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Lacon, a riverside community with a population of less than 2000, is situated on the east bank of the Illinois River, nestled in one of the scallops that distinguish the shoreline from Hennepin to Peoria. It is the oldest town in Putnam, Marshall, Bureau or Stark Counties. When first laid out in 1831, the area was populated with American Indian tribes.  One hundred and thirty (130) lots were laid out in the community first known as Strawn’s Landing; then for a short time as Columbia, presumably after “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean” which was so movingly sung by the circuit riding ministers, before it was finally named Lacon.

Among Lacon’s original founders were the three Fenn Brothers, Ira, Norman and William.  

They were direct descendants of an illustrious early New England family and were instrumental

in forming the “Lacon Colony” which journeyed from Ohio to Illinois in 1836.  In 1835, Ira Fenn,

who was a successful lawyer and business in Dayton, Ohio, along with his brothers traveled west

in search of new prospects.  The Marshall (then Putnam) County area of Illinois appealed to the

Fenns and they promptly purchased one-half of the Lacon townsite and returned to Ohio to help

organize the “Lacon Colony: for their journey to Illinois.  Soon after their return to Lacon

(then called Columbia) in 1836, the Fenn brothers built a general mercantile store, a mill and

other business enterprises, and were very active in real estate.  Ira also built one of the early

Lacon residences in 1836.  He later journeyed to Springfield on the matter of changing Columbia’s

name and is credited with personally suggesting the name of Lacon.  

Lacon is the county seat of Marshall County. It has held that distinction since

1839 when Marshall County was carved out of the larger Putnam County by

legislative action in Springfield. A classic style courthouse dominates the

downtown area, fronting on Prairie Street (Illinois Rte 26).

By 1855 there were two steam flour mills; a large pork packing operation and a saw mill.  Lacon supported a number of dry goods and variety stores, clothing stores, multiple grocery, drug and furniture stores. Additionally there were carriage and wagon shops, farm implement manufacturing, blacksmith shops, shoe makers. Coopering was extensively carried on and a number of carpenters and brick layers and stone masons were regularly employed.

Lacon’s first newspaper was issued in December 1837 by Allen Ford. Some 40 years after the first settlers came to the site of Lacon, and put down roots, the second editor of the Lacon weekly, Spencer Ellsworth, decided as a public relations promotion that certain days should be set aside annually to honor and show respect to the pioneers who came from New England and overseas to make new homes in this part of the Illinois River Valley. So it happened that in 1870 an Old Settlers’ picnic was held on the Courthouse lawn. That custom has grown over the years and is held every summer in late August. It is said that the Marshall County Old Settlers event is the oldest ongoing event of its kind in the State of Illinois.

Where a ferry once carried visitors, from the west  to Lacon in the 1830's,  the Illinois River is crossed today by IL  Route 17 and a two lane (bridge detail)  Access to the city from the north and south is easily accomplished along scenic IL Rte 26. The autumn drive along Rte 26 from Hennepin to Spring Bay is said to rival the New England fall color. The Rte 26 and Rte 17 highways intersect just east of the main business district in Lacon.  At that junction site is the historic Marshall County Courthouse, Sheriff's Office and County Jail.  The courthouse square provides  space for relaxing  on the stone benches amid lovely shade trees and gardens.  The park like setting contains a monument dedicated to our military veterans  and a large stage area which is the scene of summer concerts.

The Marina, at the foot of the bridge, provides access to the river for boaters;

playground equipment for the children and picnic areas for family and friends.

Other recreational facilities include sand volleyball; additional picnic areas and

a 9-hole frisbee golf course in another park on the south edge of Lacon. A

8 lane bowling alley is located near the north edge of the city as  is a fruit

orchard. The Park District provides swimming facilities and baseball diamonds

within walking distance of the school.  The grade school for the Midland

School District is located in the center of the city with the Middle School and

High School facilities just a short bus ride away.  Lacon is a part of the ICC

Junior college district with campuses in East Peoria and Peoria.

Many religions are represented by the various churches located in and around the area. A public community center provides the location for regular activities for the young and the not so young. Also providing a venue for regular activities is the nearby St. Joseph's Nursing Home and rehab center. Lacon has the distinction of being the host city for one of the oldest, continuous Old Settlers celebrations in the state. The metro areas of LaSalle-Peru and Peoria are located equally distant on the north and south with the Bloomington-Normal area just a little further to the south-east.  

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City of Lacon, City Hall, 406 5th Street, Lacon, IL 61540 Ph: (309) 246-6111