Census - Federal
U.S. federal censuses for Lee County are 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. In 1830 Lee County was part of Jo Daviess County, which covered northern Illinois. Indexes are available for the 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 censuses. A soundex index is available on microfilm for the 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.
Territorial and State
Territorial and state censuses were also taken in 1810, 1818, 1820, 1825, 1830, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1855, and 1865. The 1810, 1818, 1825, 1830, 1835, and 1840 censuses have been indexed and published. Some earlier residents were also listed in the 1807 Indiana territorial census, which is indexed.
Lee County Clerk
The County Clerks offices has vital records, (birth, marriage and death) land, tax, and military registration forms.
Lee County Circuit Clerk
The Circuit Clerk's office has civil and criminal case records, probate and estate files, divorce records, and naturalization records. Not all of these are open to the public. Probate, estate, wills, divorce, and naturalization records are areas of focus for genealogists. There is an index of the Lee County estate records at the Family Tree Center. The naturalization records are being scanned and indexed, (see Naturalization).
Dixon has directories dating back to 1869. The Family Tree Center's collection consists of these years: 1868, 1878, 1890, 1896, 1898, 1900, 1906, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1951, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1985, and 1989.
The Major County History Books
1881 County History, Hill Co., Old Settlers list from the 1881 history
1892 Portrait & Biographical, List of surnames for the 1892 history
1904 History of Lee County, by Bardwell
1914 History of Lee County, by Stevens Vol. 1 & 2
1918 Early Lee County, by William D. Barge
2000 Biographies of the Citizens of Lee County Illinois, by Lee County Genealogical Society, ( Index is here )
2004 Biographies of the Citizens of Lee County Illinois, by Lee County Genealogical Society, ( Index is here )
Lee County Histories Index
The Lee County Genealogical Society has created an every name index of 25 Lee County town and county histories. Listed below are the books that are included in this index. This one index, contains over 107,000 entries.
100 Years of the Methodist Episcopal Church
1881 County History, Hill Co.
1892 Portrait & Biographical Record of Lee County
1904 History of Lee County, by Bardwell
2000 Biographies of the Citizens of Lee County Illinois
2004 Biographies of the Citizens of Lee County Illinois
Biography of a Country Town, Becker
Dixon, by George Lamb
Early Lee County, by William D. Barge, 1918
Green River Ordinance Plant
Historical Yearbook 1976
History of Harmon
History of Steward, 1970
History of Melugins Grove
History of Steward, 1905
Memories of Franklin Grove
Paw Paw Centennial
Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County
Story of Dixon & Palmyra, 1830-1880
The Family Tree Center has indexes of: County death and marriage records, cemetery (by cemetery or alphabetic), Histories Index, an index of 25 Lee County and town histories, newspaper, some plat book and census. The Lee County Genealogical Society continues to index other items, please check for the newest additions.
Land & Property
The land records for Lee County start when the county was formed in 1839. Any record previous to 1839 would be in the county that the property was in at the time. The land records are located in the County Clerk's office in the Old Court House. Lee County uses the tract system for land records. Grantor⁄grantee books are also available. The Lee County Genealogical Society does not do land record searches.
Maps & Plat Books
There are a number of maps for Lee County, mostly they are in plat book form. Plats available at the Family Tree Center, 1863, 1872 (indexed), 1900, 1915, 1921 (indexed), 1935, 1947, 1949, 1955. The 1956, 1958, 1960, 1965, 1972, 1979-80, 1988, are all indexed.
The Lee County Circuit Clerk's Office holds the naturalization records of Lee County. They are in the process of scanning the records. When the process has been completed, the Lee County Genealogical Society will be indexing these records.
The earliest newspaper for this area was the Dixon Telegraph which started in May 1851. The Family Tree Center has newspaper indexes for the Telegraph 1851 to present, Amboy Journal 1856-1880, Amboy New 1882-1886. Indexing is ongoing, please check to see if additional indexes have been added. Dixon Public Library has an index of the Telegraph 1851-1947. Other libraries may also have indexes.
The majority of newspapers for Lee County are available on microfilm. The following libraries all have film collections.
Dixon Public Library: Telegragh 1851 to present. Note that the Civil War period of the Telegraph is not available. Some of the early Amboy newspapers.
Pankhurst Memorial Library, (Amboy): Journal 1856-1913, and News, 1882-present.
Family Tree Center: Telegraph 1851-2006, Amboy Journal 1856-1913, Amboy News 1882-1994, Paw Paw News 1874-1876, Lee County Times 1882-1959 (published in Paw Paw), Dixon Daily Leader 1914, Dixon Daily Star 1904-1909, Dixon Daily News 1909-1914, Dixon Star 1898-1920, Dixon Sun 1873-1892, Dixon Weekly Sun 1894-1898, Ashton Gazette 1873-2008, West Brooklyn News 1910. More film is being added so check with center for other titles.
Historical Society: Telegraph and Amboy
There is a collection from the Dixon Telegraph at the Family Tree Center from 1994 to present. Newspaper indexes also list obituaries and death notices.
Probate records are court records containing information on matters involving estates and the guardianships of minors. The probate records are in the Circuit Clerk's Office in the Courts Building.
County Birth and Death Records
The County Clerk's Office has birth records that start in 1856 and death records that start in 1877. People did not always register births and deaths, so it is possible that you may not find your ancestor's birth or death recorded. But there are other sources for that information, such as: cemetery records, death and marriage records, and newspapers. The state of Illinois did not require birth or death certificates until 1916.
The Lee County Clerk's office has marriage records that start in 1839. Couples would sometimes get their marriage license in one county and marry in another. This practice was stopped, but I don't know when.
In the early 1800's, the legislature and the circuit courts granted divorces. Circuit or city courts have handled most divorce proceedings.