Located along the Mississippi River and on the bluffs above
it, Quincy, Illinois in Adams County, is famous for its tree-lined
streets, beautiful parks and attractive historic neighborhoods.
The city of Quincy is home to 42,000 residents and was voted
as one of the top ten of historic towns in the United States.
In addition to local designations, Quincy is home to four National
Register of Historic Places districts, covering about 250 blocks
and a dozen individually listed National Register properties.
A bustling river town, Quincy also boasts a thriving arts community
and is home to the first Arts Council in America. Great shopping,
restaurants and natural resources abound–nothing compares
to the unsurpassed beauty and distinctive charm of Quincy.
The site of Quincy, Illinois originally was home
to Sauk (Sac), Fox and Kickapoo Native American tribes.
Quincy’s founder, John Wood, came west from Moravia, New
York in 1818 and settled in the Illinois Military Tract. Wood
purchased 160 acres from a veteran for $60 and the next year
became the first settler in what was originally called "Bluffs,"
and by 1825 would be known as Quincy. Wood was later elected
Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1856 and became Governor
in 1860 upon the death of elected Governor Bissell.
In 1825 Quincy became the county seat, and was named in honor
of the newly-elected U.S. President, John Quincy Adams.
Five thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints, the Mormons, were driven from their homes in Missouri
and arrived in Quincy during the winter of 1838-39. Though vastly
outnumbered by the new arrivals, the residents of Quincy provided
food and shelter for the Mormons until Joseph Smith led his
followers 40 miles up river to the settlement of Nauvoo.
Quincy’s earliest settlers, primarily from New England,
were joined by a wave of German immigrants in the1840’s.
The new residents brought with them much needed skills for the
The matter of slavery was a major religious and social issue
in Quincy’s early years. Quincy, Illinois, separated only
by the Mississippi River from the slave state of Missouri, made
Quincy a hotbed of political controversy. Dr. Richard Eells
House, at 415 Jersey, was considered station number one on the
Underground Railroad from Quincy to Chicago.
Quincy grew rapidly in the 1850’s. Steamboat arrivals
and departures made Quincy’s riverfront a beehive of activity.
Quincy was a site for the sixth Senatorial debate by U.S.
Senator Stephen Douglas and his challenger, Abraham Lincoln
and was the largest city in which Lincoln and Douglas appeared.
The Civil War brought increasing prosperity to Quincy. By 1870,
Quincy passed Peoria to become the second largest city in Illinois.
A massive railroad bridge across the Mississippi River had been
completed, and Quincy was linked by rail to Omaha, Kansas City
and points west.
For more than a century and a half, Quincy has counted its blessings
and good fortunes, endured an occasional flood or tornado, and
settled in as the Gem City of the Mississippi Valley. Twice
recognized as an All-America City, Quincy honors its past as
its citizens look forward to the 21st Century.