Main Births etc
none The Civil War era Soldiers' Monument and the Stephenson County Courthouse in Freeport.
The Civil War era Soldiers' Monument and the Stephenson County Courthouse in Freeport.
Nickname: Pretzel City, USA
Country United States
State Illinois
County Stephenson
Township Freeport
Elevation 778 ft (237 m)
Coordinates 42°17′31″N 89°37′49″W / 42.29194, -89.63028
Area 11.79 sq mi (31 km²)
 - land 11.78 sq mi (31 km²)
 - water 0.01 sq mi (0 km²)
Population 25,638 (2010)
Density 2,316.9 / sq mi (895 / km²)
Founded 1827
Date 1838
Mayor Jim Gitz
Postal code 61032
Area code 815/779
Location of Freeport within Illinois
Locator Red.svg
Location of Freeport within Illinois

Wikimedia Commons: Freeport, Illinois

Freeport is the county seat and largest city of Stephenson County, Illinois.[1] The population was 25,638 at the 2010 census, and the mayor of Freeport is James Gitz, elected in 2013. Freeport is known for hosting the second Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858, and as "Pretzel City, USA", named after the heritage of its Germanic settlers in the 1850s, as well as the pretzel company that started as a result of their arrival. The high school's mascot is the Pretzel to honor this unique heritage.



Lincoln-Douglas debates monument, near downtown Freeport.

The Freeport Public Library on the cusp of downtown Freeport.

The community was originally called Winneshiek. When it was incorporated, the new municipality took its name "Freeport" from the generosity of Tutty Baker, who was credited with running a "Free Port" on the Pecatonica River. The name 'Winneshiek' was later adopted, and is preserved to this day, by the Freeport Community Theatre Group.

In 1837, Stephenson County was formed and Freeport became its seat of government in 1838. Linked by a stagecoach with Chicago, the community grew rapidly. In 1840, a frame courthouse was erected and the first school was founded. Within two years, Freeport had two newspapers and in 1853, the two were joined by a third which published in German. By then, the community had a population of 2,000.

On August 27, 1858, the second debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas took place in Freeport and gave the nation direction in the following years. Although Stephen Douglas won the election and retained his U.S. Senate seat, his reply to a question on slavery alienated the South, which called it the "Freeport Heresy", and split the Democratic Party.[2] This enabled Abraham Lincoln to win the Presidency in 1860.

A monument to the debate was dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt and stands at this site. A life size statue recreating the event was dedicated in 1992. Another renowned statue, "Lincoln the Debator." by Leonard Crunelle, is a focal point in the city's Taylor Park. Each year there is also a reenactment of the debate, which has been shown on C-SPAN.

Freeport is known as the Pretzel City, and its public high school's team is named the Pretzels. The nickname is a reminder of Freeport's ethnic heritage; in the late 1850s, many Germans, both from Pennsylvania and from their European homeland, resettled in Stephenson County. They brought with them their love of pretzel snacks, and a pretzel bakery started up.[3]

Freeport is home to the oldest Carnegie Library in Illinois and one of the first Carnegie Libraries designed by the famous Chicago architectural firm of Patton and Miller.

Before February 1893, a large square of land was purchased from the former Keller-Wittbecker farm in "East Freeport". Some of this land had recently been subdivided and platted as the "Arcade Addition".[4] The Arcade Manufacturing Company had been in operation since 1885 when the previous Novelty Iron Works had gone out of business at the corner of Chicago and Jackson streets. That earlier company began as early as 1868. After the 1892 fire, the Arcade Manufacturing Company built an entirely new factory in the Arcade Addition of East Freeport, where they produced coffee mills and other metal products.

Local Freeport media include WFRL Radio (1570 AM), WFPS Radio (92.1 FM) and The Journal Standard daily newspaper.


Buildings in downtown Freeport, Illinois

Freeport is located at 42°17′31″N 89°37′49″W / 42.29194, -89.63028 (42.292003, -89.630377).[5] It is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of the Wisconsin border, and at the center of a large agricultural area, located about 25 miles (40 km) west of Rockford.

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 11.79 square miles (30.5 km2), of which 11.78 square miles (30.5 km2) (or 99.92%) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.026 km2) (or 0.08%) is water.[6]

U.S. Route 20 is a four-lane divided highway that skirts the community's northern edge. At Rockford, it links with Interstates 90 and 39, giving Freeport residents access to the entire Interstate system. I-90 is the major route between Chicago and Seattle. I-39 extends from Rockford to Bloomington, where it links with I-74 and I-55. From Freeport, U.S. 20 continues west to Galena, and the metropolitan area of Dubuque, Iowa.

The area code for Freeport is 815 with an overlay area code of 779 as of March 17, 2007.


Climate data for Freeport, Illinois
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 25
Average low °F (°C) 9
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.331


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1890 10,189
1900 13,258 30.1%
1910 17,587 32.7%
1920 19,669 11.8%
1930 22,045 12.1%
1940 22,368 1.5%
1950 22,467 0.4%
1960 26,628 18.5%
1970 27,736 4.2%
1980 26,266 −5.3%
1990 25,840 −1.6%
2000 26,443 2.3%
2010 25,638 −3.0%
Census Quickfacts [8]

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 26,443 people, 11,222 households, and 6,845 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,316.9 people per square mile (894.8/km²). There were 12,471 housing units at an average density of 1,092.7/sq mi (422.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.77% White, 13.81% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.00% from other races, and 2.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.

