City of Monmouth

Welcome to the Maple City!

Our History
What's in a Name?

Monmouth's first settlers arrived with the westward expansion that followed the War of 1812. Eager to increase the country's settled territories, Congress offered land tracts to veterans as payment for their military service. One veteran bet his tract of land in a New Orleans poker game in 1827. Unfortunately, the veteran lost and a Kentucky plantation owner named John Talbot came away from the table with a warrant for a section of land in the Illinois Military Tract.

Talbot and his cousin, Allen Andrews arrived to settle on the land he won and constructed a one-room cabin eight miles northeast of the present city. Talbot was so pleased with the new land that he sent word back to his friends in Kentucky, and in 1828 a group of them came to see for themselves.

Early in its history the process of naming the town was foremost in everyone's mind. Three names were submitted and placed in a hat. The names were: "Kosciusko", "Isabella", and "Monmouth". Kosciusko was the name drawn, but it was wisely decided that the name was too difficult for the people to spell and the name was withdrawn. The second drawing gave the settlement its present name of Monmouth.

Early History

Monmouth was founded in 1831. The land where the town was established was given to a soldier as payment for service in the war of 1812. The unlucky soldier lost his claim in a poker game to a plantation owner named John Talbot, who became the first settler of Monmouth.

The growth of the town was impeded by the Black Hawk War but once the fighting ceased the community began to grow quickly.

The 1850's brought 2 major additions to the town. The first being the creation of the Monmouth Academy in 1853, which became the Monmouth College in 1856. The second major additon was the arrival of the first railroad to Monmouth. The town became a major hub for the region when 3 railroads put lines to or through Monmouth.

Monmouth in these early days was supported by farming and a few farm implement companies.

Warren County sent a large contingent of men to the civil war and progress slowed but the end of the war brought a time of prosperity to the town. Many of the beautiful downtown buildings date from the last three decades of the 19th century.

This was also the time period when good clay was found near Monmouth and several potteries were founded. Monmouth is home to two pottery companies today including Western Stoneware founded in 1906.

This trend of prosperity ended with the great depression and the town did not begin to recover until the end of World War II and never regained totally its former glory.

Monmouth has been home to a few famous individuals namely the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and former president Ronald Reagan. In addition Stephen Douglas once oversaw a hearing in Monmouth dealing with the possible extradition of Mormon Leader Joseph Smith to Missouri to face charges of murder. Douglas ruled not to extradite Smith.

Warren County Historical Society

The Warren County Historical Society invites you to come tour the new Warren County History Museum. The museum is open the first Sunday of each month, from 1pm - 4pm. The museum is located on Sunny Lane in Monmouth.