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The Carthage Jail.
Country United States
State Illinois
County Hancock
Township Carthage
Elevation 669 ft (204 m)
Coordinates 40°24′52″N 91°08′00″W / 40.41444°N 91.1333333°W / 40.41444; -91.1333333
Area 1.6 sq mi (4 km2)
 - land 1.6 sq mi (4 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 2,725 (2000)
Density 1,698.0 /sq mi (656 /km2)
Founded 1838
Mayor Jim Nightingale
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 62321
Area code 217
Location of Carthage within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Carthage, Illinois

Carthage is a city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. The population was 2,725 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Hancock County.[1] Carthage is most famous for being the site of the 1844 assassination of Joseph Smith.



Hancock County, and Carthage, saw its first settlers arrive sometime in the first few decades of the 19th century. By 1833, simple buildings had been erected in Carthage, and the town was platted in 1838. By this time Carthage had become the county seat of Hancock county.

The only person legally hanged in Hancock County, Efram Frain, was defended in his trial by roaming country attorney Abraham Lincoln. Fraim was found guilty of murder. Lincoln filed an appeal with the judge in the trial, which was as far as appeals in those days mostly went. Because at the time Carthage had no jail, Frain was kept at the Courthouse[1], which was next to the school. Frain would converse with the children from his second floor window. As a result of these conversations, most of the school children were present when their new friend, Efram, was hung. The hanging is believed to have taken place in the vicinity of the current city sewer plant east of town, where a natural amphitheater allowed for a crowd to view the spectacle.

On October 22, 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in Carthage while campaigning for the Senate. The speech spot is commemorated by a large stone on the south side of the Courthouse square.

While incarcerated in the Carthage Jail in June 1844, Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, was assassinated by a mob. For more details of this event see: Death of Joseph Smith, Jr.

Over the years the jail had been modified and utilized for different purposes. For a period the jail was home to Carthage College. The jail has been restored to a close approximation of its appearance in 1844 and is now owned by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site, a full city block, is operated as a historical visitor's center.

Regionally-noted botanist, philanthropist, and traveler Dr. Alice L. Kibbe called Carthage home. Along with Dr. Kibbe's personal collections, Carthage's Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum houses a variety of exhibits celebrating local and regional history.

Carthage is the only county in Illinois to have all of the jails that were ever used still in existence, the old jail, called the Mormon Jail, the jail next built which was also the Sheriff's residence and is on the south side of the Courthouse square, and the new jail, located on Highway 136 on the west side of the City.


Beginning in August 2007, the Carthage High School (also known as Hancock County Central High School) building has become the home of the newly formed Illini West High School, consolidating the high school districts of Carthage, La Harpe, and Dallas City. The three cities will maintain separate facilities for elementary and middle school.

Carl Sandburg College, based in Galesburg, Illinois, has a satellite campus located on the north side of Carthage.

From 1870 to 1964 Carthage, Illinois was home to Carthage College, which has relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin.


Carthage is located at 40°24′52″N 91°8′0″W / 40.41444°N 91.133333°W / 40.41444; -91.133333 (40.414327, -91.133472).[2]

According to the United States Census Bureau in 2000, the city has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.1 km²), all of it land.

In June, 2006 development property on the east side of Carthage was voluntarily annexed into the city limits. This property totaled approximately .43 square miles (1.1 km2), all land except for an eight acre lake.[3]


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 2,725 people, 1,184 households, and 709 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,698.0 people per square mile (657.6/km²). There were 1,314 housing units at an average density of 818.8/sq mi (317.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.13% White, 0.48% African American, 0.48% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.04% from other races, and 0.26% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.33% of the population.

There were 1,184 households out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 21.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 85.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,677, and the median income for a family was $50,142. Males had a median income of $36,058 versus $19,972 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,269. About 3.6% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

Places of interest


External links



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