There were 11,222 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,399, and the median income for a family was $43,787. Males had a median income of $35,870 versus $25,095 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,680. About 9.9% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people[]

  • Dan Balz, reporter
  • Frederick H. Buttel, sociologist
  • Ken Behring, former owner of the Seattle Seahawks
  • John Callahan, Major League baseball player
  • Richard Wayne Dirksen, organist and choirmaster
  • Calista Flockhart, actress
  • Charles Guiteau, assassin of U.S. President James A. Garfield
  • Corky Hale, jazz musician
  • Clare Winger Harris, science fiction author
  • Homer Hillebrand, Major League Baseball player
  • Kent Johnson, poet and faculty member at Highland Community College (Illinois)
  • Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET)
  • Gerald McClellan, boxer
  • Jimmie Mattern, aviator
  • Louella Parsons, columnist
  • Jason Pearson, Major League Baseball player
  • Preston Pearson, National Football League player
  • William Thomas Rawleigh, state legislator
  • William Avery Rockefeller, father of John D. Rockefeller
  • Brian Stewart, state legislator
  • Howard Zehr, sociologist
  • George Kingsley Zipf, linguist, philologist and statistician


Public - Freeport District 145 Schools[]

Six elementary schools (1st - 4th grade)
Jones-Farrar Magnet School (International Baccalaureate (IB)) [10]
Blackhawk Elementary School [11]
Center Elementary School [12]
Empire Elementary School [13]
Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School [14]
Taylor Park Elementary School [15]
Carl Sandburg Middle school (5th - 8th grade)[16]
Freeport Middle school (5th - 8th grade)[17]
Freeport High School (9th - 12th grade)


Immanuel Lutheran[18]
Established 1877
Daycare, Latch-key, Preschool - 8th grade
Lutheran School
Principal Dr. Larry Luy (Interim)
Aquin Catholic Schools[19]
Established September 27th, 1923
Preschool - 12th grade
Catholic School
Principal Mrs Dianne Potts
Tri-County Christian Schools[20]
Established 1983
Preschool - 8th grade
Non-denominational Christian School
Principal Mrs. Wendy Schardt
Open Bible Learning Center[21]
Established January, 1970
Daycare, Latch-key, Preschool - 6th grade
Non-denominational Christian School
Principal Jennifer Fuller


Highland Community College[]

Serving thousands of students at the Freeport campus and at satellite locations throughout the district, Highland Community College offers 68 degree and certificate programs.[22]

Columbia College-Freeport[]

Ranked in the top tier of "America's Best Colleges" by U.S.News & World Report and ranked in the top 20 of military friendly colleges,[23] Columbia College-Freeport is located on the Highland Community College campus.[24]

Points of interest[]

Stephenson County Historical Society & Museum The mission of the Stephenson County Historical Society, in partnership with the Freeport Park District, is to preserve, present, and promote local and regional history. This is achieved by maintaining and collecting quality artifacts, by educating the community, by collaborating with other institutions and organizations, and by interpreting and professionally presenting our local history.

Jane Addams Hull House Museum

Don Opel Arboretum This botanical garden has 3,000 plantings representing over 3,000 different species of ground coverings, trees and shrubs.

Park Hills Golf Course

Willow Lake

Little Cubs Field

Freeport Masonic Temple

Winneshiek Players

Freeport Art Museum

JETS Observatory

JETS, a student science club of Freeport High School, was established as a club for high school students to provide information regarding various careers in fields of science. The club provides a source of scientific recreation for high school students and the community of Freeport.


Freeport has several public parks.

Krape Park[]

Awarded "Outstanding Multi-use Facility" award by Illinois Parks and Recreation Association.[25] Heavily wooded Krape Park features a picturesque waterfall that tumbles down from a high limestone bluff.

Bidwell Park[]

Size- 2 acres (8,100 m2)
Presented by the heirs of Orlando B. Bidwell, Bidwell Park is located across the street from Freeport Memorial Hospital. It features a small shelter with restrooms, a softball field, and a playground.

Knowlton Park[]

Size- <1 acre (4,000 m2)
Presented by the descendants of Dexter A. Knowlton to mark the 100th anniversary of his arrival to Freeport, Knowlton Park is located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Locust. It features a bronze tablet and tall Black Maple trees to shade benches and play equipment.

Read Park[]

Read Park features the Read Park Family Aquatic Centerand a skate park. One of the larger parks in Freeport, it also features a large pavilion, basketball courts, children’s playground, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, and softball fields. It is also home to the newly added Little Cubs Field.

Oakdale Nature Preserve[]

Over 133 acres (0.538 km2) of forests, streams and restored prairies including more than four miles (6 km) of trails as well as a 1/3-mile hard-packed accessible trail. Oakdale includes a lodge, an auditorium and a nature center.

Taylor Park[]

Size- 74 acres (299,000 m2)
Freeport Park District acquired Taylor Park in 1911; it features three lighted softball fields, concession stand, basketball courts, picnic shelter and Abraham Lincoln statue.

Wilbur Park[]

Size- 1 acre (4,000 m2)
Donated by local industrialist W.T. Rawleigh and named after his son (who died during World War I), Wilbur Park was deeded over to Freeport Park District on July 13, 1948. The park features landscaped terrain and playground equipment.


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ Guelzom A. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The debates that defined america, page 162. Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-7432-7320-6
  3. ^
  4. ^ Reference to the ebook History of Stephenson County Illinois, Arcade Manufacturing Company, page 510.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  7. ^ "Monthly Averages for Freeport, IL". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing - U.S. Census Bureau". 2013-02-20. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Blackhawk Elementary School". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Empire Elementary School". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  14. ^ "Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  15. ^ "Taylor Park Elementary School". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Aquinis Catholic Schools - Freeport, IL". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  20. ^ "Tri-County Christian School". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Highland Community College". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  23. ^ "Columbia College". 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  24. ^ "Columbia College Freeport at Highland Community College". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  25. ^

External links[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Template:Lincoln–Douglas debates

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Freeport, 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.