. Whittle Street in Olney
Front and northern side of the Olney CNB Bank, located at 202 S. Whittle Street in Olney
"Home of the White Squirrel"
Location of Olney in Richland County, Illinois.
Location of Olney in Richland County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 38°44′N 88°5′W / 38.733°N 88.083°W / 38.733; -88.083Coordinates: 38°44′N 88°5′W / 38.733°N 88.083°W / 38.733; -88.083
CountryUnited States
 • MayorMark Lambird
 • Total6.93 sq mi (17.95 km2)
 • Land6.93 sq mi (17.95 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
 • Total9,115
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,251.48/sq mi (483.20/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s)618
FIPS code17-55912
Wikimedia CommonsOlney, Illinois

Olney (/ˈɔːlni/ AWL-nee) is a city in Richland County, Illinois, United States. The population was 8,631 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Richland County.[3]


Settlement of the Richland County area began around 1815 when Thaddeus Morehouse, a native of Vermont, arrived by wagon and built a log cabin along a stagecoach route that ran from Vincennes, Indiana to St. Louis. This log cabin operated as a hotel and tavern.

Richland County was organized as a county in 1841, when it was formed by a partitioning of Clay and Lawrence counties. There was some controversy regarding the location of the county seat; however, Olney was determined as the choice based on a donation of land and the central location. The name of the town Olney was suggested by Judge Aaron Shaw who desired to honor a friend, Nathan Olney. It was not until 1848 that Olney was incorporated as a village.

The Civil War brought a great deal of turmoil to the county as there were sympathies for both sides. President Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas spoke at separate political rallies in Olney on September 20, 1856. While most citizens rallied around the Union it was necessary to have troops stationed in Olney to enforce the draft as union deserters found refuge among local citizens. Overall, the county was pro-Union and an estimated 1,700 Richland County citizens fought for the Union in the Civil war. Nearly 1,000 Olney residents served in World War I, and during World War II, Richland County may have been the only Illinois county outside of Cook that provided 4 generals for the war effort.[citation needed]

Among the mayors of Olney was J. B. Porter, noted as an ex-mayor in a 1912 note about his being wounded by gunfire after whipping a man over some unresolved quarrel.[4]

The first census of Richland County was in 1850 at which time 4,012 people resided in the county. One hundred years later the 1950 census found a spot north of Olney near Dundas to be the population center of the United States.

Olney, IL, Baseball Team, 1893. Ollie Pickering, top row, far right


Olney is located at 38°44′N 88°5′W / 38.733°N 88.083°W / 38.733; -88.083 (38.7306, -88.0819).[5]

According to the 2010 census, Olney has a total area of 6.664 square miles (17.26 km2), of which 6.66 square miles (17.25 km2) (or 99.94%) is land and 0.004 square miles (0.01 km2) (or 0.06%) is water.[6]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)8,674[2]−4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 8,631 people, 3,755 households, and 2,301 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,498.4 people per square mile (578.5/km2). There were 4,283 housing units at an average density of 743.5 per square mile (287.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.67% White, 0.48% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.96% of the population.

There were 3,755 households, out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.7% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.8% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,084 and the median income for a family was $37,365. Males had a median income of $29,547 versus $18,440 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,218. About 13.0% of families and 17.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.


The City of Olney government consists of a part-time Mayor, four City Council members, and a full-time City Manager. The Current Mayor is Mark Lambird.

Elected officials[9]
Office Office holder
Mayor Mark Lambird
City Councilperson - District 1 John McLaughlin
City Councilperson - District 2 Belinda Henton
City Councilperson - District 3 Morgan Fehrenbacher
City Councilperson - District 4 Greg Eyer
City Manager Allen Barker
City Clerk Kelsie Sterchi
City Treasurer Jane Guinn
City Attorney Bartley Zuber


Post-secondary education[edit]

Notable people[edit]


Olney is served by the Olney Daily Mail, a Gannett newspaper that publishes four days a week. The Olney Gazette, a weekly newspaper, was founded in 2017. WUSI-TV (Channel 16) is licensed to Olney. Studio and transmitter are located outside of town. WUSI-TV is a PBS affiliate operated by the Broadcasting Service of Southern Illinois University.


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ Staff (December 23, 1912). "Outside News From Wire and Cable". The Day Book. 2 (73). Chicago, Illinois. p. 26 – via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Lib. of Congress).
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  6. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  9. ^ "The City of Olney, Illinois". www.ci.olney.il.us. City of Olney. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  10. ^ "BRUCE, Terry Lee, (1944 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  11. ^ "Glenn Edward Brummer". Baseball-Reference.Com. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  12. ^ "Commissioner Glenn Goodart dies in Olney". Daily Republican Register. 8 November 1948. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  13. ^ Kerns, Patricia (2004). The First 50 Years: U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Department. Government Printing Office. p. 190. ISBN 9780160515903.
  14. ^ "Herbert Courtland Murphy". Baseball-Reference.Com. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  15. ^ "Ollie Pickering". Baseball-Reference.Com. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  16. ^ "Stanley Dean Royer". Baseball-Reference.Com. Retrieved February 11, 2014.

External links[edit]