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Thebes, Illinois
Thebes Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Thebes Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Location of Thebes in Illinois
Location of Thebes in Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Country United States
State Illinois
County Alexander
 • Total 2.31 sq mi (5.99 km2)
 • Land 1.75 sq mi (4.52 km2)
 • Water 0.57 sq mi (1.47 km2)
 • Total 208
 • Density 119.20/sq mi (46.01/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s) 618
FIPS code 17-74873
Wikimedia Commons Thebes, Illinois

Thebes is a village in and the former county seat of Alexander County, Illinois, United States. The population was 436 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Cape GirardeauJackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 1860 the county seat was moved to Cairo, Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.


Thebes was established in 1835. At first it was known as Sparhawk Landing. It was the county seat of Alexander County from 1846 until 1859.

Thebes, like the city of Cairo, also in Alexander County, is named after the Egyptian city of the same name. This part of southern Illinois is known as "Little Egypt".

Abraham Lincoln practiced law here. Legend says that Dred Scott, a slave whose Supreme Court decision set back black rights by declaring that African-American slaves had no claim to freedom, may have been imprisoned in the courthouse jail.

The Mississippi River at Thebes is in excess of four feet deep, which enabled the town to become a busy steamboat port. Union troops passed through Thebes on their way to attack the South during the American Civil War. Thebes Bridge, an important railroad bridge, opened for rail traffic in 1905 and is still in use today.

In literature, Thebes is the home village of Captain Andy Hawks, his wife Parthenia Ann Hawks and daughter Magnolia in the Edna Ferber novel Show Boat.


Thebes is located at 37°13′9″N 89°27′25″W / 37.21917°N 89.45694°W / 37.21917; -89.45694 (37.219177, -89.456915).

According to the 2010 census, Thebes has a total area of 2.318 square miles (6.00 km2), of which 1.75 square miles (4.53 km2) (or 75.5%) is land and 0.568 square miles (1.47 km2) (or 24.5%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 114
1900 417
1910 717 71.9%
1920 857 19.5%
1930 751 −12.4%
1940 730 −2.8%
1950 541 −25.9%
1960 471 −12.9%
1970 442 −6.2%
1980 455 2.9%
1990 461 1.3%
2000 478 3.7%
2010 436 −8.8%
2020 208 −52.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Thebes racial composition
(Hispanics excluded from racial categories)
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race Number Percentage
White (NH) 176 84.62%
Black or African American (NH) 7 3.37%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 12 5.77%
Hispanic or Latino 13 6.25%
Total 208

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 208 people, 128 households, and 102 families residing in the village.


Residents are zoned to the Egyptian School District.

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