Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Alexander County, Illinois

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

Top Surnames

view all


Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Alexander County, Illinois.

Official Website


Alexander County was organized from part of Union County in 1819. It was named for William M. Alexander, a physician who practiced in the town of America. The county was initially developed for agriculture and settled by numerous migrants from the Upper South. The county seat was moved from America to Unity in 1833, then to Thebes in 1843, and finally to Cairo in 1860. America is now within Pulaski County.

Settled largely by white migrants from the Upland South, southern Illinois had many racial attitudes of the South. As blacks settled in Cairo to seek jobs on steamboats, ferries, in shipping and railroads, there were tensions between the racial groups.

There were three lynchings of blacks in Alexander County in the years between Reconstruction and the early 20th century. The county had the second-highest number of lynchings of blacks in all of Illinois. The most notorious of these was the lynching of Will James before a crowd of white spectators estimated at 10,000, in the county seat of Cairo, on November 11, 1909. James was accused of murdering a young white woman. Later that same evening, the mob lynched a white man named Henry Salzner, hanging him in the courthouse square for allegedly killing his wife. Neither man had had a trial, nor was anyone ever prosecuted for the lynchings, even though Illinois had passed an anti-lynching law four years earlier.

Adjacent Counties

Cities & Villages

+Denotes County Seat

  • +Cairo
  • East Cape Girardeau
  • McClure
  • Tamms
  • Thebes



Dogtooth Bend Mounds & Village Site

The McClure House

Thebes Courthouse