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House of History: Cook County's Founding

Updated: Aug 15, 2023



Cook County in Illinois was founded in 1831. Encompassing approximately 100 residents and 2,500 acres of property, it included parts of land that today are in the nearby counties of Lake, Will, DuPage, and McHenry. This pristine county size was truncated as the population grew in Northern Illinois, resulting in the addition of Will and McHenry counties in 1836, and DuPage and Lake counties in 1839. Today, Cook County encompasses the City of Chicago and 134 suburban municipalities offering a diverse population and list of attractions.


Cook County was named after Daniel Pope Cook, the second United States Representative from Illinois and the first state Attorney General. Mr. Cook was born in the state of Kentucky in 1794, with Kentucky having been admitted into the Union in 1792. Mr. Cook then moved to Kaskaskia, Illinois, in 1815. With Kaskaskia being the original state capital of Illinois from 1818 to 1820, Cook went there to study law. Fascinatingly, Mr. Cook was pivotal in Illinois getting statehood, writing a persuasive article in the Edwardsville newspaper in 1817.


The first Cook County Board met in the year 1831 with only three members, one being from Naperville and the other two from Chicago. Today, the Cook County Board is made of 17 Commissioners, each representing about 300,000 residents.

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