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Alexander County, Illinois
Alexander County Courthouse, Cairo.jpg
Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo
Map of Illinois highlighting Alexander County
Location in the state of Illinois
Map of the U.S. highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded 1819
Named for William M. Alexander
Seat Cairo
Largest city Cairo
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

253 sq mi (655 km²)
236 sq mi (611 km²)
17 sq mi (44 km²), 6.8
Population
 - (2020)
 - Density

5,240
Congressional district 12th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Alexander County is the southernmost and southwesternmost county in the U.S. state of Illinois. As of the 2020 census, the population was 5,240.[1] Its county seat is Cairo[2] and its western boundary is formed by the Mississippi River.

Alexander County is part of the Cape Girardeau, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area which is made up of jurisdictions on both sides of the Mississippi River.

History[]

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 first county seat).[3] Alexander was elected as a representative to the state House, where he became Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1822.

The county was initially developed for agriculture and settled by numerous migrants from the Upper South. The county seat was moved to Unity in 1833, then to Thebes in 1843, and finally to Cairo in 1860. America, the first county seat, is now within Pulaski County, which was formed from Alexander and Johnson counties in 1843.[4]

Settled largely by white migrants from the Upland South, southern Illinois had many racial attitudes of the South. As African Americans settled in Cairo to seek jobs on steamboats, ferries, in shipping and railroads, there were tensions between the racial groups. White residents sometimes used violence and terrorism, as well as discrimination, to keep black residents in second-class positions. They excluded them from the city government and the police and fire departments, and relatively few African Americans were hired to work in the local stores.

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 African Americans 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, Illinois 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.[5]

Geography[]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 253 square miles (660 km2), of which 236 square miles (610 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (6.8%) is water.[6] Its borders are partly defined by the Mississippi River and the Ohio River. The lowest point in the state of Illinois is located on the Mississippi River in Cairo in Alexander County, where it flows out of Illinois and into Kentucky.

Adjacent counties[]

National protected areas[]

  • Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge (part)
  • Shawnee National Forest (part)

Major highways[]

  • I-57.svg Interstate 57
  • US 51.svg U.S. Route 51
  • US 60.svg U.S. Route 60
  • US 62.svg U.S. Route 62
  • Illinois 3.svg Illinois Route 3
  • Illinois 37.svg Illinois Route 37
  • Illinois 127.svg Illinois Route 127
  • Illinois 146.svg Illinois Route 146

Climate and weather[]

Climate chart for Cairo, Illinois
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
3.21
 
41
26
 
 
3.55
 
48
30
 
 
4.39
 
58
39
 
 
4.74
 
69
50
 
 
4.76
 
78
59
 
 
4.15
 
86
67
 
 
4.38
 
90
71
 
 
3.63
 
87
69
 
 
3.04
 
81
61
 
 
3.43
 
71
49
 
 
4.40
 
57
39
 
 
4.16
 
46
30
temperatures in °Cprecipitation totals in mm
source: The Weather Channel[7]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Cairo have ranged from a low of 26 °F (−3 °C) in January to a high of 90 °F (32 °C) in July, although a record low of −12 °F (−24.4 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was recorded in June 1954. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 3.04 inches (77 mm) in September to 4.76 inches (121 mm) in May.[7]

Law enforcement[]

The Tamms Correctional Center, a now shuttered super-maximum correctional facility operated by the Illinois Department of Corrections, was located in Tamms,[8] as was the State of Illinois execution chamber. Prior to the January 11, 2003 commutation of death row sentences, male death row inmates were housed in Tamms, Menard, and Pontiac correctional centers. After that date, only Pontiac continued to host the male death row. On January 4, 2013, after years of controversy over inmate conditions, the prison officially closed, negatively impacting the county's economy.[9][10][11]

In late September 2009, press reports indicated that the Alexander County Sheriff's office had five of its seven squad cars repossessed as payments had not been made. The sheriff once had 29 deputies, but was reduced to just five at the time of the reports. The Illinois State Police have provided assistance to the county with additional patrols.[12]

