1873 Map of Will County & Courthouse

Courthouse and Maps

Courthouse History

Old Wilson Store

The Old Wilson Store is where the 1st Circuit Court was held in October 1836.

Will County First Courthouse

Will County's First Court House - 1837.

Will County Courthouse

Will County Courthouse in 1873.

Third Will County Courthouse

The third Will County Courthouse from the corner of Jefferson and Chicago Streets looking southwest. Built between 1884-87.

Old Will County Courthouse

Current Will County Courthouse

Joliet, Built 1969, Arch- Otto Stark of C. F. Murphy Assoc.and Healy, Moore & Assoc., Contr- Gawley Constr. Co. Inc. 

Will County Document

Serving Will County Since 1836

Will county was taken from the county of Cook, and a new county formed, to which the Legislature in 1836 gave the name of Will. Soon after the county was formed an election was ordered for the election of county officers and at that election Holder Sisson, Thomas Durham, and James Walker were elected county commissioners; Robert Stevens, sheriff; George H. Woodruff, recorder, and E. M. Daggett, coroner. Mr. Stevens refused to qualify and when court convened the following October Fenner Aldrich was appointed to fill the vacancy.The first meeting of the county commissioners was held March 14, 1836, in the old Juliet house. At that meeting Levi Jenks was appointed county clerk and school commissioner and Charles Clement treasurer. They divided the county into ten voting precincts and named the place for holding the election, and the judges for each precinct.

In 1848 the new state constitution was adopted by the people, abolishing the County Commissioners’ court, and substituted a county judge, and, if the Legislature saw proper, to add two associate justices in each county. The Legislature acted favorably on that clause, and the two associates were added. The last meeting of the County Commissioners’ court was held in March, 1849, when it went out of existence, and thereafter the County court took its place. On the 3d of December that year the first term of the County court was held, Judge Parks being on the bench as the first judge. The duties of the court were precisely the same as those of the County Commissioners’ court, with the addition to exercise judicial authority, having all the rights and powers of justices of the peace, and also full control of all probate matters. The judge and associates acted together for the transaction of all county business, but none other. Each had the equal vote and received the same salary, $2.00 a day when court was in session.

Gavion D. A. Parks was the first county judge, with Henry E. Whipple and Lyman Poster as associate justices. Oscar L. Hawley was county clerk and K. J. Hammond school commissioner. Those were the first officials elected under the new constitution, and as they proved to be very able and efficient the new mode of electing county officers proved to be very popular. At the election in 1853, Solomon Simmons was elected the county judge on the Abolition ticket, which we think is the only instance in the history of the county where an abolitionist was ever elected to a county office, as such. There is no doubt but that many have been elected officials who were abolitionists, but they did not happen to run on that ticket. - Will County IILGENWEB

Gavion D. A. Parks, First Will County Judge

Gavion D. A. Parks, was born in Bristol, New York, September 17, 1817. He was educated at Lockport, New York, and admitted to the bar in 1841. He came west in 1842, and settled in Lockport in this county, where he remained until 1849, when he was elected County Judge, and removed to Joliet, and this was his home until his death, December 28, 1895. Judge Parks was thoroughly a lawyer, who not only understood the law, and its construction, but he was equally happy in its application to the case in point, and in that respect he probably had no superior in the Will county bar. He was always the warm friend of the law student, and of the young attorney, and would often put off or delay other business to explain to the young attorney what was the law in a certain case, and how it should be applied.

But the Judge found his match one day in the person of a young and very self-conceited lawyer, as to what was really the law in a certain case, as the following will well illustrate:

The young lawyer went to the Judge and wanted his opinion as to what was the law on a certain point which he explained. The Judge was well posted, for he had tried a case not long before, in which the very point was involved, and as the case had gone through the Supreme Court, and he there sustained in his constructions of it, he felt pretty confident, and told the young man so; that the law as he had laid it down, was really the law. But what was his astonishment when he had concluded, to hear the young attorney exclaim: “O, Judge! you are away off on that. It ain’t the law at all,” and then proceeded to lay down his construction of the law to the Judge, quoting some authorities, which, of course, had no application whatever to the case in point. Of course the Judge was disgusted at the fellow, and was very careful in the future of talking law with him.

Judge Parks held many offices of trust and responsibility. Besides being County Judge, he was Master in Chancery, was a delegate and Vice-President of the first Republican convention, at Bloomington, in 1854, was a representative in the legislature, and in 1856, became state senator. He also held several very important positions by appointment, all of which he filled with eminent success and ability. In private life, Judge Parks was a most worthy and honored citizen, and one of the city schools is named in his honor.

1st Woman Admitted to the Will County Bar Association

Lettie Lavilla Burlingame, one of the most successful lawyers in Joliet, Illinois.  Her last public work was the delivery of a speech in behalf of Woman's Suffrage.  Her last appearance in publicv was in Plainfield, May 2nd, 1890, where she4 delivered a speech in behalf of the Women's Suffrage Association.  She also addressed the women of the Illinois State Pentitentiary the Sabbath but one before her last sickness. - Lettie Lavilla Burlingame: Her Life Pages, Stories, Poems and Essay by Lettie Lavilla Burlingame

First Woman Admitted to the Will County Bar Association