Did You Know . . .
Fulton County . . .
. . . was named for Robert Fulton who invented the first successful steamboat in 1807.
. . . was part of the lands set aside to be used as payment to veterans of the War of 1812.
. . . was established five years after Illinois became a state in 1823.
. . . extended all of the way to the northern boundary of the state including present day Chicago between 1823 and 1825.
. . . now has a population of 37,069.
Founded by Ossian Ross in 1823, named for his son Lewis, is the oldest city in Fulton County and its County seat. Fulton County once extended all the way north to include Chicago. For Chicagoans between 1823 and 1825, obtaining a marriage license meant a lengthy journey south to Lewistown’s log courthouse.
Today’s courthouse is a prominent landmark on Main Street, facing the elegant 1st Presbyterian Church (circa. 1854). East of Main Street and running parallel is Broadway, home to many of Lewistown’s stately older homes and to St. James Episcopal Church, considered to be one of the finest examples of pure gothic architecture in America.
Author Edgar Lee Masters set his Spoon River Anthology in Oak Hill Cemetery, which is on Main Street, north of the center of town. As a young man, Masters lived on Main Street in a home that still stands across from the grocery store. A later family home can be seen on Adams Street, west of Main.
Two pillars, between which Abraham Lincoln once gave a speech, were relocated from an older version of the courthouse to become a prominent landmark in Oak Hill Cemetery. Just north of the cemetery on the opposite side of Main Street is a modest brick home where Lincoln visited his friend Major Newton Walker on several occasions.
Lewistown achieved several “firsts” in the State of Illinois including the first American Legion Post, the first Volunteer Fire Protection District and Central Illinois’s first newspaper, the Fulton Democrat.
Lewistown has walking and biking opportunities, with parking in the north end of the cemetery and walking throughout. Bicyclists will find parking and a marked route leaving from the MidAmerica Bank parking lot on Main Street, extending into the quiet countryside west of town.
For the traveler, Lewistown offers a newly opened visitors center, restaurants, motel, gasoline, convenience stores, grocery store, laundromat, ATM banking, and auto repair services.