Demographics[]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1820 626
1830 1,390 122.0%
1840 3,313 138.3%
1850 2,484 −25.0%
1860 4,707 89.5%
1870 10,564 124.4%
1880 14,808 40.2%
1890 16,563 11.9%
1900 19,384 17.0%
1910 22,741 17.3%
1920 23,980 5.4%
1930 22,542 −6.0%
1940 25,496 13.1%
1950 20,316 −20.3%
1960 16,061 −20.9%
1970 12,015 −25.2%
1980 12,264 2.1%
1990 10,626 −13.4%
2000 9,590 −9.7%
2010 8,238 −14.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2020[1]

2000 census age pyramid for Alexander County.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 8,238 people, 3,329 households, and 2,093 families residing in the county.[17] The population density was 35.0 inhabitants per square mile (13.5 /km2). There were 4,006 housing units at an average density of 17.0 per square mile (6.6 /km2).[6] The racial makeup of the county was 60.9% white, 35.4% black or African American, 0.3% American Indian, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 1.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.9% of the population.[17] In terms of ancestry, 13.9% were German, 6.8% were Irish, 5.3% were English, and 4.7% were American.[18]

Of the 3,329 households, 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.6% were married couples living together, 18.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 37.1% were non-families, and 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.94. The median age was 41.1 years.[17]

The median income for a household in the county was $28,833 and the median income for a family was $44,699. Males had a median income of $35,880 versus $25,743 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,858. About 11.8% of families and 20.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.1% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over.[19]

2020 census[]

Between 2010 and 2020, the population of Alexander County decreased to 5,240. The percentage decline in the population of 36.4 percent was the largest of any of the 3,138 U.S. counties.[20] Although the population of the county had been decreasing for decades, the closure of the Tamms Correctional Center in 2013 probably caused an acceleration of the decline in the 2010s.[21]

Education[]

  • Cairo Unified School District 1
  • Century Community Unit School District 100
  • Egyptian Community Unit School District 5
  • Meridian Community Unit School District 101
  • Shawnee Community Unit School District 84

Communities[]

City[]

  • Cairo (seat)

Villages[]

  • East Cape Girardeau
  • McClure
  • Tamms
  • Thebes

Census-designated place[]

  • Olive Branch

Unincorporated communities[]

  • Cache
  • Cairo Junction
  • Clank
  • Dawleys
  • Diswood
  • Elco
  • Fayville
  • Future City
  • Gale
  • Golden Lily
  • Klondike
  • Miller City
  • Roth
  • Sandusky
  • Tankville
  • Tatumville
  • Unity
  • Urbandale
  • Willard

Forts[]

  • Fort Defiance

Politics[]

April 15, 2004, Barack Obama speaks at a luncheon in the city of Cairo, during his US Senate campaign

Alexander County is unique among antebellum free state rural counties in having a postbellum political history largely determined by a previously disfranchised black electorate. It is most similar in this respect to – though still substantially different from – some counties of the south and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The county was thus solidly Republican until the New Deal, and gradually turned solidly Democratic until the presidency of Bill Clinton.

In the twenty-first century, the county has shown a trend towards the GOP due to large-scale black emigration and a rapid swing of its Caucasian population toward Republican candidates. This became clear in 2016, when Donald Trump carried the county by 8.3 points—a hard swing from favorite son Obama's 13.6-point victory four years earlier, and the first time the county voted Republican since 1972. An even harder swing was taken in 2020, when he carried Alexander again by 14.2 points, even as the nation as a whole trended slightly leftward. Furthermore, Dick Durbin lost the county in the simultaneous senate election, making it his first senate election in which he failed to win the county and the first senate election since 1972 that a Republican candidate won the county.

Despite the rightward swing taken by the county, the city and county seat of Cairo, which is majority-Black, remains overwhelmingly Democratic.

