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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

1861 Map of Lake County, Illinois

Map of Lake County, Illinois 1861. 

The Lake County, Illinois map of 1861 was the county's second official map. An earlier map was commissioned by the County in about 1845, but no copies are known to exist. 

Lithographers Leopold Gast and Brother of St. Louis, Missouri were hired to publish the Lake County map. By 1861, the American map making industry was in full swing. The lithographic process was more cost effective than copperplate engraving, allowing lithographic map publishers to make good maps at a low cost, even in small publishing runs. 

Detail from map of Lake County, Illinois 1861.

To ensure the map's accuracy, the surveys of County Surveyor, George Hale, were used along with the records of the Clerk of the Circuit Court/Recorder of Deeds, Josiah M. Truesdell. The map was a useful resource for farmers, businessmen and government officials.
Libertyville Township (partial) from 1861 Map of Lake County, Illinois.

As an historical record, the map is a snapshot of Lake County’s agricultural heritage, and settlement and immigration patterns prior to the start of the Civil War (1861 - 1865). In 1860, Lake County's population was 18,257. 

An original 1861 map in the collections of the Bess Bower Dunn Museum was in need of conservation. A grant from the Signal Hill Daughters of the American Revolution funded the map's conservation by the Book Restoration Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Detail of the 1861 Lake County map before conservation. 

The paper map had significant cracks, flaking, and the shellac coating had aged to a dark color. Its conservation treatment included, but was not limited to soaking the map in milk alkaline solution to relax flat, de-acidification, removal of shellac varnish, and mounting map pieces onto okawara paper and then onto Irish linen.

After conservation, the map is now stable and able to be exhibited for short periods of time.

Full view of 1861 Lake County map after conservation. (BBDM)

The map contains information on landowners and farms, locations of churches, dwelling houses, schools, businesses, roads and natural features. It also includes census data, a view of the public square in Waukegan, and business districts for Waukegan, Antioch, Half Day, Wauconda, Long Grove, Lake Zurich, Deerfield, Forksville (Volo), O’Plain Bridge (Gurnee), Diamond Lake and Barrington. 

Public Square in Waukegan showing Recorders office (left) and courthouse.

Similar to county atlases that included artist's renderings of farms, and county histories with biographical sketches of prominent citizens, the 1861 wall map promoted the county's civic pride and was a useful source for finding ownership of parcels of land. 

Today, the 1861 Lake County map is considered an invaluable genealogical and historical record. 

To view the map online (and other county maps) visit Lake County, Illinois Maps Online

Special thanks to the Signal Hill Daughters of the American Revolution for funding the conservation of the Dunn Museum's 1861 Map of Lake County. 


Christopher said...

What is the difference between the map commissioned by the county in 1841, and the 1840 federal township plats map (viewable on

Diana Dretske said...

Hello Christopher,

The 1840 Federal plat map mainly documents land features such as prairie and marshland, a handful of place names, "Inclosures," but no settler names, and structures only within sight of the surveyor. The circa 1845 map (I corrected the date in my post) was made by Elijah M. Haines (1822 - 1889) and likely included place names, roads, landowners, structures and land features. A snapshot of the first settlers and settlements.

Haines was a surveyor, teacher, attorney, legislature and friend of Abraham Lincoln. He surveyed and platted the village of Hainesville, which is named for him.

Thanks for reading!

Rick Fee said...

Where can I see a close-up if this map? I have family who owned land in Shields Township around that time. Thanks..

Diana Dretske said...

A copy of the map is available for research in the Dunn Museum's Teich Family Reading Room, open Wednesday - Saturday, 12 - 4 pm. No appointment necessary to view county plat maps.

Another option: A scan of the map is available online Click on the "four squares" basemap gallery and scroll down to the 1861 map.

Diana Dretske said...

Hello Heather and the Rascals,

Thank you for reading and your question about "St. Marcus Cemetery." There is no cemetery with that name in Lake County, Illinois. I believe you are researching the McCann family. They are buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Waukegan. You can view their burial information on Here's the direct link to the McCanns:

I hope this is helpful.

Diana Dretske

Heather and the Rascals wrote on Feb 8, 2019: "Thank you so much for this blog. I'm currently researching ancestors from this area and this helps open my eyes to the times they lived. My great great grandfather was from Waukegan. In the death index, it says he was buried in St. Marcus Cemetery. I have looked and looks for a St. Marcus cemetery and can't find one. Do you happen to know if there is or was such a place? He died in 1923. Any info would be much appreciated. I don't live in the state and can't get to a library there."