"Oldest Town in the State of Illinois" Palestine by deecat

Palestine Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 35 photos

Little Town With a Big History

Palestine certainly has a rich, historic background, which I was totally unaware of when I grew up in Robinson, Illinois, just seven miles away!

Thought to be the oldest white settlement in Illinois, it was the location of the first county seat in Crawford County [before it was permanently moved to Robinson, Illinois].

It was named Palestine by John LaMotte because it reminded him of the biblical land of "milk and honey".

You can still see burial mounds left by the early Native Americans.

There were two forts built in Palestine during the War of 1812, Fort LaMotte, and later Fort Foot. They were needed to protect the settlers from the hostile, renegade Indian bands.

Historic information indicates that Abraham Lincoln spent several days in Palestine on his way to the Springfield area. They also say that Lincoln made some of his earliest political connections in Palestine.

Most shocking is the fact that Robert Kinzie purchased 102.29 acres of land for $127.68 through the Palestine land office to acquire the acreage that is now the Chicago Loop!

The infamous Elizabeth Reed was the 1st woman in Illinois to be executed and the only woman to be hung. She was accused of poisoning her husband [1844], and she also was accused of burning down the Palestine jail!

While visiting Palestine, Illinois, today, you can see for yourself why it's such a small village that is steeped in history.

Part of Southeastern Illinois

Palestine is located along the west bank of the Wabash River on Illinois Route #33 [part of the Lincoln Heritage Trail].

From Indiana, in order to cross the Wabash, you either have to go to Hutsonville, IL. or to Vincennes, IN..

Because I always visit Palestine when I'm visiting Robinson, Illinois, I take Route 33 going East for about 7 miles.

Palestine is about 30 miles south of Interstate 70.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Very Concerned About Preserving the Past
  • Cons:Very Off The Beaten Path
  • In a nutshell:A Lovely Small Town That Still Has a Pioneer Spirit!
  • Last visit to Palestine: May 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (16)

Comments (25)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    Me again, coming back for another look at your Palestine tips, including the only opera house in the world that was upstairs from a hardware store and an undertaker's. I remember when every freight train had a caboose; good that they preserved one.

  • Jul 17, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    My kind of small town America!Unique and really "off the beaten path". Who knew so much history would be here? Great tips with lots of interesting information with grand photos to match.

  • jillzi's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    An Oopera House in Palestine...who would have known. Great history, well organized, and more than interesting.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2009 at 8:10 AM

    Hi, Dee! There's so much to see there! It's a great place to explore.... Thanx! ><><><><

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Aug 4, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    Indeed a small village with a big history.Good that they are renovating Fife Opera House. Loved the pun on window of bookstore. And would also love to have that recipe for French Dressing. Good page, Dee

  • May 21, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    Great page ! and great information

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Nov 17, 2008 at 3:19 AM

    I wonder if Mr. Harper had a valley named after him..... "Casket races"??? Mmm, I guess it's an American thing. Cheers, Ian

  • Faiza-Ifrah's Profile Photo
    Sep 21, 2008 at 3:53 PM

    Wow! this is another very informative page, Dee. i liked the Rocking Horse LTD and the tea pot that you bought, the reasons for visiting Palestine that you summed up in one tip, and coon hunters was quite funny, but natural for dog lovers :-)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Sep 13, 2008 at 1:54 PM

    It is great that so many small towns like Palestine are undergoing a revival! As you say, there are lots of good reasons for visiting them. The historical mural scene reminded me of my home town of Sussex - they too have painted them on many buildings.

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Jul 15, 2008 at 7:41 AM

    great page. BTW - someone told me there was a topless bar in Palestine called the 'Gaza strip' - is this true ?


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