History of Decatur

The city’s name comes from a naval hero during the War of 1812, Stephen Decatur, Jr. The City of Decatur was officially established on June 1, 1829 and it wouldn’t see any significant growth until the railroad came into town. That was in 1854 and for the next 50 years, the city would grow to a population of more than 30,000.

Abraham Lincoln settled his family here in 1830. It was here where he would begin to practice law in Decatur. Lincoln would be recognized by other political leaders when he gave his first speech in Decatur about the importance of the Sangamon River. The Sangamon along with Lake Decatur is one of the two bodies of water that the city lies on.

Decatur was also home to two automobile plants in the early 1900s. These plants were owned by the auto producers Pan-American Motor Corporation and Comet Automobile Company. Other manufacturing names include Caterpillar, Inc and Firestone.

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