Shelby County Historical and Genealogical Society
The history of Shelbyville, naturally, is interwoven with the history of Shelby County. The county was established by an act of the Illinois legislature in 1827, and section 9 of that act named the as yet unlocated county seat as Shelbyville. The name Shelby honored the Revolutionary War hero, Col. Isaac Shelby, later destined to be first governor of Kentucky.
The site of the county seat was chosen by commissioners Easton Whiton, William L.D. Ewing and John Hopton on April 5, 1827. At the top of a bluff overlong the Kaskaskia River, The three men drove down a hickory stake between three red oak trees to indicate Shelbyville’s public square. A nearby spring of cold water further recommended the site. James Duncan, Robert K. McLaughlin and James T.B. Stapp donated twenty acres of land for public buildings, the land surrounding the present court house.