Why didn't northwestern Cook County secede with DuPage County?

This past election, a measure was on the ballot in southern Cook County, Illinois, asking citizens if they wanted to secede from Cook County and form Lincoln County (the measure failed). This got me thinking about other counties that have seceded, namely DuPage County. The way I understand it, Cook County used to be a lot larger than it is today, and at some point DuPage split off. Looking at a map of Chicagoland counties, the county boundaries show this is probably true. But then you notice that there’s still an odd “finger” in northwestern Cook County, which is where I live now (Schaumburg).

This area seems a lot more connected to DuPage County to the south than to Cook County and Chicago to the east. So my question is, when DuPage County was created, why wasn’t the entire western portion a part DuPage? Why was this area left a part of Cook County?

I can’t speak directly to the OP, but most county boundaries in the U.S. were established in the 19th century or early 20th. They are numerous reasons why certain areas are in certain counties for reasons that make little sense now.

But it’s pretty hard in most states to change a county boundary if there is any sizeable population in the affected area.

In California, to form a new county, you need a majority vote in both the proposed county and the old county as a whole. And the old county usually will say no.


Are you sure DuPage seceeded? I didn’t read very far, and this was a quick Google, but see if it helps.

You’re talking about an event 165 years ago, when populations were vastly different.

If this link doesn’t help, reply and I’ll go back and try to find some newspaper cites from the day.

I could have easily done more research than I did before asking. This is from http://patsabin.com/dupage/history.htm

“The County of Du Page, is situated in the northern part of the State of Illinois, and consists of a fraction over nine townships. It belonged originally to Cook county, until its separation and organization into a distinct county by act of Legislature, passed at the session of 1839. It is bounded on the north and east by Cook county, on the south by Will and Cook, and on the west by Kane.”

My question really is, when DuPage County was created, why wasn’t its boundary extended all the way to Lake County, rather than leaving the northwest finger of Cook County.

Maybe to keep O’Hare airport in Cook County?

To me, the borders of DuPage county look like sort of rectangular with a little weird jog down on the southern border which was likely dictated by the course of the Des Plaines river at the time.

It probably didn’t take in that northern part of Cook County because Cook County didn’t want to give it up back in 1839. Maybe there was a big farm there that some powerful person owned.

I’ve been searching, but I can’t find anything. I wonder if the agreement wasn’t based as much on boundaries as it was on raw size. For example, I wonder if the agreement was to “give DuPage county 300 square miles in the form of a square, centered around the Wheaton area” or something similar.

Also, it is interesting that some of the south suburbs are considering forming their own Lincoln county. Did you know that there has been a movement to form a Lincoln county that includes your hometown? From this article, it looks like the genesis of the idea was born in 1971.

I would be very surprised if O’Hare airport was much of a consideration in 1839.

The current movement to create Lincoln County is in Southern Cook, around Blue Island, I think. I’d heard that the northwest had the idea, too, but that it died in the 70s and isn’t likely to come back any time soon (I don’t know why). Maybe back then the measure failed because Senator Regner and/or the author of that article didn’t know how to spell “Schaumburg” :slight_smile:

It looks like DuPage got 9 townships from Cook, and that just happened to be where the boundries were.


Site: http://www.dupageheritage.org/yps/chapter4.html

Thanks for the link.
It seems amazing that it took three days to get from Naperville to the Cook County courthouse back then. I’ll bet on a Summer Friday during rush hour these days you could make it there in about a day and a half or 2 days. :slight_smile: