Randolph County Courthouse, Chester
Where Illinois Began
Location within the U.S. state of Illinois
Illinois's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Edmund Randolph|
|• Total||597 sq mi (1,550 km2)|
|• Land||576 sq mi (1,490 km2)|
|• Water||22 sq mi (60 km2) 3.6%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||56/sq mi (22/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Owing to its role in the state's history, the county motto is "Where Illinois Began." It contains the historically important village of Kaskaskia, Illinois's first capital.
The county is part of Southern Illinois in the southern portion of the state known locally as "Little Egypt", and includes fertile river flats, part of the American Bottom; it is near the Greater St. Louis area.
Randolph County was organized in 1795 out of a part of St. Clair County. It was named in honor of Edmund Randolph, Governor of Virginia. George Rogers Clark of the army of Virginia captured the area from the British on July 4, 1778, near the end of the Revolutionary War. The area then became the seat, for several years, of Illinois County, Virginia, although the Congress of the Confederation legislated the existence of the Northwest Territory on July 13, 1787. Edmund Randolph was Governor of Virginia at the time Virginia ceded the Northwest Territory to the United States. In 1809, when Illinois became a separate territory, Territorial Secretary Nathaniel Pope, in his capacity as acting governor, issued a proclamation establishing Randolph as one of the Illinois' two original counties. The county's boundaries were last changed in 1827, when land was taken to form Perry County.
The Mississippi River has played a prominent role in the county's history, altering its boundaries in 1881 when it severed the isthmus that connected Kaskaskia to the Illinois mainland, destroying the original village of Kaskaskia and forcing its historic cemetery to be relocated across the river to Fort Kaskaskia. Crains Island , southeast of Chester, is another enclave of Illinois west of the Mississippi that was created by a change in the river's course.
Randolph County as it was re-established in 1809. This diagonal border line had been drawn by the Indiana Territorial government in 1803.
The Kaskaskia River flows into the Mississippi River in Randolph County. At this point the Mississippi, which usually defines the border between Illinois and Missouri, is entirely in Illinois. The Mississippi changed its course in the late-nineteenth century, leaving Kaskaskia, the former state capital, on the west side of the river. The boundary of the State, however, follows the old course of the river, leaving Illinois with an exclave on the western shore of the Mississippi River. A smaller enclave, Crains Island, is a few miles further down the river.
Climate and weather
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Chester have ranged from a low of 22 °F (−6 °C) in January to a high of 91 °F (33 °C) in July, although a record low of −18 °F (−28 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 113 °F (45 °C) was recorded in July 2012. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.85 inches (47 mm) in January to 4.30 inches (109 mm) in May.
- Monroe County (northwest)
- St. Clair County (north)
- Washington County (northeast)
- Perry County (east)
- Jackson County (southeast)
- Perry County, Missouri (south)
- Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri (southwest)
Randolph County is among the few counties in the United States to border two counties with the same name (Perry County in Missouri and Illinois).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 33,476 people, 12,314 households, and 8,188 families residing in the county. The population density was 58.2 inhabitants per square mile (22.5/km2). There were 13,707 housing units at an average density of 23.8 per square mile (9.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 87.6% white, 9.7% black or African American, 0.3% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 1.2% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 40.3% were German, 11.3% were Irish, 9.4% were English, and 5.7% were American.
Of the 12,314 households, 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.5% were non-families, and 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.90. The median age was 41.0 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,020 and the median income for a family was $55,113. Males had a median income of $43,359 versus $28,376 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,950. About 7.0% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.9% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.
Government and infrastructure
The Illinois Department of Corrections Menard Correctional Center is located in Chester. Prior to the January 11, 2003 commutation of death row sentences, male death row inmates were housed in Menard, Tamms, and Pontiac correctional centers. After that date, only Pontiac continued to host the male death row.
Randolph is a rural conservative county in southern Illinois that has trended Republican in recent presidential elections. Historically, the county was dominated by organized labor and family farms. This put it into the Democratic column. The area might be described as economically populist and socially conservative.
There are two AM radio stations licensed in the county — WHCO 1230AM in Sparta and KSGM 980AM in Chester.
Weekly newspapers in the county are The Randolph County Herald Tribune located in Chester, The County Journal, which is based in Percy and also covers Perry and Jackson Counties, the North County News in Red Bud, and the Sparta News-Plaindealer.
The area is also served by the on-line newspaper based in Chester which is SunTimesNews.com
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- White, Jesse. Origin and Evolution of Illinois Counties. State of Illinois, March 2010. 
- "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "Monthly Averages for Chester, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved November 2, 2019.
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- "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
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- "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "Menard Correctional Center." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
- "Chester city, Illinois Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
- "DOC Report Online." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
- KBDZ 93.1 FM Radio
- KSGM AM 980 Radio
- Randolph County Government
- Randolph County Herald-Tribune
- North County News
- Sparta News-Plaindealer