William McHenry

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William McHenry was an early Illinois politician and military leader. McHenry County and the City of McHenry, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago are named in his honor.[1]

McHenry is believed to have been born in 1771. He married Hannah Ruth Blackford in the late 1790s in Logan County, Kentucky.

McHenry served as a lieutenant in Price's Battalion of Mounted Volunteers and participated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, near modern Toledo, Ohio.

McHenry moved from Henderson County, Kentucky in 1810. The family settled in what is now White County, Illinois, along the trail between the salt works near Old Shawneetown, Illinois and Fort Vincennes.

In 1811, McHenry served in the Illinois Militia during Tecumseh's War, which culminated in the Battle of Tippecanoe in the Indiana territory. After the outbreak of the War of 1812, he participated in the attack on the Native American village at Peoria, which was allied with the British.

McHenry was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1818, and elected to the first Illinois House of Representatives.

McHenry served as a major, leading the Mounted Spies, in the Blackhawk War in 1832. He became ill during the campaign, and was mustered out, at the age of 61. He was promptly elected to the State Senate.

William McHenry died on February 3, 1835 [2] in a boarding house in Vandalia, Illinois, which was then the State capital.


William McHenry is the namesake of McHenry County, Illinois, and the City of McHenry.[3]


  1. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 100.
  2. ^ http://www.mchenrycountyhistory.org/day-mchenry-county-history
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 194.

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