Cahokia, Illinois

Cahokia, Illinois

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Cahokia is a village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

 in St. Clair County
St. Clair County, Illinois
St. Clair County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau placed the mean center of U.S. population in St. Clair County. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 270,056, which is an increase of 5.5% from 256,082 in 2000. Its county seat is...

, Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. As of the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

, the village had a population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 of 16,391. The name is a reference to one of the clans of the historic Illini
Illini can refer to:* Chief Illiniwek, formerly the mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign* Illiniwek, a group of six Native American tribes in the upper Mississippi River valley of North America...

 confederacy, who were encountered by early French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 explorers to the region.

Early European settlers also named Cahokia Mounds after the Illini. This is an extensive prehistoric Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

 urban complex located to the north in present-day Collinsville
Collinsville, Illinois
Collinsville is a city located mainly in Madison County, and partially in St. Clair County, both in Illinois. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 26,016. Collinsville is approximately 12 miles from St. Louis, Missouri and is considered part of that city's Metro-East area...

 in Madison County
Madison County, Illinois
Madison County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. Madison County is part of the Metro-East region of the St. Louis Metro Area. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 269,282, which is an increase of 4.0% from 258,941 in 2000. The county seat is Edwardsville, home to...

. It is a UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 and a State Historic Park.

The village of Cahokia is the home of significant colonial and Federal-period buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

: the Cahokia Courthouse
Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site
The Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site is a reconstructed French-Canadian structure built about 1740 at what is now 107 Elm Street, Cahokia, Illinois. At various times it has served as a house and as a courthouse. It is currently interpreted to resemble its appearance about 1800 as a frontier...

 (c 1740), in the French Colonial
French Colonial
French Colonial a style of architecture used by the French during colonization. Many French colonies, especially those in South-East Asia, have previously been reluctant to promote their colonial architecture as an asset for tourism, however in recent times, the new-generation of local authorities...

 style, Church of the Holy Family (Cahokia)
Church of the Holy Family (Cahokia)
The Church of the Holy Family is a Roman Catholic church located in the St. Clair County, Illinois city of Cahokia. The Log Church, built in 1799 and replacing a similar church built in 1699, is the oldest church completely west of the Alleghany Mountains...

 (c. 1697), and the Jarrot Mansion
Jarrot Mansion State Historic Site
The Nicholas Jarrot Mansion is a historic house built in the Federal style in 1807-1810. It is located at 124 East First Street in Cahokia, Illinois and is operated as an inactive historic site by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency...

 (c 1810).


While the Europeans also named the Cahokia Mounds site to the north after the Illini group, archeologists have determined that the earthwork mounds
Earthworks (archaeology)
In archaeology, earthwork is a general term to describe artificial changes in land level. Earthworks are often known colloquially as 'lumps and bumps'. Earthworks can themselves be archaeological features or they can show features beneath the surface...

 complex was built by the Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

, an earlier, potentially unrelated indigenous people. The city site reached its peak in the 13th century and was abandoned centuries before European contact. The Cahokia Native Americans did not coalesce as a group and live in the Illinois area until closer to the time of French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...


The European association with Cahokia began over 300 years ago, with Father Pinet’s mission
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

 in late 1696 to convert
The convert or try, in American football known as "point after", and Canadian football "Point after touchdown", is a one-scrimmage down played immediately after a touchdown during which the scoring team is allowed to attempt to score an extra one point by kicking the ball through the uprights , or...

 the Cahokian and Tamaroa
Tamaroa may refer to:*Tamaroa , a tribe of Native Americans in the United States*Tamaroa, Illinois, a village in the United States*USCGC Tamaroa, a United States Coast Guard Cutter*Tamaroa, Kiribati, a village in the Republic of Kiribati...

 Indians to Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Father and the Seminary of Foreign Missions of Quebec built a log church. It is dedicated to the Holy Family
Holy Family
The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph.The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family...

. During the next 100 years, Cahokia became one of the largest French colonial towns in the Illinois Country
Illinois Country
The Illinois Country , also known as Upper Louisiana, was a region in what is now the Midwestern United States that was explored and settled by the French during the 17th and 18th centuries. The terms referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, though settlement was concentrated in...


