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Aledo Times Record - Aledo, IL
The greatest Illinoisan of them all?
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About this blog
By Gary DeNeal
Gary DeNeal is the editor and publisher since 1985 of Springhouse, a bi-monthly magazine focusing on the history and lore of southeastern Illinois.
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Dec. 12, 2012 11:35 a.m.



Nobody visits George County, Illinois, these days; they never did. Folks don’t go to Thomas County, either, for it, too, doesn’t exist. But, lots of people live in, pass though, and in other ways have connections with the Illinois counties of DeWitt and Clinton. Many of them are little aware each of these counties is named for the same man.

Take that, Washington and Jefferson, weathering away while looking out for the rest of us from atop Mt. Rushmore!

The man so honored by such eccentric naming way back when was DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), a governor of New York , who today is remembered by historians and forgotten by almost everybody else. His claim to fame had to do with the Erie Canal.

When is the last time you heard anybody talking about the Erie Canal?

Still, lending first and last name to two counties in Illinois, a state Gov. DeWitt Clinton may or may not have had time to visit, has to count for something.

Perhaps he was not the greatest Illinoisan after all, or even an Illinoisan by distant association, but his achievement is outstanding.

So, here’s to you, DeWitt Clinton, busy hiding out in the footnotes of history books heavy enough that, if dropped just right, could cause pain. Until the Illinois Legislature schedules an emergency session for massive county name changing in the so-called Prairie State — here in southeastern Illinois prairies are hard to come by, you know — you remain immortal, sort of.

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