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Thebes, Illinois
Thebes, Illinois Courthouse.jpg
Historically registered Thebes Courthouse
Country United States
State Illinois
County Alexander
Coordinates 37°13′9″N 89°27′25″W / 37.21917°N 89.45694°W / 37.21917; -89.45694
Area 2.31 sq mi (6 km²)
 - land 1.74 sq mi (5 km²)
 - water 0.57 sq mi (1 km²)
Population 436 (2010)
Density 250.6 /sq mi (97 /km²)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 62990
Area code 618
For other similarly named locations, see Thebes (disambiguation).

Thebes is a village in 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.


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%
Est. 2015 375 −14.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 478 people, 171 households, and 129 families residing in the village. The population density was 265.6 people per square mile (102.5/km²). There were 213 housing units at an average density of 118.4 per square mile (45.7/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 87.24% White, 10.67% African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.21% Asian, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.21% of the population.

There were 171 households out of which 42.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 17.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.0% were non-families. 21.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the village, the population was spread out with 34.3% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $20,250, and the median income for a family was $26,786. Males had a median income of $28,750 versus $15,000 for females. The per capita income for the village was $11,262. About 29.2% of families and 31.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.4% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.

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