Cahokia had become the center of a large area for trading Indian goods and furs. The village had about 3,000 inhabitants, 24 brothels, and a thriving business district. The nearby town of Kaskaskia
The Kaskaskia were one of about a dozen cognate tribes that made up the Illiniwek Confederation or Illinois Confederation. Their longstanding homeland was in the Great Lakes region...

 on the Mississippi became the region’s leading shipping port, and Fort de Chartres
Fort de Chartres
Fort de Chartres was a French fortification first built in 1720 on the east bank of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois. The Fort de Chartres name was also applied to the two successive fortifications built nearby during the 18th century in the era of French colonial control over...

 became a military and governmental command center. The 50 miles (80.5 km) area of land between the two cities was cultivated by farming settlers, known as habitants
Habitants is the name used to refer to both the French settlers and the inhabitants of French origin who farmed the land along the two shores of the St. Lawrence Gulf and River in what is the present-day Province of Quebec in Canada...

, whose main crop was wheat. As the area expanded and expanded, the relationship between the settlers and the Indians continued to be peaceful. Settlers were mostly French-Canadian migrants whose families had been in North America for a while.

In the following years, Cahokia suffered, mainly from the French loss in the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 in 1763. Defeated by Great Britain in what was an extension of the Seven Years War in Europe, the French were forced to cede large parts of the Illinois Country to the victors. Many Cahokians fled in fear of the British, or because they wanted to live under a Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 power; some went to French villages on the west of the Mississippi River, such as Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Ste. Genevieve is a city in and the county seat of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, United States. The population was 11,654 at the 2000 census...


The Odawa
Odawa people
The Odawa or Ottawa, said to mean "traders," are a Native American and First Nations people. They are one of the Anishinaabeg, related to but distinct from the Ojibwe nation. Their original homelands are located on Manitoulin Island, near the northern shores of Lake Huron, on the Bruce Peninsula in...

 rebel leader Chief Pontiac
Chief Pontiac
Pontiac or Obwandiyag , was an Ottawa leader who became famous for his role in Pontiac's Rebellion , an American Indian struggle against the British military occupation of the Great Lakes region following the British victory in the French and Indian War. Historians disagree about Pontiac's...

 was assassinated by other Indians in Cahokia on April 20, 1769.

In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark was a soldier from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky militia throughout much of the war...

 set up a court in Cahokia, because in earlier years Cahokia was an independent city state. Cahokia officially became part of the United States on July 5, 1778. Soon after that, the 105 Cahokia "heads of household" pledged loyalty to the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 of the United States.

Later, Cahokia was named the county seat of St. Clair County. The Cahokian Courthouse acted as a United States territorial courthouse and a major political center for the next 24 years. When in 1801 St. Clair County was enlarged, Henry Harrison named the Cahokia Courthouse the legal and governmental center of a sizeable area extending to the Canadian border. By 1814, other counties and territories had been organized, and St. Clair County was defined as its current size. The county seat was moved to Belleville, Illinois
Belleville, Illinois
Belleville is a city in St. Clair County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city has a population of 44,478. It is the eighth-most populated city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area and the most populated city south of Springfield in the state of Illinois. It is the county...



Cahokia is located at 38.561901°N 90.172878°W.

According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the village has a total area of 10 square miles (25.9 km²), of which, 9.6 square miles (24.9 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1 km²) of it (3.71%) is water.


As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 16,391 people, 5,693 households, and 4,252 families residing in the village. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 1,705.8 people per square mile (658.5/km²). There were 6,213 housing units at an average density of 646.6 per square mile (249.6/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 58.28% African American, 38.69% White, 0.32% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 1.56% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.25% of the population.

There were 5,693 households out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 25.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.3% were non-families. 20.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.27.

In the village, the population was spread out with 33.4% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.5 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $31,001, and the median income for a family was $35,582. Males had a median income of $31,806 versus $22,429 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the village was $14,545. About 22.8% of families and 24.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.0% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.


Cahokia is home to the St. Louis Downtown Airport
St. Louis Downtown Airport
St. Louis Downtown Airport is a public-use airport located in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, one mile east of the central business district of Cahokia, in St. Clair County, Illinois, United States. It is owned by the Bi-State Development Agency. The airport is located less than 3 miles from...

, a general aviation
General aviation
General aviation is one of the two categories of civil aviation. It refers to all flights other than military and scheduled airline and regular cargo flights, both private and commercial. General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to large, non-scheduled cargo jet flights...


Government and infrastructure

The United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

operates the Cahokia Post Office.