Thebes, Illinois

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Thebes, Illinois
Thebes Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Thebes Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Location of Thebes in Illinois
Location of Thebes in Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 37°13′9″N 89°27′25″W / 37.21917°N 89.45694°W / 37.21917; -89.45694Coordinates: 37°13′9″N 89°27′25″W / 37.21917°N 89.45694°W / 37.21917; -89.45694
CountryUnited States
 • Total2.31 sq mi (5.99 km2)
 • Land1.75 sq mi (4.52 km2)
 • Water0.57 sq mi (1.47 km2)
 • Total436
 • Estimate 
 • Density183.95/sq mi (71.01/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s)618
FIPS code17-74873
Wikimedia CommonsThebes, Illinois

Thebes is a village in and the former county seat of Alexander County, Illinois, United States. The population was 436 at the 2010 census.[3] It is part of the Cape GirardeauJackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 1860 the county seat was moved to Cairo, Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.


Thebes was established in 1835. At first it was known as Sparhawk Landing. It was the county seat of Alexander County from 1846 until 1859.[4]

Thebes, like the city of Cairo, also in Alexander County, is named after the Egyptian city of the same name.[5] This part of southern Illinois is known as Little Egypt.

Abraham Lincoln practiced law here. Legend holds that Dred Scott, a slave whose freedom suit reached the Supreme Court, may have been imprisoned in the local courthouse jail for a time while his case was heard. He had claimed freedom after being held in a free state but, setting aside decades of precedent, the US Supreme Court held that African Americans had no rights under the constitution, and slaves had no standing to sue for freedom (see Dred Scott v. Sanford).

As the Mississippi River at Thebes is more than four feet deep, the town became a busy steamboat port. Union troops passed through Thebes on their way to attack the South during the American Civil War. Thebes Bridge, an important railroad bridge, opened for rail traffic in 1905 and is still in use today.

In 1923, Thebes elected a woman Nora Gammon to the mayorship and an all-woman slate of alderman, running on a law enforcement platform.[6]

In literature, Thebes is the home village of Captain Andy Hawks, his wife Parthenia Ann Hawks, and daughter Magnolia in the Edna Ferber novel Show Boat (1926).


Thebes is located at 37°13′9″N 89°27′25″W / 37.21917°N 89.45694°W / 37.21917; -89.45694 (37.219177, −89.456915).[7]

According to the 2010 census, Thebes has a total area of 2.318 square miles (6.00 km2), of which 1.75 square miles (4.53 km2) (or 75.5%) is land and 0.568 square miles (1.47 km2) (or 24.5%) is water.[8]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2019321[2]−26.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 478 people, 171 households, and 129 families residing in the village. The population density was 265.6 people per square mile (102.5/km2). There were 213 housing units at an average density of 118.4 per square mile (45.7/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 87.24% White, 10.67% African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.21% Asian, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.21% of the population.

There were 171 households out of which 42.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 17.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.0% were non-families. 21.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the village, the population was spread out with 34.3% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $20,250, and the median income for a family was $26,786. Males had a median income of $28,750 versus $15,000 for females. The per capita income for the village was $11,262. About 29.2% of families and 31.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.4% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.


  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. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Thebes village, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  4. ^ History of Thebes
  5. ^ Allen, John W. (January 11, 1963). "Place Names Have Colorful History". The Southeast Missourian. p. 6. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Woman Named Thebes Mayor". Sikeston Standard. Sikeston, Missouri. April 20, 1923. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018 – via
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  8. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.

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