Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Fell Leads The Way
Looking for Lincoln
Top Section Photo
Lincoln’s good friend Jesse Fell had more to do with shaping early events in Livingston County and Pontiac than any other man. He named the county and, in 1837, was instrumental in having the county seat located here. He named the town “Pontiac,” in honor of the distinguished Indian Chief, when asked by the town’s first settler and proprietor to draft a petition for a post office. City Park was donated to Pontiac by Fell in his first addition to Pontiac. It later was renamed Fell Park in his honor. It is thought Fell named the street on the park’s east side “Court,” thinking the courthouse might eventually be moved to the park site.
Eastern land speculators were among the first white settlers in the newly formed state of Illinois in 1818. The Federal Government was selling land for fifty cents to one dollar per acre. The prairie lands of Illinois, which included the Livingston County region, were among the last to be settled by the pioneers, who avoided the prairie because of the mucky soil and the danger of prairie fires in the dry
Many small communities sprang up on the prairies of Central Illinois but were abandoned. It was the railroad that dictated which settlements would survive, and it was Fell who brought the railroad through Pontiac. Fell also assisted Pontiac in securing the State Reform School in 1869. He donated the sixty-four acres on which the first buildings were erected. First constructed was a five-story brick administration building, which included the warden’s residence. It opened in 1871 for boys from six to sixteen. Inmates could complete their education and learn trades. Townspeople came
Erected 2009 by The City of Pontiac.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • Law Enforcement • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1837.
Location. 40° 52.785′ N, 88° 38.152′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is on North Vermillion Street south of West Madison Street, on the left when traveling south. Marker is located on the West end of Fell Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Citizenry Mourn Lincoln (here, next to this marker); Lincoln Stranded Here (approx. 0.2 miles away); An Underground Crossing (approx. ¼ mile away); Lincoln Visits Strevell (approx. ¼ mile away); Lincoln Slept Here (approx. 0.3 miles away); W. W. I War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (approx. 0.3 miles away); W. W. II War Memorial - Livingston County IllinoisLivingston County War Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
Also see . . .
1. Visit Pontiac: Attractions. City Website:
This web link has a number of links to other historic items in Pontiac, Illinois. Informative and very helpful. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincoln’s buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling Illinois as Circuit Lawyers. See all the Lincoln Circuit Markers (and a surprise or two), in the order of his travels while a member of the Circuit of the Eighth Judicial District (of Illinois) during 1847-1857. Use the “First >>” button in the upper right to see these markers in sequence, starting from Springfield. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln Video. PBS video:
Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
4. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 806 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.