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Illinois Deed History

From March 1809 until December 1818, Illinois was an organized territory of the United States. Illinois became the 21st state when it was granted statehood in 1818. For a short time, Illinois was part of Virginia and was known as Illinois County. Five states have since been formed from Illinois County.

Illinois is comprised of 102 counties. The oldest county is St. Clair, which was formed in 1790 when Illinois was still part of the Northwest Territory. However, the land records in St. Clair County started in 1786. In 1795, St. Clair County was split into two counties during the forming of Randolph County. One of the first county recorders in St. Clair was John Hay, who was appointed by Governor St. Clair of the Northwest Territory to serve as clerk of the court of quarter sessions, clerk of the court of common pleas, clerk of the orphans’ court, treasurer of the County of St. Clair, and also as the county recorder. The first appointed clerk of the county court in St. Clair after Illinois was granted statehood was Robert McLaughlin.

Illinois was a federal land state, which means that unclaimed land was surveyed, and then granted or sold by the government through federal and state land offices. The first sale of land from the government was called a land patent. Deeds came into use when the land was sold or mortgaged by private owners.