Hot Potato

The land that Woodstock is now on was passed around like a hot potato for several hundred years by Europeans that never lived here.

There is evidence of ancient Viking settlements in North America dating back a Millennium or so, so it is quite likely that some Viking explorers claimed this land for some Norse God or King but they never got around to documenting it with the proper authorities so it doesn’t count.

1492 – We all know that Christopher Columbus claimed the new world for Spain in 1492 (even though he initially thought it was India) but back in Europe there was lots of disagreement about who could specifically claim this part of the new world: Lines were drawn and words were said…

In 1534 Jacques Cartier planted a cross on a peninsula along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence and claimed the land in the name of King Francis of France. In fairness, some French explorers did pass nearby during the 230 years France held this claim. La Salle, Jolliet and Marquette all passed within a few dozen miles of Woodstock so that kind of counts. The land Woodstock is on was considered part of New France until the land was ceded to the British in 1763 after the British defeated the French in the Seven Year War (called the French and Indian War here in North America).

1763-1778  The British had control of this area for just fifteen years prior to the American Revolutionary War. It was part of the British Province of Quebec.

1778-1784   During the Revolutionary War, General George Rogers Clark claimed this area for Virginia, so this land was part of Illinois County, Virginia until Virginia ceded it to the Federal Government in 1784.

1784-1785   This land was briefly claimed by Massachusetts. Massachusetts claimed the land to the Mississippi river north of latitude 42 degrees 2 minutes and Connecticut claimed the land south of this line. This boundary line was only about 20 miles south of Woodstock and ran through current day Elgin.

1783-1809   After the Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Paris was signed on  September 3, 1783 this area became part of the US Northwest Territory although the British maintained a presence until after the War of 1812. The Northwest Territory was divided into smaller and smaller Territories, States and Counties as settlers began moving in. The units of County government that included the land Woodstock is now on are as follows:

In 1788 the first official US government center for governance of the land Woodstock is now on was established at Marietta in Washington County in what is now Ohio.

1800-1809  Knox County, Indiana Territory governed the land Woodstock is now on

1809-1812   St. Clair County, Illinois Territory governed the land Woodstock is now on

1812 – 1815  Madison County, Illinois Territory governed the land Woodstock is now on

1821-1823  Pike County, Illinois governed the land Woodstock is now on

1823 – 1825  Fulton County, Illinois governed the land Woodstock is now on

1825-1831  Putnam County, Illinois governed the land Woodstock is now on

1831-1836   LaSalle County, Illinois governed the land Woodstock is now on

1836 McHenry County was formed out of the upper portions of Cook and LaSalle counties. The county was named for Major William McHenry, a member of the Illinois Militia during Tecumseh’s War, a major during the Blackhawk War in 1832, and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate. FYI – There is another McHenry County in the middle of North Dakota.

Click here to return back to the wacky Woodstock history page.