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.

Coles County, Illinois

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

view all


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


Coles County was organized on December 25, 1830 out of Clark and Edgar counties. It was named after Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois, from 1822 to 1826. The majority of the American settlers who founded Coles County, Illinois were either from the six New England states, or were born in upstate New York to parents who had moved to that region from New England shortly after the American Revolution. This population was referred to as "Yankee" settlers, meaning that they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal. When the "Yankee" settlers originally arrived in the area, there was nothing but dense virgin forest and wild prairie. The settlers laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their "Yankee" New England values, such as staunch support for abolitionism as well as a passion for education and the subsequent construction of many schools. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church, though some were Episcopalian. Due to the second Great Awakening many of them had either become Baptists or converted to denominations such as Methodism or Presbyterianism before moving to what is now Coles county. The prevalence of New Englanders and New England transplants from upstate New York made Coles county culturally continuous with the culture of New England for the first several decades of its history, this resulted in the county having a large amount of support for the abolitionist movement during the decades preceding the Civil War, and correspondingly a strong support for the Republican party. Relatively large amounts of German immigrants arrived in Coles County beginning in 1849, these immigrants were also almost unanimously abolitionists. There was a small portion of the county who were Irish Catholic immigrants, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas was extremely popular in this community, and during the Civil War the Irish Catholic community of Coles County would overwhelmingly be copperheads.

Adjacent Counties

Cities & Villages

  • Ashmore
  • Charleston (County Seat)
  • Humboldt
  • Lema
  • Mattoon
  • Oakland

Other Townships and Communities: Bushton, Campbell, Coles, Cooks Mills, Diona, Dorans, East Oakland, Embarrass, Etna, Fairgrange, Hutton, Janesville, Jones, Kings, Lafayette, Lipsey, Loxa, Magnet, Morgan, Newby, North Okaw, Paradise, Pleasant Grove, Rardin, Seven Hickory, Trilla and Wabash Point



Genealogy Trails


Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places