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Carthage, Illinois facts for kids

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The historic Carthage Jail
The historic Carthage Jail
Country United States
State Illinois
County Hancock
Founded 1837
Named for Carthage
 • Total 2.44 sq mi (6.3 km2)
 • Land 2.44 sq mi (6.3 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0 km2)
669 ft (204 m)
 • Total 2,606
 • Density 1,698.0/sq mi (655.6/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 217

Carthage is a city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. The population was 2,605 as of the 2010 Census, down from 2,725 in 2000. It is the county seat of Hancock County. Carthage is best known for being the site of the 1844 murder of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.


The first European-Americans settlers arrived in Carthage and Hancock County in the first few decades of the 19th century. By 1833, they had erected simple buildings in Carthage, and the town was platted in 1838. By this time Carthage had been designated as the county seat of Hancock County.

The only person legally hanged in Hancock County, Efram Fraim, was defended in his trial by roaming country attorney Abraham Lincoln. Fraim was found guilty of murder. Lincoln filed an appeal with the judge in the trial, which was as far as appeals in those days mostly went. Because at the time Carthage had no jail, Fraim was kept at the Courthouse, which was next to the school. Fraim would converse with the children from his second-floor window.

While incarcerated in the Carthage Jail in June 1844, Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob on Thursday, June 27, 1844.

On October 22, 1858, Abraham Lincoln spoke in Carthage while campaigning for the Senate. The speech spot is commemorated by a large stone on the south side of the Courthouse square.

Over the years the jail had been modified and used for different purposes. For a period the jail was home to Carthage College. The jail has been restored to a close approximation of its appearance in 1844 and is now owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site, a full city block, is a historical visitor's center.

Regionally noted botanist, philanthropist, and traveler Dr. Alice L. Kibbe called Carthage home. Along with Dr. Kibbe's personal collections, Carthage's Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum houses a variety of exhibits celebrating local and regional history.

Carthage is the only city in Illinois to have all of the jails ever used still in existence: The old jail, called the Mormon Jail; the jail next built which was also the Sheriff's residence and is on the south side of the Courthouse square; and the new jail, on Highway 136 on the city's west side.

The Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage, built in 1908, is the third courthouse for the county. It is at the center of the square in Carthage. The courthouse and shops surrounding the square have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986.


Carthage is located at 40°24′52″N 91°8′0″W / 40.41444°N 91.133333°W / 40.41444; -91.133333 (40.414327, -91.133472).

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 2.44 square miles (6.3 km2), all land.

In June, 2006 development property on the east side of Carthage was voluntarily annexed into the city limits. This property totaled approximately .43 square miles (1.1 km2), all land except for an eight-acre lake.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,448
1880 1,594 10.1%
1890 1,654 3.8%
1900 2,104 27.2%
1910 2,373 12.8%
1920 2,129 −10.3%
1930 2,240 5.2%
1940 2,575 15.0%
1950 3,214 24.8%
1960 3,325 3.5%
1970 3,350 0.8%
1980 2,978 −11.1%
1990 2,657 −10.8%
2000 2,725 2.6%
2010 2,605 −4.4%
Est. 2015 2,545 −2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the 2010 Census, there were 2,605 persons living in 1,151 households in Carthage. With an area of 2.44 square miles, the population density was 1,067 persons per square mile. There were 1,308 total housing units with an average density of 536 per square mile. Racially, 97.3% of Carthage residents identified themselves as white, 0.3% identified as Black/African American, 0.3% were Native American, and 0.4% identified themselves as Asian. No residents identified themselves as Pacific Islander. 0.5% of the remaining population identified themselves as belonging to some other race, while 1.2% belonged to multiple races. Between all races, 2.0% of the population identified as hispanic or latino.

2007–2011 Census data showed 19.2% of Carthage residents were under the age of 18, while 22.6% of the population was over the age of 65. The median age in Carthage was 44.0 years, and there were 88.3 males for every 100 females. Of residents over the age of 15, 50.8% of persons were married. Of persons over the age of 25, 93.2% had earned at least a high school diploma while 19.2% had earned a bachelor's degree or higher. 7.2% of persons held a graduate degree.

For census data collected between 2007 and 2011, the median (middle) household income for Carthage was $46,607, with a mean (average) household income of $51,584. The median per-capita income was reported to be $22,729. Unemployment was measured to be 7.9%, while 10.7% of persons and 8.8% of families lived with earnings below the federal poverty line.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,725 people, 1,184 households, and 709 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,698.0 people per square mile (657.6/km²). There were 1,314 housing units at an average density of 818.8 per square mile (317.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.13% White, 0.48% African American, 0.48% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.04% from other races, and 0.26% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.33% of the population.

There were 1,184 households out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 21.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 85.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,677, and the median income for a family was $50,142. Males had a median income of $36,058 versus $19,972 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,269. About 3.6% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

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