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Alexander County, Illinois

Alexander County, Illinois
U.S. Post Office and Court House in Cairo, Illinois
Map of Illinois highlighting Alexander County
Location in the state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded 1819
Seat Cairo
Largest city Cairo
 • Total 253 sq mi (655 km2)
 • Land 236 sq mi (611 km2)
 • Water 17 sq mi (44 km2), 6.8%
 • (2010) 8,238
 • Density 35/sq mi (14/km²)
Congressional district 12th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Alexander County is the southernmost county of the U.S. state of Illinois. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,238.[1] Its county seat is Cairo.[2]

Alexander County is part of the Cape Girardeau, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • National protected areas 2.2
    • Major highways 2.3
  • Climate and weather 3
  • Law enforcement 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Education 6
  • Communities 7
    • City 7.1
    • Villages 7.2
    • Census-designated place 7.3
    • Unincorporated communities 7.4
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Alexander County was organized out of Union County in 1819. It was named for William M. Alexander, a physician who practiced in the town of America (the first county seat).[3] Alexander became Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1822. The county seat was moved to Unity in 1833, then to Thebes in 1843, and finally to Cairo in 1860. America, the first county seat, is now within Pulaski County, which was formed from Alexander and Johnson Counties in 1843.[4]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 253 square miles (660 km2), of which 236 square miles (610 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (6.8%) is water.[5] Its borders are partly defined by the Mississippi River and the Ohio River. The lowest point in the state of Illinois is located on the Mississippi River in Cairo in Alexander County, where it flows out of Illinois and into Kentucky.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Major highways

Climate and weather

Cairo, Illinois
Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[6]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Cairo have ranged from a low of 26 °F (−3 °C) in January to a high of 90 °F (32 °C) in July, although a record low of −12 °F (−24 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was recorded in June 1954. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 3.04 inches (77 mm) in September to 4.76 inches (121 mm) in May.[6]

Law enforcement

The Tamms Correctional Center, a now shuttered super-maximum correctional facility operated by the Illinois Department of Corrections, was located in Tamms.[7][8] The State of Illinois execution chamber was at Tamms.[9] Prior to the January 11, 2003 commutation of death row sentences, male death row inmates were housed in Tamms, Menard, and Pontiac correctional centers. After that date, only Pontiac continued to host the male death row.[10] On January 4, 2013, after years of controversy over inmate conditions, the prison officially closed, negatively impacting the county's economy.[11][12][13]

In late September 2009, press reports indicated that the Alexander County Sheriff's office had five of its seven squad cars repossessed as payments had not been made. The sheriff once had 29 deputies, but was reduced to just five at the time of the reports. The Illinois State Police have provided assistance to the county with additional patrols.[14]


2000 census age pyramid for Alexander County.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 8,238 people, 3,329 households, and 2,093 families residing in the county.[20] The population density was 35.0 inhabitants per square mile (13.5/km2). There were 4,006 housing units at an average density of 17.0 per square mile (6.6/km2).[5] The racial makeup of the county was 60.9% white, 35.4% black or African American, 0.3% American Indian, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 1.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.9% of the population.[20] In terms of ancestry, 13.9% were German, 6.8% were Irish, 5.3% were English, and 4.7% were American.[21]

Of the 3,329 households, 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.6% were married couples living together, 18.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 37.1% were non-families, and 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.94. The median age was 41.1 years.[20]

The median income for a household in the county was $28,833 and the median income for a family was $44,699. Males had a median income of $35,880 versus $25,743 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,858. About 11.8% of families and 20.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.1% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over.[22]





Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Perrin 1883, p. 455.
  4. ^ Callary, Edward (2009). Place Names of Illinois. Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 4. 
  5. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County".  
  6. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Cairo, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  7. ^ "Tamms village, Illinois." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
  8. ^ "Tamms Correctional Center." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
  9. ^ "Tamms Closed Maximum Security Unit: Ten-Point Plan Brief." Illinois Department of Corrections. 3 (9/51). September 3, 2009. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
  10. ^ "DOC Report Online." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Repo Man Visitis an Illinois Police Dept., CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, by Dean Renolds, aired 28 September 2009
  15. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data".  
  21. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates".  
  22. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates".  


  • Perrin, William Henry, ed. (1883). History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois. Chicago: O. L. Baskin and Company, Historical Publishers. 
  • United States Census Bureau 2007 TIGER/Line Shapefiles
  • United States Board on Geographic Names (GNIS)
  • United States National Atlas

External links

  • Rootsweb - Alexander County

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