United States presidential election results for Alexander County, Illinois[22]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 1,486 56.70% 1,114 42.50% 21 0.80%
2016 1,496 53.05% 1,262 44.75% 62 2.20%
2012 1,487 42.47% 1,965 56.13% 49 1.40%
2008 1,692 42.87% 2,189 55.46% 66 1.67%
2004 1,831 47.28% 2,016 52.05% 26 0.67%
2000 1,588 39.48% 2,357 58.60% 77 1.91%
1996 1,212 28.16% 2,753 63.96% 339 7.88%
1992 1,301 29.83% 2,566 58.83% 495 11.35%
1988 1,954 41.90% 2,693 57.75% 16 0.34%
1984 2,574 47.08% 2,872 52.53% 21 0.38%
1980 2,650 46.67% 2,925 51.51% 103 1.81%
1976 2,349 41.52% 3,246 57.37% 63 1.11%
1972 3,669 59.09% 2,482 39.97% 58 0.93%
1968 2,540 36.63% 2,929 42.24% 1,465 21.13%
1964 2,895 37.80% 4,763 62.20% 0 0.00%
1960 4,143 47.96% 4,477 51.83% 18 0.21%
1956 4,425 51.38% 4,167 48.38% 21 0.24%
1952 5,219 54.63% 4,305 45.06% 29 0.30%
1948 4,561 49.05% 4,641 49.91% 96 1.03%
1944 4,792 49.73% 4,767 49.47% 78 0.81%
1940 6,260 48.20% 6,591 50.75% 137 1.05%
1936 5,553 43.89% 6,972 55.10% 128 1.01%
1932 4,729 44.90% 5,653 53.67% 151 1.43%
1928 5,666 61.24% 3,558 38.46% 28 0.30%
1924 4,465 58.10% 2,639 34.34% 581 7.56%
1920 5,287 61.92% 3,167 37.09% 85 1.00%
1916 5,395 56.76% 3,940 41.45% 170 1.79%
1912 2,003 41.79% 1,936 40.39% 854 17.82%
1908 3,790 63.85% 2,027 34.15% 119 2.00%
1904 3,203 63.11% 1,686 33.22% 186 3.67%
1900 2,790 60.76% 1,760 38.33% 42 0.91%
1896 2,802 60.35% 1,813 39.05% 28 0.60%
1892 2,053 53.93% 1,674 43.97% 80 2.10%



See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Alexander County, Illinois

References[]

Specific
  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/17003.html. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. 
  3. ^ Perrin 1883, p. 455.
  4. ^ Callary, Edward (2009). Place Names of Illinois. Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 4. 
  5. ^ " 'An Outrageous Proceeding': A Northern Lynching and Enforcement of Anti-Lynching Legislation in Illinois, 1905-1910", Journal of Negro History, 1999, via JSTOR
  6. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/DEC/10_SF1/GCTPH1.CY10/0500000US17003. 
  7. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Cairo, Illinois". The Weather Channel. http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USIL0168. 
  8. ^ "Tamms Correctional Center." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
  9. ^ "Tamms "Supermax" Prison, with its Inhumane and Ridiculously Expensive Solitary Confinement Practices, is Officially a Thing of the Past!" (in en). American Civil Liberties Union. https://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights/tamms-supermax-prison-its-inhumane-and-ridiculously-expensive-solitary. 
  10. ^ Ruch, Amber. "Tamms closure impact on town months later" (in en-US). KFVS12. http://www.kfvs12.com/story/22588419/tamms-closure-impact-on-town-months-later. 
  11. ^ Moser, Whet (February 27, 2013). "Why Labor Is Fighting the Tamms Prison Closure" (in en). Chicago magazine. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/February-2013/Why-Labor-Is-Fighting-the-Tamms-Prison-Closure/. 
  12. ^ Reynolds, Dean (September 28, 2009). "Repo Man Visits an Illinois Police Dept." (in en). CBS. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-5347697.html. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census.html. 
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu. 
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/cencounts/il190090.txt. 
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/briefs/phc-t4/tables/tab02.pdf. 
  17. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/DEC/10_DP/DPDP1/0500000US17003. 
  18. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_5YR/DP02/0500000US17003. 
  19. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_5YR/DP03/0500000US17003. 
  20. ^ "2020 Population and Housing Data". https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-population-and-housing-state-data.html. 
  21. ^ Ruch, Amber. "Tamms closure impact on town months later" (in en-US). KFVS12. http://www.kfvs12.com/story/22588419/tamms-closure-impact-on-town-months-later. 
  22. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS. 
General

External links[]

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Coordinates: 37°11′N 89°20′W / 37.19, -89.34

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Alexander County, Illinois. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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